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MU’ALLEM JIRJIS AL-JAWHARI, ISLAM, NAPLEON BONAPARTE AND THE COPT’S CASHMERE TURBAN المعلم جرجس الجوهري، نابليون بونابرت، الغيار الإسلامي والعمامة الكشميري

October 13, 2011

HOW THEY SAW THE COPTS: MU’ALLEM Jirjis Al-Jawhari BY THE FRENCH PAINTER MICHEL RIGO

كيف رأوا الأقباط: بورتريه المعلم جرجس الجوهري بواسطة الفنان الفرنسي ميشيل ريقو

 

Today, I want to introduce my readers to another painting of a Copt. It may be the earliest portrait of a Copt by a European painter. This time it is a portrait of one of the great Copts at the end of the 18th Century and the beginning of the 19th Century. The person I am talking about is Mu’allem[1] Jirjis al-Jawhari (d. 1810) who was chief archon of the Copts كبير الأراخنة,[2] and minister of finance during the French Expedition in Egypt (1798 – 1801). He was appointed by Napoleon Bonaparte by an order dated 30 July 1798,[3] only a few days after the decisive Battle of the Pyramids, on 21 July, in which Napoleon destroyed the power of the oppressive Mamlukes in Egypt. His official title was l’Intendant Général de l’Égypte (kabeer al-mubashir, in Arabic كبير المباشرين; General Steward of Egypt). Prior to the French, Jirjis al-Jawhari had been the financial chief of the Mamluk Murad Bey since the death of his elder brother and equally great Copt, Ibrahim al-Jawhari (d. 1795).[4] When the French left Egypt, he remained minister of finance for the Anglo-Turkish condominium (1801 – 1803), and then afterwards until his services were terminated by the greedy Muhammad Ali in 1805. Jirjis al-Jawhari personally knew so many famous leaders of the period, including Murad Bey, Ibrahim Bey, Napoleon Bonaparte, Jean Baptiste Kléber, Jacques-François de Menou, Louis Charles Antoine Desaix, Augustin Daniel Belliard, Poussielgue, General John Hely-Hutchinson, Yousif Pasha Dhia, Muhammad Khusraw Pasha, Tahir Pasha, Ahmad Pasha Khurshid, Muhammad Ali, and many others. Al-Jawahri was the leading lay Copt of the time – no other Coptic leader had reached his stature, except the equally great Mu’allem (and General) Ya’coub the Copt.[5] He is regarded by the Coptic Orthodox Church as a saint; and his name has been added to the official Coptic Church synaxarium. His departure to the land of the living, as Copts see death, is celebrated each year on 17 Tut (he died on 17 Tut 1527 AM; 26 September 1810 AD). The goodness of the man was not in dispute – even Abdel Rahman al-Jabarti,[6] the Muslim annalist of the period, and a notorious hater of the Copts, could not find except good words for him at his death.[7]

This is not the place to write a detailed biography of Jirjis al-Jawhari – his biography is adequately, but not fully, covered by Herald Motzki in the Coptic Encyclopedia. The article is now in the public domain (thanks to a joint project by Macmillan and the Claremont Graduate University [CGU] School of Religion, which has started the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia). You can find the entry for Jirjis Al-Jawhari here:

http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/cce&CISOPTR=1081[8]

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Napoleon Bonaparte’s order by which Jirjis al-Jawhari was appointed General Steward of all Egypt.[9]

2895. – ordre.

Quartier général, au Caire, 12 thermidor an VI (30 juillet 1798)

Bonaparte, général en chef, ordonne:

Article 1″. —Girgès-el-Ghouary est nommé intendant général pour la perception du myry de toute l’Egypte, ainsi que pour la perception du feddàn des villages qui appartiennent aux beys et aux Mameluks.

Art. 2. — Tous les intendants des provinces de l’Egypte seront tenus de correspondre avec lui.

Art. 3. — 11 y aura deux interprètes nommés pour pouvoir correspondre avec le général en chef ou l’ordonnateur en chef, en français ou en italien.

BONAPARTE. Collection Napoléon.

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Jirjis al-Jawhari’s portrait was painted by the French artist, Michel Rigo (1770 – 1815), who was of Genoese origin.[10] Rigo was a young member of the Commission des Sciences et des Arts (Commission of the Sciences and Arts) – a body of learned French people (mathematicians, astronomers, civil engineers, geographers, architects, artists, etc.) that was set up in 1789. In 1798, 151 of its members, including Rigo, accompanied Bonaparte’s campaign in Egypt.[11]When in Egypt, Rigo executed many artistic works. The original drawings by Rigo, which were made in Egypt, are in the collections of Prince Napoleon in Paris.[12] It is believed that he based many of his known oil paintings on the sketches he had made while in Egypt; and al-Jawhari’s painting was not an exception.

We know that Rigo was asked by Napoleon when in Egypt to paint the portraits of five of the Muslim religious leaders (Cheikh Abd Allâh al-Sharqâwi; Cheikh Khalil-El-Bakri; Cheikh Mohammed El-Mahdi; Cheikh Aboul-Anouar Al-Sadate);[13] and  one Copt, Mu’allem Jirjis al-Jawhari. Most probably the portraits he had made were pencil on paper and not oil on canvas. We are told that they were exhibited in the salon of the French commander-in-chief, and that they were admired by other Egyptians, including the al-Jabarti.[14] Rigo left Egypt with the French army in August 1801, and took his drawings with him. In France, he exhibited oil on canvas portraits of the six Egyptians, which were based on his pencil drawings, at the Salon, Paris, from 1804-1810.

