The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, Volume 1
by Richard F. Burton
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11
Home - Random Browse

[FN#610] Abdullah ibn Abbas was a cousin and a companion of the Apostle, also a well known Commentator on the Koran and conserver of the traditions of Mohammed.

[FN#611] I have noticed the antiquity of this father of our sextant, a fragment of which was found in the Palace of Sennacherib. More concerning the "Arstable" (as Chaucer calls it) is given in my "Camoens: his Life and his Lusiads," p. 381.

[FN#612] Arab. "Simiya" to rhyme with Kimiya (alchemy proper). It is a subordinate branch of the Ilm al-Ruhani which I would translate "Spiritualism," and which is divided into two great branches, "Ilwi or Rahmani" (the high or related to the Deity) and Sifli or Shaytani (low, Satanic). To the latter belongs Al-Sahr, magic or the black art proper, gramarye, egromancy, while Al- Simiya is white magic, electro-biology, a kind of natural and deceptive magic, in which drugs and perfumes exercise an important action. One of its principal branches is the Darb al-Mandal or magic mirror, of which more in a future page. See Boccaccio's Day x. Novel 5.

[FN#613] Chap. iii., 128. See Sale (in loco) for the noble application of this text by the Imam Hasan, son of the Caliph Ali.

[FN#614] These proverbs at once remind us of our old friend Sancho Panza and are equally true to nature in the mouth of the Arab and of the Spaniard.

[FN#615] Our nurses always carry in the arms: Arabs place the children astraddle upon the hip and when older on the shoulder.

[FN#616] Eastern clothes allow this biblical display of sorrow and vexation, which with our European garb would look absurd: we must satisfy ourselves with maltreating our hats

[FN#617] Koran xlviii., 8. It may be observed that according to the Ahadis (sayings of the Prophet) and the Sunnat (sayings and doings of Mahommed), all the hair should be allowed to grow or the whole head be clean shaven. Hence the "Shushah," or topknot, supposed to be left as a handle for drawing the wearer into Paradise, and the Zulf, or side-locks, somewhat like the ringlets of the Polish Jews, are both vain "Bida'at," or innovations, and therefore technically termed "Makruh," a practice not laudable, neither "Halal" (perfectly lawful) nor "Haram" (forbidden by the law). When boys are first shaved generally in the second or third year, a tuft is left on the crown and another over the forehead; but this is not the fashion amongst adults. Abu Hanifah, if I am rightly informed, wrote a treatise on the Shushah or long lock growing from the Nasiyah (head-poll) which is also a precaution lest the decapitated Moslem's mouth be defiled by an impure hand; and thus it would resemble the chivalry lock by which the Redskin brave (and even the "cowboy" of better times) facilitated the removal of his own scalp. Possibly the Turks had learned the practice from the Chinese and introduced it into Baghdad (Pilgrimage i., 240). The Badawi plait their locks in Kurun (horns) or Jadail (ringlets) which are undone only to be washed with the water of the she-camel. The wild Sherifs wear Haffah, long elf-locks hanging down both sides of the throat, and shaved away about a finger's breadth round the forehead and behind the neck (Pilgrimage iii., 35-36). I have elsewhere noted the accroche-coeurs, the "idiot fringe," etc.

[FN#618] Meats are rarely coloured in modern days; but Persian cooks are great adepts in staining rice for the "Pulao (which we call after its Turkish corruption "pilaff"): it sometimes appears in rainbow-colours, red, yellow and blue; and in India is covered with gold and silver leaf. Europe retains the practice in tinting Pasch (Easter) eggs, the survival of the mundane ovum which was hatched at Easter-tide; and they are dyed red in allusion to the Blood of Redemption.

[FN#619] As I have noticed, this is a mixture.

[FN#620] We say:—

Tis rare the father in the son we see: He sometimes rises in the third degree.

[FN#621] Arab. "Ballan" i.e. the body-servant: "Ballanah" is a tire-woman.

[FN#622] Arab. "Darabukkah" a drum made of wood or earthen-ware (Lane, M. E., xviii.), and used by all in Egypt.

