Ch. 1: Stories about Rubies and jewels

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Persian narrations are filled with hyperboles and exaggeration. This
is also because it is their tendency to emphasise the past glory of their
civilisation and the rich traditions of their kings — the Kisras. It is said
that the ruler of Serandib sent to Anushirwan as present seven expert
divers, ten elephants and two hundred thousand (years old) pieces of
teak. It is also related that the Emperor of China sent a horse together
with a rider as a gift. Pearls were studded on the horse, row upon row
and the eyes of the horse were of rubies. He also sent an azure diadem
on his head, holding court. A beautiful maidservant was depicted holding the carpet, and her body was covered with her hair. This carpet had
been packed in a trunk made of gold. A rajah of India had sent aloewood worth 1,000 mannas weight, if thrown into fire and melted, it
served as ink. Other presents were a red ruby cup studded with pearls
and ten mannas camphor which looked like pistachios but were larger, a
floor sheet made from snake skin having designs and lighter than iiarir
cloth, and a maidservant who was seven cubits tall. The Emperor of
China had also sent one hundred shields plated with gold, with silver
plating over the gold, and two thousand mannas of the Tibetan musk.
The real name of Mada'in was Ctesiphon. Here Khusraw Parwiz had
his treasure known as the Bahar-i-Khurram. I think this city began to be
called Mada'in as it was the halting-place of the emperors of Persia. It
was, therefore, called the City of Cities. Its treasury had, besides ingots
of gold and silver, gold and silver utensils, and eleven sacks, each sack
containing 30,000 red rubies. There were, in addition, ten more sacks,
each sack having 12,000 emeralds. There were a hundred sacks, with
each sack housing one thousand musks, while twelve sacks had camphor.
All these things are possible, and explanations can be advanced in
support of their claims. It is quite possible that the utensils were mentioned, but their number and size are not known with precision. The
narrator — perhaps did not distinguish between the profuse and the
scarce, the expensive and the trite. The hand of criticism is constrained
by everything that does not go against the grain of reason, since the
borderline of the distinction between hyperbole and the actual vanishes
in such cases.
There are several incidents which are mere stories told to delight the
hearers. In this context, we can quote the jewellers' statement regarding
Khusraw Parwiz who, according to them, had sixteen attributes not
shared or possessed by anyone else. We shall digress from our theme if
we begin to enumerate these attributes and the discourse will become
A story that has gained currency among the Kuhistanians is that the
Kurawand stone which had the form of an ox and was buried in the
ground, was presented to Husayn, the grandfather of Badr bin Has-
Ch. 1: Stories about Rubies and jewels Page of 375 Ch. 1: Stories about Rubies and jewels
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