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Ibn Wadih al-Ya'qubi (d897) from Armenia
Kitab al Buldan (Book of Countries)

Taken from: The Works of Ibn Wāḍiḥ al-Yaʿqūbī : An English Translation edited by Matthew S. Gordon, Chase F. Robinson, Everett K. Rowson, Michael Fishbein.



They say that the anbar comes from the sea. It is as big as the size of a camel or of a big rock…………. It is cut up by the wind and violence of the waves, and thrown on the coast. It will be boiling fiercely and none could approach it on account of the severity of heat and boiling. After a lapse of time wind beats on it and it becomes solidified. Then the people on the adjoining coastal land collect it. A number of men who know about anbar reported to me as follows : The anbar is in mountains in the depths of the sea, and is of different colours. It is uprooted by wind and severe agitation of the sea during the winter season…………….


He said: After the ambergris of al-Shihr (in quality) comes the ambergris of Zanj, which is brought from the land of the Zanj to Aden. It is white ambergris. After it comes the ambergris of al-Salahiṭ, which is varies in quality. The best kind of Salahiṭi ambergris is grayish-blue and very greasy. This is the kind used in perfumes called ghaliya. After Salahiṭi ambergris comes the ambergris of Qaqula, which is bright gray, of excellent aroma, fine-looking, light, and slightly dry. It is inferior to the Salahiṭi and is adequate neither for ghaliya perfumes nor for purification, except out of necessity. However, it is adequate for powders and plasters. This ambergris comes from the sea of Qaqula to Aden. After Qaquli ambergris comes Indian ambergris, which comes from the inner coasts of India and is transported to Basra and other places. After it comes the Zanji ambergris, which comes from the coasts of the Zanj and resembles Indian ambergris and is similar to it. This is what al-Tamimi mentions in Perfume for the Bride. He ranks Zanji ambergris after Shiḥri ambergris, and even puts Zanji ambergris after Indian ambergris. (Al-Tamimi) said: From India comes a kind of ambergris called al-kark balus, named after a group of Indians known as al-Kark Balus who import it and take it to a place near Oman, where sea-merchants buy it from them. (Al-Tamimi) said: As for Maghribi ambergris, it is inferior to all these kinds. It comes from the sea of al-Andalus, and merchants carry it to Egypt. It is similar in color to Shiḥri ambergris, and so they sometimes cheat with it... Aḥmad b. Abi Ya’qub said: A group of people knowledgeable about ambergris told me that it occurs in hills of various colors that grow on the bottom of the sea. The winds and the force of the sea during heavy winter rains cause it to rise up. For that reason, it is scarcely possible to get any during the summer.

Tarikh (Histories)

Taken from: The Works of Ibn Wāḍiḥ al-Yaʿqūbī : An English Translation edited by Matthew S. Gordon, Chase F. Robinson, Everett K. Rowson, Michael Fishbein.


One day Noah fell asleep with his clothing open, and his son Cham saw his genitals and laughed (about it). He informed his brothers Sam and Yafith. They took hold of a garment as they were approaching him, diverted their faces from him, and spread the garment over him. When Noah woke up from his sleep and learned the news, he pronounced a curse on Cham. Among his descendants are the Copts, the Ethiopians, and the people of India.

Kana'an was the first of the descendants of Noah to behave like one of the progeny of Qabil. He made musical instruments, songs flutes, drums, harps, and cymbals, and obeyed Satan with regard to amusements and diversions.

Noah divided the earth among his offspring. To Shem he allotted the middle of the earth: the sacred area and its surroundings, Yemen and Hadramawt, extending to Oman, to al-Baḥrayn, to Alij and Yabrin, and Wabar, al-Daww and al-Dahna. To Ham he allotted the land of the west and the coastal areas. He begot Cush son of Ham, Canaan son of Ham, the Nubians, the Zanj, and the Ethiopians. Noah's son Japheth settled in the region between the east and the west. Born to him were Gomer, Tubal, Mash, Meshech, and Magog. Gomer begat the Slavs; Tubal begat Burjan; Mash begot the Turks and the Khazars; Meshech begotal-Ashban; Magog begot Yagog and Magog. These were in the eastern part of the earth, by the Turks. The homes of the Slavs and the Burjan were in the land of the Romans, before the Romans existed. These were the offspring of Japheth.


The land of China is an expansive one. One who wishes to travel to China crosses seven seas, each of which has a color, odor, fish, and wind not to be found in the sea that follows it. The first of these seas is the Sea of Persia, which one travels beginning at Siraf. Its terminal point is Raʾs al-Jumjuma which is a strait where divers fish for pearls. The second sea, which begins at Raʾs al-Jumjuma, is called Larawi. It is a great sea; in it lie the islands of the Waqwaq and other Zanj peoples, and on those islands there are kings. This sea can be navigated only by the stars. It has enormous fish, and concerning it there are many amazing stories of things beyond description.


The Kingdoms of Ethiopia and the Sudan.

When the progeny of Noah dispersed from the country of Babil (Babylon) the descendants of Ham son of Noah went to the west, and crossed the Furat (Euphrates) towards the setting sun.

After they had crossed the Nile of Egypt the descendants of Kush son of Ham, namely the Habasha and the Sudan, split into two groups. One of these groups proceeded to the south, between the east and the west. These were the Nuba, Buja, Habasha and Zanj. The other group went to the west. These were the Zaghawa, HBSH, Qaqu, Marawiyyun, Maranda, Kawkaw, and Ghana. 


The empire of the Buga………………….

The sixth empire is finally the empire of Nagasi. The country is vast and highly esteemed. The capital is Kaban. The Arabs come there to trade. There are big cities. The coastal town is called Dahlak. The kings of Abysinia are under the law of its upper king, which they follow and pay taxes to. The Nagasi are jacobitische Christians. The frontier of the kingdom of Habesh is the land of the Zenj, and they have contacts with Sind and other similar lands. As for the people that border on these countries, and extend beyond Zenj, bordering on Sind and Kurk, they are people who are educated and have a civic live.