Friday, February 5, 2010

بهموت

As y'all can probably tell, this semester (ending in mid-April) isn't shaping up to be chock-full of updates, much to my infinite sadness.  Instead, my days are filled with Arabic, Indo-European linguistics and TESOL business.  HOWEVER, THERE ARE FISH TO BE FOUND IN THIS MADNESS!

I remember reading this a while back (by which I mean probably upwards of ten years ago now), but brainwashing by Squaresoft caused me to forget: the mythological Bahamut is not in fact a dragon, but a fish.  A very very large fish, a fish that holds the earth on its back.

A fish that is so big that in the 1,001 Nights, Jesus (Isa) literally passes out when he beholds the Bahamut (who also hangs out with Kujata, natch) and Allah has to tell him what's up (which continues to blow his mind.  Allah does stuff like that).  The Bahamut is days long.  The full story can be found in Jorge Luis Borges' Book of Imaginary Beings, a fine text that currently holds a place of honor in my bathroom and that I encourage all to read.  It has vegetable lambs which are both awesome and gross.  Other features include Kafka's bizarre/surreal descriptions of his imaginary beasts that must be read to be understood. 

This Bahamut can kill Hedgehog Pies, but cannot make Jesus pass out.

How did Bahamut turn from a cosmic Middle Eastern world-bearing fish into a metal space dragon with lasers?  The answer lies, as it does with so many things, with Dungeons & Dragons.  Apparently the Dragon King was first given the name Bahamut in the first edition Monster Manual, released in 1977, after Ye Olde World-Fish, given the habits of fantasy authors to shamelessly crib from various mythological and religious traditions (not hating, btw).  Square employees, like all proper nerds, were playing D&D at that time and Bahamut was among one of the large number of enemy designs (particularly in early games) that were directly ripped from D&D.  Bahamut the Dragon King makes his first appearance a Final Fantasy game in the original Final Fantasy (I), released in the U.S. in 1987 in Japan and 1990 in North America.  The rest is history.

Dragon Bahamut, straight from the source.  NEEDS MORE LASERS

Unfortunately, due to not being featured in a prominent console RPG series, Bahamut-the-World-Fish appears to have considerably fewer depictions online, and much less recent.  It gets messier, too, for the word "bahamut" in Arabic turns into the more well-known Hebrew "behemoth".  However, the behemoth mentioned in the Christian Bible's Book of Job (where most non-nerds encounter the word) is usually depicted in medieval art as a terrestrial quadruped of some sort; his buddy Leviathan is interpreted as an aquatic beast.  Both of them, shockingly, show up in Final Fantasy games.

So I guess the moral of this post is that MYTHOLOGICALLY-SPEAKING, BAHAMUT IS A FISH, NOT A DRAGON OR A FLYING FORTRESS.

Other topics coming up soon related to this are FISH, PALEO-LINGUISTICS AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO THE INDO-EUROPEAN HOMELAND PROBLEM!  I know you are all quivering with excitement, given the importance of the Indo-European Homeland Problem in our daily lives.  I'm seriously doing a paper on this for class, so I may as well spread some knowledge; think of it as manure for the fertile fields of your brain.

P.S.:

...not fish-related, but at the same time since I'm on the subject: SHIVA IS NOT AN ICE SPIRIT. SHIVA IS A VERY IMPORTANT HINDU GOD WHO IS NOT ELEMENTALLY ALIGNED BECAUSE HE'S WAY BEYOND ELEMENTS.  HOWEVER, I WILL CONCEDE THAT HE IS SOMETIMES BLUE.

2 comments:

  1. Once again, your post is made of win.

    Not only for awesome D&D and Final Fantasy speals, but for linguistics! I'm actually doing a minor in linguistics, so I certainly appreciate what you're doing.

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  2. Hooray, someone cares about this dorky stuff! Sometimes it's hard to keep entries here focused on fish because I have all sorts of crossover interests. Entries on fish in ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia are forthcoming.

    What are you linguistic interests?

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