Volume 1 Footnotes

Tale of the Portress

†328 i.e. Settled by the Koran.

†329 The uglier the old woman the better procuress she is supposed to make. See the Santa Verdiana in Boccaccio v., 10. In Arab. “Ajuz” (old woman) is highly insulting and if addressed to an Egyptian, whatever be her age she will turn fiercely and resent it. The polite term is Shaybah (Pilgrimage hi., 200).

†330 The four ages of woman, considered after Demosthenes in her three-fold character, prostitute for pleasure, concubine for service and wife for breeding.

†331 Arab. “Jilá” (the Hindostani Julwa) = the displaying of the bride before the bridegroom for the first time, in different dresses, to the number of seven which are often borrowed for the occasion. The happy man must pay a fee called “the tax of face-unveiling” before he can see her features. Amongst Syrian Christians he sometimes tries to lift the veil by a sharp movement of the sword which is parried by the women present, and the blade remains entangled in the cloth. At last he succeeds' the bride sinks to the ground covering her face with her hands and the robes of her friends: presently she is raised up, her veil is readjusted and her face is left bare.

†332 Arab. “Ishá”= the first watch of the night, twilight, supper-time, supper. Moslems have borrowed the four watches of the Romans from 6 (a.m. or p.m.) to 6, and ignore the three original watches of the Jews, even, midnight and cockcrow (Sam. ii. 19, Judges vii. 19, and Exodus xiv. 24).

†333 A popular Arab hyperbole.

†334 Arab. “Shakáik al-Nu'uman,” lit. the fissures of Nu'uman, the beautiful anemone, which a tyrannical King of Hirah, Nu'uman Al-Munzir, a contemporary of Mohammed, attempted to monopolize.

anemone Anemone

†335 Arab. “Andam”=here the gum called dragon's blood; in other places the dye-wood known as brazil.

†336 I need hardly say that in the East, where bells are unused, clapping the hands summons the servants. In India men cry “Quy hye” (Koi hái?) and in Brazil whistle “Pst!” after the fashion of Spain and Portugal.

†337 The moles are here compared with pearls; a simile by no means common or appropriate.

†338 A parody on the testification of Allah's Unity.

†339 Arab. “Simát” (prop. “Sumát”); the “dinner-table,” composed of a round wooden stool supporting a large metal tray, the two being called “Sufrah” (or “Simat”): thus “Sufrah házirah!” means dinner is on the table. After the meal they are at once removed.

†340 In the text “Dastúr,” the Persian word before noticed; “Izn” would be the proper Arabic equivalent.

†341 In the Moslem East a young woman, single or married, is not allowed to appear alone in the streets; and the police have a right to arrest delinquents. As a preventive of intrigues the precaution is excellent. During the Crimean war hundreds of officers, English, French and Italian, became familiar with Constantinople; and not a few flattered themselves on their success with Turkish women. I do not believe that a single bona fide case occurred: the “conquests” were all Greeks, Wallachians, Armenians or Jewesses.

†342 Arab. “Azím”: translators do not seem to know that this word in The Nights often bears its Egyptian and slang sense, somewhat equivalent to our “deuced” or “mighty” or “awfully fine.”

†343 This is a very serious thing amongst Moslems and scrupulous men often make great sacrifices to avoid taking an oath.

†344 We should say “into the noose.”

†345 The man had fallen in love with her and determined to mark her so that she might be his.

†346 Arab. “Dajlah,” in which we find the Heb. Hid-dekel.

†347 Such an execution would be contrary to Moslem law: but people would look leniently upon the peccadillo of beheading or sacking a faithless wife. Moreover the youth was of the blood royal and A quoi bon être prince? as was said by a boy of viceroyal family in Egypt to his tutor who reproached him for unnecessarily shooting down a poor old man.

†348 Arab. “Shirk,” partnership, evening or associating gods with God; polytheism: especially levelled at the Hindu triadism, Guebre dualism and Christian Trinitarianism.

†349 Arab. “Shatm”--abuse, generally couched in foulest language with especial reference to the privy parts of female relatives.

couched To word in a certain manner.

†350 When a woman is bastinadoed in the East they leave her some portion of dress and pour over her sundry buckets of water for a delicate consideration. When the hands are beaten they are passed through holes in the curtain separating the sufferer from mankind, and made fast to a “falakah” or pole.


†351 Arab. "Khalifah," Caliph. The word is also used for the successor of a Santon or holy man.

†352 Arab. "Sár," here the Koranic word for carrying out the venerable and undying lex talionis the original basis of all criminal jurisprudence. Its main fault is that justice repeats the offence.

†353 Both these sons of Harun became Caliphs, as we shall see in The Nights.