The pencil on paper portrait of Mu’allem Jirjis al-Jawhari, which is 42 cm in height and 34 cm in length, is kept at the Musée de l’Armée (The Army Museum) in Paris,[15] in its Collection Particulière section, with other portraits of leading Egyptian politicians of the time, all grouped under “Element d’une série de portraits de chefs égyptiens”. Jirjis al-Jawahri’s portrait is titled “Moallem Guerguis Koft (Cheikh Maalem Guerguis ou Guerguess El-Gohari)”. The name of Jirjis al-Jawhari (which is the way it is spelled in the Coptic Encyclopedia) has been written in divers ways by the French (and English), as we shall see. ‘Koft’ is one of the French words for Copt (another one is ‘Cophte’)[16] before ‘Copte’ was made standard in the second half of the 19th Century.[17]

 Figure 1: Portrait of Mu’allem Jirjis al-Jawhari which is kept at the Musée de l’Armée, Paris, and titled “Moallem Guerguis Koft”[18]

This then seems to be the original portrait which Michele Rigo drew in Egypt on the request of Napoleon Bonaparte, and which was seen by Mu’allem Jirjis al-Jawhari himself; and on which all other portraits, oil on canvass, which we will see shortly, are based. Al-Jawhari (head, shoulders and chest), smoking an elegant, ornamented chibouk,[19] which he holds by his left hand, cut a striking figure.  The face is smart and bulky but thinner than what the later oil on canvass portraits show: the forehead is broad; the eye brows are tidy and long; the eyes are oblong; the nose is narrow, straight and a bit curved; the mouth is small and thin-lipped; the moustache and beard are neat. He puts on a splendid garment; wears a large turban embroidered with filigree; and throws on his left shoulder a similarly filigreed shawl, which is ornamented at the end by little Coptic crosses.

I think this original black and white, pencil on paper, portrait captures the features and personality of Mu’allem Jirjis al-Jawhari more accurately than the later coloured, oil on canvass, portraits of him. He comes across as an honest, sincere, intelligent and competent man. Furthermore, he does not hide his Christian and Coptic identity – he shows it by the crosses on his shawl that he proudly throws over his left shoulder. These are the attributes which I should imagine elevated him to the position of leadership within his Coptic community; and made him trustworthy and successful with Egypt’s various rulers of the time.

It appears that there are various later versions of this original pencil on paper portrait of Jirjis al-Jawhari – all in colour, oil on canvas. They are kept at several prestigious sites in France. I could locate four of these:[20]

  1. The Château de Malmaison (The Malmaison Castle Museum, in the city of Rueil-Malmaison, about 7 miles from Paris):[21] the 80 cm in height and 66 cm in length, painting of Jirjis al-Jawhari is here given the title “Portrait du cheikh Guerguess El-Gohari (? – 1809)” (Portrait of Sheikh Guerguess El-Gohari). Of all the oil on canvass series of al-Jawhari’s portraits, this seems to be the closest to the original pencil on paper drawing; however, there is no mistake that he is here much puffier than reality and lacking in the lively features that one finds in the original drawing. Perhaps the striking feature of this picture, which is not shown in the original drawing, is that it shows al-Jawhari’s oriental rich costume in all its splendour, with a beautiful ornamented cashmere turban that reflects his officially recognised position of honour, respect and authority within the State. This is no little deal – before the French Expedition, the Copts were not recognised as deserving of equal dignity and respect as the Muslims. A man’s attire, particularly his headgear, carried extra-ordinary meaning and significance to the Muslims: a turban – particularly white or brightly coloured, and made of rich fabric such as cashmere – was to be worn only by Muslims while the infidel (kuffar) non-Muslims were banned from wearing it.[22]Copts, even those employed by the State, were expected to wear the cheapest, darkest and most non-decorative attire. This was supposed to mark their low and degraded position in the eyes of Allah and within his political community. The French altered all that – in direct contravention to the dictates of political Islam they, at least theoretically, elevated the socio-political position of the Copts to that of citoyens (citizens), as we shall see in more detail shortly.

Figure 2: Portrait du cheikh Guerguess El-Gohari (? – 1809) at the Château de Malmaison in France (it carries the Inventory Number MM.40.47.178)[23]

  1. The Château de Versailles (Palace of Versailles, in Versailles in the Île-de-France region of France; 30 minute rail trip from the heart of Paris):[24] al-Jawhari’s painting is displayed in the “Salles Empire”, on the ground floor of the south aisle of the palace; and is given the title: “Portrait du Cheikh Gawharî Georges, intendant des impôts de l’Egypte au moment de l’Expédition d’Egypte en 1798/1800” (Portrait of Sheikh Gawhar George, steward of tax of Egypt at the Egyptian Expedition in 1798/1800). It measures 79.5 cm in height and 62.5 cm in length. Perhaps this is the least accurate in reflecting the real physiognomy of Jirjis al-Jawhari – the face is now almost round; the body obese (fingers short and bulky); the colour paler; the face expression vacant and less lively. One can see that the folds in his clothing are poorly and hastily painted. The chibouk, which looks thick-stemmed and plain, is now held with the right hand. The shawl shows some decoration; but the cashmere turban, even though it is brighter in matching with the general tone of the portrait, is less detailed in its filigree.

