Title: An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. Volume 2. [Electronic Edition]

Author: Lane, Edward William, 1801-1876
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Author: Edward William Lane
File size or extent: 2 v. (xxiv, 402, [2] ;vi, [2], 419, [1] p.) : ill., 29 plates ; 120.
Publisher: Charles Knight & Co.
Place of publication: London
Publication date: 1836
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  • Egypt -- Social life and customs.
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An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians. Volume 2. [Electronic Edition]





14, Charing Cross.


Use of Tobacco, Coffee, Hemp. Opium, &c.
The Bath
Public Dancers
Serpent-Charmers, and Performers of Legerdemain tricks, &c.
Public Recitations of Romances. (Ab'oo Zeyd)
Public Recitations of Romances-continued. (Ez-Za'hir)
Public Recitations of Romances-continued. ('An'tar, and Del'hem'eh)


Periodical Public Festivals, &c. (Those of the first three month of the Mohhammadan Year)
Periodical Public Festivals, &c.— Continued. (Those of the fourth and following months of the Mohhammadan Year)
Periodical Public Festivals, &c.—continued. (Those of the Solar Year)
Private Festivals, &c.
Death, and Funeral Rites
1.—The Copts 308
2.—The Jews of Egypt 343
3.—The late Innovations in Egypt 349
Appendix A. Female Ornaments 353
Appendix B. Egyptian Measures, Weights, and Moneys 370
Appendix C, Household Expenditure in Cairo 375
Appendix D. Prayer of Moos'lim School-boys 377


No. Page
1. Shops in a Street of Cairs 9
2. Shop of a Turkish Merchant 10
3. Sack'ekas 15
4. Sack'cka Shur'beh 16
5. Hhem'alees 17
6. 'Er'ck-soo'see 19
7. Moosellika'tee 21
8. The Sha'doo'f 24
9. Plan of a Bath 37
10. Section of the Hhara'rah 39
11. Foot-rasps 41
12. Mun'ckal'ah 47
13. See'ga 54
14. Kemen'geh 64
15. A Performer on the Kemen'geh 65
16. Cka'noo'n 66
17. A Performer on the Cka'noo'n 68
18. 'Oo'd 70
19. A Performer on the 'Oo'd 71
20. Na'y 73
21. A Performer on the Na'y 74
22. Raba'b esh-Sha'ër 77
23. Sa'ga't, Ta'r, and Dar'abook'keh 79
24. Earthen Dar'abook'keh, Zoomma'rab, Mouth piece of the
latter, and Arghoo'l
25.Dancing-Girls (Ghawa'zee, or Gha'zee'yehs) 116
26. a Sha'ër, with his accompanying Violist and part of his
27. Whirling Durwee'sh 182
28. The Mahh'mil 200
29. The Do'seh 200


No. Page
30. Funeral Procession 289
31. Bier used for the conveyance of the corpse of a female or
32. Sketch of a Tomb 301
33. Turban of the Coptic Patriarch and Bishops 314
34. Turban of a Coptic Priest 315
35. Diamond Ckoor's 355
36. Gold Ckoor's 356
37. Ckoos'sah and 'En'ebeh ibid.
38. Ckum'arahs, Sa'ckiveh, &c. 358
39. Ear-rings 359
40. Necklaces 360
41. Bracelets 361
42. Burck, &c. 362
43. Anklets 364
44. Hhega'bs 365
45. Nose-rings 366
46. To'ck, or Neck-ring 367



12. Line 8. After “demand,” add, “In many of the Soo'cks in Cairo,
auctions are held on stated days, once or twice a week. They
are conducted by della'ls (or brokers), hired either by private
persons who have anything that they wish to sell in this
manner, or by shop-keepers. These della'ls carry the goods
up and down the street, announcing the sums bidden, with
cries of 'hhara'g, or 'hhara'j,' &c.”
80. I should have mentioned here, that the airs which I have introduced
are not always sung to the same words. The words
are generally similar in style to those here inserted, or at least
as silly; though often abounding with indecent metaphors, or
with plain ribaldry.
88. Second line of music, for “En'ta,” read “En'ta.”
90. Line 3. insert a hyphen at the end.
117. Line 10, for “carfully,” read “carefully.”
145. Last line but two, for “depend,' real ” depends.”
147. Line 16, dele comma after” recitation.”
162. Line 8, insert a comma after “mare,” and dele semicolon after
170. Line 9, insert a comma after “below.” 187. Last line of text., for “ten,” read “nine.” 192. Last line of music, for “i. la' ha;' read “I-la'-ha.” 196. Second and last lines of music, make the same corrections as
that just before mentioned.
206. Last line but two, and last but one, dele” eve of the.” 234. Line 12; for “him,” read “them.” 274. Line 16, for “confers,” read “'corners.” 289. Last line of music, for “Ila' hoo,” read “lla'-hoo.”



IT is melancholy to compare the present state of Egypt
with its ancient prosperity, when the variety, elegance,
and exquisite finish displayed in its manufactures attracted
the admiration of surrounding nations, and its inhabitants
were in no need of foreign commerce to increase their
wealth, or to add to their comforts. Antiquarian researches
show us that, not only the Pharaohs and the
priests and military chiefs, but also, a great proportion
of the agriculturists, and other private individuals, even
in the age of Moses, and at a yet earlier period, passed
a life of the most refined luxury, were clad in linen of
the most delicate fabric, and reclined on couches and
chairs which have served as models for the furniture of
our modern saloons. Nature is as lavish of her favours
as she was of old to the inhabitants of the valley of the
Nile; but, for many centuries, they have ceased to enjoy
the benefit of a steady government: each of their successive
rulers, during this long lapse of time, considering
the uncertain tenure of his power, has been almost wholly
intent upon increasing his own wealth; and thus, a large

portion of the nation has gradually perished, and the
remnant, ill general, been reduced to a state of the most
afflicting poverty.
The male portion of the population of Egypt being
scarcely greater than is sufficient for the cultivation of
as much of the soil as is subject to the natural inundation,
or easily irrigated by artificial means, the number
of persons who devote themselves to manufactures in
this country is comparatively small; and as there
are so few competitors, and, at present, few persons of
wealth to encourage them, their works in general display
but little skill.
Painting and sculpture, as applied to the representation
of living objects, are, I have already stated, absolutely
prohibited by the Mohhammadan religion: there
are, however, some Moos'lims in Egypt who attempt
the delineation of men, lions, camels, and other animals,
flowers, boats, &c., particularly in (what they call) the
decoration of a few shop-fronts, the doors of pilgrims'
houses, &c.; though their performances would be surpassed
by children of five or six years, of age in our own
country. The art in which the Egyptians most excel is
architecture. The finest specimens of Arabian architecture
are found in the Egyptian metropolis and its
environs; and not only the mosques and other public
buildings are remarkable for their grandeur and beauty,
but many of the private dwellings, also, attract our
admiration, especially by their interior structure and decorations.
Yet this art has, of late years, much declined,
like most others in this country: a new style of architecture,
partly Oriental and partly European, and of a
very plain description, being generally preferred. The
woodwork of the doors, ceilings, and windows of the

buildings in the older style, which have already been
described, display considerable taste, of a peculiar kind;
and so, also, do most of the Egyptian manufactures;
though many of them are rather clumsy, or ill finished.
The turners of wood, whose chief occupation was that
of making the lattice-work of windows, were very numerous,
and their work was generally neater than it
is at present: they have less employment now; as
windows of modern houses are often made of glass
The turner, like most other artisans in Egypt, sits to his
work. In the art of glass-making, for which Egypt
was so much celebrated in ancient times, the modern
inhabitants of this country possess but little skill: they
have lost the art of manufacturing coloured glass for
windows; but, for the construction of windows of this
material they are still admired, though not so much as
they were a few years ago, before the adoption of a new
style of architecture diminished the demand for their
work. Their pottery is generally of a rude kind: it
mostly consists of porous bottles and jars, for cooling,
as keeping, water. For their skill in the preparation
of morocco leather, they are justly celebrated
The branches and leaves of the palm-tree they employ
in a great variety of manufactures: of the former, they
make seats, coops, chests, frames for beds, &c.: of the
latter, baskets, panniers, mats, brooms, fly-whisks, and
many other utensils. Of the fibres, also, that grow at
the foot of the branches of the palm-tree are made most
of the ropes used in Egypt. The best mats (which are
much used instead of carpets, particularly in summer)
are made of rushes. Egypt has lost the celebrity
which it enjoyed in ancient times for its line linen:
the linen, cotton, and woollen cloths, and the silks now

woven in this country are generally of coarse or poor
The Egyptians have long been famous for the art of
hatching fowls' eggs by artificial heat. This practice,
though obscurely described by ancient authors, appears
to have been common in Egypt in very remote times.
The building in which the process is performed is
called, in Lower Egypt, ma'amal el-fira'kh, and in
Upper Egypt, ma'amal el-furroo'g: in the former
division of the country, there are more than a hundred
such establishments; and in the latter, more than half
that number. The proprietors pay a tax to the government.
The ma'amal is constructed of burnt or sundried
bricks; and cousin of two parallel rows of small
chambers and ovens, divided by a narrow, vaulted passage.
Each chamber is about nine or ten feet long,
eight feet wide, and five or six feet high; and has above
it a vaulted oven, of the same size, or rather less in
height. The former communicates with the passage by
an aperture large enough for a man to enter; and with
its oven, by a similar aperture: the ovens, also, of the
same row, communicate with each other; and each has
an aperture in its vault (for the escape of the smoke),
which is opened only occasionally: the passage, too,
has several such apertures in its vaulted roof. The eggs
are placed upon mats or straw, and one tier above
another, usually to the number of three tiers, in the
small chambers; and burning gel'leh (a fuel before
mentioned, composed of the clung of animals, mixed
chopped straw, and made into the form of round,
flat cakes) is placed upon the floor of the ovens above.
The entrance of the ma'amal is well closed. Before it
are two or three small chambers, for the attendant, and

the fuel, and the chickens when newly hatched. The
operation is performed only during two or three months
in the year; in the spring; earliest in the most southern
parts of the country. Each ma'amal in general contains
from twelve to twenty-four chambers for eggs
and receives about a hundred and fifty thousand eggs,
during the annual period of its continuing open; one
quarter or a third of which number generally fail. The
peasants of the neighbourhood supply the eggs: the
attendant of the ma'amal examines them; and afterwards
usually gives one chicken for every two eggs that
he has received. In general, only half the number of
chambers are used for the first ten days; and fires are
lighted only in the ovens above these. On the eleventh
day, these fires are put out, and others are lighted in the
other ovens, and fresh eggs placed in the chambers
below these last. On the following day, some of the
eggs in the former chambers are removed, and placed
on the floor of the ovens above, where the fires have
been extinguished. The general heat maintained during
the process is from 100° to 103° of Fahrenheit's thermometer.
The manager, having been accustomed to
this art from his youth, knows, from his long experience,
the exact temperature that is required for the success of
the operation, without having any instrument, like our
thermometer, to guide him. On the twentieth day,
some of the eggs first put in are hatched; but most, on
the twenty-first day; that is, after the same period as is
required in the case of natural incubation. The weaker
of the chickens are placed in the passage: the rest, in
the innermost of the anterior apartments; where they
remain a day or two before they are given to the persons
to whom they are due. When the eggs first placed

have been hatched, and the second supply half-hatched,
the chambers in which the former were placed, and
which are now vacant, receive the third supply; and, in
like manner, when the second supply is hatched, a fourth
is introduced in their place. I have not found that the
fowls produced in this manner are inferior in point of
flavour or in other respects to those produced from the
egg by incubation. The fowls and their eggs in Egypt
are, in both cases, and with respect to size and flavour,
very inferior to those in our country.—In one of the
Egyptian newspapers published by order of the government
(No. 248, for the 18th of Rum'ada'n, 1246, or the
3d of March, 1831 of our era) I find the following
Lower Egypt. Upper Egypt.
Number of establishments for the
hatching of fowls' eggs in the
present year
105 59
Number of eggs used 19,325,600 6,878,900
Number spoiled 6,255,867 2,529,660
Number hatched 13,069,733 4,349,240
Though the commerce of Egypt has much declined
since the discovery of the passage from Europe to India
by the Cape of Good Hope, and in consequence of the
monopolies and exactions of its present ruler, it is still
The principal imports from Europe are woollen cloths
(chiefly from France), calico, plain muslin,
figured muslin (of Scotch manufacture, for turbans), silks, velvet,
crape, shawls (Scotch, English, and French) in imitation
of those of Kashmee'r, writing-paper (chiefly from
Venice), fire-arms, straight sword-blades (from Germany)
for the Nubians, &c., watches and clocks, coffee-cups
and various articles of earthenware and glass

(mostly from Germany), many kinds of hard-wares,
planks, metal, beads, wine and liqueurs; and white slaves,
silks, embroidered handkerchiefs and napkins, mouthpieces
of pipes, slippers, and a variety of made goods,
copper and brass wares, &c., from Constantinople:—
from Asia Minor, carpets (among which, the segga'dehs,
or small prayer-carpets), figs, &c.:—from Syria, tobacco,
striped silks, 'abba'yehs (or woollen cloaks), soap:—
from Arabia, coffee, spices, several drugs, Indian goods
(as shawls, silks, muslin, &c.):—from Abyssinia and
Senna'r and the neighbouring countries, slaves, gold,
ivory, ostrich-feathers, koorba'gs (or whips of hippopotamus'
hide) tamarind in cakes, gums, senna:—from
El-Ghurb, or the West (that is, northern Africa, from
Egypt westwards), turboo'shes (or red cloth scull-caps),
boornoo'ses (or white woollen hooded cloaks), hhera'ms
(or white woollen sheets, used for night-coverings
and for dress), yellow morocco shoes.
The principal exports to Europe are wheat, maize,
rice, beans, cotton, flax, indigo, coffee, various spices,
gums, senna, ivory, ostrich-feathers:—to Turkey, male
and female Abyssinian and black slaves (including a few
eunuchs), rice, coffee, spices, hhen'na, &c.:—to Syria,
slaves, rice, &c.:—to Arabia, chiefly corn:—to Senna'r
and the neighbouring countries, cotton and linen and
woollen goods, a few Syrian and Egyptian striped silks,
small carpets, beads and other ornaments, soap, the
straight sword-blades mentioned before, fire-arms, copper
wares, writing-paper.
To convey some notion of the value of money in
Cairo, I insert the following list of the present prices of
certain common articles of food, &c. In the country
towns and villages, most kinds of provisions are cheaper

than in the metropolis: meat, fowls, and pigeons, about
half the prices here mentioned: wheat and bread, from
about one third to half.
P. F. (£. s. d.)
Wheat, the ardeb'b (or about five bushels),
from 50 P. to
63 0 (0 13 21/5)
Rice, the ardeb'b, about 240 0 (2 8 0)
Mutton or lamb, the rutl 1 0 (0 0 2 2/5)
Beef, do. 0 35 (0 0 2 1/10)
Fowls, each, 1 P. 10 F. to 1 20 (0 0 3 3/5)
Pigeons, the pair, 1 P. 1 0 F. to 1 20 (0 0 3)
Eggs, three for 0 5 (0 0 0 3/10)
Fresh butter, the rutl 2 0 (0 0 4 4/5)
Clarified butter, do. 2 P. to 2 10 (0 0 5 2/5)
Coffee, do. 6P. to 7 0 (0 1 4 4/5)
Geb'elee tobacco, the oock'ckah, 15 P. to 18 0 (0 3 7 1/5)
Soo'ree do. do. 5 P. to 10 0 (0 2 0 )
Egyptian loaf-sugar, the rutl 2 0 (0 0 4 4/5)
European do. do. 2 10 (0 0 5 2/5)
Summer grapes, do. 0 10 (0 0 0 2/5)
Later (to. do. 20 F. to. 0 30 (0 0 1 4/5)
Fine biscuit, the ckunta'r 160 0 (1 12 0)
Water, the ckir'beh(or goat's-skin), 10F.to 0 20 (0 0 1 1/5)
Fire-wood, the donkey-load 11 0 (0 2 2 2/5)
Charcoal, the oock'ckah, 20 F. to 0 30 (0 0 1 4/5)
Soap, the rutl 1 30 (0 0 4 1/5)
Tallow candles, the oock'ckah 8 20 (0 1 8 2/5)
Best wax do. do. 25 0 (0 5 0)
Note.—The rutl is about 15 3/4 oz., and the oock'ckah, nearly
2 3/4 1bs., avoirdupois. The ckunta'r is 100 rutls. P. denotes Piasters:
F. Fud'dahs. For a full account of Egyptian measures,
weights, and moneys, see the Appendix.
There are in Cairo numerous buildings called Weka'lehs,
chiefly designed for the accommodation of merchants,
and for the reception of their goods. The Weka'leh
is a building surrounding a square or oblong
court. Its ground-floor consists of vaulted magazines,

Shops in a Street of Cairo.—The principal object in this view is the shop of an 'atta'r, who sells drugs, perfumes, wax candles, &c. The inscription on the shutter is Ya' fetta'hh. See vol. i., p. 327.

for merchandize, which face the court; and these magazines
are sometimes used as shops. Above them are
generally lodgings, which are entered from a gallery
extending along each of the four sides of the court; or,
in the place of these lodgings, there are other magazines;
and in many weka'lehs which have, apartments intended
as lodgings, these apartments are used as magazines.
In general, a weka'leh has only one common entrance;
the door of which is closed at night, and kept by a porter.
There are about two hundred of these buildings in
Cairo; and three-fourths of that number are within that
part which constituted the original city.
It has already been mentioned, in the introduction to
this work, that the great thoroughfare streets of Cairo
generally have a row of shops along each side, not communicating
with the superstructures. So, also, have many
of the by-streets. Commonly, a portion of a street, or
a whole street, contains chiefly, or solely, shops appropriated
to one particular trade*; and is called the
Soo'ck (or Market) of that trade; or is named after a
mosque there situated. Thus, a part of the principal
street of the city is called “Soo'ck en-Nahh'hha'see'n”,
or the market of the sellers of copper wares (or simply
“the Nahh'hha'see'n”—the word “Soo'ck” being
usually dropped); another part is called “the Go'hargee'yeh,”
or [market of] the jewellers: another, “the
Khoordagee'yeh,” or [market of] the sellers of hardwares;
another, “the Ghoo'ree'yeh,” or [market of] the
Ghoo'ree'yeh, which is the name of a mosque situated
there. These are some of the chief soo'cks of the city.
The principal Turkish soo'ck is called “Kha'n El-Khalee'lee.”
* This has long been the case in other Eastern countries. See
Jeremiah, xxxvii., '21.

Some of the soo'cks are covered over
with matting, or with planks, supported by beams extending
across the street, a little above the shops, or
above the houses.
The shop (dookka'n) is a square recess, or cell, generally
about six or seven feet high; and between three
and four feet in width. Its floor is even with the top of
a mus'tub'ah, or raised seat of stone or brick, built
against the front. This is usually about two feet and a
half, or three feet, in height; and about the same in
breadth. The front of the shop is furnished with folding
shutters; commonly consisting of three leaves; one
above another: the uppermost of these is turned up in
front: the two other leaves, sometimes folded together,
are turned down upon the mus'tub'ah, and form an
even seat, upon which is spread a mat or carpet, with,
perhaps, a cushion or two. Some shops have folding
doors, instead of the shutters above described. The
shop-keeper generally sits upon the mus'tub'ah; unless
he be obliged to retire a little way within his shop, to
make room for two or more customers, who mount up
on the seat; taking off their shoes before they draw up
their feet upon the mat or carpet. To a regular customer,
or one who makes any considerable purchase,
the shop-keeper generally presents a pipe (unless the
former have his own with him, and it be filled and
lighted); and he calls or sends to the boy of the nearest
coffee-shop, and desires him to bring some coffee, which
is served in the same manner as in the house; in small
china cups, placed within cups of brass. Not more than
two persons can sit conveniently upon the mus'tub'ah of
a shop, unless it be more spacious than is commonly the
case: but some are three or four feet broad, and the

Shop of a Turkish Merchant in the Soo'ck called Kha'n El-Khalee'lee.

shops to which they belong, five or six feet in width;
and consequently these afford room enough for four
persons, or more, sitting in the Eastern fashion. The
shopman generally says his prayers upon the mus'tub'ah,
in the sight of the passengers in the street. When he
leaves his shop for a few minutes, or for about half an
hour, he either relies, for the protection of his property,
upon the next shop-keepers, or those opposite, or hangs
a net before his shop. He seldom thinks it necessary to
close and lock the shutters, excepting at night, when he
returns to his house; or when he goes to the mosque,
on the Friday, to join in the noon prayers of that day.—
The apartments above the shops have been described in the introduction.
Buying and selling are here very tiresome processes
to persons unaccustomed to such modes of bargaining.
When a shop-keeper is asked the price of any of his
goods, he generally demands more than he expects to
receive: the customer declares the price exorbitant, and
offers about half, or two thirds, of the sum first named:
the price thus bidden is, of course, rejected; but the
shop-keeper lowers his demand; and then the customer,
in his turn, bids somewhat higher than before: thus
they usually go on until they meet about half-way between
the sum first demanded and that first offered;
and so the bargain is concluded. When a person would
make any but a trifling purchase, having found the
article that exactly suits him, he generally makes up his
mind for a long altercation: he mounts upon the mus'tub'ah
of the shop; seats himself at his ease; fills and
lights his pipe; and then the contest of words commences,
and lasts, often, half an hour, or even more.
Sometimes, the shop-keeper, or the customer, interrupts

the bargaining by introducing some irrelevant topic of
conversation; as if the one had determined to abate his
demand no further; or the other, to bid no higher:
then again the haggling is continued. The bargain
being concluded, and the purchaser having taken his
leave, his servant generally receives, from the tradesman,
a small present of money, which, if not given spontaneously,
he scruples not to demand.—Among the
lower orders, a bargain of the most trifling nature is
often made with a great deal of vehemence of voice and
gesture: a person ignorant of their language would
imagine that the parties engaged in it were quarrelling,
and highly enraged. The peasants will often say, when
a person asks the price of anything which they have for
sale, “Receive it as a present*:” this answer having
become a common form of speech, they know that
advantage will not be taken of it; and when desired,
again, to name the price, they will do so; but generally
name a sum that is exorbitant.
* As Ephron did to Abraham, when the latter expressed his wish to purchase the cave and field of Machpelah. See Genesis, xxiii., 11.
It would be tedious and uninteresting to enumerate
all the trades pursued in
Cairo. The principal of them
are those of the draper, or seller of materials for dress
(who is simply called ta'gir, or merchant), and of the
seller of ready-made dresses, arms, &c. (who has the
same appellation); the jeweller (go'hur'gee); the goldsmith
and silversmith (sa'igh), who only works by order;
he seller of hard-wares (khoor'dagee); the seller of
copper wares (nahh'hha's); the tailor (khei'ya't); the dyer
(sab'ba'gh); the darner (ref'fa); the ornamental
sewer and maker of sheree't, or silk lace, &c. (hhab'ba'k);

the maker of silk cords, &c. ('ack'cka'd); the maker of
pipes (shibook'shee); the druggist and perfumer ('at'ta'r),
who also sells wax candles, &c.; the tobacconist (dakha'-khinee);
the fruiterer (fa'kiha'nee); the seller of dried
fruits (noock'alee); the seller of sherbet (shurbet'lee);
the oil-man (zei'ya't), who sells butter, cheese, honey,
&c., as well as oil; the green-grocer (khood! aree); the
butcher (gezza'r); and the baker (far'ra'n), to whom
bread, meat, &c., are sent, to be baked. There are
many cooks' shops, where keba'b and various other
dishes are cooked and sold: but it is seldom that persons
eat at these shops; generally sending to them for provisions
when they cannot conveniently prepare food in
their own houses. Shopkeepers often procure their
breakfast or dinner from one of these cooks, who are
called tdb'ba'khs. There are also many shops in which
fatee'rehs, and others in which boiled beans (foo'l
moodem'mes), are sold. Both these articles of food
have been described in a former chapter. Many persons
of the lower orders eat at the shop of the fata'tiree
(or seller of fatee'rehs), or at that of the fow'wa'l (or
Bread, vegetables, and a variety of eatables are
carried about for sale. The cries of some of the hawkers
are curious; and deserve to be mentioned. The seller
of tir'mis (or lupins) often cries, “Aid! O Imba'bee!
Aid*!” This is understood in two senses: as an invocation
for aid to the sheykh El-Imba'bee, a celebrated
Moos'lim saint, buried at the village of Imba'beh, oil
the west bank of the Nile, opposite Cairo; in the neighbourhood
of which village the best tir'mis is grown; and
also as implying that it is through the aid of the saint
* Med'ed ya' Imba'bee med'ed.

above mentioned that the tir'mis of Imba'beh is so excellent.
The seller of this vegetable also cries, “The
tir'mis of Imba'beh surpasses the almond*!” Another
cry of the seller of tir'mis is, “O how sweet are the little
children of the river !” This last cry, which is seldom
heard but in the country towns and villages of Egypt,
alludes to the manner in which the tir'mis is prepared
for food. To deprive it of its natural bitterness, it is
soaked, for two or three days, in a vessel full of water;
then boiled; and, after this, sewed up in a basket of
palm-leaves (called furd), and thrown into the Nile,
where it is left to soak, again, two or three days; after
which, it is dried, and eaten cold, with a little salt.—The
seller of sour limes cries, “God make them light [or easy
of sale]! O limes !”—The toasted pips of a kind of
melon called 'abdalla'wee, and of the water-melon, are
often announced by the cry of “O consoler of the embarrassed
'. O pips §!” though more commonly, by the
simple cry of “Roasted pips !”—A curious cry of the
seller of a kind of sweetmeat (hhala'weh), composed of
treacle fried with some other ingredients, is, “For a nail!
O sweetmeat !” He is said to be half a thief: children
and servants often steal implements of iron, &c.,
from the house in which they live, and give them to him
in exchange for his sweetmeat.—The hawker of oranges
cries, “Honey! O oranges! Honey**!” and similar
* Tir'mis Imba'beh yegh'lib el-lo'z.
Ya' ma-h h'la (for ma' ahh'la) boonei'ya-l-bahhr,
Al'lah yehow'win'ha (for yoohow'win'ha) ya' leymoo'n,
§ Ya' moosel'li-l-ghalba'n ya' libb,
El-libb el-mohham'mas,
Bi-misma'r ya' hhala'weh'
** 'As'al ya' boortoocka'n 'as'al.


cries are used by the sellers of other fruits and vegetables;
so that it is sometimes impossible to guess what
the person announces for sale; as, when we hear the
cry of “Sycamore-figs! O grapes*!” excepting by the
rule that what is for sale is the least excellent of the
fruits, &c., mentioned; as sycamore-figs are not so good
as grapes.—A very singular cry is used by the seller of
roses; “The rose was a thorn: from the sweat of
the Prophet it opened [its flowers] .” This alludes to a
miracle related of the Prophet.—The fragrant flowers of
the hhen'na-tree (or Egyptian privet) are carried about
for sale; and the seller cries, “Odours of paradise! O
flowers of the hhen'na !”—A kind of cotton cloth, made
by machinery which is put in motion by a bull, is announced
by the cry of “The work of the hull! O maidens §!”
* Gemmey'z ya' en'eb.
Et-wur'd ka'n sho'k mill 'ar'uck en-neb'ee fet'tahh.
Rawa'yehh (for rawa'ëhh) el-gen'neh ya' tem'ra hhen'na.
§ Shvoghl et-to'r ya' bena't
As the water of the wells in Cairo is slightly brackish,
numerous sack'ckas (carriers or sellers of water) obtain
their livelihood by supplying its inhabitants with water
from the Nile. During the season of the inundation,
or rather during the period of about four months after
the opening of the canal which runs through the metropolis,
the sack'ckas draw their water from this canal:
at other times, they bring it from the river. It is conveyed
in skins by camels and asses, and sometimes,
when the distance is short, and the skin small, by the
sack'cka himself. The water-skins of the camel (which
are called rei') are a pair of wide bags, of ox-hide. The
ass bears a goat's skin (called ckir'beh): so also does

the sack'cka if he have no ass. The rei contain three
or four ckir'behs. The general cry of the sack'cka is
“O! may God compensate [me]*.” Whenever this
cry is heard, it is known that a sack'cka is passing.
For a goat's skin of water, brought from a distance of a
mile and a-half, or two miles, he obtains scarcely more
than a penny.
There are also many sack'ckas who supply passengers
in the streets of the metropolis with water. One of
this occupation is called sack'cka shur'beh: his ckir'beh
has a long brass spout; and he pours the water into a brass cup, or an earthen ckool'leh, for any one who
would drink.—There is a more numerous class who
follow the same occupation, called hhem'alees. These
* Ya”ow'wud Al'lah.

Sack'cka Shur'beh.


are mostly durwee'shes, of the order of the Rifa”ees,
or that of the Beiyoo'mees, and are exempt from the
income-tax called fir'deh. The hhem'alee carries, upon
his back, a vessel (called ibree'ck'), of porous grey earth.
This vessel cools the water. Sometimes the hhem'alee
has an earthen ckool'leh of water scented with mo'yet zahr
(or orange-flower-water), prepared from the flowers
of the na'rin'g (a bitter orange), for his best customers;
and often, a sprig of na'rin'g is stuck in the mouth of
his ibree'ck. He also, generally, has a wallet hung by
his side. From persons of the higher and middle
orders, he receives from one to five fud'dahs for a draught
of water: from the poor, either nothing or a piece of
bread or some other article of food, which he puts in

his wallet. Many hhem'alees, and some sack'ckas who
carry the goat's skin, are found at the scenes of religious
festivals, such as the moo'lids of saints, &c., in Cairo
and its neighbourhood. They are often paid, by visitors
to the tomb of a saint on such occasions, to distribute
the water which they carry to passengers; a cupful to
whoever desires. This work of charity is called tesbe'l;
and is performed for the sake of the saint, and on other
occasions than moo'lids. The water-carriers who are thus
employed are generally allowed to fill their ibree'cks or
ckir'behs at a public fountain; as they exact nothing
from the passengers whom they supply. When employed
to distribute water to passengers in the streets,
&c., they generally chant a short cry, inviting the thirsty
to partake of the charity offered them in the name of
God, most commonly in the words, and to the air, here

and praying that paradise and pardon may be the lot of
him who affords the charitable gift: thus:—

There are numerous other persons who follow occupations
similar to that of the hhem'alee. Among these
are sellers of 'er'ck-soo's, or infusion of licorice, mentioned
in a former chapter. The 'er'ck-soo'see (or seller
of this beverage) generally carries a red earthen jar of
the liquid on his left side, partly supported by a strap
and chain, and partly by his left arm: the mouth having
some leef (or fibres of the palm-tree) stuffed into it.
He also carries two or more brass or china cups, which
he knocks together.—In the same manner, many shurbet'lees
(or sellers of sherbet) carry about, for sale,
zebee'b (or infusion of raisins). The shurbet'lee commonly
bears, in his left hand, the glass vessel of a
shee'skeh, filled with zebee'b, and a large tin or copper

'Er' ck-soo see.

jug full of the same, and several glass cups*, in his
right hand. Some shurbet'lees carry, on the head, a
round tinned copper tray, with a number of glass cups
of teen mebloo'l, or bel'ahh mebloo'l, which are figs and
dates steeped in water; and a copper vessel , or a
china bowl, of the same. Sahh'tab (a thin jelly, made
of water, wheat-starch, and sugar, boiled, with a little
cinnamon or ginger sprinkled upon it; or made as a
drink, without starch) is likewise carried about in the
same manner; and soo'biya (which is a drink made of
the pips of the 'abdalla'wee melon, moistened and
pounded, and steeped in water, which is then strained,
and sweetened with sugar; or made with rice instead of
the pips) is also vended in a similar way, and carried in
vessels like those used for zebee'b; but the glass cups
are generally placed in a kind of trough of tin, attached,
by a belt, to the waist of the seller.
* Ckool'lehs.
It has been mentioned before, that many poor persons
Cairo gain their livelihood by going about to
clean pipes. The pipe-cleaner (moosellika'tee) carries
a number of long wires for this purpose, in three or four
hallow canes, or tubes of tin, which are bound together,
and slung to his shoulder. A small leather bag, full of
tow, to wind round the top of the wire with which the
pipe is cleaned, is attached to the canes or tin tubes.
The moosellika'tee generally obtains no more than a
noos's fud'dah (or about a quarter of a farthing) for
each pipe that he cleans.
A corruption of noosf.
A very great number of persons of both sexes among
the lower orders in
Cairo, and many in other towns of
Egypt, obtain their subsistence by begging. As might


be expected, not a few of those are abominable impostors.
There are some whose appearance is most
'distressing to every humane person who sees them; but
who accumulate considerable property. A case of this
kind was made public here a few months ago. A blind
fella'hh, who was led through the streets of the metropolis
by a young girl, his daughter (both of whom were
always nearly naked), was in the daily habit of bringing
to his house, a blind Turkish beggar, to sup with him.
One evening, he was not at home; but his daughter was

there, and had prepared the supper for his Turkish
friend, who sate and ate alone; and, in doing this, happened
to put his hand on one side, and felt a jar full of
money, which, without scruple, he carried away with
him. It contained the sum of a hundred and ten purses
(then equivalent to rather more than five hundred and
fifty guineas), in kheyree'yehs, or small gold coins of
nine piasters each. The plundered beggar sought redress
at the Citadel, and recovered his property, with
the exception of forty kheyree'yehs, which the thief had
spent; but was interdicted from begging in future.—
Children are often seen in Cairo perfectly naked; and
I have several times seen females from twelve to twenty
years of age, and upwards, with only a narrow strip of
rag round the loins, begging in the streets of this city.
They suffer little from exposure of the bare person to
the cold of winter, or the scorching sun of summer;
being accustomed to it from infancy; and the men may,
if they choose, sleep in some of the mosques. In other
respects, also, their condition is not quite so bad as their
appearance might lead a stranger to suppose. They
are almost sure of obtaining' either food or money sufficient
for supplying the absolute wants of nature, in
consequence of the charitable disposition of their countrymen,
and the common habit which the tradespeople
have of eating in their shops, and generally giving a
morsel of their food to those who ask for it. There are
many beggars who spend the greater part of the day's
gains to indulge themselves at night with the intoxicating
hhashee'sh, which, for a few hours, renders them,
in imagination, the happiest of mankind.
The cries of the beggars of Cairo are generally appeals
to God. Among the most common are—” O

Exciter of compassion! O Lord*!”—“For the sake of
God! O ye charitable !”—“I am seeking from my
Lord a cake of bread !”—“O how bountiful thou art!
O Lord §!”—“I am the guest of God and the Prophet !”—in
the evening, “My supper must be thy gift!
O Lord !”—on the eve of Friday, “The night of the
excellent Friday**!”—and on Friday, “The excellent day of Friday ††!”—One who daily passed my door
used to exclaim, “Place thy reliance upon God! There
is none but God!” and another, a woman, I now hear
crying, “My supper must be thy gift! O Lord! from
the hand of a bountiful believer, a testifier of the unity
of God! O masters!”—The answers which beggars
generally receive (for they are so numerous that a person
cannot give to all who ask of him) are, “God
help thee ‡‡”—“God will sustain §§'.”—“God give
thee ”—“God content, or enrich, thee ¶¶!”—They
are not satisfied by any denial but one implied by these
or similar answers. In the more frequented streets of
Cairo, it is common to see a beggar asking for the
price of a cake of bread, which he or she holds in the
hand, followed by the seller of the bread. Some
beggars, particularly durwee'shes, go about chanting
verses in praise of the Prophet; or beating cymbals, or
a little kettle-drum. In the country, many durwee'shes
* Ya' Mohhan'nin ya' Rubb.
Li-lla'h ya' mohhsinee'n.
An'a. ta'lib min 'an'd Rub'bee raghee'f'eysh,
§ Ya' ma-n'ta (for ma! en'ta”) keree'm ya' Rubb.
An'a deyf Alla'h we-n-neb'ee.
'Asha'ya 'aley'k ya' Rubb.
** Ley'let el-goom”ah el-fadee'leh.
†† Yo'm el-goom”ah el-fadee'leh.
‡‡ Al'lah yesa”ëdak (for yoosa”ëdak).
§§ Al'lah yer'zoock.
‖‖ A;'lah yaatee'k (for ya'atee'k).
¶¶ Al'lah yeghnee'k (for yooghnee'k).

go from village to village begging alms. I have seen
them on horseback; and one I lately saw thus mounted,
and accompanied by two men bearing each a flag, and
by a third beating a drum: this beggar on horseback
was going from hut to hut asking for bread.
The most important of the occupations which employ
the modern Egyptians, and that which (as before mentioned)
engages all but a very small proportion of them,
is agriculture.
The greater portion of the cultivable soil is fertilized
by the natural annual inundation; but the fields in the
vicinity of the river and of the large canals, and some
other lands, in which pits are dug for water, are irrigated
by means of machines of different kinds. The most
common of these machines is the sha'doo'f, which consists
of two posts or pillars of wood, or of mud and canes
or rushes, about five feet in height, and less than three
feet apart, with a horizontal piece of wood extending
from top to top, to which is suspended a slender lever,
formed of a branch of a tree, having at one end a weight
chiefly composed of mud, and at the other, suspended
to two long palm-sticks, a vessel in the form of a bowl,
made of basket-work, or of a hoop and apiece of woollen
stuff or leather: with this vessel, the water is thrown
up to the height of about eight feet, into a trough hollowed
out for its reception. In the southern parts of
Upper Egypt, four or five sha'doo'fs are required, when
the river is at the lowest, to raise the water to the level
of the fields. There are many sha'doo'fs with two levers,
&c., which are worked by two men. The operation is
extremely laborious.—Another machine much used for
the same purpose, and almost the only one employed
for the irrigation of gardens in Egypt, is the sa'ckiyeh.

The Sha'doo'f.

This mainly consists of a vertical wheel, which raises
the water in earthen pots attached to cords and forming
a continuous series; a second vertical wheel fixed to
the same axis, with cogs; and a large, horizontal, cogged
wheel, which, being turned by a pair of cows or bulls,
or by a single beast, puts in motion the two former
wheels and the pots. The construction of this machine
is of a very rude kind; and its motion produces a disagreeable
creaking noise.—There is a third machine,
called ta'boo't, used for the irrigation of lands in the
northern part of Egypt, where it is only requisite to
raise the water a few feet. It somewhat resembles the
sa'ckiyeh: the chief difference is, that, instead of the
wheel with pots, it has a large wheel with hollow jaunts,
or fellies, in which the water is raised.—In the same
parts of Egypt, and often to raise the water to the
channel of the ta'boo't, a vessel like that of the sha'doo'f,
with four cords attached to it, is also used. Two men,
each holding two of the cords, throw up the water by
means of this vessel, which is called ckut'weh,—In the
process of artificial irrigation, the land is divided into
small squares, by ridges of earth, or into furrows; and
the water, flowing from the machine along a narrow
gutter, is admitted into one square or furrow after
The rei lands, or those which are naturally inundated,
are, with some exceptions, cultivated but once during
the year. After the waters have retired, about the end
of October or beginning of November, they are sown
with wheat, barley, lentils, beans, lupins, chick-peas, &c.
This is called the shit'awee (or winter) season. But the
shara'ckee lands (or those which are too high to be subject
to the natural inundation), and some parts of the

rei, by artificial irrigation are made to produce three
crops every year; though not all the shara'ckee lands
are thus cultivated. The lands artificially irrigated
produce, first, their shit'awee crops; being sown at the
same period as the rei lands, generally with wheat or
barley. Secondly, in what is called the sey'fee, or, in
the southern parts of Egypt, the ckey'dee, or gey'dee
(that is, the summer) season, commencing about the
vernal equinox, or a little later, they are sown with
millet (door'ah sey'fee), or with indigo, or cotton, &c.
Thirdly, in the demee'reh season, or period of the rise of
the Nile, commencing about, or soon after, the summer
solstice, they are sown with millet again, or with maize
(door'ah sha'mee), &c., and thus crowned with a third
harvest.—Sugar is cultivated throughout a large portion
of Upper Egypt; and rice, in the low lands near the
For the purpose of separating the grain of wheat,
barley, &c., and cutting the straw, which serves as fodder,
the Egyptians use a machine called no'rag, in the form
of a chair, which moves upon small iron wheels, or thin
circular plates, generally eleven, fixed to three thick
axle-trees; four, to the foremost; the same number, to
the hindmost; and three, to the intermediate axle-tree.
This machine is drawn, in a circle, by a pair of cows or
bulls, over the corn. The plough, and the other implements
which they use in husbandry, are of a rude and
simple kind.
The navigation of the Nile employs a great number
of the natives of Egypt. The boatmen of the Nile are
mostly strong, muscular men. They undergo severe
labour in rowing, poling, and towing; but are very
cheerful; and often, the most so when they are most

occupied; for then they frequently amuse themselves by
singing. In consequence of the continual changes which
take place in the bed of the Nile, the most experienced
pilot is liable frequently to run his vessel aground: on
such an occurrence, it is often necessary for the crew to
descend into the water, to shove off the boat with their
backs and shoulders. On account of their being so
liable to run aground, the bouts of the Nile are generally
made to draw rather more water at the head than at the
stern; and hence the rudder is necessarily very wide.
The better kind of boats used on the Nile, which are
very numerous, are of a simple, but elegant form; mostly
between thirty and forty feet in length; with two masts,
two large triangular sails, and a cabin, next the stern,
generally about four feet high, and occupying about a
fourth, or a third, of the length of the boat. In most
of these boats, the cabin is divided into two or more
apartments. Sudden whirlwinds and squalls being very
frequent on the Nile, a boatman is usually employed to
hold the sheet in his hand, that he may be able to let
it fly at a moment's notice.

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THE interdiction of wine and other fermented and intoxicating
liquors, which is one of the most important
laws in the code of El-Isla'm, has caused the greater
number of the disciples of this faith to become immoderately
addicted to other means of inducing slight intoxication,
or different kinds of pleasurable excitement.
The most prevalent means, in most Moos'lim countries,
of exciting what the Arabs term “keyf” which I
cannot more nearly translate than by the word “exhilaration,”
is tobacco. It appears that tobacco was introduced
into Turkey, Arabia, and other countries of the
East, soon after the beginning of the seventeenth century
of the Christian era: that is, not many years after
it had begun to be regularly imported into Western
Europe, as an article of commerce, from America. Its
lawfulness to the Moos'lim has often been warmly disputed;
but is now generally allowed. In the character
of the Turks and Arabs who have become addicted to
its use, it has induced considerable changes; particularly
rendering them more inactive than they were in
earlier times; leading them to waste, over the pipe,
many hours which might be profitably employed: but
it has had another and a better effect; that of superseding,
in a great measure, the use of wine, which, to
say the least, is very injurious to the health of the inhabitants
of hot climates. In the “Tales of a Thousand

and One Nights,” which were written before the introduction
of tobacco into the East, and which we may
confidently receive as presenting faithful pictures of the
state of Arabian manners and customs at the period
when they appeared, we have abundant evidence that
wine was much more commonly and more openly drunk
by Moos'lims of that time than by those of the present
day. It may further he remarked, in the way of apology
for the pipe, as employed by the Turks and Arabs,
that the mild kinds of tobacco generally used by them
have a very gentle effect: they calm the nervous system;
and, instead of stupifying, sharpen the intellect. The
pleasures of Eastern society are certainly much heightened
by the pipe; and it affords the peasant a cheap
and sober refreshment, and probably often restrains him
from less innocent indulgences.
The cup of coffee, which, when it can be afforded,
generally accompanies the pipe, is commonly regarded
as an almost equal luxury. It is said that the discovery
of the refreshing beverage afforded by the berry of the
coffee-plant was made in the latter part of the seventh
century of the Flight (or, of the thirteenth of the Christian
era), by a certain devotee, named the sheykh 'Om'ar,
who, driven by persecution to a mountain of the Yem'en,
with a few of his disciples, was induced, by the want of
provisions, to make an experiment of the decoction of
coffee-berries, as an article of food; the coffee-plant
being there a spontaneous production. It was not,
however, till about two centuries after this period that
the use of coffee began to become common in the
Yem'en. It was imported into Egypt between the
years 900 and 910 of the Flight (towards the end of
the fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century

of our era, or a little more than a century before the
introduction of tobacco into the East), and was then
drunk in the great mosque El-Az'har, by the fackee'rs
of the Yem'en and Mek'keh and El-Medee'neh, who
found it very refreshing to them while engaged in their
exercises of reciting prayers, and the praises of God;
and freely indulged themselves with it. About half a
century after, it was introduced into Constantinople*.
In Arabia, in Egypt, and in Constantinople, it was
often the subject of sharp disputes among the pious and
learned; many doctors asserting that it possessed intoxicating
qualities, and was therefore an unlawful
beverage to Moos'lims; while others contended, that,
among many other virtues, it had that of repelling sleep,
which rendered it a powerful help to the, pious in their
nocturnal devotions: according to the fancy of the
ruling power, its sale was therefore often prohibited,
and again legalized. It is now, and has been for many
years, acknowledged as lawful by almost all the Moos'lims;
and immoderately used even by the Wah'ha'bees,
who are the most rigid in their condemnation of tobacco,
and in their adherence to the precepts of the Ckoor-a'n,
and the Traditions of the Prophet. Formerly, it was
generally prepared from the berries and husks together;
and it is still so prepared, or from the husks alone, by
many persons in Arabia. In other countries of the
East, it is prepared from the berries alone, freshly
roasted and pounded.
* See De Sacy's Chrestomathie Arabe, vol. i., pp. 412—433,
2nde ed.
Cairo contains above a thousand Ckah'wehs- , or
“Ckah'weh” is the name of the beverage sold at the coffee-shop;
and hence it is applied to the shop itself.

coffee-shops. The ckah'weh is, generally speaking, a
small apartment, whose front, which is towards the
street, is of open wooden work, in the form of arches*.
Along the front, excepting before the door, is a mus'tub'ah,
or raised seat, of stone or brick, two or three
feet in height, and about the same in width; which is
covered with matting; and there are similar seats in
the interior, on two or three sides. The coffee-shops
are most frequented in the afternoon and evening;
but by few excepting persons of the lower orders, and
tradesmen. The exterior mus'tub'ah is generally preferred.
Each person brings with him his own tobacco
and pipe. Coffee is served by the ckak'weg'ee (or attendant
of the shop), at the price of five fud'dahs a cup,
or ten for a little bek'reg (or pot) of three or four cups.
The ckah'weg'ee also keeps two or three na'rgee'lehs or
shee'shehs, and go'zehs, which latter are used both for
smoking the toomba'k (or Persian tobacco) and the
hhashee'sh (or hemp): for hhashee'sh is sold at some
coffee-shops. Musicians and story-tellers frequent some
of the ckah'wehs; particularly on the evenings of religious
* See an engraving accompanying chapter viii. in this volume.
A decoction of ginger, sweetened with sugar, is likewise often sold at the Ckah'wehs; particularly on the nights of festivals.
These instruments have been described in a former chapter, in the first volume.
The leaves and capsules of hemp, called, in Egypt,
hhashee'sh, were employed in some countries of the
East in very ancient times to induce an exhilarating
intoxication. Herodotus (lib. iv., cap. 75) informs us
that the Scythians had a custom of burning the seeds of
this plant, in religious ceremonies, and that they became

intoxicated with the fumes. Galen also mentions the
intoxicating properties of hemp. The practice of chewing
the leaves of this plant to induce intoxication prevailed,
or existed, in India, in very early ages: thence
it was introduced into Persia; and about six centuries ago
(before the middle of the thirteenth century of our era)
this pernicious and degrading custom was adopted in
Egypt; but chiefly by persons of the lower orders;
though several men eminent in literature and religion,
and vast numbers of fackee'rs (or poor devotees),
yielded to its fascinations, and contended that it was
lawful to the Moos'lim. The habit is now very common
among the lower orders in the metropolis and other
towns of Egypt, There are various modes of preparing
it; and various names, as sheera, bust, &c., are given
to its different preparations. Most commonly, I am
told, the young leaves are used alone, or mixed with
tobacco, for smoking; and the capsules, without the
seeds, pounded and mixed with several aromatic substances,
for an intoxicating conserve. Acids counteract
its operation. The preparation of hemp used for
smoking generally produces boisterous mirth. Few
inhalations of its smoke, but the last very copious, are
usually taken from the go'zeh. After the emission of
the last draught, from the mouth and nostrils, commonly
a fit of coughing, and often a spitting of blood, ensues,
in consequence of the lungs having been filled with the
smoke. Hhashee'sh is to be obtained not only at some
of the coffee-shops: there are shops of a smaller and
more private description solely appropriated to the sale
of this and other intoxicating preparations: they are
called mahh'shesh'ehs. It is sometimes amusing to
observe the ridiculous conduct, and to listen to the conversation

of the persons who frequent these shops.
They are all of the lower orders. The term “hhash'sha'sh”
which signifies “a smoker, or an eater, of
hemp,” is an appellation of obloquy: noisy and riotous
people are often called “hhash'sha'shee'n,” which is the
plural of that appellation, and the origin of our word
“assassin;” a name first applied to Arab warriors
in Syria, in the time of the Crusades, who made use of
intoxicating and soporific drugs in order to render their
enemies insensible.
The use of opium and other drugs to induce intoxication
is not so common in Egypt as in many other countries
of the East: the number of the Egyptians addicted
to this vice is certainly not nearly so great, in proportion to
the whole population, as is the relative number of persons
in our own country who indulge in habitual drunkenness.
Opium is called, in Arabic, afiyoo'n; and the
opium-eater afiyoo'nee. This latter appellation is a term
of less obloquy than that of “hhash'sha'sh;” because
there are many persons of the middle and higher classes
to whom it is applicable. In its crude state, opium is
generally taken, by those who have not long been addicted
to its use, in the dose of three or four grains, for
the purpose above mentioned; but the afiyoo'nee increases
the dose by degrees. The Egyptians make
several conserves composed of hellebore, hemp, and
opium, and several aromatic drugs, which are more
commonly taken than the simple opium. A conserve
of this nature is called maagoo'n; and the person who
makes or sells it, maagoon' gee. The most common
kind is called bursh. There is one kind which, it is
said, makes the person who takes it manifest his pleasure
by singing; another which will make him chatter;

a third which excites to dance; a fourth which particularly
affects the vision, in a pleasurable manner; a
fifth which is simply of a sedative nature. These are
sold at the mahh'shesh'eh.
The fermented and intoxicating liquor called boo'zeh,
which is drunk by many of the boatmen of the Nile,
and by other persons of the lower orders in Egypt, has
been mentioned in a former chapter. I have seen, in
tombs at Thebes, many large jars, containing' the dregs
of beer of this kind, prepared from barley.

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BATHING is one of the greatest luxuries enjoyed by the
people of Egypt. The inhabitants of the villages of
this country, and those persons who cannot afford the
trifling expense incurred in the public bath, often bathe
in the Nile. Girls and young women are not unfrequently
seen thus indulging themselves in the warm
weather, and generally without any covering; but
mostly in unfrequented places. The rich, I have before
mentioned, have baths in their own houses; but men
who have this convenience often go to the public bath;
and so also do the ladies, who, on many occasions, are
invited to accompany thither their female friends.
There are, in Cairo, between sixty and seventy Hhamma'ms,
or baths, to which the public have access for a
small expense. Some of these are for men only; others,
only for women and young children; and some, for both
sexes; for men during the forenoon, and in the afternoon
for females. When the bath is appropriated
to women, a napkin, or any piece of linen or drapery, is
hung over the entrance, to warn the men from entering:
all the male servants having gone out a short time before;
and females having taken their places. The
front of the. bath is generally ornamented in a manner
similar to that in which most of the mosques are decorated,
but usually more fanciful, in red and white, and

sometimes other colours, particularly over and about the
entrance. The building consists of several apartments,
all of which are paved with marble, chiefly white, with
an inter-mixture, in some parts, of black marble, and
small pieces of fine red tile, in the same manner as the
doorcka”ah of a room in a private house, of which a
sketch has been inserted in the introduction to this
work. The inner apartments are covered with domes,
which have a number of small, round, glazed apertures,
for the admission of light. The materials chiefly employed
in the construction of the walls and domes are
bricks and plaster, which, after having been exposed to
the steam that is produced in the bath when it is in
use, are liable to crack and fall if the heat be intermitted
even for a few days. A sa'ckiyeh (or water-wheel),
turned by a cow or bull, is constructed upon a level with
the higher parts of the building, to raise water from a
well or tank, for the supply of the boiler, &c.
The bather, on entering, if he have a watch, and a
purse containing more than a trifling sum of money,
gives these in charge to the m'al'lim (or keeper of the
bath), who locks them in a chest: his pipe, and sword
(if he have one), he commits to a servant of the bath,
who takes off his shoes, and supplies him with a pair of
wooden clogs; the pavement being wet. The first
apartment is called the mes'lukh*. It generally has two,
* See the Plan, of which the following is an explanation.—
A , General entrance and vestibule. B, B, Mes'lukh. C, C,
C, C, C, Leewa'ns. D, Station of the M'al'lim. E, Fisckee'yeh.
F, Coffee-stall. G, G, Latrinae. H, Beyt-ow'wal. I, I, Leewa'n. K, K, Mus'tub'ahs. L, L, Hhara'rah. M,M,M,M, Leewa'ns.
N, Fisckee'yeh. O, O, Two chambers, each containing a mugh'tus
(or tank). P, P, Hhanafee'yehs. Q, Place of the fire, over
which is the boiler.

