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Persian in Arabic Poetry: Identity Politics and Abbasid Macaronics.


The phenomenon of employing foreign words in Arabic poetry (macaronics) is mentioned favorably by several Abbasid authors. In a discussion of the appropriate choice of words (lafz) in poetry, al-Jahiz (d. 255/868f.) writes: "An Arab may find pleasure in inserting something of Persian speech (kalam al-farisiyya) in his poetry." (1) Abu Bakr Ibn Dawud (d. 294/909) includes citations of macaronic poetry in a chapter "On poetry that is found beautiful and elegant (yustazraf) for its departure from the known limits (li-khurujihi 'an hadd ma yu'raf)" which includes all kinds of poetic eccentricities such as palindromes and acrostics. (2) Slightly later, Hamza al-Isfahani (d. after 350/961) concludes his commentary on one of Abu Nuwas's (d. between 198/813 and 200/815) macaronic poems (farisiyyat), stating: "In this poet's ability to insert Persian eccentricities into his poetry while mastering the utmost oddities of Arabic lies the proof of his versatility in the peculiarities of literature." (3) The actual function behind the practice remains unclear, however. (4) Was it the result of the spirit of experimentation and anti-conventionality that was characteristic of the modern (muhdath) style of poetry that started developing in the early Abbasid period? Was it a subversive act with a political agenda? Or did it merely serve a comic effect by imitating the foreign?

A comprehensive inventory of macaronic poetry that employs Persian in Arabic does not exist. (5) The extent of the phenomenon is therefore hard to gauge. There are several references to it in medieval sources, but only a handful of poetic examples have survived. Nevertheless, the employment of Persian in Arabic poetry is already attested in pre-Islamic times, with poets as renowned as al-A'sha (d. after 625 CE), one of the mu'allaqat authors. (6) We find examples as late as the sixth/twelfth century, with the Egyptian poet Ibn Sana' al-Mulk (d. 608/1211), who employs Persian in the exit lines (sg. kharja) of some of his muwashshah (strophic) poems, (7) but the bulk of the surviving examples come from the early Abbasid period. The most famous are by Abu Nuwas. According to Hamza al-Isfahani, who identifies a handful of complete poems and fragments by Abu Nuwas that employed Persian, (8) he used a total of two hundred Persian words in his poetry. (9) Al-Jahiz and Abu Bakr Ibn Dawud cite other examples composed by poets from the Umayyad and early Abbasid periods. (10) In addition, scattered verses can be found in a number of texts and anthologies. (11)

After studying the small corpus of macaronic poetry that has survived from the first four centuries after the rise of Islam, I have been able to identify two aspects of the function of Persian in Arabic poetry: one purely aesthetic, the other thematic. Below I will focus on the latter and show how the Persian relates to the theme of the poem as a whole. I argue that Persian vocabulary was inserted deliberately as a marker of a Persian identity. The identity is brought up for a variety of purposes in the poems and stands for the "foreign Other" (12) in contrast to a Muslim, Arab identity. This relationship is manipulated differently depending on the historical and political contexts. I begin with an introduction to macaronics and then analyze how Abbasid poets represented these dynamics in their macaronic poems, concluding with a brief reflection on the phenomenon's relationship with the pro-Persian shu'ubiyya movement. I will look at two poems by Abu Nuwas, as well as two selections cited by al-Jahiz with attributions to the first/seventh-century Umayyad poet Ibn Mufarrigh and the second/eighth-century Abbasid poet al-'Umani. Finally, I will discuss a poem by Ibn al-Hajjaj, the popular fourth/tenth-century Iraqi poet, and his clever inversion of the roles represented in the earlier poems.


There is no technical term used by medieval authors writing in Arabic to describe bilingual poetry. The technical term in Persian for such poetry, mulamma', is rarely used in that sense in Arabic. The word "macaronic" is a description of a kind of mixed-language verse that comes out of the medieval European context. Applying it to medieval Arabic poetry therefore requires some flexibility and adaptation of the category. The case of Persian insertions into Arabic has its own unique challenges and is complicated particularly by the fact that many Persian words enter the Arabic lexicon as Arabicized loanwords. Because pre-Islamic poetry is so old and it is therefore (by default) considered by medieval authors fasih (pure and correct), most of the foreign vocabulary found in it entered Arabic lexicons and much of it is quite common. (13) The same is true for words in the Quran that are of Persian origin, an issue that was subject to contention over the centuries. (14) Moreover, with the influx of Persian vocabulary in the early Abbasid period, one cannot know whether certain words at the time were common among Arabic speakers of cosmopolitan urban centers such as Basra and Baghdad, even if they have not entered the lexicons, functioning as vernacular rather than foreign vocabulary. (15) It is therefore difficult to assess how intentional Persian insertions in Arabic poetry were in many cases.

Nevertheless, poets like al-A'sha and Abu Nuwas were explicitly seen by medieval authors to have used Persian vocabulary. Ibn Rashlq (d. ca. 456/1063) states, for example, that "al-A'sha in the past and Abu Nuwas more recently" used foreign words occasionally for the sake of embellishment. (16) Moreover, the sources listed above identify the phenomenon as one of inserting foreign words into Arabic poetry. These medieval authors therefore recognized the poetry as bilingual. My guiding principle in considering poetry macaronic is therefore, first and foremost, their identification by medieval authors as poems that use Persian words, even if some of these words can be found in Arabic lexicons. Second, I classify poems as macaronic when the Persian vocabulary employed has not entered the lexicons at all, especially when the equivalent Arabic could just as easily have been used.

In the European context, macaronic verse "entails not inserting foreign words but giving words of the poet's native tongue the inflectional endings of another language (Latin), yielding a comic mock-Latin." (17) More broadly, however, it could entail the alternating of sentences or phrases or the application of one language's morphological constructions to the other. (18) There does not seem to be an established convention in Arabic except in the case of the muwashshah. In the poems I discuss below, the Persian vocabulary is inserted freely and it usually does not entail anything beyond the employment of single words. Indeed, the discussion of the phenomenon in works of literary criticism often takes place within discussions of the role of the choice of words (lafz) in eloquence. (19) It is therefore a matter of inserting Persian vocabulary into Arabic. (20) Nevertheless, these insertions are typically made to conform to the grammar and meter requirements of the verse, such as the addition of the Arabic definite article, or of final inflections indicating the grammatical function of the word, as well as the voweling of the words themselves in ways that make them sound more Arabic. (21) This likely yielded a comic effect.

The word "macaronic" was popularized by the Renaissance Italian author, Teofilo Folengo (d. 1544), in describing his own bilingual verse "as a literary analogue of macaroni ('a gross, rude, and rustic mixture of flour, cheese, and butter')." (22) The analogy describes both the mixing of vernacular languages with Latin and the gross and obscene character of his work. Macaronic poetry is, therefore, often associated with humor, ribaldry, and lewdness. The two Arabic strophic genres of muwashshah and zajal, flourishing in the fifth and sixth/eleventh and twelfth centuries in the Iberian peninsula, made use of Romance and Hebrew, as well as vernacular Arabic, and were typically humorous, lighthearted, and often obscene in content. (23) David Hanlon suggests that in the case of the muwashshah, the function of Romance and vernacular Arabic, restricted to the final lines, was to enhance the form's characteristically comic conclusion. He argues that the foreign languages and non-literary vernacular Arabic represent lower linguistic registers and therefore are "appropriate vehicles for the facetious and frequently obscene element [...]." (24)

Not all macaronic poetry is comic, however. Before Folengo, macaronics had been in use in Europe in the Middle Ages in the form of religious lyrics and church hymns, lending the macaronic literary enterprise a profoundly solemn purpose, and it has been postulated that among the reasons for the proliferation of such macaronics then was the desire to reach a wider audience. (25) In modern times, we find in Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot examples of a serious use of the macaronic. In these cases, the mixing of European languages, as well as ancient Greek, Latin, Chinese, and Sanskrit, represents a more intellectual enterprise that can be appreciated only by a few.

Several centuries after the appearance of Persian insertions into primarily Arabic poetry, which is the subject of this article, the reverse, known as talmi', becomes a fairly common practice in Persian poetry. This typically involved the solemn mixing of Arabic verses or hemistichs (often Quranic quotations) in Persian poetry. Nargis Virani explains that among the reasons that motivated such insertions was the desire "to invoke baraka (blessings) as well as to gain legitimacy," (26) given the high and sacred status that the Arabic language had gained through Islam. In her discussion of Jalal al-Din Rumi's macaronic poems (mulamma'at), Virani also argues that the linguistic mixing allowed the poet to break free from the limits of language for the purpose of expressing the mystical experience. (27)

One cannot say the same about the insertion of Persian into Arabic poetry in the first few centuries after the rise of Islam. The status of Persian with respect to Arabic in that period was much more precarious. From a linguistic perspective, Persian after the Muslim conquests was in flux. It would take a couple of centuries for New Persian to replace Middle Persian as the primary written expression of the Persian language. (28) In fact, the Persian words found in early Abbasid poetry provide us with some of the earliest specimens of the language transliterated in the Arabic script. (29) From a sociopolitical perspective, Arabic and Persian were ethnic, political, social, and religious markers of two groups that were not equally powerful in this period. (30) Arabic was the language of the conquerors and was sacredly tied to their new religion through the Quran; Persian was the language of much of the conquered native population, the defeated Sasanian empire, and Zoroastrianism. (31) While the sense of Arab superiority eventually gave way to a Persian protest that challenged it in the early Abbasid period, as far as we can tell from the surviving sources, that shu'ubiyya movement seems to have expressed itself entirely in Arabic. (32) The use of Persian vocabulary in Arabic poetry is therefore particularly intriguing in light of these ethnic, religious, and sociopolitical dynamics that colored the historical context in which it took place.


