Consorts of the Caliphs: Women and the Court of Baghdad by Ibn al-Sai, Shawkat M. Toorawa, The Editors of the Library

By Ibn al-Sai, Shawkat M. Toorawa, The Editors of the Library of Arabic Literature, Julia Bray, Marina Warner

Consorts of the Caliphs is a seventh/thirteenth-century compilation of anecdotes approximately thirty-eight girls who have been, because the name indicates, consorts to these in energy, such a lot of them concubines of the early Abbasid caliphs and other halves of latter-day caliphs and sultans. This narrow yet illuminating quantity is among the few surviving texts through Ibn al-Saʿi (d. 674 H/1276 AD). Ibn al-Saʿi used to be a prolific Baghdadi student who chronicled the educational and political elites of his urban, and whose profession straddled the ultimate years of the Abbasid dynasty and the interval following the cataclysmic Mongol invasion of 656 H/1258 AD.                                                                                                                   

In this paintings, Ibn al-Saʿi is eager to forge a connection among the munificent better halves of his time and the storied enthusiasts of the so-called golden age of Baghdad. hence, from the sooner interval, we discover Harun al-Rashid pining for his brother’s attractive slave, Ghadir, and the artistry of such musical and literary celebrities as ʿArib and Fadl, who bested the male poets and singers in their day. From occasions toward Ibn al-Saʿi’s own—when Abbasid authority was once attempting to reassert itself and Baghdad was once back a massive middle of highbrow and non secular activity—we meet girls comparable to Banafsha, who endowed legislations schools, had bridges outfitted, and provisioned pilgrims sure for Mecca; slave ladies whose funeral prone have been led through caliphs; and noble Saljuq princesses from Afghanistan.

Informed through the author’s personal resources, his insider wisdom, and recognized literary fabrics, those singular biographical sketches, even though introduced episodically, deliver the belletristic tradition of the Baghdad courtroom to lifestyles, rather within the own narratives and poetry of tradition heroines in a different way misplaced to history.

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The only punctuation used are periods at the end of paragraphs/sections and the occasional clarifying colon. • I have aspired to format, paragraph, and indent consistently and in such a way as to clarify syntax and narrative sequence. Following LAL policy, I have numbered paragraphs. • The entries themselves are also numbered for ease of reference. • Following LAL policy, I do not provide in-text references to the manu- • ‫�أ‬ � Although I have “corrected” things like irregular number use (�‫) رب��� د �وا �ل�ي ب‬, ‫ع‬ these are in fact nothing more than a standard feature of Middle Arabic script pagination.

Julia then returned to Oxford and I to Ithaca. I then went through the entire translation again, implementing all of our decisions, and when I was satisfied I sent it back to Julia Bray to vet carefully. I also sent it to Joseph Lowry for his feedback. After I had incorporated Joe’s feedback and intervened stylistically again myself, we sent the translation to Marina Warner, who very graciously agreed to write a foreword. Julia then sent me further detailed comments and annotations, which I addressed and incorporated, and she proceeded to write her introduction.

1. 1–2. 3. 43 See the maps immediately following this introduction. 44 Zubaydah, the wife of Hārūn al-Rashīd, was famous for provisioning the pilgrim route with wells and resting places.  511–97/1116–1201), head of two, then five, Baghdad madrasahs, enjoyed an “extraordinary career as a preacher . . through his influence on the masses, he was politically important for those caliphs who, in their struggle with the military and the Saljūqs, followed a Ḥanbalī-Sunnī orientation. Diminishing influence under other caliphs was due to different policies adopted by them” (Seidensticker, “Ibn al-Jawzī,” 338).

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