Zahra al-Andalusiyya at Twelfth Night, January A.S. LIV (photo credit to Lada Monguligin)
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Lady Zahra al-Andalucía (also Andalusiyya) has been an SCA member for almost two years. Her main interests are in the scribal and bardic arts; she also practices fencing and dance. Find her at events listening to stories, taking classes, in a bardic jam session, shopping at the market, or singing around a campfire. She is happy to help clean up after a meal (but is probably best kept away from the kitchen before the meal). She is almost always down to make a scroll, or learn a(n easy) dance, and especially to learn a new song—of any style, origin, language, or period.
Zahra زهرة means "flower" or "blossom" in Arabic. It is pronounced exactly how it's spelled in English, with the h pronounced: "Za-hra" (in IPA: [ˈzʌˌhɾə]).
Two surnames are used:
- bint Nasir —"daughter of Nasir" (in IPA: [ˌbɪnt naˈsiɾ])
- al-Andalucía (or Andalusiyya)—"from Andalusia" (in IPA: [ʔɛl ˌʔændəluˈsijə])
Both names, as well as their respective spellings, are equally interchangeable; they can be used depending on whether emphasis is on Judeo-Arabic or Spanish heritage.
Zahra bint Nasir was born in Granada, Spain in 1479, the daughter a military officer of good and noble heritage. Her mother, sensing the winds of war, sent Zahra as a small child to live in Córdoba with her aunt and cousins, including Berakha bat Mira v'Shlomo. There, she grew up speaking Ladino and Castilian (although she was also tutored in Arabic and Latin at her aunt's insistence) in the labyrinthine, white-walled lanes of the Jewish quarter; she passed her childhood in the orange blossom-scented air of al-Andalus, learning her arts and helping her aunt run the house.
Then, in 1491, everything changed. Zahra's uncle, a renowned military officer, fell in battle defending al-Andalus, and Granada, the last stronghold of Muslim rule in Spain, soon followed. Zahra's parents fled the falling city with several other relatives, including Sayyida Laila al-Sanna' al-Andalusiyya, and made it to Córdoba within the year. But their reunion was short-lived: the Edict of Expulsion would soon tear the family asunder.
In the months leading up to the Edict, Zahra became acquainted with her parents and other relatives, and grew close especially with her enchanting older cousin Laila. When the Edict of Expulsion was announced, Laila decided to seek her fortune in the East, and Zahra yearned to go with her. But on the night they were to depart, she realized she couldn't leave her beloved Andalus. Vowing to keep each other in their hearts, the cousins embraced, and parted, never to see each other again.
Today, Zahra lives a quiet life with those few of her family who decided to stay in Córdoba, living as Christians by day but furtively keeping their traditions alive under cover of darkness. Zahra dreams of marrying a wealthy man from a good family, so she can spend her days practicing calligraphy, painting, singing, and dancing. A devout romantic and history enthusiast, she can often be found with her cousin Berakha at the Roman Bridge, dressing as though they lived several centuries ago and making up fantastical stories about themselves. Her cousin Laila, true to her promise, occasionally sends letters and exotic gifts from her travels; these are met with great joy and celebration. She also enjoys visiting the market, the orange groves on the outskirts of town, and the Mezquita-Catedral with its many dazzling façades. But a part of her heart will always soar far beyond the horizon, over mountains and seas, through the dawn to the faraway East.
Offices & Awards
- Chronicler, Crown Province of Østgarðr (since 2019)
Award of Arms, given by Queen Margarita de' Siena, January A.S. LIV Member of the Order of the Sea Star, given by il-Khanate of Østgarðr, multiple occasions
Event Co-Steward with Armiger Catelin Straquhin, Fort Tryon Medieval Festival ("Cloisters Demo"), 2019
In Case of Court
- "Love sought is good, but giv'n unsought is better." —William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night
Surprise honors are lovely and appreciated; however, I do tend to miss Court, so it might be good to give me a heads-up shortly beforehand if one is planned.