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Scent from the Garden of Paradise pdf

Scent from the Garden of Paradise: Musk and the Medieval Islamic World

  • Book Title:
 Scent From The Garden Of Paradise
  • Book Author:
Anya H. King
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  • Preface ix
  • List of Illustrations xi
  • List of Abbreviations xii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 About Musk and Its Terminology 11
  • Musk and Its Origin 11
  • Exploitation of Musk 19
  • Terminology for Musk 23
  • 2 Commodities of Further Asia and the Islamic World 37
  • Introduction 37
  • Central Eurasia 44
  • China 50
  • India and the Indian Ocean 59
  • Southeast Asia 70
  • Place of Origin, “Brand”, and Rank 75
  • The Impact of Commodity Knowledge in Adab 78
  • Conclusion 82
  • 3 History of Musk and the Musk Trade: From Further Asia to the Near
  • East 85
  • Introduction 85
  • Musk in China 86
  • Musk in India 93
  • Musk in Tibet 108
  • Musk in Central Asia 112
  • Aromatics in the Persian World 121
  • Musk and Aromatics in Sasanian Persia 126
  • The Westward Spread of Musk in Late Antiquity 132
  • Conclusion 145
  • 4 Islamicate Knowledge of Musk and Musk Producing Lands 147
  • Arabic Terminology Relating to Musk 147
  • Persian Terminology for Musk 157
  • Sources of Musk: Middle Eastern Knowledge of the Geography of the
  • Musk Producing Lands and the Origins of Musk 157
  • Anya H. King – 978-90-04-33631-5
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  • viii CONTENTS
  • Types of Musk and their Rankings 187
  • Toponyms, Ethnonyms, and Sources 192
  • The Islamicate Understanding of the Production of Musk 207
  • Conclusion 217
  • 5 The Merchant World and the Musk Trade 219
  • Musk Producers and the Trade 221
  • Tribute and Royal Gift-Giving 224
  • Routes and Emporiums 227
  • Merchants 249
  • Islamic Merchants 250
  • Data on the Commerce in Musk 259
  • Perfumers and Pharmacists 260
  • Adulteration and Imitation of Musk 262
  • Conclusion 271
  • 6 Musk in Daily Life in the Early Medieval Islamic World 272
  • Introduction 272
  • Arabic and Persian Perfumes 272
  • Incense 277
  • Unguents 278
  • Scented Powders 281
  • Oils and Waters 282
  • Musk and Men 283
  • Musk and Women 292
  • Musk and Medicine: Pharmaceutical Specifications of Musk 303
  • Pharmaceutical Applications of Musk 309
  • Musk in Food and Drink 317
  • Conclusion 323
  • 7 The Symbolic Importance of Musk in Islamic Culture 325
  • The Primacy of Musk among Aromatics in Islamic Culture 325
  • Symbolic Meanings of Musk in Medieval Islamic Culture 328
  • Musk and Kingship 336
  • Musk and Islam 340
  • Musk and the Garden 352
  • Conclusion: Worldly and Otherworldly 366
  • Bibliography 369
  • Indices 414

Islamicate Knowledge of Musk and Musk Producing Lands

Arabic and Persian literature—Muslim, Christian, and Jewish—of the Islamic period preserves a great deal of information about musk, as befits a commod-ity of such great cultural importance. There was a sophisticated terminology for musk and the musk pod, as well as for the perfumes which were made from it. The former are discussed below, while the latter will be discussed in Chapter Six.

The mere existence of such a complex vocabulary associated with musk illustrates its significance. The types of musk were determined especially by their geographic origin rather than by any assessment of their incidental quali-ties, and the detailed body of information that survives is analyzed in the last part of this chapter. We have seen how geographical information intertwined with the identity of commodities as part of connoisseurship. The point of ori-gin and story of its genesis was a key part of the appreciation of musk.

Arabic Terminology Relating to Musk

As noted in Chapter One, the Arabic word misk “musk” is closely related to the words for musk used throughout the western end of Eurasia and the Middle East. Arabic philologists generally acknowledged that it was a loanword origi-nally from Persian, as is indeed the case. While musk is usually just denoted misk, there are a number of special terms associated with musk as well as syn-onyms that appear throughout Arabic literature. Some of the more important of these are surveyed below…….

Persian Terminology for Musk

As noted above, many Arabic terms relating to musk have passed into Persian, although the Persians still preserve the distinctive form of their original pro-nunciation of musk itself, mushk, alongside an Arabic-influenced mishk. Islamic Persian literature began to flourish during the 10th century. The whole lexical resources of Arabic were essentially made available to writers in the newly developing classical Persian language. This meant the borrowing of spe-cial terminology from Arabic, although the core terminology for musk and its pod, nāfijah, was Persian originally.

The musk deer is usually called āhū-yi mushk “musk deer” in Persian; another name is nāfah-bāf “the weaver of the musk pod”. The term mushk for the substance musk is ubiquitous and appears in a great many compounds and expressions. Nāfah is also used extensively in Persian in the meaning of musk. The best musk is called mushk-i nāb “pure musk”44 and also mushk-i sārā45 alongside the muskh-i adhfar of Arabic origin.

The number of words and phrases based on mushk in Persian is very great, reflecting the high value placed on musk as a paragon of aromatics. Some will be discussed in Chapter 7 among the symbolic meanings of musk. In poetry mushk or the adjectival mushkīn are used to describe many things, especially parts of the body of the beloved and things of the color black. Various kinds of hair, ranging from eyebrows to head hair to facial hair, especially the newly growing facial hair of the young male beloved (khaṭṭ), are described as musky.46 The musky mole (khāl) on the face of the beloved is another common image.47

Sources of Musk: Middle Eastern Knowledge of the Geography of the Musk Producing Lands and the Origins of Musk

The many ways in which musk was used in medieval Middle Eastern society and the many references to it in literature show that a large amount of musk must have been imported. Information on the origins of musk is preserved in a variety of sources. The majority of this information goes back to the 9th and 10th centuries (a golden age of investigation about Further Asia) and stems from a handful of writers. Two general and somewhat overlapping categories can be discerned among these sources: writers interested primarily in geogra-phy and those interested in pharmacology.

Those who were concerned espe-cially with geography typically evince a considerable interest in commerce and the goods of the lands they discuss. Knowledge of the specialties of exotic lands was a branch of adab, and within this broader arena of adab writers such as al-Jāḥiẓ and al-Thaʿālibī also took an interest in musk as one of the substances consumed by polite society. The pharmacologists had their own purpose for assessing the medicinal value of musk, but they also frequently provide more general accounts of the musk deer and details of musk production and trade. The material on musk in these works ranges from the mirabilia of travelers’ yarns to more scientific accounts.

In addition, what frequently survives are later works that incorporate evi-dence from earlier writers, whose works are frequently lost; only the quota-tions from them survive. In many cases it is impossible to determine the precise authorship of these quotations, so some speculation is required. In the following, an attempt has been made to arrange material by its point of origin rather than the source in which it was preserved.

It is only during the 9th century that extensive information on musk appears; of course, this is also the time of the earliest Arabic scientific works. It can be assumed that there was information commonly understood about musk prior to this time. In this chapter, we will focus upon the accounts of the musk deer and the origins of musk, and the places in which it lived. Accounts of the medicinal properties of musk will be left to Chapter 6……

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