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Shibeika, the Sword of Munshattih


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(Nuba/Sudan)

Shibeika was a mythic sword.

After journeying from Shendi, where they parted from Mek Nimr, Mek Musa'ad and his son, Munshattih, went to Ethiopia and raided the Ethiopians until the rainy season ceased their warfare. Because they had no salt, the climate there did not suit them, and as a result Mek Musa'ad and most of his followers died there. Munshattih led the remainder of his people to the country of Beshir el Ghul (who had founded a semi-independent kingdom on the Ethiopian border), and dwelled near him. He fell into want and sold his sword, the famous Shibeika, to Beshir el Ghul for a hundred ounces of gold, promising him that it would cut through two iron fetters. After two days, Beshir, wanting to test the sword, brought it out in his council, and after producing two rings of iron, struck at them, but the sword did not cut even one. They sent to Munshattih, and told him that he had sold them a poor piece of iron. It would cut through nothing, they said, and they demanded that he return their money. Munshattih came to Beshir el Ghul and his brother, and told them to bring more iron. They laughed, but brought two more rings and laid them on the first. Munshattih took the sword from them and, kneeling on one knee, struck with it, and it cut through all the iron and buried itself in the ground. He stood up and put the sword on his shoulder, saying, “I sold you the sword. Can I sell you my arm as well?” Mounting his horse, he went to his people, taking both gold and sword, saying, “He who wishes to overtake me, let him do so.” But the Hamada, marveling at his strength, concluded that they could not fight this man, that he would destroy them. So they let him go. Munshattih gathered the rest of his people and went to Runga, where he dwelled near the Fung king. Later, the people of Beshir el Ghul overcame him by means of a beautiful slave girl, a sorcerer, who insinuated herself into his presence at a drinking party and put a charm on his vitals. Munshattih, in great pain, called his slave and told him to bring Shibeika and his two other swords and his horse, saddled. When the slave had done that, Munshattih told him to take the three swords and ride and give them to his uncle, Mek Nimr, that if he did that he would be free, he and his wife and his children, all of them. Then he died, sitting there in his chair with his eyes open, and angry, so that all who came and saw him sitting there were afraid and went back. So he stayed three days, until they smelled the smell of him and knew that he was indeed dead. Then they took him and washed him, shrouded him, and buried him.

Subjects: Religion.


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