In six parts. Next: » 2. The Dabistan » 3. Thomas Hyde » 4. Qazvini » 5. Burhan-i Kati » 6. Various
Extracts from The Sháhnáma of Firdausí translated by Arthur George Warner and Edmond Warner
(London 1905) Volume 5. Pages 27-29.
§ 3. For Zarduhsht (Zoroaster) see p. 13 seq. Whether the planting of a cypress at Kishmar by him was an actual fact, or whether it is an instance of a people being misled by one of their own metaphors, it is impossible to say. To plant a tree to commemorate some important event is not unusual. Metaphorically to plant a tree, in the sense of instituting some new custom or making a new departure in policy, etc., is common enough in the Sháhnáma. We have an instance at the beginning of this section. At all events, the Cypress of Kishmar rivals Gushtásp's Black Horse in fame, and, after living for some fourteen centuries and a half, is said to have been cut down by the orders of the Khalífa Mutawakkal (A.D. 846-860). The following is the account of it given in the Dabistán:—“The professors of the excellent faith and the Moslem historians agree, that in … Kashmar … a dependency of Naishapur, there was formerly a cypress planted by Zarduhsht for king Gushtasp, the like of which was never seen before or since, for beauty, height, or straightness: mention of this tree having been made at the court of Mutawakkal when he was engaged in building the Sarman raï, or Samarah palace in the Jáafriyah, the Khalif felt a great desire to behold it: and as it was not in his power to go to Khorasan, he wrote to Abdallah Táhir Zavalimin, ‘possessor of happiness,’ to have the tree cut down, fastened on rollers, and sent to Baghdad When intelligence of this came to the people of the district and the inhabitants of Khorasan, they assembled at the foot of the tree, imploring for mercy with tears and lamentations, and exhibiting a scene of general desolation. The professors of the excellent faith offered the governor fifty thousand dinars to spare the tree, but the offer was refused. When the cypress was felled, it caused great detriment to the buildings and water-courses of the country; the birds of different kinds which had built their nests on it issued forth in such countless myriads as to darken the air, screaming out in agony with various tones of distress: the very oxen, sheep, and other animals which reposed under its sheltering shade, commenced such piteous moans of woe that it was impossible to listen to them. The expense of conveying the trunk to Baghdad was five hundred thousand dinars; the very branches loaded one thousand and three hundred camels. When the tree had reached one station from the Jáafriah quarter, on that same night, Mutawakkal the Abasside was cut in pieces by his own guards, so that he never beheld the tree.” (Dabistán translated … by David Shea and Anthony Troyer i. 306)
According to other accounts, Zarduhsht brought down two cypress-shoots from Paradise, one of which he planted at Kishmar and the other in the neighbourhood of Tús. (Veterum Persarum … Religionis Historia. Ed. 2nd. By Thomas Hyde p. 332)
The statement in the text that Gushtásp raised over the Cypress of Kishmar a lofty palace has been interpreted to mean that he built himself a summer-house among its boughs, or rather that Zarduhsht built it for him: “in hujus Arboris summitate erexit Aestivarium.” (ibid p.325)
In villages in Persia at the present day a semi-sacred character is attached to some of the large trees, which have platforms built round them where the villagers sit and smoke in the evenings. In the Land of the Lion and Sun… By C. J. Wills, M.D p. 364
§ 3 How Zarduhsht appeared and how Gushtásp accepted his Evangel
Thus passed a while, and then a Tree appeared
On earth within the palace of Gushtásp,
And grew up to the roof—a Tree whose roots
Spread far and wide, a Tree with many branches,
Its leafage precept and its fruitage wisdom:
How shall one die who eateth of such fruit?
A Tree right fortunate and named Zarduhsht—
The slayer of malignant Áhriman.
Thus said he to the monarch of the world:—
“I am a prophet and thy guide to God.”
He brought a censer, filled with fire, and said:—
“This have I brought with me from Paradise.
The Maker of the world said: ‘Take thou this,
And look upon the heaven and the earth,
Because I made them not of dust and water:
Behold herein how I created them.
See now if any one could do this thing,
Save I that am the Ruler of the world?
If thou acknowledgest My handiwork
Thou must acknowledge Me to be the Lord.’
Receive His good religion from the speaker,
And learn from him His usage and the way.
See that thou do as he directeth thee,
Choose wisdom, recognise this world as vile,
And learn the system of the good religion,
For kingship is not well when Faith is lacking.”
When that good Sháh had heard of that good Faith,
And had accepted it and its good customs,
His valiant brother, glorious Zarír,
Who used to vanquish mighty elephants;
The Sháh, his father, now grown old at Balkh,
To whose heart worldly things were bitterness;
The mighty chiefs from all the provinces,
The wise physicians and the men of war,
All gathered to the monarch of the earth,
Assumed the cincture and received the Faith.
Then was the Grace of God made manifest,
For evil left the hearts of evil men,
The charnels were fulfilled with light divine,
And seeds were freed from all impurity.
Then mounting to his throne high-born Gushtásp
Dispatched his troops throughout the provinces,
Distributed archmages through the world,
And set up Fanes of Fire. He first established
The Fire of Mihr Barzín; consider well
The system that the realm received from him.
Zarduhsht then planted him a noble cypress
Before the portal of the Fane of Fire,
And wrote upon that noble, straight-stemmed tree:—
“Gushtásp is convert to the good religion”;
Thus did he make the noble cypress witness
That wisdom was disseminating justice.
When in this manner many years had passed
The cypress-tree increased in height and girth,
Until that noble tree had grown so great
That e'en a lasso would not compass it.
When it had sent aloft full many a bough
Gushtásp raised over it a goodly palace,
Whereof the height and breadth were forth cubits;
He used no clay or water in the building.
When he had reared the palace of pure gold,
With silvern earth and dust of ambergris,
He painted there a picture of Jamshíd,
Engaged in worshipping the sun and moon,
Commanded too a picture to be drawn
Of Farídún armed with the ox-head mace,
And limned there all the potentates. Consider
If other ever had such puissance.
When that famed hall of gold had grown thus goodly
He had its walls inlaid with precious stones,
And set an iron rampart round about.
The king of earth made it his home. He sent
This message through the realm: “In all the world
What equalleth the cypress of Kishmar?
God sent it down to me from Paradise,
And said: ‘Ascend to Paradise therefrom.’
Now hearken, all of you, this rede of mine:
Go to the cypress of Kishmar afoot;
Adopt ye all the pathway of Zarduhsht,
And, turning from the images of Chín,
Gird round your loins the cincture in the Grace
And greatness of the monarch of Írán.
Heed not the usance of your predecessors,
Trust in the shadow of this cypress-tree,
And fix your gaze upon the Shrine of Fire,
As bidden by the Prophet of the Truth.”
He spread abroad his words throughout the world
Among the men of name and potentates,
And at his bidding all that wore the crown
Turned them toward the cypress of Kishmar;
This holy shrine a paradise was found
Wherein Zarduhsht the Dív in fetters bound.
» Cypress of Kashmar Source Texts 2. The Dabistan
» Cypress of Kashmar Source Texts 3. Thomas Hyde
» Cypress of Kashmar Source Texts 4. Qazvini
» Cypress of Kashmar Source Texts 5. Burhan-i Kati
» Cypress of Kashmar Source Texts 6. Various