Bibliotheca Persica

Persian Heritage Series Number 36

Naser-e Khosraw’s

Book of Travels

Center tor Iranian Studies Columbia University, New York

Persian Heritage Series

The Persian Heritage Series aims at making Persian literary, historical and scientific texts available in translation. The translations in the series are intended not only to satisfy the needs of the students of Persian his- tory and culture, but also to respond to the demands of the intelligent reader who seeks to broaden his intellectual and artistic horizons through an acquaintance with major world literatures.

General Editor Ehsan Yarshater (Columbia University)

Advisory Council

I. Gershevitch (Cambridge University) G. Lazard (University of Paris)

B. Spuler (University of Hamburg)

R. N. Frye (Harvard University)

Late Members

A. J. Arberry (Cambridge University)

W. B. Henning (University of California) H. Massé (University of Paris)

T. C. Young (Princeton University)

G. Morgenstierne (University of Oslo)

G. Tucci (University of Rome)

The volumes in the Persian Heritage Series form part of the UNESCO COLLECTION OF REPRESENTATIVE WORKS.

A current list of the published titles in the Persian Heritage and related series appears at the end of this volume.

7 Persian Heritage Series Edited by Ehsan Yarshater Number 36

Naser-e Khosraw’s Book of Travels


Translated from Persian,

with introduction and annotation by

W. M. Thackston, Jr.

Senior Preceptor in Persian Harvard University

Bibljothera Persjra

5. NT CR ay



oe ee

Published by

The Persian Heritage Foundation under the imprint of Bibliotheca Persica

© 1986 The Persian Heritage Foundation All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America

No part of this book may be used or reproduced

in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For information, address State University of New York Press, State University Plaza, Albany, N.Y., 12246

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data

Naser-e Khosraw, 1004-ca. 1088. The book of travels = (Safarnama)

(Persian heritage series; no. 36) Translation of: Safarnamah. Includes index. 1. Near East—Description and travel. 1. Thackston, W. M. (Wheeler McIntosh), 1944-— _ IL. Title. III. Title: Safarnama. IV. Series. DS46.N313 1985 915.6'044 85-4657 ISBN 0-88706-—067-6 ISBN 0-88706-066-8 (pbk.)

1098765 432 1



Azerbaijan and Beyond

The Region of Diyar Bakr

Into Syria

Description of Tripoli

Beirut, Sidon, and Tyre

From Acre to Jerusalem


A General Description of Jerusalem The Sanctuary of Jerusalem

A Description of the Dome of the Rock

A Description of the Gangways Leading to the Platform

A Description of the Shrine of Abraham at Hebron Journey to Egypt

A Description of Cairo and the Provinces

A Description of the City of Cairo

A Description of the City of New Cairo

A Description of the “Opening of the Canal”

A Description of the City of Old Cairo

A Description of the Sultan’s Banquet

The Conduct of the Sultan

The Voyage to Mecca

A Description of the City of Jidda

A Description of the City of Mecca

A Description of Arabia and the Yemen

A Description of the Haram Mosque and the Ka‘ba The Shape of the Stone

A Description of the Ka‘ba Door

A Description of the Interior of the Ka‘ba

A Description of the Opening of the Ka‘ba Door The Minor Pilgrimage from Je‘rana

A Description of Ta’ef


dae FRE

Book of Travels


A Description of Lahsa’

A Description of the City of Basra .

A Description of the Ebb and Flow of the Tide at Basra






84 86 90 94 105 108 116 117 119 120 122 124 13]


Naser-e Khosraw, the well-known Persian poet, moralist and theologian was a mundane, prosperous and wine-loving bureau- crat in the Saljugq administration, until 1045, when a visionary dream brought to a head his latent tendencies and transformed him overnight into a devoted man of faith. The following year he planned a pilgrimage to Mecca which was eventually ex- tended into a seven year journey. It took him from Marv in northeastern Persia to Nishabur, Rayy, and Azerbaijan and then through Armenia and eastern Anatolia to Syria and Pale- stine and finally to Mecca. He returned, however, to Jerusalem and took the route by land and sea to Egypt, where he became fascinated by the country’s prosperity and its orderly adminis- tration under the Fatimids. It was here apparently that he em- braced the Isma‘ili doctrine. :

After visiting Mecca three more times and returning to Egypt twice, he finally headed for his home country by going to south Yemen, crossing the arabian desert to Basra in southern Iraq, and then by way of Isfahan to Balkh in modern Afghanistan. The Safarnama or Book of Travels is a record of this journey.

