"The loud craw of crows. It is a sound of Fort Cochin!"

It was a though of my friend, when we spoke about Fort Cochin, the place on Malabar coast in Kerala, as the first one in India granted to the Portuguese in 1500 by the Rajah of Kochi. He was right. There is much deeper connection between Fort Cochin and crows. These birds are the symbol of Lisbon. Hear their story...

SOUNDCARDS FROM A CITY AT THE EDGE OF THE SEA by artists Vincent Chomaz and Edgar Kandratian, a soundmap of Kochi and it's backwaters. Kochi, 2020.
SOUNDCARDS FROM A CITY AT THE EDGE OF THE SEA by artists Vincent Chomaz and Edgar Kandratian, a soundmap of Kochi and it's backwaters. Kochi, 2020.

For Frenchman Vincent Chomaz and Armenian Edgar Kandratian, Kochi was an obvious choice for their project because of its geography, sandwiched between the sea and the backwaters, along with its history of the devastating floods of 2018. “The mythology surrounding the creation of Kochi – the great flood that destroyed Muziris – was also an interesting point but it was not until we reached Kochi that this detail gained importance,” say the artists. 

Sixteen, one-minute soundcards, part of a series titled ‘Soundcards From a City at the Edge of the Sea’ are a sound map of Kochi and its backwaters. Through this archive of sequential audio cards, one is privy to the sounds of waves crashing, children playing and birds in their element – sounds that remind oneself of the city. The artists were in-residence at Pepper House, Fort Kochi, as part of the Goethe-Institut’s Bengaluru Residency Programme.

Listen to the sounds of Fort Cochin >>

The coat of arms of Lisbon is the official symbol of the municipality of Lisbon. Dating to the 12th century, it is one of the oldest heraldic symbols of any city in Portugal. The image on the coat of arms commemorates the voyage of the relics of Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, to the city from Cape St. Vincent in the Algarve.


The earliest account of Vincent's martyrdom is in a carmen (lyric poem) written by the poet Prudentius, who wrote a series of lyric poems, Peristephanon ("Crowns of Martyrdom"), on Hispanic and Roman martyrs.

He was born at Huesca, near Saragossa, Spain sometime during the latter part of the 3rd century; it is believed his father was Eutricius (Euthicius), and his mother was Enola, a native of Osca. Vincent spent most of his life in the city of Saragossa, where he was educated and ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Valerius of Saragossa, who commissioned Vincent to preach throughout the diocese. Because Valerius suffered from a speech impediment, Vincent acted as his spokesman. When the Roman Emperor Diocletian began persecuting Christians in Spain, both were brought before the Roman governor, Dacian, in Valencia. Vincent and his bishop Valerius were confined to the prison of Valencia. Though he was finally offered release if he would consign Scripture to the fire, Vincent refused. Speaking on behalf of his bishop, he informed the judge that they were ready to suffer everything for their faith, and that they could pay no heed either to threats or promises.

His outspoken manner so angered the governor that he had every sort of torture inflicted on Vincent. He was stretched on the rack and his flesh torn with iron hooks. Then his wounds were rubbed with salt and he was burned alive upon a red-hot gridiron. Finally, he was cast into prison and laid on a floor scattered with broken pottery, where he died. During his martyrdom he preserved such peace and tranquillity that it astonished his jailer, who repented from his sins and was converted. Vincent's dead body was thrown into the sea in a sack, but was later recovered by the Christians and his veneration immediately spread throughout the Church. The aged bishop Valerius was exiled.
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(The most noble and always loyal city of Lisbon)

Afonso I officially took possession of the city on 1st November 1147. After conquering the city, he received information that the relics of Saint Vincent of Saragossa were buried in the Algarve. He made his way southward to reclaim the martyr's remains. but when he arrived at the village it had been totally destroyed and there was no sign of the burial site. A flock of crows was seen flying over the place when the remains were finally found in 1176. 


According to legend, after being martyred, ravens protected St. Vincent's body from being devoured by vultures, until his followers could recover the body. His body was taken to what is now known as Cape St. Vincent; a shrine was erected over his grave, which continued to be guarded by flocks of ravens. In the time of Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula, the Arab geographer Al-Idrisi noted this constant guard by ravens, for which the place was named by him "Kanisah al-Ghurab" (Church of the Raven). King Afonso I of Portugal (1139–1185) had the body of the saint exhumed in 1173 and brought it by ship to the Lisbon Cathedral. This transfer of the relics is depicted on the coat of arms of Lisbon.

According to legend, after he was martyred, ravens protected St. Vincent's body from being devoured by wild animals until his followers could recover the body. A shrine was erected over his grave, which continued to be guarded by flocks of ravens. Two crows accompanied the boat that was carrying them all the way to Lisbon. 


The raven, a prophetic bird and messander of the gods, totem of the Sun god Lug,was called Lu or Li in the ligurian language (Genoese), which is the root of the name Lisboa or Lusibona, a derivate of Ulisibona and Ulisipa

An old legend states that the city of Lisbon was founded by Ulysses in his journey back home after the war against the city of Troy. During this long and adventurous journey he battled sea monsters and plenty of strange ocean creatures. One day a bolt of lightning appeared and exploded into flames in an unknown land. According to the legend, Ulysses was instructed by Zeus to build a city named Olissipo on the point of impact.

In commemoration of this story, the crow was chosen to adorn the city's coat of arms as a symbol of its faithful guardians. Three years later, in 1150, Afonso I built a cathedral on the site of the Great Mosque, where the relics of the Saint Vincent are kept till these days.






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