 Figure 3: Portrait du Cheikh Gawharî Georges, intendant des impôts de l’Egypte au moment de l’Expédition d’Egypte en 1798/1800 at the Château de Versailles (it carries Inventory Number MV6834)[25]You can see that ‘EL GEOARI’ is inscribed just above the turban

  1. The Château de Grosbois[26] (a French castle in Boissy-Saint-Léger, Val-de-Marne, about 10 miles southeast from the centre of Paris). I have written to the managers of Grosbois asking for information about this version of al-Jawhari’s portrait but have not received a response.
  2. The German Embassy in Paris, which occupies what had formerly been Hôtel Beauharnais. Again, I wrote to the cultural office in the embassy asking about details of al-Jawhari’s painting which they possess, but received no reply.

 Figure 4: A Copt (wearing the black ghi’yar attire) by the Austrian artist, Leopold Carl Müller; possibly in 1875/6.[27] An officer in the British army that landed in Egypt in 1801, describes the dark-brown turban as “the badge of slavery (for it approaches very near that)”[28]

On 2 July 1798 the French landed in Egypt and occupied Alexandria under the leadership of Napoleon Bonaparte; soon to end the hated Mamlukes and Ottoman rule and to usher in a new era for all Egypt and for the Copts in particular. The Copts are the direct descendants of the ancient Egyptians, who turned Christians in the early centuries of our era during the Roman and Byzantine periods. They, however, since the Arab occupation of Egypt in 640 AD, and until our modern age,[29] had been under the heavy yoke of foreign Muslims.[30] Apart from short periods of relative relief, the Copts had suffered untold stories of oppression, persecution and humiliation during the many centuries that had preceded the arrival of the French in the northern shores of Egypt. The Muslims, who saw in the Copts only a golden goose, or a cow to milk,[31] tightened up the noose round their neck; and to control them, they banned them from carrying weapons, possessing mules and horses, and displaying any sign of power, wealth or honour. The Copts had to be insulted and humiliated, and to be made different and readily distinguishable from the Muslims to whom only human dignity was allocated. One way of achieving this was by forcing the Copts to wear distinctive attire (called ‘ghi’yar’) that served two purposes: first, it was humiliating in itself (for it must be simple, cheap, dark and lacking in ornamentation); and, second, but more importantly, it served as a visible marker of the infidel Copt, so that Muslims could avoid treating them in any respectable way, or as humans should treat humans, such as saluting them; standing up for them; congratulating them, or wishing them good, at public or religious feasts; allowing them to walk on the right of the Muslim or in wide lanes; and permitting them to escape any of the many restricting and degrading injunctions of Islam on the non-Muslims.[32]  Throughout the history of Islamic Egypt, these injunctions were revived every while and then when they seemed to have been neglected. In 1739 an influential Muslim scholar, Sheikh Ahmad al-Damanhuri, who was later to become the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar (1768-1776), issued a famous fatwa in which he reviewed all the literature of Islam on the position of Christians (and Jews) in Islamic societies. This fatwa remained the basic law for the treatment of the Copts for much of the time in the decades that preceded the French Expedition. An important part of his fatwa was dedicated to the important issue of the clothing of the non-Muslims, their mounts and their prohibition from carrying arms:

“The dhimmis must not imitate the Muslims in garb, wear military attire; …bear arms on their holidays, or carry them at all, or keep them in their homes. Should they do anything of the sort, they must be punished, and the arms seized. Neither Jew nor Christian should ride a horse, with or without saddle. They may ride asses with a packsaddle. They must not wear the qaba (full-sleeved garment), silk garments, turbans, but may wear quilted qalansuwa [conical bonnet] headgear. If they pass by a Muslim assembly, they must dismount, and they may ride only in an emergency such as sickness or leaving for the country, and their path is to be made narrow. They must not imitate the garb of the men of learning and honor, or wear luxurious garb, silk, or, say, fine cloth. They must be distinguished from ourselves in attire, as the local custom of each area may have it, but without adornment, so that it indicates their humiliation, submission, and abasement. Their shoelaces must not be like ours. Where closed shoes are worn, not laced footwear, their shoes should be coarse, of unpleasant (unadorned) color. The Companions [of the Prophet] agreed upon these points in order to demonstrate the abasement of the infidel and to protect the weak believer’s faith. For if he sees them humbled, he will not be inclined toward their belief, which is not true if he sees them in power, pride, or luxury garb, as all this urges him to esteem them and incline toward them, in view of his own distress and poverty.”[33], [34]

With the arrival of Napoleon the Coptic lot seemed to have changed for ever. The French could not agree to all this rubbish, and brought with them their revolutionary ideals of Liberté, égalité, fraternité (French for “liberty, equality, fraternity”). Despite Bonaparte’s flirting with Islam, the French were not prepared to tolerate mistreatment and exclusion of a great and useful nation as the Copts. Although Napoleon did not appoint any Copts in the first consultative assemblies,[35] which he had founded in Egypt shortly after his triumphant entry into Cairo on 24 July 1798, he relied on Copts in other areas: for instance, he appointed Mu’allem Malati chief of the law courts;[36] and Mu’allem Jirjis al-Jawhari, in addition to his role as general steward, a member of the committee which prepared all bills and topics for discussion in the General Diwan. This committee, which Napoleon personally chaired, included, besides al-Jawhari, Poussielgue (manager of the expedition’s financial affairs) and Sucy (manager of the expedition’s army affairs), and convened on daily basis.[37] Bonaparte was not prepared to allow his helpers to be treated in a degraded way. In keeping with oriental traditions, Napoleon decided to honour his top officials, Muslim and Copts, who served him, with official vestments.

