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Ibn al-Mund̲h̲ir

(402 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Viré, F.
Abū Bakr b. Badr , with the by-name al-Bayṭār al-Nāṣirī , was grand master and chief veterinary surgeon of the stables of the Mamlūk sultan of Egypt al-Nāṣir, Nāṣir al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Ḳalāwūn (who ruled in 693/1294, from 698/1299 to 708/1309-10 and from 709/1310 to 741/1341). It was at This ruler’s request that Ibn al-Mund̲h̲ir wrote, in about 740/1339-40, his treatise on hippology entitled Kās̲h̲if hamm al-wayl fī maʿrifat amrāḍ al-k̲h̲ayl , a compilation from earlier sources and in particular from the Kāmil al-ṣināʿatayn ( al-bayṭara wa ’l-zarṭafa ) of a cer…

Fīrūzad̲j̲

(889 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Plessner, M.
, the turquoise, a well-known precious stone of a bright green or “mountain green” to sky-blue 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. The provenance of serviceable stones is limited to a few places whose history may be t…

ʿAnbar

(544 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Plessner, M.
(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 medicine. It is found floating on the water in tropical seas, (spec, gravity 0.78-0.93), or on the shore, sometimes in large lumps. Ambergris probably is a morbid secretion of the gall-bladder of the sperm-whale in whose intestines it is found. Ḳazwinī mentions it amon…

Tilsam

(2,286 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Carra de Vaux, B. | Bosworth, C.E.
, also tilsim , tilism , tilasm , etc. from the Greek τέλεσμα, a talisman, i.e. an inscription with ¶ astrological and other magic signs or an object covered with such inscriptions, especially also with figures from the zodiacal circle or the constellations and animals which were used as magic charms to protect and avert the evil eye. The Greek name is evidence of its origin in the late Hellenistic period and gnostic ideas are obviously reflected in the widespread use of such charms. The sage Balīnās or Balīnūs [ q.v.], i.e. Apollonius of Tyana ( fl. 1st century A.D.), is said to have been…

al-Tīfās̲h̲ī

(348 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Kahl, O.
, S̲h̲araf al-Dīh Abu ’l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad b. Yūsuf al-Ḳaysī, Egyptian scholar and man-of-letters (580-651/1184-1253). Al-Tīfās̲h̲ī is the author of a few works on sexual hygiene, the most well-known and quite representative being the Kitāb Rud̲j̲ūʿ al-s̲h̲ayk̲h̲ ilā ṣibāh fi ’l-ḳūwa ʿalā ’l-bāh (tr. into English by an anonymous writer under the tide The old man young again, Paris 1898) which is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the physiology of the sexual organs and beneficial and noxious aspects of sexual intercourse, provides a large n…

Ḥayya

(725 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.

Miḳyās

(867 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Hill, D.R.
(a.), measurement, means of measuring, any simple measuring instrument; in Egypt the name of the Nilometer, i.e. the gauge in which the annual rise of the river can be measured. Originally the rising of the Nile was measured by the gauge ( al-raṣāṣa ). According to Ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥakam, al-Ḳuḍāʿī, and others, Joseph, the son of Jacob, built the first Nilometer at Memphis; at a later date, the “aged Dalūka” built Nilometers in Ak̲h̲mīm and Anṣinā (Antinoë). These were the Nilometers in use throughout the Hellenistic per…

S̲h̲īz

(539 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Bosworth, C.E.
, the name of a very old Persian fire-temple, a place or district to the south-east of Lake Urmiya in Ād̲h̲arbāyd̲j̲ān, said to be the native place of Zoroaster. According to A.V.W. Jackson, the name is said to be derived from the Avestan name of Lake Urmiya, Čaēčasta; according to Yāḳūt, it is an Arabic corruption of

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 …

Fīl

(3,543 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Pellat, Ch. | Bosworth, C.E. | Meredith-Owens, G.M.
(Ar.; from Persian pīl ), elephant. The word appears in the title and first verse of Sūra CV, which alludes to the expedition of Abraha [ q.v.], but the Arabs were barely acquainted with this animal which is a native of India and Africa; consequently when, towards the end of the 2nd/beginning of the 8th century, a troop of elephants arrived in Baṣra, it was a matter of curiosity for the population (see al-Nawawī, Tahd̲h̲īb , 738). The subject had already come up in the Kalīla wa-Dimna (trans. A. Miquel, Paris 1957, 53), but the first Arab author truly to con…

