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The Phoenix

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A Tale

Al-Qazwini in "The Wonders of Heaven and Earth"

    This bird is the largest and mightiest of them all. He can attack the elephant and the water-buffalo ... It is said that in old times it lived amongst the humans. The people suffered due to his actions - as long as one day he robbed a bride.

    So the prophet Hanzalah cursed him ... and god took him away to an island in the ocean below the aequator, where no man can sail. There were many animals like the elephant, the rhinozeros and the water-buffalo, the tiger and other wild beasts. The phoenix never hunted one of them, because they were under his reign. But when he hunted a different animal, he took what he needed and left the rest for the animals that were under his reign. He hunted big fishes and beasts from the sea, and when he finnished eating he rose up to his place and left the rest for the animals that were under his reign. Those were delighted.

     When the phoenix flies you can hear his wings flapping like the rushing of a rivulet and the sound the storm make, shaking trees. It is said that the phoenix lives up to onethousandsevenhundred years. He mates at the age of fivehundred. At the time of breeding the female suffers great pains. Then the male brings water in his beak and feeds her with it, then the egg comes forth easily. The male is brooding and the female hunts. After twentyfive years the egg is about to hatch. If the young bird is a female, the female phoenix collects much wood. Then the male rubbs intensely his beak with hers, until it burns. Then he enflames the woods and the female enters it, to be burned to death. The young phoenix is then the mate of the male one. If the young phoenix is a male one, then the male phoenix does the same as the female one, the young phoenix then becomes the mate of the female phoenix.

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