Monday, 24 April 2017

T is for Tanoura....and....Tops....

Welcome to the last week of the A-Z Challenge! Home stretch! The Week of the Tough Cookies - from U to Z one after another, relentless! Personally, it's going to be an intense week - there is also a local poetry event on the 29th, and I'm participating...what? only the blog was supposed to be poetry-free in April, offline it's the same old same old...can't banish poetry from real life, are you kidding me? :) anyways time for



which is for



Tanoura!


There are many sects within Islam, and Sufism is a mystical, introspective sect. Some of the Sufis whirl as a spiritual act of submission, they are known as the whirling dervishes. In Egypt, the Sufi whirling has evolved in a particular trajectory all its own.  Some dance scholars feel that they blend remnants of ancient Egyptian ritual dances and folk traditions with the Sufi performance. Also, the Egyptian Sufis dress in colourful skirts, and the word for the skirt gives the name to the performance – Tanoura.




Vibrant skirts! they give the name to the performance. The colours 
represent the various Sufi orders. Each skirt weighs around 5 kg. 
A dervish may wear two skirts for the whirling ceremony. 



Starts off with individual musicians introducing their instruments through 
solo recitals. Here finger cymbals called 'sagat' are being played.



The percussion instruments. The lead is the goblet drum called
'darbouka' in Arabic, the tambourines are called 'riqq,' as you know.


The philosophy of the performance is based on the belief that the world moves in circles, begins and comes back to the same point, and therefore the Sufis spin, mimicking that motion.  They whirl anticlockwise, as pilgrims do in the Kaaba, Islam’s holiest shrine. 


The 'sagat' 'speaks' to the 'darbouka' in a call-and-response duet,
the finger cymbals ask a question and the drum answers.

Apart from the saqat and darbouka, reed flutes (ney) and
lutes (rabab) are the other instruments accompanying.


The Tanoura performance is split in three parts.  The first is a warm up - an introduction to the various musical instruments accompanying the Sufis, followed by the presentation performance, more spiritual in its execution. And the last part is pure magic, the music revs up, three dancers come on stage, the whole atmosphere is electrifying. 

The solo performer discards a black jacket, whirls with
these 'mute' tambourines, and by the end has discarded 

both the skirts he started off with.  


Each action, each gesture of the arm and hand, each discarded item – jacket or skirt or the tambourine or the banner that the main performer holds, has a spiritual significance. 


Traditionally, the Tanoura is performed at Moulids, the celebration
of a Sufi Saint's Day, 


But this be the thing, you don’t have to know the least bit about them, or about Sufism, or spirituality or anything, to enjoy this colourful, lively, folksy, quasi-religious and amazing performing art! 



Three performers set the stage alight with their energy, vibrancy 
and colours. 



Eye-contact and an engaging connect with the audience.



While the solo Tanoura is more about spirituality this is pure
showmanship and consummate skill.



     
The skirt is spun vertically, horizontally, 
and on every possible plane. 


A thumping good time guaranteed, it'll make you want to stand up and take a few twirls yourself. Just go watch it if you are in Cairo. 
This part lasts for around 45 minutes, roughly 
the same as the first.







And the final step, the skirt is loosened and removed. Show over!





And here is a number called El Tanoura – the skirt, by popular singer Fares Karam from Lebanon. Arab pop numbers make great music for dancing along. I’m not so sure I’m quite comfortable with the message of the video/lyrics, uff, uff, uff!! When will media portrayals of women stop being all about their skirt lengths and see-through Tops, how much more Time will it freaking Take?? but let’s leave the heavy stuff out and just enjoy the beats.













Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2017 

55 comments:

  1. Those skirts weigh 5 kilos? And they dance wearing two of them for up to forty-five minutes? That is would be a Tremdous workout.
    And an amazing thing to see.
    Arab pop music is definitely Toe-tapping isn't it? And sigh on women being no more than what they wear/don't wear. It will end. Sometime.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The first skirt gets discarded maybe 10/15 minutes into the performance - so it's one skirt for most of the time. Even so it can't be easy to wear something that heavy and whirl. Tremendous workout as you say :)

      Delete
  2. It is always an education with your postings Nilan! You take great pains to present a comprehensive offering. Now I know a lot of Tanoura after being alerted here! And heavy stuff to have on while dancing! Phew!

    Hank

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, heavy stuff, but looks effortless.

      Delete
  3. Golly what those performers must go through.
    Most wonderful post to read, Good "T" words.

    Yvonne.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The performers always seem to be either completely rapt or having fun.

      Delete
  4. Thank you for this excellent wealth of information. I have seen the whirring dervishes live when they performed here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This troupe does perform worldwide...

      Delete
  5. I've always heard about the Sufi philosophy but I have to admit I know nothing about it.
    This is a nice hint at it, and I love it comes in the form of a dance. Because, I suppose, philosophy should be about life and about enjoying life. Or at least this is how I see it ;-)

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know much about philosophies but have watched the whirling on many occasions and enjoyed it every single time :)

      Delete
  6. Hi Nila - as usual I'll be back ... but the Terrible week of Tough cookie letters .. yes - but you'll nail it. Wonderful you're still keeping up with the poetry - life does go on. Cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/t-is-for-turkey.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's actually poetry month, on account of Shakespeare's birthday...so can't be totally poetry free!

