التحدث – Houseways: Talking Privately in Crowded Rooms – التحدث :على انفراد في الغرف المزدحمة

[I am very grateful to Arooba Al Mashikhi for this translation and to my colleagues Dr. Ali Mohamed Algryani, Dr. Amer Ahmed and Dr. Yasser Sabtan for additional assistance in translating.] first published: Houseways: Talking Privately in Crowded Rooms

 

In an earlier essay, I discussed how rooms were arranged: https://mariellerisse.com/2021/07/03/houseways-comparisons-types-of-rooms-and-sightlines/

ناقشت في مقال سابق كيف يتم – ترتيب الغرف:

https://mariellerisse.com/2021/07/03/houseways-comparisons-types-of-rooms-and-sightlines/

This essay is one of three related pieces about the interplay between behavior and space: how certain behaviors create a need for a certain kind of space (entryways), how a certain kind of space creates the need for certain behaviors (talking in the salle) and the intermix of house design and behavior (front doorways).

هذا المقال هو واحد من ثلاثة مقالات – مرتبطة بالتفاعل بين – السلوك والمساحة: كيف – تولّدُ أنواعٌ مُعينةٌ من السلوك – حاجة لنوع معين من المساحة (المداخل) ، وكيف – يولّدُ نوع معين من المساحة الحاجة إلى سلوكيات معينة (التحدث في الصالة) والتداخل بين تصميم المنزل وسلوكياته (المداخل الأمامية)

majlis and salle are usually large enough to seat at least 20 people and square/ rectangular with all the furniture pushed against the walls. Houses are built from concrete block and have tile floors, sometimes partially covered with an area rug, thus everyone in the room can see and hear each other – in a sizable, echoing space, how do people manage to have private conversations?

عادة ما يكون المجلس والصالة كبيران بما يكفي لاستيعاب 20 شخصًا على الأقل ومربع / مستطيل مع دفع قطع الأثاث بمحاذاة الجدران. – تُشيَّدُ المنازل من كتل خرسانية ولها أرضيات من البلاط ، وأحيانًا تكون مغطاة جزئيًا بسجادة تغطي فقط جزءاً من الأرضية، وبالتالي يمكن لكل فرد في الغرفة رؤية وسماع بعضهم – الآخر – في مساحة كبيرة ينتشر فيها الصوت ، كيف يتمكن الأشخاص من – التحدث على انفراد؟

Two types of behavior, non-verbal and talking very quietly, [as discussed in: https://mariellerisse.com/2021/07/03/houseways-comparisons-types-of-rooms-and-sightlines/ ], work for short communications such as imparting information, asking a question and giving a command. In this essay I would like to talk about another strategy: Dhofaris tuning out/ turning away/ politely ignoring visitors. This behavior means that people can have private conversations, after the requirements of hospitality and respect have been met, and that a person who is new to the group has time to adjust.

هنالك نوعان من السلوك؛ السلوك غير اللفظي والتحدث بهدوء شديد (كما تمت مناقشته في: https://mariellerisse.com/2021/07/03/houseways-comparisons-types-of-rooms-and- sightlines/

يعملان على التواصل القصير مثل نقل معلومة أو طرح سؤال أو إعطاء أمر. في هذا المقال أود أن أتحدث عن استراتيجية أخرى: كيف الظفاريون  / يرفضون /  يبعدون ويتجاهلون الزوار بأدب. يعني هذا السلوك أنه يمكن للأشخاص إجراء محادثات خاصة  بعد تلبية متطلبات الضيافة والاحترام ، وأن الشخص الجديد في مجموعة ما لديه الوقت للتكيف.

A female Dhofari friend (A) lived outside of Dhofar for several months where she met an Omani woman (X). When A’s brother (B) came to visit A, he met X’s husband (Y). So when X, Y and their children came to visit Dhofar, A invited them to dinner at her house with the understanding that B would host Y in the majlis with other of A’s male relatives and A would host X in the salle with other of A’s female relatives. I was invited as I had also met X previously.

عاشت صديقة ظفارية (أ) خارج ظفار لعدة أشهر حيث التقت بامرأة عمانية (س). عندما جاء شقيق (أ) المدعو  ب لزيارة أ ، التقى بزوج (س). لذلك عندما جاء أطفالهم لزيارة ظفار ، دعتهم “أ” إلى العشاء في منزلها على أساس أن “ب”  يستضيف “ص” في المجلس مع أقارب آخرين من “أ” وأن “أ” ستستضيف “س” في الصالة مع أقارب أخريات من الإناث. . لقد دعيت لأنني التقيت أيضًا  “س” سابقًا

When X and Y arrived, they were greeted by A and B who stood outside the door, then brought to the respective sitting rooms. When X walked into the salle, all the women (X’s mom, sisters, sisters-in-law, and nieces) greeted X and she was led to a sofa in the middle of the south wall, a few spaces down from A’s mom. A sat in the middle of the east wall and I was in the middle of the north wall. The first twenty minutes was the necessary polite, general conversation in which X asked about everyone’s health and everyone asked X about her health, her family’s health, her trip to Dhofar, where she was staying and did she like the hotel while A was offering drinks and snacks to X and her children. The first round done, the second round started in which more specific questions were asked about X’s health, the health of X’s children and female relatives, their trip to Dhofar and X started to ask about how A’s mother was doing and who were the other women in the room. A’s mother was included in all the questions and responses; X looked at her more frequently than anyone else and the other women, including me, listened to everything with polite attention.

عندما  وصل (س) و (ص) – ، استقبلهم (أ) و (ب) الذين وقفوا خارج الباب ، ثم أدخلوهم إلى غرف الجلوس الخاصة بهم. عندما دخلت (س) – الصالة ، استقبلت جميع النساء ( والدة (أ)  ، والأخوات ، وأخوات زوجها ، وبنات أختها) (س) وأجلسوها – على أريكة في منتصف الجدار الجنوبي ، على بعد مسافة قليلة من والدة (أ). (أ) جلست في منتصف الجدار الشرقي وكنت في منتصف الجدار الشمالي. كانت أول عشرين دقيقة محادثة عامة مهذبة سألت فيها (س) عن صحة الجميع وسأل الجميع (س) عن صحتها وصحة عائلتها ورحلتها إلى ظفار وأين كانت تقيم وإذا ما كان يعجبها، بينما كانت (أ) تقدم المشروبات والوجبات الخفيفة لـ (س) وأطفالها. – انتهت المرحلة الأولى ، وبدأت المرحلة الثانية حيث – طُرِحَت أسئلة أكثر تحديدًا حول صحة (س) وصحة أطفال (س) والأقارب الإناث ورحلتهم إلى ظفار وثم بدأت (س) في السؤال عن حال والدة (أ) ومن هن النساء الأخريات في الغرفة. كانت والدة (أ) مشتركة في جميع الأسئلة والردود ؛ ونظرت اليها (س) أكثر من أي شخص آخر ، – وأظهرت النساء الأخريات ، بمن فيهم أنا ، تأدباً في الاستماع إلى كل شيء -.

Then we moved to the dining table (on the south side) to eat dinner, then back to the sofas. A few minutes later, with hands washing after dinner and X given a plate of sweets, there was a gradual change in that A’s mother and other female relatives turned their attention away from X by saying prayers using a misbaha (prayer beads), looking at their phone, talking to children or each other. A and X, more than 1 1/2 hours after X had arrived, were able to talk freely about people they knew/ experiences they had had in common.