On 22 September 1798, the French celebrated their New Year Day according to the Republican Calendar, and all Egyptian grandees were invited, including the leading Copts, all wearing their best attire. As al-Jabarti tells us: “That morning, they (the French) fired several cannons and they placed upon every wooden pole one of their coloured bandiera. They beat their drums and their soldiers assembled in the Birka, the cavalry, the infantry, and the carabineers. The Shaykhs, the grandees, the Copts, and the Shamis arrived at the house of their eminent chief, the Sari ‘Askar, and sat there part of the day. The Copts attired themselves with their most splendid garments.  Jirjis al-Jawhari, the chief of the Copts, wore a kurka (a fur garment) similar to the full-dress of the viziers, embroidered with filigree (qasab) from the shoulders to the cuffs. Also along the front of the garment were embroidered sun-like ornaments (shamasat) of filigree with buttons. Philotheos[38] wore a long-sleeved robe (farajiyya) embroidered with filigree along its sleeves and front. All of them wore cashmere turbans, rode on agile mules, and expressed great joy on that day.”[39] Those splendid attires of the Copts, including that of Jirjis al-Jawhari, were given them by Bonaparte himself as a token of the highest honour from the government, as was traditional then, and they were supposed to wear these at official events.[40]

With the raising of the status of Coptic archons (notables), and the honour accorded to them by the French, the rest of the Copts were encouraged; and so the people demanded the removal of ghi’yar and all that marked them as an inferior nation. Jirjis al-Jawhari, the chief of Coptic archons, joined his people to achieve that. As Herald Motzki writes: “Al-Jawhari’s willingness to support the French was motivated by the conviction that the Coptic community would have a better future under such a government than under Muslim rule, be it Mamluk or Ottoman. During the first months of French rule in Egypt, he went to Napoleon on behalf of his community to ask for the suppression of discrimination against Dhimmis (people of the Covenant) and establishment of freedom of religion with no distinction. Napoleon granted some of his requests immediately, in anticipation of earning further Coptic support. Al-Jawhari’s sympathy for the French remained unshaken even after their failure. When, more than a year later, one of Napoleon’s envoys visited Egypt, he highly praised al-Jawhari. According to the French officer, al-Jawhari offered him regular reports on the Egyptian situation and a promise of Coptic support in case of any future plans in the Orient.”[41], [42]  Indeed, we know from a letter by Napoleon Bonaparte to Jirjis al-Jawhari, dated 7 December 1798,[43] that al-Jawhari had earlier handed him a letter in the name of la nation copte (the Coptic nation) that included certain requests. The original letter of the Coptic nation is not extant;[44] however, it is probable that it was written by Jirjis al-Jawhari expressing the wishes of his people after having consulted with prominent Copts, both lay and clergy. People al-Jawaheri might have consulted could have included Mu’allem Malati, Mu’allem Philotheos, Mu’allem Ya’coub, Mu’allem Anton Abu Taqiya,[45] and Patriarch Mark VIII (1796 – 1809).[46] The impoverished and oppressive conditions of the Coptic nation and their Church under the Ottoman and Mamluke rule before the arrival of the French are known; less known perhaps are the atrocities that the Copts were exposed to at the hands of the Turks, Mamlukes and Arabs at the beginning of the French Expedition and thereafter. It is often assumed that what is called the First Cairo Revolution (21 October 1798) was not associated with any attacks against the Copts – that is incorrect; and serious research will show the myth of it. The truth is that many Copts were massacred and their possessions looted at that period, not just in Cairo but in all towns and villages of Egypt.[47] It is not surprising then that the Coptic nation’s demands included security and protection of the Copts against such attacks; punishment of those who murdered Copts in various villages of Egypt; stopping the humiliating laws and practices that had been imposed on the Copts; permitting the Copts to carry weapons to protect themselves, mount mules and horses, and wear turbans and dress as they liked; freedom of religion and public worship. Napoleon, who addressed al-Jawhari as “Citoyen (Citizen)”,[48]granted the Copts all those demands – some immediately, like the carrying of weapons, mounting mules and horses, and dressing up as they wished; some, like the freedom of worship in public, he promised to achieve, as he said, “when circumstances permit, which I expect not to be far, I will grant it (the Coptic nation) the right to practice its religion publicly, as is customary in Europe, where each follows his belief (freely).” He had good words for the Coptic Patriarch, and promised to address his grievances: “I will do justice to your patriarch whose virtues and intentions are known to me.”[49] There is no doubt that Napoleon Bonaparte intended to “return to the Coptic nation its dignity and inalienable rights of man that it had lost”. He, however, demanded in return that the Copts showed “zeal and fidelity in the service of the (French) Republic”. Here we are hearing here a new language; the Copts were being addressed in the revolutionary language of the French Revolution – it seemed that a new dawn had arrived for the Copts. No one can fail to see in that French declaration of freedom and equality for the Copts a different type of contract: protection, although it was closely linked to loyalty, came first. It was a social contract based on citizenship and the universal values of human dignity and the rights of man as the modern world recognised them. This was in sharp contrast with the Islamic dhimmitude contract (a’qd al-zhimma) which only offered a degraded kind of existence for absolute submission to Muslim sovereignty. Following that declaration, Napoleon appointed on 21 December 1798 four Coptic members[50] to his new consultative assembly that replaced the first assemblies, and which did not include Copts, and which he had to abolish soon after the First Cairo Revolution. That was significant, for it meant that the Copts, for the first time since 640 AD, would share in legislation for all Egyptians, Muslim and non-Muslims. That must have sounded like anathema to the Muslims of the time.

