Culture
Graves of Georgian Mamelukes in Cairo Egypt
25 July, 2018
In one of the slums of Cairo there is a cemetery where you will find the graves of Georgian Mamelukes. The cemetery is called the Great Qarafa. It is located in the south eastern part of Cairo in the city of the dead. It is a long dense area of tombs and mausoleum structures, where some people live and work amongst the dead.
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Graves of Georgian Mamlukes, Photo courtesy: www.radiotavisupleba.ge

Mameluke is an Arabic word, meaning slave and most commonly used
to refer to Muslim slave soldiers and Muslim Rulers of slave origin. Mamelukes held high positions in the governance of Egypt for a long period of time. Georgian Mamelukes emerged in the city of Cairo in about 1517 when the Ottomans conquered Egypt.
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Great Qarafa, Photo courtesy: www.pavelgospodinov.photodeck.com

Prior to this conquest, young healthy Georgians were taken from the country as slave soldiers. Slaves were supposed to convert to Islam and change their original names. They were purchased by people of high status. One of the first Georgian owners of Mamelukes was Muhammad Bei Katamish. Most of his Mamelukes were Georgians. He gave them the possibility of gaining power in Egypt. He was killed by treachery in 1736.
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Ali Bey al-Kabir, Photo courtesy: www.wikipedia.org

Another successful Georgian Mameluke was Ali Bey al-Kabir, who originally came from the north western region of Abkhazia, Georgia. His Georgian name was Ioseb Mgebrishvili. He became the Chief of the Country. Ali Bey rebelled against the Ottomans in order to make Egypt independent. His rule ended following the betrayal of his most trusted general, Abu al-Dahab (the husband of his sister), which led to Ali Bey's exile then death outside the walls of Cairo.
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The film Mamluqi, Photo courtesy: www.burusi.wordpress.com

Georgian film Mamluqi directed by Davit Rondeli reflects the life of Georgian Mamelukes in Egypt. Two friends Gocha and Khvicha are purchased and raised as slaves in Egypt. They quickly rise in the ranks of the country. One of them tries to escape with a Georgian woman who was a captive in the harem. But the plan failed, and the woman was killed. The Georgian Mamelukes then accidentally come across each other in a battle. When Kvicha stabs Gocha, he murmurs some Georgian words. Kvicha recognizes his childhood friend and regrets killing him. Other Mamelukes then kill Kvicha, considering him a traitor.

First photo courtesy: www.pavelgospodinov.photodeck.com

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