ḎU’L-JANĀḤ, Imam Ḥosayn’s winged horse, known from popular literature and rituals. Ḏu’l-Janāḥ was mentioned in medieval narratives of Ḥosayn’s martyrdom at Karbalāʾ (maqātel), for example, Ebn Aʿṯam Kūfī’s 9th-century Ketāb al-fotūḥ and al-Loḥūf by Ebn Ṭāʾūs Ṭāʾūsī (d. 664/1266), which became sources for later Turkish and Persian maqtal-nāmas. In al-Loḥūf the horse, unnamed but said to be descended from the Prophet Moḥammad’s mount, is supposed to have dipped its head in its master’s blood and attacked the enemy. It then returned, smeared with Ḥosayn’s blood, to the tents of the Ahl-e Bayt. As it approached, Ḥosayn’s infant daughter Sokayna began to cry, joined by the other women in the family (pp. 98-99; cf. Calmard, p. 120). The Turkish Dāstān-e maqātel-e Ḥosayn (763/1362) by Šādī Maddāḥ contains a similar account but includes the name Ḏu’l-Janāḥ (Mélikoff, p. 142; Calmard, pp. 225-26). Ḥosayn Wāʿeẓ Kāšefī, in Rawżat al-šohadāʾ (comp. 908/1502), recounted a detailed story, partly based on Ebn Aʿṯam’s text, in which Ḏu’l-Janāḥ, instead of behaving aggressively, weeps (p. 363; cf. Calmard, p. 396; Ebn Aʿṯam, tr., pp. 538-39). According to various traditions, Ḏu’l-Janāḥ eventually killed itself or disappeared into the desert (Wāʿeẓ Kāšefī, p. 349).

At least from Safavid times representations of Ḥosayn’s horse were led in the processions and pageants that developed into taʿzīa performances of the martyrdom of Ḥosayn. This “nationalist” tradition also found its way into the literature of such plays (Pelly, II, p. 173; Calmard, p. 396). Ḏu’l-Janāḥ appears in various other taʿzīa episodes, for example, Qāsem b. Ḥasan’s marriage at Karbalāʾ: Ḥosayn orders the horse brought to his daughter Fāṭema, who rides it to the bridal chamber (Humayuni, p. 14). Ḏu’l-Janāḥ was also represented in Moḥarram processions in India (Pelly, I, p. xxii) and is still included at Lucknow, Delhi, and probably elsewhere (Jaffri, pp. 224-25).

A connection between using horses in Shiʿite rituals and pre-Islamic Persian practices has been suggested (see ʿAZĀDĀRĪ).


Bibliography: (For abbreviations found here, see “Short References.”)

J. Calmard, Le culte de l’Imām Ḥusayn. Étude sur la commémoration du drame de Karbalā dans l’Iran pré-safavide, Ph.D. diss., Université de Paris III (Sorbonne), 1975.

Ebn Aʿṯam Kūfī, Ketāb al-fotūhá, partial tr. Moḥammad b. Aḥmad Mostawfī Heravī [596/1199], Bombay, 1300/1882.

Ebn Ṭāʾūs Ṭāʾūsī, al-Loḥūf, tr. F. Wüstenfeld as Der Tod des Ḥusein ben Ali und die Rache, Göttingen, 1883.

S. Humayuni, “An Analysis of the Taʿziyeh of Qāsem,” in P. Chelkowski, ed., Taʿziyeh. Ritual and Drama in Iran, New York, 1979, pp. 12-23.

S. H. A. Jaffri, “Muharram Ceremonies in India,” in P. Chelkowski, ed., Taʿziyeh. Ritual and Drama in Iran, New York, 1979, pp. 222-27.

I. Mélikoff, “Le drame de Kerbelâ dans la littérature épique turque,” REI 34, 1966, pp. 133-48.

L. Pelly, The Miracle Play of Hasan and Husain, 2 vols., London, 1879.

Ḥosayn Wāʿeẓ Kāšefī, Rawżat al-šohadāʾ . . ., ed. M. Ramażānī, Tehran, 1344/1955.

(Jean Calmard)

Originally Published: December 15, 1996

Last Updated: December 1, 2011

This article is available in print.
Vol. VII, Fasc. 6, pp. 569-570