Arab-Byzantine Festive Lights. Deployments Invested with Modalities

  • Manar Hammad


This essay projects a semiotic perspective on a set of illumination devices gathered in a space extending from Constantinopolis to Fes (Morocco) during almost a millennium. One common technology is at work: glass containers burning oil though a wick, the device being suspended high in the air. The analysis identifies spatial configurations of luminaries, called deployments, organized in space in accordance with the served architectures. Various interpreting perspectives project upon these deployments differentiated meaning effects, while a syntactic perspective allows to weave them together or to embed them in each other. We obtain thus superpositions of actantial roles invested in actors identified as primary, secondary or tertiary sources, playing in turn the roles of delegated subject, modal object, or final valued object. The interaction of light actors resembles social interaction. Developed in time, the workings of festive illuminations put in evidence their role as object celebrated for itself, not for something different from itself.

How to Cite
Hammad, M. (2022). Arab-Byzantine Festive Lights. Deployments Invested with Modalities. E|C, (34), 9-48. Retrieved from