“And Meat of Birds that They May Desire”

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Author: Heba Saad Abdelnaby

Professor of Islamic Archaeology Alexandria University


The military upbringing of the Mamluks included physical and mental preparation in addition to military training; therefore, good nutrition was an essential element in the developmental process. The Mamluks, who later became sultans and amīrs, were always keen to maintain a balanced diet that was mostly lavish due to their wealth and opulent lifestyle. Birds were an indispensable component of the Mamluk diet and were eaten in large quantities at most of the plushy events and festivals. Unlike other kinds of meat, birds were also available for other social classes in different context. In order to show the importance of birds as an essential component of the diet during the Mamluk period, I will discuss how they were consumed by the various classes and also their importance for the upper class of the society in particular.

Preparing and Serving Food for the Sultan and His Entourage

The Mamluk sultan, who inhabited the Citadel with his family and entourage, was served by many professional court-men and his needs were provided through several sultanic houses or al-buyūt al-sulṭāniyya.1 Due to the accurate organization of the Mamluk sultanate and its institutions, many sultanic houses and professions were related to the production and serving of food. Al-ḥawāijkhānāh and al-maṭbakh al-sulṭānī were the two houses directly connected to food. The first, al-ḥawāijkhānāh, was supervised by the vizier, and it was responsible for paying the in-kind salaries for the kitchen and for all the beneficiaries of in-kind salaries, such as the amīrs, mamluks, soldiers, religious men, and others. It also paid out spices, oils, grains, and other items needed for food production; thus, huge amounts of such items were spent daily.2 The second house, al-maṭbakh al-sulṭānī or the kitchen, was responsible for the preparation and cooking of the sultan’s regular meals (lunch and dinner), and the unforeseen meals that might come up during the day or night, in addition to the special banquets that were held in the Great Hall (al-iwān al-kabīr) during procession days.3 Various kinds of meat and poultry, spices, oils and other items were brought in large amounts to the kitchen daily from al-ḥawāijkhānāh, and huge amounts of meat, chicken, geese and luxurious dishes were prepared there.4

The Citadel was supplied with its needs regularly until al-Nāṣir Muḥammad established al-ḥawsh inside the Citadel to be a place designated for breeding and keeping of livestock and birds needed by al-ḥawāijkhānāh. The sources state that it was established in 718/1318 or, more probably, in 738/1337.5 The site of al-ḥawsh was previously a hollow or a valley created after quarrying the area’s stone for the construction in the Citadel, resulting in a huge deep area of about four acres.6 The establishment of al-ḥawsh was accomplished in thirty-six days, after which sheep and cattle were brought and houses for geese and other birds were built in it.7 Servants and attendants were employed at al-ḥawsh to take care of the animals and birds. Al-Nāṣir Muḥammad payed special attention to geese so he devoted a side in al-ḥawsh for their breeding and assigned a number of servants and maidservants for their care.8 In his time, the cost of the green legumes needed for feeding the geese chicks alone reached fifty thousand dirhams daily.9 He also cared for breeding pigeons and built dovecotes for them at al-ḥawsh.10

The organization of the sultanic houses was not different from the general organization of the Mamluk Sultanate, which focused special care on proficiency and was marked with detailed protocols and procedures. According to the custom, each of the above-mentioned sultanic houses was directed by a high official who was helped by several assistants, each performing a specific specialized function. Al-ḥawāijkhānāh was headed by an amīr entitled ustādār,11 who was responsible for providing the needs of the house and managing its expenses. He was generally an amīr of thousand or at least an amīr of forty.12 The kitchen was headed by an amīr entitled ustādār al-ṣuḥba, who was the general supervisor over the kitchen and could discuss with the sultan all matters related to his food and kitchen. He also walked in front of the food before serving it to the sultan and stood in front of banquets13 and was usually chosen from the amīrs of ten or twenty.14 The mushrif was an amīr helping ustādār al-ṣuḥba by supervising the preparation of food.15 He was also helped by the chief or senior cooker who was entitled āsbāsalār.16 Other professions in the kitchen included the supervisor of the grilled meats and birds who was entitled amīr mashwī who was an amīr of ten,17 in addition to a number of maraqdāriyya18 and servants. Serving food was related to other professions; at the top of them was that of al-jāshānkīr who was responsible for the banquets with the ustādār and accompanied the ustādār al-ṣuḥba in standing in front of the banquet. Moreover, he tasted the food and drinks before serving them to the sultan fearing that they were poisoned.19 The jāshānkīr was helped by the khwānsalār, who was responsible for organizing and preparing banquets and serving food alongside his assistants during these events.20 Lastly, the sāqī also helped in serving food and cutting meat during banquets, but he was mainly responsible for serving drinks after the meals.21

