Gala of the Knight, Blazon of the Champion by Ibn Hudayl
Edition in Spanish by Maria Jesus Viguera, English translation by Nicholas Petrou.
Gala of the Knight, Blazon of the Champion is a Furusiya (literally translated to “horsemanship”) treatise written by Abu I-Hasan Ali b. al-Rahman b. Hudayl b. Muhammad Ibn Hudayl al-Fazari al-Gharnati, more famously known as Ibn Hudayl, in 1392. The Treatise can be considered an abridged version of an earlier work that was written in his life but was ignored under the Sultans of Grenada until Sultan Nazari Muhammad VII, due to a lack of patronage. His work also coincides with the coronation of the new Sultan and was probably composed in his honour. The geographical location of Grenada in Europe would mean, as well as the Ottoman Treatise Tuhfet-ul Guzat (Gift of the Holy Warrior) by Ottoman fencing master Nasuh bin Karagoez bin Abdullah el-Visokavi el-Bosnavi (or famously known as Matrakci Nasuh), this would be one of the few Islamic Treatises produced in Europe and therefore falls under the category of HEMA.
Little is known about Ibn-Hudayl or when he was born. Louis Mercier calculates that he wrote his first treatise “Gift of the spirit or souls of the Andalusians”, (Kitab tuhfat al-anfus wa’si’ar sukkan al-Andalus) under Muhammed V (who reigned twice from 1354-1359 and 1362-1391) therefore his date of birth can be estimated to 1329 (deducing he wrote he first treatise at 30 and was 70 in the year 1399). Despite being incredibly well educated and coming from the prestigious Arab family, it seems his military work did not come to the attention of Muhammad V and VI who he dedicated his work to. The reason seems to have historical precedent with the situation The Emirate of Grenada found itself in during the 14th Century. During this time, there seems to have been more of an emphasis on non-military works, with a focus on the arts, coinciding with a moderate political status quo between Grenada and the Christian Spanish Kingdoms. Perhaps it is this lack of attention, which is why we have few historical sources that reference Ibn Hudayl. What we do know is he belonged to one of the prestigious families of Grenada, who were descended from the 42 tribes of the Arabian Peninsula at the time of the Islamic conquests, who settled in Al-Andalus. We can also deduce that he studied under a number of well-known teachers at the time, with an encyclopaedic knowledge that covered various disciplines including: literature, politics, veterinary studies and hippology (the study of horses), art, theological matters and, relevant to this, military matters. It is therefore sound to conclude that he was a well educated scholar under the Madrasa (any religious of secular educational institution of higher learning in the Islamic world), and like any well-educated Islamic scholar, would have assumed several professional positions in education and politics, and received patronage under various nobles. It’s possible he may have worked for some of the Nasird Sultans as diwan al-insha (chancellery or official secretariat) of the Alhambra. With the rank of faqih, he assisted the court, by, for example, participating in the festivities that Yusuf III organised for the aqiqa (naming ceremony) of his newborn heir (Yusuf) on 19th June 1409, and recited a poem in honour of the amir. His lack of attention comes from his own personal work where he complains, in certain passages of his work, about this misfortune, the difficult conditions he endured, requesting help in his poems, from Muhammed V and Yusuf III near the end of his life.
His work seems to have received appreciation under Muhammad VII as a response to an increasingly military and deteriorating political situation in the Spanish Peninsula, and may have been a response to a demand for military treatises. Like the treatise written in his earlier life, the purpose of the was to proclaim the necessity for a Holy War against Christians in Spain, and a rearmament of Islam, something that had been ignored previously but had now been bought into the fold. In many ways, the work also serves as a propaganda tool to forward the Nasrid cause.
The treatise focuses on Furusiya, which means “horsemanship”, but whose wider implication, as a verb, came to mean knighthood, chivalry and anthologies of, as well as specific, sets of skills. These include: mounted work; veterinary work and hippology; polo; lance, sword; shield; spear; mace; javelin work; archery; wrestling; boxing; hunting; falconry; engineering; siege works and military works on strategic and tactical levels. Ibn Hudayl provides some named treatises as references in his introduction; however, it is highly likely that his work covered several unnamed treatises as well. This comments on the state of Furusiya literature at the time, which, commonly, regurgitated older works, whereby the authors either attributed the treatises to fictional names or are left anonymous completely. This is in comparison to previous treatises that would stringently referenced or quoted their source material. This is a combination of two key factors; the demand for furusiya literature which lead to a higher supply of treatises being published (as was the case in Mamluk Egypt) and the fact Ibn Hudayl’s work was intended to be a shorter, more convenient, abridged version of his earlier work. With this in mind, sections of Ibn Hudayl’s work, concerning weapon use, is often brief but the poems, anecdotes and expressions given in the work provide us with clues as to how the weapons described were used. Whether or not Ibn Hudayl had any martial or military experience himself is debatable, however his work seems to correspond and reference a myriad of other treatises. In the Islamic world, the use of Furusiya, coinciding with poetry, in anthologies, were perceived to be both prestigious product and a mark of the mastery of the Arab language, as well as a qualifier to who was truly educated and simply not a pseudo-educated charlatan. As a result, the work seems to be well-detailed, flowery and well-referenced.
The work has a general introduction with 20 sections on different subjects, however only the last 6 are dedicated to the use of different weapons. The first 14 are dedicated to the horse, its maintenance, breeding, veterinary care, riding etc. For the purpose of this translation, these chapters have been omitted. The weapons covered are sword, spear, bow (and within it crossbow), shield and a final chapter of their general uses, as well as a separate chapter dedicated to the coat of mail.
Note: sources for this are extensive and are as follows:
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al-Maqqarī, Nafḥ al-ṭīb, ed. Iḥsān ʿAbbās (Beirut 1388/1968), 4:19.
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al-Baghdādī, Īḍāḥ al-maknūn (Beirut n.d. [1945–7]), 1:243, 2:131
Mohamed Aziz El Bazi, Ibn Hud̲ayl al-Fazārī, Abū l-Ḥasan, in Jorge Lirola Delgado and José Miguel Puerta Vílchez (eds.), Biblioteca de al-Andalus (Almería 2004), 3:476–80
Miguel Casiri, Bibliotheca arabico-hispana escurialensis (Madrid 1760–70), 2:29, 326
- S. Colin, Un nouveau traité grenadin d’hippologie, Islamica 6 (1934) 332–7, 335, 337
Maribel Fierro (ed.), Historia de los autores y transmisores andalusíes (HATA), http://kohepocu.cchs.csic.es/hata_kohepocu, VIII no. 749, V no. 744, VII no. 1738, X no. 161, XV no. 740
Muḥammad ʿAbd al-Ghanī Ḥasan, Al-malik al-andalusī al-lādhī rufiʿa ilay-hi kitāb Ḥilyat al-fursān, Majallat Majmaʿ al-Lugha al-ʿArabiyya bi-Dimashq 42/4 (1967) 627–33
Wijdān Farīq ʿInād, Mawārid al-riwāya fī kitāb Ḥilyat al-fursān wa-shiʿār al-shujʿān li-bn Abī (sic) Hudayl, Majallat al-Turāth 16 (2014), 123–39
Kāmil Salmān al-Jubūrī, Muʿjam al-udabāʾ min al-ʿaṣr al-jāhilī ḥattā sanat 2002 m. (Beirut 1434/2003), 4:286
ʿUmar Riḍā Kaḥḥāla, Muʿjam al-muʾallifīn (Beirut n.d. [1376/1957]), 7:121
Maḥmūd ʿAlī Makkī, Taqdīm, in Ibn Simāk, al-Zaharāt al-manthūra fī nukat al-akhbār al-maʾthūra, ed. Maḥmūd ʿAlī Makkī (Madrid 1984), 27–8
José Ortega and Celia del Moral, Diccionario de escritores granadinos (siglos VIII–XX) (Granada 1991), 112–3
Francisco Pons Boigues, Ensayo bio-bibliográfico sobre los historiadores y geógrafos arábigo-españoles (Madrid 1898), 332–3 (no. 292)
Qāsim al-Qaḥṭānī, Ibn Furkūn al-Andalusī, shāʿir Gharnāṭa (Abu Dhabi 1430/2009), 253
Yūsuf Ilyān Sarkīs, Muʿjam al-maṭbūʿāt al-ʿarabiyya wa-l-muʿarraba (Cairo 1928), 1:273
Teresa Isabel Sobredo Galanes, Traducción y estudio del Maṭlaʿ de Ibn Ŷuzayy. Sobre rasgos y características del caballo, Ph.D. diss., Universidad Complutense de Madrid (2015), 69, 89, 92, 101–2
Elías Terés Sádaba, Los manuscritos árabes de la Real Academia de la Historia. La “Colección Gayangos.” Discurso leído en el acto de su recepción pública (Madrid 1975), 35–6
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- Viré, Ibn Hudayl, EI2
ʿAbd al-Raḥmān Zakī, Marājiʿ fī taʾrīkh al-ʿarab al-ḥarbī, Revista del Instituto Egipcio de Estudios Islámicos en Madrid 14 (1967–8) 165–8, 172, 180
Khayr al-Dīn al-Ziriklī, al-Aʿlām (Beirut 1984), 4:299
In the name of God, gracious and merciful.
