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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…

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…

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…

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.…

Baliyya

(258 words)

Author(s): Hell, J. | Pellat, Ch.
(Ar. pl. balāyā ), a name given, in the pre-Islamic era, to the camel (more rarely the mare) which it was the custom to tether at the grave of its master, its head turned to the rear and covered with a saddle-cloth (see al-D̲j̲āḥịz, Tarbīʿ , ed. Pellat, index), and to allow to die of starvation; in some cases, the victim was burnt and, in other cases, stuffed with t̲h̲umām (Ibn Abiʾ l-Ḥadīd, S̲h̲arḥ Nahd̲j̲ alBalāg̲h̲a , iv 436). Muslim tradition sees in this practice proof that the Arabs of the d̲j̲āhiliyya believed in the resurrection, because the animal thus s…