Consumption of Birds in Festivals and Feasts

Birds were among the food items cooked daily in the sultan’s kitchen to be served in his meals. They were also served in banquets ‘āṣmiṭah’ that were held during feasts, procession days, and festivals since they were considered luxurious food. The largest banquets were held on procession days as a huge banquet occupied the iwān, from one end to the other, and was filled with various luxurious dishes. The sultan sat on the head of the table, flanked by amīrs who were arranged according to their ranks, following a strict order of hierarchy. They all ate lightly and then left so other amīrs could take their places and so on till the banquet was over.22 The Mamluk sultans held other banquets when they played polo with their amīrs, when they traveled for hunting, when they celebrated the inauguration of a new institution built by the sultan and in other important events. Such banquets were all marked with luxurious food — including birds — and chroniclers paid special attention to record the varieties and quantities of food in such events to attest to the wealth and signify the class status of the Mamluk elite. Examples of such events and accompanying banquets are numerous, such as the celebration held by Sultan Barqūq for the inauguration of his madrasa in 788/1386 by having a fancy banquet which stretched from the madrasa’s prayer niche to the fountain of its open court. The banquet was loaded with luxurious dishes and grilled meat of horses, sheep, geese, chicken, and deer; and it was followed by another banquet of desserts and fruits.23 In 915 / 1509 Sultan al-Ghawrī held a celebration in the square below the Citadel, to which he invited the four chief judges, all the amīrs of all ranks, all officials, and other notable people. The opulent banquet included one thousand and five hundred raṭls of meat, one thousand chickens, five hundred geese in addition to fruits, desserts and sugar, and other lavish items that were evaluated to exceed one thousand dinārs in cost.24

Playing polo with the amīrs was an important occasion to entertain and at the same time show off the power and superiority of the Mamluks. It was also a chance to convey control of resources by having luxurious banquets of various lavish food, part of which were birds. On such occasions the amīrs were usually divided into two teams; one headed by the sultan and the other headed by ātābak al-ʿaskar. A huge banquet was held after the game, the cost of which was covered by the head of the defeated team. Needless to say, such banquets were very expensive- probably costing thousands of dinārs - due to the huge number of animals, birds, desserts, and drinks that were served. Therefore, sometimes the sultan covered its cost, even when his team won the game, to relieve such a large financial burden from a close or preferred amīr.25 An example of this was in 800/1397 when Sultan Barqūq won the game over Āytmash26 and the latter committed to prepare the banquet, but the sultan staged it instead. They held a huge tent in the square and the banquet included twenty thousand raṭls of meat, two hundred pairs of geese, one thousand chicken, twenty horses, thirty raṭls of sugar for desserts and drinks, and thirty raṭls of raisin for beverages.27

Birds were also among the luxurious dishes that were prepared in the kitchen of the sultan to be sent to the houses of notable officials in certain occasions and feasts. During the Nawrūz feast — which was one of the great feasts in Egypt — the sultan used to distribute food to notable Copts. He sent them fruits such as pomegranates, dates, peaches, quince, apples, pears, grapes, bananas, watermelon, figs, etc. He also sent them large dishes of harisa made with chicken, geese, and lamb meat in addition to desserts and other nice items.28

Birds were also among the main food items prepared for the sultan when traveling on long journeys. For example, in 719/1319, when al-Nāṣir Muḥammad was travelling for pilgrimage, pots of gold, silver and copper were made for him to be used for cooking during travel. Special basins of wood were prepared and planted with various plants that might be needed for cooking. The sultan’s deputy in Damascus prepared camels carrying five hundred packs of desserts, sugar and fruits, and one hundred and eighty packs of pomegranate seeds and almonds in addition to other items that might be needed for cooking, while Karīm al-Dīn prepared for the sultan one thousand geese and three thousand chicken.29

