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Moors-msg - 2/4/08

 

Period Culture and clothing of the Moors.

 

NOTE: See also the files: cl-Moorish-msg, Spain-msg, Arabs-msg, Palestine-msg, ME-feasts-msg, fd-Morocco-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

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Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

************************************************************************

 

From: ddfr at best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spanish/Moorish Costume--sources?

Date: 4 Apr 1996 06:54:19 GMT

 

> She would like to find information/sources/advice concerning costuming in

> Spain during the Moorish era...more specifically, during the 10th-11th

> centuries.  As I understand the Muslim religion, they are restricted from

> representing the human form in their art, thus she hasn't been able to

> find any paintings, etc.  

>

> In Service

> Gwennan ferch Gwydion O'Ddyved

 

Me too.

 

There is a ceiling, I think of a cathedral in Sicily, that has paintings

of a bunch of Muslim men in garb, not too far off your date. There is an

Andalusian ivory casket with carvings, but it is hard to tell much from

them.  My suggestion is to look through Islamic art books searching for

such things.

 

Some books that may help, but not very much, are:

 

Arab Painting, Richard Ettinghausen, Macmillan, London 1977.

Islam Stoffe aus Ägyptischen Gräbern by Ernst Kühnel, 1927: Berlin Verlag

Ernst Wasmuth. (right date, wrong part of al-Islam)

Cut My Cote, Dorothy K. Burnham, Textile Department, Royal Ontario Museum,

Toronto. (pattern for one garment, right date, wrong part of al-Islam)

Le Costume: Coupes et Formes, de L'Antiquité aux Temps Modernes, Max

Tilke, Éditions Albert Morancé, Paris 1967. This is a wonderful book, full

of detailed photographs of real garments. Unfortunately, most of them are

out of period.

 

I wish your friend good fortune in her search.

 

David/Cariadoc (Moor, c. 1100)

--

ddfr at best.com

 

 

From: kellmer at u.washington.edu (Brent Kellmer)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spanish/Moorish Costume--sources?

Date: 5 Apr 1996 21:24:23 GMT

Organization: University of Washington, Seattle

 

Another good sources, probably with pictures of the andalusian casket that

Cariadoc mentioned is _The Art of al-Andalus_, a truly wonderful book on

moorish art, architecture, etc. up through the capture of Granada.  There

are photos of some extant garments, although later than you want, but

there are several casks, boxes, etc. that have human figures on them.

 

--Rodrigo Ramirez de Valencia

  kellmer at u.washington.edu

 

 

From: bsibly at chch.planet.org.nz (Belinda Sibly)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spanish/Moorish Costume--sources?

Date: 8 Apr 1996 04:42:34 GMT

Organization: PlaNet(NZ) Canterbury

 

>She would like to find information/sources/advice concerning costuming in

>Spain during the Moorish era...more specifically, during the 10th-11th

>centuries.  As I understand the Muslim religion, they are restricted from

>representing the human form in their art, thus she hasn't been able to

>find any paintings, etc.  

I have a number of pictures out of various bboks from  Ibn Wasiti's 13th

cntury illuminatied edition of al-Hariri's Maqamat. None of the notes tell me

exactly were in the Moslem world there are ment to be but I have good pictures

of mounted soldiers, merchant's haggling, musicina's and drinkers, men

studying in a libray, a slave market, a family dinning and travellers on the

road. In many of the pictures some of the people have halo's so I take it they

are story's from the life of Mohammed. There is lots of clothing, some of it

quite detailed.

 

The men are generally wearing long robes almost to the floor, with wide

sleeves, decorated around the biceps with braid(?) which is decorated with

arab script.  They have white under robes which show about two inches below

the robes. Both robes are very full. Some men also wear a long piece of fabric

draped like one of those roman palas? shawels? Edged with more braid? All the

men wear turbans  in the "India during the Raj" style.

 

There are fewer women shown. They have robes similar to the mens but tighter.

Sleeves are tight at the cuffs and again have the braid at the biceps. The

women wear strange tall hats which I can only discribe as tit shaped, complete

with a "nipple" on top. Oh yes, the women aren't covered up particularly. You

can see there faces and hands.There cloths are rather more figure hugging than

the mens.

 

Both sexes wear "slippers" with cover the toes, heels and sole of the foot but

not much more, sort of like lady's court shoes ( in the modern sence) but with

out heels.

 

That might not be what you're looking for, but it's somewhere to start.

 

 

From: ddfr at best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spanish/Moorish Costume--sources?

Date: 9 Apr 1996 01:06:47 GMT

 

bsibly at chch.planet.org.nz (Belinda Sibly) wrote:

> The men are generally wearing long robes almost to the floor, with wide

> sleeves, decorated around the biceps with braid(?) which is decorated with

> arab script.  

 

Sounds like a Tiraz band. I think it was woven in.

 

David/Cariadoc

--

ddfr at best.com

 

 

From: priest at vassar.edu (Carolyn Priest-Dorman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spanish/Moorish Costume--sources?

Date: 10 Apr 1996 11:59:01 GMT

Organization: Vassar College

 

Greeting from Thora Sharptooth!

 

David/Cariadoc (ddfr at best.com) wrote:

 

In article <ddfr-0804961805520001 at ddfr.vip.best.com>,  says...

>> The men are generally wearing long robes almost to the floor, with wide

>> sleeves, decorated around the biceps with braid(?) which is decorated

>> with arab script.  

>

>Sounds like a Tiraz band. I think it was woven in.

 

Although most of the extant "tiraz" bands now in museums are woven-in, there

do exist a few embroidered ones too.  Embroidered ones could be worked

directly onto the ground fabric or onto strips that were then applied to the

garment.  Also, sometimes woven tiraz bands were removed from their original

fabric and used as applique on another fabric.

 

The woven-in bands were the most prestigious type, because they were more

likely to have originated at a royal (or noble) workshop.

