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Female Jinn of the Red Sea

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  • Robert Lebling
    Here is an excerpt from a very interesting paper on the perceptions of danger and disease among the Muslim Hadendowa of eastern Sudan. The Hadendowa are one of
    Message 1 of 3 , Apr 8, 2003
      Here is an excerpt from a very interesting paper on the perceptions of
      danger and disease among the Muslim Hadendowa of eastern Sudan. The
      Hadendowa are one of 13 Beja groups that inhabit the Red Sea hills. The
      excerpt deals with legends of sea-spirits, or jinn, that haunt the Red
      Sea and its environs...


      Besides the aforementioned categories of spirits there are also
      sea-spirits that women portray as mostly females whose deception and
      immorality negates Hadendowa women's code of modesty and proper
      motherhood. Sea-spirits, like other forms of spirits, have the ability
      to transform into many characters and can traverse the sea and the
      land. The prominence of the Red Sea as a pervious orifice in the Beja
      landscape and its depiction as spirit domicile parallel Egyptian
      Nubians' perception about the Nile as a water boundary that is infested
      with malevolent spirits (Armgard and Kennedy 1978). These monstrous
      beings of the Nile are associated with blackness, belligerence, and
      cannibalism. Although the authors did not elaborate on how such beliefs
      tie to Nubians' conceptualization of fertility, gender, and
      regeneration, their examples of how Nile monsters target palm trees,
      newly wed, pretty women and small children are suggestive. The authors,
      however, have drawn attention to the embeddedness of such beliefs in
      the region's historical encounters of slavery, conflict, and colonial
      domination. A theme that resonates with Hadendowa's imagination of the
      dangerous sea and its illusive jinn inhabitants. The popular narratives
      of the two female jinn, Tahashaw and Tishawdibyan, who traverse the
      land and the sea, illuminate this representation. The two narratives
      can be viewed as vivid representations of how the Hadendowa social
      imagination re-constructs "foreignness."

      Hadendowa women describe Tahashaw as a beautiful woman who manifests
      herself to them wearing a colorful body-wrap, expensive jewelry and
      strong perfumes. Women associate some spirit characters with
      cleanliness and sweet smells. Thus bad smells are said to provoke jinn,
      and therefore endanger body well-being. Strong perfumes, such as
      khumra, worn by married northern Sudanese women is also said to cause
      children to be sick. The descriptions of these spirits are solicited
      from women's stories, which they told during social gatherings or
      individual interviews. Although women stories vary in minor details,
      they represent oral genres that associate spirits with foreignness and
      its danger to physical integrity. Women report these stories as shared
      knowledge, claiming their authenticity and authorship (cf. White 2000;
      see also Hill and Irvine 1992.). The story of Madina's frightening
      encounter with Tahashaw is an example of how women perceive and
      describe their experiences with some spirit characters.

      Once I was returning to my rural area after a visit to Sinkat town. I
      was accompanied by some of my friends and their husbands. In our way,
      not far from the town's outskirts, a beautiful woman who was wearing
      nice clothes and perfumes appeared to us. I said "bismillah" [in the
      name of God] and shouted, "This is Tahashaw." When I repeated the name
      of God she disappeared while mumbling some words in Arabic, "ashtatan,
      ashtatan" [wither away, wither away]. Then we saw a tall woman standing
      on the top of the mountain; she became thinner and thinner; it was
      Tahashaw.

      We continued our journey and when it was late, the men decided that we
      would stay the night in the vicinity� When I lay down, my body went
      numb and I saw myself in a beautiful house with nice beds, clean
      sheets, tables, chairs, and everything. I wanted to say the name of God
      but could not move. I was, however, able to repeat the name of God in
      my heart. When I repeated the name of God in my heart I saw myself
      sleeping in a kharaba [ruins - she said this in Arabic]. When I told my
      girlfriends, they got very scared [Madina, field notes, June, 1998].

