Abu Nasr Mutahhar al-Maqdisi

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[pp. 147-148]

ABŪ NASR MUṬAHHAR AL-MAQDISĪ

(about 966 A.D.)

Unknown author who wrote at Bost in Sigistan.

Brockelmann S 1, 222; Sezgin 1, 337 Kitāb al-bad' wa-t-ta'rīkh

Ed.: and French transl. by Ch. Huart, Le Livre de la Creation et de l'Histoire d'Abou Zaid, Publ. de l'Ecole des Languages Vivantes Sier IV, 16, 1-6, Paris 1899-1919, Baghdad 1962.

T.: MC 635-636r (Huart); Ar.Ist. II, 9-14 A:0


The following saying is attributed to Qatāda: - The Earth measures over eighty thousand parasangs (in length), of which the Kingdom of the Blacks (Mamlakat as-sūdān) occupies twelve thousand. (Huart II, p. 42; MC 635 v.).

Know ye, that the ancients, divided the inhabited Earth (ma'mūr) into seven parts, called Climates ... One of the towns of the First Climate is ... Jarmī, a town of the king of the Ḥabasha, another is Dunqula, the town of the Nūba. (ibid. IV, pp. 49, 51).

As for the two lakes with running water, by which the number of Seven Seas is completed - according to God's words (in the Koran, XXX, 26) - it is presumed that they lie beyond the Equator, beyond the [country of the] Nūba, and that they feed the Nile. (ibid. IV, pp. 54, 57).

The Nile flows out of Jabal al-Qamar, runs into two lakes south of the equator, meanders through the land of the Nūba and branches off downstream of Fusṭāṭ. (ibid. IV, p. 58).

Along the borders of the Barbar live such nations of Blacks as the Zaghal and the Zaghāwa. From their countries are imported the well-known black eunuchs.

[p. 148] The Ḥabasha are a black people; their country is very hot and extends over flat plains as far as the sea coast; their religion is Christianity and their staple food is honey and durra. To their eastern side lies the Hejaz and on their western side they have the [Ocean] sea. In their country they hunt giraffes.

The Bishariyya are a black people, whose country is extremely hot. Their water comes from the Nile. They are Christians and live under tents: the Beja are part of them. Above them is a country called "ʿAbarāt as-salāhif” (The Tears of Tortoises). It is said that this people have no idea of the marriage bond (nikāh): the child does not know his father; besides, they are cannibals. God, however, knows better.

The Zanj are of black complexion, have a flat nose, curly hair, little Intelligence and initiative. On their eastern side they have a common border with the western regions of the Hind, and to their west lies the sea. Their land is uneven (mutakhalkhila) and covered with sandy hills (munhāra) devoid of trees. Foodstuffs and clothing are imported by them; gold, slaves (raqīq) and coconut (nārgīl) are the main exports of their country. (ibid. IV, pp. 61 - 70 passim; MC 635 v.).

The country beyond Aswān is Nubia. ... South of the Maghrib there are the Blacks viz. the Zaghal and the Zaghāwa extending as far as the Nūba and the Ḥabasha. (ibid. IV, pp. 72 - 73; MC 636 r).

The Zanj of the remotest parts [of the inhabited Earth], live on sun-dried meat of river-animals. (They have their meal) at sunset. They wear no clothing other than the leaves of trees; their dwellings are holes dug in the ground. They are cannibals. In their country no one knows his own father because they have no marriage bond. (ibid. IV, p. 96; MC 636r).