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Nubians, their customs, habits and way of life | Blog

Nubians, their customs, habits and way of life

Nubians, their customs, habits and way of life

Many travelers who visit Egypt have special interest in learning about Nubians and their community. This is because of their habits and style of living that is different from any other community in Egypt. A many tourists enjoy visiting Nubian villages and having traditional Nubian meals. In Aswan, there is the Nubian Museum displaying a lot of exhibits that demonstrate the lives and the history of the Nubians and this museum is frequently visited by tourist from all around the world.
The Word "Nubia"
The word Nubia is used as an expression that describes a certain group of people living around the Valley of the Nile.
Many scientists and scholars have disagreed upon the origin of the word Nubia and they also had long debates concerning the origin of the language that the people of Nubia speak. However, they all agree that different Nubian tribes speak various languages according to their origins.
The old origin of the word is derived from the word "Nub" which means gold, therefore the ancient Egyptians used to call this section of the Nile Valley the land of gold. The reason behind this is that the area was famous for gold mines and this resulted in much immigration to the Nubia and many conquests of this valuable piece of land throughout the Egyptian history.
The location of Nubia
Nubia, as mentioned before, is a section of the River Nile Valley, from the first waterfalls to the forth waterfalls.
Generally, Nubia is divided into two sections: The upper Nubia which is located for 320 kilometers from North to South inside the Egyptian borders until the second waterfalls in Wadi Halfa and the lower Nubia which is located inside the Sudanese borders.
Nubia’s lost monuments
As a consequence of the construction of the Aswan Dam and the phases of increasing the height of the dam, the Nasser Lake was formed on the lands of Old Nubia. This urged UNESCO to start its long projects of relocating many Pharonic monuments like the Temple of Abu Simble and the Temple of Philae. However, despite the efforts exerted by UNESCO and the Egyptian government, some monuments were forever lost.
The Nubian tribes and communities
There are three major tribes in Nubia: the Arab, Al Kenouz, and Fadetgda.
The Arabs: The inhabitants belonging to the Arabs tribe live in the middle of Nubia and they speak the Arabic language.
They live in villages like Wadi Al Arab, Senqari, Al Malky, and Shatrama. This is in addition to the old Arab tribes that immigrated to the Nubia, mingled with the people there, and spread Islam among the locals, like Bano Rabei'a and Juhayna.  
The Fadetgda: they live in the Southern section of the Nubia and they speak the old Nubian language which is spoken but not written. They also have a special accent that differ from any other Nubians.
The Kenouz: they live in Northern Nubia, mainly in Egypt and they speak the Kenzeya Language. This tribe is divided into two groups:  Awalad Wanas and the other is called Al Ashraf.

Marriage and having children
Although paying for the costs of marriage is the responsibility of the parents, the uncle and the maternal uncle also participate in taking part of this responsibility.  This is because the kinship system among Nubians that combines the relatives of both sides, the side of the man and the side of the woman, are both equal in responsibilities and duties.
The same as Bedouins, a man usually marries his cousin and if he does so, the dowry he pays is usually much less than the dowry he pays if he marries someone else. The dowry also varies a lot from one family to the other and from one tribe to the other. 
The Nubians make sure they offer the families of the bride and the groom a lot of gifts as an expression of their love, respect, and support to the family in paying for the expensive costs of marriage and the marriage ceremony. This is a custom that most Egyptians still do until today. 
Due to the fact that the River Nile is a central element in the Nubian culture, the bride and the groom have to go to the Nile in their marriage night and wash up with the river's waters in order to bring them good fortunes and a lot of children. 
Giving birth to a new born baby, the "Sebou' "
When the married couple has a new born baby, they have to celebrate this in a habit called the "Sebou' ". The parents of the new born baby have to slaughter some sheep and gather the family members to choose a name for the baby.
If the new born baby is a girl, the celebrations consist of inviting the friends and the relatives, going to the Nile, and choosing the name for the new born baby.
Marriage problem for intellectual educated Nubian girls 
Due to the Geographical isolation of Nubia and other habitual and traditional beliefs, the Nubian girl has to marry a man from her own tribe and not from any other Nubian tribe. In the beginning, the girl had to marry a man from the same family and afterwards the custom was modified allowing the girl to marry a man who is not a member of her family but has to belong to her tribe. For example, it is prohibited for a Nubian girl belonging to the Fategada tribe to marry a man from the Kenouz tribe. On the other hand, the Nubian man can marry any girl he likes even if she is not from his tribe or from Nubia as a whole. Nowadays, the girl is free to marry who ever she wishes.
This norm is generally is spread in Upper Egypt, where the women belonging to a tribe are prohibited to marry men from other tribes. However, this norm started generally declining because of the development of the community, the openness to the outer world and the increase of the level of education.Early marriage
One of the habits of the Nubians is to get married in a very early age as Nubian men get married between the age of 18 to 22 and the Nubian girls get married between the age of 15 and 20 years old.
Marriage customs
The groom has to arrange for finding a house to get married in and also has to buy all the furniture and apparatuses they might need.
In the period before the marriage ceremony, a lot of cows and sheep have to be slaughtered at both houses of the two families to offer to the guests during the marriage ceremony and to give to the poor people of the tribe as well.
If a funeral takes place seven days before the marriage ceremony, both the groom and the bride have to attend the ceremony under any circumstances.  If a marriage parade passes by any of the houses of the groom or the bride, both of them have to go and walk into this parade until they reach the house of the newly married couple. However, they are not allowed to enter the house so the bride sends a young girl into the house wearing a small necklace as an expression of participating in the joy of the other marriage.
Divorce for the Nubians
Divorce happen quite rarely among the Nubian community as they consider it as one of the actions they totally and severely hate. Nubians revere the marriage and family life, respect their personal life and they never let go of their wives easily. This is one of the most adorable characteristics of Nubian men.   
Traditional Nubian houses
A traditional Nubian house would consist of a backyard, a sleeping room that is topped with a dome, a storage room, a kitchen and a bathroom. Of course all these elements differ from one family to the other, adding more rooms or decreasing the number of rooms, according to the wealth of each family.
The Nubian art, its connotations, and its symbols.
Many people love watching Nubian dances and different styles of art. However, only a few number of people know the meanings and connotations of this art.
The Nubian art reflects the unique characteristics of the Nubian cultures.  This includes symbols representing peoples' beliefs and habits. This appears clearly in the drawings and decorations of the walls of the houses and its entrances. It is apparent as well in the beads ornaments, necklaces, pottery, and dishes' decorations.
The sword for the Nubian represents championship and bravery. The crescent and the star, which are Islamic symbols, reflect optimism the same as the black cat that represents optimism and joy in contradiction to the majority of cultures all around the world who thinks that a black cat is always a bad omen.   
On the other hand destruction and bad luck is represented by the crow and the owl for the Nubians, while flowers and roses represent love and friendship. Drawing a pitcher and a praying carpet symbolize purity for the Nubian people.



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