Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/24

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10
SĪBAWAIHI—SIBERIA

return for a certain fruit which her mother desired to eat. Mahasot is an account of the wars of King Mahasot. Nok Khum is one of the theories of the genesis of mankind, the Nok Khum being the sacred goose or "Hansa" from whose eggs the first human beings were supposed to have been hatched. A considerable proportion of the romances are founded upon episodes in the final life, or in one of the innumerable former existences, of the Buddha. The Pattama Sompothiyan is the standard Siamese life of the Buddha. Many of the stories have their scene laid in Himaphan, the Siamese fairyland, probably originally the Himalaya.

A great many works on astrology and the casting of horoscopes, on the ways to secure victory in war, success in love, in business or in gambling, are known, as also works on other branches of magic, to which subject the Siamese have always been partial. On the practice of medicine, which is in close alliance with magic, there are several well-known works.

The Niti literature forms a class apart. The word Niti is from the Bali, and means "old saying," "tradition," "good counsel." The best known of such works are Rules for the Conduct of Kings, translated from the Bali, and The Maxims of Phra Ruang, the national hero-king, on whose wonderful sayings and doings the imagination of Siamese youth is fed.

In works on history the literature of Siam is unfortunately rather poor. There can be little doubt that, as in the case of all the other kingdoms of Further India, complete and detailed chronicles were compiled from reign to reign by order of her kings, but of the more ancient of these, the wars and disturbances which continued with such frequency down to quite recent times have left no trace. The Annals of the North, the Annals of Krung Kao (Ayuthia) and the Book of the Lives of the Four Kings (of the present dynasty) together form the only more or less connected history of the country from remote times down to the beginning of the present reign, and these, at least so far as the earlier parts are concerned, contain much that is inaccurate and a good deal which is altogether untrue. Foreign histories include a work on Pegu, a few tales of Cambodian kings and recently published class-books on European history compiled by the educational department.

The number of works on law is considerable. The Laksana Phra Thamasat, the Phra Tamra, Phra Tamnon, Phra Racha Kamnot and Inthapat are ancient works setting forth the laws of the country in their oldest form, adapted from the Dharmacastra and the Classification of the Law of Manu. These, and also many of the edicts passed by kings of the Ayuthia period which have been preserved, are now of value more as curiosities of literature and history than anything else, since, for all practical purposes, they have long been superseded by laws more in accordance with modern ideas. The laws of the sovereigns who have reigned at Bangkok form the most notable part of this branch of Siamese literature. They include a great number of revenue regulations, laws on civil matters such as mortgage, bankruptcy, rights of way, companies, &c., and laws governing the procedure of courts, all of which adhere to Western principles in the main. The latest addition is the Penal Code, a large and comprehensive work based upon the Indian, Japanese and French codes and issued in 1908.

Poetry is a very ancient art in Siam and has always been held in high honour, some of the best-known poets being, indeed, members of the royal family. There are several quite distinct forms of metre, of which those most commonly used are the Klong, the Kap and the Klon. The Klong is rhythmic, the play being on the inflection of the voice in speaking the words, which inflection is arranged according to fixed schemes; the rhyme, if it can so be called, being sought not in the similarity of syllables but of intonation. The Kap is rhythmical and also has rhyming syllables. The lines contain an equal number of syllables, and are arranged in stanzas of four lines each. The last syllable of the first line rhymes with the third syllable of the second line, the last of the second with the last of the third and also with the first of the fourth line, and the last syllable of the fourth line rhymes with the last of the second line of the next succeeding stanza. The number of poems in one or other of these two metres is very great, and includes verses on almost every theme. In the Nirat poetry, a favourite form of verse, both are often used, a stanza in Klong serving as a sort of argument at the head of a set of verses in Kap. This Nirat poetry takes the form of narrative addressed by a traveller to his lady-love, of a journey in which every object and circumstance serves but to remind the wanderer of some virtue or beauty of his correspondent. In most of such works the journey is of course imaginary, but in some cases it is a true record of travelling or campaigning, and has been found to contain information of value concerning the condition at certain times of outlying parts of the kingdom. Of the little love songs in Klon metre, called Klon pet ton, there are many hundreds. These follow a prescribed form, and consist of eight lines divided into two stanzas of four lines each, every line containing eight syllables. The last syllable of the first line rhymes with the third syllable of the second, and the final of the second line with the final of the third. The songs treat of all the aspects of love. A fourth poetical metre is Chan, which, however, is not so much used as the others.

