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Inscribed in 2021 (16.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

© Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, 2020

Fjiri is a musical performance that commemorates the history of pearl diving in Bahrain. Dating back to the late nineteenth century, it was traditionally performed by pearl divers and pearling crews to express the hardships faced at sea. The performers sit in a circle, singing and playing different types of drums, finger chimes and a jahl, a clay pot used as an instrument. The centre of the circle is occupied by the dancers and the lead singer, who is in charge of conducting the performance. Fjiri originated on the Island of Muharraq, where, up until the mid-twentieth century, most of the population formed part of the pearling community. However, today the practice has reached a wider audience through performances in festivals across all regions of Bahrain. It is now well-known across the country and is viewed as a means of expressing the connection between the Bahraini people and the sea. Fjiri is usually performed in cultural spaces called durs by descendants of pearl divers and pearling crews and by other individuals. The transmission process usually entails consistently practicing in durs and performing for audiences. Although it is performed by all-male groups, Fjiri is enjoyed by all members of the community. The words, rhythms and instruments are used to convey the values of perseverance, strength and resourcefulness.