The Moor’s First Sight: An Arab Poet in a Ninth-Century Viking Court

  • Nizar F. Hermes
Part of the Postcolonialism and Religions book series (PCR)


Lauded by Andalusian historian Ibn Hayyan (d. 1076) as ḥakīm al-andalus (the sage of Muslim Spain), Muslim poet and diplomat Abu Zakariyya Yahya Ibn al-Hakam al-Bakri al-Jayyani (d. 864), known as al-Ghazal (the gazelle) for his physical beauty and intellectual nimbleness, traced his noble lineage to the powerful Arab tribe of Bakr ibn Wail.1 “Al-Ghazal,” Abdurahmane el-Hajji writes, “was a distinguished and shrewd personality famous for his sociable nature, gaiety, smartness, adroitness, and quickness of wit.”2 Given these qualities, al-Ghazal was, in the words of Judith Jesch, “a confidant” of five consecutive Umayyad emirs of Cordoba, two of whom dispatched him on important diplomatic missions outside dār al-Islām.3 The first of these missions was to Byzantium (Constantinople) in 840, and the second to the land of al-Majūs (very loosely, unbelievers; here, the Vikings) in 845.


Love Affair Grey Hair Physical Beauty Arabic Literature Courtly Love 
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© Anne R. Richards and Iraj Omidvar 2014

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  • Nizar F. Hermes

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