“AL TAHTIB” Wrestling with Sticks
Husam Mehasseb (Egypt)
While it is true that Wrestling with Sticks is a game between players, it is in the broader sense a game that symbolizes “society” and how society perceives the world. Members of the community arrive from village or town to the wrestling area to encourage their player and to declare his victory. In so doing, they participate in the game through the player, who represents the community. Through him, the entire community shares in the victory. Wrestling with Sticks is a symbolic fight between two heroes in which each represents his own societal group. Herein lies the common factor that makes this game a vital component of the society, which is difficult to understand without considering the conditions of the society relative to civilization. These help one understand and interpret the traditions, arts and morals of Egyptian society. The roots of Wrestling with Sticks go back to ancient Egypt, to the time when Pharaoh reigned. This type of sporting activity began as a fight using sticks in place of weapons. It was a rough game and was intended only for brave men. Wrestling with sticks is a deeply symbolic game that imprints on the psyche noble concepts such as heroism and chivalry, as they are described in the Arabic epic known as Taghribat Bani Hilal. This epic recounts Banu Hilal’s Eleventh Century journey from Egypt to Tunisia and his conquest of the latter. Stick wrestlers who follow the folkloric tradition, confirm that the origin of Wresting with Sticks is this folk epic. Irrespective of the origin of Wrestling With Sticks, finding its dramatic meaning comes by understanding people and their lives, including noble concepts such as chivalry and heroism and how they relate to absolute good..