« ElőzőTovább »
HADRAMUT: A JOURNEY IN
dren lay upou it to a posy of glowing mysterious smells and was alive with hues. So beautiful and transparent, flies ; so we worked hard to get our methinks, were the stains that in this preparations made and to make our soworld fell upon the character of my journ in this uncongenial, burning spot dear old friend.
as short as possible.
For our journey inland we were entrusted by the sultan to a tribe of Bed
ouins and their camels. Mikaic was From The Nineteenth Century.
the name of our mokadam, or headman, and his tribe rejoiced in the name of
Khailike, all tiny, spare men with long, BETWEEN Aden aud Maskat, Mo- shaggy hair bound up with leather kalla is the only spot which has any thongs, very dark, naked save for a pretensions to be called a seaport town. loin cloth, and the girdle to which were It is three hundred miles from Aden, attached their brass powder - flasks, and here we were deposited last De- shaped like a ram's horn, their silver cember by a chance steamer, to begin cases for flint and steel, their daggers, our journey to the Hadramut valley, and their thorn extractors. They are which anciently was the centre of the far different from the stately Bedouin frankincense and myrrh trade, one of of Syria and Egypt, and are, both as to the most famed commercial centres of religion and physique, distinctly an Araby the Blest, before Mohammedan aboriginal race of southern Arabia, as fanaticism blighted all industries and different from the Arab as the Hindu closed the peninsula to the outer world. is from the Anglo-Saxon.
Immediately behind Mokalla rise Never shall we forget the confusion grim, arid mountains of a reddish hue, of our start. Mikaic and ten of his and ihe town is plastered against this men appeared at seven in the morning rich-tinged background. By the shore, in our rooms, and were let loose on our like a lighthouse, stands the white min- seventy packages like so many devils aret of the mosque, the walls aud pin- from hell, yelling and quarrelling with nacles of which are covered with dense one another, and with all the diseased nuasses of seabirds and pigeons ; not beggars of Mokalla in their train. First far from this the huge palace where of all the luggage had to be divided the sultan dwells reminds one of a into loads for twenty-two camels, then whitewashed mill with a lace-like par- they drew lots for these loads with apet; white, red, and brown are the small sticks, then they drew lots for us dominant colors of the town, and in the riders, and finally we had a storiny harbor the Arab dbows with fantastic bargain as to the price, which, when sterns rock to and fro in the unsteady finally decided upon, was ratified by sea, forming altogether a picturesque placing the first two fingers of one conand unusual scene. Nominally Mokalla tractor on the hand of the other. is ruled over by a sultan of the Al We felt worn and weary when a start Kaiti family, whose connection with was made at midday, and our cup of India has made them very English in bitterness was full when we were detheir sympathies, and his Majesty's posited, bag and baggage, a few hungeneral appearance, with his velvet dred yards from the gate, and told that coat and jewelled daggers, is far more we must spend the night amidst a sea Indian than Arabian. Really the most of small fish drying on the shore, and influential people in the town are the surrounded on all sides by dirty Bedmoney - grubbing Parsees from Bom- ouin huts. These fish are put out to bay, and it is essentially one of those dry by thousands along this coast; men commercial centres where Hindustani feed on them and so do the camels ; is spoken nearly as much as Arabian. they make lamp-oil out of them ; large We were lodged in a so-called palace sacks of them are taken into the intehard by the bazaar, which reeked with 'rior as merchandise, and the air is
162 LIVING AGE. VOL. IV.
everywhere redolent with their stench. After much persuasion we induced one We had just enough strength of mind of the good ladies to sit for lier phototo commence the first of many quarrels graph, or rather to sit still whilst somewith our camel-men, and insist on be- thing was being done which she did ing taken two miles further on away not in the least understand. from the smells, where beneath the Leaving these villages behind us, we pleasant shade of some palm-trees we climbed rapidly higher and higher, halted for the remainder of the day, until, at an elevation of over five thouand recovered from the agonies of our sand feet, we found ourselves at last start.