Naser soon, however, found himself harrassed by the Sunni authorities and took refuge in the nearby village of Yomgan, where he lived in forced retirement at least for 15 years, de- voting his time to writing and to intense Isma‘ili missionary activity.

A man of considerable culture and curiosity, Naser-e Khosraw met in the course of his travels with many people, wondered at many monuments and public buildings, and set down his ob- servations in his travel book. Written in a concise style some- time resembling an abridgement, and enlivened from time to time by Naser’s dry sense of humor, the Safarndma contains many keen and valuable observations on peoples and places, as well as on the economic and social conditions of countries that he visited. In his lively descriptions, Cairo, Jerusalem, and Mecca and their monuments stand out. His account of a small “communistic” Carmathian city-state in al-Ahsa’s near Bahrain is of special interest.

Despite its reputation, the Safarndma, had never been translated


Book of Travels

into English in its entirety, Guy LeStrange’s translation of the sections on Syria and Palestine (Pilgrim’s Text Society, volume IV, London: 1883) having remained a partial rendering. The present complete translation by Dr. Wheeler Thackston is ac- companied by a glossary of proper names, places, and terms, all in vigorous transliteration for the benefit of specialists, and an appendix listing the places visited by Naser, together with a map of the route followed by him, as well as explanatory notes, which are designed to help those interested in philological, his- torical, and geographical aspects of the text.

Ehsan Yarshater



While on an official trip in the autumn of 1045, Naser, son of Khosraw of Qobadiyan (Marv District in northeastern Khora- san), by his own account, experienced a dream-vision that jolted him out of a “forty-year sleep of heedlessness” and awakened in him a desire to abandon the life of a civil administrator for a “quest for truth.” Several months after this experience Naser obtained a leave of absence from his post and, ostensibly intend- ing to make a pilgrimage to Mecca, settled his debts and set out from Marv toward Nishapur, the cultural capital of Khorasan. However, instead of joining a caravan bound for the Hejaz, he began a peregrination that took him across the Caspian coast of Iran, into eastern Anatolia and down into Syria and Palestine. Although he did make a pilgrimage from Jerusalem, he did not return to his native Khorasan but rather retraced his steps to Jerusalem and thence made his way to Egypt and Cairo, the seat of the Fatimid caliphate. From Egypt he made his way to the Hejaz, across the Arabian peninsula and through Iran to return, some seven years after his departure, to his home in Balkh. The record of his adventures, observations and experiences is con- tained in his travelogue, the Safarndma.

Of Naser’s life we have little information, and of his early years practically nothing is known. From the fact that both he and his brother Abu’l-Fath ‘Abd al-Jalil were employed in gov- ernmental service (the brother is mentioned in the Safarndma as a member of the entourage of Abu Nasr, vizier to the prince of Khorasan), it may be inferred that the family belonged to the clerical/administrative class that regularly supplied the bureaux of state with those of its young men who had attained through rudimentary schooling a competence in the “three R’s.” That Naser was not rigorously trained in the religious and theological “Arabic” sciences of a systematic Islamic education is evident in his philosophical works. '

It is known of Naser that at some point in his life he embraced

'See V. A. Ivanow, Nasir-i Khusraw and Ismailism (Leiden: Brill, 1948). For an evaluation of Naser-e Khosraw’s contribution to Ismaili thought, see Henry Cor- bin, “Nasir-i Khusraw and Iranian Isma’ilism,” in The Cambridge History of Iran, vol. 4, Ed. R. N. Frye, pp. 520-542.


4 L, O ae NYUIOW Ss y ey NV VLSHHOD coyept u2,2H = S®FFL . NVSVUOHY NYLSaaYHAOL sawnd Pad One. ueysueg syyeseg’* mdsqsin 7 Pred ary °




