WIX: The Dream of Cats Is All About Mice

cats, dogs, Arabic, idioms, Julie Rowan-ZochI thought the English translation might snag more interest over the original Arabic: hilm il-‘utaat kullu firaan.

In the pre-modern Middle East region cats maintained a high standing, higher than dogs anyway. At times dogs were hung or buried with the corpses of rebels and dissidents as an expression of contempt. No sharing living spaces with the religiously observant either. Bad dog! This prejudice has survived and owning one is still frowned upon.

Back to cats, though not yet to those dreaming of mice: in 13th century Cairo Mamluk sultan al-Zahir Baybars kept a garden for pampering purring pets. Even into the 1830’s the British orientalist E.W. Lane observed  that people still brought baskets of tasty treats for the cats in the garden of the High Court, fulfilling  obligations of the sultan’s endowment for his feline friends.

Muslim scholars wrote odes in honor of the protectors of their precious books from critters…such as mice. There are thousands of mystical Sufi stories including cats. They were famous in Islamic art; Muslim calligraphers used brushes made of the fur of long-haired cats – some bred just for this purpose.

Cats! Cats! Cats! But what does the idiom mean, you say, as I lead you astray? Exactly what I’ve been telling you: to have a one track mind!

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20 thoughts on “WIX: The Dream of Cats Is All About Mice

  1. Really nice, Julie.
    That’s me lounging for 10 minutes, after I’ve sold a million books. I’m dreaming of the sequel to my mouse story. He – he. :D

    Like

  2. Ahhhh, the life of an asian aristocat! Wouldn’t it be loverly? As always Julie, I love your style. The subject was a great choice. Loved the great facts, too. Great job!

    Like

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