FIFTY-ONE -- [The Amir prepares to marry Mihr Nigar, with Asman Pari in attendance.]

On the third day, when about four hours of the day had passed, the Amir sat at his ease, enjoying the meadow, contemplating the scene with pleasure, undisturbed by the presence of anyone else, when out of the sky three beautifully colored peacocks descended into the meadow.  The Amir sent Muqbil the Faithful and ‘Amar ‘Ayyar to look at them closely.  When the birds saw the watchers, they disappeared.  When the watchers saw this, they were astonished.  The narrator writes that these were not peacocks.  Asman Pari, with a powerful army, had camped in the foothills of a mountain about four miles from there.  She had come there to enjoy the scenery, for that spot with its greenery pleased her very much.  She had sent ‘Abdur Rahman the Jinn and Salasil Parizad and Akvanah Pari to find out how the Amir was.  They had turned themselves into peacocks and come to see the Amir, they had disguised themselves in this form.

Thus in a little while they appeared in their proper forms in court to attend upon the Amir, and made obeisance to him, and showed him all due respect and honor.  They informed him of Asman Pari’s arrival.  The Amir was extremely happy; embracing them, he seated them in chairs at his side, and treated them with great kindness.  He told Crown Prince Hurmuz/1/ and the officers of his army the good news of Asman Pari’s arrival.  And he said to ‘Amar, “Well then, congratulations!  Asman Pari has brought gifts from Qaf for you, she has come in great splendor.  ‘Amar too, hearing this good news, was very happy.  The whole night was filled with merriment and festivities.

As soon as morning came, the Amir mounted and prepared to go to Asman Pari.  All the kings and princes and officers and soldiers, except for Crown Prince Hurmuz, put on elegant costumes and joined the Amir’s entourage.  Khvajah ‘Abdur Rahman the Jinn and Salasil Parizad and Akvanah Pari had previously gone to inform Asman Pari that the Sahib-qiran was coming, that he was coming with great pomp and dignity.  Asman Pari was very happy.  From her pavilion to the Amir’s camp she had carpets of velvet and ermine and gold-embroidery and brocade laid down, she made the whole road resemble the garden of Paradise.

When the Amir arrived at the Pavilion of Solomon, he left everyone else at the door and himself went into the tent.  Asman Pari, with Quraishah, came to the door of the pavilion to welcome the Amir, she brought all her attendants and companions with her.  Laughing, she said to the Amir, “You left me behind, but finally I myself have come to you, and I’ve brought with me the things for Princess Mihr Nigar’s wedding!”  The Amir asked, “What kind of things have you brought?  First tell me everything in detail, then show me every single thing.”  Asman Pari said, “The Pavilion of Solomon, the Drum of Solomon, the four bazaars of the Queen of Sheba,/2/ and every kind of jewel, and gifts from Qaf, and ermine and red squirrel and velvet and gold-embroidered brocade.”

The Amir was very much delighted.  Kissing Quraishah on the forehead, he embraced her, and he embraced Asman Pari too and kissed her many times.  Asman Pari said, “You should sit on the throne.”  The Amir did not agree; he sat on the chair of Asif Barkhiya.  All the chiefs of the Devs and Jinns and Paris who had come with Asman Pari made obeisance to the Amir.  The Amir honored them all with his attention, and inquired kindly about each one; he spoke to each of them individually.  And he said to Asman Pari, “That ‘Amar ‘Ayyar whom I always used to praise to you, is also very eager to meet you, and has arrived.  You should accept whatever presents he has brought you.”  Asman Pari said, “Send for him, let him come in.”

When ‘Amar entered, at the sight of the pavilion he was stunned, he found it such a peerless tent.  When he looked, he couldn’t see anyone except the Amir, no matter where he looked.  He asked the Amir, “Where is the Queen of the Universe, whom you always praised, displaying her splendor?  After all, I too should see her, and what she looks like--she who held you fascinated in Qaf for eighteen years, who kept you trapped in the net of her love!”  The Amir said, “’Amar, Queen Asman Pari adorns the throne--why do you not salute her?”  ‘Amar said, “I can’t see her.  Whom should I salute?  I myself am astonished at the situation.  Is my salute for nothing, that I should salute thrones and chairs?  It is not my habit to perform deeds to no purpose!”

