The Simurgh

simurgh

The Simurgh is an immortal bird nesting on the branches of the Tree of Knowledge. Burton compared it with the Scandinavian eagle which knows a lot of things and makes his nest on the branches of the Cosmic Tree, called Yaggdrasill.

Thalaba (1801) by Southey and The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Flaubert tell of Simorg Anka. Flaubert said it was just a servant of Queen Belkis and described it as having metallic orange feathers, human head, four wings, the claws were like those of the eagle, and having a huge tail like that of the peacock.

In the original writings the Simurgh has a more important role. In The King’s Book, which gathers and publishes old legends in Iran, Fird says it was Zal’s adoptive father; in the 13th century Farid al-Din Attar elevates it to the symbol of divinity in The Dialogue of Birds.

The subject of this allegory in The Dialogue of Birds, a book that includes 4,500 verses, is strange. The far-off king of birds, the Simurgh, lets a magic feather fall down in the middle of China. Birds decide to go in search of it because they were upset about the anarchy that was in the country. They know the meaning of its name was  “thirty birds” and that its palace is on the top of mountain that surrounds the Earth.

Only thirty of them, purified by the sufferings, eventually manage to reach the mountain of Simurgh. They contemplate it and understand that they themselves are the Simurgh, that each of them and all of them together are the Simurgh.

Cosmographer Al-Quazwini says in his book Wonders of Creation that Simorg Anka lives 1,700 years, and when its descendant grew up, father lit a pyre and burned it. This reminds us, says Lane, of the Phoenix bird legend.

Jorge Luis Borges, El simurgh

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