ABÚ 'ABDU-LLAH MUHAMMAD was born at Ceuta, in Morocco, towards the end of the 11th century. He was member of a family which descended from an ancestor named Idrís, and so came to be known by the name of Al Idrísí. This family furnished a line of princes for Morocco in the 9th and 10th centuries, and the branch from which Idrísí sprung ruled over the city of Malaga. Idrísí travelled in Europe, and eventually settled in Sicily at the court of Roger II. It was at the instance of this prince that he wrote his book on geography. He cites in his preface the various authors whose works he had employed in the compilation of the book. Further information was derived from travellers, whose verbal statements he compared and tested; and M. Reinaud quotes the Biographical Dictionary of Khalílu-s Safadí to the effect that men of intelligence were specially com­missioned to travel and collect information for his use. The full title of the work is, Nuzhatu-l Mushták fi Ikhtiráku-l Áfák, “The Delight of those who seek to wander through the regions of the world.” A full translation of the whole work into French was published at Paris in 1836 and 1840 by M. Jaubert, and from this the following Extracts have been done into English. Idrísí's work met with very early attention. An abridgment of the text was published at Rome in 1592, and a Latin translation was printed at Paris in 1619, entitled “Geographia Nubiensis, id est accuratissima totius orbis in septem climata divisi descriptio continens, prœsertim exactam universœ Asiœ et Africœ, in Latinum versa a Gabriele Sionita et Joanne Hesronita.” Hart-mann in 1796 published at Gottingen, from the abridgement, “Edrisii descriptio Africœ.” The description of Spain was translated into Spanish by Conde in 1799, and the portions relating to Africa and Spain have just been published with a translation by M.M. Dozy and de Goeje. Zenker, in his Bibliotheca Orientalis, mentions translations of other detached portions.

M. Reinaud, in his Introduction to Aboulfeda, has remarked that in M. Jaubert's translation, “Beaucoup de noms de lieux sont altérés,” and it is true that there are some variants, such as Túbarán for Túrán, and Bána for Tánna; but the old Latin translation presented generally the same differences; the variants therefore seemed to exist in the text, and not to be attributable to the translator. A cursory examination of the two MSS. in the Bodleian has confirmed this view, for Jaubert's translation was found to give a generally accurate reproduction of the names as they stand in these MSS. A careful comparison of the texts would, no doubt, lead to some corrections, and, indeed, a few will be noticed in the following pages; but the more important variants are fully supported by the Oxford MSS. The maps contained in Graves' MS. show some differences from the text; thus Túrán is found instead of Túbarán; but the maps are written in a more modern hand, quite different from the rest of the book. The text is continued on the backs of these maps in the ordinary hand, but it may nevertheless have been written long before the maps were filled in. At any rate the scribes were different men, and such differences as that noticed above leads to the conclusion that the maps were not derived from the text with which they are incorporated.


FIRST CLIMATE. Section X.—The greatest king of India is the Balhará, which signifies “king of kings.” After him comes the Makamkam, whose country is Sáj. Next the king of Sáfan or Tában, then the king of Jába, then the king of Juzr, and then the king of Kámrún, whose states touch China.

* The Indians are divided into seven castes. The first is that of the Sákriya, These are the most noble; from among them kings are chosen, and from no others. All the other castes pay homage to them, but they render homage to no one. Next come the Brahmans, who are the religious class. They dress in the skins of tigers and other animals. Sometimes one of them, taking a staff in his hand, will assemble a crowd around him, and will stand from morn till eve speaking to his auditors of the glory and power of God, and ex­plaining to them the events which brought destruction upon the ancient people, that is, upon the Brahmans. They never drink wine nor fermented liquors. They worship idols (whom they consider to be) able to intercede with the Most High. The third caste is that of the Kastariya, who may drink as much as three ratls* of wine, but not more, lest they should lose their reason. This caste may marry Brahman women, but Brahmans cannot take their women to wife. Next comes the Shardúya, who are labourers and agricul­turists; then the Basya, who are artizans and mechanics; then the Sabdáliya (or Sandaliya), who are singers, and whose women are noted for their beauty; and, lastly, the Zakya, who are jugglers, tumblers, and players of various instruments. Among the principal nations of India there are forty-two sects. Some recognize the existence of a Creator, but not of prophets; while others deny the existence of both. Some acknowledge the intercessory powers of graven stones, and others worship holy stones, on which butter and oil is poured. Some pay adoration to fire, and cast themselves into the flames. Others adore the sun, and consider it the creator and director of the world. Some worship trees; others pay adoration to serpents, which they keep in stables, and feed as well as they can, deeming this to be a meritorious work. Lastly, there are some who give themselves no trouble about any kind of devotion, and deny everything.

