human nature being what it is.
All story-tellers are unanimous in their version that serpents lose
their eyesight as soon as they see the emerald. This has been mentioned
even in scholarly works, and this belief is held by the commonalty of
men. We find this belief pervading poetry as well, and therefore, we hear
Abu Sa'id Ghanimi saying:
The water of the rows of the plants is meandering through the
emerald-like verdure — as if, when the snake comes before the
emerald, it evades its direction from the fear that it might forfeit its
AbuNasr al-'Utbi writes in one of his treatises:
God has conferred upon everything a specific attribute and characteristic. The emerald makes the eyes of the serpent flow; the ruby is
an antidote against the poisons of animals; amber draws straws.
But despite the consensus of the authorities, I found this claim to be
wrong. I performed so many experiments upon this claim that it is impossible to go beyond them. I had emerald necklaces placed upon the
necks of the snakes, made them walk upon emerald floors, and had
emerald ropes swung before them. This I did for nine months, both in
summer and winter.93 All that was not done was that the emerald was
not ground into a collyrium and applied to their eyes. In the event, I did
not see any adverse or harmful effect upon their eyes (through the
For Allah is all sustenance and help.
There are many minerals that look like the emerald. Al-Kindi writes
that a section of such a stone might weigh two to three mithqals. The
names of these stones have been reproduced from his book, and have not
been heard anywhere else.
Among such stones is sisan. It comes out of the emerald mine as a
green, smooth, transparent and palish stone. The difference between
this stone and the emerald is based upon hardness and siccity. Another
stone is subb. It is like sisan and it is often difficult to distinguish one
from the other. Its lustre is dazzling if it is placed above the lining of a
garment. A subb stone weighing two mithqals has been seen.
Another stone allied to the emerald is the hajar-i-Makki. It is greenish, hard, compact and solid. Al-Kindi says that one of its kind is brought
from India, and the weight of one segment of the stone has been found
to be up to three mithqals. Despite its hardness, it does not assume a
sheen after polishing and so it can be distinguished from the emerald.
Abu Sa'id bin Dust says:
The value of the deer comes from its musk, not from its skin. It is