By Sumaiyya Naseem
The Saudi folk art enriches the history and heritage of our country. We have seen it on TV, in festivals and sometimes in weddings and dessert trips. Here are some facts about traditional folklore some of which you’ve never heard before.
- Saudi folklore is a combination of poetry, music, songs, dance, rhythm and costumes.
- The traditional folklore dance is known as the ‘ardah.
- The roots of this tradition lie in the Najd region.
- Some folklore troupes span generations.
- The embroidered long coat is known as the daghla.
- The rhythmic clapping is known as tasfiq.
- This folk-music tradition varies in different regions of the country.
- In Hijaz, the poetry is about the Arab Andalusia.
- In Makah and Madinah, the poetry and songs are about the influences of cities throughout the Islamic world.
- Some are combinations of clapping, drumming and group dancing.
- Common props include the long sword in ‘ardah and bamboo stick in mizmar of the Western Province.
‘Ardah – Riyadh and Qassim Provinces
- The ‘ardah is a war dance; warriors used to perform it before battle.
- It was a demonstration of fearlessness and enthusiasm.
- In ‘ardah, Al-Takhmir refers to beating the drum twice, and Al-Tathlith is beating the drums thrice.
- Tired dancers rest the swords on their shoulders and continue doing basic steps with the rest of the group.
- Up to 90 performers can participate at one time – two rows of 40 swordsmen with 10 drummers.
- It is reported that these drums sound like thunder.
Al-Majrour and Tarab Yambawi – Makkah and Madinah Provinces
- In Taif’s Al-Majrour folk dance, performers line up in two rows and dance while facing each other.
- Some carry sticks or drums while others sit down.
- During the dance they spin to the beautiful rhythm and harmony of the sounds of flutes.
- In Tarab Yambawi, a performer stands in the centre of the group holding the Al-Samsamiyah, which is a string instrument. He plays the melodies and tunes which the rest of the group dances to.
- The songs in this folk dance encourage people to work hard and be virtuous.
- The dance is described to be like the rise and fall of the waves of the sea.
Saudi Arabia has a rich culture of folklore. These traditional dances and songs are prominent in weddings, social gatherings and festivals such as the Jenadriyah Heritage and Cultural Festival.