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Furūsiyya (فروسية) is the historical Arabic term for knightly martial exercise during the Mamluk period in particular, especially concerned with equestrianism. The body of Arabo-Persian "Furūsiyya literature" includes the genre Faras-nāma, which is an encyclopedic compilation of facts relating to horses. The term is a derivation of faras "horse".[1] The term for "horseman" or "knight" is fāris (also an Arabic given name, and the origin of the Spanish rank of Alférez).

The three basic categories of furūsiyya are horsemanship (including veterinary aspects of proper care for the horse, the proper riding techniques), archery, and charging with the lance. Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya adds swordsmanship as a fourth discipline in his treatise Al-Furūsiyya (ca. 1350).[2]

In a narrow sense of the term, furūsiyya literature comprises works by professional military writers with a Mamluk background or close ties to the Mamluk establishment. These treatises often quote pre-Mamluk works on military strategy. Some of these works were versified for didactic purposes. The best known of these versified treatises is the one by Taybugha al-Baklamishi al-Yunani ("the Greek"), who in ca. 1368 wrote the poem al-tullab fi ma`rifat ramy al-nushshab.[3]

However, furūsiyya also appears to have retained a wider meaning of "the continunig ethos of manly endeavor of early Islam", comparable to the contemporary European notion of chivalry. The full range of meanings of the term includes the meanings of horsemanship, hippology, and farriery on one hand and chivalry or heroism on the other.


  1. ultimately root frs "to crush, to break", apparently because of the horse's hooves crushing the ground. See Lane p. 2366f.
  2. Cairo: Dar al-Kutub al-'Almiyya, 1976; ed. Nizam al-Din al-Fatih, Madina Munawwara: Maktaba Dar al-Turath, 1403/1990. "Furusiyya covers four disciplines: the tactics of attack and withdrawal (al-karr wa-l-farr); archery; jousts with spears; duels with swords. [...] Only the Muslim conquerors and the knights of the faith have fully mastered these four arts."[1] (107, 25ff.)
  3. ed. and trans. Latham and Paterson, London 1970

  • Bashir Mohamed, The arts of the Muslim knight; the Furusiyya Art Foundation collection (2008), ISBN 9788876248771.
  • James Waterson, The Knights of Islam: The Wars of the Mamluks Greenhill Books, 2007, ISBN 9781853677342.
  • D. Ayalon, Notes on the Furusiyya Exercises and Games in the Mamluk Sultanate, Scripta Hierosolymitana, 9 (1961)
  • U. Haarmann, 'The late triumph of the Persian bow: critical voices on the Mamluk monopoly on weaponry' in: The Mamluks in Egyptian politics and society, Cambridge University Press, 1998, ISBN , 9780521591157, 174-187.

See also

External links


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