Part 9 out of 9
From Beishe to Aryn, in the country of the Abyda Arabs, is a journey of
five days, according to the Bedouin mode of travelling, but six or seven
days as the Kebsy pilgrims march. Beishe itself is about two days
distant from the western mountain. It is a journey of at least four days
from Beishe to the district of Zohran: all the Arabs from Taraba to
Beishe, and from thence westward, are cultivators or agriculturists;
those due south and east, are Bedouins, or wandering Nomades.
South-east of Beishe, four or five days, live the Dowaser Arabs during
the winter; but in summer they remove to the more fertile pasture-lands
of Nedjed, the nearest frontiers of which are only eight days distant.
They have no horses, but furnish to the Wahabys in their wars about
three thousand camel-riders. The Dowaser are said to be very tall men,
and almost black. In former times they used to sell at Mekka ostrich
feathers to the northern pilgrims, and many pedlars of Mekka came here
in winter to exchange cotton stuffs for those feathers.
Adjoining the Dowaser, but I cannot exactly ascertain in what direction,
are the Beni Kelb, Bedouins of whom many absurd fables are related in
the Hedjaz: thus it is said, the men never speak Arabic, but bark like
dogs; a notion, perhaps, arising from the name Kelb, which signifies a
dog. Their women, however, it is allowed, can speak Arabic; but the
truth is, that the stranger who alights at their tents is entertained by
the women, and not by the men.
Half way between Wady Dowaser, or the winter pasture-land of the Dowaser
tribe, and Sanaa the capital of Yemen, a short day's journey east of
Thohran, (the territory of the Wadaa Arabs,) and four or five days from
the town of Sada, lies the Wady Nedjran, on the first of the great chain
of mountains. It is a fertile valley between inaccessible mountains, in
which the passes are so narrow that two camels cannot go abreast. The
valley is watered by rivulets, and abounds with date-trees. Here reside
the Beni Yam, an ancient tribe, distinguished lately by their opposition
to the Wahabys: they consist of settlers and Bedouins; the former being
Shyas, or heretics of the Persian sect, followers of Aly, while the
Bedouins are mostly Sunne or orthodox Muselmans. The latter are
subdivided into the tribes of Okman and El Marra, weaker than the
disciples of Aly, and often at variance with them, although both parties
unite whenever Nedjran is attacked by a foreign enemy. The settlers can
muster about fifteen hundred firelocks. They twice repulsed the Wahaby
chief Saoud, who had subdued all the other Arab tribes except the Beni
Sobh, of the Harb race, in the northern parts of the Hedjaz. The Beni
Yam made a kind of treaty with the Wahabys, and were allowed to perform
the pilgrimage annually. Some of them visit the tomb of Aly, at Meshehed
Aly, but under circumstances of great difficulty; for their lives would
pay the forfeit of their religious zeal, should they be detected on the
road; and this frequently happens,
[p.453] as they are betrayed by their peculiar accent or dialect: one
who has performed his devotions at Aly's tomb is regarded as a saint at
When a man of this Beni Yam tribe undertakes a journey, he sends his
wife to the house of a friend, who, it is understood, must in all
respects supply the husband's place during his absence, and restore the
lady to him at his return. It may be here remarked, that the name of
Nedjran el Yemen is mentioned in the Catechism of the Druses; one of the
questions being, "Is Nedjran of Yemen in ruins or not?" The tanneries of
Nedjran are famous throughout Arabia.
The less mountainous districts mentioned here, south of Mekka, are even
in time of peace accessible only to Bedouins, or Bedouin merchants, and
have not any regular communication with Mekka by caravans--Taraba
excepted, the inhabitants of which carry their dates in monthly caravans
to Mekka and Djidda. The people of Nedjed pass continually through this
district in search of coffee-beans, and during the Wahaby dominion there
was no other intercourse between Yemen and the northern provinces of
Arabia. This country seldom enjoys peace, the mountaineers being hostile
to the pastoral inhabitants of the low districts, and often at variance
among themselves. They are all very warlike, but the Wahabys have
succeeded in checking their private feuds.
The country from Mekka southwards near the sea-shore, to the west of the
chain of mountains, is flat, intersected with hills that gradually
disappear as we approach the sea, of which the shore presents a level
plain in almost every direction at the distance of several hours. In
time of peace the land road is most frequented by caravans, which either
proceed along the coast close to the barbour, or by the foot of the
mountains. The former way affords but little water. The first inhabited
place south of Djidda is Leyth, four days distant, a small harbour,
which the people were now deserting through dread of the mountaineers.
The inhabitants of Leyth are mostly of the Beni Harb tribe, numerous and
powerful in the country between Mekka and Medina. On this coast are many
encampments of the Heteym Arabs. From Leyth up the mountains to the
district of Zohran, is a journey of three days and a half: from Leyth to
Shagga, a small town, is one day's journey: from thence to Doga, the
same distance. Doga lies near the mountainous region, and is a
considerable market-place; but its houses, or rather huts, are
constructed only of brush-wood and reeds, not of stone. The inhabitants
are mostly Sherifs, connected in kindred with the Sherif families of
Mekka, to whom they often granted an asylum in the late civil wars. It
is a journey of one day from Doga to Gonfode, the well-known harbour.
One day and a half south of Gonfode, is the small harbour of Haly: this
was the southern limit of the territory belonging to the Sherif of
Mekka, who kept custom-house officers at Gonfode and Haly. The Wahaby
chieftain, Othman el Medhayfe, in 1805 (or 1806), took Gonfode from the
Sherif, and the whole coast from thence to Djidda fell under the Wahaby
dominion. In 1814 the Turkish troops of Mohammed Aly Pasha endeavoured
to establish themselves there, but were soon dislodged with considerable
loss by Tamy. Gonfode, however, was retaken in 1815 by Mohammed Aly
himself, after his return from the expedition against Tamy, the Sheikh
The caravan distance from Djidda to Gonfode along the coast is seven
days, easy travelling. From Djidda to Leyth, another more eastern road,
somewhat mountainous, five
[p.454] days' journey, yielding plenty of water: while on the coast
road, but one well is found between the two towns.
