Ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi

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[pp. 399-416]


(1206 - 1286 A.D.)

A Spanish-Arab scientist, traveller and geographer.

EI (s.v.); GAL 1, 336

1.) K. Jughrafiya (The World Map divided into Seven Climates), probably lost; but there were some summaries and editions.

MS: Paris, Bibl. Nat., MS ar. 2234 (from 1311)<ref>This MS, dated 1311, once belonged to Abū-l-Fidā.</ref> London, Brit. Mus., MS Or. 1524 (from 1300)

Ed.: MC 1080 - 1088r (excerpts from MS Paris)

T.: MC A:1

[p. 400] MS: Oxford, Bodl. Libr., MS Laud. 317-320

Ed.: MC 1088- 1091

T.: MC A:1

2.) K. al-mughrib fī hulā al-maghrib (The Visitor of the Marvels of the Maghrib).

Ed.: (partly) K, Vollers, Fragmente aus dem Muqhrib das Ibn Said, Berlin 1894; Zaki Moh. Hasan, Cairo 1953; A. Dayf, Cairo 1955.

T.: Vollers A:0

[1.) From K. Jughrafiya]

Section IV of the Land Beyond the Equator.

... Among the towns of the Blacks (as-sūdān) located in this fourth Section (juzʾ) there is Dumduma, whence the Damādim people set out against the Nūba and the Ḥabasha in the year 617 H. [1220 A.D.], at the time when the Tatars (at-Ṭaṭar) invaded Persia. For this reason the Damādim are called "the Tatars of the sūdān". The aforesaid town is located at Long. 54° 20' Lat. 9° 30'.

Next comes Qaljūr<ref>Qaljūr (Qaljūn, Kalghūr), Cf. Idrīsī n. 20.</ref> whence the curved swords known as "qaljūriyya" are exported. Near this town, there is a mine producing a high quality iron from which the swords are manufactured. It is located at Long. 55° 60' [sic!] Lat. 2° 30'. (MC 1080 v).

Section VI.

... Horses cannot live in their [the Sufāliyyīn] country, therefore all people go on foot. Al-Mas'ūdī reported that the Zanj fight sitting on oxen, in the same way as the Nūba fight on dromedaries. (MC 1081 r).

[p. 401] Section III of the First Climate [North of the Equator]

Lake Kūra<ref>It may be gathered, from this and other passages below, that Ibn Ṣa’īd confused Lake Chad with Lake Victoria and other major equatorial lakes.</ref>, which is the source of the Nile of Egypt, the Nile of Maqdashū and the Nile of Ghāna, is situated in this Section. We have already described how the streams (anhār) end into two lakes and then flow into this lake situated in a region across the Equator. The length of the rivers beyond the Equator equals about half a degree. This lake measures one thousand miles from East to West, its easternmost shore being at Long. 51° and its westernmost point near the line dividing Section II from Section III<ref>As each section is 18° degrees wide, the third Section begins at Long. 36°.</ref> ; its width is nine and a half degrees in its middle, decreasing little by little to 450 miles and to only 360 in its extremity (dhayl), as shown in the map. Ibn Fāṭima<ref>This author, often quoted by Ibn Ṣa’īd, is unknown.</ref> said: I have not seen for myself the southern shore of this lake, but some natives of Kānam and their neighbours, whom we met on the northern shore, sail all over it. This lake is surrounded on all sides by rebel tribes of Blacks, who are infidels and cannibals. The best known of them are those we are going to mention now. On the northern side, the Badīy [or Baddī], whose town is called by their name; below it, the Nile of Ghāna rises out of the lake. The territory of this people stretches around their town. Their neighbours on the west shore are the Jābī, who file their teeth. When one of them dies, they have the custom of sending the dead body to their neighbours, mentioned above, who eat it; reciprocally, their neighbours do the same towards them. On the southern side of the lake [p. 402] dwell the Ankazār, and, on the eastern, the Kūra, after whom the lake has been named. East of the town of the Badīy, there is the town of Jāja, which belongs to the Moslems of Kānam; this town is the capital (kursī) of a separate kingdom (mamlaka mufrada), which includes other towns and villages, but, at present, it is subject to the Sultan of Kānam. [Jāja] is famous for the fertility of its soil arid its prosperity: peacocks and parrots, guinea-fowl (dajāj ruqt) and spotted sheep (ghanam bulq) of the size of small donkeys, but different from our rams (kabāsh), and giraffes are found commonly. East of their town, on the corner of the lake, is situated al-Maghza, where the Sultan of al-Kānam has his boat-building yard (dar sinā'a). It is from this place that he often sets out on expeditions of conquest against the infidels who dwell on the lake shores; he attacks their boats (marākib) kills them and takes spoils. Ibn Fāṭima locates Jāja at Long. 48° 20' Lat. 70°. At the easternmost corner of the lake, at Long. 51° Lat. 13°, lies the town of Mānān, once the capital of Kānam. Jīmī, the [present] capital of Kānam, is situated southeast [of Mānān], at Long. 53° Lat. 9°, less a few minutes. In this town the Sultan of Kānam has his residence. His name is Muḥammad Barkhīl, who is a descendant of Sayf Dhī Yazan<ref>Sayf Dhū Yazan, an Arab chieftan in pre-Islamic Arabia.</ref> and is famous for his holy war campaigns and other praiseworthy deeds. In the past, i.e. before his ancestors embraced Islam, the royal town was Mānān. After his great-great-great-grandfather (jiddu-hu ar-rābiʿ) was converted to Islam by a faqīh, Islam spread all over the country of al-Kānam. The power of the present Sultan extends over the kingdom of Tājuwa,<ref>Tājuwa obviously seems to correspond to the Dājū (Dajo, Dāqū) tribe in Darfur [Sudan].</ref> the kingdom of Kuwār<ref>For Kuwār, cf. Idrīsī [q.v.] n. 15.</ref> and the kingdom of Fazzān. For God [p. 403] has strengthened him with a great number of children and a numerous army. Clothing materials (thiyāb) are brought to him from the Tunisian metropolis. He has some jurists (fuqahāʾ) in his country.