In-kind gifts from the sultan to his amīrs or from top-ranking amīrs to the sultan usually included birds too. When sultan Faraj ibn Barqūq fell ill in 814/1411 all the amīrs visited him and offered him gifts varying according to their ranks. The gift of the vizier to the sultan, for example, included two thousand dinars, four hundred chicken, one hundred geese, two hundred raṭls of refined sugar in addition to fruits and desserts.30 A lavish gift was offered by the caliph al-Mutawakil to the sultan al-Ghawrī when he passed by Dahshūr — the home town of the caliph — on his way to the Fayyūm in 918/1513 and the gift included sheep, cattle, lots of chicken and geese, jars of honey and milk and many other things.31

Similarly, birds were amongst the offerings of the Mamluk sultan to the ambassadors and envoys of foreign countries, as a sign of respect and appreciation. Such offerings were usually very generous, as they intended to convey the richness and bounty of the Mamluk sultans and accordingly the wealth and power of their sultanate. For example, when the envoys of Tamerlane visited Egypt in 806/1403, the sultan ordered to give them three hundred raṭls of mutton, a number of geese and chicken and other foods daily in addition to one thousand dirhams.32 When Janus, king of Cyprus, was imprisoned in Egypt, the sultan ordered to give him twenty raṭls of meat and six chicken daily in addition to five hundred dirhams for other foods that he might need.33

Moreover, we have evidence of some amīrs paying special attention to food in general and birds in particular, and who were known for consuming large numbers of birds. The vizier Fakhr al-Dīn Mājid ibn Khaṣīb was one of those, as he was interested in banquets and his kitchen cooked one thousand raṭls of meat in addition to geese and chicken daily. Every day after dinner, he used to spend two hundred and fifty dirhams to buy ṭājīn chicken and fried quails, pigeons, finches, and chicken.34 Yalbughā al-Nāṣirī was also famous for his love and care for food, that his expenses on food reached one thousand dinārs daily.35

Birds in the General Populace’s Diet

Birds were part of the diet of the middle class during the Mamluk period. They were sold in Cairo at al-dajjājīn market, which was next to al-shamā^c^īn market on the way to al-kharshaf vault, where large numbers of chicken and geese were sold. In that market, early on Fridays, many types of birds such as quails, parrots, blackbirds, sparrows, and many others. were sold. Some kinds were substitutes of poultry as they were wild birds but still ḥalāl or permissible to be eaten, while other types were only sold for their fine appearance or good voices and some of those, such as quails, were sold for hundreds of dirhams.36 The sellers used to sit at Bayn al-Qaṣrayn area in a line starting at the door of al-Kāmilīyya madrasa till the door of al-Nāṣirīyya madrasa to sell ṭājīn chicken and ṭājīn geese for one dirham or one dirham and quarter per pound and to sell fried finches or sparrows for one fils each.37 Other sellers carried portable stoves on their heads and wandered the streets, selling cooked birds, grains, and other ready-made dishes.38 Al-Maqrīzī mentioned a strange incident about selling birds in Cairo in Ramaḍān 742 / February 1342 stating that the muḥtasib found a merchant in the market of Bab al-Zahūma selling rotten birds. His storeroom contained birds that were stored for fifty days till they stunk. The muḥtasib found 34,196 birds including 1,196 pigeons and 33,000 starlings that were changed in color and smell; therefore, he punished the merchant and chastened him.39 This incident shows that huge numbers of birds were available in the markets during the Mamluk period, which implies huge consumption too.

