Named after a womanMawza: a land, people & history [Archives:2003/626/Last Page]

March 10 2003

Salah Saleh Ahmed
For the Yemen Times

Mawza, the name is attributed to a lady called Mawza Bint Al-Qafae'a Bin Abd Shams Bin Wael.
The town is situated south west of Taiz of about 97 kilometers away. According to Al-Akwa'e in his historical documentations of places narrated that the town exists in a vast inhibited area of land falling on a valley in which the various streams of rainwater (that is why Mawza's water is sweet) coming from Al-Ma'afir and Sabir pour into.
Consequently the land is quite fertile and is planted thrice in a year like all other Tihama valleys, which Mawza belongs to. The farmed area of the town is around 1,300 square km, filled with palm trees, banana and grapes.
The town is one of the oldest ports in Yemen, as confirmed in “Al-Tawaf,” an historical publication, which stated that Mawza harbor south of Al-Makha is the oldest in the region and used to be crowded with sailor men, merchants and laborers.
It said that the people of Mawza used to govern the South African coastline on behalf of Prince of Al-Maa'fir, sending to the African ports many ships filled with agents and sailors.
Among the famous people who belonged to the town is Abdulsamad Bin Ismaeal Al-Moazaee author of “Al-Ihsan min dukhool Al-Yaman That Adalat Al Othman” (Well-doing in entering kingdom of Yemen under the Justice of Ottomans). Also the religious scholar Mohammed Bin Abdulallah Al-Moazaee , author of “Taiseer Al-Bayan min Ahkam Al-Qur'an” (Rightful Explanation of Qur'an Commands) was from there.

The people of Mawza
In spite of the high temperature and humidity of the land, what cools you and makes your stay bearable is the beautiful nature of the people of Mawza. Of course in the night time the climate is cooler, especially if you have an open place to sit and a chilled water bottle.
And when the natives greet you with their smiling faces and welcoming nature, all the days heat would disappear. Especially when you are invited to one of their feasts where rice, meat, Bint Al-Sahn (a sweet dish made of layers of dough baked and covered with honey), Mawzaan Cheese that is a specialty of the town never found anywhere else and beyond comparison.
Thursday is a special day in Mawza; because it is the time of the weekly market where men and women gather for trade, and numerous goods are bought and sold, such as clothes, cattle, agricultural products, fruit like melon and watermelon and of course the Mawzaan cheese. It's sold by old ladies sitting at the sides of the roads in the local market selling their home made cheese made of milk and duggra.

The history of Mawza
The Great Mosque
When you stand in front of the Great Mosque in Mawza you will unintentionally travel in time. Going back to the days when it was structured 771 Hijira as it is engraved on its Eastern gate.
The mosque as narrated in a survey published by the Ministry of Tourism, is considered one of the most beautiful and appreciated mosques in the country. It is a historical mosque made of red blocks and rocks, and it had two minarets). Only one of them exists today. It used to have three gates at one point of time only the eastern and western gates of which remain.
Abdulkareem Ahmed Hiqan, explained that the founding of the mosque took place around the same time as Al-Ashrafiya Mosque in Taiz, which was built by lady Jiha Bint Farhan Wife of Al-Ashraf Bin Al-Afdhal during ruling reign of the Rassulids' Kingdom.
The Great Mosque was renovated several times, last being in the times of Imam Yihya Hamid Al-Din who renovated the back side of the mosque.
However the interior was not altered, while the original minarate was said to be even taller than the Shadhili Mosque whose tower had 360 steps.
But as the natives say, that during the battles between the Ottomans and the locals, the later took refuge in the mosque causing the tower to be destroyed by an Ottomans Cannon. The present tower was built after the Ottomans left their post in the third Ottoman occupation.
The mosque consists of a front, center and backside. The back of the mosque is in an open style similar to that of Al-Mudhafar Mosque in Taiz, and internal arcs characterize the whole mosque. The mosque has three small domes and a large one, and each dome is supported by four crescent shaped arcs. And the only tower with a square base narrows as it goes up to the peak of the tower.

Tombs and domes:
Mawza'a is famous for its tombs and domes that attract many visitors from many neighboring districts. Among those are Ba Saad Bin Ali dome and tomb and Al-Mihwaly dome.

