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The churches and monasteries of Egypt and some neighbouring countries online

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* Ydkftt gives *Andard' as an alternative form. The place is now in the

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of the daughters of the Copts in the days of ManfA'fts. There is here
a well, square in form, the opening of which measures one hundred
cubits on each side; the entrance into it is by steps, which can be
FoLlOSa descended by camels, oxen, horses, sheep, and all other beasts which
drink the water of the well. In this district there is a most wonderful
ancient temple, such as has never been seen elsewhere ; and it is said
that the giants who built this temple also planned the construction of
the well.

Kift and Kan&h.

§ The town of Kift * is the first town that was built in the land of
Egypt; it was founded by Kift, the son of Mizraim, who lived 400
years, and was buried with his treasures in the Oases. From Kift there
is a road to 'Aidhib ^, and a road to the mine of emeralds, and a road
to the Sea of Na'Am ^ There is here a church of the Lady and Pure
Virgin Mary, in which is preserved the body of the saint Abfi Shdj.
There is also another church of the Lady and Pure Virgin Mary ; and
there is a church of Saint Severus.

There is here a monastery of the Virgin, and a monastery of Saint
Sinuthius, and a monastery named after Saint Anthony; and there is
a convent of nuns named after Saint George ; and a monastery named
after the martyr Saint Victor, and two monasteries named after the
glorious martyr Theodore.

There is a church named after the angel Gabriel at the top of the
mountain in this district. In the middle of [the town] there is a pillar

district and province of JSIanS, and in 1885 contained 4,492 inhabitants besides
1,383 Bedouins. It is the Coptic ItlTeriTCJOpi and the classical Tentyris or
Tentyra. The village of Denderah is well known to tourists, who here meet with
the first great Egyptian temple which is to be seen on the voyage up the Nile,
and which was as celebrated in the time of our author as it is now. See Yikfit,
Geogr, War/, ii. p. 11 . ; Al-Idrist (trans. Jaubert), i. p. 125 ; Al-Makrizt, i. p. rrr,
cf. p. ri ; Am^lineau, G/bgr. pp. 140-142,

^ Quatremfere quotes part of this passage in M^. i. p. 150.

* See above, fol. 21a and note.

• Apparently part of the Red Sea.

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standing by itself, exposed to the sun, and marked with a scale to
measure the rise of the Nile, a work of skill, and the result of divine
guidance. The a6th of Ba'Onah^ is the day on which the sun stood
still for Joshua the son of Nun, by God's permission, until he had 7oL108b
vanquished the unbelieving Gentiles and giants in battle, through the
changing of the sun into various colours and the double halo which
appeared round it ; and on that day when the sun shines on this pillar,
it is known, from the measure indicated by its rays, to what height the
Nile will rise that year.

At the top of the hill is Kan4h *. In this district there are two
monasteries which were restored by the Mu'allim Isbi^t called Al-AzraV,
the merchant, who was a native of the town of Kift. One of these
monasteries is named after Coluthus, and the other after the glorious
angel Michael. They were then in ruins; but the aforesaid merchant
spent a large sum upon them, and set them in excellent order, so that
the monks came and lived there, to the. number of fifty; and he
planted near them many trees and vines, and endowed them with
property in land, irrigated by water-wheels, and producing vegetables,
flax, wheat, and other crops; and the extent of this property was
marked out by palm-trees, planted in various places. He also
presented forty yoke of oxen for working the water-wheels ; and
he distributed much money in alms before he died; may God rest
his soul t


§ The district called F4'ft ^ is in the southern part of Upper Egypt^

* This day corresponds to June ao, and the Paris Synaxarium^ as well as that
translated by Mr. Malan, commemorates the death of Joshua on this day.