Hail to our Lord Muhammad, his family and companions.
So says this servant of God, of His needful mercy, Ali ibn Abd al-Rahman ibn Hudayl will be assisted by God:
Praise be God, who granted us the Faith, who, in his Qur’anic norms, served us as animals serve us; that of Arab race the horse is created for punishment of idolaters! God bless and hail Muhammad, our owner and lord, and his family, as they continue to rotate the nights and the days!
May God have satisfaction from his Caliphs: Abu Bakr, Umar, Ali, Utman!
Well, God has destined his successful help, more lasting power and eternal praises, to the great turbulent majesty, glorious, august, exalted, our Lord, tower of our souls and our bodies, champion of our religion, pillar of the believers, vicarious of the Lords of the World, Caliph and Iman, honourable king and emperor, of high power among the most powerful sovereigns, splendid, generous, excellent, virtuous, complete, of solid piety, equanimous, the effective warrior, the most esteemed leader, the most fortunate and victorious, the most noble and pure, that this century ignites with incomparable luster, because God has granted him the highest powers, making him be born of chosen men, virtuous, triumphant, that for his good clothes he is known and by his sublime ranks, the prince of the Muslims al-Musta”in bi’llah Abu Abd Allah Muhammed son of our Lord the singular hero, the most illustrious and glorious, eminent, notable, famous and great, of noble pledge and high titles (noble garments and high titles), prince of the Muslims, al-Musta’in bi-llah, fighter for the Faith, the perfect and mourned Abu l’Hayyay Yusuf, son of our Lord, great caliph and Iman, safe protector, shadow of God, guardian of his creatures, who lends sword in defence of His Faith, the veil of God covering His land, guarantee of the community, propitiator of favours, just and famous warmonger, good, majestic and more, great sultan, very honourable, prince of the Muslims, fighter for the Lord of the Worlds, who with God was enough and with His help was the victor, the perfect and mourned Abu Abd Allah Muhammad, son of our Lord the prince of the Muslims and vicarious of God, the great champion sultan, of noble garments and virtues, submitter of infidels and conqueror, eminent and grandiose, the perfect and lamented, who benefits God, Abu l-Hayyay Jusuf, son of our Lord the prince of the Muslims fighter for God, honour of kings and sultans , the glory of Islam and the Muslims, of special fortune, eminent hero, bold and courageous, of merit and virtuous the perfect and lamented, who benefits God, Abu l’Walid Isma’il b. Nasr.
Save God your majesties, preserve your dynasty and raise your sights.
This Lord, God give him victory, is our earthly king, who is reconciled to consensus and general applause, as all the coalitions have been able to unite, and beautiful conduct is a universal theme, has pending to Syria and Iraq. Happiness fills its kingdom, triumph smiles from the top of its lances, victory is knotted to its flag, praise is woven in its mantle. Glorious God has given him for teaching the war against the infidel, and the orthodox path by natural tendency. He has saved al-Andalus from the gusts of sedition, from the evils of hatred. Thus the Islamic religion has been clarified in this Andalusian country; by charisma of this illustrious hero all places have been reborn, all kinds of graces are abundant, all prosperity is fixed, all Algeria insured, all affliction cancelled. Thanks be to God that his dynasty rose above all, making the other kings of the earth their subjects and slaves.
Can there be a more eminent service, a more dignified pretension, a more fruitful zeal, than to raise up an august king a noble branch of the Sciences? And precisely this king commissioned this server of his to compose and polish, census and screen, this book about war and tournament, weapons and horses, the good qualities they possess or the defects that make them rejectable, but everything that is tied with riding, and rules of learning riding, with everything that can be done within this.
This book I composed according to several others, those for this I chose; they are titled, namely:
Notice of remiss for use of the brave rider.
Careful appreciation of the brave and courageous.
Rest of the souls on steeds and weapons.
The Book of the Damyati cavalry.
The Alfaraz Treaty.
The Book of the nature of animals, by Aristotle.
And others, that now I do not bring to collation because I have barely taken advantage of them, or are in aspects so negligible that they do not deserve reference.
It has turned out to be, thank God, a book in its very complete genre; its agenda is drawn with correct style; and serves as a memento for those who are concerned about wars, and as an instruction for those who give themselves to spears and swordsmanship.
I’m going to title it; Gala of the Knight, Blazon of the Champion.
It comprises of twenty chapters:
First chapter: Creation of the Horse. The first one used. Its spread throughout the earth.
Chapter II: Qualities of the horse. Promises agreed to those who raise them.
Chapter III: Maintenance and care of horses. Advice on this.
Chapter IV: As the Bedouin Arabs call the different parts of the horse. Coincidences of some of those terms with the name of birds.
Chapter V: The best qualities of each of its (the horse’s) parts, and similarities that should be present with other animals.
Chapter VI: The colouring of horses. Their spots, stars, whites and swirls.
Chapter VII: The good characteristics of the horse. Notes of what its excellence supposes. Mention of the thoroughbreds.
Chapter VIII: Natural and acquired defects.
Chapter IX: How to choose and test horses. Recognition of their physiognomic features.
Chapter X: How to learn to ride it in different lots.
Chapter XI: The horse races, the arrival to the goal, the bets.
Chapter XII: Name of the horses of the Prophet, of the stallions and other memorable Arabian horses.
Chapter XIII: Different terms and other appellations with related cavalry.
Chapter XIV: Anthology of verses that highlight the extraordinary fondness of Arabs for horses, their way of honouring them and the rings of glory that earned them.
Chapter XV: The sword.
Chapter: XVI The spear.
Chapter: XVII: The bows and arrows.
Chapter XVIII: The coat of mail.
Chapter XIX: The shield and similarities.
Chapter XX: Arms and equipment of war in general.
With this we will fulfill the book, may God make it profitable. May He tell it to us as a pious intention. The Lord of Triumph; The guide; He, the Only Lord.
The Prophet said: “Whoever moves the sword in the service of God, God will clothe him with the cloak of glory”. For his part, Ali ibn Abi Talib states: “I heard the Prophet say that God adorns his angels by having them draw swords, and that they pray for Muhammad while he holds a sword.”
According to al-Ahnaf ibn Qays: “The Arabs will be Arabs as long as they continue wearing turbans and carrying swords, and while they do not understand magnanimity as a reproach”.
The Prophet had many swords, among which is counted: “Du I-faqar“, which he achieved as booty on the day of the Battle of Badr, and which had belonged to Munabbih ibn al-Hayyay. “Al-Adb” that was given to him by Said ibn Ubada. Also: “Battar“, “Mijdam“, “Rasuf” and “Hatf“. He also had a qala’i sword, taken from the Banu Qaynuqa. He had also inherited one from his father. Such are the swords of the Prophet which are known to him.
