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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 897 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HAMMAD AR-RAWIYA [Abu-l-Qasim I3ammad ibn Abi Laila Sapur (or ibn Maisara)] (8th century A.n.), Arabic scholar, was of Dailamite descent, but was born in Kufa. The date of his birth is given by some as 694, by others as 714. He was reputed to be the most learned man of his time in regard to the " days of the Arabs " (i.e. their chief battles), their stories, poems, genealogies and dialects. He is said to have boasted that he could recite a hundred long'qasidas for each letter of the alphabet (i.e. rhyming in each letter) and these all from pre-Islamic times, apart from shorter pieces and later verses. Hence his name Hammad ar-Rawiya, " the reciter of verses from memory." The Omayyad caliph \Valid is said to have tested him, the result being that he recited 2900 gasidas of pre-Islamic date and Walid gave him roo,000 dirhems. He was favoured by Yazid II. and his successor Hisham, who brought him up from Irak to Damascus. Arabian critics, however, say that in spite of his learning he lacked a true insight into the genius of the Arabic language, and that he made more than thirty—some say three hundred—mistakes of pronunciation in reciting the Koran. To him is ascribed the collecting of the Mo'allakdt (q.v.). No diwan of his is extant, though he composed verse of his own and probably a good deal of what he ascribed to earlier poets. Biography in McG. de Slane's trans. of Ibn Khallikan, vol. i. pp. 470-474, and many stories are told of him in the Kitdb ul-Aghdni, vol. v. pp. 164-175. (G. W T.) The origin of the word "hammer-cloth," an ornamental cloth covering the box-seat on a state-coach, has been often explained from the hammer and other tools carried in the box-seat by the coachman for repairs, &c. The New English Dictionary points out that while the word occurs as early as 1465, the use of a box-seat is not known before the 17th century. Other suggestions are that it is a corruption of " hamper-cloth," or of " hammock-cloth," which is used in this sense, probably owing to a mistake. Neither of these supposed corruptions helps very much. Skeat connects the word with a Dutch word hemel, meaning a canopy. In the name of the bird, the yellow-hammer, the latter part should be " ammer." This appears in the German name, Emmerling, and the word probably means the " chirper," cf. the Ger. jammern, to wail, lament.
End of Article: HAMMAD

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