The legend of Al-A’sha
من هو "الأعشى" الذي ستحتفي به وزارة الثقافة في حي منفوحة؟
17 DEC 2019
Source: Fatima Al-Saleh
The Ministry of Culture will celebrate the great Arab poet Al-A’sha during an interactive theater event in Riyadh’s Manfuha district, where he once lived when it was a village. The area will transform into an arena hosting a story-telling event about this great literary figure through cultural and entertainment activities set within a narrative framework. Visitors will enjoy an unforgettable interactive experience and get acquainted with the ancient Manfuha district and one of the most famous poets while understanding social, cultural and economic life during his era.
Who is Al-A’sha?
Born Maimon bin Qais bin Jandal bin Sharhabeel bin Auf, the poet’s lineage can be traced to Bakr bin Wael and Rabia bin Nizar. He is known by many other names such as A’sha Qais, Abu Basir, Al-A’sha Bakr Bin Wael, and Al-A’sha Al-Akbar. He is nicknamed Al-A’sha because of his poor vision and blindness in his late life. His birth and death was in Manfuha village, which has evolved into the eponymous Riyadh district. His poetry was prolific during the pre-Islamic times.
Due to the historical importance of Manfuha and of Al-A’sha and his poetry, the Ministry of Culture is interested in highlighting and reviving Arab heritage through this event.
The entire district will recreate the era in which Al-A’sha lived, featuring actors who will wear the clothes of the time and interact with visitors by talking about the poet’s work. There will also be a traditional market with plenty of bartering activity involved and other Arab customs of the era will be recreated, including marriage, poetry and traditional crafts.
In the Al-Qasid Theater, the story of Tasim and Jadis will be displayed through an audio, light and musical production. Al-A’sha’s life story will be displayed on the walls of an old house in Manfuhah through a four-minute 3D show.
Saudi musicians will present their own compositions of so-called street music in the district alleys by playing various instruments such as the oud, violin, qanun and piano. There will also be a Street of Art display featuring the work of artists, photographers and sculptors that aim to capture ancient life.
Among the most prominent activities of the event is the Al-A’sha Museum, where visitors will be able to visit a tent-shaped museum with glass sides displaying exhibits about Manfouha’s history and its most important historical sites. Al-A’sha’s history will also be covered, while his most important poems can either be read or heard through headphones. Visitors can view the most important heritage costumes, weapons and manuscripts of the time.
There will also be a traditional café with décor that reflects Al-A’sha’s era, offering traditional food and live music performances. Visitors will be able to take souvenir pictures while wearing old clothes and have their name written in beautiful Arabic calligraphy.
This celebration of Al-A’sha’s life is part of the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to preserve heritage and enable future generations to understand their ancestors’ lives by organizing cultural activities that track social changes and aspirations.