Plan of Bath.

three, or four leewa'ns, similar to mus'tub'ahs, or considerably
wider, cased with marble, and a fountain (called
fisckee'yeh) of cold water, which rises from an octagonal
basement constructed of stone cased with marble, &c.,
similar to that in the inner apartment represented in a
section accompanying this description, in the, centre.
One of the leewa'ns, being designed for the accommodation
of persons of the higher and middle orders, is
furnished with mattresses and cushions: upon the other,
or others, which are for the lower orders, there is usually
no furniture excepting mats. In many baths there is
also, in the mes'lukh, a small kind of stall, for coffee.
In warm weather, the bathers mostly prefer to undress
in the mes'lukh: in winter, they undress in an
inner, closed apartment, called beyt-ow'wal; between
which and the first apartment is a short passage, with
two or three latrinae; on one side. “Beyt-ow'wal” signifies
“the first chamber;” and this name is given to the
chamber here mentioned because it is the first of
the warm apartments; but it is less warm than the principal
apartment, of which it is the ante-chamber. In general,
it has two mus'tub'ahs, one higher than the other, cased
with marble, like the pavement. The higher accommodates
but one person; and is for the higher classes; the
other is sufficiently large for two. When the former is
occupied, and another high seat is wanted, two or three
mattresses are placed one upon another on the lower
mus'tub'ah, or on the leewa'n (or raised part of the
floor). A segga'deh (or small prayer-carpet) is spread
on the mus'tub'ah for a person of the higher orders.
The bather receives a napkin in which to put his clothes;
and another to put round his waist: this reaches to the
knees, or a little lower; and is termed mahh'zam: a

third, if he require it, is brought to him to wind round
his head, in the manner of a turban, leaving the top of
the head bare; a fourth to put over his chest, and a
fifth to cover his back. It is generally a boy, or beardless
young man, who attends the bather while
he undresses, and while he puts on his mahh'zam, &c.:
he is called a la'win'gee (as the word is vulgarly pronounced),
which is a corruption of leewa'ngee, or
“attendant of the leewa'n.”
When the bather has undressed, and attired himself
in the manner above described, the la'win'gee opens to
him the door of the inner and principal apartment,
which is called hhara'rah. This, in general, has four

Section of the Hhara'rah.

low leewa'ns, like those of most rooms in private houses
which give it the form of a cross; and, in the centre, a fisckee'yeh
(or fountain) of hot water, rising from a
small, shallow basin in the middle of a high, octagonal
seat, cased with white and black marble, and pieces of
red tile. The hhara'rah, together with several chambers
connected with it, may generally be described as
occupying almost an exact square. The beyt-ow'wal
is at one of the angles. Two small chambers, which

adjoin each other, and occupy a second angle of the
square, contain, the one, a mugh'tus, or tank, of warm
water, to “which there is an ascent of a few steps; the
other a hhan'afee'yeh, consisting of two taps, projecting
from the wall; one of hot, and one of cold water; with
a small trough beneath; before which is a seat: the
name of hhan'afee'yeh is commonly given, not merely
to the taps above mentioned, but to the chamber which
contains them. A third angle of the square is occupied
by two other small chambers similar to those just
described: one containing a second mugh'tus, of water
not quite so warm as the former: the other, a second
hhan'afee'yeh. Each mugh'tus is filled by a stream of
water pouring down from the dome of the chamber.
The fourth angle of the square is generally occupied by
a chamber which has no communication with the hhara'rah;
and which contains the fire over which is the
boiler. The central part of the hhara'rah, its leewa'ns,
and the small chambers connected with it, are covered
with domes, which have a number of small, glazed
The bather, having entered the hhara'rah, soon
perspires profusely, from the humid heat which is produced
by the hot water of the tanks and fountain, and
by the boiler. The operator of the bath, who is called
mookey'yisa'tee (for a reason I shall presently state),
immediately comes to him. If the bather be covered
with more than one napkin, the mookey'yisa'tee takes
them off, and gives him a wet mahh'zam; or the former
mahh'zam is retained, and wetted. The bather sits on
the marble seat of the fisckee'yeh, or lies upon a napkin
on one of the leewa'ns, or by the edge of one of the
tanks, to submit to the first operation, which is that of

cracking his joints, and is called tuck'tuck'ah. The
operator cracks almost every joint of his frame: he
wrings the body, first one way, and then the other, to
make several of the vertebra; crack: even the neck is
made to crack twice, by wrenching the head round,
each way, which produces a sensation rather alarming
to an inexperienced person: and each ear is generally
twisted round until it cracks: the limbs are wrested
with apparent violence; but with such skill that an
untoward accident in this operation is never heard of
The main object of this process is to render the joints
supple. The mookey'yisa'tee also kneads the bather's
flesh. After this, or previously, he rubs the soles of his
feet with a kind of rasp, called hhag'ar el-hhamma'm

Foot-rasps—One quarter of the real size.

of baked clay. There are two kinds of rasps used for
this purpose: one is very porous and rough; and its
rasping surface is scored with several lines: the other is
of a fine, close clay; and the surface with which the
rubbing is performed is rendered rough artificially.
both are of a dark, blackish colour. Those which are

used by ladies are generally encased (the lower, or
rasping, surface of course excepted) in thin, embossed
silver. The rougher hhag'ar is of indispensable utility
to persons who do not wear stockings; which is the case
with most of the inhabitants of Egypt: the other is for
the more delicate; and is often used for rubbing the
limbs, to render the skin smooth. The next operation
is the tekyee's, or that of rubbing the bather's flesh with
a small, coarse, woollen bag, called kees el-hhamma'm.
It is from this that the operator is called “mookey'yisa.'tee.”
This done, the bather, if he please, dips himself
in one of the tanks. He is next taken to a hhan'afee'yeh.
A napkin having been hung before the entrance
to this, the mookey'yisa'tee lathers the bather with leef
(or fibres of the palm-tree) and soap and sweet water,
which last is brought in a copper vessel, and warmed in
one of the tanks; for the water of the hhan'afee'yeh is
from a well, rather brackish, and consequently not fit
for washing with soap. The leef is employed in the
same manner as sponge is by us: it is not of the kind
produced by the palm-trees of Egypt, which is of a
brown colour: that used in the hhamma'm is white; and
is brought from the Hheja'z. The mookey'yisa'tee
washes off the soap with water from the hhan'afee'yeh;
and, if required, shaves the bather's arm-pits: he then
goes; leaving him to finish washing, &c. The latter
then calls for a set of napkins ('ed'deh), four in number,
and, having covered himself in the same manner as
before described, returns to the beyt-ow'wal; but first,
it is the custom of persons of the more independent
classes to give half a piaster, or a piaster, to the mookey'yisa'tee.
though it is not demanded.
In the beyt-ow'wal, a mattress is spread, for the

bather, on the mus'tub'ah, covered with napkins, and
having one or two cushions at one end. On this he
reclines, sipping a cup or two of coffee, and smoking,
while a la'win'gee rubs the soles of his feet, and kneads
his body and limbs; or two la'win'gees perform these
operations, and he, gives to each of them five or ten
Fud'dahs, or more. He generally remains half an hour,
or an hour, or more, smoking his shib'ook or shee'sheh:
then dresses, and goes out. The hha'ris, who is the
foreman, and who has the charge of drying the napkins
in the mes'lukh, and of guarding, brings him a looking-glass,
and (unless the bather have neither beard nor
mustaches) a comb. The bather asks him for his
watch, &c.; puts from one to four piasters on the looking-glass;
and goes. One piaster is a common sum to
pay for all the operations above described.
Many persons go to the bath twice a week: others,
once a week, or less frequently: but some are merely
washed with soap and water, and then plunge into one.
of the tanks; for which, of course, they pay less.
The women who can afford to do so visit the hhamma'm
frequently; but not so often as the men. When
the bath is not hired for the females of one family, or
for one party of ladies, exclusively, women of all conditions
are admitted. In general, all the females of a
house, and the young boys, go together. They lake
with them their own segga'dehs, and the napkins, basins,
&c., which they require, and even the necessary
quantity of sweet water for washing with soap, and for
drinking; and some carry with them fruits, sweetmeats,
and other refreshments. A lady of wealth is also often
accompanied by her own bella'neh, or ma'sh'tah* , who
* Thus commonly pronounced, for ma'shitah.

is the washer and tire-woman. Many women of the
lower orders wear no covering whatever in the bath;
not even a, napkin round the waist: others always wear
the napkin, and the high clogs. There are few pleasures
in which the women of Egypt delight so much as
in the visit to the bath, where they frequently have
entertainments; and often, on these occasions, they are
not a little noisy in their mirth. They avail themselves
of the opportunity to display their jewels and their
finest clothes, and to enter into familiar conversation
with those whom they meet there, whether friends or
strangers. Sometimes, a mother chooses a bride for
her son from among the girls or women whom she
chances to see in the bath. On many occasions, as,
for instance, in the case of the preparations for a marriage,
the bath is hired for a select party, consisting of
the women of two or more families; and none else are
admitted: but it is more common for a lady and a few
friends and attendants to hire a khil'weh: this is the
name they give to the apartment of the hhan'afee'yeh.
There is more confusion among a mixed company of
various ranks; but where all are friends, the younger
girls indulge in more mirth and frolic. They spend an
hour or more under the hands of the bella'neh, who
rubs and washes them, plaits their hair, applies the depilatory*, &c.
They then retire to the beyt-ow'wal
or mes'lukh, and there, having put on part of their dress,
* The depilatory called dow'a noo'rah, which is often employed
in the bath, being preferred to the resin more commonly used, is
composed, as I am informed, of quick lime with a small proportion
(about an eighth part) of orpiment. It is made into a paste, with
water, before application; and loosens the hair in about two
minutes, when it is washed off.—See Russel's Aleppo, vol. i,
pp. 134, 378, 379: 2nd edition.

or a large, loose shirt, partake of various refreshments,
which, if they have brought none with them, they may
procure by sending an attendant of the bath to the
market. Those who smoke take their own pipes with
them. On particular occasions of festivity, they are
entertained with the songs of two or more 'Awa'lim,
hired to accompany them to the bath.

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MOST of the games of the Egyptians are of kinds
which suit their sedate dispositions. They take great
pleasure in chess (which they call sutren'g), draughts
(da'meh), and trictrac or backgammon (ta'woolah).
Their chess-men are of very simple forms; as the
Moos'lim is forbidden, by his religion, to make an
image of anything that has life. The Moos'lims of
Egypt in general are, however, less scrupulous with
regard to the prohibition of games of hazard: though
some of them consider even chess and draughts as
forbidden, games partly or wholly hazardous are
very common among all ranks of this people; and
scarcely less so is that of cards, which, being almost
always played for money, or for some other stake,
is particularly called, by way of distinction, le'ab el-ckooma'r *,
“the game of hazard, or, of gain.”
Persons of the lower orders in the towns of Egypt are
often seen playing at these and other games at the
coffee-shops; but frequently for no greater stake than
that of a few cups of coffee.
* For ckima'r.
One of the games most common among the Egyptians
is that of the mun'ckal'ah. Two persons play at
this, with a board (or two boards joined by hinges), in
which are twelve hemispherical holes, called booyoo't
or beyts, in two equal rows; and with seventy-two small

shells, or the kind called cowries; or as many pebbles:
these, whether shells or pebbles, are termed the hhas'a
(in the singular, hhas'weh). To explain the game of
the mun'ckal'ah, I must distinguish the beyts of the
board by letters, thus.


The beyts marked A, B, C, D, E, F, belong to one
party; and the opposite six beyts to the other. One of
the parties, when they are about to play the game in
the most simple manner (for there are two modes of
playing it), distributes all the hhas'a unequally into
the beyts; generally putting at least four into each
beyt. If they were distributed equally, there would be
six in each beyt; but this is seldom done; for, in this
case, he who plays first is sure to lose. The act of distributing
the hhas'a, is called tebwee'z. When one
party is dissatisfied with the other's distribution of the
hhas'a, he may turn the board round; and then his
adversary begins the game; which is not the case
otherwise. Supposing the party to whom belong the
beyts A, B, C, D, E, F commences the game, he takes
the hhas'a from beyt F, and distributes them to the beyts
a, b, c, &c., one to each beyt; and if there be enough to
put in each of his adversary's six beyts, and more remain
in his hand, he proceeds in the same manner to distribute
them to his own beyts, in the order A, B, C, &c.;
and then, if he have still one or more remaining,
to his adversary's beyts, as before, and so on. If the
ast beyt into which he has put a hhas'weh contain but

one (having been empty before he put that in; for it
may have been left empty at the first), he ceases; and
his adversary plays: but if it contain two or four, he
takes its contents, with those of the beyt opposite; and
if the last beyt contain two or four, and one or more
preceding beyts also contain either of these numbers, no
beyt with any other number intervening, he takes the
contents of these preceding beyts also, with the contents
of those opposite. If the last beyt into which he has
put a hhas'weh contain (with this hhas'weh) three, or
five, or more, he takes these out, and goes on distributing
them in the same manner as before: for instance,
if, in this case, the last beyt into which he has
put a hhas'weh be D, he puts one from its contents into
E, another into F, a third into a, and so on; and thus he
continues, until making the last beyt to contain but one
stops him, or making it to contain two or four brings
him gain, and makes it his adversary's turn to play.
He always plays from beyt F, or, if that be empty,
from the nearest beyt to it in his own row containing
one or more hhas'wehs. When one party has more
than a single hhas'weh in one or more of his beyts,
and the other has none, the former is obliged to put
one of his into the first of his adversary's beyts. If
only one hhas'weh remain on one side, and none on
the other, that one is the property of the person on
whose side it is. When the board is completely cleared,
each party counts the number of the hhas'a he has
taken; and the one who has most reckons the excess
of his above his adversary's number as his gain. The
gainer in one board begins to play the next board; his
adversary having first distributed the hhas'a. When
either party has made his successive gains amount

to sixty, he has won the
game.—In this manner, the game of the mun'ckal'ah is played by young persons;
and hence this mode of playing it is called “the game
of the ignorant” (le'ab el-ghashee'm) ': others generally
play in a different manner, which is termed “the game
of the wise, or intelligent” (le'ab el-'a'ckil), and which
must now be described.
The hhas'a are distributed in one or more beyts on
one side, and in the corresponding beyt or beyts on the
other side; commonly in four beyts on each side, leaving
the two extreme beyts of each side vacant; or they are
distributed in any other conventional manner; as, for
instance, about half into beyt A, and the remainder in
beyt a. The person who distributes the hhas'a does
not count how many he places in a beyt; and it is at
his option whether he places them only in one beyt on
each side, or in all the beyts. Should the other person
object to his distribution, he may turn the board round;
but in that case forfeits his right of playing first. The
person who plays first may begin from any one of his
beyts; judging by his eye which will bring him the
best fortune. He proceeds in the same manner as
before described; putting one hhas'weh in each beyt;
and taking in the same cases as in the former mode;
and then the other plays. After the first gain, he
counts the hhas'a in each of his beyts; and plays from
that which will bring him the greatest advantage.
One of the parties may stop the other to count the
hhas'a which he takes out of a beyt to distribute, in
order to insure his distributing them correctly. The
gain of one party after finishing one board is counted,
as in the former mode, by the excess of the number he
has taken above the number acquired by the other;

and the first who makes his successive gains to amount
to sixty wins the game.—This game is of use in practising
the players in calculation. It is very commonly
played at the coffee-shops; and the players generally
agree, though it is unlawful to do so, that the loser
shall pay for the coffee drunk by himself and his adversary
and the spectators, or for a certain number of cups.
Another game very general among the lower classes
in Egypt is called ta'b. In other countries of the East
this is called “ta'b we-dookk;” but I never hear this
name given to it in Egypt. In this country it is played
in the following manner:—Four small pieces of stick,
of a flat form, about a span (or eight inches) in length,
and two thirds of an inch in breadth, are first prepared:
they are generally formed of a piece of palm-branch;
one side of which, being cut flat and smooth, is white;
the other, green, or, if not fresh, of a dull yellow colour:
the former side is commonly called white, and the
other, black. These are called the ta'b. Next, it is
necessary to be provided with a see'ga. This is a board,
divided into four rows of squares, called beyls or da'rs,
each about two inches wide; or it consists of similar
rows of holes made in the ground, or on a flat stone:
the beyts are usually seven, nine, eleven, thirteen, or
fifteen, in each row. To show the mode of playing the
game, I shall here represent a see'ga of nine beyts in
each row; and distinguish the beyts by letters.

In each beyt of one exterior row is usually placed a little
piece of stone, of dingy brick, about the size of a walnut;
and in each beyt of the other exterior row, a piece of
red brick or tile. Or, sometimes, pieces are placed only
in a certain number of beyts in those rows; as, for instance,
in the first four. The pieces of one row must
be distinguished from those in the other. They are
called kila'b (or dogs); in the singular, kelb. The game
is generally played by two persons. The four little slicks
are thrown, all together, against a stick thrust into the
ground or held in the hand with one end resting on the
ground, or against a wall, or against a stick inclined
against a wall. If they fall so that one only has its
white side upwards, the player is said to have thrown,
or brought, ta'b (plural teeb), or a wel'ed (or child,
plural wila'd), and counts one: if there be two white,
and the other two black, he counts two (itney'n): if
there be three white, and one black, he counts three
(tela'teh): if all four be white, four (ar'ba”ah): if all four
black, six (sit'teh). When one throws ta'b, or
four, or six, he throws again; but when he has thrown
two, or three, it is then the turn of the other. To one
of the players belongs the row of beyts A, B, C, &c.:
to the other, that of a, b, c, &c. They first throw alternately
until one has thrown ta'b; and he who has done
this then throws again until he has brought two, or
three. Supposing him, at the beginning' of the game,
to have thrown ta'b and four and two; he removes the
kelb from beyt I, and places it in the seventh beyt
from I, which is Q. He must always commence
with the kelb in beyt I. The other party, in like
manner, commences from beyt i. Neither party can
remove a kelb from its original place but by throwing

ta'b before each such removal. The kelbs before
removal from their original places are called Nasa'ra
(or Christians, in the singular, Nusra'nee); and after
removal, when they are privileged to commence the
contest, Moos'limee'n (or Moos'lims): when a person
has made a kelb a Moos'lim, it is said of him sel'lem
and of the kelb, as'lam. Each time that a player
throws ta'b, he generally makes a kelb Moos'lim, until
he has made them all so, and thus prepared them to
circulate in the beyts. Each player may have two or
more kelbs in circulation at the same time. Let us
suppose (to make the description more simple) that the
person to whom belongs the row of beyts A, B, C, &c.,
is circulating a single kelb: he moves it through the
two middle rows of beyts in the order of the letters by
which I have distinguished them, from K to S, and
from k to s; and may then either repeat the same
round or enter his adversary's row, as long as there be
any kelb remaining in that row; but in the latter case,
he does not continue to circulate the same kelb, excepting
under circumstances which will be mentioned hereafter.
Whenever a throw, or any of two or more throws,
which the player has made enables him to move his
kelb into a beyt occupied by one of his opponent's kelbs,
he takes the latter. For instance, if one party have a
kelb in the beyt m, and the other have one in o, and
another in s, and the former has thrown ta'b (or one)
and then four and then two, he may take the kelb in
o by the throw of two; then, by the throw of four, take
that in s; and, by the throw of ta'b, pass into a, and
take a third kelb if it contain one. A player may, by
means of a suitable throw, or two or more throws, move
one of his kelbs into a beyt occupied by another of his

own; and these two together, in like manner, he may
add to a third, or he may add a third to them: thus he
may unite any number of his own kelbs, and circulate
them together, as if they were but one; but he cannot
divide them again, and play with them separately, unless
he throw ta'b. If he avail himself of a throw which he
has made to bring them back into a row through which
they have already passed (either separately or together)
they become reduced to a single kelb: but he need not
avail himself of such a throw: he may wait until he
throws ta'b. Two or more kelbs thus united are called an
'eg'geh. The object of so uniting them
is to place them as soon as possible in a situation of safety; as will be
seen by what immediately follows. If either party pass
one of his kelbs into his adversary's row, he may leave
it there in safety as long as he does not want to continue
to play with it, because the latter cannot bring
back a kelb into his own row. The former, however,
cannot continue to circulate, the kelb which has entered
that row until he has no kelb remaining in his own row;
or unless he have only an 'eg'geh in his row, and does
not throw ta'b, which alone enables him to divide the
'eg'geh. In circulating through his adversary's beyts,
he proceeds in the order of the letters by which I have
marked them. He cannot pass the same kelb again
into his adversary's row: after it has passed through
that row, he circulates it through the two middle rows
only, in the same manner as at first.—This game is
often played by four or more persons; and without the
see'ga. When one person throws four, he is called the
Soolta'n. He holds a muck'ra”ah, which is a piece of
the thick end of a palm-stick, with two or three splits
made in the thicker part of it. When a player throws

six, he is called the Wezee'r, and holds the stick
against which the ta'b are thrown. Whenever a person
throws two, the Soolta'n gives him a blow, or two or
more blows (as many as the Wezee'r may order), on
the sole of his foot, or the soles of both feet, with the
muck'ra”ah. When a player throws twice six, he is
both Soolta'n and Wezee'r.
Many of the fella'hhee'n of Egypt also frequently
amuse themselves with a game called that of the see'ga,
which may be described in a few words. The see'ga
employed in this game is different from that of the ta'b:
it consists of a number of holes, generally made in the
ground; most commonly, of five rows of five holes in
each, or seven rows of seven in each, or nine rows of
nine in each: the first kind is called the khumsa'wee see'ga;
the second, the seb'a'wee; and the third, the
tis'a'wee. A khumsa'wee see'ga is here represented.


The holes are called 'oyoo'n (or eyes, in the singular
'ey'n). In this see'ga, they are twenty-five in number.
The players have each twelve kelbs, similar to those
used in the game of the ta'b*. One of them places two
of his kelbs in the 'eyns marked a, a: the other puts
* The larger see'gas, in like manner, require a sufficient number
of kelbs to occupy all the 'eyns excepting one.

two of his in those marked b, b: they then alternately
place two kelbs in any of the 'eyns that they may choose,
excepting the central 'eyn of the see'ga. All the 'eyns
but the central one being thus occupied (most of the
kelbs placed at random) the game is commenced. The
party who begins moves one of his kelbs from a contiguous
'eyn into the central. The other party, if the
'eyn now made vacant be not next to any one of those
occupied by his kelbs, desires his adversary to give him,
or open to him, a way; and the latter must do so, by
removing, and thus losing, one of his own kelbs. This
is also done on subsequent occasions, when required by
similar circumstances. The aim of each party, after
the first disposal of the kelbs, is to place any one of his
kelbs in such a situation that there shall be, between it
and another of his, one of his adversary's kelbs. This,
by so doing, he takes; and as long as he can immediately
make another capture by such means, he does
so, without allowing his adversary to move.—These are
the only rules of the game. It will be remarked, that,
though most of the kelbs are placed at random, foresight
is requisite in the disposal of the remainder.—
Several see'gas have been cut upon the stones on the
summit of the great pyramid, by Arabs who have served
as guides to travellers.
Gymnastic games, or such diversions as require much
bodily exertion, are very uncommon among the Egyptians.
Sometimes, two peasants contend with each
other, for mere amusement, or for a trifling wager or
reward, with nebboo'ts, which are thick staves, five or
six feet long: the object of each is to strike his adversary
on the head. The nebboo't is a formidable weapon,
and is often seen in the hand of an Egyptian peasant:

he often carries it when on a journey; particularly when
he travels by night; which, however, is seldom the case.
Wrestling-matches are also sometimes witnessed in
Egypt: the combatants (who are called moosdre'eefn,
in the singular moose/re*) strip themselves of all their
clothing excepting their drawers, and generally oil their
bodies; but their exercises are not remarkable, and are
seldom performed but for remuneration, on the occasions
of festivals, processions, &c.—On such occasions, too,
mock combats between two men, usually clad only in
heir drawers, and each armed with a sabre and a small
shield, are not unfrequently witnessed: neither attempts
to wound his adversary: every blow is received on the shield.
The game of the geree'd, as played by the Memloo'ks
and Turkish soldiers, has often been described; but the
manner in which it is practised by many of the peasants
of Upper Egypt is much more worthy of description.
It is often played by the latter on the occasion of the
marriage of a person of influence, such as the sheykh of
a tribe or village; or on that of a circumcision; or
when a votive calf or ox or bull, which has been let
loose to pasture where it will, by common consent, is
about to be sacrificed at the tomb of a saint, and a
public feast made with its meat. The combatants
usually consist of two parties of different villages, or of
different tribes, or branches of a tribe; each party about
twelve or twenty or more in number; and each person
mounted on a horse or mare. The two parties station
themselves about five hundred feet or more apart. A
person from one party gallops towards the other party,
and challenges them: one of the latter, taking, in his
left hand, four, five, six, or more, geree'ds, each six feet,

or an inch or two more or less, in length, but generally
equal in length to the height of a tall man, and very
heavy (being the lower part of the palm-stick, freshly
cut, and full of sap), pursues the challenger at full gallop:
he approaches him as near as possible; often within
arm's length; and throws, at his head or back, one
geree'd after another, until he has none left. The
geree'd is blunt at both ends. It is thrown with the
small end foremost; and with uplifted arm; and sometimes
inflicts terrible, and even fatal, wounds*. The
person against whom the geree'ds are thrown endeavours
to catch them, or to ward them off with his arm
or with a sheathed sword; or he escapes them by the
superior speed of his horse. Having sustained the
attack, and arrived at the station of his party, he tries
his skill against the person by whom he has been pursued,
in the same manner as the latter did against him.—
his sport, which reminds us of the tournaments of
old, and which was a game of the early Bed'awees, continues
for several hours. It is common only among
those tribes who have not been many years, or not more
than a few centuries, settled on the banks of the Nile;
and who have consequently retained many Bed'awee
customs and habits. About the close of the period of
my former visit to this country, three men and a mare
were killed at this game within an hour, in the western
* During my last residence at Thebes, a fine athletic man, the best
geree'd-player of the place, whom I had taken into my service
as a nightly guard, received a very severe wound at this
game; and I had some difficulty to effect a cure: he was delirious
for many hours, in consequence of it, and had nearly lost his life.
The geree'd struck him a little before his ear, and penetrated
downwards into his neck.

plain of Thebes. It is seldom, however, that a man
loses his life in this exercise: at least, of late, I have
heard of no such occurrence taking place.—In Lower
Egypt, a geree'd only half the length of those above
described, or little more, is used in playing this game.
Other exercises, which are less frequently performed,
and only at festivals, for the amusement of the spectators,
will be described in subsequent pages.

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THE Egyptians in general are excessively fond of music;
and yet they regard the study of this fascinating art
(like dancing) as unworthy to employ any portion of
the time of a man of sense; and as exercising too
powerful an effect upon the passions, and leading a
man into gaiety and dissipation and vice. Hence it
was condemned by the Prophet: but it is used, notwithstanding,
even in religious ceremonies; especially
by the durwee'shes. The Egyptians have very few
books on music; and these are not understood by their
modern musicians. The natural liking of the Egyptians
for music is shown by their habit of regulating their
motions, and relieving the dulness of their occupations,
in various labours, by songs or chants. Thus do the
boatmen, in rowing, &c.; the peasants in raising water;
the porters in carrying heavy weights with poles; men,
boys, and girls, in assisting builders, by bringing bricks,
stones, and mortar, and removing rubbish: so also, the
sawyers, reapers, and many other labourers. Though
the music of the Egyptians is of a style very difficult
for foreigners to acquire or imitate, the children very
easily and early attain it. The practice of chanting the
Ckoor-a'n, which is taught in all their schools, contributes
to increase their natural fondness for music.
How science was cherished by the Arabs when all

the nations of Europe were involved in the grossest
ignorance, and how much the former profited by the
works of ancient Greek writers, is well known. It appears
that they formed the system of music which has
prevailed among them for many centuries partly from
Greek, and partly from Persian and Indian treatises
From the Greek language are derived the most general
Arabic term for music, namely, moo'see'cka, and the
names of some of the Arab musical instruments; but
most of the technical terms used by the Arab musicians
are borrowed from the Persian and Indian languages.
There is a striking degree of similarity between many
of the airs which I have heard in Egypt and some of
the popular melodies of Spain; and it is not surprising
that this is the case; for music was much cultivated
among the Arabs of Spain; and the library of the
Escurial contains many Arabic treatises on this art.
The most remarkable peculiarity in the Arab system
of music is the division of tones into thirds. Hence I
have heard Egyptian musicians urge against the Europeans
systems of music that they are deficient in the
number of sounds. These small and delicate gradations
of sound give a peculiar softness to the performances
of the Arab musicians, which are generally of a
plaintive character: but they are difficult to discriminate
with exactness, and are therefore seldom observed
in the vocal and instrumental music of those persons
who have not made, a regular study of the art. Most of
the popular airs of the Egyptians, though of a similar
character, in most respects, to the music of their professional
performers, are very simple; consisting of
only a few notes which serve for every one or two lines
of a song, and which are therefore repeated many

times. I must confess that I generally take great
delight in the more refined kind of music which I occasionally
hear in Egypt; and the more I become
habituated to the style, the more I am pleased with it;
though, at the same time, I must state that I have not
met with many Europeans who enjoy it in the same
degree as myself. The natives of Egypt are generally
enraptured with the performances of their vocal and instrumental
musicians: they applaud with frequent exclamations
of “Al'la'h*!” and “God approve thee!”
“God preserve thy voice!” and similar expressions.
* Often, in such cases, pronounced in an unusually broad manner, and the last syllable drawled out, thus ” Ul'lau'h! “
There are also female professional singers. These
are called 'Awa'lim; in the singular, 'A'l'meh, or
'A'limeh; an appellation literally signifying “a learned
female.” The 'Awa'lim are often hired on the occasion
of a fête in the hharee'm of a person of wealth. There

is generally a small, elevated apartment, called a
toockey'seh, adjoining the
principal saloon of the hharee'm, from which it is separated only by a screen
of wooden lattice-work; or there is some other convenient
place in which the female singers may be concealed
from the sight of the master of the house, should
he be present with his women. But when there is a
party of male guests, they generally sit in the court, or
in a lower apartment, to hear the songs of the 'Awa'lim,
who, in this case, usually sit at a window of the
hharee'm, concealed by the lattice-work. Some of them
are also instrumental performers. I have heard the
most celebrated 'Awa'lim in Cairo, and have been more
charmed with their songs than with the best performances
of the A'la'tee'yeh, and more so, I think I may
truly add, than with any other music that I have ever
enjoyed. They are often very highly paid. I have
known instances of sums equal to more than fifty
guineas being collected for a single 'A'l'meh from the
guests at an entertainment in the house of a merchant,
where none of the contributors were persons of much
wealth. So powerful is the effect of the singing of a very
accomplished 'A'l'meh, that her audience, in the height
of their excitement, often lavish, upon her, sums which
they can ill afford to lose. There are, among the
'Awa'lim in Cairo, a few who are not altogether unworthy
of the appellation of “learned females;” having
some literary accomplishments. There are also many
of an inferior class who sometimes dance in the
hharee'm: hence, travellers have often misapplied the
name of “alme,” meaning “a'l'meh,” to the common
dancing-girls, of whom an account will be given in another
chapter of this work.

The Egyptians have a great variety of musical instruments.
Those which are generally used at private
concerts are the kemen'geh, cka'noo'n, 'oo'd, and na'y.
The Kemen'geh is a kind of viol. Its name, which is
Persian, and more properly written kema'ngeh, signifies
“a bow-instrument.” This instrument, and all the
others of which I insert engravings, I have drawn with
the camera-lucida. The total length of the kemen'geh
which is here represented, is thirty-eight inches. The
sounding-body* is a cocoa-nut, of which about a fourth
part has been cut off. It is pierced with many small
holes. Over the front of it is strained a piece of the
skin of a fish called baya'd; and upon this rests the
bridge . The neck is of ebony inlaid with ivory;
and of a cylindrical form. At the, bottom of it is a
piece of ivory; and the head §, in which the pegs are
inserted, is also of ivory. The pegs are of beech;
and their heads, of ivory. The foot is of iron: it
passes through the sounding-body, and is inserted into
the neck, to the depth of four or five inches. Each of
the two chords consists of about sixty horse-hairs: at
the lower end, they are attached to an iron ring, just
below the sounding-body: towards the other extremity,
each is lengthened with a piece of lamb's gut**, by
which it is attached to its peg. Over the chords, a little
below their junction with the gut-strings, a double band of
leather †† is tied, passing round the neck of the instrument.
The bow ‡‡ is thirty-four inches and a half
in length. Its form is shown by the engraving. The
* Called Mock'ckah.
Called sa”ëd, or “arm.”
§ Khuz'neh.
Mela'wee; singular, mel'wa.
** Wet'er.
†† Riba't.
‡‡ Cko's.


stick is generally of ash. The horse-hairs, passed
through a hole at the head of the bow-stick and secured
by a knot, and attached at the other end to an iron
ring, are tightened or slackened by a band of leather
which passes through the ring just mentioned and
through another ring at the foot of the bow.—I insert
a sketch of a performer on the kemen'geh, to show the
manner in which he holds the instrument and the bow.
In passing the bow from one chord to the other, he
turns the kemen'geh about sixty degrees round. The
sketch here introduced, and those of the performers on
the cka'noo'n, 'oo'd, and na'y, are from drawings which
I have made with the camera-lucida, and, excepting the
last, from very expert musicians. Together, they represent

A Performer on the Kemen'geh.

* No. 1 is the key: 2, the ring, or thimble: 3, the plectrum.

on ordinary Egyptian band, such as is generally
seen at a private entertainment. The performer
on the kemen'geh usually sits on the right hand of him
who performs on the cka'noo'n, or opposite (that is,
facing) the latter, on the left hand of whom sits the
performer on the 'oo'd; and next to this last is the performer
on the na'y. Sometimes there are other musicians,
whose instruments will be mentioned hereafter;
and often, two singers.
The cka'noo'n is a kind of dulcimer. Its name is
from the Greek or from the same origin; and
has the same signification”; that is, “rule,” “law,” “
Custom.” The instrument from which the engraving
here given was taken is, perhaps, an inch or two longer
than some others which I have seen. Its greatest
length is thirty-nine inches and three quarters; and its
breadth, sixteen inches: its depth is two inches and
one tenth. The cka'noo'n is sometimes made entirely
of walnut-wood*, with the exception of some ornamental
parts. In the instrument which I have drawn,
the face and the back are of a fine kind of deal:
the sides § are of beech. The piece in which the pegs
are inserted is of beech; and so also is the ridge
along its interior edge, through which the chords are
passed. The pegs** are of poplar wood. The bridge ††
is of fine deal. In the central part of the face of the
instrument is a circular piece of wood ‡‡ of a reddish
colour, pierced with holes; and towards the acute
* Go'z.
Wish'sh, for wegh.
§ Called soo'r, or “wall.”
Called inf, or “nose.”
** Mela'wee.
†† Termed far'as, or “mare.'”
‡‡ Called shem'seh, or “a sun.”

angle of the face is another piece of similar wood, likewise
pierced with holes. In that part of the face upon
which the bridge rests are five oblong apertures, corresponding
with the five feet of the bridge. A piece of
fishes' skin”*, nine inches wide, is glued over this part;
and the five feet of the bridge rest upon those parts of
the skin which cover the five apertures above mentioned;
slightly depressing the skin. The chords are
of lamb's gut. There are three chords to each note;
and, altogether, twenty-four treble chords. The
shortest side of the instrument is veneered with walnut-wood,
inlaid with mother-of-pearl. The instrument
* Called ruek'meh.
They are called owta'r; in the singular, wet'er.
Termed the ckib'leh.

A Performer on the Cka'noo'n.

is played with two plectra*; one plectrum upon
the fore-finger of each hand. Each plectrum is a
small, thin piece of buffaloe's horn; and is placed
between the finger and a ring, or thimble , formed
of a flat piece of brass or silver, in the manner represented
in the sketch.—The instrument is placed on the knees
of the performer; as shown by the engraving here
inserted. Under the hands of a skilful player, the
cka'noo'n pleases me mote than any other Egyptian
instrument without an accompaniment; and to a band
it is an important accession.
* Each plectrum is called ree'sheh.
The 'odd is a species of guitar, which is played
with a plectrum. Its name (the original signification of
which is “wood “), with the article el. prefixed to it, is the
source whence are derived the terms liuto in Italian,
luth in French, lute in English, &c. The length of
the 'oo'd represented by the engraving here inserted,
measuring from the button, or angle of the neck, is
twenty-five inches and a half. The body of it is composed
of fine dual, with edges, &c., of ebony: the neck,
of ebony, faced with box and an ebony edge. On the
face of the body of the instrument, in which are one
large and two small shem'sehs
of ebony, is glued a
piece of fishes' skin §, under that part of the chords to
which the plectrum is applied, to prevent the wood from
being worn away by the plectrum. The instrument
has seven double strings ; two to each note. They
are of lamb's gut. The order of these double chords is
singular: the double chord of the lowest note is that
which corresponds to the chord of the highest note in
See a note to the description of the cka'noo'n.
§ Ruck'meh.


our guitars, &c.: next in the scale above this is the fifth
(that is, counting the former as the first): then the
seventh, second, fourth, sixth, and third. The plectrum*
is a slip of a vulture's feather. The manner in
which it and the 'oo'd itself are held by the performer
is shown by the accompanying sketch.
* Ree'sheh.

A Performer on the 'Oo'd.

The na'y, which is the fourth and last of the instruments
which I have mentioned as most commonly used
at private concerts, is a kind of flute. There are several
kinds of na'y, differing from each other in dimensions,
tut in little else. The most common is that here represented.
It has been called the durwee'she's flute;
because often used at the zikrs of durwee'shes, to


accompany the songs of the moon'shids. It is a simple
reed, about eighteen inches in length, seven-eighths of
an inch in diameter at the upper extremity, and three
quarters of an inch at the lower. It is pierced with six
holes in front, and generally with another hole at the
back. The sketch which I insert of a performer on the
na'y shows the most usual manner in which this instrument
is held: but sometimes the left hand is uppermost,
and the instrument slanted towards the right arm
of the performer, instead of the left. The sounds are
produced by blowing, through a very small aperture of
the lips, against the edge of the orifice of the tube, and
directing the wind chiefly within the tube. By blowing
with more or less force, sounds are produced an octave
higher or lower. In the hands of a good performer, the
na'y yields fine, mellow tones; but it requires much

practice to sound it well. A na'y is sometimes made of
a portion of a gun-barrel.
Another instrument often used at private concerts is
a small tambourine, called rick'ck, similar to one of
which an engraving will be found in this chapter, page
77, but rather smaller.
A kind of mandoline, called tamboo'r, is also used at
concerts in Egypt; but mostly by Greeks and other
foreigners. These musicians likewise use a dulcimer,
called suntee'r, which resembles the cka'noo'n, excepting
that it has two sides oblique, instead of one (the two
opposite sides equally inclining” together), has double chords
of wire, instead of treble chords of lamb's gut,
and is beaten with two sticks instead of the little plectra.
A curious kind of viol, called raba'b, is much used

A Performer on the Na'y.

Raba'b esh Shaӑr.

by poor singers, as an accompaniment to the voice.
There are two kinds of viol which bear this name; the
raba'b el-mooghun'nee (or singers' viol) and the raba'b esh-sha'ër
(or poet's viol); which differ from each other
only in this, that the former has two chords, and the
latter but one. The latter is that of which I give an
engraving. It is thirty-two inches in length. The body
of it is a frame of wood, of which the front is covered
with parchment, and the back uncovered. The foot is
of iron: the chord, of horse-hairs, like those of the
kemen'geh. The bow, which is twenty-eight inches
long, is similar to that of the kemen'geh. This instrument
is always used by the public reciters of the romance
of Ab'oo Zeyd, in chanting the poetry. The reciter of
this romance is called Shaӑr (or poet); and hence the
instrument is called “the poet's viol,” and “the Ab'oo-Zey'dee viol.”
The Sha'ër himself uses this instrument;
and another performer on the raba'b generally accompanies
The instruments used in wedding-processions, and the
processions of durwee'shes, &c., are chiefly a hautboy,
called zemr, and several kinds of drums, of which the
most common kinds are the tub'l bel'edee (or country
drum, that is, Egyptian drum), and the tub't Sha'mee
(or Syrian drum). The former is of a similar kind to
our common military drum; but not so deep. It is
hung obliquely. The latter is a kind of kettle-drum, of
tinned copper, with a parchment face. It is generally
about sixteen inches in diameter, and not more than four
in depth in the centre; and is beaten with two slender
sticks. The performer suspends it to his neck, by a string
attached to two rings fixed to the edge of the instrument.
I have represented these drums in the sketch of a bridal procession,

and in the engraving opposite page 61 in
the former volume of this work.
A pair of large kettle-drums, called nuck' a'ckee' r (in
the singular, nack'cka'rah), are generally seen in most of
the great religious processions connected with the pilgrimage,
&c., in Cairo. They are both of copper, and
similar in form; each about two thirds of a sphere; but
are of unequal dimensions: the flat surface, or face, of
the larger is about two feet, or more, in diameter; and
that of the latter, nearly a foot and a half. They are
placed upon a camel, attached to the fore part of the
saddle, upon which the person who beats them rides.
The larger is placed on the right.
Durwee'shes, in religious processions, &c., and in
begging, often make use of a little tubl, or kettle-drum,
called ba'z; six or seven inches in diameter; which is
held in the left hand, by a little projection in the centre
of the back; and beaten by the right hand, with a short
leather strap, or a stick. They also use cymbals, which
are called ka's, on similar occasions. The ba'z is used
by the Moosahh'hhir, to attract attention to his cry in
the nights of Rum'ada'n. Castanets of brass, called
sa'ga't, are used by the public female and male dancers.
Each dancer has two pairs of these instruments. They
are attached, each by a loop of string, to the thumb and
second finger; and have a more pleasing sound than
castanets of wood or ivory.
There are two instruments which are generally found
in the hharee'm of a person of moderate wealth, and
which the women often use for their diversion. One of
these is a tambourine, called ta'r, of which I insert an
engraving. It is eleven inches in diameter. The hoop is
overlaid with mother-of-pearl, tortoise-shell, and white

Sa'ga't (1). Ta'r (2), and Dar'abook'keh (3).

bone, or ivory, both without and within; and has ten
double circular plates of brass attached to it; each two
pairs having a wire passing through their centres. The
ta'r is held by the left or right hand, and beaten with the
fingers of that hand, and by the other hand. The fingers
of the hand which holds the instrument, striking only near
the hoop, produce higher sounds than the other hand,
which strikes in the centre.—A tambourine of a larger
and more simple kind than that here described, without
the metal plates, is often used by the lower orders.—The
other instrument alluded to in the commencement of
this paragraph is a kind of drum, called dar'abook'keh.
The best kind is made of wood, covered with mother-of-
earl and tortoise-shell, &c. One of this description is
here represented with the ta'r. It is fifteen inches in
length; covered with a piece of fishes' skin at the larger
extremity, and open at the smaller. It is placed under

the left arm; generally suspended by a string that
passes over the left shoulder; and is beaten with both
hands. Like the ta'r, it yields different sounds when
beaten near the edge and in the middle. A more common
kind of dar' a book'keh is made of earth, and differs
a little in form from that just described. An engraving
of it is here given.
The boatmen of the Nile very often use an earthen
dar'abook'keh; but of a larger size than that used in
hharee'ms: generally from a foot and a half to two
feet in length. This is also used by some low storytellers,
and others. The boatmen employ, as an accompaniment
to their earthen drum, a double reed
pipe, called zoomma'rah*. There is also another kind
of double reed pipe, called arghoo'l; of which one of
the reeds is much longer than the other, and serves as
a drone, or continuous base . This, likewise, is used by
boatmen; and sometimes it is employed, instead of the
na'y, at zikrs. Both of these reed pipes produce harsh
sounds; and those of the latter much resemble the
sounds of the bag-pipe. A rude kind of bag-pipe
(zoomma'rah bi-so'an) is sometimes, but rarely, seen in
Egypt: its bag is a small goat's-skin.
* The mouth-piece, A B, of the zoomma'rah is moveable.
The arghoo'l has three moveable pieces to lengthen the longer tube, A B, B C, and C D; and is sometimes used with only one or two of these; and sometimes with none of them.

Earthen Dar'abook'keh (1 and 2). Zoumma'rah (3 and 4), Mouth-piece of the latter (5), and Arghoo'l (6),—The Zoomma'rah is 14 inches long: the Arghou 7,3 feet 2 1/2 inches.

SONGS. No. 1.

(The preceding lines are repeated after each of the
following stanzas; sometimes as a chorus).
Ya' bena't Iskenderee”yeh
Mesh'yookoom 'a-l-fur'shi* ghee'yeh;
* For 'al'a-l-fur'shi,

Tel'bisoo-l-Kashmee'r bi-tel'lee
We-sh shefa'ïf sookkaree'yeh.

NO. 2

Ya-boo-l-gel'fee. Ya-boo-l-gel'fee.
Ra'hh el-mahhboo'b: ma' 'a'd wil'fee*.
* Vulgo, for il'fee.

Asckum'tenee ya' hhabee'lee:
We-mn' ckus'dee il'la iib'bak.
'Asa!k ya.' bed'rë terhham'nee:
Fa-in'na ckal'bee yehhel'bak.
Ya-boo-l-wiir'dee. Ya-boo-l-wur'dee.
Hhabee'bë chal'bee khalee'k 'an'dee.
Thou hast made me ill, O ray beloved!
And my desire is for nothing but thy medicine.
Perhaps, O full moon! thou wilt have mercy upon me:
For verily my heart loveth thee.
O thou in the rose-coloured dress! O thou in the rose-coloured dress!
Beloved of my heart! remain with me.

No. 3.

Ma' murr we-sacka'nee hhabee'bee sook'kar.
Noosf el-läya'lee 'a-l-mooda”meh * nes'kar.
* For 'al'a-l-mooda'meh.

Ned'ren 'alei'ya we-n
ala mahhbou'bee
For wa-in.

'ama'yil § ma'amelha'sh An'tar.
For la a'amel.
§ For 'ama'ïl.

No. 4.

'A'shick yeckool' li-l-hhama'm ha't lee gena'hhak yo'm.
Cka'l el-hhama'm am'rak ba'til: coot'too gheyr el-yo'm:
Hhat'ta afee'r fi-l-go' wa-n'zoor wegh el-ntahhboo'b:
A'khood u'ida'd 'a'm wa-r'ga ya' hhama'm fee yo'm.
El-leyl. El-leyl, &c.
A lover says to the dove,” Lend me your wings for a day.”
The dove replied, “Thy affair is vain:” I said, “Some other day:
That I may soar through the sky, and see the face of the beloved:
I shall obtain love enough for a year, and will return, O dove, in
a day.”
The night! The night! &c.


The call to prayer, repeated from the ma'd'nehs (or
men'a'ret's) of the mosques, I have already mentioned*.
I have often heard this call, in Cairo, chanted in the
following manner; and in a style more or less similar, it
is chanted “by most of the moo-ed'dins of this city.
* In the chapter on religion and laws, in the former volume.


The following is inserted with the view of conveying
some notion of the mode in which the Ckoor-a'n is commonly
chanted in Egypt. The portion here selected is
that which is most frequently repeated; namely the
Fa't'hhah, or first chapter.

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EGYPT has long been celebrated for its public dancing girls;
the most famous of whom are of a distinct
tribe, called Ghawa'zee*. A female of this tribe is
* Since this was written, public female dancing and prostitution
have at length been prohibited by the government, in the
beginning of June, in the present year (1834). Women detected
infringing this new law are to be punished with fifty stripes for
the first offence; and, for repeated offences, are to he also condemned
to hard labour for one or more years: men are obnoxious
to the discipline of the bastinado when parties in such offences.
But there is a simple plan for evading punishment in cases of this
kind, which, it is said, will be adopted by many persons. A man
may marry a venal female, legally, and divorce her the next day.
He has only to say two or three words, and pay a small sum of
money, which he calls her dowry. He says, “Will you marry
me?” She answers, “Yes.” “For how much?” he asks. She
names the sum; and he gives it: she is then his lawful wife.
The next day, he tells her that she is divorced from him. He
need he under little apprehension of her demanding the expenses
of her maintenance during the period of her 'ed'deh, before the
expiration of which she cannot legally many another man; for
the marriage which has just been contracted and dissolved is only
designed as a means of avoiding punishment in case of her being
detected with the man; and otherwise is kept secret; and the
sum which she can demand for her maintenance during the
above-mentioned period, is very paltry in comparison with that
which, she may obtain by taking a new husband every two or three

Dancing-Girls (Ghawa'zee, or Gha'zee'yehs).

called Gha'zee'yeh; and a man, Gha'zee; but the
plural Ghawa'zee is generally understood as applying
to the females. The error into which most travellers
in Egypt have fallen, of confounding the common
dancing-girls of this country with the 'A'l'mehs, who
are female singers, has already been exposed. The
Ghawa'zee perform, unveiled, in the public streets,
even to amuse the rabble. Their dancing has little of
elegance. They commence with a degree of decorum;

but soon, by more animated looks, by a more rapid collision
of their castanets of brass, and by increased
energy in every motion, they exhibit a spectacle exactly
agreeing with the descriptions which Martial* and Juvenal
have given of the performances of the female
dancers of Gades. The dress in which they generally
thus exhibit in public is similar to that which is
worn by women of the middle classes in Egypt in
private; that is, in the hharee'm; consisting of a
yel'ek, or an 'an'ter'ee, and the shintiya'n, &c.,
of handsome materials. They also wear various ornaments:
their eyes are bordered with the kohhl (or
black collyrium); and the tips of their fingers, the
palms of their hands, and their toes and other parts of
their feet, are usually stained with the red dye of the
hhen'na, according to the general custom of the middle
and higher classes of Egyptian women. In general,
they are accompanied by musicians (mostly of the
same tribe) whose instruments are the kemen'geh, or
the raba'b), and the ta'r; or the dar'abook'keh and
zoomma'rah or the zemr: the ta'r is usually in the
hands of an old woman.
* Lib.v., Epigr. 79.
Sat. xi.,v. 162.
I need scarcely add, that these women are the most
abandoned of the courtesans of Egypt. Many of them
are extremely handsome; and most of them are richly
dressed. Upon the whole, I think they ore the finest
women in Egypt. Many of them have slightly aquiline
noses: but in most respects, they resemble the rest
of the females of this country. Women, as well as
men, take delight in witnessing their performances;
but many persons among the higher classes, and the
more religious, disapprove of them.
The Ghawa'zee being distinguished, in general, by a
cast of countenance differing, though slightly, from the
rest of the Egyptians, we can hardly doubt that they
arc, as themselves assert, a distinct race. Their origin,
however, is involved in much uncertainty. They call
themselves Bara'mikeh* , or Bur'mek'ees; and boast
that they are descended from the famous family of that
name who were the objects of the favour, and afterwards
of the capricious tyranny, of Ha'roo'n Er-Eashee'd,
and of whom we read in several of the tales of “The
Thousand and One Nights:” but, as a friend of mine
lately observed to me, they probably have no more
right to call themselves “Bara'mikeh” than because
they resemble that family in liberality, though it is
liberality of a different kind. In many of the tombs of
* Commonly pronounced Bara'm'keh

the ancient Egyptians, we find representations of females
dancing at private entertainments, to the sounds
of various instruments, in a manner similar to the modern
Ghawa'zee, but even more, licentious; one or
more of these performers being generally depicted in a
state of perfect nudity, though in the presence of men of
high stations. This mode of dancing we find, from the
monuments here alluded to, most of which bear the
names of kings, which prove their age, to have been
common in Egypt in very remote times; even before
the Exodus of the Israelites. It is probable, therefore,
that it has continued without interruption; and perhaps
the modern Ghawa'zee are descended from the class
of female dancers who amused the Egyptians in the
times of the early Pharaohs. From the similarity of
the Spanish fandango to the dances of the Ghawa'zee,
we might infer that it was introduced into Spain by
the Arab conquerors of that country, were we not informed
that the Gaditanae, or females of Gades (now
called Cadiz), were famous for such performances in the
times of the early Roman Emperors. However, though
it hence appears that the licentious mode of dancing
here described has so long been practised in Spain, it is
not improbable that it was originally introduced into
Gades from the East, perhaps by the Phoenicians*.
* From the effect which it produced, it is probable that the dance performed by the daughter of Herodias was of the kind here described. See Matthew, xiv., 6, 7, or Mark, vi., 22, 23.
The Ghawa'zee mostly keep themselves distinct from
other classes, abstaining from marriages with any but
persons of their own tribe; but sometimes a Gha'zee'yeh
makes a vow of repentance, and marries a respectable
Arab; who is not generally considered as disgraced

by such a connexion. All of them are brought up for
the venal profession; but not all, as dancers; and most
of them marry; though they never do this until they
have commenced their career of venality. The husband
is subject to the wife: he performs for her the
offices of a servant and procurer; and generally, if she
be a dancer, he is also her musician: hut a few of the
men earn their subsistence as blacksmiths or tinkers.
Most of the Gha'zee'yehs welcome the lowest peasant,
if he can pay even a very trifling sum. Though some
of them are possessed of considerable wealth, costly
ornaments, &c., many of their customs are similar to
those of the people whom we call “gipsies.,”' and who
are supposed, by some, to be of Egyptian origin. It is
remarkable that the gipsies in Egypt often pretend to
he descended from a branch of the same family to whom
the Ghawa'zee refer their origin; but their claim is still
less to be regarded than that of the latter, because they
do not unanimously agree on this point. I shall have
occasion to speak of them more particularly in the next
chapter. The ordinary language of the Ghawa'zee
is the same as that of the rest of the Egyptians; but
they sometimes make use of a number of words peculiar
to themselves, in order to render their speech unintelligible
to strangers. They are, professedly, Mohammadans;
and often some of them accompany the Egyptian
caravan of pilgrims to Mek'keh. There are many
of them in almost every large town in Egypt, inhabiting
a distinct portion of the quarter allotted to public
women in general. Their ordinary habitations are low
huts, or temporary sheds, or tents; for they often move
from one town to another; but some of them settle
themselves in large houses; and many possess black

female slaves (by whose prostitution they increase their
property), and camels, asses, cows, &c., in which they
trade. They attend the camps, and all the great religious
and other festivals; of which they are, to many
persons, the chief attractions. Numerous tents of
Gha'zee'yehs are seen on these occasions. Some of
these women add, to their other allurements, the art of
singing; and equal the ordinary 'Awa'lim. Those of
the lower class dress in the same manner as other low
prostitutes. Some of them wear a gauze to'b, over
another shirt, with the shintiya'n, and a crape or muslin
tar'hhah; and in general they deck themselves with a
profusion of ornaments, as necklaces, bracelets, anklets,
a row of gold coins over the forehead, and sometimes a
nose-ring. All of them adorn themselves with the
kohhl and hhen'na. There are some other dancing-girls
and courtesans who call themselves Ghawa'zee, but who
do not really belong to that tribe*.
* The courtesans of other classes abound in every town of
Egypt; but in and about the metropolis, these and the others
before mentioned arc particularly numerous; some quarters being
inhabited almost exclusively by them. These women frequently
conduct themselves with the most audacious effrontery. Their dress
is such as I have described as being worn by the Ghawa'zee, or
differs from that of respectable women in being a little more gay,
and less disguising. Some women of the venal class in
Cairo not
only wear the boor'cko' (or face-veil), but dress, in every respect,
like modest women; from whom they cannot be distinguished,
excepting by those to whom they choose to discover themselves.
Such women are found in almost every quarter of the metropolis.
Many of them are divorced women, or widows; and many are the
wives of men whom business obliges to be often abroad. All the
known prostitutes in Egypt pay a kind of income tax (fir'deh). The
tax paid by those of the metropolis amounts to eight hundred purses
(equivalent to four thousand pounds stirling), which is not less
than one-tenth of the fir'deh of all the inhabitants. This will
convey some idea of their number in comparison with that of th
e persons who practise honest means of obtaining their livelihood.

