The Ballad of ‘Abdu Khalil: a Bakhtiari poem

This poem derides the excessive size and eating of ‘Abdu Khalil: the Khan’s agent to the Mulmuli section of the Raid tribe of the Haftlang. The ordinary people call on honour as they expect – or at least hope – that their Khan will hear their pleas for help:

A seven-pole tent is his cloak:
The ridge-pole of a tent is his razor.
The Jungle of Bundun is the hair on his privy parts:
Two bed-quilts are his ears.
Three five-maund measures of rice are his supper:
Two five-maund measures of lentils are his flavouring.
A water-pit is his drinking cup:
This is the rule of his appetite.
The thigh-bone of an ox is his toothpick:
The oak-tree of Shah Chiragh is his walking-stick.
O Khan, we repent! 0 Khan, we claim protection!
We have become abased and contemptible.
Bring not with you ‘Abdu Khalil:
He has abased the tribe and made it contemptible.


With kind permission, from: Lorimer, DLR 1963 “The Popular Verse of the Baḵẖtiāri of S. W. Persia –III: Further Specimens” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp. 63-64