As we know, the French presence did not last in Egypt, and in July-November 1801 their gallant forces evacuated Egypt under military pressure from the British and the Ottomans; and with them left also some of the Copts who fought the oppressive Ottomans, Mamluks and Arabs alongside the French.[51] The Turks returned to Egypt with all their prejudices, cruelty and hate of the non-Muslims. But the British would not allow them to oppress the Copts – we know from contemporary journals that they prevented the Turks from committing atrocities against the Copts.[52] The British under the leadership of General Hutchinson, no less than the French, were keen about protecting the Copts against any reprisals by the Muslims. With the British in Egypt, in what is occasionally described as the First British Occupation of Egypt (1801 – 1803), the Coptic position was secure. Jirjis al-Jawhari was confirmed in his position as General Steward, and as we are told by Jabarti, he used to sit side by side with Muhammad Khesrw Pasha, the first Ottoman Wali (1802-1803),[53] and smoke chibouk – unmistakable sign of respect and state-recognised dignity.[54]   

                                              

When the British left Egypt, however, in March 1803, the Coptic situation started to deteriorate again;and as we read, two prominent Copts, Mu’allem Malati and Mu’allem Anton Abu-Taqiyya, were executed by Tahir Pasha, the Turkish Wali (1 May – 26 May 1803) for their money.[55] Contrary to what many think, Muhammad Ali did not try to abolish the many socio-political restrictions on the Copts. However, there is no doubt that the security he had achieved after the massacre of the Mamlukes in 1811, and the suppression of the lawlessness of Arab tribes – coupled with the employment of many Copts and Europeans in his expanding administration – have all benefited the Copts and created a somewhat relative tolerance.[56] A few months after his ascension to power in 1805, he imprisoned Jirjis al-Jawhari, and later forced him into exile, because the latter did not cooperate with his notorious exploitive taxation policy. In his place, Muhammad Ali found another Copt, Mu’allem Ghali, who was not so scrupulous.[57] Muhammad Ali’s preserved the humiliating and discriminating ‘ghiyar’, for which we have plenty of evidence.  We are told by a gloating al-Jabarti that Muhammad Ali issued in 1817 an edict, ordering the Copts and Greeks to strictly wear “their dress of blue and black” and prohibiting them from putting on white turbans, “for they exceeded all limits in everything – they wore brightly-coloured and expensive cashmere turbans; they mounted mules and horses, surrounded by attendants who carried staffs to clear their way of pedestrians; they carried weapons, and went out to the wilderness to train in shooting.”[58]Tourists, researchers, missionaries and politicians who visited Egypt during the reign of Muhammad Ali tell us that the humiliating code of dress was forced on the Copts.[59] In fact, that hateful gh’yar was not officially abolished until the days of Said Pasha (1854 – 1863); and only as a result of international pressure from the European powers that, following the Crimean War, imposed on the Ottoman Empire, and its satellite states, such as Egypt, the Hamayouni Decree (1856). But even after that, it was a slow change of affair; and for decades Copts were seen, and drawn, by European artists wearing black attire (as in Figure 4). The slow process was accelerated only with the arrival of the British again in Egypt in 1882.

How to cite this article: Dioscorus Boles (13 October 2011), MU’ALLEM Jirjis Al-Jawhari , ISLAM, NAPLEON BONAPARTE AND THE COPT’S CASHMERE TURBAN, https://copticliterature.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/mu%e2%80%99allem-jirjis-al-jawhari-islam-napleon-bonaparte-and-the-copt%e2%80%99s-cashmere-turban/




[1] The word ‘Mu’allem’ means teacher or educator in Arabic. It was given to prominent Copts during that time.

[2] The word ‘archon’ is Greek in origin, meaning ‘ruler’ or ‘lord’. The Copts adopted it in their language, and during the Islamic period, Copts called those of their nation who are in a position of power or influence, either because of their position in the administration or because of their wealth, archons. But there is another qualification – the term donates respect by the Coptic community; and only powerful Copts who worked for their nation and Church are given the title.

[3] Correspondence de Napoléon I: publiée par ordre de l’empereur Napoléon III (1860); Vol. IV; p. 282.

[4] See: The Coptic Encyclopedia; ed. Atiya, Aziz Surial; Vol. 4; 1991. You can find an electronic copy for it at the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia homepage: http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/cce&CISOPTR=1021&CISOBOX=1&REC=14

[5] Ya’coub, or Jacob, the Copt, (1755-1801) was the Steward General for Upper Egypt. Unlike Jirjis al-Jawhari, he joined with the French army to fight the combined forces of the Mamlukes, Turks and Arabs. He left Egypt in August 1801 but died on board the ship which was sailing to Marseille possibly having been poisoned by the Turks.

[6] Abdel Rahman al-Jabarti (1753 – 1825), a Muslim Egyptian historian and scholar, who spent most of his time in Cairo. He wrote about the events during the French Expedition and around it.

[7] al-mukhtar min tarikh al-jabarti; selected by Muhammad Gandeel al-Baghli; Vol. II (Al-Shaab Press; Cairo; 1959); p. 807. Jabarti praised al-Jawhari for the presents he used to give the Muslim grandees (and I suspect including himself); and also for his trying to restrain Muhammad Ali’s greed that was reflected in his excessive taxation policy.

[8] For more about Jirjis al-Jawhari, and for those who can read Arabic, the author recommends, Silsilat Tarikh al-Batarika, Part 5, by Kamel Salih Nakhla (Cairo; 1951); pp. 68-76.

[9] Correspondence de Napoléon I: publiée par ordre de l’empereur Napoléon III (1860); Vol. IV; p. 282.

