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Fīrōza

(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…

Ṣābūn

(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…

Sād̲j̲

(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 …

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-Sunbula

(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…

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…

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…

al-Ṣifr

(373 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), the empty, translation of the Sanskrit śūnya in Hindu-Arabic arithmetic, the name for zero, and the origin of the western words cipher, cifra, Ziffcr, chiffre and zero with their derivatives ( decipher, etc.). The question of the introduction or invention of the figures and of the zero has in spite of all palaeographical ¶ research and study of the history of mathematics not yet been satisfactorily explained. In the oldest documents known to us, the Arabs, when they do not write out the numbers in full, use Greek numerals. Only at a later dat…

Ḏh̲iʾb

(330 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the wolf, is described as extremely malignant, quarrelsome and cunning. When a large number of wolves are together, no one separates from the flock as they do not trust one another; when one becomes weak or is wounded it is eaten by the others. When asleep they keep the right and left eye open alternately to keep a watch on one another. When a wolf is not a match for an opponent, it howls till others come ¶ to its help; but when one becomes ill, it separates from the others, because it knows they will devour it when they see it is ill. When a wolf has designs on a flock…

Miḳyās

(328 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, any simple instrument for measuring, e.g. the pointer on a sundial; in Egypt the name of the Nilometer, i.e. the gauge on which the regular rise and fall of the river can be read. To get an undisturbed surface, the water was led into a basin; in the centre of this stood the water gauge, a column on which ells and fingers were carefully measured off. The level of the water was ascertained by an official daily and proclaimed by criers. Originally the rising of the Nile was measured by the gauge ( al-raṣāṣa). According to Ibn ʿAbd al-Ḥaḳam, al-Ḳuḍāʿī, and others, Joseph, the son of Jacob,…

Ḏh̲ahab

(568 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, gold, is among metals as the sun among the planets. It is formed by the most perfect amalgamation of the purest sulphur and the finest quicksilver so that it is easily smelted by fire but is not consumed nor does it became rusty no matter how long it may lie in the ground. It is soft, yellow with a tinge of red, bright, sweet to taste, pleasant to smell and exceedingly heavy. It is the magnet of quicksilver and sinks in it; quicksilver deprives it of its colour. Gold may be cast or wrought wit…

S̲h̲īz

(306 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the name of a very old Persian fire-temple, a place or district S. E of Lake Urmiya in Ad̲j̲barbāid̲j̲ān, 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, Čaečasta; according to Yāḳūt it is an Arabic corruption of Ḏj̲azn or Gazn i. e. Kanzaka or Gazaca of the classical writers or Gand̲j̲ak of the Pehlevi texts. The older geographers consider the two names distinct. A comparison of the description given by Yāḳūt from Misʿar b. Muhalhil (about 940) with the ruins which are now called Tak̲h̲t-i Sulaimān shows …

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…

Ṣandal

(128 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, Sandalwood. According to al-Nuwairī, numerous varieties are distinguished. The majority, especially the white, yellow and red kinds, are used for the manufacture of fragrant powders on account of their pleasant smell; they are also used in medicine, while other varieties again are used by turners and furniture-makers or for the manufacture of chessmen, etc. At the present day the pterocarpus imported from Southern Asia, the ¶ islands of the Malay Archipelago and Africa is used for fine furniture and the waste as dye-woods. (J. Ruska) Bibliography O. Warburg, Die Pflanzenwelt, ii. 2…

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…

Kinkiwar

(99 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, Kankiwar, Kangavar, a little district with a town of the same name and about 30 villages between Hamadān and Ḳarmīsīn. The town has about 2,500 inhabitants; in its vicinity is a famous castle, Ḳaṣr al-Luṣūṣ or Ḳaṣr Duzdān, the “robber castle”; it is said to take its name from the fact that several animals were stolen from the Muslims at the conquest; Ṭab. i. 2649. (J. Ruska) Bibliography B. G. A., i. 195; ii. 256; iii. 393 Barbier de Meynard, Dict. de la Perse, p. 450—451 Le Strange, Lands, p. 188 sq. Flaudin, Voyage, i. 408 sqq.

Ḏj̲ady

(170 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the he - goat, more particularly a he-goat one year old. Ḳazwīnī gives only a few notes under the article maʿz (goat) on its natural history. Goats have thick skin and thin hair unlike sheep which have thin skin and are protected from cold by a thick covering of wool. When the he-goat sees a young lion, he approaches it slowly, but when he smells it, he falls into a stupor and lies as if dead till the lion departs. It eats tarantulas without harm and becomes fat on them. Its uses in medicine are numerous; Ḳazwīnī gives the Kitāb al-Ḵh̲awāṣṣ of Balīnās as his authority for them. In Astronomy, al-Ḏj̲ady

al-Manāzil

(628 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
(a.), pl. of al-manzil, more fully manāzil al-ḳamar, the stations of the moon. Just as for the sun the zodiacal circle is divided into 12 stations each of 30°, which it traverses in the course of a year, so the course of the moon is connected with 28 groups of stars, each of which corresponds to one day of its course, so that on an average each is an arc of 13° apart. The settings of the sun at these stations, Arabic nawʾ, pl. anwāʾ, are of decisive importance for the beginning and forecasting of the phenomena of the weather and the fertility or otherwise of a year which depend…

ʿUḳāb

(576 words)

Author(s): Ruska, J.
, the eagle, the king of birds. al-Ḳazwīnī and al-Damīrī tell remarkable things about his habits, some of which go back to Greek tradition. According to al-Damīrī, there are black, brown, greenish and white eagles. Some nest in the mountains, others in deserts, in thick woods or in the vicinity of towns. (Here there is of course a confusion with the vulture and also in the statement that they follow armies and devour the fallen). The eagle hunts small wild animals and birds and eats only the liv…
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