By Jane Hathaway

This revisionist examine reevaluates the origins and beginning myths of the Faqaris and Qasimis, rival factions that divided Egyptian society in the course of the 17th and eighteenth centuries, whilst Egypt was once the most important province within the Ottoman Empire. In solution to the long-lasting secret surrounding the factions’ origins, Jane Hathaway locations their emergence in the generalized hindrance that the Ottoman Empire—like a lot of the remainder of the world—suffered through the early sleek interval, whereas uncovering a symbiosis among Ottoman Egypt and Yemen that was once severe to their formation. furthermore, she scrutinizes the factions’ beginning myths, deconstructing their tropes and emblems to bare their connections to a lot older renowned narratives. Drawing on parallels from a big selection of cultures, she demonstrates with impressive originality how rituals similar to storytelling and public processions, in addition to opting for shades and symbols, may well serve to augment factional identification.

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Extra resources for A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen

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Competing Symbols Second only to color as a marker of factional identity is the identifying symbol, which can take the form of an emblem depicted on a banner or a coat of arms. 58 The Faqaris’ and Qasimis’ competing symbols were the so-called knob and disk that they carried as standards on the ends of their spears. In chapter 6, I will demonstrate that the knob and the disk were, in fact, the Ottoman tu¶, typically a knob from which horsetails are suspended, and the ˜alem of the Mamluk sultanate, typically a spade-shaped metal plate, often with inscriptions worked into the metal.

Consequently, we Introduction 17 find in certain traditions bits of incompletely transmitted Islamic lore, regional folk mythology, and perhaps a dash of imperfectly understood Ottoman history, all mingled in a single story or character. All these ingredients together formed the collective memory of the military-administrative class, and it was through the agency of this collective memory that traditions of the factions and their origins were transmitted down through the generations. Structure and Sources of this Book In sum, this book is an attempt to understand how the Faqari and Qasimi factions worked within the political culture of Ottoman Egypt.

4 1 Bilateral Factionalism in Ottoman Egypt What makes a faction more than a group, a sect, or a household? In the case of the Faqaris and Qasimis, to say nothing of competing pairs of factions in numerous earlier, later, and contemporaneous societies, the defining characteristics of these factions were that there were only two of them; they opposed each other; and they divided most, if not all, of society between them. Accordingly, their identifying markers— names, colors, symbols—and the rituals in which they participated took on this same bilateral character: they were diametrically opposed, offered clear alternatives to each other, or were glaringly incompatible.

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