      Tahashaw can transform herself into many figures. She resembles a
      northern Sudanese woman with her provoking perfume and the rattling
      sound of her jewelry. She can become a halabi woman who knocks on
      people's doors to beg them for food, sell them cooking utensils, or ask
      them for directions. Sometimes she appears to people wearing her
      body-wrap, like a Beja woman covering her face, and then suddenly
      disappears or takes the form of a female dwarf. Tahashaw meets men and
      women alike, seduces them, and invites them to her tidy house, which
      turns at the end into ruins. She also meets men coming by train at
      stations and begs them to rest at her luxurious home - only to wake up
      in dumpsites. People bewitched by Tahashaw can go crazy, become
      paralyzed or end up infertile when they wake up to such shocking
      realities. Only those who protect themselves by the words of God can
      survive the encounter safely. My assistant, a young Hadendowa woman,
      asked Madina, "why do few of us encounter Tahashaw now?" Madina replied
      sarcastically, "Because people themselves become hashaw [connoting
      jinn]. Look how our region is pervaded by others."

      Tahashaw's stories may be viewed as a discourse on Hadendowa's
      powerlessness as they encounter foreign presences and a transforming
      world, which they perceive to be dangerous to their social integrity
      and well-being. Tahashaw could be a metaphor for the process of
      balawait-ization (urbanization in accordance with a northern Sudanese
      model) that the Hadendowa themselves are undergoing. It is also
      significant that women's discourses about jinn as "others" depict some
      of these jinn figures as females who are seductive, alluring and
      threatening. Except for male red jinn, women represent the spirits who
      live in the sea or within and without their social domain as females.
      This suggests that Hadendowa women see foreign moral behavior as
      threatening to their femininity, propriety, and fertility, all of which
      are essential for achieving honor and social security.
      The narratives of jinn also underline a dangerous liaison between
      Hadendowa men and foreign women, as manifest in the narrative of
      Tishawdibyan, the female jinn who lives in the sea and, like Tahashaw,
      seduces men with her alluring beauty. Fatna gives the following account
      of Tishawdibyan's story:

      Tishawdibyan is a beautiful female jinn, who lives in the sea.
      Sometimes she comes out of the sea to play on the land. One day a
      Hadendowa man saw her and immediately fell in love with her. He decided
      to set a trap to catch her. When Tishawdibyan came near the snare, the
      man told her about his intention. Since jinn do the opposite of what
      you tell them, the female jinn did not believe him and began to jump
      over the snare while repeating the phrase: "If you catch me, do not let
      go of me." Tired of jumping, she fell in the trap and the man caught
      her. The two later got married. Years passed and the female jinn gave
      birth to two sons. However, she was bored with living on land and
      decided to return to the sea. She told her husband that she missed
      playing in the sea and asked his permission to go visit her family and
      friends and come back. As her husband did not believe that she would
      come back he accepted on the condition that she be tied to a rope while
      in the sea. The female jinn was able to visit her family and came back
      to her husband and sons.

      Weeks passed and she insisted upon going again, but this time she
      convinced her husband not to tie her because her sons were the bond
      that would inspire her to return to continue their upbringing. The
      husband believed her, and she went into the sea. The husband waited on
      the shore and watched her swim further and further until she almost
      disappeared. Because he did not know how to swim, the husband could not
      go with her. He shouted for her "Are you coming back?" The woman
      laughed and said, "Didn't I tell you not to let go of what you have
      (Abkab tikati ba fadiga)?" Tishawdibyan disappeared and never came back
      to her husband [Fatna, field notes, August, 1998].

      Tishawdibyan's narrative reflects the Hadendowa's abhorrence of the
      sea, the dangerous "orifice" in their landscape through which they have
      encountered different forms of "foreignness." Accordingly, women
      perceive the long invasive history of the ancient port of Suakin as an
      intrusion by jinn. They consider Suakin as a hub of "foreignness" that
      was established by the descendants of an Ethiopian female slave and a
      male jinn. The offspring of this liaison mixed with the original Beja
      inhabitants and later formed Suakin's modern population, to whom
      Hadendowa refer as Suakinese. Such jinn stories are very common among
      the Hadendowa. Some of my friends who were the descendants of Hadendowa
      women and West Africans (Takarir) maintain that their foreign
      grandfathers had female jinn, who still live in the sea. Therefore
      members of their families are advised not to swim in the sea for fear
      that these female jinn might kidnap them. A man from one of these
      families related that he was once sailing in the sea, in Port Sudan,
      with his friends when a female jinn grabbed his hand, attempting to
      drown him. Although he resisted her, she was able to snatch his
      engagement ring, and since then the man had not been able to consummate
      his wedding, as his fertility had been compromised.

