G L O S S A R Y
This list identifies all the important places, and objects that appear in the dastan. They are described from the point of view of the dastan itself, disregarding problems of historicity, etc. The list is drawn not only from the translated excerpts presented here, but from the whole Urdu text. Each name entered is marked with a number sign (#) on its first appearance in the translation.
Alburz, Mount. [koh-e alburz]. A famous high mountain in the Caucasus.
Aleppo. [;halab]. A city in Syria, through which Hamzah passes on his way to Greece.
‘anqa. [((anqaa]. A legendary elusive bird of Arabic story tradition, whose defining trait was that no one could ever find it.
‘ayyari. [((ayyaarii]. The special art of trickery, deceit, dirty tricks, espionage, reconnaissance, and guerrilla warfare in which ‘Amar is expert. ‘Ayyari is a profession, with its own dress and private language; ‘ayyars may serve different masters, but they recognize each other as fellow professionals.
Bakhtar. [baa;xtar], “the West.” A vaguely defined region; “Bakhtar” can also be poetically used to mean “the East.” It seems to be part of the Dark Regions, and home to various cannibal tribes.
Barda’. [barda((]. The land ruled by Hardam, whose sister Hamzah marries. In Persian tradition, it is the land governed by Queen Noshabah in Alexander’s time.
Basra. [ba.srah]. A city in Iraq.
Beneficent Forest. [beshah-e fai.z]. A large forest located on the road between Mecca and Ctesiphon. Hamzah kills a huge lion in it; later his army has occasion to hide in it.
bread-bun of Khizr. [kaliicah-e ((inaayatii-e ;ha.zrat ;xi.zr]. This bread-bun, bestowed by Khizr, never diminishes no matter how much is eaten from it. Khizr brings it to ‘Amar atop the pillar in the ocean, and also gives it to Hamzah for his stay in Qaf. It is accompanied by an inexhaustible water-flask.
Burdwan. [bardvaan]. A town in Bengal, famous for its swords.
Chain of Justice. [zanjiir-e ((adaalat]. A chain which hung down outside the palace wall but sounded a bell in Naushervan’s presence, so that any subject could reach the king to ask for redress of grievances.
Chapter of the Jinn. [suurat al-jinn]. The seventy-second chapter of the Quran; it describes the conversion of some of the Jinns to Islam.
Chapter of Light. [suurat an-nuur]. The twenty-fourth chapter of the Quran, especially beautiful for its mystical imagery of God as Light.
China. [chiin]. The general region of eastern Soviet Central Asia, eastern Turkestan. In the dastan world, it seems to include Kabul. Its ruler, *Bahram Gurd the Emperor of China, is said to be accompanied by Uzbek champions.
City of Gold. [shahristaan-e zarriin]. A #tilism within Qaf, made by Mal’unah Jadu, and later conquered by Hamzah. It is also referred to as a city, and Shahpal is buried in it.
Court of Kaikhusrau. [bargaah-e kai;xusravii]. Naushervan’s court. See *Kaikhusrau.
Ctesiphon. [madaa))in]. Naushervan’s capital city, in Iran.
Dark Regions. [:zulmaat]. A land somewhere near Qaf; its inhabitants belong to a non-human species.
dastan. [daastaan], “story.” A form of medieval Persian romance, both oral and written, both elite and folk, which migrated to South Asia and was adopted into Urdu. The dastan of Amir Hamzah has always been by far the most popular Urdu dastan.
Devdad. [devdad]. [dad], “beast of prey.” One of the forts which ‘Amar seizes and uses as a refuge for his army during Hamzah’s absence.
dinar. [diinaar]. A well-known ancient gold coin. Its value has varied considerably.
divining-dice. [qur((ah]. These were thrown, as part of a form of divination often practiced in the dastan. The exact details never become clear. See #geomancy.
