Tawfiq Canaan

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Tawfiq Canaan
A man in an Ottoman army uniform, sporting a full moustache, and wearing a wool hat and round spectacles. He carries what appear to be gloves in his left hand. His right arm is bent and his right hand rests on the small of his back.
Born (1882-09-24)24 September 1882
Beit Jala, Ottoman Empire
Died 15 January 1964(1964-01-15) (aged 81)
East Jerusalem, West Bank
Nationality Palestinian, Jordanian
Occupation Physician, Ethnographer, author
Known for Pioneer in the field of medicine in Palestine
Researcher of Palestinian popular heritage
Religion Lutheran
Parent(s) Bechara Canaan and Katharina Khairallah

Tawfiq Canaan (Arabic: توفيق كنعان‎) (24 September 1882 – 15 January 1964) was a pioneering physician, medical researcher, ethnographer and Palestinian nationalist. Born in Beit Jala during the rule of the Ottoman Empire, he served as a medical officer in the Ottoman army during World War I. During British rule, he served as the first President of the Palestine Arab Medical Association founded in 1944, and as the director of several Jerusalem area hospitals before, during, and after the 1948 war. Over the course of his medical career, he authored more than 37 studies on topics including tropical medicine, bacteriology, malaria, tuberculosis and health conditions in Palestine, and contributed to research that led to a cure for leprosy.[1][2]

Deeply interested in Palestinian folklore, popular beliefs, and superstitions, Canaan collected over 1,400 amulets and talismanic objects held to have healing and protective properties. His published analyses of these objects, and other popular folk traditions and practices, brought him recognition as an ethnographer and anthropologist.[3][4][5] The several books and more than 50 articles he wrote in English and German serve as valuable resources to researchers of Palestinian and Middle Eastern heritage.[1][3]

An outspoken public figure, he also wrote two books on the Palestine problem, reflecting his involvement in confronting British imperialism and Zionism.[1][6] Despite his arrest by the British authorities in 1939 and the destruction of his family home and clinic in Jerusalem during the 1948 war, Canaan managed to re-establish his life and career in East Jerusalem under Jordanian rule. First taking sanctuary in a convent in the Old City for two years, he was appointed director of the Augusta Victoria Hospital on the Mount of Olives, where he lived with his family through his retirement until his death in 1964.[7]

Published works (partial list)[edit]

Folklore and ethnography[edit]

  • "Agriculture in Palestine". Globus (in German). 1909. [8]
  • "Demons as an Aetiological Factor in Popular Medicine". Al-Kulliyeh (Beirut). 1912. 
  • "The Calendar of Palestinian Peasants". Zeitschrift des Deutschen Palästinavereins (Journal of the German Palestine Society) (in German). 1913. [9]
  • Superstition and Popular Medicine. 1914. ISBN 1-871034-01-9. [9]
  • Haunted Springs and Water Demons in Palestine. Jerusalem: Palestine Oriental Society. 1922. OCLC 187062829. [10]
  • Tasit ar-Radjfeh ("Fear Cup") (in Arabic). 1923. [10]
  • Canaan, Tawfiq (1927). Mohammedan Saints and Sanctuaries in Palestine. London: Luzac & Co. [11]
  • Plant-lore in Palestinian Superstition. 1928. [10]
  • Belief in Demons in the Holy Land (in German). 1929. [10]
  • Studies in the Topography and Folklore of Petra. 1929. [12]
  • "Light and Darkness in Palestine Folklore". Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (JPOS). 1931. [11]
  • "Unwritten Laws Affecting the Arab Women of Palestine" (PDF). Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (JPOS). 1931. 
  • The Palestine Arab House: Its Architecture and Folklore. Jerusalem: The Syrian Orphanage Press. 1933. [11]
  • "Arabic Magic Bowls". Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society. 1936. [13]
  • "Review of Dalman's Arbeit und Sitte in Palastina". Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (JPOS). 1934. [11]
  • "Review of Granquist's Marriage Conditions in a Palestinian Village". Journal of the Palestine Oriental Society (JPOS). 1933 and 1937.  Check date values in: |date= (help)[11]
  • "The Decipherment of Arabic Talismans". Berytus Archaeological Studies 4: pp. 69–110. 1937.  [14]
  • "The Decipherment of Arabic Talismans". Berytus Archaeological Studies 5: pp. 141–151. 1938.  [14]
  • Canaan, T (October 1962). "Superstition and Folklore about Bread". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (The American Schools of Oriental Research) (167): pp. 36–47. ISSN 0003-097X. JSTOR 1355686. 
  • "The 'Azazime Bedouin and Their Region". Arab World Geographer 2 (4). Winter 1999.  (translated from German by William Templer)


