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Marbaṭ

(449 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
, Marbiṭ (a., pl. marābiṭ ), the noun of place from the root r-b-ṭ in the sense of “to fasten, attach, tie”, which denotes first of all the place where domestic animals (members of the camel, equine, canine, and more rarely, of the goat and sheep families) are tethered. Among the nomads, the marbaṭ simply involves tying the animal’s halter to some bush or, failing that, tying the two ends of a rope ( ribāṭ , pl. rubuṭ , mirbaṭ or āk̲h̲iyya ) to a large stone which is buried in the sand and letting the loop emerge as a ring for tethering, in the shade of a tent; the beast thus tethered is called rabīṭ (for marb…

Fanak

(638 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(pl. afnāk ; from Pers. fanak / fanad̲j̲ ) may refer, at different times and with different authors, to various animals of different orders or families. In the Muslim west fanak is commonly applied to the fennec-fox, Fennecus zerda , a small wild member of the genus Vulpes of the Canidae with very large ¶ ears, a pale dun coat, and a spreading bushy tail. The nocturnal habits of this puny carnivore, and its essentially desert distribution from the Sahara to Arabia, have caused it to be practically ignored by Arabic writers, naturalists, encyclopaed…

G̲h̲azāl

(1,539 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
, (A., fem. g̲h̲azāla , pi. g̲h̲izlān , g̲h̲izla ), is the source of our term ‘gazelle’ denoting, in the Bovidae family, the species, all wild, of the sub-family of the Antilopinae. It is a noun much more restricted in application than ẓaby , which covers indiscriminately antelopes and gazelles, that is the Tragelaphini, Alcelaphinae, Oryginae, Reduncini, Antilopinae and Cephalophini. G̲h̲azal , in common with a number of names of animals, is at once a masculine singular denoting the male, and a collective noun denoting the species (see Ch. Pellat,

Arnab

(3,158 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.), pl. arānib , in poetry, al-arānī . Grammatically this noun is feminine and denotes the hare with the general meaning of a leporid, either as a collective noun, or specifically the doehare (see Ch. Pellat, Sur quelques noms d’animaux en arabe classique , in GLECS, viii, 95-9). In all the Arabic dialects the term maintains this meaning, but in Mag̲h̲ribī two plural forms are found, rawānib and arnānib . Today its archaic synonym ḳuwāʿ (fem. ḳuwāʿa ) seems to have been forgotten. Arabic lexicographers relate arnab to a root r-n-b (see LA) according to the rules of triliteralism, but…

Nasr

(3,178 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.) masculine noun (pl. ansur , nusūr , nisār ) denoting the vulture irrespective of species; the term is cognate with Akkadian nas̲h̲ru which is also encountered in the Hebrew nes̲h̲er (Turkish akbaba , Persian dāl , Berber tamādda ). From the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, in the lands of Islam eight species of vulture are known, almost all of them resident and localised in mountainous regions and at the desert fringes. Four of these species are common there, and they are: (a) The Egyptian vulture ( Neophron percnopterus ); this is the oripelargus of Pliny which was formerly known as Catharte …

Naml

(1,477 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.), substantive of a collective nature (unitary noun namla , pl. nimāl , namul , numul ) denoting ants (Persian namal , mūr , Turkish karinca , Tamaḥaḳ anellug̲h̲ , pl, inellug̲h̲en , Hebrew nemālah , pl. namālim . These hymenopters living in organised societies comprise more than 1,600 species worldwide, and are divided into two groups: “formicines” ( genera formica, camponotus , lasius ) which do not possess an aggressive sting, and “myrimicines” (genera myrmica , tetramorium , aphenogaster ) which are thus equipped. These classifications being of …

Faras al-Māʾ

(2,224 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(A., pl. k̲h̲ayl al-māʾ , k̲h̲uyūl al-māʾ ) and synonyms faras , al-baḥr faras al-nahr , faras nahrī , ḥiṣān al-baḥr , denoting the hippopotamus, are nothing other than Arabic translations of its Greek name ὁ ἵππος ὁ ποτάμιος in the works of Herodotus, then ίπππόταμος in the works of Galen and Aristotle; Herodotus also calls it ὁ ἵππος του̑ Νείλον, whence faras al-Nīl “horse of the Nile” and Pliny simply translated the Greek as equus fluviatilis. In Nubia it bears the name birnīḳ and in the Touareg country,

