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Published by nsafranek
Ancient Africa primary sources
Ancient Africa primary sources

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Published by: nsafranek on Jun 28, 2011
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 Three hours before daybreak on Friday, the twenty-fifth [of March1701] we marched off with the royal
whose leader's name was`Abdin. He was accompanied by an Armenian, a Christian who hadbecome a Turk, whom we were very hopeful of bringing back to theCatholic faith which alone brings redemption.At about three o'clock in the afternoon, in the greatest heat, we arrivedat al-Dabba, where we remained. This village, and the others roundabout, are inhabited by
or saints. They are somewhat differentfrom the other [Egyptian] saints already described in another place,and because they can read and write people regard them as teachersand learned men [
] in the Islamic sense. Because of the
this village has full immunity, and by royal decree no stateofficial may come within several miles, or remove a wrong-doer.Perhaps many Christian princes, kings and potentates who withouthesitation violate the ecclesiastical immunities or even, without somuch as a twinge of conscience, totally abolish them, may find theirfaces turning pale! Today at the first red of daybreak a large, bright, beautiful star couldbe seen in the firmament, which sank from day to day until finally aftera little time it could no longer be seen. But at Sinnar toward the end of the month of September we saw it again after sunset, and according toits course it sank, so that in March, after the period of a year, it wasshut under the sun and vanished. The following year it could not beseen. We took down various notes about it, as we were assured thatthis star had never before been seen in these lands.Further, let me sketch a little notice in addition to today's commentsabout these
or saints--their lives and way of acting--and how itis, through no other ways and means than their own seductive, phony,false and treacherous folly, that they are held in such esteem bypeople blinded by the darkness of Muhammadan doctrine. The othersort of 
are the Cabalists. They observe very strict fasts, andhave their own distinctive food and clothing. The Moors call them
,that is, "man of letters," for they regard anyone who can read andwrite as a legal expert. They arrange their long and fixed prayers at
various set hours of the day and night. They usually carry with themsmall rectangular wooden tablets, painted white, upon which every daythey write Arabic characters or a text from the Qur'an. All day longthey talk about this, and learn it by heart. They give instruction to theother Moors in their false law, and are considered holy people, like thesaints [of Egypt]. Though they lead no such godless and shameless lifeas the latter [who removed their clothing in public], they arenevertheless rather given to the Black Arts. Some of them sit togetherin Turkish fashion and for half a day bawl out something from theirtreacherous Qur'an. At Sinnar, as well as other places, I have seen withamazement how such
, in the greatest of all-consuming heat, goout into a public place and howl for two or three hours withoutintermission until they collapse from thirst and exhaustion. Whilehowling they bend the body up and down, and sometimes fall into themost repulsive and awkward postures that one can imagine.Others, especially those from Bornu and the Fezzan, of which a dozenor so traveled with us from Sinnar to Egypt, have in addition to theirlittle tablets a round bow covered over with a skin, a span wide, understrong tension. They make from it various tones as on a drum, a musicthat hurts the ears and which, (so they think), they make even morepleasant by hanging on the bow either shells or little snippets of leadso that it makes more and louder tones. When they perform with thisthey sing and jump about with such gestures that one might think theyhad gone off the rocker and lost all human sense and reason--whichgives them an undying reputation for holiness among the Muslims.I have so often seen similar betrayers of the people in various places,who seek nothing from their strict life and idiotic behavior except toplant forth the law of their false Prophet, root out what they regard asfalse usages, and to lead various kingdoms of the idolaters to the lawof Muhammad.On the twenty-sixth [of March 1701] we set off at daybreak and rodeuntil evening, when we pitched our camp in a desert area not far froman Arab village. Today we will wait here for the remainder of thecaravan, which had remained behind in Dongola. We baked bread untilthe third hour of the night, just as we had at Tangassi, so that wemight have provisions for our Easter celebration.On the twenty-seventh [of March 1701], Holy Easter Day, we startedon our way three hours before daybreak, and after an easy day arrivedin Goshabi. An hour after our arrival there followed forty more camelsof our caravan to continue the journey with us.
On the twenty-eighth [of March 1701] we set out as on the day before,and at about five in the afternoon, to the beating of four war-kettledrums, we rode into Dabulet Elgarbij. This village is called inArabic
, or village,
or son, and
, or sunset.On the twenty-ninth [of March 1701] we left our camp two hours beforeday, and at vesper time arrived at Korti. There a number of 
andthe cavalry of our caravan were waiting to escort us during the six-daytrip through the desert, which was full of robbers and soldiers at warwith the king of Sinnar. Korti is rather large, and the best village inNubia. It lies right by the high desert, and as soon as the caravan isassembled, with God's help, we shall start the journey.On the thirtieth [of March 1701] at ten o'clock another considerablepart of the caravan arrived. Among them were the Jesuits.On the thirty-first [of March 1701] I bled in our tent the eldest son of the viceroy, the commander of the whole militia of Nubia, who hadgiven us a squadron of horsemen to convey us through the robber andmurderer filled desert. The whole tent was full of soldiers and Nubians,all standing around with lances in their hands. The prince seatedhimself on the ground, on a carpet which I spread out for him. I waslucky in opening the vein; when he saw the blood spurt out in a finearch he could scarcely express his wonder that so much bloodemerged from such a little opening. All day long he could discussnothing except the physicians who were traveling to Sinnar, and aboutone hundred Moors came running and crowded around to seesomething for the first time in their lives. I let the vein flow until theblack blood changed to red, and let out at least a good pound of it. Onthe next day other patients were brought to us, some of whom wecured, and many of whom wanted me to bleed them as I had the king'sson. I advised them against this as best I could, and instead of openinga vein, I cupped them on the back or nape of the neck, for whichpurpose we had brought ten large cupping-glasses. I had them sit onthe ground and shaded them from the sun with a cloth, as iscustomary. I took the razor and gave them some good barbarousslashes to which, as the blood was not running out, they paid noattention; they cut and brand themselves anyway just like their beasts.I then took a little spirits in the cupping-glass, ignited it, and put it inplace to draw the blood out. Although these Nubians are accustomedto cupping each other, they do not do it as we do. They make anumber of wounds with a razor, then take a small goat's horn, severedfour or five fingers from the top, bore through it a small hole at the

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