Drum of Alexander. [:tabl-e sikandarii]. The drum used by Hamzah to communicate with his army: the commands to advance, retire, etc. are sounded on it. It often begins to be beaten hours before a battle, intimidating the enemy. It had belonged to Alexander, but the Amir was destined to inherit it.
Dungeon of Solomon. [zindaan-e sulaimaanii]. A fearful prison in Qaf from which captives never emerge alive.
Elephant-proof Gate. [fiil-band darvaazah]. Various forts have gates with this name, but it never becomes clear what connection the gates really have with elephants. My translation is no more than a good guess.
Farkhar. [far;xaar]. The city in Kashmir ruled by Gulchahrah, Zhopin’s sister.
Fate and Destiny. [qa.zaa o qadar]. A land lying just outside the borders of Qaf. It is ruled by Saryal bin Salsal, and contains the Simurgh’s forest domain as well.
Fire-temple of Nimrod. [aatishkadah-e namruud]. One of the chief holy places of Naushervan’s religion. Apparently Naushervan is a Zoroastrian, but his religious views are represented in highly contradictory ways. Nimrod is traditionally considered to be the name of the idolatrous king who threw Abraham into the fire (Qur’an 21:69 contains a very fleeting reference); he is not a Zoroastrian religious figure at all.
fortieth-day ceremony. [chihlum]. An Indo-Muslim funeral custom, involving final prayers for the dead and the sharing of food, which usually takes place on the fortieth day after the death.
Garden of Iram. [gulistaan-e iram]. Shahpal’s capital city, the only city left to him after the rebellion of the Devs. It is named after one of the gardens of Paradise.
Garden of Justice. [baa;G-e daad]. One of Naushervan’s palaces in Ctesiphon.
geomancy. [ramal]. A method of divination by drawing lines and figures on the ground; it is frequently practiced in the dastan, especially by the two vazirs Buzurchmihr and ‘Abdur Rahman. It is often accompanied by use of the #divining-dice.
gesture of warding off evil from someone onto oneself. [kisii kii balaa))e;N
lenaa], [kisii par ta.sadduq honaa], etc. An elaborate gesture consisting of running the palms of the hands down the other person’s cheeks, then bringing the hands to one’s own cheeks, making fists, and cracking the knuckles. An alternative form of the gestore is to walk several times clockwise around the person.
“God is great!” [allaahu akbar]. An all-purpose pious phrase. In the dastan, it acts as a battle-cry used by Hamzah at the climactic moment of a combat. In wrestling, it signifies his attempt to lift the opponent above his head in token of victory. On the battlefield, it causes whole hosts of the enemy to faint, grow deaf, or panic; his own comrades are warned in advance by ‘Amar and put cotton in their ears.
gold piece. [ashrafii]. A gold coin used in medieval India, and on into the nineteenth century, most commonly weighing ten grams and worth 18 rupees.
Great Name. [((ism-e a((:zam]. The secret Name of God, which gives its knower extraordinary powers. There seem in the dastan to be a number of such Names, which provide a variety of powers, especially for breaking #tilisms. See #Name.
ground-tumbler pigeon. [lo;Tan kabuutar]. A kind of pigeon that, if whirled around end over end a few times and then released, will to on turning somersaults until forcibly stopped.
Hashimite vein. [rag-e ;haashimii]. A special vein in Hamzah’s forehead; it is one of several tokens by which he can be recognized. The name suggests that it is a mark of the Hashimite tribe.
Hindustan, Hind. [hinduustaan], [hind]. India, the realm of Landhaur bin Sa’dan. The realm apparently includes #Sarandip, and is never clearly defined.
Id. [((iid]. The most important Muslim festival; a day of celebration that follows the annual month of dawn-to-dusk fasting.
“in the Name of God.” [bismillaah]. An extremely common Arabic phrase, used by Muslims at the beginning of any undertaking in order to invoke God’s protection.