Tradition tells that Ukkasa ibn Mihsan fought, in the Battle of Badr, with his sword, until it was broken. Then the Prophet came and gave him a piece of tree branch, saying “fight with this, Ukkasa!”. When he picked it up, he brandished it, and then it changed into a long sword, very solid, of white iron. And he fought with her until God granted the Muslims victory.
This sword was called “Awn“. His owner continued to assist him with all the combats, together with the Prophet, until he perished, even in the time of the caliphate of Abu Bakr.
It is also said that the sword of Abd Allah ibn Yahs broke the day of the Battle of Uhud. The Prophet then handed him a branch of palm tree, which upon taking it became a sword, whose grip formed the same piece with the rest. This sword was called “Uryn“, and it continued to be owned, until it was bought by Baga the Turk.
The Arabs said: “The sword is the shadow of death and the game of Destiny”, that’s why they also called it “The Terrible”.
Among the sayings that are said about it: “The sword draws more than reproach”. “Everything that Ibn Dara has said is carried by the sword.” “The sword is good companion and true friend and swift messenger”.
That is what Abu Tammam al-Ta’i (verse 61) says:
The sword gives more loyal news than writing,
on its edge is the edge of mockery and you will see truth.
It offers white blades and no black blades
and their strokes dispel all doubt or error.
The sword dispenses with other weapons, but almost no others can replace it. Does it not always accompany the employment of all others?
So says Yami al-Muharibi: “When a sword strikes with a sword, there is no other option.”
A verse of the Mutanabbi (verse 62):
Despised the spears and abandoned them,
it would be said that the sword of the spear disowns.
And it is that the Arabs drives the sword as if it were a spear; with it they beat, as if it were a rod; with it they cut, as if it were a knife; they used it as a whip and as a lash; it is his ornament in public; his light in the darkness; his company in solitude; his fellow in the desert; his comrade of sleep and the way, so they call it: “coat”, “cape”, “rod”, “dress”, “clothing”. It is the “judge of combats”, the “decision of human litigation”.
All these facets have inspired poetry, and have cradled proverbs or histories.
This is how Utba ibn Abd al-Sulami referred: The prophet handed me a short sword, and warned me: “if you cannot wield it, spear with it”.
And a Bedouin asked his two sons which sword was the best for them. The first replied: “The one of polished edge, the one of a sharp cut, resolute and long, that when brandishing, does not err, when it gives, it does not bounce”. The other said:
“A good sword you have described, but the one I prefer is another.”
“And what is it?” They asked him. And he answered: “The one of a sharp edge, of a shining brightness, always hungry and thirsty, that to the swung, it cuts, and when finding, it kills”.
He asked them now which sword was the worst. And one replied: “The one that eases and bounces and rejects the bones and the flesh, the one that when it hits, does not cut and to behead is useless”.
Then I ask the other one who answered: “You have described a bad sword! But the worst one for me is not like that”. Asked, then, how it was, he replied:
“The Blunt, the rusty, unsafe handle, and no matter how hard you try, you do not bleed.”
They say that Umar ibn al-Khattab asked one day: “Who is the noblest of all Arabs?”
“Hatim al-Ta’i,” they said.
“And who is your best poet?”
“Imru al-Qays,” they told him.
“And which is the sharpest sword?”
“That of Amr ibn Ma’dikarib al-Zubaydi,” they told him. Umar then sent to ask for Amr’s sword, which was called “the Samsama”. So he did; But then, when he tasted it, he discovered that it was not such, and he told Amr, who answered:
“The Emir of the Believers sends my sword, but do not send him the arm that was brandishing it”.
Al-Haytam ibn Adi telata states that when the sword of Amr ibn Ma’dikarib, the famous “Samsama”, happened to be of Musa al-Hadi, he sent it to him, and when he placed it in front of him, unsheathed, he said to his chamberlain :
“Call the poets!” When they were present, he ordered them to sing to the sword. I take Anas’ word (verse. 63):
Musa al-Amin, for himself, has allowed himself
the sword “Samsama” of the Zubaydi.
This Amr’s steel, as we have heard,
Is the best that ever was sheathed.
The blade reverberates between its edges,
with steely light that the eye follows.
The thunder set him on fire
then it gave him the fate of his Deadly Destiny.
Function is almost the light of the sun,
whose rays hardly resists the eye.
That brightness and brilliance that runs through its blade seems to be the outbreak of a poison.
It would be said that her fate depends,
or that each of its edges that is Fatum.
That I bet the warrior that in a full clash takes it close! What a great companion!
The same can be given to whoever draws it,
If he wield your hand grim or right!
It is added that Musa gave the poet a fortune, or that he gave him the sword, and then bought it for fifty thousand dirhams.
It is said that Urwa ibn al-Zubayr asked Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan to return the sword of his brother Abd Allah ibn al-Zubayr. He presented her in a pile of drawn swords, but Urwa recognized her among all. Abd al-Malik asked him how he had met her, and the other answered him with the verse of al-Nabiga (verse 64):
No defect they have, but their swords
they have nicked its edge in the clash of the squadrons.
Since the day of Halima they come inheriting,
and since then all the avatars have tried.
A Christian king sent Harun al-Rasid three swords, among many others present. In each one there was an inscription. In the first “Warrior, attack and you will achieve spoils, but do not think about the result, (otherwise) you will be defeated!” In the second: “If the cut of your sword does not reach its destination, lengthen it, after having thrown off your fear.” In the third: “Prudence, when there is no fear that the occasion escapes, it is better than the urgency to achieve the desired.”
The sword has in Arab appellative many and abundant denominations. Thus, for example, it is called “yunti“, which according to Abu Ubayda qualifies that it is made of the best cast iron, although it is also indicated that Yunti was the name of the smith who made them. Those that were made in India had a special and allusive term called “Hindi” or “Muhannad” or “Hun-Duwani“. Also those made in Yemen were called “yemenies” like the Qal’a, “qal’ies“, although it is also indicated that this designates their white colour.
The so-called “qasusi” comes from the mountain of Qasus, where there is an iron mine. The “Masrafi” comes from Masarif, Arab villages, near the Rif. Others are called “surayyi“, from the smith who made them.
And according to its characteristics it also receives different names, so it is called “face” to the very wide one; “branch”, if it is thin and well adjusted; the one that is not shored up is “driven”, that applies so much to the one that is not smoothed, as to the one that is not very well finished or well-honed. If it is narrow, it is distinguished by the term “fine”. If it shows grooves that undermine the blade it is called “furrowed” or “ribbed”, that’s why they were called the swords of the Prophet and of Ali, although it is said that this term of “scratched” is applied to the sharp sword only by one of its edges, while on the other it is blunt: this is how the sword “Samsama” of Amr ibn Ma’dikarib was characterized. When the edges are made of steel and the blade made of iron, it is called “steel”, as are the Christian swords, which, according to the Arabs, were made by geniuses; The truth is that they are more resistant when used properly from the beginning, while Hindu swords tend to break when they are still cold; they are, therefore, better for strong attacks. If shining it is called “brilliant”. If by its consistency, purity and perfect polish, no blood is adhered to it, it is called “polished”. If it takes many years of use and has worn its edge, it is called “dented”. If blunt and does not cut, it is called “dull”. If its blade has any reflection, it is called “illuminated”. If it is used to cut wood, or things like that, then it is “pruning tool”, if it is used to chop meats or bones, it is “knife”.
There are many qualifiers on its edge. To designate that it cuts very well the words used are: “acute”, “incisive”, “sharp”, “voracious”, “keen”, light “, “cutting”,”pointed” and “sharpened”, all of which allude to the accuracy of the cut, if it goes through the bones, it is called “resolute.” If it is very firm, if it never bends, “persistent.”
Its different parts have their names: “pearl” and “glare” is a brightness that shows and gives the impression that water runs from it when it is brandished. “Dubab” is the tip; the part before her is “zubatan“. “Turn” are the edges. “Amud” is the center. “Matn” is the whole blade. “spike” is the part that enters the hilt. “hilt” is the whole part that is not blade. “Qabid” (“grip”) is the upper part of the hilt. “Sa’ira” is what holds her.