The queen gave orders, and commanded her attendants, to put the Kohl of Solomon on ‘Amar’s right eye, and let him see the effects of this kohl.  It should be understood that if the Kohl of Solomon is put on the right eye, Devs become visible; and if it is put on the left eye, Parizads and Paris become visible.  When the kohl was put on ‘Amar’s right eye, ‘Amar began to see the forms of the Devs, the whole crowd of Devs came within ‘Amar’s vision.  Muttering many prayers of repentance,/3/ he asked the Amir, “Which of these is your honorable wife, the queen?  For the Lord’s sake, tell me quickly, point her out to me!”  The Amir laughed very much at these words of ‘Amar’s, and the queen too laughed and laughed until she almost fell off her throne.

The queen ordered that the Kohl be put on ‘Amar’s left eye as well, to make him able to see her own form.  As soon as the Kohl was put on his left eye, ‘Amar could see the assembly of Paris and Parizads.  He saw that the queen, extremely radiant, resembling the sun, sat on the throne; with perfect glory and splendor she was seated there.  And a girl, the envy of the fourteen-days’ full moon, looking exactly like the Amir, adorned the throne at the queen’s side, a girl whose captivating beauty astonished the beholders.  He said to himself, “It seems that this girl is the Amir’s daughter.”

Approaching the throne, ‘Amar saluted the queen.  And he said to the Sahib-qiran, “So this is Queen Asman Pari?  Oh Sahib-qiran, for this face you wasted eighteen years of your life?  I take refuge in God!/4/  For such a face I wouldn’t have stayed even a day, I would never have suffered as you did.  From such a woman I wouldn’t even accept a pot of water to use after the toilet!  I wouldn’t even eat a plum, if her hands had touched it!”  The queen was mortified, her eyes filled with tears.

The Amir said to Asman Pari in the language of the Jinns, “Why are you downcast?  He’s a jester, this is merely a small pleasantry of his.  Why, you haven’t seen anything yet!  You’ll see what strange things he does, what kinds of tricks he shows you.  When I told you about him in Qaf, didn’t I say that he was such a mischief-maker that people were amazed at his tricks, they were thunderstruck by them?  Do one thing:  just give him something, right now--then see what happens!”  Asman Pari, wiping her eyes, bestowed on ‘Amar a robe decorated with many jewels, and gave him with it a suitable amount of cash as well.

‘Amar, putting on the robe, saluted her and, snapping his fingers rhythmically, sang this verse two or three times; acting like a clown, he began to clap his hands:
        “How can your beauty be described aright, Oh God, Oh God,
        For it’s equal to the Chapter of Light,/5/ Oh God, Oh God!”
And looking at the Amir, he said, “Oh Sahib-qiran, even before this I felt sure that you must have found some moon-faced one whom you were reluctant to leave in order to come back.  In truth, if a man gets his hands on such a beautiful beloved, why shouldn’t he forget about the World and all it contains?  Before this I used to think that in all the world only Mihr Nigar was truly beautiful, that she was incomparable in her loveliness.  But compared to this queen who rivals the sun, she doesn’t have even as much sparkle or brightness as a grain of sand!  Mihr Nigar doesn’t at all have such a face and form that the sun would be shamed by her radiance and delicacy, or the bright moon be unable to confront her!  And after all, why shouldn’t it be so?  How can a daughter of Adam compare with a Parizad?”

          Asman Pari was very pleased with these words of ‘Amar’s.  She laughed uncontrollably and said, “Go away, you worthless creature!”  Then she gave ‘Amar so many jewels and gifts of Qaf that he was ecstatic.  Afterwards, Asman Pari sent for the nobles and officers and champions of the Amir’s army, and dressed each one in a robe of honor suited to his rank, and gave each one, according to his rank, cash and gifts, the like of which even the sky could never have seen, or even imagined.

