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To celebrate Vikings Live, we have replaced our Roman alphabet with the runic alphabet used by the Vikings, the Scandinavian ‘Younger Futhark’. The ‘Younger Futhark’ has only 16 letters, so we have used some of the runic letters more than once or combined two runes for one Roman letter.

For an excellent introduction to runes, we recommend Martin Findell’s book published by British Museum Press.

More information about how we have ‘runified’ this site


‘Eid al-Adha

Scissors and razor

Scissors and razor

‘Eid al-Adha (festival of sacrifice) takes place on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijja, a great feast throughout the Muslim world. After the sacrifice, pilgrims shave or cut their hair to mark the end of the consecrated state (ihram) and are allowed everything except sexual intercourse.

Among the most important objects a pilgrim will use on Hajj are these simple scissors and razor. An obligatory ritual is the "taqsir" or "halq" (cutting or shaving) of the hair, which occurs twice during Hajj. The Saudi Arabian government provides licensed barbers with a new razor blade for each male pilgrim, while women snip only a lock of hair. This act of devotion symbolises the shedding of worldly attachments.

Encampment of Pilgrims during the festival of sacrifice (‘Eid al-Adha) (c. 1677-80)

Encampment of Pilgrims during the festival of sacrifice (‘Eid al-Adha) (c. 1677-80)

Nasser D. Khalili Collection of Islamic Art, MSS 1025 fol. 10b (© Nour Foundation. Courtesy of the Khalili Family Trust)

This illustration from Anis al-hujjaj (The Pilgrim’s Companion) by Safi ibn Vali concentrates on the rituals performed on the day of Eid al-Adha. On the right, a group are stoning the three Jamarat (pillars). Another group below perform the ritual sacrifice of animals, and the pilgrims above are having their heads shaved. Safi ibn Wali stresses that the meat from animals that have been sacrificed: "should be distributed among needy persons and is not to be used by the pilgrim himself."

Supported by

Arts and Humanities Research Council