Rasulids


There is a wealth of video documentation of Yemen’s historical sites. One of these sites is the fortress of Habb in Ba‘dan, with a spectacular view of the surrounding area. For a video visit by Ali Dawud, click here.


حصن التعكر في محافظة إب .. من اشهر القلاع الحربيه في التاريخ اليمني القديم

صحافة نت 26 نوفمبر 2013

استطلاع / محمد مزاحم / جبل التعكر من أشهر الحصون والقلاع الحربية في التاريخ اليمني القديم لا سيما في عهد الدولة الصليحية.. عندما تفكر بالذهاب إليه.. لمعرفة تلك الأسرار التي تحدث عنها المؤرخون، فإن ذلك يتطلب منك المرور على مدينة جبلة التي تقع شمال شرق التعكر، والتي ارتبط اسمها باسم الملكة أروى بنت أحمد الصليحي وقد جعلت من جبلة العاصمة السياسية لدولتها ومن جبل التعكر منتجعاً سياحياً لها خاصة في موسم الأمطار والإخضرار..

عندما تصل إلى حصن أو جبل التعكر “كما يحب تسميته المؤرخون” فأنك لن تنسى فيما بعد هذا المكان فالحصن لا تجد شبراً من الأرض التي حوله إلا يسيطر عليها الإخضرار..

إضافة إلى أن موقع الحصن الذي يرتفع حوالي “3000” متر فوق سطح البحر يجعلك تسبح في ملكوت الله حيث تستطيع وأنت في قمته أن تمد نظرك إلى أبعد ما يمكن أن يتصوره المرء حيث يطل الجبل من الناحية الجنوبية الغربية على مدينة ذي السفال وأجزاء من السياني ومن ناحية الشمال يمكن مشاهدة مدينة جبلة والوقش وسائلة جبلة ومفرق جبلة أما من الجهة الجنوبية الشرقية فيمكن مشاهدة مدينة السياني وعندما تطل من أعالي جبل “التعكر” فأنك حينها ستشعر وكأنك طائر يطير بجناحيه في السماء، وتزيد لديك أحاسيس الفرح والسعادة عندما تنقل نظرك من جهة إلى أخرى لتشاهد الفضاء الواسع الأفق الرحب، والمناطق الجميلة دائمة الاخضرار والتي يتجه المزارعون لزراعتها ورعايتها ومن ثم حصادها.

وأنت في أعلى قمة جبل التعكر وتحديداً في وسط الحصن المتهالك حالياً فإنك سترى جبل صبر الذي يأتي إليك بكل ما احتوى من عظمة وجمال وتعرجات ليقول لك ها أنا المنافس الحتمي لجبل التعكر، فتدرك عندها أنك بين عظيمين ولا مقارنة بينهما.
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Rasulid polo players, ca. 1260-1270; Museum für Islamische Kunst, Berlin

This week I am participating in a conference in Vienna and will deliver a paper on Rasulid bureaucracy. Details on the conference are noted below. Anyone in or near Vienna is welcome to attend.

3rd International Conference of the Research Network Imperium & Officium: Land and Power in the Ancient and Post-Ancient World, University of Vienna, 20–22 February 2013

In addressing the theme of ‘Land and Power’ we wish to examine the power base of office-holding élites in pre-modern societies. As a tool of analysis we frame our questions in Weberian terms, distinguishing between exercise of power in a bureaucratic mode (ex officio) and power based on economic wealth and privilege in a patrimonial setting, with office being conferred as a consequence. Our focus will be on the interplay between economic power and bureaucratic rationality. In most pre-industrial societies, power and wealth was based on landownership and the control of food production: landownership as the basis of power of an office-holding élite is a recurring phenomenon in ancient states. We also seek to question whether such élites (especially in the periphery) were a force for cohesion or disruption from the point of view of the state, and to investigate the means by which the state sought to integrate and control office-holding élites, e.g. by the use of parallel and/or overlapping chains of command, or by co-optation through court offices and privileges.

Programme (provisional)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

9–9.30 a.m. Welcome address by Jursa, Michael and Palme, Bernhard (Vienna)

Section 1: Elite Formation

Chair: Jursa, Michael

9.30–10 a.m. Garfinkle, Steven J. (Washington): Landownership and Office-Holding: Pathways to Privilege and Authority under the Third Dynasty of Ur

10–10.30 a.m. Kaiser, Anna (Vienna): Flavius Athanasius, dux et Augustalis Thebaidis

10.30–11 a.m. coffee break

11–11.30 a.m. Scheuble-Reiter, Sandra (Chemnitz): Military Service and the Allotment of Land in Ptolemaic Egypt

11.30–12 a.m. Paulus, Susanne (Münster): The System of Landownership in the Middle Babylonian Time (1500–1000 BC) (more…)


signature of the Rasulid king al-Malik al-Afdal

I have recently published a biographical portrait of a Rasulid king who ruled Yemen in the mid 14th century. This is al-Malik al-Afdal al-‘Abbas, who penned a few manuscripts, including a major treatise on agriculture. To read this biography, go to filaha.org.


