St.ambeli, 7-8


7. (pp. 155-77) "Pilgrimage and Place : Local Performances, Transnational Imaginaries".

p. 155 h^arja

"Soon after the t.abla players sling their drums over their shoulders and the shqashiq players fasten their instruments to their hands, the kharja (street procession, lit. "departure") begins, the resounding drumbeats of the t.abla and the loud metallic pulses of the shqashiq publicly announcing the commencement of the pilgrimage. ... During the kharja, the four musicians, five flag bearers, and ... other pilgrims march down toward the entrance of the zawiya".

p. 156 spirit-possession by Sidi Frej

"Outside, as the musicians begin the nuba of Sidi Frej, a woman lurches forward into the middle of the circle and begins to trance. The woman, who is sometimes described as bint sidi frej (lit. "daughter of Sidi Frej"), is "taken away" into trance by Sidi Frej whenever the musicians play his nuba in her presence. The trancer[ess], who bobs up and down to the music by bending forward and back at the waist, is led by musicians inside the zawiya ... . ... Soon the trance reaches its climax, and the trancer[ess] passes out, indicating that Sidi Frej is pleased".

pp. 156-7 h^arja to a water-well

p. 156

"There is a second kharja on the final day of the pilgrimage. ... this kharja focuses on the on the spirits ... and ...

p. 157

leads ... toward a water well located on the far northern perimeter of the zawiya property ... . This procession ... marches to the water well, where the musicians perform the silsila for the Bah.riyya spirits, who possess an <arifa to trance."


"The second kharja is undertaken on the final day, is focused on the spirits, involves possession trance, and moves ... to a sacred wellon the outer edge of the wall enclosing the cemetery".

p. 160 gendre in st.ambeli

"in st.ambeli, women, as well as some (usually effeminate) men, have privileged roles as healers with esoteric ritual knowledge.

Women, both black and Arab, also constitute the majority – but by no means all – of the clients who have the special status of serving as conduits for spirit possession."

"The musicians, whose performances ... entice the ... spirits to descend, are all male and are typically – but again, not exclusively – black Tunisians."

pp. 162-3 :- Sidi Frej & his zawiya

p. 162

"Sidi Frej was Barnawi [a native of Bornu]. ... He was known by everyone and lived in La Marsa."

p. 163

"The zawiya is surrounded on two sides by a small graveyard. ... The day before the ziyara, the interior of the zawiya is decorated elaborately with ... paraphernalia, temporarily transforming the shrine into a distinctively st.ambeli setting for the next three days."

p. 163 ziyara (‘pilgrimage’)

"The ziyara ..., like most ziyaras in Tunisia, ... takes place from Wednesday to Friday. ... Over the course of the three days, the presence of the ... spirits gradually intensifies as the musicians perform a wider variety of nubas, to which a larger number of initiates dance."

p. 165 debdabu

"The word debdabu was used to used was used to refer to a sub-Saharan kettledrum as early as the eleventh century (Erlmann 1986:10) but may also be related to the Arabic term dabdaba, defined as "the sound of footsteps" {footfall}".

debdabu : "Leading the ceremony, and replacing the gumbri, is the t.abla. ... the t.abla in the context of the debdabu is played with two sticks, one on each drumhead."

p. 167 (continuation from p. 1)

"After the male <arifa finished his possession by Sidi <Abd es-Salem (see the book’s introduction [p. 1]), we continued playing the silsila of the Shaikhs with the nuba of Sidi Sa<d. ... Like that of Sidi Belh.assen, Sayda Manubiyya’s nuba is also in the bu sa<diyya rhythm".

pp. 168-9 Sidi Mans.ur

p. 168

"The praise song for Sidi Mans.ur ..., traditionally performed by a chorus of men accompanied by traditional percussion (bendir, darbukka, and and (traditional reed flute) ... made way from Sidi Mans.ur’s local zawiya in the coastal city of Sfax .. to the pan-Arab ... stations and beyond, popularized by Tunisian singer Saber el-Robaei’s ... pop version, ... into ... Paris-based Tunisian singer Amina".

p. 169

"Sidi Mans.ur is mostly known as the patron saint of the st.ambeli community in the city of Sfax. Like the Bah.riyya spirits, he is believed to have the capacity to help humans when their affliction involves water – from babies who cannot produce tears to adults who had been struck by a spirit after forgetting to utter "bismillah" before pouring a pot of hot water on the ground."

pp. 171-2 dance movements for Mulay Brahim, for Bah.riyya, for Bakaba, & for Sarkin Gari

p. 171

"the dance steps for Mulay Brahim incorporate both the accented notes of the gumbri "on" the beat and the accented second note of the shqashiq’s rhythmic cell. ... the dance cycle takes two rhythmic cells to complete : R L -- / L R --.


