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The Book Most Comprehensive In Knowledge On Precious StonesEdit

English translation (Hakim Mohammad Said, 1989)Edit

Although Khutū is an animal product, yet people like it and collect it as a treasure. It is held in considerable regard in China and eastern Turkistān. It is of the family of bādzahr. People like it because if a person is brought close to it, it begins to "perspire", as is said of the peacock. Whenever any poisonous food comes before it, it begins to quiver and shake.

When I enquired about the Khutū from the members of the diplomatic mission which had come from Qatā'ī Khān, they said: "The only merit about it is that it lets out perspiration when any poison comes into contact with it. This is why it is held in such esteem. It is the bone of forehead of a bull".

This is what has been said in books, although the only additional information which we could get is that this bull is found in Khirkhiz. Its forehead is thicker than two fingers which would show that it cannot be the forehead of the Turkish bull, as it is smaller-bodied. But it could well be the horn. As for the belief that it is the forehead of a bull, it would be forehead of the mountain goats of Khirkiz. Only they can have such foreheads. It is not brought from Irāq and Khurāsān.

Some say it is the forehead of the hippopotamus which is also called aquatic elephant. It has patterns described over it and bears resemblance to the pith of the teeth of the fish which the Bulgarians bring to Khwārazm from North Sea which is adjacent to the ocean. It is bigger than the hand in size and the pith is longer in the middle.

It is known as the essence of the teeth (jawahar al-sann).

A Khwārazmian happened to find a tooth which was very white on the sides. He had hasps of daggers and knives made from it. The natural patterns described upon it were very thin, white and pale. It resembled the down of the cucumber if peeled in such a manner that the seed grains are also cut off. The Khwārazmian carried it to Makka, passed it off as (the tooth of) the khutū and sold it at a high price to the Egyptians.

If the peeled portion of the Khutū is thrown into fire, it gives out a fishy smell. This fact would show it to be a marine creature. It is said that the fumes of its smoke are good for piles just as the fish-bone is good for them.

A tradition which runs about it – and it is extremely difficult to check the veracity of the factual truth behind this tradition – has it that it is the forehead of a big bird. When it dies and falls upon an island, its flesh putrifies and scatters, but people preserve its forehead. Someone has mentioned that he was travelling in the wilderness of China along with some natives. The sky suddenly darkened and the people dismounting from their horses, prostrated themselves. The did not raise themselves up till the darkness cleared. When he asked them about it, they said: "It is God", and began to describe in an ignorant fashion the attributes of God, saying that it was a fowl in appearance.

These persons would have been nearer their purpose if they took the name of an angel or Satan: they believe it to be a very large fowl residing in uninhabited regions beyond the sea of Zanj and China, eating large ferocious elephants in the way in which the domestic fowl pecks at wheat grains. It is designated as Khatū in their dialect as such a name displays esteem and respect: in much the same way they call their rulers Khāns and their wives Khātuns.

The horn of the khatū becomes available after a good deal of time. People encounter all sorts of ordeals in the search for it, and therefore, it is held in considerable respect.

The Rāzī brothers say:

The best kind is that which is like the scorpion. It should be pale-reddish, followed by the varieties that are camphorine, whiteh, apricot-like, dusty and the khardānah (which is like the bone). The most inferior kind is the peppery one.

All these characteristics pertain to colours and patterns. The Rāzī brothers further say that the price of the camphor-like variety is approximately equal to that of the scorpion-like ('aqrabī) kind. The price of the 'aqrabī variety, if it weighs a hundred dirhams, is a hundred dīnārs. If sold unweighed, its price comes down to as little as one dīnār. The largest piece which we have seen weighed about one hundred and fifty dirhams and had a price of 200 dīnārs.

Amīr Abū Ja'far bin Bānū had a large box-like case made of long and broad khatū planks. He used to express pride over this possession. Amīr Yamīn al-Dawlah had an ink-pot made also of khatū. It is appropriate to call it jallābat al-mamālik ('collector of kingdoms') as it augured prosperity for him but misfortune for others. He gave it as a gift to several monarchs, e.g. Amīr Khalaf and Amīr Abū al-'Abbās Khwārazmshāh. But it could not stay in their treasuries and, in fact, left them when they lost their kingdoms.

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