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(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 …


(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…


(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…


(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…


(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…


(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…


(307 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, flies, gnats, etc. There are numerous kinds; they are produced in putrescent substances, particularly the dung of animals. They have no eyelids on account of the smallness of their eyes but in compensation they have two hands with which they may constantly be seen washing their eyes. They also have a proboscis, which they stretch out when they want to lick blood and withdraw when they have sucked it all up. They hum and buzz like a reed which is blown into. They are unable to run as they have …


(435 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), ambergris ( ambre gris, ambra grisea to distinguish it from ambre jaune = amber), a substance of sweet musk-like smell, easily fusible ¶ and burning with a bright flame; highly valued in the East as a perfume and as a medecine. It is found floating on the water in tropical seas, (spec, gravity 0.78—0.93), or on the shore, some-times in large lumps. Ambergris probably is a morbid secretion of the gale-bladder of the sperm-whale in whose intestines it is found. Ḳazwinī mentions is together with sulphur, asphalt, m…

S̲h̲aḳīḳat al-Nuʿmān

(221 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the blood-red Anemone hortensis or A. conoraria, which is a native of the Mediterranean lands and nearer Asia. According to al-Ḳazwīnī, al-ʿAd̲j̲āʾib al-Mak̲h̲lūḳāt, i. 288, it is also called Ḵh̲add al-ʿAd̲h̲rāʾ, “the virgin’s cheek”, and Persian Lālah (cf. Vuller’s, Lex., ii. 1074: “any wild flower and especially the tulip and anemone”). It opens by day and closes at night and turns towards the sun. Nuʿmān b. al-Mund̲h̲ir (reigned 482-489 a. d.) is said to have said as he passed a spot covered with anemones: “any one who pulls up one of these, will have his …


(364 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, Arab, al-iksīr, also iksīr al-falāsifa, the secret means by which the alchemists believed base metals could be transmuted into silver and gold; synonymous with “the philosopher’s stone”. Although it has not yet been found in the older Greek alchemical works, it can hardly be doubted that the word is derived from the Greek ξήριον “powder for wounds”. It is frequently mentioned in the writings of Ḏj̲ābir b. Ḥaiyān edited by Berthelot. It enters the metals and permeates them like poison in a body; a s…

Ibn al-Mund̲h̲ir

(229 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, Abū Bakr, chief of the stables and chief veterinary surgeon to Sulṭān al-Nāṣir b. Ḳalāūn, died 741 (1340) author of the Kāmil al-Ṣināʿatain al-Baiṭara wal-Zarṭaḳa (or Kās̲h̲if al-Wail fī Maʿrifat Amrāḍ al-Ḵh̲ail), which is called al-Nāṣirī in honour of the Sulṭān and is usually quoted by this name. M. Perron has translated it with a full introduction in a volume entitled: Le Nāċéri: la perfection des deux arts ou traité complet d’hippologie et d’hippiatrie arabes, trad, de l’arabe d’Abou Bekr Ibn Bedr. The first volume appeared in 1852, it is introductory and contains a wea…


(107 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, a drug highly esteemed in the east, consisting of pebble-like accretions, which are formed in the nodes of Bambusa arundinaria Wild. The substance is obtained, according to Ḳazwīnī (ii. 82) or Ibn Muhalhil, by burning the reed and from ancient times it has always been a valuable article of commerce which the Greeks called τάβασιΣ. (J. Ruska) Bibliography E. O. von Lippmann, Geschichte des Zuckers, Leipzig 1890, p. 76—80 B. Laufer, Sino-Iranica, Chicago 1919, p. 350—352 E. Wiedemann, Beitr., xl., p. 187 Ibn al-Baiṭār, transl. Leclerc, N. E., xxv. 1, 399—401 Seligmann, Abu Mansur Mwwaff…


(1,113 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, Arab, al-fīrūzad̲j̲, the turquoise, a well-known precious stone of a bright green or “mountain green”. to skyblue colour with a gloss like wax; in composition it is a hydrated clay phosphate with a small but essential proportion of copper and iron. The colour is not permanent in all stones, and is said to be particularly affected by perspiration. It is almost always cut as an ornament en cabochon i. e. with a convex upper surface; only stones with an inscription are given a flat upper surface. T…


(166 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
soap (cf. English soap), has penetrated through Latin sapo and Greek σαπών as a loanword to the East also. According to Pauly-Wissowa, ( Realenz. d. klass. Altert., second series, iii. 1112, the ancients were not acquainted with our soap; in Pliny sapo means a hair-dye ( rutilandis capillis) and also medical salves; for cleansing purposes certain poor earths were used, which were sometimes perfumed. There can, however, be no doubt that soap came into use in the middle ages along with other lathery lotions and in addition to its uses for clea…

Sirād̲j̲ al-Ḳuṭrub

(310 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), “the gnome’s lamp” or according to Idrīsī, “the glow-worm’s lamp”, (for other meanings of ḳuṭrub see Lane, vii. 2543), the name for the mandragora ( mandragora officinalis, l.), one of the Solanaceae indigenous to the whole Mediterranean area, with a turnipshaped root often in two parts, thickly covered with root-fibres, bearing a clump of large, eggshaped, sinuate leaves, between which grow the axillary petiolated bell-shaped flowers. The fruit is a reddish yellow berry about the size of a cherry which from ancient time…


(133 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the teak tree, tectona grandis, a large tree belonging to the verbenaceae with broad lancet-like leaves, “like the shields of the Dailam”. It is found principally in the drier parts of Further India, in Burma, Siam and Java and, according to Arabic sources, also in East Africa (Zand̲j̲). The dark coloured hard wood resists, as no other does, the effects of sea-water and has therefore from ancient times been the best wood for shipbuilding. Nor is it attacked by insects. The main markets for it were …


(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…


(120 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the ear (of corn), the usual name for the constellation of the Virgin ( al-ʿAd̲h̲rā ʾ) from its most brilliant star, the ear of corn in the hand of the Virgin which is still called Spica. According to al-Ḳazwīnī, the constellation consists of 26 stars with a further six lying outside the figure. The head of the Virgin lies south of al-Ṣarfā (β Leonis); the feet are pointed towards the two pans of the Scales. The brightest star is also called either Sunbula or al-Simāk al-aʿzal, the unarmed Simāk, in contrast to al-Simāk al-rāmiḥ, Simāk with the lance ( Aramech on the star-maps). (J. Ruska) Bibliog…


(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…


(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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