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SALÁMAN & ABSÁL
What follows concerning the Royal Game of CHÚGÁN comes from the Appendix to Vol. I. of Sir William Ouseley’s Travels in the East.
FIRDÚSl tells of SIAVESH and his Iranian (Persian) Heroes astonishing AFRASIÁH of TURÁN with their Skill at this Game 600 years before Christ; and GUSHTASP (Hystaspes), to the sound of Drum and Trumpet, drives the Ball Invisible with his Blow. NIZÁMI sets SHÍRÍN and her Maidens playing at it, against her King, KHUSRAU PARVÍZ, and his Ministers;
“On one side was the Moon and her Stars,
“On the other THE SHAH and his Firmán-bearers.”
Ouseley however (allowing for Poetic License) believes the Game was played “through almost every Reign of the Sassanian Dynasty — as much esteemed by the Mahommedan Kings as by their Fire-worshipping Predecessors.”
We find the Greek Emperor, Manuel Commenus, with his Byzantine Princes and Nobles, enjoying this Amusement on Horse-back in the 12th Century; the Wooden Ball having been exchanged for one more soft, form’d of stuff’d Leather; and the Stick, or Wand, instead of a Hammer-like Head, terminating in a Hoop; which, as our Battledores or Tennis-rackets, presented to the Ball a reticulated space. This Imperial Sport is well described by the Historian Cinnamus, who probably was a Spectator.” It went by the slightly altered name TSUKANISTERION — which word, however, since CHÚGÁN — means the Bandystick employed, more properly signifies, I suppose, the Ground played on; and equally related to the Persian, had they chosen to affix, as so often, the Verb common to themselves, the Greeks, the Latins, and us, and called the place of Exercise CHÚGÁNistán; or CHÚGÁN-stand.
Piétro della Valle, who saw it played in SHAH ABBÁS’ time (1618), calls it “Pallamaglio,” and found both Game and Name subsisting in the Florentine “CALCIO” — only that the Florentine played a-foot, and the Persian “piu nobilmente a Cavallo.” The Spanish Jesuit Ovalle found it also (also on Foot) under the name of “CHUECA,” in South America, in 1646.
Ducange finds Name and Game also in the “CHICANE” of Languedoc, from which he naturally thinks it borrowed; not daring to push Derivation to the English word “Chiquen,” he says, “qui signifie un Poullet; en sorte que ‘Chiquaner’ seroit imiter les Poullets qui ont coutûme de courir les uns apres les autres pour arracher les morceaux du Bec,” etc.
Englishmen know the Game well (on Foot too, and with such Leather Balls as the Persians perhaps knew not how to harden), under many Forms and Names — Golf, Stow-Ball, Shinty, Hocky, Bandy, etc.
And now with regard to the Frontispiece. It is “accurately copied” from an Engraving in Sir William’s Book, which he says (and as those who care to look into the Bodleian for it may see), is “accurately copied from a very beautiful Persian MS., containing the Works of Hafiz, transcribed in the Year 956 of the Hejirah, 1549 of Christ; the MS. is in my own Collection. This Delineation exhibits the Horsemen contending for the Ball; their short Jackets seem peculiarly adapted to the Sport; we see the MIL, or Goals; Servants attend on Foot holding CHÚGÁNS in readiness for other Persons who may join in the Amusement, or to supply the place of any that may be broken. A young Prince — as his PARR, or Feather, would indicate — receives on his Entrance into the MEIDAN, or Place of Exercise, a CHÚGÁN from the hands of a bearded Man very plainly dressed; yet (as an intelligent Painter at Ispahan assured me, and as appears from other Miniatures in the same Book) this Bearded Figure is meant to represent Hafiz himself,” etc.
The Persian legend at the Top Corner is the Verse from Hafiz which the Drawing illustrates;
Shahsuvára Khúsh bemeidán ámedy gúiy bezann.
Though the Sticks, or Bats, are here represented long, they really were (as Chardin and others report) so short as to cause the Rider to stoop below the Saddlebow to strike; which, the Horse going full gallop, was great part of the Difficulty. And Tabri describes Events in the Eighth Century (just before his own Time), when Harun Alraschid was still little, so that when on Horseback, “he could not reach to strike the Ball with a Chúgán.” Ouseley also, judging from the Illustration (in which Persian Artists are not very accurate), thinks the Chúgán sticks were only generally, or partially, semicircular at the striking End. But that they were so (varying perhaps a little in degree as our Bandy sticks do) is proved by the Text of the Present Poem, as also by a previous line in the Original, where‑
“The Realm of Existence is the space of his Meidán,
“The Ball of Heaven in the Crook of his CHÛGÁN.”
