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ZarSpirit Possession, Music, and Healing Rituals in Egypt$
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Hager El Hadidi

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789774166976

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774166976.001.0001

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Saints and Spirits: Transformation of Traditions

Saints and Spirits: Transformation of Traditions

(p.127) 6 Saints and Spirits: Transformation of Traditions

Hager El Hadidi

American University in Cairo Press

This chapter examines saint and spirit songs as “acts of transfer” as well as the most popular zar spirits in Cairo and the different ways through which they are placated in ritual. It first provides an overview of zar songs as “acts of transfer” before discussing the meaning enacted by a song dedicated to Hassan Abul Gheit, the patron saint of the Gheitaniya zar musicians. It then considers the historical context of the Abul Gheit song, along with the cultural memories of a marginal Sufi movement that originated in the nineteenth century. It also explores changes in the articulation of spirit possession by focusing on the spirit pair of Yawra Bey and Rakousha Hanem. Finally, it looks at zar music bands and their styles of singing, along with the history of the song “Banat al-Handasa”.

Keywords:   saint, zar spirit, zar song, Hassan Abul Gheit, cultural memories, spirit possession, Yawra Bey, Rakousha Hanem, zar music, Banat al-Handasa

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