Abu Nuwas, born in Ahwaz of a Persian mother, employs Persian in a variety of genres, including hunting poems (tardiyyat) and wine poems (khamriyyat). In these, the occasional Persian words are often technical terms that have been absorbed into the Arabic lexicon as loanwords. (33) Their "Persianness" seems to be incidental. In the poems in which he uses Persian most substantially and systematically, however, much of it is vocabulary that did not enter the Arabic lexicon and their "Persianness" seems quite relevant. The question of ethnic or religious identity is a main theme in most of the poems referenced by Hamza al-Isfahanl for their employment of Persian. (34) Two of these poems, discussed below, show two different representations of the Persian identity, which find a reflection in the distinct choices of Persian vocabulary for each poem.

1. Arab Muslim vs. Persian Zoroastrian

In one of his licentious poems (mujuniyyat), Abu Nuwas addresses a Persian Zoroastrian youth by the name of Bihruz. (35) This poem of twenty-one lines in the wafir meter is one of his more complex farisiyyat and is accompanied by an extensive commentary by Hamza al-Isfahani. (36) The poem describes the poet's failed attempt to seduce his male beloved. It can be divided into roughly two parts: in the first, the poet describes the beloved, Bihruz, in the third person and establishes his identity as a Zoroastrian (majusi) Persian; in the second, the poet addresses the beloved directly and pleads for his attention. All the Persian vocabulary appears in this second part of the poem.

Abu Nuwas begins by identifying the addressee's religion:

[phrase omitted]

1. Bihruz the Zoroastrian, of Persian nobility / has protected me from union with the sons of [Christian] priests.

He then distinguishes him from the "impurity" of Christians and Jews (vv. 2-3) and describes his avoidance of Muslims in v. 4:

[phrase omitted]

4. If it is said: "The right-minded [Muslim] is protection and glory" / He says: "My religion [dictates] avoiding him, as does my origin (sus)."

Thus, in the first four verses the poet sets up Bihruz's religious identity in contrast to the other prominent religious groups in the region. Subsequently, he elaborates on his "origin," establishing his descent from Persian nobility and distinguishing him from those who have relations with women who bear old Arabian names:

[phrase omitted]

5. An honorable noble and a descendant of Kayus / who distanced himself in relations from La'us (37)

6. and their Hirr, Rabab, and Fartana / and from Umm al-Junaydib with Lamis. (38)

Abu Nuwas further highlights the Persian Zoroastrian identity in vv. 7-9, describing the beloved who tortures the poet with his beauty as one who murmurs like a Zoroastrian priest (min al-mutazamzimin) and as wearing a waist belt (muzannar) and a Persian tunic (qurtaq), all of which are markers of his foreign and non-Muslim identity. In a fashion typical of love poetry, which mujun parodies, (39) the poet proceeds to complain to the beloved about not seeing him enough:

[phrase omitted]

11. I said, while we were in great fear: / We have contented ourselves with meager union with you.

This marks the transition between the two parts of the poem. All of the Persian vocabulary (highlighted here in bold in the original script) comes in this second part and is mostly inserted in the form of an oath list: (40)

[phrase omitted]

12. By the heaven (isfihr), Venus (nahidh). Mercury (tir), / and the verity of the moon (mah) and the commanding sun (mihr). (41)

13. And [by] the truth of al-Adhur al-Khawra', a light / from the illustrious heavenly paradise (al-minu al-karuzman). (42)

14. And [by] the sacredness of the sanctifying barsum twigs from / the murmuring of the priests (harabidh) of the Astanus. (43)

15. And by the Gahanbar celebrations in the great banquet (al-khuran al-buzurji) / and by the circulation of the chalice, the chalice of aged wine (khandaris). (44)

16. By the truth of Mihragan and Nawruz (nawkaruz) / and the day of Farrukh at the beginning of the leap year (absal al-kabis). (45)

17. By the prepared customs (ayin) of the animal-fighting arena (tarakhtun) / and by the marking of horses with clay seals (qaraqis). (46)

18. By the cryptic recitations of the Avesta (bustaq), / the book of Zarathustra, the proselytizer of the Magians, (47)

19. and by what they recite about Sharwln of Dastbay / and the tales (firjardat) of Ramin and Wis. (48)

As has been pointed out, this oath list is reminiscent of Quranic oaths. (49) The convention is imitated by other poets, as in a poem by Mudrik al-Shaybanl (fourth/tenth century), (50) but here Geert Jan van Gelder argues that it should be read not "theologically but rhetorically and poetically" and postulates that "the main point of the poem is precisely this ostentatious display of knowledge (or misinformation, on several occasions) of Christian terms, names and concepts." (51) Furthermore, he suggests that the "long series of strange and often un-Arabic words and names has a somewhat humorous effect [...]." (52)

The oath list in Abu Nuwas's poem under discussion could have had a similar function. The series of strange-sounding Persian words and names would have been a way for him to flaunt his knowledge of Persian culture, while the addition of Arabic inflections and the Arabic definite article would have made them sound comical to the native ear, as evidenced in the transliteration of the following verses (Persian again is bolded):

12. bi-isfihrin wa-nahidhin wa-tirin | wa-haqqi l-mahi wa-r-mihri l-ra'isi

13. wa-haqqi l-Adhuri l-Khawra'i nurun | min al-minu l-karuzmani n-nafisi

14. wa-hurmati barsumi t-taqdisi mimma | yuzamzimuhu harabidhu astanusi

15. wa bi-l-Jahbari fi l-khurani 1-buzurji | bi-dawri l-ka'si ka'si l-khandarisi

16. bi-haqqi 1-mihrajani wa-nawkaruzin | wa-farrukhruzi absali l-kabisi

The Arabicized internal voweling (nawkaruz) as well as the addition of the glottal stop in al-Khawra' represent yet another layer of mixing between the two languages. This likely enhanced the comic effect of the macaronic poem even further.

Nevertheless, while the oath list certainly provides a convenient format to include a number of Persian words, their choice is not random and their placement not purely a matter a convenience. The religious and ethnic aspects of Persian and Zoroastrian identity, contrasted with and distinguished from that of Arab, on the one hand, and Muslim, Christian, and Jewish, on the other, are represented--and thus emphasized--in the oath list. The Persian vocabulary consists of names of items specific to Persian culture, history, and customs, e.g., the tale of Sharwin of Dastbay and animal fighting customs, and to Zoroastrian matters, such as Zarathustra, the Avesta, names of fire temples, and Persian festivals. Like Quranic oath lists, that of Abu Nuwas contains cosmic phenomena and invokes sacred localities, only in Persian and holy to Zoroastrians. (53) His oath list is therefore not an arbitrary way of inserting a cluster of random Persian words. The use of Zoroastrian sacred place names and Persian words (instead of the Arabic of the Quran) is intentionally inappropriate.

However, the dissonance seems to be jarring to the Zoroastrian addressee, who in the last verse of the poem shuns the poet and reminds him of his desire to remain pure:

[phrase omitted]

21. He said: Go away from me, you outcast (difahri)! / Do you seek one who believes in "no touching"? (54)

In Zoroastrianism, sodomy was a sin and a crime, and sexual contact with non-Zoroastrians was generally regarded as unclean. (55) Harking back to v. 4, Bihruz reiterates that his religion prohibits him from engaging sexually with the poet. He is therefore unmoved by Abu Nuwas's display of his knowledge of Persian and Zoroastrian matters or of his treatment of these items in a Quranic-oath-like fashion.

One could read this as a sincere plea and respectful elevation of Persian and Zoroastrian identity to the level of Arab Muslim identity or as a parody of the haughtiness of the addressee. Given that mujun is by definition a humorous and satirical genre, the former is unlikely. Mujun is not love poetry, but lewd poetry about sex. The addressee is not an object of respect, but the object of penetration--the relationship is skewed and the power dynamics unbalanced. (56) Highlighting the Persian and Zoroastrian aspects of the addressee's identity should therefore not be read as admiration, but as parody. While Abu Nuwas does challenge poetic norms and Persianizes Arabic, even parodying the Quran, the object of ridicule is ultimately the Persian Zoroastrian. The use of Persian, therefore, counterintuitively only reinforces the distinction between Arab and Persian and the power relations they represent.

