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Muwashshah or muwaššah (Arabic: موشّح, literally "girdled"; plural muwāshshahāt موشـّحات or tawāshīh تواشيح) is an Arabic poetic form, as well as a secular musical genre in the eastern part of the Arab world using muwaššah texts as lyrics. The poetic form is also used in Andalusi nubah which similarly originates in Al-Andalusmarker (Muslim Spain). It is a multi-lined strophic verse poem written in classical Arabic, usually consisting of five stanzas. It was customary to open with one or two lines which matched the second part of the poem in rhyme and meter. In North Africa poets ignore the strict rules of Arabic meter while the poets in the East follow them.

Musical genre

Musically, the ensemble consists of ud (lute), kamanja (spike fiddle), qanun (box zither), darabukkah (goblet drum), and daf (tambourine), all of which often perform as the choir. The soloist performs only a few chosen lines of the selected text. In Aleppomarker multiple maqam rows and up to three awzān are used and modulation to neighboring maqamat was possible during the B section . Until modernization it was typical to present a complete waslah, or up to eight successive muwaššah including an instrumental introduction (sama'i or bashraf). It may end with a longa.


Examples of muwaššah start to appear as early as the ninth or tenth century CE. The full sense of the word is not clear, though it appears to be related to the word for a type of double-banded ornamental belt, the wišah.


  • Benbabaali,Saadane, 1987, Poétique du muwashshah dans l'Occident musulman médiéval, thèse de 3e cycle, sous la direction de R. Arié, Paris 3, 1987.
  • Corriente, Federico (1997). Poesía dialectal árabe y romance en Alandalús: cejeles y xarajat de muwassahat. Madrid: Gredos. ISBN 8424918878.
  • Emery, Ed (2006). Muwashshah: proceedings of the Conference on Arabic and Hebrew Strophic Poetry and its Romance Parallels, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), London, 8-10 October 2004. London: RN Books.
  • Jones, Alan (1987). Romance Kharjas in Andalusian Arabic Muwassah poetry: a palaeographic analysis. London: Ithaca. ISBN 0863720854.
  • Jones, Alan & Hitchcock, Richard (1991). Studies on the Muwassah and the Kharja: proceedings of the Exeter international colloquium. Reading: Published by Ithaca for the Board of the Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford University. ISBN 0863721508.
  • Zwartjes, Otto (1997). Love songs from al-Andalus: history, structure, and meaning of the kharja. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9004106944.
  • Zwartjes, Otto & Heijkoop, Henk (2004). Muwassah, zajal, kharja: bibliography of eleven centuries of strophic poetry and music from al-Andalus and their influence on East and West. Leiden-Boston: Brill. ISBN 9004138226.


  • Touma, Habib Hassan (1996). The Music of the Arabs, trans. Laurie Schwartz. Portland, Oregon: Amadeus Press. ISBN 0931340888.


  1. Touma 1996, p. 83

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