SECOND CLIMATE. Section VII.—The towns described in this seventh section* are Kia, Kír, Armáyíl, Kasr-band, Fírabúz, Khúr, Kambalí, Manhábarí,* Debal, Nírún, Mansúra,* Wándán, Asfaka, Darak, Másúrján, Fardán, Kírkáyán, Kadírá, Basmak, Túbarán [Túrán], Multán, Jandúr, Sandúr, Dúr, Atrí,* Kálarí, Nírá, Mas-wám, Sharúsán,* Bánía, Mámhal, Kambáya, Súbára, Sabdán, and Saimúr.* In that part of the sea which is comprised in the present section, there are the isle of Sára, the two rocks of Kasair and 'Awair, that of Dardúr, the island of Debal, in which the town of Kaskihár, is situated; the isles of Aubkín, Mind, Kúlam-mali, and Sindán. All these countries are inhabited by people of different religions, customs, and manners. We will state all that we have ascertained for certain on this subject, confiding in Divine help.

The beginning of this section comprises, starting from the east, the shores of the Persian Gulf, and towards the south the town of Debal. This is a populous place, but its soil is not fertile, and it produces scarcely any trees except the date-palm. The highlands are arid and the plains sterile. Houses are built of clay and wood, but the place is inhabited only because it is a station for the vessels of Sind and other countries. Trade is carried on in a great variety of articles, and is conducted with much intelligence. Ships laden with the productions of 'Umán, and the vessels of China and India come to Debal. They bring stuffs and other goods from China, and the per­fumes and aromatics of India. The inhabitants of Debal, who are generally rich, buy these goods in the bulk, and store them until the vessels are gone and they become scarce. Then they begin to sell, and go trading into the country, putting their money out on interest, or employing it as may seem best. Going towards the west there are six miles between the mouth of the great Mihrán and Debal. From Debal to Nírún, on the west of the Mihrán, three days' journey. Nírún is half way between Debal and Mansúra, and people going from one town to the other here cross the river.

Nírún is a town of little importance, but it is fortified, and its inhabitants are rich. Trees are rare. From hence to Mansúra rather more than three days.

Mansúra, the city last mentioned, is surrounded by a branch of the Mihrán, although it is at a distance from the river. It is on the west of the principal branch of the river which flows from its source to Kálarí, a town situated one days' journey from Mansúra. At Kálarí it divides—the principal branch runs towards Mansúra, the other flows northward as far as Sharúsán [Sadúsán], it then turns westwards and rejoins the chief stream, forming henceforward only one river. The junction takes place twelve miles below Mansúra. The Mihrán passes on to Nírún, and then flows into the sea. Mansúra occupies a space of a mile square. The climate is hot. The country produces dates and sugar-canes in abundance. There are hardly any other fruits, if we except one, a sort of fruit called laimún, as big as an apple and of a very sour taste, and another which resembles the peach both in shape and taste. Mansúra was built at the beginning of the reign of Al Mansúr, of the 'Abbáside family, This prince gave his name (“the victorious”) to four different cities, as a good augury that they might stand for ever. The first was Baghdad in 'Irák; the second, Mansúra in Sind; the third, Al Masísa, on the Mediterranean; the fourth, that of Mesopotamia. That of which we are now speaking is great, populous, rich, and commercial. Its environs are fertile. The buildings are constructed of bricks, tiles, and plaster. It is a place of recreation and of pleasure. Trade flourishes. The bazars are filled with people, and well stocked with goods. The lower classes wear the Persian costume, but the princes wear tunics, and allow their hair to grow long like the princes of India. The money is silver and copper. The weight of the drachma (dínár) is five times that of the (ordinary) drachma. The Tátariya coins also are current here. Fish is plentiful, meat is cheap, and foreign and native fruits abound. The name of this city in Indian is Mírmán, It is considered one of the dependencies of Sind, like Debal, Nírún, Bánía, Kálarí, Atri, Sharúsán, Jandaur, Manhábarí [Manjábarí], Basmak and Multán.

Bánía is a little town. The inhabitants are of mixed blood and are rich. Living here is cheap and agreeable. From Bánía to Mansúra, three days, to Mámhal six, to Debal two. From hence to Mámhal and Kambáya the country is nothing but a marine strand, without habitations and almost without water; consequently, it is impassable for travellers.