Culture of Egypt, singing in ancient Egypt

Singing in Ancient Egyptian culture

Singing is an important tradition in the culture of Egypt. The Singers used to perform on certain occasions, festivals, and ceremonies, while dancers were dancing on the clapping of other women.

The scholars found these facts about singing according to the scenes on the walls of several tombs, especially on that of “Khaf-Ka” at Sakkara (5th Dynasty) now on display in the Egyptian museum, Cairo.

In the New Kingdom, the gods had priestesses who merely played a secondary role in their cults.

They were in big groups eating as singers to the god, and servants of Amun, meanwhile the ladies of elite families were proud of being members of these groups of singers.

Singing and music were necessary for and run by the Harem in every great house (Pr.Ca). Due to the large numbers of musicians, they used to have a supervisor.

In the old kingdom there was a supervisor of singing whose name was “Hm Ra” and the meantime there was an overseer who maintained the same function.

In the tomb of Mryoka, the patron of the house is seen while comfortably sitting on the bed and listening to the singing of his wife.

A beauteously carved statue of the M.L. representing the patron of the house while taking part in music show with women as he sits with a beautiful woman beside him.

A man and a woman playing jink instrument, and sitting in front of them on the floor three girls singing and clapping.

Facts about singing in Egyptian culture
Singing in ancient Egypt culture

Singing in Islamic period

The singing tradition continued on the Islamic ages and we have many examples of that.

In 587 A.H/1191 A.D. when Al-Malek Al-Adel and the king of England had conferred to negotiate a peace pact, Richard expressed his wish to see and listen to Muslim singers.

Al-Adel got him a singer who played the “jink” and sang in front of the king of England who greatly admired her voice.

After the evacuation of the Crusaders from Damietta in 619, A.H. Al-Malek Al Kamel received in his Mansoura palace his two brothers, the great king Essa of Damascus and Al-Ashraf Mossa to celebrate the occasion.

Al-Ashraf ordered his slave “Set Al-Fakhr” to sing.

Immediately she rose, picked up the lute. Adjusted it and started singing, then it was the turn of El-Kamil’s slave who sang and received from her master 500 dinars for it.

It is said that the Caliph in Baghdad had sent as a present of Al-Kamil a slave who played harp whose name was Nouzhet Al-Qulub the comfort of hearts “.

Al-Kamil instructed Mohammed Al-Kindi of Persia to teach her music.

A singer whose name was “Agiba” whom Al-kamil admired greatly used to come at evenings to sing and lay the harp in banquets attended by the son of the sheik of sheiks and other dignitaries.

Egypt culture: Singing in Mameluk period

Moreover in the Mameluk period, there were many famous singers, for example as khoby Al-Awada, whom Ibn Hajar al-askalani said about her that Egypt had not seen a singer and a flute player like her Raisa khadijia of khoka who maintained solid ground on the trade and Daifa Al-Hamawya, who sang in the presence of Sultan Al-Nasser Mohammed Ibn Qalawon.

Saying

  • I committed myself to fasting for months.
  • If I would see you again safely back home.
  • The turbulent days made me concerned about you.
  • Until you come back victorious over your enemies.

Singing in banquets in both ancient Egypt and during the medieval ages, was remarkable when we notice that the rules of the country regardless of the period attended and admired the occasion.

Culture in Egypt: Singing while working

It is remarkable that workers were singing while performing their jobs, especially if such work is difficult or hard, and that is one of the most interesting facts about Egypt culture.

Their movement while carrying things or moving them to a great extent affects and influences the rhythm of the song. Singing provides them with enthusiasm and joy.

Singing while working in ancient Egypt

Meanwhile, we saw a scene on the walls of the tomb of “Tye” representing a musician with a flute of 2 cubits long to amuse the harvest farmers following him.

The musician was accompanied by a farmer clapping his hands without leaving the harvest tool.

In the inscriptions of Bahiry, we could not see any flutes, however, the harvest farmers, among themselves were performing a sketch.

Engelback, while talking about the unfinished obelisk in Aswan quarries, stated that those workers who had been involved in quarrying the obelisk might have been singing while cutting the hard-core granite with ball-like hammers made out of dolerite and they had attained full harmony among them in both hammering and singing since craftsmen, to kill the monotony and rejuvenate their minds and bodies had used to sing to wash away frustration and boredom.

Singing while working in Islamic ages

In the Islamic Ages, singing also was used to finish the job in a relatively shorter time. An example was that of Sultan Al-Mansour Qalawon.

When he decided to dig the Tairia Canal, THE Sultan, his sons, and Mameluks supervised the digging works.

A lot of people were mobilized to do the work, and among them were singers and musicians from all walks of the country and the project, therefore, was executed ahead of the schedule, and that is an interesting fact which stands behind the secret of singing while working.

For this reason, when the Sultan decided to have the Mihrati Canal dug, also masses of people were brought to the site, which means that they were both singers and musicians in the meantime.

When Abdullah Ibn Al-Zubair decided to make restorations for the Kaaba in the Holy Mosque of Mecca, craftsmen from Persia were singing their folklore songs.

We can conclude from all above that singing was one of the most distinctive customs which belongs to Egypt culture.