      Like other female jinn who are deceptive and immoral, Tishawdibyan
      negates the Hadendowa code of modesty and proper motherhood by
      deceiving her husband and abandoning her children. Just as Hadendowa
      women can threaten the patrimony through premarital sexuality and
      exogamous marriage, Hadendowa men can also endanger their progeny by
      marrying foreign women. Thus, Hadendowa use Tishawdibyan's phrase abkab
      tikati ba fadiga, (don't let go of what you have) as a saying to remind
      both men and women of maintaining the kinship ties.


      -- �Modest Women, Deceptive Jinn: Perceptions of Foreignness, Danger,
      and Disease Among the Hadendowa of Eastern Sudan� by Amal Hassan
      Fadlalla. Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies,
      Working Paper Series, Volume 12 Number 6, June 2002.


      For the full paper, go here:
      http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hcpds/wpweb/Fadlalla%20wp1206%20htm.htm



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    • riza_samad
      the indonesians have this legend of the queen of the south sea: http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/?articleID=3196 http://www.jawakidul.com/where.htm ... of
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 13, 2003
        the indonesians have this legend of the queen of the south sea:

        http://www.digitaljournal.com/news/?articleID=3196

        http://www.jawakidul.com/where.htm







        --- In Jinn@yahoogroups.com, Robert Lebling <lebling@y...> wrote:
        > Here is an excerpt from a very interesting paper on the perceptions
        of
        > danger and disease among the Muslim Hadendowa of eastern Sudan. The
        > Hadendowa are one of 13 Beja groups that inhabit the Red Sea hills.
        The
        > excerpt deals with legends of sea-spirits, or jinn, that haunt the
        Red
        > Sea and its environs...
        >
        >
        > Besides the aforementioned categories of spirits there are also
        > sea-spirits that women portray as mostly females whose deception and
        > immorality negates Hadendowa women's code of modesty and proper
        > motherhood. Sea-spirits, like other forms of spirits, have the
        ability
        > to transform into many characters and can traverse the sea and the
        > land. The prominence of the Red Sea as a pervious orifice in the
        Beja
        > landscape and its depiction as spirit domicile parallel Egyptian
        > Nubians' perception about the Nile as a water boundary that is
        infested
        > with malevolent spirits (Armgard and Kennedy 1978). These monstrous
        > beings of the Nile are associated with blackness, belligerence, and
        > cannibalism. Although the authors did not elaborate on how such
        beliefs
        > tie to Nubians' conceptualization of fertility, gender, and
        > regeneration, their examples of how Nile monsters target palm trees,
        > newly wed, pretty women and small children are suggestive. The
        authors,
        > however, have drawn attention to the embeddedness of such beliefs in
        > the region's historical encounters of slavery, conflict, and
        colonial
        > domination. A theme that resonates with Hadendowa's imagination of
        the
        > dangerous sea and its illusive jinn inhabitants. The popular
        narratives
        > of the two female jinn, Tahashaw and Tishawdibyan, who traverse the
        > land and the sea, illuminate this representation. The two narratives
        > can be viewed as vivid representations of how the Hadendowa social
        > imagination re-constructs "foreignness."
        >
        > Hadendowa women describe Tahashaw as a beautiful woman who manifests
        > herself to them wearing a colorful body-wrap, expensive jewelry and
        > strong perfumes. Women associate some spirit characters with
        > cleanliness and sweet smells. Thus bad smells are said to provoke
        jinn,
        > and therefore endanger body well-being. Strong perfumes, such as
        > khumra, worn by married northern Sudanese women is also said to
        cause
        > children to be sick. The descriptions of these spirits are solicited
        > from women's stories, which they told during social gatherings or
        > individual interviews. Although women stories vary in minor details,
        > they represent oral genres that associate spirits with foreignness
        and
        > its danger to physical integrity. Women report these stories as
        shared
        > knowledge, claiming their authenticity and authorship (cf. White
        2000;
        > see also Hill and Irvine 1992.). The story of Madina's frightening
        > encounter with Tahashaw is an example of how women perceive and
        > describe their experiences with some spirit characters.
        >
        > Once I was returning to my rural area after a visit to Sinkat town.
        I
        > was accompanied by some of my friends and their husbands. In our
