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Title: The Qiyan in the early Abbasid period
Author: Caswell, Fuad Matthew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2006
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The thesis deals with the legal status of the qiȳan as slaves in Islam; describes their nationalities, education and training as singers, instrumentalists and versifiers. It considers their place in the cultural life of the host society. A substantial part of their poetry with particular attention to some of the leading figures is reproduced in translation. A review of that poetry is included, showing the bulk of it to consist of clever epigrams exchanged in public or semi-public maj̄alis, bearing the hallmark of virtuosity and social jousting or party games. Another theme is that the introduction of the qiȳan into the Abbasid cultural life led to the development of elegiac-erotic poetry. A parallel review of the musical scene, with special reference to some leading exponents, shows the influence of the qiȳan in the development of new “popular”, unconventional styles of singing. The institution of the qiȳan in all its artistic manifestations is viewed as essentially a business catering for men in pursuit of pleasure: caliphs, aristocrats and, most commonly, the class of cultured well-to-do chancery scribes. The bulk of the poetry which the established men poets composed in praise of the qiȳan is seen as publicity material, and substantially produced to commission. The effect of the qiȳan on the free-born women of their age, as well as historically, is considered; and some comparison is drawn between them as poets and singers. By way of further comparison the geisha and the hetaira of Ancient Greece are alluded to. A chapter is devoted to the decline and fall of the qiȳan institution in the East and its partial transfer to Arab Spain.
Supervisor: van Gelder, Ian Gert Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Middle Eastern art ; Middle Eastern Languages ; classical arabic ; oriental ; middle eastern ; slavery