GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
First Name:
Title of Paper:
The Queen of Sheba as Inscribed in Yemeni and Ethiopian Mythologies
Paper Proposal Text :
The narrative of the Queen of Sheba in both the Solomonic and Qur`anic traditions has been of great fascination and contention for centuries. As a historical figure, she is frequently claimed as being of either Ethiopian or Yemeni origin, yet the influence and effect of the tale itself on the identities and consciousness of each population have yet to be examined.

The Ethiopian narrative is based on both the Solomonic tradition amalgamating with local folk tales, to become canonised in texts such as the Kebra Nagast, compiled in the fourteenth century, and oral tradition. The Yemeni narrative is founded upon Islamic writings, and also, as is the case with the former, local, traditional stories. The narratives as isolated stories have been the subject of much discussion and study, theologically, linguistically, and even as pieces of literature. However, the cultural impact of the narratives themselves in the two most prominent societies that lay claim to its origins has yet to be explored. How does the myth of Sheba manifest itself, and what role does it play in each society’s conception of self and other?

This presentation shall centre on issues relating to identity- formation in both Yemeni and Ethiopian societies, as well as those of the greater region in general, concentrating on the influence of the rise of the nation- state, and the consequences of colonialism. Key questions on the significances of language, religion, culture and traditions, and gender effecting and affecting the mythology of Sheba will ultimately lead to a greater understanding and potential re- evaluation of long- established conceptions relating to the histories, functionings, and historical boundaries of the region, questioning the dichotomous differentiation between the Arabian peninsula and the surrounding area of the Abyssinian Plateau. Additionally, the process by which the myths themselves are transformed and their influences on individuals within the society and their perceptions of self as expressed through the variations of each narrative will be studied.