        way,
        > not far from the town's outskirts, a beautiful woman who was wearing
        > nice clothes and perfumes appeared to us. I said "bismillah" [in the
        > name of God] and shouted, "This is Tahashaw." When I repeated the
        name
        > of God she disappeared while mumbling some words in
        Arabic, "ashtatan,
        > ashtatan" [wither away, wither away]. Then we saw a tall woman
        standing
        > on the top of the mountain; she became thinner and thinner; it was
        > Tahashaw.
        >
        > We continued our journey and when it was late, the men decided that
        we
        > would stay the night in the vicinity… When I lay down, my body went
        > numb and I saw myself in a beautiful house with nice beds, clean
        > sheets, tables, chairs, and everything. I wanted to say the name of
        God
        > but could not move. I was, however, able to repeat the name of God
        in
        > my heart. When I repeated the name of God in my heart I saw myself
        > sleeping in a kharaba [ruins - she said this in Arabic]. When I
        told my
        > girlfriends, they got very scared [Madina, field notes, June,
        1998].
        >
        > Tahashaw can transform herself into many figures. She resembles a
        > northern Sudanese woman with her provoking perfume and the rattling
        > sound of her jewelry. She can become a halabi woman who knocks on
        > people's doors to beg them for food, sell them cooking utensils, or
        ask
        > them for directions. Sometimes she appears to people wearing her
        > body-wrap, like a Beja woman covering her face, and then suddenly
        > disappears or takes the form of a female dwarf. Tahashaw meets men
        and
        > women alike, seduces them, and invites them to her tidy house, which
        > turns at the end into ruins. She also meets men coming by train at
        > stations and begs them to rest at her luxurious home - only to wake
        up
        > in dumpsites. People bewitched by Tahashaw can go crazy, become
        > paralyzed or end up infertile when they wake up to such shocking
        > realities. Only those who protect themselves by the words of God can
        > survive the encounter safely. My assistant, a young Hadendowa woman,
        > asked Madina, "why do few of us encounter Tahashaw now?" Madina
        replied
        > sarcastically, "Because people themselves become hashaw [connoting
        > jinn]. Look how our region is pervaded by others."
        >
        > Tahashaw's stories may be viewed as a discourse on Hadendowa's
        > powerlessness as they encounter foreign presences and a transforming
        > world, which they perceive to be dangerous to their social integrity
        > and well-being. Tahashaw could be a metaphor for the process of
        > balawait-ization (urbanization in accordance with a northern
        Sudanese
        > model) that the Hadendowa themselves are undergoing. It is also
        > significant that women's discourses about jinn as "others" depict
        some
        > of these jinn figures as females who are seductive, alluring and
        > threatening. Except for male red jinn, women represent the spirits
        who
        > live in the sea or within and without their social domain as
        females.
        > This suggests that Hadendowa women see foreign moral behavior as
        > threatening to their femininity, propriety, and fertility, all of
        which
        > are essential for achieving honor and social security.
        > The narratives of jinn also underline a dangerous liaison between
        > Hadendowa men and foreign women, as manifest in the narrative of
        > Tishawdibyan, the female jinn who lives in the sea and, like
        Tahashaw,
        > seduces men with her alluring beauty. Fatna gives the following
        account
        > of Tishawdibyan's story:
        >
        > Tishawdibyan is a beautiful female jinn, who lives in the sea.
        > Sometimes she comes out of the sea to play on the land. One day a
        > Hadendowa man saw her and immediately fell in love with her. He
        decided
        > to set a trap to catch her. When Tishawdibyan came near the snare,
        the
        > man told her about his intention. Since jinn do the opposite of what
        > you tell them, the female jinn did not believe him and began to jump
        > over the snare while repeating the phrase: "If you catch me, do not
        let
        > go of me." Tired of jumping, she fell in the trap and the man caught
        > her. The two later got married. Years passed and the female jinn
        gave
        > birth to two sons. However, she was bored with living on land and
        > decided to return to the sea. She told her husband that she missed
        > playing in the sea and asked his permission to go visit her family
        and
        > friends and come back. As her husband did not believe that she would
        > come back he accepted on the condition that she be tied to a rope