ثم انتقلنا إلى طاولة الطعام (في الجانب الجنوبي) لتناول العشاء ، – وبعدها عدنا إلى الجلسات وبعد بضع دقائق ، مع غسل اليدين بعد العشاء و بعد أن قدمت (أ) طبقا من الحلوى ، كان هناك تغيير تدريجي في أن والدة (أ) وقريباتها الأخريات صرفن انتباههن عن (س) من خلال التسبيح باستخدام مسبحة خرزية، والنظر إلى هواتفهم ، والتحدث إلى الأطفال أو بعضهن البعض. (أ) و (س) ، بعد أكثر من ساعة ونصف الساعة من وصول (س) ، كن قادرات على التحدث بحرية عن – معارفهن من الاشخاص و تجاربهن المشتركة.

There were the same number of people sitting in the same places as when X had arrived, but instead of one person talking at a time with X and A’s mother as the twin focal points, now A and X were a dyad. A’s female relatives and I sat quietly, sometimes listening, sometimes talking to each other. As the time to leave grew closer, the talk again became more general with people offering X suggestions about where to go site-seeing and what restaurants to eat at. X was invited back to the house, which she parried with how short their stay was and how they had relatives to visit.

كان هناك نفس عدد الأشخاص الذين يجلسون في نفس الأماكن عندما وصلت (س) ، ولكن بدلاً من تحدث شخص واحد في وقت واحد مع (س) و والدة (أ) كمحاور الحديث ، أصبحن (أ) و (س) ثنائي. جلست مع قريبات (أ) بهدوء نستمع أحيانًا، وأحيانًا نتحدث مع بعضنا البعض. مع اقتراب وقت المغادرة ، أصبح الحديث مرة أخرى أكثر عمومية مثل  اقتراح حول الأماكن التي يجب أن تزورها (س) والمطاعم التي يمكن تناول الطعام فيها. – دُعيت (س) للعودة مجددا إلى المنزل ورفضت ذلك مع قصر فترة إقامتهم والتزامهم بزيارات عائلية أخرى.

In thinking about this visit beforehand, I had thought that it was too bad A and X would not get time alone (such as meeting at a coffee shop) to catch up. But what happened was that A’s family created that conversational freedom for them, without changing the space or their locations, by shifting their attention away. In a room with 10 women and five children, A and X were able to share reminiscences and catch up on mutual acquaintances.

عندما فكرت في هذه الزيارة مسبقًا، كنت أعتقد أنها كانت سيئة للغاية لأن (أ) و (س) لن – تنفردا بإحداهما الأخرى -(مثلما كان عليه الحال لو أنهما – التقيتا في مقهى) للحديث. ولكن ما حدث هو أن عائلة (أ) أوجدت حرية المحادثة لهم ، دون تغيير المساحة أو مواقعهم ، عن طريق تحويل انتباههم بعيدًا. في غرفة بها 10 نساء وخمسة أطفال ، تمكنت (أ) و (س) من تبادل الذكريات و تعويض مافات من الامور المشتركة. .

To look at this issue from another angle, I was once visiting a Dhofari friend when an older female relative (M) stopped by. I had not met M before and was surprised that the younger women (N) with her was wearing elaborate make-up, a lot of jewelry and a highly decorated dress, shorter in front than in usual for normal visiting. My friend looked at me and said, “bride” in Arabic; women who are newly married usually dress up for visits in the weeks after the wedding. N had recently married M’s son and M was bringing N to meet M’s/ N’s husband’s relatives. N sat silently, looking bored, as we spoke; I felt kind of sorry for her as she must have had several of these types of visits with her new mother-in-law.

للنظر في هذه القضية من زاوية أخرى ، كنت أزور صديقة ظفارية عندما توقفت إحدى قريباتها الأكبر سنًا (م). لم أقابل (م) من قبل وفوجئت أن الشابة معها كانت –قد بالغت في وضع مستحضرات التجميل- ، وتلبس الكثير من المجوهرات وفستانًا مزخرفاً  وأقصر في المقدمة من المعتاد في الزيارات العادية. نظرت إلي صديقتي وقالت: “عروس”. عادة ما تلبس النساء المتزوجات حديثًا  بهذه الطريقة للزيارات في الأسابيع التي تلي الزواج. (ن) تزوجت مؤخرًا من ابن (م) وكانت (م) تحضر (ن) معها لتلتقي بأقارب زوجها. جلست (ن) بصمت، متمللة، بينما كنا نتحدث. – اشفقت عليها قليلاً لأنها لابد وأنها قامت بالكثير من هذا النوع من الزيارات مع حماتها الجديدة.

But about two years later I saw that situation from a different angle. A female Dhofari friend invited me to her wedding; I agreed but with some trepidation as I had not met any of her family before. I arrived at the house for the party and her mother took me into the salle. I could hear quiet comments of women “placing me” (telling each other who I was) as I walked around to greet each woman. But once I sat down, all the women ignored me. This might sound negative, but it was very freeing – I was in a tightly packed room with every seat taken. All the women were in pretty, loose dresses with lots of perfume, children ran in and out, maids came around offering tea, coffee, juice and water, as well as snacks – there was lots of see and do. Women who came in shook my hand and the women next to me encouraged me to eat and drink so I did not feel any hostility, just a sense that everyone had collectively decided to leave me alone. After about an hour, the woman next to me asked me a few simple questions, I think to test both my level of Arabic and my willingness to engage. When I answered readily, other women joined in with questions and we ended up having a lovely time – joking about husbands and driving cars and studying.

لكن بعد حوالي عامين رأيت هذا الوضع من زاوية مختلفة عندما دعتني صديقة ظفارية لحضور حفل زواجها. وافقت ولكن بتردد لأنني لم أقابل أيًا من عائلتها من قبل. وصلت إلى المنزل من أجل حفل الزواج وأخذتني والدتها إلى الصالة. كان بإمكاني سماع تعليقات صامتة من النساء يحاولن معرفة من أنا (ويخبرن بعضهن البعض من أنا) بينما كنت أمشي لأحيي كل امرأة. لكن بمجرد أن جلست ، تجاهلتني جميع النساء. قد يبدو هذا سلبيا ، لكنه أشعرني بالحرية للغاية – كنت في غرفة مكتظة كل مقاعدها مشغولة. – كانت جميع النساء يرتدين ثيابًا جميلة وفضفاضة مع الكثير من العطور ، وكان الأطفال يركضون ويخرجون ، وكانت الخادمات يقدمن الشاي والقهوة والعصير والماء ، بالإضافة إلى الوجبات الخفيفة – كان هناك الكثير من المشاهدة والحركة. صافحتني النساء اللواتي جئن ، وشجعتني النساء اللواتي يجلسن بجانبي على تناول الطعام والشراب ، لذا لم أشعر بأي نشوز ، فقط شعرت بأن الجميع قرروا بشكل جماعي أن يتركوني وشأني. وبعد حوالي ساعة سألتني المرأة بجواري بعض الأسئلة البسيطة، وأعتقد أنها اختبرت مستواي في اللغة العربية ورغبتي في المشاركة. عندما أجبت بسرعة ، انضمت نساء أخريات لطرح الأسئلة وانتهى بنا الأمر بقضاء وقت ممتع – المزاح حول الأزواج وقيادة السيارات والدراسة.

As I drove home, I thought about the silent bride (N) and wondered if perhaps what I marked as boredom was relief that the women in my friend’s house had given her the same sort of emotional/ psychological break of ignoring her so she could be with a lot of unfamiliar people without having to make conversation. These were women she would know and visit for the rest of her life and rather than perhaps making a misstep at the start of the relationship, she had the chance to look around, listen to the talk, and start to form ideas/ opinions about the women before being expected to join in.