2. The Fake Persian

In another farisiyya, Abu Nuwas satirizes someone by the name of Husayn, who pretends to be from Khurasan (mutakharsin). (57) The fourteen-line poem in the sari' meter is classified as an invective (hija') and is also accompanied by a commentary by Hamza al-Isfahani. It opens with a conspicuously traditional atlal motif, harking back to a pre-Islamic Arabia:

[phrase omitted]

1. Leave the traces of the beloved's encampment in Wahbin / and praise Husayn with flourishes,

This markedly conventional (albeit shortened) opening, which includes a place in the Dahna' desert in Arabia as the location of the atlal, (58) stands in stark contrast to the rest of the poem, which emphasizes the "Persianness" of the lampoon's target. In other words, the poet tells us with this opening to leave all these Arabian customs and look at Husayn, who we learn in subsequent verses is Persian to the core:

[phrase omitted]

2. The brother of Khurasan who carries / but a battle axe (tabarzin) (59) as a baton.


4. He does not eat lakhsh on its own / unless followed by turdin. (60)


6. As for clothing, he does not wear the hemmed kind / except sewn with an external seam (darz-i birun). (61)

7. He never loses his appetite / for balkund and sour milk (rakhfin). (62)

8. He never names his servant anything / but Jam[shid] and Faridun

9. And if he passes to other / names, then Tughrin. (63)

The poet then proceeds to mention the addressee's connection to various places and rulers in Khurasan, extending to China and India:

[phrase omitted]

10. He is full of youthful yearning for Ishtakhanj by the evening / and madly in love with a khatun (64)

11. and the king (shahriyar) of India, Balharjiya, / and Baghbur, the shah of China (majin) (65)

12. And a gang [of these rulers] from Farghana / to the forts of the shaykh Sharwin (66)

13. And Bamiyan, its king (shir) is his grandfather, / and from Sarushan [which] belongs to Afshin. (67)

The poet concludes the poem convinced of Husayn's Persian pedigree:

[phrase omitted]

14. Your grandparents, O Persian prince (wisfur), I have no doubt, / were of the Sasanian kings (khudhahin). (68)

The Persian vocabulary in this poem is quite different from the previous poem, with almost all of it being names of food items, clothing, places, titles, and people. It thus displays a much shallower knowledge of the language and culture, which is quite appropriate, however, for a poem that makes fun of a non-Persian pretending to be from Khurasan. Abu Nuwas therefore seems to have carefully chosen his vocabulary to reflect only a casual knowledge of the language, and in this way he parodies the wannabe Persian he mocks.

The identity of the so-called mutakharsin is not known for certain. According to Hamza al-Isfahani, in most copies he had available to him the addressee is said to have been Husayn b. Sabih, whose father was from Sind (southwest Pakistan), and who was a client (mawla) of a certain 'Umar ibn Bazi'. He also mentions another attribution that he had found in an old copy of the poem: Husayn ibn Alt ibn Mahan, a handsome boy who had allegedly given Abu Nuwas the cold shoulder. (69) Regardless of who the addressee was, as Hamza al-Isfahanl states: "With these words [the poet] is ridiculing the one who said them [in the first place] and accuses him of being--despite his Iraqi origin--a wannabe Khurasani, who excessively imitates the people of Khurasan such that he may be counted among its nobles and royals." (70)

Like Abu Nuwas's first macaronic poem discussed, this one also treats a question of identity. The approaches are very different, however. In the first, it is a Persian Zoroastrian who insists on maintaining his purity--high-cultured Persian vocabulary is employed. In the second, Abu Nuwas mocks an Arab pretending to be Persian--stereotypical names of Persian foodstuffs and dress highlight the addressee's superficiality. These differences reveal the deliberateness and meaningfulness of Abu Nuwas's choice of Persian insertions.


The use of Persian to intensify political dynamics seems to be also at play in an early Umayyad fragment of macaronic poetry. One of the examples al-Jahiz cites is by the Basran poet Abu 'Uthman Yazid ibn Ziyad ibn Rabi'a ibn Mufarrigh al-Himyari (d. 69/689). (71) Though a minor poet, he was known for his polemics against the family of Ziyad ibn Abih (also known as Ziyad ibn Sumayya), who was an important political leader during Mu'awiya's reign (r. 40-60/661-680). The verses are associated with a particular well-attested incident. (72) In the year 59/679, Ibn Mufarrigh was on the run for satirical invectives he had composed against 'Abbad ibn Ziyad (d. 100/718), one of Ziyad ibn Abih's sons and the governor of Sijistan at the time. The poet was finally caught in Basra by Abbad's brother, 'Ubayd Allah (d. 67/686), governor of Basra. After Mu'awiya refused to grant permission to kill him, 'Ubayd Allah decided to punish Ibn Mufarrigh by giving him wine mixed with a purgative and subsequently parading him around town on a donkey. The people in the streets of Basra yelled at him in Persian, asking: "What is this (in chist)?"" referring to the diarrhea that was soiling his clothes. Ibn Mufarrigh answered with the following verses:

[phrase omitted]

[This] is water (ab ast), it is wine (nabidh ast) (73)

It is the juice of raisins (wa-'usarat zabib ast) (74)

Sumayya is honorable (rusabid = rusapid)

These verses state what was apparently false: the poet drank only water, wine, and raisin liquor, while in the same vein, the poet's description of Sumayya, the grandmother of Abbad and 'Ubayd Allah, as honorable is meant sarcastically. It was well known that their father Ziyad was born out of wedlock to a woman by the name of Sumayya. His patronymic, Ziyad ibn Abih, meaning Ziyad the son of his father, highlighted his questionable birth status. (75) Ibn Mufarrigh's mockery of Sumayya alludes thus to the family's illicit origins. In addition, it became such a convention to use the term rusapid (literally, white face) sarcastically that it came to mean its opposite: Pers. ruspi ("whore") is derived from this sarcastic use of rusapid. (76) Tellingly, several centuries later, the author of Tarikh-i Sistan renders the verses directly with ruspi. (77) Even if the secondary, sarcastic meaning of rusapid already existed in first/seventh-century Persian, the poet makes his sardonic intention clear by bringing it back to the literal: the diarrhea was as much "water, wine, and raisin liquor" as Sumayya was "honorable."

There was a large Persian-speaking community in Basra in that period. (78) Although Ibn Mufarrigh is described as being from Basra, he was of Yemeni origin. (79) Nevertheless, the question posed to him in Persian provides the pretext for him to answer in the same, while the verses might simply represent the actual scene, there are likely some political implications at play as well. Some sources suggest that Sumayya was of Persian origin. (80) If so, the use of rusapid not only refers to the family's dishonorable provenance but also to its foreign origin, a double insult for the family of Ziyad ibn Abih, as they rose in the ranks of a zealously Arab dynasty. (81)


Persian continues to represent the foreign Other, politically and religiously, in the Abbasid period. Along with Abu Nuwas's contrasting of Persian and Arab identities in a comic and satirical fashion in his macaronic poetry, we find in al-Jahiz's selections a more serious employment of macaronics. Two of the excerpts he provides come from a panegyric in the rajaz meter (an urjuza) in praise of the Abbasid caliph, Harun al-Rashid (r. 170-93/786-809), by Muhammad ibn Dhu'ayb al-'Umani, who despite his name was from Basra, not Oman. (82) Al-Jahiz quotes two sets of three hemistichs, which he indicates as belonging to the same poem. As al-'Umani's poetry has not been preserved in a diwan, we do not know for certain the poetic context of the excerpts. However, Hanna Jamil Haddad, who collected his poetry, attaches these lines to an urjuza in praise of Harun by al-'Umani with the same rhyme. This urjuza is preserved by Ibn al-Mu'tazz (d. 296/909), without the macaronic verses, however. (83) Haddad is likely correct in speculating that these verses belong to that poem. It remains unclear, however, where in the poem they would have originally been situated. (84)

The poem quoted by Ibn al-Mu'tazz follows a fairly standard qasida structure. Upon hearing news of Harun, the poet leaves his beloved and embarks on a difficult journey to reach the caliph. The poet then begins the actual praise of the caliph, moving quickly to his prowess and fearlessness in fighting the enemies of Islam. The poem concludes with typical praise of the addressee's generosity, loyalty, and good fortune. In the two excerpts, each three verses, quoted by al-Jahiz, (85) the poet seems to be describing the enemy facing Harun in battle:

[phrase omitted]

When an undefeatable warrior encounters him

In a coat of mail nailed together securely

You charge between his head and neck (kard = gardan). (86)

[phrase omitted]

When he [the enemy] falls amidst the jungles of lions And lands in the paw of the auburn lion [Harun] He swears never to drink cold water (ab-i sard).

While I have not been able to determine where the first excerpt would fit in the poem, the second seems to nicely precede these verses as quoted by Ibn al-Mu'tazz:

[phrase omitted]

With an oath of allegiance (bay'a) that heals extreme thirst (87)

How fresh and cool it is for the one who is healed by it

You have become for Islam the greatest [pillar of] support. (88)

The meaning of the enemy's renunciation of ab-i sard (cold water) becomes clear if this is the correct context. Having fallen into the "lion's paw," the enemy swears to never again drink cold water because his thirst is now sufficiently quenched by having switched sides and sworn allegiance to the caliph. Since the enemy described is likely to have been (presumed) Persian in this early period of Islam, al-'Umani's use of Persian to describe what the enemy has renounced has a dual function. It allows him to describe the caliph as being as cool, fresh, and replenishing as water, while also signaling the enemy's rejection of Persian "water."

The Persian kard for neck in the first excerpt is also in reference to the enemy and therefore appears to function as a marker of the foreign Other as well. However, this identity is a fluid one, which can be denounced in favor of an Arab identity. It is therefore not necessarily an ethnic marker per se. (89) Thus, even under the Abbasids, who were more open to Persian influence, the Arab-Persian dichotomy continues to function as a symbol of the "inside" and the "outside." It was not necessarily those who were ethnically Persian who were the enemy. Rather, the Persian identity stood for rival political entities.