Ḥamām

(2,131 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(pl. ḥamāʾim , ḥamāmāt ), a collective substantive which, taken in a wide sense, denotes any bird “which drinks with one gulp and coos” (

Waṭwāṭ

(429 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a., pls. waṭāwīṭ , waṭāyīṭ ), a synonym for k̲h̲uffās̲h̲ , pl. k̲h̲afāfīs̲h̲ , denoting …

Bayzara

(3,753 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
, (Arabic), denotes “the art of the flying-hunt”, and is not restricted to the designation of “falconry”. (Its Persian origin (from bāz : goshawk; see below) is more closely related to the notion of “ostring art”). Derived from bayzār , “ostringer”, an Arabicised form of the Persian bāzyār/bāzdār , it was preferred to its dual form bāzdara ; the words bāziyya and biyāza were scarcely used in the Muslim Occident. The use of rapacious predatories ( kāsir , pi. kawāsir ) as “beasts of prey” I ( d̲j̲āriḥ , pi. d̲j̲awāriḥ ) was undoubtedly known to the Arabs before Is…

Salwā

(1,384 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.), a noun with a generic sense ( nomen unitatis, salwāt , pl. salāwā , denotes first of all the quail ( Coturnix coturnix), of the order of Galliformae, family of Phasianidae), from Latin quaquila , with the synonym sumānā , sumānā t, pl. sumānayāt . The two Semitic roots s-l-w and s-m-n evoke the idea of fatness; the same sense is found in the Hebrew ślāw , pl. śalwīm , and in the Syriac salwai . It is under this name that the quail is mentioned in the Bible (Exod. xvi, 11-13; Num. xi, 31-2; Ps. lxxvii, 27; Ps. civ, 40; Wisdom of Solomon, xvi, 2) with regard to the e…

T̲h̲aʿlab

(665 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.), masculine substantive (pls. t̲h̲aʿālib , t̲h̲aʿāl in) denoting the fox ( Vulpes vulpes), carnivore of the canine tribe, belonging to the class of Canidae and the family of Vulpinae; in Persian wāwi , rūbāh , and in Turkish tilki . The vixen is called t̲h̲aʿlaba , t̲h̲uʿala , t̲h̲urmula , t̲h̲uʿlubān and the fox-cub is hid̲j̲ris and tanfal . Furthermore, the fox bears the nicknames of Abu ’l-Ḥuṣayn , Abu ’l-Nad̲j̲m , Abu ’l-Nawfal , Abu ’l-Wat̲h̲ab , and Abū Ḥinbiṣ , while the vixen is Umm ʿUwayl . The guile which is the dominant feature of the fox is acknowledged by the expressions amkar min …

Timsāḥ

(571 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a., pl. tamāsīḥ ), masculine substantive denoting the Nile crocodile ( Crocodilus vulgaris ) of the class of reptiles ( zaḥḥāfāt ) and the order of saurians ( ʿaẓāliyyāt ); it is the only crocodile known in the Arabophone countries. The name appears to be derived from the Coptic ʾ imsaḥ . According to ancient authors, this crocodile is said to have been formerly present in the waters of the Jordan and the Euphrates. A carnivore, it devours all kinds of meat and fish. Of naturalists writing in the Arabic language, al-Damīrī (see Bibl .) is the only one to have dealt…

Mis̲h̲mis̲h̲

(682 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a., more rarely mus̲h̲mus̲h̲ , in the Mag̲h̲rib mis̲h̲mäs̲h̲ ), a masc. sing, noun with a collective meaning (singulative mis̲h̲mis̲h̲a ), the apricottree and its fruit ( Prunus armeniaca), of the Rosaceae family, and corresponding to Persian zardālū , zardālūk and Turkish kayisi . It was for long considered as indigenous to Armenia (whence its scientific name), but in fact has been cultivated in China for about two millennia before our era and reached the Mediterranean region of the West ¶ in the historical ages of Athens and Rome via India, Persia, Iraq and Turkey. In Gr…