Such records about the birds sold in markets and the incident mentioned by al-Maqrīzī all reveal that birds were sold alive only if they were pet birds or singing birds ‘ṭayr al-masmū^c^40 and these were sold for high prices sometimes reaching one thousand dirham. The chronicles also show that sparrows were sold alive because young boys used to buy them, for one fils each, to free them as a good deed.41 In contrast, such chronicles and ḥisba manuals reveal that the types of birds that were sold to be eaten were sold ready-made either as ṭājīn or fried42 but not grilled, since the grill stores sold only meat.43 This was understood because only the upper class of the Mamluk society could afford to maintain a kitchen in their houses and to prepare food in their kitchens, while the middle class could not afford that luxury.44 This was due to several reasons, such as the lack of wood used as fuel for fires,45 the danger entailed in keeping fires indoors since no effective means were available to extinguish them, the high cost of cooking utensils, and the lack of running water in houses.46 As a result, most of the populace bought ready-made food cooked by cookers and butchers in the markets; especially from those sellers who offered a wide variety of dishes at reasonable prices most of the time.

Birds in the Mamluk markets were made available from two sources: hatcheries and hunting. We do not have an exact date for the beginning of the use of hatcheries in Egypt, but the earliest clear mention of them is in the book of al-Baghdādī ‘‘al-Ifādah wal-iʿtbār’’ when he mentioned heated incubators or ‘ḥaḍān al-farārīj and maʿmal al-farrūj’ that were widely-spreading in Egypt. He mentioned that these hatcheries earned money and supported trade.47 Al-Baghdādī provided detailed information about these incubators stating that each one had ten or twenty houses, with about a thousand egg in each for hatching. He described the dimensions of the incubator house and its construction, the dung used for generating the heat, the care for the eggs during the tree-week period of incubation, the procedures to maintain a steady supply of heat for the hatching process and the maintenance of the hatcheries.48 All these details imply that such an industry was well established a long time before al-Baghdādī discussed it in his book (which was written in 600/1204). Apparently, the industry continued throughout the Mamluk period as evident from several hints in Mamluk sources. Al-Qalqashandī, for example, indicated that the responsibilities of al-ḥuwāndār included the supervision of the hatcheries.49 Al-Suyūṭī also mentioned the ovens used in Egypt for hatching eggs where fire was created to provide the artificial heat needed for incubation till hatching occurred.50 Moreover, the travelers who visited Egypt during the Mamluk period were impressed with such hatcheries and mentioned them in their books, usually describing them as ovens, each with one or two thousand eggs, hatching within a three-weeks period and providing the markets with immense number of chicken.51 Hunting, on the other hand, was another source for different types of birds that were also consumed during the Mamluk period. Ḥisba manuals mentioned that the bird hunters provided a steady supply of birds to the markets and the muḥtasib had to supervise them in order to prevent their cheating as they might sell inflated birds — to appear larger and accordingly cost more — or dead birds. Therefore, the muḥtasib had to inspect their birds.52

The lower class of the Mamluk society was obviously less fortunate and rarely consumed birds in their diet. They only had access to birds during the feasts of the public festivals held by the sultan or one of the elite Mamluks. When a banquet was held the common people were allowed to eat after the sultan, the amīrs, and the elite of the society.53 Such events were their only chance to get to taste luxurious foods such as birds, meat, and desserts.

In the countryside, birds were part of the livestock of farmers who bred domesticated birds such as chicken, geese, ducks, and pigeons alongside other farm animals. That livestock was the capital that helped the farmer to provide his daily needs and it was sold to provide him income.54 Although the domesticated birds were available to farmers, they were wisely consumed; as farmers depended on legumes, vegetables, and fish for their diet rather than white or red meat.55


The study of birds in the Mamluk society can give us rich insights about the lives of the different classes of the society, the interaction between them, and the prevailing food traditions of the era. Various types of birds were available in the Mamluk society. Chicken and geese in particular were consumed in huge amounts by the sultan, his amīrs and the elite of the society since they were considered among the lavish foods prepared and presented in the banquets of feasts, festivals, and other important events. The sultan had al-matbakh al-sultānī or the kitchen that cooked birds in addition to other dishes either for the daily consumption of the sultan and his officials or for the special banquets or even for the in-kind gifts presented by the sultan to special figures in certain occasions. In addition to chicken and geese, other types of birds such as pigeons, sparrows, starlings…etc. were consumed by the middle class of the Mamluk society. Such types of birds were usually sold ready-made in markets for reasonable prices since the middle class could not afford to maintain a kitchen in their houses and bought most of their foods from the markets directly. On the contrary, the lower class had the chance to taste luxurious dishes such as birds only during the banquets held by the sultan or one of the elites when they allowed to partake in the banquet’s leftover foods. Farmers of the countryside, although they were breeding birds in their houses, did not depend on meat for their diet but rather vegetables, legumes, and fish.