And she urged the Amir, “Arrange the marriage with Mihr Nigar quickly, instruct your attendants to collect the necessary things.  Although I’ve brought bridal attire with me from Qaf, and I’ve come prepared to see the affair through to its conclusion, I don’t know the customs of this realm; preparations must be made according to the local customs as well.  I very much want the occasion to be splendid and elegant.”  The Amir, after staying three days with Asman Pari, on the fourth day returned to his camp; for four days, he couldn’t manage to leave Asman Pari’s side.

The Amir went and said to Mihr Nigar, and recounted to her most sweetly, “Asman Pari has brought bridal attire for you from Qaf, and has brought many sophisticated and rare things along with her.  She urges and urges me to have the wedding quickly, and not by any means to delay it.”  Mihr Nigar, lowering her head, sat silently.  The Amir went out and said the same words to Crown Prince Hurmuz, and informed him of the situation in detail.  He ordered the marriage-drum to be sounded, and ordered that the requisites for the wedding should be collected.

And he wrote a petition to Naushervan to this effect:  “In fact you have already given Mihr Nigar to me.  But with the revolving of the heavens a number of deplorable events took place, such that I was powerless to marry; such undesirable things happened to me that I fell short of carrying out this intention.  However, let bygones be bygones.  Now my petition is that at present your servant is going to marry Mihr Nigar.  I hope that, in accordance with the universal custom, you will again give me leave, and be gracious to me, so that I may carry out this good deed happily and joyfully, and marry her with great pomp and grandeur.  And in the Paradise-like gathering, and in the joyful assembly, Your Majesty must also condescend to set foot.  If Your Majesty should honor this servant by being pleased to condescend to set foot there, it would not be too much to expect of Your Majesty’s graciousness.”

‘Amar went and presented this petition in the service of the King of the Seven Realms.  The king, after reading it, asked ‘Amar, “I have heard that Asman Pari has brought bridal attire and gifts from Qaf for Mihr Nigar, that she has come in great splendor.  Is this report true, or false?”  ‘Amar submitted, “It is true; there’s not a hair’s breadth of untruth in it.”  In the meantime, a petition from Hurmuz and Bakhtak also arrived.  In it was written, “Please give the Amir leave to marry, so that your word is not broken, and he will not be broken-hearted.  For even if you don’t permit him, Hamzah will still marry Mihr Nigar, and you will lose face.”

The king sent for his companions and officers, and showed them Hurmuz’s petition, and read them its whole contents.  They all unanimously approved of the prince’s advice.  Naushervan, sending for his pen-case, wrote an answer to the Amir’s petition:  he wrote him a full permission for the marriage.  But he declined to go to the wedding.  Many of his companions said, “We have never seen such a marriage, even among beggars--much less for an Amir!  It seems that Amirs arrange their own marriages, they carry out such important acts in such a casual way!”

Buzurchmihr said, “If you people go, the Amir will treat you with honor and respect, and will show you wonderful sights.  You can enjoy the festivities for three or four days and then come back, you needn’t stay very long.”  And he said to Naushervan, “If Your Majesty considers it improper to go openly, then give ‘Amar some reward, or give him some money, so that he will conceal you in his house and let you see the sights; he will treat you very respectfully.”  The king said, “There’s no harm in that.”  He said to ‘Amar, “I will come in the guise of a wandering faqir.”  ‘Amar agreed.  The king, presenting ‘Amar with a robe of honor, gave him leave to go, and Buzurchmihr went with him.

The narrator writes that when the Amir received such a favorable answer to his letter, he was very pleased, and showed it to everybody.  Embracing Buzurchmihr, with his own hands he dropped into his eyes the sap from those two leaves that Hazrat Khizr had given him.  Buzurchmihr’s eyes became as bright as stars; in the space of a moment he could see again.  Buzurchmihr congratulated the Amir.  The wedding-drum began to sound continuously.

