Writing in the Marinid period was akin to zillij-making.

Even the most mundane correspondence put out by the ruler’s Department of Insha (letterwriting, also style, contrivance and, significantly, construction work) was composed with an obsessive attention to ornament, the prose rhymed and sometimes internally sub-rhymed. Only airmail letters escaped prolixity. Written on lightweight ‘bird-paper’ and flown by carrier pigeon, they were restricted to what one authority called ‘the marrow, the cream of words’.


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