And passages in Hafiz speak of his Heart as being carried oft by his Beloved’s Eyebrow; which no Persian Lover ever dreamt of but as arched indeed.
As the “FAIR ONE” of Persian Mysticism is the Deity’s Self — so the Points of that Beauty (as in our Canticles) adumbrate so many of the Deity’s Attributes; varying however with various Poets, or their Commentators. Sir W. Jones speaks of THE HAIR as emblematic of “The Expansion of Divine Glory” — THE LlPS as of “Hidden Mysteries” — The Down of the Cheek as “Spirits round the Throne,” whose central point of excessive Light is darken’d into the Mole upon the Cheek! — Tholuck, from a Turkish Commentary, interprets the Ringlets as “The Divine Mysteries;” the Forehead their Manifestation, etc.
The Beauty of ABSÁL, though Sensual, yet seduces SALÁMÁN (THE SOUL) with its Likeness to the Divine; and her Tresses, as we see, play their part, involving him in their Intricacies. The following Ode of Jámi’s on the subject very happily entangles the Ear with its repetitions of that mysterious ZULF which closes the first two, and every alternate Line, to the End. “Le Texte de cette Ode,” says De Saçy, “est d’une Charme inexprimable que l’on chercheroit inutilement dans une Traduction.” The Persian therefore is here vocalized as nearly as possible in English Notes, to give the Reader a Notion of the harmony which is its chief Merit. But I subjoin for the Lover of literal Translation a very literal one, which he can if he chooses place word for word under the Persian, and, if he will accept a very little help at starting, may construe into what form he pleases: supplying for himself a Verb and a Point where the Reader of the original has to do so.
The apostrophized ’i (here written, but in Persian only pronounced) either denotes that the following Noun, Pronoun, or Adjective belongs to it as Genitive or Epithet — as in the first line “dil’i man” = “heart of I (Me);” or acts merely as a passing Note of harmony (with a People who hate all harshness but in Deed) between any two Consonants and a third, or between any consonanted long Vowel and a succeeding Consonant, unless that long Vowel’s Consonant be n. “Tamám ’i zulf” in line 3 is an instance of the ’i in its latter use. In both cases it is common in quantity.
The ra in the 5th and last lines mark the Dative.
Ay dil’í man sayd’i dám’í zulf’ i tó
Dám’i dilhá gashta nám’í zulf i to
Banda shud dar zulf’i tó dilhá tamám
Dám û band ámad tamám’í zulf’i to
Dád’i tashríf’ í ghŭlám’ í-bandará
Zulf’í tó ay man ghŭlám’ í zulf’i tó
Láik’í rukhsár’i gulrang’ í tŏ níst
Juz nikáb’ í mushkifám’ í zulf’i to
Ram kunand az dám’ i murghán way ajáb
Ján’ i bí árám’i rám’í zulf’ i to
Zulf’i tó bálá’i mah dárad makám
Bas buland mad makám ‘i zulf’i to
Subh’i íkbal’ ast’i tálí’ har nafás
Banda-Jámi-rá zi shám’i zulf’i tó.
Ah heart I prey snare Ringlet You
Snare Hearts become name Ringlet you
Bound are in Ringlet you Hearts wholly
Snare and bond become wholly Ringlet you
Give honour Slave-bound
Ringlet you Ah I Slave Ringlet you
Worthy cheek rose-colour’d you not is
Except Veil musky-natured Ringlet you
Escape make from Snare Birds Ah strange
Soul without peace obsequious of Ringlet you
Ringlet you above Moon has place
Very high is place Ringlet you
Dawn Bliss is revealed every breath
Bondman-Jámi from Night Ringlet you.
Page 2. NO ROOM FOR TWO. — This Sufi Identification with Deity (further illustrated in the Story of Sect. XIX.) is shadowed in a Parable of Jelaladdin, of which here is an outline. “One knocked at the Beloved’s Door; and a Voice asked from within, ‘Who is there?’ and he answered, ‘It is I.’ Then the Voice said, ‘This House will not hold Me and Thee.’ And the Door was not opened. Then went the Lover into the Desert, and fasted and prayed in Solitude. And after a Year he returned, and knocked again at the Door. And again the Voice asked, ‘ Who is there?’ and he said, ‘It is Thyself!’ and the Door was opened to him.”
