Ma'ani Sahja: A Distinctive Type of Folk Song in Jordan
By Abdullah Al Hassan
The researcher studied a type of folk song in Jordan known as ‘Al Sahja Al Ma'aniyeh’. A type of folk poetry, it derives its name from the folkloric dance that accompanies it. The city of Ma'an is said to have pioneered this folkloric art a long time ago.
The researcher points out that Sahja is performed at events and celebrations. A group of performers who have mastered Sahja forms a ring in the middle of the space; they sometimes create two teams in the form of crescents. A well-versed poet improvises a line of poetry that is repeated by the leader of the other team. After a brief silence, the poet of the second team responds to the first line, which is also repeated by his own team. Both groups continue to compose lines to the accompaniment of clapping and dancing.
The dance involves the dancers standing together, sitting in the middle of the second row, bending, squatting, clapping and moving their heads to the right and left. One member of the team stands in front participating in the movements and performance. The line of poetry that is recited is consistent with the movement, meaning and sound.
Research highlights the difference between old and recent versions of Sahja. The poet who composes poetry on the spot has been replaced by a group of people who memorise and recite verses of Sahja poetry.
The researcher points out the purposes of the Sahja, which is rich in meanings and connotations related to the society’s prevailing customs and traditions. With more than a thousand lines of poetry, the Sahja is also rich in proverbs, wisdom and wise sayings.