Sunday, January 04, 2009

Holy Moley: Don Quixote’s Significant Mole?

Honoré Daumier: Don Quixote leading Sancho Panza
On a mole-inspired quest . . .
(Image from Wikipedia)

I'm still working on that mole discovered on Don Quixote's back, which I linked to Muhammad's 'mole', known to Muslims as a seal of their "Prophet." Readers of Gypsy Scholar or of the more obscure Cervantes will recall the incident. A lovely lady in distress, Dorotea, is looking for a man to free her father's kingdom from a fierce giant, and the sign of that auspicious man would be a mole on his back:
-Don Quijote diría, señora -dijo a esta sazón Sancho Panza-, o, por otro nombre, el Caballero de la Triste Figura.
-Así es la verdad -dijo Dorotea-. «Dijo más: que había de ser alto de cuerpo, seco de rostro, y que en el lado derecho, debajo del hombro izquierdo, o por allí junto, había de tener un lunar pardo con ciertos cabellos a manera de cerdas.»
En oyendo esto don Quijote, dijo a su escudero:
-Ten aquí, Sancho, hijo, ayúdame a desnudar, que quiero ver si soy el caballero que aquel sabio rey dejó profetizado.
-Pues, ¿para qué quiere vuestra merced desnudarse? -dijo Dorotea.
-Para ver si tengo ese lunar que vuestro padre dijo -respondió don Quijote.
-No hay para qué desnudarse -dijo Sancho-, que yo sé que tiene vuestra merced un lunar desas señas en la mitad del espinazo, que es señal de ser hombre fuerte.
-Eso basta -dijo Dorotea-, porque con los amigos no se ha de mirar en pocas cosas, y que esté en el hombro o que esté en el espinazo, importa poco; basta que haya lunar, y esté donde estuviere, pues todo es una mesma carne (Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part 1, Chapter 30)

"'Don Quixote,' he must have said, senora," observed Sancho at this, "otherwise called the Knight of the Rueful Countenance."
"That is it," said Dorothea; "he said, moreover, that he would be tall of stature and lank featured; and that on his right side under the left shoulder, or thereabouts, he would have a grey [sic., brown (pardo)] mole with hairs like bristles."
On hearing this, Don Quixote said to his squire, "Here, Sancho my son, bear a hand and help me to strip, for I want to see if I am the knight that sage king foretold."
"What does your worship want to strip for?" said Dorothea.
"To see if I have that mole your father spoke of," answered Don Quixote.
"There is no occasion to strip," said Sancho; "for I know your worship has just such a mole on the middle of your backbone, which is the mark of a strong man."
"That is enough," said Dorothea, "for with friends we must not look too closely into trifles; and whether it be on the shoulder or on the backbone matters little; it is enough if there is a mole, be it where it may, for it is all the same flesh." (Cervantes, Part 1, Chapter 30 (Ormsby translation))
In A Letter to the Reverend Dr. Percy, Concerning a New and Classical Edition of Historia Del Valeroso Cavallero Don Quixote de la Mancha, John Bowle calls our attention to the specific point of contact between Don Quixote (1605 and 1615) and Miguel de Luna's True History of King Rodrigo (Historia verdadera del Rey Don Rodrigo)(1592 and 1600). The two, notes Bowle, abound with the same phrases and diction, and Cervantes "has with great humour ridiculed a circumstance gravely related . . . of a Christian woman taken by sentinels of the [Muslim] captain Tarif Abenziet [and] brought into his presence, [whereupon she] informed him that she had heard her father read" a 'prognosis' (10-11):
«un pronóstico, el cual decía que esta tierra la habían de perder los cristianos, y que había de ser conquistada de los moros. Y decía más que el capitán que la había de ganar, había de ser valeroso y fuerte, y para señal de su conocimiento había de tener un lunar peloso tan grande como un garbanzo sobre el hombro de la mano derecha. Acabadas de decir estas razones por aquella mujer, Tarif se holgó mucho, y en presencia de todos los suyos se desnudó; y habiendo mirado con cuidado hallaron el lunar que la mujer había dicho». (Bowle, 10-11)