The following nuba, for the spirit named Bah.riyya, ... spaces the steps more evenly and widely, thus taking four rhythmic cells to complete : R --- / L --- / L --- / R ---. ...


Unlike Mulay Brahim’s alternating arm movements,

those of Bah.riyya consist of unison swimminglike motions stretched forward with each bend of the waist."


From time to time during this nuba, all of these dance movements are temporarily

p. 172

replaced by gestures involving standing in place, the body bent forward toward the gumbri, rocking on the heels in unison, and shaking the shoulders quickly from side to side with hands on hips. ...


We spent less than a minute playing Bakaba, which involves familiar dance steps R --- / L --- / L --- / R --- with the feet but is accompanied by swings of the arms together on each strong footstep ... . Again, these movements coincide with the "onbeats" of the gumbri, which are in metrical tension with the accented "offbeat" of the shqashiq pattern. ... .


... we began the nuba for Sarkin Gari, who dances slowly, from side to side, with hands behind the back."

pp. 172-5 trances for the Banu Kuri

p. 172

"On the second day of the pilgrimage, Kuri made his presence known by paralyzing both of [the prophetess]’s legs ... . ... At the height of the third day’s possession ceremony, her possession began ... with the nuba of Sidi <Abd es-Salem ...,

p. 173

which "pulled" her into the midan ... . Sidi <Abd es-Salem is one of the only members of the pantheon who can engender both jedba and possession trance. ... Recognizing the signs of the saint’s impending presence as [the dead yinna’s widowed wife] stood tall, swaying from side to side, an <arifa pulled a loose, white kashabiyya over [the prophetess]’s body while one of the s.unna< ran ... returning

p. 174

with a stalk of hay he lit before placing it in [her] right hand. She moved from side to side in time with the music, her right hand holding the burning stalk, her left hand behind her back. As the nuba intensified, her movements become more pronounced, and ... her left arm ... was now stretched out in front of her. ... .


... the nuba for Dakaki began ... . As Dakaki seized [her], she writhed on the ground, slithering up to the gumbri. ... the nuba ended ... .


She ... waited for the black kashabiyya to be put on her.

She rose to a kneeling position as the group began the nuba for Kuri, who danced by repeatedly flinging his hosts’ arms up in the air over her head, one after the other, in time with the music. ... Kuri exited her body. ...


Without stopping, the musicians invoked a succession of spirits ... . [The prophetess]’s possession, which lasted the better part of an hour, continued with

Kuri’s brothers Migzu and Jamarkay

and with Baba Magojay, who, like Kuri, is associated with drinking.


Ritual assistants replaced the black kashabiyya with a large white cloth as

Kuri’s wife Ummi Yenna descended,

followed by her sisters Mama Zahra and Adama, each of whom danced in a sitting position, completely covered by the cloth. When the music and dancing stopped, Adama remained in [the prophetess] body and was quickly surrounded by a throng of young women. Speaking through [her], Adama foretold futures, provided advice ...,

p. 175

and informed individuals of the well-being of the soul of deceased friends or family members."

{Male spirits wear black; female spirits wear white – just the reverse of normal Muslim attire.}

p. 175 trance for the Beyet

"The <arifa ... was seated, cross-legged, in front of the gumbri. He pulled at the insides of his cheeks with his fingers, screaming as we played the nuba of May Gajiya. He was handed large, wooden daggers that had been censed ... . After about two minutes, we paused as his yellow banner was

replaced by a red and white one and a fez was placed atop his head.

... we began the nuba of Ya Rima, the ruler and judge, singing ... . Once we transitioned to the instrumental section, he rose slowly, bowing to the musicians and then dancing to our accelerating pace with one arm extended, his banner draped over his arm, turning slowly. A chair was brought for him to sit in, facing the gumbri. ... As we began a second nuba of Ya Rima, we were singing words I did not know or understand ... . ... the lyrics were all in Hausa and aesthetics were sudani".

"The pilgrimage ended with the last of the Beyet (and also Sghar) spirits, namely Miryamu and Nana <Aysha. We sang "Ina Miryamu ..." and "... Nana<Aysha ... tambari." (... tambari is a sudani word that here denotes Nana<Aysha as "pure.") They distributed the sweets that all pilgrims would take home with them ... as a physical means of ingesting the blessing of the saints".


8. (pp. 178-96) "St.ambeli on Stage : (Re)praesentations, Musical Cosmopolitanism, and the Public Sphaire".

p. 214, n. 8:1 French as "Syrian" or as shirted

"Curiously, although the term suri means "Syrian" in standard Arabic, in Tunisian dialectical Arabic it means "French." (It is quite common, for instance, to hear someone asy " b-suri," or "He speaks [in] French.")"

