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(455 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the ass. Tame ( al-ahlī) and wild ( al-waḥs̲h̲ī, al-faraʿ) are distinguished. Some of the tame asses are beasts of burden, others are ridden; many of the latter are very swift. The ass can find its way again by a road even though it has only traversed it once before; its hearing is keen and it suffers little from disease. The ass is of special importance in Persia, Syria and Egypt. Many Arabs will not ride an ass out of pride, and it is not considered proper to mention the ass by its real name in go…


(480 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the locust. According to Damīrī there are large and small, red, yellow and white varieties; the females of the yellow are black. Ḳazwīnī distinguishes flying ( al-fāris) and hopping ( al-rād̲j̲il). They have the head of a horse, the eyes of an elephant, the neck of a bull, the horns of a mountain antelope, the breast of a lion, the body of a scorpion, the pinions of an eagle, the legs of a camel, the feet of an ostrich and the tail of a scorpion. They have six ¶ legs, two in front, two in the middle and two behind, on the latter of which are saws. Locusts follow a leader and assem…


(71 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the censer, from d̲j̲amra, “glowing coal”, the Arabic name for the constellation of the Altar which lies south of the Scorpion (θυτήριον in Aratus, ara in Cicero, Manilius etc.) or censer (θυμιατήριον in Ptolemy, turibulum in Geminus). (J. Ruska) Bibliography al-Ḳazwīnī, ed. Wüstenfeld, i. 41 L. Ideler, Untersuchungen über den Ursprung und die Bedeutung der Sternnamen, Berlin 1809, p. 280 A. Hauber, Planetenkinderbilder und Sternbilder, Strassburg 1916, p. 193-199.


(138 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the two lucky stars, Jupiter and Venus in contrast to the two unlucky stars ( maḥsān), Saturn and Mars. Jupiter is called the great good fortune, al-Saʿd al-akbar; whoever is born under his rule will be among the happy ones in the future life and distinguished for devoutness, fear of God, uprightness and continence. Venus is called the little good fortune, al-Saʿd al-aṣg̲h̲ar; whoever is born under Venus may expect good fortune and success in this life, in all worldly pleasures, such as food and drink and especially in all love and matrimonial affairs. (J. Ruska) Bibliography for the Greek…


(629 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the snake. When God sent the serpent on the earth, it fell on the land of Sid̲j̲istān, so that to this day there are still most snakes there. The land would be uninhabitable if large numbers were not devoured by the ʿirbadd, a large snake. There are many kinds of snake. The most notable is al-aṣala or al-ṣill; it is exceedingly large and has a human face; it said to retain the same appearance for thousands of years and can slay a man by looking at him. The kind called al-mukallala by Damīrī and al-malik by Ḳazwīnī, which has a little crown on its head, is most deadly. It burns up al…


(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 …


(335 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, silver. It is nearest to gold in composition and would have become gold, if it had not been affected by cold during its formation in the interior of the earth; it is cold and dry in equal proportions. It cannot be alloyed with copper and raṣāṣ (lead or tin) but is easily separated from them. It is consumed by fire if long exposed to its action and is also decomposed in the earth in course of time. If it is affected by quick-silver vapour, it becomes brittle and breaks under the hammer. Sulphur vapour blackens it and if sulphur is thrown o…


(163 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the (water-)snake, Arabie name of the long constellation of the Hydra, which lies in the southern heavens near the ecliptic, between the constellations of the Scales, Virgin, Lion and Crab on the one side and runs from the Centaur to Prokyon on the other. According to al-Ḳazwīnī 25 stars belong to the figure and two lie outside it. The head of the water-snake is on the southern pincers of the Crab between Prokyon ( al-S̲h̲iʿrā al-d̲j̲umaisāʾ, “Sinus the blear-eyed”) and Regulus ( Ḳalb al-Asad, “heart of the Lion”). Tbe snake twists a little southwards from these two stars and…


(266 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the henna shrub, Lawsonia inermis L., a tall slender shrub, reaching a height of 9—12 feet, occasionally becoming practically a tree, belonging to the family of Hythrariaceae, with white clustered flowers yielding a pleasant odour and smooth, entire leaves; it is grown in congenial soil all over North Africa, Persia and India. The flowers are used to prepare fragrant essences and oils. With the powder made from the dried leaves the nails, the palms of the hands and the soles of the feet are dyed orange yellow throughout the east, in Persia also …

T̲h̲ābit b. Ḳurra

(843 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, mathematician, physician and philosopher, one of the greatest figures among the promoters of Arab learning in the third (ninth) century. Born in 836 (826?) at Ḥarrān, the ancient seat of the worship of the planets, he belonged to a prominent family settled there, which produced a long series of scholars. The later names in his genealogy (T̲h̲ābit b. Ḳurra b. Zahrūn [Marwān?] b. T̲h̲ābit b. Karāyā b. Mārīnūs b. Mālāg̲h̲riyūs [ΜελέαγροΣ]) take us back to a time when the Greek character of the li…


(147 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.) is in the first place barley flour, then also wheat flour and flour made of dried fruits, then a soup made from flour with water or a paste to which honey, oil or pomegranate syrup etc. is added. The effects of such flour dishes are discussed by al-Rāzī in his work on diet. — To revenge the battle of Badr, Abū Sufyān in Ḏh̲u ’l-Ḥid̲j̲d̲j̲a, 2 a. h., rode with a body of horsemen towards Medīna. Near the town there was some trifling skirmishing and Abū Sufyān fled as soon as Muḥammad and his followers approached. The Mekkans in their flight threw away their provisions, mainly sawīḳ, which were pic…


(139 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, constellation of good fortune, a common name in Arab astronomy for small groups of stars. They are all in the three adjoining constellations of Pegasus, Aquarius and Capricorn and usually consist of two, sometimes of three or four stars of low magnitude. Four groups form four successive stations of the moon, namely 22. Saʿd al-d̲h̲ābih = αβ in Capricorn, 23. Saʿd bulaʿ = μ ν ε in Aquarius, 24. Saʿd al-suʿūd = β ξ in Aquarius and 25. Saʿd al-ak̲h̲biya = γ ζ π η in Aquarius. A farther four belong to Pegasus: saʿdal-bahāʾim (θ ν), saʿd al-humām (ζ ξ), saʿd al-nāziʿ (λ μ) and saʿd al-maṭar (η ο). Lastly s…


(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…


(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…
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