Razih District in Sa'ada

Climatic and architectural diversity and cultural influence
December 8, 2022

Razih District in Sa'ada

Climatic and architectural diversity and cultural influence
December 8, 2022
Photo by: Abdulrahman Alghabri - © Khuyut

Razih District is one of the districts of Sa'ada Governorate (northern Yemen), located in the west of the governorate.

Historical sources say that it was named after Razih bin Khawlan bin Amr bin Al-Haf bin Quda’a. Al-Fayrouz Abadi said, in Al-Qamoos Al-Muheet: Razih is the father of a tribe from Khawlan, meaning in general the Khawlan bin Amer tribe and the Khawlan tribe (bin Amer / Amro) in Sa'ada and Aseer (Al Sarah) which was mentioned in the inscriptions of the kings of Hamadan under the name “Kholn Jaddan”; New Khawlan (1).

In defining Khawlan, its lineages, and its geographical locations, Al-Hamdani says, in Al-Ikleel: “Khawlan Al-Aaliyah is one of the sons of Khawlan bin Amer bin Malik bin Al-Harith bin Murrah bin Adad bin Omar bin Uraib bin Zaid bin Kahlan bin Saba. They are attributed to Himyar, and they do not deny their brothers from Khawlan bin Amer bin Al-Haf in the field of Sa'ada and its environs, but it was said that Khawlan Al-Aaliya is due to the difference between the places, not the difference between lineage, as it is said: Azd Shanwa and Azd Oman, and there is no problem in that all of them are from Azd, and as it is said Tai the plain and the mountains, Khawlan al-Sham, Khawlan al-Yemen, Hamdan al-Jabal, Hamdan al-Boun, the owther of a people, the owther of matrah, and so on” (2).

The diversity of the climate of the Razih district and its cultural coexistence with the regions of Aseer in Al-Mikhlaf Al-Sulaimani of Yemen, and its presence in the historical Sarat mountain range, made it distinguished by its agricultural products, including coffee, and is distinguished by its architecture, clothing, and cultural heritage, including the arts of music and singing, which have become influential in its geographical surroundings.

It seems clear that the art of the southern region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been influenced by Al-Razhi art, to the extent that the differences between them diminish, especially the regions of the Jizan, Aseer and Al-Sarah mountains (Al-Baha region, the last border in the south of the Kingdom with a Yemeni identity). This influence also includes some parts of the southern regions of Taif, where they use the same percussion and exactly the same percussive instruments (Zar and drums), and also the same style of performance and the same rhyme under the name of Khbeiti Rhythm” (3).

Razih has a number of historical monuments (4), including:

Shathaba Castle

The history of the construction of the castle dates back to the first phase of the Ottoman rule in Yemen, then it was renewed and expanded during the rule of Imam Yahya bin Hameed Al-Din, and it is one of the castles that were used as military sites and centers for the administrative rule of the state. The castle, in terms of its architectural and engineering layout, consists of several wings built of well-groomed stones, and it consisted of five floors. The castle includes a number of facilities, such as grain burials and water tanks. The castle's internal divisions reflect the level of high engineering art, as well as the wood of its ceilings, windows, and doors that include beautiful wooden decorations, and are still in good condition. The area size of ​​the castle occupies 35 meters in length and 35 meters in width.

Despite the strong and cohesive construction of the castle, the long neglect and lack of maintenance led to the collapse of the fifth floor due to heavy rains. Moreover, the destruction extended to the collapse of large parts of the fourth and third floors, and its wings in the first and second floors are still standing. At the present time, some parts of the castle are deserted and exposed to ruin, and other parts of it are occupied by the Ministry of Defense as a military site, and a wing of it belonging to the Ministry of Interior which has been used as a prison while the other parts of the castle is used as a center of the district administration and its offices and service facilities affiliated with the castle are currently used by the army.

Haram Castle

Haram Castle is located at the top of Haram Mountain on the western side of it, and this mountain is considered the highest peak in Sa'ada Governorate, and the history of the castle dates back to the first phase of Ottoman rule. During the era of Imam Yahya bin Hameed Al-Din, the castle witnessed the addition of some facilities, such as the renovation and expansion of water tanks. The fortifications of the castle are very beautiful, and on the western side of the castle building are the main gate, guard rooms, and three spacious halls, which lead directly to the main sitting room (Majless) for reception. The western part of the building includes: water tanks built with stones and cadavers, a mosque, and stores for military equipment and supplies. In the center of the castle is the building for housing, which consists of five floors containing three rooms, followed by a private entrance surrounded by three guard towers as well as stores around the castle.