Ismailism, which cause he served actively as missionary in the Caspian region of Iran and later as exile in Yomgan (Badakh- shan), writing treatises and poetry, where he is last known to have been in 1061. Although it cannot be proved, it makes good sense to assume that his conversion to Ismailism took place be- fore he set out on the journeys described in the Safarndma, for he made in effect a tour of every important center of Ismailism west of Transoxania, and the only places upon which he ex- pends favorable comment throughout his travels are those ruled by Ismailis. If he was not being sent from one Ismaili stronghold to another, there is little to justify his eccentric skirting of the central Islamic world. And he makes no attempt to explain himself. He was not a rich man who could indulge himself in Wanderlust: he mentions once or twice in passing that he was ac- companied only by a brother and one Indian servant. His obser- vations of all he saw constantly betray the civil administrator: he admires fortifications, waterworks, strategic situations of towns, prices, etc. He was obviously captivated by monumental archi- tecture and pomp and circumstance: the Dome of the Rock shrine complex at Jerusalem and the mosque precincts at Mecca are meticulously described, as are the public displays of Fatimid ceremony in Cairo. He mentions rare and delightful fruits and vegetables he encounters, he converses with unusual persons in out-of-the-way places, and he never misses an opportunity to visit a saint or prophet’s shrine. Yet there is little in his narrative that would characterize him as a professional traveler or a par- ticularly interested observer of the people he met or the places he visited.

The Ismaili sect, to which Naser belonged from at least middle age and for which he worked and wrote in his later years, was at this period in its history actively engaged in propaganda and conversion. The movement had originated as a schism from Shi‘ism, the branch of Islam that recognized as the only legiti- mate successors to the Prophet Muhammad and interpreters of the revealed law the lineal descendants of the Prophet through his daughter Fatema and her husband ‘Ali b. Abi Taleb. Because of a difference of opinion over the seventh imam, the Ismailis split from the majority of the Shi‘a, whose line of imams contin- ued down to the twelfth and who are consequently known as “Twelvers,” whereas the Ismaili line continued on. In Naser’s


Book of Travels

time the twelver branch of Shi‘ism had recently entered into its eschatological phase with the Greater Occulation of the repre- sentatives of the Twelfth Imam in 940, and the Twelver Shi‘ites had no capital or power base of their own from which to direct propaganda. There were, however, numerous Shr‘ite pockets scattered throughout the Islamic world, notably in Daylam and Tabarestan (through which Naser passed) and in Transoxania, of which Naser makes no mention whatsoever.

The Sevener, or Ismaili, branch of Shi‘ism, by contrast, had ruled Egypt since the Fatimid conquest in 969 and ran its covert and overt propaganda machine from Cairo, where Naser spent a goodly portion of his seven-year absence from his homeland. There he was most likely being trained in missionary techniques.

In Transoxania and eastern Iran, at precisely the time that Naser left his administrative post and began his travels, the power of the Seljuk Turks was rapidly spreading: Marv had ca- pitulated to them in 1037, and Herat and Nishapur in 1038, and Balkh and Tokharestan were taken in 1040. Unlike their prede- cessors the Ghaznavids, the Seljuks, who were adamant Sunnis, were actively opposed to all forms of Shi‘ism and were deter- mined to rid their territory of all Shi‘ite opposition. If he was al- ready an Ismaili, it is not at all unlikely that the advent of the Sel- juks into Khorasan had something to do with Naser’s decision to absent himself from the province.

In his travelogue Naser does not touch upon theological or sectarian debates, and he makes scant mention of the political turmoils of the time. Yet his observations on the places he visited give us an interesting, if superficial, view into the eleventh-cen- tury Islamic world. More importantly they provide us with an in- sight into a personality of that time. Generally speaking, aside from the facts and figures Naser records, most of which are eas- ily found elsewhere, what he chooses to convey to his reader tells us more about himself than it does about what he saw and gives us a rare glimpse into the attitudes of a man from an age very different from our own.


The Travelogue of Naser-e Khosraw

Thus writes Abu Mo‘in Hamid al-din Naser son of Khosraw of Qobadiyan in the district of Marv:

I was a clerk by profession and one of those in charge of the sultan’s revenue service. In my administrative position I had ap- plied myself for a period of time and acquired no small reputa- tion among my peers.

In the month of Rabi‘ II in the year 437 [October 1045],' when the prince of Khorasan was Abu Solayman Chaghri Beg Daud son of Mika’il son of Saljuq, I set out from Marv on offi- cial business to the district of Panj Deh in Marv Rud, where I stopped off on the very day there happened to be a conjunction of Jupiter and the lunar node. As it is said that on that day God will grant any request made of him, I therefore withdrew into a corner and prayed two rak‘ats, asking God to grant me true wealth. When I rejoined my friends and companions, one of them was reciting a poem in Persian. A particular line of poetry came into my head, and I wrote it down on a piece of paper for him to recite. I had not yet handed him the paper when he be- gan to recite that very line! I took this to be a good omen and said to myself that God had granted my behest.

