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Customs & Remedies

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Showing 1 - 18 from 18 entries

> The Semiology of the Palestinian Face
> Aida Kattan (1): The taboun
> Aida Kattan (2): The Palestinian Mukhtar
> Aida Kattan (3): the Palestinian wedding in the...
> Aida Kattan (4): Henna brought on the bride
> Aida Kattan (5): Nuzha, the summer picnic
> Aida Kattan (6) Traditions from the home courtyard
> Shepherds, Grazing Fields, and Recreational Games
> Nablus' olive oil soap: a Palestinian tradition...
> Palestinian Wedding
> Plant-Lore in Palestinian Superstition
> Mulberry
> Tosheh: a Palestinian Villagers’ Quarrel
> The Palestinian Wedding Practices and Rituals
> Privacy and Love in Palestinian Villages
> Feast days in Jerusalem as they used to be
> Washing their hair with herbs
> Chamomile (Babounej)
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Tosheh: a Palestinian Villagers’ Quarrel
submitted by This Week In Palestine

By Dr. Sharif Kana’aneh

Tosheh is a spontaneous quarrel that takes place between two families, neighbourhoods or tribes. Individuals take part in the tosheh not due to personal hostility towards the other group, but due to their belonging to their own group.

Although the tosheh does not have any written laws and rules of behaviour, when a certain act is considered by all to be heinous and unacceptable, such as hurting a woman or a reconciler, then one understands that there are certain rules of behaviour.

The tosheh resembles a game between two teams of adult males and one or more reconcilers as the referee. The reconciler is a neutral, generally older individual not belonging to any of the feuding families or parties. He often enjoys a high social standing and has tough followers who can terrify the fighters on both sides.

In certain cases, an elderly member from one of the feuding families can assume the role of the reconciler. He must be unable to participate in the tosheh due to a chronic disease or some disability or be a prominent personality not only in his own village but in the surrounding villages and towns as well.

The instruments that are allowed to be used in the tosheh are only those that can cause painful wounds or unconsciousness. Any instrument (gun, sword, axe) that may cause death, deformation, or disability is not allowed at all. Therefore sticks, stones, and small knives are permissible. If a member of a feuding party resorts to using a gun then the elderly members of that party and the reconcilers will prevent him from taking part in the fight.

Each team tries its best to win the tosheh. The victorious team is the one that forces the other team to admit being the loser. The goal is not to inflict as much bodily harm as possible on the other team. It is rather to convince the losing team that, had the tosheh been real, the victorious team could have inflicted bodily harm and death on the other team. But it is important that the principle of parity be applied to both teams. A team cannot fight the other if that team does not have the capability of self-defence. Furthermore, each team must try to cause as little bodily pain as possible, otherwise it is considered a coward.

In the tosheh, it is forbidden to fight women and girls of any age; children and boys below the age of adulthood; elderly men; those who surrender; and the disabled and sick persons who cannot defend themselves. It is also forbidden to burn houses and damage property.

A tosheh is legally won when a member of one of the teams forces a member of the other team to escape the fight and admit being the loser, while not being harmed physically. Another way is to cripple a member of the opposite team by causing temporary disability for the duration of the tosheh.

A tosheh ends when there is an obvious victor: one of the teams admits to being the loser and retreats. The fight may also end when there is a tie: neither of the teams admits defeat, but the time factor plays a role. When a fight goes on for a long period of time, a reconciler steps in to stop the fighting. Women may also join the tosheh when it is felt that neither team wants to admit defeat. Their presence provides the excuse for the teams to stop the fighting in order not to harm the women. The tosheh comes to a bitter end when one team causes the death of a member of the opposite team. This turns the tosheh into a ‘blood’ matter that has a new set of rules.

Dr. Sharif Kana’nah is a professor of anthropology and folklore at Birzeit University. He is also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Society and Heritage. He can be reached at tarik@palnet.com

This Week in Palestine
January 2007

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