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5 The Architectural Patronage of the Fāṭimid Queen-Mother Durzān (d. 385/995): An Interdisciplinary Analysis of Literary Sources, Material Evidence and Historical Context

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Chapter Summary

The mother of al-ʿAzīz, the fifth Fāṭimid imām-caliph, is described by contemporary writers as an Arab slave named Durzān. Durzān's legacy, is not that of a singer, but is primarily that of an architectural patroness. She was the first of a number of high-ranking women during the Fāṭimid era whose architectural patronage, recorded mainly by literary sources but also preserved in a select few material ones, serves varied dynastic purposes - genealogical, political and economic. This chapter focuses on the significance and meanings of the literary and material evidence as they relate to the buildings of Durzān. Two buildings in particular are discussed, those most sources regard as having been the first and the last she commissioned. The first is the pavilion known as Manāzil al-ʿIzz. The second is a slab discovered in the vicinity of Fusṭāṭ, in an area called Isṭabl ʿAntar.

Keywords: Durzān; Fāṭimid imām-caliph; Fusṭāṭ; Manāzil al-ʿIzz; mother of al-ʿAzīz



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