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From Jahiz's Kitab al-Hayawan (book on animals)
taken from; Kitab al-Hayawan; the translation (of extracts)
Serjeant : Society and trade in South Arabia
Gahiz : Ambrosian fragments
Allah has made the Zanj black and misshapen so all will know they are cursed. For it is written: Like the crow among mankind are the Zanj for they are the worst of men and the most vicious of creatures in character and temperament.
During the hot season, when the heat has diminished the springs, and dried up the rivers, a big amount of fierce and wild animals gather on the sides of the lakes at the borders of Habacha. From their coupling, some of them sterile, others give bird to very different forms of nature.
A second group (of scientists) keeps to a different theses. They don't deny that atmospheric conditions can when deteriorating, make a change in the water, and the ground, and after a long time have an influence on the human constitution. This is the case for the Zanj, Saqaliba (slaves) and the land of Gog and Magog (Yajuj wa Majuj).
They say that the sparidaes (kind of fish) have the habit to go through the waves, through the whole sea, to arrive in Basra after leaving the land of Zanj. Those who escape the fishermen go back to the place they came from back in the sea they left, swimming this way a distance several times the distance separating Basra from 'Aliq. (place on the Zanj coast). One can only fish these fish during their migration to Basra, or on their way back to 'Aliq, because in between you will not find any fish in the sea.
The migrating fish at Basra.
We at Basra know the months in which those migratory fish come our place. They come to our shores twice a year. In one of those two periods we see that they are fatter. Each type stays two to three months with us; when that period comes to an end and the cycle has finished, an other one starts. This way the people of Basra see the whole year through, in winter and in summer, spring and autumn, one variety after the other. In the meantime the mullidae (kind of fish) come to us after leaving the country of the Zanj, searching the sweet water of the Tigre at Basra. All the Zanj and the sailors know this.
The type gallinaces (dajaj) has varieties but they are all the same type anyhow. Like the dindon (dik hindi) the khilasi (crossing a gallinace of India with a Persian) and the nabateen. The chicken of Sind, the one from Zanji.
It is sufficient to see the differences between the humans, differences of hair and color of skin of the Zanj, the slaves, and Gog and Magog.
If it (the pigeon) is black, then this can be brought back to too high temperatures (in the egg). The same happens with the negroes among the humans, because the body of the mother lives in bigger heat than normal they become dark and their hair shrinks and curls together
Youssef the Zanj told me that all those passing over the borders of Iraq, and enter the land of the Zanj, always catch scabies, and keep suffering from it till they leave. And all those who drink to much nabidh or narguile will get mentally confused, suffer from hallucinations which will make them nearly crazy.
The sea-folk (al-bahriyyun) maintain that in Bilad al-Sufalah there are two birds, one of which appears before ships (from the shore?) come up with them and before the sea makes it possible for them to land at their trading places (matajir) and the bird says: Qurb amad, Approach. So they realize that the time is nigh and the possibility (of making a landfall?) is close at hand. And they say: And at (that time) another bird of a different form comes, and it says: Samaru. This is at the time of the return of those of them who have been away. They call those two species Qurb and Samaru
Note: Samaruk in Persian means pigeon. Here we have an indication that in Jahiz days the trade on the East African coast was in Persian hands.
|Giraffe (zurafa) led by the halter by a dark complexioned driver with a goad; on its back a covering ornamented with a bird and a fish. Below it three plant designs, to the right conventionalized tree with a bird. The drawings fits with the text: The giraffe is said to be a hybrid of the she-camel of Abyssinian breed and the wild cow and the dih (the wild hyena).|
|A crocodile with open mouth. Inside is a little bird picking the crocodile's teeth. Above are three plant designs bending to the left. At the bottom beneath a convex border of earth is a pool in a mosaic design, in which are three small fishes. The drawing fits the text: What is more extraordinary than a bird earning a livelihood only by means of cleaning a crocodile's teeth?|
|A lion eating the entrails of the carcass of a cow. The drawing fits the text: The lion is the king of the beasts of prey, and it eats carcasses..., and it begins by drinking the blood, then it opens the stomach and eats what is in it of food and saliva and the intestines together with the evacuation.|
|An ostrich sitting on eggs, to the right plant designs, to the left a flower on a heap of stones. The drawing fits with the text: It is also said more stupid than an ostrich; this is because it ceases to brood on its eggs when longing for food, meanwhile if it sees eggs belonging to another ostrich which has gone away in search of food, it broods these eggs and forgets its own|
|All these drawings comes out of the very only manuscript of Jahiz book on animals that has pictures. (Syria 14th century)|
|Given as examples a fish from the Sparidae family on top and below a fish from the Mullidae. They do not swim up and down between East Africa and Basra. These names were used by the translator as it were the only fishes he could find that would migrate to Basra. They however only migrate between the delta and the open sea.|
|Taken from: Gahiz : Arabische Geisteswelt
Tell me, when were the people one tribe, and when they spoke only one language? After how many generations did the Zangi became black and the Slave white? Why did the color change faster then the body?
We do not disagree that the climate in a specified area can become bad (yafsudu), so that it makes the water and land bad, and after a while it has influence on the disposition (tiba) of the people, like on the disposition of the Zang, the Slaves, Gog and Magog.
Abu Dabbuba az-Zangi, a maula (freedman) of the tribe of Zijad, had the habit at the gate of al-Karh in the neighbourhood of the place where the muleteers and cameleers were, and to “iahen”, so that not a sick, old, exhausted, tired or out of breath donkey remains, that is also not screaming, while if they had heart a real donkey screaming, they would not have reacted, and because of that unable to move, till at the end Abu Dabbuba the excitement stopped. He really knew how to put together in one scream all forms that a donkey scream can have.
Taken from: Susanne Enderwitz ; Gesellschaftlicher Rang und ethnische legitimation der arabische Schriftsteller Abu Utman al Gahiz
In the same way they reason (meaning that you see change after one year) for fever in Haibars, the spleen (becoming bigger) in Bahrein and scabies in Zanj
The skin of the he-goats and the skin in the armpits of the Zang stink of sweat. The rest (with the Zang ) is normal (salim), where as the he-goats stink completely.
It is said that the people with the best smelling mouths are the Zang and also that they do not know teeth-rot or teeth-holes.
Somebody whose arguments I do not ignore told me that Satyriasis is found in cats, pigs, and donkeys. And it is put by one of those speculative theologians (ahl an-nazar), that the Zang in every respect resemble the donkey resemble and also the Satyriasis have. And really there is on the whole earth not one Zang who does not has Satyriasis.
The Zang or like the raven under the people. They are the worst of the people. The worst creatures (halq) in the way they are build (tarkib), and character (mizag) ………When the pigeons become black then that is a burning and going over maturity. The black pigeons under the people are the Zang. The sun has burnt their hair; so that it contracts. When you put a hair in the fire; it curls, as you go closer, it curls more, till the fire finishes it.
Just like the intelligence of the Black people and the Red(white-people) people is smaller then the intelligence of the Braun ones, as well is with the godly guiding (instinct) of the black pigeons which is less then of the dark ones;