Bāzahr

(826 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Plessner, M.
, Bezoar, a remedy against all kinds of poisons, highly esteemed and paid for throughout the Middle Ages up to the 18th century, and in the Orient even up to this very day. The genuine (Oriental) Bezoar-stone is obtained from the bezoargoat ( Capra aegagrus Gm.) and, according to the investigations of Friedrich Wöhler, the famous chemist (1800-1882), and others, it is a gall-stone. The stone seems to have been unknown to ancient Arabs, for neither in the lexica nor in A. Siddiqi, Studien über die persischen Fremdwörter im klassischen Arabisch , 1919, is the word …

Billawr

(920 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Lamm, C.J.
, ballūr —whether from the Greek βήρυλλος is a disputed point, cf. Dozy, Supplément , i, 110—rock-crystal. According to the Petrology of Aristotle the stone is a kind of glass but harder and more compact. It is the finest, purest and most translucent of natural glasses, and also occurs among the colours of the yāḳūt by the dust-coloured rock-crystal is meant the smoky topaz. It may also be artificially coloured; it concentrates the sun’s rays so that a black rag or piece of cotton or wool may be set on f ire by it; valuable ve…

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…

Almās

(489 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J. | Plessner, M.
—frequently regarded as a noun defined by the article ( al-mās ; correctly al-Almās according to Ibn al-At̲h̲īr, in LA, viii, 97: the ’l belongs to the root as in Ilyās ), a corrupt form from the Greek ἀδάμας (l.c.: " wa-laysat bi-ʿarabiyya "),—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 Ḵh̲urāsān is a deep valley…

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…

al-Sūsan

(101 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the common name for the white and yellow-red lily and for the blue iris which is more precisely described by the addition of asmānd̲j̲ūnī and is also called īrisā by the physicians. The name is a general Semitic one, but whether from s̲h̲es̲h̲ (six), as Low suggests, seems to me doubtful on account of the ū or ō always found in it. The root of Iris ftorcntina L. is still used in medicine. (J. Ruska) Bibliography Ibn al-Baiṭār, transl. Leclerc, ii. 306 al-Ḳazwīnī, ʿAd̲j̲āʾib al-Mak̲h̲lūḳāt, ed. Wüstenfeld, i., p. 276 I. Löw, Die Flora der Juden, ii. I—4, 160—184.

Bōraḳ

(126 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, Bawraḳ, Būraḳ, borax. The description in Ḳazwīnī shows that the most different salts were confused under the general name of borax; he mentions natron as a kind of borax; i.e. the Armenian borax, the borax of the metal-founders, tinkār, which is brought from India, bakers’ borax, the borax of Zerāwand and of Kirmān. Even in the Petrology of Aristotle the peculiar property of borax is said to be that it melts all bodies, hastens smelting and facilitates casting. Natron is particularly mentioned in this connection as a kind of borax; tinkār is said to…

Bezoar

(390 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
— Arab, fad̲h̲zuhr, from the Persian Pā(w)zahr, i. e. removing poison — a highly esteemed remedy against all kinds of poison for which high prices were paid throughout the middle ages down to the xviiith century and to the present day in the East. The real (Oriental) bezoarstone is obtained from the Persian bezoar-goat ( Capra aegagrus Gm.) and according to Wöhler’s researches is a gallstone. A description of its properties and supposed effects is to be found as early as in the Kitāb al-Aḥd̲j̲ār, which is ascribed to Aristotle. The effect of poisons is to make the blood coagula…

al-Saraṭān

(270 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the crab; the name is applied to the fresh water crab as well as to the sea-crabs, saraṭān nahrī and baḥrī. Al-Damīrī describes the crab as follows: “it can run very quickly, has two jaws, claws and several teeth and a back as hard as stone; one might think that it had neither head nor tail. Its two eyes are placed on its shoulders, its mouth is in its chest and its jaws are sideways. It has eight legs and walks on one side. It breathes both air and water. It casts off its skin six times a year. It builds itse…
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