Beirut 2011, X/342 pp., english/arabic text, numerous illustr.
The study is based on documents pertaining to the al-Kathīrī and al-Quʿayṭī Sultanates in Hadramawt (Yemen) and gathered from the al-Kathīrī Archives in Sayʾūn and private collections. The material discussed consists of letters, reports, personal notes, legal opinions and poetry focusing on family life and social customs during the period of cultural changes in the first half of the 20th century. The first part of the book depicts everyday life under the sultans – such as the structure of traditional society, life cycle rites, religious rituals, and everyday customs – with special attention given to the women’s world as pictured in the sources. It also analyses the topics of the documents, their style, structure and design. The second part deals with the documents themselves, which are presented in facsimile, Arabic transcripts and English translation. The annotated vocabulary aims to preserve the disappearing local lexis of the period, often borrowed from South West and South Asia, and elsewhere, unfamiliar today even to most young Hadramis. The fruit of many field seasons in Hadramawt, this book introduces significant primary and secondary texts which contribute to an understanding of a South Arabian culture and society.
Mikhail Rodionov, Head of the Department of South and Southwest Asia, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography, St Petersburg, Russia.
Hanne Schönig, Centre for Interdisciplinary Area Studies – Middle East, Africa, Asia (ZIRS), Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Germany.