Account of the Geographical Persian Manuscript, intitled Mesalek ù Memalek.

Having mentioned in the preface, (p. xxiv) my future translation of the Mesalek ù Memalek, I shall here give a short description of that manuscript, which is equally ancient as it is rare and curious Although I have not yet been able to ascertain the author’s name, it is evident, from two passages in the work itself, that he must have existed before the year 424 of the Hegira, (of Christ 1032); for, in his account of Spain, he describes the Ommiad Dynasty as still governing in that country; and adds, that “The Abbassides have not yet snatched it from them;” he must, therefore, have written before the year above mentioned, when the reign of the Ommiades ceased.

In another part of his work, describing Maweralnahr, or Transoxania, he informs us that he conversed with a respectable personage who had attended Nasser Ahmed in his battles.

This Prince, of the Samanian Dynasty, was invested with the govern­ment of Maweralnahr, by the Khalif Motamed, Anno Hegiræ 261, (A. D. 874); and if our author could have spoken with a contemporary of Nasser Ahmed, we may reasonably date the composition of his work early in the fourth century of the Mohammedan æra, between the year 900 and 1000 of Christ.

It appears that he visited, himself, many of the places he describes: con­fining his work to the limits of Islam (the Mohammedan world), he begins with a general description of its seas, the western regions of Africa, Spain, Egypt, Syria, Palestine, Arabia, Mesopotamia, Irak Arabi, Khusistan or Susiana, Pars or Farsistan, its five Kou­rehs or districts, fire-temples, ancient castles, rivers, cities, roads, and dis­tances from various towns to others; the air, water, soil, &c. of Farsistan; inhabitants ancient and modern, man­ners, dialects, religions, &c.; extraordinary buildings and monuments of antiquity; Istakhar, &c., produce, taxes, revenue, &c.; description of Kirman, cities, mountains, roads, &c.; part of Sind and Hind; Armenia, Arran and Azerbaijan, rivers, roads, hills, &c.; Kouhestan, Irak Ajemi, Taberistan, Khorasan, Dilem, Mazan­deran, Khozr, or the regions bordering on the Caspian Sea; Maweralnahr, or Transoxania; deserts between Fars and Khorasan; Sejestan, its lakes, rivers, roads, cities, &c.; Ferghanah, Samar­cand, Bokhara, Balkh, &c.

Thus he describes the route from Shiraz, <Arabic> to Kattah, <Arabic> on the road of Khorasan:

“From Shiraz to Dukak, <Arabic> 6 farsangs—from Dukak to Istakhar, <Arabic> 6 f.—from Istakhar to Pir-Kurieh, <Arabic> 4 f.—from Pir-Kurieh to Kohendiz, <Arabic> 6 f.— and from Kohendiz to Dhey-bend, <Arabic> 8 f.—from Dhey-bend to Aber-kouh, <Arabic> 12 f.—from Aber­kou to Dhey-shir, <Arabic> 13 f.— from Dhey-shir to Hawr, <Arabic> 6 f.— from Hawr to <Arabic> Kelaa Majious, (the Castle of the Magi), which is now in ruins, 6 f.—and from Kelaa Majious to the town of Kattah, <Arabic> 5 f. &c.” The city of Istakhar still existed when our author wrote; for he says,


“Istakhar is a city, neither small nor great; more ancient than any city, whatsoever, of Pars; in extent about one mile; and the Kings of Pars had their dwellings there; and Ardeshir resided in that place; and there is a tradition that, &c.” In another chapter he classes the statues, inscriptions, and buildings at Istakhar, amongst the wonders of Persia.

But any farther notice of the Mesalek ù Memalek would be here unnecessary, as my translation of the whole work, in one volume quarto, will, I hope, be ready for publication at the close of the present year.