***************************************************************************

Carolyn Priest-Dorman             Thora Sharptooth

priest at vassar.edu             Frostahlid, Austrrik

          Gules, three square weaver's tablets in bend Or

***************************************************************************

 

 

From: brettwi at ix.netcom.com(Brett Williams)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Spanish/Moorish Costume--sources?

Date: 11 Apr 1996 16:00:51 GMT

 

ddfr at best.com (David Friedman) writes:

>bsibly at chch.planet.org.nz (Belinda Sibly) wrote:

>

>> The men are generally wearing long robes almost to the floor, with

>>wide sleeves, decorated around the biceps with braid(?) which is

>>decorated with arab script.  

>

>Sounds like a Tiraz band. I think it was woven in.

>

>David/Cariadoc

 

Your Grace, have you seen the photographs in the essay "Medieval

Garments in the Mediterranean World", pp. 279-315 in _Cloth and

Clothing in Medieval Europe, Essays in Memory of Professor E. M.

Carus-Wilson_?  There are some excellent clear black and white pictures

and schematic cutting diagrams of surviving shirt/tunics of your

interest from Byzantine period all the way through 19th Century.

 

Dry, but informative.

 

ciorstan

 

 

From: "Christopher A. Owens" <cowens at netset.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: 10 th Century Moorish Costume

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1996 03:09:31 -0800

 

Maturin Kerbouchard wrote:

>         I am searching for the patterns and Materials used to design the

> costumes worn by the character "Azim" in the movie Robin hood, prince

> of thieves.

>         The local libraries have not been of much help and I am at a loss as

> to what to do. I can roughly copy the movie but I am not too sure how

> close I can come and I am not to sure as to how authentic it is.

 

Just a nit here; the character Morgan Freeman played in "Robin Hood"

wasn't Moorish in the proper sense. A "Moor" specifically reffered to

muslim inhabitants of the Iberian penninsula between 722 and 1492. It's

true that eventually the word "moor" came to mean all muslims and later  

blacks in particular, but this is not its orignial meaning.

 

        As to who "Azim" was, from the initiation scars on his face

coupled with his religion, I would *guess* he would hail from the

Southern Nile river Valley (Which, before Salah Al'din's conquest of the

area between the 2nd and 3rd Crusades included several Coptic Cristian

Kingdoms). This would probably make him a warrior of the Egytian Fatimid

Caliphate, which was destroyed by the Turks not long before. This would

explain his imprisonment and why he couldn't return. But this is all

conjecture of course.

 

        If you want a 10th century (Spanish) Moorish persona, the country

you would be living in would be Andalusia (Arabic al'Andalus) during the

time of Umayadd (sp?) Caliphate. Your persona could be of either North

African, Arabic, or European background and could be of the Muslim,

Christian, or Jewish faith.

 

        In any case, if anyone has any costuming tips for 10th century

(AD) Andalusian personas I'd be interested as well.

 

-At your service,

Shiraz Ali al'Rachid

 

All constructive responses welcome!

 

P.S. Back to Azim, his scimitar, if it was period at all, would not have

been used for fighting, its closest relative is an executioner's

scimitar. As a general rule, Islamic fighters used straight swords for

fighting on foot and curved sabre-styled swords for fighting from

horseback.

 

 

From: DDFr at Best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: 10 th Century Moorish Costume

Date: Mon, 16 Dec 1996 00:50:13 -0800

Organization: School of Law, Santa Clara University

 

"Christopher A. Owens" <cowens at netset.com> wrote:

> Just a nit here; the character Morgan Freeman played in "Robin Hood"

> wasn't Moorish in the proper sense. A "Moor" specifically reffered to

> muslim inhabitants of the Iberian penninsula between 722 and 1492.

 

I don't think that is correct. The term is presumably related to

"Mauritania," the name of North Africa in classic antiquity. In any case,

it is quite commonly used for North African berbers, as well as for berbers

in al-Andalus, and perhaps (as you imply) for non-berber Muslims in

al-Andalus as well.

 

>This would probably make him a warrior of the Egytian Fatimid

> Caliphate, which was destroyed by the Turks not long before.

 

Actually, Saladin was a Kurd, although it is true that he was, at least

nominally, working for a Turk at the time he put the Fatimid Caliphate out

of its misery.

 

> This would

> explain his imprisonment and why he couldn't return.

 

Why? Saladin took over Egypt, army included.

 

In any case, if this is happening in the 10th century the Fatimid Caliphate

is still going strong, and will be for another century or two.

 

I'm pretty sure that there was a black military unit involved in Abbasid

politics that eventually got wiped out, but I would have to do some looking

to find the relevant date.

> P.S. Back to Azim, his scimitar, if it was period at all, would not have

> been used for fighting, its closest relative is an executioner's

> scimitar. As a general rule, Islamic fighters used straight swords for

> fighting on foot and curved sabre-styled swords for fighting from

> horseback.

 

What are your sources for curved swords used for fighting from horseback in

the 10th century Islamic world? I think there is a Khazar grave find of a

curved sword that early, but my impression is that they didn't become

common until quite a lot later. I can probably dig up sources if you want.

 

David/Cariadoc

 

 

From: DDFr at Best.com (David Friedman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: 10 th Century Moorish Costume

Date: Wed, 18 Dec 1996 10:49:35 -0800

Organization: School of Law, Santa Clara University

 

"Christopher A. Owens" <cowens at netset.com> wrote:

 

> David Friedman wrote:

...

 

> > What are your sources for curved swords used for fighting from horseback in

> > the 10th century Islamic world? I think there is a Khazar grave find of a

> > curved sword that early, but my impression is that they didn't become

> > common until quite a lot later. I can probably dig up sources if you want.

 

> The source I've gotten the most use out of has been the "Men at Arms

> Series" (Osprey) #125; which gives several illustrations of curved swords

> , primarily of Turkish origin, between the 9th and 11th centuries.

> Straight sword- infantry, curved sword- Cavalry disticintion, I admitt

> that I'm making a guess based on illustrations, historical reports of

> tactics, and the relative usefullness of each weapon in these situations.

