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Robert D. Young

Arab-born Egyptian poet and calligrapher of the Ayyubid period, was born 27/28 February 1186 in Mecca. He is also known as al-Bahaʾ Zuhayr. He moved to Qus, in upper Egypt, at a young age. Zuhayr’s later diwans (a Persian term meaning “collection of poems”) indicate some recollection of his time in Mecca; he likely moved to Qus when he became old enough to attend school. Qus was then a center of Islamic learning and culture. Zuhayr studied the Qurʾan and Islamic literature but was most enthused by poetry. Zuhayr made friends with another poet and quoted substantially from the “ancient” poets such as Imru al-Qays (c. 501–544), some of whom were pre-Islamic.

Despite a fascination with poetry Zuhayr also cultivated his position among the political elite He dedicated his first praise poem to the governor of Qus Zuhayr did not stop with the locals traveling to places such as Damascus ...

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Elena Bertoncini Zúbková

Swahili poet, scribe, calligrapher, woodcarver, performer, tailor, musician, and dance master, was born in Lamu on the northern coast of Kenya. Nicknamed Kijum(w)a, “little slave,” by his mother at his birth (hoping this nickname would be auspicious), his full name was Muhammad bin Abubekr bin Omar Kijumwa (also Muhamadi bin Abu Bakari, Mohamed Abubakar Kijumwa, and other possible transliterations from the Arabic script). He studied at the qurʾanic school, made the pilgrimage to Mecca three times, and became a renowned and versatile artist, who handed to his son Helewa the craft of carving the beautifully ornamented doors in Lamu. Among other skills, he made musical instruments and was a famous player of the kibangala a seven stringed lute He passed most of his life in Lamu but in the 1890s he worked as a scribe in the small protectorate of Witu inland from the Kenyan coast which was part ...