A single shahin falcon traversed the azure sky, flying on toward the rising sun…
Notes under the cut:
Illustration alert! (Along with Farangis and Guiscard, Amano also easily has my favorite take on Keshvad. [I’ve got a major soft spot for his Narses design too, and some of the characters we won’t be meeting for a long time.])
1. shahin, hawk vs. falcon: Japanese/Chinese pretty much use the same word for all birds of prey, so there’s arguably some ambiguity here. Wikipedia points to “shaheen falcon,” but it seems the word shahin (and related words) actually means slightly different things in different cultures, and so I stumbled across a fair amount of conflicting information. To add to the potential confusion, the term “falconry” actually covers the use of various species of birds, not just falcons — and Persian falconry did in fact use more than one species.
Anyway, after some research I think the general consensus is that historically shahin referred either to the peregrine falcon (not the subspecies linked above), or to a very closely related species. Hawk rolls off the tongue better for me, so you’ve probably caught me calling Azrael a hawk elsewhere on the site (oops)… but from now on in the text itself I will be sticking with falcon.
Azrael, for the record, is translated in text as 告死天使, which is super-literally “the angel who announces/foretells death”.
3. Now seems to be an appropriate time to explain Keshvad. It’s an alternate spelling of “Kishwad” (the better representation of the Japanese transcription, and the more common spelling). Maybe it’s just me but that spelling is kind of awkward in English though. The more modern Penguin translation of the Shahnameh (which I believe is the current standard) spells it Keshvad, which looks much nicer imo, so you’ll just have to live with my otherwise arbitrary choice. 😛
(I mean, the older translations also spell Giv as Giw, so…)
(To be fair, the Penguin edition apparently also has “Farangis” spelled “Farigis.”
I’m sure there’s some linguistic reason for this, but don’t ask me what it is. See this comment for an explanation!)
4. For the longest time I had no idea where “Tahir” came from. It’s written as a very straightforward ターヒール (taa-hii-ru) and translated literally as “Double Blade General” (双刀将軍). Tahir is a common name, but the meaning is completely unrelated…
As it turns out, Tanaka’s probably just fudging the meaning here (like mardan = warrior). Historical dual-wielding was never, as far as I’m aware, done with two long swords in non-theoretical scenarios. (Usually it was two short-range weapons or one long one short.) But some digging eventually turned up Tahir ibn Husayn, founder of the Tahirid dynasty, who was apparently nicknamed “The Ambidextrous”. Interestingly, Tahir ibn Husayn’s other nickname was “One-Eyed”… maybe a hint as to the inspiration of a certain other Marzban. 😛
5. Sir: Keshvad calls him 老将軍, which is literally Old General. In context, I can’t tell if this is meant affectionately or respectfully or both. Probably a bit of both. Either way, it sounds weird in English and sir seems like a good compromise.
6. “Ears everywhere”: literally 耳が早い, “your ears are fast”, idiomatic way of expressing the way some people always seem to hear gossip/news as soon as it starts spreading.
7. “unfathomable nature of the mountains and the seas”: As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer localizing idioms only when there’s an obvious equivalent. “It’s all up in the air” would work in this case, but what Keshvad says is the more poetic “山とも海とも…” (“the mountains and the seas” and then trailing off). The full phrase is “海の物とも山の物ともつかない”, which is basically referring how it’s impossible to traverse/learn everything there is to know about the mountains or the seas within our lifetimes. I figured a looser translation just wouldn’t get across that dorkier side of him.
8. “we folks”: My awkward way of indicating that it’s Bahman talking (old man speech style — throughout this exchange he’s a lot more terse/informal than Keshvad due to their respective ages).
9. Rajendra is easy to pinpoint as the name of several Chola emperors. “Gadhavi” (ガーデーヴィ, gah-deh-vi) is less certain, but in my opinion very likely refers to the Charan caste. It fits the character anyway, and there’s a decently strong Gujarati theme to the Sindhuran names. Some more reliable explanation of the name here.