– وبينما كنت أقود سيارتي عائدة للمنزل ، فكرت في العروس الصامتة (ن) وتساءلت عما إذا كان ما أشرت إليه على أنه ملل هو الارتياح لأن النساء في منزل صديقتي قد أعطوها نفس النوع من الراحة العاطفية والنفسية بتجاهلها حتى تتمكن من التعايش مع الكثير من الأشخاص غير المألوفين دون الحاجة إلى إجراء محادثة. كانت هؤلاء النساء ستعرفهن وتزورهن لبقية حياتها وبدلاً من أن ترتكب خطأً في بداية معرفتهم ، أتيحت لها الفرصة للنظر حولها والاستماع إلى الحديث والبدء في تكوين أفكار و آراء حولهن قبل أن – تتوقع  منها الأخريات – – الانضمام إليهن.

The spaces within a house for visiting are few and large, thus Dhofaris have created a series of behaviors that make accommodations for others. In certain circumstances, everyone will tacitly ignore 1) people who want to talk about someone that is interest only to them and 2) people who they feel might not want to or be able to join in the conversation. Being able to see and hear others in the same room does not automatically mean it is necessary to engage with them, so privacy is possible even in a crowded salle.

المساحات داخل المنزل للزيارة قليلة وكبيرة ، وبالتالي ابتكر الظفاريون– أنواعاً من السلوك لإقامة الآخرين معهم. في ظروف معينة ، سيتجاهل الجميع ضمنيًا أولا، الأشخاص الذين يرغبون في التحدث عن شخص يهمهم فقط وثانيًا الأشخاص الذين يشعرون أنهم قد لا يرغبون في الانضمام إلى المحادثة أو قادرين عليها. القدرة على رؤية وسماع الآخرين في نفس الغرفة لا تعني تلقائيًا أنه من الضروري التعامل معهم ، لذا فإن الخصوصية ممكنة حتى في صالة – مكتظة بالناس.

Another example of creating privacy for others was discussed in https://mariellerisse.com/2021/07/10/houseways-who-visits-which-rooms/ . Women usually return to their mother’s house after they have their first child. One family I know lives in a house with a mother, several unmarried daughters and several married sons and their families. When a married daughter came back to stay for a few weeks with her new baby, she and husband met in the majlis. The husband was not a close relative so it would not be appropriate for him to spend a lot of time in the salle and it was not possible for him to come to her bedroom as this would mean entering the private area of the house. The men in the house willingly did not use the majlis at certain times so their sister’s husband could visit her and the baby alone.

تمت مناقشة مثال آخر لخلق الخصوصية للآخرين في:

https://mariellerisse.com/2021/07/10/houseways-who-visits-which-rooms/

تعود النساء عادةّ إلى منازل – أمهاتهن بعد إنجاب طفلهن الأول. عائلة واحدة أعرفها تعيش في منزل مع أم وبناتها غير المتزوجات والأبناء المتزوجين وأسرهم. عندما عادت الابنة المتزوجة لقضاء بضعة أسابيع مع طفلها الجديد ، التقت هي وزوجها في المجلس. لم يكن الزوج من الأقارب المقربين، لذلك لن يكون من المناسب له أن يقضي الكثير من الوقت في الصالة ولم يكن من الممكن أن يأتي إلى غرفة نومها لأن هذا يعني دخول المنطقة الخاصة بالمنزل. الرجال في المنزل لم يستخدموا المجلس – في أوقات معينة حتى يتمكن زوج أختهم من زيارتها هي وطفلها بمفردهم.

Houseways: Entrance Ways – Form Follows Function; طرق المداخل – الشكل يتبع الاختصاص

Houseways in Dhofar: Placement of Furniture and Sightlines – التقاليد المتبعة في ترتيب المناز بظفار

Houseways: Who Visits Which Rooms? – التقاليد المتبعة في ترتيب المنازل: أي حجرة يحق للشخص الجلوس فيها؟

– طرق الطعام : بحث في ممارسات الصيد في ظفار وببليوجرافيات مختارة – Foodways: Researching Fishing Practices in Dhofar (in Arabic) and Selected Bibliographies

 

New Publication on the Archaeology of Dhofar

Persistent Pastoralism: Monuments and Settlements in the Archaeology of Dhofar – The Archaeological Heritage of Oman 10

by Joy McCorriston

https://www.archaeopress.com/Archaeopress/Products/9781803274539

abstract:

A summary of archaeological teamwork along the Dhofar plateau and its backslope into the Nejd of Southern Oman, this book documents survey and excavation of small-scale stone monuments and pastoral settlements. Whether used as burial places, as landmarks, as mnemonic devices, or for other purposes, monuments are the enduring and prominent traces of desert pastoralists. In Dhofar, pastoralists constructed monuments in discrete pulses over 7500 years. Recognizing the dynamic ecosystems and climate regimes of Arabian prehistory, the author suggests that mobile pastoralists used monuments to link dispersed households into broader social communities. Furthermore, the range of practical adjustments to monuments as a consistent means of messaging among mobile people showcases the adaptive strength of Dhofar’s prehistoric inhabitants over time. A singular episode of settlement during a particularly arid period highlights the longer tradition of pastoral people on the move. With fictional vignettes to imagine the people who used these monuments, the chapters introduce archaeological analysis of the social identities, patterns of resource access, contacts, aversions, and exchanges with neighboring groups. Finally, the book underscores the rich heritage of persistent pastoralism within contemporary Oman.

other titles in this series

The First Peoples of Oman: Palaeolithic Archaeology of the Nejd Plateau – The Archaeological Heritage of Oman 5

by Jeffrey I. Rose, Yamandú H. Hilbert, Anthony E. Marks, Vitaly I. Usik

https://www.archaeopress.com/Archaeopress/Products/9781789692846

Dhofar Through the Ages: An Ecological, Archaeological and Historical Landscape – The Archaeological Heritage of Oman 1

by Lynne S. Newton, Juris Zarins

https://www.archaeopress.com/Archaeopress/Products/9781789691603

Remembering Steve Cass

A former student stopped by my office a few days ago. We exchanged greetings and, when she sat down, she said, “I am sorry about Steve.” She graduated more than 8 years ago, but he has had a lasting impact on her and so many other  former students and colleagues who have shared their memories of him with me since he passed away last September.

Today is his birthday so I thinking of him. Our birthdays are within a few days so we always celebrated together – he always gave me flowers and I always gave him a book. One year it was Grayson by Lynne Cox; usually it was the latest Martin Cruz Smith, Ian Rankin, Paul Doiron or Michael Connelly. He loved strong-minded, independent characters such as John Rebus and Hieronymus Bosch. Before there were streaming services in Dhofar, I bought DVDs and shared them with him so we went through many seasons of Vera, Endeavor, George Gently and Shetland. His favorite was Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy but he would tolerate the lighter-hearted series I liked such as Brookenwood and Death in Paradise

I teased him that he wanted to see characters who, like him, were fighting ‘the system’ endlessly and alone – he always needed something to push off of, something he to change/ improve. For all his yoga and mediation and walks on the beach, he was the most relentless and restless person I have ever met. He wanted to improve education and he had to be part of that process; no matter what it cost him, he said the truth.

We got along well but we also argued a lot – I would urge him to look at issues practically, to think about what was possible. He only wanted what was best for students. There was no compromise in his soul. If he thought it was the right thing to do, that it would help students learn, then he would do it.

One former student called him “the heart of the department,” a very apt description. He fought tirelessly for our students in both big ways (he created the Learning Support Center) and small. No matter what he was doing at his desk, if he saw a student wandering lost in the department, he would jump up and rush into the hallway to help.

Everyone who knew him is grateful for his kindness, his friendliness, his never-ending quest to make the world better.

He was Don Quixote and I miss him very much.

