Al ‘azi, elegy, processional march and poetry
Inscribed in 2012 (7.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Al ‘azi is a genre of sung poetry performed in the northern regions of the Sultanate of Oman. It constitutes one of the major expressions of Omani cultural and musical identity. It takes the form of a poetry contest punctuated by sword and step movements and poetic exchanges between a singer poet and a choir. It may involve a large number of participants from one village or tribe, guided by the poet who recites improvised and memorized poems in Arabic. The performers must pay attention to his movements and recitation, and respond with appropriate replies and movements. The poems express pride of belonging and may eulogize the tribe, important people or historical moments. Al ‘azi enriches the cultural and intellectual side of the community through creative reinvention of existing poems, and plays a great role in conserving society’s oral memory. It also promotes unity and communication and emphasizes the need to overcome disagreements between members of society. Al ‘azi is performed at all national and social occasions as an emblem of social pride, strength and unity. At present it is practised by over a hundred ensembles.