Mansa Musa Ethnicity?

Aug 2018
376
london
#21
There aren't any portraits of Mansa Musa made from direct observation. The Catalan Atlas isn't necessarily a correct or realistic depiction.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#22
That's obviously nonsense. There's no evidence to support this claim.

Bilal supposedly had an Arab father and Abyssinian mother.

Songhai rulers also claimed to be descended from Arabs. They didn't claim to be descended from companions of Muhammad however, just Arabs who came to West Africa from Yemen. As such this is much less likely to be a fabrication and implies that there might be truth to the same claim made by the rulers of Mali.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songhai_Empire#History
An article that provides no background/context isn't always the best source of information.

There was a longstanding tradition of Muslim rulers claiming descent/origin from the Arabian peninsula, to portray themselves as having deeper links with the homeland of the Islamic religion, and the Songhai rulers are yet another case of that (although even in this case it should be noted that the claim really comes from certain chroniclers or from other people, rather than directly from the monarchs themselves). There are many works that discuss that phenomenon. But in reality, as far as Songhai is concerned, "there's no evidence to support that claim."
 
Aug 2018
376
london
#23
There's plenty of evidence of arabian presence in west africa/the sahel.

The claim that Mansa Musa was 'the richest person who ever lived' doesn't even make sense. And the evidence from Mali doesn't indicate 'extraordinary wealth' either. It doesn't remotely compare to what you find in Asia, Europe and North Africa. The story seems to be based entirely on one bling trip to Mecca.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#24
There's plenty of evidence of arabian presence in west africa/the sahel.
Sure, but this is a claim regarding a claim of origin of the rulers, which is a different thing. I didn't actually dispute the issue of some Arabs being present in west Africa in the Middle Ages.

The claim that Mansa Musa was 'the richest person who ever lived' doesn't even make sense. And the evidence from Mali doesn't indicate 'extraordinary wealth' either. It doesn't remotely compare to what you find in Asia, Europe and North Africa. The story seems to be based entirely on one bling trip to Mecca.
I didn't comment on the "richest person who ever lived" claim. I already discussed the issue of the pilgrimage in this thread a year ago. But honestly I don't find the claim about the "richest man that ever lived" all that interesting, and it doesn't even matter much to me whether that exact claim is true or not.

I'm not sure what the basis of your idea about Mali's wealth is (or why you assume that the Arabic sources ascribed wealth to Mali simply on the basis of "one bling trip to Mecca" - that isn't actually the case) but one can easily find statements from Arab writers already describing Mali's predecessor as the dominant state in the region, Ghana, as having great wealth, with one source even claiming that the king of Ghana was "the richest king on the face of the earth" because of the extent of his wealth from gold.

I don't see why it would be the least bit surprising if Mali was similarly wealthy, considering that, as far as obtaining gold, both states (Ghana and Mali) would have been doing essentially the same thing.

Also, during the Middle Ages, most of North Africa's gold came from that region of west Africa where states like Ghana, Takrur, Mali, etc. are located, so I don't see why it would actually be true or a given fact that North Africa was wealthier at all.
 
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Aug 2018
376
london
#25
How does the tangible evidence line up with these supposed historical accounts? it doesn't line up at all. There is nothing in or from Mali which indicates that this was an extraordinarily wealthy place or that the king was extraordinarily wealthy.

On the textual side, Ibn Battuta's account describes the Malian Mansa at that time as being stingy and not notably impressive in terms of wealth. This was a short time after 'Mansa Musa'.
 
Aug 2018
376
london
#26
"the extent of his wealth from gold."

the story about Mansa Musa's trip to Mecca illustrates the fact that a significant increase in the amount of gold basically results in inflation. Having a large supply of gold isn't the same thing as having, say, a large supply of oil. People consume oil, they use oil to fuel their personal lives and industries. Gold, on the other hand, is mostly only consumed as a luxury product (especially in the past) and people generally only want it in order to exchange it for something else. Spain learnt this when they brought huge amounts of precious metals back from America, and instead of becoming amazingly 'rich', instead they just experienced high inflation.
 
