Travels in Arabia, by John Lewis Burckhardt

No. III.

Route from Tayf to Sanaa.

This itinerary was communicated to me by a poor man who had travelled with his wife, in 1814, from Sada to Mekka. He was a native of some place near Sanaa; and as the pilgrimage or Hadj el Kebsy had been for some years interrupted, and he could not afford a passage by sea to Djidda, he undertook this route, which is practicable even in these critical times to those who can pass unsuspected in the character of pilgrims. He was every where treated with hospitality. On his arrival at a village he proceeded to the Mesdjed or mosque, and recited some chapter of the Koran: the Arab inhabitants then inquired who he was, and supplied him with plenty of flour, milk, raisins, meat, &c. He was never stopped by robbers until he reached the advanced posts of Mohammed Aly’s Turkish army; there he was plundered by some soldiers of all his provisions. He could not mark exactly each day’s journey, because he loitered about from one settlement to another, waiting often several days that he might have companions on the road. The journey occupied him altogether three months. He supported himself at Mekka by singing, during the night, before the houses of wealthy pilgrims, some verses in honour of the propbet and of the pilgrimage. His route was as follows:—

El Tayf — Beni Sad, Arabs — Naszera, Arabs — Begyle (or Bedjele), a market-place — Rebah, a market-place — El Mandak, in the Zohran country — El Bekaa, in the Zohran country — Raghdan, in the district of the Ghamed Arabs — Ghamed, Arabs — Sollebat, inhabited by Ghamed Arabs and those called Khotham, a very ancient tribe that flourished in the beginning of Islám — Shomran, Arabs — Bel Korn — Ibn Dohman, an Arab tribe so called — Ibn el Ahmar, another Arab tribe — Ibn el Asmar, an Arab tribe — The country here is called after the inhabitants, which my informer had not forgotten, although he did not always recollect the names of the villages through which he passed in the districts of each tribe — Asyr; this tribe is now united with the three former under one head — The Asyr chief, El Tamy, proved the steadiest antagonist of Mohammed Aly: his principal residence was the strong castle of El Tor, situated upon a high level surrounded by mountains; he had also a smaller castle, called El Tobab, with a town, from four to five days’ journey distant from Gonfode on the sea-coast.

In the Asyr district, the pilgrim passed the villages called Shekrateyn, Ed-dahye, Shohata, and Ed-djof. So far the road had always been on the very summit of the mountain: the traveller henceforward continuing along the valleys composing the lower chain of hills that intersect the Eastern plain.

Refeydha, Arabs — Abyda, Arabs — Harradja, a town in the district of the Senhán Arabs; which also contains the fertile wady called Ráha — Homra, a place inhabited by the Senhan Arabs: at one day’s journey eastward is Wady Nedjran, belonging to the tribe of Yam–Thohran, inhabited by the Wadaa tribe: this place is high in the mountain, but the Wadaa occupy also the low valleys — Bágem, a tribe of Arabs: eastward of them resides the powerful tribe of Kholán Arabs — Dohhyán, of the Sahhar tribe-Sada: from Sada the most usual stages to Sanaa are Beit Medjáhed — Djorf — Kheywan and Houth, two places in the district of the Háshed tribe — Zybein — Omrán-Sanaa–Seven days from Sada to Sanaa.

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Last updated Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 13:31