Sacred Texts  Islam  Index  Previous  Next 

The Maqámát of Badí‘ al-Zamán al-Hamadhání, tr. W.J. Prendergast [1915] at


‘ÍSÁ IBN HISHÁM related to us and said: I entered Baṣra when I was wide of fame and abundant of reputation, and there came to me two young men. One of them said: 'May God strengthen the Shaikh! this youth entered our house and seized a kitten 4 with vertigo in its head, with the sacred cord 5 and a whirling sphere around its middle. Gentle of voice, if it cries; quick to return, if it flees; long of skirt, if it pulls; slender of

p. 129

waist, weak of chest, 1 of the size of a plump sheep. Staying in the town, yet not abandoning travel. If it be given a thing, it returns it. If it be tasked with a journey, it goes energetically, and, if it is made to draw the rope, it lengthens it. There it is, bone and wood. It contains property, immoveable and moveable, a past and a future. 2 Said the young man: 'Yes, may God strengthen the Shaikh! for he forcibly took from me:--

'Pointed is his spearhead, 3 sharp are his teeth,
His progeny are his helpers, dissolving union is his business.
He assails his master, clinging to his moustache;
Inserting his fangs into old and young.
Agreeable, of goodly shape, slim, abstemious.
A shooter, with shafts abundant, around the beard and the moustache.'

So I said to the first: 'Give him back the comb in order that he may return to thee the spindle.'


128:4 A kitten: The commentator does not consider that arabicized from the Persian partridge, makes good sense and says that the text is corrupt. He suggests that the correct word is from the Persian a furred animal and, as the context shows, a kitten. I think his view is correct. If we accept as the arabicized form of the slight error in pointing is the kind of one a copyist might easily make.

128:5 Zunnar: Greek ζωναριον a cord or girdle worn by the Eastern Christians, the Jews, Magi, and the Brahmins. Originally the lower girdle worn by a woman just above the hips over which the gown was drawn and fell in folds.

129:1 Weak of chest: Literally, weak in the place of the shirt. gives no sense. Probably a fat sheep fit to be slaughtered.

129:2 Past and future: That is, ancestral and passing to posterity.

129:3 Pointed is his spearhead: Metre, rejez. Cf. Ḥarírí, i, 87.

Next: XXXII. The Maqáma of Shiráz