Many of the people of Cairo, affecting, or persuading
themselves, to consider that there is nothing improper in
the dancing of the Ghawa'zee but the fact of its being
performed by females, who ought not thus to expose
themselves, employ men to dance in the same manner;
but the number of these male performers, who are
mostly young men, and who are called Khow'als* , is
very small. They are Moos'lims, and natives of Egypt.
As they personate women, their dances are exactly
of the same description as those of the Ghawa'zee; and
are, in like manner, accompanied by the sounds of castanets”:
but as if to prevent their being thought to be
really females, their dress is suited to their unnatural
profession; being partly male and partly female: it
chiefly consists of a tight vest, a girdle, and a kind of petticoat.
Their general appearance, however, is more feminine
than masculine: they suffer the hair of the head to
grow long, and generally braid it, in the manner of the
women: the hair on the face, when it begins to grow,
they pluck out; and they imitate the women also in applying
kohhl and hhen'na to their eyes and hands. In
the streets, when not engaged in dancing, they often
even veil their faces; not from shame, but merely to
affect the manners of women. They are often employed,
in preference to the Ghawa'zee, to dance before
a house, or in the court, on the occasion of a marriage-fête,
or the birth of a child, or a circumcision; and frequently
perform at public festivals.
* The term Gha'ish (plural, Gheeya'sh) is also applied to a person of this class.
There is, in Cairo, another class of male dancers,
young men and boys, whose performances, dress, and
general appearance are almost exactly similar to those of
the Khow'als; but who are distinguished by a different
appellation, which is Gink; a term that is Turkish,
and aptly expresses their character. They are generally
Jews, Armenians, Greeks, and Turks.

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MANY modern writers upon Egypt have given surprising
accounts of a class of men in this country, supposed, like
the ancient Psylli of Cyrenaïca, to possess a secret art,
to which allusion is made in the Bible*, enabling them
to secure themselves from the poison of serpents. I
have met with many persons among the more intelligent
of the Egyptians who condemn these modern
Psylli as impostors, hut none who has been able to offer
a satisfactory explanation of the most common and most
interesting of their performances, which I am about to
* See Psalm lviii., 4, 5. Eccles. x., 11. and Jerem, viii. 17.
Many Rifa”ee and Sa'adee durwee'shes obtain their
livelihood, as I have mentioned on a former occasion,
by going about to charm away serpents from houses.
A few other persons also profess the same art, but are
not so famous. The former travel over every part of
Egypt, and find abundant employment; but their gains
are barely sufficient to procure them a scanty subsistence.
The charmer professes to discover, without
ocular perception (but perhaps he does so by a peculiar
smell), whether there be any serpents in a house; and,
if there he, to attract them to him; as the fowler, by the

fascination of his voice, allures the bird into his net.
As the serpent seeks the darkest place in which to hide
himself, the charmer has, in most cases, to exercise his
skill in an obscure chamber, where he might easily take
a serpent from his bosom, bring it to the people without
the door, and affirm that he had found it in the apartment;
for no one would venture to enter with him after
having been assured of the presence of one of these
reptiles within: but he is often required to perform in
the full light of day, surrounded by spectators; and
incredulous persons have searched him before-hand,
and even stripped him naked; yet his success has been
complete. He assumes an air of mystery, strikes the
walls with a short palm-stick, whistles, makes a clucking
noise with his tongue, and spits upon the ground;
and generally says, “I adjure you by God, if ye be
above or if ye be below, that ye come forth: I adjure
you by the most great name, if ye be obedient, come
forth; and if ye be disobedient, die ! die! die!”-The
serpent is generally dislodged by his stick, from a
fissure in the wall, or drops from the ceiling of the
room. I have often heard it asserted that the serpent-charmer,
before he enters a house in which he is to try
his skill, always employs a servant of that house to introduce
one or more serpents: but I have known
instances in which this could not be the case; and
am inclined to believe that the durwee'shes above
mentioned are generally acquainted with some real
physical means of discovering the presence of serpents
without seeing them, and of attracting them from their
lurking-places. It is, however, a fact well ascertained,
that the most expert of them do not venture to carry
serpents of a venomous nature about their persons until

they have extracted the poisonous teeth. Many of
them carry scorpions, also, within the cap, and next the
shaven head; but doubtless first deprive them of the
power to injure; perhaps by merely blunting the sting.
Their famous feats of eating live and venomous serpents,
and scorpions, which are regarded as religious
acts, I have before had occasion to mention, and purpose
to describe particularly in another chapter*.
* In the account of the Moo'lid en-Neb'ee, in the first of the chapters on periodical public festivals. &c.
Performers of sleight-of-hand tricks, who are called
Hhöwa'h (in the singular, Hha'wee) are numerous in
Cairo. They generally perform in public places; collecting
a ring of spectators around them; from some of
whom they receive small voluntary contributions during
and after their performances. They are most frequently
seen on the occasions of public festivals; but often also
at other limes. By indecent jests and actions, they
attract as much applause as they do by other means.
The Hha'wee performs a great variety of tricks; the
most usual of which I shall here mention. He generally
has two boys to assist him. From a large leather
bag, he takes out four or five snakes, of a largish size.
One of these, he places on the ground, and makes it
erect its head and part of its body: another, he puts
round the head of one of the boys, like a turban; and
two more over the boy's neck. He takes these off;
opens the boy's mouth, apparently passes the bolt of a
kind of padlock through his cheek, and locks it. Then,
in appearance, he forces an iron spike into the boy's
throat: the spike being really pushed, up into a wooden
handle. He also performs another trick of the same
kind as this: placing the boy on the ground, he puts

the edge of a knife upon his nose, and knocks tin
blade until half its width seems to have entered. Several
indecent tricks which he performs with the boy 1
must abstain from describing: some of them are abominably
disgusting. The tricks which he alone performs
are more amusing. He draws a great quantity of
various-coloured silk from his mouth, and winds it on
his arm; puts cotton in his mouth, and blows out fire;
takes out of his mouth a great number of round pieces
of tin, like dollars; and, in appearance, blows an earthen
pipe-bowl from his nose. In most of his tricks, he occasionally
blows through a large shell (called the Hha'wee's
zoomma'rah), producing sounds like those of a
horn. Most of his sleight-of-hand performances are
nearly similar to those of exhibitors of the same class in
our own and other countries. Taking a silver finger-ring
from one of the by-standers, he puts it in a little
box, blows his shell, and says “'Efree't change it! “—he then opens the box, and shows, in it, a different
ring: shuts the box again; opens it, and shows the
first ring: shuts it a third time; opens it, and shows a
melted lump of silver, which he declares to be the ring
melted, and offers to the owner: the latter insists upon
having his ring in its original state: the Hha'wee then
asks for five or ten fud'dahs to recast it; and having
obtained this, opens the box again (after having closed
it, and blown his shell), and takes out of it the perfect
ring. He next takes a larger covered box; puts one of
his boy's scull-caps in it; blows his shell; opens the
box; and out comes a rabbit: the cap seems to be
gone. He puts the rabbit in again; covers the box;
uncovers it; and out run two little chickens: these he
puts in again; blows his shell; uncovers the box; and

shows it full of fatee'rehs. (or pancakes) and koona'feh
(which resembles vermicelli): he tells his boys to eat
its contents; but they refuse to do it without honey:
he then takes a small jug: turns it upside-down, to
show that it is empty; blows his shell; and hands
round the jug full of honey. The boys, having eaten,
ask for water, to wash their hands. The Hha'wee takes
the same jug; and hands it filled with water, in the
same manner. He takes the box again; and asks for
the cap; blows his shell; uncovers the box; and pours
out from it, into the boy's lap (the lower part of his
shirt held up), four or five small snakes. The boy, in
apparent fright, throws them down; and demands his
cap. The Hha'wee puts the snakes back into the box;
blows his shell; uncovers the box; and takes out the
cap.—Another of his common tricks is to put a number
of slips of white paper into a tinned copper vessel
(the tisht of a seller of sherbet); and to take them out dyed
of various colours. He pours water into the same
vessel; puts in a piece of linen; then gives to the
spectators, to drink, the contents of the vessel, changed
to sherbet of sugar. Sometimes he apparently cuts in
two a muslin shawl, or burns it in the middle; and
then restores it whole.—Often, he strips himself of all
his clothes, excepting his drawers; tells two persons to
bind him, hands and feet, and put him in a sack. This
done, he asks for a piaster; and some one tells him
that he shall have it if he will put out his hand and take
it. He puts out his hand free; draws it back; and is
then taken out of the sack bound as at first. He is
put in again; and comes out unbound; handing, to
the spectators, a small tray, upon which are four or
the little plates filled with various eatables, and, if the performance

be at night, several small lighted candles
placed round. The spectators eat the food.
There is another class of jugglers in Cairo called
Ckee'yem (in the singular Ckei'yim). In most of his
performances, the ekei'yim has an assistant. In one, for
instance, the latter places upon the ground twenty-nine
small pieces of stone. He sits upon the ground; and
these are arranged before him. The ckei'yim having
gone a few yards distant from him, this assistant desires
one of the spectators to place a piece of money under
any one of the bits of stone: this being done, he calls
back the ckei'yim, informs him that a piece of money
has been hidden, and asks him to point out where it is;
which the conjurer immediately does. The secret of
this trick is very simple: the twenty-nine pieces of stone
represent the letters of the Arabic alphabet; and the
person who desires the ckei'yim to show where the
money is concealed commences his address to the latter
with the letter represented by the stone which covers the
coin. In the same manner, or by means of signs made
by the assistant, the ckei'yim is enabled to tell the name
of any person present, or the words of a song that has
been repeated in his absence: the name or song having
been whispered to his assistant.
Fortune-telling is often practised in Egypt, mostly by
Gipsies, as in our own country. There are but few
Gipsies in this country. They are here called Ghug'ar
or Ghuj'ar (in the singular Ghug'aree or Ghuj'aree).
In general, they profess themselves descendants of the
Bara'mikeh, like the Ghawa'zee; but of a different
branch. Many (I believe most) of the women are fortune-tellers.
These women are often seen in the streets
of Cairo, dressed in a similar manner to the generality

of the females of the lower classes, with the to'b and
tar'hhah, but always with unveiled faces; usually carrying
a gazelle's skin, containing the materials for their
divinations; and crying “I perform divination! What
is present I manifest! What is absent I manifest!” &c.
They mostly divine by means of a number of shells,
with a few pieces of coloured glass, money, &c. intermixed
with them. These they throw down; and from
the manner in which they chance to lie, they derive
their prognostications: a larger shell than the rest represents
the person whose fortune they are to discover;
and the other sheik, &c. represent different events,
evils, and blessings, which, by their proximity to, or
distance from, the former, they judge to be fated to
befal the person in question early or late or never.
Some of these Gipsy-women also cry, “Nedoock'ck we-n'ta'hir!”
(“We puncture and circumcise*!”). Many
of the Gipsies in Egypt are blacksmiths, braziers, and
tinkers; or itinerant sellers of the wares which are
made by others of this class; particularly of trumpery
trinkets of brass, &c.
* They tattoo, or make those blue marks upon the skin which I have described in the first chapter of this work; and perform the operation alluded to in a note inserted in page 63 of the former volume.
Sometimes the rope is tied to the ma'd'neh of a mosque,
at a considerable height from the ground; and extends
to the length of several hundred feet; being supported
at many points by poles fixed in the ground. The
dancer always uses a long balancing-pole. Sometimes,
he dances or walks on the rope with clogs on his feet,
or with a piece of soap tied under each foot, or with a
child suspended to each of his ankles by a rope, or
with a boy tied to each end of the balancing-pole; and
he sits upon a round tray placed on the rope I have
only seen three of these bahloowa'ns; and their performances
were not of the more difficult kinds above
described, and less clever than those of the commonest
rope-dancers in England. Women, girls, and boys often
follow this occupation. The men and boys also perform
other feats than those of rope-dancing; such as
tumbling, leaping through a hoop, &c.
The Ckoorada'tee (whose appellation is derived from
ckird, an ape, or a monkey) amuses the lower orders in
Cairo by sundry performances of an ape or a monkey,
an ass, a dog, and a kid. He and the ape (which is
generally of the cynocephalus kind) fight each other
with sticks. He dresses the ape fantastically, usually as
a bride, or a veiled woman; puts it on the ass; and
parades it round within the ring of spectators; himself
going before, and beating a tambourine. The ape is
also made to dance, and perform various antics. The
ass is told to choose the handsomest girl in the ring; and
does so; putting his nose towards her face; and greatly
amusing her and all the spectators. The dog is ordered
to imitate the motions of a thief; and accordingly
crawls along on its belly. The best performance is that
of the kid: it is made to stand upon a little piece of

wood, nearly in the shape of a dice-box, about a span
long, and an inch and a half wide at the top and bottom,
so that all its four feet are placed close together:
this piece of wood, with the kid thus standing upon it,
is then lifted up, and a similar piece placed under it;
and, in the same manner, a third piece, a fourth, and a
fifth are added.
The Egyptians are often amused by players of low
and ridiculous farces, who are called Mohhahhazee'n.
These frequently perform at the festivals prior to wedding's
and circumcisions, at the houses of the great;
and sometimes attract rings of auditors and spectators
in the public places in Cairo. Their performances are
scarcely worthy of description: it is chiefly by vulgar
jests and indecent actions, that they amuse, and obtain
applause. The actors are only men and boys: the part
of a woman being always performed by a man or buy
in female attire. As a specimen of their plays, I shall
give a short account of one which was acted before the
Ba'sha, a short time ago, at a festival celebrated in
honour of the circumcision of one of his sons; on which
occasion, as usual, several sons of grandees were also
circumcised. The dramatis personae were a Na'zir (or
Governor of a District), a Sheykh Bel'ed (or Chief of
a Village), a servant of the latter, a Copt clerk, a Fella'hh
indebted to the government, his wife, and live
other persons, of whom two made their appearance first
in the character of drummers, one as a hautboy-player,
and the two others as dancers. After a little drumming
and piping and dancing by these five, the Na'zir and
the rest of the performers enter the ring. The Na'zir
asks, “How much does 'Ow'ad the son of Reg'eb owe?”
The musicians and dancers, who now act as

simple fella'hhee'n, answer, “Desire the Christian to
look in the register.” The Christian clerk has a large
dawa'yeh (or receptacle for pens and ink) in his girdle;
and is dressed as a Copt, with a black turban. The
Sheykh el-Bel'ed asks him, “How much is written
against 'Ow'ad the son of Reg'eb?” The clerk answers
“A thousand piasters.” “How much,” says the Sheykh,
“has he paid?” He is answered, “Five piasters."
“Man,”' says he, addressing the fella'hh, “why don't
you bring the money?” The fella'hh answers, “I have
not any.” “You have not any?” exclaims the Sheykhs:
“Throw him down.” An inflated piece of an intestine,
resembling a large koorba'g, is brought; and with this
the fella'hh is beaten. He roars out to the Na'zir, “By
the honour of thy horse's tail, O Hey! By the honour
of thy wife's trowsers, O Bey! By the honour of thy
wife's head-band, O Bey '.” After twenty such absurd
appeals, his beating is finished, and he is taken away, and
imprisoned. Presently his wife comes to him, and asks
him, “How art thou?” He answers, “Do me a kindness,
my wife: take a little kishk* and some eggs and
some sha'eeree'yeh and go with them to the house of
the Christian clerk, and appeal to his generosity to get
me set at liberty.” She takes these, in three baskets, to
the Christian's house, and asks the people there,” Where
is the M'al'lim Hhan'na, the clerk?” They answer,
“There he sits.” She says to him, “O M'al'lim Hhan'na,
do me the favour to receive these, and obtain the liberation
of my husband. “Who is thy husband?” he asks.
She answers, “The fella'hh who owes a thousand piasters.”
* A description of this will be found in a subsequent chapter.
See the Index.
A kind of paste, resembling vermicelli.

“Bring,” says he, “twenty or thirty piasters to
bribe the Sheykh el-Bel'ed.” She goes away, and soon
returns, with the money in her hand, and gives it to the
Sheykh el-Bel'ed. “What is this?” says the Sheykh.
She answers, “Take it as a bribe, and liberate my husband.”
He says, “Very well: go to the Na'zir.” She
retires for a while; blackens the edges of her eye-lids
with kohhl; applies fresh red dye of the hhen'na to her
hands and feet, and repairs to the Na'zir. “Good evening,
my master, she says to him. “What dost thou
want?” he asks. She answers, “I am the wife of
'Ow'ad, who owes a thousand piasters.” “But what
dost thou want?” he asks again. She says, “My husband
is imprisoned; and I appeal to thy generosity to
liberate him:” and as she urges this request, she smiles,
and shows him that she does not ask this favour without
being willing to grant him a recompense. He obtains
this; takes the husband's part; and liberates him.—This
farce was played before the Ba'sha with the view of
opening his eyes to the conduct of those persons to
whom was committed the office of collecting the taxes.
The puppet-show of Ckar'a Gyoo'z has been introduced
into Egypt by Turks, in whose language the
puppets are made to speak. Their performances, which
are, in general, extremely indecent, occasionally amuse
the Turks residing in Cairo; but, of course, are not very
attractive to those who do not understand the Turkish
language. They are conducted in the manner of the
“Chinese shadows;” and therefore only exhibited at

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THE Egyptians are not destitute of better diversions
than those described in the preceding chapter: reciters
of romances frequent the principal ckah'wehs, or coffee-shops,
of Cairo and other towns, particularly on the
evenings of religious festivals, and afford attractive and
rational entertainments. The reciter generally seats
himself upon a small stool on the mus'tub'ah, or raised
seat, which is built against the front of the coffee-shop*:
some of his auditors occupy the rest of that
seat; others arrange themselves upon the mus'tub'ahs
of the houses on the opposite side of the narrow street;
and the rest sit upon stools or benches made of palm sticks;
most of them with the pipe in hand; some
sipping their coffee; and all highly amused, not only
with the story, but also with the lively and dramatic
manner of the narrator. The reciter receives a trifling
sum of money from the keeper of the coffee-shop, for
attracting customers: his hearers are not obliged to
contribute anything for his remuneration: many of
them give nothing; and few give more than five or ten
* See the engraving' which accompanies this chapter.
The reciter is generally heard to greater advantage in public
than when he is hired to entertain a private party; as, in the
former case, his profits are usually proportioned to the talent
which he; displays.
The most numerous class of reciters is that of the
persons called Sho”ara (in the singular Sha”ër, which
properly signifies a poet). They are also called Ab'oo-Zeydee'yeh, or Ab'oo-Zey'dees,
from the subject of their
ecitations, which is a romance entitled “the Life
of Ab'oo Zeyd” (See'ret Ab'oo Zeyd*). The number
of these Sho”ara in Cairo is about fifty; and they recite
nothing but the adventures related in the romance
of Ab'oo Zeyd.
* Vulgarly so called, for See'ret Ab'ee Zeyd.
The Shaӑr always commits his subject to memory;
and recites without book. The poetry he chants;
and after every verse, he plays a few notes on a viol
which has but a single chord, and which is called “the
poet's viol,” or “the Ab'oo-Zey'dee viol;” from its only
being used in these recitations. It has been described
in a former chapter. The reciter generally has a companion
with another instrument of this kind, to accompany
him. Sometimes, a single note serves as a prelude
and interlude. To convey some idea of the style of a
Shaӑr's music, I insert a few notes of the commencement
of a chant:—

A Sha”cr, with his accompanying Violiet, and part of his Audience.

Some of the reciters of Ab'oo Zeyd are distinguished
by the appellations of Hil'a'lee'yeh (or Hila'lees), Zagha'beh,
or Zooghbee'yeh (or Zoogh'bees), and Zen'a'tee'yeh
or Zena'tees), from their chiefly confining
themselves to the narration of the exploits of heroes of
the Hila'lee, Zoogh'bee, or Zena'tee tribes, celebrated in this romance.
As a specimen of the tale of Ab'oo Zeyd, I shall here
offer an abstract of the principal contents of the first
volume, which I have carfully read for this purpose.
Ab'oo Zeyd, or, as he was first more generally called,
Baraka't, was an Arab of the tribe called Ben'ee Hila'l,
or El-Hil'a'lee'yeh. Before his birth, his father, the
Emee'r Rizck (who was the son of Na'il, a paternal
uncle of Sarhha'n, the king of the Ben'ee Hila'l), had
married ten wives, from whom, to his great grief, he
had obtained but two children, both of them daughters,
named Shee'hhah and 'Atee'meh, until one of his wives,
the Emee'reh Gella's, increased his distress by bearing
him a son without arms or legs. Shortly before the
birth of this son, the Emee'r Rizck (having divorced,
at different times, such of his wives as pleased him
least, as he could not have more than four at one time,
and having at last retained only three) married an eleventh
wife, the Emee'reh Khud'ra, daughter of Ckur'da,
the Sheree'f of Mek'keh. He was soon rejoiced to find
that Khud'ra showed signs of becoming a mother; and,
in the hope that the expected child would be a son,
invited the Emee'r Gha'nim, chief of the tribe of Ez-Zagha'beh,
or Ez-Zooghbee'yeh, with a large company
of his family and tribe, to come from their district and
honour with their presence the festival which he hoped
to have occasion to celebrate. These friends complied

with his invitation, became his guests, and waited for
the birth of the child.
Meanwhile, it happened that the Emee'reh Khud'ra,
walking with the Emee'reh Shem'meh, a wife of King
Sarhha'n, and a number of other females, saw a black
bird attack and kill a numerous flock of birds of various
kinds and hues, and, astonished at the sight, earnestly
prayed God to give her a son like this bird, even though
he should be black. Her prayer was answered: she
gave birth to a black boy. The Emee'r Rizck, though
he could not believe this to be his own son, was reluctant
to put away the mother, from the excessive love he bore
her. He had only heard the women's description of
the child: he would not see it himself, nor allow any
other man to see it, until the seventh day after its birth.
For six days, his guests were feasted; and on the
seventh, or yo'm cs-sooboo'as, a more sumptuous banquet
was prepared; after which, according to custom, the
child was brought before the guests. A female slave
carried it upon a silver tray, and covered over with a
handkerchief. When the guests, as usual in such cases,
had given their noockoo't (or contributions) of gold and
silver coins, one of them lifted up the handkerchief, and
saw that the child was as the women had represented it.
The Emee'r Rizck, who had stood outside the tent
while this ceremony was performed, in great distress of
mind, was now sharply upbraided by most of his friends
for wishing to hide his supposed disgrace, and to retain
an unchaste woman as his wife: he was very reluctantly
compelled to put her away, that his tribe might
not be held in dishonour on her account; and accordingly
despatched her, with her child, under the conduct
of a sheykh named Moonee'a, to return to her father's

house at Mek'keh. She departed thither, accompanied
also by a number of slaves, her husband's properly, who
determined to remain with her; being allowed to do so
by the Emee'r Rizck.
On the journey, the party pitched their tents in a
valley; and here the Emee'reh Khud'ra begged her
conductor to allow her to remain; for she feared to go
back, under such circumstances, to her father's house.
But the Emee'r Fudl Ib'n Bey'sem, chief of the tribe
of Ez-Zahhla'n, with a company of horsemen, chanced
to fall in with her party during her conversation with
the sheykh Moonee'a, and, having heard her story, determined
to take her under his protection: returning
to his encampment, he sent his wife, the Emee'reh
La'ag El-Bahee'yeh, to conduct her and the child
thither, together with the slaves. The Emee'r Fudl
adopted her child as his own; brought him up with
his own two sons; and treated him with the fondness of
a father. The young Baraka't soon gave promise of
his becoming a hero: he killed his schoolmaster, by
severe beating, for attempting to chastise one of his
adoptive brothers; and became the terror of all his
schoolfellows. His adoptive father procured another
fick'ee for a schoolmaster; but Baraka't's presence
frightened his schoolfellows from attending; and the
fick'ee therefore instructed him at home. At the age
of eleven years, he had acquired proficiency in all the
sciences, human and divine, then studied in Arabia;
including astrology, magic, alchymy, and a variety of
other branches of knowledge.
Baraka't now went, by the advice of the fick'ee, to
ask a present of a horse from his adoptive father;

who answered his “Good morning” by saying, “Good
morning, my son, and dearer than my son.” Surprised
at this expression, the youth went to his mother,
and asked her if the Emee'r Fudl were not really his
father. She told him that this chief was his uncle; and
that his father was dead: that he had been killed by a
Hila'lee Arab, called Rizck the son of Na'il. Becoming
warmed and inspired by the remembrance of her wrongs,
she then more fully related her case to her son in a
series of verses. Of this piece of poetry I shall venture
to insert a translation, made verse for verse, and with
the same neglect of measure that is found in the original,
which I also imitate in carrying on the same
rhyme throughout the whole piece, in accordance with
the common practice of Arab poets:—
One day, to a spring, with some friends I went,
When the chiefs had met at a banquet of state;
And, amusing ourselves with the sight of the water,
We saw numberless birds there congregate:
Some were white, and round as the moon at the full;
Some, with plumage of red; some, small; some, great;
Some were black, my son; and some were tall:
They compris'd all kinds that God doth create.
Though our party of women came unawares,
The birds did not fear us, nor separate;
But soon, from the vault of the sky descending,
A black-plum'd bird, of enormous weight,
Poune'd on the others, and killed them all.
To God I cried-O Compassionate!
Thou Living! Eternal! I pray, fur the sake
Of the excellent Prophet, thy delegate,
Grant me a son like this noble bird,
E'en should he be black, thou Considerate!
Thou wast form'd in my womb, and wast born, my son;
And all thy relations, with joy elate,
And thy father among them, paid honour to me:
But soon did our happiness terminate:
The chiefs of Hila'l attack'd our tribe;
And Rizck, among them, precipitate,
Fell on thy father, my son, and slew him;
Then seiz'd on his wealth, his whole estate.
Thine uncle receiv'd me, his relative,
And thee as his son to educate.
God assist thee to take our blood-revenge,
And the tents of Hila'l to desolate.
But keep closely secret what I have told thee:
Be mindful to no one this tale to relate:
Thine uncle might grieve; so 'tis fit that, with patience,
In hope of attaining thy wish, thou should'st wait.'
Thus did Khud'ra address her son Baraka't;
Thus her case with artful deception state.
Now beg we forgiveness of all our sins,
Of God, the Exalted, the Sole, the Great;
Anil join me, my hearers, in blessing the Prophet*,
The guide, whose praise we should celebrate.”
Baraka't, excited by this tale, became engrossed with
the desire of slaying his own father, whom he was made
to believe to be his father's murderer.
* When the reciter utters these words, we hear, from the lips
of most of the Moos'lims who are listening to him, the prayer of
Alla'hoom sal'lee 'a'ey'h!”-” O God, favour him!”
His adoptive father gave him his best horse, and
instructed him in all the arts of war, in the chase, and
in every manly exercise. He early distinguished himself
as a horseman, and excited the envy of many of the
Arabs of the tribe into which he had been admitted, by
his dexterity in the exercise of the birga's (a game
exactly or nearly similar to what is now called that of
the geree'd'), in which the persons engaged, mounted on
horses, combated or pursued each other, throwing a
He twice defeated plundering parties of
the tribe of Tey'demeh; and, on the first occasion,
killed 'Atwa'n the son of Da'ghir, their chief. These
Tey'demeh Arabs applied, for succour, to Es-Salee'dee,
king of the city of Tey'demeh. He recommended
them to Gessa'r the son of Ga'sir, a chief of the Ben'ee
Hhem'yar, who sent to demand, of the tribe of Ez-Zahhla'n,
fifteen years' arrears of tribute which the
latter had been accustomed to pay to his tribe; and
desired them to despatch to him, with this tribute, the
slave Baraka't (for he believed him to be a slave), a
prisoner in bonds, to be put to death. Baraka't wrote
a reply, in the name of the Emee'r Fudl, promising
It is thus described in the romance: but a headless spear
was formerly sometimes used instead of the geree'd, or palm-stick.

compliance. Having a slave who much resembled
him, and who was nearly of the 'same age, he bound
him on the back of a camel, and, with him and the
Emee'r Fudl and his tribe, went to meet Gessa'r
and his party, and the Tey'demeh Arabs. Fudl presented
the slave, as Baraka't, to Gessa'r; who, pleased at having
his orders apparently obeyed, feasted the tribe of Ez-Zahlila'n:
but Baraka't remained on horseback, and
refused to eat of the food of his enemies, as, if he did,
the laws of hospitality would prevent his executing a
plot which he had framed. Gessa'r observed him;
and, asking the Emee'r Fudl who he was, received the
answer that he was a mad slave, named Mes'oo'd.
Having drawn Gessa'r from his party, Baraka't discovered
himself to him, challenged, fought, and killed him,
and took his tent: he pardoned the rest of the hostile
party; but imposed upon them the tribute which the
Zahhla'n Arabs had formerly paid them. Henceforth
he had the name of Mes'oo'd added to that which he had
before borne. Again and again he defeated the hostile
attempts of the Ben'ee Hhem'yar to recover their independence,
and acquired the highest renown, not only
in the eyes of the Emee'r Fudl and the whole tribe of
Ez-Zahhla'n, of whom he was made the chief, but also
among all the neighbouring tribes.
We must now return to the Emee'r Rizck, and his
tribe.—Soon after the departure of his wife Khud'ra,
he retired from his tribe, in disgust at the treatment
which he received on account of his supposed disgrace,
and in grief for his loss. With a single slave, he took
up his abode in a tent of black goats' hair, one of those
in which the tenders of his camels used to live, by the
spring where his wife had seen the combat of the birds.

Not long after this event, the Ben'ee Hila'l were
afflicted by a dreadful drought, which lasted so long
that they were reduced to the utmost distress. Under
these circumstances, the greater number of them were
induced, with their king Sarhha'n, to go to the country
of the tribe of Ez-Zabhla'n, for sustenance; but the
Ga'a'fireh and some minor tribes of the Ben'ee Hila'l,
joined, and remained with, the Emee'r Rizck, who had
formerly been their commander. Sarhha'n and his
party were attacked and defeated by Baraka't on their
arrival in the territory of the Zahhla'n Arabs; but on
their abject submission were suffered by him to remain
there. They however cherished an inveterate hatred to
the tribe of Ez-Zahhla'n, who had before paid them
tribute; and Sarhha'n was persuaded to send a messenger
to the Emee'r Rizck, begging him to come and
endeavour to deliver them from their humiliating state.
Rizck obeyed the summons. On his way to the territory
of the Zahhla'n Arabs, he was almost convinced,
by the messenger who had come to conduct him, that
Baraka't was his son; but was at a loss to know why
he was called by this name, as he himself had named
him Ab'oo Zeyd. Arriving at the place of his destination,
he challenged Baraka't. The father went forth
to combat the son: the former not certain that his
opponent was his son; and the latter having no idea
that he was about to lift his hand against his father;
but thinking that his adversary was his father's murderer.
The Emee'r Rizck found occasion to put off
the engagement from day to day: at last, being no
longer able to do this, he suffered it to commence: his
son prevailed: he unhorsed him, and would have put
him to death bad he not been charged to refrain from

doing this by bis mother. The secret of Baraka't's
parentage was now divulged to him by the Emee'reh
Khud'ra; and the chiefs of the Ben'ee Hila'l were
compelled to acknowledge him as the legitimate and
worthy son of the Emee'r Rizck, and to implore his
pardon for the injuries which he and his mother had
sustained from them. This boon, the Emee'r Ab'oo
Zeyd Baraka't generously granted; and thus added to
the joy which the Emee'r Rizck derived from the recovery
of his favourite wife, and his son.
The subsequent adventures related in the romance of
Ab'oo Zeyd are numerous and complicated. The most
popular portion of the work is the account of a riya'deh,
or expedition in search of pasture; in which Ab'oo
Zeyd, with three of his nephews, in the disguise of
Shaӑrs, himself acting as their servant, are described
as journeying through northern Africa, and signalizing
themselves by many surprising exploits with the Arab
tribe of Ez-Zen'a'tee'yeh.

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NEXT in point of number to the Sho”ara, among the
public reciters of romances, are those who are particularly
and solely distinguished by the appellation of
Mohhadditee'n, or Story-tellers (in the singular, Mohhad'dit).
There are said to be about thirty of them in
Cairo. The exclusive subject of their narrations is a
work called “the Life of Ez-Za'hir” (”See'ret Ez-Za'hir,”
or “Es-See'reh ez-Za'hiree'yeh*”. They
recite without book.
* Hence, the Mohhadditee'n are sometimes called Za'hiree'yeh.
A person named 'Al'ee Ibn El-Warra'ckah, being
commissioned to procure memloo'ks from foreign countries,
by El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh (a famous Soolta'n of
Egypt, and a celebrated wel'ee), is related to have purchased
seventy-five memloo'ks in Syria; and to have
added to them, immediately after, the principal hero of
this romance, a youth named Mahhmoo'd (afterwards
called Beybur's), a captive son of Sha'h Juck'muck (or
Guck'muck) King of Khoowa'rez'm. 'Al'ee was soon
after obliged to give Mahhmoo'd to one of his creditors
at Damascus, in lieu of a debt; and this person presented
him to his wife, to wait upon her son, a deformed
idiot; but he remained not long in this situation: the
sister of his new master, paying a visit to his wife, her
sister-in-law, found her about to beat the young mem-loo'k,
for having neglected the idiot, and suffered him to
fall from a bench: struck with the youth's countenance,
as strongly resembling a son whom she had lost, and
pitying his condition, she purchased him of her brother,
adopted him, gave him the name of Beybur's, which
was that of her deceased son, and made him master of
her whole property, which was very great. This lady
was called the sit't Fa't'meh Bint El-Ackwa'see (daughter

of the bow-maker). Beybur's showed himself
worthy of her generosity; exhibiting many proofs of a
noble disposition, and signalizing himself by numerous
extraordinary achievements, which attracted general
admiration, but rendered him obnoxious to the jealousy
and enmity of the Ba'sha of Syria, 'Ee'sa En-Na'siree,
who contrived many plots to insnare him, and to put
him to death. After a time, Negm ed-Deen, a Wezee'r
of Es-Sa'lehh, and husband of a sister of the sit't
Fa't'meh, came on an embassy to Damascus, and to
visit his sister-in-law. On his return to Egypt, Beybur's
accompanied him thither; and there he was promoted
to offices of high dignity by Es-Sa'lehh, and
became a particular favourite of the chief Wezee'r, Sha'hee'n
El-Af'ram. The events which immediately followed
the death of Es-Sa'lehh are thus related.
“After the death of El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh Eiyoo'b,
the Wezee'r Ey'bek called together an assembly in his
house, and brought thither the Emee'r Ckala-oo'n and
his partisans: and the Wezee'r Ey'bek said to the
Emee'r Ckala-oo'n, ' To-morrow we will go up to the
deewa'n, with our troops, and either I will be Soolta'n,
or thou shalt be.' The Emee'r Ckala-oo'n answered,
' So let it be:' and they agreed to do this. In like
manner, the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n El-Af'ram also assembled
the Emee'r Eydem'r El-Bah'loowa'n and his troops,
and all the friends and adherents of the Emee'r Beybur's,
and said to them, ' To-morrow, arm yourselves,
and go up to the deewa'n; for it is our desire to make
the Emee'r Beybur's Soolta'n; since El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh
Eiyoo'b wrote for him a patent appointing him
to the sovereignty;' and they answered, ' On the head and
the eye.' So they passed the night, and rose in the

morning, and went up to the deewa'n; and there went
thither also the Wezee'r Ey'bek Et-Toorkama'nee, with
his troops, and the Emee'r Ckala-oo'n El-El'fee, with
his troops, and the Emee'r 'Ala'y ed-Deen (or 'Ala' ed-Deen)
El-Bey'seree, with his troops, all of them armed.
The Emee'r Beybur's likewise went up to the deewa'n,
with his troops; and the deewa'n was crowded with
soldiers. Then said the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n, ' Rise O
Beybur's; sit upon the throne, and become Soolta'n;
for thou hast a patent appointing thee to the sovereignty.'
The Emee'r Beybur's answered, ' I have no desire for
the sovereignty: here is present the Wezee'r Ey'bek,
and here is Ckala-oo'n: make one of them Soolta'n.'
But the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n said, ' It cannot be: no one
shall reign but thee.' Beybur's replied, ' By thy head,
I will not reign.' ‘As he pleases,' said the Wezee'r
Ey'bek.—' Is the sovereignty to be conferred by force?
—As he pleases.' The Wezee'r Sha'hee'n said, 'And is
the throne to remain unoccupied, with no one to act as
Soolta'n?' The Wezee'r Ey'bek answered, ' Here are
we present; and here is the Emee'r Ckala-oo'n: whosoever
will reign, let him reign.' The Emee'r 'Ezz ed-Deen
El-Hhil'lee said, ' O Wezee'r Sha'hee'n, the son
of El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh is living.' The Emee'r Beybur's
asked, ' Es-Sa'lehh has left a son?' The Koords*
answered, ' Yes; and his name is 'Ee'sa: he is at El-Kar'ak.'
‘And why,' said the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n, ' were
ye silent respecting him?' They replied, ' We were
silent for no other reason than this, that he drinks
wine.' ‘Does he drink wine?' said the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n.
The Koords answered, ' Yes.' The Emee'r
Beybur's said, ' May our Lord bring him to repentance:'
* Es-Sa'lehh was of the house of Eiyoo'b, a dynasty of Koords.

‘Then,' said the soldiers, ' we must go to the
city of El-Kar'ak, and bring him thence, and make
him Soolta'n.' The Wezee'r Sha'hee'n said to them,
' Take the Emee'r Beybur's with you:' but Ey'bek and
Ckala-oon answered, 'We will go before him, and wait
for him there until he come.' The Emee'r Beybur's
said, ' So let it be.'
” Upon this, the Wezee'r Ey'bek and Ckala-oo'n and
“Ala'y ed-Deen El-Bey'seree, and their troops, went
down from the deewa'n, and arranged their affairs, and
on the following day caused their tents to be brought
out, with their provisions, and pitched outside the 'A'dilee'yeh.
Now the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n knew that the
troops wished to create a dissension between the king
(El-Mel'ik) 'Ee'sa and Beybur's. So the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n
went down from the deewa'n, and took the Emee'r
Beybur's with him, and went to his house, and said to
him,' What hast thou perceived in the departing of the
troops before thee?' He answered, ' Those persons
detest me; for they are bearers of hatred; but, I extol
the absolute glory of Him who is all-knowing with
respect to secret things.' The Wezee'r said to him,
' My son, it is their desire to go before thee that they
may create a dissension between thee and El-Mel'ik
'Ee'sa.' The Emee'r Beybur's said, 'There is no power
nor strength but in God, the High, the Great!' The
Wezee'r said to him, ' O Beybur's, it is my wish to send
'Osma'n Ibn El-Hheb'la* and Mohham'mad Ib'n Ka'mil,
* 'Osma'n (vulgarly called 'Otma'n, and 'Etma'n) Ibn El-Hheb'la
wag a rogue, whom Beybur's took into his service as
groom, and compelled to vow repentance at the
shrine of the sey'yideh Nefee'seh (great-grand-daughter of the Ima'm Hhas'an),
and soon after, made his moockud'dam, or chief of his servants.

the Dromedarist, before the troops; and whatever
may happen, they will inform us of it.' Beybur's
answered, ' So let it he.' Accordingly, he sent them;
and said to them, ' Go before the troops to the castle of
El-Kar'ak, and whatever may happen between them and
El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa inform us of it.' They answered, ' It
is our duty,' and they departed. Then said the Wezee'r
Sha'hee'n, ' O Beybur's, as to thee, do thou journey to
Esh-Sha'm*, and stay in the house of thy (adoptive)
mother, the sit't Fa't'meh Bint El-Ackwa'see; and do
not go out of the house until I shall have sent to thee
”Osma'n.' He answered, ' It is right.' So the Emee'r
Beybur's rose, and went to his house, and passed the
night, and got up in the morning, and set out on his
journey to Esh-Sha'm, and took up his abode in the
house of his mother, the sit't Fa't'meh Bint EI-Aekwa'see.
We shall have to speak of him again presently.
* Damascus.
“As to 'Osma'n Ibn El.Hheb'la and Mohham'mad
Ib'n Ka'mil, the Dromedarist, they journeyed until they
entered the castle of El-Kar'ak, and inquired for the
residence of El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, the son of El-Mel'ik
Es-Sa'lehh Eiyoo'b. Some persons conducted them to the
house; and they entered; and the attendants there
asked them what was their business. They informed
them that they were from Musr, and that they wished
to have an interview with El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, the son of
El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh Eiyoo'b. The attendants went
and told the kikh'ya; who came and spoke to them;
and they acquainted him with their errand: so he
went and told El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa; saying, ' Two men are
come to thee from Musr, and wish to have an interview
with thee: the one is named 'Osma'n; and the other,

Mohham'mad Ib'n Ka'mil, the Dromedarist.' The king
said, 'Go, call 'Osma'n.' The kikh'ya returned, and
took him, and brought him to El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa; and
'Osma'n looked towards the king, and saw him sitting
tippling; and before him was a candelabrum, and a
handsome memloo'k was serving him with wine; and
he was sitting by a fountain surrounded by trees.
'Osma'n said, ' Mayest thou be in the keeping of God,
O King 'Ee'sa!' The king answered, ' Ho! welcome,
O 'Osma'n! Come, sit down and drink.' 'Osma'n exclaimed,
' I beg forgiveness of God! I am a repentant.'
The king said, ' Obey me, and oppose me not.' Then
'Osman sat down; and the king said to him, ' Why the
door of repentance is open.' And 'Osma'n drank until
he became intoxicated.
” Now Ey'bek and Ckala-oo'n and 'Ala'y ed-Deen and
their troops journeyed until they beheld the city of EI-Kar'ak,
and pitched their tents, and entered the city,
and inquired for the house of El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa. The
people conducted them to the house; and they entered;
and the attendants asked them what was their object:
they answered, that they were the troops of Musr, and
wished to have an interview with El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa.
The attendants went and told the kikh'ya, who came,
and received them, and conducted them to the hall of
audience, where they sat down, while he went and informed
El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, saying to him, ' Come and
speak to the troops of Musr who have come to thee.
The king rose, and went to the troops, and accosted
them; and they rose, and kissed his hand, and sat down
again. El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa then said to them, ' For what
purpose have ye come?' They answered, ' We have
come to make thee Soolta'n in Musr.' He said, ' My

father, El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh, is he not Soolta'n?' They
replied, 'The mercy of God, whose name be exalted, be
on him '. Thy father has died, a victim of injustice:
may our Lord avenge him on him who killed him.'
He asked, ' Who killed him?' They answered, ' One
whose name is Beybur's killed him.' ‘And where is
Beybur's?' said he. They replied,' He is not yet come:
we came before him.' ‘Even so,' said he. They then
sat with him, aspersing Beybur's in his absence: and
they passed the night there; and, rising on the following
morning, said to El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, ' It is our
wish to go out, and remain in the camp; for Sha'hee'n,
the Wezee'r of thy father, is coming, with the Emee'r
Beybur's; and if they see us with thee, they will accuse
us of bringing to thee the information respecting Beybur's.
He answered, ' Good:' so they went forth to
the camp, and remained there.
” The Wezee'r Sha'hee'n approached with his troops,
and encamped, and saw the other troops in their camp;
but he would not ask them any questions, and so
entered the city, and went to El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, who said
to him, ' Art thou Beybur's, who poisoned my father?
' He answered, ' I am the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n; the
Wezee'r of thy father.' The king said, ' And where is
Beybur's, who poisoned my father?' The Wezee'r
replied, ' Thy father departed by a natural death to
await the mercy of his Lord: and who told thee that
Beybur's poisoned thy father?' The king answered,
' The troops told me.' ‘Beybur's,' said the Wezee'r, ' is
in Esh-Sha'm: go thither, and charge him, in the
deewa'n, with having poisoned thy father, and bring
proof against him.' So the Wezee'r perceived that the
troops had been plotting.
“The Wezeer' Sha'hee'n then went, with his troops,
outside the camp; and Mohham'mad Ib'n Ka'mil the
Dromedarist came to him, and kissed his hand. The
Wezee'r asked him respecting 'Osma'n. He answered,
' I have no tidings of him.' Meanwhile, El-Mel'ik
'Ee'sa went to 'Osma'n, and said to him, ' The Wezee'r
is come with his troops; and they are outside the camp.'
So 'Osma'n rose, and, reeling as he went, approached
the tents; and the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n saw him; and
perceived that he was drunk ; and called to him.
'Osma'n came. The Wezee'r smelt him, seized him,
and inflicted upon him the hhadd*; and said to him,
' Did'st thou not vow to relinquish the drinking of
wine?' Osma'n answered,' El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, whom ye
are going to make Soolta'n, invited me.' The Wezee'r
said, ' I purpose writing a letter for you to take and
give to the Emee'r Beybur's.' 'Osma'n replied, ' Good.'
So the Wezee'r wrote the letter, and 'Osma'n took it
and departed, and entered Esh-Sha'm, and went to the
house of the sit't Fa't'meh, and gave it to his master,
who read it, and found it to contain as follows.—'After
salutations-from his excellency the Grand Wezee'r, the
Wezee'r Sha'hee'n El-Af'ram, to his honour the Emee'r
Beybur's. Know that the troops have aspersed thee
and created dissensions between thee and El-Mel'ik
'Ee'sa; and accused thee of having poisoned his father,
El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh Eiyoo'b. Now, on the arrival of
this paper, take care of thyself, and go not out of the
house, unless I shall have sent to thee. And the conclusion
of the letter is, that 'Osma'n got drunk in the
castle of El-Kar'ak.' Beybur's was vexed with 'Osma'n;
and said to him, ' Come hither, and receive a present:'
* Eighty stripes, the punishment ordained for drunkenness.

and he stretched forth his hand, and laid hold of him.
'Osma'n said, ' What ails thee?' Beybur's exclaimed,
' Did I not make thee vow to relinquish the drinking of
wine?' 'Has he told thee?' asked 'Osma'n. 'I will
give thee a treat,' said Beybur's: and he took him, and
threw him down, and inflicted upon him the hhadd.
' How is it,' said 'Osma'n, 'that the king whom you are
going to make Soolta'n I found drinking wine?' Beybur's
answered, ' IF one has transgressed must thou
transgress?' 'And is this,' asked 'Osma'n, ' the hhadd
ordained by God?' Beybur's answered, 'Yes.' 'Then,'
said 'Osma'n, ' the hhaddss which Ab'oo Fur'meh* inflicted
upon me is a loan, and a debt which must be
repaid him.' Beybur's then said, 'The troops have
created a dissension between me and El-Mel'ik Ee'sa;
and have accused me of poisoning his father, El-Mel'ik
Es-Sa'lehh.' ‘I beg the forgiveness of God,' said
'Osma'n. 'Those fellows detest thee; but no harm
will come to us from them.' Beybur's said, ' O 'Osma'n,
call together the sa'ises , and arm them, and let them
remain in the lane of (he cotton-weavers , and not
suffer any troops to enter.' 'Osma'n answered, ' On the
head and the eye;' and he assembled the sa'ises, and
armed them, and made them stand in two rows: then
he took a seat, and sat in the court of the house. The
Emee'r Beybur's also armed all his troops; and placed
them in the court of the house.
* 'Osma'n, for the sake of a rude joke, changes the name of the
Wezee'r Sha'hee'n (El-Af'ram) into an appellation too coarse to
be here translated.
Grooms, also employed as running footmen.
A lane from which the house was entered.
“As to El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, he mounted his horse, and

departed with the troops, and journeyed until he entered
Esh-Sha'm; when he went in procession to the deewa'n,
and sat upon the throne, and inquired of the King* of
Syria respecting Beybur's. The King of Syria answered,
' He is in the lane of the cotton-weavers, in the house
of his mother.' El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa said, 'O Sha'hee'n,
who will go and bring him?' The Wezee'r answered,
'Send to him the Emee'r 'Ala'y ed-Deen El-Bey'seree.
So he sent him. The Emee'r descended, and went to
the lane of the cotton-weavers. 'Osma'n saw him, and
cried out to him,' Dost thou remember, thou son of a
vile woman, the chicken which thou atest ? ' He
then struck him with a mace: the Emee'r fell from his
horse; and 'Osma'n gave him a bastinading. He returned,
and informed the king; and the King 'Ee'sa
said again, ' O Sha'hee'n, who will go, and bring
Beybur's? ' The Wezee'r answered, ' Send to him the
Wezee'r Ey'bek.' The King said, 'Rise, O Wezee'r
Ey'bek, and go, call Beybur's:' but Ey'bek said, ' No
one can bring him, excepting the Wezee'r.' Then said
El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa, ' Rise, O Wezee'r Sha'hee'n, and bring
Beybur's.' The Wezee'r answered, ' On the head and
the eye: but, before I bring him, tell me, wilt thou deal
with him according to law, or by arbitrary power?'
The King said, ' By law.' Then said the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n,
' So let it be: and I spake not thus from any
other motive than because I fear for thyself and the
troops, lest blood be shed: for Beybur's is very stubborn,
and has many troops; and I fear for the army;
* Sometimes called, in this work, Ba'sha of Syria.
This is an allusion to 'Ala'y ed-Deen's having eaten a dish
that had been prepared for Beybur's, when the latter had just
entered the service of the Soolta'n Es-Sa'lehh.

