Royal Women: Granddaughters of Fatima al-Zahra′
‘The Fatimids accorded the royal princesses a life of luxury and responsibility.’
In reverence to their descent from Fatima al-Zahra', the daughter of the Prophet and wife of Imam ‘Ali bin Abi Talib, the Fatimids accorded the royal princesses a life of luxury and responsibility, entrusting them important roles in public and political life. This attitude affected generally the treatment of women in contemporary society. Many women of the court held important political posts, and the sister of Caliph al-Hakim bi Amrillah, Sitt al-Mulk, even governed Egypt for four years in place of her infant brother. Many Fatimid women of rank managed their own wealth and were active in commercial business, owning ships that transported goods far and wide. Lavish lifestyles attested to their personal wealth: one princess by the name of ‘Abda left so many chests filled with gems, jewellery and treasures that 14 kg of wax was needed to seal them and 30 reams of paper to list their contents.
Pair of earrings

Around hegira 5th–6th century / AD 11th–12th century
National Museum of Damascus
Damascus, Syria
These exquisite earrings would have been worn by women of the Fatimid elite.