Almost two centuries later, Ibn al-Hajjaj (d. 391/1001), the popular poet from Baghdad who made a name for himself as a poet of sukhf, which Sinan Antoon has aptly rendered as "obscene and scatological parody," (90) also dabbled in macaronics. In a poem he composed on the occasion of the capture by the Buy id ruler 'Adud al-Dawla of the fortress of Ardumusht (northeast of Mosul) from Abu Taghlib of the Hamdanids, there is a standard mujun scene involving a Persian boy a la Abu Nuwas. (91) The overt pornography of the scene, however, is subsequently wittily flipped to function as a metaphor for the sack of the fortress of Ardumusht:

[phrase omitted]

1. He poured me his glass at daybreak / And our morning drink (of wine) was on a Saturday

2. A Persian boy, elegant / and skilled in graciousness and [well]-disposed

3. Poured me two and three (du va sih) and I added more on top of those / to my drunkenness and then he greeted me in the morning with seven (haft)

4. And when I fell asleep he got up and said: go! (birraw) (92) / to those around me, my khawaja has gone to sleep (khawaja'i bikhuft) (93)

5. He feared that the mat would hurt my side / so he lowered his anus in the dwelling beneath me

6. And at the door of his anus was soft hair / beautiful like the flowers of Persian lilac (al-zadurukht) (94)

7. So I penetrated the boy, and my soul ransomed him / with two, and one, and half a proper dirham (bidu va yaki va nimdiram durust)

8. He was like a girl, virgin / with testicles hidden within, [untouched]. (95) So I opened my daughter (96)

9. As was opened [conquered], with the edge of the sword bleeding / from the necks, the fortress of Ardumusht.

Initially, Persian is introduced in the form of numbers, speaking of the number of drinks. As matters progress and become more licentious, the Persian comes in the form of quoted speech. The cupbearer (saqi) asks everyone in Persian to leave because his master has fallen asleep. Then he offers himself to the poet. The poet penetrates him for a number of dirhams, which are again in Persian. The poem then shifts and compares the act of penetration to the capture of Ardumusht.

Ibn al-Hajjaj's poem represents a brilliant parody of Abu Tammam's (d. ca. 231/845) well-known Ammorium poem, in which the town's capture from the Byzantines is compared to a woman being deflowered. (97) In this case, however, the capture of a fortress from the Hamdanids by the Buyids is compared to a youth--specifically, a Persian youth--being penetrated; by extension, the defeat of the Arab dynasty is compared to the sodomization of a Persian prostitute for a few dirhams. (98) The poem then goes on to insult the Hamdanids using typical Hajjajian scatological imagery.

In addition to the mention of some names of Persian weapons used in the onslaught in v. 10 (not quoted here), the Persian vocabulary is limited to the interaction between the persona of the poet and the Persian saqi/prostitute cited above. On the most basic level, the Persian serves to emphasize the identity of the receiver of the sex act. In the preceding poems, I have argued that the Persian stands in as a marker of the foreign Other--either an ethnic and religious Other or a stand-in for a political Other. While at first glance Ibn al-Hajjaj seems to be simply perpetuating these associations, I believe he is doing so to parody them.

The sociopolitical context in which Ibn al-Hajjaj is operating is quite different from that of our previous poets. By the fourth/tenth century, the Abbasid empire had broken up into small states, some of which were Arab in character, such as the Hamdanids, and others Persian, such as the Buyids. (99) The categories of "inside" and "outside" cease to be as clear-cut as Arab Muslim vs. foreign. The standard symbolism of Persian as the foreign Other therefore ceases to be appropriate for the new state of affairs, which has Persians and Arabs on more equal footing. This provides an opportunity for someone like Ibn al-Hajjaj, who, though not a Persian himself, was patronized by the Persian Buyid dynasty, to challenge the cliches. The Persian identity of the receiver of the sex act is not highlighted in order to debase it. Rather, it is a parody of Arab prejudiced attitudes toward Persians, not an affirmation of them.


A conspicuous feature of most of the macaronic poetry discussed in this article is humor. Far from being merely lighthearted entertainment, however, the Persian insertions form a meaningful aspect of the poems' construction. Whether in serious or humorous genres, Persian serves as a signifier of the Other--either a purely ethnic and religious counterpart to an Arab Muslim identity, as in Abu Nuwas's farisiyyat, or more broadly a political identity, as in Ibn Mufarrigh and al-'Umani's fragments. The place of this Persian Other in these examples, which range from the Umayyad to the beginning of the Abbasid period, is inferior with respect to the point of view of the speaker. Far from challenging Arab superiority, the Persian insertions reinforce the foreignness of the Persian category. Once the political context changed, however, and the fragmentation of the Abbasid empire gave way to the rise of Persian states such as the Buyids, the status of Persian as Other could be challenged, as in Ibn al-Hajjaj's poem. Ironically, it is not until the fourth/tenth century, when the pro-Persian shu'ubiyya movement is past its peak, that the symbolic status of Persian as inferior in macaronic poetry is challenged.

Macaronic verse could therefore be a serious and meaningful tool employed by poets to further the themes of their poems. In this sense, regardless of the political slant of the poetry, it represents a challenge to the idea of fasaha and the linguistic purity of Arabic literature. While I have focused on the political connotations of Persian insertions into Arabic poetry in this article, the challenge also came in the service of purely aesthetic goals--Persian insertions did not always or only serve as an identity marker. Leaving the elaboration of this aspect for another study, it is enough to say for the moment that macaronic poetry attests to a cosmopolitan Iraqi audience that could understand the subtleties of both languages. It is a cosmopolitanism, however, that should be considered with care, as it harbored internal tensions symbolized by the two languages.



I would like to thank Everett Rowson, Philip Kennedy. Mehdi Khorrami, Daniel Sheffield, and Michael Cook for their input at various stages of this project. My gratitude also goes out to the anonymous reviewers of this article, who gave me invaluable feedback, helping me avoid some embarrassing errors. I have freely made use of their expertise.

(1.) Al-Jahiz, al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. 'A. S. Harun, 7th ed., 4 vols. (Cairo: Maktabat al-Khanji, 1998), 1: 141.

(2.) Abu Bakr Ibn Dawud, al-Nisf al-thani min Kitab al-Zahra, ed. I. al-Samarra'i and N. H. al-Qaysi (Baghdad: Wizarat al-A'lam, 1975), 311-20. On this chapter, see my article "Beyond the Known Limits: Ibn Dawud al-Isfahani's Chapter on 'Intermedial' Poetry," in Arabic Humanities, Islamic Thought: A Festschrift for Everett K. Rowson, ed. S. Toorawa and J. Lowry (Leiden: Brill, 2017), 122-49; G. J. van Gelder, "Gleanings of Curiosities from the Harvest-Fields of Arabic Literature: Chapter 87 of Kitab al-Zahrah by Ibn Dawud al-Isbahani (d. 297/910)," Journal of Arabic Literature 449 (2018): 23-49.

(3.) Abu Nuwas, Diwan, ed. E. Wagner and G. Schoeler, 5 vols. (Wiesbaden: Franz Steiner, 1958-2003), 2: 107. I will discuss this poem below. Hereafter, all references to this edition and to Hamza al-Isfahani's commentary are cited as Abu Nuwas, Diwan.

(4.) Despite Abu Nuwas's farisiyyat having received some attention from modern scholars; see most notably. M. Minuvi, "Yak! az farisiyyat-i Abu Nuwas," Majalla-yi danishkada-yi adabiyyat (Tehran) 1 (1333 [1954]): 62-77; G. Schoeler, "Abu Nuwas' Poem to the Zoroastrian Boy Bihruz: An Arabic sawgand-nama with a Persian kharja," in The Rude, the Bad and the Bawdy: Essays in Honour of Professor Geert Jan van Gelder, ed. A. Talib et al. (Cambridge: Gibb Memorial Trust. 2014), 66-79; E. Wagner. Abu Nuwas: Eine Studie zur arabischen Literatur der fruhen Abbasidenzeit (Wiesbaden: F. Steiner, 1965), 213-15.

(5.) Much has been written about the role of Persian culture generally in shaping early Islamic culture. Macaronic poetry, however, is usually only pointed out as an example in passing. See, for example, H. M. al-Misri, Silat bayn al-'arab wa-l-furs wa-l-turk: Dirasat tarikhiyya wa-adabiyya (Cairo: Dar al-Thaqafa li-l-Nashr, 2001). For traces of Persian influence on Arabic poetry specifically, see T. Nada, "Ta'liqat 'ala ba'd al-isharat al-farisiyya fi l-ash'ar al-'arabiyya," Majallat Kulliyyat al-Adab, Jami'at al-Iskandariyya 18 (1964): 63-116.

(6.) See Ibn Rashiq, al-'Umda fi mahasin al-shi'r wa-adabihi wa-naqdih, ed. M. M. 'Abd al-Hamid, 5th ed., 2 vols. (Beirut: Dar al-Jil, 1981), 1: 128. Other prominent pre-Islamic poets who employed Persian words in their poetry include Tarafa ibn al-'Abd and al-Harith ibn Hilliza. See M. F. Abu Sharib, al-'Alaqa bayn al-'arab wa-l-furs wa-atharuha fi l-shi'r al-'arabi (Riyadh: Dar 'Alam al-Kutub, 1996), 218-24. See also Azartash Azarnush, Rahha-yi nufuz-i farsi dar farhang va zaban-i 'arab-i jahili (Tehran: Intisharat-i Tus, 1995), 288-95.

(7.) For example, in his Dar al-tiraz ft 'amal al-muwashshahat, ed. J. al-Rikabi (Damascus: [n.p.], 1949), 135-36. More on the muwashshahat below.

