Robing Ceremonials in Late Mamluk Egypt: Hallowed Traditions, Shifting Protocols

  • Carl F. Petry
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The final decades of the Mamluk Sultanate based in Cairo witnessed the assiduous maintenance of court-sponsored ceremonials in which robing figured ubiquitously. The impression of imperial continuity these ceremonials aimed to project was in fact something of a facade masking shifts in concepts of prestige on the part of the Mamluk ruling oligarchy. The following essay seeks to indicate the circumstances of robe granting while discerning such shifts as revealed by alterations in its rituals. The study is derived from hundreds of references to robing ceremonials by four prominent chronicles of the late Mamluk period.1 These references often provided detailed descriptions of robe granting that disclosed protocols of bestowal, gradations of fineness, types of fabric or fur, ranges of colors, and styles of weaves evolving from centuries of precedent. Since the Mamluk Sultanate drew its ceremonial traditions from cultures in northwestern Africa, southwest Asia, and the Mediterranean, the precedents inspiring the multiplicity of robes were profuse.


Cotton Cloth Senior Officer Charitable Trust Chief Minister Provincial Governor 
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© Stewart Gordon 2001

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  • Carl F. Petry

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