There is also a whole terminology of the scabbard, which is called “yafn“, “jilla” or “jilal“, although this last name says it applies to the inner skin of the scabbard. “Hama’il” or “Kalb” is a buckle through which the sword belt passes.
A poet says, taking advantage of the double meaning of “kalb” (“dog”) (verse. 65)
How many times I saw the face of the dog
Straps that adorn the emir to be!
Among the poems that name the sword, this one from Tarafa (verse. 66):
Swear from my side do not remove
the cutting edge of my Hindu sword,
so faithful that no blow misses.
He is told to “calm”, and replies “already”.
It is enough to resort once to your cut,
which is a spark and not a catana. (Indian sabre or cutlass)
Whenever the others go for their weapons,
Just by holding it I was undefeated.
And from Ibn al-Mu’tazz (verse. 67):
A steel I have and to my credit a thousand deaths,
for never without blood has it been drawn,
on top of your blades you can see glares,
like a shred of clear cloud under the sky.
And from al-Alawi (verse. 68):
On its brightness it would be called a silver wave,
which advances and returns between its two edges,
as if they were eyes of small ants,
among those who appear the eyes of crickets.
It is steel that brings terror,
as an envoy of God to take life.
And from Ibn Abd Rabbihi (verse. 69):
Grooved sword that meets the law’s destiny,
and what Destiny decrees cannot be stopped!
It is a radiance that when you see it, pierces your eyes,
and it is a lightning that when wielding it explodes.
With unsheathing it ends the life of heroes,
and from it death is frightened, the terrible death.
When in combat with another similar one that is found,
It seems that one soul goes against another soul.
And from Ibn al-Zaqqaq (verse. 70)
Thirsty steel that drinks in the spring of neck,
without ever it’s thirst being quenched.
We represent it, sparkling, open march,
like a star, like a flaming torch.
Like a ardent fire was owned by him, in the war,
the valiant champion: to stir your spirits.
Its blade rivals crystal clear water.
and like fire burns in each pit.
Because of its brightness it seems crowned with pearls,
and steals lives, without letting itself be robbed.
Until his sheath of his blade escapes,
as the water drains from a web of algae.
Another poet composes (verse 71):
A hindu steel that a glint travels through,
and the deadly fire on its edge burns.
Its waters almost floods who is moving,
and to whoever its burning almost sears.
And from Abu l-‘Ala al-Ma’arri (verse. 72)
And if it were not that your sword is thin,
we would say that the dejection thins it.
Daughter of the fire, is licked and faint,
as if the consumption was inherited from her father.
So ornate your sheath, you would say
It’s covered in stars and road of the moon.
Straight is the blade, from end to end.
so it is difficult to distinguish the result.
The clearness of the water shines on it,
and also you find the burning of the fire.
When we see the emir brandishing it,
you say a mirage over the air.
Scale by her bloody destinations,
that then in tingling it transforms.
Any other sword melts in her fear,
That without the hold of the sheath, it would be liquefied.
And is that, if not the sword, a friend can be found
of permanent affection?
And from Abu l-Abbas al-Tutili (verse. 73):
Swords red and thirsty: they make their blades, waters;
more as if from them they run and fall, they are barren.
It could be said that in them a Holocaust has been created,
but they are never said they are idols or sacrificers.
Unarmed, but they know that they are drawn,
coats of mail of heroes are changed into shrouds.
Among the most fortunate allusion to the sword is this verse by Habib ibn Aws (verse 74):
Wielded like a sword, if a man’s hands do not,
his very thrust would have unsheathed.
A description, emphasized, from al-Nabiga (verse. 75):
Penetrates even the redoubled coat of Saluqa,
and burns the loins with a spark of fire.
Numerous are the verses that refer to the sword, but what we have brought to collation is a sufficient sample.
The basic condition of sword management is that it does not draw, but when fenced with. If it’s been drawn before, it can provoke cowardice.
There is no other weapon that needs so much care when used as the sword; for many who do not exercise caution or dexterity often injure the horse’s ear or arms, or even cut off their own ears or their own legs, or leave them marked. So when the knight goes to use the sword, he will rest only the toes on the stirrups, without anything protruding ahead, always in convenient measure for good support. Flourish vertically or horizontally.
When the attacking the front, take extreme care of oneself and the horse. Take the hand, when giving blows, the farthest possible. With all this, safety will be achieved.
Try to always have the adversary to the right, especially if it is a lancer.
Whoever wants to learn and train in their handling, take a tender cane or branch, kneel it on the ground, firmly. Move away then, leaving it to your right, gallop your horse, and, when close, unsheathe the sword, soon, careful and lightly. From a sideways cut, to the part of cane or branch that is at the height of your head, or deliver horizontally, with ease and lightness. Repeat this several times, cutting in each pass as much as you can, until the length of the stick is only the size of a cubit. Follow this practice until it becomes so habitual, that it is done with total dexterity, God willing.
The prophet has said: “You have obligations with the spear and bow, because their triumph was given to your Prophet, and for them I achieved conquests”.
Four spears were obtained by the Prophet. One was called Mutatanna. The other three he had got with all the weapons of the Banu Qaynuqa.
The Arabs used to say: “The spear is the rope of death”. And a saying repeats this: “You have mentioned the spear, that I had forgotten”.
A Bedouin asked his two sons what was the spear they preferred. The first answered:
“The one that is hard and straight, the one that when brandishing it does not warp, nor does it camber, when it is thrown.” I ask the other then, who replied:
“A good spear he has described, but I prefer another!”
When asked about it, he answered: “One which vibrates, thin and flexible and fast, sharp when it pierces and penetrates when it enters”.
He then asked what was the spear that seemed worse to them, and the first answered: “the one that cambers when hitting, the one that dents, the one that when brandished it stoops, and when hitting it breaks”. He asked the second his opinion and he said: “A bad spear has been described, but I still find another one worse!” Questioned as to what it was, he answered: “that which is flimsy or rigid: and when it is forced, fails, and when it is speared, it breaks”.
An author describes: “They are lances, sublime, ornate of nobility, they are the horns of horses, the rope that penetrates to the bottom of the entrails, with them the blood is claimed, and you can access women and borders. They would say snakes to open throats. It is rare for them to escape. Whoever alternates with them, trembles with fear. ” Another says:
According to its category, the spears are called: “anaza“, which is a stick, more ready than the “harawa“, and with an iron tip. It enters within the weapon’s category, because with it one can defend. The iron looks like a moharra (the point in which a flag staff terminates), but without it being whole. It is followed in length by the “nayzak“, who carries a fine iron; it is the same as the “mitrad” and the “mizraq“, which are used as javelins, for the lightness of its pole. The iron is usually slightly square, to better cross the coat of mail or whatever it takes. The very long spear with wide iron is called halberd and “there/yonder”. “Jurs“, on the other hand, is a short spear. If it is hard, it is called “mi’das“, because with it you can bore. The longest spears are called “rumh” and “qana“.
Names that refer to their qualities or origin: If the shaft of the spear is very straight and does not need any reinforcement, it is called sa’da, otherwise it is “mutaqqaf“.
If it vibrates it is “asil“; and if it vibrates a lot, “assal” or “arras“. If it is ductile it is called “ladn“, “dabil” and “marin“. Very hard, “samhari“. And so firm that it does not bend “sadq“. If you have any split, “talib“. The so-called “jatti” is from Persian cane native to the Jatt region of Persia in which it grows. The so-called “yazani” takes its name from Yazan, a king of Yemen. The “rudayni” is named after a woman, Radayna, who manufactured them or sold them.
Nomenclature of the parts of the spear: “sinan“, “nasl” and “qurun” is the tip whose edge is called “sa’iba“. “Zuba“, “Safra” or “gargar” are the two ends. “Ayr” is the projecting part of the center. “Yubba” is the entry of wood into the iron. “Mihwar” is the nail that fixes it. “Zafira” is the upper part, followed by the “sadr“, the “aliya” and the “amil“, up to a third of its size. “A’id” and “amud” is the middle part, followed by “saq“, “safila“, “aqib“, “ka’b” and “zuyy“. If the lower iron is sharp, it is called “markaz“, otherwise, “halqa“. “Anabib” and “ku’ub” in the hindu spear are the intervals of its joints.
