When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

List of Tribes

Any attempt to offer a comprehensive genealogy of Mahri tribes will almost inevitably face criticism by local consultants. For one, new tribes and lineages emerge and elide with each other, some disappear, and others migrate across the conceptual family tree. When a powerful lineage buds off from its parent tribe, members of that lineage may be keen to stress their independence. A tribe on the wane may be swallowed by another tribe, first as a dependent lineage (mawālī) and then as full members of that tribe. All of this occurs in an organic and continuous fashion. This means that no tribal classification is valid longer than a generation or two despite being described by local consultants as following the unalterable pattern of linear descent. Access to resources, social prestige, or territory is frequently based on family histories and the claims that come with them. Therefore, the arrangement of tribes in the Mahri family tree can have social and economic consequences for individual Mahra (although non-family related factors likely play a greater role in determining personal success or failure in republican-era al-Mahra).

With this caveat in mind, the classification of tribes presented below reflects the political reality of  al-Mahra from 1990–2010.  The written works I consulted and the interviews I conducted were all carried out during this period of time. The genealogy of tribes presented in Dostal’s Die Beduinen in Südarabien (1962) reflects an earlier era of al-Mahra’s history, and, although the general outlines remain the same, there have clearly been shifts in the hierarchical arrangement of lineages and tribes (a number of typographical errors in Dostal’s chart also add to the confusion). The following classification collates information from Qumayrī, 2003 (plus interviews with the author); Bākrīt, 1999al-ʾAhdal, 2000; and consultations with numerous Mahra in formal and informal settings.
 
TribeLineages (fakhāʾidh)Shaykhly LineageTerritory
Āl Kalšāt (Śrōyeḥ)Bir Kalšāt Lḫayw:
  Bir Ḥmād
  Bir ʿAṣūd
  Bir Delfān
  Bir Maḥmūsh
Bir Kalšāt ʿAlyū:
  Bir Ḥamdūn
  Bir Šebdīt
  Bir Šeydōh
Bir ʿAlyēn
Bir Berkōn
 