Steve Cass, teacher and friend

I am happy to announce that I will talking about Interior Home Design in Dhofar at the Home/Making Symposium at Concordia University, Montreal

“Crafting a Home: Interior Home Design in Southern Oman.” Home/Making Symposium, Concordia University, Montreal. Forthcoming May 12, 2023. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1sU1fHYgk2WC7Be3b-sUAarjcfgFJjW4J/view

My presentation will explain, using photos of the interiors of houses, how Dhofari house-owners use specific color schemes, types of furniture and objects such as vases and mirrors to create beautiful interiors. My talk will highlight three specific points. Firstly, as almost all houses are designed by the people who will live in the space, the rooms are built to the families’ specifications. Give than most Dhofaris live in multi-generational clusters of 30 or more family members, this means consulting the wishes of many people. Secondly, although most writing on the Arabian Peninsula highlights the separation of men and women, many Dhofari houses are built for both genders and all ages to enjoy the same spaces at the same times. Lastly, interior design is controlled by different people at different times. For example, the senior woman might be in charge of decorating the kitchen, the senior man might choose the colors of the main sitting room, while a sister might design the room for her brother and his new wife. I will also discuss how families procure the decorations, including traveling to other countries, having furniture custom-made and using hand-made objects.

 

Houseways: Doorways – Design and Culture/ المداخل

[I am very grateful to Arooba Al Mashikhi for this translation and to my colleagues Dr. Ali Mohamed Algryani, Dr. Amer Ahmed and Dr. Yasser Sabtan for additional assistance in translating.]

 

first published July 30, 2021

In an earlier essay, I discussed how rooms were arranged: Houseways: Doorways – Design and Culture

ناقشت في مقال سابق كيف يتم تنسيق الغرف:  Houseways: Doorways – Design and Culture

 

This essay is one of three related pieces about the interplay between behavior and space: how certain behaviors create a need for a certain kind of space (entryways), how a certain kind of space creates the need for certain behaviors (talking in the salle) and the intermix of house design and behavior (front doorways).

هذا المقال هو واحد من ثلاثة مقالات ذات صلة حول التفاعل بين السلوكيات والمساحة: كيف تخلق سلوكيات معينة حاجة لنوع معين من المساحة (المداخل) ، وكيف يخلق نوع معين من المساحة الحاجة إلى سلوكيات معينة (التحدث في الصالة) والتداخل بين تصميم المنزل وسلوكياته (المداخل الأمامية)

Talking about front doors is, to me, a chicken-and-egg issue. Did behaviors help form door shapes or did door shapes help form behaviors? Impossible to tell.

الحديث عن الأبواب الأمامية هو  بالنسبة لي مثل الحديث عن معضلة الدجاجة والبيضة. هل ساعدت السلوكيات في تشكيل أشكال الأبواب أم هل ساعدت أشكال الأبواب في تشكيل سلوكيات؟ من المستحيل التيقن من ذلك.

Whatever the cause, most Dhofari houses have two front doors of differing sizes. The main door, leading to the main hallway, usually faces is the street and is both larger and more decorated than the door which leads to the majlis, which is often at a 90 degree angle to the main door and the street.

مهما كان السبب ، فإن معظم المنازل الظفارية لها بابان أماميان بأحجام مختلفة. عادةً ما يكون الباب الرئيسي المؤدي إلى الممر الرئيسي يواجه الشارع ويكون أكبر حجمًا وأكثر زخرفة من الباب المؤدي إلى المجلس ، والذي غالبًا ما يكون بزاوية 90 درجة إلى الباب الرئيسي والشارع.

 

In Salalah, main doors of houses that are set-back from the street are often Palladian-style with an arched transom window and thin vertical windows with opaque glass on either side. They are also often wider than average to allow large furniture to be moved in and out. This usually means either one wide door or double doors in which the right-side door is used daily while the left is locked in place and only opened when more space is needed. There is never a post between the two doors as this would defeat the purpose of having a large open space. Screen doors are seldom, if ever, used.

في صلالة ، غالبًا ما تكون الأبواب الرئيسية للمنازل المنعكسة عن الشارع على الطراز البالادي مع نافذة عرضية مقوسة ونوافذ عمودية رفيعة مع زجاج غير شفاف على كلا الجانبين. كما أنها غالبًا ما تكون أوسع من المتوسط للسماح بنقل الأثاث الكبير إلى الداخل والخارج. يعني هذا عادةً إما بابًا واحدًا عريضًا أو بابًا مزدوجًا حيث يتم استخدام باب الجانب الأيمن يوميًا بينما يتم قفل الباب الأيسر في مكانه ولا يُفتح إلا عند الحاجة إلى مساحة أكبر. لا يوجد أبدًا عمود بين البابين لأن هذا من شأنه أن يلغي الغرض من وجود مساحة مفتوحة كبيرة. ونادرا ما يتم استخدام أبواب زجاجية.

The majlis door is usually the standard size [apx. 115 cm wide, 210 cm high] and, while it might have a transom window, there are usually not windows on either side. It might be a double door, but I have never seen one that was as wide or wider than the main door.

عادة ما يكون باب المجلس بالحجم القياسي (عرض 115 سم، ارتفاع 210 سم كحد أقصى)، وعلى الرغم من أنه قد يحتوي على نافذة رافدة، فعادة لا توجد نافذة على كلا الجانبين وقد يكون بابًا مزدوجًا. لكن لم يسبق لي أن رأيت بابًا بعرض أوسع من الباب الرئيسي.

In terms of the connection between structures and behaviors, having wider doors at the main entrance makes sense as this is used by the people who live in the house and women who are visiting. And a Dhofari woman does not often go visiting by herself, she will bring children, sisters, her mother and/ or aunts along and when they arrive, they are greeted by the children who live in the house so that perhaps ten people are standing in/ near the doorway or just inside in the foyer.

فيما يتعلق بالعلاقة بين هيكل التصميم والسلوكيات ، فإن وجود أبواب أوسع عند المدخل الرئيسي أمر منطقي حيث يستخدمه الأشخاص الذين يعيشون في المنزل والنساء الزائرين. والمرأة الظفارية لا تذهب في كثير من الأحيان للزيارة بنفسها ، فهي تجلب معها الأطفال ، والأخوات ، و / أو والدتها و / أو عماتها ، وعندما يصلون ، يتم الترحيب بهم من قبل الأطفال الذين يعيشون في المنزل بحيث ربما يقف عشرة أشخاص في المنزل. / بالقرب من المدخل أو من الداخل في الردهة.

Whereas it is more usual for a man to visit a house by himself, and even if a group of men approach the majlis door together there are, as one Dhofari friend says, “protocols” of how men should enter a building. Anyone who visits Dhofar will get used to the logjam/ shuffle that occurs when several men walk up to a doorway. Younger men will step to the side or backwards to show respect; older men will move aside to avoid acting as if they want to go ahead, sometimes gently pulling on the shoulder of another man’s dishdash to allow him the honor of going first. Sometimes the negotiations will take 15 seconds until one man is persuaded to enter, then there might be further parleys until it is decided who will go second. Dhofari men go through doorways one at a time after careful demonstrations of respect and good-will.