The introduction of printing in the Siamese character has revolutionized the literature of the country. Reading has become a general accomplishment, a demand for reading matter has arisen, and bookshops stocked with books have appeared to satisfy it. The historical works above referred to have been issued in many editions, and selections from the ancient fables and romances are continually being edited and reissued in narrative form or as plays. The educational department has done good work in compiling volumes of prose and verse which have found much favour with the public. All the laws, edicts and regulations at present in force are to be had in print at popular prices. Printing, in fact, has supplied a great incentive to the development of literature, the output has increased enormously, and will doubtless continue to do so for a long time to come.  (W. A. G.) 

SĪBAWAIHI [Abū Bishr, or Abū-l Ḥasan‛Amr ibn‛Uthmān ibn Qanbar, known as Sībawaihi or Sibūya] (c. 753–793), Arabian grammarian, was by origin a Persian and a freedman. Of his early years nothing is known. At the age of thirty-two he went to Baṣra, where he was a pupil of the celebrated grammarian Khalīl. Later he went to Bagdad, but soon left, owing to a dispute with the Kufan grammarian Kisā‛ī, and returned to Persia, where he died at the age of about forty. His great grammar of Arabic, known simply as The Book, is not only the earliest systematic presentation of Arabic grammar, but is recognized among Arabs as the most perfect. It is not always clear, but is very full and valuable for its many illustrations from the Koran and the poets.

The Book was published by H. Derenbourg (2 vols., Paris, 1881–1889), and a German translation, with extracts from the commentary of Sīrāfī (d. 978) and others, was published by G. Jahn (Berlin, 1895–1900).  (G. W. T.) 


SIBBALD, SIR ROBERT (1641–1722), Scottish physician and antiquary, was born in Edinburgh on the 15th of April 1641. Educated at Edinburgh, Leiden and Paris, he took his doctor’s degree at Angers in 1662, and soon afterwards settled as a physician in Edinburgh. In 1667 with Sir Andrew Balfour he started the botanical garden in Edinburgh, and he took a leading part in establishing the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, of which he was elected president in 1684. In 1685 he was appointed the first professor of medicine in the university. He was also appointed geographer-royal in 1682, and his numerous and miscellaneous writings deal effectively with historical and antiquarian as well as botanical and medical subjects. He died in August 1722.

Amongst Sibbald’s historical and antiquarian works may be mentioned A History Ancient and Modern of the Sheriffdoms of Fife and Kinross (Edinburgh, 1710, and Cupar, 1803), An Account of the Scottish Atlas (folio, Edinburgh, 1683), Scotia Ulustrata (Edinburgh, 1684) and Description of the Isles of Orkney and Shetland (folio, Edinburgh', 1711 and 1845). The Remains of Sir Robert Sibbald, containing his autobiography, memoirs of the Royal College of Physicians, portion of his literary correspondence and account of his manuscripts, was published at Edinburgh in 1833.


SIBERIA. This name (Russ. Sibir) in the 16th century indicated the chief settlement of the Tatar khan Kuchum—Isker on the Irtysh. Subsequently the name was extended to include the whole of the Russian dominions in Asia.Name and extent. Geographically, Siberia is now limited by the Ural Mountains on the W., by the Arctic and North Pacific Oceans on the N. and E. respectively, and on the S. by a line running from the sources of the river Ural to the Tarbagatai range (thus separating the steppes of the Irtysh basin from those of the Aral and Balkash basins), thence along the Chinese frontier as far as the S.E. corner of Transbaikalia, and then along the rivers Argun, Amur and Usuri to the frontier of Korea. This wide area is naturally subdivided into West Siberia (basins of the Ob and the Irtysh) and East Siberia (the remainder of the region).

The inhabited districts are well laid down on the best maps; but the immense areas between and beyond them are mapped only along a few routes hundreds of miles apart. The intermediate spaces are filled in according to Orography.information derived from various hunters. With regard to a great many rivers we know only the position of their mouths and their approximate lengths estimated by natives in terms of a day’s march. Even the hydrographical network is very imperfectly known, especially in the uninhabited hilly tracts.[1]

  1. The wide area between the middle Lena and the Amur, as well as the hilly tracts west of Lake Baikal, and the Yeniseisk mining region are in this condition.