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 ladies who have been, because the name indicates, consorts to these in strength, so much of them concubines of the early Abbasid caliphs and other halves of latter-day caliphs and sultans. This narrow yet illuminating quantity is without doubt one of the few surviving texts through Ibn al-Saʿi (d. 674 H/1276 AD). Ibn al-Saʿi used to be a prolific Baghdadi pupil who chronicled the educational and political elites of his urban, and whose occupation 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 raring to forge a connection among the munificent other 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 appealing 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 instances in the direction of Ibn al-Saʿi’s own—when Abbasid authority was once attempting to reassert itself and Baghdad was once back a tremendous middle of highbrow and spiritual activity—we meet girls akin to Banafsha, who endowed legislations schools, had bridges equipped, and provisioned pilgrims certain for Mecca; slave ladies whose funeral providers have been led through caliphs; and noble Saljuq princesses from Afghanistan.

Informed through the author’s personal assets, his insider wisdom, and recognized literary fabrics, those singular biographical sketches, even though brought episodically, convey the belletristic tradition of the Baghdad court docket to lifestyles, rather within the own narratives and poetry of tradition heroines differently misplaced to history.

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7. 3: Nabt. 7. 5. 54 Ibn al-Sāʿī cites Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī as the author of the Book of Songs, but Abū l-Faraj al-Iṣfahānī also wrote a book devoted to women slave poets, al-Imāʾ al-shawāʿir, extant and available in two editions, both from 1983, one edited by al-Qaysī and al-Sāmarrāʾ ī (paginated), the other edited by al-ʿAṭiyyah (numbered).  29). These references are given here because al-Imāʾ al-shawāʿir is not among the otherwise comprehensive list of sources cited in Jawād’s footnotes to Jihāt al-aʾimmah.

For the next workshop, we invited Justin Stearns and Maurice Pomerantz (both of New York University Abu Dhabi) to join us and we shuffled around the teams. After these teams had done their translations and conferred among themselves and with one another, I then collated their material, made the various parts consistent based on the principles and choices that we had agreed upon, and e-mailed the material to everyone to read through and ponder. We held a final workshop during our May 2014 editorial meeting in New York City, where we projected the translation onto a screen and went through it all together, comparing it to the manuscript.

References to Consorts of the Caliphs hereafter referred to by the paragraph number of the entry. Preface 3 Details of how we workshopped and translated the book can be found in the “Note on the Translation” below. Introduction 4 Jawād, “Introduction,” 18, 20, in Ibn al-Sāʿī, Nisāʾ al-khulafāʾ . 5 The “daughter of Ṭulūn the Turk” “who married one of her dalliances” (§35). 5 and §§31–39 below. 2, where impressive isnāds serve in each case to introduce a two-line occasional poem. 1. 9 See “Note on the Edition” below.

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