Category Archives: Folklore

An Iraqi Heart in Yemen

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Qalb al-Yaman (The Heart of Yemen) is a book published in 1947 in Baghdad by the Iraqi military advisor Muḥammad Ḥasan. This is a fascinating account of Yemen about an Iraqi Military Mission to Yemen in 1940-1943 with details on Yemen at that time under the rule of Imām Yaḥyā.  It is now available for reading online and downloadable.

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first page of the author’s text

The text consists of 256 pages with a detailed table of contents, illustrations and a large map. The major chapters deal with Yemen’s geography and resources, history, the author’s travel experience to Yemen, the capital Ṣan‘ā’, Imām Yaḥyā, social life, major routes, local medicine, the government and soldiers, social and regional groups, women, marriage customs, festivals and greeting behavior, Yemenite Jews, the Iraqi advisors in Yemen, diplomatic relations and correspondence, Islamic sects, and his return to Iraq. There are numerous photographs, which unfortunately did not reproduce well in the publication.

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photograph of Imām Yaḥyā (who did not want his image copied as noted in the bottom left)

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beheading of soldier overseen by Sayf al-Islām Ibrāhīm

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one of the earliest photographs of Yemeni bara‘

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respective genealogies of Iraqī King Faysal and Yemeni Imām Yaḥyā

Yemen’s Ḥumaynī poetry

One of the indigenous forms of Arabic poetry in Yemen is called ḥumaynī. For those who have not read the chronicle of Yaḥya b. al-Ḥusayn (d. 1100/1689) entitled Ghāyat al-amānī, it might be of interest to note that he claims the first appearance of this poetic form in the year 838/1434-5. This reference appears to be to the first collection of this poetry, since such a local form would not originally have been written. I attach the relevant pages from the edited text by Muḥammad al-Akwa‘ published in 1388/1968 in Cairo.

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Yemen’s Culture at Risk

Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Dan Varisco discussing Yemen’s rich cultural heritage at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019

On Saturday, February 24, The Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. hosted a seminar on “Culture at Risk: Yemen’s Heritage under Threat”. This was jointly sponsored by the Sackler Gallery, CAORC and the Antiquities Coalition. The speakers included several AIYS members, including AIYS President Dan Varisco, Noha Sadek and Krista Lewis. Also speaking was Zaydoon Zaid of the American Foundation for the Study of Man and Gerald Feierstein, of The Middle East Institute and a former US Ambassador to Yemen. Information about the event is posted online and a video will be available in the future.

Below are some of the photographs of the event.

Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Noha Sadek at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
CAORC Program Director Glenn Corbett introducing Krista Lewis at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Zaydoon Zayd at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019
Luigi Marini, Permanent Mission of Italy to the UN,  Ambassador Wafa Bughaighis of Libya to the U.S. and former U.S. Yemen Ambassador Gerald Feierstein at the Yemen Talk in Meyer Auditorium Feburary 24, 2019

[Photographs provided by Cory Grace of the Smithsonian.]

Bibliography of Arabic Texts on Yemen

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There is a useful bibliography of Arabic texts related to Yemen on the website Alukah.net.  Several of these are available in pdf.

For access to a major collection of downloadable pdfs on Yemen, go here.

Here is the start of the bibliography noted above.

اخي الكريم
هذه قائمة بالمصادر الأساسية في تاريخ اليمن، القديم والمعاصر.
مصادر ومراجع تاريخ اليمن
فصل من كتاب (جامع مؤلفات أهل اليمن ، المخطوطة والمطبوعة منذ أول تأليف ختى عام 2005م، بيليوجرافيا شاملة : تأليف : عمر عوض خريص ، مخطوط

* أئمة اليمن .
محمد بن محمد بن يحيى زبارة ، ت (1380هـ) طبع بتعز سنة 1952م . وطبعته الدار اليمنية
ـــ
الأباضية بحضرموت.
عبدالقادر محمد الصبان ، مخطوط ، لدى ورثة المؤلف بسيئون .
ـــ
* أبرز الأحداث اليمنية في ربع قرن : سبتمبر 1962ـ سبتمبر1987: من ارشيف صحيفة الرأي العام .، دمشق : مطبعة الكاتب العربي 1987، 175ص 24سم .
ـــــــ
* الاتجاه القومي في حركة الاحرار اليمنيين .
عبدالله أحمد الذيعاني ، رسالة ماجستير ، بغداد ، (طع 256).
ــــــ
* آثار ونقوش العقلة .
محمد عبدالقادر بافقيه ، مطبعة لجنة التاليف والترجمة ، القاهرة 1967.
ـــــ
* اثبات ماليس مثبوت من تاريخ يافع في حضرموت .
عبدالخالق بن عبدالله بن صالح البطاطي (1324ـ 1410هـ) ،مطابع دار البلاد بجدة ، 122 ص ، والمؤلف رجل من رجال الدولة القعيطية ، تولى نيابة السلطان على مدينة الشحر ، وكان مخلصا وفيا لبلاده ، شارك في عملية التنوير والبناء ، وكتابه هذا ردا على مؤلف المؤرخ محمد عبدالقادر بامطرف (الاقطاعيون كانوا هنا ) . والذي كتبه بامطرف في ظروف حرجة .