Ka’bah. [ka((bah]. The holiest place of Islam, located in Mecca; it is the great place of pilgrimage, and defines the direction all Muslims face in prayer. It is believed to have been built by Abraham.
Ka’us, Fort. [kaa))uus ;hi.saar]. The fort ruled by Sa’dan, the brother of Zhopin; he is loyal to Hamzah.
Khaibar. [;xaibar], “the East.” The land from which Hisham bin ‘Alqamah comes. Khaibar is the name of a town near Madina, but the dastan refers to a vague “Eastern” region rather than to this particular town.
Khavar. [;xaavar], “the West” or “the East.” Khavar literally means “the West,” but is often used poetically to refer to the East. It is a land in Naushervan’s realm, ruled by Qimaz Shah.
Khursanah. [;xursanah]. The city ruled by King Fatah Nosh, father of Rabi’ah whom Hamzah marries.
Kohl of Solomon. [surmah-e sulaimaanii]. A special collyrium that enables human eyes to see Devs and Paris. If it is put in the left eye, Paris and Parizads can be seen; if in the right eye, Devs.
lock of hair of Abraham. [kalaalah-e ibraahiimii]. One of several tokens by which Hamzah can be recognized; its nature never becomes very clear.
Lute of David. [dotaaraa-e daa))uudii]. The two-stringed lute that ‘Amar plays, which was given to him by David himself, along with the gift of brilliant musicianship.
Maghrib. [ma;Grib], “the West.” The region of which Hamzah’s companion Sultan Bakht of Maghrib is the prince; its location never becomes clear.
maund. [man]. A traditional Indian measure of weight, usually about eighty pounds.
Mecca. [makkah]. The holy city of Islam, where the Ka’bah is located and where the Prophet was born. Hamzah was born there too, and according to the dastan his father ‘Abdul Muttalib governs the city.
mole, dark. [;xaal-e sabz]. One of the tokens by which Hamzah can be recognized.
Mount Qaf. [koh-e qaaf]. See #Qaf.
Name. [((ism]. A formulaic name used to invoke the power of the one named. Virtuous characters may use the #Great Name or some other Name of God, or of some Prophet or angel or Jinn, etc. Evil characters may use the Name of some devil or powerful magician.
Night-glowing Pearl. [gauhar-e shab chiraa;G]. A special and powerful jewel that glows brightly in the darkness; Khizr tells Hamzah that he is destined to have a pair of them. Both are won from Devs by killing them: the first from ‘Ifrit, the second from the White Dev.
Nothingness. [((adam]. The state of nonexistence, often described in the dastan as a land, realm, or place.
Ointment of Solomon. [marham-e sulaimaanii]. A panacea for all wounds, inherited by Shahpal from Solomon.
Paristan. [paristaan], “Pari-land.” See #Qaf.
perfume-orange. [turanj ;xuushbuu kaa]. A fragile spherical perfume-holder, designed to break on impact and perfume the person it was thrown at; it was used during Iranian wedding celebrations.
Pillarless Mountain. [koh-e be-sutuun]. The huge stone mountain through which Farhad, the Mountain-digger [kohkan] of Persian story tradition, had to carve a channel, in order to win his beloved Shirin.
Qaf. [qaaf]. The region inhabited by Paris, Parizads, Devs, Jinns, and other non-human species, under the dominion of Shahpal bin Shahrukh.
Qamqam. [qamqaam], “Lofty.” One of Hamzah’s swords, originally belonging to Solomon. Hamzah is given it by Gabriel, though later it is seen in Shahpal’s possession.
Realm of Qaf. [pardah-e qaaf]. See #Qaf.
Realm of the World. [pardah-e duniyaa]. The region of the world inhabited by humans.
revolving of the heavens. [gardish-e falak]. The heavens are the celestial spheres of pre-Copernican astronomy; as they revolve, they create drastic changes and instabilities in human affairs. They are thus blamed for adversities of every sort.
robe of honor. [;xil((at]. A ceremonial suit of clothing, often including items like sword, armor, horse, etc., presented by a king or high noble to a person of lesser rank whom he wishes to honor. Its degree of elaborateness is designed to show exactly how much status is being accorded to the recipient.
