ʿALAWAYH (or in Ṭabarī, III, p. 1149) AL-AʿSAR (“the Left-handed”), ABU’L-ḤASAN ʿALI B. ʿABDALLĀH B. SAYF, a noted singer at the ʿAbbasid court under Hārūn al-Rašīd and his successors, ca. 184-230/800-54. His grandfather, a captive from Soḡd, had been an Omayyad freedman (mawlā). ʿAlawayh was a pupil of Ebrāhīm al-Mawṣelī and is often mentioned with the latter’s son, Esḥāq, and with Moḵāreq, another singer of the time. ʿAlawayh favored the innovating “romanticist” school of Ebrāhīm b. al-Mahdī, and perhaps we are to see in his introduction of Persian elements into the old Arabic music some indication of national preference. But by the next century, according to the Aḡānī, the traditionalist views of Esḥāq b. Ebrāhīm Mawṣelī held the field.


Aḡānī X, pp. 120-32.

I. Guidi, Tables alphabétiques du Kitâb al-aġânî, Leiden, 1895-1900, pp. 493-94, 613-14.

Ṭabarī, III, 1149-51, 1162-63; (Cairo2), VIII, pp. 656-57, 665-66.

Ebn ʿAbd Rabbeh, al-ʿEqd al-farīd, ed. Aḥmad Amīn et al., 1368/1949, VI, pp. 31, 33, 37.

Fehrest, p. 96; tr. Dodge, p. 206.

H. G. Farmer, A History of Arabian Music to the XIIIth Century, London, 1929, p. 123 and index.

(D. M. Dunlop)

Originally Published: December 15, 1985

Last Updated: July 29, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. I, Fasc. 8, p. 804

Cite this entry:

D. M. Dunlop, “ʿALAWAYH,” Encyclopædia Iranica, I/8, p. 804; an updated version is available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/alawayh-or-in-tabari-iii-p (accessed on 17 May 2014).