[10] It is hard to find any biography of Michele Rigo in English. The French-reading reader can consult the following article for more about the artist: Charles Otto Zieseniss, “Un orientaliste bien oublié : Michel Rigo” in the Revue du Souvenir napoléonien, n°291.

[11] Abdel Rahman al-Rafi’i, in his book “tarikh al-haraka al-qu’omiya wa ta’ta’wur nizam al-hokm fi masr”; vol. I (Dar al-Ma’arif; Cairo; 1928), mentions two other artists who accompanied Bonaparte to Egypt, Redoutė and Dutertre.

[12] Private correspondence with Frédéric Lacaille, conservateur en charge, des peintures du XIXe siècle, et des prêts aux expositions, Château de Versailles, Pavillon Dufour – RP 834, 78008 Versailles cedex (01 30 83 75 57; frederic.lacaille@chateauversailles.fr). I am also grateful for his help in finding the locations of the different copies of al-Jawhari’s portrait.

[13] For these Muslim sheikhs, see: Rafi’i; Part 2; pp. 263-286. See their portraits here:

–          Portrait du cheikh Abdallah Al-Charkawi, président du Diwan du Caire: http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=166&FP=14706433&E=2K1KTSUB497IU&SID=2K1KTSUB497IU&New=T&Pic=118&SubE=2C6NU0QOL359

–          Portrait du cheikh Aboul-Anouar Al-Sadate, vice- président du Diwan du: http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=166&FP=14706433&E=2K1KTSUB497IU&SID=2K1KTSUB497IU&New=T&Pic=119&SubE=2C6NU0QOLMBU

–          Portrait du cheikh Suleiman El-Fayoumi (? – 1814): http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=166&FP=14706433&E=2K1KTSUB497IU&SID=2K1KTSUB497IU&New=T&Pic=121&SubE=2C6NU0QO6VRB

–          Portrait du cheikh Khalil-El-Bakri (? – 1808): http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=166&FP=14706433&E=2K1KTSUB497IU&SID=2K1KTSUB497IU&New=T&Pic=122&SubE=2C6NU0QO6PEQ

–          Portrait du cheikh Mohammed El-Mahdi (? – 1814): http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=166&FP=14706433&E=2K1KTSUB497IU&SID=2K1KTSUB497IU&New=T&Pic=123&SubE=2C6NU0QO6WLP

All these portraits are kept at the Malmaison in France. One can see their rich attire –richer than that which Jirjis al-Jawhari is wearing in his portrait.

For the original drawings for these Muslim grandees, go, respectively, to:

http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=21&FP=19928844&E=2K1KTSULLUCRA&SID=2K1KTSULLUCRA&New=T&Pic=11&SubE=2C6NU0PQLB31

http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=21&FP=19928844&E=2K1KTSULLUCRA&SID=2K1KTSULLUCRA&New=T&Pic=14&SubE=2C6NU0PQLZ5I

http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=21&FP=19932722&E=2K1KTSULL5O3H&SID=2K1KTSULL5O3H&New=T&Pic=8&SubE=2C6NU0PQLIS8

http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=21&FP=19928844&E=2K1KTSULLUCRA&SID=2K1KTSULLUCRA&New=T&Pic=13&SubE=2C6NU0PQLGWX

http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=21&FP=19928844&E=2K1KTSULLUCRA&SID=2K1KTSULLUCRA&New=T&Pic=12&SubE=2C6NU0PQL5J8

They are all kept at the Collection particulière together with the original drawing of Jirjis al-Jawhari.

[14] Robert Solé, Les savants de Bonaparte, Paris, Seuil, 1998, p.139.

[15] Musée de l’Armée, Hôtel des Invalides, 129 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris, France. You can access the museum’s official websit here: http://www.invalides.org/pages/menu.html

[16] See, e.g. A. B. Clot Bey, Aperçu général sur l’Égypte; Vol. II (Paris; 1840); pp. 132 – 139.

[17] It took sometime for ‘Copte’ to be used by all French writers even though it was the form used by Volney, Constantin-François de Chasseboeuf (1757-1820 ; comte de) in his Voyage en Syrie et en Égypte, pendant les années 1783, 1784 et 1785; which was published in 1787, eleven years before the French Expedition. Volney, in his chapter “Des diverses races des habitans de l’Egypte”, uses “des Coptes” for the Copts (pp. 67-90).

[18] See this picture here: http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=35&FP=14676258&E=2K1KTSUB4TIVB&SID=2K1KTSUB4TIVB&New=T&Pic=21&SubE=2C6NU0PQLVPR

[19] Also spelled chibougue (‘biba  بيبة’ in Arabic; or ‘shabak شبك ‘). It is a Turkish tobacco pipe with a long stem and a red clay bowl.

[20] Private correspondence with Frédéric Lacaille.

[21] See its official website here: http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/

[22] About the importance of the headgear in Muslim societies, see: Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: 2,000 Years of History from the Rise of Christianity to the Present Day (London; 1997); pp. 3-7.

[23] Find it on the internet here: http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=166&FP=14706433&E=2K1KTSUB497IU&SID=2K1KTSUB497IU&New=T&Pic=120&SubE=2C6NU0QO6EXR

[24] For more about the Palace of Versailles, check its homepage: http://en.chateauversailles.fr/homepage

[25] See it also at: http://www.photo.rmn.fr/cf/htm/CSearchZ.aspx?o=&Total=35&FP=19938526&E=2K1KTSULLFO1H&SID=2K1KTSULLFO1H&New=T&Pic=14&SubE=2C6NU0HZL7PY

[26] For more on this chateau, visit its homepage: http://www.passionchateaux.com/ch_grosbois.htm (French).

