Travels in Asia and Africa by Ibn Battuta Here Begin Ibn Battuta's Travels



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The City of Hormuz
I travelled next to the country of Hormuz. Hormuz is a town on the coast, called also Mughistan, and in the sea facing it and nine miles from shore is New Hormuz, which is an island. The town on it is called Jarawn. It is a large and fine city, with busy markets, as it is the port from which the wares from India and Sind are dispatched to the Iraqs, Firs and Khurasan. The island is saline, and the inhabitants live on fish and dates exported to them from Basra. They say in their tongue "Dates and fish are a royal dish."
Water is a valuable commodity in this island. They have wells and artificial reservoirs to collect rainwater at some distance from the town. The inhabitants go there with water skins, which they fill and carry on their backs to the shore, load them on boats and bring them to the town.
Ibn Battuta Leaves Hormuz by Land and Crosses a Desert
We set out from Hormuz to visit a saintly man in the town of Khunjubal, and after crossing the strait, hired mounts from the Turkmens who live in that country. No travelling can be done there except in their company, because of their bravery and knowledge of the roads. In these parts there is a desert four days' journey in extent, which is the haunt of Arab brigands, and in which the deadly samum (simoom) blows in June and July. All who are overtaken by it perish, and I was told that when a man has fallen victim to this wind and his friends attempt to wash his body, all his limbs fall apart. All along the road there are graves of persons who have succumbed there to this wind. We used to travel by night, and halt from sunrise until late afternoon in the shade of the trees.
This desert was the scene of the exploits of the famous brigand Jamal al-Luk, who had under him a band of Arab and Persian horsemen. He used to build hospices and entertain travellers with the money that he gained by robbery, and it is said that he used to claim that he never employed violence except against those who did not pay the tithes on their property. No king could do anything against him, but afterwards he repented and gave himself up to ascetic practices and his grave is now a place of pilgrimage.
We went on to the town of Khunjubal, the residence of the Shaykh Abu Dulaf, whom we had come to visit. We lodged in his hermitage and he treated me kindly and sent me food and fruit by one of his sons.
Pearl Divers of the Persian Gulf
From there we journeyed to the town of Qays, which is also called Siraf. The people of Siraf are Persians of noble stock, and amongst them there is a tribe of Arabs, who dive for pearls. The pearl fisheries are situated between Siraf and Bahrayn in a calm bay like a wide river. During the months of April and May a large number of boats come to this place with divers and merchants from Firs, Bahrayn and Qathif. Before diving the diver puts on his face a sort of tortoiseshell mask and a tortoiseshell clip on his nose, and then he ties a rope round his waist and dives. They differ in their endurance under water, some of them being able to stay under for an hour or two hours or less. When he reaches the bottom of the sea he finds the shells there stuck in the sand between small stones, and pulls them out by hand or cuts them loose with a knife which he has for the purpose, and puts them in a leather bag slung round his neck. When his breath becomes restricted he pulls the rope, and the man holding the rope on the shore feels the movement and pulls him up into the boat. The bag is taken from him and the shells are opened. Inside them are found pieces of flesh which are cut out with a knife, and when they come into contact with the air solidify and turn into pearls. These are then collected large and small together; the sultan takes his fifth and the remainder is bought by the merchants who are there in the boats. Most of them are the creditors of the divers, and they take the pearls in quittance of their debt or so much of it as is their due.
Ibn Battuta in Jedda
After the (AD 1332) pilgrimage I went to Judda (Jedda), intending to take ship to Yemen and India, but that plan fell through and I could get no one to join me. I stayed at Judda about forty days. There was a ship there going to Qusayr (Kosair), and I went on board to see what state it was in, but I was not satisfied. This was an act of providence, for the ship sailed and foundered in the open sea, and very few escaped.
Afterwards I took ship for Aydhab, but we were driven to a road stead called Ra's Dawa'ir, from which we made our way with some Bejas through the desert to Aydhab. Thence we travelled to Edfu and down the Nile to Cairo, where I stayed for a few days, then set out for Syria and passed for the second time through Gaza, Hebron, Jerusalem, Ramlah Acre, Tripoli, and Jabala to Ladhiqiya.