Works Cited

Ibn Bassām, Muḥammad ibn Āḥmad. Nihāyat al-Rutbah fi Ṭalab al-Ḥisbah, edited by Muḥammad Ismāʿil and Āhmad al-Mazīdī. Baghdad, Maṭbaʿat al-Maʿārif, 1968

Ibn Iyās, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad. Badāʾiʿ al-Zuhūr fī Waqāʾiʿ al-Duhūr, edited by Muḥammad Muṣṭafa. Cairo, al-Hayʼah al-ʻĀmmah li-Quṣūr al-Thaqāfah, 1982-1987.

Ibn Taghrībirdī, Jamāl al-Dīn Yūsuf. Al-Dalīl al-Shāfī ^c^la al-Manhal al-Ṣāfī, edited by Fahim Muḥammad Shaltūt. Cairo, Dār al-Kutub al-Miṣrīyah, 1998.

—–. Al-Nujūm al-Zāhirah fī Mulūk Miṣr wal-Qāhirah. Cairo, al-Hayʼah al-ʻĀmmah li-Quṣūr al-Thaqāfah, 2008.

Levanoni, Amalia. “Food and Cooking during the Mamluk Era: Social and Political Implications.” Mamluk Studies Review 9/2, (2005), 201-222.

ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī, Muwaffaq al-Dīn. Kitāb al-Ifādah wal-Iʿtibār fī al-Umūr al-Mushāhadah wal-Ḥawādith al-Muʻāyanah bi-Arḍ Miṣr. Cairo, al-Hayʾah al-Miṣrīyah al-ʿĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1998.

Al-Maqrīzī, Aḥmad ibn ʿAli. Al-Mawāʿiẓ wa-al-Iʿtbār bi-Dhikr al-Khiṭaṭ wa-al-Āthār. Cairo, al-Hayʼah al-ʻĀmmah li-Quṣūr al-Thaqāfah, 1999.

—–. Kitāb al-Sulūk li-Maʿrifat Duwal al-Mulūk. Edited by Muḥammad Mustafa Ziyādah and Saʿīd ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ ʿĀshūr. Cairo: Maṭbaʿat Dār al-Kutub, 1956-1973.

al-Qalqashandī, Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn ʿAlī. Ṣubḥ al-Aʿshá fī Ṣināʿat al-Inshāʾ. Cairo, Dār al-Kutub al-Khidīwīyah, 1913-1922.

Ibn al-Ukhūwah, Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad al-Qurashī. Kitāb Maʿālim al-Qurbah fī Aḥkām al-Ḥisbah. Edited by Muḥammad Maḥmūd Shaʿbān and Ṣiddīq Aḥmad ʿĪsá al-Muṭayʿī. Cairo: al-Hayʾah al-Miṣrīyah al-ʿĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1976.

al-Sakhāwī, Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān. al-Ḍawʾ al-Lāmiʾ li-Ahl al-Qarn al-Tāsiʿ. Beirut, Dār al-Jīl, 1992.

al-Suyūṭī, Jalāl al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Abī Bakr. Ḥusn al-Muḥāḍarah fī Akhbār Miṣr wal-Qāhirah. Cairo, Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Kutub al-ʿArabiyya, 1968.

Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī, Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyá. Masālik al-Abṣār fī Mamālik al-Amṣār, ed. Ayman Fuʾād Sayyid. Maṭba'at Dār al-Kutub wa-al-Wathā'iq al-Qawmīyah bi-al-Qāhirah, 2015.

al-Zāhirī, Ghars al-Din Khalīl ibn Shāhīn. Zoubdat kachf el-Mamâlik; tableau politique et administratif de l'Égypte, de la Syrie et du Ḥidjâz sous la domination des sultans mamloûks du XIIIe au XVe siècle. Edited by Paul Ravaisse. Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1894.

Von Harff, Arnold. The Pilgrimage of Arnold von Harff, Knight, from Cologne, through Italy, Syria, Egypt, Arabia, Ethiopia, Nubia, Palestine, Turkey, France and Spain, which he accomplished in the Years 1496 to 1499. Translated by Malcolm Letts. London: The Hakluyt Society, 1946.