 

You might want to look at ÒAn Introduction to Arms and Warfare in Classical

Islam,Ó by David Nicolle, in _Islamic Arms and Armor_. I think the same

book also has a separate article on the question of the curved sword. I

don't have the book here, but my memory is that curved swords begin to

become common in the Islamic world around the thirteenth century.

 

Does the Osprey book give its sources?

 

David/Cariadoc

 

 

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: bq676 at torfree.net (Kristine E. Maitland)

Subject: Moors -- definition

Organization: Toronto Free-Net

Date: Sun, 22 Dec 1996 22:37:17 GMT

 

Buona sera.

 

Let's nip this "moor" thing in the bud, shall we? ;->  Here's a truncated

version of Kenneth Baxter Wolf's words on the subject (see "The 'Moors'

of West Africa and the beginnings of the Portuguese slave trade." in

_Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies_ 24:3, Fall 1994).

 

According to Wolf:

 

1. The term "moor" started life  from the latin _maurus_, which in Roman

times referred to those who lived in Mauretania (now Algeria and NE Morroco).

Isidore of Seville (7th c.) "derived _maurus_ from the Greek _mauros_ for

'black', an early instance of what would become a common medieval

European association between _mauri_ and dark skin".

 

2.  Starting in 711, with the influx of invaders to Spain the term

covered more ground -- first referring to the Berbers, then the Arabs.  

Up to the 8th _mauri_ and _arabes_ were distinct -- after that the

distinction blurred.  Plus "due to the growing percentage of sub-Saharan

blacks among the slave population in Morocco and Granada, the category of

'Moor' was stretched to accommodate 'black Moors'."

 

3.  After 711, "moor" had religious connotations.  With the crusades

'moors' were "enemies of the Faith".  So a black could be a moor and yet

not a moor -- sometimes Europeans weren't too sure whether to use the

moor in referance to black africans.

 

My own reading also suggests that a distinction was later made between

"white moors" and "black moors" -- the later term "blackamoor" would be

redundant otherwise.  In the British Isles (specificly Scotland starting

in the 15th century) blacks were often the surname Moore/More.

 

Hope that clears up a few things.

 

Inez Rosanera

Ealdormere

 

 

From: David Friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Organization: dis

Date: Sat, 19 May 2001 17:42:28 GMT

 

raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven) wrote:

> Earlier in that rebuttal, I had said more clearly that the Moors were

> "black-dominated", not that each and every individual Moor was black.

>

> Thus the paragraph you quote is again stressing that Moorish dominance

> amounted to Black dominance (Blacks dominated the Moors who dominated Spain),

> not that Blacks constituted each and every one of those Moors.

>

> "Black-dominated" is more expressive of Moorish culture than might be inferred

> from "there were *some* black moors". (Please capitalize "Moor".)  Blacks

> were not a minority in power or influence, but a prominent and dominant part

> of Moorish *leadership*; enough that Black was considered *more* beautiful

> than White (unlike later conditions in the New World, black skin was the mark,

> not of probable slavery, but of probable nobility); enough that a Moor was

> presumed to be Black unless otherwise specified (Shakespeare's Othello was

> a Moor, and this is enough information to have him appear onstage as Black);

> enough that the English word "blackamoor" exists, and referred even to Blacks

> who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire.  The absorption into the more

> "Mediterranean" population they dominated has changed that appearance, rather

> as modern Mongols appear more Chinese now than they did before ruling China,

> but please don't back-project later (or New World) ideas of Black roles.

 

The problem is that it isn't true. "Blackamoor" means a black moor, just

as "Polish-American" means an American whose ancestors came from

Poland--in both cases there is no implication that most of the

population, or the dominant part, is from that group.

 

The Berbers were a mediterranean people two thousand years ago, when

Mauritania was a Roman province. Roughly speaking, the dividing line

between mediterranean and black was the Sahara desert, although there

was, of course, a good deal of mixing.

 

If you read medieval Islamic literature, it is clear that although there

were high status blacks--Ziryab in al-Andalus and Ibriham Ibn al Mahdi

in the Middle East are striking examples--they were the exception, not

the rule. Blacks most often appear as slaves--see the 1001 Nights for

lots of examples.

 

So far as the "Moorish Empire," there wasn't one. The North African

Berbers were conquered by the Arabs and mostly converted to Islam early

in Islamic history. Spain was then conquered by a mixed Arab-Berber

force owing allegiance to an Arabic Caliph. The point at which you get a

more or less independent polity made up of Spain and parts of North

Africa is when the Abbasids seize the Caliphate and the last surviving

Umayyad prince succeeds in establishing himself in al-Andalus and

founding what becomes the Western Umayyad dynasty. Abd er Rahman was an

Arab, a descendant of the fifth Caliph, Muawiyya, not a black.

 

The closest you come to a "Moorish Empire" would be the Almoravid and

Almohad periods, when religious movements among the Berber tribes of

Northwest Africa resulted in the temporary creation of a unified force

sufficiently strong to push back the Christian incursions in Spain.

 

Perhaps you could describe more precisely what you mean by a "Moorish

Empire," when you are talking about, and what reason you have to think

that blacks were either dominant or particularly high status.