Ḍabuʿ

(3,887 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
, Ḍabʿ (A. ḍubʿ , ḍubuʿ , ḍibāʿ , aḍbuʿ , maḍbaʿa ), grammatically feminine singular nouns designating the hyena (Persian: kaftār , Turkish: ṣi̊rtlan , Berber: ifis , pl. ifisen ) irrespective of sex or species (see Ch. Pellat, Sur quelques noms d’animaux en arabe classique , in GLECS, viii, 95-9). From this vague generic term, additional forms have been derived to differentiate the sexes: ḍibʿān , pl. ḍabāʿīn for the male (alongside d̲h̲īk̲h̲ , pl. d̲h̲uyūk̲h̲ ) and ḍibʿāna , pl. - āt , for the female. The word ḍabuʿ (preferable to ḍabʿ ) is of Sumero-Akkadian origi…

Faras

(3,756 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.) (pl. afrās , furūs , fursān ) denotes the Horse ( Equus caballus), in the sense of saddle-horse; philologists further restrict the meaning of the word to “saddle-horse of the Arabian breed”. This original name is applied to both sexes without distinction, and serves as a noun of unity for the collective of the species k̲h̲ayl ( Equidae ); hence this term is found in agreement with either gender, the feminine, however, seeming the more usual, in ancient Arabic (see Ch. Pellat, Sur quelques noms d’animaux en arabe classique , in GLECS, viii, 95-9). The word faras , pronounced fras , pl. frāsāt…

Yarbūʿ

(523 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.), the jerboa, jumping mouse or jumping hare ( Jaculus ) of the class of rodents and family of dipodids ( Dipus ). The name jerboa is itself derived from yarbūʿ , which may come from Aramaic, as also the name gerbil. Dipus is the “two-legged rat”. It holds itself up on long backlegs like the kangaroo, whilst the front legs are very short and are used to grasp prey and scrape out ¶ its burrows. In Pliny, the jerboa is often confused with the “white rat” ( Mus albus ). The Dipodid family comprises a dozen species, typified by the “Arrow-bolt jerboa” ( Dipus sagitta). The Arabic authorities on zool…

K̲h̲ayl

(4,103 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.), a fem. sing. noun with a collective meaning denoting the equine species. The term has no ¶ singular and, like ibil “camels” and g̲h̲anam “sheep”, it is to be included in the category of collectives for domestic animals forming the basis of nomadic life (see Ch. Pellat, Sur quelques noms d’animaux en arabe classique , in GLECS, viii, 95-9); however, the plurals k̲h̲uyūl and ak̲h̲yāl are found for it. The extent of the concept of K̲h̲ayl covers the whole range of terms comprising, in Islamic society, the activities based upon use of the horse, such as, inter alia, the nouns barīd , d̲j̲ays̲h̲…

Zarāfa

(269 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
(a.), pls. zarāfāt , zarāfī , zarāʾif , zurāfa , the giraffe (in Persian, us̲h̲tur-gāw-palang “camel-cow-leopard”), a large African mammiferous animal, one of the two representatives of the Giraffid family and well ¶ known through its western type Giraffa camelopardalis or cameleopard. In Antiquity, and according to all the ancient writers on natural history, the giraffe was considered as a hybrid coming from crossings of wild species of camelids, bovines and felines, male or female, and because of its long front legs and short back ones, as involving a limping and jerky gait. It is ast…

Karkaddan

(3,744 words)

Author(s): Viré, F.
, preferable to Karkadann , and KARKAND (fern, karkanda , Mag̲h̲ribī, kerkedān ) are arabicized forms of the Persian kargadān from Pahlavi karg . They denote primarily the Rhinocerotidae of India and the East Indies including (a) the Indian ¶ rhinoceros ( Rhinoceros unicornis ), also called mirmīs , zibaʿrā / zibʿarā and sinād (b) the rhinoceros of Java ( Rhinoceros sondaïcus ), which al-Bīrūnī calls by its Sanskrit name kunda; and (c) the rhinoceros of Sumatra ( Didermoceros sumatrensis ), which is Persian nis̲h̲ān , becoming nisyān and nūs̲h̲ān . Well before Islam and the Muslim con…
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