How to be mounted with the spear: The rider has to take the spear with his right hand, taking the left with the reins removed off of the chair. He will then put the point of his spear on the ground, and move away from it a distance. He will introduce the tip of his left foot in the left stirrup, and, leaning on the spear, will be driven on the horse. Then he will stand up and turn the spear behind the rump of the animal, towards the right side, being raised with speed. He will now carry the spear to his left hand, along with the reins, while sorting his clothes and gear with his right. He will immediately grab the spear with his right.
If you find yourself in a deserted place, without any human being that can be damaged or any tree to get hooked on, you can take the handle by the centre, if you want, and with the left hand, along with the reins and some mane, or hold of the saddle if there is no mane. With the right you can hold onto the back or the one before also if the left has already caught some mane already. Ground then to the chair.
It is not convenient for the rider to take the spear directly from the ground, when they are already mounted, because the horse can step on it or break it or kick it, carrying it away. Every time you please, you must go down, take the spear and mount with it, as it has been specified.
To dismount with a spear, it must be held with the left, placing the tip on the ground, next to the left front leg of the horse. The removal will be collected with the right and then lowered. When stepping on land hastily bring back the spear to the right, to prevent the animal from turning on it and breaking it, or letting go of the iron, injuring someone. All this has to be done.
Anyone who wants to learn how to handle the spear, and acquire dexterity it with it, must begin by placing a kind of target, like a piece of wood, or something like that, on the ground, at a height that corresponds to that of the knight. They must secure its bottom, placing itself strongly in its upper part an iron ring or a rolled up rope, as if it were a ring. Now take distance, putting the horse at full gallop. When approaching the target, pass the spear under the armpits, letting a part protrude outwards that allows to be held more lightly. Then, with the iron, go through that ring, but turn right away, in a hurry, to get the spear out of the artifice. Sometimes it is necessary to twist the spear back, until crossing the ring completely, picking up the spear, with lightness, on the other side.
The ring also rotates to where it want to turn.
We must persevere in this exercise as much as possible, until it is carried out with total ease, without missing the objective, with the help of God.
The way to grab the spear in the confrontation, to strike with it, and to get rid of it later, would require a lot of detail and even visualizations, due to a great variety of circumstances that they contain and the great diversity of their possibilities and methods.
The knight should have a spear as light as possible, because then he will obtain a greater strength, more success and firmness, always within the measure of his strength and ability to resist.
Before, the spears of the riders reached ten cubits, but it is more convenient that they reach a shorter length. It will not be too thick or too thin, or so that the hand cannot cover it, neither so that the fingers overtake. The middle end is the best, always counting on the dimensions of each hand and the possibilities that are offered.
Among the verses that have been said about the spear, these are told from al-Ma’arri (verse 76):
Thirsty, although it has no life,
He knows that he who carries it is great, and enlarges him.
Imagine that every breastplate is a pool,
and flutters, aim to the plaited coat.
Flood with her breasts many men,
and you get rid of malice, just by using it
One of the most notable things that has been said in this respect are the verses of our master and judge and sharif Abu I’Wasim al-Hasani (verse. 77):
Solid spear, of forged joints, if you claim
the blood of heroes, it does not delay your term.
So shining, I wonder: Is it the spear that is wielded or is it a lit torch?
If it were not that the flames of his blade that matured her,
it would be green, because they irrigate and drink blood.
Oh! wonder: the clots would be, for your eye, ash,
and yet no vulnerable point escapes his sight.
Very abundant also the poems that allude to the spear.
THE BOW AND THE ARROWS
God, exalted be, accorded and preferenced the bow, above any other weapon, and so he established that dealing with everything that relates to it was one of the most profitable acts and one of the most meritorious options.
It is transmitted that the Prophet said: “There has not been any weapon that man has grasped, and for which he has displayed as much preference as the bow.” And also: “Whoever has an bow in his house, God will move away from him poverty, while this bow stays there”.
And when the time came to fight, the Prophet took the word, supporting his bow. He once said: “All believers should aspire to have bow and arrows.”
The exhortations on the purpose of the shot of the bow are very numerous. Thus from Uqba ibn Amir: “I heard the Prophet,” he says, “saying from his almimbar, ‘Arrange against them all the strength you can'”, and Uqba commented that with “force” he wanted to allude to the bows.
The Prophet had in great esteem the one who knew how to be a good archer, a good rider and a good swimmer. And he repeated: “Teach your children to shoot with bow, that this inflict great damage to the enemy”. And one day, seeing a group of Ansar who were shooting the bow, he told them: “Shoot, descendants of Ishmael, your ancestor was a great archer.”
These are also the words of the Prophet: “Whoever shoots an arrow in God’s service, whether missing or hitting, will receive the same reward as if he had liberated a descendant of Ishmael.” And: “God has to introduce into Paradise, by an arrow alone, three people: the one who made it, if he did it with a good purpose, the one who shoots it and the one that approaches who shot it”.
Ali ibn Abi Talib transmits that he never heard the Prophet tell anyone that “he was rescued”, more than to Sa’id ibn Abi Waqqas, to whom he said on the day of the Battle of Uhud: “my father and my mother will serve you as a rescue”. And that day, in addition to Sa’id he told Abu Talha and Qatada, among other archers: “Stand firm, that the victory will be ours as long as you resist.” Fifteen were the archers that fought on that day.
The traditions that are preserved for us for this purpose are so numerous that it is impossible to collect them all.
What a happy expression the poet has achieved when he says! (verse. 78):
If a man wants to walk a good path
and achieve the honour to which he leads,
and obtain the meritorious reward,
never stop the practice of the bow,
which is elevated in this low world,
and triumph for the straight religion of the Prophet.
The Prophet had a bow of nab wood and it was called “yellow” and another of sawhat wood, and it was called “big”; another, of the same wood as the latter, and was called “target”, and finally another, called “katum“, because it was made of a round branch.
There are two types of bow: one of hand, which is the Arabian bow and which in turn has many varieties, and another standing, which is the Christian, and which also includes different classes.
The Arabian bow is the one that suits the rider, because it is faster and needs fewer resources, while the other is better for those who fight on foot, for its greater length and effectiveness, especially in the sieges, naval battles and other similar operations. The latter is the one used by the Anadalusies and with the hunting and shooting and competitions, using both the horse on foot. It is the one that we are going to describe next.
This bow, that is to say the “Christian”, is composed of a carriage, bolt (amud), cock (qadib), walnut (yawza) and key (miftah). The bolt was previously called “canal” (“mayra”), because the arrow ran through it. The key went up from the nut and you could shoot quite a number of arrows at once. But already in the time of Nemrod another was arranged, being given that name because it served as support. It has six cavities: the one of masrab; the halq, which is used to assemble and disassemble, in six cases: to rub it, wash it, remove parts, tighten it, open it, lift it or lower it. The third cavity has six applications, it is “security” and “reservoir” (storage?). In the fourth goes the “nut”; in the fifth goes the nail and in the sixth the key, calling itself “of action”, “of shape” and “of secrets”; Here the shot is given and in it resides its essence and its meaning.
The “cock” is so called because it is surrounded by two sites, one in the middle and four in the ends. It carries two strings: “harbi” and “awir“. The “nut” received this name because the “mutaharrik“, the “natiq” and the “samit” pass through it. It is also called “versatile”, because it turns the key. Here resides one of the keys, and in the other “walnut” when both come together, the martingale (strap?) is triggered.
The “key” is called so because precisely in it is the key to everything we have said.
The keys of archery resides in seven things: in the entity endowed with reason that with it shoots; in something ripped of an irrational body, which is the feather; plus the wax, the “nut” and the “cock” and the arrow. These last four take action while they are shooting, and none of them act in isolation.
It is said that the bow has been deduced from the study of the circumference and that it is a great ingenuity. That the mathematicians deduced their principles from the consideration of the sun, moon and stars.