Further, the Haram Castle overlooks beautiful landscapes decorated with green carpets throughout the year, due to the rainfall in Razih District most of the year, and it gets more abundant in the summer. Therefore, the green agricultural terraces and the villages scattered around it, with their distinct architectural style, look like a silk embroidered with agate that reflects an unrepeatable aesthetic painting.

At the foot of Haram mountain there is dam called Al-Zariba Dam, which is an important landmark dating back to the fifth century AD, according to the inscription in the Musnad script above the dam. The dimensions of the dam are 27 meters in length and 27 meters in width. The dam was an integrated irrigation facility, followed by water distribution channels and water outlets.

It seems that the dam basin is divided into two halves and stairs from the inside, and it may have been followed by a careful system for distributing water fairly to all the tribes benefiting from it. Currently, the sedimentary materials in its basin occupy a large part of its water capacity; This indicates that the dam is deep, and archaeological excavations in this dam and its surroundings will reveal valuable historical information about the ancient irrigation system that was used. In general, the dam is still in good condition and performs part of its functions, although it needs repairs and maintenance to maintain it. Before reaching the dam site, he notices the remains of the ruins of residential buildings and the remnants of a wall punctuated by guard towers, of which only the foundations of the old facilities remain.

Al-Damegh building

The fortress of Qasaba Al-Damegh is located at the top of Al-Damegh mountain (south of Razih), and is currently affiliated with the Azd province. The history of the fort dates back to the first period of Ottoman rule, and its facilities were renewed and expanded during the rule of Imam Yahya bin Hameed al-Din. The fort building was designed in a circular shape, and it consists of four floors, the texture of which is built of well-groomed stones, and the fort contains a number of grain burials, and water tanks that are ponds built with stones and rammed earth topped with beautiful arches.

Al Hajalah Fort

The fort is located east of the province of Al-Hajalah, and its history dates back to the first period of Ottoman rule, then it was renewed in subsequent periods, the last of which was during the rule of Imam Yahya bin Hameed Al-Din. Its architectural design takes a circular shape, and it consists of four floors. The fort has service facilities, the most important of which are the many water tanks located in its vicinity, and at the slopes of the mountain there is a dam, and from the top of this fort the shores of the Red Sea can be seen, and the fort is surrounded by a wide area for resting.

Al-Kafl Mosque

Al-Kafl Mosque is located in the village of "Shaher Al-Hanash" in the Al-Hajalah province - Razih district. It dates back to the beginning of the Islamic era and is considered one of the important archaeological mosques because of the masterpieces of Islamic artistic decorations on the facades of its walls. In the vicinity of the Mihrab in the Qibla wall, the artistic decorations increase in intensity, in addition to the ancient Islamic writings, and the annexes of this mosque include water storing facilities.

The mosque is still in good condition and is performing its role, and worshipers from all the neighboring areas come to it to perform Friday prayers there. However, the wonderful decorations and inscriptions in the mosque are outdated, and need archaeological restorations in a scientific manner, so as not to prejudice its ancient essence and character.

Dahwan Valley

Wadi Dahwan is located in the province of Al-Nadheer, and it is considered one of the most beautiful tourist sites in the Razih district. Moreover, it is famous for its abundant production of crops, the most important of which are: bananas and coffee crops. It has running water throughout the year in the form of water springs. Additionally, the isolation of Al-Nadheer is the most densely populated more than other provinces. It enjoys many tourist attractions, represented by the village of Al-Nadheer, with its prevailing architectural style, the strength of its stone architecture, and there was an old historical mosque in it, but it was demolished, and a new mosque was built after it.

Sources and References:

(1) See the Yemeni Encyclopedia, part 1 of the first edition, pg. 438, and the second part of the second edition, pg. 1277 and beyond.

(2) Al Ikleel Book, Abu Mohammad Al-Hassan bin Ahmad bin Yaqoub bin Yusuf bin Dawood bin Suleiman al-Arhabi al-Bakili al-Hamdani, (10/293).

(3) The Westernization of Al-Razhi Singing, the division of the singing heritage on the borders of political geography, Mohammad Al-Hajri - “Khuyut”, March 28, 2020.

(4) The results of the tourism survey for the period (1996-1999 AD), the second part, Al Mahweet Governorate, Haijah Governorate, Sa'ada Governorate.

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