{Although Qe^ruwan (mentioned on p. xiv) in Buzakion (Byzacium) district of Tunisia was formerly headquarters of the Fat.imid Yarsani, the Fat.imid Yarsani are now mainly located in S`ams/Syria.} {The word /Sur/ is derived (with /s/ from /s^/) from region named /S^ur/ in the Book of Exodos.}

"it may be derived from the Tunisian Arabic word for "shirt" (suriyya), as Tunisians ... may have referred to the French as the one wearing ... the button-up shirt".

{Named for ‘shirt’ in Provenzal, /camise/, the Camisards are the black-shirted prophets in the clergy of the Huguenots of southern France.}

[Camisard spirit-possession :] "Those so moved "struck themselves with the Hand, they fell on their Backs, they shut their Eyes, they heaved with the Breast, they remained a while in Trances, and coming out of them with Twitchings, they uttered all that came into their Mouths." (De Brueys, Histoire du fanatisme de notre temps (Paris, 1692), p. 137.) Children as well as adults were so affected, and illiterates of the "Dregs of Mankind" amazed their hearers by quoting Scripture texts at length. (De Brueys, Histoire du fanatisme de notre temps (Paris, 1692), p. 89.) John Vernett, who escaped from Bois-Chastel to England, recalled that when under this power of the Holy Spirit his mother spoke only French. This "surprized [him] exceedingly, because she never before attempted to speak a Word in that Language, nor has since to my Knowledge, and I am certain she could not do it."(John Lacy, A Cry from the Desert (London, 1708), p. 14) ... Similar phenomena occurred repeatedly, and often when the operation had ceased the inspired had no memory of what he had uttered." "Beliefs of the Quakers" – Documentation 9

p. 180 trance musics

"the circulation of "trance" musics outside their ritual contexts reveals ... implications of staging sacred music and trance ceremonies, whether

by national folklore troupes ... (Hagedorn 2001),

by concert promoters and festival organizers ... (Shannon 2003), or

by world music producers ... (Kapchan 2007)."

Hagedorn 2001 = Katherine Hagedorn : Divine Utterances : the performance of Afro-Cuban Santeria. Washington (DC) : Smithsonian Institution Pr.

Shannon 2003 = Jonathan Shannon : "Syrian Sacred Music on the World Stage". AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST 105(3):266-77.

Kapchan 2007 = Deborah Kapchan : Traveling Spirit Masters. Middletown (CT) : Wesleyan U Pr.

pp. 186-7 Jajuka/Hellenic connection

p. 186

"The Jajoukans ... live in a village at the foot of the Rif Mountains in Morocco. ... In the writings of Gysin and Burroughs, the Jajoukans’ ... rituals are reinterpreted

p. 187

as ancient musico-sexual fertility rites of the Greek god Pan. Timothy Leary described the master musicians of Jajouka as a four-thousand-year-old rock band".

pp. 188-9 jazz interpretation of gumbri

p. 188

"a djembe drum’s low tones coinciding with the gumbri strikes ... resulted in ... the first tone ... "on" the beat;

p. 189

put together, these two articulations now felt like the first two beats of a longer 6/4 pattern. ... . ... saxophone ... phrases that seemed to float over the distant gumbri and shqashiq ... strayed far from the minor pentatonic mode proffered buy the gumbri’s melodic cycles. .


... it was not difficult to imagine the gumbri being interpreted by a jazz musician as a bass ostinato and the shqashiq as virtual hi-hats."

p. 192 Dar Barnu musicians’ perception of attitudes toward st.ambeli (at an international festival in Tunis)

"unlike Europeans, Americans, and Japanese whom they described as maghrum (fond) of st.ambeli, Tunisians were believed to have misconceptions about, or strong prejudices against, st.ambeli."

p. 193 st.ambeli alongside other spirit-possession practices (at an international festival in Paris)

"St.ambeli was presented as part of the "cycle extase et possession," alongside spirit possession practices from Uzbekistan, South India, and Korea."

pp. 184-5 slang words

p. 184

"to flee (yah.raq in Tunisian slang; lit. "burn," referring to the burning of identification papers to avoid deportation)".

p. 185

"the term fenniste ... Derived from the Arabic fann (art), ... could be translated as "artists." ... The khubziste is the ethical opposite of the fenniste. ... khubziste refers to one who is interested only in making money (... in Tunisian slang). ... This term is reserved for those who make money at the expense of betraying others and compromising the st.ambeli tradition."


Richard C. Jankowsky : Stambeli : Music, Trance, and Alterity in Tunisia. U of Chicago Pr, 2010.

p. 214, n. 7:2 recorded examples and transcriptions from ziyara [audio samples at]