--

David/Cariadoc

http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Medieval.html

 

 

From: raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: 20 May 2001 08:33:11 -0500

Organization: Solaria Public Access UNIX - Milwaukee, WI

 

Cariadoc of the Bow / David Friedman <ddfr at best.com> wrote:

| Raven <raven at solaria.sol.net> wrote:

|> Earlier in that rebuttal, I had said more clearly that the Moors were

|> "black-dominated", not that each and every individual Moor was black.

|>

|> Thus the paragraph you quote is again stressing that Moorish dominance

|> amounted to Black dominance (Blacks dominated the Moors who dominated Spain),

|> not that Blacks constituted each and every one of those Moors.

|>

|> "Black-dominated" is more expressive of Moorish culture than might be inferred

|> from "there were *some* black moors". (Please capitalize "Moor".)  Blacks

|> were not a minority in power or influence, but a prominent and dominant part

|> of Moorish *leadership*; enough that Black was considered *more* beautiful

|> than White (unlike later conditions in the New World, black skin was the mark,

|> not of probable slavery, but of probable nobility); enough that a Moor was

|> presumed to be Black unless otherwise specified (Shakespeare's Othello was

|> a Moor, and this is enough information to have him appear onstage as Black);

|> enough that the English word "blackamoor" exists, and referred even to Blacks

|> who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire.  The absorption into the more

|> "Mediterranean" population they dominated has changed that appearance, rather

|> as modern Mongols appear more Chinese now than they did before ruling China,

|> but please don't back-project later (or New World) ideas of Black roles.

|

| The problem is that it isn't true. "Blackamoor" means a black moor, just

| as "Polish-American" means an American whose ancestors came from

| Poland--in both cases there is no implication that most of the

| population, or the dominant part, is from that group.

 

Once again, please capitalize "Moor".  I ask this because I don't think

that you intend to convey an insult, which is usually the intent of those

who omit capitalizing the names of peoples (e.g. "jew" instead of "Jew").

 

I wonder in what dictionary you find that "'Blackamoor' means a black Moor",

given that those I searched gave it as referring to any "black" person.

 

American Heritage, 4th ed (2000): "[Offensive] A dark-skinned person,

especially a person from northern Africa."

http://www.bartleby.com/61/28/B0292800.html

 

Webster's Revised Unabridged (1913): "A negro or negress."

http://machaut.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/WEBSTER.sh?WORD=blackamoor

 

Merriam-Webster Online: "a dark-skinned person; especially : BLACK 4a"

[I think the intended reference was renumbered 2a in the BLACK entry.]

http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&;va=blackamoor

 

Other citations omitted.

 

But you're correct in one way:  the word "Moor" itself has *also* been

used to refer to any "black" person, making "blackamoor", "black", and

"Moor" all equivalent terms *in that one sense*.

 

This ambiguity in "Moor" is why I specified that "'blackamoor'... referred

even to Blacks who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire" -- thus making

clear that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

 

Etymologically,  "Moor" *does* means "Black".  It is cognate with Spanish

and Italian "Moro", which translates into English as either "Moor" or

"Black".  (Our local Catholic church named for "St. Benedict the Moor",

a Black saint, could be named "St. Benedict the Black", translating "Moro"

the other way; Benedict's parents were African slaves, but not from the

Moorish tribes -- he was a Moor only in the broad sense of Moor=Black.)

"Moor" and "Mauretania" come from the Latin "maurus" and Greek "mauros",

both of which *also* mean "black".  In heraldry, which retains medieval

meanings of many terms, the charge of "a Moor" is shown as a Black person,

often on the armorial achievements of people surnamed Moore or More -- see

for instance the Moor's-head crest of Sir (and Saint) Thomas More.

 

To suggest that Moors were rarely (or only in a subjugated minority) Black

requires ignoring the very reason those people were *called* Moors by the

Europeans.  (It was not their name for themselves, just as "Persia" is not

what Iranians called Iran, "Germany" vs Deutschland, etc.)

 

The Spanish *knew* that not all Muslims were Black; they weren't making

an ignorant racist error by using the term "Moro" which *means* Black;

they also knew of Arabs with light-colored skin, and made the distinction.

 

See the in-period illustrations on the manuscript of the Book of Games

(Libro de los Juegos), commissioned between 1251 and 1282 by Alfonso X,

King of Leon and Castile. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154

 

Contents at http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/Content3.htm

 

Problem 13 shows three Arabs consulting manuscripts on a chess problem;

their skin tone is pale flesh.

 

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob13.html

 

Problem 103 shows a Spaniard and an Arab playing chess in a tent; their

skin tone is pale flesh.

 

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob103.html

 

Problem 25 shows two Moorish nobles playing chess, as three servants tend

to them.  The servant holding a ewer and bowl is medium-pale in tone; the

servant talking with him is black; the harper is black; the two nobles are

black.  In this, the Moors are clearly distinguished from the paler Arabs.

 

http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob25.html

 

Does that address your desire for contemporary documentation?

 

How about this medieval depiction of Moorish king Marsile, "enemy of

Christendom" in the Charlemagne epics?

 

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/16.gif

 

"And he is black, as black as melted pitch.  ...  Broad in the nose they are

and flat in ear, Fifty thousand and more in his company.  When Roland sees

that unbelieving race, those hordes and hordes blacker than the blackest ink

-- no shred of white on them except their teeth."  ("The Song of Roland")

 

| The Berbers were a mediterranean people two thousand years ago, when

| Mauritania was a Roman province.

 

Then why did the Romans give the "Maures" of MAURI-tania a name *meaning*

"black"?  Why did Procopius call them "black-skinned" as distinct from

other peoples of north Africa?

 

| Roughly speaking, the dividing line between mediterranean and black was

| the Sahara desert, although there was, of course, a good deal of mixing.

 

One, the Sahara hadn't yet spread as far south as it has now.  Two, "mixing"

covers a range from a-few-blacks-among-mostly-whites to the opposite, from

white-dominant to black-dominant, or, in short, from Persia to Mauretania.

 

| If you read medieval Islamic literature, it is clear that although there

| were high status blacks--Ziryab in al-Andalus and Ibriham Ibn al Mahdi

| in the Middle East are striking examples--they were the exception, not

| the rule.

 

Consider the ninth-century Muslim scholar Uthman' Amr ibn Bahr al-Jahiz,

and his "The Superiority of the Black Races over the Whites" -- in which

he counts the Berbers (Moors) among the Blacks.  (James Brunson and

Runoko Rashidi, "The Moors in Antiquity", in _Golden Age of the Moor_,

edited by Ivan Van Sertima, 1992.  See also in that volume, "African

Heritage and Ethnohistory of the Moors".)

