Monday, March 5, 2018

High Flying Adored
The Symbolism of Falconry at Medieval Muslim Courts
March 16, 2018
7:30 pm
CUNY Graduate Center
Room 4406
From the Umayyad period onwards, falconry flourished at Muslim courts. As part of the royal hunt, falconry involved a complex set of symbolisms. The royal hunter displayed his physical prowess and martial skills. He represented human domination within the natural world and thus his own within the social spheres of politics and religion. At medieval Muslim courts, however, falconry as a royal practice entailed more than hunting. It involved acquiring and owning a large number of rare birds and employing specialized staff for their training and care. It also involved patronage for science and literature concerned with falconry.
This presentation will offer a survey of symbolic dimensions of falconry at medieval Muslim courts, focusing on medieval Arabic technical manuals on falconry. These treatises typically contain chapters on the history of falconry composed of anecdotes featuring famous falconers in pre-Islamic and Islamic history. These episodes offer insights into the complex nature of the symbolism surrounding falconry such as the connections between rulership and hunting across Eurasia as well as into the human fascination with birds of prey and the possibility of training them to kill.
Anna Akasoy is Professor of Islamic intellectual history at Hunter College and the Graduate Center. She teaches classes on Islamic intellectual history and the history, literature and culture of the Islamic world. Her research interests include the intellectual history of the medieval Islamic world, in particular the relationship between mysticism and philosophy, as well as contacts between the Islamic world and other cultures. Her current research projects include a study of the religious dimension of Alexander the Great in the Islamic tradition within the larger context of the classical heritage of the Middle East and Asia. Her publications include Philosophie und Mystik in der späten Almohadenzeit. Die Sizilianischen Fragen des Ibn Sabʿīn(Leiden: Brill, 2006); Rashīd al-Dīn, Agent and Mediator of Cultural Exchanges in Ilkhanid Iran, Edited with Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (London: The Warburg Institute, 2013);Renaissance Averroism and its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe, Edited with Guido Giglioni (Dordrecht: Springer, 2013); Islam and Tibet. Interactions along the Musk Routes, Edited with Charles Burnett and Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim (Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), and many essays.

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