Page 3. THE POET’S NAME. — the name “JAMI,” also signifying “A Cup.” The Poet’s YÚSUF and ZULAIKHA opens also with this Divine Wine, the favourite Symbol of Hafiz and other Persian Mystics. The “Tavern” spoken of is The World.
I listen in the ‘Tavern of Sweet Songs,
And catch no Echo of their Harmony:
The Guests have drunk the Wine and are departed,
Leaving their empty Bowls behind — not one
To carry on the Revel Cup in hand
Up JAMI then! and whether Lees or Wine
To offer — boldly offer it in Thine!
Page 7. SHÁHZEMÁN. — “Lord of the World, SOVEREIGN; HASAN, BEAUTIFUL, GOOD.” HASAN BEG of Western Persia, famous for his Beauty, had helped Jámi with Escort in a dangerous Pilgrimage. He died (as History and a previous line in the Original tell) before Salámán was written, and was succeeded by his Son YÁCÚB.
Page 8. YÚN. — or “YAVAN,” Son of Japhet, from whom the Country was called “YÚNAN,” — IONÍA, meant by the Persians to express GREECE generally. Sikander is, of course, Alexander the Great, of whose Ethics Jami wrote, as Nizami of his Deeds.
Page 9. SERÁB. — miráge; but, of two Foreign Words, why not the more original Persian? identical with the Hebrew Sháráb; as in ISAIAH XV. 7, — ”The SHÁRÁB (or MIRÁGE) shall become a Lake;” — rather, and better, than our Version, “The parched Ground shall become a Pool.” — See GESENIUS.
Page 11. THE DELUGE. — in the Kúran God engages to save Noah and his Family, — meaning all who believed in the Warning. One of Noah’s Sons (Canaan or Yam, some think) would not believe. “And the Ark swam with them between waves like Mountains, and Noah called up to his Son, who was separated from him, saying, ‘Embark with us, my Son, and stay not with the Unbelievers.’ He answered,’ I will get on a Mountain which will secure me from the Water.’ Noah replied, ‘ There is no security this Day from the Decree of God, except for him on whom he shall have Mercy.’ And a Wave passed between them, and he became one of those who were drowned. And it was said, ‘Oh Earth, swallow up thy waters, and Thou, oh Heaven, withhold thy Rain!’ And immediately the Water abated and the Decree was fulfilled, and the Ark rested on the Mountain Al Judi, and it was said, ‘Away with the ungodly People!’ Noah called upon his Lord and said, ‘Oh Lord, verily my Son is of my Family, and thy Promise is True; for Thou art of those who exercise Judgment.’ God answered, ‘Oh Noah, veríly he Is not of thy Family; this intercession of thíne for him is not a righteous work.’” — Sale’s KORAN, Vol. II. p. 21.
Page 17. THE BALL. — the Game of Chúgán, for Centuries the Royal Game of Persia, and adopted (Ouseley thinks) under varying modifications of Name and Practice by other Nations, was played by Horsemen, who, suitably habited, and armed with semicircular-headed Bats or Sticks so short the Player must stoop below the Saddle-bow to strike, strove to drive a Ball through a Goal of upright Pillars. See FRONTISPIECE and APPENDIX.
Page 18. FITTING THE CORD. — bows beíng so gradually stiffened, to the Age and Strength of the Archer, as at last to need five Hundredweight of Pressure to bend, says an old Translation of Chardin, who describes all the Process up to bringing up the String to the Ear, “as if to hang it there” before Shooting. Then the First Trial was, who could shoot highest; then, the Mark, etc.
“Premièrement, à bander l’arc; dont l’Art consiste à le bien tenir, à le bander, et à laisser partir la Corde à l’aise, sans que la main gauche qui tient l’arc, et qui est toute étendue, ni la main droite qui manie la Corde, remuent le moins du monde. On en donne d’abord d’aises à bander; puis de plus durs par degrés. Les maitres de ces Exercises apprennent à bander l’arc devant soi, derrière soi, à coté de soi, en haut, en bas — bref, en cent postures différentes, toujours vite et aisement. Ils ont des arcs fort diffIciles à bander, et, pour essayer la force, on les pend contre un mur à une Cheville, et on attache des poids à la Corde de l’arc à l’endroit où l’on appuie la coche de la Flèche. Les plus durs portent cinque cents pesant avant d’être bandés,” etc. — Sir JOHN CHAR-DIN, Vol. III. 437. He elsewhere says, “La bonté d’un Arc consiste, comme on le dit en Perse, en ce que d’abord il soit rude à bander, jusqu’ à ce que la Flèche soit à moitié dessus; et qu ‘ensuite il soit mou et aisé, jusqu’ ce que le bout de la Flèche soit entré dans la Corde.”
