Artist in Yemen

I will be in Sana'a, Yemen, May 27-July 10 2006. I'll be working on my Arabic language skills and painting every day, walking around asking questions about food and gardens and perfume and incense. I'll be studying and living at the Center for Arabic Language and Eastern Studies(CALES)in the Old City of Sana'a. Although I usually paint in reverse on glass, in Sana'a I'll be working in watercolor and mixed media on paper.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Najat's Wedding, Day Three

The final day was much like the first two, only magnified in scale exponentially.
The part I liked best was sharing a taxi with 10 other women and two toddlers (not counting the driver), careening across town to the hall where the party was held, all of us in high spirits.
The hall was a big room with banks of floor-couches and cushions, with a big sort of a throne in a platform in the middle of one wall for the bride. Like the previous two days, we hung out, all wedged together, drinking tea, chewing qat and smoking waterpipe. Only this was the BIG party: I estimate between 500 and 600 women, all dressed in the most amazing sparkle-dresses. The band was there, bigger, with two drummers, a tambourine, and a lovely girl playing an oud (like a lute) and singing. There were pairs of women dancing all over the hall. Najat made a fairly brief appearance in a white dress, which explains why this was called the "European style" party. She looked very serious. A member of her family videoed her entrance and procession to her throne, and it was interesting to watch the women around her veil up as the camera moved through the hall, a wave of black that bloomed again into color as the camera got a safe distance away.
In all the three days of celebration I never once saw a man. I'm sure there's a groom in there somewhere, but it's a mystery to me.
I was pretty tired, and only stayed about three hours.

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you. Don't go back to sleep. You must ask for what you really want. Don't go back to sleep. People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch. The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep. -Jelaluddin Rumi