Yemen

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Middle East >> Yemen >> Culture of Yemen

Culture of Yemen

The typical Yemeni craft is the silver jewellery handmade traditionally by the Jews of Yemen. The "jambiya" or the sharply curved tribesmen’s dagger is typical of countries of southern Arabia. Men wear it on their waist on a special belt. The elite of Yemen such as a "qadi" or a "sayyid" wear more slenderly curved dhumas (daggers). The most highly valued daggers have their handles made from the horns of the African rhinoceros. Yemen is the chief consumer of this gradually disappearing rare material. Yemeni architecture is unique. Houses in the plains and along the wadis are still built from local material such as mud, brick and reed. Stone is used in the mountainous areas. The building styles and façade decorations vary from region to region. There is fantastic harmony with natural surroundings. In the Tihama, houses are low, and the only tall buildings are the minarets of the mosques. The most common type of house in the countryside is the African style reed hut, which is a round or rectangular one roomed house with a sharply pointed roof. You will see one or two storey houses built of bricks in larger villages and towns. The outside of the walls is decorated with ornaments. In the highlands, most dwellings are multi storey tower houses. These buildings are made of locally available material such as stone, brick or mud, and exhibit the architectural style of Yemen. Each house is the home of one extended family. The biggest tower houses have five or six floors, each for different purposes. The ground floor is usually for animals and bulk storage. The kitchen and bedrooms are on the storeys above. The well that provides water for kitchen and domestic uses is often on upper floors, going straight through the lower stores into the ground. The top floor serves as a drawing room where the guests gather to chew "qat" in the afternoons. Al-oud and the simsimiya are the most famous Yemeni musical instruments. The western lute is a derivative of the al-oud. Traditional music styles vary from region to region.


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