The story of Impatient One who wanted a Lion Tattoo: Story from Masnavi

The story of Impatient One who wanted a Lion Tattoo: Story from Maulana Rumi’s Masnavi  [2.2.2]

Hear from the narrator this story about the custom of the people of Qazwīn.

To protect themselves from injuries, they tattooed themselves in blue with the point of a needle on their bodies, hands and shoulders

A certain man of Qazwīn went to a barber and said, “Tattoo me and do it as work of art.”

“O brave sir,” the barber replied, “what figure shall I tattoo?” He answered, “Use your tatoo needle to draw a figure of a furious lion.


Leo is my astrology sign: tattoo the form of a lion. Exert yourself, prick in plenty of the blue dye.”

“Where shall I tattoo?” he asked. He said, “Needle the design of the beauty on my shoulder-blade.”

As soon as he began to stick in the needle, his shoulder began to pain

And our ‘hero’ started moaning “O Sir, you are killing me: what are you tattooing?”




“Why,” the barber said, “you asked me do a lion.” “What limb of the lion did you started with?” he asked.

“I have just began at the tail,” he said. “My dear friend,” he cried, “just leave the tail out..

My breath is ceased by the lion’s tail and rump: his rump is choking my windpipe.

Just draw the lion without a tail, o lion-maker, for my heart gets weak from tattoo maker’s needle.”


The barber started to prick on another part of the man’s shoulder without favour, without mercy.

He yelled – “Which of his parts is this?” “This is his ear, my good man,” the barber replied.

“O wise physician,” he said, “Just let him have no ears; leave the ears out and finish it quick.”

The barber began to insert his needle in another part: once more the man began to cry


Saying, “What you are pricking now on this third spot?” He replied, “This is the lion’s belly, dear sir.”

“Just leave the belly,” he said: “why lion needs a belly that is already satiated?”

The barber was distressed and bewildered: for a long time he stood with his fingers in his teeth;

Then the master throwed the needle on floor and said, “Has this happened to anyone in the world?

Has anyone seen a lion without tail, head and belly? God Himself did not create a lion like this!”




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