In Syria Ibn Battuta Boards a Genoese Merchant Galley for the Sea Crossing to the Southern Coast of Anatolia; he Then Travels Overland to the City of Konia
Ibn Battuta Arrives in Konia
It is a large town with fine buildings, and has many streams and fruit-gardens. The streets are exceedingly broad, and the bazaars admirably planned, with each craft in a bazaar of its own. It is said that this city was built by Alexander. It is now in the territories of Sultan Badr ad-Din ibn Quraman, whom we shall mention presently, but it has sometimes been captured by the king of Iraq, as it lies close to his territories in this country. We stayed there at the hospice of the qadi, who is called Ibn Qa’am Shah, and is a member of the Futuwa. His hospice is very large indeed, and he has a great many disciples. They trace their affiliation to the Futuwa back to the Caliph 'Ali, and the distinctive garment of the order in their case is the trousers, just as the Sufis wear the patched robe. This qadi showed us even greater consideration and hospitality than our former benefactors and sent his son with us in his place to the bath.
Leaving Konia, Ibn Battuta Visits With the Sultan of Birgi, a Turk
We went on to the town of Birgi where we had been told there was a distinguished professor called Muhyi ad-Din. On reaching the madrasa we found him just arriving, mounted on a lively mule and wearing ample garments with gold embroidery, with his slaves and servants on either side of him and preceded by the students. He gave us a kindly welcome and invited me to visit him after the sunset prayer. I found him in a reception hall in his garden, which had a stream of water flowing through a white marble basin with a rim of enameled tiles. He was occupying a raised seat covered with embroidered cloths, having a number of his students and slaves standing on either side of him, and when I saw him I took him for a king. He rose to greet me and made me sit next him on the dais, after which we were served with food and returned to the madrasa.
The sultan of Birgi was then at his summer quarters on a mountain close by and on receiving news of me from the professor sent for me. When I arrived with the professor he sent his two sons to ask how we were, and sent me a tent of the kind they call Khargah (kurgan). It consists of wooden laths put together like a dome and covered with pieces of felt; the upper part is opened to admit the light and air and can be closed when required. Next day the sultan sent for us and asked me about the countries I had visited, then after food had been served we retired. This went on for several days, the sultan inviting us daily to join him at his meal, and one afternoon visiting us himself, on account of the respect which the Turks show for theologians. At length we both became weary of staying on this mountain, so the professor sent a message to the sultan that I wished to continue my journey, and received a reply that we should accompany the sultan to his palace in the city on the following day.
Next day he sent an excellent horse and descended with us to the city. On reaching the palace we climbed a long flight of stairs with him and came to a fine audience hall with a basin of water in the center and a bronze lion at each corner of it spouting water from its mouth. Round the hall were daises covered with carpets, on one of which was the sultan's cushion. When we reached this place, the sultan removed his cushion and sat down beside us on the carpets. The Koran readers, who always attend the sultan's audiences, sat below the dais. After syrup and biscuits had been served I spoke thanking the sultan warmly and praising the professor, which pleased the sultan a great deal.
The Sultan of Birgi Shows Ibn Battuta an Asteroid
As we were sitting there, he said to me "Have you ever seen a stone that has fallen from the sky?" I replied " No, nor ever heard of one." "Well," he said, "a stone fell from the sky outside this town," and thereupon called for it to be brought A great black stone was brought, very hard and with a glitter in it, I reckon its weight was about a hundredweight. The sultan sent for stone breakers, and four of them came and struck it all together four times over with iron hammers, but made no impression on it. I was amazed, and he ordered it to be taken back to its place.
We stayed altogether fourteen days with this sultan. Every night he sent us food, fruit, sweetmeats and candles, and gave me in addition a hundred pieces of gold, a thousand dirhems, a complete set of garments and a Greek slave called Michael, as well as sending a robe and a gift of money to each of my companions. All this we owed to the professor Muhyi ad-Din - may God reward him with good!
Ibn Battuta Buys a Slave Girl
We went on through the town of Tim, which is in the territories of this sultan, to Aya Suluq (Ephesus), a large and ancient town venerated by the Greeks. It possesses a large church built of finely hewn stones, each measuring ten or more cubits in length. The cathedral mosque, which was formerly a church greatly venerated by the Greeks, is one of the most beautiful in the world. I bought a Greek slave girl here for forty dinars.