Page 19. THE PLEIADS. — i.e. compactly strung, as opposed to Discursive Rhetoric, which is compared to the scattered Stars of THE BIER AND ITS MOURNERS, or what We call THE GREAT BEAR. This contrast is otherwise prettily applied in the Anvari Soheili — “When one grows poor, his Friends, heretofore compact as THE PLEIADS, disperse wide asunder as THE MOURNERS.”
Page 27 and elsewhere — The THRONE is spoken of as ‘under Foot.’ The Persepolitan Sculpture still discovers its King keeping his Chair as Europeans do with a separate Footstool. But in Jámi’s time The Throne was probably of the same Fashion that Chardin saw Solíman twice crowned on 200 years after — perhaps the very same — “Un petit Tabouret carré,” 3 feet high, Golden and Jewelled, on which the Prínce gathers up his feet In Oriental fashion, so as it serves for Throne and Footstool too. “Ce Tabouret, hors le Temps qu’il sert à cette Céremonie se garde avec grand Soin dans le Trésor Royal qui est au Donjon de la Forteresse d’Ispahan,” where also, to prove the Conservatism of Persia so far as Habíts go, “J’ai’vu,” he says, “ des Habits de Tamurlan; ils sont taillés tout comme ceux qu’on fait aujourd’hui, sans aucune difference.” So the Mirrors used in Persia zoo years ago were commonly of polished Metal, just as Jámi so often describes. [Solíman’s 2nd Coronation came about because of his having fallen so ill from Debauchery, that his Astrologers said his first must have taken place under an Evil conjunction of Stars — so he must be crowned agaín — which he was — Chardin looking on both times.]
Page 27. KHUSRAU PARVÍZ (Chosroe The Victorious), Son of NOSHÍRAVAN The Great; slain, after Thirty Years of Prosperous Reign, by his Son SHIRÚEH, who, according to some, was in Love With his Father’s Mistress SHÍRÍN. See further, Section XXI., for one of the most dramatic Tragedies in Persian History.
I have proposed “The Planets” for those mysterious “SEVEN AND FOUR.” But there is a large Choice, especially for the ever mystical “SEVEN” — Seven Commandments; 7 Climates; 7 Heavens, etc. The “FOUR” may be the 4 Elements, or even the 4 acknowledged Mahommedan Gospels — namely, The Pentateuch, Psalms, New Testament, and Kurán. For Salámán, though fabled ‘ not’ of THE FAITH, yet allegorically represents The Mirror of all Faith, and as The original Form of the Human Soul might be intuitively enlightened with all the Revelations that were to be — might even be, in esoteric Sufíism, The Come and Coming Twelfth Imám who had ‘read’ all the previous Eleven; it being one Doctrine in the East that it is ever the ‘Last’ and most perfect Prophet who was 'First’ Created and reserved in the Interior Heaven nearest to God till the Time of his Mission should come.
Sir John Chardin quotes Seven Magnificats written in gold upon azure over Shah Abbas’ Tomb in the great Mosque at Kóm — composed, he says, “par le docte Hasan-Cazy,” mainly in glory of ALl the Darling Imam of Persia, but of which the First Hymn “est tout de Mahomet.” This has some passages so very parallel with the Sage’s Address to Salámán, that (knowing how little worth such parallels are, especially in a Country where Magnificent Titles of Honour are stereotyped ready to be lavished on Prophet or Khan) nevertheless really seemed borrowed by “le docte Hasan-Cazy,” who probably was hard set to invent any new. They show at least how Jámi saluted his ‘Alien’ Prince with Titles due to Mahomet’s Self, and may perhaps light any curious Reader to a better understanding of these Seven and Four. He calls Mahomet “Infaillible Expositeur des Quatre Livres” — those Gospels; — [So Sir John: but the Kurán being one, this looks rather addrest to Ali than Mahomet.] — “Conducteur des huit mobiles” the 8 Heavens of the Planets, says the Editor; “Gouverneur des Sept Parties” the Climates; “Archetype des Choses créées; Instrument de la Creation du Monde: le plus relevé de la race d’Adam. Ce Peintre incomprehensible, qui a tiré tout d’un seul Coup de Pinceau ‘Komi FIKOUN,’ n’a jamais fait un si beau portrait que le Globe de ton Visage.”
