Musil, Alois, 1868-1944. The manners and customs of the Rwala Bedouins

Table of Contents

Publication Information

Chapter I The Heavenly Bodies And The Weather

The Sun And Moon

Clouds And Rain

Seasons And Rainy Periods

Prayers For Rain

Periods Of Abundance And Want

Hot And Cold Weather; Dews; Winds; Fogs; Mirages; Sand Storms

Chapter Ii Animals

Carnivorous Animals

The Larger Herbivorous Animals

Small Animals

Carnivorous Birds

Falcons And Falconry

Other Carnivorous Birds

Non-carnivorous Birds



Chapter Iii Structure Of Society

Settlers And Nomads

Blood Relationship

Beni Al-□amm

Âl And Ahl


Traditions Concerning The Rwala Chiefs

An-nûri Eben Ša□lân

Chapter Iv The Tent And Its Furnishings

The Construction Of The Tent

Furnishings Of The Men's Compartment; The Fireplace

Furnishings Of The Women's Compartment

Use And Transportation Of Tents

Camping Grounds

Poems Relating To Camping Grounds

Chapter V Food

Milk And Methods Of Procuring It

Wheat And Other Grains

Locusts, Dates, Salt, Water, Edible Plants



Coffee And Its Preparation

Poems Relating To Coffee

Chapter Vi Dress And Weapons

The Beard And Hair; Tattooing; Body Belts

Men's Clothes

Women's Clothes

Peddlers; Care For Personal Appearance; Infants; Staffs And Canes

Smoking Pipes

Poems Relating To Smoking


Care Of The Person

Chapter Vii Marriage Customs

Limitations On The Choice Of A Wife

Rights Of The Eben Al-□amm

Love Ditties And Poems

In Praise Of Lovers; The Delights Of Love

In Praise Of A Sweetheart's Kinsmen

Meetings, Greetings, Good Wishes

Lovers' Parting; Sorrows Of Separation; Pain Of Love

Laments For Lost And Dead Lovers


Treachery In Love

Lovers' Quarrels

Unrequited And Thwarted Love

Difficulties Due To Kinsmen

Rivalry In Love

The Wedding

Plurality Of Wives

Treatment And Duties Of Women


Penalties For Unchastity

Character Of Bedouin Women

Chapter Viii Children

Birth And Naming Of Children

Circumcision Ceremonies

Ditties Sung At Circumcision Ceremonies

Raising Of Children

Boys' Games

Ditties Sung By Girls

Chapter Ix Strangers In The Camp

Neighbors Or □u□ara'

Wandering Petty Merchants Or Kubejsât

Poems Relating To □u□ara' And Kubejsât


Wholesale Merchants And Their Agents, The □a□ejl


Chapter X Poetry

Poets And Poetical Composition

Typical Bedouin Poems

Lament Of A Man Dogged By Misfortune

A Slanderer Is Warned To Make Sure Of His Own Paternity Before Reproaching Others.

In Honor Of The Author

□abdallâh Answers Fej□ân's Reproaches 8

□obejd Eben Rašîd Lies In Wait In A Ravine To Fight The Âl □ali

□abdallâh Eben Rašîd Bewails His Expulsion From □âjel

Lament Of A Father For Two Sons Killed In Battle

In Honor Of Mu□ammad Eben Rašîd

In Honor Of Bender, Prince Of The Šammar

Mu□ammad Eben □arfeˇg In Al-ˇgowf Contemplates A Journey To □âjel

A Chief, Imprisoned By The Turks At □ama', Anticipates His Liberation By The □a□ejl