al-Ghaydha, Ḥaṣwayn, Ṣaqr (Lḥayw), inland wādīs east and west of Raʾs Fartak (ʿAlyū)
Āl Ṣmōdā (Śrōyeḥ)Bir Sʿīd
Bir Nzūh
Bir ʿAzēb
Bir Šaʿjūl
Bir ʿAlī Bir ʿĀmer Bir NāǧīRamāh, Mahrēt
Ǧēdeḥ (Śrōyeḥ)Bayt Ḥāzem
Bayt Ġnī
Bayt Ḳēraʿ
Bir ʿAmrōten (from Bayt Ġnī)Qishn (coastal and inland regions)
Bayt Maġfēḳ (Śrōyeḥ)Mharḳeš
Šēǧōh
Mšaʿǧil
Ṯmōh
?Źbūt/Ẓbūt (coastal and inland regions)
Ḳamṣeyt (Śrōyeḥ)Bir ʿAfeyn
Bir ʿAmrīt
Saʿd b. Šāra
Bir Saʿdeyn
Bir Mehyōn
Bir Fōmeh
Bir Ḥamtōt
Bir Šāreb
Bir Ḥamtōt
Źḥawn, Wādī Masīla, al-Farṭ
Bayt Yeshōl (Śrōyeḥ)Bir Dībān
Bir Mašʿal
Bir Kešbān
Bir Dlōk
Bir Kādānal-Farṭ, Mḥayfīf, Mōbāh, Wādī Saʿf
Bayt Ṯawʿar (Śrōyeḥ)Bir Ḳḥōr
Bir ʿAmūš
Bir Ḥāfer
Bir ʾAnīśerDhofār, (originally Ramāh, Mahrēt)
Āl Zyād (Šayḥaḥ)Bir Ǧerhīm
Bir Šaʿfān
Bir ʿAkšōt
Bir Ḥaǧzī
Bayt SeydīnSayḥūt and its outlying districts as far as ʿItāb and inland districts of Qishn
Āl Ḥrōyez (Šayḥaḥ)Bir ʿAmr
ʿAndīt
Bir Remḥōn
Bir Meǧrād
Bir ʿAšōbeh
Bir ʾEǧhīz
Zōmeh
Bir ʿAmrŠeyʿīt, Šiḥn, Wādī Šfīṣ, Źerbūt, inland districts of Qishn
Āl Zaʿbenōt (Šayḥaḥ)Bayt Erebḫ
Bayt Šemmeh
Bayt Maʿkōf
Bayt Ṣwāneḫ
Bayt ʿAmrān
Bayt ErebḫḤebrōt and surrounding districts, Šiḥn, Fūǧēt
Bayt ʿAḳīd (Šayḥaḥ)Barakāt
Bir ʿĪsā
Bir ʿAwaźʿItāb
Bayt Mḥāmed (Šayḥaḥ)Bir ʿItbāb
Bir ʿArʿīr
Bir ʿAlī ʿAbūd
Bir Ḥasan
Bir ʿItbābʿItāb
Bayt ʿAršī (Šayḥaḥ)Bir Ḥayyēt
Bir Ṣfāʿ
Bir ʿAbūd
?Rḫūt, inland district between Sayḥūt and ʿItāb
Āl Mismār (Šayḥaḥ)Bir Sālim
Bir ʿInāq
Bir Msallim
Bir ʿAmr
Bir Salīm
?Darfāt, Qishn
Bayt Kuddah (Ṣāʿir/Ṣār/Sār)Bayt Ḥanbeźōt
Bayt Ḫamīs
Bayt ʿAlawī
Bayt ʿAyšeḳ
Bayt Šeytem
Bayt ʿAlanāt
Bayt ʿAwn
Bir Šamlānal-Ghaydha, al-Fatk
Bayt al-Mǧāḏeb (Ṣāʿir/Ṣār/Sār)Bayt ʿAli Muqaddam
Bayt Ṭōleʿ
Bayt Sakrūn
Bir ʿAlī MuqaddamDistrict of Ḥawf, al-Ghaydha, Hrūt, inland of Jabal Fatk
Bayt Rāfīt/Raʿfīt (Ṣāʿir Ṣār/Sār)Bir al-Ṣaff
Bir Ǧamḥī
Bir ʿAmer
Bir Mabrūk
Bir Barakāt
Bir Yāsir
Bir Salmān
Bir YāsirŹbūt, Ḥawf
Bayt al-Sulaymī (Ṣāʿir/Ṣār/Sār)Bayt Šōbī
Bayt Mušaʿǧil
Bayt Martawī
Bayt Ġazī
Bir MušāʿǧilNiśṭōn, east of Jabal Fartak
Bayt Mhōmed (Ṣāʿir/Ṣār/Sār)Bayt Maḥṣōn
Bayt Ḳašʿōt
Bayt Kzēh
Bayt Ǧeblīt
?Jabal Fatk, Wādī Šafwāt, Damḳawt, Ḥabrūt
Bayt Ḥaydereh (Ṣāʿir/Ṣār/Sār)Bir ʾEṭfēl
Bir ʾEznūd
Bir Ḥasan
Bir Brīk
Bir Šedōleh
Bir Belšūḫ
Bir ʾEṭfēl 
Āl ʿAfrār (“sulṭanly” lineage)al-Ṭawʿarāal-ṬawʿarāSoqōṭrā, Qishn
Āl Belḥāf (sacerdotal lineage)Bir Ḫwayṭer
Bir Šamīlōh
Bir ʿAbdallāh
Bir Ṣweyfer
Bir Hemīš
Bir Ḫwayṭer
Bir Šamīlōh
Bir Ṣweyfer
 
Yarūb, al-Feydamī, Damḳawt, Ḥāt
Bir SāteynBayt Baʿṯer
Bayt ʿAwaź
Bayt Dāneyn
Bir MakrēdōhMarʿayt
Bayt Neymer  Hrōt
Bayt Ḳarḥeyf  Ḥawf, Damḳawt
Bayt Mṣaddaʿ  Ǧāḏeb
Al-Qumayrī (Mahri speaking but not indigenous to al-Mahra)Bayt ʿAlī
Bayt ʿAmrān
Bayt Ǧerʿāt
Bayt Kamšūš
 Damḳawt, Ǧāḏeb, Ḥawf, Jibāl al-Qamar
Āl Bā Kathīr (Arabic monolingual, from Ḥaḍramawt)Bayt Ḍarār/Khawār
Bayt Dūnīt
Bayt Ṣandal
Bayt Mahrajūn
Bayt ʿAydūn
Bayt Yamānī
Bayt Kabkabī
 Ḥabarūt
Karyūt
 
 

 

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