551. “The astrolabian spider,” i.e., “the spider of the astrolabe,” is the centre of the plate of the astrolabe called the rete, which latter is similar to a spider’s web. On it are given the positions of the fixed stars and of the signs of the zodiac. The distich signifies that by means of the astrolabe he had mapped out the sky. (See Chaucer’s Treatise on the Astrolabe.)

552. Pliny; in Persian, Balīnās.

553. A talisman is a magic image which is supposed to have the power to hinder people from approaching places near which it is put, and also to prevent people from finding buried treasures. The belief in them may no doubt be traced to the Accadians who preceded the Semites in Chaldæa. (See also Note 1,490.)

554. “The veiled ones of the sky”; i.e., “the stars.”

“The moon’s night-raids, the sun’s hostility”; i.e., the evil influences of the moon and the sun.

555. i.e., when Nu‘mān, moved by the reputation of Simnār, became eager for his presence.

556. Lit., “he made his business right.”

557. “Iron-like.” Āhan-band means literally “iron-jointed, iron-plated”, and also “iron-binding”.

The term may apply both to the resolution with which he conducted the work, and also to the hard labour he expended upon it, as well as perhaps to some of the material, “iron,” which he used in the work.

558. “Clay,” gil; presumably, gil-i ḥikmat, “mud-cement.”

559. The palace is likened to one of the skies on account, no doubt, of having a dome. It is a sky in repose whilst the skies are circling round it in constant movement.

560. i.e., one round which the universe revolves: the centre or pivot of the universe.

561. “The Zeuxian work of countless fantasies”:
tangalūshā-yi ṣad hazār khiyāl.

All the I.O. MSS. and printed editions are very corrupt in the beginning of this second hemistich, but the word tangalūshā may undoubtedly be evolved from them. Tangalūshā means the paintings, school, or work of Zeuxis, the Grecian painter, who flourished from 425 to 400 B.C.

Under the corrupted name Lōshā (modern Lūshā) he enjoyed amongst the Persians as great celebrity as the famous painter Mānī (Manes), the founder of Manichæism.

Tang, it should be added, means “paintings, school, or work”, but Artang (the fuller form of the word) meant originally the book of the religious teachings of Mānī adorned by his paintings.

562. Iṣāba, rendered “head dress”, is “a band, fillet, or kerchief bound round the head”.

563. i.e., its roof was highly varnished.

564. “For more or less time.”

This, I think, is the most probable sense of az shitāb-u dirang, lit., “of hastiness or slowness.” It can scarcely have a subjective signification.

565. A bride, presumably, in the course of the day appeared in dress of three different colours, each assumed at a different time.

566. “The three-coloured silk which circles round” is “the sky”, which was supposed to move rapidly round the earth.

567. i.e., it took its colour from the atmosphere. The Author means probably that in the day time it was mostly white, and at night black. But the distich as a resumé of those which precede it is impossible, and it is equally impossible taken in any other way. It appears to want before it a distich, though I have not found any except in I.O. MS. 1168, which gives,

Chunki khvarshīd dar ghurūb shudī āsmān-vār bī ‘uyūb shudī.

This, however, does not offer much sense, and simply suggests that some distich was at least felt to be required here.

568. i.e., the artist must be encouraged and stimulated by generosity.

“The meat,” kabāb, which is, generally, roast, baked, or broiled meat. More particularly, as here, it means pieces of meat roasted on a spit or skewer. (See also Note 1,340.)

569. i.e., no one can have nobility and greatness of character who is not generous.

A diram was a silver coin worth about twopence. At an earlier time in history it was worth about sixpence. The word is used in a general sense for “money”.

570. “In these bounds”; i.e., “within these limits of the castle.” Or it might be, “in this district or region.”

“Chinese work.” The Chinese artists, as well as the Grecian, were held in high estimation by the Persians. Here, however, “Chinese work” means probably work as beautiful as that of Chinese artists.

571. “When I designed,” or possibly, “when I set to work,” or “when I determined”, the expression ba-vaqt-i basīch being ambiguous.

572. Yāqūt means ruby, sapphire, or topaz, according as it is qualified by the adjective red, blue, or yellow, but when without such qualifying adjective it signifies ruby.

