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ʿAḳrab

(494 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(a.), scorpion. This branch of the arachnida , which is met with as far north as lat. 45°, includes, in Asia and Africa, some species whose sting produces effects of a more or less serious nature, and sometimes even death. For this reason the scorpion has always haunted the imagination of oriental peoples; it has found a place among the stars (a constellation and the 8th sign of the Zodiac are named after it), and has played some part in the magic and the interpretation of dreams.…

al-Bāhilī

(144 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
, abū naṣr aḥmad b. ḥātim al-bāhilī , Arab philogist and author, a pupil of al-Aṣmaʿī, Abū ʿUbayda and Abū Zayd, belonging to the school of Baṣra, lived first in Bag̲h̲dād, then in Iṣfahān and finally settled in Bag̲h̲dād again where he died in 231/855. As a rule he followed in his works the footsteps of his predecessors and like them wrote a book on trees and plants, camels, cereals and palm-trees, horses, birds and locusts, of which latter he was the first to treat. His works on…

Ad̲h̲argūn

(202 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(P., "flame-coloured"; Arabic Ad̲h̲aryūn ), a plant about 2-3 feet high with finger-long elongated leaves, of a red-yellow colour, and malodorous blossoms with a black kernel. The identification of this plant is not yet well established: in Greek χερὰ ἀζάριον occurs synonymously with senecio vulgaris, the common groundsel (B. Langkavel, Botanik der spätern Griechen , 1866, 74; I. Löw, Aramäische Pflanzennamen , 1879, 47). The descriptions of the Arabian authors leave a choice between the dark yellow buphthalmos , for which Clément-Mullet decided, and the calendula officinalis, ma…

ʿAḳīḳ

(247 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(a.; nomen unitatis: ʿAḳīḳa) is the name of the cornelian, which is found in Arabia in various colours and qualities, of which the red shade is especially in demand. The cornelian has of old been exported from Yaman (al-S̲h̲iḥr) via Ṣanʿāʾ to the ports of the Mediterranean; and also from India. It was used for seal-rings, for ladies’ ornaments and even costly mosaics, for example in the miḥrāb of the great mosque at Damascus (according to al-Maḳdisī, 157). It was used as a medicine for the preservation of the teeth; superstitious belief as…

Bairūt

(636 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(also written Beirut, Beyrouth and pronounced Berūt), a town on the Syrian coast, 23° 54′ n. l., lying on the Bay of St. George at the foot of Mount Lebanon of which the town is the natural commercial centre; it does not, however, belong to the autonomous district of Lebanon but is the headquarters of an independent Wilāyet. ¶ Bairūt is an ancient Phoenician town which is mentioned as early as the Tell al-ʿAmarna tablets (cf. Zeitschr. d. Deutschen Palästina-Ver. xxx. 1907, p. 13 et seq.). An independent kingdom about 1400 B. C, next belonging to Gebal (Byblos), the town fell in…

Alkekengi

(186 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(Persian: kākunad̲j̲, arabicised: kākand̲j̲), the winter cherry (Physalis alkekengi), is a herbaceous plant of the solanum L. family (night-shades), found in Central and Southern Europe and in Asia, with oval leaves, small, whitish flowers and bright-red berries of the size of cherries. Alkekengi has been known since antiquity as a medicine and food (the ’αλιχάχαβον of Dioscorides), as have all the members of the solanum family (Arabic: ʿinab al-t̲h̲aʿlab, in Spain: ʿinab al-d̲h̲iʾb, i. e. fox- or jackal-cherry); the Arabs distinguish two varieties, one cultivated, …

Bad̲j̲īla

(148 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
, an Arabian tribe of Bedouins, which occupied the central part of the Sarāt mountains — at Ṭāʾif — stretching northwards from South Arabia after they had displaced the tribe originally dwelling there, the Banū T̲h̲āʾir. The tribe was gradually broken up through feuds with the neighbouring tribes and the quarrels of the individual clans with one another and even in pre-Muḥammadan times had been for the most part merged in other Arab tribes. A part however survived under the old name and was celebrated in the Umaiyad period by the poet Farazdaḳ. (J. Hell) Bibliography F. Wüstenfeld, Register …

Bān

(241 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(a. and p. from the Indian Behen). According to Abū Ḥanīfa and Dioscorides the Bān tree is, like the Oriental tamarisk, tall and slender, with soft wood and supple green branches. Ancient writers tell us that the tree was principally to be found in Arabia Felix; at the present day it is identified with the Moringa aptera (Sickenberger), indigenous from Upper Egypt to India, the seeds of which yield the finest of all vegetable oils; it was highly prized even in antiquity and was well known to the Romans as glans unguentaria and to the Greeks as βάλανοΣ μυρεψική (Dioscorides). The brigh…

Abanūs

(422 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(variants: ābinūs, ābunūs, abnūs and ābnus), ebony. This word is derived from the Greek ʾἔβενοΣ (comp. also the Hebrew hoben, the old Egyptian haben) which passed to the Aramean ( abnūsā) and from there to the Persian, Arabic, Turkish and other languages. Although ebony had been already well known in the old days by the Semites, who imported it from India and Ethiopia, it was very liitle used at the early times of Islām, on account of its rarity and the scanty requirements of artistic goods. Absolute faith must not be given …

Baiṭār

(206 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(also Baiṭar, Biaṭr from the Greek ĩππίατροΣ), smith, veterinary surgeon. Although the nomad Arabs were fairly advanced in veterinary science from their own experience and practice as herdsmen and cattle breeders, foreign wandering veterinary surgeons, who as the etymology of the name shows came to them from the Byzantine Empire and from Syria, enjoyed a special reputation. Like the wandering winemerchants these surgeons set up their booths at the great fairs of ʿUkāẓ, Ḏh̲u ’l-Mad̲j̲āz etc. and ex…

