Seasonal Poetics: The Dry Season and Autumn Rains among Pre-Islamic Naǧdī and Ḥiǧāzī Tribes

in Arabica
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This article maps out the depiction among pre-Islamic tribes of two seasons, the August ḫarīf rains and the qayẓ dry season. References to the ḫarīf rain are found almost exclusively in southwestern Arabia, Yemen and the Ḥiǧāz. Tribes in these regions evidently began their seasonal migration in August, that is, earlier than tribes of central and northeastern Arabia (Naǧd), where migration began in October and November. The most conspicuous result of this difference is the development of two regional methods of depicting the ẓaʿn, or departure of the beloved’s caravan, in the classical qaṣīda (polythematic ode). Naǧdī tribes set this scene at the beginning of the summer dry season, while the Ḥiǧāzī Huḏayl set it in a rainy season. A sequence of poets within Tamīm developed an idiosyncratic set of vocabulary for developing the early-summer ẓaʿn, just as certain Huḏalī poets developed certain techniques to describe their rainy season ẓaʿn.

Cet article analyse la représentation dans les tribus préislamiques de deux saisons, les pluies d’août (ḫarīf) et la saison sèche (al-qayẓ). Les références à la pluie ḫarīf se trouvent presque exclusivement au sud-ouest de l’Arabie, au Yémen et dans le Ḥiǧāz. Les tribus de ces régions commençaient apparemment leur migration saisonnière en août, plus tôt que les tribus du centre et du nord-est de l’Arabie (Naǧd), où la migration commençait en octobre ou novembre. Le résultat le plus remarquable de cette différence est l’évolution de deux méthodes régionales de la représentation du ẓaʿn, le départ de la caravane de la bien-aimée, dans la qaṣīda classique (ode polythématique). Les tribus du Naǧd plantent le décor de cette scène au début de la saison sèche, tandis que la tribu ḥiǧāzienne Huḏayl la situe à la saison des pluies.

This article is in English.

Seasonal Poetics: The Dry Season and Autumn Rains among Pre-Islamic Naǧdī and Ḥiǧāzī Tribes

in Arabica




WagnerGrundzüge der klassischen arabischen Dichtung p. 30-42. For a more up-to-date survey of views on pre-Islamic Arabic see Kees Versteegh The Arabic Language Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press 20142 p. 42-59. Peter Webb has recently strenuously argued that pre-Islamic linguistic unity was not matched by an ethnic identity: Imagining the Arabs: Arab Identity and the Rise of Islam Edinburgh Edinburgh University Press 2016.


VersteeghThe Arabic Language p. 45-52.


Gustave E. von Grunebaum“Abû Duʾâd Al-Iyâdî: Collection of Fragments,” Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes51 (1948) p. 83.


Fred McGraw DonnerThe Early Islamic ConquestsPrincetonPrinceton University Press1981 p. 7-20; Fred M. Donner “The Role of Nomads in the Near East in Late Antiquity (400-800 CE)” in Tradition and Innovation in Late Antiquity eds Frank M. Clover and R. Stephen Humphreys Madison University of Wisconsin Press (“Wisconsin studies in classics”) 1989 p. 73-85; Robert G. Hoyland Arabia and the Arabs: From the Bronze Age to the Coming of Islam London Routledge 2001 p. 89.


Daniel Martin Varisco“The Rain Periods in Pre-Islamic Arabia,” Arabica34/2 (1987) p. 265-266.


DicksonThe Arab of the Desert p. 51 64 65 82.


Ibid. p. 51 82.


DoughtyArabia Desertai p. 589 ff.; Dickson The Arab of the Desert p. 256.


MusilManners and Customs p. 14 17.


DoughtyArabia Desertai p. 489-491; Dickson The Arab of the Desert p. 34 50.


Ibid. p. 6-7.


Varisco“Rain Periods” p. 257.


Ibn ManẓūrLisān al-ʿArabii p. 1138-1141 s.v. “Ḫ.R.F;” Lane An Arabic-English Lexiconiv p. 1560 s.v.Šaʿrā.”


Ibn QutaybaKitab al-Anwāʾ p. 153.


Al-SukkarīAšʿār al-huḏaliyyīn p. 464.


