Outside the Palace Walls: Daily Life

Delia Cortese and Simonetta Calderini

in Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780748617326
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671366 | DOI:
Outside the Palace Walls: Daily Life

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For almost a century following the foundation of Cairo, Egypt enjoyed a period of economic prosperity that, coupled with political and administrative stability, contributed, notwithstanding a broader demographic decline that had affected Egypt and Syria since the eighth century, to a relative growth in urban population. The famous Fatimid physician Ibn Ridwan provides us with a vivid description of eleventh-century living conditions amongst the people inhabiting the main sections of the Fatimid capital: Fustat, al-Qarafa and Cairo. This chapter explores daily life outside the palace walls during the Fatimid dynasty. It first looks at sects and religious diversity in the Fatimid capital and its environs and then discusses houses and housekeeping, women's restrictions under the imam-caliph al-Hakim, and free and slave women. It also focuses on women's education and educated women, women's legal rights, marriage and divorce, inheritance, crime and punishment, feminine hygiene and sexuality in legal theory and medical practice, contraception, and purity laws and personal hygiene.

Keywords: daily life; Fatimid dynasty; sects; religious diversity; houses; slave women; education; hygiene; sexuality; legal rights

Chapter.  22930 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Islam

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