Mheibes – a multimedia essay on Ramadan in Iraq

On August 10, I went with a couple of colleagues to check out Iraqi men play a game of Mheibes during Ramadan in Adhamiyah. Adhamiyah was playing Saba Abkar, an adjacent neighbourhood.

TANGENT: A version of the video of the bottom filmed entirely on the iPhone 4 has been shortlisted for the Grand Prize at the Original iPhone Film Festival, in the Non-Fiction category. I’d really appreciate it if you could check it out, and ‘like’ it. Ok, shameless self-promotion over.

For a primer on the basic rules, I defer to the story we eventually wrote on the game:

The game begins with a player from one team draped under a blanket moving among his teammates and secretly handing a ring — which is “mehbis” in Arabic — to one of them.

The rival team designates one of their own to find the ring. If he is unsuccessful, the team that hid the ring gains a point. If he finds it, his team must hide the ring and try to rack up points of their own.

The first team to reach a pre-agreed number of points wins.

Again, from the AFP story:

Mheibes is played across Baghdad, and in several other Iraqi cities throughout Ramadan, with matches typically starting after the dusk iftar meal that breaks the daily fast.

In Karbala, the holy Shiite city in south Iraq, authorities have organised a Mheibes championship, pitting localities from around the country against each other.

Teams from Baghdad, predominantly Shiite southern cities such as Diwaniyah, Najaf, Kufa, and mostly Sunni towns like Baquba and Mussayib, are all taking part, according to Salem al-Naqqash, the captain of the Karbala team.

How does a game of Mheibes look? Check out this video I filmed:

Related posts:

  1. Mheibes – A traditional Iraqi game during Ramadan
  2. Disappearing Tradition: Najaf abaya makers in decline
  3. Najaf rushes to get ready as Islamic culture capital
  4. Where Iraq stood in August 2010
  5. AFP’s coverage of the US withdrawal from Iraq
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