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(12,488 words)

Author(s): Ashtor, E. | İnalcık, Halil
, Ḳuṭun (A.), cotton. 1. In the mediaeval Arab and Persian lands. In the period of the Arab conquests cotton had already been propagated from India to eastern Persia and the neighbouring lands. It was cultivated everywhere and a flourishing industry produced cotton goods there. The Arab geographers, in describing the economy of these lands in the ʿAbbāsid period, speak especially of the production of cotton goods, but there is good reason to suppose that these factories used the cotton planted in their own regions. In modern Afg̲h̲ānistān, Kabul and Herat had cotton factories wh…

Makāyil (a.),

(6,350 words)

Author(s): Ashtor, E. | Burton-Page, J.
“measures of capacity” (sing. mikyal( a); var. makāyīl, sing. mikyāl), and Mawāzīn(a.) “weights” (sing. mīzān ). On the measures of length and surface area, see misāḥa . 1. In the Arabic, Persian and Turkishlands. In the history of Oriental metrology, the spread of ¶ Islam meant no abrupt break. Whereas Charlemagne imposed in his empire a uniform system of weights and measures and introduced a much heavier pound than the Roman libra of 327.45 g, neither Muḥammad nor ʿUmar made such a reform; and as later rulers could not claim canonical …


(473 words)

Author(s): Ashtor, E.
, Arabic word denoting both flax and linen. The Arabs already knew and esteemed linen fabrics in pre-Islamic times. In this early period these were usually called ḳubāṭī , i.e. Coptic stuff, since they were imported from Egypt. Until the later Middle Ages Egypt remained famous for its flax and its linen fabrics. The Geniza documents, which mainly date from the 5th/11th century, contain copious documentation on the flax trade. From these documents it appears that flax was mainly grown in Upper Egypt. Th…


(648 words)

Author(s): Ashtor, E.
, the clove. According to the Arabic dictionaries, varying names were given to this plant, including ḳarnful and ḳarnfūl , whilst popular pronunciations included ḳuranful and ḳuranfil . It seems that before the end of the Middle Ages the clove had not yet spread beyond the Moluccas, and since the Muslims who sailed towards China left these islands on their right hand, the old Arab writers could not pin down the origin of the clove. Ibn K̲h̲urradād̲h̲bih thought that it came from “Salāhiṭ”, but he also mentions the island of Waḳwāḳ [ q.v.]; Salāhiṭ was probably the southern part of the …

Baybars al-Manṣūrī

(621 words)

Author(s): Ashtor, E.
This Mamlūk general and historian began his career as a slave of al-Malik al-Manṣūr Ḳalāʾūn (thence his by-name “al-Manṣūrī”). In the retinue of Ḳalāʾūn Baybars participated in 663/1265 in the campaign of Sulṭān Baybars I against the Syrian Franks, in 664/1266 in campaigns in Syria and Cilicia, in 666/1268 in the siege of Antioch and in 673/1275 in another campaign in Cilicia. Kalāʾūn, who had become sultan of Egypt and Syria, appointed Baybars governor of the province of al-Karak in 685/1286. H…


(33,280 words)

Author(s): Ashtor, E. | Hassan, A.Y. al- | Hill, D.R. | Murphey, R. | Baer, Eva
(a.), "mine, ore, mineral, metal". In modern Arabic, the word mand̲j̲am denotes "mine", while muʿaddin means "miner" and d̲j̲amād is a mineral. In the vast Islamic empire, minerals played an important part. There was a great need for gold, silver and copper for the minting of coins and other uses. Iron ore was indispensable for the manufacture ¶ of iron and steel for arms and implements. Other minerals such as mercury, salt and alum, as well as pearls and precious stones, were necessary for everyday life. The empire was richly endowed with the various…

Ḳāʾit Bāy

(1,406 words)

Author(s): Sobernheim, M. | Ashtor, E.
, al-Malik al-As̲h̲raf Abu ’l-Naṣr Sayf al-dīn al-Maḥmūdī al-Ẓāhirī , sultan of Egypt and Syria (872/1468-901/1496), was purchased by Barsbāy [ q.v.], manumitted by Sultan Ḏj̲aḳmaḳ, became a life-guard, then Dawādār Ṣag̲h̲īr , i.e., assistant dawādār in the office of the Grand Dawādār [see dawādār ], then amīr of 10 Mamlūks under Īnāl [ q.v.], Ṭablak̲h̲āna ( i.e., amīr with the right to have a band accompanying him), under Sultan K̲h̲us̲h̲ḳadam [ q.v.], inspector of houses of refreshment and shortly afterwards commander of a thousand ( Muḳaddam Alf ). In 872/1467-8 he became Raʾs nawbat…


(985 words)

Author(s): Ashtor, E.
, the name for wheat in Syria and in Egypt; in ʿIrāḳ wheat is called ḥinṭa and in Arabia it was called d̲h̲urr . These different words are also used in the literary Arabic of the western and eastern provinces of the Muslim empire. Wheat was the main grain crop in the Near East from the beginning of the Muslim period (and much earlier), while in Europe in the Middle Ages even the upper classes ate bread made from barley and rye. The predominance of wheat among cereals distinguished Muslim countries from the Far East also, as Chinese travellers observed. Muslim physicians recommended abstention …