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In Arab tradition, this is a woman educated to sing and recite classical poetry.
AKA Awallum. Singular: Almeh or Almee.
Edward Lane, writing in 1860: "There are also female professional singers. These are called Awálim; in the singular, A'l'meh, or A'limeh... an appellation literally signifying a learned female. The Awálim are often hired on the occasion of a fête in the hareem of a person of wealth... But when there is a party of male guests, they generally sit in the court, or in a lower apartment, to hear the songs of the Awálim, who, in this case, usually sit at a window of the hareem, concealed by the lattice-work. Some of them are also instrumental performers... They are often very highly paid. I have known instances of sums equal to more than fifty guineas being collected for a single A'l'meh from the guests at an entertainment in the house of a merchant, where none of the contributors were persons of much wealth. So powerful is the effect of the singing of a very accomplished A'l'meh, that her audience, in the height of their excitement, often lavish upon her sums which they can ill afford to lose. There are, among the Awálim in Cairo, a few who are not altogether unworthy of the appellation of learned females; having some literary accomplishments. There are also many of an inferior class, who sometimes dance in the hareem: hence, travelers have often misapplied the name of almée, meaning ál'meh, to the common dancing-girls, of whom an account will be given in another chapter of this work."
|Edward Lane, Account of The Manners and Customs of The Modern Egyptians, 1860, Print and Web.|
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