  • The Palestine Arab Cause. 1936.  (48-page booklet)[15]
  • Conflict in the Land of Peace. 1936.  (Published in English, Arabic, and French)[15]


  • "Modern Treatment". Al-Muqtataf (Beirut). 1905. [16]
  • "Cerebro-Spinal Meningitis in Jerusalem". Al-Kulliyeh (Beirut). 1911. [9]
  • "Beobachtungen bei einer Denguefieberepidemie in Jerusalem ("Observations on an epidemic of dengue fever in Jerusalem")". Archiv fur Schiffund Tropenhygiene (in German) 17: pp. 20–25. 1912.  [17]
  • "Die Jerichobeule". Archiv fur Schiffund Tropenhygiene (in German) 20: pp. 109–119. 1916.  [18]
  • Canaan, T (1929). "The Oriental Boil: An Epidemiological Study in Palestine". Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 23: pp. 89–94. doi:10.1016/S0035-9203(29)90903-2.  [19]
  • "Zur Epidemiologie der Orient in Palastina". Dermatologische Wochenschrift (in German) 29 (91): pp. 1779–1181. 1930. 
  • "Kalazar in Palestine". Festschrift Bernhardt Nocht (in German) 80: pp. 67–71. 1937. 
  • "Topographical studies in leishmaniasis in Palestine". Journal of the Palestinian Arab Medical Association 1: pp. 4–12. 1945.  [20]
  • "Intestinal parasites in Palestine". J. Med. Liban 4 (3): pp. 163–69.  [21]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Nashef, 2002, p. 2.
  2. ^ El-Eini, 2006, p. 88.
  3. ^ a b Jubeh, Fall-Winter 2005, p. 103.
  4. ^ Davis, 2004.
  5. ^ Benvenisti, 2000, p. 252.
  6. ^ Bernstein, 2000, p. 123.
  7. ^ Nashef, 2002, p. 14.
  8. ^ Nashef, 2002, p. 4.
  9. ^ a b c Nashef, 2002, p. 5.
  10. ^ a b c d Nashef, 2002, p. 6.
  11. ^ a b c d e Tamari, 2009, p. 202.
  12. ^ Taylor, 2001, p. 217.
  13. ^ Richards, D. S. (2002). The Annals of the Saljuq Turks: Selections from Al-Kāmil Fīʻl-Taʻrīkh of ʻIzz Al-Dīn Ibn Al-Athīr. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-7007-1576-2. 
  14. ^ a b Schaefer, Karl R. (2006). Enigmatic charms: medieval Arabic block printed amulets in American and European libraries and museums. Leiden: Brill. p. 239. ISBN 90-04-14789-6. 
  15. ^ a b Nashef, 2002, p. 10.
  16. ^ Nashef, 2002, p. 3.
  17. ^ Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, 1912, p. 410.
  18. ^ Hygienische Rundschau, 1917, p. 225.
  19. ^ "The Oriental Boil:An Epidemiological Study in Palestine". Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (Elsevier) 23 (1): pp. 89–94. 25 June 1929. 
  20. ^ Patai, 1957, p. 152.
  21. ^ Aall-Zyukov, 1932, p. 1011.
  22. ^ a b c d Nashef, 2002, p. 15.


External links[edit]