Al-Bakuwi

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[pp. 563-566]

AL-BAKŪWĪ

(d. 1413 A.D.)

'Abd ar-Rashīd b. Ṣālih b. Nūrī Al-Bakūwī. Otherwise unknown author of a summary of Qazwini's 'Ajā'ib al-Buldān. Born at Bakū.

Brockelmann S 1, 883

[p. 564] Talkhīs al-āthār wa-'ajā'ib al-malik al-qahhār (A Summary Account of the Memorable Works of Man and the Marvels of the Powerful King)

MS: Paris, Bibl. Nat., MS ar. 2246; French Transl.: (fragments): Notices et Extraits des manuscrits de la Bibl. du Roi, Paris 1789, pp. 386 - 545.

Exc.: MC 1365 r-v.

T.: MC (Notices) A: 1


Al-Ḥabasha. Long. 65° 0', Lat. 9° 30'.

This is a vast country, the northern part of which is limited by the Gulf of Barbar (al-khalīj al-barbarī). In the south lies [the country of] gold (at-tibr). To the east there are the Zanj, and to the west the sea. They are of a very dark complexion and more numerous than the other peoples. A few are Muslims, the majority are Christians. Their soil being mainly desert, the towns are few because water and rain are scanty. The products are bananas, raisin and pomegranates. They wear hides as dress. There are also elephants and giraffes and the inhabitants make use of oxen (baqar) as transport.[1] (Paris, 4S, fol. 4 r-v; MC fol. 1365 v).

Al-Bujāh. This country stretches to the west of 'Aydhāb. The (Bujāh) people are a branch (ṣinf) of the Ḥabasha. [In their country] there are emerald mines, the products of which are exported everywhere. (Paris, MS fol. 4; MC 1365 r).

Az-Zanj. The country extends as far as a two month's journey. To the north there is Yemen, to the south there are deserts, to the east the Nūba, to the west the Ḥabasha... There is also much gold. (ibid.).

[p. 565] The country of the Blacks (Sūdān). Long. 65° 0’ Lat. 9° 20'.

To the north, their country extends as far as the country of the Barbar, to the south it extends to the deserts, to the east as far as the [country of the Ḥabasha] and to the west as far as the Ocean. The soil is burnt by the extreme heat of the sun which always passes overhead. The inhabitants go naked; they wear no clothing because of the extreme heat.

Among them there are both Muslims and infidels. The soil produces gold. The rhinoceros, the elephant and the giraffe are found there. There are enormous trees, in which the inhabitants make their dwellings (ahlu-ha yattakhidhūna buyūta-hum)[2]. As destruction comes out of the soil, all their clothing and food stuffs are safeguarded in these houses to preserve them against [the ill-effects of] the soil.[3] (ibid. fols. 4 v - 5 r; MC 1365 v).

An-Nūba. It is a very extensive country south of Miṣr, stretching east and west of the Nile. It is a very populous nation (umma ‘azīma). They are Christians and have a king called "Kābīl". They claim that he descends from the Himyarite kings. It is their custom to worship their king as a divine being and to believe [the fiction] that he does not eat. Therefore, food is brought to him secretly. Were any of his subjects to notice it, he would be killed immediately. The king’s rulings have immediate execution among his subjects; they credit him with the power of giving life or causing death. (ibid. fol. 5 r; MC 1365 v).

[p. 566] Dunqula. Long. 43° 40' Lat. 15° 30'- It is a great town in the country of the Nūba. It sprawls along the bank of the Nile. [The town][4] extends over 80 miles, while its width is very small. It is the residence of their king Kābīl; the inhabitants are Jacobite Christians. The soil is burnt because of the excessive heat, yet it yields wheat (ḥinṭa), barley, and dhurra. They have palm-trees and vines, their houses are all built of reeds. The inhabitants go naked, but they gird (mu'tazirūn) themselves with a skin. Leopards (numūr) are very numerous and they use their skins as girdles. (ibid. fol. 6 r-v; MC 1365 v).

  1. Next follows a passage quoting Galenus’ remarks on the Zanj. See Mas’ūdī (q.v.).
  2. Perhaps the grain stores hanging from trees are meant here.
  3. An allusion to the white ants.
  4. Although the subject (“the town”) is not expressed in the original or another word “country” (Nubia) might equally be the subject, it seems more logical that the author here meant “the town” including the string of villages along the Nile in the Dongola stretch.