Ibn Battuta Reaches Bursa
We journeyed next to Bursa (Brusa), a great city with fine bazaars and broad streets, surrounded by orchards and running springs. Outside it are two thermal establishments, one for men and the other for women, to which patients come from the most distant parts. They lodge there for three days at a hospice which was built by one of the Turkmen kings. In this town I met the pious Shaykh 'Abdullah the Egyptian, a traveller, who went all round the world, except that he never visited China, Ceylon, the West, or Spain or the Negro lands, so that in visiting those countries I have surpassed him.
Ibn Battuta Travels on to Nicea, Where He Meets the Turkish Sultan
The sultan of Bursa is Orkhan Bek, son of Othman Chuk. He is the greatest of the Turkmen kings and the richest in wealth, lands, and military forces, and possesses nearly a hundred fortresses which he is continually visiting for inspection and putting to rights. He fights with the infidels and besieges them. It was his father who captured Bursa from the Greeks, and it is said that he besieged Yaznik (Nicea) for about twenty years, but died before it was taken. His son Orkhan besieged it twelve years before capturing it, and it was there that I saw him.
Yaznik lies in a lake and can be reached only by one road like a bridge admitting only a single horseman at a time. It is in ruins and uninhabited except for a few men in the Sultan's service. It is defended by four walls with a moat between each pair, and is entered over wooden drawbridges. Inside there are orchards and houses and fields, and drinking water is obtained from wells. I stayed in this town forty days owing to the illness of one of my horses, but growing impatient at the delay I left it and went on with three of my companions and a slave girl and two slave boys. We had no one with us who could speak Turkish well enough to interpret for us, for the interpreter we had left us at Yaznik.
After leaving this town we crossed a great river called Saqari (Sakaria) by a ferry. This consisted of four beams bound together with ropes, on which the passengers are placed, together with their saddles and baggage; it is pulled across by men on the further bank, and the horses swim behind.
Ibn Battuta Continues on to Sinope on the Black Sea Coast
(Sinope is) a populous town combining strength with beauty. It is surrounded by sea except on the east, where there is only one gate which no one is allowed to enter without permission from the governor, Ibrahim Bek, who is a son of Sulayman Padshah. Outside the town there are eleven villages inhabited by Greek infidels. The cathedral mosque at Sanub (Sinope) is a most beautiful building, constructed by Sultan Parwanah. He was succeeded by his son Ghazi Chelebi, at whose death the town was seized by Sultan Sulayman. Ghazi Chelebi was a brave and audacious man, with a peculiar capacity for swimming under water. He used to sail out with his war vessels to fight the Greeks, and when the fleets met and everyone was occupied with the fighting he would dive under the water carrying an iron tool with which he pierced the enemy's ships, and they knew nothing about it until all at once they sank.
Ibn Battuta sails from Sinope to the Crimea
We stayed at Sanub (Sinope) about forty days waiting for the weather to became favorable for sailing to the town of Qiram. Then we hired a vessel belonging to the Greeks and waited another eleven days for a favorable wind. At length we set sail, but after travelling for three nights, we were beset in mid-sea by a terrible tempest. The storm raged with unparalleled fury, then the wind changed and drove us back nearly to Sanub. The weather cleared and we set out again, and after another tempest like the former, we at length saw the hills on the land. We made for a harbor called Karsh (Kerch), intending to enter it, but some people on the hill made signs to us not to enter, and fearing that there were enemy vessels in the port, we turned back along the coast.
As we approached the land I said to the master of the ship "I want to descend here, so he put me ashore." The place was in the Qipchaq desert which is green and verdant, but flat and treeless. There is no firewood so they make fires of dung, and you will see even the highest of them picking it up and putting it in the skirts of their garments. The only method of travelling in this desert is in wagons; it extends for six months' journey, of which three are in the territories of Sultan Muhammad Uzbeg.
Ibn Battuta Arrives at Kaffa
The day after our arrival one of the merchants in our company hired some wagons from the Qipchaqs who inhabit this desert, and who are Christians, and we came to Kafa (Kaffa), a large town extending along the sea-coast, inhabited by Christians, mostly Genoese, whose governor is called Damdir (Demetrio).
