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Der strībhedavarana-khaa in der Padumāvatī des Malik Muammad Jāyasī

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The present article is concerned with “the chapter of the description of the [four] categories of women”, the strībhedavarana-khaa, which comprises the stanzas 463–467 of the great romantic poem Padumāvatī. It was composed ca. 1540 A.D. by the Muslim poet Malik Muammad Jāyasī, the most significant representative of the ūfī poets of Oudh, in Old Avadhi, the language of his native country.

This study opens with a general introduction about the author and his chef-d'œuvre, which also gives the contents of the epic. The subject dealt with here is introduced by a short synopsis on the tradition of the description of the four categories of women, i.e. padminī, citriī, śakhinī, and hastinī, in Sanskrit erotic literature. Text and translation of the strībhedavarana-khaa, together with exhaustive notes, form the greater part of this article. The notes which appear after the translation of each verse, aim mainly at comparing Jāyasī's conception of the four categories of women with those held by authors of Sanskrit texts on this subject. For purpose of comparison, more than ten Sanskrit texts, beginning with Kokkoka's Ratirahasya, which was composed before 1200 A.D., have been cited. Besides, various quotations both from Sanskrit literature and from Arabic narrative literature have been given as illustrative examples, particularly in those cases, where no parallels for specific details in Jāyasī's description could be found in the Sanskrit texts referred to.

The comparison of Jāyasī's conception of the four categories of women with those held by Kokkoka and his epigones, points to the conclusion that probably Jāyasī has not used any definite literary source for writing this particular chapter, but rather has relied upon possibly wide-spread popular traditions of this system of classification of women.

Two conspicuous peculiarities in Jāyasī's very detailed description which are worthy of special note, have been discussed at the conclusion of the introductory remarks. The first is the “confusion” of the termini sakhinī and sighinī, that has been imputed to the poet by several editors of his œuvre; from my point of view, however, this “confusion” was fully intended by the author. The second peculiarity is Jāyasī's apparently individual interpretation of the so-called “sixteen śgāras”, i.e. “methods of decoration of the body”, which combined with the “twelve ābharaas”, i.e. “ornaments”, are generally known as the complete ornamentation of woman. According to Jāyasī, the “sixteen śgāras” are the “sixteen physical refinements”, divided into four groups: (1) four parts of the body (in the widest sense of the word) having “longness”, i.e. hair, fingers, eyes, neck, (2) four having “shortness”, i.e. teeth, breasts, forehead, navel, (3) four having “broadness”, i.e. cheeks, buttocks, arms, calves, and (4) four having “slenderness”, i.e. nose, waist, belly, lips.


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