(8.) Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 278-81. Abu Nuwas also mixed Syriac (suryani) into his poetry, such as in a poem to a Christian, which is accompanied by a long commentary by Hamza, ibid., 5: 148-51. Although likely Syriac here. suryani could also refer to a vernacular form of Aramaic spoken by eastern Christians (see G. Khan, "The Syriac Words in the Kitab al-Musta'ini in the Arcadian Library Manuscript," in Ibn Baklarish's Book of Simples: Medical Remedies between Three Faiths in Twelfth-Century Spain, ed. C. Burnett [London: Arcadian Library, 2008], 95-104). A fragment quoted in Kitab al-Zahra that mixes Greek (rumi) with Arabic is attributed to Abu Nuwas, although it is not found in his diwan (Ibn Dawud. al-Nisf al-thani, ed. al-Samarra'i and al-Qaysi. 319-20). For a discussion of these verses mixed with Greek, see M. Vallaro, "Tre versi arabi con parole greche attribuiti ad Abu Nuwas," in Scritti in memoria di Paolo Minganti (Cagliari: Universita di Cagliari. 1983), 665-84.

(9.) Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 281.

(10.) Al-Jahiz (al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. Harun, 1: 141-44) cites several fragments without attribution. The poets he does identify include Aswad Ibn Abi Karima and al-'Udhafir al-Kindi. both lesser known but attested poets from the period. Ibn Dawud (al-Nisf al-thani, ed. al-Samarra'i and al-Qaysi, 319-20) also cites poetry that mixes in zanji (a term typically used for East Africans and their language), attributing it to someone from Ethiopia (al-Habasha).

(11.) For example. al-Jawaliqi (d. 539/1144) cites many verses with Persian vocabulary in his dictionary of Arabicized foreign words, al-Mu'arrab min al-kalam al-a'jami 'aia huruf al-mu'jam. Many of these words, however, had become part of the Arabic lexicon. Al-Tha'alibi (d. 429/1038) includes some macaronic verse in his most celebrated anthology of poetry and artistic prose, Yatimat al-dahr fi mahasin ahl al-'asr (ed. M. M. 'Abd al-Hamid, 4 vols. [Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-'Ilmiyya, 1979], 3: 91), including the first half of the poem by Ibn al-Hajjaj discussed in this article. There is likely much more that has not yet been discovered.

(12.) I capitalize the O in "Other" in order to indicate that this is a constructed identity that stands conceptually in opposition to the "Self" in the poems. The relationship between Arabs, Muslims, Persians, and Zoroastrians in actuality was. of course, much more complex than this simplified opposition produced through the poems.

(13.) It is worth noting, however, that in some cases the language of pre-Islamic poets is not automatically accepted as pure and articulate Arabic, as in the case of 'Adi ibn Zayd from al-Hira, who served as a translator at the Sasanian court. Though not as prominent as al-A'sha, 'Adi, too, was cited for his use of Persian vocabulary, but it is suggested that his poetry was not sufficiently najdi (i.e., central/eastern Arabian) to be transmitted; see Ibn Qutayba, al-Shi'r wa-l-shu'ara', ed. A. M. Shakir, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1967), 230. See the index of foreign vocabulary in Diwan 'Adi ibn Zayd al-'Ibadi, ed. M. J. al-Mu'aybid (Baghdad: Dar al-Jumhuriyya, 1965), 273-76.

(14.) See A. Jeffery, The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qur'an (Baroda: Oriental Institute, 1938); K. Versteegh, The Arabic Language (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1997), 68-69. For an overview of the debate, see N. Virani, "Mulamma' in Islamic Literatures," in Classical Arabic Humanities in Their Own Terms: Festschrift for Wolfhart Heinrichs on His 65th Birthday, ed. B. Gruendler (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 291-324, at 302ff. Al-Jawaliqi himself treats the topic diplomatically in the introduction to al-Mu'arrab (ed. A. M. Shakir [Beirut: Matba'at Dar al-Kutub, 1969], 52-53), hereafter, Mu'arrab.

(15.) See al-Jahiz's discussion (al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. Harun, 1: 19-20) of the speech of the people of Basra and Kufa, for example, where their vernacular speech is influenced by Persian. See also Encyclopedia of Arabic-Literature, ed. J. S. Meisami and P. Starkey (London: Routledge, 1998). s.v. Dialect in literature, medieval.

(16.) Ibn Rashlq, al-'Umda, ed. 'Abd al-Hamid, 1: 128.

(17.) A. Preminger and T. V. F. Brogan, The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, 3rd ed. (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993), 730.

(18.) In Persian poetry, for example, there were conventions governing the method of inserting Arabic phrases. Rashid al-Din Vatvat (d. 578/1 182), for example, describes the mixing of languages in concrete units: alternating hemistichs, verses, or pairs of verses; or following ten verses in Arabic with ten in Persian (Kitab-i Hadayiq al-sihr fi daqayiq al-shi'r, ed. 'A. Iqbal [Tehran: Kitabkhana-yi Kava, 1308], 63). See also N. Virani, "'I Am the Nightingale of the Merciful': Macaronic or Upside-Down? The mulamma'at of Jalal al-Din Rumi" (Ph.D. diss., Harvard Univ., 1999), 79-83.

(19.) Al-Jahiz's discussion (al-Baydn wa-l-tabyin. ed. Harun, 1: 135ff.) of the use of Persian in Arabic comes in the midst of his discussion of the proper choice of words. Ibn Rashlq also mentions the phenomenon as part of his discussion of lafz and ma'na, words and meaning (al-'Umda, ed. 'Abd al-Hamid, 1: 124-28).

(20.) While most of the cases of macaronic poetry in Arabic entail the insertion of single words within the otherwise Arabic text, phrases and pairs of words can also be found.

(21.) Persian constructions can also be found in Arabic poetry, as well as Arabic morphological structures applied to Persian words. I discuss the various ways in which Persian is inserted in Arabic poetry in more detail in another article that is under preparation.

(22.) J. A. Cuddon, The Penguin Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, 4th ed. (London: Penguin. 1998), 485.

(23.) "Muwashshah," in Encyclopaedia of Islam, New Edition (Leiden: Brill, 1960-2004) (hereafter, EI2).

(24.) D. Hanlon, "A Sociolinguistic View of hazl in the Andalusian Arabic muwashshah." Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 60 (1997): 35-46, at 42.

(25.) W. O. Wehrle, The Macaronic Hymn Tradition in Medieval English Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America, 1933), xxix. Moreover, humor does not preclude macaronic poetry from having serious implications. For a brief overview of this in the medieval European context, see E. Archibald, "Macaronic Poetry," in A Companion to Medieval Poetry, ed. C. Saunders (Oxford: Blackwell, 2010), 277-88.

(26.) Virani, "Mulamma' in Islamic Literatures," 321.

(27.) Virani, "I Am the Nightingale," 147.

(28.) Firdawsi, who is usually regarded as the one who conclusively solidified New Persian as a literary language, wrote his Shahnama epic around the year 1000. The major pre-Firdawsi poets, such as Rudaki and Daqiqi. date from the early to mid-fourth/tenth century. Earlier than that, our sources are sketchy. Fragments of earlier Persian poetry have survived and have been collected in G. Lazard, Les premiers poetes persons (IXe-Xe siecles): Fragments rassemhles, e'dites et traduits, 2 vols. (Tehran: Departement d'Iranologie de l'lnstitut Franco-Iranien, 1964). See also M. R. Shaffi'i Kadkani, "Kuhna-tarin numuna-yi shi'r-i farsi: Yaki az khusravaniha-yi Barbad," Nashriyya-yi Arash 6 (1342 [1963]): 18-28.

(29.) Given that the Persian used in Arabic poetry rarely consists of more than individual words, it is difficult to tell whether the language is Middle Persian or some variety of New Persian. Remnants of Middle Persian do linger, such as the use of nog-roz (New Year's Day), spelled nawkaruz in one of Abu Nuwas's poems, instead of the New Persian nawruz (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 140). Gregor Schoeler believes that the Persian insertions in Abu Nuwas's poetry are New Persian (Schoeler, "Abu Nuwas' Poem," 69), citing the contrary opinion of 'Abd al-Rahman Imadi ("Surud-i farsi az Abu Nuvas-i Ahvazi," Irannama: Bunyad-i Mutala'at-i Iran 5 [Spring 1366 (1987)]: 501-10), who thinks they are Middle or early New Persian. While much has been written about the rise of New Persian, the picture remains unclear. Recent scholarship, such as that of Kevin van Bladel, has begun to refine our understanding of its rise. For older accounts, see G. Lazard, "The Rise of the New Persian Language," in The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 4, ed. R. N. Frye (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1975), 595-632. For more detailed information, see G. Lazard, La formation de la langue persane (Paris: Peeters, 1995). See also P. N. Khanlari, Tarikh-i zaban-i farsi (Tehran: Nashr-i Naw, 1369 [1990]), 1, 271ff.; 'A. H. Zarrinkub, Du qarn-i sukut (Tehran: Ibn-i Sina, 1344 [1965]).

(30.) Being Muslim was almost synonymous with being Arab in early Islam. N6n-Arabs converting to Islam usually had to be sponsored by an Arab tribe, becoming their client (mawla) and adopting Arab names. See "Mawla," in EI2.

(31.) It should be noted that the conquered Persian-speaking population spoke a variety of dialects. See, for example, G. Lazard, "Lumieres nouvelles sur la formation de la langue persane: Une traduction du Coran en persan dialectal et ses affinites avec le judeo-persan," Irano-Judaica 2 (1990): 184-98.

