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al-Nūs̲h̲ādir

(774 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, also nus̲h̲ādir , naws̲h̲ādir , Sanskrit navasadara , Chin, nao-s̲h̲a , sal-ammoniac. The etymology of the word is uncertain; perhaps it comes from the Pahlavi anōs̲h̲-ādar “immortal fire” as we find the form anūs̲h̲ād̲h̲ur in Syriac. The oldest references to the occurrence of salammoniac in a natural state are in the reports of ¶ Chinese embassies of the 6th-7th centuries, which were the subject of very full investigation in connection with a geological problem, the question of volcanoes in Central Asia, by H.J. von Klaprot…

Ḥimār

(538 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), donkey (fem, atān and ḥimāra ). The Arabs make a distinction between the domestic donkey ( ahlī ) and the wild donkey ( waḥs̲h̲ī , faraʾ , ʿayr al-ʿāna ). Domestic donkeys are used to turn mills, as beasts of burden and as mounts, but although the Prophet is said to have owned one, named Yaʿfūr, and although the animal has been esteemed by famous persons, it is not ridden by Arabs of high rank, who even employ a formula of apology ( ḥas̲h̲ā-kum , aʿazza-kum Allāh , etc.) when they utter its name. The zoological works provide details of its characteristic…

ʿAnkabūt

(364 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the spider. Al-Ḳazwīnī and al-Damīrī mention several species, the most dangerous of which is the poisonous tarantula, al-Rutailāʾ or al-Rut̲h̲ailāʾ . Al-Damīrī also describes a fieldspider of reddish colour with fine hair on its body; at the head it has four claws with which it bites; it digs a nest in the ground, and seizes its prey by night. The weaving spiders make their webs according to mathematical rules; according to some the male spins the warp and the female the woof; according t…

al-Ḥadīd

(277 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, iron. According to the Sūrat al-Ḥadīd (LVII, 25) God sent iron down to earth for the detriment and advantage of man, for weapons and tools are alike made from it. According to the belief of the Ṣābians, it is allotted to Mars. It is the hardest and strongest of metals and the most capable of resisting the effects of fire, but it is the quickest to rust. It is corroded by acids; for example, with the fresh rind of a pomegranate it forms a black fluid, with vinegar a red fluid and with salt a yellow. Collyrium ( al-kuḥl ) burns it and arsenic makes it smooth and white. Ḳa…

al-Mirrīk̲h̲

(184 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
the planet Mars. The etymology of the name is unknown. The sphere of Mars is the fifth sphere of the planets. It is bounded on the inner side by the sphere of the sun and on the outer side by the sphere of Jupiter, and its breadth is according to Ptolemy (xx, 376) 998 miles. Its period of revolution is estimated at 1 year, 10 months and 22 days. In about 17 years, after 9 revolutions, Mars comes back to the same spot in the heavens; it spends about 40 days in each sign of the zodiac and covers about 40 minutes each day. It is said to be one-and-ahalf times the size of the earth. Astrologers call Mars al-Naḥs al-a…

Ḥayya

(725 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.) “snake”, generic name of the ophidians, embracing all kinds of reptiles ( mā yansāḥ ) from the most poisonous to the most harmless, the viper ( afʿā ) appearing to be the most clearly distinguished species among them. Terms such as ḥanas̲h̲ , aym , t̲h̲uʿbān , aswad , raḳs̲h̲āʾ , ṣill , etc. are given in classical Arabic to species which are not always easily identifiable from the descriptions in the early zoological works, there being a certain amount of confusion in this field; and present-day terminology is still far …

al-Durr

(997 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the pearl. The ancient legend of its origin is found at great length in the Arabic authors, first in the Petrology ( Steinbuch , ed. Ruska) of Aristotle, then with variants in the Rasāʾil Ik̲h̲wān al-Ṣafāʾ and the later cosmographers. According to it, the aṣṭūrūs (’οστρεῖον) rises from the depths of the sea frequented by ships and goes out to the ocean. The winds there set up a shower of spray and the shells open to receive drops from This; when it has collected a few drops it goes to a secluded spot and exposes the…