Rum. [ruum]. Rome or Byzantium; a vaguely defined realm.
Sabz-nigar. [sabz nigaar], “Green-adorning.” The city ruled by Shahpal’s brother Sabz-qaba.
Samsam. [.sam.saam], “Bold.” One of Hamzah’s swords, originally belonging to Solomon. Hamzah is given it by Gabriel, though later it is seen is Shahpal’s possession.
Sarandip. [sarandiip]. In Indic story tradition, a name for the classic far-away land. The name is sometimes held to refer to Sri Lanka. In the dastan, it seems to be an island, and is part of Landhaur’s domain.
Scorpion of Solomon. [((aqrab-e sulaimaanii]. One of a set of swords belonging to Solomon; it was chosen by Hamzah on his arrival in Qaf, to use in his battles against the Devs.
Seven Realms. [haft iqliim]. Naushervan’s empire, which ideally includes the whole earth with all its seven realms or continents.
sherbet. [sharbat]. A cooling sweet drink made of fruit juice, sugar, and water, often served on festive and ceremonial occasions.
Tal Shad Kam. [tal shaad kaam], “Hill of Joy and Success.” The Amir’s encampment in Ctesiphon, assigned to him by Naushervan for his retinue and troops.
Tang Ravahil. [tang ravaa;hil], “Caravan pass.” The fort from which ‘Adi operates as a highwayman; later ‘Amar seizes it for use during Hamzah’s absence in Qaf.
throne. [ta;xt]. Thrones in the dastan can be elevated platforms on which kings sit to hold court, but are often described as vehicles for flying through the air. Usually they are carried aloft by four Devs or other suitable bearers, but sometimes it seems that they move under their own power.
tilism. [:tilism]. A magic world created by an evil magician (or, much more rarely, by a virtuous person of supreme wisdom. Nothing in a tilism is necessarily what it seems. One enters a tilism by passing through a barrier of some sort. Those who enter a tilism can rarely escape without having a tablet of instructions or knowing a predestined counterspell; the breaking of a tilism usually coincides with the death of the magician who made it.
tuman. [tuman], “ten thousand.” A sum of money equal in theory to ten thousand of the Persian coins called dirhams.
Turan. [tuuraan]. The region known as Turkestan, to the northeast of Iran.
Tree of Paradise. [:tuubaa]. It is said to have supremely delicious fruit.
Unseen. [;Gaib], “invisibility.” The invisible realm or state of being from which supernatural interventions are made in human affairs. Usually these interventions are divine in origin, but they can be caused by Paris, etc., as well.
Verse of the Throne. [aayat al-kursii]. This verse [Quran 2:255] is a glorification of God.
Wall of Alexander. [sadd-e sikandarii]. A wall built by Alexander out of copper, to keep Gog and Magog out of the inhabited world.
Water of Life. [aab-e ;hayaat]. The legendary revivifying water that can restore the dead to life and grant immortality.
water-flask of Khizr. [mashkiizah-e ;xi.zr]. This water-flask, bestowed by Khizr, never runs dry no matter how much is drunk from it. Khizr brings it to ‘Amar atop the pillar in the ocean, and also gives it to Hamzah for his stay in Qaf. It is accompanied by a bread-bun that can never be entirely eaten.
Western Dominion. [tanj-e ma;Grib]. The region where ‘Amar is settled, in a strong fort, at the time of Hamzah’s return from Qaf.
Zanbil. [zanbiil]. ‘Amar’s magic bag, out of which anything can be taken, and into which anything can be put. The source of some of ‘Amar’s best ‘ayyari effects, Zanbil is given to him by Hazrat Adam.
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