At the same Latitude as Jīmī, in the remotest part of this Section, the Sultan controls Nayy, where he keeps a garden with a promenade and a place with a cook-shop (harrāqa, rôtisserie), forty miles away from Jīmī on the west side of the Nile. The fruits [of that garden] are different from those we have in our countries: pomegranates and peaches are plentiful. They have started the cultivation of the sugar cane, but the yield is poor. The Sultan himself gives attention to this plantation as well as to the grapes (ʿinab) and wheat (qamḥ).

The Nile of Egypt begins in this Section rising out of the Kūra Lake at Long. 51° 30’. Also the town of Kūra, which is inhabited by cannibal Blacks, is situated here, northwest of the Nile near the Muqassam (Maqsam) Mountain which begins at the south-eastern corner of the lake extending toward this town. The Nile of Maqdashū, too, rises below this mountain near the Equator, as already mentioned. In the center of the Kūra Lake the Lūrātas Mountain rises, which is comprised within this Section. About this mountain Ptolemy said that it begins at Long. 43° Lat. 3° 20' and ends at Long. 38° 45' Lat. 1°. It is also called the Gold Mountain, because, according to what the Blacks say, the gold that is found here and there in that country in the season of the Nile flood, comes from the mines of this mountain. Nobody can go thither, because of the many snakes and wild beasts which infest that mountain. The lake shores near this mountain are infested by crocodiles and hippos. Someone claimed that the hippo is hunted only in this lake; this is not true, because it is also hunted in the Nile of Ghāna [=the Niger ?] and the Nile of the Nūba.

[p. 404] West of the Maqūras Mountain, which is situated between the mountain of the Kānam [people] and the Kawkaw, there are plains inhabited by Kānam and Barbar (Barābir), the latter being serfs (atbāʿ) of the Kānam. The Barbar embraced Islam under the influence of Barkhīl, the Sultan of the Kānam, who considers them as his slaves, raids their country and takes their camels which are numerous throughout the territory.

East of Mānān, there are the dwellings of the Zaghāwiyyīn, the majority of whom are Moslems and subjects to the Lord of Kānam. (MC 1082 r-v).

Section IV of the First Climate

From the beginning of this Section, the Nile of Egypt begins to flow through the country of the Nana a distance of three degrees. The Nana are Blacks and infidels. Their territory lies between the Kānam and the Nūba. There the Nile submerges at Lat. 9° and flows underground making many windings until it rises again at Long. 58° Lat. 11°, then it curves in the shape of a bow, with the curve facing east.

West of the Nile is situated the royal town of the Nūba, called Dunqula, at Long. 58° plus a few minutes, Lat. 14° 15'. One of the towns south of Dunqula is Nuwāba,<ref>Monneret, Storia, p. 200, identifies Nuwāba with Jabāl al-Haraza (Jebel ’Abd al-Hādī), in Northern Kordofan. The astronomical position of this place [Lat. 15° 30’], however, does not agree with Ibn Ṣa’īd’s indication.</ref> from which the Nūba take their name. Its position is Long. 58° 30' Lat. 9°. Southwest of it dwells a [section of] Zanj who are subjects to the Nūba; their capital is Kūsha, beyond the Equator. The Nūba are Christians. Northwest of Dunqula there is 'Alwa,<ref>Ibn Ṣa’īd’s astronomical indications are often far from correct.</ref> one of their towns mentioned in the books; it lies north-[p. 405]-east of the Nile, 170 miles from Dunqula, at Long. 57° Lat. 16° less a few minutes. West of 'Alwa, the Nile makes a series of windings after which it turns straight toward the West until it enters the third Section which we have Just described, then continues its course within this Section for the distance of half-a-degree and then enters the Second Climate. On its banks are the dwellings of the Nūba.

Between the southeastern bank of the river and the capital of the Zaghāwa, which is called Tājuwa, is a distance of 100 miles; the position of this town is Long. 55° Lat. 14°. Its population was converted to Islam and came under the domination of the Lord of Kānam. South of this town there is the town of Zaghāwa (madīna z.) at Long. 54° 30' Lat. 11° 30'. The holdings of the Tājūwiyyīn and the Zaghāwiyyīn encompass the land included in the bend of the Nile as it flows South to North. They are [two tribes of] the same race (jins), but the royal dynasty (mulk) as well as the fine features and the gentle manners are found among the Tājūwiyyīn. Some of them are infidels, not subject to the king of Kānam; they dwell in the plains and on the mountains ranging from the First to the Second Climate. Ibn Fāṭima said that the kings of Kānam and of Tājuwa migrated from the Nile to flee the mosquitoes (ba'ūd), which are very numerous and harmful to both men and horses. They have water from wells dug in the sands and also from some water courses derived from the Nile during the flood season.

One of the towns of the Ḥabasha reckoned in this fourth Section is Ḥunbīta (Junbīta?)<ref>See: Idrīsī n. 19.</ref> at Long. 58° Lat. 3°. East of this town lies Kazla [Karla?], a people well-known among the Ḥabasha and highly reputed [p. 406] for certain of their racial characteristics (jins). The Ḥabasha are, no doubt, the best of all the Negro races. It is from them that the eunuchs of kings and princes are imported. The Ḥabasha are Christians, but along the sea coast some of them are Moslem. The country of the Kazla extends from the Equator - where they are the neighbours of the Zanj - as far north as the slopes of a mountain called Mūris. It is said that the Kazla, as well as other natives of those regions, earn their living by working in the gold and silver mines of this mountain, four days' from Ḥunbīta. It is here that [the Kazla territory] begins, stretching northeast, then crosses the Nile of the Ḥabasha and ends near the sea coast. (MC fol. 1082 v.).

Southeast of the Kazla there is the lake of the Kawars,<ref>Kawars: = Hawaris? Perhaps Hwarasā = Lake of Qwarā (Conti Rossini, Storia d’Etiopia, p. 327).</ref> so called after a Zanj tribe of the Ḥabasha race (umma min zunūj al-Ḥabasha) who go naked and have no civilized customs. It is said that gold and the qal'ī lead [= tin?] are in good supply in their country. Ibn Fatima, quoting Ptolemy, said that the centre of that lake falls on the line of the equinox at Long. 62° and its radius equals two degrees in length.

The Nile of the Ḥabasha rises in this lake and is in spate at the same time as the Nile of Egypt, i.e. while all the other rivers are low. Both these rivers are infested with crocodiles and hippos. The place where it leaves the lake is Long. 61° Lat. 2°. The town of Najā’a is situated on the eastern shore of this lake and is one of their towns mentioned in the books. Thence the Nile of the Ḥabasha flows northwards, having the town of Markaṭa on its east bank at Long. 62° Lat. 6°. North of it is situated the mountain of the mines referred to above. [p. 407] North of this mountain, there is the country of the Manharta [= Saharta], a well-known Ḥabasha people, who dwell on both banks of the Nile. East of the Manharta lies Kalghūr,<ref>cf. note 2</ref> a well-known town and a meeting place for the Ḥabasha coming from all directions, both those who go to the sea-side and those who travel up the Nile or towards the deserts. The location of this town is Long. 63° Lat. 11°.

The country north of the Manharta, from the Nile to the sea, belongs to the Khāsa, a people whom the Ḥabasha despise. It is well known that they are used to castrating any man that falls into their hands, and that, when they pay the bride price, they take into account the [number of] genitals they have accumulated from their victims and their status is proportioned to the number they can show. East of this people, on the sea side, dwell the Samhar. In their country is found a long reed of a kind called "samharī"; these reeds, rubbed one against another catch fire and burn completely or partially, according to their thickness and the strength of the wind. There are many gazelles in their country; their skins, tied on the back of the horses, are used as saddles. They make use of the samharī reeds to fight, to dig holes and to play games. It is said that their [the Ḥabasha's] southern border is conterminal with a people of white complexion and hair like the Turks. Should this be true, one should believe that the Climates to the south [of the Equator] are in the same order as those in the north; but this matter is subject to dispute. In their country is found the rhino (karkadann) with two protruding horns, one longer than the other. This animal is very dangerous. Men hunt it on horseback and try to trip it aiming blows at the legs, but if the blow is not on target, the animal charges the hunter and gores the horse. The flesh of this animal is good to eat.

[p. 408] Along the Nile, in the country of this people, there are also lions and elephants. The town of Bakhta is located northeast of Kalghūr. The "bakhtī" camels are from here. Bakhta is situated at Long. 65° Lat. 12°. To the east is the. mountain of the khumāhan, where the stone of this name is found. It was highly prized by the Persians because they used it to make their seals, or to dilute it in water and prepare potions against the heat caused by excessive drinking. Since that practice has stopped, the price of this stone has fallen. It is also called "mineral sandal", for, as a pharmaceutical, it has the same curative properties against diseases caused by the heat as the sandal-wood. The length of this mountain, from south to north, is 100 miles; there are, however, some breaks and irregularities in the range.<ref>Batā, Baqtī and Zayla’ [Zeila, near modern Jibuti] and other places near Bāb al-Mandab described by the author, are considered outside the area of our concern. </ref>

... The Sea of Qulzum stretches south to north, beginning from Bāb al-Mandab and gradually increasing in width up to 60 miles between the town of 'Awān<ref>A seaport, on the Ethiopian Coast, to be located between Massawa and Assab.</ref> and the Tihāma coast of al-Hijaz. 'Awān is situated at Long. 60° Lat. 13° 30'; it is a well-known town, with a Moslem population. In the countryside a kind of pure bred, spotted cattle (baqarāt bulq) is raised, which belongs to the ruler (ṣāḥib) of that town. The population swear by these animals for which they show great respect (ʿizza)... Between this town and the Dahlak Islands, which sure subject to the ruler (ṣāḥib) of al-Yaman or to the ruler of Dahlak, the largest and the best known island is Kamarān, which is Inhabited and belongs to the ruler of al-Yaman; it is situated on the extremity of Section IV, very near [p. 409] the coast of Zabīd. (MC 1083 r-v).

Section III of the Second Climate

Ibn Fāṭima said that the western parts of this Section are waterless wasteland characterized by drifting sands, like the adjoining parts of Section II. Then [proceeding towards the East] one finds the Maqūras Mountain, where the Kawkaw River rises to flow then into the First Climate. Next comes the country of the Kawkaw, who are Moslem Blacks. Kuwār<ref>cf. note 8</ref> is their capital, but at present they are subjects to the Sultan of Kānam. Their town is located at Long. 45° Lat. 20° plus a few minutes. The famous Kuwār Lake, which is 12 miles long and 3 miles wide, is a two days’ journey west of this town; it is deep and the water is fresh. The būrī<ref>About būrī, cf. Idrīsī [q.v.].</ref> fish, which is found in this lake, is salted and exported to other countries. One day’s journey east of Kuwār is "Shawk" Lake, 20 miles in length and 4 miles in width; it is shallow but has fresh water. A kind of fish with many thorns is found here. This lake is fed from a source situated on the southern slope of a mountain. Fights break out often between the Kawār Blacks, the Barbar of the plain and the Arabs of Fazzān, who dwell on the shores of these two lakes, the cause of contention being pasturing rights in the region. One of their well-known towns is Qaṣr 'Isā, situated northwest of Kawār on the great route, four days' away. Further northwest lies Qaṣaba, where palms grow abundantly. Alum, found all over the country, is exported to other territories. The Kuwār have other towns and villages not known in our country. Their territory extends over the Second and the First Climates. They wear woollen and cotton clothing in the fashion of the white people and do much commercial travelling.

[p. 410] The great mountain of Lūniyā is located south of these towns extending almost up to the Nile of Egypt. For this reason it has been claimed that the Nile sinks under the mountain and rises again far away in the aforesaid Maqūras Mountain; also other similar claims have been made. North of this mountain, running east-west, is the country of the Barkāmī who are a very wealthy race of Blacks. Their country has watered valleys where palms and vegetables grow. Those who dwell near the frontier of al-Kānam are Moslems, those near the Nūba country are Christians and those near the Zaghāwa are idolaters. In this Lūniyā Mountain, which rises in the Barkāmī territory and stretches into the Kuwār<ref>cf. note 8</ref> country, small rivers rise where travellers find a peculiar kind of stone. According to Ibn Fāṭima, someone has claimed that these rivers are formed by the Nile waters infiltrating under the mountain. South of Lūniyā Mountain there are the dwellings of the [non-Moslem section of the] Zaghāwa also called Sanwa. The Ghargha Mountain stretches in an east-west direction south of Kuwār, three days' away from the line dividing the Third Climate from the Second, it is said that on this mountain there are ants as large as sparrows.

Northeast of Kuwār is the country of the Sandarāta, who are Barbar and followers of Islam; they wear the muffler (mulaththimūn). According to a tradition dating back to the time before they were Islamised, a man's heir is his sister's son. On the western edge of the Lūniyā Mountain, is the town of Tadamakka in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is mentioned in books and is well known to travellers. Its population is Moslem, of Berber (barbar) stock. They have an active commerce with the countries of the Blacks and are subjects of the king of Kānam. The town is located south of the Lūniyā Mountain, within the Second Climate, at Long. 44° plus a few minutes.

[p. 411] Along the eastern border of this Section are the Southern Oases (al-wāḥāt al-janūbiyya). This country is mostly desert with some islands of palm trees spread across the sands; their water is brackish. (MC 1084 r).

Section IV of the Second Climate

The course of the Nile is first encountered in the western part of this section. On its banks live the Nūba. When the Nile has passed their territory, it divides and its two branches surround the island of Bilāq<ref>The MC French translation has “Balāq”; we prefer “Bilāq”. For the location of this town, see Idrīsī [q.v.] footnote 16. In a map drawn by Ibn Ṣa’īd (MC fol. 1093) Balāq (Bilāq) is shown as an island as the junction of a river coming from S-E and ending in the Nile [“Nile of Egypt”] half-way between ‘Alwa and Aswān.</ref>, on which stands the town of Bilāq. This place is well known to travellers. The town lies along the eastern branch of the river. It is upstream of this point that the Nile of the Ḥabasha empties into the [main] channel. The position of the town is Long. 59° 20' Lat. 19°. Continuing its course, the Nile flows eastwards till the famous mountain known as the Cataracts (al-Janādil) at Long. 56° 30’ Lat.'22° 30'. North of this mountain begins the mountain barrier (hājīz) which extends up to al-Fayyūm. Nubian boats sail northwards only as far as this Cataract, while the boats from Egypt do not sail beyond this point. This is because the [Cataract] mountain is very steep on its southern slope; therefore the water falls precipitously over a river bed strewn with rocks. Then the Nile turns northwards and soon reaches the town of Aswan which lies on its eastern bank.

From Aswān, the route to al-Ḥījāz points in an eastern direction. Travelling eastwards, one is oneself on al-Waḍaḥ, where the route coining from Aswān and the one [p. 412] coming from Qos meet. Al-Waḍaḥ is so called because it is a track wide and clearly distinguishable (wāḍiḥ) through the plain. It is located at Long. 61° almost at the same Lat. as Aswān. Pilgrims, however, preferably take the upper route (at-tarīq al-'ulyā) which turns south. To the right of this route lies the town of 'Allāqī, which is the royal town of the king of the Beja, at Long. 63° Lat. 20° 3'. The Beja (al-buja) are Blacks: some of them are Moslems, some Christians and some idolaters. It is they who guide the pilgrims and merchants through these deserts on their camels. They are well known as trustworthy guides. The danger comes rather from the Nūba, who mounted on their tawny camels carry out raids. The mountain region of 'Allāqī is famous for the mines of high quality gold situated in its wadis (awdiya).

'Aydhāb is a well known seaport at Long. 64° Lat. 21° plus a few minutes. The distance between 'Aydhāb and Jedda (Judda) is two degrees, but Jedda is located a few minutes north of 'Aydhāb.

... The island of Dahlak is surrounded, north and south, by many islets which are inhabited only for a short season of the year. They belong to the ruler of the great island who often has claims as to ownership against the ruler of the island of Sawākin. This ruler is a Beja, but is a Moslem, and levies duties on the ships of al-Kānam. Only the ships coming from' the coast of Arabia, al-Hījāz and al-Yaman take this route, which is easier to them [than others].

Sawākin is a very small island, less than one mile in length, separated from the mainland by a strait which one can swim across. West of this territory, along the Nile of the Ḥabasha lies the country of the Tāka (at-tāka) who are the first Ḥabasha people one finds living on this Nile branch [travelling upstream]. (MC 1084 r-v).

[p. 413] [from: Oxford Bodleian Library, MS Laud. 317 – 320]

We shall now describe the parts (ajzāʾ) of the Earth. They are seven<ref>They are: 1. aṣ-Ṣīn, al-Hind and as-Sind; 2. Al-Yaman, al-Qulzum, Miṣr and Shām; 3. Al-Irāq and Dependencies; 4. Filastīn and Dependencies; 5. Ash-sham and Dependencies; 6. Al-Maghrib and Dependencies; 7. … [see above: bilād as-sūdān].</ref> ... The seventh part comprises the countries of the Blacks (bilād as-sūdān).

... The southern hemisphere is an uninhabited desert. The only men who go thither are the Nūba and the Ḥabasha. Living on the Equator as they are, they are very near that land. They enter those deserts as far as twenty farsakhs beyond the Equator, not more. Sometimes they reach the first of the lakes from which the Nile rises, we mean the two lakes formed by the streams descending from Jabāl al-Qamar.

... We have already explained the reason why the southern hemisphere cannot be inhabited and have also told something about the marvellous things one can see there. We shall now describe<ref>Here Ibn Ṣa’īd depends on az-Zuhrī.</ref> the highest mountain of this country and some of its peculiarities; it is Jabāl al-Qamar. It has been so named because its top changes of colour according to the phases of the moon. On the first night of the month, it looks white and surrounded by a halo of light; on the second night, it looks whiter; on the third it appears surmounted by a yellowish splendour; on the fourth its splendour becomes more intense, and so on, more and more on the fifth and the sixth nights, it seems surrounded by a fiery light. On the seventh night the colour turns green and the top becomes increasingly bright and resplendent until the moon is full: then the mountain looks like a peacock tail shining so brilliantly that it can be seen as far as the Nūba and the Ḥabasha countries. Many streams of water flow down [p. 414] its slopes to supply a lake situated in the aforesaid desert. According to al-...<ref>Name illegible in the MS.</ref> on this mountain is the source of the Nile which flows towards the Equator and then, passing through the Gold Mountains, gradually expands its channel as it flows through the countries of the Ḥabasha, the Kūkū and the Karak until it reaches Aswān... The total length of the Nile, from its source on the Jabāl al-Qamar to its mouth in the Sea of the Rūm, is 1,045 farsakhs.<ref>This figure [1045 farsakhs = about 6000 km] is surprisingly near the correct one.</ref> (MC fol. 1088 v).

... Know that this seventh part (ṣuqʾ) stretches along the Great Sea (al-baḥr al-a'zam). It is bordered to the east by the Red Sea and the coast of the Ḥabasha, to the south by the Equator and the Gold Mountains called Tūta in the languages of the Nūba, to the northwest by the town of Νūn, exactly to the north by the town of Arīqa and to northeast by the town of Warqalān. All the above mentioned countries (bilād) are frequented by many caravans. This part is the largest of all [the Seven Parts] and is subdivided into three sections.

The first section includes the Nūba, the Zanj and the Ardakān Mountains. In the Nūba country (bilād an-Nūba) lies the town of Marwa, their capital.<ref>Perhaps, the ancient town of Meroe [?] is meant here.</ref> This (the Nūba) is the first people one encounters as one comes from the region of Jabāl al-Qamar downstream the Nile. Then the Nile enters the Ardakān Mountains and the territories of the Zanj until it ends in the Great [Mediterranean] Sea. It is in this section that the [Environing] Sea ends and becomes a large gulf (khalīj), while the extreme limit of the sea completes the spherical form of the Earth. (MC fol. 1090 r: fol. 35 v).

[p. 415] The Ardakān Mountains rise between the territory of the Nūba and the territory of the Zanj. It is said that from these mountains comes the raw material to manufacture the vases in which the [poison of the] zumurruda<ref>MC French translation (fol. 1090 r): “vases dans lesquels on récueille les émeraudes”. The translator read “zammurud” (“emerald” although the Arabic text has “az-zumurruda”). It appears that Ibn Ṣa’īd depended on az-zuhrī [q.v.].</ref> is collected. Between these mountains and these of the Nūba territory are the statues (aṣnām, idols) mentioned by al-Mas'ūdī in his Kitāb at-tanbīh wa-l-ishrāf. In this region the Nūba collect gold in the Tūta Mountains, also called the Gold Mountains, which are very high... Nobody can see these Zanj without becoming blind; they live beyond the Ardakān Mountains, along the Nile. Only the Nūba, the Ḥabasha and the Janāwa can enter that country where they take their merchandise, especially salt, which the Zanj prize very highly. (MC 1090 r: fol. 36 r).

The second section of the Seventh Part includes the countries inhabited by the Ḥabasha. Its boundaries are: to the West, the Nile; to the East, the Red Sea; to the South, the country of the Gold Mountains beyond the Equator, and, to the North, the country of Karak (bilād K.) until Aswān, and Egypt. One of the Ḥabasha towns within this section is Kūkū, their capital (hādirat al-Ḥabasha)... situated on a Nile island.

... In the southernmost part of this section, on the margin of the inhabited land, lies the town of Malqa, a royal residence of the Ḥabasha (dār mamlakat al-Ḥabasha). On the western side, the population of this country is far away from the Nile, while it is rather near the Sea of al-Yaman on the East. (MC 1090 r: fol. 37 v).

[p. 416] From "Kitāb al-mughrib".

In the book of [Ibn ad-Dāya] al-Qurṭī we read that Kāfūr, the Black eunuch, was himself one of the marvels (ʿajā’ib). His life (sīra) is one of the strangest. One day, shortly after he was brought from the country of the Blacks and was still very young, he was strolling about the market of Fusṭāṭ (Miṣr) with a fellow countryman. Suddenly his companion exclaimed: "Oh! If I were sold to a cook! I could fill my stomach from the kitchen all my life!" Kāfūr, instead, exclaimed: "Oh! I wish I could become the king of this town!"

The same author reported also the following story. One day, Kāfūr passed by an armed company (halqa) of Blacks (sūdān), who had some drums called "dabdaba" which they brought from their own country and were beating them. Suddenly, Kāfūr began singing and clapping his hands rhythmically, unmindful of his dignity. When he came to reason and noticed the comments the onlookers were making about him, he went on his way swinging rhythmically his shoulders, more and more, so as to let them think that he was doing this because he always did it, and not because he had heard the dabdaba. (Vollers, p. 48).