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

Material and non-material folk culture

Issue 31
Material and non-material folk culture

Atif Atiyyah


In Arabs’ minds, folk culture in Arab countries has always been associated with practices that are contrary to rational thinking, religion and the rules governing language. It belonged to the common people, and reflected their sincerity, dreams, aspirations, feelings, and things that prolonged their lives and improved their health.


Given the importance of deepening the understanding of Arab folk culture, the Folk Culture Journal held a symposium in the Kingdom of Bahrain to discuss the concept of folk culture, and to compare it to the Western concept of folklore. The symposium included discussions of the changing perception of Arab folk culture and its relationship to scientific research. Recommendations included studying the role of specialised centres and ways to benefit from them by collecting data according to scientific methods.

This symposium was attended by the most prominent folk culture experts from several Arab countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq, Palestine and Bahrain. They discussed the concept of Arab folk culture, and agreed that Arab folk culture should not be confused with the modern Western concept that associates such culture with the lower classes.

The participants pointed out that there is a need to revisit the idea that folk culture is irrational and that it contradicts religion and the rules of language, even if this was true in the past. The participants concluded that folk culture is part of all

social classes and groups, because it is a collective product of a society that shares a system of values and symbols. Folk culture is part of general culture.

There are many elements and conditions that render folk culture subject to change, and our societies are vulnerable to the influence of countries on which they are economically dependent.

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