Phallocentric Esotericism in a Tale from Jalal al-Din Rumi’s Masnavi
By Mahdi Tourage
"The Masnavi-yi Ma‘navi, the Mystical Epic of the great thirteenth century Persian mystic Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273), contains explicit sexual images and bawdy tales that seem to have posed a problem for readers, commentators, and interpreters alike. When these “pornographic” tales are not completely overlooked, scholars view them as lacking mystical signiﬁcance and as disrupting the mystical ﬂow of the text. This paper is an assessment of Rumi’s modes of communicating esoteric secrets in a virtually unexplored bawdy tale in the Masnavi, the Tale of the Prankster who Donned the Veil and Sat among the Women during a Religious Gathering (5:3325 –3350). I will begin with a survey of the established readings of the Masnavi in which the presence of the bawdy tales has been noted. In order to situate Rumi’s bawdy tales in their historical context, a discussion of the instances and purposes of bawdy material in medieval Persian literature will follow."
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Phallocentric Esotericism in a Tale from Rumi’s Masnavi
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