Qayna (Arab.: ‘female slave musician’)
- Owen Wright
Most of the famous female musicians in the earlier history of Arab music belong to this category. The main providers of entertainment music for the wealthy already in pre-Islamic times, qaynas were later to become an indispensible part of court life. Those who showed aptitude would receive a broad education, not only in singing and instrumental performance, but also in literature and other essentials of refined culture; and those who had looks to match their abilities as singers and instrumentalists were highly prized, often becoming the concubines and even occasionally the wives of caliphs. The disruptive passions that they could provoke (and manipulate), and the lengths to which their admirers were prepared to go, are vividly portrayed in the ...