[FN#623] Arab. "Naihah" more generally "Naddabah" Lat. praefica or carina, a hired mourner, the Irish "Keener" at the conclamatio or coronach, where the Hullabaloo, Hulululu or Ululoo showed the survivors' sorrow.

[FN#624] These doggerels, which are like our street melodies, are now forgotten and others have taken their place. A few years ago one often heard, "Dus ya lalli" (Tread, O my joy) and "Nazil il'al-Ganinah" (Down into the garden) and these in due turn became obsolete. Lane (M. E. chaps. xviii.) gives the former e.g.

Tread, O my joy! Tread, O my joy! Love of my love brings sore annoy,

A chorus to such stanzas as:—

Alexandrian damsels rare! * Daintily o'er the floor ye fare: Your lips are sweet, are sugar-sweet, * And purfled Cashmere shawls ye wear!

It may be noted that "humming" is not a favourite practice with Moslems; if one of the company begin, another will say, "Go to the Kahwah" (the coffee-house, the proper music-hall) "and sing there!" I have elsewhere observed their dislike to Al-sifr or whistling.

[FN#625] Arab. Khali'a = worn out, crafty, an outlaw; used like Span. "Perdido."

[FN#626] "Zabbal" is the scavenger, lit. a dung-drawer, especially for the use of the Hammam which is heated with the droppings of animals. "Wakkad" (stoker) is the servant who turns the fire. The verses are mere nonsense to suit the Barber's humour.

[FN#627] Arab. "Ya barid" = O fool.

[FN#628] This form of blessing is chanted from the Minaret about half-an-hour before midday, when the worshippers take their places in the mosque. At noon there is the usual Azan or prayer-call, and each man performs a two-bow, in honour of the mosque and its gathering, as it were. The Prophet is then blessed and a second Salam is called from the raised ambo or platform (dikkah) by the divines who repeat the midday-call. Then an Imam recites the first Khutbah, or sermon "of praise"; and the congregation worships in silence. This is followed by the second exhortation "of Wa'az," dispensing the words of wisdom. The Imam now stands up before the Mihrab (prayer niche) and recites the Ikamah which is the common Azan with one only difference: after "Hie ye to salvation" it adds "Come is the time of supplication;" whence the name, "causing" (prayer) "to stand" (i.e., to begin). Hereupon the worshippers recite the Farz or Koran commanded noon-prayer of Friday; and the unco' guid add a host of superogatories Those who would study the subject may consult Lane (M. E. chaps. iii. and its abstract in his "Arabian Nights," I, p. 430, or note 69 to chaps. v.).

[FN#629] i.e., the women loosed their hair; an immodesty sanctioned only by a great calamity.

[FN#630] These small shops are composed of a "but" and a "ben." (Pilgrimage i., 99.)

[FN#631] Arab. "Kawwad," a popular term of abuse; hence the Span. and Port. "Alco-viteiro." The Italian "Galeotto" is from Galahalt, not Galahad.

[FN#632] i.e., "one seeking assistance in Allah." He was the son of Al-Zahir bi'llah (one pre-eminent by the decree of Allah). Lane says (i. 430), "great- grandson of Harun al-Rashid," alluding to the first Mustansir son of Al-Mutawakkil (regn. A.H. 247-248 861-862). But this is the 56th Abbaside and regn. A. H. 623-640 ( 1226-1242).

[FN#633] Arab. "Yaum al-Id," the Kurban Bairam of the Turks, the Pilgrimage festival. The story is historical. In the "Akd," a miscellany compiled by Ibn Abd Rabbuh (vulg. Rabbi-hi) of Cordova, who ob. A. H. 328 = 940 we read:—A sponger found ten criminals and followed them, imagining they were going to a feast; but lo, they were going to their deaths! And when they were slain and he remained, he was brought before the Khalifah (Al Maamun) and Ibrahim son of Al- Mahdi related a tale to procure pardon for the man, whereupon the Khalifah pardoned him. (Lane ii., 506.)