في حين أنه من المعتاد أن يزور الرجل منزلًا بمفرده ، وحتى إذا اقتربت مجموعة من الرجال من باب المجلس معًا ، فهناك ، كما يقول أحد الأصدقاء الظفاريين ، “بروتوكولات” لكيفية دخول الرجال إلى المبنى. سوف يعتاد أي شخص يزور ظفار على الخلط / الزحام الذي يحدث عندما يسير العديد من الرجال إلى المدخل. يتقدم الرجال الأصغر سنًا إلى الجانب أو للخلف لإظهار الاحترام ؛ سيتحرك الرجال الأكبر سناً جانبًا لتجنب الظهور كما لو كانوا يريدون التقدم ، وأحيانًا يربتون على كتف رجل آخر بلطف للسماح له بشرف الذهاب أولاً. في بعض الأحيان تستغرق المفاوضات 15 ثانية حتى يتم إقناع رجل واحد بالدخول ، ثم قد يكون هناك المزيد من المفاوضات حتى يتم تحديد من سيذهب في المرتبة الثانية. يمر الرجال الظفاريين عبر المداخل واحدًا تلو الآخر بعد مظاهر متأنية من الاحترام وحسن النية.

The same sequence does not usually occur with women. If four women approach a doorway at the same time, there will not be a delay in entering. Perhaps a young woman might let an older woman go first but for example, children might race ahead or tug their mother’s abayah to pull her forward or a younger woman might enter, then turn around to help an older woman over the threshold.

لا يحدث نفس التسلسل عادة مع النساء. إذا اقتربت أربع نساء من مدخل في نفس الوقت ، فلن يكون هناك تأخير في الدخول. ربما تسمح امرأة شابة للمرأة الأكبر سنًا بالذهاب أولاً ، ولكن على سبيل المثال ، قد يتسابق الأطفال إلى الأمام أو يسحبون عباءة والدتهم لسحبها إلى الأمام أو قد تدخل امرأة أصغر سنًا ، ثم تستدير لمساعدة امرأة أكبر سنًا على تجاوز العتبة.

When leaving, the same dichotomy exists. Women leave together by the main door, unconcerned about who goes through the door first and, in any case, the door is usually wide enough to allow two or more to walk through at the same time. The doorway cluster can be the group of women who came together or, if a single woman came to visit, then the hostess, children and perhaps other women in the house will be near the door to say “goodbye.”

عند المغادرة ، يوجد نفس الانقسام. تغادر النساء معًا عند الباب الرئيسي ، غير مهتمات بمن يمر من الباب أولاً ، وفي أي حال ، يكون الباب عريضًا بما يكفي للسماح بمرور شخصين أو أكثر في نفس الوقت. يمكن أن تكون مجموعة المدخل عبارة عن مجموعة النساء اللاتي اجتمعن ، أو إذا حضرت امرأة واحدة للزيارة ، فستكون المضيفة والأطفال وربما النساء الأخريات في المنزل بالقرب من الباب ليقولوا “مع السلامة”.

From the majlis, unrelated men leave singly, trying to time “goodbyes” so that one is not approaching the door at the same moment as another man which would necessitate at least a symbolic “after you – oh no, you first – please, I insist – I couldn’t, please go ahead” sort of exchange.

من المجلس ، يغادر الرجال غير الأقارب بمفردهم ، محاولين توقيت “التوديع” حتى لا يقترب أحدهم من الباب في نفس اللحظة التي يقترب فيها رجل آخر مما يتطلب شكليات رمزية أقلها “بعدك – أوه لا ، أنت أولاً – من فضلك ، أنا أصر – لا أستطع ، تفضل!”

Men who are related or friends can leave in groups as the order of precedence (or lack thereof) is established and will not require gestures of politeness.

يمكن للرجال من الأقارب أو الأصدقاء المغادرة في مجموعات حسب ترتيب الأسبقية (أو عدم وجودها) ولن يتطلب الأمر لفتات مهذبة.

To explain this phenomenon another way, there is a general cultural understanding in Dhofar that the person standing on the right hand side of a doorway should enter first. But whereas men will actively try to maneuver themselves towards the left and another man towards the right, women will not attempt to change their position or the position of another woman as they approach a door.

لشرح هذه الظاهرة بطريقة أخرى ، هناك فهم ثقافي عام في ظفار بأن الشخص الذي يقف على الجانب الأيمن من المدخل يجب أن يدخل أولاً. ولكن في حين أن الرجال سيحاولون بنشاط مناورة أنفسهم نحو اليسار ورجل آخر نحو اليمين ، فإن النساء لن يحاولن تغيير وضعهن أو وضع امرأة أخرى عند اقترابهن من الباب

I don’t know all the reasons for the why of this behavior. I think it is partly due to women not wanting to draw attention to themselves in public and wanting to get to an inside space as quickly as possible. Women are also often carrying or leading children. Sometimes a woman might have a crying baby or sleeping toddler who needs to be settled which is of more importance than who walks in the door first. Also, as women’s faces are usually covered while men’s aren’t, a man stepping aside to let another man go first is publicly showing his good behavior.

لا أعرف كل أسباب هذا السلوك ولكن أعتقد بأنه يرجع جزئيًا إلى عدم رغبة النساء في لفت الانتباه إلى أنفسهن في الأماكن العامة والرغبة في الوصول إلى مساحة داخلية في أسرع وقت ممكن. غالبًا ما تحمل النساء أو تدلُّ الأطفال ، و قد يكون لدى المرأة في بعض الاحيان طفلاً يبكي أو طفلاً نائماً بحاجة إلى الاستقرار، ألأمر الذي يُولى أهمية أكبر من  من يدخل عبر الباب أولاً. أيضًا ، نظرًا لأن وجوه النساء غالبًا ما تكون مغطاة بينما الرجال ليسوا كذلك ، فإن تنحي الرجل جانبًا للسماح لرجل آخر بالرحيل أولاً يُظهر علنًا سلوكه الجيد

From watching men’s behaviors in cafe and on picnics and women’s behavior in the salle, the same dichotomy exists in terms of seating: men actively try to give other men the ‘best seat’ (most central, closest to AC, most comfortable) while women sit where there is space closest to women they know. If there are no seats open in the salle, younger women and/ or women who live in the house will stand up to make place, but if the guest waves them down, there is not a protracted back and forth. Some older women prefer to sit on cushions on the floor and if a woman has settled herself, no one will try to force her to another place.

من مشاهدة سلوكيات الرجال في المقهى وفي النزهات وسلوك النساء في الصالة ، يوجد نفس الانقسام من حيث الجلوس: يحاول الرجال باصرار منح الرجال الآخرين “ أفضل مقعد ” (الأكثر مركزية ، والأقرب إلى مكيف الهواء ، والأكثر راحة) بينما النساء يجلسن حيث تجلس أقرب إمرأة يعرفنها. إذا لم تكن هناك مقاعد مفتوحة في الصالة ، فستقف النساء الأصغر سنًا و / أو النساء اللائي يعشن في المنزل لتوفير مكان ، ولكن إذا قامت الضيفة بتوجيههن للجلوس فلن يكون هناك نقاشا مطولا. تفضل بعض النساء الأكبر سنًا الجلوس على وسائد على الأرض وإذا استقرت المرأة بنفسها ، فلن يحاول أحد إجبارها على الانتقال إلى مكان آخر.

 

 

Houseways: Entrance Ways – Form Follows Function; طرق المداخل – الشكل يتبع الاختصاص

[I am very grateful to Arooba Al Mashikhi for this translation and to my colleagues Dr. Ali Mohamed Algryani, Dr. Amer Ahmed and Dr. Yasser Sabtan for additional assistance in translating.]

first published July 17, 2021

In an earlier essay, I discussed how rooms were arranged: Houseways: Entrance Ways – Form Follows Function

Houseways: Comparisons – Types of Rooms and Sightlines  — ناقشت طريقة تخطيط الغرف في مقال سابق

This essay is one of three related pieces about the interplay between behavior and space: how certain behaviors create a need for a certain kind of space (entryways), how a certain kind of space creates the need for certain behaviors (talking in the salle) and the intermix of house design and behavior (front doorways).

