Category Archives: Biographical Readings

Biographical works are one central source genre to my current project. But why so serious? They are among the more entertaining and sometimes surprising genres of premodern Arabic literature. And it is these aspects that I would like to stress here.

Introducing: Ali Ibn Qadi Ajlun

When I began this blog, one of my main ideas was to share some fruits of my readings of medieval and early modern Arabic biographical literature. With this post I will begin a series of shorter posts that returns to this idea. I could think of no better title for it than “Introducing:…”. The first person to be introduced was a member of the established Damascene Ibn Qadi Ajlun family which was featured here several times before.

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Between historians: Ibn Tulun on al-Maqrizi

As an historian, Ibn Tulun often stood on the shoulders of giants. Among the authorities he mentions, we frequently find the Damascene great ones: al-Safadi, al-Dhahabi, Abu Shama, Ibn Qadi Shuhba (often by his nisba al-Asadi) and, first and foremost, Ibn Asakir. This post introduces another important name in history, yet one which was not concerned with Damascus as such: al-Maqrizi.

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How important was Ibn Tulun’s uncle Yusuf?

The funding period of the research cluster Dyntran: Dynamics of Transmission draws to a close very soon. The exchanges in this cluster have proven influential on my research since its inception in 2015. The focus on the social and especially familial contexts of writing has become a core element of several recent publications.

As I am currently working on the chapter for the final edited volume in which I try to develop these ideas further, I have revisited Ibn Tulun’s own familial network. It is not as extensive as the one I discussed in my Dyntran Working Paper. In fact, it is rather small and the most prominent character is Ibn Tulun’s uncle Jamal al-Din Yusuf. Today’s post will present and discuss an unpublished biography of him. Continue reading

On the governor’s court in Late Mamluk Damascus

In the coming week, the German Historical Institute in Paris hosts a conference on new court history. Organized by Pascal Firges (DHIP) und Regine Maritz (Walter Benjamin Kolleg, Bern), “Towards a New Political History of the Court, c. 1200‒1800” will attempt, from comparative perspectives, to delineate “Practices of Power in Gender, Culture, and Sociability” (here is the direct link to the CfP).

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Biography of a Crustacian

Sometimes, I just wish I could follow all those leads that Ibn Ṭūlūn has dispersed amongst his many works… . Well, maybe in another project. I have pointed it out before that Early Modern Damascene biographers might secretly have been jokers or a little bit too fond of animal life. Wouldn’t it be enjoyable just to explore that in more detail? For those who plan to do so, definitely check out the Blog Colonizing Animals, and in particular its annotated Beastly Bibliography. Continue reading