This video features the Mahri poem “Tribal Code: A Three-Way Conflict.” Composed by Ṭannāf bir Saʿd Ḥamtōt. Ḥājj Dākōn recites the piece. The poem is one of over sixty pieces featured in the Mahri Digital Archive, a website devoted to the preservation and celebration of poetry in the endangered Mahri language of Yemen and Oman. The poems featured in the archive are broadly representative of the different genres of Mahri oral poetry and originate from across the core Mahri-speaking territory of eastern Yemen and western Oman. All pieces in the archive appear as a digital or video recording, accompanied by a transcription into Latin characters (with lexical notation) and a translation into English.
Sam Liebhaber, the director of Arabic Studies at Middlebury, received his M.A. degree in Comparative Semitics (2000) and his Ph.D. in Arabic Literature from the University of California, Berkeley (2007). Dr. Liebhaber has performed extensive fieldwork in Eastern Yemen and Dhofar where he has documented the oral poetic traditions of the Mahra, a community of bedouin pastoralists who speak an endangered language that pre-dates the arrival of Arabic to Southern Arabia. He is the author of an article written on the above poem. The article, entitled “Rhetoric and Rite of Passage in the Mahri Tribal Ode,” will appear in the Journal of Middle Eastern Literature (in press).