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Travels in southern Abyssinia: through the country of Adal to the ..., Volume 2 online

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Staying at Farree. — ^Alarm of Galla attack. — Return to
Kokki.- — ^Women of Kafilah carried into slayeiy. — Five
Gallas killed. — Triumph of Hy Soumaulee victors. —
Return to Dinnomalee. — The Wallasmah Mahomed. —
Seizure of the letters. — ^Return to Farree 1


Detained at Farree. — ^No news from Ankobar. — ^Fear all is
not right. — ^Escape from my confinement. — ^Reach Grarcia
Mulloo. — ^Followed by officers of Wallasmah. — Compromise
matters. — Return to Farree. — ^Brutality of Wallasmah. —
Planning escape to the coast with Hy Soumaulee. — ^Arrival
of Mr. Scott from Ankobar. — Chief cause of my detention. 12


Staying at Farree with Mr. Scott.— Both placed under parole.
- ^Description of the houses of Farree. — Of the flour mill,
•^— Some remarks upon the origin of the Amhara. — ^Dr.
Prichard upon identity of the Amhara with the Automali of
Herodotus. — ^Physical characters of the people. — ^Interview
with the Wallasmah. — Saltpetre rock. — ^Province of Efat. —
Take leave of Escort. — Tyrannical conduct of the Wal-
lasmah 24

A 2

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Leave Farree for Ankobar. — ^Description of the road. — ^Aliu
Amba. — ^Road to Ankobar. — Incidents of the journey. —
Vale of the Dinkee river. — ^Valley of the Airahra. —
Effect of denudation. — ^Ankobar. — ^British Residency. —
Start for Angolahlah. — ^Ascent of the Tchakkah. — ^Road
to Angolahlah. — The town of Angolahlah. — Meet superior
officers of Mission 48


Staying at Angolahlah. — ^Waterfall into the Tcherkos river.
— ^Difficulty in obtaining the stores. — Journey to Ankobar.
Female slaves of the Negoos. — Belief of the Shoan Church.
— Father Tellez. — Vegetables introduced into Shoa. . . 67


Return to Aliu Amba. — ^Visited by Hy Soumaulee. — Complain
of being cheated by Ohmed Mahomed. — Christians of Abys-
sinia and of the Greek Church generally forbidden the use
of tobacco. — Miriam's house and furniture. — Islam con-
tempt for Christianity.— Evening walk. — ^Begging monks. . 85


Residence in Aliu Amba. — Settlement with the Hy Sou-
maulee. — ^Proceed to Ankobar. — Obtain the requisite sum.
— Relapse of intermittent fever. — Occupation. — Greo-
graphical information. — Course of the Gibbee. — Character
of table land of Abyssinia 99


Water cure. — ^Nearly killed by it. — Ordered to leave Shoa.
— ^Proceed to Angolahlah. — Courteous treatment of the
officers of the Negoos. — ^Entertainment. — ^Remarks upon the
character of Sahale Selassee. — The Mahomedan religion. 126

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Court dress. — ^Palace of Angolahlah. — ^Interview with Negoos.
— ^Memolagee. — Invited to house of Tinta. — Supj^es from
palace. — Return to Ankobar 148


Stay with Tinta. — ^Proceed to Ankobar. — ^Remain for the day
at Musculo *s house. — ^Fever. — ^Abyssinian supper party. —
Honey wine. — ^Importance of salt as an article of food. 162


Leave Ankobar. — ^Arrive in Aliu Amba. — ^Musical party. —
Durgo. — ^Arrangements with Tinta. — Remarks upon in-
ternal Grovemment of Shoa. — ^The authority of Sahale Se-
lassee. — His virtues 178


Study of Amharic. — Remarks upon wet season in Abyssinia.
— Sad prospect of recovery. — Accident to Walderheros. —
Books in the Amharic language. — ^Messages from the Ne-
goos. — Inconvenience of living with Miriam. — ^Require a
house.— Expenditure.-^Choosing a residence 192


Custom of giving Memolagee. — Sugar boiling. — Success. — ■
Gratify the Negoos.— ^Receive house.— Claims of kindred.
— Remarks upon intestate property. — The two brothers of
late owner. — ^Removal to new residence 203


Division of time. — My new servant, Gk)od»loo. — Thatching
house. — Islam assistants. — ^Kindness of Tinta. — Finish roof.
— Feast upon the occasion. — Remarks upon practice of
eating raw meat 215

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Market day in Aliu Amba. — Toll of wares. — Court of Pie-
poudre. — ^Appearance of the market. — The salt money. —
Character of the different vendors. — The prices of several
articles. — No Jews in Abyssinia 227


