Cannabis History: ‘Bravo Hashish,’ a 13th Century Middle Eastern Poem

By Schwilly

By God, bravo, hashish! It stirs deep meanings.
Do not pay attention to those who blame it.
Refrain from the daughter of the vines
And do not be stingy with it.
Eat it dry always and live! By God, bravo, hashish!

It is above pure wine.
When noble men use it,
Eat it and agree, young man.
Eating it revives the dead. By God, bravo, hashish!

It gives the stupid, inexperienced, dull person
The cleverness of the straightforward sage.
I do not think I can escape from it!
… By God, bravo, hashish!

– a 13th-century Arabian poem

Turkish Bath House

Turkish Bath House, photo by Pascal Sébah 1870

Embedded within a 13th-century poem lies an ancient ode to hashish, a hint to one of the earliest stoner comedies ever written.

Almost lost to history, this classic Arabian tale is a story filled with plot-twisting adventure, endless love and, of course, lots of hashish.

La grande piscine de Brousse (The large Brousse Pools) by Jean-Léon Gérôme 1885

The sordid tale can be found in Franz Rosenthal’s book “Haschish Versus Medieval Muslim Society” written in 1971, in which he translates the poem from its original 13th-century manuscript.

Our stoned story begins, ordinarily enough, with a man named Al-Jayshi visiting the local bathhouse, or “Hamam.” After smoking some hashish, he was enjoying the bathhouse atmosphere when he heard a commotion. Turns out, a wedding procession was marching down the street, and it featured an incredible singer to accompany the party.

Wearing only a towel wrapped around his waist from the bathhouse, Al-Jayshi got caught up in the celebratory parade, instinctively joining the walk while listening to the music. The parading wedding party eventually arrived at the destination as the crowd lingered in the street. When he overheard another group of guys talking about ditching the party for another nearby bathhouse, Al-Jayshi decided to join them.

Lounging the day away with more hashish at the second bathhouse, it became time to go home. Making his way to the locker room, Al-Jayshi discovered that his clothes are nowhere to be found.

Causing a scene, he complained to the bathhouse attendant when his discovery was made: on the towel wrapped around his waist was the emblem of the first bathhouse. He had gotten so stoned that he forgot he had walked to a second bathhouse earlier in the day.

Erupting with taunting laughter, the entire bathhouse joined in on the joyful mocking. In an epic walk of shame, the whole bathhouse paraded the stoned bather all the way back to the original bathhouse while dancing and singing the “Bravo Hashish” poem.

By Dmitri Ivanovich Yermakov 1890

Haschish Versus Medieval Muslim Society By Franz Rosenthal 1971

Rosenthal includes another dab of history with an extra verse left off of the original translation. In the last line before the ‘by god, bravo, Hashish’ where the ellipses is found, he adds the original line from the 13the century manuscript, “my load is a feather.”

By God, Bravo, Hashish!

Massage and Stretch in the Baths of Tbilisi by Dmitri Ivanovich Yermakov 1890

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