for he is himself equal to the whole host: therefore
bring accusation against him, and prove by law that he
poisoned thy lather.' The king; said, ' So let it be.'
” Then the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n descended from the
deewa'n, and went to the lane of the cotton-weavers.
'Osina'n saw him; and said, 'Thou hast fallen into the
snare, O Ab'oos Fur'meh! the time of payment is come;
and the debt must be returned to the creditor. Dost
thou know how to give me a bastinading?' The
Wezee'r said, ' My dream which I saw has proved true.'
‘What was thy dream? ' asked 'Osina'n. ' I dreamed,'
said the Wezee'r, ' last night, that I was travelling, and
some Arabs attacked me, and surrounded me, and I was
straitened by them; and I saw thy master, the Emee'r
Beybur's, upon a mount; and I called out to him,
Come to me, O Emee'r Beybur's! and he knew me.
The Wezee'r Sha'hee'n calling out thus, the Emee'r
Beybur's heard him, and came down running, with his
sword in hand; and found 'Osma'n and the sa'ises
surrounding the Wezee'r. He exclaimed, ' 'Osma'n!'
and 'Osma'n said, ' He gave me a bastinading in the
city of El-Kar'ak; and I want to return it.' The
Emee'r Beybur's sharply reprimanded him. 'And so,'
said 'Osma'n to the Wezee'r, ' thou hast found a way of
escape.' The Wezee'r Sha'hee'n then said, ' O Emee'r
Beybur's, El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa hath sent me to thee: he
intends to prefer an accusation against thee in the
deewa'n of Esh-Sha'm, charging thee with having poisoned
his father. Now, do thou arm all thy soldiers,
and come to the deewa'n, and fear not; but say that
which shall clear thee.' Beybur's answered, ' So let it
be.' He then armed all his soldiers, and went up to
the deewa'n, and kissed the hand of El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa;

who said to him, 'Art thou the Emee'r Beybur's, who
poisoned my father?' Beybur's answered, ' Prove
against me that I poisoned thy father, and bring the
charge before the judge, and adduce evidence: the
Cka'dee is here.' The king said, ' I have evidence
against thee.' Beybur's said, 'Let us see.' 'Here,
said the king, 'are the Wezee'r Ey'bek and Ckala-oo'n
and “Ak'y ed-Deen.' The Emee'r Beybur's asked
them, ' Do ye bear witness against me that I poisoned
El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh? ' They answered, 'Never: we
neither saw it, nor do we know anything of the matter.'
The Cka'dee said, ' Hast thou any witnesses beside
those?' The king replied, 'None: no one informed
me but them.' The Cka'dee said,' O king, those men
are hypocrites, and detest the Emee'r Beybur's.' El-Mel'ik
'Ee'sa thereupon became reconciled with the
Emee'r Beybur's, and said to his attendants,' Bring a
ckufta'n.” They brought one, He said to them, ' Invest
with it the Emee'r Beybur's;' and added, 'I appoint
thee, O Beybur's, commander-in-chief of the
army.' But Beybur's said, 'I have no desire for the
dignity, and will put on no ckufta'ns.' The king asked,
'Why, Sir?' Beybur's answered, 'Because I have
been told that thou drinkest wine.' The king said, 'I
repent.' ‘So let it be,' said Beybur's: and the king
vowed repentance to Beybur's: and the Emee'r Beybur's
said, ' I make a condition with thee, O king, that
if thou drink wine, I inflict upon thee the hhadd:' and
the king replied, 'It is right.' Upon this, the king
invested the Emee'r Beybur's with a ckufta'n; and a
feast was made; and guns were fired; and festivities
were celebrated: and they remained in Esh-Sha'm three
“El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa then gave orders for departure;
and performed the first day's journey. On the second
day, they came to a valley, celebrated as a halting-place
of the Prophet, the Director in the way to heaven: in
it were trees, and brooks, and birds which sang the
praises of the King, the Mighty, the Pardoner. El-Mel'ik
Ee'sa said, 'Pitch the tents here: we will
here pass the night.' So they pitched the tents. And the
day departed with its brightness, and the night came
with its darkness: but the Everlasting remaineth unchanged:
the stars shone; and God, the Living, the
Self-subsisting, looked upon the creation. It was the
period of the full-moon; and the King felt a longing to
drink wine by the side of the brook and greensward:
so he called to Ab'oo-l-Kheyr, who came to him, and
kissed his hand. The King said to him, 'O Ab'oo-l-Kheyr,
I have a longing to drink wine.' The servant
answered, ' Hast thou not vowed repentance to the
Emee'r Beybur's?' The King said, 'The door of
repentance is open: so do thou obey me:' and he gave
him ten pieces of gold. The servant then went to a
convent; and brought him thence a large bottle: and
the King said to him, ' If thou see the Emee'r Beybur's
coming, call out hay! and as long as thou dost not see
him, call clover!' The servant answered, 'Right:' and
he filled a cup, and handed it to the King. Now 'Osma'n
was by the tents; and he came before the pavilion
of El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa; and saw him sitting drinking
wine: so he went, and told his master, the Emee'r Beybur's.
Beybur's came. Ab'oo-l-Kheyr saw him coming
from a tent, and called out to the King, ' hay! hay!'
The King immediately threw the cup into the brook;
Ab'oo-l-Kheyr removed the bottle; and the King set

himself to praying: and when he had pronounced the
salutation [which terminates the prayers], he turned his
eyes, and saw the Emee'r Beybur's, and said to him,
' Wherefore art thou come at this hour? Go, sleep: it
is late.' Beybur's answered, ' I have come to ask thee
whether we shall continue our journey now, or to-morrow
morning.' The King said, ' Tomorrow morning.'
And the Emee'r Beybur's returned, vexed with 'Osma'n;
and said to him, ' O 'Osma'n, didst thou not tell me
that the King was sitting drinking wine? Now I have
been, and found him praying. Dost thou utter a falsehood
against the Soolta'n?' 'Osma'n answered, 'Like
as he has smoothed it over, do thou also: no matter.
Beybur's was silent.
“They passed the night there; and on the following
morning, El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa gave orders for departure.
They journeyed towards Musr; and when they had
arrived at the 'A'dilee'yeh, and pitched their tents, the
Emee'r Beybur's said, ' O our lord the Soolta'n, we
have now arrived at Musr.' The King answered, ' I
desire, O Beybur's, to visit the tomb of the Ima'm
[Esh-Sha'fe'ee].' Beybur's said, 'The thing is right,
O our lord the Soolta'n: to-morrow I will conduct thee
to visit the Ima'm.' They remained that night at the
'A'dilee'yeh; and on the following morning, the Soolta'n
rode in procession to visit the Ima'm, and returned in
procession, and visited the tomb of his father, El-Mel'ik
Es-Sa'lehh Eiyoo'b; and then went in state to the
Citadel: and the 'Ool'ama went up thither, and inaugurated
him as sovereign, and conducted him into the
armoury; and he drew out from thence a sword, upon
which was inscribed ' El-Mel'ik El-Mo'az'zum*:' wherefore
* The Magnified King.

they named him ' 'Ee'sa El-Mo'az'zum.' They
coined the money with his name; and prayed for him
on the pulpits of the mosques; and he invested with
ckufta'ns the soldiers and the Emee'r Beybur's, the
commander-in-chief. The Soolta'n then wrote a patent,
conferring the sovereignty, after himself, upon the
Emee'r Beybur's, to be king and Soolta'n. So the
Emee'r Keytar's had two patents conferring; upon him
the sovereignty; the patent of El-Mel'ik Es-Sa'lehh
Eiyoo'b, and the patent of El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa El-Mo'az'ziun.
Ey'bek and Ckala-oo'n and 'Ala'y ed-Deen and
their partisans, who hated Beybur's, were grieved at
this; but his friends rejoiced. The troops descended
from the deewa'n, and went to their houses; and in
like manner, the Emee'r Beybur's descended in procession,
and went to his house by the Ckana'tir es-Siba'a.
” Now the queen Sheg'eret ed-Door'r sent to El-Mel'ik
'Ee'sa El-Mo'az'zum. He went to her palace.
She kissed his hand; and he said to her, ' Who art
thou?' She answered, ' The wife of thy lather, El-Mel'ik
Es-Sa'lehh.' ‘And what is thy name?' said he.
She replied, ' the queen Fa'timeh Sheg'eret ed-Door'r.'
He exclaimed ' Oh! Welcome! pray for me then.' She
said, ' God bring thee to repentance.' She then gave
him a charge respecting the Emee'r Beybur's; saying,
' Thy father loved him above all the chiefs, and entered
into a covenant with him before God; and I, also, made
a covenant with him before God.' He answered, ' O
queen, by thy life, I have written for him a patent conferring
upon him the sovereignty after me.' She said,
'And thy father, also, wrote for him a patent, conferring
upon him the sovereignty.' The King then said to her,
' Those chiefs created a dissension between me and

him; and asserted that he poisoned ray father.' She
said, ' I beg God's forgiveness! They hate him.
After this, the queen remained chatting with him a
short time; and he went to his saloon, and passed the
night, and rose.
” On the following day, he held a court; and the
hall was filled with troops. And he winked to Ab'oo-1-Kheyr,
and said, ' Give me to drink.' Now he had
said to him, the day before, ' To-morrow, when I hold
my court, and say to thee, Give me to drink, bring me
a water-bottle full of wine.' So when El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa
sat upon the throne, and the court, filled with troops,
resembled a garden, the troops resembling the branches
of plants, he felt a longing to drink wine, and said to
Ab'oo-l-Kheyr, ' Give me to drink;' and winked to
him; and he brought to him the water-bottle; and he
drank, and returned it. Then he sat a little longer;
and said again, ' Give me to drink, O Ab'oo-l-Kheyr;'
and the servant brought the bottle; and he drank, and
gave it back. He sat a little longer; and again he
said, ' Give me to drink.' Ckala-oo'n said, ' O 'Ala'y ed-Deen,
it seems that the Soolta'n has breakfasted
upon kawa'rë*.' Upon this, the Wezee'r Sha'hee'n
asked him, 'What hast thou eaten?” The King answered,
' My stomach is heated and flatulent.' The
Wezee'r, however, perceived the smell of wine; and
was vexed. The court then broke up; and the troops
descended. The Wezee'r Sha'hee'n also descended,
and took with him the Emee'r Beybur's to his house,
and said to him, ' May God take retribution from thee,
O Beybur's.' Beybur's said, 'Why?' The Wezee'r
answered, ' Because thou didst not accept the sovereignty.'
* A dish of lamb's feet, cooked with garlic and vinegar, &c.

‘But for what reason sayest thou this?' asked
Beybur's. The Wezee'r said, ' The Soolta'n, to-day,
drank wine, while sitting upon the throne, three times.
When the Vicar of God, in administering the law,
intoxicates himself, his decisions are null, and he has
not any right to give them.' Beybur's replied, ' I made
a condition with him, that if he drank wine, I should
inflict upon him the hhadd; and wrote a document to
that effect in Esh-Sha'm.” ' To-morrow,' said the
Wezee'r, ' when he holds his court, observe him; and
take the water-bottle, and see what is in it. I perceived
his smell.' Beybur's answered, 'It is right:' and he
arose, and went to his house sorrowful: and he passed
the night, and rose, and went to the court, and found it
filled with troops; and he kissed the hand of the
Soolta'n, and sat in his place. Presently, the Soolta'n
said, ' Give me to drink, O Ab'oo-l-Kheyr:' and the
servant brought the water bottle; and the Soolta'n
drank. Beybur's took hold of the water-bottle; and
said, 'Give me to drink.' The servant answered,' This
is medicinal water.' ‘No harm,' said Beybur's: ' I have
a desire for it.' ‘It is rose-water,' said the servant.
Beybur's said, 'Good:' and he took the bottle; and
said, 'Bring a basin.” A basin was brought; and he
poured into it the contents of the bottle before the
troops; and they saw that it was wine. Then said the
Emee'r Beybur's to the Soolta'n, ' Is it allowed thee by
God to be his Vicar, and to intoxicate thyself? Did I
not make thee vow to relinquish the drinking of wine,
and say to thee, If thou drink it I will inflict upon thee
the hhadd; and did I not write a document to that
effect in Esh-Sha'm?' The Soolta'n answered, ' It is a
habit decreed against me, O Beybur's.' Beybur's exclaimed,

' God is witness, O ye troops!' and he took the
Soolta'n, and flogged him; and he was unconscious, by
reason of the wine that he had drunk: and he loosed
him, and departed from him, and went to his house.”
The second volume proceeds to relate the troubles
which befel Beybur's in consequence of his incurring
the displeasure of El-Mel'ik 'Ee'sa by the conduct just
described; his restoration to the favour of that prince;
and his adventures during the reigns of the subsequent
Soolta'ns, Khalee'l El-Ash'raf, Es-Sa'lehh the youth,
Ey'bek (his great and inveterate enemy), and El-Moduf'far;
and then, his own accession to the sovereignty.
The succeeding volumes contain narratives
of his wars in Syria and other countries; detailing
various romantic achievements, and the exploits of the
Fed'a'wee'yeh, or Feda'wees, of his time. The term
Feda'wee, which is now vulgarly understood to signify
any warriour of extraordinary courage and ability,
literally and properly means a person who gives, or is
ready to give, his life as a ransom for his companions,
or for their cause; and is here applied to a class of
warriours who owned no allegiance to any sovereign
unless to a chief of their own choice; the same class
who are called, in our histories of the Crusades,
“Assassins;” which appellation the very learned orientalist
De Sacy has, I think, rightly pronounced to be a
corruption of “Hhash'sha'shee'n,” a name derived from
their making frequent use of the intoxicating hemp,
called hhashee'sh, or a vegetable of similar properties,
which might, with equal justness, be called by tha
name. The romance of Ez-Za'hir affords confirmation
of the etymology given by De Sacy; but suggests a
different explanation of it: the Fed'a'wee'yeh being

almost always described in this work, as making use of
beng (or henbane, which, in the present day, is often
mixed with hhushee'sh) to make a formidable enemy or
rival their prisoner, by disguising themselves, inviting
him to eat, putting the drug into his food or drink, and
thus causing him speedily to fall into a deep sleep, so
that they were able to bind him at their leisure, and
convey him whither they would. The chief of these
warriours is Shee'hhah, called “Soolta'n el-Ckila'a wa-l-Hhosoo'n”
or “Soolta'n of the Castles and Fortresses”),
who is described as almost constantly engaged,
and generally with success, in endeavouring to reduce
all the Feda'wees to allegiance to himself and to Beybur's.
From his adroitness in disguises and plots, his
Proteus-like character, his name has become a common
appellation of persons of a similar description. Another
of the more remarkable characters in this romance is
Goowa'n (or John), a European Christian, who, having
deeply studied Moos'lim law, succeeds in obtaining, and
retains for a few years, the office of Cka'dee of the
Egyptian metropolis; and is perpetually plotting against
Beybur's, Shee'hhah, and other Moos'lim chiefs
Much of the entertainment derived from recitations of
this work depend upon the talents of the mohhad'dit
who often greatly improves the stories by his action,
and by witty introductions of his own invention.

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THERE is, in Cairo, a third class of reciters of romances,
who are called 'Ana'tireh, or 'Anteree'yeh (in the singular,
'An'ter'ee); but they are much less numerous
than either of the other two classes before mentioned;
their number at present, if I be rightly informed, not
amounting to more than six. They bear the above
appellation from the chief subject of their recitations;
which is the romance of 'An'tar (See'ret 'An'tar). As
a considerable portion of this interesting work has become
known to English readers by Mr. Terrick Hamilton's
translation, I need give no account of it. The
reciters of it read it from the book: they chant the
poetry; but the prose they read, in the popular manner;
and they have not the accompaniment of the raba'b.
As the poetry in this work is very imperfectly understood
by the vulgar, those who listen to it are mostly
persons of some education.
The 'Ana'tireh also recite from other works than that
from which they derive their appellation. All of them,
I am told, occasionally relate stories from a romance
called “See'ret el-Mooga'hidee'n” (” the History of the
Warriours”), or, more commonly, “See'ret Del'hem'eh,”
or “Zoo-l-Him'meh *,” from a heroine who is the chief
* The latter, being a masculine appellation, is evidently a coruption
of the former. The name is written Del'hem'eh in the older portions of some volumes in my possession made up of fragments of this work. One of these portions appeals to be at least three centuries old. In some of the more modern fragments, the name is written Zoo-f-Him'meh.

character in the work. A few years since, they frequently
recited from the romance of “Seyf Zoo-l-Yez'en”
(vulgarly called “Seyf El-Yez'en,” and “Seyf El-Yez'el”), a work abounding with tales of wonder;
and from “the Thousand and One Nights” (” El'f Ley'leh we-Ley'leh”),
more commonly known, in our
country, by the title of “the Arabian Nights' Entertainments.”
The great scarcity of copies of these two
works is, I believe, the reason why recitations of them
are no longer heard: even fragments of them are with
difficulty procured; and when a complete copy of “the
Thousand and One Nights” is found, the price demanded
for it is too great for a reciter to have it in his
power to pay. I doubt whether the romances of Ab'oo Zeyd,
Ez-Za'hir, 'An'tur, and Del'hem'eh, are chosen
as the subjects of recitation, because preferred to “the
Thousand and One Nights;” but it is certain that the
modern Moos'lims of Egypt have sufficient remains of
Bed'awee feeling to take great delight in hearing tales
of war.
That my reader may have some notion of all the
works from which the professional reciters of romances
in Cairo draw the materials for the amusement of their
audiences, in the present day, I shall give a sketch of
some of the adventures related in the romance of Del'hem'eh.
This work is even more scarce than any of
those before mentioned. The copies, I am told, were
always in fifty-five volumes. After long search, all that
I have succeeded in procuring of it is a portion consisting

of the first three volumes (containing, together,
302 pages), and another portion consisting of the forty-sixth
and forty-seventh volumes. The former would
present a good specimen of the work, were not the
greater part written in a hand scarcely legible; in consequence
of which, and of the many other subjects that
now demand my attention, I have only been able to
read the first volume. The chief subjects of this work,
according to the preface, are the warlike exploits of
Arabs of the Desert in the times of the Khalee'fehs of
the houses of Oomei'yeh and El-'Abba's. It is composed
from the narratives of various writers: nine
names of the authors are mentioned; but none of them
are at present known: their history and their age are
alike uncertain; but the style of their narratives shows
them to be not modern. The account which the 'Ana'tireh
and Mohhadditee'n generally give of this romance
is as follows.—When El-As'ma”ee (or, as he is commonly
called, El-As'mo”ee) composed, or compiled, the
history of 'An'tar*, that work (they say) became extremely
popular, and created so great an enthusiasm on
the subjects of the adventures of Arab warriours, that a
diligent search was made for all tales of the same kind;
and from these was compiled the See'ret el-Moga'hidee'n,
or Del'hem'eh, by some author now unknown; who, as
he could not equal the author of 'An'tar in eloquence,
determined to surpass him in the length of his narratives;
and ”An'tar being generally in forty-five volumes,
he made his book fifty-five. The romance of Del'hem'eh
abounds in poetry, which is not without beauties,
nor without faults; but these are, perhaps, mostly attributable
* The 'Ool'ama in general despise the romance of 'An'tar, and
ridicule the assertion that El-As'ma”ee was its author.

to copyists.—Of a part of what I have read,
which introduces us to one of the principal characters
in the work, I shall now give an abridged translation.
At the commencement of the work, we are told, that,
in the times of the Khalee'fehs of the house of Oomel'yeh,
none of the Arab tribes surpassed in power, courage,
hospitality, and other virtues for which the Arabs
of the Desert are so famous, the Ben'ee Kila'b, whose
territory was in the Hhega'z: but the viceroy of the
Khalee'feh over the collective tribes of the desert was
the chief of the Ben'ee Sooley'm, who prided themselves
on this distinction, and on their wealth. El-Hha'ris,
the chief of the Ben'ee Kila'b, a horseman unrivalled in
his day, in one of the predatory excursions which he
was wont frequently to make against other tribes, took
captive a beautiful girl, named Er-Raba'b (or the Viol),
whom he married. She became pregnant; and, during
her pregnancy, dreamed that a fire issued from her,
and burnt all her clothing. Being much troubled by
this dream, she related it to her husband; and he, alike
surprised and distressed, immediately searched for, and
soon found, a person to interpret it. An old sheykh
informed him that his wife would bear a son of great
renown, who would have a son more renowned than
himself; and that the mother of the former would be in
danger of losing her life at the time of his birth. This
prophecy he repeated to the wife of El-Hha'ris; and, at
her request, wrote an amulet to be tied upon the infant's
right arm, as soon as he should be born; upon which
amulet he recorded the family and pedigree of the
child:—” This child is the son of
El-Hha'ris the son of Kha'lid the sou of 'A'mir the son
of Sa'asa”ah the son of Kila'b; and this is his pedigree among all the Arabs

of the Hhega'z; and he is verily of the Ben'ee Kila'b.”
Soon after this, El-Hha'ris fell sick; and, after a short
illness, died. Most of the Arabs of neighbouring tribes,
who had been subjected and kept in awe by him, rejoiced
at his death, and determined to obtain retribution
by plundering his property. This coming to the ears of
his widow, Er-Raba'b, she determined to return to her
family; and persuaded a black slave who had belonged
to her late husband to accompany her. By night, and
without having mentioned their intention to any one
else, they departed; and at midnight they approached
a settlement of Arabs whose chief was the Emee'r
Da'rim. Here the slave, tempted by the Devil, led her
from the road, and impudently told her, that her beauty
had excited in his breast a passion which she must consent
to gratify. She indignantly refused; but the fright
that she received from his base conduct occasioned a
premature labour; and in this miserable state, she gave
birth to a son. She washed the infant with the water
of a brook that ran by the spot; wrapped it in a piece
of linen which she tore off from her dress; tied the
amulet to its arm; and placed it to her breast. Scarcely
had she done this, when the slave, infuriated by disappointment,
drew his sword, and struck off her head.
Having thus revenged himself, he fled.
Now it happened, as Providence had decreed, that
the wife of the Emee'r Da'rim had just been delivered
of a son, which had died; and the Emee'r, to dissipate
his grief on this account, went out to hunt, with several
of his people, on the morning after Er-Raba'b had been
murdered. He came to the spot where her corpse lay,
and saw it: the infant was still sucking the breast of its
dead mother; and God had sent a flight of locusts, of

the kind called goon'doob, to shade it from the sun with
their wings. Full of astonishment at the sight, he said
to his Wezee'r, “See this murdered damsel, and this
infant on her lap, and those flying insects shading it,
and the dead mother still affording it milk! Now, by the
faith of the Arabs, if thou do not ascertain the history of
this damsel, and the cause of her murder, I behead thee
like her.” The Wezee'r answered, “O King, none
knoweth what is secret but God, whose name be exalted!
Was I with her? or do I know her? But
promise me protection, and I will inform thee what I
suppose to have been the case.” The King said, “I
give thee protection.” Then said the Wezee'r, “Know,
O King,-but God is all-knowing,-that this is the
daughter of some king; and she has grown up; and a
servant has had intercourse with her; and by him she
has conceived this child; and her family have become
acquainted with the fact, and killed her. This is my
opinion; and there is an end of it.” The King exclaimed,
“Thou dog of the Arabs! what is this that
thou sayest to the prejudice of this damsel? By Al'lah!
if I had not promised thee protection I had slain thee
with the edge of the sword! If she had committed this
crime, she would not be affording the child her milk
after she was dead; nor would God have sent these
flying insects to shade the infant.” He then sent for
a woman to wash the corpse; and after it had been
washed, and bound in grave-clothes, he buried it respectably.
From the circumstance of the goon'doob shading him
with their wings, the foundling received the name of
El-Goon'doob'ah. The Emee'r Da'rim conveyed it to
his wife, and persuaded her to bring it up as her own;

which she did until the child had attained the age of
seven years; when he was sent to school; and there he
remained until he had learned the Ckoor-a'n. By the
time he had attained to manhood, he had become a
horseman unrivalled; he was like a bitter colocynth, a
viper, and a calamity*.
* These are not terms of reproach among the Arabs; but, of
Now his adoptive father, the Emee'r Da'rim, went
forth one day, according to his custom, on a predatory
expedition, accompanied by a hundred horsemen. Falling
in with no booty, he proceeded as far as the territory
of a woman called Esh-Shum'ta (or the Grizzle), whom
the heroes of her time held in fear, on account of her
prowess and strength; and who was possessed of great
wealth. He determined to attack her. She mounted
her horse in haste, on hearing of his approach, and
went forth to meet him and his party. For a whole
hour, she contended with them; killed the greater number;
and put the rest to flight, except the Emee'r
Da'rim, whom she took prisoner, and led in bonds, disgraced
and despised, to her fortress. Those of his attendants
who had fled returned to their tribes, and
plunged them in affliction by the story they related.
The Emee'r Da'rim had ten sons. These all set out
together, with a number of attendants, to rescue their
father; but they all became the prisoners of Esh-Shum'ta;
and most of their attendants were killed by
her. El-Goon'doob'ah now resolved to try his arms
against this heroine. He went alone, unknown to any
of the tribe, except his foster-mother, and arrived at the
place of his destination. Esh-Shum'ta was on the top
of her fortress. She saw him approach, a solitary

horseman; and perceived that his riding was that of a
hero. In haste she descended, and mounted her horse,
and went out to meet him. She shouted against him;
and the desert resounded with her shout; but El-Goon'doob'ah
was unmoved by it. They defied each other, and met; and
for a whole hour the contest lasted: at length,
El-GoonMoob'ah's lance pierced the bosom of Esh-Shum'ta;
its glittering point protruded through her back; and
she fell from her horse, slain, and weltering in her
blood. Her slaves, who were forty in number, seeing
their mistress dead, made a united attack upon her
victor; but he unhorsed them all; and then, reproaching
them for having served a woman, when they were all
men of prowess, admonished them to submit to him;
upon which, they all acknowledged him as their master.
He divided among them the treasures of Esh-Shum'ta;
and released his adoptive father and brothers; with
whom he returned to the tribe.
This exploit spread the fame of El-Goon'doob'ah
among all the tribes of the desert; but it excited envy
in the breast of the Emee'r Da'rim, who soon after
desired him to seek for himself some other place of
abode. El-Goon'doob'ah remonstrated; but to no effect;
and prepared for his departure. When he was about to
go, the Emee'r Da'rim desired to be allowed to open the
amulet that was upon El-Goon'doob'ah's arm, and to
read what was written upon the paper. Having obtained
permission, and done this, he uttered a loud
shout; and several of his people coming in to inquire
the cause of this cry, he said to them, “This youth is
the son of your enemy El-Hha'ris, the Kila'bee: take
him, and slay him:” but El-Goon'doob'ah insisted that
they should contend with him one by one. The Emee'r

Da'rim was the first to challenge him; and addressed
him in these verses*.
* When the narrator introduces poetry, he generally desires his
readers and hearers to bless the Prophet. Frequently, he merely
says, “Bless ye the Apostle:” and often, “Bless ye him for [the
visit to] whose tomb burdens are bound:” i. e. “Bless ye him
whose tomb is an object of pilgrimage:” for, though the pilgrimage
ordained by the Ckoor-a'u is that to the temple of Mek'keh
and mount 'Arafa't, yet, the Prophet's tomb is also an object of
pious pilgrimage.—I translate the poetry from this tale verse for
verse, and imitating the system pursued with regard to rhyme in
the originals.
Hast thou ever seen aught of evil in me?
I have always named thee with honour and praise.
By my hand and lance was Esh-Shum'ta destroy'd,
When thou wast her captive, in bonds and disgrace:
I freed thee from bondage: and is it for this
We are now met as enemies, face to face?
God be judge between us: for be will be just.
And will show who is noble, and who is base.”
As soon as he had said these words, the Emee'r
Da'rim charged upon him. They fought for a whole
hour; and at last, El-Goon'doob'ah pierced the breast of
Da'rim with his spear; and the point protruded, glittering,
from the spine of his back. When Da'rim's
sons saw that their father was slain, they all attacked
El-Goon'doob'ah; who received them as the thirsty
land receives a drizzling rain: two of them he killed:
the rest fled; and acquainted their mother with the
events they had just witnessed. With her head uncovered,
and her bosom bare, she came weeping to El-Goon'doob'ah,
and thus exclaimed—
“O Goon'doob'ah! thy lance hath wrought havoc sore:
Man and youth have perish'd; and lie in their gore;
And among them, the eldest of all my sons.
They are justly punish'd; but now I implore
That thou pardon the rest: in pity for me
Restrain thy resentment; and slaughter no more.
By my care of thy childhood! and by these breasts
Which have nourish'd thee, noble youth, heretofore!
Have mercy upon us; and leave us in peace:
In spite of thy wrongs, this contention give o'er.
I love thee as though thou wert truly my son;
And thy loss I shall sorrow for, evermore.”
El-Goon'doob'ah listened to her address; and when
she had finished, he thus replied—
Having said thus, El-Goon'doob'ah took leave of his
foster-mother, and departed alone, and went to the fortress
of Esh-Shum'ta. The slaves saw him approach;
and met him; and, in reply to their inquiries, he informed
them of all that had just befallen him. He
then risked if any of them were willing to go with him
in search of a better territory, where they might intercept
the caravans, and subsist by plunder; and they all
declaring their readiness to accompany him, he chose
from among them as many as he desired, and left the
rest in the fortress. He travelled with his slaves until
they came to a desolate and dreary tract, without verdure
or water; and the slaves, fearing that they should
die of thirst, conspired against his life: but El-Goon'doob'ah,
perceiving their discontent, and guessing their
intention, pressed on to a tract abounding with water

and pasture; and here they halted to rest. El-Goon'doob'ah
watched until all of them had fallen asleep;
and then dispatched them, every one, with his sword.
Having done this, he pursued his journey during the
night; and in the morning he arrived at a valley with
verdant sides, and abundance of pasture, with lofty
trees, and rapid streams, and birds whose notes proclaimed
the praises of the Lord of Power and Eternity.
In the midst of this valley he saw a Bed'awee tent, and
a lance stuck by it in the ground, and a horse picketted.
The Emee'r Goon'doob'ah fixed his eyes upon this tent;
and as he looked at it, there came forth from it a person
of elegant appearance, completely armed, who bounded
upon the horse, and galloped towards him, without
uttering a word, to engage him in combat. “My brother!”
exclaimed El-Goon'doob'ah “begin with salutation
before the stroke of the sword; for that is a principle
in the nature of the noble.” But no answer was
returned. They fought until their spears were broken,
and till their swords were jagged: at length El-Goon'doob'ah
seized hold of the vest beneath his antagonist's
coat of mail, and heaved its wearer from the saddle to
the ground. He uplifted his sword; but a voice, so
sweet, it would have cured the sick, exclaimed, “Have
mercy on thy captive, O hero of the age!” “Art thou
a man?” said El-Goon'doob'ah, “or a woman?” “I
am a virgin damsel,” she replied; and, drawing away
her lita'm* , displayed a face like the moon at the full.
When El-Goon'doob'ah beheld the beauty of her face,
* The lita'm (or litha'm) is a piece of drapery with which a Bed'awee
often covers the lower part of his face. It frequently prevents
his being recognized by another Arab who might make him
a victim of blood-revenge.

and the elegance of her form, he was bewildered, and
overpowered with love. He exclaimed, “O mistress of
beauties, and star of the morn, and life of souls! acquaint
me with thy secret, and inform me of the truth
of thy history.” She answered, “O hero of our time!
O hero of the age and period! shall I relate to thee my
story in narrative prose, or in measured verse?” He
said, “O beauty of thine age, and peerless one of thy
time! I will hear nothing from thee but measured
verse.” She then thus related to him all that had happened
to her—
But I fear'd my father might force me, at last,
To accept, as my husband, some parasite;
And therefore I fled; and, in this lonely place,
With my troop of horsemen, I chose to alight.
Here we watch for the passing caravans;
And with plunder we quiet our appetite.
Thou hast made me thy captive, and pardon'd me:
Grant me one favour more: my wish do not slight:
Receive me in marriage: embrace me at once;
For I willingly now acknowledge thy right.”
Ckatta'let esh-Shoog'a'n, or the Slayer of Heroes (for
so was this damsel named, as above related by herself),
then said to El-Goon'doob'ah, “Come with me and my
party to my abode.” He went with her; and her
people received them with joy; and feasted the Emee'r
Coon'dool'ahh three days. On the fourth day, Ckatta'let
esh-Shoog'a'n assembled the people of her tribe, with
El-Goon'doob'ah, at her own dwelling; and regaled
them with a repast, to which high and low were admitted.
After they had eaten, they began to converse;
and asked El-Goon'doob'ah to acquaint them with his
history. He accordingly related to them what had befallen
him with the Emee'r Da'rim; how he had liberated
him and his sons from captivity; and how ungratefully
he had been treated. There were ten persons sitting
with him; and nine of these recounted their deeds in
arms. The tenth, who was a slave, was then desired
to tell his story; and he related his having served the
Emee'r Hha'ris, and murdered his widow. El-Goou'doob'ah
heard with impatience this tale of his mother's
murderer; and as soon as it was finished, drew his
sword, and struck off the slave's head; exclaiming, “I
have taken my blood-revenge upon this traitor slave!”
The persons present all drew their swords, and raised a

tremendous shout. Ckatta'let esh-Shoog'a'n was not
then with them; but she heard the shout, and instantly
came to inquire the cause; which they related to her;
demanding, at the same time, that El-Goon'doob'ah
should be given up to them to be put to death. She
drew them aside, and told them that he had eaten of her
food, and that she would not give him up, even if he
had robbed her of her honour; but that she would advise
him to take his departure on the morrow, and that, when
he should have left her abode, they might do as they
pleased. She then went to him, and told him of his
danger. He asked what he should do. She answered,
“Let us marry forthwith, and depart from these people:”
and this he gladly consented to do.
They married each other immediately; taking God
alone for their witness; and departed at night, and
proceeded on their way until the morning, giving thanks
to their Lord. For four days, they continued their
journey; and on the fifth day, arrived at a valley
abounding with trees and fruits and birds and running
streams. They entered it at midnight. Seeing something
white among the trees, they approached it; and
found it to be a horse, white as camphor. They waited
till morning; and then beheld a settlement of Arabs:
there were horses, and she and be camels, and tents
pitched, and lances stuck in the ground, and pavilions
erected; and among them was a great company; and
there were maids beating tambourines: they were surrounded
with abundance. Through this valley, ElGoon'doob'ab
and his bride took their way: his love
fur her increased: they conversed together; and her
conversation delighted him. She now, for the first
time, ventured to ask him why he had killed the slave,

when he was her guest; and he related to her the
history of this wretch's crime. After this, they talked
of the beauties of the valley which they had entered;
and while they were thus amusing themselves, a great
dust appeared; and beneath it were seen troops of
horsemen galloping along. El-Goon'doob'ah immediately
concluded that they were of his wife's tribe, and
were come in pursuit of him; but he was mistaken;
for they divided into four parties, and all attacking, in
different quarters at the same time, the tribe settled in
the valley, soon made the latter raise piteous cries and
lamentations, and rend the air with the shouts of “O 'A'mir! O Kila'b! “
hen El-Goon'doob'ah heard the cries of “O 'A'mir! O Kila'b!” he exclaimed to his
wife, “These people are the sons of my uncle! my
flesh and my blood!” and instantly determined to
hasten to their assistance. His bride resolved to accompany
him; and they both together rushed upon the
enemy, slaying every horseman in their way, and piercing
the breasts of those on foot, with such fury and such
success, that the defeated tribe rallied again, repulsed
their assailants, and recovered all the booty that had
been taken; after which they returned to El-Goon'doob'ah,
and asked him who he was. He answered,
“This is not a time to ask questions; but a time
to rest from fight and slaughter.” So they took him with
them, and retired to rest; and after they had rested and
eaten, he related to them his history. Delighted with
his words, they all exclaimed, “The truth hath appeared;
and doubt is dissipated: justice is rendered to
the deserving; and the sword is returned to its scabbard!”
They immediately acknowledged him their
rightful chief; but, after the death of El-Hha'ris, they

had chosen for their chief an Emee'r named Ga'bir,
who hated El-Hha'ris, and termed him a robber; and
this Emee'r now disputed their choice, and challenged
El-Goon'doob'ah to decide the matter by combat. The
challenge was accepted, and the two rivals met and
fought; but, though Gab'ir was a thorough warriour,
El-Goon'doob'ah slew him. This achievement obtained
him the possession of Ga'bir's mare an animal; coveted
throughout the desert: the rest of the property of the
vanquished chief he left to be parted among the tribe.
There were, however, many partisans of Ga'bir; and
these, when they saw him slain, gathered themselves
together against El-Goon'doob'ah; but he, with the
assistance of his own party, defeated them, and put
them to flight, Returning from their pursuit, he sat
among his people and kinsfolk; and the sheykhs of his
tribe brought him horses and arms and everything necessary:
he received gifts from every quarter: his wife,
also, was presented with ornaments; and from that day
the Emee'r Goon'doob'ah was acknowledged the chief
of the Ben'ee Kila'b.

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MANY of the most remarkable customs of the modern
Egyptians are witnessed at their periodical public festivals
celebrated in Cairo; the more important of which
I shall here describe. Most of these festivals and other
anniversaries take place at particular periods of the
lunar, Mohammedan year.
The first ten days of Mohhar'ram (the first month of
the Mohhammadan year) are considered as eminently
blessed; and are celebrated with rejoicing; but the
tenth day is especially honoured. They are vulgarly
called the 'ashr; the derivation of which term will be
explained hereafter. The custom of selling, during this
period of ten days, what is called “mey”ah mooba'rakah,”
to be used, during the ensuing year, as a charm
against the evil eye, whenever occasion may require, I
have already mentioned, in the second of the two chapters
devoted to the superstitions of the modern Egyptians.
—I have also mentioned, that it is considered, by
the Egyptians, unlucky to make a marriage-contract in
It is a common custom of the Moos'lims of Egypt to
give what they can afford in alms during the month of
Mohhar'ram; especially in the first ten days, and more
especially on the tenth day; and many pretend, though
few of them really do so, to give, at this season, the

zek'ah, or alms required by their law, of which I have
spoken in a former chapter: they give what, and to
whom, they will. During the ten days above mentioned,
and particularly on the tenth, many of the women of
Cairo, and even those in respectable circumstances, if
they have a young child, carry it through the streets,
generally on the shoulder, or employ another female to
Carry it, for the purpose of soliciting alms from any well-dressed
person whom they may chance to meet: sometimes
the mother or bearer of the child, and sometimes
the child itself, asks for the alms; saying, “My master,
the alms of the 'ashr*.” The word 'ashr is vulgarly understood
as meaning the “ten days;” but I am informed
that it is a corruption of 'oshr, a term improperly used
for roob'a el-'oshr (the quarter of the tenth, or the fortieth
part), which is the proportion that the Moos'lim is required,
by law, to give in alms of the money which he
possesses, and of some other articles of property. The
sum generally given to a child in the case above
described is a piece of five fud'dahs and this, and as
many others as can be procured in the same manner,
are sometimes spent in sweetmeats, &c., but more
usually sewed to the child's cap, and worn thus until the
next Mohhar'ram; when, if the child be not too old,
the same custom is repeated for its sake; the pieces of
money thus obtained being considered as charms.
* Ya' see'dee zek'ah el-ashr.
At present, equivalent to a farthing and one fifth.
The women of Egypt, and particularly of Cairo, entertain
some curious superstitions respecting the first
ten days of Mohhar'ram. They believe that ginn (or genii)
visit some people by night during this period;
and say that, on this occasion, a gin'nee appears sometimes

in the form of a sack'cka (or water-currier), and
sometimes in that of a mule. In the former case, the
mysterious visitor is called “sack'cka el-ashr” (or “the
water-carrier of the “ashr”): in the latter, “buhg'let el-'ashr”
(” the mule of the 'ashr”). When the gin'nee,
they say, comes in the form of a sack'eka, he knocks at
the chamber-door of a person sleeping; who asks, “Who
is there?” The gin'nee answers, “I, the sack'cka;
where shall I empty [the skin]?” The person within,
as sack'ckas do not come at night, knows who his
visitor is; and says, “Empty into the water-jar;” and
going out afterwards, finds the jar full of gold. The
gin'nee in the form of a mule is described in a more
remarkable manner. He bears a pair of saddle-bags
filled with gold; a dead man's head is placed upon his
back; and round his neck is hung a string of little
round bells, which he shakes at the door of the chamber
of the person whom he comes to enrich. This person
comes out; takes off the dead man's head; empties the
saddle-bags of their valuable contents; then fills them
with straw or bran or anything else; replaces them; and
says to the mule, “Go, O blessed! Such are the
modes in which the good genii pay their zek'ah. During
the first ten days of Mohhar'ram, many an ignorant
woman ejaculates this petition, “O my Lord, send me
the water-carrier of the 'ashr!” or, “send me the mule
of the 'ashr!” The men, in general, laugh at these
Some of the people of Cairo say, that a party of
genii, in the forms and garbs of ordinary mortals, used
to hold a midnight soo'ck (or market) during the first
ten days of Mohhar'ram, in a street called Es-Salee'beh,
in the southern part of the metropolis, before an ancient

sarcophagus, which was called “el-Hho'd el-Mursoo'd”
(or “the Enchanted Trough “). This sarcophagus
was in a recess under a flight of steps leading up to the
door of a mosque, adjacent to the old palace called
Ckal'at el-Kebsh: it was removed by the French
during their occupation of Egypt; and is now in the
British Museum. Since its removal, the soo'ck of the
genii, it is said, has been discontinued. Very few persons,
I am told, were aware of this custom of the gem.
Whoever happened to pass through the street where
they were assembled, and bought anything of them,
whether dates or other fruit, cakes, bread, &c., immediately
after found his purchase converted into gold.
The tenth day of Mohhar'ram is called Yo'm
It is held sacred on many accounts; because
it is believed to be the day on which the first
meeting of Adam and Eve took place after they were
cast out of Paradise; and that on which Noah went out
from the ark: also, because several other great events
are said to have happened on this day; and because the
ancient Arabs, before the time of the Prophet, observed
it by fasting. But what, in the opinion of most modern
Moos'lims, and especially the Persians, confers the
greatest sanctity on the day of 'A'shoo'ra is the fact of
its being that on which El-Hhosey'n, the Prophet's
grandson, was slain, a martyr, at the battle of the plain
of Kur'bel'ë. Many Moos'lims fast on this day; and
some also on the day preceding.
As I am now writing on the day of' A'shoo'ra, I shall
mention the customs peculiar to it which I have witnessed
on the present occasion. I had to provide myself
with a number of five-fud'dah-pieces before I went out
this day, for the alms of the 'ashr, already mentioned.
In the streets of the town I saw many young children,
from about three to six or seven years of age, chiefly
girls, walking about alone, or two or three together, or
carried by women, and begging these alms.—In the
course of the morning, a small group of blind fackee'rs,
one of whom bore a half-furled red flag, with the names
of El-Hhosey'n and other worthies worked upon it in
white, stopped in the street before my door, and chanted
a petition for an alms. One of them began, “O thou
who hast alms to bestow on the blessed day of
'A'shoo'ra!”-the others then continued, in chorus, “
couple of grains of wheat! A couple of grains of
rice! O Hhas'an '. O Hhosey'n! “The same words
were repeated by them several times. As soon as they
had received a small piece of money, they passed on;
and then performed the same chant before other
houses; but only where appearances led them to expect
a reward. Numerous groups of fackee'rs go about the
town, in different quarters, during this day, soliciting
alms in the same manner.
On my paying a visit to a friend, a little before noon,
a dish, which it is the custom of the people of Cairo to.
prepare on the day of 'A'shoo'ra, was set before me.
It is called hhoboo'b; and is prepared of wheat, steeped
in water for two or three days, then freed from the
husks, boiled, and sweetened over the fire with honey
or treacle: or it is composed of rice instead of wheat:
generally, nuts, almonds, raisins, &c., are added to it.
In most houses this dish is prepared, or sweetmeats of
various kinds are procured or made, in accordance with
one of the traditions of the Prophet; which is—“
Whoso giveth plenty to his household on the day of

'A'shoo'ra, God will bestow plenty upon him throughout
the remainder of the year.”
After the call to noon-prayers, I went to the mosque
of the Hhasaney'n; which, being the reputed burial-place
of the head of the martyr El-Hhosey'n, is the scene of the
most remarkable of the ceremonies that, in
Cairo, distinguish the day of 'A'shoo'ra. The avenues
to this mosque, near the Cka'dee's court, were thronged
with passengers; and in them I saw several groups
of dancing-girls (Gha'zee'yehs); some, dancing; and
others, sitting in a ring in the public thoroughfare,
eating their dinner, and (with the exclamation of “bismil'lah! “)
inviting each well-dressed man who passed
by to eat with them. One of them struggled hard with
me to prevent my passing without giving them a present.
The sight of these unveiled girls, some of them
very handsome, and with their dress alluringly disposed
to display to advantage their fine forms, was but ill calculated
to prepare men who passed by them for witnessing
religious ceremonies: but so it is, that, on the
occasions of all the great religious festivals in Cairo, and
at many other towns in Egypt, these female warrers
against modesty (not always seductive, I must confess)
are sure to be seen. On my way to the mosque, I had
occasion to rid myself of some of the small coins which
I had provided, to children. My next occasion for
disbursing was on arriving before the mosque; when
several water-carriers, of the class who supply passengers
in the streets, surrounded me: I gave two of
them twenty fud'dahs; for which each of them was to
distribute the contents of the earthen vessel which he
bore on his back to poor passengers, for the sake of

“our lord El-Hhosey'n.” This custom I have mentioned
in a former chapter*.
* On Industry.
On entering the mosque, I was much surprised at the
scene which presented itself in the great hall, or portico.
This, which is the principal part of the mosque,
was crowded with visitors, mostly women, of the middle
and lower orders, with many children; and there was a
confusion of noises like what may be heard in a large
school-room where several hundred boys are engaged in
play; there were children bawling and crying; men and
women calling' to each other; and, amid all this bustle,
mothers and children were importuning every man of
respectable appearance for the alms of the 'ashr. Seldom
have I witnessed a scene more unlike that which the
interior of a mosque generally presents; and in this
instance I was the more surprised as the Hhasaney'n is
the most sacred of all the mosques in
Cairo. The mats
which are usually spread upon the pavement had been
removed; some pieces of old matting were put in their
stead; leaving many parts of the floor uncovered; and
these, and every part, were covered with dust and dirt
brought in by the feet of many shoe-less persons: for
on this occasion, as it is impossible to perform the ordinary
prayers in the mosque, people enter without having
performed the usual ablution, and without repairing first
to the tank to do this; though every person takes off his,
or her, shoes, as at other times, on entering the mosque;
many leaving them, as I did mine, with a door-keeper.
Several parts of the floor were wetted (by children too
young to be conscious of the sanctity of the place);
and though I avoided these parts, I had not been many
minutes ill the mosque before my feet were almost black,

with the dirt upon which I had trodden, and with that
from other persons' feet which had trodden upon mine.
The heat, too, was very oppressive; like that of a vapour-bath,
but more heavy; though there is a very large
square aperture in the roof, with a mul'ckuf* of equal
width over it, to introduce the northern breezes. The
pulpit-stairs, and the gallery of the mooballig'hee'n,
were crowded with women; and in the assemblage
below the women were far more numerous than the
men. Why this should be the case, I know not; unless
it be because the women are more superstitious, and
have a greater respect for the day of 'A'shoo'ra, and a
greater desire to honour El-Hhosey'n by visiting his
shrine on this day.
* The mul'ckuf has been described in the introduction to this
work, page 20.
It is commonly said, by the people of Cairo, that no
man goes to the Hhasaney'n on the day of 'A'shoo'ra
but for the sake of the women; that is, to be jostled
among them; and this jostling he may indeed enjoy to
the utmost of his desire; as I experienced in pressing
forward to witness the principal ceremonies which contribute
with the sanctity of the day to attract such
swarms of people. By the back-wall, to the right of
the pulpit, were sealed, in two rows, face to face, about
fifty durwee'shes, of various orders. They had not yet
begun their performances, or zikrs, in concert; but one
old durwee'sh, standing between the two rows, was performing
a zikr alone; repeating the name of God (Al'la'h),
and bowing his head each time that he uttered
the word, alternately to the right and left. In pushing
forward to see them, I found myself in a situation rather
odd in a country where it is deemed improper for a man

even to touch a woman who is not his wife or slave or a
near relation. I was so compressed in the midst of
four women, that, for some minutes, I could not move
in any direction; and pressed so hard against one young
woman, face to face, that, but for her veil, our cheeks
had been almost in contact: from her panting, it seemed
that the situation was not quite easy to her; though a
smile, expressed at the same time by her large black
eyes, showed that it was amusing: she could not, however,
bear it long; for she soon cried out, “My eye*!
do not squeeze me so violently.” Another woman called
out to me, ' O Efen'dec! by thy head! push on to the
front, and make way for me to follow thee.” With considerable
difficulty, I attained the desired place; but in
getting thither, I had almost lost my sword, and the
hanging sleeves of my jacket: some person's dress had
caught the guard of the sword, and had nearly drawn
the blade from the scabbard before I could get hold of
the handle. Like all around me, I was in a profuse
* This is a common expression of affection; meaning, “Thou
who art as dear to me as my eye.”
The durwee'shes I found to be of different nations, as
well as of different orders. Some of them wore the
ordinary turban and dress of Egypt: others wore the
Turkish cka'oo'ck, or padded cap; and others, again,
wore high caps, or turtoo'rs, mostly of the sugar-loaf
shape. One of them had a white cap of the form last
mentioned, upon which were worked, in black letters,
invocations to the first four Khalee'fehs, to El-Hhas'an
and El-Hhosey'n, and to other eminent saints, founders
of different orders of durwee'shes
. Most of the durwee'shes
“Ya' Ab'oo Bekr, Ya' 'Om'ar, Ya' 'Osma'a, Ya' 'Al'ee, Ya' Hhas'an, Ya' Hhosey'n, Ya' sey'yid Ahh'mad Rifa”ah, Ya' sey'yid 'Abd El-Cka'dir El-Geela'nee, Ya' sey'yid Ahh'mad El-Bed'awee, Ya' sey'yid Ibrahee'm Ed-Desoo'ckee”

were Egyptians; but there were among them
many Turks and Persians. I had not waited many
minutes before they began their exercises. Several of
them first drove back the surrounding crowd with
sticks; but as no stick was raised at me, I did not retire
so far as I ought to have done; and before I was
aware of what the durwee'shes were about to do, forty
of them, with extended arms, and joined hands, had
formed a large ring, in which I found myself enclosed.
For a moment I felt half inclined to remain where I
was, and join in the zikr; bow, and repeat the name of
God; but another moment's reflection on the absurdity
of the performance, and the risk of my being discovered
to be no durwee'sh, decided me otherwise; so, parting
the hands of two of the durwee'shes, I passed outside
the ring. The durwee'shes who formed the large ring
(which enclosed four of the marble columns of the portico)
now commenced their zikr; exclaiming over and
over again, “Al'la'h!” and, at each exclamation, bowing
the head and body, and taking a step to the right; so
that the whole ring moved rapidly round. As soon as
they commenced this exercise, another durwee'sh, a
Turk, of the order of Mow'lawees, in the middle of the
circle, began to whirl; using both his feet to effect this
motion, and extending his arms: the motion increased
in velocity until his dress spread out like an umbrella.
He continued whirling thus for about ten minutes;
after which, he bowed to his superior, who stood within
the great ring; and then, without showing any signs of
fatigue or giddiness, joined the durwee'shes in the great

ring; who had now begun to ejaculate the name of
God with greater vehemence, and to jump to the right,

Whirling Durwee'sh

instead of stepping. After the whirling, six other durwee'shes,
within the great ring, formed another ring;
but a very small one; each placing his arms upon the
shoulders of those next him; and thus disposed, they
performed a revolution similar to that of the larger
ring, excepting in being much more rapid; repeating,
also, the same exclamation of “Al'la'h!” but with a
rapidity proportionably greater. This motion they maintained
for about the same length of time that the
whirling of the single durwee'sh before had occupied;
after which, the whole party sat down to rest.—They
rose again after the lapse of about a quarter of an hour;
and performed the same exercises a second time.—I
saw nothing more in the great portico that was worthy
of remark, excepting two fackee'rs (who, a bystander

told me, were mag'a'zee'b, or idiots), dancing, and repealing
the name of God, and each beating a tambourine.
I was desirous of visiting the shrine of El-s
on this anniversary of his death, and of seeing if any
particular ceremonies were performed there on this occasion.
With difficulty I pushed through the crowd in
the great portico to the door of the saloon of the tomb;
but there I found comparatively few persons collected.
On my entering, one of the servants of the mosque conducted
me to an unoccupied corner of the bronze screen
which surrounds the monument over the place where
the martyr's head is said to be buried, that I might
there recite the Fa't'hhah: this duty performed, he
dictated to me the following prayer; pausing after
every two or three words, for me to repeat them, which
I affected to do; and another person, who stood on my
left, saying “A'mee'n” (or Amen), at the close of each
pause. “O God accept my visit, and perform my want,
and cause me to attain my wish; for I come with desire
and intent, and urge thee by the sey'yideh Zey'neb, and
the Ima'm Esh-Sha'fe'ee, and the Soolta'n Ab'oo
So'oo'd*.” After this followed similar words in Turkish;
which were added in the supposition that I was a Turk,
and perhaps did not understand the former words, in
Arabic. This short supplication has been often dictated
to me at the tombs of saints in Cairo, on festival
days. On the occasion above described, before I proceeded
* Ab'oo So'oo'd was a very famous saint; and, being esteemed
the most holy person of his day, received the appellation of
“Soolta'n,” which has been conferred upon several other very
eminent wel'ees, and, when thus applied, signifies “King of
Saints.” The tomb of Ab'oo So'oo'd is among the mounds of
rubbish on the south of

to make the usual circuit round the screen which
encloses the monument, I gave to the person who dictated
the prayer a small piece of money; and he, in
return, presented me with four little balls of bread;
each about the size of a hazel-nut. This was consecrated
bread, made of very fine flour at the tomb of the
seyd Ahh'mad El-Bed'awee; and brought hither, as it
is to several saints' tombs in Cairo on occasions of
general visiting, to be given to the more respectable of
the visitors. It is called 'Eysh es-sey'yid El-Bed'awee.
Many persons in Egypt keep a little piece of it (that is,
one of the little balls into which it is formed) constantly
in the pocket, as a charm: others eat it, as a
valuable remedy against any disorder, or as a preventive
of disease.
Generally, towards the end of Suf'ar (the second
month) the caravan of Egyptian pilgrims, returning
from Mek'keh, arrives at Cairo: hence, this month
is vulgarly called Nez'let el-Hha'gg (the Arrival of the
Pilgrims). Many pilgrims, coming by the Red Sea,
arrive before the caravan. A caravan of merchant-pilgrims
arrives later than the main body of pilgrims.
An officer, called Sha'wee'sh el-Hha'gg, arrives about
four or five days before the caravan, having pushed on,
with two Arabs, mounted on fleet dromedaries, to announce
the approach of the Hha'gg*, and the expected
day of their arrival at the metropolis; and to bring
letters from pilgrims to their friends. He and his two
companions exclaim, as they pass along, to the passengers
in the way, “Blessing on the Prophet!” or, “Bless
* The term hha'gg is applied both collectively and individually
(to the whole caravan, or body of pilgrims, and to a single pilgrim).

