Ibn Bat­tuta

Ibn Bat­tuta left home at 21 and trav­elled the Is­lamic world of the 14th cen­tury and be­yond. He cov­ered 75,000 miles (120,000 km) in 30 years be­tween 1325-1355, vis­it­ing 40 coun­tries and cross­ing three con­ti­nents.

Timeless Travels Magazine - - CONTENTS -

On cus­toms of the Mas­s­u­fah in­hab­i­tants of Iwalata

Con­di­tions among these peo­ple are re­mark­able, and their way of life is strange. The men have no jeal­ousy. No ones takes his name from his fa­ther, but from his ma­ter­nal un­cle. Sons do not in­herit, only sis­ters’ sons! This is some­thing I have seen nowhere in the world ex­cept among the in­fi­del In­di­ans of al - Mu­laibar. Nev­er­the­less, these peo­ple are Mus­lims. They are strict in ob­serv­ing the prayers, study­ing the re­li­gious law, and mem­o­ris­ing the Qur’an. Their women have no shame be­fore men and do not veil them­selves, yet they are punc­til­ious about their prayers. Any­one who wants to take a wife among them does so, but they do not travel with their hus­bands, and even if one of them wished to, her fam­ily would pre­vent her. Women there have friends and com­pan­ions among men out­side the pro­hib­ited de­grees for mar­riage, and in the same way, men have women friends in the same cat­e­gory. A man goes into his house, finds his wife and her man friend, and does not dis­ap­prove.

An ac­count of the co­conut

This is the ‘In­dian nut’. These trees are among the most pe­cu­liar trees in kind and most as­ton­ish­ing in habit. They look ex­actly like date palms, with­out any dif­fer­ence be­tween them, ex­cept that one pro­duces nuts as its fruits and the other pro­duces dates. The nut of a co­conut tree re­sem­bles a man’s head... and the in­side of it when it is green looks like the brain... As for its aphro­disiac qual­ity, its ac­tion in this re­spect is won­der­ful... This is what i lived on dur­ing my stay in the is­lands of Dhi­bat al Ma­hal for a pe­riod of a year and a half.

An at­tack on his party in In­dia

When we made ready to set out from Abuhar, the main party left the town in the early morn­ing, but I stayed there with a small party of my com­pan­ions un­til mid­day. We then set out too...and were at­tacked in open coun­try there by eighty in­fi­dels on foot and two horse­men. My com­pan­ions were men of courage and vigour and we fought stoutly with them, killing one of their horse­men and about twelve of the foot sol­diers. I was hit by an ar­row and my horse by another, but God in His grace pre­served me from them, for there is no force in the ar­rows. We car­ried the heads of the slain to the cas­tle of Abu Bak’har...and sus­pended them from the wall.

In­di­ans who burn them­selves to death

The burn­ing of a wife af­ter her hus­band’s death is re­garded by them as a com­mend­able act, but is not com­pul­sory; but when a widow burns her­self her fam­ily ac­quire a cer­tain pres­tige by it and gain a rep­u­ta­tion for fi­delity. A widow who does not burn her­self dresses in coarse gar­ments and lives with her own peo­ple in mis­ery, de­spised for her lack of fi­delity, but she is not forced to burn her­self.

Trav­el­ling in China

China is the safest and best coun­try for the trav­eller. A man may travel for nine months alone with great wealth and have noth­ing to fear. What is re­spon­si­ble for this is that in ev­ery post sta­tion is a fun­duq... which has a di­rec­tor liv­ing there with a com­pany of horse and foot. Af­ter sun­set or night­fall the di­rec­tor comes to the fun­duq with his sec­re­tary and writes down the names of all the trav­ellers who will pass the night there, seals it and locks the door of the fun­duq. In the morn­ing he and his sec­re­tary come and call ev­ery­body by name and write down a record. He sends some­one with the trav­ellers to con­duct them to the next post sta­tion, and he brings back a cer­tifi­cate from the di­rec­tor of that fun­duq con­firm­ing that they have all ar­rived. If he does not do this he is an­swer­able for them.

Above: Ibn Bat­tuta in Egypt, an il­lus­tra­tion by Léon Benett from a book by Jules Verne pub­lished in 1878 Re­pro­duced with kind per­mis­sion from The Hak­luyt So­ci­ety

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