Hitch your wagon to a star
Glimpses from Taiz
Mohammad N. Al-Hakimi
This article brings certain glimpses from the beautiful city of Taiz, 300 km south of Sanaa. The city has been admired by poets, intellectuals, authors, and regular people for its spectacularly traditional atmosphere and friendly people. Here we bring to you some of the glimpses we feel could bring you closer to the real world of Taiz city. All brief glimpses, but with truly spectacular meanings.
Traditions and Conventions
The following are the most common practices concerning traditions and conventions in the city of Taiz:
A week after a baby is born, its family invites as many neighbors as possible for lunch and chewing qat. Some families slaughter two sheep if the newly born child is male, but one or a goat if it is a female.
The event is celebrated once again when the baby is 40 days old. Women gather in the mother's room bringing with them new clothes and different kinds of baby's stuff. Some families also celebrate when it is 9 months old.
Circumcision of male babies often takes place on the 7th day of birth. This event is usually attended by a number of relatives.
Engagement and Marriage
Families tend to distribute qat or raisins or sweets to neighbors as to declare that an engagement has taken place within the family. After chewing qat and agreeing on all conditions of engagement the suitor is allowed to see his fiancée and exchange rings of engagement, accompanied by trilling cries of joy and firing.
Two weeks after marriage the couple leave home for the first time since marriage to visit the bride's family.
Lyali Al-Hinaa (Al-Hinaa Nights)
On one night, the couple are brought into a wide square and placed at the middle while the others are surrounding them, throwing flowers and spraying perfumes on them. The bride is also adorned with henna decorations
Following burial, relatives and friends of the deceased gather together to read the Holy Quran and recite religious songs for ten days.
Pilgrims are often warmly received on their return. Some people organize parties to celebrate the return of pilgrims so as to celebrate the great religious deed they have done.
These differ according to the different occasions being observed. For example, there are certain kinds of songs popular during cultivation, marriages, engagements, deaths, religious occasions, love and passion, longing, working, building, etc. Most of these songs are meant to create a kind of interesting atmosphere, especially when working in fields, etc. so as to be relieved from work's burdens.
Dances vary according to districts and places.
Among the most popular dances are: Bara, Baritha, Sharh, Raklah, Haqfah, Barsham, Zubeiry, etc.
Each district has its distinguished cuisine. Most popular are: Fateer, Khobz Attanour, Khobz Attawah, Al-Aseed, Al-Fattah, Al-Hareesh, Al-Shafoot, Bent Assahn, Al-Wazef, etc.
Men's Dresses: Izar, Maktab, Foutah, Mawaz, etc.
Women's dresses: long brocaded dresses, trousers, scarves, etc.
Many markets, especially in the countryside are held weekly. Such markets are always named after the day they are organized . Apart from these, there are well-known markets such as Ashaniny, Al-Dhabab, Addimnah etc. markets.
Yemenis know how to exploit material available in nature for their own good. They make tools from stone to grind grains and other material. They also make cups, dishes, etc. out of stones.
Gold and Jewelry
Taiz has been famous for silver, ivory, Onyx, gold, diamond, and different kinds of precious stones.
Traditional legends are an art by themselves. They are varied and convey different social or political messages.
The city climate varies according to the location of the district. Animals such as monkeys, foxes, hyenas etc. are the most important animals in the city.
Such places are visited by people for the sake of recovery, getting rid of evil spirits, etc. Most important shrines are:
Ahmad Ben Alwan's Shrine in Yafros, Ahl Al-Kahf Mosque in Saber, Ahmad Abdul Rahman Mosque in Al-Djanad, Suliman Al-Faresy Mosque in Mawyah, Al-Shadheli Mosque in Al-Makha, Abdul Hadi Mosque in Taiz, Shihabaddin Mosque Sharaab, etc.
A number of mineral baths exist in Taiz. Some of these are Hammam Ali, Hammam Attwir, Hammam Al-Agshoub, etc.
Bird groups in Taiz are many. Birds like the sea swallows, gulls etc. fly over the Al-Makha coast. Other kinds of birds like hoopoes, doves, nightingales, eagles, hawks etc. live in the mountains and valleys.
The various architectural styles people of the city implemented added beauty to the city. Old houses like Dar Al-Khadhraa, Dar Assalam, Dar Salah etc. and the ancient gates: Bab Al-Kabeer, Bab Mosa, and Bab Al-Madajer are the places most visited by tourists.
Small waterfalls exist in Taiz. These depend on rain for their continuous flow. The waterfalls most visited are those in Burj Al-Areesh-Maqbanah, Khadeer and Djabal Mashairah in Al-Muasit.
The greenest valleys in the city are Wadi Warazan in Khadeer, Wadi Al-Mulk in Al-Makha, Wadi Hanan in Al-Ashrouh, Wadi Al-Dhabab in Saber, Wadi Al-Gheil in Al-Waz'iyah, Wadi Al-Athar in Qabeitah and Wadi Balabel in Al-Muaset.
No district has been officially announced a reservation, except for the suggestion of a European expert about Iraf in Maqaterah.
The following deserve more attention for being potential candidates for reservations: Wadi Al-Barakani, Djabal Saber, Wadi Balabel, Maqbanah, Al-Rowais, etc.