Tawfīq, Ashraf Samīr. “Al-Ḥayawān wa-al-Ṭayr fi al-Buyūt al-Sulṭāniyya.” Journal of the Faculty of Arts, Banha University 29 (2012), 378-418.

Alkhateeb-Shehada, Housni. Mamluks and Animals: Veterinary Medicine in Medieval Islam. Leiden: Brill, 2013.

Ḥasan, ʿAlī Ibrāhīm. Tārīkh al-Mamālīk al-Baḥrīyah. Cairo: Maktabat al-Nahḍah al-Miṣrīyah, 1967.

Baḥr, Majdī ʿAbd al-Rashīd, al-Qaryah al-Miṣrīyah fī ʿAṣr Salāṭīn al-Mamālīk, 648-923/1250-1517. Cairo: al-Hayʾah al-Miṣrīyah al-ʿĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1999.

al-Shishtāwī, Muḥammad. Mayādīn al-Qāhirah fī al-ʿAṣr al-Mamlūkī. Cairo: Dār al-Āfāq al-ʿArabīyah, 1999.


  1. Al-Qalqashandī mentioned that 'al-ḥawāṣil' or 'al-buyūt al-sulṭāniyya' are the houses that provide the needs of the sultan and his palaces and they were: al-sharābkhānāh, al-ṭashtkhānāh, al-firāshkhānāh, al-silāḥkhānāh, al-rikābkhānāh, al-ḥawāijkhānāh, al-ṭablkhānāh and al-matbakh al-sulṭanī or the kitchen. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ al-Āʿshā fi Ṣināʿat al-Inshā (Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Khidīwīyah, 1913-1922), 4:9-13. 

  2. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 4:12-13. 

  3. Procession days (āyām al-mawākib) were six major processions during the Fatimid period held on: the beginning of the Hijrī year, the first of Ramaḍān, the three Fridays of Ramaḍān, the prayer of ʿĪd al-Fiṭr and ʿĪd al-Āḍḥa, Takhlīq al-Miqyās and Fatḥ al-Khalīj. During the Mamluk Period processions were held for the prayer of ʿĪd al-Fiṭr and ʿĪd al-Āḍḥa, playing polo, Kasr al-Khalīj and the travels of the sultan in and out the country. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 3:504-521; 4:46-49. 

  4. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 4:13. 

  5. Both Al-Maqrīzī and Ibn Taghrībirdī agreed on the date of establishing al-ḥawsh in 738 A.H. while Ibn Iyās said that al-Nāṣir Muḥammad started it in 718 A.H. Al-Maqrīzī, Al-Mawāʿiẓ wa-al-Iʿtbār bi-Dhikr al-Khiṭaṭ wa-al-Āthār (Cairo: al-Hayʼah al-ʻĀmmah li-Quṣūr al-Thaqāfah, 1999), 3:229; Ibn Taghrībirdī, Al-Nujūm al-Zāhirah fī Mulūk Miṣr wa-al-Qāhirah (Cairo: al-Hayʼah al-ʻĀmmah li-Quṣūr al-Thaqāfah, 2008), vol. 9, 119-121; Ibn Iyās, Badāʾiʿ al-Zuhūr fi Waqā’iʿ al-Duhūr (Cairo: al-Hayʼah al-ʻĀmmah li-Quṣūr al-Thaqāfah, 1982-1987), 1:1:449. 

  6. Al-Maqrīzī, Khiṭaṭ, 3:229. 

  7. Al-Nāṣir Muḥammad assigned Āqbughā ^ʿ^Abd al-Wāḥid, the sultan's brother-in-law, to establish al-ḥawsh. Each of the amīrs of a hundred brought one hundred men and animals to work in carrying the backfill, each amīr of forty brought forty men and animals, and the wālī brought the populace and captives to work. Āqbughā sat up a tent on site to supervise the work that continued day and night. Sultan al-Nāṣir Muḥammad visited the site daily to follow up on its progress. Āqbughā was oppressive and tyrannically treating the workers and refusing to give them breaks. Since it was summertime, many of the workers died from these harsh conditions. Therefore, many appealed for the help of amīr al-Ṭanbughā to redeem them from work, thus he talked to the sultan who released the forced labor. When the work was completed, the animals water was brought to al-ḥawsh. Al-Maqrīzī, Al-Sulūk li-Ma^ʿ^rifat Duwal al-Mulūk (Cairo: Maṭbaʿat Dār al-Kutub, 1970-1973), 2:2:433-435; Khiṭaṭ, 3:229; Ibn Taghrībirdī, Nujūm, 9:120. 