[FN#634] Arab. "Nate' al-Dam"; the former word was noticed in the Tale of the Bull and the Ass. The leather of blood was not unlike the Sufrah and could be folded into a bag by a string running through rings round the edges. Moslem executioners were very expert and seldom failed to strike off the head with a single blow of the thin narrow blade with razor-edge, hard as diamond withal, which contrasted so strongly with the great coarse chopper of the European headsman.

[FN#635] The ground floor, which in all hot countries is held, and rightly so, unwholesome during sleep, is usually let for shops. This is also the case throughout Southern Europe, and extends to the Canary Islands and the Brazil.

[FN#636] This serious contemplation of street-scenery is one of the pleasures of the Harems.

[FN#637] We should say "smiled at him": the laugh was not intended as an affront.

[FN#638] Arab. "Fals ahmar." Fals is a fish-scale, also the smaller coin and the plural "Fulus" is the vulgar term for money (= Ital. quattrini ) without specifying the coin. It must not be confounded with the "Fazzah," alias "Nuss," alias "Parah" (Turk.); the latter being made, not of "red copper" but of a vile alloy containing, like the Greek "Asper," some silver; and representing, when at par, the fortieth of a piastre, the latter=2d. 2/5ths.

[FN#639] Arab "Farajiyah " a long-sleeved robe; Lane's "Farageeyeh," (M. E., chaps. i)

[FN#640] The tailor in the East, as in Southern Europe, is made to cut out the cloth in presence of its owner, to prevent "cabbaging."

[FN#641] Expecting a present.

[FN#642] Alluding to the saying, "Kiss is the key to Kitty."

[FN#643] The "panel-dodge" is fatally common throughout the East, where a man found in the house of another is helpless.

[FN#644] This was the beginning of horseplay which often ends in a bastinado.

[FN#645] Hair-dyes, in the East, are all of vegetable matter, henna, indigo-leaves, galls, etc.: our mineral dyes are, happily for them, unknown. Herklots will supply a host of recipes The Egyptian mixture which I quoted in Pilgrimage (ii., 274) is sulphate of iron and ammoniure of iron one part and gall nuts two parts, infused in eight parts of distilled water. It is innocuous but very poor as a dye.

[FN#646] Arab. Amrad, etymologically "beardless and handsome," but often used in a bad sense, to denote an effeminate, a catamite.

[FN#647] The Hindus prefer "having the cardinal points as her sole garment." "Vetu de climat," says Madame de Stael. In Paris nude statues are "draped in cerulean blue." Rabelais (iv.,29) robes King Shrovetide in grey and gold of a comical cut, nothing before, nothing behind, with sleeves of the same.

[FN#648] This scene used to be enacted a few years ago in Paris for the benefit of concealed spectators, a young American being the victim. It was put down when one of the lookers-on lost his eye by a pen-knife thrust into the "crevice."

[FN#649] Meaning that the trick had been played by the Wazir's wife or daughter. I could mention sundry names at Cairo whose charming owners have done worse things than this unseemly frolic.

[FN#650] Arab. "Shayyun li'llahi," a beggar's formula = per amor di Dio.

[FN#651] Noting how sharp-eared the blind become.

[FN#652] The blind in Egypt are notorious for insolence and violence, fanaticism and rapacity. Not a few foreigners have suffered from them (Pilgrimage i., 148). In former times many were blinded in infancy by their mothers, and others blinded themselves to escape conscription or honest hard work. They could always obtain food, especially as Mu'ezzins and were preferred because they could not take advantage of the minaret by spying into their neighbours' households. The Egyptian race is chronically weak-eyed, the effect of the damp hot climate of the valley, where ophthalmia prevailed even during the pre-Pharaohnic days. The great Sesostris died stone-blind and his successor lost his sight for ten years (Pilgrimage ii., 176). That the Fellahs are now congenitally weak-eyed, may be seen by comparing them with negroes imported from Central Africa. Ophthalmia rages, especially during the damp season, in the lower Nile-valley; and the best cure for it is a fortnight's trip to the Desert where, despite glare, sand and wind, the eye readily recovers tone.

[FN#653] i.e., with kicks and cuffs and blows, as is the custom. (Pilgrimage i., 174.)

