Learn more and purchase Tem at http://acontainer.co/objects/tem/

About the Text

There are no myths to retell.

Tem is part history, part make-believe. Every culture has creation myths that explains how the world emerged. This story is one of the forgotten deities of the pre-Islamic Bedouin of the Arabian Peninsula.

Khadraoui’s mythopoetic story leverages allegory, folklore and other traditions to showcase a rapidly vanishing world and how these deities must contend with a new world order.  

The poem’s narrative structure, inspired by hakawati (the traditional style of oral storytelling from in the Middle East and North Africa), shows the deities in conflict between themselves and the outside. The emergence of the codification of modern Islam and the legacy of the goddesses in a contemporary setting are also themes.

The collection personifies the deities–more human than godhead–reacting to a combination of fabrications, actual historical events, and contemporary society. Together, these narrators weave a cosmological history that only gods could know.

The nuanced meaning of tem in Arabic is to finish; to complete. In Khadraoui’s collection, stories dart in and out of the narrative, demonstrating how unable it is to ever truly be done with your past.


Tem is published as a mineral collection box. Each box contains:

  • 21 handcrafted plaster containers, one for each poem in the collection
  • 21 origami gemstones, crafted from Folia acid-free, lignin-free cardstock. Gemstones are handstamped with select lines from the poems using a Trodat 5223 self-inking stamp, and are sealed with methyl cellulose adhesive.
  • A kraft 9×12 envelope containing 21 broadside poems (plus notes), printed on Neenah Paper Royal Cotton Bright White Cardstock with light cockle finish.

Tem is produced in a limited edition run of 25 copies.