Left the islands of the Zanj from a Portulan


Wasif Shah: Akhbar al-zaman……al-Ajaib al Buldan  (History of the Ages and Those Whom Events have Annihilated) (1209)  (sometimes attributed to Al-Masudi)


Taken from: http://www.jasoncolavito.com/akhbar-al-zaman.html


Also found in this sea are large snakes; they come out of the water and go into the desert where they swallow elephants. They wrap themselves around rocks and hide in their cavities; they utter a frightening hiss. — One may meet yet another snake which they call al-malikah (the queen), who never appears once. The kings of Zanj use cunning to seize it; it is cooked until its fat melts; the king is anointed, to increase his strength and agility. The skin of this snake, which is tiger-striped, is made into a carpet; the consumptive who sits on it is healed of consumption; the healthy person is insured against it forever.

The islands of Zanj. They are populated by many races whose appearance and humors differ, and they are ruled by many kings with various customs and beliefs. There are different kinds of animals.


The sea of Zanj contains several islands where there are various colored seashells, whose inhabitants use them to make ornaments. They bury the teeth of elephants, and when they are moldy, traders from India and Sindh come to buy them.




Near to China is a place in the sea called Sanzhi (Taiwan). This is the point where the sea is the worst, where there is the most wind, storms, dangers, and frightening objects. The children, like those of Zanj, spread out and assail the ships. They are large, of five spans; they come out of the water, jump on the vessels, roam over them in all directions without hurting anyone, and then go back into the waves. When sailors see them appear, they know that the winds will become bad. They then return to their ships, lighten the ship by throwing overboard some of their cargo, and tightening one or two cubits of the sail in the yard, or more according to their fear.


The islands of Zanj. It is a great and vast archipelago. All one sows—corn, reeds and other plants—they come up black. There is a tribe in the archipelago called the Mokhazzam (from the nasal passage), in which individuals have the nose and chin split. A chain is placed in the slot; each warrior takes one of these men by the end of the chain, he conducts him and prevents him from moving until the trumpets sound breaking the peace. Then they tie the chain around their necks and loose them to the battle. No one can resist them; they tear and devour anyone who opposes them, and none of them leaves his place without being killed.


The Arabs inspire a great reverence among the Zanj; when Arabs appear before them, they love saying, “This is a kingdom where grows date trees,” because the date is worshiped there, and because the Arabs raise their children with dates.


The Zanj have eloquent speakers. Those who are consecrated to the gods dress in tiger skins; they carry a stick with which they gather the people, and they stand on one foot all day, preaching, invoking God, and telling the story of the reigning king and of the ancient kings.


The island of Socotra. There grows the myrrh of Socotra. This island is located between the country of Zanj and the Arabs.


A Jewish merchant recounted that one year he was on a ship that was broken, and the storm tossed it with his companions on an island where the earth, the rocks, and everything else was golden. They stayed several days without any food except the fish, which were quite rare. As they were in danger of perishing, they found the ship’s lifeboat remained intact; they drew it against the shore and filled it with gold; but their greed led them to exceed the load that it could hold; they entered and gained the high seas, seeking to save themselves; they did not get far before the ship sank. All the gold was lost, and almost all of them perished, except a few who escaped by swimming in the direction of Zanj and reached the shore.


Many nations issued from the children of Sudan, son of Cainan, among others: the Ashban, the Zanj, and various races which multiplied in the West, numbering about seventy; they had different destinies and separate kings. Among these races there is one where men are dressed only in skins; one that is clothed with grass; one where people wear on their heads the horns and bones of animals, and feed on a white mouse they call manna from heaven. In this race, one man marries ten women; he spends every night with two of them. If he gets along with them, he keeps them; otherwise he sets them free after the third night. There are often disputes among this people. When these people want rain, they gather bones, make a mound and a calcine; at the same time they turn around, raising their hands to heaven, and say formulas; rain falls and they collect it. When one of them celebrates their wedding, they smear her face with a substance that looks like ink; then they sit on a mound and make the woman sit before it. They cover her with reeds forming a sort of dome of foliage; they remain surrounding it for three days, busy drinking corn wine and playing, and then they walk away. The husband takes his wife and travels to the place where they will reside. The men of this tribe put copper rings on their wives’ wrists and ears. They give them the qardawdniah, which are dyed red and which are worn, but among them only the king may wear it. They have a great tree in whose honor they celebrate a festival every year. They meet and rejoice around it, until one of its leaves falls on them, which they take for a good omen; their wives are adorned with copper rings and shells in their hair.


