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Du’l-Janah is Imam Hussain’s winged horse, known from popular literature and rituals. According to popular literature, Du’l-Janah returned to the tents of the Ahl-e Bayt after Imam Hussain’s martyrdom to convey the news of this tragedy. Du’l-Janah, feeding the Artists’ imagination, plays an important role in Ta'ziya and other Ashurai arts.

Du’l-Janah in Maqatel[edit | edit source]

Du’l-Janah was mentioned in medieval narratives of Hussain’s martyrdom at Karbala (maqatel), for example, Ibn Aʿtham Kufi’s 9th-century Ketab al-fotuh and al-Lohuf by Ibn Taʾus Taʾusi (d. 664/1266), which became sources for later Turkish and Persian maqtal-namas. In al-Lohuf the horse, unnamed but said to be descended from the Prophet Muhammad’s mount, is supposed to have dipped its head in its master’s blood and attacked the enemy. It then returned, smeared with Hussain’s blood, to the tents of the Ahl-e Bayt. As it approached, Hussain’s infant daughter Sukayna began to cry, joined by the other women in the family (pp. 98-99; cf. Calmard, p. 120). The Turkish Dastan-e maqatel-e Hussain (763/1362) by Shadi Maddah contains a similar account but includes the name Du’l-Janah (Mélikoff, p. 142; Calmard, pp. 225-26). Hussain Waʿez Kashefi, in Rawzat al-Shuhada (comp. 908/1502), recounted a detailed story, partly based on Ibn Aʿtham’s text, in which Du’l-Janah, instead of behaving aggressively, weeps (p. 363; cf. Calmard, p. 396; Ebn Aʿtam, tr., pp. 538-39). According to various traditions, Du’l-Janah eventually killed itself or disappeared into the desert (Waʿez Kashefi, p. 349).

Du’l-Janah in Ta’ziya[edit | edit source]

At least from Safavid times, representations of Hussain’s horse were led in the processions and pageants that developed into taʿziya performances of the martyrdom of Hussain. This “nationalist” tradition also found its way into the literature of such plays (Pelly, II, p. 173; Calmard, p. 396). Du’l-Janah appears in various other taʿziya episodes, for example, Qasim b. Hasan’s marriage at Karbala: Hussain orders the horse brought to his daughter Fatima, who rides it to the bridal chamber (Humayuni, p. 14). Du’l-Janah was also represented in Muharram processions in India (Pelly, I, p. xxii) and is still included at Lucknow, Delhi, and probably elsewhere (Jaffri, pp. 224-25).

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • J. Calmard, Le culte de l’Imām Ḥusayn. Étude sur la commémoration du drame de Karbalā dans l’Iran pré-safavide, Ph.D. diss., Université de Paris III (Sorbonne), 1975.
  • Ebn Aʿṯam Kūfī, Ketāb al-fotūhá, partial tr. Moḥammad b. Aḥmad Mostawfī Heravī [596/1199], Bombay, 1300/1882.
  • Ebn Ṭāʾūs Ṭāʾūsī, al-Loḥūf, tr. F. Wüstenfeld as Der Tod des Ḥusein ben Ali und die Rache, Göttingen, 1883.
  • S. Humayuni, “An Analysis of the Taʿziyeh of Qāsem,” in P. Chelkowski, ed., Taʿziyeh. Ritual and Drama in Iran, New York, 1979, pp. 12-23.
  • S. H. A. Jaffri, “Muharram Ceremonies in India,” in P. Chelkowski, ed., Taʿziyeh. Ritual and Drama in Iran, New York, 1979, pp. 222-27.
  • I. Mélikoff, “Le drame de Kerbelâ dans la littérature épique turque,” REI 34, 1966, pp. 133-48.
  • L. Pelly, The Miracle Play of Hasan and Husain, 2 vols., London, 1879.
  • Hussain Wāʿeẓ Kāšefī, Rawżat al-šohadāʾ . . ., ed. M. Ramażānī, Tehran, 1344/1955. (Jean Calmard) Originally Published: December 15, 1996. Last Updated: December 1, 2011. This article is available in print. Vol. VII, Fasc. 6, pp. 569-570.

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