Thursday, 19 December 2013

Ramadan II

In Haroun Al Raschid's Baghdad, there were:

sages;
wise men;
alchemists;
geographers;
geomancers;
mathematicians;
astronomers;
translators;
archivists;
jurists;
grammarians;
cadis;
scribes;
the greatest Hebrew teachers;
the greatest Christian monks;
the greatest Koranic scholars;
concubines from every land;
beautiful boys;
magicians;
astrologers;
Chinese and Mongol enchanters;
ascetic Bedouin sorcerers;
poets;
musicians;
men of high wit and perfect taste;
men with animal heads;
speaking animals;
moving, singing mechanisms;
delightful foods and strange tales in the market-place;
a winged horse of glass with bone eyes;
flying carpets;
cunningly crafted, sweetly singing, jewelled birds;
a desert caravan laden with silks, costly perfumes, fist-sized diamonds and rubies and dancing girls;
sailboats in the harbor laden with grain and pomegranates;
bathhouses;
mosques;
craftsmen;
porters;
merchants;
warriors;
city guards;
visitors from every nation;
young nobles under enchantments;
women imprisoned in jade houses;
wandering madmen with tales of desert ghouls;
ambassadors who tell their kings that this is the perfect city;
prisoners awaiting mercy or forgotten;
an underground place where Haroun sees figures and faces and hears voices;
a labyrinth;
low, narrow passages;
automatically flaring torches;
uncountable heaps of jewels;
enchanted swords;
powerful rings, lamps and goblets;
every size of egg;
the egg of the Rukh;
the Other Egg of the Phoenix;
a door of fire;
paths through the palace known only to Haroun;
a wall that can be moved by gently touching a brick;
fireballs lighting the night;
ships with lanterns on the river;
nine thousand and nine ifrits, djinn and demons imprisoned in the globe of Sulaiman ben Daoud, king of the Hebrews.

I do not regard a city with tortured, forgotten prisoners as perfect but this is an ancient idea of a perfect city.

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