هذا المقال هو واحد من ثلاثة مقالات ذات صلة حول التفاعل بين السلوكيات والمساحة: كيف تخلق سلوكيات معينة حاجة لنوع معين من المساحة (المداخل) ، وكيف يخلق نوع معين من المساحة الحاجة إلى سلوكيات معينة (التحدث في الصالة) والتداخل بين تصميم المنزل وسلوكياته (المداخل الأمامية)

Several members of my family work in the fields of design and planning, so I grew up listening to a lot of talk about architectural details and the effective organization between and within buildings. A favorite mantra was: form follows function, meaning the purpose of the space determines the size and shape of the space.

يعمل العديد من أفراد عائلتي في مجالات التصميم والتخطيط ، لذلك نشأت وأنا أستمع إلى أحاديث كثيرة عن التفاصيل المعمارية والتنظيم الفعال بين المباني وداخلها. كان الشعار المفضل: الشكل يتبع الاختصاص ، بمعنى أن الغرض من المساحة يحدد حجم وشكل المساحة.

This is a good way to start to think of entrances to houses. When I first visited Dhofari houses I was surprised by the large space near the front door that leads to the main hall. The foyers were empty and, to me, unnecessary. Kids did not use the area to play in, no one sat there, there was no furniture except perhaps a rectangular side table pushed against the wall with a mirror above it or nearby – just a large empty space that had to be air-conditioned.

هذه طريقة جيدة للبدء في التفكير في مداخل المنازل. عندما زرت منازل ظفارية لأول مرة فوجئت بالمساحة الكبيرة بالقرب من الباب الأمامي المؤدي إلى القاعة الرئيسية. كان البهو فارغًا ، وبالنسبة لي ، كان غير ضروري. لم يستخدم الأطفال المنطقة للعب فيها ، ولم يجلس أحد هناك ، ولم يكن هناك أثاث باستثناء ربما طاولة جانبية مستطيلة يتم وضعها بمحاذاة الحائط مع مرآة تعلوها أو قريبة منها – مجرد مساحة فارغة كبيرة ومكيفة.

After more visits, I started to see the purpose and began to be very grateful for the entrance space as a helpful liminal space between being public (outside where everyone could see me) and private (in the salle in view of women and children).

بعد المزيد من الزيارات ، بدأت أرى الهدف وصرت أشعر بالامتنان الشديد لمساحة المدخل كمساحة محايدة مفيدة بين أن تكون في مكان عام (في الخارج حيث يمكن للجميع رؤيتي) ومكان خاص (في الصالة أمام النساء والأطفال).

To aggregate several dozen experiences, when I arrive at a house, I wear a dhobe (loose, Dhofari housedress) which is covered by a “head ababyah” (a large, black polyester square that is pulled over the head and drapes to cover my body down to the knees). It is often worn for short distances, such as from car to inside house or between neighbors’ houses; some older women wear it while shopping.

لأتمكن من جمع خبرات أكثر كنت عندما أزور منزل ، أرتدي ثوبًا (ثوبًا فضفاضًا ظفاريّا) مغطى بـ “عباية الرأس” (مربع كبير من البوليستر الأسود يتم سحبه فوق رأسي وستائر لتغطية الجسد حتى الركبتين). غالبًا ما يتم ارتداؤه لمسافات قصيرة مثل من السيارة إلى داخل المنزل أو بين منازل الجيران وترتديه بعض النساء الأكبر سناً أثناء التسوق

If the front door is open, I call out to show that I am there, step into the foyer, take off “head ababyah” and put it in my purse, check that my lossi (headscarf) is covering my hair, then walk into the salle. If the door is locked, I ring the bell and when it is answered, there is usually one woman with a group of children behind her who have come to see who it is. The woman will welcome me, but not ask me questions, and shoo the children away. She will stay back a few feet and not give any pressure such as saying “everyone’s waiting for you!” as I check that I am ready to go into the salle. When I start to move, she will walk to the opening of the salle with me and sit in her place. Once in the salle, all eyes will turn to me and there are sometimes questions and explanations as to who I am as I walk in a circle, greeting each woman and shaking her hand, then I find a place to sit and get ready to talk.

إذا كان الباب الأمامي مفتوحًا ، فأنا أرفع صوتي ليعرفوا أنني هناك وادخل البهو ، وأخلع “عباءة الرأس” وأضعها في حقيبتي ، وأتحقق من أن غطاء الرأس يغطي شعري ، ثم أدخل الصالة. إذا كان الباب مقفلاً ، أقرع الجرس وعندما يتم الرد، عادة ما تكون هناك امرأة واحدة مع مجموعة من الأطفال خلفها يأتون ليروا من الزائر. سترحب بي المرأة ، لكنها لا تسألني وتبتعد عن الأطفال. ستبقى إلى الخلف بضعة أقدام ولن تمارس أي ضغط مثل قول “الجميع في انتظارك!” عندما أتحقق من أنني جاهز للدخول إلى الصالة. عندما أبدأ في التحرك ، سوف تمشي معي إلى فتحة الصالة وتجلس في مكانها. بمجرد وصولي إلى الصالة ، ستلتفت كل العيون إليّ وهناك أحيانًا أسئلة وتفسيرات حول من أنا بينما أسير في دائرة ، أحيي كل امرأة وأصافحها ، ثم أجد مكانًا للجلوس واستعد للحديث.

The large, empty foyer uses gives me the chance to move from outside presentation (shapeless black figure) to inside (still shapeless but brightly colored). I can check my hair and lipstick, smooth down my dhobe and get ready to be part of the conversation. Even if there is a wedding party with over 50 women in the house, the foyer is empty and women who are further down the hallway will not come to say “hello,” until I have moved away from the door area.

تتيح لي استخدامات الردهة الكبيرة الفارغة الفرصة للانتقال من العرض التقديمي الخارجي (سواد غير واضح المعالم) إلى الداخل (لا يزال غير واضح المعالم ولكن بألوان زاهية). يمكنني التحقق من شعري وأحمر الشفاه وترتيب شعري والاستعداد للمشاركة في المحادثة. حتى لو كان هناك حفل زفاف مع أكثر من 50 امرأة في المنزل ، فإن البهو فارغ ولن تأت النساء اللواتي يجلسن في نهاية الردهة ليقولن “مرحبًا” ، حتى أبتعد عن منطقة الباب.

The area makes me think of texts from the 1800s and 1900s in which there are depictions of women going into a small dressing room to take off their wraps and change into dancing shoes such as Katherine Mansfield’s “Her First Ball.” It’s public, women in the hallway can see me and sometimes children stand nearby, but also private in that I am not expected to make small talk or answer questions.

المنطقة تجعلني أفكر في نصوص من القرن التاسع عشر والتسعينيات حيث توجد صور لنساء يذهبن إلى غرفة خلع الملابس الصغيرة لخلع لفافاتهن وتغيير الأحذية الراقصة مثل “حفلتها الراقصة الأولى” لكاثرين مانسفيلد. إنه مكان عام حيث يمكن للنساء في الردهة رؤيتي وأحيانًا يقف الأطفال في مكان قريب ، ولكنه أيضًا مكان خاص حيث لا يُتوقع مني إجراء محادثة قصيرة أو الإجابة على الأسئلة.

When I leave the house, the space again is useful as, after I say my goodbyes, step out of the salle and into the foyer, I have a moment to get my “head ababyah” back on, check my phone and get out my car keys. Perhaps my friend will come stand with me, to walk to the portico with me to wave goodbye, but the talk is easy: “say hello to your mother for me” and “I hope you have a nice weekend” sort of phrases.