(32.) Language did become an issue in a slightly later period. According to Ignaz Goldziher, "the conflict between Arabophils and Iranophils concerning the superiority of language [...] kept the party designation of the shu'ubiyya alive until the end of the sixth[/twelfth] century" (Muslim Studies, tr. C. R. Barber and S. M. Stern, 2 vols. [New Brunswick: Aldine Transaction, 2006], 1: 191). Lutz Richter-Bernburg argues, however, that the choice of language was driven by practical reasons, like accommodating an audience decreasingly proficient in Arabic, and rarely by feelings of Iranian nationalism ("Linguistic Shu'ubiya and Early Neo-Persian Prose," JAOS 94 [1974]: 55-64, at 57).

(33.) For a list of Arabicized Persian vocabulary and loanwords that appear in Abu Nuwas's poetry with definitions, see M. Shakib, "The Influence of Persian Culture during the Early 'Abbasid Times: A Study of Abu Nuwas' Poetry" (Ph.D. diss., Univ. of Washington, 1982).

(34.) Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 278-81 (a separate section in which single verses or fragments of the macaronic poems are found). The Persian identity of the addressee forms a central theme in two poems (ibid., 5: 75-77, 139-42), which I will not have the opportunity to discuss here. (The latter poem is translated and discussed in Schoeler, "Abu Nuwas' Poem.") In one short but complete poem also cited for its Persian insertions (Diwan, 4: 52-53). the addressee is a woman from Basra. I suspect that some identity politics is at play there as well.

(35.) Poem 148; Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 143-46.

(36.) Mujtaba Minuvi (see n. 4) provides much useful background and philological explanations for the Persian vocabulary employed in the poem. For analysis, 1 have used the following dictionaries: D. Durkin-Meisterernst, Dictionary of Manichaean Middle Persian and Parthian (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004), hereafter Durkin-Meisterernst; D. N. MacKenzie, A Concise Pahlavi Dictionary (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1971), hereafter, MacKenzie; Dihkhuda, Lughatnama (Tehran: Danishgah-i Tihran, Mu'assasa-yi Lughatnama-yi Dihkhuda, 1939-1975), hereafter Dihkhuda; E. W. Lane and S. Lane-Poole, An Arabic-English Lexicon (Beirut: Librairie du Liban, 1968), hereafter Lane; al-Zabidi, Taj al-'arus min jawahir al-qamus (Kuwait: Matba'at Hukumat al-Kuwayt, 1965-2001), hereafter Taj al-'arus; Ibn Manzur, Lisan al-'arab (Beirut: Dar al-Sadir, 2000), hereafter Lisan al-'arab.

(37.) According to Hamza (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 145), the name of the Kayanian king Kayus is typically Arabicized as Qabus; see also Mu'arrab, 307, s.v. qabus. Minuvi (Yaki az farisiyyat-i Abu Nuwas, 70) supposes La'us to be a woman's name, although it is not attested. It might be a variation of La'sa', which is a woman with dark lips, a sign of beauty (Lane, s.v. l-'-s).

(38.) These names allude to women whose abandoned campsites (atlal) pre-Islamic poets would address in remembrance of the beloved. Cf. Imru' al-Qays: diyarun li-Hirrin wa-l-Rababi wa-Fartana, and darun li-Hindin wa-l-Rababi wa-Fartana | wa-Lamisa qabla hawadithi l-ayyami (Diwan Imri' al-Qays, ed. M. Ibrahim [Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1969], 85, 114). Abu Nuwas's choice of Lamis likely has further connotations. The root l-m-s--literally, touching--has a figurative meaning of sexual intercourse (Lisan al-'arab, s.v. l-m-s). Al-Zabidi (Taj al-'arus, s.v. l-m-s) notes Lamis simply as a woman's name, citing the well-known rajaz verse, in tasduqi l-tayru nanik lamisa (if the omens are right, we will fuck Lamis). However, Lamis in this same verse has also been interpreted as an absolute object emphasizing the action of the verb (maf'ul mutlaq ma'nawi), in other words, "if the omens are right, we will fuck fuckingly (nanik lamisa)" (see al-Tabari, Tafsir al-Tabari, ed. M. M. Shakir and A. M. Shakir [Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1950-60], 8: 399). For a discussion of the interpretation of lamis. see E. Rowson's review of Ze'ev Maghen, Virtues of the Flesh, in Islamic Law and Society 14 (2007): 130-36, at 132. Given the purity of the addressee, who refuses to be touched by the poet, the sexual connotations adhering to the name Lamis in this case are probably intended as well. For Junaydib, see, for example, the pre-Islamic legend of Dahis (EI2, s.v.).

(39.) Mujun has been termed a "counter-genre" that inverts, subverts, and parodies literary conventions of love poetry and pre-Islamic poetry; see J. S. Meisami. "Arabic Mujun Poetry: The Literary Dimension," in Verse and the Fair Sex: Studies in Arabic Poetry and in the Representation of Women in Arabic Literature, ed. F. de Jong (Utrecht/Driebergen: M. Th. Houtsma Stichting, 1993), 8-30.

(40.) The following verses are translated into German in Wagner, Abu Nuwas, 190-95.

(41.) To give an idea of how the poem sounded to Arab speakers, I have transliterated these verses further below.

(42.) Al-Adhur al-Khawra (without the final glottal stop or definite article as in the poem) is "a hermitage where [Zoroastrians] go for pilgrimage" (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 145); Adur Xwarrah or "[the shrine of] Adarkura" is another name for Adur Farnbag, "a Zoroastrian sacred fire of the highest grade, held to be one of the three great fires of ancient Iran, existing since creation" (Encyclopaedia Iranica, s.v. Adur Farnbag; hereafter EIr). Al-minu al-karuzman in Middle Persian is menog garodman or garasman; see MacKenzie, 35, 55; for more on the concept of menog in Zoroastrianism, see S. Shaked, "The Notions Menog and Getig in the Pahlavi Texts and Their Relation to Eschatology," Acta Orientalia 33 (1971): 59-107. In New Persian it takes the form of minu garazman, but the Arabicized version karazman was also employed (Dihkhuda, s.v. karazman).

(43.) Barsum (also barsam) twigs: "sticks that [Zoroastrians] cut from tree branches and upon which they recite chapters from their book, keeping them inside a glass bottle in order to purify them" (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 145-46; see also Dihkhuda, s.v.). Astanus is "a fire that used to burn in the subdistrict of Buzurjshabur (Buzurgshapur). which was extinguished by Zubayda, the mother of al-Amin" (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 146). According to Yaqut (Mu'jam al-buldan [Beirut: Dar Sadir, 1977], 1: 410), Buzurjasabur was a district of Baghdad, east (at that time) of the Tigris. Citing Hamza al-Isfahani, Yaqut states that it is Arabicized from Wuzurkshafur (Wuzurg-Shapur) and is known in Aramaic (suryani) as 'Ukbara (ibid., 4, 142; EI2, Suppl., s.v. 'Ukbara).

(44.) Gahanbar (or gahambar) is Middle Persian "for the feasts held at the end of each of the six seasons of the Zoroastrian year" (EIr, s.v.). Gahbar is also an attested variant of Gahanbar in New Persian (Dihkhuda, s.vv.). According to Hamza (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 146), the Arabicized jahbar (< Pers. kahanbar) is a "general invitation to dinner." Khuran is "a place of drinking" (ibid.); cf. Mid. Pers. xwaran "banquet" (MacKenzie, 95). It does not enter Arabic as such, but khawarnaq (< Pers. khuran-gah) is found (Mu'arrab, 174). The combination xwaran i wuzurg (great banquet) is attested in the Middle Persian text Husraw i kawadan ud redag-ew (see S. Azarnouche, Khosrow fits de Kawad et un page [Paris: Association pour l'Avancement des Etudes Iraniennes, 2013], 145-46 (I thank Daniel Sheffield for this reference). Khandaris is often used by Abu Nuwas in his poetry as a description of wine; see J. Bencheikh, "Poesies bachiques d'Abu Nuwas: Themes et personnages," Bulletin d'etudes orientales de l'Institut francais de Damas 18 (1963-64): 7-84, at 78; Mu'arrab, 172-73: Arabicized either from Greek or Persian, it typically has the connotation of old or aged wine. One unconfirmed derivation is Pers. kand-rish "he who plucks his beard" (as a result of drunkenness) (Mu'arrab, 173).

(45.) A thirty-day month was added to the Zoroastrian calendar every 120 years to make up for the lost quarter of a day in their otherwise 365-day year. This year was then called a leap year (Ar. kabisa); for absal, Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 146; MacKenzie, 5. Each day of this extra month was named after the names of the days of the other months. Farrukh ("blessed") is an alternative name for Hurmuz, the first day of the month, considered blessed by Zoroastrians (al-Biruni, al-Athar al-baqiya 'an al-qurun al-khaliya, ed. C. E. Sachau [Leipzig: E A. Brockhaus, 1878], 43-44, 230-31). For nawkaruz, see supra, n. 29.

(46.) I have not been able to find any reference to tarakhtun other than in Hamza (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 146). He does not gloss qaraqis, but it is likely a variant of qirqis, clay used for stamping < Pers. jirjisht (Mu'arrab, 318; Lisan al-'arab, s.v. qirqis; Dihkhuda, s.v. jirjisht). The origin of the word in Persian is unclear.

(47.) It is not clear whether the recitations of the Avesta seem cryptic to the poet or whether he is referring to a specific esoteric strand of Zoroastrianism. See S. Shaked, "Esoteric Trends in Zoroastrianism," The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities Proceedings 3 (1969): 175-221.