the Prophet!” and every Moos'lim who hears the exclamation
responds, “O God, favour him*!”-They proceed
directly to the Citadel, to convey the news to the
Ba'sha or his representative. The Sha'wee'sh divides
his letters into packets, with the exception of those which
are to great or wealthy people, and sells them, at so
many dollars a packet, to a number of persons who
deliver them and receive presents from those to whom
they are addressed; but sometimes lose by their bargains.
The Sha'wee'sh himself delivers those to the
great and rich; and obtains from them handsome presents
of money, or a shawl, &c.
* The Arabic words here translated are given in two notes subjoined
to page 360 of the former volume of this work.
Some persons go out two or three days' journey, to
meet their friends returning from pilgrimage; taking
with them fresh provisions, fruits, &c., and clothes, for
the wearied pilgrims. The poorer classes seldom go
further than the Bir'ket el-Hha'gg (or Lake of the
Pilgrims), about eleven miles from the metropolis, and
the place where the caravan passes the last night but
one before its entry into the metropolis; or such persons
merely go to the last halting-place. These usually
take with them some little luxury in the way of food,
and an ass, as an agreeable substitute to the pilgrim for
his jaded and uneasy camel
together with some
I am here reminded of an assertion of the Arabs, respecting
the camel,-that it has in itself a provision against hunger, besides
its well-known supply against thirst-an assertion which
appears to me highly deserving of the attention of naturalists.
The camel, they say, when deprived of its usual food for several
successive days, feeds upon the fat of its own hump. The hump,
as I have my self observed, under these circumstances, gradually
disappears before the limbs are perceptibly reduced; and when
the animal is put again to pasture, the hump grows again to its
usual size before the limbs recover their wonted fat. This explanation
of the use of an excrescence which would otherwise
seem a mere inconvenient incumbrance offers an evidence that the
camel is more remarkably and more perfectly adapted to the
peculiar circumstances in which Providence has placed it than
has generally been supposed; and perhaps may he applied with
equal propriety to the hump of the bull and cow, and some other
animals in hot and arid climates.

clean, if not new, clothes; and many go out with musicians,
to pay honour to their friends. It is very affecting
to see, at the approach of the caravan, the numerous
parties who go out with drums and pipes, to welcome
and escort to the city their friends arrived from the
holy places, and how many, who went forth in hope,
return with lamentation, instead of music and rejoicing;
for the arduous journey through the desert is fatal to a
great number of those pilgrims who cannot afford themselves
necessary conveniences. Many of the women
who go forth to meet their husbands or sons receive the
melancholy tidings of their having fallen victims to privation
and fatigue. The piercing shrieks with which
they rend the air as they retrace their steps to the city
are often heard predominant over the noise of the drum,
and the shrill notes of the hautboy, which proclaim the
joy of others.—The pilgrims, on their return, are often
accosted, by passengers, with the petition, “Pray for
pardon for me;” and oiler up this short ejaculation,
“God pardon thee!” or, “O God! pardon him!” This
custom owes its origin to a saying of the Prophet—“
God pardoneth the pilgrim and him for whom the
pilgrim implores pardon.”
I write the following account of the Nez'let el-Hha'gg

just after witnessing it, in the year of the Flight 1250
(A. D. 1834).—The caravan arrived at its last halting-place,
the Hhas'weh, a pebbly tract of the desert, near
the northern suburb of Cairo, last night, on the eve of
the 4th of Rabee'a el-Ow'wal. A few pilgrims left the
caravan after sunset; and entered the metropolis. The
Caravan entered this morning, the fourth of the month.
I was outside the walls soon after sunrise, before it drew
near; but I met two or three impatient pilgrims, riding
upon asses, and preceded by musicians or by flag-bearers,
and followed by women singing; and I also met
several groups of women who had already been out to
make inquiries respecting relations whom they expected,
and were returning with shrieks and sobs. Their
lamentation seemed more natural, and more deeply felt,
than that which is made at funerals. This year, in
addition to a great many deaths, there were to be
lamented a thousand men who had been seized for the
army; so that, perhaps, there was rather more wailing
than is usual. About two hours and a half after sunrise,
the caravan began to draw near to the gates
of the metropolis, parted in three lines; one line towards the
gate called Ba'b en-Nusr; another directly towards the
Ba'b el-Footoo'hh; and the third, branching off from
the second, to the Ba'b el-'Ad'uwee. The caravan this
year was more numerous than usual (though many pilgrims
went by sea); and, in consequence of the seizure
of so many men for the army, it comprised an uncommon
proportion of women. Each of the three lines into
which it divided to enter the metropolis, as above mentioned,
consisted, for the most part, of an uninterrupted
train of camels, proceeding one by one; but sometimes
there were two abreast; and in a few places the train

was broken for a short space. Many of the pilgrims
had quitted their camels, to take the more easy conveyance
of asses; and rode beside their camels; many
of them attended by musicians; and some, by flag-bearers.
The most common kind of camel-litter used by the
pilgrims is called a moosut'tahh, or hhem'l moosut'tahh.
It resembles a small, square tent; and is chiefly composed
of two long chests; each of which has a high
back; these are placed on the camel in the same manner
as a pair of panniers, one on each side; and the high
backs, which are placed outwards, together with a small
pole resting on the camel's pack-saddle, support the
covering which forms what may be called the tent.
This conveyance accommodates two persons. It is
generally open at the front; and may also be opened at
the back. Though it appears comfortable, the motion is
uneasy; particularly when it is placed upon a camel
that has been accustomed to carry heavy burdens, and
consequently has a swinging walk: but camels of easy
pace are generally chosen for bearing the moosut'tahh
and other kinds of litters. There is one kind of litter
called a shibree'yeh, composed of a small, square platform,
with an arched covering. This accommodates
but one person; and is placed on the back of the camel:
two sahh'hha'rahs (or square chests), one on each side
of the camel, generally form a secure foundation for the
shibree'yeh. The most comfortable kind of litter is that
called a tukht'rawan, which is most commonly borne
by two camels; one before, and the other behind: the
head of the latter is painfully bent down, under the
vehicle. This litter is sometimes borne by four mules;
in which case, its motion is more easy. Two light

persons may travel in it. In general, it has a small
projecting meshrebee'yeh, of wooden lattice-work, at the
front and back, in which one or more of the porous
earthen water-bottles so much used in Egypt may be
I went on to the place where the caravan had passed
the last night. During my ride from the suburb to this
spot, which occupied a little more than half an hour
(proceeding at a slow pace), about half the caravan
passed me; and in half an hour more, almost the whole
had left the encampment*. I was much interested at
seeing the meetings of wives, brothers, sisters, and
children, with the pilgrims: but I was disgusted with
one pilgrim: he was dressed in ragged clothes, and
sitting on a little bit of old carpet, when his wife, or
perhaps his sister, came out to him, perspiring under
the weight of a large bundle of clothes, and fervently
kissed him, right and left: he did not rise to
meet her; and only made a few cold inquiries.—
The Emee'r el-Hha'gg (or chief of the caravan), with his
officers, soldiers, &c. were encamped apart from the rest
of the caravan. By his tent, a tall spear was stuck in
the ground; and by its side also stood the mahh'mil (of
which I shall presently give a sketch and description);
with its travelling cover, of canvass, ornamented with a
few inscriptions.
* Had I remained stationary, somewhat more than two hours
would have elapsed before the whole caravan had parsed me.
Many of the pilgrims bring with them, as presents,
from “the holy territory,” water of the sacred well of
Zem'zem fin China bottles, or tin or copper flasks),
pieces of the kis'weh (or covering) of the Ka'abeh
(which is renewed at the season of the pilgrimage), dust

from the Prophet's tomb (made into hard cakes), liba'n
(or frankincense), leef (or fibres of the palm-tree, used
in washing, as we employ a sponge), combs of aloes-wood,
seb'hhahs (or rosaries) of the same or other materials,
miswa'ks (or sticks for cleaning the teeth, which
are generally dipped in Zem'zem-water, to render them
more acceptable), kohhl (or black powder for the eyes),
shawls, &c. of the manufacture of the Hhega'z*, and
various things from India.
* Or, as pronounced in Arabia, Hheja'z.
On the morning after that on which the main body
of the pilgrims of the great caravan enter the metropolis,
another spectacle is witnessed: this is the Return of
the Mahh'mil
, which is borne in procession from the

Hhas'weh, through the metropolis, to the citadel. This
procession is not always arranged exactly in the same
order: I shall describe it as I have this day witnessed it,
on the morning after the return of the pilgrims of which
I have just given an account.
First, I must describe the Mahh'mil itself. It is a
square skeleton-frame of wood, with a pyramidal top; and
has a covering of black brocade, richly worked with inscriptions
and ornamental embroidery in gold, in some
parts upon a ground of green or red silk, and bordered
with a fringe of silk, with tassels surmounted by silver
balls. Its covering is not always made after the same
pattern, with regard to the decorations; but in every
cover that I have seen I have remarked, on the upper
part of the front, a view of the Temple of Mek'keh,
worked in gold; and, over it, the Soolta'n's cypher. It
contains nothing; but has two moos'hhafs (or copies of
the Ckoor-a'n), one on a scroll, and the other in the
usual form of a little book, and each enclosed in a case
of gilt silver, attached, externally, at the top. The
sketch which I insert will explain this description. The
five balls with crescents, which ornament the Mahh'mil,
are of gilt silver. The Mahh'mil is borne by a fine tall
camel, which is generally indulged with exemption from
every kind of labour during the remainder of its life.
It is related, that the Soolta'n Ez-Za'hir Beybur's,
king of Egypt, was the first who sent a Mahh'mil with
the caravan of pilgrims to Mek'keh, in the year of the
Flight 670 (A. D. 1272); but this custom, it is generally
said, had its origin a few years before his accession to
the throne. Sheg'er ed-Doo'r (commonly called Sheg'eret
ed-Door-'r), a beautiful Turkish female slave, who
became the favourite wife of the Soolta'n Es-Sa'lehh

The Mah'mil.

Negm ed-Deen, and on the death of his son (with
whom terminated the dynasty of the house of Eiyoo'b)
caused herself to be acknowledged as Queen of Egypt,
performed the pilgrimage in a magnificent ho'dag (or
covered litter), borne by a camel; and for several successive
years, her empty ho'dag was sent with the caravan,
merely for the sake of state. Hence, succeeding
princes of Egypt sent, with each year's caravan of pilgrims,
a kind of ho'dag (which received the name of
“Mahh'mil”), as an emblem of royalty; and the kings
of other countries followed their example*.
The Wah'ha'bees prohibited the Mahh'mil, as an object of
vain pomp: it afforded them one reason for intercepting
the caravan.
The procession of the return of the Muhh'mil, in the
year above mentioned, entered the city, by the Ba'b en-Nusr,
about an hour after sunrise. It was headed by a
large body of Niza'm (or regular) infantry. Next came
the Mahh'mil, which was followed, as usual, by a singular
character: this was a long-haired, brawny, swarthy
fellow, called “Sheykh el-Gem'el' (or Sheykh of the
Camel), almost entirely naked, having only a pair of
old trowsers: he was mounted on a camel; and was
incessantly rolling his head. For many successive
years, this sheykh has followed the Mahh'mil, and
accompanied the caravan to and from Mek'keh; and all
assert, that he rolls his head during the whole of the
* Almost all travellers have given erroneous accounts of the
Mahh'mil: some asserting that its covering is that which is
destined to be placed over the tomb of the Prophet: others, that
it contains the covering which is to be suspended round the Ka'abeh.
Burckhardt, with his general accuracy, describes it as a
mere emblem of royalty.

journey. He is supplied by the government with two
camels, and his travelling provisions. A few years ago,
there used also to follow the Mahh'mil to and from
Mek'keh an old woman, with her head uncovered, and
only wearing a shirt. She was called “Oom'm el-Ckoot'at
” (or the Mother of the Cats); having always
five or six cats sitting about her, on her camel.—
ext to the sheykh of the camel, in the procession which I
have begun to describe, followed a group of Turkish
horsemen; and then, about twenty camels, with stuffed
and ornamented saddles, covered with cloth, mostly red
and green. Each saddle was decorated with a number
of small flags, slanting forward from the fore part, and
a small plume of ostrich-feathers upon the top of a stick
fixed upright, upon the same part; and some had a
large bell hung on each side: the ornaments on the
covering were chiefly formed of the small shells called
cowries. I think I perceived that these camels were
slightly tinged with the red dye of the hhen'na; as they
are on other similar occasions. They were followed by
a very numerous body of Bed'awee horsemen; and with
these the procession was closed.
Having been misinformed as to the time of the entry
of the Mahh'mil, on my arriving at the principal street
of the city 1 found myself in the midst of the procession;
but the Mahh'mil had passed. Mounting a
donkey that I had hired, I endeavoured to overtake it;
but it was very difficult to make any progress: so, without
further loss of time, I took advantage of some bystreets;
and again joined the procession: I found,
however, that I had made very little advancement. I
therefore dismounted; and, after walking and running,
and dodging between the legs of the Bed'awees' horses,

for about half an hour, at length caught a glimpse of
the Mahh'mil, and, by a great effort, and much
squeezing, overtook it soon after; about a quarter of an
hour before it entered the great open place called the
Roomey'leh, before the Citadel. After touching it three
times, and kissing my hand, I caught hold of the fringe,
and walked by its side. The guardian of the sacred
object, who walked behind it, looked very hardly at me,
and induced me to utter a pious ejaculation, which perhaps
prevented his displacing me; or possibly my dress
influenced him; for he only allowed other persons to
approach and touch it one by one; and then drove
them back. I continued to walk by its side, holding
the fringe, nearly to the entrance of the Roomey'leh.
On my telling a Moos'lim friend, to-day, that I had
done this, he expressed great astonishment; and said
that he had never heard of any one having done so
before; and that the Prophet had certainly taken a love
for me, or I could not have been allowed: he added,
that I had derived an inestimable blessing; and that it
would be prudent in me not to tell any others of my
Moos'lim friends of this fact, as it would make them
envy me so great a privilege, and perhaps displease them.
I cannot learn why the Mahh'mil is esteemed so sacred.
Many persons showed an enthusiastic eagerness to touch
it; and I heard a soldier exclaim, as it passed him,
“O my Lord! Thou hast denied my performing the
pilgrimage! “The streets through which it passed
were densely crowded: the shops were closed; and the
mus'tub'ahs occupied by spectators. It arrived at the
Roomey'leh about an hour and a half after it had
entered the metropolis: it crossed this large place to the
entrance of the long—open space called Ckar'a Meyda'n:

next proceeded along the latter place, while about twelve
of the guns of the Citadel fired a salute: then returned
to the Roomey'leh, and proceeded through it to the
northern gate of the citadel, called Ba'b el-Wezee'r.
A curious custom is allowed to be practised on the
occasions of the processions of the Mahh'mil and
Kis'weh; which latter, and a more pompous procession
of the Mahh'mil, on its departure for Mek'keh, will he
hereafter described. Numbers of boys go about the
streets of the metropolis, in companies; each boy
armed with a short piece of the thick end of a palm-stick,
called muek'-ra”ah, in which are made two or
three splits, extending from the larger end to about half
the length; and any Christian or Jew whom they meet
they accost with the demand of “Ha't el-'a'deh,” or
“Give the customary present:” if he refuse the gift of
five or ten fud'dahs, they fall to beating him with their
muck'ra”ahs. Last year, a Frank was beaten by some
boys, in accordance with tins custom, and sought refuge
in a large weka'leh; but some of the boys entered after
him, and repeated the beating. He complained to the
Ba'sha; who caused a severe bastinading to be administered
to the sheykh of the weka'leh, for not haying
protected him.
In the beginning of the month of Rabee'a el-Ow'wal
(the third month) preparations are commenced for celebrating
the festival of the Birth of the Prophet, which
is called Moo'lid* en-Neb'ee. The principal scene of
this festival is the south-west quarter of the large open
space called Bir'ket el-Ezbekee'yeh, almost the whole
of which, during the season of the inundation, becomes
* I have before mentioned that this word is more properly pronounced

a lake: this is the case for several years together at the
lime of the festival of the Prophet, which is then celebrated
on the margin of the lake; but at present, the
dry bed of the lake is the chief scene of the festival.
In the quarter above mentioned, several large tents
(called seewa'ns) are pitched; mostly for durwee'shes;
who, every night, while the festival lasts, assemble in
them, to perform zikrs. Among these is erected a
mast (sa'ree), firmly secured by ropes, and with a dozen
or more lamps hung to it. Around it, numerous durwee'shessss,
generally about fifty or sixty, form a ring, and
repeat zikrs. Near the same spot is erected what is
termed a cka'ïm; which consists of four masts erected
in a line, a few yards apart, with numerous ropes
stretched from one to the other and to the ground:
upon these ropes are hung many lamps; sometimes in
the form of flowers, lions, &c.; sometimes, of words,
such as the names of God and Mohham'mad, the profession
of the faith, &c.; and sometimes arranged in a
merely fanciful, ornamental manner. The preparations
for the festival are generally completed on the second
day of the month; and on the following day, the rejoicings
and ceremonies begin: these continue, day and
night, until the close of the twelfth night of the month;
that is, according to the Mohhammadan mode of
reckoning, the night preceding the twelfth day of the
month; which night is that of the Moo'lid, properly
speaking*. During this period of ten days and nights,
* The twelfth day of Rabee'a el-Ow'wal is also the anniversary
of the death of Mohham'mad. It is remarkable that his birth
and death are both related to have happened on the same day of
the same month, and on the same day of the week, namely,

numbers of the inhabitants of the metropolis flock to
the Ezbekee'yeh. I write these notes during the Moo'lid;
and shall describe the festival of this year (the year
of the Flight 1250, A. D. 1834); mentioning some particulars
in which it differs from those of former years.
During the day-time, the people assembled at the
principal scene of the festival are amused by Shaӑrs
(or reciters of the romance of Ab'oo Zeyd), conjurers,
buffoons, &c. The Ghawa'zee have lately been compelled
to vow repentance, and to relinquish their profession
of dancing, &c.: consequently, there are now
none of them at the festival. These girls used to be
among the most attractive of all the performers. In
some parts of the neighbouring streets, a few swings
and whirligigs are erected “and numerous stalls for the
sale of sweetmeats, &c. Sometimes, rope-dancers, who
are gipsies, perform at this festival; but there are none
this year. At night, the streets above mentioned are
lighted with many lamps, which are mostly hung in
lanterns of wood*: numbers of shops and stalls, stocked
with eatables, chiefly sweetmeats, are open during almost
the whole of the night; and so also are the coffee-shops;
at some of which, as well as in other places,
Shaӑrs or Mohhad'dits amuse whoever chooses to stop,
and listen to their recitations. Every night, an hour
or more after midnight, processions of durwee'shes pass
through this quarter: instead of bearing flags, as they
do in the day, they carry long staves, with a number of
lamps attached to them, at the upper part, and called
men'wars. The procession of a company of durwee'shes,
whether by day, with flags, or by night, with men'wars,
* Like that represented in page 203 of the former volume of
this work.

is called the procession of the isha'rah of the sect; that
is, of the banner; or, rather, the term “isha'rah” is
applied to the procession itself. These durwee'shes are
mostly persons of the lower orders; and have no distinguishing
dress: the greater number wear an ordinary
turban; and some of them, merely a turboo'sh, or a
padded or felt cap; and most of them wear the common
blue linen or cotton, or brown woollen, shirt; the dress
which they wear on other occasions, at their daily work,
or at their shops.
On the last two nights, the festival is more numerously
attended than on the preceding nights; and the
attractions are greater. I shall describe what I have
just witnessed on the former of these nights.
This being the eleventh night of the lunar month, the
moon was high, and enlivened the scenes of festivity. I
passed on to a street called Soo'ck El-Bek'ree, on the
south of the Bir'ket el-Ezbekee'yeh, to witness what I
was informed would be the best of the zikrs that were
to be performed. The streets through which I passed
were crowded; and persons were here allowed, on this
occasion, to go about without lanterns. As is usually
the case at night, there were scarcely any women among:
the passengers. At the scene of the zikr in the Soo'ck
El-Bek'ree, which was more crowded than any other
place, was suspended a very large nerg'efeh (a chandelier,
or rather a number of chandeliers, chiefly of glass, one
below another, placed in such a manner that they all
appeared but one), containing about two or three hundred
ckandee'ls (or small glass lamps*). Around this
were many lanterns of wood; each having several ckandee'ls
hanging through the bottom. These lights were
* Represented in page 188 of the former volume.

not hung merely in honour of the Prophet: they were
near a za'wiyeh (or small mosque) in which is buried
the sheykh Durwee'sh* El-Ashma'wee; and this night
was his Moo'lid. A zikr is performed here every Friday-night
(or what we call Thursday-night); but not with so
much display as on the present occasion. I observed
many Christian black turbans here; and having seen
scarcely any elsewhere this night, and heard the frequent
cry of “A grain of salt in the eye of him who
doth not bless the Prophet,” ejaculated by the sellers of
sweetmeats, &c., which seemed to show that Christians
and Jews were at least in danger of being insulted, at
a time when the zeal of the Moos'lims was unusually
excited, I asked the reason why so many Copts should
be congregated at the scene of this zikr: I was answered,
that a Copt, who had become a Moos'lim, voluntarily
paid all the expenses of this Moo'lid of the sheykh
Durwee'sh. This sheykh was very much revered: he
was disordered in mind, or imitated the acts of a madman;
often taking bread, and other eatables, and
stamping upon them; or throwing them into dirt; and
doing many other things directly forbidden by his religion:
yet was he esteemed an eminent saint; for such
acts, as I have remarked on a former occasion, are considered
the results of the soul's being absorbed in devotion.
He died about eight years ago.
* This was his name; not a title.
The zikkee'rs (or performers of the zikr), who were
about thirty in number, sat, cross-legged, upon matting
extended close to the houses on one side of
the street, in the form of an oblong ring. Within
this ring, along the middle of the matting, were placed
three very large wax-candles; each about four feet high,

and stuck in a low candlestick. Most of the zikkee'rs
were Ahh'med'ee durwee'shes, persons of the lower
orders, and meanly dressed: many of them wore green
turbans. At one end of the ring were four moon'shids
(or singers of poetry), and with them was a player on
the kind of flute called na'y. I procured a small seat of
palm-sticks from a coffee-shop close by, and, by means of
a little pushing, and the assistance of my servant,
obtained a place with the moon'shids, and sat there to
hear a complete act, or meg'lis, of the zikr; which I
shall describe as completely as I can, to convey a notion
of the kind of zikr most common and most approved in
Cairo. It commenced at about three o'clock (or three
hours after sunset); and continued two hours.
The performers began by reciting the Fa't'hhah,
altogether; their sheykh or chief first exclaiming, “El-Fa't'hhah!”
They then chanted the following words.
“O God, favour our lord Mohham'mad among the former
generations; and favour our lord Mohham'mad
among the latter generations; and favour our lord
Mohham'mad in every time and period; and favour our
lord Moham'mad in the highest degree, unto the day of
judgment; and favour all the prophets and apostles
among the inhabitants of the heavens and of the earth;
and may God, whose name be blessed and exalted, be
well pleased with our lords and our masters, those persons
of illustrious estimation, Ab'oo Bekr and 'Om'ar
and 'Osma'n and 'Al'ee, and with all the favourites of
God. God is our sufficiency; and excellent is the
Guardian. There is no strength nor power but in God,
the High, the Great! O God! O our Lord! O thou liberal of pardon! O thou
most bountiful of the most
bountiful! O God! Amen!” They were then silent for

three or four minutes; and again recited the Fa't'hhah;
but silently. This form of prefacing the zikr is commonly
used, by almost all orders of durwee'shes in
Egypt. It is called istifta'hh ez-zikr.
After this preface, the performers began the zikr.
Sitting in the manner above described, they chanted, in
slow measure, “La' ila'ha il'la-lla'h” (” There is no
deity but God”) to the following air,

bowing the head and body twice in each repetition of
“La' ila'ha il'la-lla'h.” Thus they continued about a
quarter of an hour; and then, for about the same space
of time, they repeated the same words to the same air,
but in a quicker measure, and with correspondingly
quicker motions. In the meantime, the moon'shids
frequently sang, to the same, or a variation of the same,
air, portions of a ckasee'deh, or of a moowesh' shahh; an
ode of a similar nature to the Song' of Solomon, generally
alluding to the Prophet as the object of love and praise.
I shall here give a translation of one of these moowesh'shahhs,
which are very numerous, as a specimen
of their style, from a book containing a number of
these poems, which I have purchased during the present
Moo'lid, from a durwee'sh who presides at many zikrs.
He pointed out the following poem as one of those most
common at zikrs, and as one which was sung; at the
zikr which I have begun to describe. I translate it
verse for verse; and imitate the measure and system of
rhyme of the original, with this difference only, that the
first, third, and fifth lines of each stanza rhyme with
each other in the original, but not in my translation.
“With love my heart is troubled;
And mine eye-lid hind'reth sleep:
My vitals are dissever'd;
“While with streaming tears I weep.
My union seems far distant:
Will my love e'er meet mine eye?
Alas! Did not estrangement
Draw my tears, I would not sigh.
“By dreary nights I'm wasted:
Absence makes my hope expire:
My tears, like pearls, are dropping;
And my heart is wrapt in fire.
Whose is like my condition?
Scarcely know I remedy.
Alas! Did not estrangement
Draw my tears, I would not sigh.
“O turtle-dove! acquaint me
Wherefore thus dost thou lament?
Art thou so stung by absence?
Of thy wings depriv'd, and pent?
He saith, 'Our griefs are equal:
Worn away with love, I lie.'
Alas! Did not estrangement
Draw my tears, I would not sigh.
The beloved of my heart visited me in the darkness of night:
I stood, to show him honour, until he sat down.
I said, ' O thou my petition, and all my desire!
Hast thou come at midnight, and not feared the watchmen?'
He said to me ' I feared; but, however, love
Had taken from me my soul and my breath.' ”
Compare the above with the second and five following
verses of the fifth chapter of Solomon's Song.—Finding
that songs of this description are extremely numerous,
and almost the only poems sung at zikrs; that
they are composed for this purpose, and intended only
to have a spiritual sense (though certainly not understood
in such a sense by the generality of the vulgar*);
I cannot entertain any doubt as to the design of Solomon's
Song. The specimens which I have just given
of the religious love-songs of the Moos'lims have not
been selected in preference to others as most agreeing
with that of Solomon; but as being in frequent use;
and the former of the two, as having been sung at the
zikr which I have begun to describe. I must now
resume the description of that zikr.
* As a proof of this, I may mention, that, since the above was
written, I have found the last six of the lines here translated, with
some slight alterations, inserted as a common love-song in a portion
of the Thousand and One Nights printed at Calcutta (vol. i.,
p. 425).
The zikkee'rs, after having performed as above described,
next repeated the same words to a different air,

for about the same length of time; first, very slowly;
then, quickly. The air was as follows:

Then they repeated these words again, to the following air,
in the same manner:

They next rose, and, standing in the same order in
which they had been sitting, repeated the same words
to another air. During this stage of their performance,
they were joined by a tall, well-dressed, black slave,
whose appearance induced me to inquire who he was:
I was informed that he was a eunuch, belonging to the
Ba'sha. The zikkee'rs, still standing, next repeated the

same words in a very deep and hoarse tone; laying the
principal emphasis upon the word La' and the first syllable
of the last word (Al'lah); and uttering, apparently,
with a considerable effort: the sound much resembled
that which is produced by beating the rim of a tambourine.
Each zikkee'r turned his head alternately
to the right and left at each repetition of “La' ila'ha il'la-l'lah.”
The eunuch above mentioned, during this
part of the zikr, became what is termed melboo's, or
possessed. Throwing his arms about, and looking up,
with a very wild expression of countenance, he exclaimed,
in a very high tone, and with great vehemence
and rapidity, “Al'lah! Al'lah! Al'lah! Al'lah! Al'la'h!
la' la' la' la' la' la' la' la' la' la' la' la' la'h! Ya' 'am'mee*!
Ya”am'mee! Ya”am'mee Ashma'wee! Ya' Ashma'-wee!
Ya' Ashma'wee! Ya' Ashma'wee!” His voice
gradually became faint; and when he had uttered these
words, though he was held by a durwee'sh who was
next him, he fell on the ground, foaming at the mouth,
his eyes closed, his limbs convulsed, and his fingers
clenched over his thumbs. It was an epileptic fit: no
one could see it, and believe it to be the effect of
feigned emotions: it was undoubtedly the result of a
high state of religious excitement. Nobody seemed surprised
at it; for occurrences of this kind at zikrs are
not uncommon. All the performers now appeared much
excited; repeating their ejaculations with greater rapidity,
violently turning their heads, and sinking the
whole body at the same time: some of them jumping.
The eunuch became melboo's again, several times; and
I generally remarked that his fits happened after one of
the moon'shids had sung a line or two, and exerted
* “Ya' 'am'mee!” signifies “O my uncle!”

himself more than usually to excite his hearers: the,
singing was, indeed, to my taste, very pleasing. Towards
the close of the zikr, a private soldier, who had
joined throughout the whole performance, also seemed,
several times, to be melboo's; growling in a horrible
manner, and violently shaking his head from side to
side. The contrast presented by the vehement and distressing
exertions of the performers at the close of the
zikr, and their calm gravity and solemnity of manner at
the commencement, was particularly striking. Money
was collected during the performance, for the moon'shids*.
The zikkee'rs receive no pay.
* Few of the spectators, or hearers, gave more than ten fud'dahs;
and those of the poorer classes gave nothing, and indeed
were nut solicited.
On the following day (that immediately preceding
what is properly called the night of the Moo'lid), I went

again to the Ezbekee'yeh, about an hour before noon;
but there were not many persons collected there at that
time; nor was there much to amuse them: I saw only
two or three conjurors and buffoons and sha'ërs; each
of whom had collected a small ring of spectators and
hearers. The concourse, however, gradually increased;
for a very remarkable spectacle was to be witnessed; a
sight which, every year, on this day, attracts a multitude
of wondering beholders. This is called the Do'seh,
or Treading. I shall now describe it.
The sheykh of the Saadee'yeh durwee'shes (the seyd
Mohham'mad El-Menzela'wee), who is khatee'b (or
preacher) of the mosque of the Hhasaney'n, after having,
as they say, passed a part of the last night in
solitude, repeating certain prayers and secret invocations
and passages from the Ckoor-a'n, repaired this
day (being Friday) to the mosque above mentioned,
to perform his accustomed duty. The noon-prayers and
preaching being concluded, he rode thence to the house
of the Sheykh El-Bek'ree, who presides over all the
orders of durwee'shes in Egypt. This house is on the
southern side of the Bir'ket El-Ezbekee'yeh, next to
that which stands at the south-western angle. On his
way from the mosque, he was joined by numerous parties
of Sa'adee durwee'shes from different districts of
the metropolis: the members from each district bearing
a pair “of flags. The sheykh is an old, grey-bearded
man, of an intelligent and amiable countenance, and
fair complexion. He wore, this day, a white ben'ish,
and a white cka'oo'ck (or padded cap, covered with
cloth), having a turban composed of muslin of a very
deep olive-colour, scarcely to be distinguished from
black, with a strip of white muslin bound obliquely

across the front. The horse upon which he rode was
one of moderate height and weight; my reason for
mentioning this will presently be seen. The sheykh
entered the Bir'ket El-Ezbekee'yeh preceded by a very
numerous procession of the durwee'shes of whom he is
the chief. In the way through this place, the procession
stopped at a short distance before the house of the
Sheykh El-Bek'ree. Here, a considerable number of
the durwee'shes and others (I am sure that there were
more than sixty, but I could not count their number*)
laid themselves down upon the ground, side by side, as
close as possible to each other, having their backs
upwards, their legs extended, and their arms placed
together beneath their foreheads. They incessantly
muttered the word Al'lah! About twelve or more durwee'shes,
most without their shoes, then ran over the
backs of their prostrate companions; some, beating
ba'zes, or little drums, of a hemispherical form, held in
the left hand; and exclaiming' Al'lah! and then the
sheykh approached: his horse hesitated, for several
minutes, to step upon the back of the first of the prostrate
men; but being pulled, and urged on behind, he
at length stepped upon him; and then, without, apparent
fear, ambled, with a high pace, over them all, led by
two persons, who ran over the prostrate men; one
sometimes treading on the feet; and the other, on the
heads. The spectators immediately raised a long cry of
“Al'la'h la' la' la' la' la'h!” Not one of the men thus
trampled upon by the horse seemed to be hurt; but
each, the moment that the animal had passed over him,
* I believe there were double this number: for I think I may
safely say that I saw as many as double on a subsequent occasion,
at the festival of the Meara'g, which will hereafter be described.

The Do'seh

jumped up, and followed the sheykh. Each of them
received two treads from the horse; one from one of
his fore-legs, and a second from a hind-leg. It is said
that these persons, as well as the sheykh, make use of
certain words * (that is, repeat prayers and invocations)
on the day preceding this performance, to enable them
to endure, without injury, the tread of the horse; and
that some not thus prepared, having the temerity to lie
down to be rode over, have, on more than one occasion,
been either killed or severely injured. The performance
is considered as a miracle effected through supernatural
power which has been granted to every successive sheykh
of the Saadee'yeh . Some persons assert that the
horse is unshod for the occasion; but I thought I could
perceive that this was not the case. They say also, that
the animal is trained for the purpose: but, if so, this
would only account for the least surprising of the circumstances;
I mean, for the fact of the horse being
made to tread on human beings; an act from which, it
is well known, that animal is very averse. The present
sheykh of the Saadee'yeh refused, for several years, to
perform the Do'seh. By much intreaty, he was prevailed
upon to empower another person to do it. This
person, a blind man, did it successfully; but soon after
died; and the sheykh of the Saadee'yeh then yielded
to the request of his durwee'shes; and has since always
performed the Do'seh himself.
* Yesta'nmetoo as'ma.
It is said that the second sheykh of the Saadee'yeh (the
immediate successor of the ounder of the order) rode over heaps
of glass bottles, without breaking any of them!
After the sheykh had accomplished this extraordinary
performance, without the slightest appearance of any untoward

accident, he rode into the garden, and entered
the house, of the Sheykh El-Bek'ree, accompanied by
only a few durwee'shes. On my presenting myself at
the door, a servant admitted me; and I joined the
assembly within. The sheykh, having dismounted,
seated himself on a segga'deh spread upon the pavement
against the end-wall of a tukhtabo'sh (or wide recess)
of the court of the house. He sat with bended back,
and down-cast countenance, and tears in his eyes; muttering
almost incessantly. I stood almost close to him.
Eight other persons sat with him. The durwee'shes who
had entered with him, who were about twenty in number,
stood in the form of a semicircle before him, upon some
matting placed for them; and around them were about
fifty or sixty other persons. Six durwee'shes, advancing
towards him, about two yards, from the semicircle, commenced
a zikr; each of them exclaiming, at the same
time, “Alla'hoo hhei'!” (“God is living!”), and, at
each exclamation, beating, with a kind of small and
short leather strap, a ba'z, which he held, by a boss at
the bottom, in his left hand. This they did for only a
few minutes. A black slave then became melboo's; and
rushed into the midst of the durwee'shes; throwing his
arms about; and exclaiming, ” Al'la'h la' la' la' la' la'h!”
A person held him, and he soon seemed to recover.
The durwee'shes, altogether, standing' as first described,
in the form of a semicircle, then performed a second
zikr; each alternate zikkee'r exclaiming, “Alla'hoo hhei'!
(” God is living!”); and the others, “Ya' hhei'!
(” O thou living!”), and all of them bowing at
each exclamation, alternately to the right and left. This
they continued for about ten minutes. Then, for about
the same space of time, in the same manner, and with

the same motions, they exclaimed, “Da'ïm!” (” Everlasting!”) and, “Ya' Da'ïm!” (” O Everlasting!”). I
felt an irresistible impulse to try if I could do the same
without being noticed as an intruder; and accordingly
joined the semicircle, and united in the performance; in
which I succeeded well enough not to attract observation;
but I worked myself into a most uncomfortable
heat.—After the zikr just described, a person began to
chant a portion of the Ckoor-a'n: but the zikr was
soon resumed; and continued for about a quarter of an
hour. Most of the durwee'shes there present then kissed
the hand of the sheykh; and he retired to an upper
It used to be a custom of some of the Saadee'yeh, on
this occasion, after the Do'seh, to perform their celebrated
feat of eating live serpents, before a select assembly,
in the house of the Sheykh El-Bek'ree: but their
present sheykh has lately put a stop to this practice in
the metropolis; justly declaring it to be disgusting, and
contrary to the religion, which includes serpents among
the creatures that are unfit to be eaten. Serpents and
scorpions were not unfrequently eaten by Sa'adees during
my former visit to this country. The former were
deprived of (heir poisonous teeth, or rendered harmless by
having their upper and lower lips bored, and tied together
on each side with a silk string, to prevent their biting; and
sometimes, those which were merely carried in processions
had two silver rings put in place of the silk strings.
Whenever a Sa'adee ate the flesh of a live serpent, he
was, or affected to be, excited to do so by a kind of
frenzy. He pressed very hard, with the end of his
thumb, upon the reptile's back, as he grasped it, at a
point about two inches from the head; and all that he

ate of it was the head and the part between it and the
point where his thumb pressed; of which he made three
or four mouthfuls: the rest he threw away.—Serpents,
however, are not always handled with impunity even by
Sa'adees. A few years ago, a durwee'sh of this sect,
who was called “el-Feel” (or the Elephant), from his
bulky and muscular form, and great strength, and who
was the most famous serpent-eater of his time, and
almost of any age, having a desire to rear a serpent of a
very venomous kind which his boy had brought him
among others that he had collected in the desert, put
this reptile into a basket, and kept it for several days
without food, to weaken it: he then put his hand into
the basket, to take it out, for the purpose of extracting
its teeth; but it immediately bit his thumb: he called
out for help: there were, however, none but women in
the house; and they feared to come to him; so that
many minutes elapsed before he could obtain assistance:
his whole arm was then found to be swollen and black;
and he died after a few hours.
No other ceremonies worthy of notice were performed
on the day of the Do'seh. The absence of the Ghawa'zee
rendered the festival less merry than it used to be.
In the ensuing night, that which is properly called the
night of the Moo'lid, I went again to the principal scene
of the festival. Here I witnessed a zikr performed by
a ring of about sixty durwee'shes round the
sa'ree. The moon was sufficient, without the lamps, to light up the
scene. The durwee'shes who formed the ring round the
sa'ree were of various orders; but the zikr which they
performed was of a kind usual only among the order of
the Bei'yoo'mee'yeh. In one act of this zikr, the performers

exclaimed, “, Ya' Al'la'h.”' (” O God!”); and, at
each exclamation, first bowed their heads, crossing their
hands at the same time before their breasts; then
raised their heads, and clapped their hands together before
their faces. The interior of the ring was crowded
with persons sitting on the ground. The zikkee'rs continued
as above described about half an hour. Next,
they formed companies of five or six or more together;
but still in the form of a large ring. The persons in these
several companies held together; each (with the exception
of the foremost in the group) placing his left arm
behind the back of the one on his left side, and the hand
upon the left shoulder of the latter: all facing the spectators
outside the ring. They exclaimed “Al'lah!” in
an excessively deep and hoarse voice *; and at each
exclamation took a step, one time forwards, and the next
time backwards; but each advancing a little to his left
at every forward step; so that the whole ring revolved;
though very slowly. Each of the zikkee'rs held out his
right hand, to salute the spectators outside the ring;
most of whom, if near enough, grasped, and sometimes
kissed, each extended hand as it came before them.—
Whenever a zikr is performed round the sa'ree, those in
the tents cease. I saw one other zikr this night; a repetition
of that of the preceding night in the Soo'ck El-Bek'ree.
There was nothing else to attract spectators
or hearers, excepting the reciters of romances.—The festival
terminated at the morning-call to prayer; and all
the zikrs except that in the Soo'ck El-Bek'ree, ceased
about three hours after midnight. In the course of the
following day, the cka'ïm, sa'ree, tents, &c., were removed.
* Performers of zikrs of this kind have been called, by various
travellers, “barking, or howling, dervises.”

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IT might seem unnecessary to continue a detailed
account of the periodical public festivals and other anniversaries
celebrated in Egypt, were it not that many of
the customs witnessed on these occasions are every year
falling into disuse, and have never, hitherto, been fully
and correctly described. Hoping that this apology will
be accepted, I proceed.
During a fortnight in the month of Rabee'a et-Ta'nee
(the fourth month), the mosque of the Hhasaney'n is
the scene of a festival called Moo'lid El-Hhasaney'n,
celebrated in honour of the birth of El-Hhosey'n,
whose head, as I have before mentioned, is said to be
there buried. This Moo'lid is the most famous of all
those celebrated in Cairo, excepting that of the Prophet.
The grand day of the Moo'lid El-Hhasaney'n is always
a Tuesday; and the night which is properly called that
of the Moo'lid is the one immediately ensuing, which is
termed that of Wednesday: this is generally about five
or six weeks after the Moo'lid en-Neb'ee; and concludes
the festival. This present year (I am writing at the
time of the festival which I here describe, in the year of
the Flight 1250, A. D. 1834), the eve of the 21st of the
month having been fixed upon as the night of the
Moo'lid, the festival began on the eve of the 7th. On
the two evenings preceding the eve of the 7th, the
mosque was lighted with a few more lamps than is

usual; and this is customary in other years; but these
two nights are not distinguished like those which follow.
On each of the fourteen great nights before mentioned,
the mosque is illuminated with a great number of lamps,
and many wax candles; some of which latter are five or
six feet high, and very thick. This illumination is made,
on the first night, by the na'zir (or warden) of the
mosque; from the funds of the mosque: on the second
night, by the governor of the metropolis (at present
Hhabee'b Efen'dee): on the following nights, by the
sheykhs of certain orders of durwee'shes; by some of
the higher officers of the mosque; and by wealthy individuals.
On each of these nights, those shops at which
eatables, sherbet, &c. are sold, as well as the coffee-shops,
in the neighbourhood of the mosque, and even many of
those in other quarters, remain open until near morning:
and the streets in the vicinity of the mosque are
thronged with persons lounging about, or listening to
musicians, singers, and reciters of romances. The
mosque is also generally crowded. Here we find, in
one part of the great portico, a company of persons sitting
on the floor in two rows, facing each other, and
reading, altogether, certain chapters of the Ckoor-a'n.
This is called a muck'ra. Sometimes there are several
groups thus employed. In another place, we find a
similar group reading, from a book called “Dela'l el-Kheyra't,”'
invocations of blessing on the Prophet.
Again, in other places, we find a group of persons reciting
particular forms of prayer; and another, or others,
performing a zikr, or zikrs. Winding about among
these groups (whose devotional exercises are performed
for the sake of El-Hhosey'n), or sitting upon the malting,
are those other visitors whom piety, or curiosity, or

the love of amusement, brings to this venerated sanctuary.
There is generally an assembly of durwee'shes
or others in the saloon of the tomb (which is covered by
the great dome, and is called the ckoob'beh) reciting
forms of prayer, &c.; and the visitors usually enter the
saloon, to perform the ceremonies of reciting' the Fa't'-hhah,
and circuiting the shrine; but the most frequented
part is the great portico; where the zikrs, and most of
the other ceremonies are performed.
Every night during this festival, we see Isha'rahs, or
processions of durwee'shes, of one or more sects, passing
through the streets to the Hhasaney'n, preceded by two
or more men with drums, and generally with hautboys,
and sometimes with cymbals also; accompanied by
bearers of mesh”als; and usually having one or more
lanterns. They collect their party on their way, at their
respective houses. Whenever they pass by the tomb of
a saint, their music ceases for a short time, and they
recite the Fa't'hhah, or a form of blessing on the Prophet,
similar to that preparatory to the zikr, which I
have translated in my account of the Moo'lid of the
Prophet. They do this without stopping. Arriving
at the mosque, they enter; some of them with candles;
visit the shrine; and go away; with the exception of
their sheykh and a few others, who sometimes remain
in the ckoob'beh, and join in reciting prayers, &c.
One of the nights which offer most attractions is that
of the Friday (that is, preceding the Friday) next, before
the night of the Moo'lid. It is the night of the sheykh
El-Go'heree, a person of wealth, who illuminates the
mosque on this occasion with an unusual profusion of
lights. On this night, I went to the mosque about two
hours after sunset; before any of the ceremonies had
commenced. The nearer I approached the building

the more crowded did I find the streets. In one place,
were musicians: before a large coffee-shop, were two
Greek dancing-boys, or gink, elegant but effeminate in
appearance, with flowing hair, performing' to the accompaniment
of mandolines played by two of their countrymen;
and a crowd of admiring Turks, with a few
Egyptians, surrounding them. They performed there
also the evening before; and, I was told, became so
impudent from the patronage they received as to make
an open seizure of a basket of grapes in the street.
On entering the mosque, I found it far more crowded
than usual; more so than on the preceding nights; but
the lights were scarcely more numerous than are sometimes
seen in an English church; and the chandeliers
and lamps, of the most common kind. A loud and confused
din resounded through the great portico; and
there was nothing as yet to be seen or heard, and indeed
little afterwards, that seemed suited to a religious festival.
A great number of Turks, and some persons of
my own acquaintance, were among the visitors. I first
sat down to rest with one of my friends, a bookseller,
and several of his fellow-durwee'shes, who were about to
perform a zikr, at which he was to preside. I was
treated by them with coffee; for which I had to pay by
giving the moon'shids a piaster. Soon after they had
begun their zikr, which was similar to the first which I
have described in the account of the Moo'lid of the Prophet,
I got up to visit the shrine, and to saunter about.
Having paid my visit, I returned from the saloon of the
tomb; in which was a large assembly of durwee'shes
reciting prayers, sitting in the form of a square, as large
as the saloon would admit, with the exception of that
part which contained the shrine. On re-entering the

great portico, I perceived a great disturbance; numbers
of persons were pressing to one point, at a little distance
from me; and I heard a man crying out, “Nusra'nee!
Ka'fir!” (“A Christian! an Infidel!”). Concluding
that one of the visitors had been discovered to be a
Christian, I expected a great uproar; but on asking one
of the bystanders what had occurred, I was told that
these words were only used as terms of insult by one
Moos'lim to another who had given him some offence.
An officer of the mosque came running from the ckoub'beh,
with a staff in his hand; and soon restored order;
but whether he expelled both, or either, of the persons
who occasioned the disturbance, I could not discover;
and I thought it prudent, in my case, to ask no further
questions. By the entrance of the ckoob'beh was a
party reading, in a very loud voice, and in concert, the
Dela'il, before mentioned. After standing for a few
minutes to hear them, though the confusion of their
voices rendered it impossible for me to distinguish many
words that they uttered, I returned to the zikr which I
had first attended.
Shortly after, I heard the loud sounds of the tambourines
of a party of 'Ee'sa'wee'yeh durwee'shes, whose
performances constituted one of the chief attractions of
the night, from the other end of the great portico. I
immediately rose, and went thither. My friend the
bookseller, quitting his zikr, came after me, and imprudently
called out to me, “Efen'dee! take care of your
purse! “In a minute, I felt my trowsers pulled, several
times; and afterwards I found a large hole in them,
apparently cut with some sharp instrument, by a person
in search of my pocket: for, when the mosque is crowded
as it was on this occasion, it generally happens that

some thieves enter even this most sacred building*. I
had almost despaired of getting near to the 'Ee'sa'-wee'yeh,
when my servant, whom I had taken thither to
carry my shoes, called out to the persons around me,
“Do you know whom you are pushing? “and instantly
I found a way made for me. It was then about three
hours after sunset.
* Thefts are also sometimes committed in this mosque on other
occasion; as a friend of mine lately experienced—“I went
there,” said he, “to pray; and, as I was stooping over the brink
of the mey'da-ah, to perform the ablution, having placed my shoes
beside me, and was saying, 'I purpose to perform the divine
ordinance of the woodoo,' somebody behind me said to himself,
'I purpose to take away this nice pair of shoes.' On looking
round, I found an old worn-out pair of shoes put in the place of
my own, which were new.”
I found about twenty of these durwee'shes, variously
dressed, sitting upon the floor, close together, in the
form of a ring, next to the front-wall of the building.
Each of them, excepting two, was beating a large ta'r
(or tambourine), rather more than a foot in width, and

differing from the common ta'r in being without the
tinkling pieces of metal which are attached to the hoop
of the latter. One of the two persons mentioned as
exceptions was beating a small ta'r of the common kind;
and the other, a ba'z, or little kettle-drum. Before this
ring of durwee'shes, a space rather larger than that
which they occupied was left by the crowd for other durwee'shes
of the same order; and soon after the former
had begun to beat their tambourines, the latter, who
were six in number, commenced a strange kind of
dance; sometimes exclaiming “Al'la'h!” and sometimes,
“Al'la'h Mowla'na!” (” God is our Lord!”).
There was no regularity in their dancing; but each
seemed to be performing the antics of a madman; now,
moving his body up and down; the next moment,
turning round; then, using odd gesticulations with his
arms; next, jumping; and sometimes, screaming: in
short, if a stranger, observing them, were not told that
they were performing a religious exercise, supposed to
be the involuntary effect of enthusiastic excitement, he
would certainly think that these dancing durwee'shes
were merely striving to excel one another in playing the
buffoon: and the manner in which they were clad
would conduce to impress him with this idea. One of
them wore a ckufta'n without sleeves, and without a
girdle; and had nothing on his head, which had not
been shaved for about a week: another had a white
cotton scull-cap, but was naked from the head to the
waist; wearing nothing on his body but a pair of loose
drawers. These two durwee'shes were the principal
performers. The former of them, a dark, spare, middle-aged
man, after having danced in his odd manner for a
few minutes, and gradually become more wild and extravagant

in his actions, rushed towards the ring formed
by his brethren who were beating the ta'rs. In the
middle of this ring was placed a small chafing-dish of
tinned copper, full of red-hot charcoal. From this, the
durwee'sh just mentioned seized a piece of live charcoal,
which he put into his mouth; then did the same
with another, another, and another, until his mouth was
full; when he deliberately chewed these live coals,
opening his mouth very wide every moment, to show its
contents, which, after about three minutes, he swallowed;
and all this he did without evincing the slightest symptom
of pain; appearing, during the operation and after
it, even more lively than before. The other durwee'sh
before, alluded to, as half-naked, displayed a remarkably
fine and vigorous form; and seemed to be in the prime
of his age. After having danced not much longer than
the former, his actions became so violent that one of
his brethren held him; but he released himself from
his grasp; and, rushing towards the chafing-dish, took
out one of the largest live coals, and put it into his
mouth. He kept his mouth wide open for about two
minutes; and during this period, each time that he
inhaled, the large coal appeared of almost a white heat;
and when he exhaled, numerous sparks were blown out
of his mouth. After this, he chewed and swallowed the
coal; and then resumed his dancing. When their performance
had lasted about half an hour, the durwee'shes
paused to rest.
Before this pause, another party of the same sect had
begun to perform, near the centre of the great portico.
Of these, I now became a spectator. They had arranged
themselves in the same order as the former
party. The ring composed by those who beat the tambourines

consisted of about the same number as in
the other company; but the dancers here were about
twelve; sometimes less. One of them, a tall man,
dressed in a dark woollen gown, and with a bare,
shaven head, took from the chafing-dish, which was
handed to the dancers as though it had been a dish of
cakes or sweetmeats, a large piece of brilliantly hot
coal; placed it between his teeth, and kept it so for a
short time; then drew it upon his tongue; and, keeping
his mouth wide open for, I think, more than two
minutes, violently inhaled and exhaled, showing the
inside of his mouth like a furnace, and breathing out
sparks, as the former durwee'sh had done; but with less
appearance of excitement. Having chewed and swallowed
the coal, he joined the ring of the tambourine-players;
and sat almost close to my feet. I narrowly
watched his countenance; but could not see the least
indication of his suffering any pain. After I had witnessed
these extraordinary performances for about an
hour, both parties of durwee'shes stopped to rest; and
as there was nothing more to see worthy of notice, I
then quitted the mosque*.
* The performances of Richardson, described in Evelyn's
Memoirs (pp. 375–6, 8vo. edition) appear to have surpassed those
of the durwee'shes here mentioned.
Sometimes, on this occasion, the 'Ee'sa'wee'yeh eat
glass as well as fire. One of them, the hha'gg Mohham'mad
Es-Sela'wee, a man of gigantic stature, who was
lamp-lighter in the mosque of the Hhasaney'n, and
who died a few years ago, was one of the most famous of
the eaters of fire and glass, and celebrated for other performances.
Often, when he appeared to become highly
excited, he used to spring up to the long bars, or rafters,

of wood which extend across the arches above the
columns of the mosque, and which are sixteen feet or
more from the pavement; and would run along them,
from one to another: then, with his finger, wetted in
his mouth, he would strike his arm, and cause blood to
flow; and by the same means stanch the blood.
The zikrs, during this festival, are continued all
night. Many persons pass the night in the mosque,
sleeping on the matting; and it often happens that
thefts are committed there. On my return to my
house after witnessing the performances of the 'Ee'sa'-wee'yeh,
I found no fewer than eight lice on my
On the following night there was nothing that I
observed at all entertaining, unless it were this, that my
officious friend the bookseller, who again presided at a
zikr, wishing to pass me off for a pious Moos'lim (or
perhaps for the sake of doing a good work), without
having obtained my previous permission, openly proposed
to four fick'ees to perform a recitation of the
Ckoor-a'n (I mean, of the whole book, a khut'meh), on
my part, for the sake of seyd'na * l-Hhosey'n. As this
is commonly done, on the occasion of this festival, by
persons of the higher and middle orders, it would have
excited suspicion if I had objected. It was therefore
performed, in the afternoon and evening next following;
each fickee reciting a portion of the book; and then
another relieving him: it occupied about nine hours.
After it was finished, I was mentioned, by my assumed
Oriental name, as the author of this pious work. The
performers received a wax candle, some bread, and a
piaster each.
* Seyd'na (for seyyid'na) signifies “our Lord.”

