Ibn Daniyal

The thirteenth-century occulist Muhammad Ibn Daniyal, said to have occasionally blinded his patients, is remembered both for his tragic optometry and for his comedic shadow puppet plays. A refugee from Mosul, Ibn Daniyal once entertained Sultans and urchins alike in the streets and salons of medieval Cairo. Perhaps he was better at summoning the shadows than the light. His Tayf al-Khayāl trilogy (“The Shadow Spirit”) is known as the only work of Arabic drama to have survived from the pre-modern period in its entirety.

Read More: An Evening with Ibn Daniyal