chapter  15
Lizard as Arab food: representation of Arabs and the Shāhnāmeh scholarship
Pages 19

In his travelogue, “Isfahān Nesf-e Jahān” (Isfahān, Half of the World; 1932), Sadeq Hedayat (1903-51) recounts his visit to Isfahān via the journey he makes through the desert in central Iran. After leaving Qom, we learn that the car he had hired breaks down, which incidentally gives him an opportunity to spend time with the desert nature and its host of insects and animals. The descriptions in this section mainly focus on an animal Hedayat loosely identifies as “of the lizard genus” (az jens-e sūsmār). Despite the timidity of other lizards, this one lingers long enough in sight to inspire a description by Hedayat. In a detailed passage he tells us about the animal’s physical features and his wish to capture it:

It had a round head and the face of an English bulldog. It had a thin tail, dark and fat stomach, and yellow and brown stripes on its feet and neck. Its head was bent toward me and, with its pinhead eyes, it was staring at me. It crossed my mind to capture it but I soon gave it up as I only intended to watch the animal and it did not stop me doing so. I was also ashamed of the desert creature’s look at me since it had done nothing to me. But my sympathy was pointless since, the moment I moved, it jumped from its place and escaped. It wasn’t wriggling like other lizards. It was swiftly running on its feet and had its head high.2