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Concubines and CourtesansWomen and Slavery in Islamic History$
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Matthew S. Gordon and Kathryn A. Hain

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190622183

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190622183.001.0001

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Concubines on the Road: Ibn Battuta’s Slave Women

Concubines on the Road: Ibn Battuta’s Slave Women

(p.163) 8 Concubines on the Road: Ibn Battuta’s Slave Women
Concubines and Courtesans

Marina A. Tolmacheva

Oxford University Press

The chapter considers the enslaved women belonging to Abu Abdallah Muhammad ibn Battuta (1304–1368 CE). Ibn Battuta was a serial slave owner, master of numerous concubines, and author of the renowned Book of Travels (Rihla) completed in 1357. It underscores the ubiquitous use of concubinage during the medieval Islamic period. Drawing on Ibn Battuta’s own observations, the discussion points to the hardships imposed on these women by Ibn Battuta’s relentless itinerary, pointing out that, unlike free women, the concubine’s slave status trumped all other aspects of her identity. She lacked the legal agency reserved for the male owner, although she could improve her lot by sexual and emotional manipulation, subterfuge, or by producing a child for her master.

Keywords:   concubinage, gender, Ibn Battuta, Islam, history, Mamluk Egypt, slavery, women

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