 

| Blacks most often appear as slaves

 

To take the occurrence of Blacks among slaves as denying the occurrence

of Blacks among leaders, well, makes as much sense as replacing the word

"Blacks" with "men".  Men were often slaves, therefore men cannot also

have been leaders, nobles, prominent and even predominant in rulership?

 

Of the term "slave" when referring to the Muslim military, Richard Fletcher

(in _Moorish Spain_) says "slave is perhaps a misleading term, since by no

means all such soldiers were unfree.  Mercenary or simply 'professional'

might be more approriate."

 

"Black Moors are not always presented as servants or captives; indeed,

according to medieval illuminators, they seem to have held prominent

positions in Moorish society, particularly the military." "[B]lacks

also figured among the Moorish aristocracy."  (Miriam DeCosta,

"The Portrayal of Blacks in a Spanish Medieval Manuscript")

 

| --see the 1001 Nights for lots of examples.

 

The Thousand Nights and a Night were told, and often set, at the far eastern

end of the Mediterranean, around the area of modern Iraq and Iran, whereas I

was referring to the status of Blacks among the *Moors*, over at the far

*western* end of the Mediterranean, places like Spain and northwest Africa.

 

You might as well have brought up the Turks, Egyptians, Bedouins, or Tuareg.

 

Do you really think that racial attitudes were uniform across Dar al-Islam?

 

| So far as the "Moorish Empire," there wasn't one.

 

Here you change the meaning of my words by capitalizing.  If I were to

refer to a lesser Saxon king and the little kingdom he ruled, it would not

be a fitting rebuttal to say there was no realm named The Little Kingdom.

 

I did not capitalize the E in "empire", because I was not giving a name

but a description, referring to the area ruled by the Moors -- and I

think you must admit they *did* rule an area -- in order to make clear

that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

 

| The North African Berbers were conquered by the Arabs and mostly

| converted to Islam early in Islamic history. Spain was then conquered

| by a mixed Arab-Berber force owing allegiance to an Arabic Caliph.

 

I think you're trying to drive at a point which I did not in fact make,

presumably about the term "empire" implying independence from others.

 

Call it a suzerainty or a fief if you like.  *My* point was to clarify

that I was not referring to "Moors" in the broad sense of all Blacks,

but to those Moors who comprised a specific group of peoples and ruled

a specific area.

 

Otherwise someone who wanted to play word games *might* argue that

"blackamoor" referred only to "Moors" in the sense that *both* words

can be taken to refer to all dark-skinned people.

 

| The point at which you get a more or less independent polity made up of

| Spain and parts of North Africa is when the Abbasids seize the Caliphate

| and the last surviving Umayyad prince succeeds in establishing himself

| in al-Andalus and founding what becomes the Western Umayyad dynasty.

 

But too small an area for you to call even this an "empire"? Yet we refer

to a type of corporate politics within one office as "empire-building" --

and that doesn't even require being independent of higher officials. The

ordinary (non-technical) usage doesn't have all the meaning you load onto it.

 

| Abd er Rahman was an Arab, a descendant of the fifth Caliph, Muawiyya,

| not a black.

 

Yet his son Al-Hakam II was described as "tall, thin, haughty, and strikingly

dark in complexion".  (Hugh Kennedy, _Muslim Spain and Portugal_)

 

| The closest you come to a "Moorish Empire" would be the Almoravid and

| Almohad periods, when religious movements among the Berber tribes of

| Northwest Africa resulted in the temporary creation of a unified force

| sufficiently strong to push back the Christian incursions in Spain.

 

And Yusuf ibn Tashfin, leader of the Almoravid forces, was "a brown man

with wooly hair", according to the Arab chronicler Al-Fasi. (per DeCosta)

 

| Perhaps you could describe more precisely what you mean by a "Moorish

| Empire,"

 

I think by now I have: namely, that I didn't use the capital-E word, and

simply meant the area they ruled.  In other words, you're overinterpreting.

 

| when you are talking about,

 

I should think the entire 700-year span, since my sole purpose in using

the term was to distinguish *these* Moors from the broad sense of "Moors"

(everyone with a dark skin), i.e. I wasn't referring to the whole southern

bulk of Africa, let alone more distant dark-skinned peoples in India or

Australia, I was referring to the type of "Moors" that once ruled in Spain.

 

| and what reason you have to think that blacks were either dominant

| or particularly high status.

 

I think by now you have seen some of those reasons.

 

Your study seems to have been among the NON-Moorish Muslims, who often

expressed hostility toward Blacks.  Consider the possibility that you've

learned a whitewashed version of history.  I've listed some alternatives.

 

Thanks to "Laz" who posted "Black History Month Facts" on the B-GLAAD

Yahoo Group; a number of good quotes or links came from those postings.

--

   Raven                    

 

 

From: David Friedman <ddfr at best.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: Sun, 20 May 2001 19:11:42 GMT

 

raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven) wrote:

> Cariadoc of the Bow / David Friedman <ddfr at best.com> wrote:

> | The problem is that it isn't true. "Blackamoor" means a black moor, just

> | as "Polish-American" means an American whose ancestors came from

> | Poland--in both cases there is no implication that most of the

> | population, or the dominant part, is from that group.

 

> Once again, please capitalize "Moor".  I ask this because I don't think

> that you intend to convey an insult, which is usually the intent of those

> who omit capitalizing the names of peoples (e.g. "jew" instead of "Jew").

 

> I wonder in what dictionary you find that "'Blackamoor' means a black Moor",

> given that those I searched gave it as referring to any "black" person.

 

That's the modern meaning; I was talking about where the word came from.

 

> But you're correct in one way:  the word "Moor" itself has *also* been

> used to refer to any "black" person, making "blackamoor", "black", and

> "Moor" all equivalent terms *in that one sense*.