A Prognostick which said, that the Christians were to lose that land, and that it was to be conquered by the Moors: it said farther, that the Captain that was to gain it, was to be valorous and strong; and for a proof of the knowledge of him, he was to have a hairy mole as large as a garvanzo, or vetch, over the shoulder of his right hand. On conclusion of these words by that woman, the Tariff was much pleased, and before all his retinue stripped himself, and having carefully looked, they found the mole as the woman had said. (Bowle, 11, footnote)
Note that Cervantes draws upon this source by the Morisco Miguel de Luna but uses it to implicitly ridicule the story of the Muslim captain Tarif who was to conquer under the sign of a mole. In the article "De la autoría morisca a la antigüedad sagrada de Granada, rescatada al Islam," Mercedes García-Arenal has noted the connection between the mole on Tarif's back and the 'mole' on Muhammad's back (but does not note a link to Don Quixote):
Luna introduce en su libro, . . . otro pronóstico claramente emparentado con las qisas al-anbiya’: una mujer se acerca al conquistador árabe, el capitán Tarif, recién desembarcado en la península y le reconoce como aquél del que habla un pronóstico que le había transmitido su padre, según el cual un hombre milagroso había de ganar la península y su seña había de ser «un lunar peloso, tan grande como un garvanco, . . . situado sobre el hombro de la mano derecha».:" Esta historia está claramente inspirada en la del monje Bahira, que aparece en todos los compendios de «historias de los profetas», un monje cristiano que fue el primero en reconocer la calidad profética de Mahoma al ver que tenía sobre el hombro derecho un lunar, la marca de la profecía. (García-Arenal, 564)

In his book, Luna introduces . . . an omen clearly related to the al-qisas anbiya' [sic. qisas al-anbiya', i.e., "Stories of the Prophets," adapted from the Qur'an]: a woman approaches the Arab conquistador, the captain Tarif, who has recently landed on the peninsula, and she recognizes him as the one spoken of in an omen handed down by her father, according to which a miraculous man would gain the peninsula, the sign being "a hairy mole, as big as a garbanzo . . . located on the shoulder of the right hand." This story is clearly inspired by that of the monk Bahira, which appears in all compendiums of "Stories of the Prophets," the tale of a Christian monk who was the first to recognize the prophetic qualities of the Prophet Muhammad, for this monk was to discover a mole on his right shoulder, the mark of prophecy. (my translation of García-Arenal, 564; corrections would be appreciated)
García-Arenal notes the allusion in Luna's passage concerning the mole on Tarif’s back to the Bahira story of the 'mole' on Muhammad's back. Muslim sources, however, generally locate the mark not on Muhammad's right shoulder but on his left shoulder or between his shoulder blades. If any Muslim sources speak of the mole being on Muhammad's right shoulder, then I would appreciate knowing the sources.

I have found a reference to Hakim al-Nishaburi's Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain (aka Mustadrak al-Hakim), which apparently reports "from Wahb bin Munabbih that Allah (the most High) did not send a Prophet except that upon him was the sign (shamah) of Prophethood on his right hand, except for our Prophet for his sign (shamah) of Prophethood is between his shoulders [al-Hakim 2/577]" (al-Nishaburi).

I found this reference on the blog Dar al-Hadith, but if anybody knows an official English translation of Hakim al-Nishaburi's Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain, I'd appreciate the bibliographical information. The bibliographical details to the specific hadith in the original Arabic would also be useful.

Also, in a comment to an earlier post on Gypsy Scholar, Aladdin explained that "Naged . . . is an archaic Arabic world that means, simply, shoulder blade." A bibliographical source for that information would be useful . . . if anyone has it.

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At 11:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I checked for a mole on my shoulders without any luck, but did find one when I checked my scar from my recent hip hemiarthroplasty, and found a nearby mole.
Would that qualify me for any kind of prophet.
I am writing this with trepidation, knowing nephew Jeffery's predilection for sarcastic comments re his poor uncle.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Is that mole on your left or your right?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The outer right cheek, just under the scar.

At 9:05 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Well, it's certainly on the 'right' side . . . but then, there's that scar.

But all is not lost. You're obviously a seasoned bullfighter and thus qualify as half-Spanish, so you might be allowed to conquer Spain, as Tarif apparently did.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I quote from your blog:

"This is enought," said Dorothea, "for with friends we must not look too closely into trifles; and whether it be on the shoulder or the backbone matters little; it is enough if there is a mole, be where it may, for it is all the same flesh."

I maintain that whether shoulder, backbone OR TAILBONE, it matters little.

And to add another stipulation regarding scars or any other non mentioned factor, is not germane to the subject, in my opinion.

But I failed to qualify as a prophet, as my prediction of sarcasm (maybe slightly nuanced, though), did not materialize. And no one is to fear one whose prophecy does not come to pass.


At 4:50 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Like much prophecy, yours was sufficiently nuanced. Moreover, the prophetic office entails more than predicting the future.

You can still hope that you are marked for the role of prophet, Uncle Cran.

Chiefly, you just need business cards announcing yourself as such: "Cranford Bazzil Hodges, Officially Ordained Prophet."

That "Bazzil" will bedazzle.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I kind of like:

C. Bazzil Hodges, PoopD

It has a ring to it.


At 8:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

PooPD: "Preternaturally Officially Ordained Prophet, Dazzling."

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank You, Nephew!
I owe you something for that 'dazzling' title.
As you say, the check is in the mail, perhaps ever in the mail.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Just send that 'check' in the email. I'll surely get it that way.

Jeffery Hodges

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