Category Archives: Music and Dance

Yemeni Musical and Linguistic Heritage for UNESCO

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A three-day international cultural seminar on the Ḥaḍramī musical genre of Dān was held in Cairo on July 5-6, 2019. The Yemeni Minister of Culture Marwan Dammaj contributed to the discussions intended to start necessary preparations for nominating Ḥaḍramī Dān music for inclusion in UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The Ḥaḍramī Dān is a genre of folk singing that is very popular in the governorate of Ḥaḍramawt, as well as other parts of Yemen and Indonesia. In one session, the Director of the Culture Office in Ḥaḍramawt, Ahmed bin Dowis, provided a presentation of Ḥaḍramī Dān. He described it as a component of Ḥaḍramī cultural identity, involved in praising, disparaging, description and wisdom. Popular bands of Ḥaḍramī Dān can be found in Tarim, Say’ūn , Daw‘ān and Shibām. For examples of Yemeni Dān, click here and here.

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Continue reading Yemeni Musical and Linguistic Heritage for UNESCO

All about Aden

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One of the most impressive Yemeni sites for the culture and history of Aden and southern Yemen is alamree.net. You can literally spend hours exploring this rich site. As you can see in the above image from the main page, there is information on Aden itself, coffee and mountains in Yāfi‘ the Aden zoo and the mosque of al-‘Aydarūs. There is also a treasure trove of images and photographs on Aden, some of which are very old. More photographs and videos are also available on the Facebook site of Hussain Alamree.

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Tawāhī in the 1960s

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Ma‘alā sūq, 1920

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Local dance in Shaykh ‘Uthmān, 1947

​Modern Yemeni Theatre: A Brief History

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Yemeni novelists and playwrites  Nadiah al-Kokabany, Wagdi al-Ahdal, Ali al-Moqri and Samir Abdul-Fatah

by Sara Forcella

Over the past two centuries, Yemen has been the scene of an important literary flowering. Despite the never-ending struggle of play-writers against the socio-political difficulties of the country, the emergence of the Modern Yemeni Theatre doubtless represents an example both of an innovative and high value literary production. Continuously facing social, political and cultural problems, Yemeni authors and players have always shown a great capability of keeping up with the times. Their works talk about doubts, questions, passions and issues of the modern man, going beyond the “local” dimension and constantly dialoguing with their Western counter-parts.

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Sa‘īd ‘Awlaqī

According to Saʿīd ʿAwlaqī (Sabʿūna ʿāmān min al-masraḥ fī-al-Yaman [Seventy Years of Yemen Theatre], 1983), the first information available about the early Yemeni dramas dates back to 1904 when the Indian acting company of Jamlat Shah came to Aden. The company went on stage with a mostly musical performance involving all its members, namely actors, dancers, musicians and circus animals. However, it was not until 1910 that the first Yemeni theatrical company was established in Aden, consisting of students that acted out a western play, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in Arabic. As al-Mubarak (Arabic Drama, A Critical Introduction, 1986) wrote, these first companies adopted the western model of playwriting once they came in direct contact with it during the 19th century, both in Greater Syria (the ancient region including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and the Palestine territories till the collapse of the Ottoman empire in 1918) and Egypt. Western models melded with previous forms of Arabic art performances, spanning the traditional shadow play, storytelling and poetry recitation.
Continue reading ​Modern Yemeni Theatre: A Brief History

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 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.]

ذكري الفنان الكبير محمدعلي ميسري

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يصادف اليوم 2 فبراير الذكرى الثالثة على رحيل الفنان الكبير محمدعلي ميسري رحمة الله عليه
وهو شاعر وملحن ومطرب ولد في مودية بمحافظة أبين في عام 1946، وتوفى في 2 فبراير 2016،
اشتغل في سلك التدريس من 1/1/1962، حتى 1/11/1978، ثم انتقل الى ادارة الثقافة ابين مديراً للمركز الثقافي مودية، واحيل للتقاعد في 2006.
كان يتمتع بصوت شجي فيه نكهة أبينية مميزة؛ والحانه تتناغم مع رقصة (الشَّرح البدوي) المعروفة.
شارك في العديد من المهرجانات المحلية والعربية والدولية أبرزها مشاركته الفنية في كوبا، كوريا، العراق، المانيا وطاجكستان.
كان رحمة الله علية رائداً للحركة الفنية في دثينة ومن كبار فناني اليمن. أسس في أواخر عام 1965، أول ندوة موسيقية في مودية، وشكل في النصف الثاني من عام 1969، فرقة فحمان الموسيقية.
كما أثرى المكتبة الموسيقية برصيد كبير من الأغاني والأعمال الفنية، منها: يا طير السحر، آبا آبا ليش هكة، فرحة النصر، يا عيد عيدوه، يا فلاحة، ياعم منصور، كيفكم ياحبايب، موسم الصيف، ليش زعلان مني، الغصن الرطيب، ياحادي العيس / شي معك لي اخبار من تلحينه وشعر عبدالله مقادح، قلبي اشتراكم من كلماته وتلحينه.
وغني يا عدن الثورة، اليمن الواحد، ما أفتهم كيف أنت، يا ذي نويتوا العيب وأحرمتوا قلب المحب، إسمك كتبته فوق جدران قلبي، هيثم عوض قال، جودوا لي بليلة، ما أحسنك ما أحسنك يا الغصن الرطيب، عناق الأحبة، سلام شف كيف صنعاء
وله الفضل في تقدم العديد من الاصوات الموجودة في الساحة الفنية.
غنى له بعض الفنانين العرب وسطا بعضهم على بعض ألحانه وأغنياته، مثل: يا عم منصور وليش زعلان مني.
المعلومات في هذه النبذة المختصرة مستلة من السيرة الذاتية التي كتبها المرحوم الأستاذ حسين محمد ناصر ومن السفر الجميل للأستاذ محمد بن ناصر العولقي: من تاريخ الأغنية في لحج وعدن وأبين.

محمد جرهوم

Videos of Ṣan‘ā’ in 1975

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The anthropologist John Kennedy, who wrote an early study (The Flower of Paradise) on the use of qāt in Yemen, also took a number of videos in Ṣanā’ in 1975. Several of these are now online on Youtube. Most deal with making the qamariyya windows, but there is also one on architecture, another on Bab al-Sabāḥ and another on a walk through the old suq. The quality of the filming and its reproduction online is poor, but it is well worth watching. The soundtrack is also a useful guide to the actual sounds and dialogue.

Here are the links:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Z2kKyoKLo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bR-WsRaGBFk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enQXk_Nrcc0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6bsbVx3nvI

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfMJKbf_uM4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_Z2kKyoKLo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5e69-k2Cqo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hqAyWF17r9E

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UWUd6FourU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlwyNYymL-M

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