Mahri Poetry Archive

Nuṣṣ ḳṣīdet


Formal Structure: Hemistich

Content: Sentimental, Specified and Unspecified Referent

Length: Multi-line Monothematic

Performance: Sung and Recited


This genre-marked category is unique amongst the genre-marked categories listed in the archive insofar as it has very little circulation outside of a small minority of Arabic-literate, Mahri cultural authorities based in al-Ghaydha.  I have included the phrase “nuṣṣ ḳṣīdet” in this archive because it serves an important need towards acknowledging a new type of Mahri lyric poem.  Ḥājj Dākōn coined this term in the early 2000’s to describe a number of his lyric poems (ḳṣīdet < Ar. qaṣīda) that followed a linear narrative (Ar. nuṣṣ).  While the term “qaṣīda” is used in Arabic sources to describe certain forms of Mahri lyric poetry, the borrowed term “ḳṣīdet” was rarely used by the Mahra themselves.  Instead, lyric poems are referred to by whatever melody accompanies them (yēd w-yēd, lawlā, dānidān, yā dānī, lōlewēt, etc.).  Due to the multiplicity of melodies and their regional variations, referring to lyric poems by a melodic signature does not distinguish poems on topical or formal grounds.

The core of Ḥājj’s terminological innovation was to recognize that some of his lyric poems follow a linear narrative, rather than explore or expand upon a single sentimental theme (desire, blame, description, etc.).  In his view, this warranted the development of a new conceptual category for Mahri lyric poetry: the nuṣṣ ḳṣīda.  Ḥājj’s terminology points to a fundamentally different treatment of poetic structure and thematic progression between his own compositions and those of an older generation of Mahri poets.  In Part I.7 from The Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn (“The Story Qaṣīda“, 26-32), I analyze this discrepancy as a function of Ḥājj’s practice of writing down his lyrics versus the traditional practice of oral composition and tranmission.

Since the label of nuṣṣ ḳṣīdet is not circulated outside of Ḥājj’s circle of colleagues, I have refrained from appling it to traditional lyric poems written by other poets.  Instead, I have only identified the lyric poems from Ḥājj’s Dīwān as nuṣṣ ḳṣīdet that he himself designated as such.


I Want To Write A Line (The Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn #8)

Desire (The Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn #9)

Her Looks and Figure (The Dīwān of Ḥājj Dākōn #11)


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