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Extract from another book of Masudi : Kitab et Tanbih

(The book of warning)

Taken from: translation by B. Carra de Vaux








The people from the southern parts like the Zendj and the different branches of the Abyssinians and those who are to the south of the equatorial line and who have the sun in its zenith of its clime, representing the opposite characteristics of the former; there the heat is intense moister rare, they are black skinned, have red eyes, which is natural, because it is so hot that the children develop inside their mothers so that they are burned, their hair is kinky through the effect of the radiation from the dry heat; it is like long hair brought close to the fire it first contracts then they bent in rings as one brings them closer to the fire are then further away……….
The limit of the second climate is the sea from the region of Oman following the borders of Ech-Chihr and El-Ahkaf till Aden Abyan, then up to the peninsula of the Zendjs and the Abyssinians. The longest extend of the days there is 13 hours……..
The sea of Abyssinia and the sea of China, of Sind and from India, of the Zendj, of Basra, of Obollah, of Fars, of Karmanie, of Oman, of Bahrein, of Chihr, of Yemen, of Eilah, of Kolzoum in the land of Egypt, and Abyssinia. In the whole world, there is no bigger sea….
The Nil ; Starts with sources situated in the mountain of the moon (Djebel el-Kamar) 7 and a half degrees behind the equator, what comes to 141 parasangs and two thirds, or in miles 425 miles. From those sources leave 10 rivers that go 5 by 5 in two lakes which are situated to the south behind the equatorial line. From each of these two lakes comes three rivers and all those river arms throw themselves in one lake in the first climate. It is from there that the Nile of Egypt starts…..
And from the origin of the Nil in the mountains of the moon to the place where it throws itself in the sea of Roum, the distance is 748 parasangs and 2/3 what comes to 2,245 miles. There are people who measure the distance from the origins of the Nile till its end to 1,130 and some parasanges. In the neighborhood of the mountain of the moon are many villages and places from the Zendjs; after having crossed these one arrives in the land of Sofalah of the Zendj and the island of Kanbalou where the inhabitants are Muslim, then to the land of Berbera and Hafouni……..
Ptolemy says, in his treatise: Introduction to the Art of the Sphere, that behind Ecuador, under the circle of Capricorn, live Negroes similar to those we see under the circle of Cancer, below Ecuador on the side of North, and that the Ocean comes from the point where the sun rises in winter, that is where Capricorn gets up, then bends to the North and then to the point where the sun sets in summer, that is to say, where Cancer sets. He adds that he drew this information from the books in which were recorded the information on the peoples in the South of Egypt, books composed by the care of the kings from Egypt with the help of the explorers they sent in these countries to know the nations who lived there.
The same learned people teach that when the northern hemisphere is in summer, the southern one is in winter, and when winter reigns in the north, summer reigns in the south. This allows to explain why the rise of the Nile happen in summer, because it is the time of winter and of rain in that part of the earth of the Abyssinians like Nubie, Zagawah, the land of the Zendjs, up to the mountains of the moon who are situated behind the equator. It is from those mountains that flow the sources of the Nile.