Friday, February 19, 2010

Marsh Arabs - Iraq

One of the new countries Chiara sent me was Iraq.
This is a card from southern Iraq with a floating island of the Marsh Arabs.

"The Marsh Arabs, also known as the Maʻdān, are inhabitants of the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands in the south and east of Iraq and along the Iranian border.
Comprising members of many different tribes and tribal confederations, such as the Āl Bū Muḥammad, Ferayghāt, Shaghanbah and Banī Lām, the Maʻdān had developed a unique culture centred around the marshes' natural resources. Many of the marshes' inhabitants were displaced and the wetlands themselves destroyed during and after the 1991 uprisings in Iraq.

Madan means "dweller in the plains (ʻadan)" and was used disparagingly by desert tribes to refer to those inhabiting the Iraqi river basins, and by those who farmed in the river basins to refer to the population of the marshes. There was a considerable historic prejudice against the Maʻdān, partly as they were considered to have Persian or other "mixed" origin and partly due to their practice of temporary marriage.

Most Marsh Arabs lived in arched reed houses considerably smaller than a mudhif. The typical dwelling was usually a little more than 2 meters wide, about 6 meters long, and a little less than three meters high, and was either constructed at the waterside or on an artificial islands of reeds called a kibasha; a more permanent island of layered reeds and mud was called a dibin. Houses had entrances at both ends and a screen in the middle; one end was used as a dwelling and the other end (sometimes extended with a sitra, a long reed structure) was used to shelter animals in bad weather. A raba was a higher-status dwelling, distinguished by a north-facing entrance, which also served as a guesthouse where there was no mudhif. Traditional boats (the mashoof and tarada) were used as transport: the Maˤdān would drive buffaloes through the reedbeds during the season of low water to create channels, which would then be kept open by constant use, for the boats." - in: wikipedia

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