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IV.—Narrative of a Journey from Cairo to Medina and Mecca, by Suez, Araba, Tawild, al-Jauf Jubbe", Hail, and Nejd, in 1845. By the late Dr. George Augustus Walldj, Professor of Arabic at the University of Helsingfors in Finland.* Communicated by the Secretary. Read April 26, 1852.
I Had hired two Bedawies (Bedouins) of the Heiwy tribe to take me from the capital of Egypt to Al'akaba, from which place I intended to pursue my way across the Shera chain to the town of Algawf,f in the interior of the northern desert of Arabia.} We started from Alkahira (Cairo) on the 12th of April, 1845, and following the high road of the Indian transit to Suweis (Suez), we arrived in two days at 'Agrood, the first station for the Egyptian pilgrims on their way to Mekka. The desert tract, through which this route leads, is too ■ well known to need any mention here; I have crossed it five times in different seasons, but I never saw any nomads encamped there, nor any Bedawy tents pitched on its vast plains, nor, in fact, so much pasture on its sandy soil as would suffice for the subsistence of the smallest Arab tribe. But the communication with Suweis in late years having much increased, owing especially to the extended Indian transit, there is day and night a continual movement of karawans and individuals going to and fro on this way, keeping the intercourse alive between Asia and Europe. The road has been cleared from stones and other impediments by the present Pasha of Egypt; a telegraphic line has been established between the two towns; European inns have arisen for the exclusive accommodation of European travellers, who now, in convenient carriages, make the journey of three days' camel-march in ten to twelve hours; and with awe and astonishment the poor Bedawies make mention of the rails, which, they are told, are going to be laid down by the restless and envious Frangis, in order to deprive them of the last scanty profit they still earn on this way by their camels. The castle of 'Agrood is larger and generally kept in better order than most of the others on the pilgrims' way, but the fresh water it contains, though abundant and, I believe, the only well in the whole district, is very brackish.
On the 15th we continued our way from the castle. Leaving the pilgrims' path to our left, we traversed the desert, which surrounds Suweis on the land side, first in the direction of E. by S.
* In order to make this paper correspond in style and arrangement with a former one, already published in the twentieth volume of this Journal, it has been printed, as nearly as possible, in the author's own words.—Ed.
f The j is sounded like g in Egypt and Arabia. Jauf = Gawf.—R.
I See Itinerary at end of the paper, p. 207.—Ed.
during 2 hours, and then S.S.E. during 1\ hours, until we readied the spring of Mab'ook, situated on a plain, upon whose scanty herbs and bushes a Bedawy woman grazed her sheep. The water of the spring is tepid, but, cooled in the skins so generally in use amongst the Arabs, it is sweet and excellent; and as it is the only spring of really good water in the environs of Suweis, the wealthier inhabitants take their supplies here, notwithstanding the great distance by which it is separated from the town. The common people of Suweis are generally supplied with water from a pond, called Gharkade, situated at the foot of the mountains of the Sina. peninsula, from whence it is first brought by Bedawies on camel-back in skins to the shore of the Red Sea, and then forwarded to the town in small boats. There is still another well, about one hour W. of Suweis, on the way to 'Agrood, but its water is so bad and brackish as to be scarcely drinkable. There are some remains of a decayed wall to be seen at Mab'ook, and in general small flocks of sheep pasturing around the spring. From hence we took the direction of N.E. towards the mountain of Alraha, and entered after a march of hours a valley, called Ferashat al shih,* where the two species of the wormwood herb, Shih and 'Ubeitheran', grew in rich abundance. The valley extends between Alraha on the right and the lower mountain of Hurneira on the left hand.
On the 16th we reached the end of the valley after a march of 1^ hour. Here commenced a narrow defile, called Bal'im Almagharbe, which took £ of an hour to pass. After a march of 4i hours more over open desert plains, we issued again upon the Egyptian pilgrim-way. The road we had followed from the castle of 'Agrood is the way which the Maghrabies, the pilgrims from northern Africa, generally take to Mekka, and which, after them, is called Darb Almagharbe. We made a march of hours more in a valley called Hashm Alfarwa, which may be regarded as a continuation of the valley through which our way had led from Mab'ook. It opens here in a vast plain, called Wadi Alburook, surrounded on all sides by mountain ranges. We passed at the foot of a mountain, which, from a natural cistern in its rocks, where, during the rainy season, a scanty water sometimes is found, has received the name of Semilet Alderawish. Our course on the plain was E.S.E. b. S. during 3 hours towards a solitary mountain called Gebel Hasan.
On the 17th we took the direction of S.E. from the mountain, and arrived, after a march of hours over the same plain, to the second station on the Egyptian pilgrim-way, the castle of Alnakhil, situated nearly in the centre of the extensive plain on a
low hill, at the foot of which there stood now only one small house, erected by a man of the garrison.* The castle contains only one well, whose brackish water is raised by the hydraulic machine generally used in Egypt, and known by the name of Sakiie, and is then led into two larger basins and a smaller one on the outside of the walls. Thus we had taken 33 hours from 'Agrood to Alnakhil; a journey which the pilgrim-karawan generally makes in 30; but the latter does not pass by Mab'ook.
The Bedawies, who generally arrive at Wadi Alburook, are tribes of Teiaha, Terabin, Huweitat, and 'Alawin; but as this year for want of rain the pasture was scanty and withered, the land was abandoned. The Teiaha are the largest tribe in this neighbourhood, and occupy all the land between Alnakhil, Ghazze, and Wadi Al'araba. They pretend to derive their origin from the renowned tribe of Benoo Hilal, who, when emigrating from Negd to Egypt and northern Africa, they tell us, fell short of water in this desert. In this dilemma, three young men, with as many girls, separated themselves from the karawan, with empty skins carried by three donkeys, in order to seek for water in Wadi Sadr, a valley which, under different names, has been stated to me to descend from 'Arish, along the mountain range on the western coast of the Sina peninsula. They missed their way (tah) in the desert, and not being able to rejoin the karawan, they saw themselves obliged to remain in the land and take up their abodes with its inhabitants. But who those aboriginal inhabitants were the present Teiaha cannot tell us. The three young couples, called Wird Beni Hilal, lived and multiplied in the land, and the Teiaha regard them as the ancestors of their tribe and the authors of their name, which signifies " one who loses his way." The principal clans of the tribe are Ibnn Alrashid, to whom the Sheikh family belongs, and Hukook, who generally cultivate corn-fields in the neighbourhood of Alghazze and Nassar, and who keep nearer to the castle of Alnakhil. To this tribe belongs the right of convoying the pilgrim-karawan and travellers as far as Al'akaba on one side, and to Ghazze on the other, or some other Syrian place, generally Aldhahirige, where their relations with the neighbouring tribes allow them to enter. In consequence of this we generally find, during the winter and especially about Easter time, when the European tourists and the yearly karawan of Christian pilgrims of Kopts set off from Egypt to Jerusalem, the Teiaha Bedawies encamped in the neighbourhood of Alnakhil, or sometimes even received and lodged in the castle itself, in order to await the chance of meeting travellers. They are, next to Huweitat, the largest and mightiest Bedawy tribe in these lands, and
* When here again in 1847 I found to my surprise, that in two years a hamlet of twelve houses had sprung up around the castle.