Virtually it would be said the bow would peak and shine like the dawn, and it is called “king” because it reigns, and when the archer takes it, he feels afraid of it, just as he fears the king when he enters his presence, and also by the bow others fear the archer in turn.
The bows are made of ten different species of wood, five of wild trees and five of cultivated trees. The wild varieties are: the yew that the Arabs call “nab“, the olive tree, the ash tree, the bush of the alena and the cork oak. The cultivated ones are: the orange tree, the “nisman“, the apple tree, the pomegranate tree and the quince tree.
In this respect a poet has said (verse 79):
How strange that the noble bow,
does not save the pigeon of the tree,
and, before friend, they turn deadly!
So are the vicissitudes of the times!
And from Ibn al-Zaqqaq (verse. 80):
Will I be the holocaust of a curved bow
devoted to that enemy warrior?
when the branch was the friend of doves of the forest;
but today nothing but death is friend.
Of all the woods that are used to make the bows there are reserves in the center, south, east and west (of the Peninsula). In two seasons these should be cut: in the winter simoon, which is the best for it (from this comes the comparison of the bow with a child who, also at this time, lactation is cut), and in the simoon of summer, if there is a necessity. The cut at the right time is the best branch, those that are cut outside that season have less quality.
You have to know that the crossbow is mounted in two ways, one calculated by sight, which is the main mode; another, resorting to measures, which is an accessory mode. Three grades of skill in archery: the expert, the master and the shooter, in descending order; because the master’s skill is greater than the shooter, and the expert has much more skill than the master. These three mount the bow with the naked eye. In cases of not being very sure of the result, measure with a compass, proceeding as follows: open the compass and place one of its tips on the lower edge of the cavity called “halq“, take the other tip to the edge between the cock of the bow, and then check this measure on the other part of the bow: if the distance is equal, it has already achieved what is intended, but if the point of the compass exceeds the edge of the bow, it is that the bow is low and you have to raise it.
If the point of the compass is short, it is that the bow is high and you have to reduce it, until the measurements are accurate.
To assemble the weapon two equal slats of good wood are needed to hold the cock firmly, after having tied a leather strap cut all along the skin of a deer in addition to an iron ring, where the left foot was placed at the moment of tensing; That’s why that ring is called a stirrup.
When a cock is well placed in relation to the hollow of the halq, change the hand, raising it until it is at the beginning of the hakk and end of the gaslm and begin to fix the two slats; the one on the right before the one on the left so there is no error. Now if you put the string of the bow, put the tensioner next to the hip, take the pick with the left hand after having entered the right under the key and having taken it to the string and having raised it, leaving it to then fall to the good of God; then, if the thumb is outside, everything is going well. Now take the bow with the left hand and place the arrow. Then shoot where you want.
One of the experts in this field has said:
“Tense the bow calmly, attend to it with knowledge, shoot with fury”. And also:
“Firmness of character and sharpness of vision: you will shoot well”. And:
“Whenever an archer hits with his arrow the target, he dies, in enemy land, a man”.
When shooting, get used to doing it quickly.
It is said that an Arab observed an archer, who, after having pulled his bow, stayed looking. He asked the Arab who was watching, and the other replied that he was afraid to hit someone. The Arab said: “Pull, the arrow will go where it should go.”
The best shooter is the firm/strong man, of sharp vision and speed. For others, the essential qualities are: firmness, quickness of fire and audacity. But in very few do these three advantages meet.
It is worth knowing that tensing a bow in winter is dangerous, both for the shooter and for the bow: firstly, because the bow is rigid: and for the second, because it can break. However, the eastern bow is better to be used in the winter, while the western bow is better for summer. In winter, place the bow in the sun so that it eases up and softens, before shooting with it. If it is a very cold day, do not shoot with it, unless it is in a lookout/tower. In summer, the bow will be kept in a cool place, and when it has lost heat, use it. All the key and core of the matter lies in the way of clamping the key. There are three ways to do it, and the man who owns himself, will do it with gentleness/smoothness; the one that possesses medium self-control, will do it little by little.
Shooters never do it in the same way. Of course it’s something that is capital (paramount).
It suits to know that the bow does not have equidistant (at equal distances) its two ends is nothing more than if it is well manufactured (it is the sum of how well it is manufactured). It is advisable to beware of six defects, the biggest ones that can occur, or that are: that the string is too thick, that subtracts power from the shot and can cause the break of the cock. Regarding the latter, we must take care that it is not too thin or too thick; its suspension; the shape with which the slab is carved, and the way in which the ends are tuned.
The shooter has an imperative obligation: always secure the cord of the string.
If you find yourself before a very hard bow, do not tense it sharply/suddenly.
When you go out on campaign you must carry enough supplies and weapons that weigh little, and especially the bow, more than any other weapon. That the light bow is the one that most effectively shoots.
After the first clash, in combat, stay in your position until you see what is happening: so maybe you can attack the one who is fighting against you with more efficiency.
Use straight right arrows, mounted in the Gazali style, with the feathered trimmed with braided streaks. Seven defects must be avoided: among them are the causes that produce the recoil of an arrow against the one that has shot; two of them are produced in the arrow itself, namely: that its streaks are too short, and that it is disproportionate in the front; two others are produced in the nut; the canal is very wide and that the threshold is very high.
Target shooting is an art. Shooting the bow is a feast/celebration. Hitting is a joy.
The first arrow that is shot, is called “champion”, the second “support”, the third “apparition”, the fourth “follower”, the fifth “striking”, the sixth “right to your destination”. When firing the first, it hits the target; the second, below; the third, to the right; the fourth, to the left; the fifth, finally, it remains in its exact place, so it’s called that, and the sixth then “confirms” the shot, for which it receives that name.
If the six are fired without targeting any of them, it is that the archer does it very badly, and it needs to be practiced without truce. Whoever hits with two, does it above normal. Who hits with four has practically mastered this art. Whoever hits with the six, has already achieved perfection, being included in that exhortation of the Prophet to Sa’id ibn Abi Waqqas, the archer who shot the first arrow in the algazua of the Abwa, which on this occasion said these verses (verse. 81):
It is not true, Prophet of God,
that at the point of arrows I have defended you?
Have you seen before, thus, an archer against the enemy, Prophet of God?
With arrows rejecting the vanguards,
in rough lands or in plains.
And that proves that the religion you bring us,
Is a just, true and righteous doctrine.
May she save the Muslims and punish the unfaithful.
Calm! that I have missed, but have not been punished:
everything alive, misses. You, unbeliever, are condemned!
The masters in this art say that “the man of short stature is miserable, courageous must be the knight, for all there is a companion, and the best companion of the bow, is a harmonious arrow”.
The iron of the arrows are of seventeen kinds. Four of them are used to hunt, and are:
“zuyy“, “silyat“, “muryafla” and “muyannah“.
Three others are purposely to pierce the coat of mail, and are called: “sibt“, “murabba tawil” and “mutallat“. Four can pierce the shields: “murabba qasir“, “qitral“, “ballut” and “subiri“. Four others go through the shields, and they are: the “silyat” (but smaller than the one used to hunt), the “tamuh“, “miywaf” and “milhami“. Two other classes are used: the “bayuq”, to pierce the cane, and the “fire arrow” used to light boats or wooden towers.
You should never do without carrying any of these arrows. They should also be marked on their streaks, so that if you need to use any, you can take your hand to the quiver and get the one that is needed.
There is a saying that expresses this: “Before shooting, it is best to feather the arrows”.
On this chapter there would be much to say, and if we continued trying the bow, the arrows and the archery, we would exceed the purpose that we set when writing.
We will now bring some poems that deal with the bow (verse. 82):
I am the bow and well proven that
I exterminate lions in fierce combat.
I am from an old time, the judge of heroes,
for in my heart is the arrow of death.
An arrow ambush is placed on me,
and woe to the brave who does not see its mystery!
