Aisha Ali, who is well known for her folkloric dances. She is dancing in the style of the women of the Ouled Nail, a tribe from the north of Africa. Unfortunately there is not much information out there about the Ouled Nail dancers in period, as their work did involve prostitution and erotic dances. However, there is quite a bit written about them by foreign travellers out of the Medieval period which only enhanced the licentious reputation. This video is from 1938, showing a woman dancing with a man and her daughter.
This dance was done by
If you have any information on the Ouled Nail, I would love to see it!
The Ouled Nail of Algeria by Jasmin Jahal.
The Ouled Nail by Maggie McNeill on the Honest Courtesan Blog.
Earning Power, Ethnology, and Happily Ever After by Andrea Deagon, Ph.D. Article in the Gilded Serpent.
Danse du Ventre: A Fresh Appraisal by Leona Wood and Anthony Shay. JStor article.
The Lost Berber Villages of Eastern Morocco and Western Algeria by Richard I. Lawless. JStor article.
Cutthroats and Casbah Dancers, Muezzins and Timeless Sands: Musical Images of the Middle East by Ralph P. Locke. JStor article.
Exploring Algeria 1944: Barbaric Beauty by Starlight by Sgt Len Scott RAPC. A first hand account of Algeria during WWII.
This is an ornamental shoulder band, made in Byzantine Egypt, in the first half of the 7th century. It is a linen base with wool tapestry weaving. It is 5.45 cm high and 60.65 cm wide, using indigo and kermes dyes. Currently in the Cleveland Museum of Art.
Sorry, this is the largest picture I could find. It is two naked dancers, woven in silk. Thought to have been made in the Ummayad or Abbasid period of the 8th century, it decorated a tunic. The dimensions are 15.5cm x 14cm, the fabric is a weft-faced plain weave with inner warps. The dancers are holding pomegranates and branches. From the AMICA Library.
Both of these textiles are from Egypt.
Both of these tiles were made between 1600-1640, in Isfahan, Iran to decorate the bathroom of the Harem. The tiles are fritware, with enamel colours, length 26.7cm and width 15.9cm. Both are currently in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
I am not sure why they are described as dancers, as they just seem to be women bathing. If you have an idea why, please post. I find it interesting that they are wearing quite a bit of jewellery, such as anklets on both ankles, bracelets, necklace and earrings. The hands are a solid henna dye, very dark showing that these are women of wealth. Interestingly the feet have been left undecorated.
This is a 7th century Sassinid plate, currently in the British Museum. I was thinking that the standing figure near the middle of the plate is a dancer with crossed arms, as there are two musicians also on the plate playing. Please let me know if you agree or disagree.
Picture taken from Wikimedia Commons.
This ivory is from Egypt, 11th-12th century or Fatimid Egypt. The boy is dancing with veils in front of a man drinking. This ivory still has some paint on it, showing it would have been coloured.
Currently in the Louvre.
I found this picture on Tribe.net but it unfortunately doesn’t have much information as where the object is, let alone a good picture. It is on the cover of a book called Women and the Fatimids in the World of Islam by Delia Cortese and Simonetta Calderini. I will be borrowing the book as soon as I can, as it is available in a University library I have access to. However, I have found a similar picture in a JStor article helpfully put up on Scribd.
This gives the information that the item is in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello. It is quite likely both pieces are in the same museum and while the Bargello has a good site, there are very little pictures. Hopefully more will go up soon. The article on Scribd is called Music and Musicians in Islamic Art by Walter Denny. It can be read on Scribd or downloaded from JStor. If you have any information or even better pictures, please let me know.
The Human Figure in Early Islmaic Art by Eva Baer. Via Google Docs.
Five Essays on Islamic Art by Terry Allen.
A Study on Islamic Human Figure Representation in Light of a Dancing Scene by Hanaa M. Adly. Via Google Docs.
Both of these painting were done in 1590-1595, in a work called the Akbarnama, or Book Of Akbar. Meant as an official record of his reign, Abu’l Fath Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar was the third emperor of the Mughal Empire. A full English translation by Colonel H.S. Jarret (translated out of Persian in 1884) can be read and downloaded here on the Internet Archive. The Akbarnama had at least 49 artists of the Mughal Painting School. The picture above was done by La’l and Banwali Khord. An opaque watercolour with gold on paper, the height is 32 cm and the width is 18.9 cm. It is currently in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
The painting above was done to show Akbar’s victory in Malwa, over Baz Bahadur. The romance of Baz Bahadur and Rupmati is still well known in the region today. The dancers are dressed in a style completely different to other dancers in the Akbarnama. They are wearing a combination of tight pants and layered short skirts. The artists who did the work were Kesav Kalan and Dharmdas, the height is 32.9 cm and the width is 25 cm and also made out of watercolour on paper with gold. Also in the Victoria & Albert Museum.
This is the pillowcase of Berengaria of Castile. However, it is a Coptic embroidery of two dancers. It is currently in the Museo de Burgos, or Medieval Cloth Museum in Spain.
The dancers are surrounded by an Arabic inscription, but I can not find a translation of it.
Arab painting: text and image in illustrated Arabic manuscripts by Anna Contadini. Via Google Books.
Silk Economics and Cross-Cultural Artistic Interaction: Byzantium, the Muslim World, and the Christian West by David Jacoby. JStor article.
This naked dancer holds a lute in her left hand, as well as the usual wine paraphernalia seen in pictures of dancers. She is only dressed in jewelry- a pair of bracelets, a pair of armlets, and a pair of anklets. Tattoos are visible, but not sure if they would have been henna tattoos. Her hair is in four braids.
The picture is ink and watercolour on paper, 11th century. Found in Fustat (Cairo). The height is 28.5cm, the width is 18cm. The picture can be found in the Israel Museum.
The miniature can be found in the Fitzwilliam Museum. Done in 1560, it’s height is 186 mm and width is 112 mm. It was done in the Bukhara school, created under Abd al-Aziz Khan in the Khanate of Bukhara.