  8. Ibn Taghrībirdī, Nujūm, 9:171. 

  9. Tawfiq, “Al-Ḥayawān wa-al-Ṭayr fi al-Buyūt al-Sulṭāniyya,” Journal of the Faculty of Arts, Banha University 29 (2012), 387. 

  10. Ashraf Tawfiq, “Al-Ḥayawān wal-Ṭayr”, 384. 

  11. The title 'ustādār' is a title composed of two Persian words: 'istdh' which means the taker, and 'dār' which means the holder. Thus, the title means the one who takes the money from the sultan or amīr and spends it. Al-Qalqashandī, Subḥ, 5:457. 

  12. Ustādār is the spokesman of all the affairs of the sultanic houses and he executes all the requests of the sultan. He has full authority to provide all the needs of the houses varying between expenses, claddings, mamluks, servants, etc. There used to be four ustādārs for the sultanic houses; one of them was an amīr of a thousand and the other three were amīrs of forty. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 4:20. 

  13. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 4:21. The banquet was called 'ṣimāṭ' or 'khuwān': Ibn Faḍl Allāh al-ʿUmarī, Masālik al-Abṣār wa-Mamālik al-Amṣār (Cairo: Maṭbaʿat Dār al-Kutub wal-Wathāʾiq al-Qawmīyah bil-Qāhirah, 2015), 35, fn.3; Al-Qalqashandī, Subḥ, 4:56. 

  14. Al-Ẓāhirī, Zubdat Kashf al-Mamālik wa Bayān al-Ṭuruq wa-al-Masālik (Paris: Ernest Leroux, 1893), 115. 

  15. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 5:454. 

  16. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 4:13. 

  17. ^c^Ali Ibrahim Ḥasan, Dirāsāt fi Tārikh al-Mamālik al-Bahariyya (Cairo: Maktabat al-Nahḍa al-Maṣriyya, 1948), 173. 

  18. The 'maraqdār' was responsible for preparing soup and serving it at banquets and helped in the services of the kitchen. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, vol. 5, p. 470. 

  19. The title 'jāshānkīr' is composed of two Persian words: 'jāshnā' which means to taste and 'kīr' which means the responsible. This position was occupied by a trusted amīr, and it seems that this position was assigned to several amīrs because al-Qalqashandī said that their highest ranking was an amīr of a thousand. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 4:21; 5:460. 

  20. The title 'khwānsalār' is composed of two words: 'khwān' which means what is eaten on and 'salār' which is a Persian word meaning the presenter. The holder of this position was the head butler during banquets. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 5:471; ʿAli Hasan, Dirāsāt, 174. 

  21. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 5:454. 

  22. Al-Qalqashandī, Ṣubḥ, 4:56. 

  23. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 3:2:546; Ibn Taghrībirdī, Nujūm, 11:243; Ibn Iyās, Badāʾiʿ, 1:2:372. 

  24. Ibn Iyās, Badāʾiʿ, 4:151. 

  25. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 2:2:786, 724; Ibn Taghrībirdī, Nujūm, 10:155; 12:81; Muḥammad al-Shishtāwī, Mayādīn Al-Qāhira fi al-ʿAṣr al-Mamlukī (Cairo: Dār al-Āfāq al-ʿArabīyah, 1999), 27. 

  26. Āytmash was ātābak al-ʿaskar during the reign of Barqūq and was close to the sultan. He fought Yalbughā al-Nāṣrī and was killed in Damascus in 802/1400. Ibn Taghrībirdī, al-Dalīl al-Shāfī ʿalá al-Manhal al-Ṣāfī (Cairo: Dār al-Kutub al-Miṣrīyah, 1998), 1:164; Al-Sakhāwī, al-Ḍawʾ al-Lāmiʾ li-Ahl al-Qarn al-Tāsiʿ (Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 1992), 2:324. 

