A quarterly specialized journal
The Message Of Folklore from Bahrain To The World

Iskaba: A traditional song

Issue 19
Iskaba: A traditional song

Selima Feryal Achiwiki‭ ‬(Syria)

Iskaba is a traditional song of the Levant. With its beautiful rhyme, tender tone, and spontaneous rhythm, Iskaba appeals to many generations. The lyrics ask that tears be shed. Originally a song of grief, Iskaba has been adapted to serve other purposes.



Women used to sing Iskaba to touch people’s hearts and to make them cry in order to relieve agony and depression, because they believed singing was a means of purification and that it brought hope. The song narrates memories of people who have departed; reinforcing the adage that no one is happy all the time.

Iskaba is a song of grief and love; a song of morals that describe people’s suffering. The song has an elegant rhyme and gentle rhythm, so mothers sing Iskaba to lull their children to sleep, grandmothers sing it to reminisce about their pasts, and girls sing it to convey love or to bid farewell to their lovers. A man might sing Iskaba while he is working alone, but men do not usually sing it at gatherings.

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