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Sean Stillwell

The term eunuchs denotes males who were emasculated and thus rendered incapable of sexual relations. Eunuchs were widely used and were valued slaves—primarily because they could be used to guard and supervise women in the harems of sovereigns and rulers—in many diverse regions of the world, ranging from Ming Dynasty China to Ottoman Turkey. Their most frequent function was to ensure that women remained the exclusive sexual property of their masters. Although the word eunuch in its original Greek sense meant “bed guard,” they were also used as soldiers, personal retainers, administrators, and entertainers. Thus eunuchs were used beyond the harem, and many undertook important political duties well beyond their role as harem-guardians.

Eunuchs were made from young usually prepubescent boys After being captured or sold into slavery these boys were transformed into eunuchs by undergoing a dangerous operation often performed by experienced surgeons Despite the reputed skill of many ...



Osire Glacier

a princess of the Almoravid dynasty who dressed as a man and fought the Almohads during the conquest of Marrakech in 1147, was the daughter of Umar Ben Yintan. Very little is known about the life of Princess Fannu. What little information there is deals primarily with the nature of her death. An examination of the culture and politics of the region during this time provides further information and clarification on the nature of her life and death.

Fannu lived in the Almoravid palace during the first half of the twelfth century a period when the Almoravid Empire was in decline Considering that women played an important role in Almoravid society in general and within the royal palace in particular it is entirely possible that Fannu was visible and influential in the royal court The Almoravid dynasty s founder Yusuf ibn Tashfin and his wife Zaynab Nafzawiyya governed alongside ...


Gender and Slavery  

Ruth Mazo Karras

Although there were many commonalities in the experiences of all slaves, there were also important lines of division among slaves. One of these divisions was gender. In any given society men and women, both enslaved and enslaving, experienced slavery differently. The experience of men and women slaves differed both for biological reasons related to their sexual and reproductive use, and for sociocultural reasons related to gender divisions of labor.

In many societies slaves have been predominantly or stereotypically female In part this is because war was an important source of slaves and men were often killed rather than captured Women captives of various social groups were part of the booty of war Elite women for example might become wives or concubines the distinction was not made in many legal kinship and linguistic systems although they never gained the status of a wife married by agreement with her male relatives In ...


Kafur, Abu al-Misk  

Allen J. Fromherz

was one of the most renowned and powerful eunuchs in Islamic history At the height of his powers he ruled over not only Egypt and the Hijaz in present day Saudi Arabia but also Syria Public prayers were offered up for him in the mosques of Mecca Cairo and Damascus Called al Labi by the poet al Muttanabi Abu al Misk Kafur Musky Camphor was probably from the province of Lab in Nubia south of Egypt According to the biographical dictionary of Ibn Khallikan he had a deep black color He was purchased for eighteen pieces of gold by Muhammad ibn Tughj al Ikhshid the Turkish founder of the Ikhshidid dynasty and ruler of the province of Egypt under the Abbasids Kafur quickly proved his military prowess rising quickly through the ranks of the Ikhshidid military apparatus He was a leader in the Ikhshidid military campaigns in Syria in 945 ...



Robert Fay

Nefertiti was one of the most powerful women in the history of Egypt. Scholars generally believe that she exercised priestly powers previously reserved for the pharaoh alone. However, our knowledge of Nefertiti comes almost exclusively from the archaeological record, which allows few firm conclusions and leaves much room for speculation. Nefertiti’s origins are uncertain, although many believe she was a princess from the Middle East. She was the chief wife of the pharaoh Akhenaton, who reigned 1353–1335b.c.e Akhenaton s rule is famous because of the religious reforms that he and Nefertiti instituted Some scholars believe that Nefertiti was primarily responsible for these reforms The royal couple established monotheism in Egypt by abandoning the Egyptian pantheon and instituting the worship of the sun god Aton and requiring all Egyptian people to do the same By all accounts Nefertiti believed devoutly in Aton and some scholars believe that her devotion ...