On Monday, the mats were removed, excepting a few,
upon which groups of fick'ees, employed to recite
the Ckoor-a'n, seated themselves. Vast numbers of persons
resorted to the mosque this day; both men and women:
chiefly those who were desirous of obtaining a blessing
by the visit, and disliked the still greater crowding and
confusion of the following day, or day of the Moo'lid.
In the ensuing evening, the streets in the neighbourhood
of the mosque were densely crowded; and, a little after
sunset, it was very difficult, in some parts, to pass.
Numerous lamps were hung in these streets; and many
shops, open.
This was also the night of the Moo'lid of the famous
Soolta'n Es-Sa'lehh, of the house of Eiyoo'b, who is
commonly believed to have been a wel'ee, and said to
have worn a dilck, and to have earned his subsistence
by making baskets, &c., of palm-leaves (khoo's), without
drawing any money from the public treasury for his own
private use. His tomb, which adjoins his mosque, is in
the Nahh'hha'see'n (or market of the sellers of copper-wares),
a part of the principal street of the city, not far
from the Hhasaney'n. This market was illuminated
with many lamps. Most of the shops were open; and
in each of these was a group of three or four or more
persons sitting with the master. The mosque and
tomb of Es-Sa'lehh are much neglected, and falling to
decay, notwithstanding the high veneration which the
people of Cairo entertain for this prince. On my approaching
the door of the tomb, I was surrounded by
hhem'alees and sack'ckas soliciting' me to pay them to
distribute the contents of an ibree'ck or a ckir'beh for
the sake of Es-Sa'lehh. I entered the building with
my shoes on (seeing that others did the same); but

took them off at the threshold of the saloon of the tomb.
This is a square hall, surmounted by a dome. In the
centre is an oblong monument, over the grave, surrounded
by a wooden railing. At the head of this
railed enclosure (or mucksoo'rah) are four large wax
candles; and at the foot, three; all of which are encased
in plaster, and resemble round-topped stone pillars.
They are coloured with broad, horizontal, red stripes,
like the alternate courses of stone in the exterior walls
of most mosques in Cairo. There probably were, originally,
the same number at the foot, as at the head, of
the mucksoo'rah; for there is a space which seems to
have been occupied by one at the foot. These candles,
it is said, were sent as a present, by a Pope, or by a
Frank King, to Es-Sa'lehh, who, being a wel'ee, discovered,
without inspecting them, that they were filled
with gunpowder, and ordered them to be thus encased in
plaster; or, according to another account, they were
sent as a present for the tomb, some years after the
death of Es-Sa'lehh; and he appeared to the guardian
of his tomb in a dream, and informed him of the
gunpowder-plot. The saloon of the tomb I found
scantily lighted; and having a very ancient and neglected
appearance. The pavement was uncovered.
On my entering, two servants of the mosque took me to
the foot of the mucksoo'rah, and one of them dictated to
me the Fa't'hhah, and the form of prayer which I have
mentioned in my account of the ceremonies of the day
of A'shoo'ra; the other responding A'mee'n! (Amen!):
the former then desired me to recite the Fa't'hhah, with
them, a second time, and gave me five of the little balls
of bread from the tomb of the seyd El-Bed'awee. They
received, for this, half a piaster. Another servant

opened the door of the mucksoo'rah, for me to enter:
an honour which required that I should give him also a
trifling present.
From the tomb of Es-Sa'lehh, I proceeded to the
Hhasaney'n, through streets crowded to excess (though
this was not the great night), and generally well lighted.
There was but little difference between the scenes which
the streets and the mosque of the Hhasaney'n presented:
among the crowds in the mosque, I saw numbers
of children; and some of them were playing,
running after each other, and shouting. There were
numerous groups of fick'ees reciting the Ckoor-a'n; and
one small ring of durwee'shes, in the centre of the
great portico, performing a zikr. I forced my way with
difficulty into the ckoob'beh, and performed the circuit
round the shrine. Here was a very numerous party
reciting the Ckoor-a'n. After quitting the mosque, I
spent about an hour and a half in a street, listening to a
On the following day, the last and chief day of the
festival, the mosque of the Hhasaney'n, and its neighbourhood,
were much more thronged than on the days
previous; and in every soo'ck, and before every weka'leh,
and even before the doors of most private houses of
the middle and higher classes of Moos'lims throughout
the city, lamps were hung, to be lighted in the ensuing
night, the night of the Moo'lid. The number of beggars
in the streets this day, imploring alms for the sake
of “seyd'na-1-Hhosey'n,” was surprising: sitting for
about an hour in the afternoon at a shop in the principal
street, I was quite wearied with saying, “God help
thee!” “God sustain thee!” &c. Almost all the inhabitants
of the metropolis seemed to be in the streets;

and almost all the Turks residing here appeared to be
congregated in the neighbourhood of the Hhasaney'n.
This was the grand day for visiting the shrine of El-Hhosey'n:
it is believed that the Prophet is present
there all this day and the ensuing night, witnessing his
followers' pious visits to his grandson. Yet most of the
great people prefer going on the preceding day, or on
any of the days of the festival but the last, on account
of the excessive crowding on this day: I, however,
went on this occasion for the very reason that deterred
them. I entered the ckoob'beh a little before sunset;
and was surprised to find a way made for me to advance
easily to the shrine. A servant of the mosque placed
me before the door of the mucksoo'rah; dictated to me
the same recitals as on the day of 'A'shoo'ra; and gave
me a handful of the bread of the seyd El-Bed'awee;
fourteen of the little balls into which it is formed. No
sooner was this done than I was squeezed till I was
almost breathless by applicants for presents. The man
who had dictated the prayer to me asked me for his
present (a piaster); another said, “I have recited the
chapter of Ya'-Seen for thee, O A'gha:” a third, “O
Efen'dee, I am a servant of the mucksoo'rah:” most of
the others were common beggars. I saw now that the
Turks had good reason to prefer another day. The
more importunate of those to whom nothing was due
followed me through the crowd in the mosque; and into
the street: for I had given away all that I had in my
pocket; and more than was customary. I was invited
to seat myself on the mus'tub'ah of a shop opposite the
mosque, to deliver myself from their jostling. In the
mosque I saw nothing to remark but crowding and confusion,
and swarms of beggars; men, women, and

children.—In the evening, the mosque was still crowded
to excess; and no ceremonies were performed there but
visiting the shrine, recitations of the Ckoor-a'n, and
two or three zikrs. The streets were then more crowded
than ever, till long after midnight; and the illuminations
gave them a very gay appearance. The Go'hargee'yeh
(or jewellers' ba'za'r) was illuminated with a
great profusion of chandeliers, and curtained over. The
ma'd'nehs of the larger mosques were also illuminated.
Many shops were open, besides those at which eatables,
coffee, and sherbet, were sold; and in some of them
were seated fickees (two or more together) reciting
khut'mehs (or the whole of the Ckoor-a'n). There
were Shaӑrs, Mohhad'dits, Musicians, and Singers, in
various places, as on the former nights.
In about the middle of Reg'eb * (the seventh month)
is celebrated the Moo'lid of the sey'yideh Zey'neb, the
daughter of the Ima'm 'Al'ee, and grand-daughter of
the Prophet; always on the eve of a Wednesday. The
festival generally commences two weeks before: the
principal day is the last, or Tuesday. The scene of the
festivities is the neighbourhood of the mosque in which
the sey'yideh is commonly believed to be buried; a
gaudily ornamented, but not very handsome building, in
the south-western quarter of the metropolis. The supposed
tomb, over which is an oblong monument,
covered with embroidered silk, and surrounded by a
bronze screen, with a wooden canopy, similar to those
of El-Hhosey'n, is in a small but lofty apartment of
the mosque, crowned by a dome. Into this apartment,
on the occasion of the Moo'lid, visitors are admitted, to
* About this time, the Turkish pilgrims, on their way to
Meh'keh, begin to arrive in Egypt.

pray, and perform their circuits round the monument.
I have just been to visit it, on the last or great day of
the festival. In a street near the mosque I saw several
Reciters of Ab'oo Zeyd, Hha'wees, Ckoorada'tees, and
Dancers; and a few swings and whirligigs. In the
mosque, the prayer usual on such occasions, after the
Fa't'hhah, was dictated to me; and I received two of
the little balls of the bread of the seyd El-Bed'awee.
The door of the sacred enclosure was open; but I had
been told that only women were allowed to enter; it
being regarded in the same light as a hharee'm; so I
contented myself with making the circuit; which,
owing to the crowding of the visitors, and there being
but a very narrow space between three sides of the
bronze enclosure and the walls of the apartment, was
rather difficult to accomplish. A respectable-looking
woman, in a state which rendered it rather dangerous
for her to be present in such a crowded place, cried out
to me to make room for her with a coarseness of language
common to Oriental females*. Many persons
there begged me to employ them to recite a chapter of
the Ckoor-a'n for the sey'yideh; urging the proposal
with the prayer of “God give thee thy desire!” for the
visitors to the tombs or cenotaphs of saints generally
have some special petition to offer. There was a group
of blind paupers sitting on the floor, and soliciting
alms. The mats were removed throughout the mosque;
and only idle loungers were to be seen there. On
going out, I was importuned by a number of hhem'alees
and sack'ckas to give them money to distribute
water for the sake of “the daughter of the Ima'm.” It
* Ma' tezoock'nee'sh ya' see'dee: but'nee melya'n.
All'lah yoobal'liyhak trntcksoctdak.

is customary to give a few fud'dahs to one or more
servants of the mucksoo'rah; and to a fick'ee, to recite
a chapter; and also to the beggars in the mosque; and
to one of the hhem'alees or sack'ckas. The chief ceremonies
performed in the mosque in the evenings were
zikrs. Each evening of the festival, durwee'shes of one
or more orders repaired thither.
The night or eve of the twenty-seventh of Reg'eb
is the anniversary of the Ley'let el-Meara'g, or the night
of the Prophet's miraculous ascension to heaven; in
commemoration of which, a festival is celebrated in a
part of the northern suburb of Cairo, outside the gate
called Ba'b El-'Ad'awee. For three days before, the
Sheykh El-Bek'ree entertains numerous persons in a
house belonging to him, in this quarter; and zikrs are
performed there, in his house. In addition to the
amusement afforded in the streets by Hha'wees, Reciters
of Ab'oo Zeyd, &c., as on similar festivals, the public
witness, on this occasion, that extraordinary performance
culled the Do'seh, which I have described in my account
of the Moo'lid en-Neb'ee. This is performed in a short,
but rather wide street of the suburb above mentioned, in
front of the mosque of a saint called Et-Tushtoo'shee,
on the twenty-sixth day of the month, which is the last
and chief day of the festival. I have just been one of
its spectators. The day being Friday, the Sheykh of
the Saadee'yeh (the only person who is believed to be
able to perform this reputed miracle) had to fulfil his
usual July of praying and preaching in the mosque of
the Hhasaney'n, at noon. From that mosque, he rode
in procession to the scene of the Do'seh, preceded by a
long train of his durwee'shes, with their banners, and
some with the little drums which they often use. I was

at this spot a little after midday; and took my place on
a mus'tub'ah which extends along the foot of the front
of the mosque of Et-Tushtoo'shee.
While sitting here, and amusing myself with observing
the crowds attracted by the same curiosity that
brought me hither, a reputed saint, who, a few days
ago, begged of me a few piasters to feed some fackee'rs
on this occasion, passed by, and, seeing me, came and
sat down by my side. To pass away the time during
which we had to wait before the Do'seh, he related to
me a tale connected with the cause of the festivities of
this day. A certain Soolta'n *, he said, had openly
ridiculed the story of the Meara'g; asserting it to be
impossible that the Prophet could have got out of his
bed by night, have been carried from Mek'keh to Jerusalem
by the beast Boora'ck, have ascended thence with
the angel to the Seventh Heaven, and returned to
Jerusalem and Mek'keh, and found his bed still warm.
He was playing at chess, one day, with his Wezee'r,
when the saint Et-Tushtoo'shee came in to him, and
asked to be allowed to play with him; making this condition,
that the Soolta'n, if overcome, should do what
the saint should order. The proposal was accepted.
The Soolta'n lost the game; and was ordered, by the
saint, to plunge in a tank of water. He did so; and
found himself in a magnificent palace, and converted
into a woman, of great beauty, with long hair, and every
female attraction. He, or now she, was married to the
son of a king; gave birth to three children, successively,
and then returned to the tank, and, emerging from it, informed
the wezee'r of what had happened to him. The
* This tale applies to the Khalee'feh El-Hha'kim. I have
heard it related with some trifling differences.

saint reminding him, now, of his incredulity on the
subject of the Meara'g, he declared his belief in the
miracle, and became an orthodox Moos'lim. Hence,
the festival of the Meara'g is always celebrated in the
neighbourhood of the mosque in which Et-Tushtoo'shee
is buried; and his Moo'lid is celebrated at the same
Not long after the above tale was finished, an hour
and a quarter after midday, the procession of the Sheykh
es-Saadee'yeh arrived. The foremost persons, chiefly
his own durwee'shes, apparently considerably more than
a hundred (but I found it impossible to count them),
were laid down in the street, as close as possible together,
in the same manner as at the Moo'lid en-Neb'ee.
They incessantly repeated “Al'lah!” A number of
durwee'shes, most with their shoes off, run over them;
several beating their little drums; some carrying the
black flags of the order of the Rifa”ees (the parent
order of the Sa'adees); and two carrying a tha'lee'sh (a
pole about twenty feet in length, like a large flag-staff,
the chief banner of the Saadee'yeh, with a large conical
ornament of brass on the top): then came the sheykh,
on the same grey horse that he rode at the Moo'lid en-Neb'ee:
he was dressed in a light blue pelisse, lined
with ermine, and wore a black, or almost black, moock'leh;
which is a large, formal turban, peculiar to persons
of religious and learned professions. He rode over the
prostrate men, mumbling all the while: two persons led
his horse; and they, also, trod upon the prostrate men;
sometimes on the legs, and on the heads. Once, the
horse pranced and curvetted; and nearly trod upon
several heads: he passed over the men with a high and
hard pace. The sheykh entered the house of the Sheykh

El-Bek'ree, before mentioned, adjoining the mosque.
None of the men who were rode over appeared to be
hurt; and many got up laughing; but one appeared to be
melboo's, or overcome by excitement; and though
he did not put his hand to his back, as if injured by the
tread of the horse, seemed near fainting; and tears
rolled down his face: it is possible, however, that this
man was hurt by the horse, and that he endeavoured to
conceal the cause.
After the Do'seh, my friend the saint insisted on my
coming to his house, which was near by, with three
fick'ees. He conducted us to a small upper room, furnished
with an old carpet and cushions. Here the
three fick'ees sat down with me, and recited the Fa't'hhah
together, in a very loud voice. Then one of them
chanted about half of the second chapter of the Ckoora'n,
very musically: another finished it. Our host
afterwards brought a stool, and placed upon it a tray
with three large dishes of 'eysh bi-lahhm. This is
minced meat, fried with butter, and seasoned with some
tahhee'neh (or sesame from which oil has been pressed),
vinegar, and chopped onions; then put upon cakes of
leavened dough, and baked. To this meal I sat down,
with the three fick'ees; our host waiting upon us. A
fourth fick'ee came in, and joined us at dinner. After
we had eaten, the fick'ees recited the Fa't'hhah for the
host, and then for myself; and went away. I soon after
followed their example.
On the Ley'let el-Meara'g, between two and three
hours after sunset, the Sheykh El-Bek'ree returns in
procession, preceded by numerous persons bearing
mesh”als, and by a number of durwee'shes, to his house

in the Ezbekee'yeh. During this night, the ma'd'nehs
of the larger mosques are illuminated.
On the first or second Wednesday in Shaaba'n (the
eighth month), generally on the former day, unless that
be the first or second day of the month, the celebration
of the Moo'lid of the Ima'm Esh-Ska'fe'ee commences.
It ends on the eve of the Thursday in the next week.
The great cemetery called the Ckara'feh, in the desert
tract on the south of the metropolis, where the Ima'm is
buried, and the southern part of the town, are the scenes
of the festivities. As this Ima'm was the founder of
the sect to which most of the people of Cairo belong,
his Moo'lid attracts many visitors. The festivities arc
similar to those of other great Moo'lids. On the Saturday
before the last or chief day, the ceremony of the
Do'seh is performed. On the last day, Wednesday, the
visitors are most numerous; and during the ensuing
night, zikrs, &c. are performed in the sepulchral mosque
of the Ima'm. Above the dome of this mosque,
upon its point, is fixed a metal boat, in which there
used to be placed, on the occasion of the Moo'lid, an
ardeb'b (or about five bushels) of wheat, and a camel-load
of water, for the birds. The boat is said to turn,
sometimes, when there is no wind to move it, and,
according to the position which it takes, to foretoken
various events, good and evil; such as plenty or scarcity,
the death of some great man, &c.
Several other Moo'lids follow that of the Ima'm; but
those already described are the more famous; and the
ceremonies of all are nearly the same.
The “Night of the Middle of Shaaba'n,” or “Ley'let
en-Noosf min Shaaba'n,”
which is the night of the

fifteenth (that is, preceding the fifteenth day) of that
month, is held in great reverence by the Moos'lims, as
the period when the fate of every living man is confirmed
for the ensuing year. The Sidr (or lote-tree) of Paradise,
which is more commonly called Sheg'eret el-Mcon'tah'a
(or the Tree of the Extremity) probably for
several reasons, but chiefly (as is generally supposed)
because it is said to be at the extremity *, or on the most
elevated spot, in Paradise, is believed to have as many
leaves as there are living human being's in the world;
and the leaves are said to be inscribed with the names
of all those being's; each leaf bearing the name of one
person, and those of his father and mother. The tree,
we are taught, is shaken on the night above mentioned,
a little after sunset; and when a person is destined to
die in the ensuing year, his leaf, upon which his name
is written, falls on this occasion: if he be to die very
soon, his leaf is almost wholly withered; a very small
portion only remaining green: if he be to die later in
the year, a larger portion remains green: according to
the time he has yet to live, so is the proportion of the
part of the leaf yet green. This, therefore, is a very
awful night to the serious and considerate Moos'lims;
who, accordingly, observe it with solemnity and earnest
prayer. A particular form of prayer is used on the
occasion, immediately after the ordinary evening-prayers
which are said soon after sunset. Those who are able
to recite it without being prompted do so; and generally
in a mosque: others assemble in the mosques for this
* In the commentary of the Gel'a'ley'n, Sidrat el-Moon'tah'a,
or the Lote-tree of the Extremity (Ckoor-a'n, chap. liii, ver. 14),
is interpreted as signifying “The Lote-tree beyond which neither
angels nor others can pass.”

purpose, and hire a fick'ee to assist them; and many
fick'ees, therefore, resort to the mosques to perform this
office. Each fick'ee officiates for a group of persons.
He first recites the Soo'rat Ya'-Seen (or 36th chapter
of the Ckoor-a'n); and then, raising his hands before
his face, as in the ordinary supplications, and the other
worshippers doing the same, he recites the do”a (or
prayer): repeating one, two, three, or more words,
which the others then repeat after him. The prayer is
as follows.—“O God '. O thou Gracious! and who art
not an object of grace! O thou Lord of Dignity and
Honour, and of Beneficence and Favour! There is no
deity but Thee, the Support of those who seek to Thee
for refuge! and the Helper of those who have recourse
to thee for help! and the Trust of those who fear! O
God, if Thou hast recorded me in thy abode, upon the
' Original of the Book*,' miserable, or unfortunate, or
scanted in my sustenance, cancel, O God, of thy goodness,
my misery, and misfortune, and scanty allowance
of sustenance, and confirm me in thy abode, upon the
Original of the Book, as happy, and provided for, and
directed to good: for Thou hast said (and thy saying is
true) in thy Book revealed by the tongue of thy commissioned
Prophet, ' God will cancel what He pleaseth,
and confirm; and with Him is the Original of the
Book .' O my God! by the very great revelation
[which is made] on the night of the middle of the month
of Shaaba'n the honoured, ' in which every determined
* The Preserved Tablet, on which are said to be written the
original of the Ckoor-a'n, and all God's decrees, is here commonly
understood; but I am informed that the “Original” (or, literally,
the “Mother”) “of the Book” is God's knowledge, or prescience.
Ckoor-a'n, chap. xii., ver. 39.

decree is dispensed*' and manifested, remove from me
whatever affliction I know, and what I know not, and
what Thou best knowest; for Thou art the most Mighty,
the most Bountiful. And favour, O God, our lord
Mohham'mad, the Illiterate Prophet, and his Family
and Companions, and preserve them.”—After having
repeated this prayer, the worshippers offer up any private
* Ckoor-a'n, chap, xliv., ver. 3.—By some persons, these words
are supposed to apply to the Night of el-Ckudr, which will hereafter
be mentioned.
Mohham'mad gloried in his illiteracy, as a proof of his being
inspired: it had the same effect upon his followers as the words of
our Saviour had upon the Jews, who remarked; “How knoweth
this man letters, having never learned?” John, vii., 15.
The night on which Rum'ada'n (the month of abstinence,
the ninth month of the year) is expected to
commence, is called Ley'let er-Roo'-yeh, or the Night
of the Observation [of the new moon]. In the noon,
or earlier, during the preceding day, several persons
are sent a few miles into the desert, where the air
is particularly clear, in order to obtain a sight of the
new moon: for the fast commences on the next day
after the new moon has been seen, or, if the moon
cannot be seen in consequence of a cloudy sky, at the
expiration of thirty days from the commencement of the
preceding month. The evidence of one Moos'lim, that
he has seen the new moon, is sufficient for the proclaiming
of the fast. In the evening of the day above mentioned,
the Mohh'tes'ib, the sheykhs of several trades
(millers, bakers, slaughtermen, sellers of meat, oil-men,
and fruiterers), with several other members of each of
these trades, parties of musicians, and a number of

fackee'rs, headed and interrupted by companies of soldiers,
go in procession from the Citadel to the Court of
the Cka'dee, and there await the return of one of the
persons who have been sent to make the observation, or
the testimony of any other Moos'lim who has seen the
new moon. The streets through which they pass are
lined with spectators. There used to be, in this procession,
several led horses, handsomely caparisoned;
but of late, military display, of a poor order, has, for the
most part, taken the place of civil and religious pomp.
The procession of the night of the Roo'-yeh is now
chiefly composed of Niza'm infantry. Each company
of soldiers is preceded and followed by bearers of mesh”als,
to light them on their return; and followed by the
sheykh, and a few other members, of some trade, with
several fackee'rs, shouting, as they pass along; “O!
Blessing! Blessing! Bless ye the Prophet! on him be
peace*!” After every two or three
companies, there is generally an interval of many minutes. The Mohh'tes'ib
and his attendants close the procession. When
information that the moon has been seen has arrived at
the Cka'dee's court, the soldiers and others assembled
there divide themselves into several companies, one of
which returns to the Citadel: the others perambulate
different quarters of the town; shouting, “O followers
of the best of the Creation ! Fasting! Fasting '.”—“
When the moon has not been seen on this
night, the people are informed by the cry of “Tomorrow
is of the month of Shaaba'n! No fasting! No
* O. Es-Sala'h. Es-Sala'h. Sal'loo 'al' a-n-Neb'ee: 'aley'hi-s-tela'm.
The best of the Creation” is an appellation of the Prophet.
Ya' oom'mata khey'ri-l-ana'm, Siya'm. Siya'm.

fasting”*!”—The people generally pass a great part of
this night (when the fast has been proclaimed as commencing'
on the morrow) in eating and drinking and
smoking; and seem as merry as they usually do when released
from the misery of the day's fast. The mosques,
as on the following nights, are illuminated within; and
lumps are hung at their entrances, and upon the galleries
of the ma'd'nehs.
* Ghud'a min shak'ri Shaaba'n. Fita'r. Fita'r.
In Rum'ada'n, instead of seeing, as at other times,
many of the passengers in the streets with the pipe in
the hand, we now see them empty-handed, until near
sunset, or carrying a stick or cane, or a string of beads;
but some of the Christians now are not afraid, as they
used to be, of smoking in their shops in the sight of the
fasting Moos'lims. The streets, in the morning, have
a dull appearance; many of the shops being shut; but
in the afternoon, they are as much crowded as usual;
and all the shops are open. The Moos'lims during the
day-time, while fasting, are, generally speaking', very
morose: in the night, after breakfast, they are unusually
affable and cheerful. It is the general fashion of the
principal Turks in
Cairo, and a custom of many others,
to repair to the mosque of the Hhasaney'n in the afternoon
during' Rum'ada'n, to pray and lounge; and on
these occasions, a number of Turkish Tradesmen (called
Tohhafgee'yeh, or Tohhfegee'yeh) expose for sale, in
the court of the mey'da-ah (or tank for ablution), a
variety of articles of taste and luxury suited to the wants
of their countrymen. It is common, in this month, to
see tradesmen in their shops reciting the Ckoor-a'n or
prayers, or distributing bread to the poor. Towards
evening, and for some time after sunset, the beggars

are more than usually importunate and clamorous; and
at these times, the coffee-shops are much frequented by
persons of the lower orders; many of whom prefer to
break their fast with a cup of coffee and a pipe. There
are few among the poor who do not keep the fast; but
many persons of the higher and middle classes break it
in secret.
In general, during Rum'ada'n, in the houses of persons
of the higher and middle classes, the stool of the suppertray
is placed, in the apartment in which the master of
the house receives his visitors, a few minutes before sunset.
A japanned tray is put upon it; and on this are
placed several dishes, or large saucers, containing different
kinds of dry fruits (which are called noockl); such
as hazel-nuts (generally toasted), raisins, shelled walnuts,
dried dates, dried figs, shelled almonds, sugared nuts,
&c., and kahhk, or sweet cakes. With these are also
placed several ckool'lehs (or glass cups) of sherbet of
sugar and water; usually one or two cups more than
there are persons in the house to partake of the
beverage, in case of visitors coming unexpectedly; and
often a little fresh cheese and a cake of bread are added.
The pipes are also made ready; and it is usual to provide,
in houses where numerous visitors are likely to call,
several common reed pipes. Immediately after the call
to evening-prayer, which is made four minutes after sunset,
the master and such of his family or friends as
happen to be with him drink each a glass of sherbet:
they then usually say the evening-prayers; and, this
done, eat a few nuts, &c., and smoke their pipes. After
this slight refreshment, they sit down to a plentiful meal of meat
and other food, which they term their breakfast
(fatoo'r'). Having' finished this meal, they say the nightprayers

*, and certain additional prayers of Rum'ada'n,
called et-tarawee'hh; or smoke again before they pray.
The tarawee'hh prayers consist of twenty rek”ahs; and
are repeated between the 'esh'ë prayers and the witr.
Very few persons say these prayers, excepting in the
mosque, where they have an Ima'm to take the lead;
and they do little more than conform with his motions.
The smaller mosques are closed, in Rum'ada'n, soon
after the tarawee'hh prayers: the larger remain open
until the period of the last meal (which is called the
sahhoo'r), or until the imsa'k, which is the period when
the fast must he recommended. They are illuminated
within and at their entrances as long as they remain
open; and the ma'd'nehs are illuminated during the
whole of the night. The time during which the Moos'lim
is allowed to eat (commencing, as already slated, at
sunset) varies from 11 hours 55 minutes to 7 hours 46
minutes (in the latitude of Cairo), according as the
night is long or short: the imsa'k being always twenty
minutes before the period of the prayer of day-break.
Consequently, the time during which he keeps fast every
day is from 12 hours 5 minutes to 16 hours 14
* Sala't el-'esh'ë.
The Moos'lims, during Rum'ada'n, generally
take their breakfast at home; after which, they sometimes
spend an hour or two in the house of a friend. Many
of them, but chiefly those of the lower orders, in the
evening, visit a coffee-shop, either merely for the sake of
society, or to listen to one of the reciters of romances, or
musicians, who entertain the company at many of the
coffee-shops every night of this month. Numerous passengers
are seen in the streets during the greater part of

the night; and most of (he shops at which sherbet and
eatables are sold remain open. Night is thus turned
into day; and particularly by the wealthy; most of
whom sleep during a great part of the day. It is the
custom of some of the “Ool'ama of Cairo to have a zikr
performed in their houses every night during this month;
and some other persons, also, occasionally invite their
friends, and entertain them with a zikr or a khut'meh.
Every night during Rum'ada'n, criers, called Moosahh'hhirs,
go about, first to recite a complimentary cry,
before the house of each Moos'lim who is able to reward
him, and at a later hour to announce the period of the
sahhoo'r, or last meal*. There is one of these criers to
each khoot't, or small district of Cairo. He begins his
rounds about two hours, or a little more, after sunset
(that is, shortly after the night-prayers have been said);
holding, with his left hand, a small drum, called ba'z, or
tub'lat el-moosahh'hhir , and, in his right hand, a small
stick or strap, with which he beats it; and is accompanied
by a boy carrying' two ckandee'ls (or small glass
lamps) in a frame made of palm-sticks. They stop before
the house of every Moos'lim, excepting the poor;
and on each occasion of their doing this, the moosahhhhir
beats his little drum to the following measure,
three times:

after which he chants—“Most fortunate is he who
* It is from this latter office, that the crier is called “Moosahh'hhir.”
Described in the chapter on music.

saith, ' There is no deity but God' “—then he beats
his drum in the same manner as before, and adds,—“‘Mohham'mad,
the Guide, is the Apostle of God.'
“—Then again beating his drum, he generally continues,—“The most happy of nights to thee, O such a one '.” (naming the master of the house). Having previously
inquired the names of the inmates of each house, he
greets each person, excepting women, in the same
manner; mentioning every brother, son, and young
unmarried daughter of the master: saying, in the last
case,—“The most happy of nights to the chief lady
among brides *, such a one.” After each greeting he
beats his drum; and after having greeted the man (or
men) adds,—“May God accept from him [or them]
his [or their] prayers and fasting and good works.”—He concludes by saying,—“God preserve you, O ye
generous, every year!”—At the houses of the great (as
also sometimes in other cases), after commencing as
above (” Most fortunate is he who saith, ' There is no
deity but God: Mohham'mad, the Guide, is the Apostle
of God ' “—) he generally repeats a long chant, in
unmeasured rhyme; in which he first conjures God to
pardon his sins, and blesses the Prophet, and then
proceeds to relate the meara'g (or the Prophet's miraculous
ascension to heaven), and other similar stories
of miracles; beating his drum after every few words,
or rather, after every rhyme.'—A house of mourning,
the moosahh'hhir passes by. He generally receives,
at the house of a person of the middle orders, two,
three, or four piasters on the 'eed which follows
Rum'ada'n: some persons give him a trifle every
* Young ladies, in Egypt, are often called “brides.”

If my reader be at all impressed by what has been
above related, of the office of the moosahh'hhir, as
illustrating the character of the Moos'lims, he will be
more struck by what here follows.—At many houses of
the middle, classes ill Cairo, the women often put a
small coin (of five fud'dahs, or from that sum to a piaster,
or more) into a piece of paper, and throw it out of a
window to the moosahh'hhir; having first set fire to
the paper, that he may see where it falls: he then,
sometimes by their desire, and sometimes of his own
accord, recites the Fa't'hhah, and relates to them a short
tale, in unmeasured rhyme, for their amusement; as,
for instance, the story of two dara'ïr; the quarrels of
two women who are wives of the same man. Some of
the tales which he relates on these occasions are of a
grossly indecent nature; and yet they are listened to by
females in houses of good repute. How incongruous
are such sequels '. What inconsistency of character do
they evince!
During this month, those calls from the ma'd'nehs
which arc termed “the Oo'la “and “the Eb'ed “are
discontinued; and, in their stead, two other calls are
chanted. The period of the first of these, which is
termed the Abra'r (from the first word of note occurring
in it) is between an hour and a half and half an hour
before midnight, according as the night is long or short.
It consists of the following verses of the Ckoor-a'n*.
“But the just shall drink of a cup [of wine] mixed with
[the water of] Ka'foo'r; a fountain from which the
servants of God shall drink: they shall convey the same
by channels [whithersoever they please]. [These] fulfil
* The fifth an l four following verses of the Sco'rat el-Insa'n,
or 76th chapter.

their vow, and dread the day, the evil whereof will disperse
itself far abroad; and give food unto the poor
and the orphan and the bondsman for his sake [saying],
We feed you for God's sake only: we desire no recompense
from you, nor any thanks.”—The second call is
termed the Sela'm (or salutation); and is a series of
invocations of blessings on the Prophet, similar to those
recited before the Friday-prayers; but not always the
same. This is generally chanted about half an hour
after midnight. The morning' ada'n from the ma'd'nehs
is chanted much earlier than usual, as a warning to the
Moos'lims to take their last meal, the sahhoo'r; in
winter, in the longest night, about two hours and a half,
and in the. short nights, about one hour and a half, before
the imsa'k. Another ada'n is also made from the
dik'kehs in the great mosques about twenty minutes
before the imsa'k, as a final warning to any who may
have neglected to cat; and at the period of the imsa'k,
in these mosques, the meecka'tee (who makes known
the hours of prayer, &c.), or some other person, calls
out, “Ir'fa'oo!” that is “Remove ye “[your food, &c.]
—About an hour and a half before the imsa'k, the
moosahh'hhir goes his rounds to rouse or remind the
people to eat at those houses where he has been ordered
to call; knocking and calling until he is answered;
and the porter of each quarter does the same at each
house in his quarter.—Some persons eat but little for
their fatoo'r, and make the sahhoo'r the principal meal:
others do the reverse; or make both meals alike. Most
persons sleep about half the night.
Some few pious persons spend the last ten days and
nights of Rum'ada'n in the mosque of the Hhasaney'n
or that of the Sey'yideh Zey'neb. One of these nights,

generally supposed to be the 27th of the month* (that
is, the night preceding; the 27th day), is called Ley'let el-Ckudr
(the Night of Power, or of the Divine decree).
On this night, the Ckoor-a'n is said to have been sent
down to Mohham'mad. It is affirmed to be “better
than a thousand months ;” and the angels are believed
to descend, and to be occupied in conveying blessings
to the faithful from the commencement of it until daybreak.
salt water, it is said, suddenly becomes sweet
on this night; and hence, some devout persons, not
knowing which of the last ten nights of Rum'ada'n is
the Ley'let el-Ckudr, observe all those nights with great
solemnity, and keep before them a vessel of salt water,
which they occasionally taste, to try if it become sweet,
so that they may be certain of the night. I find,
however, that a tradition of the Prophet fixes it to be
one of the odd nights; the 21st, 23d, 25th, 27th, or
* Not the night supposed by Sale; which is that between the
23d and 24th days. See one of his notes on the 97th chapter of
the Ckoor-a'n.
Ckoor-a'n, ibid.
On the first three days of Show'wa'l (the tenth
month, the next after Rum'ada'n) is celebrated the
minor of the two grand festivals which are ordained, by
the religion of the Moos'lims, to be observed with general
rejoicing. It is commonly called el-'Eed es—Sooghei'yir;
but more properly, el-'Eed es-Saghee'r
The expiration of the fast of Rum'ada'n is the occasion of
this festival. Soon alter sunrise on the first day, the
people having all dressed in new, or in their best,
It is also called 'Eed el-Fitr (or the Festival of the Breaking
of the fast); and, by the Turks, Ramaza'n Beyra'm.

clothes, the men assemble in the mosques, and perform
the prayers of two rek”ahs, a soon'neh ordinance of the
'eed; after which, the Khatee'b delivers an exhortation.
Friends, meeting' in the mosque, or in the street, or in
each other's houses, congratulate and embrace and kiss
each other. They generally visit each other for this
purpose. Some, even of the lower classes, dress themselves
entirely in a new suit of clothes; and almost
every one wears something new, if it be only a pair of
shoes. The servant is presented with one or more new
articles of clothing by the master, and receives a few
piasters from each of his master's friends, if they visit
the house; or even goes to those friends, to congratulate
them, and receives his present: if he have served
a former master, he also visits him, and is in like manner
rewarded for his trouble; and sometimes he brings a
present of a dish of kahhk (or sweet cakes), and obtains,
in return, money of twice the value, or more. On
the days of this 'eed, most of the people of Cairo eat
fesee'kh (or salted fish), and kahhks, fatee'rehs (or thin,
folded pancakes), and shoorey'ks (a kind of bun).
Some families also prepare a dish called moomez'zezeh,
consisting of stewed meat, with onions, and a quantity
of treacle, vinegar, and coarse flour; and the master
usually procures dried fruits (noockl), such as nuts,
raisins, &c., for his family. Most of the shops in the
metropolis are closed, excepting those at which eatables
and sherbet are sold; but the streets present a gay
appearance, from the crowds of passengers in their
holiday clothes.
On one or more days of this festival, some or all
of the members of most families, but chiefly the women,
visit the tombs of their relatives. This they also do on

the occasion of the other grand festival, of which an
account will be given hereafter. The visitors, or their
servants, carry palm-branches, and sometimes sweet
basil (reehha'n) to lay upon the tomb which they go to
visit. The palm branch is broken into several pieces,
or its leaves are stripped off, and then placed on the
tomb. Numerous groups of women are seen on these
occasions, bearing palm-branches, on their way to the
cemeteries in the neighbourhood of the metropolis.
They are also provided, according to their circumstances,
with kahhks, shoorey'ks, fatee'rehs, bread,
dates, or some other kind of food, to distribute to the
poor who resort to the burial-grounds on these days.
Sometimes, tents are pitched for them: the tent surrounds
the tomb which is the object of the visit. The
visitors recite the Fa't'hhah; or, if they can afford it,
employ a person to recite first the Soo'rat Ya'-Seen, or
a larger portion of the Ckoor-a'n. Often, a khut'meh
(or recital of the whole of the Ckoor-a'n) is performed
at the tomb, or in the house, by several fick'ees. The
men generally return immediately after these rites have
been performed and the fragments or leaves of the
palm-branch laid on the tomb: the women usually go to
the tomb early in the morning, and do not return until
the afternoon: some of them (but these are not generally
esteemed women of correct conduct), if they have
a tent, pass the night in it, and remain until the end of
the festival, or until the afternoon of the following Friday:
so also do the women of a family possessed of a
private, enclosed burial-ground, with a house within it
(for there are many such enclosures, and not a few with
houses for the accommodation of the females, in the
midst of the public cemeteries of Cairo). Intrigues are

said to be not uncommon with the females who spend
the night in tents among the tombs. The great cemetery
of Ba'b en-Nusr, in the desert tract immediately on
the north of the metropolis, presents a remarkable scene
on the two 'eeds. In a part next the city-gate from
which the burial-ground takes its name, many swings
and whirligigs are erected, and several large, tents; in
some of which, dancers, reciters of Ab'oo Zeyd, and
other performers, amuse a dense crowd of spectators;
and throughout the burial-ground are seen numerous
tents for the reception of the visitors of the tombs.
About two or three days after the 'eed above described,
the Kis'weh, or covering of the Ka'abeh, which is sent
annually with the great caravan of pilgrims, is conveyed
in procession from the Citadel of the metropolis, where
it is manufactured at the Soolta'n's expense, to the
mosque of the Hhasaney'n, to be sewed together, and
lined, preparatively to the approaching pilgrimage. It
is of a coarse, black brocade, covered with inscriptions*
of passages from the Ckoor-a'n, &c., which are interwoven
with silk of the same colour; and having a broad
band along each side, ornamented with similar inscriptions
worked in gold. The following account of the
* This was denied by several of my Moos'lim friends, before
whom I casually mentioned it; but, by producing a piece of the
Kis'weh, I proved the truth of my assertion, I state this to show
that a writer may often be charged with committing an error on
authority which any person would consider perfectly convincing.
The Ka'abeh is a building in the centre of the Temple of
Mek'keh, most highly respected by the Moos'lims. It is nearly
in the form of a cube. Its height is somewhat more than thirty
feet; and each side is about the same, or a little more, in width.
It is not exactly rectangular, nor exactly equilateral. The black
covering, after having remained upon it nearly a year, is taken off on the 25th of Zoo-1-Cka'adeh. cut up, and sold to the pilgrims;
and the building is left without a covering for the period of fifteen
days: on the 10th of Zoo-1-Hheg'geh, the first day of the Great
Festival, the new kis'weh is put on. The interior is also hung
with a covering, which is renewed each time that a new Soolta'n
ascends the Turkish throne. It is necessary to renew the outer
covering every year, in consequence of its exposure to the rain, &c.
As the use of stuffs entirely composed of silk is prohibited, the
Kis'weh of the Ka'abeu is lined with cotton to vender it allowable.

procession of the Kis'weh I write on my return from
witnessing it, on the 6th of Show'wa'l 1249 (or 15th of
February, 1834).
I took my seat, soon after sunrise, in the shop of the
Ba'sha's booksellers, in the principal street of the city,
nearly opposite the entrance to the ba'za'r called Kha'n
EI-Khalee'lee. This and almost every shop in the
street were crowded with persons attracted by the desire
of witnessing the procession, old and young; for the
Egyptians of every class and rank and age take great
pleasure in viewing public spectacles; but the streets
were not so much thronged as they usually are on the
occasions of the processions of the Mahh'mil. About
two hours after sunrise, the four portions which form
each one side of the Kis'weh were borne past the spot
where I had taken my post; each of the four pieces
placed on an ass; with the ropes by which they were
to be attached. The asses were not ornamented in any
way, nor neatly caparisoned; and their conductors were
common fella'hhs, in the usual blue shirt. There was
then an interval of about three quarters of an hour;
and nothing to relieve the dulness of this long pause
but the passing of a few durwee'shes, and two buffoons,
who stopped occasionally before a shop where they saw
any well-dressed persons sitting, and, for the sake of

obtaining a present of about five fud'dahs (or a little
more than a farthing), engaged in a sham quarrel,
abused each other in loud and gross words, and violently
slapped each other on the face.
After this interval came about twenty ill-dressed men,
bearing on their shoulders a long frame of wood, upon
which was extended one quarter of the Hheza'm (that
is, the belt or baud above mentioned). The Hheza'm is
in four pieces, which, when sewed together to the Kis'weh,
form one continuous band, so as to surround the
Ka'abeh entirely, at about two thirds of its height. It
is of the same kind of black brocade as the Kis'weh
itself. The inscriptions in gold are well worked,in large
and beautiful characters, and surrounded by a border of
gold; and at each end, where the upper and lower
borders unite, the Hheza'm is ornamented in a tasteful
manner, with green and red silk, sewed on, and embroidered
with gold. One or other of the bearers frequently
went aside to ask for a present from some
respectably dressed spectator. There was an interval
of about a quarter of an hour after the first quarter of
the Hheza'm passed by: the other three portions were then
borne along, immediately after one another, in the same
manner. Then there was another interval, of about
half an hour; after which there came several tall camels,
slightly stained with the red dye of the hhen'na, and
having high ornamented saddles, such as I have described
in my account of the return of the Mahh'mil:
upon each of these were one or two boys or girls; and
upon some were cats. These were followed by a company
of Baltagee'yeh (or Pioneers), a very good military
band (the instruments of various kinds, but mostly
trumpets, and all European), and the Ba'sha's guard,

a regiment of infantry, of picked young men, in uniforms
of a dark blueish brown, with new red shoes,
and with stockings.
The Boor'cko' (or Veil *), which is the curtain that
is hung before the door of the Ka'abeh, was next borne
along, stretched upon a high, flattish frame of wood,
fixed on the back of a fine camel. It was of black brocade,
embroidered in the same manner as the Hheza'm,
with inscriptions from the Ckoor-a'n in letters of gold,
but more richly, and move highly, ornamented; and was
lined with green silk. The face of the Boor'cko' was
extended on the right side of the frame; and the green
silk lining on the left. It was followed by numerous
companies of durwee'shes, with their banners; among
which were several sha'lee'shes (such as I have described
in my account of the Do'seh at the festival of the
Meara'g), which are the banners of the principal orders
of durwee'shes. Many of them bore flags, inscribed
with the profession of the faith (” There is no deity but
God: Mohham'mad is God's Apostle”), or with words
from the Ckoor-a'n, and the names of God, the Prophet,
and the founders of their orders. Several Cka'diree
durwee'shes bore nets, of various colours, each extended
upon a frame-work of hoops, upon a pole: these
were fishermen. Some of the durwee'shes were employed
in repeating, as in a common zikr, the name
and attributes of God. Two men, armed with swords
and shields, engaged each other in a mock combat. One
other, mounted on a horse, was fantastically dressed in
* This is often called, by the vulgar, “the veil of sit'na Fa't'meh;”
because it is said that Fa'timeh Sheg'eret ed-Door'r, the
wife of the Soolta'n Es-Sa'lehh, was the first person who sent a
veil of this kind to cover the door of the Ka'abeh.

sheep-skins, and wore a high skin cap, and a grotesque
false beard, composed of short pieces of cord or twist,
apparently of wool, with mustaches formed of two long
brown feathers: he occasionally pretended to write fe'was
(or judicial decisions), upon scraps of paper given
to him by spectators, with a piece of stick, which he
feigned to charge with a substitute for ink by applying
it to his horse as though it were intended for a goad.
But the most remarkable group in this part of the procession
consisted of several durwee'shes of the sect of
the Rifa”ees called Owla'd 'Ilwa'n, each of whom bore
in his hand an iron spike, about a foot in length, with
a ball of the same metal at the thick end, having a
number of small and short chains attached to it. Several
of these durwee'shes, in appearance, thrust the
spike with violence into their eyes, and withdrew it,
without showing any mark of injury: it seemed to enter
to the depth of about an inch. This trick was very well
performed. Five fud'dahs, or even a pipeful of tobacco,
seemed to be considered a sufficient recompense to the
religious juggler for this display of his pretended miraculous
power. The spectators near me seemed to entertain
no suspicion of any fraud in this singular performance;
and I was reproached by one who sat by me, a
man of very superior information, for expressing my
opinion that it was a very clever piece of deception.
Most of the durwee'shes in the procession were Rifa”ees:
their sheykh, on horseback, followed them.
Next came the Mahh'mil, which I have described in
my account of its return to Cairo. It is added to the
procession of the Kis'weh for the sake of increasing the
show: the grand procession of the Mahh'mil previous
to the departure of the great caravan of pilgrims takes

place between two and three weeks after. Another black
covering, of an oblong form, embroidered in like manner
with gold, to be placed over the Macka'm Ibrahee'm, in
the Temple of Mek'keh, was borne after the Mahh'mil.
Behind this rode a Turkish military officer, holding,
upon an embroidered kerchief, a small case, or bag, of
given silk, embroidered with gold, the receptacle of the
key of the Ka'abeh. Then followed the last person in
the procession: this was the half-naked sheykh described
in my account of the return of the Mahh'mil,
who constantly follows this sacred object, and accompanies
the caravan to and from Mek'keh, mounted on a
camel, and incessantly rolling his head *.
* I went to the mosque of the Hhasaney'n a few days after, to
examine the Kis'weh and the other objects above described, that
I might be able to make my account of them more accurate and
complete. I was permitted to handle them all at my leisure; and
gave a small present for this privilege, and for a superfluous piece
of the Kis'weh, for which I asked, a span in length, and nearly
the same in breadth.
First, a cannon was drawn along, about three hours
after sunrise: it was a small field-piece, to be used for
the purpose of firing signals for the departure of the
caravan after each halt. Then followed two companies
of irregular Turkish cavalry (Del'ees and Toofek'jees),
about five hundred men, most shabbily clad, and having
altogether the appearance of banditti. Next, after an
interval of about half an hour, came several men
mounted on camels, and each beating a pair of the
large, copper, kettle-drams called nuck'a'ckee'r*,
attached to the fore part of the saddle. Other camels,
with large, shifted saddles, of the same kind as those
described in my account of the return of the Mahh'mil,
without riders, followed those above mentioned. These
camels were all slightly tinged of a dingy orange red
with hhen'na. Some of them had a number of fresh,
green palm-branches fixed upright upon the saddles, like
enormous plumes; others were decorated with small
flags, in the same, manner as those above alluded to:
several had a large bell hung on each side: some, again,
bore water-skins; and one was laden with a square
case, covered with red cloth, containing the khuz'neh
(or treasure) for defraying those expenses of the pilgrimage
which fall upon the government. The baggage
of the Emee'r el-Hha'gg (or Chief of the Pilgrims)
* These are described in the chapter on music.

then followed, borne by camels. With his furniture
and provisions, &c., was conveyed the view Kis'weh,
After this, there was another interval.
The next persons in the procession were several durwee'shes,
moving their heads from side to side, and repeating
the name of God. With these were numerous
camel-drivers, sack'ckas, sweepers, and others; some of
them crying “'Arafa't*! O God !” and “God! God!
[May the journey be] with safety !”. Then, again,
followed several camels; some, with palm-branches,
and others, with large bells, as before described. Next,
the tukht'rawa'n (or litter) of the Emee'r el-Hha'gg,
covered with red cloth, was borne along by two camels;
the foremost of which had a saddle decorated with a
number of small flags. Some Arabs, and the Delee'l el-Hha'gg
(or Guide of the Caravan), followed it; and
next came several camels and groups of durwee'shes
and others, as before. Then followed about fifty members
of the Ba'sha's household, well dressed and
mounted; a number of other officers, with silver-headed
sticks, and guns; the chief of the Del'ees, with his
officers; and another body of members of the household,
mounted like the first, but persons of an inferior order.
These were followed by several other officers of the
court, on foot, dressed in ckufta'ns of cloth of gold.
Next came two swordsmen, naked to the waist, and
each having a small, round shield: they frequently
stopped, and engaged each other in sport; and occasionally
received remuneration from some of the spectators.
These preceded a company of durwee'shes,
* “'Arafa't” is the name of the mountain which is one of the
principal objects of pilgrimage.
'Arafa't ya-lla'h.
Al'lah. Al'lah. Bi-s-sela'meh.

camel-drivers, and others; and the shouts before-mentioned
were repealed.
After a short interval, the sounds of drums and fifes
were heard; and a considerable body of the Niza'm, or
regular troops, marched by. Next followed the Wa'lee
(or chief magistrate of police), with several of his
officers: then, the attendants of the Emee'r el-Hha'gg,
the Emee'r himself, three ka'tibs (or clerks), a troop of
Mugh'reb'ee horsemen, and three Moabal'lighs of the
Mountain, in white 'abba'yehs (or woollen cloaks), interwoven
with gold. The office of the last is to repeat
certain words of the Khatee'b (or preacher) on Mount
'Arafa't. Then again there intervened numerous groups
of camel-drivers, sweepers, sack'ckas, and others; many
of them shouting as those before. In the midst of these
rode the Ima'ms of the four orthodox sects; one to
each sect. Several companies of durwee'shes?, of different
orders, followed next, with the tall banners and
flags of the kind mentioned in my account of the procession
of the Kis'weh; the Cka'diree'yeh having also,
in addition to their poles with various coloured nets, long
palm-sticks, as fishing-rods. Kettle-drums, hautboys,
and other instruments, at the head of each of these companies,
produced a harsh music. They were followed
by members of various trades; each body headed by
their sheykh.
Next came several camels; and then, the Mahh'mil.
Many of the people in the streets pressed violently towards
it, to touch it with their hands, which, having
done so, they kissed; and many of the women who
witnessed the spectacle from the latticed windows of the
houses let down their shawls or head-veils, in order to
touch with them the sacred object. Immediately behind

the Mahh'mil was the same person whom I have
described as following it on its return to Cairo, and in
the procession of the Kis'weh; the half-naked sheykh,
seated on a camel, and rolling' his head.
In former years, the Mahh'mil used to be conducted,
on this occasion, with much more pomp, particularly in
the times of the Memloo'ks; who attended it clad in
their richest dresses, displaying their most splendid arms
and armour, and, in every way, vieing with each other
in magnificence. It used generally to be preceded by a
group of Saadee'yeh durwee'shes, devouring live serpents.
The Mahh'mil, the baggage of the Emee'r, &c.,
generally remain two or three or more days in the plain
of the Hhas'weh, on the north of the metropolis; then
proceed to the Bir'ket el-Hha'gg (or Lake of the Pilgrims),
about eleven miles from the city, and remain
there two days. This latter halting-place is the general
rendezvous of the pilgrims. The caravan usually departs
thence on the twenty-seventh of Show'wa'l. The
journey to Mek'keh occupies thirty-seven days. The
route lies over rocky and sandy deserts, with very few
verdant spots. To diminish the hardships of the journey,
the caravan travels slowly, and mostly by night;
starting about two hours before sunset, and halting the
next morning a little after sunrise. The litters most
generally used by the pilgrims I have described in the
account of the return of the caravan.—Most of the
Turkish pilgrims, and many others, prefer going by way
of El-Ckoosey'r or Es-Soowey's* and the Red Sea;
and set out from Cairo generally between two and three
months before the great caravan.
* Thus is properly pronounced the name of the town which we
commonly call

On the tenth of Zoo-l-Hheg'geh (the last month of
the year) commences the Great Festival, el-'Eed el-Kebee'r*;
which, like the former 'eed, lasts three days,
and is observed with nearly the same customs. Every
person puts on his best clothes, or a new suit; but it is
more common to put on new clothes on the minor 'eed.
Prayers are performed In the mosques on the first day,
soon after sunrise, as on the other festival; and the
same customs of visiting and congratulation, and giving
presents (though generally of smaller sums) to servants
and others, are observed by most persons. The sacrifice
that is performed on the first day, which is the day of
the pilgrims' sacrifice, has been mentioned in the third
chapter of the former volume of this work. It is a duty
observed by most persons who can easily afford to do it.
For several previous days, numerous flocks of sheep,
and many buffaloes, are driven into the metropolis, to
be sold for sacrifice. Another custom observed on this
festival, that of visiting the tombs, I have also before
had occasion to describe, in the account of the ceremonies
of the former 'eed. In most respects, what is
called the Minor Festival is generally observed with
more rejoicing than that which is termed the Great
Festival. On this latter 'eed, most persons who have
the means to do so prepare a dish called fet'teh, composed
of boiled mutton, or other meat (the meat of the
victim), cut into small pieces, placed upon broken bread,
upon which is poured the broth of the meat, and some
vinegar flavoured with a little garlic fried in a small
quantity of melted butter, and then sprinkled over with
a little pepper.
* It is also called 'Eed el-Ckoorba'n (or the Festival of the
Sacrifice), and, by the Turks, Choorba'n Beyra'm.