A Chief Is Reproached For His Extortions

A Rebellious Leader Appealed To By The Poet To Make Peace With His Chief

An Anxious Father Sends A Message To His Two Sons Absent In The □awrân

A Bedouin Yearns To Live In The Settled Country

A □lubi Yearns To Be A Bedouin

A Bedouin Warns The □lubi Against Changing His Vocation

The Poet, Bitten By A Mad Dog And Abandoned By His Kin, Laments To A Friend


Chapter Xi Camels

Camels Of Different Ages And Kinds

Pasturing Of Camels

Watering Of Camels

Ditties Sung When Camels Are Watered

Lost Camels

Value And Uses Of Camels

Camel Saddles

Camels On The March

Songs Relating To Camels

Drinking From A Camel's Paunch

Diseases Of Camels

Chapter Xii Horses

Horses Of Different Kinds

Breeding Of Horses

Equipment, Use, And Value Of Horses

Loss Of Horses

Care, Diseases, And Names Of Horses

Songs Relating To Mares

Chapter Xiii Omens

Natural Phenomena As Omens

Dreams As Omens

Chapter Xiv Supernatural Gifts

Seers Or Sorcerers


Supernatural Powers Of □lejb Women

The Evil Eye

Chapter Xv Spirits And Vows

The ˇginn

Reverence For Graves Rare Among Bedouins


Chapter Xvi Judicial Procedure

Settlement Of Minor Disputes; Judges


Settlement With Witnesses

Settlement By Oaths

Judicial Decisions

Typical Lawsuits

Murder Cases, Appeals, Paternity Cases, Judgments In Blood Feuds

Chapter Xvii Protection Of The Oppressed

Countenance Or Waˇgh

The □awi Or Companion Who Protects Travelers

Protection By Request

Typical Cases Of The Granting Of Protection And Its Consequences

Protection Of Enemy Who Voluntarily Surrenders

Protection In Cases Of Thievery

Protection From Oppressors; Recognition Of Benefactors

Beggars; Lost Articles

Chapter Xviii Hospitality


Travelers' Ditties

Reception Of The Traveler

Duration Of Hospitality And Departure Of Guests

Poems Relating To Guests And Hospitality

Chapter Xix Personal Qualities

Poems Depicting Qualities And Deeds Of Men

Vigilance And Energy

Seize Opportunity When It Offers

Modesty And Self Reliance


Genuine Bliss Dwells With All True Believers

Complaint Against A Knavish Neighbor

Moral Precepts

Advice To A Friend

Chapter Xx Vengeance

Avengers And Protectors

Arrangements For Payment Of The Blood Price

Special Conditions Of Vengeance

Typical Instances Of The Application Of The Laws Of Vengeance

Song Of A Culprit Longing To Return To His Fellow Tribesmen

Chapter Xxi War And Peace

Declarations Of War


Small Raids

Preparations For A Large Raid

Raiders' Marching Songs

Approaching The Enemy

The Attack And Counter Attack

After The Attack

Returning Raiders' Songs

Songs Of Booty

The Raiders' Home-coming

Large Battles, Or Maná□

Ditties Sung By Defenders Of Their Camps

Treaties Of Peace

The Tribal Emblem, Abu-d-dhûr

Narratives Of Rwala Wars And Raids

Ad-drê□i Eben Ša□lân's Raid On The □efîr (early Nineteenth Century)

War Between Eben Ša□lân And Eben Rašîd (second Half Of The Nineteenth Century)

Wars Between The Rwala And The Beni Wahab (1850–1864)

Wars Between The Rwala And The Fed□ân ( 1877–1900 )

War Between The Rwala And The Western Tribes (1902)

Songs Composed On This Occasion

War Between The Rwala And The Muntifež (1905)

Songs Composed On This Occasion

War Between The Rwala And Eben Meˇglâd

Poems Of Wars And Raids

Scorn Of Fallen Chief's Daughter For Kin Who Fail To Avenge Him

Lament Of Young Woman For Hér Husband Killed In Battle

Cowardice Reproached

Advice To A Chief

Anecdotes Of Wars And Raids

Stories Of Wars And Raids Told By Blejhân Eben □eri

Chapter Xxii Laws Of Inheritance

Chapter Xxiii Death And After Death

Diseases And Wounds


Hell And Paradise

Chapter Xxiv Terms Applied To Physiographic Features

Publication Information

Paragraph Subjects (OCM)

Publication Information The main body of the Publication Information page contains all the metadata that HRAF holds for that document.

