This lesson covers the story of Ziryab. Many aspects of modern culture, such as the way we eat and dress, the music we listen to, and even our personal hygiene can be traced way back to a man with very humble beginnings. Born a slave in Persia in 789 AD, this man used his talent and skill to influence culture all over Europe and eventually even the world.
فایل صوتی داستان؛ با سه سرعت متفاوت
Ziryab is known as the slave who changed the world. His real name was Abul al-Hasan. He was born in Persia in 789 AD. He was nicknamed Ziryab which means Blackbird because of his dark complexion and the sweetness of his voice.
Ziryab was born into slavery and served the Caliph Harun al-Rashid in Baghdad. Baghdad was the world center for culture, art and science and its ruler was a renowned music lover. Ziryab was a trained musician and spent all his days learning the songs of his master.
One day Harun summoned Ziryab to sing for him. The caliph asked Ziryab what songs he could sing. The songbird replied, “I can sing what the other singers know. Yet, if Your Majesty permits, I’ll sing for you what human ears have never heard before.”
Ziryab greatly impressed Harun, but Ziryab’s music teacher, Ishaq, became fiercely jealous of his skill. He gave him a terrible choice: leave Baghdad or die.
With money Ishaq gave him to disappear forever, Ziryab left Baghdad. He traveled to the Middle East and North Africa. There he made a name for himself as a master musician. His final destination was Spain, a place thought to be a backwater of the Arabic Empire.
The ruler of Cordoba, Al Hakam, was eager for the culture of the East to flourish in the Arabic Empire’s ‘Wild West’. When Ziryab offered his skills as a court musician, he was welcomed with open arms.
In Spain, Ziryab became a prosperous member of the upper class. Throughout his time there, this former slave was responsible for introducing aspects of fashion, hygiene, music and even culinary customs that we now take for granted.
Ziryab set the standard for the three-course meal. He ate a soup course, followed by a fish or meat course, and then a dessert. This style of eating became popular in Spain and throughout Europe. It is now the dining standard all over the world.
Ziryab’s clothing and clean-shaven, short-haired appearance were also imitated by many European men, as was his habit of using an early form of toothpaste he created from scratch. He was also said to have invented under-arm deodorants.
From humble beginnings, Ziryab helped inspire Spain’s Golden Age. As Cordoba’s prestige grew, Ziryab’s ideas took root all over Europe and changed history.
The next time you brush your teeth or raise a glass during a three-course meal, don’t forget to toast Ziryab, a former slave who made the world a more hygienic and civilized place to live.
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