(48.) See Minuvi, Yaki az farisiyyat-i Abu Nuwas, 75-77, for a description of the tale of Sharwin of Dastbay and of the Arabic sources that mention it. The tale of Wis and Ramin was rendered into Persian verse by Fakhr al-Din As'ad-i Gurgani more than two centuries after Abu Nuwas. Firjardat are "like poems (qasa'id)" (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 146), probably < Mid. Pers. fragard "section, chapter" ("Wis u Ramin," EI2).

(49.) Abu Nuwas employs such a list more often, viz., in eleven love poems on Christian boys and in two on Persian Zoroastrians; see, e.g., Schoeler, "Abu Nuwas' Poem," 66; Wagner, Abu Nuwas, 195-202.

(50.) G. J. van Gelder, "Mudrik al-Shaybani's Poem on a Christian Boy: Bad Taste or Harmless Wit?" in Representations of the Divine in Arabic Poetry, ed. G. Borg and E. de Moor (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2001), 49-70, at 56-57.

(51.) Ibid., 58-59.

(52.) Ibid., 59.

(53.) See the classification of Quranic oath clusters into those "alluding to sacred localities" and those "relating to cosmic phenomena," in A. Neuwirth, "Form and Structure of the Qur'an," in Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an (Leiden: Brill, 2001-6), 2: 245-66.

(54.) Difahri in this context means "damned"; it originally referred to a person whom the king had shunned, warning people against interacting and dealing with him in trade (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 5: 146; Minuvi, Yaki az farisiyyat-i Abu Nuwas, 77: "outcast, outlawed"; cf. MacKenzie, 26: Mid. Pers. debahr "anger," pad debahr dastan "banish"; cf. Durkin-Meisterernst, 148-49).

(55.) On Zoroastrian notions of sodomy (kunmarzih), see G. Konig, Geschlechtsmoral und Gleichgeschlechtlichkeil im Zoroasrrismus (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010). For sexual intercourse with, e.g., Muslims, see J. K. Choksky, "Zoroastrians in Muslim Iran: Selected Problems of Coexistence and Interaction during the Early Medieval Period," Iranian Studies 20 (1987): 17-30, at 24: "it resulted in the loss of an individual's ritual purity." See also M. Boyce, A History of Zoroastrianism, 3 vols. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975), 1: 294.

(56.) See S. Oberhelman, "Hierarchies of Gender, Ideology, and Power," in Homoeroticism in Classical Arabic-Literature, ed. J. W. Wright Jr. and E. K. Rowson (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1997), 65 ("Sex, as well as society, was based on a strict and patriarchal hierarchy of social relations, which consisted of bipolarities of male and female, conquering and conquered, Muslim and non-Muslim"), 68 ("In medieval Islam a person's sexuality was defined according to the domination by or reception of the penis in the sex act").

(57.) Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 103-7.

(58.) Yaqut, Mu'jam al-buldan, 5: 385.

(59.) Tabarzin (< Mid. Pers. tabar "axe" and zen "weapon, sword; armour arms"; Durkin-Meisterernst, 323, 386) is a saddle axe, specifically one that Persian knights carry to battle (Mu'arrab, 276). Its use is well attested in Arabic; al-Jawaliqi cites verses by Jarir (d. 111/729) in which the word appears. See also Dihkhuda, s.v. tabarzin.

(60.) According to Hamza, lakhsh is a garlicky dish typical of Khurasan (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 105). It is not found elsewhere, but Dihkhuda has lakhshak (s.v.), which appears to be a kind of noodle soup, and the fourth/tenth-century cookbook Kitab al-Tabikh includes a dish called lakhsha, a meat stew with noodle-like strips of dough, whose invention the author credits to King Khusraw (Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq, Kitab al-Tabikh, ed. K. Ohrnberg and S. Mroueh [Helsinki: The Finnish Oriental Society, 1987], 200). See also a discussion of lakhsha in M. Rodinson et al.. Medieval Arab Cookery (Devon, UK: Prospect Books, 2001), 253-54. Turdin is a word used in both Persian and Arabic to refer to a certain type of Kurdish food. Both Dihkhuda and Lane vowel the word turdin instead of tardin as in the Wagner-Schoeler edition of the Diwan. According to its description in Kitab al-Tabikh (p. 89), which mentions turdin, among other items, as decorating lakhsha (ibid., 201), it seems to be a type of meat-filled pastry.

(61.) The style of sewing the seams from the outside is typical of Khurasanian dress (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 105). Note that the Persian possessive form (izafe) seems to remain in the Arabic.

(62.) The meaning of balkund is unclear. In one manuscript's margins, as printed in the edition, it is explained as kidney meat (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 104). The word is not included in Arabic dictionaries although Hamza states that it is used and known in Arabic (ibid., 105). Dihkhuda defines bulkand, thus voweled, as "a kind of buttery bread" with a reference only to "his notes." According to Hamza (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 105), rakhfin is a type of cheese from Khurasan; Dihkhuda defines rakhbin (or rukhbin) as sour milk or anything made with it. It was often used for basting meats and seems to have come in a dried form, which needed to be dissolved in liquid (N. Nasrallah, tr., Annals of the Caliphs' Kitchens: Ibn Sayyar al-Warraq's Tenth-Century Baghdadi Cookbook [Leiden: Brill, 2007], 590). The description of its use for basting meats in Ibn Sayyar's cookbook may lend support to balkund being "kidney meat."

(63.) Jamshid and Faridun are ancient kings belonging to the first Iranian dynasty, the Pishdadians. See their description in Hamza al-Isfahani, Ta'rikh sini muluk al-ard wa-l-anbiya' (Beirut: Dar Maktabat al-Hayat, 1961), 16-17, 32-34. Both kings later appear in Firdawsi's Shahnama. Tughrin was one of the rulers in Khurasan, states Hamza (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 106), but I have been unable to find any reference to such a name.

(64.) Ishtakhanj was another ruler in Khurasan (ibid.). For khatun, see the entry in EI2.

(65.) Balharjiya (on account of the sari' meter, < Balharajya) is made up of the combination of balhar ("any great king of India"; Lisan al-'arab, s.v. b-l-h-r; see also "Balhara," in E12) and rajya ("king," Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 106). Baghbur is a title of the king of China (ibid.). The word is also given in Lisan al-'arab as bughbur, which is an Arabicization of the more common Persian faghfur, itself derived from the Sogdian Baypur < Old Ir. *baga-puora "son of God" (EIr, s.v. Chinese-Iranian relations, X: China in Medieval Persian Literature; see also Dihkhuda, s.v. faghfur). Hamza explains (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 106) that Majin is made up of the combination of mah (Pers. "moon," but also used to describe any fertile land) and fin (Pers. chin "China"); however, it is more likely a contraction of Sanskrit Mahacina (Great China) (EIr, ibid.).

(66.) Farghana was a region in Khurasan (Yaqut, Mu'jam al-buldan, 2: 351, 4: 253) and Sharwin was a name of a Persian ruler in Khurasan (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 106).

(67.) Shir is the title given to the prince of Bamiyan (Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 106; "Bamiyan," in EI2), also a region of Khurasan (Yaqut, Mu'jam al-buldan, 2: 351). Sarushan (thus in the Wagner-Schoeler edition) was a district of Khurasan (ibid.); it is most commonly known as Usrushana (EI2, s.v.) or Surushana, although Yaqut prefers Ushrusana (Mu'jam al-buldan, 1: 197). Afshin is a title given to its ruler (EI2, s.v.; see also E. de la Vaissiere, Samarcande et Samarra: Elites d'Asie centrale dans l'empire abbasside [Paris: Association pour l'Avancement des Etudes Iraniennes, 2007], index).

(68.) Until he ascends to the throne, the son of a Persian king is called wisfur (< Pers. wispur, which refers to Sasanian and Parthian royalty; Dihkhuda, s.v. waspuhr). In Pahlavi, vispuhr more generally means "a son of the clan, or of the dynasty, a member of the foremost families of the kingdom, if of the royal family: a prince, otherwise a nobleman of the highest classes" (H. S. Nyberg, A Manual of Pahlavi, pt. 2 [Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1964-74], 214-15). Khudhah is another title for the king (Abu Nuwas. Diwan, 2: 107). For a discussion of the evolution of the word xwaday "lord" from its sociopolitical roots to khuda "God" in New Persian, see R. M. Shayegan, "The Evolution of the Concept of xwaday 'God'," Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 51 (1998): 31-54.

(69.) Abu Nuwas, Diwan, 2: 103, 105.

(70.) Ibid., 2: 107.

(71.) "Ibn Mufarrigh," in EI2; C. Pellat, "Le poete Ibn Mufarrig et son oeuvre," in Melanges Louis Massignon (Damascus: Institut Francais de Damas, 1956), 3: 195-232; Diwan Yazid ibn Mufarrigh al-Himyari, ed. A. S. 'Abd al-Quddus (Beirut: Mu'assasat al-Risala, 1975).

(72.) The following anecdote is related in al-Jahiz, al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. Harun, 1: 143; Abu 1-Faraj al-Isfahani, Kitab al-Aghani, ed. I. 'Abbas et al., 3rd ed" 25 vols. (Beirut: Dar Sadir, 2008), 18: 193; al-Tabari, Tarikh al-rusul wa-l-muluk, ed. M. Ibrahim (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1971), 5: 318-19; Ibn Qutayba, al-Shi'r wa-l-shu'ara', ed. A. M. Shakir, 2nd ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1967), 361; al-Baladhuri, Jumal min ansab al-ashraf, ed. S. Zakkar and R. Zarkali (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1996), 5: 403; Ibn Hamdun, al-Tadhkira al-hamduniyya, ed. I. and B. 'Abbas (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1996), 7: 228; Tarikh-i Sistan, ed. M. S. Bahar (Tehran: Zuvvar, 1935 [1314]), 96.