>

> This ambiguity in "Moor" is why I specified that "'blackamoor'... referred

> even to Blacks who had nothing to do with the Moorish empire" -- thus making

> clear that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

>

> Etymologically,  "Moor" *does* means "Black". It is cognate with Spanish

> and Italian "Moro", which translates into English as either "Moor" or

> "Black".  (Our local Catholic church named for "St. Benedict the Moor",

> a Black saint, could be named "St. Benedict the Black", translating "Moro"

> the other way; Benedict's parents were African slaves, but not from the

> Moorish tribes -- he was a Moor only in the broad sense of Moor=Black.)

> "Moor" and "Mauretania" come from the Latin "maurus" and Greek "mauros",

> both of which *also* mean "black".  In heraldry, which retains medieval

> meanings of many terms, the charge of "a Moor" is shown as a Black person,

> often on the armorial achievements of people surnamed Moore or More -- see

> for instance the Moor's-head crest of Sir (and Saint) Thomas More.

 

My Webster's says that the Greek word means black or dark--someone can

be darker than a Greek without being what we call a black.

 

It also gives as the first meaning of the word "Moor" "A native of

Morocco, or neighboring North African states, of Arab or Berber blood or

of a mixture of the too."

 

The second meaning is:

"A Moslem of one of the native North African races or of the immigrant

Arabs settled in North Africa; esp., one of the Saracenic invaders of

Spain or their descendants."

 

None of the definitions corresponds to what we call black--i.e. someone

of subsaharan African ancestry.

 

My 11th edition Britannica has a long article on the berbers:

 

"Though considerable individual differences of type may be found in

every village, the Berbers are distinctively a "white" race, and the

majority would, if clad in European costume, pass unchallenged as

Europeans. Dark hair and brown or hazel eyes are the rule; blue-eyed

blonds are found, but their frequency has been considerably overstated.

..."

 

A more recent Britannica has a much shorter and less detailed article,

but one that does mention the existence of some black Berbers.

 

> To suggest that Moors were rarely (or only in a subjugated minority) Black

> requires ignoring the very reason those people were *called* Moors by the

> Europeans.  (It was not their name for themselves, just as "Persia" is not

> what Iranians called Iran, "Germany" vs Deutschland, etc.)

 

Or in other words, you are arguing that the Mauritanians of classical

antiquity were Blacks rather than Berbers? That is presumably where the

word "Moors" came from.

 

> The Spanish *knew* that not all Muslims were Black; they weren't making

> an ignorant racist error by using the term "Moro" which *means* Black;

> they also knew of Arabs with light-colored skin, and made the distinction.

 

At what point did "Moro" mean "black" rather than "Muslim of North

African descent" in Spanish? In other words, are you describing the

meaning of the word at the time when the Moors still occupied much of

Spain, or after the expulsion?

 

> See the in-period illustrations on the manuscript of the Book of Games

> (Libro de los Juegos), commissioned between 1251 and 1282 by Alfonso X,

> King of Leon and Castile. http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154

>

> Contents at http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/Content3.htm

>

> Problem 13 shows three Arabs consulting manuscripts on a chess problem;

> their skin tone is pale flesh.

>

> http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob13.html

>

> Problem 103 shows a Spaniard and an Arab playing chess in a tent; their

> skin tone is pale flesh.

>

> http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob103.html

>

> Problem 25 shows two Moorish nobles playing chess, as three servants tend

> to them.  The servant holding a ewer and bowl is medium-pale in tone; the

> servant talking with him is black; the harper is black; the two nobles are

> black.  In this, the Moors are clearly distinguished from the paler Arabs.

>

> http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/Gorge/3154/chessproblems/prob25.html

>

> Does that address your desire for contemporary documentation?

 

It demonstrates that there were people of subsaharan ancestry in Muslim

Spain, which I already knew. To demonstrate that Alfonso used "Moor" to

refer specifically to such people and "Arab" to refer to lighter skinned

mediterranean people, you need two more things:

 

1. The titles for the pictures. Assuming the titles given on the web

site are correct, they do not entirely support your interpretation.

Problem 25 is labelled "Five Moors, one playing harp." As you point out,

one of the four is "medium pale" in tone. And that is the only picture

on the site that provides support for your position, since it is the

only one that refers to Moors.

 

Also, I don't know whether the titles are from the manuscript or are

provided by the web page. Do you? I looked around the web for as

translation of the book, but there doesn't seem to be one webbed yet.

 

2. You need to look through as wide a range of labelled pictures from

the period as possible to determine whether some, most, or all of the

people labelled "Moors" are Blacks.

 

> How about this medieval depiction of Moorish king Marsile, "enemy of

> Christendom" in the Charlemagne epics?

>

> http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/secret/famous/16.gif

>

> "And he is black, as black as melted pitch.  ...  Broad in the nose they are

> and flat in ear, Fifty thousand and more in his company.  When Roland sees

> that unbelieving race, those hordes and hordes blacker than the blackest ink

> -- no shred of white on them except their teeth." ("The Song of Roland")

 

I don't know what translation you are quoting. From Moncrieff's (verse

CXLII, webbed at http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/OMACL/Roland/r88-161.html):

 

But what avail? Though fled be Marsilies,

He's left behind his uncle, the alcaliph

Who holds Alferne, Kartagene, Garmalie,

And ethiope, a cursed land indeed;

The blackamoors from there are in his keep,

Broad in the nose they are and flat in the ear,

Fifty thousand and more in company. ...

 

This is not a description of Marsile (who earlier in the poem has turned

white with anger, suggesting that he is not black skinned, and who has

fled the field in the previous verse). It is not even a description of

his uncle. It is a description of the part of the army from ethiopia--a

force of fifty thousand--made up of blacks. Marsile has fled with a

hundred thousand in the previous verse. Earlier Marsile's army is said

to have four hundred thousand men in it, so the Ethiopian contingent is

a small part of his army. The fact that the author makes a point of

their appearance implies, not that all Moors were black, but that blacks

were exceptional.