Sukkar

(914 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, from Pers. s̲h̲akar or s̲h̲akkar, from Sanskrit çarkarā, Prakrit sakkarā, the sap crushed from the sugar-cane ( ḳaṣab al-sukkar) and solid sugar. Vullers (ii. 439) gives the following from the Bh: s̲h̲akkar is in the technical language of the physicians the sap of a plant, similar to the reed ( nay) but not hollow between the nodes, which becomes solid on boiling. It is given different names in different stages of preparation. Thus for example, when not yet purified (simply solidified) it is called s̲h̲akkar surk̲h̲ (red sugar); when it is boiled a second time and purified by b…

al-Tawʾamān

(156 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the Twins, the constellation Gemini. According to al-Ḳazwīnī, it contains 18 stars and seven which do not belong to the figure, and represents two men with their heads to the N. E. and their feet to the S. W. The two bright stars in the head are also called al-Dhirāʿ al-mabsūṭa, the outstretched arm, and form the seventh station of the moon; the two at the feet of the second twin form the station of the moon called al-Hanʿa. The whole constellation is also called al-Ḏj̲awzā, like Orion; hence the name Ras algeuse for the star β (Pollux). In Ptolemy the stars now known as Castor…

al-Dahnad̲j̲

(395 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(Mod. Pers. dahna), Malachite, green copper ore. The description of this mineral in the Ik̲h̲wān al-Ṣafā may be traced to the Petrology of Aristotle. It is said to be formed in the copper mines from the sulphur dust which combines with the copper and forms stratified layers. It is a soft mineral and shows the greatest variety of all shades of green. Tīfās̲h̲ī, following Balīnās, says that dahnad̲j̲, lāzward and s̲h̲ād̲h̲anad̲j̲, i, e. malachite, copper lazuli [not lapis lazuli here] and red copper ore (not red iron ore, hematite) were originally copper, which firs…

al-Iklīl

(186 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the crown, the name of several constellations, namely: 1. al-Ikīl, is the name given to the stars β, δ, π, forming a blunt wedge close together on the brow of the Scorpion. These stars mark the seventeenth station of the moon. 2. al-Iklīl al-s̲h̲amālī, Greek στέφανοΣ Latin Corona, the northern crown, a constellation of eight stars which follows the staff of Bootes and is also called al-Fakka, the “breach”, and Ḳaṣʿat al-Masākīn, the “alms bowl”, Pers. Kāsa-i Darwīs̲h̲ān, the “beggar’s bowl” and Kasa s̲h̲ikasta, the “broken bowl”, because the ring of stars is broken at one spot. Al-Fakk…

al-Tinnīn

(211 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the constellation of the Dragon. According to al-Ḳazwīnī, it consists of 31 stars none of which lies outside of the constellation. Apart from the general figure of the constellation which comes from Greek (and probably earlier from Babylonian) astronomy the Arabs have names for smaller groups of stars within it. Thus the star μ is called the Dragon’s tongue, al-rāfiḍ, “the isolated grazing camel”, the four stars (β γ ν ξ in the head al-ʿawāʾid̲h̲, “the young dam-camels”, a not very bright star between them al-rubaʿ, “the camel-foal”; the bright stars ζ η are called al-d̲h̲iʾbain, “the tw…

Mās̲h̲āʾallāh

(257 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the son of At̲h̲(a)rī or Sāriya, a celebrated astrologer, who along with Nawbak̲h̲t fixed the day and hour for the foundation of Bag̲h̲dād by order of al-Manṣūr. According to the Fihrist, he was a Jew whose original name was Mīs̲h̲ā (a corruption of Manas̲h̲s̲h̲ī, i. e. Manasse?); whether he later adopted Islām and for this reason took the name Mās̲h̲āʾallāh is not recorded. The date of his birth is unknown, but it can hardly be later than 112 (730). He is said to have died in 200 (815). In numerous works Mās̲h̲āʾallāh covered the whole field of astrology, and also the making and …

