Can’t hold it in

The Persian Safavid king Shāh ʿAbbās I (r. 1588-1629) seems to have had several jesters, including, unusually, a woman.  Another jester was Kal ʿEnāyat (‘ ʿEnāyat the Bald’, d. 1608), baldness being a time-honoured attribute often associated with fools (yes, this needs further elaboration, something we’re working on).

According to Gianni Izzo’s brief biography of Kal ʿEnāyat, there are many anecdotes about him, including one relating to a battle. Fearful that the Ottoman cavalry might have an advantage, the Shah:

… consults Shaykh Bahāʾ al-Dīn al-ʿAmilī (d. 1621). The cleric, known to provide advice to monarchs in times of need, offers the common religious prescription of performing the ritual ablution (wuḍūʾ) and two prayer cycles (rakʿa), supplicating for divine-assisted victory.  Kal ʿEnāyat overhears Shaykh al-Bahāʾi’s advice, and exclaims, “Oh Shaykh, this king is in such a state of fear that he can’t hold it in. As soon as he performs the ablution, he’ll immediately break his state of purity [i.e. wet himself]!”

Apparently the Shah was amused and the battle was won.

Source: Gianni Izzo, ‘Playing the fool: jesters of the Safavid and Zand courts’, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (August 2023), p. 8, citing Nasrollah Falsafī, Zindigānī-yi Shāh ʿAbbās-i Avval (Tehran: Intishārāt-i Dānishghāh-i Tehran, 1955), vol. 2, pp. 250–51.

Image credit: Old Persian mosque. From the journey to Turkestan (1912), Jan Ciągliński (Polish, 1858-1913).​


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