From Sidar Ikbal Ali Shah's 'Afghanistan of the Afghans'
Afghanland.com: There was a brave man
named Farhad, who loved a Princess named Shirin, but the Princess did not love him. Farhad tried in cain to gain access to
the love-cell of Shirin's heart, but no one would dare betray the fact
that a stonecutter loved a lady of royal blood.
Farhad, in despair, would go to the mountains and spend whole days without food, playing on
his flute sweet music in praise of Shirin. At last people thought
devise a plan to acquaint the Princess of the stone-cutter's love. She
saw him once, and love which lived in his bosom also began to breathe in
hers. But she dared not a mean laborer aspire to win the hand of a
princess? It was not long, however, before the Shah himself heard some rumor of
this extraordinary exchange of sentiment. He was naturally indignant at
the discovery, but as he had no child other then
Shirin, and Shirin was also pining away with love, he proposed to his daughter that her lover,
being of common birth, must accomplish a task such as no man may be able
to do, and then, and only then, might he be recommended to his favor.
The task which he skillfully suggested was that Shirin should ask her
lover to dig a canal in the rocky land among the hills. The canal must
be six lances in width and three lances deep and forty miles long!
The Princess had to convey her father's decision to
Farhad, who forthwith shouldered his spade and started off to the hills to commence
the gigantic task. He worked hard and broke the stones for years. He
would start his work early in the morning when it was yet dark and never
ceased from his labor till, owing to darkness, no man could see one yard
on each side.
Shirin secretly visited him and watched the hard working Farhad sleeping
with his taysha(spade) under his head, his body stretched on the bed of
stones. She noticed, with all the pride of a lover, that he cut her
figure in the rocks at each six yards and she would sigh and return
without his knowing.
worked for years and cut his canal; all was in
readiness but his task was not yet finished, for he
had to dig a well in the rocky beds of the
mountains. He was half- way through, and would
probably have completed it, when the Shah consulted
his courtiers and sought their advice. He is
artifice had failed. Farhad had not perished in the
attempt, and if all the conditions were in the
attempt, and if all the
in the attempt, and if all the conditions were fulfilled as
they promised to be soon, his daughter must go to him in
marriage. The Viziers suggested that an old woman should be
set to Farhad to tell him that Shirin was dead; then,
perhaps, Farhad would become disheartened and leave off the
It was an ignoble trick, but it promised success and the Shah agreed to
try it. So an old woman went to Farhad and wept and cried till words
choked her; the stone-cutter asked her the cause of her bereavement.
"I weep for a deceased," she said, "and for you." "For a deceased and
for me?" asked the surprised Farhad. "And how do you explain it?"
"Well, by brave man," said the pretender sobbingly, "you have worked so
well, and for such a long time, too, but you have labored in vain, for
the object of you devotion is dead!"
"What!" cried the bewildered man, "Shinin dead?"
Such was his grief that he cut his head with the sharp
taysha(spade) and died under the carved streamed into his canal was his own blood. When
Shirin heard this she fled in great sorrow to the mountains where lay
her wronged lover; it is said that she inflicted a wound in her own head
at the precise spot where Farhad had struck himself, and with the same
sharp edge of the spade which was stained with her lover's gore. No
water ever flows into the canal, but two lovers are entombed in one and
the same grave.
Safia Shah's Afghan Caravan
is an old well some miles form Kabul called Chah-i-Rustam (Chah,
well) of about the radius of five yards, and a network of iron is
placed just under the water. The construction is of red stones,
such as cannot be seen in the neighboring hills.
is the Afghan-Irani equivalent of Hercules, the great champion of
the Arians, the prince of the land of Seistan. He fought the White
Dragon and struggled
for two whole days with Prince Isfandiar, in the epics.
Seistan is on Western Afghanistan, named formerly Sakastan: Land
of the Saka people.
is never drawn from the well, which is of a deep grey color. The
well has no date on it, and on the walls big iron chains hang down
to the surface. The legend goes on to say that Rustam, the great
wrestler of Seistan, after being killed was thrown into the well,
and a friend of his fixed these chains, so that Rustam's spirit
might climb up and escape; but the enemies of the Rustam placed a
net below the level of the water, and thus
the dead hero of Firdowsi's classic, was forever lost.