“Afro-Asian Slave Who Changed Andalusian Culture Forever”
Name: Abu l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Nafi’
Title: Ziryab (Blackbird), polymath: a poet, musician, singer, chemist, cosmetologist, fashion designer, trendsetter, strategist, astronomer, botanist and geographer.
Birth: 789 in Baghdad, Iraq
Death: 857 in Cordoba, Andalusia (Islamic Spain)
Education: Studied art of music to Ishaq al-Mawsili (d.850) in Baghdad.
Occupation: Musician, chef, singer, trendsetter, fashion designer.
Activities: Musician in the courts of Harun al-Rashid of the Abbasid Dynasty and of Abd al-Rahman II of the Umayyad Dynasty (822-52).
Interested fields: Music, astronomy, history, geography, chemicals, fashion, botany, cosmetics, culinary, health, poetry.
Notable ideas: Ziryab revolutionised the court at Caacórdoba and made it the stylistic capital of its time, changed Andalusian culture forever. Introducing Middle East fashion styles to Andalusia, including sophisticated styles for different season and time and introducing velvet; styles (short hair style); foods (fruit and vegetables such as asparagus, serving in three separate courses consisting of soup, the main course, and dessert, use of crystal as a container for drinks); hygiene products (deodorant, toothpaste, promoting morning and evening baths); and music (establishing school of music, improving the Oud or Laaacúd by adding a fifth pair of strings, and using an eagle’s beak or quill instead of a wooden pick, and laying the early groundwork for classic Spanish music).
Sources: Wikipedia, muslimheritage, dubsahara.com, Saudi Aramco World (July/August 2003, pp 24-33)