The Devs and Parizads, at Queen Asman Pari’s order, set up the Pavilion of Solomon on a prominent hillock.  They prepared decorations and things for the wedding beyond all measure.  Nearby, the four arcades of the Bazaar of Sheba were set up.  Four hundred Devs were appointed to spread the carpets in that pavilion and sweep it clean.  In the Drum-house of Solomon the joyful drum of marriage began to sound.  In every inch of space, colorful heaps of jewels were piled, huge pearls were ranged in their proper places.  Queen Asman Pari took Mihr Nigar into the Inner Chamber of Solomon, and arranged a bridal party for her; every single event that was part of a marriage celebration took place.

On the day of the wedding procession, the Amir put on a royal robe of honor, and mounted Ashqar Devzad.  The kings and princes of the age, flinging gold and jewels to the poor for the Amir’s sake, walked along on all sides of his horse.  Twelve thousand beautiful Jinn children, carrying lighted camphor-white candles in crystal candelabra and colorful jeweled lanterns, marched before the Amir’s horse.  All the attendants did their proper and appointed work most scrupulously and carefully.  Forty thousand Jinns marched along, setting off fireworks from Qaf in the air, and gurgling and squealing to each other with happiness.  Twenty thousand Parizads on flying thrones displayed their singing and dancing, and played their musical instruments, on both sides of the Amir’s entourage.  On winged camels, the Drum of Solomon was borne along, sounding as it went.  Things which no one had ever seen or heard of before, could be seen by everybody.

And the ‘Ayyar and King of ‘Ayyars, the enemy-killer, Khvajah ‘Amar bin Umayyah Zamiri, accompanied by four thousand four hundred forty-four ‘ayyars in ornate costumes, went along overseeing the Amir’s progress, he supervised everything with the greatest joy and happiness.  Ashqar Devzad pranced along so elegantly, throwing out his hoofs so proudly with every step, moving like a dancing peacock, that even the graceful wood-pigeon was in ecstasy and fell madly in love with him.
        Look how happily that horse is prancing,
        Fanned from right and left with feathers, dancing,
        With lines of attendants on every side,
        You see him sway, you see him glide,
        In short, he moves with such style and ease
        He seems to flow like a fresh spring breeze./6/
In short, when with such pomp and ceremony the Amir entered the Pavilion of Solomon, and with dignity and stateliness entered the Hall of Solomon, he dismounted from his horse.  He went and sat on the throne beside Crown Prince Hurmuz, so close that their knees were touching, and a dance by some Paris began.  Queen Asman Pari, together with Quraishah and her companions, went to Mihr Nigar in the Four Arcades of Sheba.  She adorned Mihr Nigar from head to foot with golden ornaments and jewels which had never before been seen by the eye of the sky outside the ladies quarters of the King of Kings of Qaf.  So that, seeing how Mihr Nigar was adorned, the sky/7/ kissed Asman Pari’s hand.

Dressing Mihr Nigar in bridal attire, Asman Pari gave away trays and boxes full of jewels in charity for her sake; in delight and amazement she offered up heaps of gold and jewels.  Seeing Mihr Nigar’s glory at that moment, Asman Pari herself fell in love with her, she was beside herself, enraptured.  With the greatest happiness she busied herself in arranging the marriage celebration.

/1/ Muqbil had recently captured Bakhtak and Hurmuz and brought them before Hamzah.  Fearing for their lives, they pretended to accept Islam.  Hamzah then “seated Hurmuz on the throne of Kaikhusrau.”  He made him lord of his own army as well, with Bakhtak as his vazir.
/2/ Bilqis [bilqiis], the Queen of Sheba, is considered in Islamic story tradition to have been Solomon’s queen.
/3/ Such a reaction suggests disgust rather than fear.
/4/ Another expression of disgust.
/5/ The Chapter of Light is the twenty-fourth chapter of the Qur’an.
/6/ This verse sequence [na:zm] is from the narrative poem [ma;snavii] Sihr ul-bayan [.si;hr ul-bayaan] by Mir Hasan [miir ;hasan] (1738?-1782).
/7/ A pun on her name:  “sky” is [aasmaan].

== on to Chapter 52 ==

 -- Amir Hamzah index page -- fwp's main page --