So well an arrow is mounted,
armour does not resist, no, nor hard shield
And this one (verse. 83):
Ask for a coated tip for an arrowhead,
after they have broken swords and spears,
They will tell you that so the horses go galloping,
I am the inseparable of death among the squadrons.
When heroes hear the whistle of my pass,
you will see them hiding under their skinny steeds,
as if my voice were the sound of the flute of Judgment,
Every time they hear it, they postpone in all directions.
How proud is the spear, if the bow can compare his beautiful curves with turgid (swollen) breasts?
Other verses express (verse. 84):
My arrows go through the enemy,
if the archer disposes his shot well.
I acted by his hand: my arrow reaches
far and reaches any point.
The spear cannot do what I do,
nor the sword, in efficiency.
Of this I glory among all weapons,
and this glory, if you think, is not diminished.
Also, on the same motive (verse. 85):
Abandon the cambering spear,
Well the arrows are much better.
If it is glory to kill enemies,
Am I not the quickest of them all?
There are so many poems about the bow, that we could expand out a lot.
The handling of this weapon varies according to its different types, which are very diverse, so exposing them would require an impossible space in a compendium like this. Many treatises have been dedicated to archery, well known, because this art is very widespread, look at them as it suits you and accommodate more. The essential thing for the archer on horseback is to have a well-used saddle, so that you can tighten it while it is mounted. In God there is triumph.
THE COAT OF MAIL
Glorious God has put the coats of mail between the beneficial things that he has given to man, since the exegesis (a person who interprets scripture) of the Qur’an understands the astonishment: “And he has given you garments that protect you from harm” (Qu’ran, XVI, 81), refers precisely to this.
It keeps the mood high, because it distances the danger. That is why Abbad ibn al-Husayn responded to a man who questioned him about which was the mail he preferred: “The one that most moves away from death”.
The Prophet had a coat of mail called “the Extreme”, and also possessed another, when he was retained from the mail, did not touch the ground, and when it was released, it touched him. The Prophet did not take part in any campaign without taking it. Two more armours he had, taken to the Banu Qaynuqa, one of these two was called “sugdiyya“. It’s stated that the prophet also possessed the cuirass that David was carrying the day he killed Goliath. Tradition tells that the wise Lucman accompanied him while David was making it. But Lucman did not know what he was doing, nor did he ask. When David had finished it, he put it on and said: “It will be a castle, for a hazardous day” And Lucman understood what it was about.
Their names and characteristics: in general they are called “yunan“, because this term designates all that is behind which one takes refuge. “La’ma” is a complete coat, and it goes beyond. If it is broad/wide, it is called “zagfa“, then “natra” and “natla“. “Fadfada” when it is truly very loose. If it is very tight, it is called “suk“. “Jadba” and “dilas” when it is soft. Solid and hard “qadda” or “hasda“. With a lot of flange, “da’il“. Minim (half worn), “madiyya“, although this last qualifier is also said of the one made by opening the holes (necessary in metal plate), and from which it is joined and flat. The rivets are called “harabi“, and one of their heads “qatir“, and they are similar to the eyes of crickets.
The coat of double-mail is called “muda’afa“, and it has its rings on two by two. Each ring is called “zarad“. If it is made of perforated metal plates, it is called “masr-uda“.
If it is woven or braided it is “yadla“. When it is short, it is called “salil” or “badan“. If you wear a front shirt, but not backplate, it is “yawsan“.
The coat “saluqiyya” receives its name from the town of Saluq, in Yemen, where they are manufactured. The “jutamiyya” is named after one of the Abd Qays ibn Afsa. “Far’awniyya” is named after the “Pharaohs”, and the “dawudiyya“, by David.
Among the poems that mention the coat of mail is ak-Ma’arri (verse. 86):
It looks like a pool that the wind, artifice, size,
more will continue when the wind calms down.
It would be said: they are submerged crickets, only eyes stick out,
and if one with attention observes, he discovers them.
No land animal is safe there,
if you cannot reach a shore or ship.
If the knight, believing himself saved, did not undress,
he would live on, as long as he continued with the breastplate.
And if one knew about the day of his death,
and enriched the wait, he would overcome the terrible fate.
Tranquil, when in it you guard your body,
in combat: so that faith never betrays you.
Abd al-Qays ibn Jufaf says (verse 87):
Fulfilled coat, among the best,
you hear the saber before her impotence.
It looks like a pool of the zephyr (a soft gentle breeze) driven,
when the one who carries it parts its edges.
Thus Abu Ishaq ibn Jafaya describes a breastplate (verse. 88)
Close the opening of the neck iron,
ashen in the mist of the darkened shadow.
As if a poisonous serpent would have dressed
his skin on his sides on the day of combat.
Some Arabs glory the wearing of the coat of mail in combat, and they show off. Thus, Antara al-Fawaris (verse. 89):
Ubayla was admired by an eager young man,
of bare hands and lean like a sword.
Hair in disarray, clothes maimed,
He has not been oiled, nor been dismounted.
He only wears iron when he has to get dressed,
like every warrior who throws himself to death.
Both wear the cuirass sheathed,
which has rusted his skin, that never bathes.
Others glory of the opposite and declare that the coat of mail tires and tangles, and that to go to the combat without it is proof of more courage, and thus that results in high agility. This is why al-A’sa says (verse. 90):
When a compact silent squadron arrives,
Surprising to the sentries their vanguards,
Your groups take cover in difficult places,
narrow: they fear to dismount the brave.
I was going in the watchtower, without wearing armour,
and with blows of the sword I chopped his heroes.
I know that everyone finds Death,
when your Owner Creator decides.
Muhammed ibn Muslim praised a man thus (verse. 91):
Offer the sword his helmet and his neck,
and in the guise of almofar enhance your head.
Speak to your horse: Resist the spears,
that you will find honours if you are not hurt.
The almofar is a kind of armour, also woven; covers the head and face. Ibn al-Mu’tazz addresses a boy in verse (verse 92):
You launch into the enriching combat,
with the almofar you cover your face,
believe your figure is the rising sun,
veiled with almaizar (a thin transparent veil of silk, linen or cotton, worn by the moors) of amber.
The piece of concave iron that is intended to cover the head is called “bayda” (“helmet”). And “qawnas” in its top/crest, while “da’ira” is the cogotera (protection of the back of the head to the neck, resembling hair).
The helmet is also called “morion”, “helm”, “raised” and “hood”.
THE SHIELD AND SIMILARITIES
The shield (turned) is a defensive, round weapon. The wheel of vicissitudes turns to its circle.
Anas ibn Malik recounts that Abu Talha and the Prophet were covered with the same shield.
The shield is also called: “yawb“, “fard“, “miyann” and “muyna“. The leather shields are called “adarga“, “hayafa” and “yalab“. For others, “yalab” is a leather or a piece, like the helmet, is defensive of the head. For others, the “hayab” is made of wood.
The edges are made of cowhide, of onager or antelope, which is the best and most defensive. The antelope (lamt) is one of the peculiarities of the Maghreb, it lives in desert areas and their skins are made to be a shield, with the property that if a sword or a spear slits it, the opening closes, immediately staunching, disappearing without leaving a trace.
During the combat, the one that guards behind a shield, must do it in the central part, be it against sword, javelin or stone. It will turn to the right or to the left, always presenting the outside to the contrary. You should not bring it to the body when you fear that a blow will fall. It will protect itself and your horse, making it turn conveniently.
It is advisable to give the stones the prominent part of the shield, and to place it obliquely, so that it slips what comes on top of you. The spear must be protected with the entire shield, or with its largest surface possible. As soon as you feel that the iron has touched you, it is advisable to throw it back, but keep it away from the body.
You have to avoid, at this moment, hiding the weight of the body on the shield, so as not to fall. It is also advisable to bring back the shield, so that the iron of the spear does not slip through it, which could then become entangled in the clothes. This is an eventuality that must be avoided.
The adarga will be handled like the shield mentioned (turn). But the first offers more ease against the spear, for its smoothness and uniformity. It is convenient, then, to steal the body, taking it back, so that it is not too heavy to the hand or impossible to handle.