From there I went to Juzjanan, where I stayed nearly a month and was constantly drunk on wine. (The Prophet says, “Tell the truth, even if on your own selves.”) One night in a dream I saw someone saying to me, “How long will you continue to drink of this wine, which destroys man’s intellect? If you were to stay so- ber, it would be better for you.”

In reply I said, “The wise have not been able to come up with anything other than this to lessen the sorrow of this world.”

“To be without one’s senses is no repose,” he answered me. “He cannot be called wise who leads men to senselessness. Rather, one should seek out that which increases reason and wisdom.”

“Where can I find such a thing?” I asked.

“Seek and ye shall find,” he said, and then he pointed toward the gebla and said nothing more. When I awoke, I remembered

'See Appendix A on Islamic dates.

Book of Travels

everything, which had truly made a great impression on me. “You have waked from last night’s sleep,” I said to myself. “When are you going to wake from that of forty years?” And I reflected that until I changed all my ways I would never find happiness.

On Thursday the 6th of Jomada II of the year 437 [19 Decem- ber 1045], which was by Persian reckoning the middle of the month of Day, the last month before the year 414 of the Yazd- gerdi era,’ I cleansed myself from head to foot, went to the mosque, and prayed to God for help both in accomplishing what I had to do and in abstaining from what he had forbidden.

Afterwards I went to Shoburghan and spent the night in a vil- lage in Faryab. From there I went via Samangan and Talaqan to Marv Rud and thence to Marv. Taking leave from my job, I an- nounced that I was setting out for the Pilgrimage to Mecca. I set- tled what debts I owed and renounced everything worldly, ex- cept for a few necessities.

On the 23rd of Sha‘ban [5 March 1046] I set out for Nishapur, traveling from Marv to Sarakhs, which 1s a distance of thirty par- asangs. From there to Nishapur is forty parasangs.

On Saturday the 11th of Shawwal [21 April] I came to Nisha- pur. On Wednesday, the last day of the month, there was a lunar eclipse. The prince at this time was Toghrel Bég Mohammad, brother to Chaghri Bég. He had ordered a school built near the Saddlers’ Bazaar, which was being constructed then. He himself had gone to Isfahan for his first conquest of that city.

On the 2nd of Dhu’l-Qa‘da I left Nishapur and, in the com- pany of Khwaja Mowaffaq, the sultan’s agent, came to Qumes via Gavan. There I paid a visit to the tomb of Shaikh Bayazid of Bestam.

On Friday the 8th of Dhu’l-Qa‘da [17 May] I went out to Damghan. The first of Dhu’l-Hejja 437 [9 June 1046] I came to Semnan by way of Abkhwari and Chashtkhwaran, and there I stayed for a period of time, seeking out the learned. I was told of a man called Master ‘Ali Nasa’i, whom I went to see. He was a young man who spoke Persian with a Daylamite accent and wore his hair uncovered. He had a group of people about him read- ing Euclid, while another group read medicine and yet another

The Persian Yazdgerdi era was calculated from the beginning of the reign of Yazdgerd III, the last Sasanian shah of Iran (A.D. 632). See Appendix A.

The Travelogue of Ndser-e Khosraw

mathematics. During our conversation he kept saying, “I read this with Avicenna,” and “I heard this from Avicenna.” His ob- ject of this was, of course, for me to know that he had been a stu- dent of Avicenna. When I became engaged in discourse with some of these people, he said, “I know nothing of arithmetic [styaqg] and would like to learn something of the arithmetic art.” I came away wondering how, if he himself knew nothing, he could teach others.

From Balkh to Rayy I reckoned the distance to be 350 para- sangs. From Rayy to Sava is said to be thirty parasangs, from Sava to Hamadan thirty, from Rayy to Isfahan fifty, and to Amol thirty. Between Rayy and Amol is Mount Damavand, which is shaped like a dome and is called Lavasan. They say that on the top of the mountain is a pit from which ammonia is extracted, and also sulphur. Leather skins are hauled up and filled with ammonia, and when full they are rolled down the mountainside, there being no road over which they can be transported.

On the 5th of Moharram 438 [12 July 1046], corresponding to the 10th of Mordad 415 of the Persian calendar, I set out for Qazvin and came to the village of Quha, where there was a drought. A maund of barley bread was being sold for two dir- hems. [Displeased,] I left.