Mosque in Jiblah, Yemen

There was a time when books were hard to come by. Either they cost too much or were inaccessible in a private or exclusive university library. Whatever else the world wide web has done (and that is a mouthful), it now functions as an archive. More and more, the rare and out-of-print books I used to be forced to read in a library reading room are becoming available online. Mr. Gutenberg might roll over in his Grab at the very thought of a pdf file, but print has taken a new and universal turn. I especially enjoy the “flipbook”, which simulates turning the pages of images of the original. For an enjoyable read on the early history of Yemen, there is the flipbook version of Henry Cassels Kay’s translation called YAMAN, ITS EARLY MEDIAEVAL HISTORY, published in London in 1892. This has excerpts (not always trustworthy in their translation) from Umarah ibn Ali al-Hakami (1120/21-1174), Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406); Muhammad ibn Yaqub al-Janadi (d. 1332?).

The sad thing is that well over a century ago, Kay lamented that there was virtually nothing available on the history of Yemen, which had become of strategic interest to the British empire. (more…)


Tax document of al-Malik al-Afḍal, mid 14th century CE

By Daniel Martin Varisco

[In 2003 I attended a conference in Rome and gave a paper which was eventually published in Convegno Storia e Cultura dello Yemen in età Islamica, con particolare riferimento al periodo Rasûlide (Roma 30-31 ottobre 2003 (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Fondazione Leone Caetani, 27, pp. 161-174, 2006). As this publication is virtually inaccessible, I am reprinting the paper here (with page numbers to the original indicted in brackets). For the previous part of this article, click here. The references are provided at the end of the first entry.]

ARCHIVING AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS

Al-Ashraf’s Milh al-malāḥa provides a textbook survey of the mechanics of the agricultural system, but there is nothing on production costs, yields or the marketing system. Fortunately, some microeconomic details can now be filled in with information from the Muẓaffar archive, compiled from field reports sent to the Rasulid court between 691-95/1292-96 at the very end of al-Muẓaffar’s reign. Particularly valuable is a survey made in Ramadan 692/1293 from the lands of a shaykh Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm al-Ḥawm (?) of Ta‘izz and shaykh Rashīd al-Dīn Manṣūr ibn Ḥasan in Mikhlāf Ja‘far, as well as some data from ‘Abadān. (26) Details are provided on fees and shares for ploughing and virtually every agricultural activity with special emphasis on the obligations in sharecropping agreements and regional differences.

For the Ta‘izz case, the grain yields of sown sorghum are said to be up to 400 fold (i.e. one zabadī of seed will yield a crop of 400 zabadī) on good land, 150 fold on middle-range land and only 90-100 fold on poor land. Sorghum is also important in Yemen for its stalk (‘ajūr), used as fodder and fuel. The stalk yield for the sowing on good or medium land will be three camel (?) loads, but reaches five loads on land of poor quality; the reason given for this is that such sorghum is grown mainly for its stalk value. [p. 171]

For wheat in Ta‘izz, the increase is 15 fold on good land, 10 fold on medium land and only 3 fold on poor land. Emmer wheat (‘alas), on the other hand, yields 10 fold on good land, 4 fold on medium land and 2 fold on poor soil. Barley is said to yield 10 to 1; this is sown only in the mountain areas and not usually on the best land. Information is also provided on the straw (tibn) yields. (more…)


below Manakha towards the Tihama

By Daniel Martin Varisco

[In 2003 I attended a conference in Rome and gave a paper which was eventually published in Convegno Storia e Cultura dello Yemen in età Islamica, con particolare riferimento al periodo Rasûlide (Roma 30-31 ottobre 2003 (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Fondazione Leone Caetani, 27, pp. 161-174, 2006). As this publication is virtually inaccessible, I am reprinting the paper here (with page numbers to the original indicted in brackets). For the previous part of this article, click here. The references are provided at the end of the first entry.]

PLANTING ADVICE: OF FAVA BEANS AND DATE PALMS

The bulk of al-Ashraf’s text provides details on how to plant and where to plant, as well as when to plant. While some of the information is clearly theoretical, as in the case of planting olive trees, much of it no doubt reflects farmer practices at the time in the coastal region and southern highlands, [p. 168] where al-Ashraf spent most of his time. To give an indication of the range of the advice, I will focus on two specific and important crops: the fava bean and the date palm.

