|Source: Abu'l-Fazl 'Allami, A'IN-I AKBARI (3 vols.). Vol. 1 trans. H. Blochmann, 1927. Vol. 1, pp. 40-42. Ed. *ZDJ*|
Book 1, Chapter 13: The Origin of Metals
|The Creator by calling into existence
the four elements, has raised up wonderful forms. Fire is absolutely warm,
dry, light; air is relatively warm, moist, light; water is relatively cold,
moist, heavy; earth is absolutely cold, dry, heavy. Heat is the cause of
lightness, and cold of heaviness; moistness easily separates particles,
whilst dryness prevents their separation. This wonderful arrangement calls
four compounds into existence, first, the asar-i 'ulavi; secondly,
stones; thirdly, plants; fourthly, animals. From the heat of the sun, watery
particles become lighter, mix with the air, and rise up. Such a mixture
is called bukhar (gas). From the same cause, earthy particles mix
with the air, and rise up. This mixture is called dukhan (vapour).
Sometimes, however, airy particles mix with the earth. Several philosophers
call both of the above mixtures bukhar, but distinguish the mixture
of watery particles and air by the name of moist, or watery bukhar,
whilst they call the mixture of earthy particles and air dry bukhar,
or dukhani bukhar (vapour-like gas). Both mixtures, they say, produce
above the surface of the earth, clouds, wind, rain, snow, etc.; and, below
the surface of our earth, earthquakes, springs, and minerals. They also
look upon the bukhar as the body, and upon the dukhan as
the soul of things. From a difference in their quality and quantity, various
bodies are called into existence, as described in books on philosophy.
Minerals are of five kinds: first, those which do not melt on account of their dryness, as the yaqut; secondly, those which do not melt, on account of their liquidity, as quicksilver; thirdly, those which can be melted, being at the same time neither malleable, nor inflammable, as blue stone; fourthly, those which can be melted, being, however, not malleable, but inflammable, as sulphur; fifthly, those which can be melted, and are malleable, but not inflammable, as gold. A body is said to melt when from the union of the inherent principles of dryness and moisture its particles are movable; and a body is called malleable when we can make it extend in such a manner as to yield a longer and wider surface without, however, either separating a part from it or adding a part to it.
When in a mixture of bukhar with dukhan, the former is greater in quantity, and when, after their mixture and complete union, the heat of the sun causes the whole to contract, quicksilver will be produced. Since no part of it is destitute of dukhan, the dryness is perceptible; hence on touching it, it does not affect the hand, but flees from it; and since its contraction was produced by heat, no warmth can dissolve it. Again, when in a mixture of bukhar and dukhan, both are nearly in equal proportion, a tenacious greasy moisture is produced. At the time of fermentation, airy particles enter, when cold causes the whole to contract. This mass is inflammable. If the dukhan and the greasiness are a little in excess, sulphur will be produced, in colour either red or yellow, or grey or white. If the proportion of the dukhan is large, and that of the grease less, arsenic will result, which is red and yellow. And if the quantity of the bukhar is greater, pure, black and yellow naphtha will arise, after the mixture gets solid. Since in all, cold was the cause of the contraction, they can be melted; and on account of the prevalence of greasiness and tenacious moistness, they are also inflammable, though, on account of the moistness, not malleable.
Although quicksilver and sulphur are the only component parts of "the seven bodies," there arise various forms from a difference in purity, or from peculiar circumstances of the mixture, or from a variety of the action of the component parts on each other. Thus silver will result, when neither of the two components mixes with earthy particles, when they are pure and become perfectly united, and when the sulphur is white, and less than the quicksilver. Or, when both are in equal proportions and the sulphur red, and capable of colouring, gold will originate. Again, under similar circumstances, if both contract after the mixture, but before a complete union has been effected, kharchini will be produced. This body is also called Ahanchini, and seems really to be raw gold; some say, it is a kind of copper. Again, if only the sulphur be impure, and the quicksilver the larger component, with an additional power of burning, copper will result. And if the mixture be not thorough, and the quicksilver larger, tin will be produced; some say that purity of the components is essential. If both compounds be of an inferior kind, closely mixed, and if the earthy particles of the quicksilver have a tendency of separating, and the power of burning be inherent in the sulphur, iron will result. And if under similar conditions the intermixture be not perfect, and the quicksilver quantitatively larger, lead will come into existence. These seven metals are called the seven bodies; and quicksilver has the name of the mother of the bodies, and sulphur, the father of the bodies. Quicksilver is also denominated the spirit, and arsenic und sulphur the pivots of life.
Jast (pewter), which, according to the opinions of some is Ruh-i tutiya, and resembles lead, is nowhere mentioned in philosophical books, but there is a mine of it in Hindustan, in the territory of Jalor, which is a dependency of the Suba of Ajmir. Some practical mechanics are of opinion that the metal called risas is a silver in the state of leprosy, and quicksilver a silver in the state of apoplexy; that lead is gold apoplectic and burnt, and bronze crude gold; and that the chemist, like the doctor, can restore these diseased metals by the principles of similarity and opposition.
Practical men form of the above seven bodies, several compounds, used for ornaments, vessels, etc. Among them I may mention: 1. Safidru, which the people of Hindustan call kusi. It is a mixture of 4 sers of copper to 1 ser of tin, melted together. 2. Ruy, 4 sers of copper to 1.5 sers of lead. It is called in this country bhangar. 3. Brass, which the Hindus call pital, is made in three ways: first, 2.5 sers copper to 1 ser ruh-i tutiya, which is malleable when cold; secondly, 2 sers of copper to 1 ser of ruh-i tutiya, which is malleable when heated; thirdly, 2 sers of copper to 1 ser of ruh-i tutiya, not worked with the hammer, but by casting. 4. Sim-i sukhta, composed of lead, silver, and bronze; it has a black lustre, and is used in painting. 5. Haft-josh, which, like the kharchini, is nowhere to be found; it is said to consist of six metals. Some call it taliqun, whilst others give this name to common copper. 6. Ashtdhat, a compound of eight metals, viz. the six of the haftjosh, ruh-i tutiya, and kusi. It is also made of seven compounds. 7. Kaulpatr, 2 sers of safidru, and 1 ser of copper. It is coloured, and looks well, and belongs to the inventions of his Majesty.
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