Majlis (or Mejlis; Arabic : مجلس, pl. مجالسMajālis) is an Arabic term meaning "a place of sitting", used in the context of "council", to describe various types of special gatherings among common interest groups be it administrative, social or religious in countries with linguistic or cultural connections to Islamic countries. It shares its root with the verb meaning 'to sit,' جلس julush (cf. British English 'sitting room'). The Majlis can refer to a legislature as well and is used in the name of legislative councils or assemblies in some of the states where Islamic culture dominates. The term Majlis is used to refer to a private place where guests are received and entertained.
The term Majlis is also used to refer to a private place where guests, usually male, are received and entertained.Frequently, the room has cushions placed around the walls where the visitors sit, either with the cushions placed directly on the floor or upon a raised shelf.
In many Arab homes, the majlis is the meeting room or front parlor used to entertain visitors. In Saudi Arabia, the decoration of the majlis in the home is often the responsibility of the women of the house, who either decorate the area themselves or barter with other women to do it for them. In the Asir Province and in neighboring parts of Yemen, geometric designs and bright colors are used in "majlis painting", or nagash painting. The term majlis is used to refer to a private place where house guests and friends are received and entertained. Because hospitality is taken seriously, many families take pride in making their guests comfortable when visiting.
Sometimes public waiting rooms are also called a majlis, since this is an area where people meet and visit. Here the traditional "majlis painting or nagash painting has been added to the interior design of the room. The provincial airport in Abha has recently been designed to reflect the cultural heritage of the region, an airport official said: “Abha is the first city in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to have its airport decorated in a local-heritage style,” said Provincial Airport Director Abdul Aziz Abu Harba. “The seating arrangement at the airport lounge has been in the form of a traditional majlis and the walls are painted in various colors reflecting the natural beauty of Asir.”
In the Najd province of Saudi Arabia, wall coverings include stars shapes and other geometric designs carved into the wall covering itself. Courtyards and upper pillared porticoes are principal features of the best Nadjdi architecture, in addition to the fine incised plaster wood (jiss) and painted window shutters, which decorate the reception rooms. Good examples of plasterwork can often be seen in the gaping ruins of torn-down buildings- the effect is light, delicate and airy. It is usually around the majlis, around the coffee hearth and along the walls above where guests sat on rugs, against cushions. Doughty wondered if this "parquetting of jis", this "gypsum fretwork... all adorning and unenclosed" originated from India. However, the Najd fretwork seems very different from that seen in the Eastern Province and Oman, which are linked to Indian traditions, and rather resembles the motifs and patterns found in ancient Mesopotamia. The rosette, the star, the triangle and the stepped pinnacle pattern of dadoes are all ancient patterns, and can be found all over the Middle East of antiquity. Qassim seems to be the home of this art, and there it is normally worked in hard white plaster (though what you see is usually begrimed by the smoke of the coffee hearth). In Riyadh, examples can be seen in unadorned clay."
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