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PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

The Secret of Zaghareet


By Priscilla Adum




[Editor's note: the word zaghareet is plural. Its singular is zaghrouta.]

What's the secret to a perfect zaghrouta? Frog licking!

It is the belief among village folk in Egypt that licking the skin of a frog will enable the licker to execute perfect zaghareet from that moment on.

What constitutes a perfect zaghrouta? The quality of the sound itself and the length of it. The longer a person can extend it, the more admired their zaghareet are.

According to an Egyptian friend, "Not all Egyptian women can do zaghareet perfectly, but I've noticed that shaabi and village women can do it better than women in cities. I'd guess that only about 1 in 20 women can do it perfectly."


This Egyptian friend also said, "A shaabi woman makes the zaghrouta with her mouth. It's about the voice, and in English it means, "Lo, lo, lo, lo, lo, lo, lo, lo, lo, yeeeeee!!!"

This video clip shows what a correct zaghrouta sounds like.

ABOUT THE PHOTO: In a scene from the 1952 movie Khadra Wel Sindbad Al Kebly (Khadra and Sindbad the Southerner), a woman makes a zaghrouta. Click here to see the scene; the zaghrouta appears about 34 seconds into the clip. The dancer performing in this scene is Nabaweya Mostafa.




About the Translator

Priscilla is a dancer of Lebanese heritage who enjoys researching the Golden Era of Egyptian dance. She owns a collection of more than one hundred classic black and white Egyptian films which is continually expanding.

Priscilla has also gathered a large library of dance related articles and clippings from Middle Eastern magazines and newspapers, many of which she has translated from the original Arabic to both English and Spanish.

Priscilla currently resides in Central America where she is a dance instructor. 




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