on a broad, level plateau, stretching as Three days' camel riding up one of far as the eye could reach in every the short valleys which leads towards direction, and shutting off the Hadrathe high plateau offered little of interest mut from the coast. This is the mons beyond arid rocks and burnt-up, sand- excelsus of Pliny ;1 here we have the covered valleys. Here and there, where vast area where once flourished the warm volcanic streams rise out of the frankincense and the myrrh. Of the ground, the wilderness is converted latter shrub there is plenty left, and it into a luxurious garden, in which is still tapped for its odoriferous sap ; palms, tobacco, and other green things but of the former we only saw one grow. One of the scrub trees which specimen on the plateau, for in the clothe the wilderness is called by the lapse of ages the wealth of this counArabs rack, and is used by them for try has steadily disappeared ; further cleaning their teeth ; it amused us to east, however, in the Mahri country, chew this as we went along — it is there is, I understand, a considerable slightly bitter, but cleans the teeth most quantity left. effectually.
Words cannot express the desolate Then we entered the narrow, tortu- aspect of this vast plateau. Akaba, ous valley of Howeri, which ascends or “the going up," as the Arabs call it, towards the plateau, in which the mid- is exclusively Bedouin property, and day heat was intense; and at our even- wherever there is a little herbage to be ing halts we suffered not a little from found, thither the nomads drive their camel ticks, which abound in the sand, flocks and young camels ; there is no until we learnt to avoid old camping- sign of habitation over its whole exgrounds, and not to pitch our tents in panse ; only here and there a few the immediate vicinity of the wells. tanks are dug to collect rain water if There are two villages at the head of any falls, but the air is fresh and the Wadi Howeri, where there is actu- invigorating after the excessive heat of ally a ghail - that rare phenomenon in the valleys below. After travelling Arabia, a running stream. Here the along this plateau for three days, we Bedouin inhabitants cultivate the date at length reached the valley system palm, and have green patches of lu- which centres in the broad Hadramut. cerne and grain, very refreshing to the To the south and to the north of the eye. At Al Bat-ha we actually reposed main valley are cut out of this plateau, under a spreading tree, a wild, uned-like slices out of a cake, numerous ible fig called Luthba by the Arabs, a collateral branches, deep, narrow, and nickname given to all worthless, idle straight. From all points of the plaindividuals in these parts. Bedouin teau the descent into them is precip
crowded around us, closely itous, and on either side of them rise veiled in indigo-dyed masks, with nar- these red stratified walls nearly a row slits for their eyes, carrying their thousand feet high. babies with them in rude cradles Our first peep down into the Wadi resembling hencoops, with a cluster of Al Aisa, towards which our Bedouins charms hung from the top, which has the twofold advantage of amusing the sunt Adramitæ pagus Sabæorum in monte ex
1 Pliny, xii. 14, $ 52: “In medio Arabiæ fere baby and keeping off the cvil eye. I celso.”
had conducted us, was striking in the cornelian set in base silver, and agates extreme, and as we gazed down into and small tusks also set in silver. Not the varrow valley with its line of vege- far from Khaileh we saw a fine village tation and numerous villages, we felt which we were told was inhabited by as if we were on the edge of another Arabs of pure blood, so we sent a world. It had not been our intention polite message to the seyyid, or headto visit the Wadi Al Aisa, but to ap- man of the place, to ask if we might proach the Hadramut by another valley pay him our respects. His reply was cailed Dowan; but our camel-men to the effect that if we paid thirty dolwould not take us that way, and pur- lars we might come and pass four hours posely got up a scare that the men of in his town.
Needless to say, Khoreba at the head of Wadi Dowan declined the invitation with thanks, were going to attack us, and would and on the morrow when we marched refuse to let us pass. A convenient up the Wadi Al Aisa we gave the abode old woman was found who professed of this hospitable seyyid a wide berth. to bring this news, a dodge subse- Shief was the name of the next vilquently resorted to by another Bedouin lage at which we balted for a night, tribe which wanted to govern our also inhabited by pure Arabs, who progress. So we humbly descended treated us with excessive rudeness. It into the Wadi Al Aisa, and found our is a very picturesque spot, perched on selves encamped hard by the village of a rock, with towers and turrets conKhaileh, the headquarters of the Khai- structed of sun-dried brick; only here, like tribe, within a stone's throw of as elsewhere in these valleys, the Mikaic's father's house and under the houses are so exactly the same color as shadow of the castle of his uncle, who the rock behind them that they lose is the sheikh of the tribe. These their effect. The rich have evidently worthies both extorted from us sub- recognized this difficulty and whitewash stantial sums of mouey and sold us food their houses, but in the poorer villages at exorbitant prices, and thus it was there is uo whitewash, and that we learut why we were not per- quently nothing to make them stand mitted to go to Khoreba, and why the out from their surroundings. Arab old woman and her story had been girls before they enter the larem and produced.