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IT is remarkable that the Moos'lims of Egypt observe
certain customs of a religious or superstitious nature at
particular periods of the religious almanac of the Copts;
and even, according to the same system, calculate the
times of certain changes of the weather. Thus they
calculate the period of the Khum'a'see'n, when hot
southerly winds are of frequent, occurrence, to commence
on the day immediately following the Coptic festival
of Easter Sunday, and to terminate on the Day of
Pentecost (or Whitsunday); an interval of forty-nine
The Wednesday next before this period is called
Ar'ba'a Eiyoo'b, or Job's Wednesday. Many persons,
on this day, wash themselves with cold water, and rub
themselves with the creeping' plant called raara'a Ei-yoo'b,
or ghoobey'ra * (inula Arabica, and inula
undulata), on account of a tradition which relates that Job
did so to obtain restoration to health. This and other
customs about to be mentioned were peculiar to the
Copts; but are now observed by many Moos'lims in the
towns, and by more in the villages. The other customs
just alluded to are that of eating eggs, dyed externally
red or yellow or blue, or some other colour, on the next
* Commonly pronounced ghoobbey'rë.

day (Thursday); and, on the Friday (Good Friday), a
dish of khul'tah, composed of kishk *, with foo'l na'bit ,
lentils, rice, onions, &c. On the Saturday, also, it is a
common custom of men and women to adorn their eyes
with kohhl. This day is called Sebt en-Noo' r (Saturday
of the Light); because a light, said to be miraculous,
appears during the festival then celebrated in the Holy
Sepulchre in Jerusalem.
* Kishk is prepared from wheat, first moistened, then dried,
trodden in a vessel to separate the husks, and coarsely ground
with a hand-mill: the meat is mixed with milk, and about six
hours afterwards is spooned out upon a little straw or bran, and
then left for two or three days to dry. When required for use, it
is either soaked or pounded, and put into a sieve, over a vessel;
and then boiling water is poured on it: what remains in the sieve
is thrown away: what parses through is generally poured into a
saucepan of boiled meat or fowl, over the fire: some leaves of
white bete, fried in butter, are usually added to each plate of it.
Beans soaked in water until they begin to sprout, and then
A custom termed Khemm en-Nesee'm (or the Smelling
of the Zephyr) is observed on the first day of the Khum'a'see'n.
Early in the morning of this day, many persons,
especially women, break an onion, and smell it;
and in the course of the forenoon, many of the citizens
Cairo ride or walk a little way into the country, generally
northwards, to take the air, or, as they term it,
smell the air, which, on that day, they believe to have a
wonderfully beneficial effect. The greater number dine
in the country. This year (1834), they were treated
with a violent hot wind, accompanied by clouds of
dust, instead of the nesee'm: but considerable numbers,
notwithstanding, went out to smell it.—The
'ool'ama have their “shemm en-nesee'm” at a fixed

period of the solar year; the first three days of the
spring quarter.
The night of the 17th of June, which corresponds
with the llth of the Coptic month of Ba-oo'neh, is
called Ley'let en-Noock'tah (or the Night of the Drop)
as it is believed that a miraculous drop then falls into
the Nile, and causes it to rise. Astrologers calculate the
precise moment when the “drop” is to fall; which is
always in the course of this night. Many of the inhabitants
of Cairo and its neighbourhood, and of other
parts of Egypt, spend this night on the hanks of the
Nile; some, in houses of their friends; others, in the
open air. Many also, and especially the women, observe
a singular custom on the Ley'let en-Noock'tah; placing,
upon the terrace of the house, after sunset, as many
lumps of dough as there are inmates in the house, a
lump for each person, who puts his, or her, mark upon
it: at day-break, on the following morning, they look at
each of these lumps; and if they find it cracked, they
infer that the life of the person for whom it was placed
will he long, or not terminate that year; but if they find
it not cracked, they infer the reverse. Some say that
this is also done to discover whether the Nile will rise
high in the ensuing season.—Another absurd custom
is observed on the fourth following night, Ley'let en-Sarata'n,
when the sun enters the sign of Cancer: it is
the writing a charm to exterminate, or drive away, bugs.
This charm consists of the following words from the
Ckoor-a'n*, written in separate letters—“' Hast thou
not considered those who left their habitations, and
they were thousands, for fear of death? and God said
unto them die:' die: die.” The last word of the text
* Chap, ii., ver. 244.

is thus written three times. The above charm, it is said,
should be written on three pieces of paper, which are to
be hung upon the walls of the room which is to be
cleared of the bugs; one upon each wall excepting that
at the end where is the entrance, or that in which is the
The Nile, as I have mentioned in the introduction to
this work, begins to rise about, or soon after, the period
of the summer solstice. From, or about, the 27th of
the Coptic month Baoo-'neh (3d of July) its rise is
daily proclaimed in the streets of the metropolis. There
are several criers to perform this office; each for a particular
district of the town. The Crier of the Nile
(Moona'dee en-Neel) generally goes about his district
early in the morning; but sometimes later; accompanied
by a boy. On the day immediately preceding
that on which he commences his daily announcement of
the rise of the Nile, he proclaims,—“God hath been
propitious to the lands! The day of good news! Tomorrow,
the announcement, with good fortune!”—The
daily announcement is as follows.
Moona'dee. “Mohham'mad is the Prophet of guidance!”
Boy. “The Mahh'mils journey to him *!” M.
“The guide: peace be on him!” B. “He will prosper
who blesseth him!” [The Moona'dee and boy then continue,
or sometimes they omit the preceding form, and
begin, thus.] M. “O Thou whose government is excellent!”
B. “My Lord! I have none beside Thee!” [After this, they proceed, in many cases, thus.]
M. “The treasuries of the Bountiful are full!” B.
“And at the gate there is no scarcity!” M. “I assert
the absolute glory of Him who spread out the earth!”
B. “And hath given running rivers!” M. ” Through
* That is, to his tomb.

Whom the fields become green!” B. “After death He
causeth them to live!” M. “God hath given abundance,
and Increased [the river], and watered the high
lands!” B. “And the mountains and the sands and
the fields!” M. “O Alternator of the day and night!”
B. ”. My Lord! There is none beside Thee!” M. “O
Guide of the wandering! O God!” B. “Guide me to
the path of prosperity!” [They then continue, or,
sometimes omitting all that here precedes, commence,
as follows.] M. “O Amiable! O Living! O Self-subsisting!”
B. “O Great in power! O Almighty!”
M. “O Aider! regard me with favour!” B. “O
Bountiful! withdraw not thy protection!” M. ” God
preserve to me my master [or my master the emee'r]
such a one [naming the master of the house], and the
good people of his house! O Bountiful! O God '.”
B. ” Ay! please God!” M. “God give them a happy
morning, from himself; and increase their prosperity,
from himself!” B. “Ay '. please God!” M. ” God
preserve to me my master [&c.] such a one [naming
again the master of the house]; and increase to him
the favours of God! O Bountiful! O God!” B. “Ay!
please God!” [Then brothers, sons, and unmarried
daughters, if there be any, however young, are mentioned
in the same manner, as follows.] M. “God
preserve to me my master [&c] such a one, for a long
period! O Bountiful '. O God!” B. “Ay! please
God!” M. “God preserve to me my mistress, the
chief lady among brides, such a one, for a long period!
O Bountiful! O God!” B. ” Ay! please God!”
M. “May He abundantly bless them with his perfect
abundance; and pour abundantly the Nile over the
country! O Bountiful! O God!” B. ” Ay! please
God!” M. ” Five [or six, &c. digits] today: and the

Lord is bountiful;” B. “Bless ye Mohham'mad!”—These
last words are added in the fear lest the rising of
the river should be affected by a malicious wish, or evil
eye, which is supposed to be rendered ineffectual if the
malicious person bless the Prophet *.
* He would be guilty of a sin if he did not do this when desired.
Sometimes, the people of a house before which the
Moona'dee makes his cry give him daily a piece of
bread: this is a common custom among the middle
orders: but most persons give him nothing until the
day before the opening of the Canal of
Cairo. Very
little reliance is to be placed upon the announcement
which he makes of the height which the 'river has
attained; for he is generally uninformed or misinformed
by the persons whose duty it is to acquaint him upon
this subject: but the people mostly listen with interest
to his proclamation. He and his boy repeat this cry
every day, until the day next before that on which the
dam that closes the mouth of the Canal of Cairo is cut.
On this day (that is, the former of those just mentioned),
the Moona'dee goes about his district, accompanied
by a number of little boys, each of whom bears
a small coloured flag, called ra'yeh; and announces the
Wef'a en-Neel (the Completion, or Abundance, of the
Nile); for thus is termed the state of the river when it
has risen sufficiently high for the government to proclaim
that it has attained the sixteenth cubit of the
Nilometer: in this, however, the people are always deceived;
for there is an old law, that the land-tax cannot
be exacted unless the Nile rises to the height of sixteen
cubits of the Nilometer; and the government thinks it
proper to make the people believe, as early as possible,
that it has attained this height. The period when the

Wef'a en-Neel is proclaimed is when the river has actually
risen about twenty or twenty-one feet in the neighbourhood
of the metropolis; which is generally between
the 6th and 16th of August (or the 1st and 11th of the
Coptic month of Mis'ra) *: this is when there yet remain,
of the measure of a moderately good rise, in the
neighbourhood of the metropolis, four or three feet. On
the day above mentioned (the next before that on which
the canal is to be opened), the Moona'dee and the boys
who accompany him with the little ra'ya't (or flags)
make the following announcement.
* This present year (1834), the river having risen with unusual
rapidity, the clam was cut on the 5th of August. Fears
were entertained lest it should overflow the dam before it was cut;
which would have been regarded as an evil omen.
Moona'dee. “The river hath given abundance, and
completed [its measure]! “Boys. “God hath given
!” M. “And Da'r en-Nahha's is filled!”
B. “God, &c.” M. ” And the canals flow!” B.
“God, &c.” M. “And the vessels are afloat!” B. ”
God, &c.” M. ” And the hoarder [of grain] has
failed!” B. “God, &c.” M. ” By permission of the
Mighty, the Requiter!” B. ” God, &c.” M. ” And
there remains nothing—“B. ” God, &c.” M. ” To
the perfect completion! “B. ” God, &c.” M. ” This
is an annual custom.” B. ” God. &c.” M. ” And
may you live to every year!” B. “God, &c.” M.
“And if the hoarder wish for a scarcity” B. “God,
The words thus translated, the boys pronounce O'fa-lle'h for
This is an old building between the aqueduct and Musr el'Atee'ekah,
where the Soolta'ns and Governors of Egypt used to
alight, and inspect the state of the river, previously to the cutting
of the dam of the Canal.

&c.” M. “May God visit him, before death, with
blindness and affliction!” B. “God, &c.” M. “This
generous person* loveth the generous.” B. “God,
&c.” M. ” And an admirable palace is built for him .”
B. ” God, &c.” M. ” And its columns are incomparable
jewels,” B. ” God, &c.” M. ” Instead of palm-sticks
and timber:” B. “God, &c.” M. “And it has
a thousand windows that open: “B. ” God, &c.” M.
And before every window is Selsebee'l .” B. “God,
&c.” M. “Paradise is the abode of the generous.”
B. “God, &c.” M. “And Hell is the abode of the
avaricious.” B. “God, &c.” M. “May God not
cause me to stop before the door of an avaricious
woman, nor of an avaricious man:” B. “God, &c.”
M. “Nor of one who measures the water in the jar:”
B. ” God, &c.” M. “Nor who counts the bread while it
is yet dough:” B. “God,&c.” M. “And if a cake be
wanting orders a fast:” B. “God, &c.” M. “Nor
who shuts up the cats at supper-time:” B. “God,
&c.” M. “Nor who drives away the dogs upon the
walls.” B. “God, &c.” M. “The world is brightened.”
B. ” God, &c.” M. “And the damsels have
adorned themselves.” B. “God, &c.” M. ” And the
old women tumble about.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And
the married man hath added to his wife eight others.”
B. “God, &c.” M. ” And the bachelor hath married
eighteen.”—This cry is continued until somebody in the
house gives a present to the Moona'dee; the amount of
which is generally from ten fud'dahs to a piaster; but
many persons give two piasters; and grandees, a kheyree'yeh,
or nine piasters.
* The person before whose house the announcement is made.
In Paradise.
A Fountain of Paradise.

During this day, preparations are made for cutting
the dam of the, canal. This operation attracts a great
crowd of spectators, partly from the political importance
attached to it; but, being always prematurely performed,
it is now without much reason made an occasion of
public festivity.
The dam is constructed before, or soon after, the
commencement of the Nile's increase. The Khalee'g,
or Canal, at the distance of about four hundred feet
within its entrance, is crossed by an old stone bridge of
one arch. About sixty feet in front of this bridge is the
dam; which is of earth; very broad at the bottom, and
diminishing in breadth towards the top, which is flat,
and about three yards broad. The top of the dam rises
to the height of about twenty-two or twenty-three feet
above the level of the Nile when at the lowest; but not
so high above the bed of the canal; for this is several
feet above the low-water mark of the river; and consequently
dry for some months, when the river is low.
The banks of the canal are a few feet higher than the
top of the dam. Nearly the same distance in front of
the dam that the latter is distant from the bridge, is
raided a round pillar of earth, diminishing towards the
top, in the form of a truncated cone, and not quite so
high as the dam. This is called the 'aroo'seh
(or bride), for a reason which will presently be stated.
Upon its Hat top, and upon that of the dam, a little
maize or millet is generally sown. The 'aroo'seh is
always washed down by the rising tide before the river
has attained to its summit, and generally more than a
week or fortnight before the dam is cut.
It is believed that the custom of forming this 'aroo'seh
originated from an ancient superstitious usage, which is

mentioned by Arab authors, and, among them, by El-Muckree'zee.
This historian relates, that, in the year
of the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs, 'Amr Ibn El'A's,
the Arab general, was told, that the Egyptians
were accustomed, at the period when the Nile began to
rise, to deck a young virgin in gay apparel, and throw
her into the river as a sacrifice, to obtain a plentiful
inundation. This barbarous custom, it is said, he
abolished; and the Nile, in consequence, did not rise in
the least degree during the space of nearly three months
after the usual period of the commencement of its
increase. The people were greatly alarmed; thinking
that a famine would certainly ensue: 'Amr, therefore,
wrote to the Khalee'feh, to inform him of what he had
done, and of the calamity with which Egypt was, in
consequence, threatened. 'Oma'r returned a brief
answer, expressing his approbation of “Amr's conduct,
and desiring him, upon the receipt of the letter, to throw
a note, which it enclosed, into the Nile. The purport
of this note was as follows.—“From 'Abd Al'lah “Om'ar,
Prince of the Faithful, to the Nile of Egypt. If thou
flowest of thine own accord, flow not: but if it be God,
the One, the Mighty, who causeth thee to flow, we implore
God, the One, the Mighty, to make thee flow.”—‘Amr
dìd as he was commanded; and the Nile, we are
told, rose sixteen cubits in the following night.—This
tale is, indeed, hard to be believed, even divested of the miracle.
On the north side of the Canal, overlooking the dam,
and almost close to the bridge, was a small building of
stone, from which the grandees of Cairo used to witness
the operation of cutting the dam. This building has
become a ruin; and upon its remains is erected a large

tent for the reception of those officers who have to witness
and superintend the cutting. Some other tents are
also erected for other visitors; and the government supplies
a great number of fire-works, chiefly rockets, to
honour the festival, and to amuse the populace during
the night preceding the day when the dam is cut, and
during the operation itself, which is performed early in
the morning. Many small tents, for the sale of sweetmeats,
fruits, and other eatables, and coffee, &c., are
likewise pitched along the bank of the isle of Er-Ro'dah,
opposite the entrance of the Canal. The day of the
cutting of the dam of the Canal is called Yo'm Gebr el-Bahhr,
which is said to signify “the Day of the Breaking
of the River”; though the word gebr, which is thus
interpreted “breaking,” has really the reverse signification.
The term Yo'm Wef'a el-Bahhr, or Wef'a en-Neel, before explained, is also,
and more properly, applied to this day. The festival of the Canal is also called Mo'sim el-Khalee'g.
In the afternoon of the day preceding that on which
the dam is cut, numerous boats, hired by private parties,
for pleasure, repair to the neighbourhood of the entrance
of the Canal. Among these is a very large boat,
called the 'Ack'abah; one of the largest of those which
navigate the Nile, and which are called 'ack'abs. It is
painted for the occasion, in a gaudy, but rude, manner,
and has two or more small cannons on board, and
numerous lamps attached to the ropes, forming various
devices, such as a large star, &c.: it has also, over the
cabin, a large kind of close awning, composed of pieces
of silk, and other stuffs; and is adorned with two pennants.
It is vulgarly believed that this boat represents
a magnificent vessel, in which the Egyptians used,

before the conquest of their country by the Arabs, to
convey the virgin whom, it is said, they threw into the
Nile. It sails from Boo'la'ck about three hours after
noon; taking passengers for hire; men and women;
the latter being usually placed, if they prefer it, in the
large awning above mentioned. It is made fast to the
bank of the isle of Er-Ro'dah, immediately opposite the
entrance of the Canal. Most of the other boats also
remain near it during the night, along the bank of the
island; but some, all the evening and night, are constantly
sailing up, or rowing down the river. In many
boats, the crews amuse themselves and their passengers
by singing, often accompanied by the darabook'keh
and zoomma'rah; and some private parties hire professional
musicians to add to their diversion on the river.
The festival is highly enjoyed by the crowds who attend
it; though there is little that a stranger would think
could minister to their amusement: they seem to require
nothing more to enliven them than crowds and bustle,
with a pipe and a cup of coffee. In former years, the
festival was always attended by dancing girls (who are
now forbidden to perform), and by singers, instrumental
musicians, and reciters of romances. In the evening,
before it is dark, the exhibition of fire-works commences;
and this is continued, together with the firing
of guns from the 'ack'abah and two or more gun-boats,
every quarter of an hour during the night. About
twelve guns are fired on each of these occasions: the
whole number fired at the night's festival of the present
year was about six hundred. The fire-works which are
displayed during the night consist of little else than
rockets and a few blue lights: the best are kept till
morning; and exhibited in broad day-light, during the

cutting of the dam. At night, the river and its banks
present a remarkably picturesque scene. Numerous
boats are constantly passing up and down; and the
lamps upon the rigging of the 'ack'abah, and in other
boats, as well as on the shore, where there are also many
mesh”als stuck in the ground (several upon the dam
and its vicinity, and many more upon the bank of the
island), have a striking effect, which is occasionally
rendered more lively by the firing of the guns, and the
ascent of a number of rockets. The most crowded part
of the scene of the festival at night is the bank of the
island; where almost every person is too happy to sleep,
even if the noise of the guns, &c. did not prevent
Before sunrise, a great number of workmen begin to
cut the dam. This labour devolves, in alternate years,
upon the Moos'lim grave-diggers (et-toor'abee'yeh) and
on the Jews; both of whom are paid by the government:
but when it falls to the Jews, and on a Saturday,
they are under the necessity of paying a handsome sum
of money to escape the sin of profaning their sabbath by
doing what, the government requires of them. With a
kind of hoe, the dam is cut thinner and thinner, from
the back (the earth being removed in baskets, and
thrown upon the bunk), until, at the top, it remains
about a foot thick: this is accomplished by about an
hour after sunrise. Shortly before this time, when
dense crowds have assembled in the neighbourhood of
the dam, on each bank of the Canal, the Governor of
the metropolis arrives, and alights at the large tent
before mentioned, by the dam: some other great officers
are also present; and the Cka'dee attends, and writes a
document (hhog'get d-bahhr) to attest the fact of the

river's having risen to the height sufficient for the opening
of the Canal, and of this operation having been
performed; which important document is despatched
with speed to Constantinople. Meanwhile, the firing of
guns, and the display of the fire-works, continue; and
towards the close of the operation, the best of the fireworks
are exhibited; when, in the glaring sunshine,
they can hardly be seen. When the dam has been cut
away to the degree above mentioned, and all the great
officers whose presence is required have arrived, the
Governor of the metropolis throws a purse of small gold
coins to the labourers. A boat, on board of which is an
officer of the late Wa'lee, is then propelled against the
narrow ridge of earth, and, breaking the slight barrier,
passes through it, and descends with the cataract thus
formed. The person here mentioned is an old man,
named Hhammoo'deh, who was serra'g ba'shee of the
Wa'lee: it was his office to walk immediately before his
master when the latter took his ordinary rides, preceded
by a long train of officers, through the streets and
environs of the metropolis. Just as his boat approaches
the dam, the Governor of Cairo throws into it a purse
of gold, as a present for him. The remains of the dam
are quickly washed away, by the influx of the water into
the bed of the Canal; and numerous other boats enter;
pass along the Canal throughout the whole length of
the city, and, some of them, several miles further; and
Formerly, the Sheykh el-Bel'ed, or the Ba'sha, with
other great officers, presided at this fete, which was
celebrated with much pomp; and money was thrown
into the Canal, and caught by the populace; some of
whom plunged into the water with nets; but several

lives were generally lost in the scramble. This present
year (1834), three persons were drowned on the day of
the opening of the Canal; one in the Canal itself, and
two in the lake of the Ezbekee'yeh. A few minutes
after I had entered my house, on my return from witnessing'
the cutting of the dam, and the festivities of
the preceding night (which I passed partly on the river,
and partly on the isle of Er-Ro'dah), a woman, having
part of her dress and her face, which was uncovered,
besmeared with mud, passed by my door, screaming
for the loss of her son, who was one of the three persons
drowned on this occasion. The water entered the
Ezbekee'yeh by a new canal, on the day preceding that
on which the dam was cut. Crowds collected round it
on this day, and will for many following days (I am
writing a few days after the opening of the canal), to
enjoy the view of the large expanse of water, which,
though very turbid, is refreshing to the sight in so dry
and dusty a place as Cairo, and at this hot season of
the year. Several tents are pitched by it, at which
visitors are supplied with coffee; and one for the sale
of brandy, wine, &c.; and numerous stools and benches
of palm-sticks are set there. The favourite lime of
resort to this place is the evening; and many persons
remain there for several hours after sunset: some, all
night. There are generally two or three story-tellers
there. At all hours of the day, and sometimes even at
midnight, persons are seen bathing in the lake; chiefly
men and boys, but also some young girls, and even
women; the latter of whom expose their persons before
the passengers and idlers on the banks in a manner
surprising in a place where women in general so carefully
conceal even their faces; though most of these

bathers are usually covered from the waist downwards.
It often happens that persons are drowned here.
On the day after the cutting of the dam, the Moona'dee
continues to repeat his first cry; but uses a different
form of expression in stating the height of the
river; saying, for instance, “four from sixteen;”
meaning, that the river has increased four ckeera'ts (or
digits) from sixteen cubits. This cry he continues until
the day of the No'roo'z, or a little earlier.
On the No'roo'z, or Coptic new-year's-day (10th or
llth of September), or two or three days before, he
comes to each house in his district, with his boy drest in
his best clothes, and a drummer and a hautboy-player;
repeats the same cry as on the Wef'a; and again receives
a present. Afterwards he continues his former cry.
On the day of the Salee'b (or the
Discovery of the Cross), which is the 17th of the Coptic month of Too't,
or 26th or 27th of September, at which period the river
has risen to its greatest height, or nearly so, he comes
again to each house in his district, and repeats the following cry.—“In uncertainty*,
thou wilt not rest: nor
in comparing wilt thou rest. O my reproacher , rest!
There is nothing that endureth! There remaineth
nothing [uncovered by the water] but the shemma'm §
and lemma'm and the sown fields and the anemone
and safflower and flax: and may my master such a one
[naming the master of the house] live, and see that the
* Doubting whether the Nile will rise sufficiently high.
That is, in comparing the height of the river at a particular
period in the present year with its height at the same period in
preceding years.
O thou who hast said to me, “Why dost thou not bring better
§ Cucumis dudaim.
Mentha Kahirina.

river has increased; and give, to the bringer of good
news, according to a just judgment. Ab'oo Redda'd*
is entitled to a fee from the government; a fee of a
sheree'fee for every digit of the river's increase: and
we are entitled to a fee from the people of generosity;
we come to take it with good behaviour. The fortunate
Nile of Egypt hath taken leave of us in prosperity: in
its increase, it hath irrigated all the country.”—The
Moona'dee, on this occasion, presents a few limes and
other fruit, to the rich, or persons of middle rank, and
some lumps of dry mud of the Nile, which is eaten by
the women, in many families. He generally receives a
present of two or three or more piasters. His occupation
then ceases until the next year.
* The Sheykh of the Mickya's, or Nilometer.
A gold coin, now become scarce. Its value, I am informed;
is about a third of a pound sterling, or rather less.

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As the modern Egyptian does not become a housekeeper
until he is married (and not of necessity then; for he
may live with his wife in the house of his or her parents),
his first marriage is generally the first event which
affords him and his wife an occasion of calling together
their respective friends to a private entertainment.
Whenever a great entertainment is given on any occasion
of rejoicing, it is customary, for the persons invited,
to send presents (such as I have mentioned in describing
the ceremonies attendant upon a marriage), a day or two
before. The husband always has his separate party,
generally in the lower apartment or apartments of the
house; and the wife entertains her female relations and
friends in the hharee'm, or upper apartments. It is also
the usual custom for the wife to entertain her guests
(among whom no males are ever admitted, excepting
very young boys) during the six middle hours of the
day; and for the husband to receive his guests afterwards;
after sunset, or after the 'esh'ë prayers: but
sometimes his guests assemble while the wife is engaged
with her own party in the hharee'm.
On these occasions, the female singers called 'Awa'lim
(or 'A'l'mehs) are often hired to amuse the company.
They sit in one of the apartments of the hharee'm; generally
at a window looking into the court. The wooden

lattice-work of the window, though too close to allow them
to be seen by persons without, is sufficiently open to let
them be distinctly heard by the male guests sitting in
the court or in one of the apartments which look into it.
In many houses, there is a small elevated apartment, or
closet, for the 'Awa'lim, called toockey'seh (which I have
before described), adjoining the apartment in which the
male guests assemble (as well as another adjoining the
principal saloon of the hharee'm), screened in front by
wooden lattice-work, to conceal these singers from the
view of the men.—The dancing-girls (Ghawa'zee, or
Gha'zee-'yehs) are also frequently hired to attend on the
occasions of private festivities. They dance (with unveiled
face) before the men, in the court; so that they
may be seen also by the women from the windows of the
hharee'm; or perform in an apartment in which the men
are assembled; or in the street, before the house, for the
amusement only of the women. When they or the
'Awa'lim perform for the entertainment of a party, one
of the friends of the host usually collects for them small
sums of money upon the tambourine, or in a handkerchief,
from the guests: but sometimes, the host will not
allow this custom to be observed. The contributions
are called noockoo't. It is the general practice for the
person who gives the entertainment to engage the Ghawa'zee
for a certain sum: he receives the noockoo't;
which may fall short of, or exceed, the promised sum: in
the former case, he pays the difference from his own
purse: in the latter case, he often pockets the surplus.
Or he agrees that they shall receive all the noockoo't,
with, or without, an additional sum from himself. In
some parties, where little decorum is observed, the guests
dally and sport with these dancing-girls in a very licentious

manner. I have before mentioned (in a former
chapter), that, on these occasions, they are usually
indulged with brandy, or some other intoxicating liquor,
which most of them drink to excess. It is a common
custom for a man to wet, with his tongue, small gold
coins, and stick them upon the forehead, cheeks, chin,
and lips, of a Gha'zee'yeh. When money is collected
for the 'Awa'lim, their servant, who is called kkalboo's,
and who often acts the part of a buffoon, calls out, at each
contribution, “Such a one has given so many mahhboo'bs,
or kheyree'yehs “—turning a few piasters into a
much larger number of gold coins of considerably
greater value; or, if gold be given, exaggerating the
sum in the same manner. This he does to compliment
the donor, and to stimulate the generosity of others. His
mistress, or another of the 'Awa'lim, replies, “'Ock'ba le-'an'dooh”
(” May he have the like [rejoicing]”—or
“May he have a recompense”).—The guests are also
often entertained with a concert of instrumental and vocal
music, by male performers (A'la'tee'yeh), who sit in the
court, or in the apartment in which the guests are assembled.
Two dik'kehs (or high wooden sofas) are often
put together, front to front, in the court, and furnished
with cushions, &c., to form an orchestra for the musicians;
and a lantern is usually placed in the middle.
The A'la'tee'yeh generally receive contributions from
the assembly for whose entertainment they perform, like
the 'Awa'lim; their khalboo's calling out to them in the
same manner after each gift.
But performances of a different kind from those above
mentioned are more common, and are considered more
proper, on the occasions of private festivities. These are
the recitals of a khut'meh (or of the whole of the Ckoora'n),

by three or more fick'ees, who are hired for the
purpose; or of a zikr, by a small party of fackee'rs*.
That the, khut'meh may not be too fatiguing to the performers,
the fick'ees relieve each other by turns; one only
chanting at a time; and each, usually,chanting a roob'a.
They generally come to the house a little after the 'asr,
and get through the greater part of their task before the
guests assemble: one of them then chants more leisurely,
and in a more musical manner: after him, in the
same manner, another; and so on. Sometimes a khut'meh
is performed in the day-time, and after it, in the
evening, a zikr. It is a rule that the zikr should always
be performed after sunset.
* These customs remind us of St. Paul's advice to the Ephesians, chap. v., ver. 19; which shows the antiquity of social pastimes of this kind. The Egyptians highly enjoy the religious love-songs of the moon'shids at zikrs.
The marriage-festivities I have described in a former
chapter: I therefore proceed to give an account of the
festivities which follow a marriage; and shall do so in
the order of their occurrence.
On the seventh day (Yo'm es-Sooboo'a *) after a marriage,
the wife receives her female relations and friends
during the morning and afternoon; and sometimes, the
husband entertains his own friends in the evening;
generally hiring persons to perform a khut'meh or a
zikr. It is a custom of husbands in Egypt to deny
themselves their conjugal rights during the first week
after the conclusion of the marriage with a virgin bride;
and the termination of this period is a due cause for
rejoicing —On the fortieth day (Yo'm el-Arba'ee'n)
* The Sooboo'a after the birth of a child is celebrated with
more rejoicing: and therefore, in speaking of the Yo'm es-Sooboo'a,
the seventh day after childbirth is generally understood.
It was not such a festival as this alone that is alluded to in
Genesis xxix., 27, and in Judges xiv., 12. It was, and I believe
is still, the custom of wealthy Bed'awees (and such was Laban) to
feast their friends seven days after marriage (as also after the
birth of a male child); and every respectable Moos'lim, after
marriage, if disappointed in the expectations he has been led to
form of his wife, abstains from putting her away for about a week,
that she may not be disgraced by suspicion; particularly if it be
her first marriage.

after the marriage, the wife goes, with a party of her
female friends, to the bath. Her companions return
with her to her house, about the 'asr; partake of a repast,
and go away. The husband, also, sometimes receives
visitors in the evening of this day, and again
causes a khut'meh or zikr to be performed.
The next festivities in a family are generally those
consequent on the birth of a child.—Two or three or
more days before the expected time of the delivery, the
da'yeh (or midwife) conveys, to the house of the woman
who requires her assistance, the hoor'see el-wila'deh, a
chair of a peculiar form, upon which the patient is to
be seated during the birth*. This chair is covered with
a shawl, or an embroidered napkin; and some flowers of
the hhen'na-tree, or some roses, arc tied, with an embroidered
handkerchief, to each of the upper corners of
the back. Thus ornamented, the chair (which is the
property of the da'yeh) is conveyed before her to the
house.—In the houses of the rich, and of those in easy
circumstances, the mother, after delivery, is placed on a
bed, and usually remains on it from three to six days:
but poor women, in the same case, seldom take to a bed
at all; and after a day or two, resume their ordinary
occupations, if not requiring great exertion.
* See Exodus, i, 16.
A few days after the birth, generally on the fourth or

fifth day, the women of the house, if the family be of
the middle or wealthy classes, usually prepare dishes of
moofet'tuck'ah, kishk, liba'beh, and hhhil'beh; which they
send to the female relations and friends. The first of
these consists of honey with a little clarified butter* and
oil of sesame , and a variety of aromatics and spices
pounded together: roasted hazel-nuts are also added to
it . The kishk has been described in a former page §.
The liba'beh is composed of broken or crumbled bread,
honey, clarified butter, and a little rose-water: the butter
is first put into a saucepan over the fire; then, the broken
bread; and next, the honey. The dish of hhil'beh (or
fenugreek) is prepared from the dry grain, boiled, and
then sweetened with honey over the fire.
* Semn.
Some women add another ingredient; not when it is to be
sent to friends; but for a particular purpose, which is, to make
them fat: they broil and mash up a number of beetles in the
butter; and then add the honey, &c. This has been alluded to
in the chapter on the Domestic Life of the Women.
§ In a note to the second paragraph of the preceding chapter.
On the Yo'm es-Sooboo'a (or Seventh Day) after the
birth of a child, the female friends of its mother pay her
a visit. In the families of the higher classes, 'Awa'lim
are hired to sing in the hharee'm; or A'la'tee'yeh perform,
or fick'ees recite a khut'meh, below. The mother,
attended by the da'yeh, sits on the koor'see el-wila'deh, in
the hope that she may soon have occasion for it again;
for her doing this is considered propitious. The child
is brought, wrapped in a handsome shawl, or something
costly; and, to accustom it to noise, that it may not be
frightened afterwards by the music, and other sounds of

mirth, one of the women takes a brass mortar*', and
strikes it repeatedly with the pestle, as if pounding.
After this, the child is put into a sieve, and shaken; it
being supposed that this operation is beneficial to its
stomach. Next, it is carried through all the apartments
of the hharee'm, accompanied by several women or girls;
each of whom hears a number of wax candles, sometimes
of various colours, cut in two, lighted, and stuck into
small lumps of paste of hhen'na, upon a small round tray.
At the same time, the da'yeh, or another female, sprinkles,
upon the floor of each room, a mixture of salt and
seed of the fennel-flower ; saying, as she does this,
“The salt be in the eye of whoever does not bless the
Prophet !” or, “The foul salt in the eye of the
envious §!” This ceremony of the sprinkling of salt
is considered a preservative, for the child and mother,
from the evil eye. The child, wrapped up, and placed
on a fine mattress, which is sometimes laid on a silver
tray, is shown to each of the women present, who looks
at its face, says,” O God, favour our lord Mohham'mad!
God give thee long life!” &c., and usually puts an embroidered
handkerchief, with a gold coin (if pretty or
old, the more esteemed) tied up in one of the corners, on
the child's head, or by its side. This giving of handkerchiefs
is considered as imposing a debt, to be repaid by
the mother, if the donor should give her the same occasion;
or as the discharge of a debt for a similar offering.
* Ho'n.
Hhab'beh so'da.
“El-milhh fee 'eyn el' lee ma' yesal'lee 'a-n-neb'ee.” Yesal'lee
is for yoosal'lee; and 'a-n-neb'ee, for 'al'a-n-neb'ee.
§ El-milhh el-fa'sid fee 'eyn et-hha'sid.
Rushsh el-milhh.

The coins are generally used, for some years, to decorate
the head-dress of the child. After these noockoo't for
the child, others are given for the da'yeh. During the
night before the sooboo'a, a water-bottle full of water
(a (do'ruck in the case of a boy, or a ckool'leh in that of
a girl) is placed at the child's head, while it sleeps, with
an embroidered handkerchief tied round the neck. This,
with the water it contains, the da'yeh takes, and puts
upon a tray, and presents it to each of the women; who
put their noockoo't for her (merely money) into the
tray.—In the evening, the husband generally entertains
a party of his friends, in the manner usual on other occasions
of private festivity.
During a certain period after childbirth (in most
cases, among the people of Cairo, forty days; but differing
according to circumstances, and according to the
doctrines of the different sects) the mother is regarded
as religiously impure *. The period here mentioned is
called Nifa's. At the expiration of it, the woman goes
to the bath.
* In like manner, the Jewish law pronounces a woman unclean
during forty days after the birth of a male child; but double that
time after bearing a female child. See Leviticus, xii., 2, 4, 5.

The schoolfellows of the moota'hir, all drest in their
best clothes, or in burrowed clothes if they have none of
their own good enough, which is generally the case,
repair, a little before noon, to one of the principal
mosques, as that of the Hhasaney'n, or the Az'har, or
that of the sey'yideh Zey'neb. Thither also go the men
and the women and many of the female friends of the
family of the moota'hir, with the moota'hir himself; and
sometimes about six sha'wee'shes (or sergeants) of the
Nackee'bel-Ashra'f, The barber who is to perform the
operation also attends, with a servant bearing his hheml
(or sign), which has been described in the account of
the more common ceremonies of circumcision. All
these persons, with some others who will presently be
mentioned, having assembled in the mosque, wait there
until after the noon-prayers, and then depart in procession
through the streets to the house of the moota'hir's
parents. The first person in the procession is the barber's
servant, with his hheml. He is sometimes followed
by five or six fick'ees, chanting a lyric ode (moo-wesh'shahh)
in praise of the Prophet. Then follow the
schoolboys, two, three, or four abreast. The foremost
of these boys, or half their number, chant, as they pass
along,—“O nights of pleasure! O nights of joy!“—
The other boys then take up the strain, adding,—“
Pleasure and desire, with friends assembled! “—Then,
again, the former,—“Favour, O our Lord, the Perspicuous
Light”—then, the latter, “Ahh'mad *, the Elect,
the chief of Apostles!”—Thus the boys continue to
chant the whole of the way. Behind them walk the
male relations of the moota'hir. These are followed by
about six boys; three of them bearing each a silver
* A name of the Arabian Prophet.

scent-bottle (ckoom' ckoom) full of rose-water or orange-flower-water,
which they occasionally sprinkle on some
of the spectators; and each of the others bearing a silver
perfuming-vessel (mib'khar'ah), in which benzoin, frankincense,
or some other odoriferous substance is burning.
With these boys walks a sack'cka, bearing, on his back,
a skin of water covered with an embroidered napkin:
he gives water, now and then, in brass cups, to passengers
in the street. Next follow three servants: one
of these carries a silver pot of coffee, in a silver 'a'z' ckee
(or chafing-dish suspended by three chains): another
bears a silver tray, with ten or eleven coffee-cups, and
zurfs of silver: the third carries nothing: it is his office,
when the procession passes by a well-dressed person (one
sitting at a shop, for instance), to fill, and present to
him, a cup of coffee: the person thus honoured gives the
servant something in return: half a piaster is considered
amply sufficient. The sha'wee'shes occupy the next
place in the order of the procession. Sometimes they
are followed by another group of boys with ckoom'ckooms
and mib'khar'ahs. Next follows a boy bearing
the writing tablet of the moota'hir, hung to his neck by
a handkerchief: it is ornamented for the occasion by the
schoolmaster. Behind the boy who bears it walks the
moota'hir, between two others. He is dressed either as
in the zef'feh before described (that is, in girl's clothes,
with the exception of the turban, and decked with
women's ornaments) or simply as a boy; and holds a
folded embroidered handkerchief to his mouth. The
women follow him, raising their shrill cries of joy (the
zugh'a'ree't); and one of them is constantly employed
in sprinkling salt behind him, to prevent any ill effects
from an evil eye, which, it is thought, some person may

cast, at the lad from envy. In this order and manner,
the procession arrives at the house.—On halting' before
the door, the foremost of the schoolboys sing,—“Thou
art a sun! Thou art a moon! Thou art a light above
light! “—The others add,—“O Mohham'mad! O my
friend! O thou with black eyes!”—They enter the
house repeating this address to the Prophet; and repeat
it again after entering'. The young boys go up stairs:
the others remain below. The former, as they go up,
repeat,—“O thou his paternal aunt! O thou his maternal
aunt! Come! prepare his sira'feh.”—On enter-ins
the cka”ah, or principal apartment of the hharee'm,
a Kashmee'r shawl is given them to hold: they hold it
all round; and the ornamented writing-tablet is placed
in the middle of it. The 'aree'f, or head boy of the
school, who (together with the moota'hir and the
women) stands by while they do this, then recites what
is termed khoot'bet es-sira'feh: each clause of this is
chanted by him first, and then repeated by the other
boys. It is in unmeasured rhyme; and to the following
” Praise be to God, the Mighty Creator!—the Sole,
the Forgiver, the Conservator!—He knoweth the past
and futurity,—and veileth things in obscurity.—He
knoweth the tread of the black ant,—and its work when
in darkness vigilant.—He formed and exalted heaven's
vault,—and spread the earth o'er the ocean salt.—May
He grant this boy long life and happiness,—to read the
Ckoor-a'n with attentiveness;—to read the Ckoor-a'n,
and history's pages,—the stories of ancient and modern
ages.—This youth has learned to write and read,—to
spell, and cast up accounts with speed:—his father,
therefore, should not withhold—a reward of money,

silver and gold.—Of my learning, O father, thou hast
paid the price:—God give thee a place in Paradise:—
and thou, my mother, my thanks receive—for thine
anxious care of me mom and eve:—God grant I may
see thee in Paradise seated,—and by Mar'yam *
and Zey'neb and Fa'timeh greeted.—Our fackee'h § has
taught us the alphabet:—may he have every grateful
epithet.—Our fackee'h has taught us as far as 'The
News ':—may he never his present blessings lose.—Our fackee'h has
taught us as far as 'The Dominion':
— may he ever be blest with the world's good opinion.—
Our fackee'h has taught us as far as ' The Compassionate ':—
may he ever enjoy rewards proportionate.—
Our fackee'h has taught us as far as ' Ya'-Seen ':—
may his days and years be ever serene.—Our fackee'h
has taught us as far as ' The Cave ':—may he ever the
blessings of Providence have.—Our fackee'h has taught
us as far as ' The Cattle':—may he ne'er be the subject
of scandalous tattle.—Our fackee'h has taught us as far
as 'The Cow':—may he ever be honoured, in future
and now.—Our fackee'h amply merits of you—a coat of
green, and a turban too.—O ye surrounding virgin
lasses!—I commend you to God's care by the eye-paint
and the glasses —O ye married ladies here collected!
* The Virgin Mary.
The daughter of the Ima'm 'Al'ee.
The daughter of the Prophet.
§ Vulgo fick'ee.
This and the following words distinguished by inverted commas
are the titles of chapters of the Ckoor-a'n, which the boys, as
I have mentioned on a former occasion, learn in the reverse order
of their arrangement, after having learned the first chapter. The
chapter of “the News” is the 78th: the others, afterwards named,
are the 67th. 55th, 36th, 18th, 6th, and 2d.
The looking-glasses. This is said to amuse the ladies.

I pray, by the Chapter of ' The Ranks *,' that ye be
protected!—O ye old women standing' about!—Ye
ought to be beaten with old shoes, and turned out!—To
old women, however, we should rather say—Take the
basin and ewer; wash and pray.”
* The 37th chapter of the Ckoora'n.
During the chanting of these absurd expressions, the
women drop, upon the ornamented writing-tablet, their
noockoo't; which are afterwards collected in a handkerchief.
The boys then go down, and give the noockoo't
to the fick'ee below
.—Here, the moota'hir is now
placed on a seat. The barber stands on one side of
him, and the servant who holds the hheml on the other.
The hheml is rested on the floor; and on the top of it
is placed a cup, into which the guests put their noockoo't
for the barber.—The female visitors dine in the hharee'm;
and then leave the house. The boys dine below; and go to their homes. The men also dine;
and all of them, excepting those of the family, and the.
barber and his servant, take their leave. The barber
then conducts the moota'hir, with one or two of his male
relations, to a private apartment; and there performs the
operation; or sometimes this is done on the following
day. About a week after, he takes the boy to the bath.
What follows this describes the ceremonies which are performed
both after the sira'feh and after the more common zef'feh
of which I have given an account in a former chapter.
The next occasion of festivity in a family (if not the
marriage of a son or daughter) is generally when a son
is admitted a member of some body of tradesmen or
artizans. On this occasion, a ceremony which I am
about to describe is performed in certain cases; but not
on admission into every trade: it is customary only

among carpenters, turners, barbers, tailors, book-binders,
and a few others. The young man having become an
adept in the business of his intended trade, his father
goes to the sheykh of that trade, and signifies his wish
that his son should be admitted a member. The sheykh
sends an officer, called the nackee'b, to invite the masters
of the trade, and sometimes a few friends of the candidate,
to be present at the admission. The nackee'b, taking in
his hand a bunch of sprigs of any green herb, or flowers,
goes to each of these persons, hands to him a sprig or-little
piece of green *, or a flower, or leaf, and says—
“For the Prophet, the Fa't'hhah”:—that is, “Repeat
the Fa't'hhah for the Prophet”:—both having done
this together, the nackee'b adds,—“On such a day and
hour, come to such a house or place, and drink a cup of
coffee.”—The guests thus invited meet (generally at the
house of the father of the young man, but sometimes in
the country), take coffee, and dine. After this, the
nackee'b leads the young man before the sheykh; states
his qualifications; and then desires the persons present
to recite the Fa't'hhah for the Prophet; which done, he
girds the young man with a shawl over his outer coat;
and ties a knot with the ends of this girdle. The
Fa't'hhah is then recited again, generally for the sey'yid
El-Bed'awee, or some other great saint; and a second
knot is tied. Then, a third time the Fa't'hhah is recited;
and a bow is tied. The young man is thus completely
admitted. He kisses the hand of the sheykh,
and that of each of his fellow tradesmen; and gives the
nackee'b a small fee.—This ceremony is called shed'd el-wel'ed
(the binding of the youth); and the person
thus admitted is termed meshdoo'd, or bound.
* 'Oo'd miya'z.

There remain only to be described the ceremonies
occasioned by a death. These will be the subject of a
separate chapter, here following, and concluding my account of
the manners and customs of the Moos'lims
of Egypt.

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WHEN a learned or pious Moos'lim feels that he is about
to die, he sometimes performs the ordinary ablution, as
before prayer; that he may depart from life in a state of
bodily purity. It is common, also, for a Moos'lim, on a
military expedition, or during' a lung journey, especially
in the desert, to carry his grave-linen with him. Not
unfrequently does it happen that a traveller, in such circumstances,
has even to make his own grave: completely
overcome by fatigue or privation, or sinking
under a fatal disease, in the desert, when his companions,
if he have any, cannot wait for his recovery or
death, he performs the ablution (with water, if possible
or, if not, with sand or dust, which is allowable in such
case), and then, having made a trench in the sand, as
his grave, lies down in it, wrapped in his grave-clothes,
and covers himself, with the exception of his face, with
the sand taken up in making the trench: thus he waits
for death to relieve him; trusting to the wind to complete
his burial.
When any one of the eminent 'Ool'ama of Cairo dies,
the moo-ed'dins of the Az'har, and those of several other
mosques, announce the event by chanting from the
ma'd'nehs the cry called the Abra'r; the words of which
I have given in the account of the customs observed

during Rum'ada'n, in the second of the chapters on
periodical public festivals, &c.
The ceremonies attendant upon death and burial are
nearly the same in the cases of men and women.—
When the rattles in the throat, or other symptoms, show
that a man is at the point of death, an attendant (his
wife, or some other person) turns him round to place his
head in the direction of Mek'keh, and closes his eyes.
Even before the spirit has departed, or the moment after,
the male attendants generally exclaim, “Al'la'h! There
is no strength nor power but in God! To God we belong;
and to Him we must return! God have mercy
on him!” while the women of the family raise the cries
of lamentation called wel'wel'eh, or wilwa'l; uttering
the most piercing shrieks, and calling upon the name of
the deceased. The most common cries that are heard
on the death of the master of a family, from the lips of
his wife, or wives, and children, are “O my master*!”
“O my camel !” that is, “O thou who broughtest my
provisions, and hast carried my burdens,”
“O my lion” “O camel of the house §!” “O my dear
one !” “O my only one !” “O my father**!” “O my misfortune ††!”
—The clothes of the deceased are
taken off as soon as he has ceased to breathe; and he
is attired in another suit, placed on his bed or mattress,
and covered over with a sheet. The women continue
their lamentations; and many of the females of the
neighbourhood, hearing the conclamation, come to unite
with them in this melancholy task. Generally, also, the
* Ya'tee'dee.
Ya' gem'elee.
Ya' seb”ee.
§ Ya' gem'el el-beyt.
Ya 'ez'zee.
Ya' hhee'letee.
** Ya' aboo'ya.
†† Ya' dahh'wel'ee (for da'awet'ee).

family of the deceased send for two or more nedda'belli
(or public wailing-women *); but some persons disapprove
of this custom; and many, to avoid unnecessary
expense, do not conform with it. Each nedda'beh brings
with her a ta'r (or tambourine), which is without the
tinkling plates of metal which are attached to the hoop
of the common ta'r. The nedda'behs, beating their ta'rs,
exclaim, several times, “Alas for him!”—and praise
his turban, his handsome person, &c.; and the female,
relations, domestics, and friends of the deceased (with
their tresses dishevelled, and sometimes with rent clothes),
beating their own faces, cry in like manner, “Alas for
him!”—This wailing is generally continued at least an
* See '2 Chron. xxxv., 23, Jer. ix., 17, and Matt, ix., 23.
If the death took place in the morning, the corpse is
buried the same day
; but if it happened in the afternoon,
or at night, the deceased is not buried until the
following day: in this case, the nedda'behs remain all
the night, and continue the lamentation with the other
women; and a fick'ee is brought to the house to
recite chapters of the Ckoor-a'n during the night; or
several fick'ees are employed to perform a complete
The Egyptians have a superstitious objection to keep a corpse
in the house during the night after the death, and to burying the
dead after sunset; but the latter is sometimes done: I have witnessed
one instance of it,
The mooghus'sil (or washer of the dead) soon comes,
with a bench, upon which he places the corpse, and a
. The fick'ees who are to take part in the funeral
It is hardly necessary to state that the corpse of a female is
always washed by a woman.

procession (if the deceased were a person of respectable
rank, or of the middle order) are also now brought to
the house. These, during the process of washing, sit in
an apartment adjoining that in which the corpse is
placed, or without the door of the latter apartment; and
some of them recite, or rather chant, the Soo'rat el-An'a'm
(or 6th chapter of the Ckoor-a'n): others of
them chant part of the Boor'deh, a celebrated poem in
praise of the Prophet. The washer takes off the clothes
of the deceased; which are his perquisite. The jaw is
bound up; and the eyes are closed. The ordinary ablution
preparatory to prayer having been performed upon
the corpse, with the exception of the washing of the
mouth and nose, the whole body is well washed, from
head to foot, with warm water and soap, and with leef
(or fibres of the palm-tree); or, more properly, with
water in which some leaves of the lote-tree (nubck, or
sidr) have been boiled. The nostrils, ears, &c., are stuffed
with cotton; and the corpse is sprinkled with a mixture
of water, pounded camphor, and dried and pounded
leaves of the nubck, and with rose-water. Sometimes,
other dried and pounded leaves are added to those of the
nubck. The ankles are bound together, and the hands
placed upon the breast.
The kef en, or grave-clothing, of a poor man consists
of a piece, or two, of cotton *; or is merely a kind of
bag. The corpse of a man of wealth is generally wrapped
first in muslin; then, in cotton cloth of thicker texture;
next, in a piece of striped stuff of silk and cotton intermixed,
or in a ckoofta'n of similar stuff, merely stitched
together; and over these is wrapped a Kashmee'r shawl.
* The kef'en is often sprinkled with water from the well of
Zem'zem, in the Temple of Mek'keh.

Funeral Procession.

