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Classic ships

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Chapter Summary

There are intriguing references to ships and seafaring in early Islamic poetry and the Quran, and although set in a poetic context, they are obviously coming from contemporary experience. This chapter focuses on the types of ships: how familiar were the poets with the watercraft they mention? What can early Islamic sources tell us of their size and function? Our sources, Early Islamic poetry and the Quran, both testify to the existence of craft at the time they were recorded but it is also possible to speculate that they had been around centuries earlier. The ship and the sea appear in pre-Islamic and early Islamic poetry in a set of striking images: camel-ship similes: litter-bearing camels and sails; palm-trees and ships; waves and sand dunes and the movement of ships on the sea.

Keywords: classic ships; Islamic poetry; Qurʾān



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