On the 9th of Moharram [16 July] I arrived in Qazvin, which has many orchards with neither walls nor hedges, so that there is nothing to prevent access to the gardens. I thought Qazvin a nice city: its walls were well fortified and furnished with crenel- lations, and the bazaars were well kept, only water was scarce and limited to subterranean channels.’ The head of the city was an Alid. Of all the trades practiced in the city, shoemaking had the largest number of craftsmen.

On the 12th of Moharram 438 [19 July 1046] I left Qazvin along the road to Bil and Qapan, village dependencies of Qaz- vin. From there my brother, a Hindu slave-boy we had with us, and I came to a village called Kharzavil. As we had few provi-

°The “subterranean channels” of which Naser speaks were formerly called karéz (today called gandat) and are still in use for bringing water for irrigation from distant sources. Many of these channels have been maintained from an- cient times, such as the one mentioned on page 101; see Mohammad al-Karagi, La Civilisation des eaux cachées, ed. and trans. with commentary by Aly Mazaheri, Université de Nice, Institut d’Etudes et de Recherches Interethniques et Inter- culturelles, Etudes Preliminaires 6 (Nice: I.D.E.R.I.C., 1973).

Book of Travels

sions, my brother went into the village to buy some things from the grocer. Someone asked him, “What do you want? I’m the grocer.”

“Whatever you have will be all right with us,” said my brother, “for we are strangers passing through.” Yet whatever edibles he mentioned, the man only said, “We don’t have any.” From then on, wherever we saw anyone like this man, we would say, “He’s the grocer from Kharzavil!”

Passing on from there, we encountered a steep descent. Three parasangs farther was a village belonging to Taram called Baraz- al-Khayr [?]. It was tropical and had many pomegranate and fig trees, most of which grew untended. Passing on, we came to a river called Shahrud, on the banks of which was a village called Khandan, where a toll was levied for the duke, who was one of the Daylamite kings. As this river passes through this village, it joins with another river called Sapidrud. When these two rivers have united, the water flows down into a valley to the east of the mountains of Gilan, then on to Gilan itself and finally empties into the Caspian Sea. They say that fourteen hundred rivers spill into the Caspian, the circumference of which is said to be twelve hundred parasangs. In the midst of the sea there are islands with many inhabitants, as I heard from many people.

But let me return to my own story. From Khandan to Shami- ran there are three parasangs of desert that is quite rocky. The latter is the metropolis of Taram. Beside the city is a high for- tress, the foundation of which is laid on solid granite. It is sur- rounded by three walls, and in the middle of the fortress is a water channel connected to the river, the water of which is drawn up into the fortress. There are a thousand sons of the ar- istocracy kept inside that fortress so that no one can rise up in re- bellion. It is said that the prince has many such fortresses in Daylam and that he rules with such complete justice and order that no one is able to take anything from anyone else. When the men go to the mosque on Fridays, they all leave their shoes out- side, and no one steals them. The prince signs himself thus on paper: “Ward of the march of Daylam, the gil of Gilan, Abu Saleh, client to the Prince of the Faithful.” His name is Jostan Ebrahim.

In Shamiran I saw a good man from Darband whose name was Abu Fad! Khalifa, son of ‘Ali the Philosopher, He was a wor-

Azerbayan and Beyond

A ”~ , a tig on” nner (Marand Atl;


nnn A ART RA CO an as A ae Lal ~ Ay aa A Bestim ve. ~ . From Marv 437/1046 A TABARESTAN es Nishapur’’ A ~ a An A Damghan ~ ~ wer aS 6 A Appa G AC AWA a a A Kp _ QUMES KHORASAN 0 a” aps ee *Rayy ‘Semnan ~ ~ JEBAL Zuzan °* an Ou i “A = Siva * Hamadan as ad ~ n ~ AA fs iG a KAVIR Seg oa ee A DESERT at Ae ~ wae JEBAL Qi'en A at one aio? ra ~ ~ 6 a n4 abas i AA AA P poll QOHESTAN on n v ~? AA ete a~A x 2. m) a a “~~ ran Ax : 4 xa CU > NEI “x Ace * Isfahan a a7 a nw ~

Naser’s route of travel through northern Iran

thy fellow and displayed much generosity and nobility of charac- ter to us. We discoursed together, and a friendship sprang up between us.

“Where do you intend to go from here?” he asked me.

“My intention is to make the Pilgrimage,” I said.