The Abyssinians border the Zanj, located on the shore of the salt sea and whose kingdom is extensive. They descend from Sudan, son of Cainan, and they also have several kings and kingdoms. Their principal king is called Kunah; he resides on the shore of the sea, in a place called Kandu. These Zanj file their teeth until they become very thin; they have large mouths and very white teeth in front, because they eat lots of fish. They have elephants whose tusks they sell to traders from neighboring countries. They own islands where they collect shells with which they adorn themselves, or which they sell. They are divided into several tribes spread among several kingdoms.


The Kerk. This is a nation that descends from Sudan, son of Cainan; it is close to the people of Sindh and Zanj and has them for enemies. The Kerk are strong and tall men, with long hair, beautiful faces, and learned in the art of war. They have a king called Naksa, a very powerful ruler who has several others under his rule. They follow the religion of idols that came to them from the people of Sind and Hind.


The Kerk have for neighbors on the side of the Zanj side several nations and tribes that cannot be counted. The Zanj and Kerk border the people of Sind and Hind [and Bend], which are the descendants of Cush, son of Ham, and whose common ancestor is Hind, son of Cush. These people have branched into separate tribes, divided into a number of kingdoms. Once they were all united under the authority of a king called Brahman; then they divided, created independent kingdoms, and fortified themselves on their islands. Today they form seventies and a few more nations.


Anqam  the Priest

There was in old Misr, whose name was then Amsus, a priest-king named Anqam , son of Arab, son of Adam. The Egyptians have for him many traditions that astound the mind. This king lived before the flood and his science had caused him to predict its coming. He ordered the Satans who obeyed him to build him a palace across the equator where no damage could reach it. They built the palace which is at the foot of the Mountain of the Moon. This is a copper palace where stand copper statues in the number of eighty-five; Nile water comes out of their throats and flows into the lakes of Egypt. When this palace was completed, the king wanted to see it before taking up residence therein. He sat in a dome and the Satans carried him on their necks to the palace. As soon as he saw it, he admired the solidity of its construction, the ornaments of the walls, its paintings, figures of the spheres, and other wonders with which it was completed; the lamps were lit; the tables were set, loaded with all kinds of dishes, with no one to see who brought them; there was also no resident in the palace. In the middle was a pool of water that was solidified at the surface and one could see movement through the solid waves. At last the whole building was full of similar wonders confounding to reason. The king returned to Misr having admired it, and he chose for his successor his son Arbaq; he gave him power, made him sit in his place on his throne. Then he returned to the palace, where he lived until his death. It is to him that we attribute the origin of the Copts’ books, which contain the stories of their kings.


Shaon of Ashmun

They say he was the first Hermes, the one who built the palace of statues, which measured the volume of water of the Nile and is located in the Mountains of the Moon.


King Naqraus

We read in the sheets of the Egyptians that the king asked the teacher he had with him to inform him of the source of the Nile. The djinn carried him beyond the line of the equator, above the Black Sea of pitch and walked with him to the Mountains of the Moon. Then he took him out into the marshes. It is said that this prince there built the temple of the idols and there raised up a temple to the sun.



Qofṭarim was succeeded by his son al-Budashir. This prince swelled with pride, devoted himself to magic, and could hide himself from the eyes of men. His uncles Ashmun, Ṣa, and Atrib reigned in their provinces, but he was more powerful than them, which is why he was acknowledged (as king). They say he gave Hermes the Egyptian the mission to go to the Mountain of the Moon, under which is the source of the Nile, to build a temple with copper statues, and to excavate lakes into which the water of the Nile could pour itself. It is also said that he channelled the Nile, for previously the river had flowed in various places and was divided into many branches.


They say Manqaus built a temple for magicians on Mount al-Quṣair (the Mountain of the Moon) and gave them one of their own for their leader, a man named Maslaṣ. These magicians locked up the winds and gave them to ships only under after they had paid a toll.


An Amalekite prince from Syria marched towards Egypt. At this news the king, gathering his army, went to meet him, attacked him, and scattered his troops. He entered into Palestine, killed many people and took many prisoners there. Among the captives were several scholars that the king made to reside in Egypt. Thus Tedaris made himself fearsome to all the sovereigns.


