Figs in Muslim Spain

Figs may not have had the economic importance of olives, yet they afford an excellent example of the intensification of agriculture in Islamic Spain. This was manifest in the dazzling variety of the fruit available to consumers.

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Quoted from T. Glick, Islamic and Christian Spain in the early Middle Ages; Princeton Uni. Press, New Jersey, 1979; pp. 79-80:

Although figs may not have had the economic importance of olives, however they did afford an excellent example of the intensification of agriculture in Islamic Spain. This was manifest in the dazzling variety of the fruit available to consumers.

In the tenth-century Calendar of Cordoba, the Latin ficus (fig) translated the Arabic shajar "trees" (the specific word for fig is teen), indicated that the fig was so numerous that it became, by antonomasia, the tree.

From the standpoint of production for the export market, Malaga was the most important fig centre, the city being surrounded on all sides by figs of the Rayyo (rayyî, also referred to as mâlaqi, Malagan) variety, "which is the best class of figs and the largest, with the most delicious pulp and the sweetest taste." Malagan figs were exported by Muslim and Christian traders who sold them on from cities such as Baghdad (according to al-Shaqundi), as far away as cities such as India and China. Here it was where they were valued for their taste and their ability to preserve them over the full year's travel occupied in their transport.

In the Sierra Morena a wide variety of figs were grown, including the qûtiya (Gothic), sha'arî (hairy), and doñegal. The fig was also of interest to the agronomists: Al-Hijâri reported that in the Garden of the Noria in Toledo there grew a kind of fig tree whose fruit was half green and half white.

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