The other road from Mekka to Yemen, close along the western foot of the
great mountains, is much frequented in time of peace: there are weekly
arrivals of caravans, chiefly from Mokhowa, which is distant fifteen
hours from Doga, and one day from the district of Zohran in the
mountains. Mokhowa is a large town, nine days' journey from Mekka, for
caravans travelling slowly: it has stone buildings, and is the market
where the husbandmen of Zohran and the neighbouring districts sell the
produce of their labour to the merchants of Mokhowa, who send it to
Mekka and Djidda. The country about Mokhowa is very fertile, and
inhabited by the three tribes of Beni Selym, Beni Seydan, and Beni Aly:
the two latter had submitted to the Wahabys, and were commanded by Tamy,
the Sheikh of Asyr. There are likewise at Mokhowa many of the Beni
Ghamed tribe. In time of peace the intercourse between this town and
Mekka is very considerable; perhaps one third of the supplies of Mekka
in grain of different kinds come from this place. Between these towns
the road lies chiefly through valleys, and crosses but few hills: on it
are some villages, of which the huts are inhabited by Bedouins as well
as agriculturists. I must here repeat that Mokhowa is not to be
confounded with Mokha.
The two first days' journeys lie in the territory of the Djebadele
tribe, whose boundary on the S. is Wady Lemlem, a fertile valley with
springs. Beyond that live the Beni Fahem, an ancient tribe, now much
reduced in numbers: they are celebrated throughout the Hedjaz for having
retained the purity of their language in a higher degree than other
tribes; and those who hear one of their boys speak, will be convinced
that they deserve thin praise.
The country west of the great mountainous chain down to the sea is
called Tehama; an appellation not given, at least in this part of
Arabia, to any particular province, but assigned generally to the
comparatively low grounds towards the coast; and the Bedouins extend
this appellation northwards as far as Yembo. The people of Tehama are
poor, those excepted who engage in trade; for the country has few
fertile spots, and less pasturage than the mountains, where rain falls
more abundantly. In the lower Tehama there are sometimes, during a whole
year, but three or four days of rain. The Tehama Bedouins south of Mekka
had mostly retired up into the mountains, when Mohammed Aly invaded the
Hedjaz, not from dread of the Turks, but because, in such an unsettled
state of affairs, weak tribes were not secure, in the open country, from
being surprised by straggling Bedouins from the more powerful hostile
tribes, who during the power of the Wahabys did not venture to show
their enmity, and now impatiently broke loose. Among the Bedouins of
Tehama are many tribes of the Beni Heteym, a tribe more widely spread
than any other in Arabia.
The Great Desert, east of Beishe and Wady Dowaser, and south of the
province of Nedjed, extending eastwards to the frontiers of Oman, is
called by the Bedouins Roba el Khaly, "the empty or deserted abode." In
summer it is wholly deserted, being without any wells. In winter, after
rains, when the sands produce herbage, all the great tribes of the
Nedjed, Hedjaz and Yemen pasture their flocks in the parts of this
desert bordering respectively on their own countries. The sandy soil is
much frequented by ostriches, which
[p.455] are killed by the Dowaser Arabs. Several Bedouins assured me,
that in the Roba el Khaly there are many parts which have never yet been
explored; because towards the east it does not, even in winter time,
afford the slightest vegetation. The only habitable spot on this dreary
expanse of sand is the Wady Djebryn. There the road passes, by which, in
winter, the Arabs of Nedjed travel to Hadramaut: it is a low ground with
date-trees and wells; but the pestilential climate deters people from
residing there. The dates are gathered by the passing travellers.
Stations of the Hadj or Pilgrim Caravan from Cairo to Mekka.
THE following account refers to the route of the caravan in 1816; but
formerly, as I learn from Arabian authors, the stations differed in many
The caravan assembles for several days at a place eastward of the
Gardens near Cairo, about one hour distant, called El Hassoua, and then
proceeds to Birket el Hadj, four hours distant, where they remain two
days. From this place the caravan starts on the 27th of the month Showal:
it travels only by night, generally setting out at four o'clock in the
afternoon, and alighting soon after sun-rise at the station where they
encamp, until evening.
From the Birket el Hadj--
1st night--To Dar el Hamra.
2. To Adjeroud: here they halt the whole day and following night. The
caravan is supplied with water from Suez, that which Adjeroud furnishes
being extremely bad.
4. To Roos el Nowatyr, a plain in the mountain, without water: here they
halt only a few hours, and proceed
5. To Wady Tyh, the entrance to the Desert of Tyh: here they halt a few
hours, but, not finding any water, go on
6. To the castle of Nakhel: here they repose, after their forced march,
during the whole day and following night, supply themselves with water,
and set out next evening.
8. To El Alaya, where they remain one hour, but find no water.
9. To Sath el Akaba, the summit of the western chain of Akaba: here is a
small village. The road up and down the mountain is very difficult. From
this station they march a whole night, to descend in the narrow passes
to the plain and castle of Akaba.
10. Here they remain the day and night.
12. Thaher el Homar, a rocky ground, with bad water and numerous date-
13. (Night,) To Shorafa, a barren long extended valley, without water.
14. To Moghayr Shayb: many wells of sweet water, date-plantations, and
trees among the rocks, render this one of the most agreeable stations on
the route; but it is infested by robbers.
15. To Ayoun el Kassab, a plain ground with date-trees, and water.
It belongs to the territory of Moeyleh.
16. To El Moeyleh, where are fine pasture-grounds and good water: here
the caravan halts for the night, and remains till the next evening.
18. To Selma, a place yielding water.
19. To Kalat Ezlam.
20. To El Astabel, or Astabel Antar: the only water here is in a few
holes dug in the sands of the valley,
21. To Kalat el Wodjeh, where there is good water: they halt this night,
and next evening proceed
23. To Akra; a very long march; they arrive at Akra in the evening: here
the water is of a most offensive smell. The caravan halts one hour.
24. To El Houra, likewise called Dar el Ashreyn, because it is the
twentieth station from Cairo. Between Akra and Houra lies El Hank, a
valley without water. At Houra are many trees; also the shrub Arak, of
which the pilgrims cut branches, to use as toothbrushes. The water here
is bad, and of a strong aperient quality.
25. To Nabt.
26. To El Khedheyra, where the caravan stops one hour in the morning,
and marches the rest of the day, the whole night, and next day till
27. To Yembo el Nakhel, where they remain the night, and proceed
29. To Beder: here they remain that day and night; and set out early
next morning, and arrive at El Kaa in the afternoon, where they halt
till evening, and then proceed
31. To Rabegh.
32. To Djereynat.
33. To Akabet e' Sukar.
34. To Kholeys.
35. To Asfan.
36. To Wady Fatme.
37. To Mekka.
Thirty-seven days on the road--thirty-one nights marching--seven days
[p.457] No. VI.
Geographical Notices of the Country northward and eastward of Medina.
THE stations of the caravan between Damascus and Medina are well known.
The most interesting spot on this road, within the limits of Arabia,
appears to be Hedjer, or, as it is sometimes called, Medayen Saleb,
seven days north of Medina. This place, according to many passages of
the Koran, (which has a chapter entitled Hedjer,) was inhabited by a
gigantic race of men, called Beni Thamoud, whose dwellings were
destroyed because they refused to obey the admonitions of the prophet
Saleh. In circumference Hedjer extends several miles; the soil is
fertile, watered by many wells and a running stream: here are generally
large encampments of Bedouins. The Wahaby chief, Saoud, intended to
build a town on this spot; his olemas deterred him, by declaring that it
would be impious to restore a place that the Almighty had visited with
his wrath. An inconsiderable mountain bounds this fertile plain on the
west, at about four miles' distance from the ground where the pilgrim
caravan usually encamps.
In that mountain are large caves or habitations cut out of the rock,
with sculptured figures of men and various animals, small pillars on
both sides of the entrances, and, if I may believe the testimony of
Bedouins, numerous inscriptions over the doors; but I am inclined to
think that the Arabs may have mistaken sculptured ornaments for letters.
The rock is of a blackish colour, probably volcanic, for there is a
lukewarm well in the vicinity. My illness at Medina, and subsequent
weakness, prevented me from visiting this spot, from whence I might, in
a straight direction, have proceeded to Akaba, on the extremity of the
eastern gulf of the Red Sea.
The Bedouins call the whole country between Hedye and Oela (a more
northern station of the pilgrims) the district of Sheffa. From thence to
Akaba el Sham, or the Syrian Akaba, (likewise a Hadj station), the
country is called Essafha. It is this Akaba that may be properly
described as the boundary of Arabia towards Syria. Here a steep mountain
extends for several days' journey westward towards the Red Sea, and
eastward towards the interior of the Desert. On the north of that
mountain we enter the higher or upper plain, which continues to
Damascus. Between the Syrian Akaba and the Egyptian Akaba is another
pass through the same mountain, called Bab el Nedjed, or the "Gate of
Nedjed," because here the Bedouins of southern Syria (or, as they are
called by the Arabian Bedouins, Ahl el Shemal, "People of the North,")
pass on their way to Nedjed. In those passes the Wahabys, when they make
excursions against the Bedouins, leave strong guards, to secure their
The Hadj route from Medina direct to Syria is not much frequented even
in time of
[p.458] peace. Sometimes a few Bedouin merchants take camel-loads of
coffee-beans by this road to Damascus; but it is infested by strolling
parties of the Beni Omran and Howeytat tribes, who live in the western
mountain, and frequently descend to rob travellers in the plain. The
most frequented route to the north of Medina is towards the country of
Kasym, which, as I have already mentioned, supplies Medina in time of
peace with all sorts of provisions. The route to Kasym lies between the
Hadj route on one side, and the straight road to Derayeh (the Wahaby
capital) on the other. The direction of the province of Kasym, as well
as of Nedjed, was often pointed out to me at Medina, and I always found.
it to be
E. 1/2 N. for Kasym
E. by S. for Derayeh bearing from Medina.
Between the Hadj road and that to Kasym lies a third route, leading
straight from Medina to the province of Djebel Shammar, which in
peaceable times is much frequented; but the most common way from Medina
to Djebel Shammar is by Kasym, two days longer than the last route, but
less fatiguing for camels, because there is abundance of water on this
road, and very little on the other.
Caravans going from Medina to Kasym visit the following stations:
Medina.--At one hour's walk beyond the gardens (the road passing E. of
Djebel Ohod) is an open space called El Areydh, with the tomb of a
sheikh, having a cupola over it. Near this is a well, named Byr Rasheyd.
3 hours from thence is El Hafna, with the bed of a torrent.
19 hours. Soweyder. The road from Hafna to this place is rocky, with two
ascents, difficult for camels, and wholly without water. Soweyder lies
between two mountains, and has some wells of brackish water dug in the
ground; also Doum date-trees. The road from Medina to this place is
inhabited by Mezeyne (or Omzeyne) Arabs, of the Beni Harb tribe, and by
the Heteym and Beni Safar Arabs, also of the same tribe.
4 hours. A valley, with wells and Doum date-trees.
7 hours. Hanakye, in the plain, with many ponds and wells of sweet water
dug in the ground. At a certain depth water is always found here. The
ruins of an ancient castle, in the Saracen style, are visible; and here
date-trees grow. This important position is frequently visited by the
6 hours. Abou Khesheyb. The road from Hanakye to this place is on a
sandy plain. Abou Khesheyb lies between two mountains, and affords good
12 hours. El Heymedj, a station having sweet and saltish water.
8 hours. El Mawat. The road from Heymedj to this place is sandy, with
low mountains, no trees; the herb called adjref grows here. The pasture-
ground of the Beni Harb tribe extends as far as Heymedj: then begin the
pastures of the Meteyr Arabs. El Mawat has the best water on the whole
route: it is a sandy spot in an inlet of the mountains.
16 hours. El Badje. The road from Mawat to this place is without water,
on a sandy plain, having mountains on both sides: the chain on the left
is called Taaye. Badje is an extensive tract, with trees and herbage,
and wells both of sweet and brackish water.
3 hours. Neffoud, or, as it is called from the soil, Gherek-ed-Dessem, a
plain of deep
[p.459] sand, four hours long, after which the road becomes less sandy
and difficult, being covered with small stones.
14 hours. Djerdawye, a plain with wells of good water; from thence in
7 hours, to Dat, the first town of Kasym.--In all, one hundred hours.
From Dat to Rass, one of the chief towns of Kasym, is four or five
hours. From Rass to a place called Khabara, five hours; and from Khabara
to Shebeybe, four hours. According to the night journies of the
Bedouins, one hundred hours are equal to ten or eleven marches by day.
The journey here detailed was performed by Tousoun Pasha's army at
night. Three days from Medina to Hanakye, and eight days from thence to
Dat. A person belonging to the court of Tousoun Pasha measured the
distance by his watch. The caravans, loaded with corn, are generally ten
or eleven days on the road between Medina and Rass.
Kasym, which is the most fertile district in the province of Nedjed,
begins at Dat. The name of Nedjed, signifying high or elevated ground,
is given to this country in opposition to Tehama or "low lands," applied
to the sea-coast. It seems to be an oblong tract, extending between
three and four days' journies from west to east, and two journies in
breadth south to north. Within this space are above twenty-six small
towns or villages, well peopled, in a cultivated territory, irrigated by
water from numerous wells. The chief town is Bereyda, where resides the
Sheikh of Kasym, an old man named El Hedjeylan, once an enemy to the
Wahabys, now a convert to their doctrine. The neighbourhood of Rass
produces the most corn; and that part of Kasym about Dat and Rass lies
nearest to Medina. In time of peace, regular caravans arrive every month
at Medina from Rass. Tousoun Pasha's army found plenty of provisions in
the few villages of Kasym which they occupied.
The most considerable place in Kasym is Aneyzy, said to be equal in size
to Siout in Upper Egypt, which contained, according to the French
computation, three thousand houses. Aneyzy has bazars, and is inhabited
by respectable Arab merchants. Of the other towns and villages, the
following are most noted:--Es' Shenane, Balgha, Heshashye, El Helalye, El
Bekeyrye, Batah el Nebhanye, Ashebeybe, Ayoun, Kowar, and Mozneb.
Small tribes of the Aenezes, of Ateybe (whose chief seat is on the
Hedjaz mountains inhabited by the Beni Harb), of Meteyr, and others,
encamp during the whole year among the plains of Kasym, which afford
Between Kasym and Derayeh, the capital of Nedjed, the intermediate
district, mostly a desert, is called El Woshem: from the eastern
extremity of the district of Kasym to Derayeh is a distance of five
days. The last place in Kasym, on this side, is Mozneb then begins Wady
Sarr, a broad sandy valley with pasturage, which continues for several
days towards Derayeh through the district of Woshem.
Nedjed, near Derayeh, assumes the name of El Aredh, a district once
separate from Nedjed, but now considered as belonging to it. El Aredh is
less fertile than El Kasym, from which, in fact, it is partly supplied
with provisions. Its principal town, Derayeb, has always been a place of
note, but much increased since it has become the capital of the Wahaby
power and sect. Its direction was often indicated to me; and I found it
to bear from Medina E. by S. (variation not computed); the bearing of
Kasym from Medina,
[p.460] E. 1/2 N. Derayeh is situated in a valley, the inlets and outlets
of which on the N. and S. sides are very narrow, admitting only one
camel at a time. The houses (many built of stone) are placed on the
declivities of both mountains, the valley itself being throughout very
narrow. The town is not walled. The number of inhabitants may be
estimated, according to the report of the Bedouins, who state that the
town furnished three thousand men armed with firelocks to the Wahaby
chief: they are composed of different tribes, principally the Mekren, a
branch of the Messalykh, part of the great Aeneze race. All the
inhabitants of Nedjed trace their pedigrees to some ancient Bedouin
tribe; thus the people of Rass claim descent from the Beni Yam, who now
reside at Nedjran, in Yemen. The smaller tribe of Beni Lam (related to
those of the same name on the river Tigris, but not, like them, of the
sect of Aly), and the small tribe of Essehoun, dwell in the Aredh, and
seldom encamp beyond its limits. Derayeh is supplied with water from
wells. Ibn Saoud, the late Wahaby chief, discovered a spring behind this
house, which he built, and wished to persuade the people that God had
inspired him on the occasion. The mansion of the Wahaby chief stands on
the mountain, at about ten minutes' walk from the town: it is spacious,
but without any splendid apartments: all the married members of the
reigning family have their own chambers; and there are many rooms for
guests, with whom the house is constantly filled; for all the chiefs of
tribes who come to Derayeh on business are invited to the mansion or
palace of the great Sheikh. There are not any khans or public inns, so
that every stranger quarters himself upon some inhabitant; and the
people of Derayeh are proverbially hospitable. The immediate
neighbourhood is barren, yielding only some date-trees. Derayeh is
supplied with provisions chiefly from Dhoroma, a large and populous
village, one day's journey towards the E. or N.E., which has gardens and
orchards well watered from copious wells.
From Derayeh to Mekka is a distance of eleven or twelve long caravan
days' journies. For three days beyond Derayeh are found cultivated spots
and small settlements of Arabs; the rest of the road is through a desert
country, as far as Wady Zeyme, two days from Mekka. The distance from
Rass (in Kasym) to Mekka is also computed at twelve days' journey. This
latter road abounds more with water than the former, and likewise passes
by Wady Zeyme.
A straight road from Nedjed to the mountains of Hedjaz (I use this word
here in the Bedouin sense, meaning the mountains south of Tayf), and to
the country of Beishe and Yemen, passes by the village of Derye, on the
southern extremity of Nedjed, on the great road from Kasym to Mekka. The
road from Derye to Beishe lies four or five days east of Mekka. Between
Derye and Taraba (above mentioned) is a pasture-land, with many wells,
called El Bakarra, a well-known halting-place of all the Bedouins of
these countries. It belongs to the Kereyshat tribe, a branch of the
Sabya Arabs inhabiting Ranye.
Nedjed is celebrated throughout Arabia for its excellent pastures, which
abound even in its deserts after rain: its plains are frequented by
innumerable Bedouins, who continue there for most of the year, and
purchase corn and barley from the inhabitants. During the rainy season
these Bedouins retire towards the interior of the Desert, where they
remain until the rain-water collected in the hollow grounds is consumed
by their cattle. Previous to the Wahaby establishment, the pasturage of
Nedjed belonged exclusively to the Aenezes,
[p.461] which I have already mentioned as the largest of all the Bedouin
tribes of Arabia. Great numbers of them frequented this territory in
spring, and kept off all the other tribes, except the powerful Meteyr,
who reside in the Desert between Kasym and Medina. These strengthened
their party by an alliance with the Kahtan Arabs, while the Aenezes were
assisted by the Beni Shaman. Between these tribes an inveterate hatred
subsisted, which every spring was the cause of much bloodshed, and
checked the commercial intercourse with the Hedjaz; and both parties
levied contributions on the settled inhabitants of Nedjed: but this
custom has been abolished by the Wahabys, whose chief, instead, receives
a regular tribute, and has reconciled the hostile parties, and opened
the pastures of Nedjed to any tribes of Wahabys who may choose to
frequent them. A Bedouin assured me that twenty encampments of different
tribes may now be seen here in the course of one day's march--such is the
security maintained by the Wahaby chief, who is inexorable in the
punishment of robbers.
The fine pastures of Nedjed have produced an excellent breed of camels,
more numerous here than in any other Arabian province of equal extent.
The Arabs call this country Om el Bel, or "the mother of camels," and
resort to it from all quarters for the supply of their own herds; and it
constantly furnishes not only Hedjaz, but Syria and Yemen, with camels,
of which useful creatures an ordinary one is sold for about ten dollars
in Nedjed. In this country there is also a most excellent breed of
horses, so remarkable that the finest blood Arabs are properly
denominated Kheyl Nedjade, or Nedjed horses. But the Wahaby power has
caused a diminution of this breed; for many Arabs have sold their best
horses in foreign parts, lest they should be forced to attend the Wahaby
chief, who, in his wars, frequently required cavalry.
Nedjed, however, is often subject to scarcity, caused by the failure of
rain, and consequently of herbage: this soon affects the cattle of the
Bedouins, who seldom expect, in this country, more than three or four
successive years of plenty, although absolute famine does not occur
above once in ten, or perhaps fifteen years. It is generally accompanied
by epidemical diseases, much like the plague, consisting of violent
fevers (but without biles or buboes,) that prove fatal to great numbers.
Nedjed is peopled by small tribes of Bedouins, who never leave it, and
by settlers intermarried with them, and often travelling as merchants to
Damascus, Baghdad, Medina, Mekka, and Yemen: they export camels and
woollen cloaks (abbas), of which the best are manufactured at El Hassa;
and from Baghdad they receive rice, (the produce of the banks of the
Tigris), and articles of dress, especially the keffies, or
handkerchiefs, striped green and yellow, of cotton, wool, or silk: these
the Bedouins wear over their bonnets. From Mekka they get coffee, drugs,
and perfumes, much used among them, particularly the perfume called
Arez, which comes from Mokha. In general there is a spirit of commerce
very prevalent in Nedjed, where the merchants are wealthy and of better
repute for honesty than most of the Eastern traders. The settlers here
are armed with matchlocks, and constitute the best portion of the Wababy
infantry: they are generally successful against the Bedouins who invade
their crops or pastures; and, as saltpetre is found in Nedjed, every
family makes its own yearly provision of gunpowder.
In Nedjed are many ancient wells, lined with stone, and ascribed by the
inhabitants to a primeval race of giants. They are generally from
twenty-five to thirty fathoms deep, and
[p.462] mostly the property of individuals, who exact a certain
contribution from the tribes whose cattle they supply with water. Here
likewise are numerous remains of ancient buildings, of very massive
structure and large dimensions, but in a state of complete ruin. These
are attributed to a primitive (or perhaps a fabulous) tribe of Arabs,
the Beni Tamour, of whose supposed works some vestiges are likewise seen
in the Syrian deserts eastward of the plains of Hauran.
Of all the Bedouin tribes that exist in Arabia, some few families at
least may be found in Nedjed, to which refugees fly for security against
their enemies. This country, in fact, is not only the seat of the Wahaby
government, but seems the most important of the interior districts of
Arabia, from its fertility and population, its central position, and
facility of intercourse with other provinces. To acquire a perfect
knowledge of the Bedouins, it would be necessary to examine them in
Nedjed, where their manners continue unaltered by conquest, and
retaining all their original purity: nor have they been contaminated by
an influx of strangers; for, except the Hadj caravan coming from
Baghdad, no foreigners ever pass through Nedjed. For this reason I
consider Nedjed and the mountains between Tayf and Sanaa as the most
interesting portion of Arabia, affording more objects of inquiry to a
traveller than any other part of the peninsula.
From Derayeh eastward towards the Persian Gulf, the country is called
Zedeyr, as far as the limits of the province of El Hassa, six days
distant from Derayeh, of which three days are without water. The
district of Hassa (or, as it is sometimes written, El Ahsa) is
celebrated for its numerous wells, and extends for about two days'
journey parallel with the sea-coast, from which it is distant, inland,
fifty or sixty miles. In breadth it is about thirty-five miles. The
abundance of water enables the Arabs to cultivate clover, which serves
to feed their finest horses. The Wahaby chief sends all his horses to
this place every season.
The town of El Hassa (built by the Karmates in the tenth century) is
populous; in it reside some wealthy merchants. It has walls and towers,
and was successfully defended against the Pasha of Baghdad in 1797. It
is one of the principal strongholds of the Wahabys; and their chief
derives from this fertile district the greater part of his income. The
sea-port for El Hassa is Akyr, a small town on the Persian Gulf, much
frequented by the Arabs of Maskat and the pirates of the Kowasem (qy.
Jowasem) tribe, who inhabit the port of Ras el Kheyme. The woollen
cloaks, of abbas, made at El Hassa are in great demand all over Arabia
and Mesopotamia: they cost from ten to fifty dollars each.
The territory of Hassa contains about twenty villages: the principal
Bedouins that inhabit it are the Beni Khaled (a tribe extended over many
parts of Arabia), the Bisher Arabs, a tribe of the Benezes, and the El
Zab tribe. Here also, as well as in Nedjed, are some of the Beni
Hosseyn, a tribe belonging to the Persian sect of Moslims.
Between El Hassa and. Basra, water abounds. The road from Derayeh to
Baghdad leads through the provinces of Kasym and Djebel Shammar, taking
a western direction, because in a direct line no water is found in the
Desert. Having reached Kowar, a small town on the frontiers of Kasym,
towards Djebel Shammar (eight days from Derayeh), the traveller proceeds
one day's journey to Kahfe, a village within the territory of Djebel
Shammar. The road continues two days in the cultivated parts of this
province as far as the well of
[p.463] Shebeyke, which bounds Shammar on this side. From thence is one
day's journey to Lyne, famous for its numerous and abundant wells, that
supplied the whole Wababy army with water: this place is much frequented
by the Aeneze Arabs. Between Nedjed and the Euphrates a well in the
Desert furnishes sulphur to the powder manufactories of Nedjed.
From Lyne three days' journey, in a desert without water, brings the
traveller to the well of Shebekka, and from that one day to the town of
Meshehd Aly. This is the summer route in winter, when the rain-water is
collected in ponds on the way, the Arabs travel from the well of
Shebekka by the road called Derb Bereydha, the ancient Hadj route of the
Khalifes when they went on pilgrimage. Here are many tanks, cased with
stone, constructed by the Khalifes to supply the pilgrims with water;
and the road passes straight on from Meshehd Aly towards Djebel Shammar,
without touching at Lyne. From Meshehd Aly to Djebel Shammar the
distance is reckoned eight days, and the traveller from Baghdad to
Nedjed always passes by the tomb of Aly. This route is much frequented,
especially by the Ageyl Arabs of Baghdad, of whom many are from Nedjed,
which they often visit as pedlars. All the Arabian Bedouins settled in
the suburbs of Baghdad are comprised under the name of Ageyl. This was
once a powerful tribe, but it has much degenerated.
Through the province of Djebel Shammar, or, as it is commonly called, El
Djebel, lies also the road from Nedjed to Damascus. It is a mountainous
tract to the N.E. of the province of Kasym, bearing from Medina E.N.E.
Its inhabitants are the powerful Beni Shammar, a tribe of which some
have passed over to Mesopotamia. Their Sheikh, Ibn Aly, is a main
supporter of the Wahaby government. They are said to muster seven
thousand matchlocks; and, like their neighbours in Nedjed, they
cultivate palm-trees by means of water drawn up from wells in leathern
buckets by camels. One of the principal towns in Djebel Shammar, is El
Mestadjedde: the chief town is said to be El Hayl; and the neat in size,
From Djebel Shammar to Damascus the road passes by the district El Djof,
which is five days distant from it. The road is of deep sand, without
any water but what is afforded by the well of Shageyg, four days from
Djebel Shammar, and one from Djof. I believe that there is no other
station of equal length entirely destitute of water, in any part of
Arabia frequented by caravans, like the four days between Djebel and
Shageyg. The well of Shageyg belongs to the Aenezy tribe of Rowalla; and
whoever wishes to go from Southern Syria to Nedjed, must necessarily
pass here. There is not any water from Djof southwards, in a direct line
towards Khaibar and Medina; the road is therefore not frequented. Arabs
going from Djof to Medina must pass by Shageyg and Shammar and Kasym,
taking a circuitous route.
My residence at Medina in time of war, when the eastern and northern
Bedouins were hostile, and did not come into the town, prevented me from
acquiring as much information as if a peaceable intercourse had
subsisted. Whenever this is the case, small caravans from Khaibar and
Teyme frequently repair to Medina. Khaibar is well known in Arabian
history, as the scene of early Muselman wars under Mohammed, Aly, and
their successors. It is said to be four or five days (some say only
three) from Medina, the road passing between the Hadj route to Damascus
and the route to Kasym. The Arabs of Khaibar, in time of
[p.464] peace, bring their dates for sale to Medina. They are said to be
of a darker complexion than the surrounding Bedouins: this may be caused
by the great heat in the low situation of that place. Khaibar is about
six hours distant from the Hadj route to Syria, and lies, I believe, in
a direction N.E. from Medina. It appears in former times to have formed
part of the territory of the Sherif of Mekka. When the Sherif Hassan
Abou Nema was installed in 966, (A.H.) his territory, as we learn from
Asamy, comprised Mekka, Tayf, Gonfode, Haly, Yembo, Medina, and Khaibar.
The present inhabitants of Khaibar are the Wold Aly, a tribe of Aenezes
mustering about three hundred horsemen, whose sheikh Aleyda
distinguished himself in the Wahaby war. Another branch of the Wold Aly
inhabit the deserts near Hauran, south of Damascus. At Khaibar also are
encampments of the Oulad Soleyman, a tribe of the Bisher Arabs (likewise
of the Aeneze nation); but the Wold Aly possess the ground and the date-
A colony of Jews formerly settled at Khaibar has wholly disappeared. It
is commonly believed at Mekka and Djidda, that their descendants still
exist there, strictly performing the duties of their religion; but, upon
minute inquiry at Medina, I found this notion to be unfounded, nor are
there any Jews in the northern parts of the Arabian Desert. The Jews who
were formerly settled in Arabia, belonged to the tribe of Beni Koreyta
(Caraites). They came to Medina after Nebuchadnezzar had taken
Jerusalem; when Kerb Ibn Hassan el Hemyary (one of the Toba kings of
Yemen who had possessed themselves of Mekka) made an inroad towards
Medina, which he besieged, and on his return from thence carried some of
the Beni Koreyta with him to Yemen. These are the first Jews who settled
in that country, and their descendants still remain at Szanaa. (See
Samhoudy's History of Medina.)
The small town of Teyme is three days from Khaibar, and as many from
Hedjer, in an eastern direction. It is inhabited by the Aeneze Arabs,
and abounds with dates. It belongs neither to Nedjed nor Kasym, and,
like Kbaibar, was an independent Bedouin settlement before the time of
the Wahabys. Those small towns in the interior of the Arabian Desert,
are like the Oases in the Libyan; and serve as points of intercourse
between the Bedouins and the neighbouring cultivated countries. Their
Bedouin inhabitants are agriculturists, and mostly petty merchants who
sell to their wandering brethren of the Desert the goods which they
purchase at the first cost in the Syrian or Arabian towns. Beginning
northward with the small town of Deir on the Euphrates, we can trace a
line of these oases that form advanced points towards the Desert all the
way south as far as Medina. Deir, Sokhne, Tedmor, Djof, Maan, Ola,
Khaibar, and Teyme, are all inhabited by Bedouins, who cultivate the
soil, and form an intermediate class between Bedouins and peasants.
These positions would be highly important to those who might wish to
subdue, or at least to check the Bedouins; and they might become of
still greater importance, in being rendered the means of inspiring the
whole Bedouin nation with more amicable sentiments towards the Syrian
and Hedjaz inhabitants.
[p.465] No. VII.
Postscript to the Description of the Beitullah or Mosque at Mekka--(See
THE law forbids that blood should be shed either in the mosque or town
of Mekka, or within a small space around it: neither is it lawful there
to cut down trees, or to kill game. This privilege of the mosque is
generally respected in common cases of delinquency, and many criminals
take refuge in the Beitullah accordingly; but it is also frequently
violated. I have myself seen Mohammed Aly's soldiers pursue a deserter,
seize and carry him off from the covering of the Kaaba to which he had
clung; and the history of Mekka cites numerous examples of men killed in
the mosque, among others the Sherif of Mekka, Djazan Ibn Barakat,
assassinated while he performed the towaf round the Kaaba. Sanguinary
battles (as in A.H. 817.) have even been fought within its sacred
precincts, which afford the most open spot in the town for skirmishing.
Horsemen have often entered and passed a whole night in it. Therefore we
may say that the privilege is generally useless in those cases where it
would be most valuable; such as the protection of fugitives from the
powerful oppressor. As to the sanctity of the territory, it is but a
name, and seems to have been little respected even in the first ages of
Islam. The extent of the sacred territory is variously stated by the
three historians whose works I possess, and who were themselves Mekkans.
The four Imams or founders of the orthodox sects also disagree upon the
subject. At present the privilege of the sacred territory seems almost
forgotten; and it has been crossed in every direction by infidel
Christians employed in the army of Mohammed Aly or Tousoun Pasha, who,
though they have not entered Mekka, have visited Mount Arafat. Contrary
to the precepts of Mohammed, wood is now cut in the mountains close
behind Mekka, and no one is prevented from shooting in the neighbouring
valleys. The plain of Arafat alone is respected, and there the trees are
never cut down. The sacred district, or, as it is called, Hedoud el
Haram (the limits of the Haram), is at present commonly supposed to be
enclosed by those positions where the ihram is assumed on the approach
to Mekka: those are, Hadda to the west, Asfan to the north, Wady Mohrem
to the east, and Zat Ork to the south. Aly Bey el Abbassi has
represented this district, in his map, as a particular province or
sacred territory called Belad el Harameyn: but in fact, no such province
has ever existed; and the title of Belad el Harameyn is given, not to
this sacred space, but to both the territories of Mekka and Medina.
[p.466] No. VII
MANY Arabic terms which have become obsolete in other places, and are
found only in the good authors, many expressions even of the Koran, no
longer used elsewhere, are heard at Mekka in the common conversation of
the people, who retain, at least in part, the original language of the
Koreysh. Some neighbouring Bedouin tribes, especially those of Fahm and
Hodheyl, use a dialect still more pure and free from provincialisms and
grammatical errors. I sometimes attended the lectures of a Sheikh in the
mosque, who to his own excellent native Arabic had added the result of
his studies at Cairo: and I never heard finer Arabic spoken. He prided
himself in sounding all the vowels, not only in reading, but even in
conversation; and every word he uttered might be noted as of standard
It is to their extensive commerce with foreigners that we must ascribe
the corruption of the Mekkan dialect when compared with that of the
neighbouring Bedouins, though it still serves as a model of softness to
the natives of Syria and Egypt. In pronunciation, the Mekkans imitate
the Bedouin purity--every letter has its precise and distinct sound: they
pronounce [Arabic consonant] like k, and the [Arabic consonant] like a
soft g, (as in the word going); although in the public service of the
mosque, and in reading the Koran, they express that letter with the
guttural aspiration given to it in Syria, and which is therefore
regarded as the true pronunciation. The [Arabic consonant] is pronounced
djem; but in the mountains to the south, and the interior of Yemen, it
is sounded gym, as at Cairo. The guttural pronunciation of the elif
[Arabic consonant], often neglected in other places, is here strictly
observed. The only fault in the Mekkan pronunciation is, that in common
with the Bedouins they sometimes give, in words of two syllables, too
great an emphasis to the last: thus they say Zahab, [Arabic] Safar,
[Arabic]Lahem, [Arabic] Matar, [Arabic] Saby, [Arabic] and others.
The people of Yemen whom I saw at Mekka pronounced and spoke Arabic
almost equally well as the Mekkans: those from Szanaa spoke with purity,
but a harsh accent; but the Hedjazi, like the Bedouin accent, is as soft
as the language will admit.
It has been said that the dialects of Arabic differ widely from each
other; and Michaelis, one of the most learned orientalists, affirms that
the Hedjazi is as different from the Moggrebyn dialect as Latin from
Italian; and a noble Sherif traveller makes a strong distinction between
Moorish and Arabic, pretending to understand the latter and not the
former; and even the accurate and industrious Niebuhr seems to have
entertained some erroneous notions on this subject. But my own inquiries
have led me to a very different opinion. There certainly exists a great
variety of dialects in Arabic; more perhaps than in other languages: but
notwithstanding the vast extent of country in which Arabic prevails,
from Mogador to Maskat, whoever has learned one dialect will easily
understand all the others. In respect to pronunciation, whoever can
spell correctly will feel little embarrasment
[p.467] from the diversity of sound, and soon become familiar with it.
The same sense is often expressed by different terms; but this is
applicable rather to substantive nouns than to verbs. Many words are
used in one country and not in another: thus bread is called khobs in
Syria, and aysh in Egypt; both terms being genuine Arabic, a language
rich in synonyms: but the Syrian dialect still retains what has become
obsolete in the Egyptian. From the specimen given by Niebuhr of the
Egyptian and Hedjazi dialect, I could show, word by word, that there is
not one provincialism in the whole. If the Egyptian says okod, and the
Arabian edjles, they both use genuine Arabic words to express the same
thing, one of which is more common in Arabia, the other in Egypt, when
both terms are well understood by all who have mixed in the busy crowd,
or have had even an ordinary education. An Englishman is justified in
using "steed" for "horse;" thus the Moggrebyn calls a horse owd, the
eastern Arab hoszan; but many poets use the word owd, which is at
present unknown to the vulgar in Egypt. This variation of terms arose
probably from the settlement of different tribes, each having their
peculiar vocabulary; for it is known that Feyrouzabady compiled the
materials of his celebrated Dictionary (the Kamous) by going from one
tribe to another. The Arabs spreading over conquered countries took
their idioms with them, but the joint-stock of the language continued
known to all who could read or write.
Pronunciation may have been affected by the nature of different
countries, retaining its softness in the low valleys of Egypt and
Mesopotamia, and becoming harsh among the frozen mountains of Barbary
and Syria. As far as I know, the greatest difference exists between the
Moggrebyns of Marocco, and the Hedjaz Bedouins near Mekka; but their
dialects do not differ more from each other than the German of a Suabian
peasant does from that of a Saxon. I have heard learned men of Syria
express their ignorance of many Bedouin terms used by tribes in the
interior of the Desert, especially the Aenezey, who, on the other hand,
do not comprehend certain words of the Syrian town-language; but the
wants and habits of a Bedouin are so different from those of a town-
person, that the one frequently cannot find terms to express the ideas
of the other.
As to pronunciation, the best is that of the Bedouins of Arabia, of the
Mekkans, and people of the Hedjaz; that of Baghdad and of Yemen is next
in purity. At Cairo the pronunciation is worse than in any other part of
Egypt; after which I should rank the language of the Libyan Arabs, who
have a tinge of the Moggrebyn pronunciation mixed with the Egyptian.
Then comes the Arabic spoken in the eastern and western plains of Syria,
(at Damascus, Aleppo, and on the sea-coast); then the dialect of the
Syrian mountaineers, the Druzes, and Christians; next, that of the
Barbary coast, of Tripoly, and of Tunis; and lastly, the rough
articulation of the Marocco and Fez people, which has a few sounds
different from any other, and is subdivided into several dialects. The
Arabs, however, of the eastern side of Mount Atlas, at Tafilelt, and
Draa, pronounce their Moggrebyn tongue with much less harshness than
their western neighbours. But I must acknowledge, that of all Arabic
dialects, none appeared to me so disagreeable and so adulterated as that
of the young Christian fops of Cairo and Aleppo.
[p.468] No. IX.
Topographical Notices of the Valley of Mekka and its Mountains;
extracted from the History of Azraky, showing the names assigned to
every part. [It may be here remarked, that the Bedouins of the present
day continue to bestow on the smallest hill, projecting rock, or little
plain, a distinct and particular name; which circumstance renders the
history of Arabia often obscure, as the names have, in the course of
ages, sometimes changed.]
THE different mountains forming the southern chain of the valley of
Mekka are:--Djebel Fadeh, on the lower part of Djebel Kobeys, nearest to
the town--El Khandame, likewise part of Djebel Kobeys--Djebel el Abyadh,
called among the Pagan Arabs Mestebzera, belonging also to Djebel
Kobeys--Mozazem--Korn Meskale, lower ridge of Shab Aamer--Djebel Benhan,
ibid.--Djebel Yakyan, on the side of Shab Aamer--Djebel el Aaredj, near
the latter--Djebel el Motabekh, or Shab Aamer; so called because the Toba
kings of Yemen, when they invaded Mekka, established here their kitchen--
Shab Abou Dobb--Shab e' Szafa, or Djebel Raha, Shab Beni Kenane--Shab el
On the northern side are:--El Hazoura; here was formerly the market of
Mekka--El Djethme--Zogag el Nar--Beit el Ezlam--Djebel Zerzera, in the
Djehelye called El Kaym--Djebel Omar, in the Djehelye called Da Aasyr--
Djebel el Adkhar, [El Adkhar is a shrub or plant, mixed by the Mekkans
with mortar in the construction of their houses. El Aadhad a thorny
tree, common in Arabia.] in the time of the Djehelye called El Mozhebat,
or El Aadhad--Djebel el Hazna-Shab Arny--Thenyet Keda Batn Zy Towa--Djebel
el Mokta--Fah, a valley beyond the Djidda gate--El Momdera--El Moghesh,
from whence was cut the white marble used in the mosque--El Herrowra--
Istar--Mokbaret el Noszara, the burial-ground of the Christians--Djebel el
Beroud--Thenyet el Beydha--El Hashas--Da el Medowar--Djebel Moslim--Wady Zy
Towa--Thenyet Om el Harth--Djebel Aby el Keyt--Fedj--Shab Ashras--Shab el
Motalleb--Zat Khalilyn--Djebel Kabsh--Djebel Rahha--El Bagheybagha--Djebel
Keyd--El Ark--Zat el Hantal--El Akla--Shab el Irnye--El Alka--Shab el Leben
--Melhet el Ghoraba--Melhet el Herouth--Kaber el Abd.
On the lower side of Mekka are:--Adjyad, or Djyad--Ras el Insan, between
the Djebel Kobeys and Adjyad--Shab el Khatem, near Adjyad--Djebel Khalife--
Djebel Orab--Djebel Omar--Ghadaf--El Mokba--El Lahdje--El Kadfade--Zat el
Laha--Zou Merah--Es Selfeyn--El Dokhadekh--Zou el Shedyd--Zat e' Selym--Adhat
el Nabt, so called from some Nabateans who resided there, and were sent
by Mawya Ibn Aly Sofyan to make mortar at Mekka--Om Kerdan.
On the north side of the Mala are--Djebel Deylamy--Djebel Sheyb--Djebel
[p.469] Shab el Mokbera--Abou Dedjane--Djebel el Lyam--El Ghorab--Shab el
Akhnes, also called El Khowaredj, or El Gheyshoum--El Kaad.
On the road towards Mekka are:--El Mofdjer, or El Khoder--Shab Howa--Er
Rebab-Zou el Arake--El Ambara, in the Djehelye called Semyra--E' Seder.
On the road towards Djebel Thor, southward of Mekka, are:--Zat el
Lakhob--Zat Ardja--El Kaflye--Thor--and El Bana.
Mokhowa, [Arabic] mentioned in pp. 112, 189, &c. must not be confounded
with Mokha, [Arabic] on the sea-coast. Mokhowa is a town ten days
distant from Mekka at the western foot of the great chain of mountains.
The word Hedjer, [Arabic] mentioned in p. 139, is not to be mistaken
for Hadjar, a stone: the space of ground is called Hedjer "because it is
separated from the Kaaba or Beitullah;"--[Arabic]
Page 299--The Beni Amer--The word Amer [Arabic] in this place must not be
confounded with Amer [Arabic] another tribe of Harb. The damma [Arabic
vowel] in [Arabic] is never pronounced by the Arabians, who say Amr Ibn
el Las, ([Arabic]) and not Amrou Ibn el Las, placing the damma [Arabic
vowel] merely to distinguish the word from [Arabic] Omar.