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Popular Songs and Dances of the Artas Folklore Troupe

Contributed by Artas Folklore Center on 27.04.2008:

The Artas Folklore Center’s Ahya al Turath Folklore Troupe is not only a staple of the Annual Artas Lettuce Festival, but is much in demand to enliven events ranging from heritage day to graduations. The purity of their white robes is an embodiment of the purity of the style for which they pride themselves.

They have a broad repertoire of Dances done to the rhythem of various categories of folksongs.The following material, intended to enhance the appreciation and enjoyment of foreign visitors to the 2007 Artas Lettuce Festival, was provided by Bashar Barghouti, owner and webmaster of the Palestinian Folklore website on the World Wide Web.

and included in the Festival Keepsake Booklet. Go to his site to hear audio clips of the different types of folklore.Or contact the Artas Folklore Center to experience it for yourself, live.

(Continued below image)

[[picture:”.” ID:441]] The Artas Folklore Troupe demonstrates the Samer, a kind of verbal dual which used to enliven village evenings. Two opposing groups try to outdo each other in improvised eloquence, at times becoming quite heated, but always end the evening shaking hands–the “peace” often occurs before the end if the groups manage to impress or flatter each other with their words.

From Bashir Baghrouti:

Palestinian popular songs deal with

different subjects, such as patriotism, love, mourning, pride, etc. A professional singer (zajjal) usually improvises the songs during an event or prepares them ahead of the event. Most of the popular songs are composed of four verses of poetry. The first three verses rhyme, but the fourth differs depending on the type of song. Watch and listen carefully and see if you can identify any of the following types of song.


‘Ataba is the most popular song in Palestine. You can hear farmers, workers, and shepherds singing ‘ataba while they are doing their jobs. However, weddings are the main environment for the songs. Usually, the singer (zajjal) starts with the long sound of (Ooaaaff) then the verses of ‘ataba follow. Not only does ‘ataba require the first three verses to rhyme but also all three verses must end with homonyms. The fourth verse ends with a sound like (aab, awa…)‘Ataba is usually accompanied by a Meejana verse, which has a different rhythm and tune and ends with a sound like (na). A full Meejana composition has the same requirement as ‘Ataba.


Second to ‘ataba, dal’ona is the most popular song. It is easier to compose a dal’ona song than ‘ataba because it does not require using homonyms in the first three verses. The fourth verse of dal’ona usually ends with a sound like (oana).

Dal’ona is the song of the Palestinian popular dance, dabka, where the dancers sing it along with the sound of shubbabah) or yarghool (flute).

Zareef eT-Tool

Zareef eT-Tool has a fair popularity and it is also used in dabka. Of course, the rhythm is different from dal’ona. The fourth verse of Zareef eT-Tool ends with a sound like (ana).


Jafra is also used in dabka, but the dance uses different steps to suit the tune. The fourth verse of Jafra ends with a sound like (eyya).


This is a popular song in weddings where people stand in two lines facing each other and sing. One line of people sings a verse and the other line repeats the same verse. Sometimes, the second line starts a new verse and changes the flow of the song.


Tal’ah (pl. Tal’aat) is composed of a refrain (chorus) and several stanzas. The zajjal starts with the refrain, which is then repeated by the audience as the chorus of the song.

Shurooqi and Mu’anna

Shurooqi is a poem of several verses which takes the same form of a classical Arabic poem. Mu’anna is similar to Shurooqi except it is a shorter poem. In both forms the zajjal inserts a bridge just before the last verse. The last verse is then repeated as the chorus of the song.

For more information and samples of these and other types of songs, see Bashir’s site at:

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