 

Note that in the next verse,

 

"When Rollant sees theose misbegotten men,

Who are more black than ink is on the pen

With no part white, only their teeth except,

Then says that count: "I know now very well

That here to die we're bound ...." "

 

The battle has been going on for quite a while at this point, and these

are the first blacks Roland has seen. And they are described as from

Ethiopia, not as "Moors."

 

So the passage you refer to is evidence against your position, not for

it. I am curious where you got the idea that the description has

something to do with Marsile, given that he has already left the

battlefield at that point. Or is the reference to Marsile only with

regard to the picture, and not to the quote immediately after it?

 

> | The Berbers were a mediterranean people two thousand years ago, when

> | Mauritania was a Roman province.

 

> Then why did the Romans give the "Maures" of MAURI-tania a name *meaning*

> "black"?  

 

It isn't clear that they did. Websters agrees with your etymology, save

that the word means black or dark. But the OED is sceptical, suggesting

that the word may have originated with some North African language.

 

On the other hand, the OED does support your position to the extent of

saying that in the Middle Ages and into the 17th century, Moors were

commonly assumed to be mostly black or swarthy. The implication of the

passage is that the assumption was mistaken, however. And "swarthy"

doesn't imply "black."

 

> Why did Procopius call them "black-skinned" as distinct from

> other peoples of north Africa?

 

I don't know; I haven't seen the relevant passage. What's the cite?

 

> | Roughly speaking, the dividing line between mediterranean and black was

> | the Sahara desert, although there was, of course, a good deal of mixing.

>

> One, the Sahara hadn't yet spread as far south as it has now. Two, "mixing"

> covers a range from a-few-blacks-among-mostly-whites to the opposite, from

> white-dominant to black-dominant, or, in short, from Persia to Mauretania.

 

I agree--except for the final word.

 

> | If you read medieval Islamic literature, it is clear that although there

> | were high status blacks--Ziryab in al-Andalus and Ibriham Ibn al Mahdi

> | in the Middle East are striking examples--they were the exception, not

> | the rule.

 

> Consider the ninth-century Muslim scholar Uthman' Amr ibn Bahr al-Jahiz,

> and his "The Superiority of the Black Races over the Whites" -- in which

> he counts the Berbers (Moors) among the Blacks.  (James Brunson and

> Runoko Rashidi, "The Moors in Antiquity", in _Golden Age of the Moor_,

> edited by Ivan Van Sertima, 1992.  See also in that volume, "African

> Heritage and Ethnohistory of the Moors".)

 

I found the following quote from al-Jahiz at:

http://www.cwo.com/~lucumi/jahiz.html

 

"The Ethiopians, the Berbers, the Copts, the Nubians, the Zaghawa, the

Moors, the people of Sind, the Hindus, the Qamar, the Dabila, the

Chinese, and those beyond them...the islands in the seas...are full of

blacks...up to Hindustan and China."

 

That sounds as though he had a pretty expansive definition of "Black."

 

> | Blacks most often appear as slaves

>

> To take the occurrence of Blacks among slaves as denying the occurrence

> of Blacks among leaders, well, makes as much sense as replacing the word

> "Blacks" with "men".  Men were often slaves, therefore men cannot also

> have been leaders, nobles, prominent and even predominant in rulership?

 

That isn't what I said. I said "most often appear as." As I already

pointed out, there were some prominent blacks. One of the sources I

found today while browsing the web suggests that Yusuf the Almoravid may

have been at least partly black. But if you read the literature, you

will see blacks in low status positions much more often than in high

status positions.

 

> Of the term "slave" when referring to the Muslim military, Richard Fletcher

> (in _Moorish Spain_) says "slave is perhaps a misleading term, since by no

> means all such soldiers were unfree.  Mercenary or simply 'professional'

> might be more approriate."

>

> "Black Moors are not always presented as servants or captives; indeed,

> according to medieval illuminators, they seem to have held prominent

> positions in Moorish society, particularly the military." "[B]lacks

> also figured among the Moorish aristocracy."  (Miriam DeCosta,

> "The Portrayal of Blacks in a Spanish Medieval Manuscript")

 

I agree. But note that "not always presented as." The implication is

that they are most often presented as servants or captives, but

sometimes as important people, especially in the military.

 

We aren't arguing about whether some blacks had high status

roles--Ibriham ibn al Mahdi was the son, brother, and uncle of Caliphs,

and briefly an unsuccessful pretender to the caliphate himself. He was

also famous as a musician and some recipes attributed to him have

survived. The question is whether it was a society dominated by blacks,

which was your claim, or a society in which blacks were a minority,

largely although not entirely low status.

 

> | --see the 1001 Nights for lots of examples.

>

> The Thousand Nights and a Night were told, and often set, at the far eastern

> end of the Mediterranean, around the area of modern Iraq and Iran, whereas I

> was referring to the status of Blacks among the *Moors*, over at the far

> *western* end of the Mediterranean, places like Spain and northwest Africa.

 

You hadn't specified what you meant by the "Moorish empire," and I have

seen arguments along the lines you are making which claimed most of

al-Islam for "the Moors."

> I did not capitalize the E in "empire", because I was not giving a name

> but a description, referring to the area ruled by the Moors -- and I

> think you must admit they *did* rule an area -- in order to make clear

> that I was *not* using the sense of "Moor" that refers to all Blacks.

 

Whether "Moors" ruled an area is a bit tricky, because the society was

largely dominated by Arabs and Arabicized Berbers. There must have been

places in North Africa where at various times everyone, including the

ruling house, was Berber, but not large areas.

 

Of course, "Moor" is sometimes used in a sense that includes the Arabs

in Spain as well as the Berbers. In that broad sense, North Africa and

much of Spain was ruled by Moors from the conquest of Spain until the

Reconquista. But the top figure, at least in the early centuries, was an

Arab--the Umayyad Caliph.