عندما أغادر المنزل ، تكون تلك المساحة مفيدة مرة أخرى ، بعد أن أودعهم ، أخرج من الصالة إلى الردهة ، لدي لحظة لأعيد ارتداء “عباءة الرأس” ، والتحقق من هاتفي وأخرج مفاتيح السيارة. ربما تأتي صديقتي لتمشي معي إلى الرواق للتلويح بالوداع ، ويكون الحديث سهل: “سلّمي على والدتك”  و “أتمنى أن تحظى بعطلة نهاية أسبوع سعيدة” وهكذا عبارات.

At the end of a wedding party, there might be several women standing near the door waiting for a car to drive them home, but there is plenty of space even with children running about. And there are no expectations of doing formal greetings; when I walk into the foyer, I don’t have to say ‘hello’ to each woman. We see each other and shift to give room for whoever is leaving to get to the door, but we don’t have to interact.

في نهاية حفل الزفاف ، قد يكون هناك العديد من النساء الواقفات بالقرب من الباب في انتظار سيارة لتوصيلهن إلى المنزل ، ولكن هناك مساحة كبيرة حتى مع وجود أطفال يركضون. ولا توجد توقعات للقيام بتحيات رسمية ؛ عندما أمشي في الردهة ، لا يتعين علي أن أقول “مرحبًا” لكل امرأة. نرى بعضنا البعض ونفسح المجال لمن يغادر للوصول إلى الباب ، لكن لا يتعين علينا التواصل معا.

Thus, it’s a space that is used only for a few moments of time several times during the day but is necessary given common Dhofar behaviors. A large foyer is needed not because there are usually more than five small children living in one house, but the fact that children love to run to the door when someone knocks (or are sent to see who it is) and often stand near the door to look at a person arriving or leaving.

وبالتالي ، فهي مساحة تُستخدم فقط لبضعة لحظات عدة مرات خلال اليوم ولكنها ضرورية نظرًا للسلوكيات الشائعة في ظفار. هناك حاجة إلى بهو كبير ليس لأن هناك عادة أكثر من خمسة أطفال صغار يعيشون في منزل واحد ، ولكن حقيقة أن الأطفال يحبون الركض إلى الباب عندما يقرع أحدهم الباب (أو يتم إرسالهم لمعرفة من هو) وغالبًا ما يقفون بالقرب من الباب للنظر إلى شخص قادم أو مغادر.

As children like to be together, they might all gather in the entrance way when school age children are leaving. Mini-vans/buses come into or next to the hosh as children don’t usually walk to and wait at a bus stop since it is often very hot. With a large foyer, there is space for the mom, the children who are going to school and young children to all wait inside where it is cool. Or the space can be used by a group of sisters waiting for a car to take them shopping or visiting relatives so they don’t have to stand outside the house in view of the neighborhood.

نظرًا لأن الأطفال يحبون أن يكونوا معًا ، فقد يتجمعون جميعًا في طريق المدخل عندما يغادر الأطفال في سن المدرسة. تأتي السيارات العائلية الصغيرة / الحافلات إلى أو بجوار الحوش حيث لا يمشي الأطفال عادةً إلى موقف الحافلات وينتظرون لأن الطقس غالبًا ما يكون شديد الحرارة. مع بهو كبير تكون هناك مساحة للأم والأطفال الذين يذهبون إلى المدرسة والأطفال الصغار ينتظرون جميعًا بالداخل حيث يكون الجو أبرد. أو يمكن استخدام المساحة من مجموعة أخوات ينتظرن سيارة لاصطحابهن للتسوق أو زيارة الأقارب حتى لا يضطررن إلى الوقوف خارج المنزل أمام الحي.

[There is a difference between houses in towns and in the countryside, as rural houses usually have a dekka, seating area in the front or side of the house which means you are on display as soon as you leave the car.]

(هناك فرق بين المنازل في المدن والريف ، حيث تحتوي المنازل الريفية عادةً على دكة ، ومنطقة جلوس في مقدمة المنزل أو بجانبه ، مما يعني أنك مقابلهم بمجرد مغادرتك السيارة)

(photo above: mirror in entry way; photo below: mirror in entry way to the left, ahead to the left is entry to salle, ahead to the right is doorway of short hall leading to majlis – both photos taken by informants and used with permission)

(الصورة أعلاه: مرآة في طريق الدخول ؛ الصورة أدناه: المرآة في طريق الدخول إلى اليسار ، والأمام على اليسار مدخل الصالة ، والأمام على اليمين مدخل الممر القصير المؤدي إلى المجلس – تم التقاط الصورتين من قبل المخبرين وقمت بنشرها مع الإذن للإستخدام.

ta - hall

New Research Pertaining to Dhofar

New book: Language and Ecology in Southern and Eastern Arabia,

https://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/language-and-ecology-in-southern-and-eastern-arabia-9781350184473/

*Table of Contents*
Introduction, Janet C.E. Watson (University of Leeds, UK), Jon Lovett (University of Leeds, UK) and Roberta Morano (University of Leeds, UK)
1. Language, Gesture and Ecology in Modern South Arabian Languages, Jack Wilson (University of Salford, UK), Janet C.E. Watson (University of Leeds, UK), Andrea Boom (University of Leeds, UK) and Saeed al-Qumairi (Hadhramawt University, Yemen)
Part I. Arabia: The Significance of Names
2. What’s in a Name? Miranda Morris (Independent Researcher)
3. When Water Shapes Words: Musandam’s Kumzari People and the Language of the Sea, Erik Anonby (Carleton University, Canada), AbdulQader Qasim Ali Al Kamzari (Sultanate of Oman) and Yousuf Ali Mohammed Al Kamzari (Ministry of Health, Oman)
4. Water and Culture Among the Modern South Arabian-Speaking People, Fabio Gasparini (Freie Universität Berlin, Germany) and Saeed al Mahri (Independent Researcher)
5. A Botanical and Etymological Approach to Plant Names in Southern Arabia, Shahina A. Ghazanfar (Kew Gardens, UK) and Leonid Kogan (National Research University, Russia)
6. Traditional Knowledge and Vocabulary around Weather and Astronomy in Qatar, Kaltham Al Ghanim (Qatar University, Qatar)
7. Plant and Animal Terms in ?a?rami Arabic Idiomatic Expressions, Proverbs, and Chants, Abdullah H. Al Saqqaf (Independent Researcher)
Part II. Arabia: Narratives and Ecology
8. The Language of Kumzari Folklore, Christina van der Wal Anonby (Carleton University, Canada)
9. Orature and Nature in Southern Arabia, Sam Liebhaber (Middlebury College, USA), Kamela al-Barami (University Leeds, UK), and Ahmed al-Mashikhi (Sultan Qaboos University, Oman)
10. Climatic Disasters and Stories of Resilience in Southern and Northern Oman, Suad Al-Manji (Ministry of Education, Oman) and Janet C.E. Watson (University of Leeds, UK)
Part III. Arabia: Conservation and Revitalisation
11. People’s (Non-)Participation in Conservation: A Case from Oman, Dawn Chatty (University of Oxford, UK)
Conclusion
Index

Editor: Janet Watson – https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/languages/staff/151/janet-c-e-watson

https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/centres-groups/doc/centre-endangered-languages-cultures-ecosystems-1

https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/modern-south-arabian-languages

Articles by Kamala Russell

The surface of politesse: Acting murtāh in Dhofar, Oman.’ (2022) in Rethinking Politesse with Henri Bergson ed. Duranti, Allesandro. Oxford University Press.

‘Facing another: The attenuation of contact as space in Dhofar, Oman.” (2020) Signs in Society, 8(2): 290-318.

