June 30, 2011

Ziryab & Muwashshah

if you eat asparagus, or if you start your meal with soup and end with dessert, or if you use toothpaste, you owe a lot to one of the greatest musicians in history. He was known as Ziryab, a colloquial Arabic term that translates as “blackbird.”He was a freed slave who made good, charming the royal court at Córdoba with his songs. He founded a music school whose fame survived more than 500 years after his death. Ibn Hayyan of Córdoba, one of Arab Spain’s greatest historians, says in his monumental Al-Muqtabas (The Citation) that Ziryab knew thousands of songs by heart and revolutionized the design of the musical instrument that became the lute. He spread a new musical style around the Mediterranean, influencing troubadours and minstrels and affecting the course of European music.


some more to read from wiki:

Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi(c. 789–857), nicknamed Ziryab was a poet, musician, singer, cosmetologist,
fashion designer, trendsetter, strategist, astronomer, botanist and geographer.
He was active at the Umayyad court of Córdoba in Islamic Iberia.
He first achieved notoriety at the Abbasid court in Baghdad, Iraq, his birth place,
as a performer and student of the great musician and composer, Ishaq al-Mawsili.
According to many early historians, he was African or a racially mixed African-Arab;
in this period, the Muslims brought African slaves with them to the lands they had conquered,
and many of these slaves were known for their musical skills.
Ziryab was most likely born in Baghdad, and was trained in the art of music from a young age.
During that time, Baghdad was the center of music in the Muslim world.
According to many sources the accomplished and talented musician Ishaq al-Mawsili was Ziryab’s teacher.
The debate continues about how he arrived in al-Andalus, but it is clear he offended his patron
or some powerful figure with his musical talent.
Ziryab left Baghdad During the reign of Harun al-Rashid in the year 820.
He then traveled first to Damascus then to Ifriqiyya (Tunisia),
where he lived at the Aghlabid court of Ziyadat Allah (ruled 816-837).
Ziryab fell out with Ziyadat Allah but was invited to Al-Andalus by the Umayyad prince, Al-Hakam I.
He found on arrival in 822 that the prince had died,
but the prince's son, Abd ar-Rahman II, renewed his father's invitation.
Ziryab settled in Córdoba he was honored a monthly salary of 200 Gold Dinars,
he soon became even more celebrated as the court's aficionado of food, fashion, singing and music.
He introduced standards of excellence in all these fields as well as setting new norms for elegant and noble manners.

Ziryab was well known for his Olive skin color, thick Black hair, he was tall, slim.
His style was amazing, his voice defining he envisioned a bright future for all people.
Al-Maqqari further states in his Nafh al-Tib (Fragrant Breeze):
“There never was, either before or after him (Ziryab), a man of his profession
who was more generally beloved and admired”.

and finally Hamza el Din's  "Muwashshah" that is his tribute to Ziryab,"the African slave who escaped from the court of Bagdad to become one of Arabic music's most important composers"




  1. thank you! can't wait to hear this!

  2. I have never eaten asparagus,and i don't start my meal with soup and end with dessert,as for toothpastes that are full of chemicals,hhhhm,I prefer to avoid them and use natural ways
    but I always liked personal stories that have become with time and distance bigger than life myths.

  3. @nauma
    Ziryab brought to Cordoba the refinement of the East, it seems that stretched forth from here to all the west(al-Maghreb),he arrived with not only new ways of understanding the music but the whole art of living, personal care, clothing and all the art of cooking and presentation.

    We have a Syrian culinary journalist that adopted the nickname of Ziryab, in his book,
    La cuisine Ziryab,
    Farouk gives us an art that begins from the moment of collecting the fruits of the earth, enlivened with practice or historical curiosities to reach at the exquisite recipes of Arab cuisine, from the simplest to the most sophisticated, all accompanied by drawings and exquisite care presentation.

    Both the French edition and Spanish, can be the best way to start testing the asparagus.