  27. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 3:2:902; Ibn Taghrībirdī, Nujūm, 12:81. 

  28. Ibn Iyās, Badāʾiʿ, 1:2:365. 

  29. Ibn Taghrībirdī, Nujūm, 9:58. 

  30. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 4:1:189. 

  31. Ibn Iyās, Badāʾiʿ , 4:292. 

  32. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 3:3:1111-1112. 

  33. Ibn Taghrībirdī, Nujūm, 14:302. 

  34. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 3:1:59; Khiṭaṭ, 3:29. 

  35. Ibn Iyās, Badāʾiʿ , 1:2:51. 

  36. Al-Maqrīzī, Khiṭaṭ, 3:96. 

  37. Al-Maqrīzī, Khiṭaṭ, 3:29. 

  38. Von Harff, The Pilgrimage of Arnold Von Harff, trans. Malcolm Letts (London: The Hakluyt Society), 109. 

  39. Al-Maqrīzī, Khiṭaṭ, 3:97. The incident was strange because of the huge number of birds stored by the merchant and because the market of Bab al-Zahūma was one of the greatest markets in Cairo and was famous for selling good foods. 

  40. *'Ṭayr al-masmūʿ’* are birds bought for their beautiful looks such as parrots or for their good voices such as quails. 

  41. Al-Maqrīzī, Khiṭaṭ, 3:96. 

  42. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 3:1:59. 

  43. Ibn al-Ukhūwah, Maʿālim al-Qurbah fī Aḥkām al-Ḥisbah, ed. Muḥammad Maḥmūd Shaʿbān (Cairo: al-Hayʾah al-Miṣrīyah al-ʿĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1976),156; Ibn Bassām, Nihāyat al-Rutbah fī Ṭalab al-Ḥisbah, ed. Ḥusām al-Dīn al-Sāmarrāʾī (Baghdad: Maṭbaʿat al-Maʿārif, 1968), 307. 

  44. Amalia Levanoni, “Food and Cooking during the Mamluk Era: Social and Political Implications,” Mamluk Studies Review 9 (2005), 204. 

  45. Arnold Von Harff, The Pilgrimage, 09. 

  46. Amalia Levanoni, “Food and Cooking”, 204-207. 

  47. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī, Kitāb al-Ifādah wal-Iʿtibār fī al-Umūr al-Mushāhadah wal-Ḥawādith al-Muʻāyanah bi-Arḍ Miṣr (Cairo: al-Hayʾah al-Miṣrīyah al-ʿĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1998), 81. 

  48. ʿAbd al-Laṭīf al-Baghdādī, Kitāb al-Ifādah, 81-83. 

  49. Al-Qalqashandī, Subḥ, 5:470. The title "ḥuwāndār" consists of two words: 'ḥayawān' and 'dār', which means the holder of the animal and among his responsibilities was the supervision the hatcheries. Also see: Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 2:2:531. 

  50. Al-Suyūṭī, Ḥusn al-Muḥāḍarah fī Akhbār Miṣr wal-Qāhirah (Cairo: Dār Iḥyāʾ al-Kutub al-ʿArabiyya, 1968), 2:333. 

  51. Arnold Von Harff, The Pilgrimage, p. 110; Housni Alkhateeb Shehada, Mamluks and Animals: Veterinary Medicine in Medieval Islam (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 23-24. 

  52. Ibn Bassām, Nihāyat al-Rutbah, 317. The 'muḥtasib' used to check the birds by putting them in water to see if they floated or sank. 

  53. Al-Maqrīzī, Sulūk, 3:2:547. 

  54. Majdī ʻAbd al-Rashīd Baḥr, Al-Qaryah al-Maṣriyya fi ^c^Aṣr Salāṭīn al-Mamālīk (Cairo: al-Hayʾah al-Miṣrīyah al-ʿĀmmah lil-Kitāb, 1999), 185-188. 

  55. Majdī ʻAbd al-Rashīd Baḥr, Al-Qaryah, 233-237.