 

> Call it a suzerainty or a fief if you like.  *My* point was to clarify

> that I was not referring to "Moors" in the broad sense of all Blacks,

> but to those Moors who comprised a specific group of peoples and ruled

> a specific area.

 

But "those Moors" is not limited to blacks, correct?

 

> | The point at which you get a more or less independent polity made up of

> | Spain and parts of North Africa is when the Abbasids seize the Caliphate

> | and the last surviving Umayyad prince succeeds in establishing himself

> | in al-Andalus and founding what becomes the Western Umayyad dynasty.

>

> But too small an area for you to call even this an "empire"?

 

I am not objecting to describing the Umayyad Caliphate as an empire. My

point is that if that was what you meant, it wasn't ruled by Moors but

by Arabs--the Umayyads.

 

> | Abd er Rahman was an Arab, a descendant of the fifth Caliph, Muawiyya,

> | not a black.

 

> Yet his son Al-Hakam II was described as "tall, thin, haughty, and strikingly

> dark in complexion".  (Hugh Kennedy, _Muslim Spain and Portugal_)

 

The Caliph al Mahdi was an Arab too--and Ibriham ibn al Mahdi was his

son, by a black mother. Besides, "strikingly dark in complexion" may or

may not imply African ancestry.

 

> | and what reason you have to think that blacks were either dominant

> | or particularly high status.

 

> I think by now you have seen some of those reasons.

 

I don't think so. We have evidence that two prominent political figures

over those seven hundred years (Al-Hakam and Yusuf) may have been partly

black. We have evidence that a Frankish poet described one part of the

Moorish army as Blacks from Ethiopia, clearly distinguishing them from

the rest of the army. We have other evidence that blacks in Muslim

Spain, in addition to being portrayed as servants and captives, were

also sometimes portrayed as important people, especially among the

military.

 

None of that adds up to a society dominated by blacks, or even close to

it. It all sounds like a society dominated by (Arab and Berber)

non-blacks, with a significant black minority including some important

people.

 

> Thanks to "Laz" who posted "Black History Month Facts" on the B-GLAAD

> Yahoo Group; a number of good quotes or links came from those postings.

 

If Laz is your source for what you wrote about the Roland, you may want

to reconsider the reliability of that particular source of information.

 

> There's quite a lot of detailed stuff on blacks in Muslim Spain at:

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/bglaad-college-world/message/2292

 

Yes--I found that today while doing a Google search. But I think if you

read it more carefully, you will find that it supports my view, not

yours. The author isn't arguing that blacks dominated the society,

either numerically or politically--merely that they were more important

than other writers (who saw them almost entirely as slaves or soldiers)

thought.

--

David/Cariadoc

http://www.best.com/~ddfr/Medieval/Medieval.html

 

 

From: quester at sjm.infi.net (Harold Groot)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Black Pirates?

Date: Mon, 21 May 2001 04:28:37 GMT

 

On 20 May 2001 08:33:11 -0500, raven at solaria.sol.net (Raven) wrote:

>I wonder in what dictionary you find that "'Blackamoor' means a black Moor",

>given that those I searched gave it as referring to any "black" person.

 

Grabbing the first dictionary to hand (Webster's New Collegiate) I

note both sides of the argument.

In the DERIVATION part it gives [irreg. fr. black + Moor]

In the DEFINITION part it gives "a dark-skinned person; ESP: NEGRO"

 

Goin to the shelves further away, my Random House Dictionary of the

English Language 2nd Edition Unabridged notes that it showed up in

1540-1550 as an unexplained variation of the phrase "black Moor".  

 

The CURRENT usage may be "any dark-skinned person", but the

dictionaries I checked seem in agreement as to where the phrase came

FROM.  If we are to discuss how it was used in period, surely this is

important.  If we are only concerned with how it is used today, the

derivation can be dismissed.

 

Do not your own dictionaries give the same derivation?  If there was

an existing phrase "black Moor", does this not imply a subset of the

larger set of all Moors?

 

 

From: michael heile <meh3587 at yahoo.com>

Date: October 30, 2005 10:30:04 PM CST

To: stefan at florilegium.org

Subject: Moors

 

This is a quote from your discussion about Moors, which used the Song of Roland to support the idea that Moors were black:  "And he is black, as black as melted pitch.  ...  Broad in the nose they are and flat in ear, Fifty thousand and more in his company.  When Roland sees that unbelieving race, those hordes and hordes blacker than the blackest ink-- no shred of white on them except their teeth."  ("The Song of Roland")

The quote is innaccurate and completely dishonest:

First, Marsalie is never described as a "Moorish King."  He is the ruler of Saragosa, a city comprised of Old-Iberians, Romans, Goths and Arabians.  His son is described as "fair" or "fair haired" and at one point it is said that he became "pale with anger."  There is absolutely no indication that Marsalie or any of his army are Negros.  

The quote above has been completely distorted and manipulated in order to support a spurious claim.  By omitting a key word, the author proves that he is well aware of his deception. This is what the passage from Roland actually says:

"Of what avail is it?  If Marsilie has fled, his uncle Marganice remains behind.  He it was who held Carthage...[?] and Ethiopia, an accursed land.  The black people are in his domain; they have big noses and wide ears and altogether there are more than 50,000 of

them."

As you can see, the passage is not making any sort of reference to Moors.  It is describing Ethiopians.  In fact, the passage could obviously be used to support the fact that the French, who are discussing the situation in which they find themselves, ie. a battle with the Spanish "Saracens" or Muslims, are not battling Negroes, or black Moors, even some Negroes.  If they were battling Negros, it would hardly be necessary to describe what they look like. But,the passage is describing the people from Ethiopia, a people with whom they are not familiar, a people who obviously look different from the people with whom they are currently engaged.

Refer to www.yorku.ca/inpar/roland_crosland.pdf   The section is 143.

Just one more point.  The poem is fiction.  There are some elements of truth to it, but it is very far from historically accurate.  White and black as symbols of good and evil are in evidence throughout the poem.  

 

<the end>



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