      Delete
  7. Wow! I am an admirer of the feel of the Soulful Sublime sufi music . How I wish to be a witness to the Tanoura performance one day . I can feel the soulfulness of the performance in your vibrant pics.
    Lovely post!
    Best wishes
    Moon
    https://aslifehappens60.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hope you do get to experience it. The troupe is Terrific!

      Delete
  8. Very engaging and informative read.
    Dancing with 5Kg of skirts and two such together...Oh my my...For the onlookers its a pretty site but for the performer??? Or may be its their passion...
    ------------------------------------------------
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is indeed a spiritual performance...they are all practicing Sufis, or so I was told.

      Delete
  9. Those whirling dervishes put up such a superb performance. I love that you've given us all the details of the performance with the music break up and all.
    Tolerance #Lexicon of Leaving

    ReplyDelete
  10. I like your pictures (and explanations). The message of the video... No, I don't like it. It happens often, that I like the music (even the lyrics), but not the images of videos and their idea of women/men, so far away from mine.
    -----
    Eva - Mail Adventures

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can so relate to that ( like the music/lyrics, dislike the message) happens to me pretty frequently, esp where women are concerned too often for comfort.

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. True, very colourful and lovely to watch. Thanks for visiting.

      Delete
  12. This really looks like quite a show, indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I haven't seen this in any live performances, but I've seen the whirling dancers dressed in all white. I like the colorful skirts though.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Turkish dervishes use plain white outfits and those tall hats which signify tombstones. The Egyptian Sufis have developed along a different path into a slightly more folksy form.

      Delete
    2. Once again you've bought me back to happy memories of my time in Egypt. The dancers were simply stunning - I felt giddy watching them!

      Another day in Amble Bay!

      Delete
    3. Definitely one of my best memories of Cairo too...stunning is right!

      Delete
  14. Although I'm familiar with the Turkish dervishes, I had no clue about Tanoura. Yet another reason on my list to visit Egypt. Fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They probably are a stand alone reason for visiting :) but the great thing is, Egypt has such a huge range of attractions on offer. You can kill many birds with one stone :)

      Delete
  15. I'm transfixed after this magical journey. Shukran habibi:)
    T is for Tavaa Toast

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Afwan habibty :) Transfixed is a Terrific T-word!

      Delete
  16. Looks like an amazing spectacle!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, it's all a bit gobsmacking the first time, and I mean it in a good way

      Delete
  17. I'd say you are a tough enough cookie to handle it all
    I like the phrase 'whirling dervish'. Now I know the real deal about it. Very impressive dancing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Great post. Love the explanation about sufis and the music video. I remember listening to arabic music back in the day in my car. You'd think it was hip hop for how loud I used to play it.
    T is for terrific actress

    http://theglobaldig.blogspot.com/2017/04/u-is-for-unbelievable-actress.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We play a lot of Arabic music (and others as well) in the car too. Soothing and sometimes catchy antidote to traffic issues and road rage :)

      Delete
  19. one of my favorite parts of middle eastern and asian music are the instruments like those hand cymbals :D

    joy @ The JOYOUS Living

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Asians use the hand cymbals more commonly, Arabs use finger cymbals rather than the hand, at least from what I have noticed.

      Delete
  20. Those skirts are amazing and look so cool when twirled. Interesting post with lots of great information. WeekendsInMaine

    ReplyDelete
  21. Those skirts are amazing and look so cool when twirled. Interesting post with lots of great information. WeekendsInMaine

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, they do look beyond cool. Thanks for visiting

      Delete
  22. It's a fascinating performance, and my understanding was that they whirl to line themselves up with the whirling of the planet, the stars, the atoms, the whole universe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's such a beautiful philosophy isn't it? It's a form of meditation - an act of submission to the Divine by annihilating the individual ego.

      Delete
  23. I had watched a performance in my city a while back and was absolutely mesmerised by the music and then the swirling! I didnt know the skirts weighed so much- man thats intense! What I loved about the performance was their grace and the devotion to the whole thing.
    Nilanjana as always I am stunned with your research and know-how of this stuff!!


    ​Taaza Thindi in Bangalore

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a very moving performance to witness, whether you are a believer or not, spiritual or not. Sufism has a universal appeal I think, something very basic and relatable in it, or maybe because we are exposed to that philosophy since birth in India - in music and poetry and literature, who knows? Thanks for visiting.

      Delete
  24. Whirling dervishes!

    They're just so magical to watch. And I love that phrase. Could be a good band name too. :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. Wow, I would love to see the Tanoura performed live. In the u.s. a religion group in the 1800s known as the "Shakers" would shake and twirl around during worship, and were often ridiculed and persecuted by outsiders.

    "Female Scientists Before Our Time"
    Shells–Tales–Sails

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting! Wonder if they were Sufis too?

      Delete
  26. Similar to the Dervishes, then?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes same faith, slightly different interpretation of the philosophy and a more colourful expression.

      Delete