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

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

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Cotton Cloth Senior Officer Charitable Trust Chief Minister Provincial Governor 
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Notes

  1. 53.
    On the tradition of slave succession in the Mamluk sultanate, see David Ayalon, “Aspects of the Mamlūk Phenomenon: A. The Importance of the Mamlūk Institution; B. Ayyūbids, Kurds and Turks,” Der Islam 53 (1976): 196–225; 55 (1977): 1–32; Ulrich Haarmann, “Miṣr, 5: The Mamlūk Period,” Endydopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed. (Leiden, E. J. Brill, ongoing) 8: 165–67; R. Stephen Humphreys, “The Emergence of the Mamlūk Army,” Studia Islamica 45 (1977): 67–100; 46 (1977): 147–82; idem., “Mamlūk Dynasty,” Dictionary of the Middle Ages, ed. Joseph R. Strayer (New York: Scribners, 1987) 8: 73–74; Robert Irwin, The Middle East in the Middle Ages: The Early Mamlūk Sultanate, 1250–1382 (London: Croom Helm, 1986).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 54.
    On the establishment of the ’Abbāsid Caliph in Cairo, see P. M. Holt, “Some Observations on the ’Abbāsid Caliphate in Cairo,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 47 (1984): 501–507; Peter Thorau, The Lion of Egypt: Sultan Baybars I and the Near East in the Thirteenth Century (London: Longman, 1987): 110–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 65.
    al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ al-A’shā, fī, ī, inā,’at al-Inshā,ʼ (Dawn for the Benighted Regarding the Craft of Diplomatic) ed. Muḥammad ’Abd al-Rasūl Ibrāhīm (Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Khidiwiyya, 1913–20) 4: 7.Google Scholar
  4. 78.
    For the office of the supervisor of the sultan’s privy bureau (nāzir al-khāṣṣ), see William Popper, Egypt and Syria under the Circassian Sultans, 1382–1468 A.D.: Systematic Notes to Ibn Taghri Birdi’s Chronicles of Egypt; University of California Publications in Semitic Philology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1955) 15:97.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Stewart Gordon 2001

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  • Carl F. Petry

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