        while
        > in the sea. The female jinn was able to visit her family and came
        back
        > to her husband and sons.
        >
        > Weeks passed and she insisted upon going again, but this time she
        > convinced her husband not to tie her because her sons were the bond
        > that would inspire her to return to continue their upbringing. The
        > husband believed her, and she went into the sea. The husband waited
        on
        > the shore and watched her swim further and further until she almost
        > disappeared. Because he did not know how to swim, the husband could
        not
        > go with her. He shouted for her "Are you coming back?" The woman
        > laughed and said, "Didn't I tell you not to let go of what you have
        > (Abkab tikati ba fadiga)?" Tishawdibyan disappeared and never came
        back
        > to her husband [Fatna, field notes, August, 1998].
        >
        > Tishawdibyan's narrative reflects the Hadendowa's abhorrence of the
        > sea, the dangerous "orifice" in their landscape through which they
        have
        > encountered different forms of "foreignness." Accordingly, women
        > perceive the long invasive history of the ancient port of Suakin as
        an
        > intrusion by jinn. They consider Suakin as a hub of "foreignness"
        that
        > was established by the descendants of an Ethiopian female slave and
        a
        > male jinn. The offspring of this liaison mixed with the original
        Beja
        > inhabitants and later formed Suakin's modern population, to whom
        > Hadendowa refer as Suakinese. Such jinn stories are very common
        among
        > the Hadendowa. Some of my friends who were the descendants of
        Hadendowa
        > women and West Africans (Takarir) maintain that their foreign
        > grandfathers had female jinn, who still live in the sea. Therefore
        > members of their families are advised not to swim in the sea for
        fear
        > that these female jinn might kidnap them. A man from one of these
        > families related that he was once sailing in the sea, in Port Sudan,
        > with his friends when a female jinn grabbed his hand, attempting to
        > drown him. Although he resisted her, she was able to snatch his
        > engagement ring, and since then the man had not been able to
        consummate
        > his wedding, as his fertility had been compromised.
        >
        > Like other female jinn who are deceptive and immoral, Tishawdibyan
        > negates the Hadendowa code of modesty and proper motherhood by
        > deceiving her husband and abandoning her children. Just as Hadendowa
        > women can threaten the patrimony through premarital sexuality and
        > exogamous marriage, Hadendowa men can also endanger their progeny by
        > marrying foreign women. Thus, Hadendowa use Tishawdibyan's phrase
        abkab
        > tikati ba fadiga, (don't let go of what you have) as a saying to
        remind
        > both men and women of maintaining the kinship ties.
        >
        >
        > -- "Modest Women, Deceptive Jinn: Perceptions of Foreignness,
        Danger,
        > and Disease Among the Hadendowa of Eastern Sudan" by Amal Hassan
        > Fadlalla. Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies,
        > Working Paper Series, Volume 12 Number 6, June 2002.
        >
        >
        > For the full paper, go here:
        > http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/hcpds/wpweb/Fadlalla%20wp1206%20htm.htm
        >
        >
        >
        > __________________________________________________
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        > Yahoo! Tax Center - File online, calculators, forms, and more
        > http://tax.yahoo.com
      • Dances with Werewolves
        Someone probably already mentioned this. Recently I watched a movie called Spirited Away on DVD. It is Japanese animation, but made by Pixar and Disney. It
        Message 3 of 3 , Jun 17, 2003
          Someone probably already mentioned this.

          Recently I watched a movie called "Spirited Away" on
          DVD. It is Japanese animation, but made by Pixar and
          Disney. It seems pretty popular, and has more to the
          title than that, but here in America they sell it in
          the grocery stores... So a big title and easily
          available.

          Anyway, though it is Japanese/Oriental in flavor, it
          still deals with many topics mentioned on this board.
          Without giving away any details, I'll just say that I
          intend to have it in my collection, and I was thinking
          of this yahoogroup constantly.

          [DwW]

          =====
          Varia - Cryptic Electronic Music

          Liber L = II:74
          "The length of thy longing shall be the strength of its glory. He that lives long & desires death much is ever the King among the Kings."




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