much the same way, on being calcined is converted into red lead. Both
are designated sometimes as sanjfiryyah which is made from quicksilver. 120 The prefix, Rumi (Greek), is added to such a compound, as it
was fetched from Rome (Greece and Byzantine) in the early times. But
now only red lead is produced in that part.
Quicksilver is averse to fire except if it is kept in a hot spatula when
it stays there for quite some time. The reason for this is that like water,
quicksilver is a liquid, and fire sublimes it into vapours. When it has
assumed its original form like water vapours which have condensed into
water after the temperature has come down, the quicksilver collects into
tight and narrow crevices. It can easily force its entry into objects that
can melt facilely, but not so facilely into iron. It tears gold into pieces,
both through its material form and its odour. Its odour, if it reaches a
gold piece that lies at a considerable distance from it, is carried by the
ambient air, and it tears that gold piece apart. In fact, its odour is deleterious to artisans and goldsmiths. It generates wastage of the body, inflammation and paralysis.
Since it carries a poor association with iron, helmets and shields are
washed with it in conjunction with gold. At first an alloy of gold and
later that of silver is plated over it. Galen could not determine its origin
— as to whether it is a mineral object or is made like ceruse and litharge.
Ibn Mandaway quotes the authority of Masarjawayh to say that it is
not natural but man-made. 121 Other authors write that it is made from
lead, which is erroneous since it is taken out of red stones (cinnabar).
These stones are heated upon fire till they burst, and the quicksilver begins to pour forth out of the perforations.
Some people bruise these stones, and distil them. Quicksilver settles
down, with all the stones floating over it but for gold which settles down
because of its heavy weight. This is not because quicksilver, clinging to
it, draws it towards itself as some would have us believe. When we experimented upon this phenomenon through certain methods, we found
this to be due to its gravity.
As we have regarded 100 of the ghubari ruby as the standard
measure of weight for precious stones, we shall have pure gold as the
standard measure for this metal. An equivalent weight of the quicksilver
in relation to the weight of gold is 71.
It is God Who prospers and assists.
It is called kharusun in Greek (Roman), dahaba in Syriac, sawran in
Hindiya, altan in Turkish, zar in Persian, and in Arabic dhahab and then
nudar. The gold which is so pure that it does not have to be tested for