We stayed at Kaffa in the mosque of the Muslims. An hour after our arrival we heard bells ringing on all sides. As I had never heard bells before, I was alarmed and made my companions ascend the minaret and read the Koran and issue the call to prayer. They did so, when suddenly a man entered wearing armor and weapons and greeted us. He told us that he was the qadi of the Muslims there, and said "When I heard the reading and the call to prayer, I feared for your safety and came as you see." Then he went away, but no evil befell us.
The next day the governor came to us and entertained us to a meal, then we went round the city and found it provided with fine bazaars. All the inhabitants are infidels. We went down to the port and saw a magnificent harbor with about two hundred vessels in it, ships of war and trading vessels, small and large, for it is one of the most notable harbors in the world.
Traveling by Wagon on the Steppe
We hired a wagon and travelled to the town of Qiram, which forms part of the territories of Sultan Uzbeg Khan and has a governor called Tuluktumur. On hearing of our arrival the governor sent the imam to me with a horse; he himself was ill, but we visited him and he treated us honorably and gave us gifts. He was on the point of setting out for the town of Sari, the capital of the Khan, so I prepared to travel along with him and hired wagons for that purpose. These wagons have four large wheels and are drawn by two or more horses, or by oxen or camels, according to their weight. The driver rides on one of the horses and carries a whip or wooden goad. On the wagon is put a light tent made of wooden laths bound with strips of hide and covered with felt or blanket-cloth, and it has grilled windows so that the person inside can see without being seen. One can do anything one likes inside, sleep, eat, read or write, during the march. The wagons conveying the baggage and provisions are covered with a similar tent which is locked.
We set out with the amir Tuluktumur and his brother and two sons. At every halt the Turks loose their horses, oxen and camels, and drive them out to pasture at liberty, night or day, without shepherds or guardians. This is due to the severity of their laws against theft. Any person found in possession of a stolen horse is obliged to restore it with nine others; if he cannot do this, his sons are taken instead, and if he has no sons he is slaughtered like a sheep.
The Food of the Turks
They do not eat bread nor any solid food, but prepare a soup with a kind of millet, and any meat they may have is cut into small pieces and cooked in this soup. Everyone is given his share in a plate with curdled milk, and they drink it, afterwards drinking curdled mares milk, which they call qumizz (kumis). They have also a fermented drink prepared from the same grain, which they call buza (beer) and regard as lawful to drink. It is white in color; I tasted it once and found it bitter, so I left it alone. They regard the eating of sweetmeats as a disgrace. One day during Ramadan I presented Sultan Uzbeg with a plate of sweetmeats which one of my companions had made, but he did no more than touch them with his finger and then place it in his mouth.
Turkish Horses
The horses in this country are very numerous and the price of them is negligible. A good one costs about a dinar of our money. The livelihood of the people depends on them, and they are as numerous as sheep in our country, or even more so. A single Turk will possess thousands of horses. They are exported to India in droves of six thousand or so, each merchant possessing one or two hundred of them or less or more. For each fifty they hire a keeper, who looks after their pasturage. He rides on one of them, carrying a long stick with a rope attached to it, and when he wishes to catch any horse he gets opposite it on the horse which he is riding, throws the rope over its neck and draws it towards him, mounts it and sets the other free to pasture.
On reaching Sind the horses are fed with forage, because the vegetation of Sind will not take the place of barley, and the greater part of them die or are stolen. The owners pay a duty of seven silver dinars on entering Sind and a further duty at Multan. Formerly they were taxed a quarter of the value of their imports, but Sultan Muhammad abolished this tax and ordered that Muslim merchants should pay the legal tithe and infidel merchants a tenth. Nevertheless the merchants make a handsome profit, for the least that a horse fetches is a hundred dinars (that is twenty-five dinars in Moroccan money) and it often sells for twice or three times that amount. A good horse sells for five hundred or more. The Indians do not buy them as racehorses, for in battle they wear coats of mail and cover their horses with armor; what they prize in a horse is its strength and length of pace. Their racehorses are brought from Yemen, Oman and Firs, and they cost from a thousand to four thousand dinars each.