(73.) The meter is unclear (a shortened Arabic ramal meter could potentially fit with the addition of some words). Christian Rempis, who regards the verses as primarily Persian, suggests that they represent an Old Persian octosyllabic or hexasyllabic meter, depending on which version is read ("Die altesten Dichtungen in Neupersisch," Zeitschrift der deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 101 [1951]: 220-40, at 222-23). I hesitate to consider these lines Persian poetry for two reasons: one, al-Jahiz (al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. Harun, 1: 143) explicitly describes the verses as Arabic poetry with Persian insertions; and two, the author of Tarikh-i Sistan, who cites these verses by Ibn Mufarrigh (Tarikh-i Sistan, ed. M. S. Bahar, 96), does not mention them when he describes the origins of New Persian poetry (ibid., 209-13). Interestingly, he does mention Abu Nuwas's use of Persian in this section (ibid., 213), but qualifies it as "sarcastic" (tanz).

(74.) Given that the meter is unclear, one can only speculate whether the idafa (Pers. izafe) construction was read 'usaratu zabibin (Arabic) or 'usarat-i zabib (Persian). Here, the author of Tarikh-i Sistan inserts a Persian line that does not appear in any of the Arabic sources: "These are fat buttocks and grease" (dunbe-ye farbeh u pey ast) (p. 96). The literalness of the line, however, clashes with the otherwise sarcastic tone of the verses, as I will discuss below.

(75.) Ziyad called himself Ibn Sumayya or Ibn Abi Sufyan ("Ziyad b. Abihi," in EI2).

(76.) Dihkhuda, s.v. rusapid.

(77.) Tarikh-i Sistan, ed. M. S. Bahar, 96. The irony is lost in the version quoted, however, for the use of the term for "whore" directly and the additional verse preceding the last line (see supra, n. 74) render the verses literal.

(78.) K. Versteegh, "What's It Like to Be a Persian? Sibawayhi's Treatment of Loanwords," in The Foundations of Arabic Linguistics II: Kitab Sibawayhi. Interpretation and Transmission, ed. A. Marogy and K. Versteegh (Leiden: Brill, 2015), 202-21, at 206.

(79.) Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani, Kitab al-Aghani, ed. I. 'Abbas et al" 18: 186.

(80.) "Ziyad b. Abihi," in EI2.

(81.) In a letter to Mu'awiya preserved in Ibn Muzahim's Waq'at Siffin (ed. 'A. S. Harun (Beirut: Dar al-Jil. 1981], 366-67), Ziyad describes himself as a mawla, in other words, a Muslim of foreign (usually Persian) origin. Ibn Muzahim clarifies that "after his adoption by Mu'awiya he became an Arab" (lamina idda'ahu Mu'awiya sara 'arabiyyan).

(82.) He was apparently called 'Umani because of his yellowish skin, which resembled the "Omani camels," yellowed from the dye-producing plant known as wars that they were known to carry; Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani, Kitab al-Aghani. ed. I. 'Abbas et al., 18: 231. Very little is known about him, but he was apparently a decent enough poet to have made a living out of composing poetry (ibid., 18: 226). For an overview of the biographical sources and a collection of his extant poetry, see H. J. Haddad, "al-'Umani al-Rajiz hayatuhu wa-ma tabaqqa min shi'rihi," Majallat ma'had al-makhtutat al-'arabiyya 11 (1983): 73-119.

(83.) Ibn al-Mu'tazz, Tabaqat al-shu'ara', ed. 'A. A. Farraj (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1968), 112.

(84.) If the macaronic verses do indeed belong to this poem, one wonders why Ibn al-Mu'tazz left them out in his Tabaqat al-shu'ara'. Was the inclusion of impure Arabic toward the end of the third/ninth century inappropriate for a book that classifies Arab poets? An anecdote about al-'Umani not directly linked with the urjuza does highlight the close link between Arabness and being a poet: al-'Umani apparently presented himself in Persian garb to the caliph Harun on one occasion to recite some poetry and the caliph refused to hear him until he dressed in "Arab clothing" (al-Jahiz, al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. Harun, 1: 95; Ibn al-Mu'tazz, Tabaqat al-shu'ara', ed. Farraj, 109; Ibn Qutayba, al-Shi'r wa-l-shu'ara', ed. Shakir, 2: 755). However, al-Jahiz, for example, cites it in the context of defining the characteristics of various people or professions; one of the characteristics of the ideal poet is being a Bedouin Arab (a'rabi) (al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. Harun, 1: 94). To perform the part of the poet, one had to affect a certain Arabness, including in one's dress. Perhaps the insertion of Persian vocabulary in Arabic poetry clashed with this ideal, leading Ibn al-Mu'tazz to exclude it from his book on the classes of poets. This remains pure speculation, however.

(85.) Al-Jahiz, al-Bayan wa-l-tabyin, ed. Harun, 1: 142.

(86.) Al-Jahiz (ibid.) glosses the word kard, explaining that it means "neck." Al-Jawaliqi (Mu'arrah, 327) states that it comes from Pers. kardan (= gardan) and cites a verse by al-Farazdaq in which he employs the word. This is an example of a Persian word that is attested in classical Arabic poetry and has entered Arabic lexicons. Ibn Durayd (d. 321/933) explicitly lists it in a section at the end of his dictionary Jamharat al-lugha (ed. R. Ba'albaki [Beirut: Dar al-'Ilm li-l-Malayin, I987]) entitled "The chapter on what Arabs used in their speech of foreign speech that became like [part of] the language" (pp. 1322-23, and see also the entry on kard, p. 632). Despite its use in Arabic, however, its status as "foreign" is recognized by Ibn Durayd. Moreover, al-Jahiz's quotation of the verses as examples of macaronic poetry also indicates that such vocabulary was perceived as foreign at the time.

(87.) Bay'a is a technical term that means recognizing the authority of another person ("Bay'a," in EI2).

(88.) Ibn al-Mu'tazz, Tabaqat al-shu'ara', 112.

(89.) Speaking of the many connotations of the word "Arab," Patricia Crone (The Nativist Prophets of Early Islamic Iran [New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012], 75) notes, "More commonly, an Arab was a member of the political and religious community founded by the Arabs, [...] regardless of descent: people became Arabs when they converted."

(90.) S. Antoon, The Poetics of the Obscene in Premodern Arabic Poetry: Ibn al-Hajjaj and Sukhf (New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 2014).

(91.) Ibn al-Hajjaj, Taltif al-mizaj min shi'r Ibn al-Hajjaj: Ikhtiyar Jamal al-Din Muhammad ibn Nubata, ed. N. 'A. Mustafa (Susa: Dar al-Ma'arif, 2001), 97. The first nine lines of the poem, which is in the wafir meter, are quoted by al-Tha'alibi in Yatimat al-dahr (ed. 'Abd al-Hamid, 3: 91), with one variant verse and some errors in the Persian, at least as it appears in the printed editions.

(92.) Doubling the consonant in biraw (Pers. "go") is necessary for the wafir meter.

(93.) Although kh(a)waja (Pers. "lord, master, or owner"; Dihkhuda, s.v.) is used in modern Arabic, there are no entries for the word in medieval Arabic dictionaries. Bikhuft is wrongly vowelled (bikhaft) in Taltif al-mizaj, and the editor interprets khawaja'l as < khawa. which he mistakenly understands as coming from the verb khabidan, and ja'i "place" (370 n. 6).

(94.) The scientific name of azad-dirakht (Persian lilac; of which al-zadurukht is an Arabicization (A. Scher, Kitab al-Alfaz al-farisiyya al-mu'arraba [Beirut: al-Matba'a al-Kathulikiyya li-l-Aba' al-Yasu'iyyin, 1987-88], 9) is Melia azedarach (also known as China berry). Al-Zabidi (Taj al-'arus, s.v. h-r-r) notes that it is < Pers. azad ("free") and dirakht ("tree"). It is also known in Arabic as qayqaban and saysaban (Ibn Durayd, Jamharat al-lugha. ed. Ba'albaki, 1235; Lisan al-'arab, s.v. q-q-b).

(95.) Mukhaddara is to be hidden behind a curtain or tent (khidr), especially a woman (Lane, s.v. kh-d-r).

(96.) As Mustafa points out (Ibn al-Hajjaj, Taltif al-mizaj, 371), this is an allusion to the Zoroastrian and pre-Islamic practice of father-daughter marriage. Sinan Antoon (Poetics of the Obscene, 117) also remarks that such un-Islamic practices provided rich fodder for obscene and scatological parody, which reveled in flouting religious prohibitions. For more on this, see also G. J. van Gelder, Close Relationships: Incest and Inbreeding in Classical Arabic Literature (London: I. B. Tauris, 2005).

(97.) Abu Tammam, Diwan Abi Tammam, bi-sharh al-Khatib al-Tibrizi, ed. M. 'A. 'Azzam, 4 vols. (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif), 1: 40-74, especially 48, v. 17.

(98.) Antoon (Poetics of the Obscene, 132-33) suggests that for Ibn al-Hajjaj the body was a metaphor for society. In this case, the body and the act of violating it is directly compared to larger political power dynamics in the region.

(99.) Patricia Crone describes this era as "post-colonial" (P. Crone, "Post-Colonialism in Tenth-Century Islam," Der Islam 83 [2006]: 2-38).

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Date:Jan 1, 2019
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