In the beginning and during its heyday the Zaruban mine had large
caves like houses in its hills and mounds. They were called Akharat, i.e.,
the subterranean vaults filled with pieces of gold. This gold was like
forged pieces of gold as if it was a treasure meant for the prospector.
The prospector who located them did not have to earn his living afterwards.
It is known as arjusa in Roman (Greek), in Syriac sima, sim in Persian,
Kamash in Turkish and rupa in Hindiya. Hamzah says that the word,
sim, from Persian has been arahicised into the sam, which means "gold
and silver veins within the mine," but the word is more commonly used
for gold veins. The word, sinianah, is a Persian word which is employed
as a specific term by the miners. It is employed for the pure silver which
is mound-like and the size of a camel sitting in the mine, so that the
owner of the mine becomes rich for the rest of his life.
Miners, therefore, have the adage current among themselves, 'Such
and such a person has found a camel'. This expression is employed upon
the occasion when a person becomes very rich. Sinianah is rarely found
and is only accidentally encountered.
Silver in Arabic is denoted by the words, lujayn and sarif. It is quite
possible that the word, sayrafi (money-changer) is a derivative of sarif
since siraf means the interchange of gold, silver and money. The word,
Sawlaj, is also employed for it.
Perhaps this is its characteristic, since good quality silver is called
fiddat sawlaj and fiddat sawlajat. It is also called gharb, since it resides in
the mine, but it is not in the character of silver alone to remain hidden in
the mine; all precious stones remain concealed. Some authors have, however, said gharb is gold. A'asha thus says:
When it is poured, it begins to shine in the hands of the cup-bearer;
and people throw gharb and nudar for the sake of it.
The word, nudar, is used for gold, and therefore, gharb cannot mean
gold; it means silver. What is the use in saying dhahaban dhahaban (gold
gold). It would be correct only to say fiddatan wa dhahban (silver and
gold). Therefore, the word, gharb, can only mean silver. Besides, people
have also claimed that gharb and nudar are two kinds of wood from
which wine-goblets are made. Abu Nuwas thus says:
He broke the seal for the sake of his friends, and lavished lujayn and
gharb upon us.
Here the word, gharb, cannot be employed for silver, since it is meaningless to say "silver, silver". In our view the most appropriate meaning in