Thursday, June 29, 2017

Omani Swordsmanship Over the Eid Weekend at Al Azwah

Do you know what sucks being a woman in Oman?


Swords suck.

...Because if you are a woman who happens to find playing with swords fun, you pretty much can't in public, and even when you go to watch, it is frowned upon if you stand to close or too long to take photographs. Nonetheless, I managed to zoom pretty decently with my camera at the Al Azwah in Misfah Al Abriyeeen over this last Eid holiday. My photos would be better if I wasn't constrained by culture but I like al Azwah in general. Still have to make Bahla's one, and the Fanja canon one, so maybe next year?

Al Azwah are traditional singing and dancing (with drumming usually), usually taking place on the Eid weekends starting the second day for most villages, from like 4:30 pm until sunset. Although one village in Rustaq the Al Azwah when I was there went from like 8 pm until sunrise in the a.m.

My favourite thing about Al Azwah is the sword dancing.

I call it sword dancing because in the old days, back when people actually fought with swords, I don't think anyone was fighting with the swords they use for sword dancing. They probably did use a buckler type of fighting, but maybe with a small straight sword, or curved blade, or spear. Not a bending sword that is for sure.

Nonetheless , the steel on the dancing swords is still sharp enough to slice a thumb off if you catch it wrong.

The whole point of buckler shield style fighting is to be quick so Omani sword dancing is enjoyable to watch. Very good showmanship. There's throwing the blade in the air to spin and catch it. There is feinting and thigh and shoulder tapping. There is also a loooooooot of leaping in the air.

...Real buckler style fighting, there is a lot less leaping, no throwing, a lot of foot-work, and a lot of punching your opponent with the shield. The al azwah dancing type is a lot more fun to watch, and less broken noses;). Occasionally there is a sliced finger, like every ten years or so I suppose, but I have yet to witness such an event. I have only heard.
Here is the sword throwing (apparently my husband says it wasn't a perfect throw but I have no idea honestly because I was taught not to let my sword out of my hand, and only to throw a sword with my non-sword arm to another fighter so...):
 Back to the tapping and feinting and leaping:

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