[FN#654] Arab. Kaid (whence "Alcayde") a word still much used in North Western Africa.

[FN#655] Arab. "Sullam" = lit. a ladder; a frame-work of sticks, used by way of our triangles or whipping-posts.

[FN#656] This is one of the feats of Al-Simiya = white magic; fascinating the eyes. In Europe it has lately taken the name of "Electro-biology."

[FN#657] again by means of the "Simiya" or power of fascination possessed by the old scoundrel.

[FN#658] A formula for averting "Al-Ayn," the evil eye. It is always unlucky to meet a one-eyed man, especially the first thing in the morning and when setting out on any errand. The idea is that the fascinated one will suffer from some action of the physical eye. Monoculars also are held to be rogues: so the Sanskrit saying "Few one-eyed men be honest men."

[FN#659] Al-Nashshar from Nashr = sawing: so the fiddler in Italian is called the "village-saw" (Sega del villaggio). He is the Alnaschar of the Englished Galland and Richardson. The tale is very old. It appears as the Brahman and the Pot of Rice in the Panchatantra; and Professor Benfey believes (as usual with him) that this, with many others, derives from a Buddhist source. But I would distinctly derive it from AEsop's market-woman who kicked over her eggs, whence the Lat. prov. Ante victoriam canere triumphum = to sell the skin before you have caught the bear. In the "Kalilah and Dimnah" and its numerous offspring it is the "Ascetic with his Jar of oil and honey;" in Rabelais (i., 33) Echephron's shoemaker spills his milk, and so La Perette in La Fontaine. See M. Max Muller's "Chips," (vol. iii., appendix) The curious reader will compare my version with that which appears at the end of Richardson's Arabic Grammar (Edit. Of 1811): he had a better, or rather a fuller MS. (p. 199) than any yet printed.

[FN#660] Arab. "Atr" = any perfume, especially oil of roses; whence our word "Otter,' through the Turkish corruption.

[FN#661] The texts give "dirhams" (100,000 = 5,000 dinars) for "dinars," a clerical error as the sequel shows.

[FN#662] "Young slaves," says Richardson, losing "colour."

[FN#663] Nothing more calculated to give affront than such a refusal. Richardson (p. 204) who, however, doubts his own version (p. 208), here translates, "and I will not give liberty to my soul (spouse) but in her apartments." The Arabic, or rather Cairene, is, "wa la akhalli ruhi" I will not let myself go, i.e., be my everyday self, etc.

[FN#664] "Whilst she is in astonishment and terror." (Richardson.)

[FN#665] "Chamber of robes," Richardson, whose text has "Nam" for "Manam."

[FN#666] "Till I compleat her distress," Richardson, whose text is corrupt.

[FN#667] "Sleep by her side," R. the word "Name" bearing both senses.

[FN#668] "Will take my hand," R. "takabbal" being also ambiguous.

[FN#669] Arab. "Mu'arras" one who brings about "'Ars," marriages, etc. So the Germ. = "Kupplerinn" a Coupleress. It is one of the many synonyms for a pimp, and a word in general use (Pilgrimage i., 276).The most insulting term, like Dayyus, insinuates that the man panders for his own wife.

[FN#670] Of hands and face, etc. See Night cccclxiv.

[FN#671] Arab. "Sadakah" (sincerity), voluntary or superogatory alms, opposed to "Zakat" (purification), legal alms which are indispensable. "Prayer carries us half way to Allah, fasting brings us to the door of His palace and alms deeds (Sadakah) cause us to enter." For "Zakat" no especial rate is fixed, but it should not be less than one-fortieth of property or two and a half per cent. Thus Al-lslam is, as far as I know, the only faith which makes a poor-rate (Zakat) obligatory and which has invented a property-tax, as opposed the unjust and unfair income-tax upon which England prides herself.

[FN#672] A Greek girl.

[FN#673] This was making himself very easy; and the idea is the gold in the pouch caused him to be so bold. Lane's explanation (in loco) is all wrong. The pride engendered by sudden possession of money is a lieu commun amongst Eastern story tellers; even in the beast-fables the mouse which has stolen a few gold pieces becomes confident and stout-hearted.

