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Hudud Al-'Alam (The Limits of The World)
(author unknown) (982)
Taken from ; Neville Chittick, East Africa and the Orient
Hudud al'Alam; translated by V. Minorsky
As regards the regions lying south of the Equator some parts of it are (occupied by) the sea, and, moreover, great heat prevails there (va digar sakht garma-st) and the people of those regions are more removed from the character of humanity (iab'-i mardi). They are Zangis, Abyssinians, and the like.....
The southern limit of this sea (Bahr al-A'zam) begins at the Jabal al-Ta'in, skirts the country (nahiyat) of Zabaj and reaches that of Zangistan and Abyssinia. The western limit of this sea is a gulf which surrounds all the Arab country (gird-I hama-yi nahiyat-i' Arab andar gardadh). This sea has five gulfs: One of them begins (bar daradh) from the limits of Abyssinia and stretches westward; off (barabar) the Sudan it is called the Barbari Gulf....
Each portion of the Great Sea is called after the towns and countries (nahiyat) which adjoin it, e.g. (chunan-k) the sea of Pars, the sea of Basra, the sea of Oman, the sea of Zangistan, the Indian sea, and the like....
The first of the islands of this great sea is called Goldisland (dhahabiya); its periphery is of 300 farsangs and it possesses gold-mines and many cultivated lands (abadhani), and its inhabitants are called Waqwaqian Zangi (Zangiyan-i Waqwaqi). All are naked and man-eaters (mardum-khwar). Chinese merchants go there in great numbers, carrying iron and food, which they sell to the inhabitants for gold, using signs and without saying a word to each other....
The mountain called Jabal Al-Qamar, possesses mines of silver and gold, and the river Nile comes out of it. Its length is 500 farsangs....
Another river is the Nile in Egypt. South of the Jabal al-Qamar rise 10 great rivers. From each five a swamp is formed (batiha bandadh); then from each of the swamps come out three rivers. From all these six rivers a swamp is formed (yaki batiha bandadh) outside the limits of Nubia towards the south (birun as hudud-i Nuba andar junub). Then the river Nile comes out of these marches and enters Nubia (ba miyan-i N.), flowing northwards....
The inhabited Lands of the world consists of 51 countries, of which five lie south of the Equator, viz., Zaba, Zangistan, Habasha, Buja, and Nuba....
Discourse on Southern Countries;
As regards southern countries, all their inhabitants are black (amma nahiyat-ha-yi junub-ra marduman-ash siyah-and) on account of the heat of their climate. Most of them go naked. In all their lands (zamin) and provinces (nawahi) gold is found. They are people distant from the standards of humanity (az i'tidal-i mardi dur).
The Country of Zangistan and its towns:
It is the largest (mihtarin) country in the south. Some of its eastern regions adjoin Zabaj; its north adjoins the Great Sea; some of its western parts adjoin Abyssinia; on its south are mountains. The soil is (full of ) gold mines. The country is situated opposite Pars, Kirman, and Sindh (or Fars, Kerman, Sind). The people are full-faced (taman-surat), with large bones, and curly hair (ja'd-mu). Their nature is that of wild animals (dadhagan va baha'im). They are extremely black. Enmity reigns between them and the Abyssinians and Zabaj.
1. M.LJAN, a town of the Zang on the sea-coast (bar karana-yi darya). It is the haunt of the merchants visiting these parts.
2. SUFALA, the seat of the Zang king.
3. HWFL, the town which in this country is by far the richest in goods (bisyar-khwastatarin)
Discourse on the Country of Zabay and its towns:
West and partly south of it is the country of Zangistan; north of it, the sea; for the rest the southern Uninhabited Lands (va digar hama biyaban-i junub-ast). This country and its inhabitants are all like the Zang, but they are somewhat (lakhti) nearer to humanity (mardumi). Their king is called M.nh.b . They constantly war with Zangistan. In the mountains of Zabaj grow camphor-trees, and snakes are found which are said to swallow at a gulp (ba yak bar) men, buffaloes, and elephants. A few Muslims and merchants are found in it.
M.NJ.RI, a town on the sea-coast, possessing much gold.
M.LH.MAN, the king's residence. These Zabaj possess on the sea a great island and in summer their king resides there.
Discourse on the Country of Abyssinia and its towns.
East of it live some Zang; south and west of it is a desert; north of it lie the sea and some parts of the Barbari Gulf. The inhabitants of this country have faces of the average size (ba i'tidal-i surat). The people are black and lazy, but with high aspirations (ba himmat-I buzurg-and), and obedient (farman bardar) to their king.....