573. Lit., “shows its face in one-domedness.”

574. “The sky”; i.e., the seven different skies of the seven planets.

575. i.e., the danger comes from close connexion.

576. “Root and branch,” bīkh-u bār; lit., “root and fruit,” or “root and blossoms”. Or bār might be taken as a synonym and corroborative of bīkh.

577. “The object of his work,” nishāna-yi kār-ash, means first, “the castle,” and secondly, “the reward expected.”

578. Gaz, an ell of 42 inches, or a cubit of about 26 inches.

579. i.e., that death would come from falling from the roof of the building if it were high.

580. Lit., “became a garden or grove with such (power of) giving repose to the heart.”

581. A reference to the old star-worship.

582. Iram. See Notes 90, 1,203, and 1,605.

583. The sign Aries is, as it were, an adorner of the world with the flowers of Spring when the sun enters it at the beginning of that season.

584. A metaphor implying that he was sure to find joy.

Venus, the minstrel of the sky, is mentioned appositely with Bahrām, which besides being a name of men means Mars.

585. The sun is in the fourth sky, and therefore “within”; the moon is in the first sky, and hence “without”.

586. By “the sun within” are meant the brilliant decorations inside of the palace; and by “the moon without”, the resplendent reflection cast by its domed roof.

587. Furāt, “sweet (water),” is also the name of the Euphrates,

“The Stream of Life.” (See Notes 274, 1,201, 1,562, and 1,698.)

588. “The Sidra-throne” is the heavenly lotus tree in which Gabriel is supposed to rest. Here the village is likened to it on account of its verdure.

589. Lit., “on that Kayānian roof.” The Kayānian was the second dynasty of Persian kings.

590. Shushtar, or Shūshtar, is the modern capital of the province of Khūzistān (Susiana), otherwise called ‘Arabistān on account of its numerous Arab inhabitants. Shushtar is on the River Kārūn, and between it and the town of Bihbahān is one of the most beautiful and fertile valleys of Persia. Hence the Author’s expression, “All the plain was (as) the expanse of Shūshtar.”

About 36 miles west of Shushtar are the ruins of Sūsa, the ancient capital, and the favourite winter residence of the Akhæmenian kings of Persia.

Its modern Arab name Sūs now generally prevails in the province, though the Persian name is Shūsh.

Tustar is said to be an older name of the modern Shushtar or Shūshtar. (See also Note 1,067.)

591. Kabg-i darī is explained by the Farhang-i Shu‘ūrī as a more elegant and beautiful species of partridge, i.e., presumably, than the kabg-i ghair-i darī. Some authorities, however, explain it as “the mountain partridge”. It is said to be larger than the other species mentioned.

592. Lit., “from this colour and scent.”

593. “Firm and forceful,” sakht-kūsh; lit., “striving, contending hard”; perhaps, “strenuous, energetic in worldly affairs.”

The reading sakht-gūsh, “deaf,” is not, I think, admissible here.

594. “Seven fortresses”; i.e., “the seven skies.”

The Author likens the words of the vazīr in their power to move to a crane fancied poetically by him to have served to raise and move the seven skies into their places.

595. This and the preceding distich occur only in I.O. MS. 1168. The present distich reads in 1168 as follows:

Mail-i dih kard-u dil zi-khvad bar tāft
ba-yakī laḥza kār-i khvad dar yāft.

Dih, “village,” would mean “the spiritual world”, but it is possible that the correct reading may be either rah, “path,” i.e., here, “the spiritual path,” or dil, “heart.”

Adopting either of these words one would render,

“He sought the path (or his heart) and turned his heart from self, (and) understood his business in a trice.”

The heart, in Ṣūfī teaching, is when purified the place of manifestation of the glory and beauty of the Deity. He who finds the heart finds God. Cf. the term ṣāḥib-dil, “a master of heart, a Ṣūfī.”

596. Lit., “he packed up his effects from that office of (King) Solomon.” Solomon is a type of very powerful kings, and was said to have also control over the jinn or genii, including the fairies.

597. Munẕir, the son of Nu‘mān.

598. Dūd, “smoke,” means also “affliction”.

599. Lit., “he brought the dominion to its own proper arrangement, settlement, or stability”; i.e., he consolidated the government.

600. “Scattered pearls”; i.e., spoke with eloquence.