[FN#674] Arab. "al-Malihah" also means the beautiful (fem.) from Milh=salt, splendour, etc., the Mac edit. has "Mumallihah" = a salt-vessel.

[FN#675] i.e., to see if he felt the smart.

[FN#676] Arab. "Sardabeh" (Persian)=an underground room used for coolness in the hot season. It is unknown in Cairo but every house in Baghdad, in fact throughout the Mesopotamian cities, has one. It is on the principle of the underground cellar without which wine will not keep: Lane (i., 406) calls it a "vault".

[FN#677] In the orig. "O old woman!" which is insulting.

[FN#678] So the Italians say "a quail to skin."

[FN#679] "Amen" is the word used for quarter on the battle-field; and there are Joe Millers about our soldiers in India mistaking it for "a man" or (Scottice) "a mon."

[FN#680] Illustrating the Persian saying "Allah himself cannot help a fool."

[FN#681] Any article taken from the person and given to a criminal is a promise of pardon, of course on the implied condition of plenary confession and of becoming "King's evidence."

[FN#682] A naive proposal to share the plunder.

[FN#683] In popular literature "Schacabac.", And from this tale comes our saying "A Barmecide's Feast," i.e., an illusion.

[FN#684] The Castrato at the door is still (I have said) the fashion of Cairo and he acts "Suisse" with a witness.

[FN#685] As usual in the East, the mansion was a hollow square surrounding what in Spain is called Patio: the outer entrance was far from the inner, showing the extent of the grounds.

[FN#686] "Nahnu malihin" = we are on terms of salt, said and say the Arabs. But the traveller must not trust in these days to the once sacred tie; there are tribes which will give bread with one hand and stab with the other. The Eastern use of salt is a curious contrast with that of Westerns, who made it an invidious and inhospitable distinction, e.g., to sit above the salt-cellar and below the salt. Amongst the ancients, however, "he took bread and salt" means he swore, the food being eaten when an oath was taken. Hence the "Bride cake" of salt, water and flour.

[FN#687] Arab. "Harisah," the meat-pudding before explained.

[FN#688] Arab. "Sikbaj," before explained; it is held to be a lordly dish, invented by Khusraw Parwiz. "Fatted duck" says the Bresl. Edit. ii., 308, with more reason.

[FN#689] I was reproved in Southern Abyssinia for eating without this champing, "Thou feedest like a beggar who muncheth silently in his corner;" and presently found that it was a sign of good breeding to eat as noisily as possible.

[FN#690] Barley in Arabia is, like our oats, food for horses: it fattens at the same time that it cools them. Had this been known to our cavalry when we first occupied Egypt in 1883-4 our losses in horse-flesh would have been far less; but official ignorance persisted in feeding the cattle upon heating oats and the riders upon beef, which is indigestible, instead of mutton, which is wholesome.

[FN#691] i.e. "I conjure thee by God."

[FN#692] i.e. "This is the very thing for thee."

[FN#693] i.e., at random.

[FN#694] This is the way of slaughtering the camel, whose throat is never cut on account of the thickness of the muscles. "Egorger un chameau" is a mistake often made in French books.

[FN#695] i.e. I will break bounds.

[FN#696] The Arabs have a saying corresponding with the dictum of the Salernitan school:—

Noscitur a labiis quantum sit virginis antrum: Noscitur a naso quanta sit haste viro; (A maiden's mouth shows what's the make of her chose; And man's mentule one knows by the length of his nose.)

Whereto I would add:—

And the eyebrows disclose how the lower wig grows.

The observations are purely empirical but, as far as my experience extends, correct.

[FN#697] Arab. "Kahkahah," a very low proceeding.

[FN#698] Or "for every death there is a cause;" but the older Arabs had a saying corresponding with "Deus non fecit mortem."

[FN#699] The King's barber is usually a man of rank for the best of reasons, that he holds his Sovereign's life between his fingers. One of these noble Figaros in India married an English lady who was, they say, unpleasantly surprised to find out what were her husband's official duties.


Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11
Home - Random Browse