moisture, as it is bituminous. It is shibah in Persian. It is a very black,
soft and light stone. It catches fire and I have heard it said that it burns
even in very bright sunlight. It gives off the odour of naphtha and what
we have said so far testifies to its unguent nature. It is a concretion of
naphtha hardened into stone. It has the appearance of a black stone and
looks like the black stones employed in Farghanah in heating ovens. Its
ashes are later used in washing garments. As a matter of fact, there is a
mountainous column in Farghanah from which pitch, qar, naphtha and
what people call chiraghsang and which is a black wax, comes out. Sal
ammoniac is obtained around Buttam. It has copperas, quicksilver, iron,
copper, lead, Aylaqi turquoise, silver and gold. But the burnt variety is
found in Farghanah. It is like the waste of naphtha and the dross of
The mine producing the best variety of sabaj is in Tabran in Tus.
Being very large, mirrors and utensils are made from it. It is found in
wet and putrefying soils. Fire catches naphtha: in much the same way, it
arises from qar too, as these are both two species of the same genus.
The black stones that catch fire are brought from the eastern mound
of Ghawr. These mounds are around the Dead Sea, where Jew's
pitch is also found.
In terms of axial measurements its weight is about 28. I have, however, little confidence in its weight, as it has a profusion of bubbles
which are large in volume and less in weight.
God alone knows best.
The early authors have said that a well-known stone is so named, although they have omitted to mention its characteristics and features.
As a matter of fact, this stone should have been the costliest among
stones, for, whereas jewels are things of the body and adornment, and
are of no use in bodily ailments, the bezoar stone guards the body and
the soul and saves them from being harmed. We did not describe it
before all the other stones, thinking it more logical that it should be described along with stones belonging to its genus. Muhammad bin
Zakariya Razi says:
The kind that I saw was soft like the Yemenite alum. It scattered
and broke into pieces. 1 am filled with amazement at its wonderful
Abu 'Ali ibn Mandawayh says that it is pale with white and green
hues mixed with it. Hamzah and Nasr both say that it is primarily
associated with India and China. In the Kitab al-Nukhab it has been said