Page 32. GAU AND MAHI. — The Bull and Fish — the lowest Substantial Base of Earth. “He first made the Mountains; then cleared the Face of Earth from Sea; then fixed it fast on Gau; Gau on Mahi; and Mahi on Air; and Air on what? on NOTHING; Nothing upon Nothing, all is Nothing — Enough.” Attar; quoted in De Sacy’s PENDNAMAH, XXXV.
Page 32. The Sidereal Dragon, whose Head, according to the Pauránic (or Poetic) Astronomers of the East, devoured the Sun and Moon in Eclipse. “But WE know,” said Ramachandra to Sir W. Jones, “that the supposed Head and Tail of the Dragon mean only the NODES, or Points formed by Intersections of the Ecliptic and the Moon’s Orbit.” Sir W. Jones’ Works, Vol. IV.
Page 33. “Iram Garden.” “Mahomet,” says Sir W. Jones, “in the Chapter of The Morning, towards the end of his Alcoran, mentions a Garden called ‘Irem,’ which is no less celebrated by the Asiatic Poets than that of the Hesperides by the Greeks. It was planted, as the Commentators say, by a King named Shedád,” — deep in the Sands of Arabia Felix — “and was once seen by an Arabian who wandered far into the Desert in search of a lost Camel.”
Page 35. A MIRROR. — mythically attributed by the East — and in some wild Western Avatar — to this Shah’s Predecessor, Alexander the Great. Perhaps (V. Hammer thinks) the Concave Mirror upon the Alexandrian Pharos, which by Night projected such a fiery Eye over the Deep as not only was fabled to exchange Glances with that on the Rhodian Colossus, and in Oriental Imagination and Language to penetrate “THE WORLD,” but by Day to Reflect it to him who looked therein with Eyes to see. The Cup of their own JAMSHÍD had, whether Full or Empty, the same Property. And that Silver Cup found in Benjamin’s Sack — ”Is not this it in which my Lord drinketh, and whereby indeed he DIVINETH? — Gen. XLIV. 5. Our Reflecting Telescope is going some way to realize the Alexandrian Fable.
Page 36. HURL’D HIM, ETC. — One Story is that Khusrau had promised if Firhád cut through a Mountain, and brought a Stream through, Shírín should be his. Firhád was on the point of achieving his Work, when Khusrau sent an old Woman (here, perhaps, purposely confounded with Fate) to tell him Shírín was dead; whereon Firhád threw himself headlong from the Rock. The Sculpture at Beysitún (or Besitún), where Rawlinson has decyphered Darius and Xerxes, was traditionally called Firhád’s.
“When the Cloud of Spring beheld the Evil Disposition of Time,
“Its Weeping fell upon the Jessamine and Hyacinth and Wild Rose.” — HAFIZ.
Page 46. MY SON. — one sees Jámi taking Advantage of his Allegorical Shah to read a Lesson to the Real — whose Ears Advice, unlike Praise, scarce ever reached unless obliquely. The Warning (and doubtless with good Reason) is principally aimed at the Minister.
Page 50. “These Intelligences are only another Form of the Neo-Platonic Daemones. The Neo-Platonists held that Matter and Spirit could have no Intercourse — they were, as it were, ‘incommensurate.’ How then, granting this premise, was Creation possible? Their answer was a kind of gradual Elimination. God the “Actus Purus,” created an won; this Œon created a Second; and so on, until the Tenth Œon was sufficiently Material (as the Ten were in a continually descending Series) to affect Matter, and so cause the Creation by giving to Matter the Spiritual ‘Form.’
Similarly we have in Sufíism these Ten Intelligences in a corresponding Series, and for the same End.
There are Ten Intelligences, and Nine Heavenly Spheres, of which the Ninth is the Uppermost Heaven, appropriated to the First Intelligence; the Eighth, that of the Zodiac, to the Second; the Seventh, Saturn, to the Third; the Sixth, Jupiter, to the Fourth; the Fifth, Mars, to the Fifth; the Fourth, The Sun, to the Sixth; the Third, Venus, to the Seventh; the Second, Mercury, to the Eighth; the First, The Moon, to the Ninth; and THE EARTH is the peculiar Sphere of the TENTH, or lowest Intelligence, called THE ACTIVE.”