Questioning the birth of a tradition

By Anne Regourd
Submitted to Session P5059 (Beyond the written word: unity and diversity across transmission and transformation of medieval textual traditions in the Arabian Peninsula, 2018 Annual Meeting
All Time Periods;
For the inhabitants of Zabid, the poem Tufi tufi lubanah, a popular composition sung and danced by the children and transmitted orally over generations in the families of Tihama (Zabid?), is anonymous. While this is a comic piece of poetry, expressing an urgent desire for the beloved at a second level of meaning, in the style of humayni poetry—a learned genre, which has been practiced at least since the 18th century by famous poets and which left records, they say it is a Sufi poem. Sufism developed in the Sunni regions of Yemen and our poem provides evidence of relations with another Sufi region of the country, Hadhramawt. Manuscript m / h 57 of the Al-Hadrami Private Library in Zabid (Yemen), contains a mystic sharh of the same poem, which offers a third level of meaning, known to scholars and literate people. Copied in 1975, on a private manuscript, it testifies of a written transmission and gives an attribution to the poem, as well as its sharh. According to the ms., the commentator would have died in 1889-90. The author of the poem remains to be identified and could be from Taez or its region. The talk will explore the question of the birth of a tradition, which is attested in this case both in its written and oral path. Furthermore, a soundtrack of the song will be available for the public who wishes to hear it.