“What I desire,” he replied, “is that on your return journey you pass through here so I may see you again.”

Azerbayan and Beyond

On the 26th of Moharram [2 August] I left Shamiran. On the 14th of Safar [20 August] I arrived in Sarab. On the 16th of Safar [22 August] I parted from Sarab and, passing through Sa‘idabad, arrived in Tabriz on the 20th of Safar 438 [26 August

Book of Travels

1046]. That was the 25th of the month of Shahrivar by the old reckoning. This city is the principal town of Azerbaijan and is in a flourishing state. I paced off the length and breadth, each of which was fourteen hundred paces. In the sermon they name the padshah of Azerbaijan in this manner: Exalted Prince Sayf al-Dawla Sharaf al-Mella Abu Mansur Vahsudan son of Moham- mad, client to the Prince of the Faithful. I was told that an earth- quake had occurred in this city on Wednesday night the 17th of Rabi‘ I 434 [4 November 1042], which was during the interca- lary days. After the night prayer, part of the city was totally de- stroyed while other parts were unharmed. They said that forty thousand people lost their lives.

In Tabriz I saw a poet named Qatran, who wrote decent po- etry, but he could not speak Persian very well. He came to me and brought the works of Manjik and Daqiqi, which read aloud to me. Whenever he came across a meaning too subtle for him, he asked me. I explained it to him and he wrote it down. He also recited his own poetry to me.

On the 14th of Rabi® I [18 September] I parted from Tabriz on the Marand road and, accompanied by one of Prince Vahsu- dan’s soldiers, came to Khoy. From there also I traveled with a courier up to Bargri. From Khoy to Bargri is thirty parasangs. We arrived on the 12th of Jomada I [14 November]. From there we came to Van and Vastan, where they sell pork in the bazaar as well as lamb. Men and women sit drinking wine in the shops without the slightest inhibition. From there we arrived in the city of Akhlat on the 18th of Jomada I [20 November]. This city is the border town between the Muslims and the Armenians, and from Bargri it is nineteen parasangs. The prince, Nasr al-Dawla, was over a hundred years old and had many sons, to each of whom he had given a district. In the city of Akhlat they speak three languages, Arabic, Persian, and Armenian. It is my suppo- sition that this is why they named the town Akhlat.* Their com- mercial transactions are carried on in cash money, and their rotl is equivalent to three hundred dirhems.

On the 20th of Jomada [22 November] I left there and came to an outpost. It was snowing and extremely cold. On the plain

4Naser thinks the name of the town is derived from the Arabic root khalata “to

mix”; it is called Khlat‘ in Armenian and was formerly known as Khelat in Ara- bic. The derivation Naser supposes is unlikely

The Region of Diydr Bakr

up to the town there is a section of the road with planks laid on the ground so that on snowy and blizzardy days people can find their way over the wood. From there I went on to Betlis, which lies in a valley. We bought some honey, a hundred maunds for one dinar, at the rate they sold to us. We were told that in this town there were men who produced three to four hundred jars of honey a year.

Leaving that place, I saw a fortress called Qef Onzor, which means “stop and look.” Passing on, I came to a place where there was a mosque said to have been built by Oways Qarani.

There I saw men who roamed about the mountainsides and cut a wood something like cypress. I asked what they did with it, and they explained that when one end of this wood is placed in fire, pitch comes out the other end. It is then collected in pits, put into containers, and sent all over for sale.

The regions that I have briefly mentioned after Akhlat are de- pendencies of Mayyafareqin. We went to the town of Arzan, which is a flourishing place with running water and orchards, gardens, and good bazaars. During the Persian month of Adhar they were selling two hundred maunds of grapes, which they call raz-e armanush, for one dinar.

The Region of Diyar Bakr

From there we went to Mayyafareqin, which is 28 parasangs distant. From Balkh to Mayyafareqin by the way we came was 552 parasangs. It was Friday the 26th of Jomada I 438 [28 No- vember 1046]. At the time the leaves on the trees were still green. The place has an enormous fortification made of white stone, each slab of which weighs five hundred maunds, and every fifty ells is a huge tower of this same white stone. The top of the rampart is all crenellated and looks as though the master builder had just finished working on it. The city has one gate on the west side set in a large gateway with a masonry arch and an iron door with no wood in it. It has a Friday mosque that would take too long to describe. Briefly, the ablution pool faces forty chambers, through each of which run two large canals, one of which is visible and is for use, while the other is concealed be-

