Fellow Update: Sargon Donabed (2010 US TAARII Fellow)

With much gratitude I must thank TAARII for its support in aiding my travels to collect oral interviews on the modern heroic epic of Qatine Gabbara [Qatine the Mighty]. In the year’s timespan, I was able to collect two interviews (one completed in Iraq and one in California) sung in the tribal Tiyari-style by both genders. Both are quite comprehensive in their original Assyrian-Aramaic and with the help of Nineb Lamassu, research assistant at the University of Cambridge, they have both been transliterated into Latin-based font. Furthermore, I was able to find one participant in Toronto, Ontario, a native of the Nerwa-Rekan region of Iraq, who I recorded singing the ballad in the more uncommon Tkhuma flavor. While those verses remembered by the participant were far fewer, they represent a rare poetic version of the epic that exhibits previously unrecorded comedic stanzas. I am currently working on translating the segments collected and continue to search for retainers of the epic as well as any recordings done by other researchers. These oral epics are quintessential cultural histories and are of paramount importance to cultural perseverance and persistence. If anyone is thinking about such work in the future I am willing to aid any researchers on Iraqi Assyrians, folklore, or collecting oral histories especially for the diaspora communities, to the best of my ability.

Click here to listen to Rouel Abdal of Nerwa-Bash interviewed in Toronto by Sargon Donabed in 2010: Mam Rouel Abdal Nerwa-Bash Toronto 5-30-10