[13/September/2005] Yemen is very rich in its cultural heritage of the folklore of the folk dances and songs. The popular song has become an artistic reference for many lyrical schools not only in Yemen but also in the entire Gulf region and Arabian Peninsula.
Yemen’s geographic location has played a substantial role in making its culture an interactive subject with the cultures of the others due to its strategic location that enabled Yemenis since the beginning of the humankind civilization to contact with other nations such as Indian , Greek , Egyptian , Babellian and Ashorite as well as African in the eastern coast of Africa so that Yemeni folklore had influenced by some aspects of those nations cultures .
Yemeni folklore thus , influenced by the geographical features of the country since Yemen is consisted of four geographical regions:
*Mountainous Region .
*Central Highlands .
*Coastal Plains .
*Desert Region .
Each of the above regions includes a lot of its own folklorick hints. For example , in the region of Huddramout which is one of the coastal regions used to have constant contacts with the Southeastern of Asia and the eastern of Africa there are a wide variety of folkdances however, it can be said that there are three main features of the folk dances in the Huddramout .
- Dances of pure Yemeni nature .
- Afro-Yemeni Dances .
- Asian-Yemeni Dances.
Due to the large area of the Huddramout there are five types of the folk dance each one of them belongs to one region.
1- Dances of the Wadi Huddramout .
2- Dances of the Coastal Strip .
3- Dances of the Wadi Doa’an .
4- Dances of the Wadi Huger .
5- Dances of the Huddramout Desert.
The above mentioned Dances used to be accompanied with popular songs and folk music . Similarly the three other regions , namely the Mountainous , the Central Highlands and Desert each one contains several forms of the Folk Dance .
It is said that Yemen has got around one hundred of the folk dances , however , this large variety could be confined to three general forms of dance :
1-Al-Zaffean : This Type of the folk dance used to be performed by a couple of men or man and woman and it is accompanied with the tunes and the rhythms of the folk music instruments .
Audience of this dance used to sit or stand in a circular or rectangular shape.
2-Al-Sharrh : This Type is used to be accompanied with the rhythm in the middle of the viewers who should stand in a circular shape and participate in singing and clapping . The dance is performed by a couple of men and perhaps , man and woman as it is in some regions.
3-Al-Barra :It is a tribal dance used to be accompanied by the rhythm of the percussion instruments of the folk music .
The viewers usually gather and stand in a circular shape while the dancers perform the dance in side the circle of the viewers .
The dancer often hold the Janbbia ( dagger ) while he is dancing .This sort of dancing is known as war’s dance.
It is worthwhile mentioning that there are sorts of dances attributed to men as War’s dances and Hunt’s dances thus Al-Shabbwani dances in Huddramout and Al-Farasani dances in the north of the Tehhama as well as Al-qorra’a and Al-Aoddah dances in the region of Byhhan.
There are also dances attributed to women such as Alloabah dance in the region of Yaffea , Al-Razha dance in the region of Shabbwa , Al-Humdani dance in Aden , Al-Feah dance in Huddramout and Al-Tabbah in Hoddeidah . It is also worthy to be mentioned that there are dances performed by men and women like some of Al-Zaffean and Al-
Sharrh dances .
- POPULAR SONGS.
Popular songs in Yemen can be classified into two main categories :
1-Songs of Handicrafts and Occupations.
2-Songs of Social Rites.
Of course , there is category of titles of the above songs such as the following :
- Al-Ssinnawa Songs. Folk songs used to be performed while water is being pulled out with a pocket from the wells.
- Grazing ’s Songs .
- Agriculture’s Songs .
- Gammallah’s Songs. Folk songs used to be performed by men while they’re ridding camels .
- Flood’s Songs .Songs used to be chantted while floods are flowing after the rainfalls.
- Al-Nikhallah’s Songs .Folk songs used to be sung by men while they’re working on the palm trees .
- Grinding’s Songs .Songs used to be performed by women or men while they’re grinding the grains .
- Al-Rahy’s Songs.
- Handicrafts’ s Songs.
- Fishermen’s songs.
- Al-Tuglop’s Songs. A sort of folk songs attributed to women in the coastal strip of Huddramout governorate.
- Al-Hodhod’s Songs.
- Children’ s Songs.
- Joy’ s Songs.
- Risks Threaten Our Popular Heritage.
Yemeni Folklore nowadays faces many risks that might give rise to decrease it and to devoid the life of it , in case that , these pending risks have not been confronted , Some of the more prominent of those risks are :
- The economical and social changes which Yemen has experienced since thirty years ago have brought about a direct threats on the songs of the farmers and craftsmen ,particularly , due to the use of technical mechanisms in all handicrafts .
- Popular Songs and Games of the children have become at the present something of the past reminiscences particularly , within the spread of cartoon’ s films which attract them more and do not leave room for the popular songs and dance especially in the cities.
- The Commercial marketing for the cassettes which contain materials of popular songs performed by singers out of the social context of those songs , this matter brought about distortion of the folk songs resulted in serious imbalances in the artistic elements of the song .
- Yemeni weddings include folkloric rites embody folk songs and dances used to point out to the social stratum and segmental in the domestic society but changes that sweep weddings now especially in cities have already put those folkloric rites at stake. .
International Seminar On The Yemeni Music.
An International Seminar on the Yemeni Music was held in July 1997. Many researchers took part in the Seminar which had paid much attention to the Folk Music & Dance .
A number of scientific researches were submitted to the seminar, the most important of which could be underlined below :
- The Music of Yemeni Fishermen In The Region of Arabian Sea.” By the German researcher , Gabrilla Brown.
- “ The Songs of Fishermen in the City of Alsher “ By the Yemeni Researcher , Abdulrahman Al-Malahy .
- “ The Rural Music in the Yemeni Highlsnds “ By the French researcher , Habeeb Yumain .
- “ Al-Dan and the Aowadi Song “ By the Yemeni researcher , Ahmed Meftah .
- “ The Dan’ s Sessions in the Wadi of Huddramout “ By the French Researcher , Musher Zad Qasim Hussen .
- “ The Rhythmical Bands in Yemen “ By the German Researcher , Yurgean Elcener .
- “ Of the Art of the Folk Dance in Yemen “ By the Yemeni Researcher , Ahmed Saeed Alkoshab .
- “ The Folk Dance in the government of Huddramout “ By the Yemeni Researcher , Saeed Omar Farhan .
- “ The Dance of Al-Aoddah and its Melodies “ By the Yemeni Researcher , Abdullah Saleh ...
It is obvious that Folk Song and Dance had given much attention in the seminar and that is an indicator to the importance of the Folk Dance & Song in the life of the Yemeni society .
The seminar had come out with a number of recommendations on top of which was the recommendation of establishment “ The Center of Yemeni Musical Heritage “ The Ministry of Culture has agreed to establish it in 1998 but the project has not been completed yet.
-Yemeni Organizations and Institutions For protection the Yemeni Folklore.
1-The Yemeni Center for collecting and protecting the Cultural and Artistic Heritage. It was established in 1998.
2-Al-Ammry Symposium for Literatures and Reviving the cultural Heritage . Established in 1998.
3-The Association of the Popular Poets . Established in 2001.
4-The Foundation of Protection the Cultural & Antiquities Heritage. Established in 2001.
5- the Yemeni Center for Scientific Documentation . Established in 2002.