When Melodies Gather: Oral Art of the Mahra

Bir Frēǧ Kalšāt

Bir Frēǧ Kalšāt (deceased) was a poet and ṣūfī who was particularly famous for his prescient poetry (Ar. al-shiʿr al-tanabbuʾ). Bir Frēǧ was at least seventy years old when he died, suggesting that he was born in the last decade of the nineteenth century or the first years of the twentieth century. Bir Frēǧ was the caretaker (Ar. muqīm or “resident”) of the shrine of al-Mahwī in Ṣaḳr, a saint associated with the ocean. Bir Frēǧ was responsible for feeding all visitors to the shrine of al-Mahwī; this responsibility and others associated with the sacral functions of the shrine gave Bir Frēǧ the social and moral standing necessary to publicly criticize the political shortcomings of the ʿAfrārī sultan.

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