In Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years, chapter 4 ("The World Behind the Wind"), the second-to-last sentence:

On the evidence of the events of the fifteenth century, in the world east of the Bay of Bengal—the world "behind the wind", as Arab navigators called it—China could have [...]

There's more to the sentence, but it's not relevant to this question (it's about why China didn't end up conquering Europe).

The part I'm interested in is the "the world 'behind the wind', as Arab navigators called it". Where was this term first used in a literary work? The author quotes Arab navigators, but which one and when?

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    Is this on topic? It seems like a question in linguistics and etymology:-/ – Standback Feb 9 '17 at 18:36
  • @Standback think of it as a quote-id then, which are on-topic. – user72 Feb 9 '17 at 18:39
  • @Riker I'm voting to close this as off-topic for the reasons given in Standback's comment. – user111 Feb 9 '17 at 18:41
  • What's a quote-id? I'm not seeing a meta discussion; could you link me please? Thanks :-) – Standback Feb 9 '17 at 18:42
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    Also, a slightly relevant point: does Millennium: A History of the Last Thousand Years qualify as literature? It seems like a work of history to me. (I don't have an opinion one way or another, but people on meta might disagree that this question is ontopic) – user111 Feb 9 '17 at 21:12

I think “behind the wind” is a literal translation of the Arabic phrase that means leeward. It isn't a quote of a specific person, Arabic navigator or otherwise.

It's kind of obvious from context, if you look at the geography: the prevailing winds in the Indian Ocean north of the equator are from east to west, so something that is to the east is leeward.

And asking Google Translate for the translation of leeward into Arabic yields المواجه للريح, which it translates back word-for-word as “fronting / to the wind”. This corroborates my conjecture.

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