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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a picaresque novella genre that arose in Arabic literature of the ninth and tenth centuries and later spread to Persian-Tadzhik and Hebrew literatures. The central figure of a maqama tale was usually a wandering unsuccessful man of letters, earning his living through his poetical skill and erudition. The narrative interest of the maqama is based on the hero’s somewhat rascally cunning, while his erudition and poetical skill provide the story’s learned content.

Maqama novellas were written in rhymed prose (saj) in accordance with carefully elaborated rules of form. They abounded in puns, complicated stylistic figures, quotations, and maxims, which often made them accessible only to a narrow circle of connoisseurs of belles-lettres. The most well-known practitioners of the maqama genre include Badi al-Zaman (969-1007), founder of the genre, and al-Hariri (1054-1122), both Arabs; in Iranian literature, Khamid al-Din Balkhi (died 1164); and in Hebrew literature, Judah Ben Solomon al-Harizi (1165-1225). The maqama is sometimes considered the direct predecessor of the European picaresque novel.

In Arabic literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an attempt was made to revive the maqama genre (for example, The Story of Isa ibn Hisham, 1907, by Muhammad Muwaylihi).


Krymskii, A. E. Arabskaia poeziia v ocherkakh i obraztsakh. Moscow, 1906.
Krachkovskii, I. Iu. Izbr. soch., vol. 3. Moscow, 1956.
Fil’shtinskii, I. M. Arabskaia klassicheskaia literqtura. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The paper was entitled "Profiles in Figurative Paintings in Omani Maqamah by al- Hariri " presented by Dr.
1b), which glosses majlis as maqamah (to distinguish it from hadrah).
Even within this pioneering work in fictional autobiography, Al-Shidyaq feels somehow compelled to insert some examples of the most popular genre of "elite" prose narrative from the premodern period, the maqamah, and indeed to provide glossaries of their lexical complexities.
In an attempt to build a theater rooted in the cultural tradition, while at the same time exploiting the potential of that tradition, Arab dramatists and directors alike borrowed elements from the semi-dramatic classical Arab forms, especially the Maqamah (Assembly) genre.
As the golden age of the `Abbasids declined, however, the boundaries of adab narrowed into belles lettres: poetry, elegant prose, anecdotal writing (maqamah).
Similarly, the author's topic sentence in the next paragraph, "[t]here was hardly any significant writer of talent who did not try his hand at maqamah writing," obscures the fact that the writing of these short narratives was extremely popular throughout the 1700s and again in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries but that they were relatively neglected during a large portion of the nineteenth century.
Arabic-language author credited with introducing the genre known as maqamah.
Indeed, the maqamah form, which was largely introduced by his predecessor al-Hamadhani, is considered to have reached its peak and to have become established in the work of al-Hariri.