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Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#27
How does the tangible evidence line up with these supposed historical accounts? it doesn't line up at all. There is nothing in or from Mali which indicates that this was an extraordinarily wealthy place or that the king was extraordinarily wealthy.
I don't know what you mean.

On the textual side, Ibn Battuta's account describes the Malian Mansa at that time as being stingy and not notably impressive in terms of wealth. This was a short time after 'Mansa Musa'.
Well, Ibn Battuta praises Mansa Musa's earlier generosity to other people in contrast to Mansa Suleiman. He accuses Mansa Suleiman of being miserly, but this is because of the initial reception gift that he (Ibn Battuta) received. After Ibn Battuta complained to an official about this gift, Mansa Suleiman gave him a much better gift right there. I think Ibn Battuta continued to hold a grudge about it however.

Also, Ibn Battuta's account of the items at the Malian court describes gold artifacts and some other opulent things like one would expect from some very rich monarch. So, I think that actually the textual side is pretty clear.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#28
"the extent of his wealth from gold."

the story about Mansa Musa's trip to Mecca illustrates the fact that an increase in the amount of gold just results in inflation. Having a large supply of gold isn't the same thing as having, say, a large supply of oil. People consume oil, they use oil to fuel their personal lives and industries. Gold, on the other hand, is mostly only consumed as a luxury product (especially in the past) and people generally only want it in order to (ultimately) exchange it for something else. Spain learnt this when they brought huge amounts of precious metals back from America, and instead of becoming amazingly 'rich', instead they just experienced high inflation.
Not sure about this argument considering that gold was used for trade at this period and was valued highly. Maybe you can make your argument clearer because I'm not seeing it. All that I've read suggests that gold dinars were valued highly.
 
Aug 2018
376
london
#29
wikipedia:

"Musa's generous actions inadvertently devastated the economies of the regions through which he passed. In the cities of Cairo, Medina, and Mecca, the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decade. Prices on goods and wares greatly inflated. To rectify the gold market, on his way back from Mecca, Musa borrowed all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo at high interest."

Mansa Musa was so 'rich' he apparently had to pay a high interest rate to pay for his excesses on the road to Mecca.
 

Ighayere

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
2,570
Benin City, Nigeria
#30
wikipedia:

"Musa's generous actions inadvertently devastated the economies of the regions through which he passed. In the cities of Cairo, Medina, and Mecca, the sudden influx of gold devalued the metal for the next decade. Prices on goods and wares greatly inflated. To rectify the gold market, on his way back from Mecca, Musa borrowed all the gold he could carry from money-lenders in Cairo at high interest."

Mansa Musa was so 'rich' he apparently had to pay a high interest rate to pay for his excesses on the road to Mecca.
I think reading the sources, and reading scholarly works on the sources would be better. I wouldn't say that he deliberately took steps to rectify the gold market. Or at least I don't remember reading a source that states that this was his motivation.

But anyway, I don't see the argument here. He gave so much away for free both on his way to Mecca and back, then took out a loan while on his way back to Mali, then he promptly paid the loan back while sending additional gifts as well after he had returned to Mali.

"This sultan Musa, during his stay in Egypt both before and after his journey to the Noble Hijaz, maintained a uniform attitude of worship and turning towards God. It was as though he were standing before Him because of His continual presence in his mind. He and all those with him behaved in the same manner and were well-dressed, grave, and dignified. He was noble and generous and performed many acts of charity and kindness. He had left his country with 100 loads of gold which he spent during the Pilgrimage on the tribes who lay along his route from his country to Egypt, while he was in Egypt, and again from Egypt to the Noble Hijaz and back. As a consequence he needed to borrow money in Egypt and pledged his credit with the merchants at a very high rate of gain so that they made 700 dinars profit on 300. Later he paid them back amply. He sent to me 500 mithqals of gold by way of honorarium." - Al-'Umari, quoting Abu 'l-Hasan 'Ali b. Amir Hajib, the governor of Old Cairo (from J.F.P. Hopkins' translation).

Rather than showing that he wasn't rich, the loan thing basically just reinforces the idea of how rich he really was.
 

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