Book of Travels

neath the earth and is for carrying away refuse and flushing the cisterns. Outside of the city are caravanserais and bazaars, baths, and another congregational mosque used on Fridays. To the north is another town called Mohdatha, and it too has bazaars, a congregational mosque, and baths, all of which are well laid out. In the sermon they style the sultan of the district thus: the Great Prince ‘Ezz al-Eslam Sa‘d al-Din Nasr al-Dawla Sharaf al-Mella Abu Nasr Ahmad, and he is said to be a hundred years old. The rotl there is equal to 480 stone dirhems. That same prince has built a city at a distance of four parasangs from Mayyafareqin and called it Nasriyya. From Amed to Mayyafaregin is nine par- asangs.

On the 6th of Day, old reckoning, we arrived in Amed, the foundation of which is laid on a monolith rock. The length of the city is two thousand paces, and the breadth the same. There is a wall all around made of black rock, each slab weighing be- tween a hundred and a thousand maunds. The facing of these stones is so expert that they fit together exactly, needing no mud or plaster in between. The height of the wall is twenty cubits, and the width ten. Every hundred ells there is a tower, the half circumference of which is eighty ells. The crenellations are also of this same black stone. Inside the city are many stone stairs by means of which one can go up onto the ramparts, and atop every tower is an embrasure. The city has four gates, all of iron with no wood, and each gate faces one of the four cardinal directions. The east gate is called the Tigris Gate, the west gate the Byzan- tine Gate, the north the Armenian Gate, and the south the Tell Gate. Outside this wall just described is yet another wall, made of that same stone, the height of which is ten ells and the top of which is completely covered with crenellations. Inside the cren- ellation is a passageway wide enough for a totally armed man to pass and to stop and fight with ease. The outside wall also has iron gates, placed directly opposite the gates in the inside wall so that when one passes from a gate in the first wall one must trav- erse a space of fifteen ells before reaching the gate in the second wall. Inside the city is a spring that flows from a granite rock about the size of five millstones. The water is extremely pleasant, but no one knows where the source is. The city has many or- chards and trees thanks to that water. The ruling prince of the city is a son of that Nasr al-Dawla who has been mentioned.

The Region of Diyar Bakr

I have seen many a city and fortress around the world in the lands of the Arabs, Persians, Hindus, and Turks, but never have I seen the likes of Amed on the face of the earth or have I heard anyone else say that he had seen its equal. The congregational mosque too is of black stone, and a more perfect, stronger con- struction cannot be imagined. Inside the mosque stand two-hun- dred-odd stone columns, all of which are monolithic. Above the columns are stone arches, and above the arches is another colon- nade shorter than the first. Above that is yet another row of arches. All the roofs are peaked, and all the masonry is carved and painted with designs. In the courtyard of the mosque is placed a large stone atop which is a large, round pool of stone. It is as high as a man, and the circumference is ten ells. From the middle of the pool protrudes a brass waterspout from which shoots clean water; it is constructed so that the entrance and the drain for the water are not visible. The enormous ablution pool is the most beautiful thing imaginable—only the stone from which Amed is built is all black, while that of Mayyafareqin is white. Near the mosque is a large church, elaborately made of the same stone, and the floor is laid in marble designs. Beneath the dome, which is the Christians’ place of worship, I saw a lat- ticed iron door, the likes of which I had never seen before.

From Amed to Harran there are two roads: along one of them are no settlements, and this one is forty parasangs long; along the other road are many villages, most of the inhabitants of which are Christian, and that way is sixty parasangs long. We went by caravan along the settled route. The plain is extremely level except for a few places so rocky that the animals could hardly go a pace without stepping on a rock.

On Friday the 25th of Jomada II 438 [27 December 1046], or the 22nd of Day, old reckoning, we arrived in Harran. The weather at that time was like the weather in Khorasan at Naw- ruz. From there we went to a town named Qarul,’? where a young man invited us into his home. When we had come into the house, a bedouin Arab sixty years old came in and sat down next to me.

“Teach me the Koran,” he said. I recited him the chapter be-

*“Qarul” is probably the modern Urfa, medieval Edessa. Qarul is not men-

tioned by the Arab geographers, however.

