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An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians$

Edward William Lane

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9789774165603

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774165603.001.0001

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Periodical Public Festivals, & c.—continued.

Periodical Public Festivals, & c.—continued.

Chapter 26 Periodical Public Festivals, & c.—continued.
An Account of the Manners and Customs of the Modern Egyptians

Edward William Lane

Jason Thompson

American University in Cairo Press

Abstract and Keywords

Continuing from the last two chapters on public festivals, this chapter turns to festivals celebrated by all Egyptians (regardless of their religion). It observes that some would originally have been celebrated only by Copts (and fall on Coptic holidays) but now are celebrated by all—for example, Shemm el-Neseem (which falls close to Easter). It discusses in detail the festival of the Rise of the Nile, the night in which Nile is said to start rising, and the Opening of the Canal (in which the dam is cut when river reaches a sufficient height), both of which relate to the annual flood. It explains the various traditions, public ceremonies, and the roles of officials surrounding these festivals.

Keywords:   Festivals, Copts, Nile, Flood, Traditions

IT is remarkable that the Muslims of Egypt observe certain customs of a religious or superstitious nature at particular periods of the religious almanac of the Copts; and even, according to the same system, calculate the times of certain changes of the weather. Thus they calculate the period of the “Khamáseen,” when hot southerly winds are of frequent occurrence, to commence on the day immediately following the Coptic festival of Easter Sunday, and to terminate on the Day of Pentecost (or Whitsunday); an interval of forty‐nine days.1

The Wednesday next before this periodis called “Arba’à Eiyoob,” or Job's Wednesday. Many persons, on this day, wash themselves with cold water, and rub (p.450) themselves with the creeping plant called “raạráạ Eiyoob,” or “ghubeyrà”2 (inula Arabica, and inula undulata), on account of a tradition which relates that Job did so to obtain restoration to health. This and other customs about to be mentioned were peculiar to the Copts; but are now observed by many Muslims in the towns, and by more in the villages. The other customs just alluded to are that of eating eggs, dyed externally red or yellow or blue, or some other colour, on the next day (Thursday); and, on the Friday (Good Friday), a dish of khalṭah, composed of kishk,3 with fool nábit,4 lentils, rice, onions, &c. On the Saturday, also, it is a common custom of men and women to adorn their eyes with koḥl. This day is called “Sebt en‐Noor” (Saturday of the Light); because a light, said to be miraculous, appears during the festival then celebrated in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

A custom termed “Shemm en‐Neseem” (or the Smelling of the Zephyr) is observed on the first day of the Khamáseen. Early in the morning of this day, many persons, especially women, break an onion, and smell it; and in the course of the forenoon, many of the citizens of Cairo ride or walk a little way into the country, or go in boats, generally northwards, to take the air, or, as they term it, smell the air, which, on that day, they believe to have a wonderfully beneficial effect. The greater number dine in the country, or on the river. This year (1834), they were treated with a violent hot wind, accompanied by clouds of dust, instead of the neseem; but considerable numbers, notwithstanding, went out to “smell” it.—The ’Ulamà have their “shemm en‐neseem” at a fixed period of the solar year; the first three days of the spring‐quarter, corresponding with the Persian “Now‐róz,” called by the Arabs “Nórooz.”

The night of the 17th of June, which corresponds with the 11th of the Coptic month of Ba‐ooneh, is called “Leylet en‐Nuḳṭah” (or the Night of the Drop), as it is believed that a miraculous drop then falls into the Nile, and causes it to rise. Astrologers calculate the precise moment when the “drop” is to fall; which is always in the course of the night above mentioned. Many of the inhabitants of Cairo and its neighbourhood, and of other parts of Egypt, spend this night on the banks of the Nile; some, in houses of their friends; others, in the open air. Many (p.451) also, and especially the women, observe a singular custom on the Leylet en‐Nuḳṭah; placing, upon the terrace of the house, after sunset, as many lumps of dough as there are inmates in the house, a lump for each person, who puts his, or her, mark upon it: at day‐break, on the following morning, they look at each of these lumps; and if they find it cracked, they infer that the life of the person for whom it was placed will be long, or not terminate that year; but if they find it not cracked, they infer the reverse. Somesay that this is also done to discover whether the Nile will rise high in the ensuing season. Another absurd custom is observed on the fourth following night, “Leylet es‐Saraṭán,” when the sun enters the sign of Cancer: it is the writing a charm to exterminate, or drive away, bugs. This charm consists of the following words from the Ḳur‐án,5 written in separate letters— “‘Hast thou not considered those who left their habitations, and they were thousands, for fear of death? and God said unto them, Die: die: die.’” The last word of the text is thus written three times. The above charm, it is said, should be written on three pieces of paper, which are to be hung upon the walls of the room which is to be cleared of the bugs; one upon each wall, except that at the end where is the entrance, or that in which is the entrance.

