‘Al Zajrah’ and traditional irrigation methods in Bahrain
By Husain Mohammad Husain, Bahrain
For a very long time, the irrigation of agricultural lands has been accompanied by singing. A distinctive style of poetry known as ‘Mawwal’ emerged in the second century AH in Wasit, Iraq. The inhabitants of the area, particularly the farmers, used to sing Mawwal to the palm trees while they irrigated the land. Over time, the style developed into its current form.
In Bahrain, Mawwal was predominantly associated with the ‘Zajrah’ irrigation technique. This particular type of Mawwal may be the only reminder of Zajrah that still exists in Bahrain. People used different tools depending on the size of the land and the quality of the well from which the water was drawn. They performed rituals that involved the tools and singing.
This folklore is not limited to the countries of the Arabian Gulf; it can also be found in other Arab countries such as Egypt and the Sudan, and in all cultures that use the same irrigation methods.
The cultural heritage of Bahrain and the Arabian Gulf includes a wide variety of Mawwal songs.