There are many more texts listed on the site.

علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي

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كلمة المهندس محمود إبراهيم الصغيري – رئيس الجمعية الفلكية اليمنية
في حفل تكريم : علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي والباحث الفلكي الشاب الأستاذ عدنان علي عبد الخالق الشوافي – في مركز الدراسات والبحوث اليمني – صنعاء – صباح الإثنين 26/11/2018 م
أخوة الوفاء للعلم والعلماء في الديار اليمنية
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته
حين يستدعي الإنسان مراحل تفكيره أومعارفه ببعض القضايا تتبلور لديه أصول بداياته المعرفية وأيضاً قيمتها . وفي المجال الفلكي ربما كان مهماً أنْ أشير إلى انَ المعرفة بالفلك وتأريخه ومراحله وأيضاً أعلامه لم تكن واضحةً في الذهن قبل العام 1979م . وفي إبريل / نيسان من ذلك العام 1979م وأثناء حضور الندوة العالمية الثانية لتاريخ العلوم عند العرب التقيت ولأول مرة بباحث مهم على الصعيد الفلكي هو الدكتور ديفيد كنج وأهداني محاضرةً مطبوعة له باللغتين العربية والانجليزية عنوانها: ( حول تاريخ الفلك في العصر الوسيط في اليمن )- كان قد ألقاها في وقت سابق من ذلك العام في صنعاء – وهي المحاضرة – الدراسة التي نشرتها لاحقاً في العدد الأول من مجلة الإكليل – صفر 1400 للهجرة – يناير /كانون الثاني 1980م – وقد ألحقتها بتعليق للأستاذ المحقق عبد الله الحبشي كان عنوانه : ( حول مؤلفات أهل اليمن في الفلك ) .
وفي العام 1980 م ذاته كتبت لإذاعة صنعاء مسلسلاً إذاعياً عنوانه : ( الهبوط  على سطح القمر ) وفيه الكثير من المعارف الفلكية والمنجزات التقنية والطبية … وبالرغم من ذلك لم أنتبه إلى حقيقة يمنية مهمة في المعارف الفلكية وكانت قد بدأت تتوفر في المكتبات  اليمنية منذ العام 1979م .
وبعيد قراءتي ولعدة مرات مقالة علاَمة التأريخ اليمني القاضي محمد بن علي الأكوع الحُوالي بعنوان : ( قصيدة البحر النعامي في الأشهر الحميرية وما يوافقها من أغدية ) – في العدد المزدوج ( 3-4) من مجلة الإكليل – رييع 1401 للهجرة الموافق 1981م .ً وأقول عدة مرات من القراءة للمقالة المذكورة لأنني في واقع الحال كنت مصححاً لمسودات مقالات المجلة وفي كل أعدادها إضافة إلى رئاسة التحرير ..
وبعد المقالة عن البحر النعامي أفقت على حقيقة فلكية يمنية عميقة وهائلة وهي أنَ أهل اليمن يمتلكون تقويماً خاصاً بهم يختلف عن سائر تقاويم الشعوب ( التي انحصرت تقاويمهم بين الشمسية أو القمرية ) ؛ وتفرد اليمنيون ومن زمن غير معلوم حتى الآن بتقويم زراعي لا يرتبط بجرم سماوي واحد وإنَما بجرم سماوي هو القمر من جهة وبمجموعة نجوم الثريا من جهة أخرى ( في حسابات تُسمَى القرانات) .
نعم إنَ الإنسان لايرى فعلياً (أو لايفهم) إلاَ ما يعرف
وبعد نشر المقالة المذكورة أدركت عيناي عملاً مهماً كان متوفراً وشائعاً في مكتبات صنعاء ووجدته في إحدى مكتبات شارع 26 سبتمبر وهو :
(الدائرة الفلكية الزراعية في اليمن ) للقاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي . وبفضل هذا العلاَمة الكبير وخلال حوالي أربعة عقود من الزمان شق التقويم الزراعي اليمني طريقه إلى الحياة الفكرية الفلكية والزراعية في داخل اليمن وخارجها .
ومن المهم هنا الإشارة إلى عَلمٍ من أعلام الفلك الإسلامي هو :
الدكتور دانيال مارتين فاريسكو الذي أنجز الكثير من البحوث والمؤلفات عن الفلك الزراعي في اليمن ( وهو ما يُسميه الفلك الشعبي) وكان القاضي يحيى العنسي من أبرز مراجعه وذكره بالاسم

Continue reading علاَمة الفلك الزراعي في اليمن القاضي يحيى بن يحيى بن يحيى العنسي

Yemeni Arts on al-Madaniya

madaniya

Despite the turmoil and suffering in Yemen, a number of Yemeni artists are continuing to write, draw, photograph and film. One of the more exciting online resources for this is the website al-madaniya, published in English and Arabic.  Current posts include an article on Muhammad Mahmud al-Zubayri, Art in prehistoric Yemen, Yemeni songs, the poets ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Muqalih and ‘Abd Allah al-Baradduni, several short stories and much more. All the articles are published in Arabic and English, so they are also suitable for anyone interested in learning Arabic.