take the veil are a curious sight to beWe thought Mikaic and his men little hold. Their bodies and faces are dyed better than naked savages when on the a bright yellow with turmeric; on this plateau, but when we were introduced ground they paint black lines with an10 their relatives, and when we saw limony over their eyes ; the fashiontheir castles and their palm groves and able color for the nose is red ; green their long line of gardens in the narrow spots adorn the cheek, and the general valley, our preconceived notions of the aspect is grotesque beyond description. wild, homeless Bedouin and his pov- My wife tells me that the belles in the erty underwent considerable change. sultan's harem are also painted in this During the two days we encamped at fashion, and that they also paint gloves Khaileh we were gazed upon uninter- on their hands and shoes on their feet, ruptedly by a relentless crowd of men, and thus bedizened hope to secure the women, and children.
It amused us at affections of their lords. At Shief the first to see the women here for the men would vot allow my wife to apmost part unmasked, with their ex- proach or hold any intercourse with the ceedingly heavy girdles of brass, their Arab women, using opprobrious epianklets of brass half a foot deep, their thets when she tried to make friendly bmcelets of brass, their irou nose rings, overtures, with the quaint result that and their massive and numerous ear- whenever Mrs. Bent advanced towards rings which tore down the lobe of the a group of gazing females they fled ear with their weight. Every Bedouin, precipitately like a flock of sheep bemale or female, has a ring or charm of 'fore a collie dog. These womeu wear
their dresses high in front, showing accompanied by his friends bearing their yellow legs above the knee, and torches, and singing and speechifying long behind ; they are of deep blue to their heart's content. On a subsecotton decorated with fine embroidery quent occasion at Ghail ba Wazir our and patches of yellow and red sewn on roof happened to command a view of in pattern. It is the universal female the terrace where a bride and her handdress in Hadramut, and looks as if the maidens were making merry with drums fashion had not changed since the days and coffee. In spite of the frowns and when Hazarmaveth the patriarch set- gesticulations of the order keeper, who tled in this valley and gave it his name flourished her stick at us and bid us (Gen. x. 28). The tall, tapering straw begone, we were able to get a peep, hat worn by these women when in the forbidden to males, at the blushing fields contributes with the mask to bride. She wore on her head large make the Hadrami females as exter- silver bosses like tin plates ; her ears nally repulsive as the most jealous of were weighed down with jewels, her husbands could desire.
fingers were straight with rings, and The town of Hajarein is the princi- her arms a mass of bracelets up to the pal one in the collateral valleys, and is elbow, and her breast was hidden by a built on a lofty isolated rock in the multiplicity of necklaces. Her face, of middle of the Wadi Kasr, about twenty course, was painted yellow, with black miles before it joins the main valley. lines over her eyes and mouth like With its towers and turrets it recalled heavy moustaches reaching to her ears, to our minds as we saw it in the dis- and from her nose hung something tance certain hill-set medieval villages which looked to us like a gold coin. of Germany and Italy. Here a vice- The bride herself evidently had no obsultan governs on behalf of the Al jection to our presence, but the threatKaiti family, an ill-conditioned, extor-ening aspect of her women compelled tionate individual, whose bad recep- us reluctantly to retire. tion of us contributed to his subsequent Near Hajarein are many traces of removal from office. Internally Haja- the olden days when the frankincense rein is squalid and dirty in the ex- trade flourished, and when the town of treme ; each street is but a cesspool Dowani, which name is still retained in
; for the houses on either side of it, and the Wadi Dowan, was a great empothe house allotted to us produced spec- rium for this trade. Acres and acres imens of most smells and most insects, of ruins, dating from the centuries imand the day of rest we proposed for mediately before our era, lie stretched ourselves here was spent in fighting along the valley here, just showing with our old camel-men who left us their heads above the weight of superhere, and in fighting with the new incumbent sand which has invaded ones who were to take us on to the and overwhelmed the past glories of main valley, and in indignantly refus- this district. The ground lies strewn ing to pay the sultan the sum of money with fragments of Himyaritic inscripwhich our presence in his town led tions, pottery, and other indications of him to think it his right to demand. a rich harvest for the excavator, but
