selves up till the darkness cleared. When he asked them about it, they
said: "it is God'', and began to describe in an ignorant fashion the attributes of God, saying that it was a fowl in appearance.
These persons would have been nearer their purpose if they took the
name of an angel or Satan: they believe it to be a very large fowl residing
in uninhabited regions beyond the sea of Zanj and China, eating large
ferocious elephants in the way in which the domestic fowl pecks at
wheat grains. It is designated as Khatu in their dialect as such a name
displays esteem and respect: in much the same way they call their rulers
Khans and their wives Khatuns.
The horn of this khatu becomes available after a good deal of time.
People encounter all sorts of ordeals in the search for it, and therefore, it
is held in considerable respect.
The Razi brothers say:
The best kind is that which is like the scorpion. It should be palereddish, followed by the varieties that are camphorine, white, apricot-like, dusty and the khardanah (which is like the bone). The
most inferior kind is the peppery one.
All these characteristics pertain to colours and patterns. The Razi
brothers further say that the price of the camphor-like variety is approximately equal to that of the scorpion-like f'aqrabi) kind. The price of the
'aqrabi variety, if it weighs a hundred dirhams, is a hundred dinars. If
sold unweighed, its price comes down to as little as one dinar. The
largest piece which we have seen weighed about one hundred and fifty
dirhams and had a price of 200 dinars.
Amir Abu Ja'far bin Banu had a large box-like case made of long and
broad khatu planks. He used to express pride over this possession. Amir
Yamin al-Dawlah had an ink-pot made also of khatu. It is appropriate to
call it jallabat al-mamalik ('collector of kingdoms') as it augured prosperity for him but misfortune for others. He gave it as a gift to several
monarchs, e.g., Amir Khalaf and Amir Abu al-'Abbas Khwarazmshah.
But it could not stay in their treasuries and, in fact, left them when they
lost their kingdoms.
I have taken up the description of kahruba, straw-attractor, after
khatu as the Turks of the east hold it in very high respect, especially
large pieces of it, provided these pieces enjoy good colours. Like khatu,
they keep them in treasuries, and hold the Roman variety in greater esteem as it is clearer and its yellow colour is bright. They treat the
Chinese variety more lightly as it lags behind the Roman kind in these
characteristics. The only reason for liking it, is said to be that it averts