Bibliography of the Modern South Arabian languages compiled by Janet Watson and Miranda Morris, updated Jan. 2023

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/345983960_Bibliography_of_the_Modern_South_Arabian_languages_Compiled_by_Janet_Watson_and_Miranda_Morris

Houseways: Including/ Excluding Expats in Discussions about Housing

All authors know that as you write in detail about a topic, you sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture. In my first draft of  Houseways, I wrote:

And as only GCC citizens can buy land in Dhofar, non-GCCexpats live in Dhofari-designed houses or various types of apartment buildings designed for expats, without affecting the choices for house designs. In the one small, expat compound I lived in for a few years, I had Italian, French, Indian, Iraqi, American and English neighbors. In the two Omani neighborhoods I have lived in for a total of 12 years, I am the only non-Omani in whole area.

As I looked over my draft later, I realized I was not being clear; of course there are many non-Omanis in my neighborhood. I rewrote the section to read:

In the two Omani neighborhoods I have lived in for a total of 12 years, I am the only non-Omani who rents an apartment or house in whole area.

Other expats move through the neighborhood for various reasons. Some expats work as cleaners, either living in or coming a few times a week. Some expat men work as house builders; others come through regularly to go through the dumpsters for anything salvageable or recyclable. Knowing this, Omanis usually put anything that might be of value next to (not in) dumpsters so that it is easy to take. In the afternoons, men who work for small grocery stores bike around ringing a small bell, signaling that they have snacks to sell come.

Another issue is that sending in a manuscript and getting back the published book back is sometimes like sending a beloved pet for grooming. The animal that returns is your pet but looks completely different.

My abstract for the book is:

Houseways in Southern Oman explains how modern, middle-class houses are sited, designed, built, decorated and lived in with an emphasis on how room-usage is determined by age, gender, time of day and the presence of guests. Combing ethnography and architectural studies, the author draws on over sixteen years of living in the Dhofar region to analyze the cultural perceptions regarding houses and how residential areas fit within the urban areas of the southern Dhofar region.

From the average height of the walls surrounding houses to the color schemes of kitchen to the use of curtains, the book examines the material features of houses using formal interviews, visits to many Dhofari houses and the author’s ten years of living in Dhofari-designed houses in Dhofari neighborhoods. The book also discusses cultural expectations such as how and when rooms are used, who is in control of decorating choices, which spaces a guest might see and how to understand if a house is ready for visitors or if its inhabitants are celebrating or mourning. Dhofari houses are also compared to houses in other Arabian Peninsula countries and positioned within the theoretical frameworks of the “Islamic city” and the “Islamic house.”

the official abstract is:

This book explores how houses are created, maintained and conceptualized in southern Oman. Based on long-term research in the Dhofar region, it draws on anthropology, sociology, urban studies and architectural history. The chapters consider physical and functional aspects, including regulations governing land use, factors in siting houses, architectural styles and norms for interior and exterior decorating. The volume also reflects on cultural expectations regarding how and when rooms are used and issues such as safety, privacy, social connectedness and ease of movement. Houses and residential areas are situated within the fabric of towns, comparison is made with housing in other countries in the Arabian peninsula, and consideration is given to notions of the ‘Islamic city’ and the ‘Islamic house’. The book is valuable reading for scholars interested in the Middle East and the built environment.

The line: “This book explores how houses are created, maintained and conceptualized in southern Oman” is somewhat problematic for me as “houses” here is too general a term. My work is on modern, middle-class houses designed by and built for Dhofaris. There are other types of housing which I don’t have expertise in and don’t engage with.

To illustrate my point, I would like to explain one housing example I know of. For many years I visited a large nursery on the eastern side of Salalah. There was a high wall around the area, with a monumental gate as an entrance, as if eventually a large house would be built there, but in the meantime the land was used to grow plants/ turn a profit.

There were large trees planted on the perimeter, inside the high wall, and the middle area was netted over and planted with small shrubs and flowering plants. To the right was a small path which meandered past the planted areas into a section with trees which had small bags of soil tied to limbs so that the trees would put forth roots; the section would then be cut off and a new tree could be planted. To the right of this area was a small, paved courtyard, surrounded on three sides by a variety of one-story rooms made from cement blocks where the men who worked in the nursery lived.

In front of one of the rooms was a large trough sink and a basic open-air kitchen with a woven palm frond cover. A few of the rooms had open holes for windows, a few had window panes and doors. There was electricity and running water. The air was rich with tropical fragrances and birds were chattering everywhere. When I first saw it, my reaction was “I want to live there!”

I imagined how lovely it must be to sit outside at night and watch bats flit among the trees, the sound of palm fronds rustling and the air thick with jasmine. Or maybe not. Maybe there were endless swarms of mosquitos and the sound of insects was maddening. Did the men who worked there love their small courtyard? Did they wish they were in a big compound which was closer to stores with lots of other men to talk to? I don’t know; we didn’t have a language in common besides all of us knowing the names of the plants and the basics of “sun,” “too much sun,” and “no sun.”

It is with this (and many other) examples in mind that I have tried to clear that my focus on Dhofari houses means houses that are Dhofari-designed, -built, -owned and -lived in.

As a final note, I wish I had photographs of house builders as to not include them seems in a way to erase them and their work. But I haven’t figured out a way do this ethically. The person who takes most of the photographs I need is young, female and does not speak the languages common among house-builders. I do not feel comfortable asking her to engage in conversations requiring her to ask for permission to take photos and explain how those photos would be used. At some point I hope to find a way to have pictures taken with informed consent.

Houseways is published and more examples of houseplans

Houseways is published

I was thinking of moving houses this fall and it was fun to look at new houses in the context of the work I have done about houses in Dhofar.

One house had a floor plan that I had never seen before but makes sense in terms of how Omanis don’t think the smell of cooking/ cooked food is positive. The house had the common set up of a separate majlis and a large open salle. There was also a bedroom on the ground floor. However, as the house was small and the bedroom was to one side, the salle extended all the way to the back of the house. Along the far wall was sliding glass doors which led out to the hosh.

The home owner and I walked around the outside of the house and I walked into the kitchen, which had its own entrance. As I looked around, I realized that there was no connecting door from the kitchen to the inside of the house. I asked the home-owner and he showed me a narrow, raised walkway which led from the door of the kitchen to the sliding glass doors at the back of the salle. Food would have to carried from the kitchen to the salle for every meal.

As the walkway was about 4 feet above the level of the hosh, all I could think of was the possible dangers of navigating that ledge at night in khareef when the tiles would be slick with drizzle.

Another house also had a plan that was new to me. There was a majlis to the right (east) of the main door and then a large open area for the salle, but no main hallway. After the majlis on the eastern side, there was a large bedroom; its bathroom shared a wall with the bathroom of the majlis on the north side. On the south side, the bedroom shared a wall with the kitchen. The rest of the space on the ground floor was open with a stair case that started in the north-east corner (near the interior door to the majlis) and then wrapped around the north and west walls. There was a small bedroom tucked under the stair case.

There are two understandings at play here: 1) often there is a bedroom for a senior family member that is near the majlis/ salle on the ground floor so that they don’t have to walk up-stairs and 2) often the maid’s room is next to the kitchen. Given that the bedroom between the majlis and kitchen was large, I guessed that it was for an older relative and the small room under that stairs was for the maid.

I also looked at an apartment connected to a house. Facing the road there was a main entrance to the house and a door to the majlis, then a third door on the side which led to a landing with one door (the ground-floor flat) and a staircase up the first floor flat. As I walked through the first-floor flat, I realized there was no majlis. The apartment had been built for the families of sons who were not yet married. The owner was renting the apartments to help pay for the building costs, and when the sons were older, they would live in them. Thus, there was no need for a majlis in the apartment as the sons would meet in the main majlis of the family house.