- Museum number
- Object: Le Bouna
‘Le Bouna’. Artist book. Ffifty-six monograph pages, text in French in the hand of the artist, and ten etchings. Edition 10 of 20.
The story illustrated here is associated with the village known as of Mhaidse, northeast of Beirut, where Abboud spent his childhood. It is a macabre tale in which two orphan brothers Helou ('sweet') and Murr ('bitter') fall into the hands of a wicked priest (bouna), after which various dramas unfold. 1953-4.
- Production date
- 1953 - 4 (printed)
Height: 38 centimetres
Width: 28 centimetres (book closed)
- Curator's comments
- Lemand, Claude. 2016 ‘La Bouna, Paris, 1953’ trans. Valérie Hess, Art Bahrain – AB Print 7 (abprint l 07spring/summer 2016), pp. 2-5.
The Bouna tells the story of two orphan brothers, Helou (meaning ‘The Sweet’) and Murr (meaning ‘The Sour’) who live in a small village with a beautiful church. Upon the death of their beloved Bouna (the priest), a new Bouna with a harsh looking beard and cruel eyes took over. He traumatised the townsmen and became rich from their gifts and land, without giving anything back. Helou was always very helpful and docile, whereas Murr was a strong huntsman and was very protective over Helou. Upon becoming bored with his life, Helou decided to work for the priest, since none of the other villagers would endure his foul treatment.
With a clean and willing heart, Helou offered his services to the Bouna, who replied by laughing and offering a challenge, saying ‘I’ll accept on one condition: if either of us want to part from the other, he will have to have a pair of soles incised on his forehead, this would be for my shoes and for you, it would be for your bare feet.’ The Bouna subsequently tortured him day and night with tasks and forced Helou to sleep outdoors with no food or shelter. It became so severe, Helou begged to be sent home without being disfigured. However the Bouna cut out two soles from Helou’s forehead for his shoes.
Murr returned from hunting to find Helou slumped on the doorstep, and vowed to avenge his brother. He offered his services to the Bouna and was treated equally poorly; however Murr was much cleverer than his dear brother. Murr managed to use his tasks to torture the Bouna and trick him. Eventually, taking everything that was meaningful to the Bouna away from him, Murr cut two soles from the willing Bouna’s forehead and stuck them onto Helou’s. Instantly happy again, Helou and Murr vowed to never leave each other again, and the Bouna fled the village, never to return.
Image courtesy of Claude Lemand
- On display (G90)
- Acquisition date
- Middle East
- Registration number