Jambiyas and henna: War does not stop Yemeni preparations for Eid | Features News

Sanaa, Yemen – Exterior Bab al-Yaman, the historic entrance to the Outdated Metropolis of Sanaa, there aren’t any indicators of battle.

Markets are full of individuals from inside and out of doors the capital shopping for presents for the upcoming Eid al-Adha vacation, resembling ceremonial daggers and henna, and sheep to be sacrificed.

Eid al-Adha, an important Muslim spiritual pageant, begins on Friday night.

Abdul-Raqeeb al-Samey was shopping for a dagger, often known as a jambiya and worn by Yemeni males as a part of their conventional clothes, for his 14-year-old son Mohammed.

“Yemenis have worn a jambiya throughout Eid because the time of our great-grandparents,” al-Samey, who works as a plumber, defined to Al Jazeera.

“The jambiya has been part of our historical past for a very long time. Individuals have been sporting related knives because the Himyarites,” he added, referring to an historical pre-Islamic Yemeni kingdom.

Al-Samey, like many individuals who reside and work in Sanaa, is planning on celebrating Eid in his residence village.

For al-Samey, which means a visit throughout Yemen’s entrance traces to Taiz governorate, within the centre of the nation. Even with a United Nations-backed truce between Yemen’s warring sides in place since April, the journey is treacherous.

Negotiations over entry to town of Taiz, certainly one of Yemen’s largest, stay a stumbling block in talks between the Yemeni authorities and the Houthi rebels.

Authorities-held areas of Taiz, nearly all of town, are blockaded by the Houthis, forcing individuals to journey as an alternative by way of harmful mountain roads.

Yemeni warring sides have been negotiating reopening roads in Taiz, the place chopping the roads has been separating households dwelling in Houthi-held areas and government-held areas pushing them to journey by way of harmful mountainous roads.

However the Houthis have thus far solely provided to reopen small feeder roads, reasonably than the principle entry highway to town, as the federal government is demanding.

The UN-sponsored negotiations have stalled with the Houthis solely providing to reopen feeder roads, whereas the federal government insists they have to reopen a important highway.

Jambiya hilts

The jambiya has lengthy been considered a logo of masculinity.

The curved daggers, worn on an embroidered belt can value hundreds of {dollars}, relying on the intricacy of the designs, and the fabric the dagger’s hilt is fabricated from.

Waheeb Saif, proprietor of a big jambiya store close to Bab al-Yaman, sells a number of kinds of jambiya hilts.

“The perfect Yemeni-made hilts are Saiyfani, Ozeiry, al-Mosawaey, al-Zuraf, and al-Mahbashi,” stated Saif. “The median costs vary between 5 million Yemeni riyals [$9,000] and 6 million Yemeni riyals [$11,000]. The very best value is 10 million Yemeni riyals [$18,000] for one of the best sort of jambiya, the Saiyfani.”

However for a lot of Yemenis, in the course of a battle and financial disaster, these costs are unaffordable.

“Gross sales have been higher earlier than the battle as individuals had common salaries; now, there are prospects asking about costs, however they don’t purchase as they will’t afford the costs,” Saif advised Al Jazeera whereas sitting subsequent to his jambiyas on show.

“I inherited this occupation from my father on the age of 16, and he additionally inherited it from my grandfather,” Saif famous.

However, with globalisation, the previous, and costly strategies of creating jambiyas are threatened by cheaper imitators, usually made in China, and generally from plastic.

“We are able to’t name for the Chinese language jambiyas to be banned, as a result of they’re low-cost and assist poor Yemenis to purchase them, if they will’t afford the Saiyfani or Ozeiry jambiyas,” Saif stated.

A Yemeni man sells henna
Henna is utilized by each women and men in Yemen, to dye hair in addition to create momentary physique artwork [Naseh Shaker/Al Jazeera]

‘The evening of henna’

On the southern facet of Bab Al-Yaman, Nasser al-Harazy is sat in entrance of a pile of henna – a dye used to attract intricate physique designs – on the market.

He’s surrounded by plenty of different henna gross sales, however tells prospects, “al-henna al-hali endi”, or “one of the best henna is with me”.

“My prospects come from Ibb and Taiz,” al-Harazy advised Al Jazeera. “Women and men purchase from me. These are my finest days to promote henna as a result of it’s Eid and tons of of individuals get married.”

Al-Harazy defined that the henna he sells comes from his village up within the mountains of Haraz, west of Sanaa. The village, Badyat Al-Henna, is known as after the dye.

“Henna will not be used throughout Eid alone, girls additionally use it for marriage ceremony events and have a particular occasion known as the ‘evening of henna’, when henna is placed on the bride’s fingers and legs, earlier than she is taken to her groom’s home,” al-Harazy stated, as a girl sporting a conventional Sanaani gown ordered a pot of henna.

The Nuqum sheep market in Sanaa, Yemen
The battle in Yemen implies that many individuals can’t afford to purchase as many animals to sacrifice for Eid as they did beforehand [Naseh Shaker/Al Jazeera]

Sacrifice in Qaryat Al-Qabil

Simply to the east of the Outdated Metropolis of Sanaa sits Sanaa’s largest livestock market, Nuqum, named after its location.

Salem Omar al-Dhabiah says he has been travelling from Al-Marawiah in Hodeidah governorate to Sanaa because the Nineteen Seventies to promote tons of of sheep forward of each Eid Al-Adha within the Nuqum market.

Nonetheless, this yr, he has not introduced alongside as many sheep as ordinary. As an alternative of the five hundred or 1,000, he would usher in a standard yr, he solely has 150.

Sitting underneath a tree whereas his sons negotiate costs with prospects, al-Dhabiah advised Al Jazeera that he sells the smallest sheep for 30,000 Yemeni riyals ($60) and the most important for 170,000 Yemeni riyals ($300).

Al-Dhabiah stated the costs of sheep this yr are increased than final yr due to a “lack of monsoon rains” which have precipitated farmers to promote sheep earlier than the summer time as a result of they have been unable to feed them till Eid.

“Calves are very costly and uncommon this yr – solely God is aware of the rationale,” stated buyer Ali Mosleh al-Rajawi as he left the market adopted by his grandchildren following him. “This time final yr, the market was stuffed with so many calves you couldn’t enter it.”

Eid Al-Adha is widely known by Muslims throughout the globe as a manner of marking the Islamic perception that God examined Ibrahim (Abraham) by ordering him to sacrifice his son, Ismail (Ishmael).

Ismail was then changed with a sheep, which was sacrificed as an alternative.

Al-Rajawi stated he sacrifices 5 to 10 sheep yearly to share among the many 26 members of his prolonged household.

“This yr, I’ve solely three large billy goats, which aren’t sufficient, so I’m right here right now to purchase ‘tabai’,” al-Rajawi advised Al Jazeera, utilizing a Sanaani dialect phrase for a calf.

However, al-Rajawi complained, he was not capable of finding any calves at an affordable value.

Al-Rajawai is heading to Qaryat Al-Qabil, a village north of Sanaa the place he’s initially from, to spend Eid.

He’s planning on sacrificing a goat himself, after which dividing the meat into three parts.

“One will probably be a present for kinfolk, mates and neighbours, and the second will probably be for the poor individuals within the village,” al-Rajawi stated. “And the third will probably be for my household to eat.”