|As illustration only; a 16th century world map of Qazwini|
Ibn Rosteh (903) Kitab al-a'lak an-nafisa
(book of precious stones) from Ispahan (Iran)
Page numbers from: Les Atours Precieux
The door of Ka'ba is 6 cubits high 10 inches. It has two doors, each of them one cubit 18 inches wide. It is made of teak wood and has a thickness of 3 inches. When the leaves are closed the set measures 3 cubits and a half in width. Each door is equipped with ebony wood sleepers.
Whoever arrives in the land of the Zendjs catches scabies.
As to the sea of Hind, she stretches from west to east, or from the confines of Habash to the confines of Hind, being 8000 miles by 2700 miles; this sea passes by the island of equal night and day at 1900 miles. Near the Abyssinian coast a gulf detaches in the direction of Berbera. hence its name, Berbera Gulf, about 500 miles long and at its mouth 100 miles long.
In the eastern Indian Sea the inhabited parts are India, Khmer, Zandj, Nadj, and the different people that are part of the Indian people.. ..
About the Indian sea; when the navigator gets into the sea at the gulf of Aden, the first land which he meets is the island of Barbar (Jazira Barbar) which is inhabited by a race of Zandj who are neighbors to the countries of the blacks. It is in that direction that are the lands of Zandjs and Djawaga, as well as all the people that we have talked about, and also others.. ..
He who wants to go to the land of China (as well as to Zandj) cuts the east of the Indian sea (to go to China) and goes around it till arriving in its western part at the place of the Zandj land that one wants to go to. The one who wants to go to Djawaga goes towards the east till reaching Kalah and from there the land of Djawaga. Only take this road because passing by Djawaga to go to Zandj you have to go through the sea of the dead where the daylight only appears for six hours a day. It is to avoid that that you take to the east in the Indian sea till Kalah, then towards the west of that sea till arriving in the country of the Zandjs.
The Nile of Egypt has its source in the Baban Mountains, flows into two lakes behind the equator, travels through Nubia and downstream of Fustat is divided into several branches ....
The two lakes who give birth to the Nile are part of the torrid regions, as well as the sea of the Zendjs, in which not a single animal can live, because of the high temperature and the density of the water. Really when the sun strikes that sea, it sucks out the sweet water by its heat and so the water becomes heavy and salty………
A merchant has brought from the two seas found behind the land of Kousaniens, that is the sea of the Zendjs, an egg that resembles the ones of ostriches. Except that we have never seen south of the equator any bird like that , and no author has ever mentioned it. One has never seen a single elephant or rhinoceros …..
And really, we find there animals of an extraordinary structure, like the elephants, or also the beasts who have horns on top of the nose, birds so big that it is impossible to imagine bigger ones. A merchant has brought from the two seas found behind the land of Kousaniens, that is the sea of the Zendjs, an egg that resembles the ones of ostriches. Except that we have never seen south of the equator any bird like that , and no author has ever mentioned it. One has never seen a single elephant or rhinoceros.
….behind the equator, on the small distance traders have travelled, the aborigines of this southern region are blacker, their hair is more frizzy and their features are much uglier than are the inhabitants of the same latitude to the north .
The Negroes and Abyssinians live in areas in front of which are the signs of the Zodiac located between the tropics of Aries and Cancer. But the sun, as it descends as in its ascending course, when it is in this space and it is in the middle of the sky, is exactly at their zenith. Their climate is hot and burning, heat and drought dominate. As a result, they contract a black colour and their hair is frizzy (their body is dry and lean, and their temperament is warm.) The same is true of animals and plants. The dominant feature of their character is brutality and violence.