The Nile, as I have mentioned in the Introduction to this Work, begins to rise about, or soon after, the period of the summer solstice. From, or about, the 27th of the Coptic month Ba‐ooneh (3rd of July) its rise is daily proclaimed in the streets of the metropolis. There are several criers to perform this office; each for a particular district of the town. The Crier of the Nile (“Munádee en‐Neel”) generally goes about his district early in the morning, but sometimes later; accompanied by a boy. On the day immediately preceding that on which he commences his daily announcement of the rise of the Nile, he proclaims, “God hath been propitious to the lands. The day of good news. To‐morrow, the announcement, with good fortune.”—The daily announcement is as follows: Munádee. “Moḥammad is the Prophet of guidance.” Boy. “The Maḥmals journey to him.”6 M. “The guide: peace be on him.” B. “He will prosper who blesseth him.” [The Munádee and boy then continue, or sometimes they omit the preceding form, and begin thus:] M. “O Thou whose government is excellent!” B. “My Lord, I have none beside Thee.” [After this, they proceed, in many cases, thus:] M. “The treasuries of the Bountiful are full.” B. “And at the gate there is no scarcity.” M. “I extol the perfection of Him who spread out the earth.” B. “And hath given running rivers.” M. “Through Whom the fields become green.” B. “After (p.452) death He causeth them to live.” M. “God hath given abundance, and increased [the river] and watered the high lands.” B. “And the mountains and the sands and the fields.”M. “O Alternator of the day and night!” B. “My Lord, there is none beside Thee.” M. “O Guide of the, wandering! O God!” B. “Guide me to the path of prosperity.” [They then continue, or, sometimes omitting all that here precedes, commence as follows:] M. “O Amiable! O Living! O Self‐subsisting!” B. “O Great in power! O Almighty!” M. “O Aider! regard me with favour.” B. O Bountiful! withdraw not thy protection.” M. “God preserve to me my master [or my master the “emeer”] such a one [naming the master of the house], and the good people of his house. O Bountiful! O God!” B. “Ay, please God.” M. “God give them a happy morning, from Himself; and increase their prosperity, from Himself.” B. “Ay, please God.” M. “God preserve to me my master [&c.] such a one [naming again the master of the house]; and increase to him the favours of God. O Bountiful! O God!” B. “Ay, please God.” [Then brothers, sons, and unmarried daughters, if there be any, however young, are mentioned in the same manner, as follows:] M. “God preserve to me my master [&c.] such a one, for a long period. O Bountiful! O God!” B. “Ay, please God.” M. “God preserve to me my mistress, the chief lady among brides, such a one, for a long period. O Bountiful! O God!” B. “Ay, please God.” M. May He abundantly bless them with his perfect abundance; and pour abundantly the Nile over the country. O Bountiful! O God!” B. “Ay, please God.” M. “Five [or six, &c., digits] to‐day: and the Lord is bountiful.” B. “Bless ye Moḥammad.”—These last words are added in the fear lest the rising of the river should be affected by a malicious wish, or evil eye, which is supposed to be rendered ineffectual if the malicious person bless the Prophet.7

Sometimes, the people of a house before which the Munádee makes his cry give him daily a piece of bread: this is a common custom among the middle orders; but most persons give him nothing until the day before the opening of the Canal of Cairo. Very little reliance is to be placed upon the announcement which he makes of the height which the river has attained, for he is generally uninformed or misinformed by the persons whose duty it is to acquaint him upon this subject; but the people mostly listen with interest to his proclamation. He and his boy repeat this cry every day, until the day next before that on which the dam that closes the mouth of the Canal of Cairo is cut.