Visit from Sheik Tigh. — Strange news.— ^Arrival of Abdoan-
arch. — Situation of my house, — Wallata Gabriel. — ^Baking
bread. — ^Vapour bath. — Cure for hernia 247


Determine to be cupped. — Mode of operating. — Medical know-
ledge of the Shoans. — Surgery. — Remarks upon their
diseases and their remedies. — The cosso tree. — Mode of
using the cosso. — Other curative processes. — Manufacture
of gunpowder. — Success. — Health improving 262


Start for Myolones. — Accoimt of the road. — ^Effect of the
earthquake. — Dangerous passage. — Ford the Gindebal
wans. — Dubdubhee. — ^Reach Myolones. — Remarks upon
taking possession of the land 278


Examination of the gunpowder. — Tinta in disgrace.— The
remedy. — The scribes, or dupteraoitsh. — Their mode of
writing. '—Audience with the Negoos. — Memolagee. —
College of priests. — My new residence. — Night of storm. —
Uncomfortable situation. — ^Weather clears up 289

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Abyssinian dress. — ^Visit to the Negoos. — ^Inspection of fire-
anns. — Congratulated on my reception. — Return to Aliu
Amba. — A troublesome companion. — ^Pleasant beverage. —
Market day. — ^Numerous visitors. — ^Home manufactore of
cloth 303


Spinning cotton. — Of p<^ee foi^e of Shoa. — Mode of adminis-
tering justice. — ^Priest lawyers. — ^Politics of Shoa. — ^French
intrigues. — ^Different kinds of cotton. — ^Process of cleaning
it. — Instruments used. — ^Return frdm market 314


Carpentering.— Fit up a study. — ^Worshippers of demons. —
Saroitsh. — English superstition.* — Priestly benediction.* —
Tabeeb monasteries. — Of their character and discipline.
— Turning-lathe.' — ^Drinking hours. — ^Female ornaments. —
Sumptuary edict 325


Wallata Gabriel dismissed. — Reinstated. — Comparison of
different races of men. — Of human varieties. — Of the
process of brewing. — ^Abyssinian ale. — Ingredients. — The
horn of plenty 338


Visited by Ibrahim. — Map of the Hawash. — ^Its effect upon
table land of Abyssinia. — Future juncture with the Abi. —
Its early tributaries. — Effects of denudation. — Zui lake. —
Popular tradition. — Abyssinian geographical work. — Galla
tribes 351

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No prospect of recovery. — Slaughter of the goat.— Manufac-
ture of skin-bags. — The process. — ^Farming. — The bark
employed. — ^Morocco leather. — Carcase butchers. — ^Process
of cutting up meat 364


Invitation to visit the Negoos. — ^Karissa and his firelock. —
Some account of the countries to the south of Shoa. — Dis-
tances. — ^A reputed cannibal people.— Other absurd rumours:
—•Probable truth. — Of the Doko : not dwarfs but monkeys. 375


Conversation with Karissa. — Of the origin of the Galla. — Of
the word Adam. — Of Eve. — ^Phcenician history. — Sancho-
niathon and Moses. — Of the religion of the Gralla. — Of
Waak." — Connexion with Bacchus. — Reward of enterprise.

' — ^African ethnology. — Of the armoury of the Negoos. —
Different kinds of guns. — Of the ammunition 391


Message from the Negoos. — ^Visit Ankobar. — The Monk
Bethlehem. — Conversation. — Bad weather. — A tattooing
operation. — ^Interview with Negoos 403


Conversation on medical matters with the Negoos. — Of
Guancho. — ^The State prison. — The construction of its
defences. — Good medicine for captives. — Its probable effect.
— Of the GtJlas, their invasion of theGt)ngas. — Abyssinian
slaves. — Conclusion 419


Page 106, 14 lines from bottom, tramtpou the words Jpit and Serapit, with Jbi and Jt$aabi
ofthe next line.

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Staying at Farree. — Alarm of Gralla attack. — Return to Kokki. —
Women of Kafilah carried into slavery. — Five Gallas killed. —
Trimnph of Hy Soumaulee victors. — Return to Dinnomalee. —
The Wallasmah Mahomed. — Seizure of the letters. — Return to

May 23. — I had scarcely opened my eyes, after
the first night's rest in Abyssinia, when a heavy
knocking at the door, and repeated calls for me,
made me get up in a great hurry to know the reason
of such a disturbance. I foimd the escort all in an
uproar, and they pushed past me into the house
for their weapons, where they had been safely
deposited under my care, and which, as soon as
they were seized, away my friends ran, one after
another, in the direction of Dinnomalee. Ohmed
Medina, who had suddenly sprung up from some-
where, sat upon his mule in the market-place, and


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was shouting for me to come, whilst one of his
slaves was hastily saddling my mule also. I could
not make out what was the matter, but as the word
"Galla" was in the mouth of every one, I suspected
that an attack had been made upon the stores
during the night by those marauders, and began to
be afraid that I had calculated too surely upon their
being safe when at Dinnomalee.

Getting myself ready as quickly as possible, I was
soon galloping along the road, following Ohmed Me-
dina. We stayed not a moment at Dinnomalee, but
a look satisfied my greatest anxiety ; for the stores
were all safe, and I cared for nothing else, so with
a mind much easier, I called out to Ohmed Medina,
for the first time, to ask what, and where the dis-
turbance was. He only turned his face towards
me, as he called out " Dophan," and " Galla,"
urging his mule on as he spoke, as if he wished he
had wings to fly at once to the little town of half-
civilized Wahamas, we had passed yesterday on this
side of Kokki. We overtook, and gradually left
behind us, all the Hy Soumaulee, who, in a ^-a^
part, straggling line, were hastening to the rescue.
As we came up to each of these, a vain attempt wns
made to keep alongside of us, but our pace was too
good, and we entered alone the small densely-wooded
valley, then along the deep ravine, and at length
pidled up on the camping ground we had left yes-
terday morning, when the leading camels of the
Hy Soumaulee Kafilah came in sight, and where

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they had halted for the night ; the greater part of
the Tajourah camels alone coming on after us to
Dinnomalee the same day.

On our arrival, preparations' were being hastily
made by the Kafilah to proceed on the march to
Dinnomalee ; all seemed conscious they had stayed
in this place a night too long, and anxious to get
away before any other mishap should happen. Some
busy talkers surroimded Ohmed Mahomed and Ebin
Izaak, who had come in a few minutes before us,
and were listening to details of the deeds of blood,
the evidences of which were five still bleeding
bodies, that lay naked in different places upon the
little green sloping bank that rose from the stream,
and upon which the encampment stood.

Carmel Ibrahim and another of my escort were
busy paring the skin of a goat, just killed, into the
little twisted " symbil," or ornaments, with which it
is usual to adorn the head, wrists, ankles, and also the
weapons of warriors who have slain a foe. Whilst
thus employed, they sung in a sharp falsetto voice
some song of triumph, their voices being elevated
considerably, as every fresh comer from Dinnomalee
arrived. Above us, to the left, the inhabitants of the
little" town were making sad lamentations, and loud
sobbing cries over the dead body of one of their
people who had been killed in the engagement.

From what we were now told, it appeared that a
little before sunrise, several women of the Kafilah
had gone down to a place at some distance from


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the camp, where the little stream spread out into a
pool, to fill their affaleetahs and gourd-shells with
water for the march. Here they were seized by a
large body of Hittoo Gallas, who, during the night,
had approached the Kafilah, and were lying con-
cealed in this situation, awaiting for the camels to
be loaded, so that after an attack they might drive
them with their loads quickly away. On being
discovered, the greater part seized the women and
carried them away at once, whilst another body
rushed over the little stream hoping still to be able
to surprise the Kafilah before the men had
assembled for its protection. One Dophanter man,
who had followed the women, attempted to escape
by running towards the camp, but a pursuing Galla
launched his spear, and transfixed him through the
back, so that a wound was visible under the breast,
corresponding to the much larger one in the back.
His cries, however, called the Hy Soumaulee to
arms, of whom more than four times the number
of the Galla collected immediately, and before the
latter were aware of the strength of the party they
were about to attack, they were too near to escape
some retributive punishment. Immediately the Hy
Soumaulee saw them commencing to retire, they
were on their feet, following them fast down the
little slope to the brook, and succeeded in killing
five of the daring robbers, before they could ascend
the opposite bank. The rest made good their
retreat to the main body, who had now got some

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distance with the women, and together formed a force
far too great for the Hy Soumaulee people to hope to
attack it with advantage. They were obliged, there-
fore to halt, form a semicircular squatting line, and
be passive spectators of their women, seven of whom
belonged to the Kafilah, and three to the town of
Dophan, being carried away into captivity.

Three Gallas were killed by spears, the others had
been stabbed in the throat and chest, and probably
died fighting fairly enough. Carmel Ibrahim was one
happy man-slayer, and also the brother of Moosa, and
they kept up their song of triumph all the time we
stayed here, except when they took me to see the
bodies of those they had killed. I observed that the
DankaUi do not practise the brutal custom of dis-
figuring the slain, so common among the Amhara
at the present time, and which was also a charac-
teristic of Jewish warfare. The arms and shields,
not only of the Gallas who had been killed, but
also numerous others that the fugitives had thrown
away, fell to the lot of those who picked them up
in the latter case, and to the victors in the former.
Two of the other successful Hy Soumaulee were so
busy fixing in their own belts the newly-obtained
knives, which were much better than their own,
that they did not attempt to raise the song, like
Carmel and his friend, who, perhaps, only did it to
attract my attention. Ohmed Medina informed me
that I must give them a present, and upon my
asking why, he said it was the custom for masters

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SO to reward brave servants. He assured me that
the chief of the town of Dophan had already given
them a goat, and that the Wallasmah would also
do the same. Seeing that it was the general cus-
tom, and as they had only been doing their duty, not
as aggressors, but as men defending their wives and
property, I promised them a bullock. On my doing
this they would insist upon decorating my head with
a symbil, or wreath of twisted goatskin, like them-
selves, but I managed to induce them at last to place
it on my hat instead. Before we left the ground,
I asked Ohmed Medina, if the dead Gallas would
be buried. He looked at me, rather astonished at
the question, but thinking, I suppose, that I knew
no better, he said, very shortly, "Koran yahklur'*
(the ravens will eat them).

Our curiosity being satisfied, we now followed
the camels, already some distance on their way to
Dinnomalee, conversing as we rode along upon the
events of the morning. The Hy Soumaulee men
were too excited to think of the captive girls taken
from amongst them never to return, but several
of the women of the Kafilah I noticed with tear-
shot eye mourning the loss of some friend or rela-
tion. No usual occupation, such as plaiting the
palm leaf into a broad ribbon, to be sewed after-
wards into mats, filled their hands, no familiar
salutations as I passed by enlivened the way with
smiles, but each with a long rope festened around
the under jaw of a camel led strings of five or six

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of these animals, that followed in their peculiarly
quiet manner, the path their sorrowing conductress

Myself and others of the party who were
mounted soon went a^head, and had it not been
for repeated stoppages on the road to relate to
those still coming, all we had learned of the deed
of blood, we should have returned to Dinnomalee
by ten o'clock ; as it was, the sun had passed the
meridian when we arrived, and we found there an
equally busy scene, but of a very different character,
to the one we had been partial witnesses of at

During our absence the Wallasmah Mahomed,
attended by his brother, two sons, his scribe, and
a whole host of armed followers, had come into
Farree, and just at the moment we passed the first
trees on our side that inclosed the open space
where stood the stores, salt, and merchandise of
our Kafilah, that officer and his party emerged
from the jungly wood opposite; the WaUasmah
riding upon a mule, the rest walking, and among
these the bearers of the silver moimted shield, and
the silver sword of office were most conspicuous.

The Wallasmah Mahomed, the hereditary Prince
or Governor of Efat, imbodied my idea of a dull,
sensual, yet cunning man. There was nothing in
his countenance to recommend him ; bloated, with
a heavy stupid expression, a Uttle relieved certainly
by small restless eyes that glanced at me whenever

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he thought I was not looking at him. Perhaps his
fleshy turned up nose might be termed by some
physiognomists an aspiring feature, and his chubby
mouth, from having lost all his teeth, or nearly so,
was continually mumbling something or other, or
else munching a little branch of wormwood. I will
not charge him with being actually sober, nor
would he, I think, have sworn upon the Koran
that he was so himself; but a bad headache was
pleaded for the narrow rag of blue cotton that
bound a large fresh green leaf upon his forehead.
This application, I was told, was to produce a
sense of coolness in the part affected, and to aid
its effects it was frequently wetted by an attendant
with water from a gourd shell, carried for this

On my going up to speak to the old gentleman,
who had already seated himself upon a mat in the
round shade of one of the trees, he very politely
drew up his legs more under him, and invited me
with a wave of his hand to be seated by his side.
An inspection of my carabine immediately followed
this; putting it up to his shoulder he glanced
his eye along the barrels, and then turned round,
with a nod and a sly wink, as if he wished me
to beUeve that he knew all about it. He now
asked, through Ohmed Medina, if I had any letters,
and never supposing that they would be taken
from me, I told him there were two packets which
I must deliver to the British Embassy at Ankobar

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that day if possible. Saying tiiis, I got up, and
pointing to the sun intimated that it would be too
late unless I started ; but immediately catching hold
of the skirt of my blouse he puUed me down again,
saying, " I must stay with him, for the King had
ordered that I was to remain at Farree, and not go
any farther into the country." This was ftdly ex-
plained by Ohmed Medina, who also told me that
Ebin Izaak had been obliged to give up the letters
and despatches whilst I had been talking to the old

I had been misled, though most unintentionally
on the part of Mr. Cruttenden, by his information
of the great honour and reverence with which the
King of Shoa, Sahale Selassee, treated the members
of our political mission, and I had supposed it was
merely necessary for me to be the bearer of de-

Online LibraryCharles JohnstonTravels in southern Abyssinia: through the country of Adal to the ..., Volume 2 → online text (page 1 of 28)