Turkish Women
A remarkable thing which I saw in this country was the respect shown to women by the Turks, for they hold a more dignified position than the men. The first time that I saw a princess was when, on leaving Qiram, I saw the wife of the amir in her wagon. The entire wagon was covered with rich blue woolen cloth, and the windows and doors of the tent were open. With the princess were four maidens, exquisitely beautiful and richly dressed, and behind her were a number of wagons with maidens belonging to her suite. When she came near the amir's camp she alighted with about thirty of the maidens who carried her train. On her garments there were loops, of which each maiden took one, and lifted her train clear of the ground on all sides, and she walked in this stately manner. When she reached the amir he rose before her and greeted her and sat her beside him, with the maidens standing round her. Skins of qumizz were brought and she, pouring some into a cup, knelt before him and gave it to him, afterwards pouring out a cup for his brother. Then the amir poured out a cup for her and food was brought in and she ate with him. He then gave her a robe and she withdrew.
I saw also the wives of the merchants and commonalty. One of them will sit in a wagon which is being drawn by horses, attended by three or four maidens to carry her train, and on her head she wears a conical headdress incrusted with pearls and surmounted by peacock feathers. The windows of the tent are open and her face is visible, for the Turkish women do not veil themselves. Sometimes a woman will be accompanied by her husband and anyone seeing him would take him for one of her servants; he has no garment other than a sheep's wool cloak and a high cap to match.
Ibn Battuta Travels to Meet Uzbeg Khan
We then prepared for the journey to the sultan's camp, which was four days' march to a place called Bishdagh, which means "Five mountains." In these mountains there is a hot spring in which the Turks bathe, claiming that it prevents illness.
We arrived at the camp on the first day of Ramadan and found that it was moving to the neighborhood from which we had just come, so we returned thither. I set up my tent on a hill there, fixing a standard in the ground in front of it, and drew up the horses and wagons behind. Thereupon the mahalla approached (the name they give to it is the ordu) and we saw a vast town on the move with all its inhabitants, containing mosques and bazaars, the smoke from the kitchens rising in the air (for they cook while on the march), and horse-drawn wagons transporting them. On reaching the encampment they took the tents off the wagons and set them upon the ground, for they were very light, and they did the same with the mosques and shops.
The sultan's khatuns (wives) passed by us, each separately with her own retinue. The fourth of them, as she passed, saw the tent on top of the hill with the standard in front of it, which is the mark of a new arrival, and sent pages and maidens to greet me and convey her salutations, herself halting to wait for them. I sent her a gift by one of my companions and the chamberlain of the amir Tuluktumur. She accepted it as a blessing and gave orders that I should be taken under her protection, then went on. Afterwards the sultan arrived and camped with his mahalla separately.
Uzbeg Khan
The illustrious Sultan Muhammad Uzbeg Khan is the ruler of a vast kingdom and a most powerful sovereign, victor over the enemies of God, the people of Constantinople the Great, and diligent in warring against them. He is one of the seven mighty kings of the world, to wit: our master the Commander of the Faithful, may God strengthen his might and magnify his victory!; the sultan of Egypt and Syria; the sultan of the Two Iraqs; this Sultan Uzbeg; the sultan of Turkistan and the lands beyond the Oxus; the sultan of India; and the sultan of China.
The day after my arrival I visited him in the afternoon at a ceremonial audience; a great banquet was prepared and we broke our fast in his presence. These Turks do not follow the custom of assigning a lodging to visitors and giving them money for their expenses, but they send him sheep and horses for slaughtering and skins of qumizz, which is their form of benefaction.
Every Friday, after the midday prayer, the sultan holds an audience in a pavilion called the Golden Pavilion, which is richly decorated. In the center there is a wooden throne covered with silver-gilt plates, the legs being of pure silver set with jewels at the top. The sultan sits on the throne, having on his right the Khatun Taytughli with the khatun Kebek on her right, and on his left the khatun Bayalun with the khatun Urduja on her left. Below the throne stand the sultan's sons, the elder on the right and the younger on the left, and his daughter sits in front of him. He rises to meet each Khatun as she arrives and takes her by the hand until she mounts to the throne. All this takes place in view of the whole people, without any screening.
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