Author: Author's name as listed in Library of Congress records

Title: The manners and customs of the Rwala Bedouins

Published By: Original publisher New York: The American Geographical Society. 1928. xiv, 712 p.

By line: Author's name as appearing in the actual publication by Alois Musil … published under the patronage of the Czech Academy of Sciences and Arts and of Charles R. Crane

HRAF Publication Information: New Haven, Conn.: Human Relations Area Files, 2009. Computer File

Culture: Culture name from the Outline of World Cultures (OWC) with the alphanumberic OWC identifier in parenthesis. Rwala Bedouin (MD04)

Subjects: Document-level OCM identifiers given by the anthropology subject indexers at HRAF Pastoral activities (233); Annual cycle (221); Fauna (136); Ethnozoology (825); Hunting and trapping (224); Verbal arts (5310); Diet (262); Food preparation (252); Fowling (223); Community structure (621); Tribe and nation (619); Dwellings (342); Ethnosociology (829); Kin relationships (602); Chief executive (643); Regulation of marriage (582); Domesticated animals (231); Instigation of war (721); Revelation and divination (787);

Abstract: Brief abstract written by HRAF anthropologists who have done the subject indexing for the document The author, who was Professor of Oriental Studies at Charles University in Prague, spent many months traveling and camping with the Rwala. The results of his studies are given in this volume, supplemented by details learned from a companion of the Sba'a tribe. He has presented an immense amount of detailed information on the structure of Rwala society, native customs and traditions, domestic animals and animal transport, native beliefs and code of ethics, and war and peace. On most of these subjects the author has presented native ditties, songs and poems in Arabic and in translation which he heard in the desert and has tried to reproduce exactly as he heard them. In the author's notes following the literary texts there is a great deal of miscellaneous ethnographic material which has been categorized, as well as information about the poets and authors and the circumstances of composition. Throughout the volume there is much valuable information on native terminology and stylistics, the Arabic term and the author's translation being given in each case. There is an especially comprehensive section on war and peace in which the author makes clear how large a part this plays in Rwala life. He has not only described all the aspects of raids and warfare between the various clans and tribes, but has also presented a number of native accounts of wars and raids in which there is considerable material on tribal relations, the recent history of the Rwala, famous warriors and chiefs, etc.

Document Number: HRAF's in-house numbering system derived from the processing order of documents 2

Document ID: HRAF's unique document identifier. The first part is the OWC identifier and the second part is the document number in three digits. md04-002

Document Type: May include journal articles, essays, collections of essays, monographs or chapters/parts of monographs. Monograph

Language: Language that the document is written in English

Field Date: The date the researcher conducted the fieldwork or archival research that produced the document no date

Evaluation: In this alphanumeric code, the first part designates the type of person writing the document, e.g. Ethnographer, Missionary, Archaeologist, Folklorist, Linguist, Indigene, and so on. The second part is a ranking done by HRAF anthropologists based on the strength of the source material on a scale of 1 to 5, as follows: 1 - poor; 2 - fair; 3 - good, useful data, but not uniformly excellent; 4 - excellent secondary data; 5 - excellent primary data Social Scientist-5

Analyst: The HRAF anthropologist who subject indexed the document and prepared other materials for the eHRAF culture/tradition collection. Beverly Calsoyas ; 1955

Coverage Date: The date or dates that the information in the document pertains to (often not the same as the field date). 1900-1928

Coverage Place: Location of the research culture or tradition (often a smaller unit such as a band, community, or archaeological site) Syria and Saudi Arabia

LCSH: Library of Congress Subject Headings Bedouins--Arabian Peninsula/Folklore--Arabian Peninsula


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