Book of Travels

ginning “Qol a‘udho be-rabbe’l-nds.” He recited it back to me. When I had said the part that goes “mena’l-jennate wa'l-nas,” he said, “Should I say ‘a-ra’ayta’l-nas’ too?” “There is no more to this chapter,” I replied. Then he asked, “Which chapter has the part in it about the naggalat al-hatab?” He did not even know that in the chapter called Tabbat the words hammalat al-hatab occur, not nagqgalat al-hatab!’ That night, no matter how many times I re- cited the chapter beginning “Qol a‘udho be-rabbe’l-nas,” he could not learn it. A sixty-year-old Arab!

Into Syria

Saturday the 3rd of Rajab 438 [3 January 1047] we came to Saruj. The next day we crossed the Euphrates and arrived in Manbej, the first town you come to in Syria. It was the first of the month of Bahman in the old reckoning, and the weather was ex- tremely pleasant. There were no buildings outside of the town. From there I went to the city of Aleppo.

From Mayyafareqin to Aleppo is one hundred parasangs. I found Aleppo to be a nice city. It has a huge rampart, twenty- five cubits high, I estimated, and an enormous fortress, as large as the one at Balkh, set on rock. The whole place is populous, and the buildings are built one atop another. This city is a place where tolls are levied on the merchants and traders who come and go among the lands of Syria, Anatolia, Diyar Bakr, Egypt, and Iraq.

The city has four gates: the Gates of the Jews, the Gate of God, the Garden Gate, and the Antioch Gate. The standard weight used in the bazaar there is the Zaheri rotl, which is 480 dirhems. Twenty parasangs to the south is Hama, and after that Homs. Damascus Is fifty parasangs from Aleppo; from Aleppo to Antioch is twelve parasangs, and the same to Tripoli. They say it is two hundred parasangs to Constantinople.

°In the first instance, the Koranic verse Naser is trying to teach the man ends with the words men al-jennate wa’l-nas (“from the djinn and people”). The Arab asks, “A-ra’ayta’'l-nds?” (“Did you see the people?”), a non sequitur that indicates he has understood nothing but the last word. In the second instance the Arab

asks Naser for the chapter that speaks of the “wood-carrier,” but he uses a word for “carrier” other than the one used in the Koranic text.


Into Syria

On the 11th of Rajab [11 January] we left the city of Aleppo. Three parasangs distant was a village called Jond Qennasrin. The next day, after traveling six parasangs, we arrived in the town of Sarmin, which has no fortification walls.

Six parasangs farther on was Ma‘arrat al-No‘man, which is quite populous. It has a stone wall. Beside the city gate I saw a cylindrical column of stone, which had something written on it in a script that was not Arabic. I asked someone what it was, and he said that it was a talisman against scorpions. If ever a scorpion were brought in from outside and turned loose, it would run away and not stay in the town. I estimated that column to be about ten ells high. I found the bazaars to be flourishing, and the Friday mosque built on a rise in the middle of town so that from whatever place one wants to go up to the mosque, one has to ascend thirteen steps. Their whole agriculture consists of wheat, which is plentiful. Figs, olives, pistachios, almonds, and grapes also abound. The city water comes from both rain and wells.

In the city was a man named Abu’-‘Ala’ of Ma‘arra. Although blind, he was the head of the city and very wealthy, with many slaves and servants. Everyone in the city, in fact, was like a slave to him, but he himself had chosen the ascetic life. He wore coarse garments and stayed at home. Half a maund of barley bread he would divide into nine pieces and content himself with only one piece throughout the entire day and night. Besides that, he ate nothing. I heard it said that the door to his house was always open and that his agents and deputies did all the work of the city, except for the overall supervision, which he saw to him- self. He denied his wealth to no one, although he himself was constantly fasting and vigilant at night, taking no part in the af- fairs of the world. This man has attained such a rank in poetry and literature that all the learned of Syria, the Maghreb, and Iraq confess that in this age there is no one of comparable stat- ure. He has composed a book called al-Fosul wa’l-ghayat, in which he speaks in enigmatic parables. Although eloquent and amaz- ing, the book can be understood only by a very few and by those who have read it with him. He has even been accused of trying to rival the Koran. There are always more than two hundred persons from all over gathered about him reading literature and poetry. I have heard that he himself has composed more than a


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Book of Travels

hundred thousand lines of poetry. Someone once asked him why, since God had given him all this wealth and property, he gave it away to the people and hardly ate anything himself. His answer was, “I own nothing more than what I eat.” When I passed through that place he was still alive.

On the 15th of Rajab 438 [15 January 1047] we went to Kafr Tab and thence