Bāb

(255 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(a.) door, gate. Unlike the open tent of the Bedouin the ancient Arab house formed a sort of stronghold which could only be entered by a door, Bāb. As is still often the case the door varied with the style of house and was small and concealed, heavy and barricaded, or high and open. The Bāb always concealed the view into the interior of a dwelling, nothing of the richness and beauty of which could be gathered from thé exterior. The Bāb thus became a symbol of approach and beginning of the means …

Babag̲h̲ā

(147 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(a.) “Parrot”, a name of the Arab poet Abu ’l-Farad̲j̲ ʿAbd al-Wāḥid b. Naṣr of Nisibis, who lived at the court of the prince Saif al-Dawla and after his death in Mosul and Bag̲h̲dād and died in 398 (1007). Standing next to his famous contemporary Mutanabbī in poetic endowments, Babag̲h̲ā enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best intellects and poets of his time. He tried his skill on all kinds of poetry with the greatest success in panegyrics of princes, with less in the domain of love poetry. (J. Hell) Bibliography Ph. Wolff, Carminum Abulfaragii Babbaghae specimen (Lips., 1834) E. G. S…

al-Bāhilī

(157 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
, Abū Naṣr Aḥmad b. Ḥātim al-Bāhilī, Arab philogist and author, a pupil of Asmaʿī Abū ʿUbaida and Abū Zaid, belonging to the school of Baṣra, lived first in Bag̲h̲dād, then in Iṣfahān and finally settled in Bag̲h̲dād again where he died in 231 (855). As a rule he followed in his works the footsteps of his predecessors and like them wrote a book on trees and plants, camels, cereals and palm-trees, horses, birds and locusts, of which latter he was the first to treat. In his works on proverbs, on proper …

Bāhila

(166 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
The members of the Be du in tribe of Maʿn in North Arabia were usually called Banū Bāhila after Bāhila, the daughter of Ṣaʿb who had married her stepson Maʿn. Their grazing-grounds in ancient times lay in southern Yemāma and are known to have been there as late as the fourth and fifth centuries. In later times we find them in the neighbourhood of Baṣra in possession of the well al-Ḥufair four miles from Baṣra, which is of importance to the caravans of pilgrims. The reputation of the tribe was a very bad one and the name Bāhili (Bahilite) was a term of reproach. (J. Hell) Bibliography F. Wüstenfeld, Reg…

Bas̲h̲s̲h̲ār

(177 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
b. Burd, a poet of the early ʿAbbāsid period who lived in Baṣra and Bag̲h̲dād. Of Persian descent and thoroughly Persian in his patriotic sentiment the poet delighted in lashing in his satires the national arrogance of the Arabs in whose language he also wrote. His relations with the Muʿtazila, his public intercession for the Zoroastrian religion and his private life, so full of amorous adventures were winked at for his panegyrics on the Caliph al-Mahdī, until he finally was rash enough to attack…

Balīya

(175 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(a.) In pre-Muḥammadan times, a female camel, a mare, or other beast of burden was frequently tethered at the grave of a warrior or noble, and left without food or water till it perished. The original reason for this custom must have been the belief that the dead man at his resurrection from the dead would not have a steed at his disposal, unless one were given him at his death; otherwise he would have to go on foot like the common people. Another tradition mentions that the Balīya might also be a cow, a sheep or a goat and that the animal was slain at the grave. ¶ The original symbol of a belief in a…

Alizari

(55 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(Aluzari, Lizari, Izari, Azala; according to M. Devic, Dictionnaire étymologique des mots d’origine orientate from the Arabic al-ʿaṣāra, i. e. ʿuṣāra pressed-out juice) denotes the portion of the root of the madder which is under the earth, from which alizarin was formerly obtained; cf. H. Baillon, Dictionnaire de Botanique i. 116b. (J. Hell)

Abanūs

(384 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(variants: Ābinūs , Ābunūs , Abnūs and Ābnūs ), ebony. The word is derived from the Greek ebenos , which passed to the Aramean ( abnūsā ) and from there to Arabic, Persian, Turkish etc. Although ebony had been already known in the old days in the East, where it was imported from India and Ethiopia, it was very little used at the early times of Islam, on account of its rarity and the scanty demand for artistic goods. Absolute faith must not be given to the story according to which, when the Mosque of…

ʿAḳrab

(519 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(ar.), scorpion. Cette famille arachnide qui se rencontre jusqu’à 45° de lat. N., présente, en Asie et en Afrique, des espèces dont la piqûre provoque des troubles plus ou moins graves et parfois même la mort; aussi le scorpion a-t-il de tout temps hanté l’imagination des peuples orientaux. Il a ainsi trouvé sa place parmi les astres — une constellation et le 8e signe du Zodiaque sont appelés de son nom — et joué un certain rôle dans la magie et l’interprétation des songes. Pour se prémunir contre sa piqûre, on a employé des formules magiques — plus tard d…

Abanūs

(422 words)

Author(s): Hell, J.
(variantes: Ābinūs, Ābunūs, Abnūs, Ābnus), bois d’ébène. Ce mot est passé du grec ebenos (comp. aussi l’hébreu hoben, l’ancien égyptien haben) à l’araméen ( abnūsā), et de là au persan, à l’arabe, au turc et à d’autres langues. Quoique le bois d’ébène fût déjà dans l’antiquité bien connu des Sémites qui l’importaient de l’Inde et de l’Éthiopie, il était fort peu employé au début de l’Islam, à cause de sa rareté et du fait que l’on n’avait guère besoin d’objets d’art. L’on ne saurait attacher une foi absolue au récit d’…
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