[27] From: Egypt: descriptive, historical, and picturesque (Aegypten in Bild und Wort) by George Ebers. Translated from the Original German By Clara Bell. With an introduction and notes by S. Birch, D.C.L., LL.D., F.S.A., Keeper of the Department of Oriental Antiquities in the British Museum; President of the Society of Biblical Archœology, etc., etc., etc. VOL. I. (Cassell & Company, Limited: New York, London, Paris & Melbourne; 1879); p. 35. You can find an electronic copy here: http://scholarship.rice.edu/jsp/xml/1911/19582/1305/EbePict.tei-timea.html#p035

[28] A Non-Military Journal, or Observations Made in Egypt by An Officer upon the Staff of the British Army; describing the country, its inhabitants, their manners and customs; with anecdotes, illustrative of them (Printed by A. Wilson, Wild-Court; London; 1803); Letter II; p. 16.

[29] The writer believes that the beginning of the emancipation of the Copts can be dated to the 1850s; and not the beginning of the century, or the beginning of Muhammad Ali’s reign in 1805, as some have postulated.

[30] The history of the Copts is full with evidence of oppression and persecutions by the Islamic authorities. The writer, however, does not want to leave the impression that, because the system was basically evil, all Muslims were bad.

[31] See the exchanges between Umar I, the Second Caliph in Islam (634 – 644) and the ‘Amr ibn al-Asi, who conquered Egypt in 640 AD; in Alfred Butler, The Arab Conquest of Egypt (London; 1902); p. 489.

[32] For more on this matter, the reader is referred to the many works by Bat Ye’or, particularly Islam and Dhimmitude, Where Civilisations Collide; translated from the French by Miriam Kochan and David Littman (Printed in the USA; 2002); pp. 91 – 102, which cover such degradation measures as clothing, mounts, behaviour toward dhimmis, dwelling places and travelling and corvées.

[33] Bat Ye’or, The Dhimmi, Jews and Christians under Islam; translated from the French by David Maisel, Paul Fenton and David Littman (Associated University Presses; USA; 1996); p. 203.

[34] The whole of the fatwa of al-Damanhuri has been translated into English now. See: Shaykh Al-Damanhuri Against the Churches of Cairo (University of California publications: Near Eastern studies; Los Angeles; 1975); ed. Moshe Perlmann.

[35] Bonaparte created three types of assemblies (dawa’ween; sing. diwan) to help him in running the affairs of Egypt: one in Cairo, one for each province, and one for all Egypt, which was called al-Diwan al-A’am (General Assembly). For more on this, read: Abdel Rahman al-Rafi’i; Vol. 1; pp. 97-116.

[36] Al-Rifi’i; Vol. 1; p.112.

[37] Al-Rafi’i; vol. 1; p. 109.

[38] A prominent Copt at the time. Unlike, Jirjis al-Jawhari, Philotheos’ reputation was compromised with the Copts, although the detail of that is lacking. It is, therefore, in my opinion, that Coptic historians ignored him.

[39] Al-Jabartī’s Chronicle of the First Seven Months of the French Occupation of Egypt Muharram-Rajab 1213 (15 June – December 1798); edited and translated by S. Moreh (Brill; Leiden; 1975); p. 76.

[40] See Kamil Salih Nakhla, Silsilat (Part5); p. 70.

[41] The Coptic Encyclopedia; Vol. 4. http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/cce&CISOPTR=1081

[42] The French envoy of Napoleon that Herald Motzki alludes to was Mathieu Delesseps, the French Consul in Egypt, who arrived in Cairo on 2 August 1803; and, as Jabarti says, he was met by many Christian Copts and Syrians. See: Al-Rifi’i; Vol. 2; p.315. Following the execution of some of the prominent Copts and the worsening of the Coptic situation after the withdrawal of the British, it would seem that the Coptic leaders met up with the French Consul, hoping that the French might still be able to return.

[43] Correspondance de Napoléon Ier; publiée par ordre de l’empereur Napoléon III (1858); Vol. 5; pp. 184-5. All the volumes are available now in Internet Archive – you can access the 5th volume at http://www.archive.org/details/correspondancede05napouoft

[44] One would hope that that letter from the Coptic nation would be found one day in Napoleon’s files in France.

[45] One of the rich Coptic archons of the time. Details about his life are sparce. We know that he was possibly executed by the Ottomans after the British left Egypt in 1803. See also n. 56.

[46] For the Coptic patriarch, Mark VIII’s biography, read Shocri Mounir’s article in the Coptic Encyclopedia; Vol. V. An electronic copy of it could be found at the Claremont Coptic Encyclopedia here: http://ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/cce&CISOPTR=1278&CISOBOX=1&REC=15

[47] Read, e.g., Paul Strathern, Napoleon in Egypt, a Clash of Cultures (Random House; London; 2007); pp. 237-250.

[48] The French Revolution abolished the titles of nobility and the terms ‘monsieur’ and ‘madame’, and, in the spirit of égalité and fraternité, replaced them with a universal term for addressing all, without distinction based on social class or political power, ‘citoyen’ for men and ‘citoyenne’ for women (both meaning “citizen”).

[49] It is not clear from the letter what the grievances of Patriarch Mark VII were. I suspect his grievances were general, related to the attacks against the Copts, but might have pointed in a special way to the attacks on churches.