On this day (that is, the former of those just mentioned), the Munádee goes about his district, accompanied by a number of little boys, each of whom bears a small coloured flag, called “ráyeh;” and announces the “Wefà en‐Neel” (the (p.453) Completion, or Abundance, of the Nile); for thus is termed the state of the river when it has risen sufficiently high for the government to proclaim that it has attained the sixteenth cubit of the Nilometer. In this, however, the people are always deceived; for there is an old law, that the land‐tax cannot he exacted unless the Nile rises to the height of sixteen cubits of the Nilometer; and the government thinks it proper to make the people believe, as early as possible, that it has attained this height. The period when the Wefà en‐Neel is proclaimed is when the river has actually risen about twenty or twenty‐one feet in the neigbourhood of the metropolis; which is generally between the 6th and 16th of August (or the 1st and 11th of the Coptic month of Misrà):8 this is when there yet remain, of the measure of a moderately good rise, in the neighbourhood of the metropolis, four or three feet. On the day above mentioned (the next before that on which the canal is to be opened), the Munádee and the boys who accompany him with the little “ráyát” (or flags) make the following announcement: —

Munádee. “The river hath given abundance, and completed [its measure]!” Boys. “God hath given abundance.”9 M. “And Dár en‐Naḥás10 is filled.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And the canals flow.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And the vessels are afloat.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And the hoarder [of grain] has failed.” B. “God, &c.” M. “By permission of the Mighty, the Requiter.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And there remains nothing. B. “God, &c.” M. “To the perfect completion.” B. “God, &c.” M. “This is an annual custom.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And may you live to every year.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And if the hoarder wish for a scarcity,” B. “God, &c.” M. “May God visit him, before death, with blindness and affliction!” B. “God, &c.” M. “This generous person11 loveth the generous.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And an admirable palace is built for him.”12 B. “God, &c.” M. “And its columns are incomparable jewels,” B. “God, &c.” M. “Instead of palm‐sticks and timber:” B. “God, &c.” M. “And it has a thousand windows that open:” B. “God, &c.” M. “And before every window is Selsebeel.”13 B. “God, &c.” M. “Paradise is the abode of the generous.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And Hell is the abode of the avaricious.” B. “God, &c.” M. “May God not (p.454) cause me to stop before the door of an avaricious woman, nor of an avaricious man:” B. “God, &c.” M. Nor of one who measures the water in the jar: B. “God, &c.” M. “Nor who counts the bread while it is yet dough:” B. “God, &c.” M. “And if a cake be wanting, orders a fast:” B. “God, &c.” M. “Nor who shuts up the cats at supper‐time:” B. “God, &c.” M. “Nor who drives away the dogs upon the walls.” B. “God, &c.” M. “The world is brightened.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And the damsels have adorned themselves.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And the old women tumble about.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And the married man hath added to his wife eight others.” B. “God, &c.” M. “And the bachelor hath married eighteen.”—This cry is continued until somebody in the house gives a present to the Munádee; the amount of which is generally from ten faḍḍahs to a piaster; but many persons give two piasters; and grandees, a kheyreeyeh, or nine piasters.

During this day, preparations are made for cutting the dam of the canal. This operation attracts a great crowd of spectators, partly from the political importance attached to it; but, being always prematurely performed, it is now without much reason made an occasion of public festivity.

The dam is constructed before, or soon after, the commencement of the Nile's increase. The “Khaleeg,” or Canal, at the distance of about four hundred feet within its entrance, is crossed by an old stone bridge of one arch. About sixty feet in front of this bridge is the dam, which is of earth, very broad at the bottom, and diminishing in breadth towards the top, which is flat, and about three yards broad. The top of the dam rises to the height of about twenty‐two or twenty‐three feet above the level of the Nile when at the lowest; but not so high above the bed of the canal: for this is several feet above the low‐water mark of the river, and consequently dry for some months when the river is low. The banks of the canal are a few feet higher than the top of the dam. Nearly the same distance in front of the dam that the latter is distant from the bridge, is raised a round pillar of earth, diminishing towards the top, in the form of a truncated cone, and not quite so high as the dam. This is called the “'arooseh” (or bride), for a reason which will presently be stated. Upon its flat top, and upon that of the dam, a little maize or millet is generally sown. The ’arooseh is always washed down by the rising tide before the river has attained to its summit, and generally more than a week or fortnight before the dam is cut.

