Peter Pannke: following the mystics

Peter Pannke is one of the many disciples of the great mystics, often leaves his hometown to travel to Pakistan.

Express February 10, 2011

KARACHI: The message of love seems to be most pertinent message of European Troubadours and Sufi’s of the East, Peter Pannke is one of the many disciples of the great mystics. In his search, he often leaves behind his hometown in Germany and travels to Pakistan.

The Goethe Institut in Pakistan recently launched a briefing session that allowed audience members to interact with the artiste, Peter Pannke.  Wednesday evening brought forward the German artiste, who is not only a writer but also a musician, a story-teller and a singer. Pannke reveals that he has been so impressed by the various cultures that coexist in Pakistan; (for there are so many types of them) that he has been an avid traveller within the region for the past 40 years.

Pannke spoke about the revolution that took Europe by storm in the 1960s. He mentioned that in 1966, when change was at its peak, while his friends were falling into the abyss of drugs and violence, he himself felt completely displaced . He left the Germany and came to Pakistan and ever since then has travelled extensively over the country.

The writer further confesses that he was so overwhelmed with Pakistan’s heritage during his journey, and remains inspired by what he saw. He presented his documentary, Obsession at the event. The film entailed a musical performance by his band Troubadours United that encompassed a passage from Europe all the way to Asia.

The artiste then shifted his interest towards Sufism, posing a question to the audience, “How have the Sufi’s of today survived in an Islamic society whereas Troubadours have become extinct species?”

Pannke took the opportunity to read out passages from his book, Dreamtalker. The author said, “A culture flourished in those lands that brought something unheard of and new to Europe — the culture of the troubadours and their royal patrons, who often actively participated in the arts of poetry and music. Women, too, were among them … At Poitiers; she became the ruler of an “order of love” and the pre-eminent figurehead of that culture.”

In relation to Sufism in Asia Pannke says, “I have met fakirs in the Indus Valley, troubadours of the Islamic world, who still sing enigmatic songs very similar to those of the Count of Aquitaine of the southern edge of Europe. Sind, the old culture on the shores of the Indus, which not only included the southern provinces of modern Pakistan but also extended into the Punjab … For Ibn Batutta, finding lodgings was never a problem, but selecting from competing offers of hospitality often was,” said Pannke.

Peter Pannke has written several books which includes Troubadours of Allah - Sufi Music in the Indus Valley, which was presented by the German Consulate in Karachi and then launched by Goethe Institut through an exhibition in 2009. Other books that make Pannke an acclaimed author include, Mali - Journey through a Magic Country, Singers Die Twice and Dreamtalker.  Pannke also promises to give back in the near future with the arrival of his forthcoming book, Saints and Singers.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 11th, 2011.

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