Riding a horse with a shield has two options, depending on whether the shield is short or long. If it is long, raise your hand from the grip, taking the reins with the left hand, mounting immediately, trying not to hit your chin on the shield, if it were of large proportions. If it is a small shield, take it under the arm and mount the horse.
Al-As’ad ibn Balit has thus described the shield (verse. 93):
Shield the architects, they were imitating heaven,
so that the longest spears prove short.
They drew on the figures of Pleyades,
stars that good fortune presage (omens, warns).
They turned it into a ring of silver,
the same as the light of dawn borders the horizon.
ARMS AND EQUIPMENT OF WAR IN GENERAL
The practice of arms is a duty that is implicit in the Holy War. The Qur’an says (VIII, 62/60): “Prepare against them what strength that you can”, which Ibn Abbas has commented saying that “the strength” are the weapons and military equipment placed at the service of God, that everyone should acquire, in every occasion, according to his zeal and his ambition of advantages and rewards.
Abd Allah ibn Zayar transmitted that the Prophet said: “Whoever builds a weapon in God’s service, will be counted, each morning, in the balance of his merits.” And transmitted by Abd Allah ibn Sawdab: “The works of men will be examined every Monday and every Thursday. whoever has increased their weapons, will see their merits increased. Whoever reduces them, will see them diminished. “
The equipment depends on the force, and it helps to achieve victory: the greater the victory possible, the greater the equipment has to be precise.
The Prophet was asked on one occasion: “Do you know any remedy that will work for us, some amulet with which to keep us, susceptible to deviate the decree of God?” And he answered: “The arms are part of His decrees”.
The Arabs used to say: “The sword is the shadow of death, the spear is the rope of Destiny, the arrows do not submit to the one who shoots them, the coat of mail fatigues, even if it is a shelter, the shield is a protection”.
One day Umar ibn al-Kattab asked Amr ibn Ma’dikarib, who exclaimed: Ask me, the emir of the Believers, whatever you want! And he asked about the spear. Amr replied: “It’s like a brother, but he can betray you and break.” Then he ask him about the arrows. “They are like Destiny, sometimes they yield, sometimes they do not”. Then on the shield. “It’s a round defensive weapon, with which I ring the wheel of vicissitudes turns.” Then on the coat of mail. “Tire the fighter on foot, and entangles the rider, but is effective protection.” Then on the sword. “For her the change of not having children has touched your mother.” Umar then hit him with a whip, and said: “It is you who hasn’t a mother.” The other replied: “Your untouchability forces me to humble myself before you.”
Al-Alawi has gathered in a poem the whole agenda of weapons and knights. His most fortunate part is the one where he says (verse. 94):
Among all my assets I highlight the horses,
with perfect legs, bony sockets, well bare.
I also estimate a Hindu sword of pristine steel,
and to a spear of vibrating joints of great size,
and to an armour, like a vein of water, so accomplished and wide,
I have to have it on with my fluted sword belt,
and a bow of combated tips that are thick and flexible,
and of an easy curve, yellow, Sawhat wood.
And I hope my goods are not only those that I have already gathered,
thanks to my sword, covered with silver waves.
And hopefully, as time goes by, I may find that I no longer depend on the tyranny of no Lord.
Abundant on the topic, al-Ayyar al-Dabbi says (verse. 95):
I prepare for war the coat of mail,
the double-edged blade that opens the coat,
and a well curved bow of nab,
and an quiver full of darts like blades,
and a fine spear and a hairy steed
very straight backs, spirited steed.
His fullness of the view fills you up,
It pleases you if you want to pursue or flee.
A rider only receives the qualification of the arm that he carries. But if he carries sword and arrows at the same time, he is called “qarin“. If he carries several weapons, he is “salih“. “Sikka” designates complete equipment. When he is armed from head to toe he is called “mu’ammal” or “mudayyay“. “Sanawwar” indicates that in addition to weapons, he carries a coat of mail, while “bazz“, designates weapons, without wearing a coat. The rider without a sword is called “amyal“; without spear, “ayamm“; without coat of mail, “hasir“. No weapon is “a’zal“. To express that one has put on his coat, he is called “istal’ama“. And “sanna“, who wears his coat of mail.
The rules of management of arms are not uniformly applied by all, on the contrary, there are such considerable differences between them that establishing an average is impossible. A prudent man must observe the experts, and attend personally, and begin to exercise in it with whomever seems the most suitable, and that is of his choice. So until he learns all the luck of attacking and wounding in combat, and the various ways of launching an attack, or of fleeing, of performing the “tornafuye” ( an impetuous charge by light cavalry before withdrawing, drawing infantry out and then picking them off with javelins, darts and arrows), to refuse battle, of loading on the vanguards, or of getting away from them, both in lance and sword combat. To observe the falling points of the arrows. To know the propitious moments to advance or to retreat. How to gain ground in the melee. How to stand between the sun and the enemy, at the moment of encounter, or in full action. How to evolve during combat, and all its details and derivations for the moment of dismounting. To observe the enemy outposts, both in action and in calm.
What craft to use to disable the spear of the opponent, hitting it, taking it off, or turning it against him. How to pull the horse harnesses, or cut the bridle, so that the rider has to pay attention to his horse. And how to exercise with mastery of all this at any given time, manifesting the mastery of the art of the cavalry.
But who has not practiced all this, should not fool himself thinking that he can make these enterprises. It is precisely the knowledge of all the above, and careful study, which allows some knights to excel over others, as well, thanks to their tenacity, presence of courage and great prudence when competing with a rival, or to participate in a fight.
God, in any case, was should be implored for help.
A verse of Mutanabbi says (verse 96):
All the weapons in the world can be carried,
But not everyone who has claws is a lion.
At this point, praise be to God, I finish what I proposed, I finish the compendium that I offered and I fulfil my objective; I will consider the duty that I imposed on myself, if I get the attention of the intelligent.
Launch my steeds on the route proposed by the one who commands the hosts of Islam; they have shortened their land and now they long for the generous dew of their favour.
The enemy country also offers you the hand of obedience, to receive your demands from him and to abide by your wishes. And they tend to him as the dying to the doctors, as the afflicted to comfort, envying others like them who have taken refuge in their hospitality. They want to confront him in an encounter, and defeat him, with the chief saviour, with effective help and an ally of good intentions.
But he, assisted by God, will liberate this country from the bonds that keep it in inferiority, will bring abundance after sterility, free these lands from the fist of consumption, with their warriors and their embassies, and put them behind the abyss, at the height of the planet Saturn, thanks to its heroes and its armies.
The proof will be due to the constancy that will shake time and remove the situation of drowsiness, because courage and nobility are two inseparable allies of his personality, two companions of his way of being. Adversity with the iron of his spear vanishes. Chronicles register everything in their praise. Very different voices rise up acclaiming hm. And the hands are raised, submitted and friendly, so that God humiliates, in the dust, the neck of the idols and, thanks to the loyalty of His fortunate servant, performs the purposes of Islam, by the edge of his sword.
God, grant him on earth the greatest power!
Make him firmly keep his enemies under his feet! Consolidate, for him, the believing people! Disperse, with your armies, the bands of infidels! Put them as a imposing harvest before their sharp swords.
God, preserve him from evil, everywhere and in every intention! Revive the principles of faith for your life! Keep him in your dreams and in your vigil! Defend for the Muslims it’s high person!
Flutter to the wind of victory the bouquets of your flags and banners!
God, fulfil your hopes for your family and your offspring, your warriors, your soldiers! Pave the way for prosperity! Make your hands distribute good! You are Almighty!
Able to respond to our request!
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds. The blessing is on our Lord and Owner Muhammad, seal of the prophets, iman of the envoys, and on his family, companions and favoured, noble and pious! Be saved!
 L. Mercie, La Parure des Cavaliers et l’insigne des preux, texte arabe. Edite Par Louis Mercier, ed facsimil (Paris, Librairie Paule Guenthner, 1992).
 Maria Jesus Viguera, Gala de Caballeros, Blason de Paladines, ed. Maria Jesus Viguera (Madrid, Editoria Nacional, 1977)