Al-Ashraf follows the classical designation of bāqillā’, which is often shortened to gilla in Yemeni dialects. It would, if you pardon the pun, be foolish of me to lecture this audience on the significance of fava beans (most known today as fūl) in the diet. I will read a translation of the entire passage in the text, followed by comments from my own ethnographic observations. (16)

“Fava beans are planted in cool places of the mountain areas. They are not suitable for the coastal plain [nor the wadis in the cold mountain areas] nor very wild places. The best agricultural fields are in the excellent eastern land on which a lot of dew does not fall, (17) as well as in the good soil (18) which is fertilized by dung. It is ploughed for with an excellent ploughing. Most of it is planted between the sorghum plants in Nīsān (i.e., April). The beans can be eaten after three months from the day planted. It finishes producing and is harvested after seven months. There is also that which is planted as qiyāẓ at the end of Aylūl (i.e., September) in the midst of the sorghum plants. This can be eaten after four months. It finishes producing and, if it has yellowed and dried, is harvested after seven months. As for the manner of its cultivation, the seed is cast in the bottom of the furrow with a footstep between each two grains, (19) then covered with soil and packed down by foot. When the sorghum is harvested, irrigate whatever it needs of water after this in the same way as for the sorghum stalk, even for that which is meager, until its time finishes, as God wills.” (more…)


highland sorghum

[In 2003 I attended a conference in Rome and gave a paper which was eventually published in Convegno Storia e Cultura dello Yemen in età Islamica, con particolare riferimento al periodo Rasûlide (Roma 30-31 ottobre 2003 (Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Fondazione Leone Caetani, 27, pp. 161-174, 2006). As this publication is virtually inaccessible, I am reprinting the paper here (with page numbers to the original indicted in brackets). For the previous part of this article, click here. The references are provided at the end of the first entry.]

IDENTIFYING THE MAJOR CROPS

Although al-Ashraf claims to have learned from the farmers themselves, his overall classification of crops and plants suggests that he is fitting that knowledge into a shared textual tradition of scientific agronomy at the time. Al-Ashraf inventories Yemeni production according to five main categories: zurū‘, qaṭānī or ḥubūb, al-ashjār al-muthmira, rayāḥīn, and khaḍrāwāt and buqūlāt. By zurū‘ (the plural of zar‘) al-Ashraf means the cereal crops of wheat, barley, sorghum, rice, two kinds of millet, eleusine (or finger millet) and teff, as well as sesame, cotton, lucerne, madder and turmeric. This goes beyond the English sense of cereal grains to cover the non-food crops of cotton and madder, both of which are reclassified as al-ashjār al-muthmira (flowering trees) in the later Bughyat. In classical Arabic terms, at least according to Abū Ḥanīfa, sesame is classified as qaṭānī. (12)

The second major kind of crop is labeled qaṭānī, which the author glosses as ḥubūb. This includes what we would today call pulses and various kinds of beans, such as chick peas, lentils, cowpeas, fava beans, endive, fenugreek, water cress, mustard, safflower, poppy, flax and black cumin. The term qaṭānī, according to Abū Ḥanīfa, is originally Syrian and refers to crops such [p. 167] as rice, chickpeas, lentils, sesame and most beans. (13) The term ḥubūb (plural of ḥabb) may refer to wheat, barley and the like, but has also been widely used in the agricultural texts for seed plants of various kinds. (14)

The third category, al-ashjār al-muthmira, literally refers to flowering trees and plants. (15) In order of presentation, al-Ashraf includes here dates, grapes, figs, pomegranates, apples, plums, pears, peaches, apricots, mulberry trees, olives, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, betel nuts, carob, bananas, sugar cane, citrons, oranges, lemons, lebbek, christ’s thorn and Indian laburnum. The reference to olives is clearly textual, since this tree was not planted in Yemen; nor do I think betel would have been tried outside the royal gardens. The fourth category comprises rayāḥīn or aromatic plants and ornamental flowers. Of the nineteen specific plants mentioned, most are flowers (such as rose and jasmine), but the list also includes useful herbs such as basil, chamomile and the important dye of henna.

The final part of al-Ashraf’s classification refers to khaḍrāwāt and buqūlāt. This covers a variety of green and root vegetables such as lettuce, cucumbers, eggplant, carrots, cabbage, garlic, onions, radish, endive, mallow, colocasia, chard, spinach, purselane, celery, okra and asparagus. Among the ground “fruits” included here are melons and gourds, although grapes are considered flowering trees. Also included are several spices, such as ginger, mint, parsley, coriander, dill and cumin, as well as “medicants,” such as balsam, rue, fennel and Indian hemp.

FOOTNOTES:

(12) Ibn Sīda, al-Mukhaṣṣaṣ, Beirut, 1965, v. 11, p. 62.
(13) Ibid, v. 11, p. 62. In Kitāb al-Filāḥa al-Rūmiya (Leiden, Or. 414, f. 40) qaṭānī is defined as summer crops like rice which need the heat and water.
(14) Ibn Sīda, al-Mukhaṣṣaṣ, cit., v. 11, p. 49. For example, Ibn Waḥshiya, v. 1, p. 492 includes fava bean in the category of ḥubūb used for food.
(15) This term is used by Ibn Waḥshiya, v. 1, p. 367.

to be continued

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