At the beginning of the thirtieth year of his reign, the Negroes of the countries of Zanj and Nubia wanted to make a foray into his empire. They gathered on the borders and they inflicted great damage. The king gathered the troops from all the provinces of Egypt, and he equipped vessels; he gave one of his generals, named Bilaṭis, command of 300,000 men, as many horsemen as infantry; he was followed by another general at the head of equal forces, and he sent three hundred ships to sea. Each of these ships had a priest in charge of doing wonders. The king himself marched at the rear with the rest of the army. The Egyptians met the army of Negroes, which had about a million men, and they routed them. They killed many men and made many their prisoners. Then they chased them until they had arrived in the land of elephants in the country of Zanj. They took many of these animals, and with them a quantity of tigers and wild animals, and they brought them back to Egypt. The king erected on the border lighthouses on which wrote the history of this campaign, the date of the invasion of the Negroes, and all the major events of his reign.


Al-Walid, son of Duma

The idea came to Walid to save himself by trying to reach the sources of the Nile and to conquer at the same time all the nations of that region. He spent three years preparing the expedition. When he had gathered everything he needed, he entrusted the government of Egypt to his servant Una, and he went forth with a powerful army and a considerable train. He destroyed all the nations through which he passed. It is said that it took several years to make this trip. He passed among populations of Negros, crossed through them, went into the land of gold, and saw in some places gold pressed into rods. This land forms the limits of the country Ganah.


Al-Walid, continuing to move forward, reached the lake whence the waters of the Nile discharge themselves; they are fed by the rivers that flow from the Mountain of the Moon. The Mountain of the Moon is a steep mountain, very wide and very long. It received this name because the moon rises in relation to it, because of the position it occupies far below the equator. Al-Walid saw how the Nile emerges from under this mountain, and how it flows in many beds forming small rivers; some of these rivers meet in a large basin, the others meet in another area, and from each of these two reservoirs a wide river flows to the large lake. This lake where the two rivers lead is located between the line of the equator and the limits of the first climate. The Nile comes out as a single river, crosses the equator and goes on to Egypt. It is joined by another stream coming from the side of Makran [in India, which also has its source in the Mountain of the Moon]. It is claimed that the Mahraan rises and falls like the Nile, and he saw crocodiles and fish of the same species as those of the Nile. [This river also comes out from under the Mountains of the Moon].


Walid, it is said, found the palace where the copper statues were erected by the first Hermes in the time of the first Budashir, son of Qofṭarim, son of Miṣraim, son of Ham, son of Noah. These statues numbered eighty-five, arranged to receive all the waters that come down from the mountain; a system of pipes equipped with rounded mouths brought water into their bodies, which then went up into their throats, in a fixed quantity and measured by graduated cubits. Water gushed from the mouths of the statues and formed many rivers that flowed into two lakes, which then flowed together, as we have said, to meet altogether in a great lake. Hermes arranged everything with geometric precision, and he regulated the amount of water that poured through each statue so that it was sufficient for the country’s prosperity and should meet the needs of its inhabitants, but never flow in excess. This quantity was measured in this place to a height of eighteen cubits, the cubit being thirty-two fingers. When this limit was reached, all the water that still poured out was rejected to the right of the statues; it entered conduits that led it to the right of the palace, where it emptied into the marshes and into uninhabited sandy plains.


………………… Now back to the story of Walid. After this king had reached the Mountains of the Moon, he saw a high peak which he ascended to see what was beyond it. His gaze took in the black and fetid Sea of Poison. He also saw the Nile emerge in the form of thin streams. But pestilential breath from the sea spread around; several of his companions perished. He himself nearly succumbed, and he had to come down in haste from the mountain. Some people said he did not see at this point either moon or sun, but a kind of red light, like the sun at sunset.


Ibrahim Ibn Wasif Shah al Misri: al-Ajaib al-Dunia

(Wonders of the world)(d1209)


Taken from: https://books.rafed.net/view.php?type=c_fbook&b_id=2460&page=19

 As illustration only the sources of the Nile from a Turkish manuscript of 1685.


It is a living creature called the Queen, which appears once upon a time, and you may be misguided when holding it, and the kings of Zinj take it and cook it, and eat it, and use the skin for their mattresses.



China Sea:

A cold sea comes out of the bottom of his sea, and is haunted by people in the belly of the water.  If the sea is raging, people saw them at night with the body of a Zanj and they climb into the boats.



