Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Peterson's article on 'Dance Music in Cairo'

From Arab Media Society

Sampling Folklore: The re-popularization of Sufi inshad in Egyptian dance musicIcon indicating an associated article is peer reviewed

By Jennifer Peterson

January, 2008. Beneath the looming limestone precipice that borders the old city of Cairo stands the shrine of Omar Ibn Al-Farid, a 13th century Sufi mystic and poet. Much of his verse is metaphorical love poetry, and, now deemed classic, is most typically

Dancing at a Cairo street wedding.
photo by Ahmed Kamel, www.ahmed-kamel.com.

recited in the Sufi lyrical genre called inshad. Most poignantly, perhaps, it is performed live at the late-night celebration held annually in Ibn Al-Farid's honor.[1] Revered as a saint since the generation following his decease, Ibn Al-Farid is today venerated with a mulid, or saint festival, held in and around his shrine.[2] [Music Clip 1: Sheikh Yassin Al-Tuhami performs Ibn Al-Farid lyrics live]

Although relatively modest in scale, the mulid of Ibn Al-Farid is a festival much like those held for hundreds of other saints in Egypt, combining spiritually-focused ritual with fairground fun.[3] Pilgrims visit the shrine to pay their respects and make supplications amidst crowds praying, socializing, singing Sufi poetry, eating, and even sleeping in the mosque area. Near the shrine and throughout the festive space, Sufi patrons provide charitable "services" of food, water, hot drinks, and sweets to the public. Outside upon a stage draped in colorful cloth, a professional performer of inshad provides the musical and lyrical setting for dhikr, an emotionally-charged, rhythmic swaying movement whose practice is meant to engender a heightened spiritual state. Dervishes in eccentric dress converge on the mulid space, sometimes sporting ornate canes, flags, and symbolic props such as wooden swords. Families picnic on the pavement and children frolic among the fairground attractions, rambunctiously riding swings and playing at shooting galleys. Youth swagger in their most fashionable clothes, makeshift caf├ęs fill up, and itinerant vendors hawk snacks, toys, party hats, trinkets, and cassette tapes of inshad and other music genres. ..........................................

Its a long article but really interesting and comprehensive.

Read the entire article at Arab Media Society

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