Ibid.ii p. 311.


LaneAn Arabic-English Lexiconiii p. 1202 s.v. “R.Y.F”.


LyallThe Mufaḍḍalīyāti p. 729.


See JacobAltarabisches Beduinenleben p. 4; Dickson The Arab of the Desert p. 34; Theodore Nöldeke Geschichte der Perser und Araber zur Zeit der Sasaniden Leiden E.J. Brill 1879 p. 334.


Varisco“Rain Periods” p. 261-263.


Ibid. p. 28; Ahlwardt Six Divans p. 128.


LaneAn Arabic-English Lexiconvi p. 2437 s.v. “Falaǧ.”


AhlwardtSix Divans p. 25.


BauerAltarabische Dichtkunsti p. 105-117.


Ibid. p. 1146-1148.


Al-SukkarīAšʿār al-huḏaliyyīn p. 1249 no 1 l. 6-14 (al-Mutanaḫḫil).


Erich Bräunlich“Versuch einer literargeschichtlichen Betrachtungsweise altarabischer Poesien,” Der Islam24 (1937) p. 229-236.


Ibn Qutaybaal-Šiʿr wa-l-šuʿarāʾ p. 207.


Aws b. ḤaǧarDīwān Aws b. Ḥaǧar p. 42 no 21 l. 19 and p. 105 no 40 l. 19.


Ibid. p. 48 no 22 l. 7.


Steven A. Rosen and Gideon Avni“The Edge of the Empire: The Archaeology of Pastoral Nomads in the Southern Negev Highlands in Late Antiquity,” The Biblical Archaeologist56 (1993) p. 197.


Ibid. p. 192.


James E. MontgomeryThe Vagaries of the Qaṣīdah p. 7-9.


Aws b. ḤaǧarDīwān Aws b. Ḥaǧar p. 42 no 21 l. 21.


LyallThe Mufaḍḍalīyātii p. 98.


Al-Mufaḍḍalal-Mufaḍḍaliyyāt p. 398 no 120 l. 8 9 11; transl. adapted from Michael Anthony Sells Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes Middletown Wesleyan University Press 19891 p. 14-15.


Ibn al-MubārakMuntahā l-ṭalabi p. 385-386.


Al-Muʿīnī (ed.)Šiʿr Banī Tamīm p. 255 (twice) 389 390 400 and Aswad b. Yaʿfur Dīwān Aswad b. Yaʿfur p. 54 no 49 l. 10 (used verbally); Geyer Gedichte von Abû Bas̤îr Maimûn ibn Qais al-ʾAʿšâ p. 305. The term ḥimā is used three times in Ašʿār al-huḏaliyyīn in total twice by the Umayyad Huḏalī Mulayḥ b. al-Ḥakam and Abū Ṣaḫr and once (figuratively in the expression ḥimā al-nafs (life “the soul’s pasture” which cannot be protected against the fate of death) by the muḫaḍram Abū Ḫirāš: al-Sukkarī Ašʿār al-huḏaliyyīn p. 962 1032 1224. For all of the citations of vocabulary in Ašʿār al-huḏaliyyīn derived from the root Ḥ.M.Y see Bernhard Lewin A Vocabulary of the Huḏailian Poems Göteborg Kungl. vetenskaps- och vitterhets-samhället (“Acta Regiae Societatis Scientiarum et Litterarum Gothoburgensis. Humaniora” 13) 1978 p. 96.


BauerAltarabische Dichtkunsti p. 251-273.


MontgomeryThe Vagaries of the Qaṣīdah p. 258.


For which see Renate Jacobi“The Camel-Section of the Panegyrical Ode,” Journal of Arabic Literature13/1 (1982) p. 1-22.


Michael Bonner“Commerce and Migration in Arabia before Islam: A Brief History of a Long Literary Tradition,” in Iranian Languages and Culture: Essays in Honor of Gernot Ludwig Windfuhreds Behrad Aghaei and Mohammad R. Ghanoonparvar Costa Mesa Mazda Publishers 2012 p. 81-89.


Ibid. p. 86.


Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 20 20 8
Full Text Views 78 78 69
PDF Downloads 6 6 1
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0