Priest of the Priests:

The people of Egypt told him many wondrous tales, and he was the son of Arnab son of Adam, and as a priest he knew the wonders and the wonders of the ideals, and the patterns, and it was before the flood, and he saw, knowing its coming, ordered the demons to build a palace behind the equator so that it is not taken by the flood, His palace is at the foot of Mount Moon.


Which is the copper palace in which there are eighty-five copper statues and out of them comes the water of the Nile, then he loved to see it, the demons carried him, when he saw the tight structure, and decoration of the walls, and the inscriptions, and images of planets, And other types of wonders, he was impressed and thanked them, and this was a palace that is not without lamps and the tables are set, and with other foods that are unknown, as well as drinks used from them they do not decrease, …. and he returned to Egypt



Kingdom of Zinj:

And they are on the salty sea and their kingdom is wide and they are born blacks from ibn Canaan, the biggest place of their own: Kznh the placement is called Tknd, and they are on the sea, and sharpen their teeth, their food is fish, ….. they are selling elephant tusks to foreign traders, who come to them from the islands.




A man who is a mighty man who is an discoverer, who kills a group of wizards and priests. Then he took the risk of going from the Maghreb to the sources of the Nile. He stayed for three years preparing for his departure until he prepared all that he needs from several weapons. He went out with a thick army and the followers followed, and spectators. And he went on his journey for several years, and took refuge in the nations of the Sudan, and passed on the land of gold, which is the last country Alwa where gold grows, so that he reached Batiha (lake or swamp) where the water of the Nile flows from the rivers of the universe and goes out from beneath the moon's mountain. Then he walked until the temple of the sun reached and entered it. Then he walked until he reached Mount Moon. The mountain, which is behind the equator, is not seen by the sun or moon, so look at the mountain and see the water of the Nile coming out from under it and passing through the rivers like the Euphrates, ending in two lakes, then going out to two rivers, then ending up to another river, then reaching the equator. The Euphrates River, like the Nile, increases and diminishes and has crocodiles and fish such as Nile fishes, and it emerges from under the mountains of the moon,


What is told about Al Walid:

That he arrived at the palace in which are the statues of copper, which is the work of Hermes I in his time, the first Sher bin Qiftin bin Masrim bin Ham bin Noah peace be upon him, where are eighty-five image out of which comes the water of the Nile and they manage and channel running water, under Moon Moon until the two lakes Batiwa of the water that comes out from under Mount Moon, and those images give amounts of water that is good for the country that passes by and benefit the people without corruption, ……..



Some of the people said:

That the four rivers come out of one out of a dome in the land of gold that is beyond the dark sea: Sihon, and Jihon, and the Euphrates, and the Nile of Egypt.

It was said: the dome of the aquamarine, and the land of gold from the land of Paradise, and that the water before the dark sea tastes sweeter than honey, and the smell of the smell of camphor.

And Al Walid when he saw the moon mountain, he liked to climb him and ascended in the gathering of his people, when he reached Ashraf on the sea of asphalt, a sea with a rotten smell and an ugly landscape, and saw the Nile being above him like strings, the smell of the evil hit him from that sea and destroyed many of his people, and he went down with them, and saw no sun or moon, but it is red light as the sun's rays at sunset.



Then Narcus asked the leader who was with him to show him the direction of the Nile, so that he would sit on the moon mountains behind the equator and see over the Tar Sea, and see the Nile hovering over the sea, like a thread, until it entered under the mountains of the moon.


Al-Budshir ibn Qaftrim Al Malik:

……. It was said that he sent Hermes to the Mountains of the Moon, from which the water of the Nile comes out.



And when he (Tudaris the king of Egypt) had gone out of his possession for thirty years, the people of Nubia and Zinj were greedy in his land, and they were weak and corrupted themselves.



In the Sea of Zing, fish of various kinds can not be heard because the souls are alienated from hearing what is not visible, and the Almighty said: (he creates what you do not know).



Taken from:  Enzyklopädie als Spiegel des Weltbildes: by Syrinx von Hees


In India there is an animal that is called Zurafa or Usturgawpalang. It is said that this animal has a hard skin and a very long very rough tongue. Everything the zurafa touches with its tongue –even a stone- gets rubbed and dented.

She pulls the young ones out of her with her forelegs. The zurafa eats grass.  Up to 40 days the baby will be carried in a bag over the breast. After that when the young ones is strong enough it jumps out of the bag and runs away.

So the mother can not clean it with the tongue.