Kissing Swords

This is a traditional Damascene artwork by the late Abou Soubhi al-Tinawi, showing Antar, "father of all knights," on his horse al-Abjar. Antar is a pre-Islamic Arab hero and poet. His father, Shaddad, was a respected member of 'Abs tribe, but his mother was a slave; so he was also considered a slave by the tribe. Antar fell in love with Abla, his cousin, but because he was a slave, the rest of his tribe would not approve their marriage. When the tribe needed his assistance fending off another tribe in battle, his father Shaddad acknowledged him as his son and granted him freedom. Antar wrote many poems that are considered best of the best in Arabic poetry. Most of them describe battles he fought and his passion for Abla. The two poetic verses at the top of this painting are from a poem considered to be one of the greatest in the history of romantic classical Arab poetry (well, the first verse might sound violent, but look at the second!)

"I remembered you, even when the lances were drinking my blood
And bright swords of Indian make were dripping with it

And I wished to kiss the swords
For verily they shone as bright as the flash of the foretooth of your smiling mouth"

Read full poem in Arabic / English

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