Women in Soqotri and Omani folklore


  • Vitaly Naumkin
  • Leonid Kogan


Oman, Soqotra, women, folklore, Christians


Compared with what we know about Omani folklore and history, the specimens collected by our team on the island of Soqotra (Suqutrā) demonstrate clear commonalities related to the role of women in both Soqotra and Oman that have a solid foundation in history. The Omanis appeared on the island earlier than customarily believed, and they were the first ones who had introduced Islam on the island, according to al-Hamdānī's account. The author of a well-known Omani chronicle wrote about dramatic events related to the relatively unknown history underlying the advent of the Omani Kharijites on the island. At the same time, the chronicle provides evidence of an incredible mission carried out by a Soqotri woman, al-ZahrāD, who during the rule of ʿAzzān b. al-Saqr (d. 268/881) wrote a poem to the imam, which narrated to him how much wrongdoing had allegedly been committed by the Christians on the island. Muhammad al-Zarqā believes that al-Zahrāʾ meant the Ethiopians here when she referred to Christians. In a newly recorded Soqotri text, entitled man's advice to his comrade', a woman is the main protagonist.


al-Hamdānī, al-Дasan b. AΉmad /ed. MuΉammad b. ΚAlī al-AkwaΜ. 1990. Сifat Jazīrat al-ΚArab. SanΚāΜ: Maktabat al-Irshād.

Ibn Mājid A. 1984. Arabskaya morskaya entsiclopediya XV veka. Kniga pol’z ob osnovah i pravilah morskoy nauki. Kritich. tekst, per. s arab., comment., issled. i ukazateli T.A. Shumovskogo (Arab Maritime Encyclopedia of the 15th century. The book of use on the foundations and rules of maritime science. Crit. text, tr. from Arabic, comm., study and indexes by T.A. Shumovsky). (2 volumes). i. Moscow: GRVL.

Johnstone T. 1974. Folklore and folk literature in Oman and Socotra. Arabian Studies 1: 7–24.

Kniga Marco Polo. 1955. Perevod starofrantsuzskogo teksta I.P. Minaeva. Redaktsiya i vstupitel’naya statya I.P. Magidovicha. (The Book of Marco Polo. Transl. from Old French by I.P. Minayev. Editor and author of foreword I.P. Magidovich). Moscow: Geografgiz.

Naumkin V. 1993. Island of the Phoenix. An ethnographical study of the people of Soqotra. Reading: Ithaca Press.

Naumkin V. & Porkhomovsky V. 1981. Ocherki ethnolingvistiki Socotry (Essays on the Ethnolinguistics of Soqotra). Moscow: Nauka.

Naumkin V., Kogan L., al-DaΚrhi ΚI., al-DaΚrhi A., Cherkashin D., Bulakh M. & Vizirova E. 2014. Corpus of Soqotri oral literature. i. Leiden: Brill.

al-Sālimī N. 2000. TuΉfat al-aΚyān bi-sīrat ahl ΚUmān. Muscat: Maktabat Nūr ad-Dīn al-Sālimī.

Stripling G.W.E. 1942. The Ottoman Turks and the Arabs. Illinois: Urbana.



How to Cite

Naumkin, V., & Kogan, L. (2018). Women in Soqotri and Omani folklore. Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies, 48, 243–249. Retrieved from https://archaeopresspublishing.com/ojs/index.php/PSAS/article/view/1024