It is believed that the custom of forming this ’arooseh originated from an ancient superstitious usage, which is mentioned by Arab authors, and, among them, by El‐Maḳreezee. This historian relates that, in the year of the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs, ’Amr Ibn‐El‐’Áṣ, the Arab general, was told that the Egyptians were accustomed, at the period when the Nile began to rise, to deck a young (p.455) virgin in gay apparel, and throw her into the river as a sacrifice, to obtain a plentiful inundation. This barbarous custom, it is said, he abolished; and the Nile, in consequence, did not rise in the least degree during the space of nearly three months after the usual period of the commencement of its increase. The people were greatly alarmed, thinking that a famine would certainly ensue: ’Amr, therefore, wrote to the Khaleefeh, to inform him of what he had done, and of the calamity with which Egypt was, in consequence, threatened. ’Omar returned a brief answer, expressing his approbation of ’Amr's conduct, and desiring him, upon the receipt of the letter, to throw a note, which it enclosed, into the Nile. The purport of this note was as follows:—” From ’Abd‐Allah ’Omar, Prince of the Faithful, to the Nile of Egypt. If thou flow of thine own accord, flow not: but if it be God, the One, the Mighty, who causeth thee to flow, we implore God, the One, the Mighty, to make thee flow.”—’Amr did as he was commanded; and the Nile, we are told, rose sixteen cubits in the following night. —This tale is, indeed, hard to be believed, even divested of the miracle.

On the north side of the Canal, overlooking the dam, and almost close to the bridge, was a small building of stone, from which the grandees of Cairo used to witness the operation of cutting the dam. This building has become a ruin; and upon its remains is erected a large tent for the reception of those officers who have to witness and superintend the cutting. Some other tents are also erected for other visiters; and the government supplies a great number of fire‐works, chiefly rockets, to honour the festival, and to amuse the populace during the night preceding the day when the dam is cut, and during the operation itself, which is performed early in the morning. Many small tents, for the sale of sweetmeats, fruits, and other eatables, and coffee, &c., are likewise pitched along the bank of the isle of Er‐Róḍah, opposite the entrance of the Canal. The day of the cutting of the dam of the Canal is called “Yóm Gebr el‐Baḥr,” which is said to signify “the Day of the Breaking of the River;” though the word “gebr,” which is thus interpreted “breaking,” has really the reverse signification. The term “Yóm Wefà el‐Baḥr,” or “Wefà en‐Neel,” before explained, is also, and more properly, applied to this day. The festival of the Canal is also called “Mósim el‐Khaleeg.”