Ba Saad Bin Ali Dome:
This is a very large dome decorated with hexagonal stars. The dome was built for Ba Saad Bin Ali Al-Hadrami in Rajab, who died in 587 Hijri, i.e., making it 836 years old. The height of the dome is about 14.5 meters and is built in a rectangular shape with black stones. Its interior is composed of four semi domes in each of the four corners. The prime dome is estimated to be 20 meters in diameter.
Ba Saad Tomb:
This tomb is actually composed of two adjacent graves surrounded by a wooden structure made of Al-Saag wood. The tomb, which has four windows, is covered with woolen textile of red and green colors. There are engravings on the wood explaining the history of the person buried. To the south there lies another tomb of one of Bin Saad's followers.

Al-Mihwaly Dome:
This dome dates back to more than 400 years and was constructed of A'ajer stones. Near the dome, there is a water well, which is currently in ruins after it was a major source of water at the time. Traces of ancient structures surround the dome in almost every direction. Overall, the dome is quite similar to that of Bin Saad, but it is smaller in size and is suffering from cracks on its side walls.
People of Mawza'a claim that there were four other domes in the area, but two were destroyed by the Wahhabi sect followers and Saudi-affiliated soldiers who aimed at destroying the tombs and domes thinking that they were being made holistic by the locals. Villagers in the area resisted this act and an agreement was reached to leave two and destroy two.

Mawza'a the Culture
When talking with the local people of Mawza'a, you may be surprised to hear unfamiliar words that you have never heard before. It might as well be a challenge for you when trying to make sense of those strange words without asking about their meaning. If you were to actually ask “why?”, you would get an answer equivalent to “just like that” pronounced as: “warooki”, or “fishi boori”. These are words that do not relate to Arabic and whose source is unknown or more accurately, not researched yet.

Al-Rakla dance is performed by at least two people and maximum of 20. It is a dance in which men stand in line holding each others hands and advance forward raising one foot then another in an alternating manner left and right. It is interestingly similar to the “dabka”, which is popular in countries in the north of the Arabian Peninsula, especially in Syria and Lebanon. The dance is driven by music played with drums and flutes.
This dance is of several types including Aseeri, Moqawari, Al-Akhthar, and Ghazal. The beat varies from slow to fast depending on the occasion. These dances are performed in Al-Huqm, Al-Muhawala, Al-A'ara, and Al-Sabeeha.
Al-Haqfa dance, on the other hand, is one which is done by two or four men standing in opposite rows, and the dance is done by bending the knees and shaking the hands in harmony with music produced by the drums and flutes. This dance is mostly performed by fishers and sailors, especially during their fishing season from the 13th to the 16th of every month.
Al-Haqfa dance may be Al-Haqfa Al-Baladi (local haqfa) or Al-Haqfa Al-Shami (Al-Sham Haqfa). If the dancers are four, then it is the local haqfa. If they are more, then they perform the Shami haqfa forming a square while dancing. This dance is common in Al-Huqm, Mawza'a, Al-Wazieya, Al-Awashiqa, Al-Hamool and the whole of Tihama.
Al-Bara'a dance is a dance that includes the use of daggers. It is performed by moving fast to the front then retreating and bending while waving the daggers. It is widely popular in northern regions of the country, especially in Sanaa and other tribal areas.
Finally, Al-Sharah dance is usually performed during weddings in the Al-Mahawala, Al-Ahyawa and Al-Kadha regions.

Poets (men and women) of Mawza'a are known for their strong poetry mostly depicting nature and their daily struggles in live. Of course, love and romance have a great share in their poems. Those poets write about their feelings and people's sad and happy moments. Mohammed Ali Zatari is a poet from the Mawza'a region who tackles in his poems several social problems in the region and throughout the country. For example, he wrote poems on love affairs that were not complete because of high dowry demands by fathers as a condition before accepting the marriage of their daughters.

Every body's home:
There is no strong tribalism sense in Mawza'a because it has been home for people who originated from all around the country and even from out of Yemen. People coming from Hadramout, Al-Jirahi, Al-Maqatira, Al-Waziya, Jithy Mount, Bani Yousif, Bani Hammad, Fursan Islands and many others have found home and refuge in this spectacular land.

Al-Hamadani, Sifa Jazeerat Al-Arab
Al-Akwa'e Research for the Yemeni Research Center
Ministry of Tourism, 2002 Survey.