Chapter X

Notes on the text

(by Sharad Keskar)


page 1

[Page 239, verse heading] From Kipling’s unfinished play “Gow’s Watch.”

A tiercel is a male hawk; at hack means ‘partial liberty’; an eyass or eyas is an untrained fledgling hawk; a passage-hawk is a hawk captured during migration; footed means ‘killed its prey’; binds to means ‘perches on a gloved hand’; tirings are toy-foods for exercising; a make-hawk is a trained hawk used for training other hawks; in yarak means ‘in good form’.

[Page 239, main text line 22] a dhow A triangular sailed (lateen-rigged) Arab sailing vessel.

[Page 239, line 23] Gulf Arabs horses from the Persian Gulf.

[Page 240, line 5] Haj or hadj, the pilgrimage to Mecca which every muslim must make, sometime in his life, during Ramadan. When he has made it, he becomes a hadji.

[Page 240, line 14] Commissariat the Army’s supply corps.

[Page 241, line 18] pentagrams used by those who dabble in the occult and by a variety of “secret” or spiritualistic societies. The pentagram, a 5 pointed star diagram, is auspiciously good when drawn with one point projecting upwards, two stretched horizontally, and two projecting downwards, representing a man with outstretched arms and legs. It becomes a symbol of evil when the star is shown reversed with two points projecting upwards. The star is used to keep evil spirits at bay or invoke them, with the help of angels or demons respectively.
George Kieffer writes: The Pentagram is a symbol used in Royal Arch Masonry and is considered the completion of “pure ancient Masonry” and therefore closely allied to Craft Masonry. [G.K]

[Page 241, lines 19-20] Murra and Awan In the text Kipling defines the first as “devils”, and the second as the “Companion of Kings”.
George Kieffer writes: see also “Banquet Night” final verse lines 7-8.

Brother to Beggars, Fellow to Kings
Companion to Princes

Royal Arch Masons address each other as Companion, rather than as Brother as in Craft Masonry. [G.K.]

[Page 242, line 22] lakh a figure of 100,000.

[Page 243, line 1] lake-daubed here ‘lake’ refers to a pigment, and is a variant of lac. ‘Crimson Lake’ on any pigment chart is a deep, almost magenta red.

[Page 243, line 4] Seistan The barren land area between Iran and Afghanistan.

[Page 243, line 15] turban-cap the thick, often embroidered and pointed skull cap, round which a Pathan turban is wound.

[Page 243, line 21] russia-leather Leather made from hides prepared with birch-bark oil. [Brigadier Alec Mason in the ORG]

[Page 243, line [line 30] nickel a silver coloured metallic element, used for plating or in alloys.

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[Page 244, line33] jaw-bound with the tail-piece of the turban pulled across and under the chin to protect the lower part of the face.

[Page 245, line 28] crystal and ink-pool both methods used in divination.

[Page 248, line 4] lamaism Buddhism as practised in Tibet not only has a system of monasticism but also a cult of demonology, in which costumed and masked devil-dances are performed to drive away evil spirits.

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[Page 252, line 24] Lemuel the advice that Lemuel’s mother gave him would come under the headings of the cardinal virtues of Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude and Justice. [see Proverbs 31,1-9.] However, as Mahbub and Kim are going to “Huneefa’s house” the relevant verse is: “Give not thy strength unto women” since among other things Mahbub says: “. . .Huneefa and her likes destroyed kings.”

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[Page 253, line 20] Buktanoos Djinns of Muslim mythology.

[Page 254, line 14] leprous white blotches on the skin are an early sign of lepisy.

[Page 254, line 33] I am thy sacrifice Among Indians, and Muslims in particular, the taking of oaths, or the making of them, is a common practice. This to establish trust. The usual form: “I swear by my. . .” is followed by the name of a near and dear—mother, father, or upon ones own life; or among Hindus, even “by God”.

[Page 255, lines 7, 10 & 12] Zulbazan/ Dulhan/ Musboot These devils are all explained in the text by Kipling.

[Page 255, line 29] ventriloquial necromanciss voices from the dead. The pedantic Hurree is meticulous in his descriptions, but even if he gets his idioms wrong, what he means to say is clear enough.

[Page 256, line 22] Babuji the suffix ‘ji’ is applied for added respect: Sahibji, Papaji, Mamaji, etc. On its own ‘ji’ means yes.

[Page 256, line 25] Kafirs Arabic term meaning infidels, or unbelievers; non-muslims are infidels.

[Page 257, line 15] sufi A member of a muslim mystic sect, developed in 8th century Iran.

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[Page 258, line 15] goglet a small pottery water-bottle with a long, narrow neck.

[Page 258, line 18] Asiatic Quarterly Review There was such a publication, but the title is of no significance. The humour is in the words preceding. Hurree is saying his contributions were rejected. Once again, as in the case of “failed BA”, an Indian sees merit in the fact that a contribution was made, even if it was not published.

[Page 258, line 27] Arya Somaj a modern Hindu movement founded in Bombay in 1875, which attacked caste restrictions, child marriage, and other features of Hinduism.

[Page 261, line 4] Tantric Runic or mystic writing. Here the tantric
statement is to say: “I am Son of the Charm”, which protects one from the
murderous attentions of the Sat Bhai [line 3]. Hurree Babu is referring to a
band of cut-throats who took the name Sat Bhai [literally seven
Brothers]from the grey babblers – so called because these birds almost
invariably to go around in groups of seven.

[Page 261, line 22] Ladakhi person from Ladakh.

[Page 261, line 27] tarkeean [tarkarri] vegetable curry.

[Page 261, line 28] kichree Kedgeree, but while kichree is a simpler rissotto-like dish of rice and lentils, kedgeree includes additional ingredients such as eggs and fish.

[Page 262, line 28] top-side come out on top; Hurree Babu is educated, but clearly English is his second language, so that idioms and colloquialisms, that come naturally to the native English speaker, elude him; but the meaning is clear.