* Kanih is now the capital of a province, and in 1885 had 15,402 inhabitants.
Its Coptic name seems to have been JCCOItH, and the Copto-Arabic lists give the
corresponding Arabic name as Ijy. The more usual form, however, would
seem to be Uj, Kan&; and in English it is generally written 'Keneh.' In the
time of our author the place was in the province of KCls. The Greeks appear to
have called the town Kacy4 in^Xir. See Am^lineau^ Giogr. p. 393 f»

' YikAt names both this place and the monastery of Abft BakhAm which it

o o [II. 7.]

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Here there is a monastery and a church named after Saint Pachomius.
This church is large and spacious, being one hundred and fifty cubits
Fol.l04a long and seventy-five cubits broad M hut it has now fallen into ruin.
All the pictures in this church were composed of tessellae of glass,
gilded and coloured*; and its pillars were of marble; but it was
wrecked by Al-H4kim.


\ Kamftlah \ Here there is a church named after the glorious
martyr Theodore. The glorious martyr Mercurius also has a church
here ; and there are two churches of the two glorious angels Michael
and Gabriel. There are also two churches of the two glorious martyrs
Saint George and Saint Victor, son of Romanus. There are also two
churches of the glorious saints Sinuthius and John Abft Karkis. There
are also here two monasteries of the glorious martyrs Ab4 Nfib and

possessed. Another Arabic name of the town is Bdfft (ly^.), which is nearer to
the Coptic 4^fi.aK)T. The Coptic life of St. Pachomius describes the foundation of
the great convent here which bore his name. Fd'ii is now in the district of Dashdl,
in the province of Rand, and in 1885 had, if its northern and southern divisions
are added together, 4,743 inhabitants, besides 990 Bedouins. See Ydkftt, Geogr,
W6rt, iii. p. Ai»n ; Am^iineau, Giogr, pp. 331-333; cf. his HisL de S. Pakhdme^
p. 70 f.

* These measurements are interesting if they can be relied upon. After so
frequent mention of ' large churches, spacious and nobly planned,' these figures
give at least Ab(^ S&lih's idea of a grand building. Taking his cubit at i ft. 6 in.,
the church of St. Pachomius would measure 225 ft. in length by 112 f^. 6 in. in
breadth, — ^truly noble proportions, surpassing all ancient church buildings now
remaining in Egypt, except possibly the White Monastery. (A. J. B.)

' Another instance of glass mosaic. See above, on the mosaics of Al-Kusair,
fol. sob. (A. J. B.)

' The Coptic KAJULoXl. It was celebrated for its palms and vegetables.
It is now in the district of Kii^, in the province of Kand, and in 1885 had 1,020
inhabitants. See Y&kftt, Geogr. WQrL iv. p. iw; Al-Idrtst (trans. Jaubcrt), i.
p. 127 ; Am^lineau, G/ogr, p. 391 f.

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City of Al-UshmOnain K Here there are two churches [respectively]
of the holy fathers Peter and Mark ; and two churches [respectively] of
the glorious martyrs Gcoi^e and Mercurius; and also three churches
of the pure and lofty angels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.

Uswdn and its neighbourhood.

§ The district called the frontier-district of Uswdn, which is con-
tiguous to the former district. Here, near the fortress, and on the east
side of it, there is a church of the Four Living Creatures, beneath which
there is a pool of water ; and beside this, it is said that Diocletian, the
unbelieving emperor, shed the blood of many martyrs. Around this
pool there was a wall, the greater part of which is now ruined. Pol.l04b

§ The island of Bakik, to the west of [Uswdn]. Here there is
a church of the Lady and Pure Virgin Mary, containing several chapels,
the greater part of which are ruined. There is also a church of the
saint and glorious martyr Theodore.

§ Island of Philae. Here there are many idols and temples. The
island contains two churches, one of which is named after the glorious
angel Michael, and the other after the patriarch Athanasius; these
churches are beside the cataract.

The House of Sanis stands on the bank of the river, to the west
of [Philae] ; and near it there are several churches overlooking the
river, but now in ruins.

§ It is said that at Bashiwah there is a garden, the property of
Ibn KAmil, which contains a wonderful palm-tree, such as has never
been heard of elsewhere ; and its peculiarity is that it casts oflf unripe
dates, of which the kernel is eaten, and makes the most delicious
food, while the outside is thrown away ; and this is well known, and is
related in the book of An-Nasr ibn Zftldk.

§ At Kami^lah ^ there is a monastery named after the glorious angel

' We have already heard of this place on fol. 76 a and b, &c.
^ We return once more to Kamtilah after the peculiar manner of our iauthor,

O o 2

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Michael, and known as the monastery of the Well, because in its
neighbourhood there is a well of excellent water, from which travellers
drink when they pass through this district. The monastery contains
a keep, and is surrounded by an enclosing wall ; and it is said to possess
the body of Saint Pisentius, superior of the monastery in Upper Egypt
§ BCt Hardkah. Here there is a monastery named after the glorious
angel Michael, which contains a keep.


§ Luxor*. Before the gate of this town there are idols standing

like castles *. Some of them have the forms of lions or rams, and are

FoLlOSa standing upon their feet in two rows, on the right and on the left. They

are [carved] out of hard black stone which is polished. Within the

town there are also great idols of hard black stone without number.


§ Abyssinia. This country is under the jurisdiction of the see of
Mark the Evangelist*. Abyssinia is the same as the kingdom of

* The Arabic form AUAksurain^ the dual of Al-Akpir {j!2t^\), was often used
as the name of the place, e. g. in the Synaxariuniy and the Copto- Arabic lists
of places. The forai Al-Af^fur, however, is used by Y&kftt and Al-Makrfzt,
and is now vulgarly pronounced 'i-Akfur (Luxor). The Coptic name of the
place is Tl^TIC; and the modem village, as it is well known, occupies part
of the site of the ancient Thebes. See Ydkftt, Geogr. Wort. i. p. i-ta ; Al-
Makrtzt, i. p. r ^j*; Ibn Dukmik, v. p. r. ; Am^lineau, G^ogr, p. 234 f.

■ The text has *like that,' apparently referring to the signification of ^/-^Xifi^r,
which may be taken, as Y&kOt remarks (Joe. ciL), as a 'plural of paucity' of the
word hafr (^) 'a castle.' The following passage is obviously intended for
a description of the avenue of sphinxes which leads to the temple of Kamak.

• As Tellez remarks :

'Depois que os Abexins tiveram noticia da F^ de Christo nunca tiveram mays
que hum s6 bispo em toda Ethiopia, ao qual elles chamam Abund, que quer dizer
Padre nosso. O primeyro de todos foy Sam Frumencio, de quern acima falamos ;
& assim como este Santo foy mandado de Alexandria por S. Athanasio, assim

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Sheba ^, from which the queen of Al-Yaman came to Jerusalem, to hear
words of wisdom from Solomon ; and she offered him splendid gifts.
When the king of Abyssinia wishes to make the tour of this country,
he spends a whole year in going round it, travelling on all days except
Sundays and the festivals of the Lord, until he returns to his capital

Abyssinia is contiguous to India ^ and the adjacent territory.
A metropolitan is sent from the see of Mark the Evangelist to
Abyssinia ^ from the patriarch of Alexandria in Egypt; and this

dali por diante todos os majrs bispos ou Abunis foram mandados a Ethiopia da
mesma Cadeyra Patriarchal at^ os nossos tempos, em que Roma mandou alguns
Patriarchas como a diante veremos/

' Since the Abyssinians have had knowledge of the Faith of Christ, they have
never had more than a single bishop in all Ethiopia, whom they call AhUnd, which
signifies ** Our Father." The first of all was Saint Frumentius, of whom we have
spoken above ; and as that Saint was sent from Alexandria by Saint Athanasius,
so, from that time onward, all the other bishops or Abends have been sent from
the same patriarchal see, down to our own times, in which Rome despatched
certain patriarchs, as we shall see further.' {Hist geral de Ethiopia a alta . . .
composta na mesma Ethiopia pelo Padre M. d'Almeyda . . . abreviada pelo Padre
B. Teiiez, &c., Coimbra, 1660, p. 93.)

* Our author here seems to look upon South-west Arabia as identical with or
forming part of Abyssinia or Ethiopia, an error akin to the confusion of Abyssinia
with India which appears lower down. It is true, of course, that the ruling race
of Abyssinia, the Geez, came from Arabia, and brought with them the Ethiopic

Josephus speaks of the queen of Sheba as 'queen of Egypt and Ethiopia'
(Ant. viii. 6); and Origen, St. Augustine, and St. Anselm, among others, believed
that she was an Ethiopian sovereign.

' Compare below, fol. 108 b, where it is said that Abyssinia and India are

* There are several references to this practice in the patriarchal biographies*
In A.H. 596= A. D. 1200, and therefore in the lifetime of our author and not long
before the composition of the present work, an envoy came from Abyssinia to

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metropolitan of the Abyssinians ordains priests and deacons for them.
The king of Al-Mukurrah ^, who is an Abyssinian, and is an orthodox
king, is the Great King among the kings of his country, because he has
an extensive kingdom, including distant regions in the north of the
country, and has many troops ; and he is the fourth of the kings of the
earth, and no king on earth is strong enough to resist him ; and at
a certain place in his country he possesses the Ark of Noah *,
FoLlOSb All the kings of Abyssinia are priests, and celebrate the liturgy
within the sanctuary, as long as they reign without slaying any man
with their own hand ; but after slaying a man they can no longer
celebrate the liturgy; and the conditions by which they are bound
after they have killed a man have already been spoken of in this
book ^.

If any of the Abyssinians commits a sin, he takes a handful of
incense of the kind which is burnt within the sanctuary ; it is composed
of frankincense, of sandarach, of styrax, of ladanum^ of mastic, of aloes,
and of cassia ; then he confesses his sin over [this mixture], and throws
it into the censer*, together with dried rose-leaves.

All the kings of Abyssinia are crowned with the royal crown * in

announce the death of the metropolitan, and to request that his successor might
be appointed. This is related by * Abd al-Lattf, who says :

* In the month of Shawwdl an envoy arrived from the king of the Abyssinians,
bearing a letter which contained the announcement of the death of their metro-
politan, and requested the appointment of his successor' (ed. While, p. 196).

* See above, fol. 94 b.

^ The common legend in the East is that the Ark of Noah still exists on Mount
Jftdd in Mesopotamia ; see below, fol. 1 1 1 b.

' This proves the confusion in the mind of our author of Nubia with
Abyssinia; see above, fol. 99 a

* CL above, fol. 8 a and 9 b, with notes.

' The caliphs and sultans of Islam were never crowned like Christian
sovereigns, but the tradition is that a gold crown was worn by the ancient kings

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the church of the angel Michael, or the church of Saint George, beneath
their pictures. After that the king does not wear the crown, but the
metropolitan blesses him, and lays his hand upon his head, and fastens
a band over his head and beneath his chin, and clothes him in a robe of

The Abyssinians possess also the Ark of the Covenant *, in which
are the two tables of stone, inscribed by the finger of God with the
commandments which he ordained for the children of Israel. The Ark
of the Covenant is placed upon the altar, but is not so wide as the
altar ; it is as high as the knee of a man, and is overlaid with gold ; and FoL106a
upon its lid there are crosses of gold ; and there are five precious stones

of South-west Arabia, from the time of Hamyar, the supposed ancestor of the
queen of Sheba; see Wright, ChrisHanity in Arabia^ p. 15. (A. J. B.)

* The legend among the Copts and Abyssinians is as follows. On her
coming home from the court of king Solomon, the queen of Sheba gave birth
to a son, of whom he was the father. The son, named Menelek, was educated
at home until he reached his twentieth year, when the queen sent him to his
father to be taught the wisdom of Solomon, and besought the latter to anoint and
proclaim his son king of Ethiopia before the Ark of the Covenant, so that hence-
forth there might be a line of kings instead of queens in Sheba. Solomon readily
granted the queen's request, and after adding to the youth's name of Menelek
that of David, and training him in the study of law and other branches of learning,
resolved to send him home in state with a retinue of princes and noble pages.
Among the rest he ordered Azarias the priest, son of Zadok the high-priest,
to accompany Menelek David to Ethiopia, and Azarias before starting secretly
prepared a counterfeit Ark of the Covenant. This during sacrifice he contrived to
substitute for the original, which he and his companions carried off with them
to Ethiopia. Such is the story told with variations by Alvarez (Lord Stanley's
translation), pp. 78-79 ; by Tellez, Hist, geral de Ethiopia a alta^ p. 63 ; by
Zagazabo in Danhauer's Ecclesia AetMopicOy cap. iv; and in the Arabic history
translated by M. Am^ineau in Cmtes et romans de V^gypte chr/t. i. pp. 144-164.
Zagazabo's account makes the young prince carry ofif not the Ark itself, but only
the Two Tables of Stone. With the Ark or the Tables, the rights of sovereignty
of the house of David were held to have passed to the royal family of Abyssinia.
(A. J. B.)

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upon it, one at each of the four comers, and one in the middle. The
liturgy is celebrated upon the Ark four times in the year, within the
palace of the king ; and a canopy is spread over it when it is taken out
from [its own] church to the church which is in the palace of the king :
namely on the feast of the great Nativity, on the feast of the glorious
Baptism, on the feast of the holy Resurrection, and on the feast of the
illuminating Cross. And the Ark is attended and carried by a laige
number of Israelites descended from the family of the prophet David \
who are white and red in complexion, with red hair. In every town
of Abyssinia there is one church, as spacious as it can possibly be.

It is said that the Negus ' was white and red of complexion, with
red hair, and so are all his family to the present day ; and it is said that
he was of the family of Moses and Aaron, on account of the coming
of Moses into Abyssinia. Moses married the king's daughter ^

The eucharistic loaves of the Abyssinians are disks of leavened bread,
without stamp *.

' I.e. the royal family, who as descended from Menelek David, son of
Solomon, are descended from king David his father. On the subject of
Abyssinian Christianity, the reader is referred to Tellez, op. ciL, and to La Croze,
Htsi, du Chrtstiantsme d'£ihtopte (1739), and Greddes, Church History of Ethiopia^
London, 1696. (A. J. B.)

■ It is, of course, well known that the word Negus is the Ethiopic IT^S
The form IPTL: has been borrowed in Arabic as ^^l**^.

' This sentence is out of its place in the text.

* The Coptic eucharistic loaf, which is also leavened, is on the contrary
stamped with a design of crosses, each enclosed within a square border. The part
in the middle is called the Isbodtkon or Spoudikon (iC&O^IKOIt or cnOT^IKOIt
a corruption of dcoirorun^y), and the former appears in the Arabic IMdikdn, e. g.
in the modem (1886) Cairo edition of the Coptic Liturgy in the rubric before
intinction. Round the central design of the wafer are the words Holy, Holy,
Holy Lord (A.VIOC A.VIOC A.VIOC mfpIOC) or the like. See Vansleb, HisL
de tigUse d'Akx. p, 99 f.; Buder, Coptic Churches^ ii. p. 278 seq.

Tellez says of the Abyssinians :

' Detraz da Igreja para a banda do Oriente esta sempre hfla cazinha, a qual
he a casa das hostias, & nella ha apparelho para se fazerem; k vem a ser a

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§ The Abyssinians use vin^;ar with water for their communions, or
water* alone; yet this is not from want of wine, but is a custom
inherited from their ancestors.

hostia hum bolo fermentado, o qual se nam guarda d' hum dia pera o outro,
& se espantam de n6s nam fazermos as hostias pera cada dia/

' Behind the church, at the east end, there is always a chamber which is the
bakehouse for the eucharistic loaves, and in it there is the apparatus for making
them ; and the eucharistic loaf when it is made is a leavened cake, but is not kept
from one day to another ; and they are scandalized at our not making fresh hosts
every day/ {Hisi, geral de Ethiopia a alia, p. 97.)

The caztnha of which Tellez speaks corresponds to the bakehouse (yjti^ cu^.)
attached to the Coptic churches, as we have seen above, fol. 30 b, &c. (A. J. B.)

* Tellez says :

'O vinho que preparam pera a missa vem a ser d' esta manejrra; trazem
quatro ou sinco passas como ja toquey, que tern guardadas, as quays desfazem,
quebrando as com os dedos em hum pucaro de agoa, mayor ou menor, conforme
i quantidade da gente que ha de commungar; porque todos commimgam sub
utraque specie; & o mays certo he que sud neu/ra, porque evidentissimo he que
a materia aqui nam he vinho, senam agoa, poys hum pucaro de agoa nam se
pode tomar em vinho s6 com sinco ou seys passas/

* The wine which they prepare for the Mass is made in the following manner :
they bring four or five raisins, as I have already mentioned, which they keep
in store, and these they crush by squeezing them with the fingers in a cup of
water, larger or smaller according to the number of communicants ; for they all
communicate sub utraque specie, or more probably sub neutra, for it is abundantly
clear that the element here used is not wine but water, since a cup of water
cannot be changed into wine by the mere addition of fi^t. or six raisins/ ijlist,
gercd de Ethiopia a alta, p. 97.)

Alvarez states the same fact; see Lord Stanley's translation, pp. 25, 28, and
412. The statement of Tellez is repeated by Ludolphus; see his History of
Ethiopia made English by J. P. Gent, Bk. III. ch. 6. Danhauer also states that the
Abjrssinians used a chalice of raisin wine (vinum ex uvis, defectu vini ex recenti-
bus uvis expressi, passis mira arte expressum), quoting Zagazabo as his authority.

Our author agrees with Tellez that such a chalice is in reality one of water,
not wine. (A. J. B.)

PP [IT. 7]

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In Abyssinia there are many Muslims, each of whom pays a tax of
three aftkhalts ^ of iron, and these are like a broad spit, and have at the
end the impression of the king's seal.
FoLlOab The king possesses, among his treasures, the throne of king David,
upon which he sat to give judgment ; and upon it, all round it, and upon
all its sides, there are crosses of gold.

The fathers and patriarchs used to write letters to the kings of
Abyssinia and Nubia, twice in the year ; and the last of them who did
so was Zacharias, the sixty-fourth patriarch ; for Al-^Akim forbad the
practice, which ceased from that time until now. Nevertheless when a
letter comes from any of these kings to the caliph at Misr or bis vizier,
he bids the patriarch write a reply to the letter, with all the respect and
reverence due from Christians, and all the compliments which are cus-
tomary among them. The patriarch charges the king of Abyssinia to avoid
association with the Muslims, who are under bis government. Formerly
it was customary with all the kings of Abyssinia as well as their subjects
to have several wives*. This continued until the patriarchate of Anb4
Sinuthius, the sixty-seventh patriarch*; who commanded the metro-
politan to bring them back from this mode of life to the mode of life
existing among the Christians of Egypt and Syria, and not to authorise

* Apparently a word of Greek origin.

■ Danhauer's testimony on this point agrees with Abfi ^ilih's : * reges olim
sex aut septem habuerunt uxores, aulici communiter duas aut tres, ceteri pro lubitu

Online Libraryal-Armanī Abū ṠāliḣThe churches and monasteries of Egypt and some neighbouring countries → online text (page 29 of 43)