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A MOOR OF BARBART



THE

COUNTRY OF THE MOORS,

A Joume$ from Tripoli in Barbary
to the City of Kairwdn.



BY EDWARD RAE, F.R.G.S.
Author of 'The Land of tJie North Wind'



MAP AND ILLUSTRATIONS.



LONDON:
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.

1877.

The right of Translation is reserved.



R/3



WITH RESPECT AND LOVE I DEDICATE THIS

BOOK TO MY DEAR MOTHER

AND SISTER.



PREFACE.

Respected Reader >

I AM led to hope that you will feel a cer-
tain interest in the subject which is my excuse for
trying your patience again. I have endeavoured
to sketch the existing state of a portion of the
country of the Moors, the race to me the
most interesting of all which shed the light
of civilisation on the Dark Ages of Europe.
These notes are the result of two journeys into
the region where the remnant of the Moors have
their present abodes. I cannot hope, save per-
haps in the case of the city of Kairwan, to
convey much original or novel information.

A peasant once presented himself at the Third
Section, or Secret Police Department, in St.



viii PREFACE.

Petersburg, and demanded a hundred roubles as
the price of a certain communication. The money
was promised on condition that the facts were
not already known to the police. When the
peasant had finished, the agent called his secre-
tary from behind a screen, desiring him to bring
such and such a document, and to read it aloud.
It was the peasant's story word for word. Well,
I can't make that out, he said aghast, as he went
out : for I invented the story myself. The secre-
tary had written behind the screen while the
peasant spoke. In like manner, though I can
take no credit for inventiveness, I am inclined to
fear that the reader, turning to his bookshelves,
may find much of the information I have to give,
more solidly conveyed.

To several gentlemen I am much indebted for
kind recommendations : Messrs. Eye, Stephens,
Wright, Newsome, Fraser, Young, and especially
Mr. Murray and his son, who have contributed
to make my task a pleasant one. Colonel Play-
fair also helped me most kindly. I have to



PREFACE. ix

recognise the indulgence of the reviewers of a
former account of very different scenes from
those who encouraged me to write again, to the
one who remarked : We do not know any young
man who has travelled so much as Mr. Eae, and
seen so little.

My journey was a solitary one. I had not
the hardy and invaluable companion of Arctic ex-
peditions, or the genial friends who have cheered
so many rambles elsewhere. The journey was easy
enough. To Kairwan alone I should not recom-
mend a visit, without various precautions and a
certain respect for the prejudices of the unalter-
ing Faith of Mohammed. Even then, it is not
unlikely that an accident might happen.

Briefly, kind Reader, as the old geographer
Leo says in closing his Chronicle : These are the
things memorable and woorthie of knowledge
scene and obserued by me Eduard Eae in the
Countrey of the Mores : wherein whatsoeuer I
sawe woorthie the obseruation, I presently com-
mitted to writing : and those things which I sawe



x PREFACE.

not, I procured to be at large declared vnto me
by most credible and substantiall persons, which
were themselves eie-witnesses of the same : and
so hauing gotten a fitte opportunitie, I thought
good to reduce these my trauels and studies into
this one volume.

Claughton,

Birkenhead.

October 1877.



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER I.

PAGE

Provence The Junon Sail for Malta Storm Passengers
Sambo Vale'tta Franciscan Priest Sail for Tripoli The
Circe Expectations ........ 1



CHAPTER II.

The Tripolis Its Origin and History The Eomans Vandals
Saracene Spaniards Knights of Jerusalem Ottomans The
Beys ..'..... . . . . 9

CHAPTER III.

Trablus Gharb The City Bazaars Leo Africanus Prepare for
Journey to Lebda Recommendation Annibale and Giovanni . 16



CHAPTER IV.

Set out from Tripoli Among the Palms The Dellou Tadjoura
The Desert Has al Hamra We reach Djefara Rception
Accommodation The Kai'd The Plagues of Barbary Taphra
A Rencontre Sidi Abd el Atti Syrian Landscape Weir-
Country of the Bedouins Ruins Horns 25



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER V.

