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Two pairs of qaraqib

Qaraqib (Sg .: qarqaba , Arabic قرقبة, DMG qarqaba ; Pl .:قراقب / qarāqib ), also krakeb , in Algeria qaraqeb , in Morocco qerqabat , in Tunisia chkachek or shqashiq , are a pair of vessels made of iron belonging to the counterstrike idiophones that rattle in popular Islamic Sufi brotherhoods in the Maghreb , especially among the Gnawas in Morocco , in which ritual music is played.

Design and style of play

Qarqaba , also tiqarqabin of the Gnawa from Morocco, 24 × 10 cm. Tropical Museum , Amsterdam, before 1964

Qaraqib are made of sheet iron and each consist of two half-shells with broadly knocked edges and a connecting flat strip seven centimeters long that the hands grip. The entire bone shape of these handle rattles is about 30 centimeters long. The edges can be decorated with simple hallmarked patterns. Both parts are connected to each other by a small iron ring at one end. The posture when playing is vertical with the ring below. Leather or string loops are attached in the middle of the bars. The musician and dancer holds the qarqaba with three fingers pushed through the loops, the thumb presses on the outside against one bowl, the middle and ring fingers on the outside against the other. There are very loud metallic hits with different sounds. If the rattle halves are hit against each other with your fingers lying close to each other, the sound is rather muffled; if your fingers stick out as far as possible, it sounds louder and tinny. The closed rattles of both hands can also be hit against each other. With the clatter in both hands, the dancer produces two different rhythms, to the rhythm of which he puts his feet on the floor. Tunisian shqashiq are slightly larger and not connected by a ring. As a result, the two halves do not meet as precisely, but can be struck at a greater distance and with more volume.

Ritual function

Gnawa musician around 1920 with ṭbal and qaraqib

The instrument, traditionally only played by men, has its origins in all three countries in the music and dances of the black African population, who, as descendants of slaves from the Sudan region, form a cultural minority. In their tradition they trace the qaraqib back to Bilal , the companion of the prophet and the first African muezzin , who is venerated in the Maghreb as Sidi Bilal . The explanatory story tells of Fatima , the daughter of the Prophet, how she refused to leave the room after an argument with her husband Sidi Ali . Bilal invented the qaraqib and danced with them in the courtyard until Fatima was lured out by the noise. The metal hard sound is now supposed to drive away evil spirits like the jinn .

Individual dance forms are the burlesque, witch-like dance of the Bou Saâdiya , a wildly costumed black African who jumps around with his rattles in public places and collects alms. The name is derived from Sidi Saâd, a black saint who came to Tunisia in the 16th century. Its shrine ( Qubba ) is located in the Mornag region a few kilometers southeast of Tunis . A similar figure in the Algerian Oran was the Baba Salem.

Sidi Saâd is also the patron saint of the black Stambali dancers in Tunisia. The Stambali is a healing ceremony for the expulsion of an individual spirit, which is performed with singing, the beating of qaraqib and the music of a gimbri . Even in processions, music is played with rattles (chkachek) and drums (ganga) . The blacks of Tunisia ( Soudanis , equivalent to the Moroccan Gnawas) use ganga to designate the cylindrical drum ṭbal .

The Moroccan and Algerian counterpart to the Stambali is the Derdeba , also a dance with a therapeutic role among the Gnawas. Qaraqib do occur here, but the three-stringed plucked gimbri plays the central role in driving out spirits . These three instruments are used in the Maghreb by practically all popular Islamic Sufi orders with a Sudanese background.


A name for the rattles, which probably came to the Maghreb during the Ottoman rule in the 16th century, is chakchaga , derived from saqsaq ( shaqshaq ), as wooden castanets that children play with are called in Turkey . The names of the calabash rattles in the Sudan region segesege, seke, asakasaka or similar could also be of Turkish origin. At least in Tunisia, rattles also served as background music for the Turkish shadow play Karagöz .

Illustration of an Ottoman miniature painting from 1570: dancers with chalpara

In Turkey the old rattles of dancers and dervishes were called çarpara or chalpara; Two of the bone plate rattles were beaten with one hand. In Turkish light music they were replaced by finger cymbals (Turkish zil ). In Iranian music to this day, corresponding record claps are known as chahār pare . Practicing Sufis ( dervishes ) in Pakistan use wooden rattles studded with sound tiles called kartala , karatala, khartalon or chapriyon . The tsar cult in Egypt and Sudan is also an obsession ceremony in which rattles play an important role .

Among the Hausa south of the Sahara (in northern Nigeria ), only women play a similar iron rattle called sambani at religious festivals and in the Bori obsession cult, which is comparable to the tsar cult . Sambani is also the name of such rattling among the Dagomba in the north of Ghana , where they use blacksmiths to accompany the dance. Ba-sambani refers to the slave of an Arab trader in Hausa , with the addition of ba- standing for a professional activity. The qaraqib / sambanis may have been imported from the Maghreb earlier. In Hausa, who lived north of the Sahara, the instrument became the property of the men.

In general, shaking idiophones, bells and crotales are widespread in popular Islamic cults. In Central and West Africa, double bells are used in ceremonial music, they are called ngonge, ngunga or engongui , with the Ewe in Ghana gankogui . In the ritual music of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church , the sistrum ts'anats'el has a ceremonial function.


Web links

Commons : Qarqaba  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Roger Blench, p. 156.
  2. Lois Ann Anderson: The Interrelation of African an Arab Musics: Some Preliminary Remarks. In: Klaus P. Wachsmann (Ed.): Essays on Music and History in Africa. Northwestern University Press, Evanstone 1971, p. 160
  3. Jürgen W. Frembgen : Clothing and equipment for Islamic seekers of God: A contribution to the material culture of the dervish being. Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden 1999, ISBN 3-447-04184-6 , pp. 171f.
  4. Richard C. Jankowsky: Stambeli: Music, Trance, and Alterity in Tunisia. University of Chicago Press, London 2010, p. 103.
  5. ^ Roger Blench, p. 158.