Open Access Zār in Upper Egypt: Hans Alexander Winkler's Field Notes from 1932

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During his 1932 fieldwork in Naj' al-Kīmān, near Qift in Upper Egypt, the German historian of religions Hans Alexander Winkler (1900-1945) invited some zār singers (Zârbeschwörerinnen) to the house in which he was staying. The shayka (leader) of the zār, Jâmne (Yāmne), was a black Sudanese woman who had learned the zār songs from her mother, and she from her mother who had come to Qift from the Sudan. Yāmne and her companions—her daughter Sabrimenno, as well as an elderly woman, Sa'īde, with her daughter—brought their instruments with them in a basket. Yāmne played the tār mushalshal (tambourine with jingles; known elsewhere in Egypt as riqq), while the others each played a tār (large frame drum), and she sang a verse which the others repeated, usually seven times for each verse. The whole sitting lasted four hours with breaks during which Winkler had them repeat the words, and he wrote down the texts of the songs. Later he went through the songs once more with Yāmne to check and interpret the texts.

Document Type: Review Article


Publication date: March 1, 2010

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