The corpse of a woman of middling rank is usually
clothed with a yel'ek. The colours most approved for
the grave-clothes are white and green; but any colour
is used, excepting blue, or what approaches to blue.—
The body, prepared for interment as above described, is
placed in the bier, which is usually covered over with a
red or other Kashmee'r shawl. The persons who are to
compose the funeral-procession then arrange themselves
in order. The more common funeral-processions may
be thus described.
The first persons are about six or more poor men,
called Yemenee'yeh; mostly blind; who proceed two
and two, or three and three, together. Walking at a
moderate pace, or rather slowly, they chant, in a melancholy
tone, the profession of faith (” There is no deity
but God: Mohham'mad is God's Apostle: God favour
and preserve him!”); as follows—

or sometimes, other words. They are followed by some

male relations and friends of the deceased, and, in many
cases, by two or more persons of some sect of durwee'shes,
bearing the flags of their order. This is a general
custom at the funeral of a durwee'sh. Next follow
three or four or more schoolboys; one of whom carries
a moos' hhaf (or copy of the Ckoora'n), or a volume consisting
of one of the thirty sections of the Ckoor-a'n,
placed upon a land of desk formed of palm-sticks, and
covered over, generally with an embroidered kerchief.
These boys chant, in a higher and livelier voice than the
Yemenee'yeh, usually some words of a poem called the
Hhashree'yeh,” descriptive of the events of the last
day, the judgment, &c.; to the air here noted.

The following is a translation of the commencement of
this poem.
The wailing of women at funerals was forbidden by
the Prophet; and so, also, was the celebration of the
virtues of the deceased. Mohham'mad declared, that
the virtues thus ascribed to a dead person would be subjects
of reproach to him, if he did not possess them, in a
future state. It is astonishing to see how some of the
precepts of the Prophet are every day violated by all
classes of the modern Moos'lims; the Wah'ha'bees alone
excepted.—I have sometimes seen mourning women of
the lower classes, following a bier, having their faces
(which were bare), and their head-coverings and bosoms,
besmeared with mud*.
* This was a custom of the ancient Egyptians: it is described
by Herodotus, lib. ii., cap. 85.—Passengers in the streets and
roads, when a corpse is borne by to the tomb, often say,—“God
is most great! God is most great! This is what God and his
Apostle have promised: and God and his Apostle have spoken
truth. O God, increase our faith and submission!”—The women,
pointing with the finger at the bier, say,—“I testify that
there is no deity but God.”
The funeral-procession of a man of wealth,
or of a person of the middle classes, is sometimes preceded by
three or four or more camels, bearing bread and water
to give to the poor at the tomb; and is composed of a
more numerous and varied assemblage of persons. The
foremost of these are the Yemenee'yeh, who chant the
profession of the faith, us described above. They are
generally followed by some male friends of the deceased,
and some learned and devout persons who have been invited
to attend the funeral. Next follows a group of
four or more fick'ees, chanting the Soo'rat el-An'a'm

(the 6th chapter of the Ckoora'n); and sometimes,
another group, chanting the Soo'rat Ya'-Seen (the 36th
chapter); another, chanting the Sco'rat el-Kalif (the
18th chapter); and another, chanting the Soo'rat ed-Dookh'kha'n
(the 44th chapter). These are followed by
some moon'shids, singing the Boor'deh; and these, by
certain persons called As-hha!b el-Ahhza'b, who are
members of religious orders founded by celebrated
sheykhs. There are generally four or more of the
order of the Hhezb es-Sa'da't; a similar group of
the Hhezb Esh-Sha'zilee; and another of the Hhezb Esh-Shaara'wee:
each group chants a particular form
of prayer. After them are generally borne two or more
half-furled flags, the banners of one or other of the
principal orders of durwee'shes. Then follow the schoolboys,
the bier, and the female mourners, as in the procession
before described; and, perhaps, the led horses
of the bearers, if these be men of rank. A buffalo, to
be sacrificed at the tomb, where its flesh is to be distributed
to the poor, sometimes closes the procession.
The funeral of a devout sheykh, or of one of the great
'Ool'ama, is still more numerously attended; and the
bier of such a person is not covered with a shawl. A
wel'ee is further honoured in his funeral by a remarkable
custom. Women follow his bier; but, instead of wailing,
as they would after the corpse of an ordinary mortal,
they rend the air with the shrill and quavering cries of
joy called zugh'a'ree'l; and if these cries are discontinued
but for a minute, the bearers of the bier protest
that they cannot proceed; that a supernatural power
rivets them to the spot on which they stand. Very
often, it is said, a wel'ee impels the bearers of his corpse
to a particular spot.—The following anecdote, describing

an ingenious mode of puzzling a dead saint in a case of
this kind, was related to me by one of my friends.—
Some men were lately bearing the corpse of a wel'ee
to a tomb prepared for it in the great cemetery on the north
of the metropolis; but, on arriving' at the gate called
Ba'b en-Nusr, which leads to this cemetery, they found
themselves unable to proceed further, from the cause
above mentioned. “It seems,” said one of the bearers,
“that the sheykh is determined not to be buried in the
cemetery of Ba'b en-Nusr: and what shall we do?”
They were all much perplexed: but being as obstinate
as the saint himself, they did not immediately yield to
his caprice. Retreating a few paces, and then advancing
with a quick step, they thought, by such an impetus,
to force the corpse through the gate-way; but their
efforts were unsuccessful; and the same experiment they
repeated in vain several times. They then placed the
bier on the ground to rest and consult; and one of
them, beckoning' away his comrades to a distance
beyond the hearing of the dead saint, said to them,
“Let us take up the bier again, and turn it round
quickly several times till the sheykh becomes giddy; he
then will not know in what direction we are going,
and we may take him easily through the gate.” This
they did; the saint was puzzled as they expected; and
quietly buried in the place which he had so striven to
The biers used for the conveyance of the corpses of
females and boys are different from those of men. They
are furnished with a cover of wood, over which a shawl
is spread, as over the bier of a man; and at the head is
an upright piece of wood, called a ska'hid.
The sha'hid is covered with a shawl; and to the upper part of it,

Bier used for the conveyance of the corpse of a female or boy.

when the bier is used to convey the body of a female of
the middle or higher class, several ornaments of female
head-dress are attached: on the top, which is flat and
circular, is often placed a ckoor's (the round ornament
of gold or silver set with diamonds, or of embossed gold,
which is worn on the crown of the head-dress): to the
back is suspended the suf'a (or a number of braids of
black silk with gold ornaments along each, which are
worn by the ladies, in addition to their plaits of hair,
hanging down the back). The bier of a boy is distinguished
by a turban, generally formed of a red Kashmee'r
shawl, wound round the top of the sha'hid; which,
in the case of a young boy, is also often decorated with
the ckoor's and suf'a. The corpse of a very young
child is carried to the tomb in the arms of a man, and

merely covered with a shawl; or, in a very small bier
borne on a man's head.
In the funerals of females and boys, the bier is usually
only preceded by the Yemenee'yeh, chanting the profession
of faith, and by some male relations of the deceased;
and followed by the female mourners; unless
the deceased were of a family of wealth, or of considerable
station in the world; in which case, the funeral-procession
is distinguished by some additional display.
I shall give a short description of one of the most genteel
and decorous funerals of this kind that I have witnessed:
it was that of a young, unmarried lady.—Two
men, each bearing a large, furled, green flag, headed
the procession,preceding the Yemenee'yeh, who chanted
in an unusually low and solemn manner. These fackee'rs,
who were in number about eight, were followed by a
group of fick'ees, chanting a chapter of the Ckoora'n.
Next after the latter was a man bearing a large branch
of nubck (or lote-tree), an emblem of the deceased*.
On each side of him walked a person bearing a tall staff
or cane, to the top of which were attached several hoops
ornamented with strips of various-coloured paper. These
were followed by two Turkish soldiers, side by side: one
bearing, on a small round tray, a gilt silver ckoom'-ckoom
of rose-water; and the other bearing, on a
similar tray, a mib'khar'ah of gilt silver, in which some
odoriferous substance (as benzoin, or frankincense) was
burning. These vessels diffused the odour of their contents
on the way; and were afterwards used to perfume
the sepulchral vault. Passengers were occasionally
sprinkled with the rose-water. Next followed four men,
each of whom bore, upon a small tray, several small
* This is only borne in funerals of young persons.

lighted tapers of wax, stuck in lumps of paste of hhen'na.
The bier was covered with rich shawls; and its sha'hid
was decorated with handsome ornaments of the head;
having, besides the suf'a, a ckoos'sah alma's (a long ornament
of gold and diamonds, worn over the forehead),
and, upon its flat top, a rich diamond ckoor's. These
were the jewels of the deceased; or were perhaps, as is
often the case, borrowed for the occasion. The female
mourners, in number about seven or eight, clad in the
usual manner of the ladies of Egypt (with the black silk
covering, &c.), followed the bier, not on foot as is the
common custom in funerals in this country, but mounted
on high-saddled asses; and only the last two or three
of them were wailing; these being, probably, hired
mourners.—In another funeral-procession of a female,
the daughter of a Turk of high rank, the Yemenee'yeh
were followed by six black slaves, walking two by two.
The first two slaves bore each a silver ckoom'ckoom of
rose-water, which they sprinkled on the passengers; and
one of them honoured me so profusely as to wet my
dress very uncomfortably; after which, he poured a
small quantity into my hands; and I wetted my face
with it, according to custom. Each of the next two
bore a silver mib'khar'ah, with perfume; and the other
two carried each a silver 'a'z'ckee (or hanging censer),
with burning charcoal and frankincense. The jewels
on the sha'hid of the bier were of a costly description.
Eleven ladies, mounted on high-saddled asses, together
with several nedda'behs, followed.
The rites and ceremonies performed in the mosque,
and at the tomb, and after the funeral, remain to be described.—
If the deceased died in any of the northern
quarters of the metropolis, the body is usually carried,

in preference, to the mosque of the Hhasaney'n; unless
he were a poor man, not residing near to that venerated
sanctuary; in which case, his friends generally carry his
corpse to any neighbouring mosque, to save time, and
avoid unnecessary expense. If he were one of the
'ool'ama (that is, of a learned profession, however humble),
his corpse is usually taken to the great mosque
El-Az'har. The people of the southern parts of the metropolis
generally carry their dead to the mosque of the
sey'yideh Zey'neb, or to that of any other celebrated
saint. The reason of choosing such mosques in preference
to others is the belief that the prayers offered up at
the tombs of very holy persons are especially successful.
The bier, being brought into the mosque, is laid upon
the floor, in the usual place of prayer, with the right side
towards the ckib'leh, or the direction of Mek'keh. The
Ima'm of the mosque stands before the left side of the
bier, facing it and the ckib'leh; and a servant of the
mosque, as a moobal'ligh (to repeat the words of the
Ima'm), at the feet. The attendants of the funeral
range themselves behind the Ima'm; the women standing
apart, behind the men; for on this occasion they are
seldom excluded from the mosque. The congregation
being thus disposed, the Ima'm commences the prayer
over the dead; prefacing it with these words*.—“I
purpose reciting the prayer of four tekbee'rs , the funeral-prayer,
over the deceased Moos'lim here present”—or—
“the deceased Moos'lims here present”: for two or
more corpses are often prayed over at the same time.
* I give the form of prayer used by the Sha'fe'ees as being the
most common in
Cairo. Those of the other sects are nearly
similar to this.
A tekbee'r has been explained in a former chapter, as being
the exclamation of “Alla'hoo Ak'bar!” or “God is most great!”
Having said this, he exclaims (raising his open hands on
each side of his head, and touching the lobes of his ears
with the extremities of his thumbs), “God is most
great!” The moobal'ligh repeats this exclamation;
and each individual of the congregation behind the
Ima'm does the same; as they also do after the subsequent
tekbee'rs. The Ima'm then recites the Fa't'hhah;
and a second time exclaims, “God is most great!”
After which, he adds, “O God, favour our lord Mohham'mad,
the Illiterate Prophet, and his Family and Companions,
and preserve them”—and the third time exclaims,
“God is most great! “He then says, “O God,
verily this is thy servant, and son of thy servant: he
hath departed from the repose of the world, and from
its business, and from whatever he loved, and from
those by whom he was loved in it, to the darkness of the
grave, and to what is prepared for him. He did testify
that there is no deity but Thee: that Thou hast no companion:
and that Mohham'mad is thy servant and thy
apostle: and Thou art all-knowing' respecting him. O
God, he hath gone to abide with Thee: and Tuou art
the best with whom to abide. He hath become in need
of thy mercy; and Thou has no need of his punishment.
We have come to Thee supplicating that we
may intercede for him. O God, if he were a doer of
good, over-reckon his good deeds; and if he were an
evil-doer, pass over his evil-doings; and of thy mercy
grant him thy acceptance; and spare him the trial of
the grave, and its torment; and make his grave wide
to him; and keep back the earth from his sides*; and
* It is believed that the body of the wicked is painfully oppressed
by the earth against its sides in the à though this is
always made hollow.

of thy mercy grant him security from thy torment, until
Thou send him safely to thy Paradise, O Thou most
merciful of those who show mercy!” Then, for the
fourth and last time, the Ima'm exclaims, “God is most
great!”—adding,—“O God, withhold not from us our
reward for him [for the service we have done him];
and lead us not into trial after him: pardon us and him
and all the Moos'lims, O Lord of all creatures!”—Thus
he finishes his prayer; greeting the angels on his right
and left with the salutation of “Peace be on you, and
the mercy of God;” as is done at the close of the
ordinary prayers. Then, addressing the persons present,
he says, “Give your testimony respecting him.”
They reply, “He was of the virtuous.”—The bier is
now taken up; and if it be in the mosque of the
Hhasaney'n, or in that of any other celebrated saint,
that the prayer has been performed, it is placed before
the mucksoo'rah (the screen or railing that surrounds the
sepulchral monument or cenotaph). Here, some of the
fick'ees and others who have attended the funeral recite
the Fa't'hhah, and the last three verses of the Soo'rat el-Buck'arah
(or 2d chapter of the Ckoor-a'n); beginning,
“Whatever is in heaven and on earth is
God's.”—These rites performed, the funeral-train proceeds,
with the corpse, in the same order as before, to
the burial-ground*.
* The burial-grounds of Cairo are mostly outside the town, in
the desert tracts on the north, east, and south. Those within the
town arc few, and not extensive.
Here I must give a short description of a tomb.—It
is an oblong vault, having an arched roof; and is generally
constructed of brick, and plastered.' It is made
hollow in order that the person or persons buried in it

Sketch of a Tomb, with the entrance uncovered.

may be able with ease to sit up when visited and examined
by the two angels, Moon'kir (vulgarly called Na'kir) and
Nekee'r. One side faces the direction of Mek'keh; that
is, the south-east. At the foot, which is to the northeast,
is the entrance; before which is constructed a small
square cell, roofed with stones extending from side to
side, to prevent the earth from entering the vault. This
is covered over with earth. The vault is generally made
large enough to contain four or more bodies. If males
and females be buried in the same vault, which is not
commonly the case, a partition is built to separate the
corpses of one sex from those of the other. Over the
vault is constructed an oblong monument (called
turkee'beh), of stone or brick, with a stela, or upright
stone (called a sha'hid), at the head and foot. The stelae
are mostly plain; but some of them are ornamented;
and that at the head is often inscribed with a text from
the Ckoora'n*, and the name of the deceased, with the
date of his death. A turban, cap, or other head-dress,
is also sometimes carved on the top of the head-stone;
showing the rank or class of the person or persons
buried in the tomb.—Over the grave of an eminent
sheykh, or other person of note, a small square building,
crowned with a cupola, is generally erected. Many of
the tombs of Turkish and Memloo'k grandees have
marble turkee'behs, which are canopied by cupolas supported
by four columns of marble; and have inscriptions
in gilt letters upon a ground of azure on the head-stone.
There are numerous tombs of this description in the
great southern cemetery of Cairo. The tombs of the
* The Prophet forbade engraving the name of God, or any
words of the Ckoor-a'n, upon a tomb. He also directed that
tombs should be low, and built only of crude bricks.

Soolta'ns are mostly handsome mosques: some of these
are within the metropolis; and some, in the cemeteries
in its environs.—I now resume the description of the
The tomb having been opened before the arrival of
the corpse, no delay takes place in the burial. The
sexton and two assistants take the corpse out of the bier,
and deposit it in the vault. Its bandages are untied;
and it is laid upon its right side, or so inclined that the
face is towards Mek'keh. It is supported in this position
by a few crude bricks. If the outer wrapper be
a Kashmee'r shawl, this is rent; lest its value should
tempt any profane person to violate the tomb. A little
earth is gently placed by and upon the corpse, by one or
more persons; and the entrance is closed by replacing
the roofing-stones and earth over the small cell before
it. But one singular ceremony remains to be performed,
excepting in the case of a young child, who is not
held responsible for his actions: a fick'ee is employed to
perform the office of a mooluck'ckin (or instructor of
the dead)*:” sitting before the tomb, he says generally
as follows.—“O servant of God! O son of a handmaid
of God! know that, at this time, there will come
down to thee two angels commissioned respecting thee
and the like of thee: when they say to thee, ' Who is
thy Lord?' answer them, 'God is my Lord,' in truth;
and when they ask thee concerning thy Prophet, or the
man who hath been sent unto you, say to them, ' Mohham'mad
is the Apostle of God,' with veracity; and
when they ask thee concerning thy religion, say to
them, ' El-Isla'm is my religion;' and when they ask
* The Ma'likees disapprove of this custom, the tulckee'n of the

thee concerning thy book of direction, say to them,
' The Ckoora'n is my book of direction, and the
Moos'lims are my brothers;' and when they ask thee
concerning thy Ckib'leh, say to them, ' The Ka'abeh is
my Ckib'leh; and I have lived and died in the assertion,
that there is no deity but God, and Mohham'mad is
God's Apostle:' and they will say, ' Sleep, O servant of
God, in the protection of God.”'—The soul is believed
to remain with the body during the first night after the
burial; and on this night, to be visited and examined,
and perhaps the body tortured, by the two angels above
mentioned.—The Yemenee'yeh and other persons hired
to attend the funeral are paid at the tomb: the former
usually receive a piaster each. If the funeral be that of
a person of rank or wealth, two or three skins of water,
and as many camel-loads of bread, being conveyed to
the burial-ground, as before mentioned, are there distributed,
after the burial, to the poor, who flock thither in
great numbers on such an occasion. It has also been
mentioned, that a buffalo is sometimes slaughtered, and
its flesh in like manner distributed. This custom is
called el-kaffa'rah (or the expiation): being supposed
to expiate some of the minor sins of the deceased, which
are termed the sagha'ir; but not the keba'ir, or great
sins. The funeral ended, each of the near relations of
the deceased is greeted with a prayer that he may be
happily compensated for his loss; or is congratulated
that his life is prolonged.
The first night after the burial is called Ley'let el-Wahh'sheh
(or the Night of Desolation); the place of
the deceased being then left desolate. On this night,
the following custom is observed. At sunset, two or
three fick'ees are brought to the house: they take a

repast of bread and milk in the place where the deceased
died; and then recite the Soo'rat el-Moolk (or
67th chapter of the Ckoora'n). As the soul is believed
to remain with the body during the first night after the
burial, and then to depart to the place appointed for the
residence of good souls until the last day, or to the appointed
prison in which wicked souls await their final
doom this night is also called Ley'let el-Wahh'deh (or
the Night of Solitude).
Another ceremony, called that of the Seb'hhah (or
Rosary), is performed on this occasion, to facilitate the
entrance of the deceased into a state of happiness: it
usually occupies three or four hours. After the 'esh'ë
(or night-fall), some fick'ees, sometimes as many as
fifty, assemble in the house; or, if there be not a court,
or large apartment, for their reception, some matting is
spread, for them to sit upon, in front of the house. One
of them brings a seb'hhah composed of a thousand
beads; each about the size of a pigeon's egg. They
commence the ceremony by reciting the Soo'rat el-Moolk
(mentioned above); then say, three times, “God
is one.” After this, they recite the Soo'rat el-Fa'luck
(or last chapter but one of the Ckoor-a'n), and the
opening chapter (the Fa't'hhah); and then three times
say, “O God, favour, with the most excellent favour,
the most happy of thy creatures, our lord Mohham'mad,
and his Family and Companions, and preserve them:”
to which they add, “All who commemorate Thee are
the mindful; and those who omit commemorating
Thee are the negligent.” They next repeat, thrice one
thousand times, “There is no deity but God;” one of
them holding the seb'hhah, and counting each repetition
of these words by passing a bead through his fingers.
After each thousand repetitions, they sometimes rest,
and take coffee. Having completed the last thousand,
and rested, and refreshed themselves, they say, a hundred
times,” [I assert] the absolute glory of God, with
his praise:” then, the same number of times, “I beg
forgiveness of God, the Great:” after which they say,
fifty times, “[I assert] the absolute glory of the Lord,
the Eternal-the absolute glory of God, the Eternal:”
they then repeat these words of the Ckoor-a'n—“[Assert]
the absolute glory of thy Lord, the Lord of Might;
exempting Him from that which, they [namely Christians
and others] ascribe to Him [that is, from the having
a son, or partaker of his godhead]; and peace be on
the Apostles; and praise be to God, the Lord of all
creatures*!” Two or three or more of them then recite,
each, an 'ashr, or about two or three verses of the
Ckoor-a'n. This done, one of them asks his companions,
“Have ye transferred [the merit of] what ye
have recited to the soul of the deceased?” They reply,
“We have transferred it;” and add, “And peace be on
the Apostles,” &c., as above. This concludes the ceremony
of the seb'hhah, which, in the houses of the rich, is
also repeated on the second and third nights. This ceremony
is likewise performed in a family on their
receiving intelligence of the death of a near relation.
* Chapter xxxvii., last three verses.
The men make no alteration in their dress in token
of mourning; nor do the women on the death of an
elderly man; but they do for others. In the latter cases,
they dye their shirts, head-veils, face-veils, and handkerchiefs,
of a blue, or of an almost black, colour, with
indigo; and some of them, with the same dye, stain their
hands, and their arms as high as the elbow; and smear

the walls of the chambers. When the master of the
house, or the owner of the furniture, is dead, and sometimes
in other eases, they also turn upside-down the carpets,
mats, cushions, and coverings of the deewa'ns. In
general, the women, while in mourning, leave their hair
unbraided; cease to wear some of their ornaments; and,
if they smoke, use common reed pipes.
Towards the close of the first Thursday after the
funeral*, the women of the family of the deceased again
commence a wailing, in their house, accompanied by
some of their female friends; and in the afternoon or
evening of this day, male friends of the deceased also
visit the house; and three or four fick'ees are employed
to perform a khut'meh.-On the Friday morning, the
women repair to the tomb; where they observe the same
customs which I have described in speaking of the
ceremonies performed on the two grand 'eeds, in the
second of the chapters on periodical public festivals, &c.;
generally taking a palm-branch, to break up, and place
on the tomb; and some cakes or bread to distribute to
the poor. These ceremonies are repeated on the same
days of the next two weeks; and again, on the Thursday
and Friday which complete, or next follow, the first
period of forty days after the funeral: whence this
Friday is called el-Arba'ee'n, or Goom' at el-Arba'ee'n.
* And often, early in the morning of this day.
See Genesis, 1, 3.
It is customary among the peasants of Upper Egypt,
for the female relations and friends of a person deceased
to meet together by his house, on each of the first three
days after the funeral, and there to perform a lamentation
and a strange kind of dance. They daub their
faces and bosoms, and part of their dress, with mud;

and tie a rope girdle, generally made of the coarse grass
called hhal'fa, round the waist*. Each flourishes in her
hand a palm-stick, or a nebboo't (a long staff), or a
spear, or a drawn sword; and dances with a slow movement,
and in an irregular manner; generally pacing
about, and raising and depressing the body. This dance
is continued for an hour, or more; and is performed twice
or three times in the course of the day. After the third
day, the women visit the tomb, and place upon it their
rope-girdles: and usually a lamb, or a goat, is slain
there, as an expiatory sacrifice, and a feast made, on this
* As the ancient Egyptian women did in the same case.—
See a passage in Herodotus, before referred to, lib. ii., ca. 85.

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THE fame of that great nation from which the Copts
derive their origin renders this people objects of much
interest, especially to one who has examined the wonderful
monuments of Ancient Egypt: but so great is the
aversion with which, like their illustrious ancestors, they
regard all persons who are not of their own race, and
so reluctant are they to admit such persons to any familiar
intercourse with them, that I had almost despaired
of gaining an insight into their religious, moral, and
social state. At length, however, I had the good fortune
to become acquainted with a character of which I
had doubted the existence-a Copt of a liberal as well
as an intelligent mind; and to his kindness I am indebted
for the knowledge of most of the facts related
in the following brief memoir.
The Copts, at present, compose less than one fourteenth
part of the population of Egypt; their number
being not more than about a hundred and fifty thousand.
About ten thousand of them reside in the metropolis.
In some parts of Upper Egypt are villages exclusively
inhabited by persons of this race; and the district called
the Feiyoo'm particularly abounds with them. The vast
number of ruined convents and churches existing in various
parts of Egypt shows that the Copts were very

numerous a few centuries ago; but every year many of
them have embraced the Mohhammadan faith, and become
intermixed by marriage with Moos'lims; and thus
the number of genuine and Christian Copts has been
reduced to its present small amount.
The Copts are undoubtedly descendants of the ancient
Egyptians; but not an unmixed race; their ancestors
in the earlier ages of Christianity having intermarried
with Greeks, Nubians, Abyssinians, and other foreigners.
Their name is correctly pronounced either Ckoobt or
Ckibt; but more commonly, Goobt or Gibt, and (in Cairo
and its neighbourhood, and in some other parts of Egypt),
'Oobt or 'Ibt: in the singular, it is pronounced Ckcoob'tee,
Ckib'tee, Goob'tee, Gib'tet, 'Oob'lee
, or 'Ib'lee. All of
these sounds bear a great resemblance to the ancient
Greek name of Egypt (Αιγυπτος): but it is generally
believed that the name of “Ckoobt” is derived from Coptos
(once a great city, in Upper Egypt), now called
Ckooft, or, more commonly, Gooft; to which vast numbers
of the Christian Egyptians retired during the persecution
with which their sect was visited under several
of the Roman Emperors. The Copts have not altogether
lost their ancient language; their liturgy and
several of their religious books being written in it; but
the Coptic has become a dead language, understood by
very few persons; and the Arabic has been adopted in
its stead.
With respect to their personal characteristics, we observe
some striking points of resemblance, and yet, upon
the whole, a considerable difference, between the Copts
and the ancient Egyptians, if we may judge of the latter
from the paintings and sculptures in their tombs and
temples. The difference is, however, easily accounted

for by the fact of the intermarriages of the ancestors of
the modern Copts with foreigners, above mentioned.
The people who bear the greatest resemblance to the
ancient Egyptians, at present, are the Noo'beh (or more
genuine Nubians); and next to these, the Abyssinians
and the Copts; who are, notwithstanding, much unlike
each other. The Copts differ but little from the generality
of their Moos'lim countrymen: the latter being
chiefly descended from Arabs and from Copts who have
embraced the faith of the Arabs, and having thus become
assimilated to the Copts in features. I find it
difficult, sometimes, to perceive any difference between
a Copt and a Moos'lim Egyptian beyond a certain downcast
and sullen expression of countenance which generally
marks the former; and the Moos'lims themselves
are often deceived when they see a Copt in a white turban.
We observe, in the latter, the same shades of
complexion, in different latitudes of the country, as in
the former; varying from a pale yellowish colour to a
deep bronze or brown. The eyes of the Copt are generally
large and elongated, slightly inclining from the nose
upwards, and always black: the nose is strait, excepting
at the end, where it is rounded, and wide: the lips are
rather thick; and the hair is black and curly. The
Copts are, generally speaking, somewhat under the
middle size; and so, as it appears from the mummies,
were the ancient Egyptians. Their women, of the higher
and middle classes in particular, blacken the edges of
their eye-lids with kohhl; and those of the lower orders
tattoo blue marks upon their faces, hands, &c., in the
same manner as other Egyptian females, but usually introduce
the cross among these ornaments. Most of the
Copts circumcise their sons; and another practice which

prevailed among their pagan ancestors, mentioned by
Strabo, and alluded to in a note subjoined to page 63 of
the former volume of this work, is observed among the
Copts without exception.
The dress of the Copts is similar to that of the Moos'lim
Egyptians; excepting that the proper turban of the
former is black or blue, or of a greyish or light brown
colour; and such Copts as wear cloth generally choose
dull colours, and often wear a black cotton gown, or loose
shirt, over their cloth and silk dress. In the towns, they
are usually careful thus to distinguish themselves from the
Moos'lims; but in the villages, many of them wear
the white or red turban. Other Christians, and Jews,
who are subjects of the Turkish Soolta'n are distinguished
from the Moos'lims in the same manner; but not all:
many Armenians, Greeks, and Syrian Christians wear
the white turban. Subjects of European Christian powers
are allowed to do the same, and to adopt altogether the
Turkish dress. The occasions which originally caused
the Copts to be distinguished by the black and blue turbans
will be mentioned in some historical notes respecting
this people hereafter.—The Copt women veil their
faces, not only in public, but also in the house, when
any men, excepting their near relations, are present.
The unmarried ladies, and females of the lower orders,
in public, generally wear the white veil: the black veil
is worn by the more respectable of the married ladies;
but the white is adopted by many, from a desire to imitate
the Moos'lim'ehs.
The Copts, with the exception of a small proportion
who profess the Romish or the Greek faith, are Christians
of the sect called Jacobites, Eutychians, Monophysites,

and Monothelites; whose creed was condemned
by the Council of Chalcedon, in the reign of the Emperor
Marcion. They received the appellation of “Jacobites”
(Ya'a'ckibeh, or Yaackoo'bees), by which they are
generally known, from Jacobus Baradaeus, a Syrian, who
was a chief propagator of the Eutychian doctrines.
Those who adhered to the Greek faith were distinguished
from the former by the name of “Melekites” (Melekee'yeh,
or Mel'ekees), that is to say, “Royalists,”
because they agreed in faith with the Emperor of Constantinople.
The secession of the great majority of the
Copts from what was generally considered the orthodox
church gave rise to an implacable enmity between them
and the Greeks, under whom they suffered much persecution,
and with whom they would no longer even
contract marriages. This enmity was, of course, more
bitter on the part of the Copts: they gladly received the
Arab invaders of their country, and united with them to
expel the Greeks. Their revenge was gratified; but
they were made to bow their necks to a heavier yoke:
yet the hatred with which even the modern Copts regard
the Greeks and all other Christians who are not of their
own sect is much greater than that which they bear
towards the Moos'lims.—Saint Mark, they assert, was
the first who preached the Gospel in Egypt; and they
regard him as the first Patriarch of Alexandria. The
Nubians and Abyssinians embraced Christianity soon
after the Egyptians; and, following the same example,
they adopted the Jacobite doctrines. The Nubians
have become Moos'lims; and boast that there is not a
single Christian among their race, and that they will
never allow one to live among them; for, as they are

more ignorant, so are they also more bigoted, than the
generality of Moos'lims. In Abyssinia, Jacobite Christianity
is still the prevailing religion.
The religious orders of the Coptic Church consist of
a Patriarch, a Metropolitan of the Abyssinians, Bishops,
Archpriests, Priests, Deacons, and Monks.
The Patriarch (el-But'rak) is the
supreme head of the church; and occupies the chair of Saint Mark. He
generally resides in Cairo; but is styled “Patriarch of
Alexandria.” He is chosen from among the order of
monks; with whose regulations he continues to comply;
and it is a point of these regulations that he remains
unmarried. He is obliged to wear woollen garments
next his body; but these are of the finest and softest
quality, like the shawls of Kashmee'r; and are concealed
by habits of rich silks and cloth. So rigid are the rules
with which he is obliged to conform, that, whenever he
sleeps, he is waked after every quarter of an hour*.
A patriarch may be appointed by his predecessor; but,
generally, he is chosen by lot; and always from among
the monks of the Convent of Saint Anthony (Deyr
, in the Eastern Desert of Egypt, near
the western Gulf of the Red Sea. The bishops and
principal priests, when a patriarch is to be elected, apply
to the superior of the convent above mentioned, who
names about eight or nine monks whom he considers
qualified for the high office of head of the church: the
names of these persons are written, each upon a separate
slip of paper, which pieces of paper are then rolled into
the form of little balls, and put into a drawer: a priest
draws one, without looking; and the person whose
* Compare the account given by Herodotus
of the habits of the priests of ancient Egypt: lib. ii., cap. 37.

name is thus drawn is invested as patriarch. Formerly,
a young child was employed to draw the lot; being supposed
to be more under the direction of heaven.
The property at the disposal of the patriarch is very
considerable: it chiefly consists in houses; and can only
be) employed for pious uses. Modern patriarchs have
done little more than augment their property: generally,
when a Copt sells a house in Cairo, the patriarch bids
for it; and no one ventures to bid against him; so that
the owner of the house is obliged to part with it for
considerably less than its just value.
The patriarch and bishops wear a turban of a widebrand
rounder form than those of other persons; much
resembling the moock'leh of the Moos'lim 'Ool'ama;
but of the same dark colour as those of the other Copts.

Turban of the Coptic Patriarch and Bishops.

The Metropolitan of the Abyssinians (el-Mutra'n) is
appointed by the Patriarch. He retains his office for
life; and resides in Abyssinia.
A bishop (Oos'ckoof) is generally (or, I am told,
always) chosen from among the monks; and continues,
like the patriarch, to conform with their regulations.
The canons of the church do not require that bishops

should be monks; but unmarried men, or widowers,
were formerly always chosen for the episcopal office.
The number of bishops is twelve.
An Archpriest (Ckoom'moos) is elevated from the
order of common priests. The archpriests are numerous.
A priest (Ckasee's) must
have been a deacon: he must be without bodily defect, at least thirty-three years of
age, and a person who has never married, or who has
married but one wife, and taken that wife a virgin,
and married her before he became a priest; for he
cannot marry after. If a priest's wife die, he cannot
marry again; nor is the widow of a priest allowed to
marry a second husband. A priest may be of the order
of monks; and, consequently, unmarried. He is supported
only by alms, and by what he obtains through
his own industry. Both priests and deacons are ordained
either by the Patriarch or by a bishop. The
priests wear a turban formed of a long, narrow band.
This was worn, a few years ago, by all the Copts in
Cairo: a desire to imitate the Moos'lims has made
them change the style.

Turban of a Coptic Priest.

A Deacon (Shemma's) must be either unmarried or a
person who has only once married, to a virgin bride. If

he take a second wife, or marry a widow, he loses his
office. He may be of the order of monks, as appears
from what has been said above.
A Monk (Ra'hib) must have submitted to a long
trial of his patience and piety, and made a vow of celibacy,
before his admission into the monastic order. He
usually performs menial and arduous services, previously
to his admission, for a year, or a year and a half,
in some sequestered convent in the desert. He is generally
employed in fetching wood and water, sweeping
the convent, &c., and waiting upon the monks; and
expends all his property (if he have any) in the purchase
of clothes and other necessaries for the monks and the
poor in general. If, after a sufficient service, he persevere
in his resolution, he is admitted. The prayers of
the dead are recited over him, to celebrate his death to
the world; and it has been said that, when he dies, he is
buried without prayer; but I am informed that this is
not the case. The monks are very numerous, and there
are many nuns. They lead a life of great austerity; and
are obliged always to wear woollen garments next the
body. Every monk is distinguished by a strip of woollen
stuff, of a deep blue or black colour, about four inches
wide, attached beneath the turban and hanging down the
back to the length of about a foot*. A woollen shirt is
generally the only article of dress worn by the monks,
beside the turban. They eat two meals in the course of
the day, at noon and in the evening; but, if living in a
* I have neglected to write the name of this appendage; but
if my memory do not, deceive me, I was told that it is termed
ckala's'weh. which word seems to be a corruption of ckalen'sooweh.
Mengin calls it kaloucyeh (Hist, de l'Egyptesous Mohammed-Aly, tome
ii., p. 290.)

convent, seldom anything more than lentils; as most of
their convents are in the desert: on feast-days, however,
they eat flesh, if it be procurable. The number of convents
and churches is said to be a hundred and forty-six'*;
but the former are few in comparison with the
The Coptic church recommends baptizing boys at the
age of forty days, and girls at the age of eighty days,
if they continue so long well and healthy; but earlier if
they be ill, and in apparent danger of death; for it is a
prevailing belief among the Copts, that, if a child die
unbaptized, it will be blind in the next life, and the
parents are held guilty of a sin, for which they must do
penance, either by repeating many prayers, or by fasting:
yet people of the lower orders, if living at an inconvenient
distance from a church, and even in other
cases, often neglect baptizing their children for a whole
year. The child is dipped three times in the water, in
which a little holy oil, dropped on the priest's thumb, has
been washed off; and prayers, entirely in Coptic, are
repeated over it. The Copts hold that the Holy Spirit
descends upon the child in baptism. No money is
taken by the priest for performing the baptismal service,
unless voluntarily offered.
I have said that most of the Copts circumcise their
sons. Not many of them in Cairo, I am told, do so;
but in other parts, all, or almost all, observe this rite.
The operation is generally performed when the child is
about seven or eight years of age; and always privately:
there is no fixed age for its performance: some of the
Copts are circumcised at the early age of two years; and
some at the age of twenty years, or more. The more
* Mengin, ubi supra; pp. 284–289.

enlightened of the Copts certainly regard circumcision
as a practice to be commended; but not as a religious
rite; which the priests declare it is not. It appears,
however, from its being universal among the peasantry,
that these look upon it as something more than a mere
civil rite; for if they regarded it as being of no higher
importance, surely they would leave the more polished
to comply with the custom. Some say it is in imitation
of Christ, who submitted to this rite, that they perform
it. It is a relic of ancient customs.
The Copts have numerous schools; but for boys
only: very few females among them can read; and
those have been instructed at home. The boys are
taught the Psalms of David, the Gospels, and the Apostolical
Epistles, in Arabic; and then the Gospels and
Epistles in Coptic. They do not learn the Coptic language
grammatically; and I am told that there is not to
be found, among the Copts, any person who can write or
speak that language with correctness or ease; and that
there are very few persons who can do more than repeat
what they have committed to memory, of the Scriptures
and Liturgy. The Coptic language gradually fell into
disuse after the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs. For
two centuries after that event, it appears to have been
the only language that the generality of the Copts understood;
but before the tenth century of our era, most
of the inhabitants of Lower Egypt has ceased to speak
and understand it*; though, in the Sae'd (or Upper
Egypt), El-Muckree'zee tells, the women and children
of the Copts, in his time (that is, about the close of the
fourteenth century of our era, or the early part of the
* This has been shown by Quatremere, in his Researches on the
Language and Literature of Egypt.

fifteenth), scarcely spoke any other language than the
Sa'ee'dee Coptic; and had a complete knowledge of
the Greek. Soon after this period, the Coptic language
fell into disuse in Upper Egypt, as it had done so long
before in the Lower Provinces; and the Arabic was
adopted in its stead. All the Copts who have been instructed
at a school still pray, both in the church and in
private, in Coptic; and the Scriptures are still always
read in the churches in that language; but they are
explained, from books, in Arabic. Many books for the
use of priests and other persons are written in the Coptic
language expressed in Arabic characters.
The ordinary private prayers of the Copts are a subject
particularly worthy of notice. In these they seem
to have imitated the Jews, and to resemble the Moos'lims.
I am informed that there are few of them in Cairo who
do not comply with a precept of their church which enjoins
them to pray seven times in the course of the day.
The first prayer is said at day-break; the second, at the
third hour; the third, at the sixth hour; the fourth, at
the ninth hour; the fifth, at the eleventh hour; the sixth,
at the twelfth hour, which is sunset; and the seventh, at
midnight. In each of these prayers, those persons who
have learned to read, and are strict in the performance of
their religious duties, recite several of the Psalms of David
(about a seventh part of the whole book of Psalms) in
Arabic, and a chapter of one of the four Gospels in the
same language; after which they say, either in Coptic
or Arabic, “O my Lord! have mercy!” forty-one times;
some using a string of forty-one beads; others counting
by their fingers: they then add a short prayer in Coptic.
In the seven prayers of each day, altogether, they repeat
the whole book of Psalms. Such, I am assured,

are the rigid practices of the more strict and instructed
clashes in their daily worship. The illiterate repeat, in
each of the seven daily prayers, the Lord's Prayer seven
times, and “O my Lord! have mercy!” forty-one times.
Previously to private as well as public prayer, persons of
the better and stricter classes wash their hands and face;
and some also wash their feet; and in prayer they
always face the east. Though, in most of the rules
above mentioned they nearly resemble the Jews and the
Moos'lims, they differ from both these sects in holding
that prayer, excepting with the congregation in the
church, is better performed in private than in public.
Their ordinary prayers, or at least the latter and shorter
form, they often repent while walking or riding or otherwise
actively employed. I can hardly believe that the
longer form is generally used by the instructed classes;
though I am positively assured that it is.
The larger churches are divided into four or five compartments.
The Hiy'kel, or Chancel, containing the
altar, occupies the central and chief portion of the compartment
at the upper end, which is screened from the
rest of the church by a close partition or wall of wooden
panel-work, having a door in the centre, the entrance of
the Hey'kel, before which is suspended a curtain, with a
large cross worked upon it. The compartment next
before this is appropriated to the priests who read the
lessons, &c., and to boys who serve as acolytes and
singers, and the chief members of the congregation:
this is separated from the compartment next before it
by a partition of wooden lattice-work, about eight or nine
feet high, with three doors, or a single door in the
centre. The inferior members of the congregation occupy
the next compartment, or next two compartments;

and the lowest is appropriated to the women, and is
screened in front by a partition of wooden lattice-work,
to conceal them entirely from the men. Upon the walls
of the church are suspended ill-executed and gaudy pictures
of various saints; particularly of the patron-saint;
but no images are admitted. The floor is covered with
Every man takes off his shoes on entering the church;
but he retains his turban. He first goes to the dour of
the Hey'kel, prostrates himself before it, and kisses the
hem of its curtain. He then prostrates himself, or makes
a bow, and a salutation with the hand, before one or more
pictures of saints, and sometimes kisses the hand of one
or more of the officiating priests, in the compartment
next before the Hey'kel. Almost every member of the
congregation has a crutch, about four feet and a half or
five feet long, to lean upon while he stands; which he
does during the greater part of the service. The full
service (with the celebration of the Eucharist) occupies
between three and four hours; generally commencing
at day-break.
The priests who officiate in the Hey'kel are clad in
handsome robes; but the others wear only their ordinary
dress. The whole of the service that is performed in
the Hey'kel is in the Coptic language; no other language
being allowed to be spoken within the sanctuary.
The priests without, standing opposite and facing the
door of the Hey'kel, read and chant explanations and
lessons in Arabic and Coptic*. A priest is not permitted
to sit down while reading the service in the sanctuary;
* They chant nearly in the same manner as the Moos'lims in
reciting the Ckoor-a'n.

and as this occupies so long a time, he pauses, in
order that he may sit down, several times, for a few
minutes; and on these occasions, cymbals of various
sizes and notes are beaten as long as he remains sitting.
Several times, also, a priest comes out from the Hey'kel,
waves a censer, in which frankincense is burning,
among the congregation, and blesses each member,
placing his hand upon the person's head. Having done
this to the men, he proceeds to the apartment of the
women. The sacrament of the Lord's Supper is often
performed in the Coptic church. The bread, which is
made in the form of small round cakes, or buns,
stamped upon the top, is moistened with the wine, and
in this state administered to the congregation, and partaken
of by the ministers in orders, who have larger
shares than the laymen, and are alone privileged to
drink the wine. Each member of the congregation
advances to the door of the Hey'kel to receive his
The priests and others are often guilty of excessive indecorum
in their public worship. I heard a priest, standing
before the door of the sanctuary in the patriarchal
church in Cairo, exclaim to a young acolyte (who was
assisting him, I suppose, rather awkwardly), “May a
blow corrode your heart!” and a friend of mine once
witnessed, in the same place, a complete uproar: a
priest from a village, having taken a part in the performance
of the service, was loudly cursed, and forcibly expelled,
by the regular officiating ministers; and afterwards,
many members of the congregation, in pressing
towards the door of the Hey'kel, vociferated curses, and
beat each other with their crutches. The form of service
in itself struck me as not much characterised by

solemnity; though probably it approaches very nearly
to that of the earliest age of the Christian church.
Confession is required of all members of the Coptic
church; and is indispensable before receiving the sacrament
of the Lord's Supper. Each person generally
confesses to the same priest. The penance which the
confessor usually imposes is a certain number of crossings
and prostrations, with the repetition, during each
prostration, of the Lord's Prayer, or, “O my Lord!
have mercy!”
The Copts observe long and arduous fasts: A week
before their Great Fast, or Lent, commences a fast of
three days, kept in commemoration of that of Nineth,
which was occasioned by the preaching of Jonah.
Some of the Copts observe this fast by total abstinence
during the whole period of three days and three nights;
others keep it in the same manner as the other fasts, of
which an account here follows.
Their principal fast, called es-So'm el-Kebee'r (or the
Great Fast), above alluded to, was originally limited to
forty days; but it has been gradually extended, by different
patriarchs, to fifty-five days. During this period,
excepting on two days of festival, which will presently
be mentioned, they abstain from every kind of animal
food, such as flesh-meet, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese;
and eat only bread and vegetables (chiefly beans), with
sweet oil, or the oil of sesame, and doock'ckah. The
churches are open, and service is performed in them, every
day during this fast; and the Copts eat nothing after
their supper until after the church-prayers of the next
day, about noon: but they do not thus on the other
They observe, however, with almost equal strictness,

three other fasts:—1st, the So'm el-Meela'd (or Fast of
the Nativity); the period of which is twenty-eight days
immediately preceding the festival of the Nativity, or
Christmas-day; that is, all the month of Kayah'k excepting
the last two days:—2dly, the So'm er-Roos'ool
(or Fast of the Apostles), which is the period between
the Ascension and the fifth of Ebee'b; and is observed
in commemoration of the Apostles' fasting after they
were deprived of their Lord:—3dly, the So'm el-'Ad'ra
(or Fast of the Virgin), a period of fifteen days previous
to the Assumption of the Virgin.
The Copts also fast every Wednesday and Friday in
every other period of the year; excepting during the
fifty days immediately following their Great Fast: that
is, from the end of the Great Fast to the end of the
Khum'a'see'n. On these Wednesdays and Fridays,
they eat only fish, vegetables, and oil.
Each fast is followed by a festival. The Copts observe
seven great festivals:—1st, the 'Eed el-Meela'd (or
Festival of the Nativity), on the 29th of Kayah'k (or
6th or 7th of January):—2dly, the 'Eed el-Gheeta's, on
the 11th of Too'beh (18th or 19th of January), in commemoration
of the baptism of Christ:—3dly, the 'Eed el-Besha'rah
(Annunciation of the Virgin, or Lady-day),
on the 29th of Baramha't (or 6th of April):—4thly, the 'Eed esh-Sha'anee'n
(Palm-Sunday), the Sunday next
before Easter:—5thly, the 'Eed el-Ckiya'meh (the Resurrection,
or Easter, or el-Eed el-Kebee'r (the. Great
Festival):—6thly the 'Eed es-So'oo'd (the Ascension):—
7thly, the 'Eed el-'An'sar'ah (Whitsunday). On the
first, second, and fifth of these, the church-prayers are
performed at night: that is, in the night preceding the
day of festival. On all these festivals, the Copts wear

new clothes (or the best they have), feast, and give
On the Ley'let el-Gheeta's (or eve of the festival of
the Gheeta's) the Copts, almost universally, used to perform
a singular ceremony, which, I am informed, is
now observed by few of those residing in the metropolis,
but by almost all others; that is, by the men. To commemorate
the baptism of Christ, men, old as well as
young, and boys, plunge into water; and the Moos'lims
say, that, as each docs this, another exclaims to him,
“Plunge, as thy father and grandfather plunged; and
remove el-Isla'm from thy heart.” Some churches have
a large tank, which is used on this occasion; the water
having first been blessed by a priest; but it is a more
common practice of the Copts to perform this ceremony
(which most of them regard more as an amusement
than a religious rite) in the river; pouring in some
holy water from the church before they plunge. This
used to be an occasion of great festivity among the
Copts of the metropolis: the Nile was crowded with
boats; and numerous tents and mesh”als were erected
on its banks. Prayers are performed in the churches
on the eve of this festival: a priest blesses the water in
the font, or the tank, then ties on a napkin, as an apron,
and, wetting the corner of a handkerchief with the holy
water, washes (or rather, wipes or touches), with it, the
feet of each member of the congregation. This latter
ceremony is also performed on the Thursday next before
Easter, or Maunday Thursday (Khamee's el-Ahd),
and on the Festival of the Apostles ('Eed er-Roos'ool),
on the 5th of Ebee'b (or 11th of July).
On the Festivals of the Besha'rah and the Sha'a'nee'n,
the Copts eat fish; and on the latter of these two festivals,

the priests recite the prayers of the dead over their
congregations in the churches; and if any die between
that day and the end of the Khum'a'see'n (which is the
chief or worst portion of the plague-season) his body is
interred without the prayer being repeated. This custom
seems to have originated from the fact of its being
impossible to pray at the tomb over every victim of the
plague; and must have a very impressive effect upon
people expecting this dreadful scourge.
Among the minor festivals are the Khamee's el-Ahd,
above mentioned; Sebt en-Noo'r (or Saturday of the
Light), the next Saturday, when a light which is said to
be miraculous appears in the Holy Sepulchre, at Jerusalem;
the 'Eed er-Roos'ool before mentioned; and the
'Eed es-Salee'b (or Festival of [the discovery of] the
Cross), on the 17th of Too't (or 26th or 27th of September).
Pilgrimage to Jerusalem the Copts hold to be incumbent
on all who are able to perform it; but few of the
poorer classes acquit themselves of this duty. The
pilgrims compose a numerous caravan. They pass the
Passion Week and Easter at Jerusalem; and, on the
third day after the Passion Week, proceed to the Jordan,
in which they bathe.
The Copts almost universally abstain from eating
swine's flesh; not because they consider it unlawful;
for they deny it to be so; but, as they say, on account
of the filthiness of the animal. I should think, however,
that this abstinence is rather to be attributed to a prejudice
derived from their heathen ancestors. The flesh
of the wild boar is often eaten by them. Camel's flesh
they consider unlawful; probably for no better reason
than that of its being eaten by the Moos'lims. They

abstain from the flesh of animals that have been strangled,
and from blood, in compliance with an injunction
of the Apostles to the Gentile converts*, which they
hold is not abrogated.
* Acts, xv., 20 and 29.
The mule adults among the Copts pay a tribute (called
giz'yeh), besides the income-tax (or fit'deh) which they
pay in common with the Moos'lim inhabitants of Egypt.
There are three rates of the former: the richer classes,
Cairo and other large towns, pay thirty-six piasters
each; the middling classes, eighteen; and the poorest,
nine: but in the country, this tax is levied upon families
instead of individuals. The fir'deh is the same for the
Copts as for the Moos'lims; the twelfth part of a man's
annual salary or gain, when this can be ascertained.
The Copts are not now despised and degraded by the
government as they were a few years ago. Some of
them have even been raised to the rank of Beys. Before
the accession of Mohham'mad 'Al'ee, neither the
Copts nor other Eastern Christians, nor Jews, were
generally allowed to ride horses in Egypt; but this
restriction has, of late years, been withdrawn.—A short
time since, the Moos'lims of Damascus, who are notorious
for their bigotry and intolerance, complained, to the
conqueror Ibrahee'm Ba'sha, of the Christians in their
city being allowed to ride horses; urging that the Moos'lims
no longer had the privilege of distinguishing themselves
from the infidels. The Ba'sha replied, “Let the
Moos'lims still be exalted above the Christians, if they
wish it: let them ride dromedaries in the streets: depend
upon it the Christians will not follow their example.”—
The Copts enjoy an immunity for which they are much
envied by most of the Moos'lims: they are not liable to

be taken for military service; as no Mohhammadan
prince would honour a Christian by employing him to
fight against a Moos'lim enemy.
The ordinary domestic habits of the Copts are perfectly
oriental, and nearly the same as those of their
Moos'lim fellow-countrymen. They pass their hours of
leisure chiefly in the same manner, enjoying their pipe
and coffee: their meals, also, are similar; and their
manner of eating is the same; but they indulge in
drinking brandy at all hours of the day; and often, to
They are not allowed by their church to intermarry
with persons of any other sect; and few of them do so.
When a Copt wishes to contract such a marriage, which
causes him to be regarded as a reprobate by the more
strict of his nation, he generally applies to a priest of the
sect to which his intended wife belongs; and if his request
be denied, which is commonly the case unless the
man will consent to adopt his wife's creed, he is married
by the Cka'dee, merely by a civil contract. As a
marriage of this kind is not acknowledged by the church,
it may be dissolved at pleasure.
When a Copt is desirous of marrying according to the
approved custom, he pursues the same course to obtain
a wile as the Moos'lim; employing one or more of his
female relations or other women to seek for him a suitable
companion. Scarcely ever is he able to obtain a
sight of the face of his intened wife, unless she be of
the lower orders; and not always even in this case. If
the female sought in marriage be under age, her father,
or mother, or nearest male relation, is her wekee'l (or
agent) to make the necessary arrangements; but if she
be of age, and have neither lather nor mother, she

appoints her own wekee'l. The “bridegroom, also, has
his wekee'l. The parties make a contract, in which
various private domestic matters are arranged, in the
presence of a priest. Two thirds of the amount of the
dowry is paid on this occasion: the remaining third is
held in reserve: if she survive her husband, she claims
this from his property: if she die before him, her relations
claim it at her death. The contract being concluded,
the Lord's Prayer is recited three times by all
persons present: the priest commencing it first.
The marriage-festivities, in the cases of persons of the
higher and middle classes, when the bride is a virgin,
usually occupy a period of eight days. Such is the
length of what is termed a complete fete '*.
* Far'ahh tema'm.