PAGE

Received at the Castle The Kai'd Murderers Our Quarters
Eide to Lebda Debris Columns Heat Wadi Lebda Group
of Ruins Temples Severus The Evil Eye Triple Arch
Depredations Lepide Its Origin and History A Legend of
Leptis The Gulf of Syrtis Major 35

CHAPTER VI.

Return to Horns A Deputation The Kaid's Hospitality Copper
Coins The Dead City Start for Tripoli Wearisome Journey
The Gharian A Wedding Djefara in the Twilight The
Owl-slayer Continue Journey Great Heat The Mecca Cara-
van A Bargain Tadjoura The Hermitage Frederick "War-
rington The Times of the Beys The Harbour Mussulman
Fanaticism The Bazaars 49

CHAPTER VII.

The Pasha's Gardens Ostriches John Leo on the Naturall His-
torie of Barbarie Tombs and Coins Giovanni incorruptible
The Triumphal Arch of Aurelian Roman Numerals Prayers
for Rain Offering to the God of Rain Alteration of Plans
Cyrene in Prospect The Cyrenaica 62

CHAPTER VIII.

Evening Ride Esparto Grass Black Families An Ingrate The
Allegra Usury, Caravans, and the Slave Trade The Pashalik
of Tripoli Resources Fall of the Leaf Charity Arab Home
Outer Bazaars Love Charms The Sheikh el Biled . . 74



CHAPTER IX.

Djemma '1 Basha Djemma '1 Gordji Djemma '1 Sheikh Bel Ain
Djemma '1 Sidi Dragut Panorama The Crescent City Delu-
sions Productions and Misfortunes Voiage of the lefus The
Genowaies 89



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER X.

PAGE

The Jews' Quarter The Place of Stoning The Dyers An Aus-
tere Sentry Bab el Djedid Jewish Reception The Synagogue
The Murderer The Dutch Consul The Black Village In
the Palm Groves Orange Garden Essence Distilling Fruit
and Blossom The Castle A Eoman Lady Bouba The Circe
The Last of Tripoli 08



CHAPTER XI.

Malta Cape Bon Tunny Fishery Goletta Pemtquier The
City of Verdure Preparations for Kairwan Sketch of Tunis
Purchases in the Bazaars Scenes in the City Rose Buds and
Orange Blossoms Adopt a Young Moor Braham the Silver-
smith The Bardo The Great Aqueduct. .... 109



CHAPTER XII.

Bakkoush His Antecedents, Career, Characteristics, and Accom-
plishments Old Times Mosaics Stroll through the City
Panorama The Diamond Market Sanctuaries The Mosqu of
the Olive Tree Departure from Tunis 126



CHAPTER XIII.

Sail for the East Coast Susa Bazaars The Sahel Adrumetum
The Port of Kairwan The Revolution Monastir Lepti
Parva Ras di Mas Mehdia The Patriarke of Cairaoan
Salectum . .138



CHAPTER XIV.

The Barbary Coast The Khassir Kerkeneh The Flying Camp
Djerba The Lotos Eaters Skull Pyramid Gulf of Kabes
Palus Tritonis . 150



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XV.

PAGE

Arrival at Sfax Gale A Mistake A Deaf Mute The Quarters of
Sfax Mosques A Caravan of Dates The Bazaars Graceful-
ness of Sfaxins Environs The City of Twelve Thousand Gar-
dens Slave Caravans Street Auction Costumes The Great
Mosque A Tragedy The Silversmiths Bakkoush at Home
An Eccentric Dervish A Modest Marabout Kuins of Lebda . 161



CHAPTER XVI.

Embark on Corsica Privations Facts about Sfax Sail for the
North Sponges of the Lesser Syrtis The Oulad Azim Octopi
Sponge Culture and Chicken Manufacture Mehdia Sardines
Arab Cemetery Port of Mehdia Turris Hannibalis Eelics
of El Djem A Moslem Companion Monastir Collectors
Susa . 180



CHAPTER XVII.

Of the Great Citie of Cairaoan Hutmen Hucba Muse Con-
quest of Andaluzia and Castilia Site of Kairwan Decline
Dr. Shaw on Kairwan and its Mosque Origin of Name Its
Sacredness and Exclusiveness Plans and Preparations A Ke-
commendation Outfit Disappointment 196



CHAPTER XVIII.

Departure from Susa The Sahel Bedouins A Discovery in Na-
tural History Drought M'seken The Great Plain Foot-
prints of Pilgrims The Great Minar The Walls Enter
Kairwan Observations Maledictions . 210



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XIX.

PAGE

The Year of the Hejra 1292 The Raid's House Sidi Mohammed
el Mourabet Hospitality A Pervert Supper a 1'Arabe
Fanatical Mosquito Visit the Ka'id The Bazaars Curiosity
and Precautions The Tunis Gate A Horse Sale My Body-
guard Progress to Citadel Soldiers Civility The "Walls
Rough Usage ........... 221



CHAPTER XX.

The Great Mosque Sketches The Khasinah Decaying City
Ita Former Size The Bazaars Slippers Marabouts The
Mosques Tombs of the Saints Curiosity An Aspiration
The Suburbs Djemma 1 Zituna Yahudi Postern Gate . 236



CHAPTER XXI.

Moorish Calendar Chronicles of the City Okhbah Conquest of
Spain Ibn Aghlab The City's Decline 246



CHAPTER XXII.

The Frenchman Servants Soldiers Ride round Walls A fine
Barb The African Mecca The Haj The Kai'd's Predecessors
Colleges The Renegade of Kairwan ^ * - . .268



CHAPTER XXIII.

The Bazaars A Bargain Mosque of the Three Gates Tombs
Measure the Great Mosque Fanaticism Details of Exterior
Sacred Well of Kafayat The Minar The Courtyard The
Prayer Chamber Its Interior Columns of the Great Mosque

An Intrigue Writing on the Wall 281

a



CONTENTS.



CHAPTER XXIV.

PAGE

Foundation of Kairwan Its Mosque and Kibleh Its Vicissitudes
Cordova Constructions Kaccadah The Last of the Aghla-
bites The New Mecca . 292



CHAPTER XXV.

The Gate of Greengages Measure the City Euined Bastion
Call to Prayer The Citadel A Mob Leylet al Moolid Elma-
wahel Imprecations Form of City An Incident Opinion of
the Bazaars Prepare to Leave Farewell to the Raid Last
Night in Kairwan 304

CHAPTER XXVI.

Issue from the City Traverse the Plain Camp of Bedouins
Interview with Bedouin Ladies Halt under Olive Trees
Ruined Tomb Nablus Hammamet The Foudouk of Birlou-
buita The Dakkhul Promontory The Lead Mountain Sulei-
man Gulf of Tunis Hammam '1 Anf Ehades Enter Tunis . 314



CHAPTER XXVII.

A Hammam A Negotiation Leave Tunis Footsteps of Bruce
A Touch of Nature Sad News The Last of Perruquier
Cape Carthage The Malta Channel A Swell Cagliari
Amphitheatre Antiquarian Museum A Visit from Sards
The Colony of Tunis Leghorn An Incident Genoa Paris . 323



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.



A MOOR OF BARBARY Frontispiece

Etched by Uon Richeton.

RUINED MONUMENT AT LEBDA . . . . To face p. 36
Photographed and Etched by the Author.

RUINS BY THE RIVER OF LEPTIS , ... ,, 40
Etched by Edwin Edwards from the Author s Photograph.

TRIPLE GATEWAY AT LEBDA ... . ,. 44
Photographed and Etched by the Author.

PALMS BY THE SEA. TRIPOLI . . . . . ,. 104
Drawn and Etched by the Author.

THE GREAT MOSQUE OF KAIR WAN . . . 236
Etched by Le"on Richeton from the Author s Sketch.

SKETCH PLAN OF THE GREAT MOSQUE . . 288
Engraved from the A uthor's Drawing.

SKETCH PLAN OF THE CITY OF K AIR WAN . . 306
Engraved from the Author's Drawing.



MAP ,



334



Errata.

11, line 20, for Zobeir read Ibn Zobeir.
39, 14, for Windsor read Virginia Water.
83, 24, for knows read admires.

146, 5, read:' Earth says Leptis means port. There is a Hebrew
root lapat, to enfold or encompass ; but no such word, I
think, in Greek or Latin.
210, 3, for Arab read Moorish.
218, 13, for Arab read Arabic.



THE

COUNTRY OF THE MOORS.

CHAPTER I.

Provence The Junon Sail for Malta Storm Passengers Sambo
Valetta Franciscan Priest Sail for Tripoli The Circe Expec-
tations.

IT was a lovely morning as we entered Provence.
It was the early spring : green leaves were sprouting,
and the almond-trees were thick with blossom. Beside
us was the swift Rhone, and eastward were the purple
mountains with snow on them. We passed Orange and
its beautiful Roman arch, Aries and its noble Colos-
seum : and finally whirled into the busy town of Mar-
seilles. In the train was a pleasant Englishman, also
on his way to the Hotel du Louvre and to Malta.

We walked down to the steamship office, and
learned that the Junon would not sail until the
following evening. We engaged our berths, and went
down to see the steamer.

B



2 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. CHAP. i.

On the second afternoon we went on board the Junon,
and for two hours watched the last cases marked Malte,
Alexandrie, lowered into the hold by a terrible steam
crane. At dusk we moved slowly out of the Joliette
harbour, rounded the lightship, and were on our way
over the luminous waters of the Central Sea. It was
a dead calm : the sky looked very threatening. We
steamed under the Chateau d'lf, and left the twinkling
lights of the city behind.

Towards midnight the wind burst upon us in a
hurricane : the sea became wild and mountainous,
great waves broke over our stern, and water poured in
sheets down into our cabin. The doors and windows
of the deckhouse were nailed up, and covered with
boards and canvas. After a miserable night in the
dark stuffy state-room, daylight came. Great green
seas were sweeping aloft, breaking in a furious mass
of foam, and burying the Junon's stern as if she
could never rise again.

It was scarcely dawn when we went on deck : the
sky was bare of all but stars, every cloud seemed blown
out of it. The gale was violent, the seas were prodigious.
The wind, fortunately aft, drove us along fast, though
we could hoist no sail. Nothing could be put upon
the table : our negro steward, from Martinique, was in
despair, his woolly hair stood straight on end as the
plates and glasses clattered and smashed. His white



CHAP. i. THE JUNON>S PASSENGERS. 3

teeth glittered as he clenched them, and he ground
out sacres as if he had been educated in France.

We were but few passengers, and if some of us had
had a second opportunity of sailing in the Junon,
there would have been fewer still. We had asked at
the agency after our fellow-passengers. There were
two English officers, the agent said, Messieurs Choi-
melee and Maquintoche. Mackintosh, an especially
pleasant fellow, was Lieutenant in the 71st High-
landers, on his way to join his regiment ; and Chol-
meley, a powerful young Yorkshire squire, was to be
attached to the regiment for a few months.

At daybreak on the third morning the gale had
abated, and this day we could take our meals in the
saloon.

The captain was a jolly good-looking Frenchman
a Legitimist : his political discussions with the other
officers were very entertaining, and he was as much at
home and familiar with us as if he had taken us to
Malta a dozen times. This want of stiffness is a charm
in a short acquaintance. A French story is told of
an Englishman and a Frenchman, who met one rainy
night in an inn, and sat before the fire drying and
warming themselves. After one or two attempts at
conversation, the Frenchman gave it up. Presently
he stooped politely forward. * I beg your pardon, sir,'
he said : ' some of the ash of your cigar has fallen on

H 2



4 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. CHAP. i.

your knee.' * Well,' said the Englishman, ' I don't see
that it concerns you. Why, the tail of your coat has
been on fire for the last half-hour, and I said nothing
about it.' The steward, Sambo, tells us tales of Mar-
tinique, but he refuses to sing us one of the old planta-
tion songs. He has an excellent mouth for sugar-cane,
but he says that it disagrees with him. As he eats the
cane after sucking the sap, we are not surprised at this.

At length we sighted, towards noon one day, the
Island of Gozo : and late in the afternoon we were
steaming into the entrance of the Grand Harbour of
Valetta.

I was glad to find the Tripoli steamers Circe and
Trablus Oharb lying alongside of us, as we moored
opposite to Fort St. Angelo. The Trablus had sailed,
but put back, owing to the heavy weather, which had
detained many vessels in Malta. I landed, and drove in
one of the inexpensive light carriages up to Dunsford's
Hotel.

It is a curious city : with its narrow tapering
streets, and innumerable flights of steps, tall yellow
stone houses, and their projecting green wooden bays,
mediaeval outlines of auberges and palaces a sort of
restored Rhodes. The bustling barefooted natives, with
their yellow sunburnt skins, are the greatest busy-
bodies in Europe. Accredited with the knowledge of
all European languages, they scarcely know one. In



CHAP. i. VALETTA. 5

their miniature world all mutual relations are defined
in the shortest possible time, and with the most won-
derful accuracy. They have been described as an ugly
race of Catholic Arabs. English sentries were pacing
in front of the guard-house: over which are the in-
signia of England, with the dedication To the great
and unconquered Britain the love of the Maltese and
the voice of Europe confirms these islands. A.D. 1814.
There were sailors with broad collars and blue shirts,
but not English faces : quick parties of redcoats :
sounds of fife, bugle, and drum : baskets of violets and
other flowers, and piles of golden oranges all in the
warm sunny air of the Malta spring.

This City of the Knights, this surprising group of
natural fortresses, is familiar to us all, but none the
less remarkable and interesting. It is a magnificent
possession for England, and probably will not be given
up until the party who would have exchanged Gibraltar
for Ceuta have acquired a little more importance.

Passing down to the Marina, to learn the hour at
which the Circe was to sail, I chanced to enter the
church of the Franciscans. There were large numbers
of people and priests, and a strong odour of incense and
lighted tapers. In the centre of the church, amid a
crowd of kneeling men and women, flanked by two tall
rows of candles, stood a high catafalque, covered with a

black and silver pall. Upon this reposed, in full sacra-

'



6 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. CHAP. i.

mental robes and hat, a Franciscan priest. His eyes
were closed, and his hands clasped on his breast. Poor
old man, he died on the previous day, and this was his
funeral service. On my return I saw a crowd passing
up the Strada Keale. The priest was being carried,
just as he had lain in the church, to the catacombs of
the Franciscans.

At ten in the morning, with all the bells in Valetta
clanging for church service, we steamed slowly out of
the harbour, and set sail for the Country of the Moors
Ahead of us was the Turkish boat, Trablus Gharb, ar
older but faster steamer than the Circe, also bound foi
Tripoli. It was a bright fresh day : and, light as the
little steamer was, she rocked but little on the swel 1
which remained from the gale. Mr. Said, who wa
agent for the Circe in Tripoli, was on board : and with
Captain Kirkpatrick, a bright worthy little seaman, to
whom the owners had very kindly recommended me,
the day passed quickly. The passage is often a bad
one, Tripoli harbour being almost inaccessible in north-
erly winds: and, instead of arriving in twenty-four
or thirty hours, the steamers have to lie off for several
days together, and even to return from within sight of
the houses of Tripoli to Malta.

Lest it should be imagined that I could regard this
journey in the light of a holiday and a diversion, I will
mention some of the requests which reached me from



CHAP. i. RESPONSIBILITIES. 7

friends and from strangers before I left England. I
can only recommend any future traveller to Tripoli to
conceal his destination from his nearest relatives. This
was from an old friend and travelling companion :

' Dear Rae : I send a list of a few things I wish
you would get for me. Twelve inlaid hand mirrors,
with mother-of-pearl and ivory : five or six essence
cabinets, such as we found in Tunis and Cairo : two
soft silk scarfs, of scarlet and plum colour : a set of
coffee-cups and silver holders set in turquoise ; must be
old : any blue and white china worth having : what-
ever large pieces of silver-work bracelets &c. you
don't want yourself. Some old embroidery. A brass
Jewish lamp and a brass ewer and basin.'

The next was from a gentleman of whom I had not
had the pleasure of hearing before : 'Sir : Hearing from
a relative of yours that you are about to travel in
Barbary, I venture to ask you to collect for me some
shells and birds' eggs. Such and such shells exist in
Barbary, and the eggs of such and such birds are to be
met with. Pray be careful, in blowing the eggs, to dc
it only in the following way.' Then came a diagram of
the only way in which I could be a successful blower of
eggs. The next was from a gentleman distantly ac-
quainted with a member of my family : ' Sir : As I
understand you are just starting for the North Coast of
Africa, I should feel extremely indebted to you if you



8 THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. CHAP. i.

would spend for me fifty or a hundred pounds in old
Oriental embroidery. Then followed many excuses and
no directions, the matter being unfortunately left to my
taste.

One friend asked for ten pounds worth of attar of
roses. One merely wanted me to spend ten pounds for
him on something or other. One asked for an old Tripo-
line silver bracelet : one for a bottle-shaped gourd, to be
set in silver filigree. Another modestly wished for a
photograph of a lonely ruined column. I was asked to
spend a hundred pounds in carpets: to bring ostrich
feathers and a gazelle back with me : to proceed to
the Atlas and report upon the Touaregs, one of the
oldest races in Africa. Finally, I was very handsomely
desired to buy for myself, as a present, the object which
pleased me most in Tripoli. I can assure the reader
that these commissions caused me much anxiety and
uneasiness of mind.



CHAP. ii. FOUNDATION OF THE TRIPOLIS.



CHAPTER II.

The Tripolis Its Origin and History The Eomans Vandals
Saracens Spaniards Knights of Jerusalem Ottomans The Beys.

OF the three capitals of the Tripolis the region which
obtained its name in like manner as the Decapolis and
Pentapolis, and contained the cities of Leptis, or Nea-
polis, Sabrata, or Old Tripoli, and (Ea, or New Tripoli
only the latter city remains. The cities of Leptis
and Sabrata, one lying seventy miles east, and one
forty-seven miles west from Tripoli, exist only as heaps
of ruins. It is generally understood that, when the
Phoenicians, driven from home by domestic strife,
established these colonies on the northern coast of
Africa, between the gulfs of the Greater and Lesser
Syrtes the country being more or less unproductive,
the settlers had in view the creation of emporia for
trade with the interior, in gold, gums, spices, ivory, and
other precious articles. The frequency of oases in the
country lying south of Libya Tripolitana, rendered
it very suitable for such traffic, and its three seaports
acquired wealth, refinement, and luxury.

The building of Tripoli proper is attributed by



io THE COUNTRY OF THE MOORS. CHAP. n.

some to the Emperor Severus : while the generally
accurate geographer, Leo Africanus, declares that it was
not built until after Old Tripoli had been captured by
the Goths, and destroyed by the Mohammedans in the
time of the Khalif Omar. This would injure Tripoli's
claim to a decent antiquity, but the existence of a
Roman arch of the period of Aurelian refutes Leo.
Phoenician inscriptions of the same period also exist.

The founders of the Tripolis, as is well known, made
settlements farther East from Djerba to Algiers: and
these Barbary provinces, having Carthage for their capi-
tal, flourished after the Pentapolis had begun to decay.
The sun of Phoenician Carthage set on the fatal plain
of Zama, but Roman Carthage rising from her ashes
took the lead, and maintained it for six centuries. The
limits of civilisation contracted as Roman power de-
clined in Africa, and at length Valentinian called in
the aid of the Vandal king. Those predatory bar-
barians gladly overran and occupied the country. A
series of desolating wars followed, in which the brave
and able Belisarius eventually recovered for Justinian,
who reigned in Constantinople, these African dependen-
cies : but their ruin was complete. Fresh wars under
Solomon, the successor of Belisarius, had a similarly per-
nicious result : Africa was desolated. The Vandals, once
numbering a hundred and sixty thousand warriors
alone, were extirpated. Of Berbers an infinitely



CHAP. n. THE SARACENS. n

greater number perished. When Procopius, historian
of the Vandals, landed in these parts of Africa, he was
astonished at the population and prosperity of the
cities and country. In less than twenty years the busy
scene was converted into a silent solitude. It is said
that five millions of human beings perished in the wars
of the Emperor Justinian.

In the seventh century, during the rapid and
astounding rise of Mohammedanism, the Arabians, called
Saracens or Orientals Sharak, East turned their arms


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Online LibraryEdward RaeThe country of the Moors; a journey from Tripoli in Barbary to the city of Kairwân → online text (page 1 of 23)