As note in the “About” section…

al-Madaniya magazine is a platform for Yemeni art, culture and civil society. It aims to highlight and nurture Yemeni art, culture and civil society initiatives through contributions from emerging and established writers, photographers and creatives

The magazine aims to impact the way Yemenis view their own society by providing a space for its cultural, intellectual and artistic productions, and by highlighting initiatives bridging social divisions. By presenting all contributions in both Arabic and English language, the magazine allows the international reader to explore an undiscovered side to Yemen, which differs from images of Yemen created in mainstream media

al-Madaniya magazine is a project implemented by the Yemen Polling Center and made possible by the generous funding of the German Institute of Foreign Affairs.  Yemeni artist Ibi Ibrahim has been commissioned to lead the project and serve as the Editor in Chief.

Travels to Aden and Mocha in the mid 19th Century, #4

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Captain William Kidd

This post continues the story of Joseph B. F. Osgood (1823-1913), whose Notes of Travel or Recollections of Majunga, Zanzibar, Muscat, Aden, Mocha, and other Eastern Ports (Salem: George Creamer, 1854) describes the Arabian coastline, like a 19th century Ibn Baṭūṭṭa. For Part #1, click here; for Part #2, click here; for Part #3, click here.

Among the legends that Osgood tells, is a surprising one about the pirate Captain Kidd.  This notorious pirate went to the Indian Ocean to raid ships there. His sunken ship the “Adventure Galley” was discovered off the coast of Madagascar in 2015. His big mistake was taking a merchant ship named the “Quedach Merchant” in 1698. Owned by a Mughal merchant, its crew was international: an English captain, two Dutch officers, several Indian seamen and Armenian merchants. Even though it carried a French flag, Kidd captured the ship and renamed it the “Adventure Prize,” sailing it back to the Caribbean and eventually New York. Because of the English connection, Kidd was sent to Scotland for trial and hanged to death in 1701.

There are many rumors about his treasure, and some of these, like one of Osgood, place it in the Red Sea:

[p. 159] Having been drifted about by light winds, it was not till the third morning after leaving Aden, that we passed Babel-Mandeb Peak, rearing its lofty summit of black crumbling rock, eight hundred feet above our heads, and entered Babel-Mandeb Strait, or the Gate of Mourning. We passed through the narrow strait, which is about a mile and a fourth wide, between Babel- Mandeb Peak and Perim Island. Speaking of Perim Island, it will be remembered that Capt. Kidd, who, in 1697, sailed from New York, in the Adventure Galley, [p. 160] in search of buccaneers, turned pirate, and near here, captured a rich Queda merchantman. He landed upon this island, and who knows but that the long sought after buried treasures of the daring buccaneer may yet be unearthed at Perim Island? Surely it looks like the place of all places the twice hanged captain would have chosen to bury his bible to gain the good graces of the evil one. The English had a force stationed here when Bonaparte had thoughts of subduing India.”

more to come

Mahra Poetry Site

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Sam Liebhaber (Middlebury College) has just published a new book on Mahri Poetry, When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra. Associated with the new release is a website exhibit.

Details of the exhibit are described below:

The Mahra people of the southern Arabian Peninsula have no written language but instead possess a rich oral tradition. Samuel Liebhaber takes readers on a tour through their poetry, collected by the author in audio and video recordings over the course of several years. Based on this material, Liebhaber developed a systemic approach to Mahri poetry that challenges genre- based categorizations of oral poetry from the Arabian Peninsula. By taking into account all Mahri poetic expressions—the majority of which don’t belong to any of the known genres of Arabian poetry—Liebhaber creates a blueprint for understanding how oral poetry is conceived and composed by native practitioners. Each poem is embedded in a conceptual framework that highlights formal similarities between them and recapitulates how Mahri poets craft poems and how their audiences are primed to receive them. The web-based medium allows users not only to delve into the classification system to explore the diversity and complexity of the Mahra’s poetic expressions, but also to experience the formation of a poem in the moment. Through a series of questions designed to define the social context in which a poem is being created, the reader is taken on an experiential tour through the corpus that highlights the embeddedness of poetry in the Mahras’ everyday practices.

“Featuring Arabic as well as Mahran texts translated and annotated in English, When Melodies Gather is a superb educational resource for appreciating the verbal and performative skill of modern tribal bards.”—Flagg Miller, University of California, Davis

“Of vital importance to the documentation of Mahri, When Melodies Gather enables native speakers and scholars alike to examine and appreciate an endangered genre within an endangered language.”—Janet Watson, University of Leeds