at each other to express their surprise on how Ishaq who had been a
companion of the Caliphs and chiefs, could read such a verse. This ill
omen, however, proved to be true, because Mu'tasim left for Surra Man
Ra'a (i.e., pleased is he who sees it) and never visited this palace again.
The palace became desolate and no assembly was ever held in it thereafter.
The Razi brothers mention a pearl having dark veins running through
it. Different kinds of colours are found in pearls, silvery, white, saffron,
dusty, coppery and blackish.
1 have seen the blend of these colours in one pearl, but such pearls
are rarely to be found. They look, however, odd for this reason. Extreme white and black have been observed in shells, as if their circumference was made out of these two hues.
The Razi brothers further write that the treasury of Sultan Mahmud
had one date stone and an olive stone each. Parts of both had become
pearlish, whereas a part retained its original state. We have not been able
to ascertain whether the shell eats fruit-stones or stones. Being an animal, it is but essential that its nutrition should be according to its own
nature. Besides, these authors have not mentioned whether the stones
were lying together with the pearls so that the probability that the fruitstone had developed layers could have been more acceptable. Or that
one layer could have given rise to another could also be a probability
likely to be inferred. This is, however, different from what has been
described by Al-Kindi. About this pearl, Al-Kindi has said that (the
shell) had a large pearl which was visible in sunlight and before the
candle. It had a layer which, on being stripped, revealed a stone in the
cavity. But this has also been accepted as an impossibility.
Such stories and legends are found in every city. You will hear such
stories about every pearl you are likely to see. This story will be claimed
to have been based upon actual observation backed by some authority.
The diadems and necklaces of kings had bead-like jewels. These were
called kharzat-i-malik and were studded for calculating the year. They
looked like the counters of the players who gamble and play for stakes.
With the lapse of one year, one bead was added so as to know how long a
certain king reigned. The same process was repeated in the case of his
successor also. La bid said about Nu'man when he was killed by the
He guarded kharzat al-Malik (the counters) for twenty years. And
another twenty years till overshadowed by death, he died.
The Khusraws of Persia also had these counters except that they employed pearls of high quality instead: and they had the extra quality of
looking pleasing to the eyes.
The poet, Farazdaq, says: