Yaqut ar-Rumi

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[pp. 341-348]


(d. 1229 A.D.)

Yaqūt b. Abdalla ar-Rūmī. Traveller and geographer of Greek Christian origin.

Brockelmann, 479f, EI (s.v. Yakut)

Mu'jam al-buldan

Ed.: F. Wüstenfeld, Jacuts geographisches Wörterbuch, 6 tomes in 10 vols., Leipzig 1866-1873; Cairo 5 tomes in 10 vols. 1905-1907.

T. : Wüstenfeld A:0

The First Climate ... includes the following towns ... Tabāla, in the country of the Maghrib; Jarmā, the town of the king of the Ḥabasha; Dumqula, the town of the Nuba. (Wüstenfeld, t. 1, p. 29).

[p. 342] Uswān ... is a great town and a district in the extreme part of the Ṣa'īd of Egypt and the beginning of the country of the Nūba, east of the Nile, etc. ... Long. 57° and Lat. 22° 30' (t. 1, pp. 269 - 270).

Bāza ... a place in the land of the Sūdān, beyond Sawākin, which is mentioned together with Nāfa. (t. 1, p. 466).

Bajāwa ... az-Zamakhsharī says that it is a place in the land of the Nūba. There are the brisk camels called bajāwiyya. They are called after the Bajā, who are a numerous people living among the Arabs, the Ḥabashah and the Nūba. (t. 1, p. 495).

Bāḍi<ref>See al-Ya'qūbī note 5.</ref> ... is an island in the Red Sea (baḥr al-yaman) which has been mentioned in the story of the flight of 'Abdallah and 'Ubaydallah, sons of Marwān ... when the two entered the Nubian territory.

The women of Bāḍi' pierce their own ears with small holes, sometimes as many as twenty. They speak a ḥabashī language (bi-l-ḥabashiyya). The Ḥabashah bring their elephant tusks, ostrich eggs and other goods they have in plenty in their own countries and buy from the Bāḍiʿ people aromatic plants (gust, Costus), spurs (aẓfār) and combs; most of the luxuries they possess come from Bāḍi'. Today Bāḍi' is a town in ruins. Abū-l-Fath Nasralla ‘Abdalla b. al-Qālaqis, in a poem describing the ports of the Red Sea, said about it: "The ruins of Bāḍi’<ref>Here the poet probably meant the site of ancient Adulis. (Conti Rossini, Storia d'Etiopia, p. 212).</ref> look like a town." (t. 1, p. 471).

Bilāq ... is a place at the extreme end of the Ṣa'īd, where Nubia begins; it is the frontier between the two territories, (t. 1, p. 710).

[p. 343] al-Janādil ... is the plural of jandal which means "rock". It is a place three miles upstream of Aswan near the territory of Nūba, three miles from the frontier between Egypt and Nubia. Al-Harawī said: "When the flood season is near, the natives place lighted wicks on the rocks (janādil). When the level of the Nile rises and the water extinguishes the wicks, they send a messenger to Miṣr to announce the rise of the Nile; the messenger goes in a specially prepared small boat, so that he arrives there before the water and brings the news to the population. (t. 2, p. 123).

Dumqula ... a great town in the country of the Nūba. When one travels westwards, it lies in one's left hand, to the south. It is the residence of the king of the Nūba, built on the Nile bank. The town has high, insuperable stone walls. The length of this country along the Nile is 80 days' journey. 'Abdalla b. Abī Sarḥ raided it in the year 31 during the caliphate of 'Uthmān b. 'Affān. On that day, Mu'āwiya b. Ḥudayj was struck in the eye. He [‘Abdalla] fought a great battle with them after which they asked him for a treaty (hudna): he granted one to them and it has lasted until today. The poet said: "Never did my eye see anything like the day of Dumqula/ the horses advancing burdened under breastplates." Yazīd b. Abī Ḥabīb said: "There is no [official] treaty (hudna) between the people of Miṣr and the Blacks (asāwid): it is only a reciprocal security (amān), [under which] we give them some wheat and lentils and they give us slaves (raqīq), although the text, by a mistake has "daqīq", flour). Ibn Lahī'ah said: "I heard Yazīd b. Abī Ḥabīb saying: 'My father was one of the (Nubian) captives of Dunqulah.'" (t. 2, p. 599).

Dunqula ... is the same as Dumqula. It is ascertained that as-Sukkarī wrote Dunqula. (t. 2, p. 612).

[p. 344] Zaghawa ... according to some, is a place south of Ifriqiya, in the Maghrib; according to others it is a tribe of Blacks (Sūdān) south of the Maghrib. According to Abū Manṣūr, the Zaghāwā are a kind of Sūdān and their name is Zaghāwī.

According to Al-Muhallabī, the Zaghāwā have two towns, one called Mānān, the other Tarāzakī, both within the First Climate, at Lat. 21°.

The Zaghāwā are the largest of all kingdoms among the eastern Sūdān, including the Nubians whose land is immediately above Egypt at ten days distance. The Zaghāwā comprises many nations; the length of their country equals 15 days' journey, all through inhabited areas. Their houses are built of straw; so also is the palace (qaṣr) of their king, whom they revere and worship more than anyone else, apart from God Almighty.

They claim that he does not eat any food, but surely food is secretly brought into his houses, although [the carriers] do not know to whom they are carrying it. If any of his subjects happens to meet the camel carrying his food he is killed on the spot. The king drinks in the presence of the most high ranking of his nobles; his drink is made from dhurra, with honey added. His clothing consists of breeches (sarāwīlāt) made of a rough woolen cloth, but the outer garment is of fine cloth (thiyāb rafī’a) and wool. He has absolute power (yad muṭlaqa) over his subjects and may reduce to slavery whomsoever he wishes. He has cattle, sheep and horses. The main crops of their country are dhurra, and lubiāʾ, followed by wheat. The majority of the people go naked, though they cover themselves with skins. Their food is made up of cereals and dairy products. Their religion is the worship of the king. They believe that their king can give life or death, illness or health. Two of their towns are al-Bilmāʾ and Qasaba in the country of the Kawār<ref>See: Al-Idrīsī note 15</ref> to the south-east. (t. 2, p. 932).

[p. 345] Sawākin ... is a famous place on the coast of the Red Sea near 'Aidhāb. It is a place where the ships coining from Judda cast anchor; its inhabitants are Buja, who are Christian Sūdān. (t. 3, p. 182).

ʿAllāqī ... a fortress in the Bujah country, south of Egypt. There is a mine of native gold (ṭibr). Between this place and Aswān, in a very wide stretch of land, one may dig and, if one finds anything, one takes a half, while the other is due to the Sulṭān of 'Allāqī, who is a man of the Banī Ḥanīfa, a branch of the Rabī'a tribe. Between this place and 'Aydhāb there are eight days. (t. 3, p. 710).

ʿAydhāb ... is a small village (bulayda) on the coast of the Red Sea (Qulzum). It is the anchorage of the boats which sail from Aden towards Upper Egypt. (t. 3, p. 751).

al-Lāb: This is also a place in the Nūba country whence are imported Black [slaves] of the same race (sinf, kind) as that of Kāfūr al-Ikhshīdī. Al-Mutanabbī said: "The Black of Lab (al-lābī) was one of them and also Sandal al-lābī, the wālī of the emirate of Omān. (t. 4, p. 335).

Marīsa, or Marrīsa ... is a very large island in the Nūba country ... from where slaves (raqīq) are imported (t. 4, p. 515).

Nūba (nawba) ... is called a multitude of bees [flying out] to seek food and flying back by turns. This [phenomenon] has been compared to the comings and goings of men (nawbat an-nās) who go and come successively. It is said that nūb (nawb) is the plural of the alternating flying (nā’ib) of bees. A swarm of bees is called "nawba"; this name has been applied to a group of Blacks (nawba min as-sūdān).

[p. 346] An-Nūba: It is a vast country; the people are Christians and a warlike nation. Their country begins above Aswān. They are imported into Egypt to be sold as slaves. 'Uthmān b. 'Affān made a peace agreement with the Nūba on [condition that they gave] 400 slaves a year. The Prophet expressed his appraisal for them when he said: - "If anyone has no brother, let him take one from among the Nūba," and also: - "The best slave for you is the Nūba."

The Nūba are Jacobite Christians, (nasārā ya'āqiba): they do not approach their women during the menstrual period, they make use of water to clean themselves from legal impurity (janāba) and perform circumcision. The town of the Nubians is called Dumqula, the residence (manzil) of their King, on the bank (sāḥil) of the Nile. Their country extends along the Nile for eight days. The distance between Dumqula and Aswān where Egypt begins, is forty days' journey; between Aswan and Fusṭāṭ five days, and between Aswān and Lower Nubia, five days.

East of the Nūba dwells a nation called Beja (al-buja). Between the Nūba and the Beja there are high, impregnable mountains. They [Nūba] were idolaters [before becoming Christians]. It is said that the Nūba own camels (ibil), dromedaries (najā’ib), cattle (baqar) and sheep (ghanam). Their king possesses pure-bred horses (khayl), while the common people have only pack-horses (barādhīn). They shoot arrows with Arabian bows. In their country they grow wheat, barley and dhurra; they have also vines (kurūm) and palm trees (nakhal), the doum palm (muql) and a kind of thorny tree (arāk): their country is like Yemen and they have exceedingly large citrus fruits (utrunj). Their kings claim Himyarite origin; their title is “kābīl”. When they (the kings) write to their agents (ʿummāl) their protocol (kitāba) is: "From Kābīl, King of Muqurrā and Nūba".

[p. 347] Behind them there dwells a nation called 'Alwa. The distance between the [seat of the] king of Nubia and this nation equals three months' journey.

Further away there is another nation of Blacks (Sūdān) called Takna, who go stark naked. Some of these were perhaps taken prisoners and sold in the countries of Islam. If a man or a woman is ordered to cover his/her body or wear some dress, he/she cannot: actually they are not accustomed to do so. They anoint their skin with ointments. The vessel of ointment (duhn) with which one smears oneself, is one's prepuce (qulfatu-hu).

In fact, one fills it with ointment and ties it at the top with a string (khayt) and the prepuce swells up so as it looks like a bottle (qārūrā). Whenever one is bitten by a fly (dhubāba), one takes a little ointment out of one's prepuce and smears it oneself, then ties it up again and leaves it hanging.

In their country gold is found peeping out of the surface of the ground and the Nile branches off into several rivers. Behind the sources of the Nile there is darkness. (t. 4, pp. 820 - 821).

an-Nīl ... About the Egyptian Nile, Hamza says that it is an Arabicized form of the Greek "Nīlos". As to its origin, it is said that it flows from the country of the Zanj, passes through the land of the Ḥabasha, parallel to the Ethiopian coast of the Red Sea and finally enters the Nūba country which is on the west side, while the Beja are on the eastern side. Its course is between two ranges of mountains among which are built villages and towns. He who sails on the Nile continuously sees the two [ranges of] mountains, on the right and on the left, and, [while he is] between these two, he always finds himself in the Ṣaīd of Egypt. (t. 4, pp. 861-864).

[p. 348] al-Wāhāt: The distance between the extreme edge of the Third Oasis [Kharga?] and the beginning of the Nūba country is six days. This country [the Third Oasis] is inhabited by tribes of Berbers like the Lawatāh and others. Further beyond begins the country of the Fazān and the Blacks (Sūdān). (t. 4, p. 872).