I blow kisses to anyone but reserve my cheeks for my man.
We know nothing of Wallada’s childhood, though it is certain that she was well educated and probably wanted for nothing. Her father was extremely wealthy and she was only child. In her late childhood and adolescence she witnessed the fitna of Al-Andalus, a violent period of instability leading up to the collapse of the Caliphate of Cordoba and its breakup into numerous smaller states. Her father* was one of the men who took the throne in these tumultuous years only to be deposed and assassinated shortly thereafter, leaving her, his only child, fabulously wealthy.
Wallada used this wealth for two things: to live in extreme comfort with little thought for the disapproval of others and to collect about herself a wide variety of people, women and men from all classes of society, all of whom had some poetic ability. This group of people some of whom she supported financially met freely in her house with little care for others’ ideas of propriety. It is said that Wallada went outdoors unveiled, scandalizing the local mullahs, though whether this means she left her hair uncovered or just her face is unclear.** She dressed richly and had her poetry embroidered on her clothing.
She never married, choosing instead to have multiple love affairs, the most famous and passionate of which is the subject of nearly all of her surviving poetry: her relationship with the poet Ibn Zaydún. This was not a peaceful relationship, and it ended rather abruptly when she caught him having sex with her slave girl. Things escalated quickly between them until Ibn Zaydun was exiled from Cordoba. The two were eventually reconciled but never resumed their relationship.
Wallada lived a long and presumably comfortable life, never really changing her ways. She died in Cordoba where she had lived at the ripe old age of 97.
*Muhammad III of Cordoba.
**To me anyway and what sources I can find available to me on short notice aren’t really helping. Anyone know more about hijab in 11th century Al-Andalus and care to make a judgement? I’m honestly curious now.
"Wallada bint al-Mustakfi" in Poems for the New Millenium: Volume Four, edited by Pierre Jouris, Habib Tengour. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2012. [text is here]
Guthrie, Shirley. Arab Women in the Middle Ages. London: Saqi Books, 2001.
Fletcher, Richard. Moorish Spain. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992.
Wallada: una mujer fatal del siglo XI - Segunda Republica (in Spanish)
Wallada bint al-Mustakfi - Wikipedia
Muhammad III of Cordoba - Wikipedia
Ibn Zaydun - Wikipedia
Fitna of Al-Andalus - Wikipedia