Makkan - A Contemporary Venue for Traditional Culture
Part 1: A Brief Introduction - the Zar
A unique location and outlet for Cairo's most traditional practices, most importantly it houses the performances of The Egyptian Zar, given in a modernized setting accessible to regular visitors.
The Zar is a folk tradition which is almost completely vanished from modern-day Egypt, it involves the use movement, song and rhythm and is thought to aid in the healing of ailments (mental and physical). It's traditionally believed that specific rhythms and songs communicate with religious spirits. "It's one of the few healing ceremonies performed mainly by women for women in an attempt to pacify the spirits and win some measure of inner harmony" (el-Jesri 2005).
The zār group, Mazāher (plural of the Arabic word mazhar, which is a "thick frame drum with five cymbals commonly used in zār rituals and wedding processions"), performed a hypnotizing array of sounds, music, and an amazing use of voice. The room was filled with the beats and rhythmic chants of the lead singer, who seemed to be completely entranced with the tradition which she was performing.