During the days we were at Hajarein the hostility of the Nahad tribe preseveral weddings were celebrated. To vented us from paying these ruius form a suitable place for conviviality more than a cursory visit, and even to they cover a yard with mats, secure this we had to pay the sheikh of just as the Abyssinians do, and the the place nineteen dollars ; and his women, to show their hilarity on the greeting was ominous as he angrily occasion, utter the same gurgling noises muttered, “Salaam to all who believe as the Abyssinian women do on a like Mohammed is the true prophet.” The occasion, and call ulultà. From our Nahad tribe occupy about ten miles of roof we watched the bridegroom's noc- the valley through which we passed, turnal procession to his bride's house, and the toll-money we paid to this tribe
for the privilege of passing by was the palace of Sultan Salah bin Mohammad most exorbitant demanded from us on Al Kaiti of Shibabm, the most powerour journey. When once you have ful movarch in the Hadramut, who has paid the toll-money (siyar), and have spent twelve years of his life in India, with you the escort (siyara) of the and whose reception of us was going to tribe, you are practically safe wherever be magnificent, our escort told us. you may travel in Arabia ; but this did The day after leaving Haura we ennot prevent us from being grossly in- tered the main valley, and were then sulted as we passed by certain Nahad in the Hadramut proper, for this name villages, the inhabitants of which is only used by the natives to indicate crowded round our camels, calling us the most inhabited portion of the big " dogs” and “pigs,” and bidding us main valley, and is never applied by come down, that they might cut our them to the collateral valleys, the plainfidel throats. A town called Kaidun teau, or the coast line. At the village is the chief centre of this tribe where of Alimanieh, where we entered the dwells a very holy man celebrated all main valley, it is very broad, eight the country round for his miracles aud miles at least from cliff to cliff, receivgood works. We purposely avoided ing at this point collateral valleys from passing too near this town, and after- all sides, which form a basin in its wards learnt that it was owing to the midst. Until we were within a mile influence of this very holy seyyid that of the castle of Al Katan, where the our reception was so bad amongst the sultan of Shibahm resides, all was desNabad tribe. At Assab they would est and sand, but suddenly the valley not allow us to dip our vessels in their narrows, and a long vista of cultivation well, nor take our repast under the was spread before us. Here miles of shadow of their mosque ; even the the valley are covered with palm women of this village ventured to in- groves, bright green patches of lucerne, sult us, peeping into our tent at night, almost dazzling to look upon after the avil tumbling over the guys in a man- arid waste, and numerous other kinds per most aggravating to the weary of grain are raised by irrigation, for occupants.
the Hadramut has beneath its expanse Our troubles on this score were hap- of sand a river running, the waters pily terminated at Haura, where a huge of which are obtained by digging deep castle belonging to the Al Kaiti family wells. Skin buckets are let down by dominates a humble village surrounded ropes and drawn up by cattle by means by palm groves. Without pliotograplis of a steep slope, and then the water is
. to bear out my statement, I should distributed for cultivation by narrow hardly dare to describe the magniti-channels; it is at best a fierce struggle cence of these castles in the Hadra- with nature to produce these crops, mut. That at Haura is seven stories for the rainfall can never be depended high, and covers fully an acre of ground upon. Sultan Salah sent a messenger beneath the beetling cliff, with battle- to beg us not to arrive till the following ments, towers, and machicolations bear- morning, that his reception of us might ing a striking likeness to Holyrood. be suitable to our dignity, as the first But Holyrood is built of stone, and English travellers to visit his domains. Haura, save for the first story, is built So we encamped just outside the cul. of sun-dried bricks; and if Haura tivation, and were soon visited by the stood where Holyrood does, or in any sultan's two viziers, magnificent inother country save dry, arid Arabia, it dividuals mounted on spirited Arab would long ago have melted away. steeds, with plaided turbans, long The vice-sultan of Haura received us lances, and many gold mohrs fixed on right well, and immediately gave us to their dagger handles, all of which hot spiced coffee in his spacious guest- argued well for our reception on the hall, and sent kids to our camp as a morrow by the sultan of Shibahm. present, for we were now nearing the Like a fairy palace of the Arabian