[50] The four Coptic members of the new assembly are: Mu’allem Lutf’alla al-Masri, Mu’allem Ibrahim Jurr al-A’yidh, Sheikh Ibrahim Maqar, and Sheikh Ibrahim Katib al-Surra. See: Al-Rafi’i; vol. 2; p. 24.

[51] These included Mu’allem (General) Ya’coub, his family, and several members of the Coptic Legion.

[52] Review: A Non-Military Journal, or Observations Made in Egypt by An Officer upon the Staff of the British Army; pp. 36 and 93-94.

[53] Muhammad Khusraw Pasha became Wali in January 1802 after Yousif Pasha Dhia, the Ottoman prime minister who came with the Turkish forces a year before to fight the French, had left.

[54] See al-mukhtar min tarikh al-jabarti; selected by Muhammad Gandeel al-Baghli; Vol. II (Al-Shaab Press; Cairo; 1959); p. 807. Jabarti says that the Ottoman authorities promoted al-Jawhari and put him in a position of authority “because of the presents and gifts he used to send them”. Jabarti’s hate of the Copts, even when he is obliged to praise one of them, is easily detected here. He adds, “They even used to call him Jirjis Effendi”; subtly disapproving of that honour. Effendi is a Turkish title of nobility meaning a lord or master; which was at a later stage given to senior civil servants. Egypt’s ruler, Muhammad Ali was used to be called Effendina (Our Effendi). Al-Jabarti was a staunch Islamists and would not approve of non-Muslims being given any honouring title.

[55] Jabarti tells us that Malati was executed on 19 May 1803 (al-mukhtar min tarikh al-jabarti; Vol. I; p. 522). He does not tell us about the execution of Anton Abu-Taqiyya but we know that from Coptic sources (tarikh al-umma al-qibtiyya by Yacoub Nakhla Rofaila (al-Tawfiq Press, Cairo; 1898; p. 296).

[56] See: Jacque Tagher, agbat wa muslimoun monzal fath al arabi ila a’am 1922 (Christians in Muslim Egypt: an historical study of the relations between the Copts and Muslims from 640 to 1922); published by the American, Canadian and Australian Coptic Associations (Jersey City; 1984); pp. 228-235.

[57] al-mukhtar min tarikh al-jabarti; Vol. II (Al-Shaab Press; Cairo; 1959); p. 807. Jabarti says Ghali agreed with the Pasha (Muhammad Ali) in his wishes, all and sunder.

[58] See Jacque Tagher; p. 231. It is unlikely that Jabarti was conveying an accurate picture of the Copts, which Muhammad Ali’s edict was supposed to change. One can easily detect the kind of Islamic rhetoric which is often used in such circumstances to oppress the Copts. Muhammad Ali was waging a war against the fanatic Wahbists of Arabia then; and he perhaps wanted to show his Islamic credentials to win his subjects to his side. Issuing a strict Islamic injunction against the poor Copts was a political tactic aimed to achieve a different objective.

[59] See, for example, Edward William Lane: An account of the manners and customs of the modern Egyptians, written in Egypt during the years 1833-1835. London. 1842. Pages 489-511 (Appendix on the Copts). You can access the book here: http://www.archive.org/stream/accountofmanners00laneuoft#page/n7/mode/2up

16 Comments leave one →
  1. October 14, 2011 9:32 pm

    Hi.
    As usual very informative and interesting, Napoleon Bonaparte an admirable statesman , his Napoleonic Code was a masterpiece for the time, he also abolished old laws restricting Jews to ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited Jews’ rights to property, worship, and careers.All the states under French authority applied Napoleon’s reforms. In Portugal, the State allowed Jews the same rights as other citizens and authorised them to open the synagogues for the first time in over 300 years. In Italy, in the Netherlands and in the German states, the Jews were able to take their place as free men for the first time in the society of their respective countries.
    Personally i think he accomplished a lot of good also.

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink
      October 15, 2011 4:35 am

      Mike, thank you very much. Napoleon Bonaparte was like Alexander the Great – both had huge mistakes but great legacies also: they helped in the progress of this world towards more freedom and equality for all. His fair policies for the Jews was just one example of the many good things he had made.

      How I wish the French were not dislodged from Egypt by the British in 1801 (for it was British power that did that; not Ottoman’s) and then left it to the Turks. The future of Egypt would have been completely different.

      Dioscorus

  2. Patrick Elyas permalink
    December 15, 2011 9:52 pm

    This is absolutely fascinating. Thank you Dioscores for opening our eyes to Coptic political roles in Mameluke and early Ottoman times and particularly for showing us the ties between the French and Copts in Egypt. I am currently working on a thesis exploring how European influence and education in Egypt empowered the Copts socially. This is all extremely relevant, and I really appreciate your sources. Do you have any particular source recommendations in English or French that further elaborate on the connections between the French and the Copts in 19th century Egypt? Specifically, do you know a specific source to which I can cite Mu’allam Jawhari’s promotion to be chief steward of egypt in 1798? Thanks.

  3. November 13, 2015 3:17 am

    I am so confused. If that’s Girgis al Gohary, what does Ibrahim al Gohary look like??? It seems as if I am seeing the same person when I do a google image search on Ibrahim al Gohary (or spelling changes like Jawhari, etc)

    • Dioscorus Boles permalink*
      November 13, 2015 11:23 am

      It is Jirjis Al-Jawhari and not his brother Ibrahim. Jirjis was the chief archons of the Copts during the French Expedition in Egypt, and it is the French who artistically immortalised him by painting his portraits.

  4. Dioscorus Boles permalink
    October 17, 2011 9:48 am

    Thanks, Fr Antonios Kaldas.

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