Al-Madã’ini mentioned that the King of India gave al-Junayd b. ‘Abd al-Rahmãn, when he was governor of Sind, during the reign of Caliph Hishãm b. ‘Abd al-Malik, a she-camel studded with precious stones fixed on silver wheels. Its udders were filled with small pearls and its throat with rubies. When placed on the floor, the wheels moved and the she-camel moved along. Al-Junayd sent it in turn to Hishãm, who appreciated its beauty. Then the man who brought it pierced its udders and the small pearls fell out like milk into a small golden box that he had brought with him. He then slit its throat, and the rubies spilled from it like blood. Hisham and everybody in his company admired it. This camel was kept in the treasuries of the Umayyads until it passed to the Abbasids.
From the Book of Gifts and Rarities—Selections Compiled in the Fifteenth Century from an Eleventh-Century Manuscript on Gifts and Treasures, translated from the Arabic by Ghãda al-Hijjãwi al-Qaddumi, Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1996, p.68.
These extracts appear as a lead-up to Materiality No. 3: Precious. Submissions for issue #3 are due on 30 September 2013. Issue #2 (Time) is due out at the end of July. To purchase previous copies of Materiality, please visit the pinknantucket press shop.