K̲h̲urramābād

(203 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, capital of the province of Lūristān with 6,000 inhabitants, situated in 33° 32′ N. Lat. and 48° 15′ East Long. (Greenwich) about 4700 feet above the sea-level between Iṣfahān and Kirmāns̲h̲āh on the river of the same name. On an isolated ridge of rock between the town and the river lie the ruins of a castle Dīz-i Siyāh, “black castle”, in the middle ages the residence of the governor, with annexes called Falak al-Aflāk which at the beginning of the xixth century were the residence of the governor of Lūristān. At the foot of the old castle is the modern residency, built abo…

al-Ḥamām

(352 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the dove, particularly the ring-dove. A distinction is made between tame doves which live in dove-cots and wild doves. The dove is one of the cleverest of birds, for it can find its way home from the most distant parts. To find its bearings, it flies upwards in spirals like a man climbing a minaret; when it finds the direction of its home, it darts off thither in a straight line and reaches its goal in the shortest possible time. Only clouds, which obscure its view, or birds of prey can cause it to lose its way. According to Mut̲h̲annā b. Zuhair, there are no tokens of love between man…

Almās

(329 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
— frequently regarded as a determined noun ( al-mās; correctly al-Almās according to Ibn al-At̲h̲īr, in Lisān viii. 97: the ’l belongs to the root as in Ilyās), a corrupt form from the Greek ἀδάμαΣ ( l. c. “ wa-laisat bi-ʿarabīya”), — the diamond. According to the pseudo-Aristotelian Kitāb al-aḥd̲j̲ār which — on the basis of cognate Greek sources, — agrees in the main with the statements of Pliny, the diamond cuts every solid except lead, by which it is itself destroyed. On the frontier of Ḵh̲orāsān is a deep valley in which the diamonds lie g…

al-Samakatān

(109 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, Pisces; the more accurate name for the last sign of the Zodiac which is usually called al-Ḥūt, the fish It consists of 38 stars of which 34 belong to the constellation and four lie outside of it ( k̲h̲ārid̲j̲uhā). The two fishes are, according to the usual view, connected by a band twisted between their tails, σύνδεσμοΣ ὑπουραĩοΣ. This is called al-Ras̲h̲āʾ or is described as a thread, k̲h̲aiṭ, which connects the two fishes in its windings ( alā taʿrīd̲j̲). (J. Ruska) Bibliography al-Ḳazwīnī, ʿAd̲j̲āʾb al-Mak̲h̲lūḳāt, ed. Wüstenfeld, i. 38 transl. H. Ethé, p. 79 L. Ideler, Untersuchungen ü…

al-Fīl

(1,240 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the elephant, also called al-Zanaabīl, which latter name is applied to the smaller animals or according to some writers the females. In spite of its bulk and heavy figure it is one of the swiftest and most mobile of animals. As its neck is very short it has a long trunk of cartilage, flesh and sinew, which is of the same use to it as hands to man. With it it carries food and water to its mouth; it can move it round its whole body and fights with it. Its two ears are like shields; it flaps them cons…

al-Samak

(313 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, fishes. There are numerous kinds, some so long that one cannot see both ends at the same time — a ship had once to wait four months till one of these monsters had passed — but others are so small that one can hardly see them. They breathe water through the covers of their gills and do not require air in order to live: air is injurious to them all except flying-fish They are very voracious on account of the coldness of their temperament and because in them the stomach is very near the mouih. Li…

Sulaḥfāt

(151 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the tortoise, or turtle. Land (tortoise) and sea (turtle) varieties are distinguished as al-barrī and al-baḥrī. Al-Damīrī and al-Ḳazwīnī give practically the same fables about their habits. The turtle attains the size of an island. As it cannot hatch its eggs on account of the hardness and coldness of the shell on its belly, it looks after the eggs until God allows the young ones to come out. If the eggs fall into water, turtles are born from them. Magical qualities are attributed to them by the Kitāb al-Ḵh̲awāṣṣ of Balīnās and healing properties are mentioned by al-Ḳazwīnī and al…
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