In the afternoon of the day preceding that on which the dam is cut, numerous boats, hired by private parties, for pleasure, repair to the neighbourhood of the entrance of the Canal. Among these is a very large boat, called the “’Aḳabeh.”14 It is painted for the occasion, in a gaudy, but rude, manner; and (p.456) has two or more small cannons on board, and numerous lamps attached to the ropes, forming various devices, such as a large star, &c.: it has also, over the cabin, a large kind of close awning, composed of pieces of silk, and other stuffs; and is adorned with two pennants. It is vulgarly believed that this boat represents a magnificent vessel, in which the Egyptians used, before the conquest of their country by the Arabs, to convey the virgin, whom, it is said, they threw into the Nile. It sails from Booláḳ about three hours after noon, taking passengers for hire, men and women; the latter being usually placed, if they prefer it, in the large awning above mentioned. It is made fast to the bank of the isle of Er‐Róḍah, immediately opposite the entrance of the Canal. Most of the other boats also remain near it during the night, along the bank of the island; but some, all the evening and night, are constantly sailing up, or rowing down, the river. In many boats, the crews amuse themselves and their passengers by singing, often accompanied by the darabukkeh and zummárah; and some private parties hire professional musicians to add to their diversion on the river. The festival is highly enjoyed by the crowds who attend it, though there is little that a stranger would think could minister to their amusement: they seem to require nothing more to enliven them than crowds and bustle, with a pipe and a cup of coffee. In former years, the festival was always attended by dancing‐girls (who are now forbidden to perform), and by singers, instrumental musicians, and reciters of romances. In the evening, before it is dark, the exhibition of fireworks commences; and this is continued, together with the firing of guns from the ’aḳabeh and two or more gun‐boats, every quarter of an hour during the night. About twelve guns are fired on each of these occasions: the whole number fired at the night's festival of the present year was about six hundred. The fire‐works which are displayed during the night consist of little else than rockets and a few blue‐lights: the best are kept till morning, and exhibited in broad daylight, during the cutting of the dam. At night, the river and its banks present a remarkably picturesque scene. Numerous boats are constantly passing up and down; and the lamps upon the rigging of the ’aḳabeh, and in other boats, as well as on the shore, where there are also many mesh'als stuck in the ground (several upon the dam and its vicinity, and many more upon the bank of the island), have a striking effect, which is occasionally rendered more lively by the firing of the guns, and the ascent of a number of rockets. The most crowded part of the scene of the festival at night is the bank of the island; where almost every person is too happy to sleep, even if the noise of the guns, &c., did not prevent him. (p.457)

Before sunrise, a great number of workmen begin to cut the dam. This labour devolves, in alternate years, upon the Muslim gravediggers15 and on the Jews; both of whom are paid by the government: but when it falls to the Jews, and on a Saturday, they are under the necessity of paying a handsome sum of money to escape the sin of profaning their sabbath by doing what the government requires of them. With a kind of hoe, the dam is cut thinner and thinner, from the back (the earth being removed in baskets, and thrown upon the bank), until, at the top, it remains about a foot thick: this is accomplished by about an hour after sunrise. Shortly before this time, when dense crowds have assembled in the neighbourhood of the dam, on each bank of the Canal, the Governor of the metropolis arrives, and alights at the large tent before mentioned, by the dam: some other great officers are also present; and the Ḳáḍee attends, and writes a document16 to attest the fact of the river's having risen to the height sufficient for the opening of the Canal, and of this operation having been performed; which important document is despatched with speed to Constantinople. Meanwhile, the firing of guns, and the display of the fire‐works, continue; and towards the close of the operation, the best of the fire‐works are exhibited, when, in the glaring sunshine, they can hardly be seen. When the dam has been cut away to the degree above mentioned, and all the great officers whose presence is required have arrived, the Governor of the metropolis throws a purse of small gold coins to the labourers. A boat, on board of which is an officer of the late Wálee, is then propelled against the narrow ridge of earth, and, breaking the slight barrier, passes through it, and descends with the cataract thus formed. The person here mentioned is an old man, named Ḥammoodeh, who was “sarrág báshee” of the Wálee: it was his office to walk immediately before his master when the latter took his ordinary rides, preceded by a long train of officers, through the streets and environs of the metropolis. Just as his boat approaches the dam, the Governor of Cairo throws into it a purse of gold, as a present for him. The remains of the dam are quickly washed away by the influx of the water into the bed of the Canal, and numerous other boats enter, pass along the Canal throughout the whole length of the city, and, some of them, several miles further, and return.

Formerly, the Sheykh el‐Beled, or the Báshà, with other great officers, presided at this f^ete, which was celebrated with much pomp; and money was thrown into the Canal, and caught by the populace, some of whom plunged into the water with nets; but several lives were generally lost in the scramble. This present year (p.458) (1834), three persons were drowned on the day of the opening of the Canal; one in the Canal itself, and two in the lake of the Ezbekeeyeh. A few minutes after I had entered my house, on my return from witnessing the cutting of the dam, and the festivities of the preceding night (which 1 passed partly on the river, and partly on the isle of Er‐Róḍah), a woman, having part of her dress, and her face, which was uncovered, besmeared with mud, passed by my door, screaming for the loss of her son, who was one of the three persons drowned on this occasion. The water entered the Ezbekeeyeh by a new canal, on the day preceding that on which the dam was cut. Crowds collected round it on this day, and will for many following days (I am writing a few days after the opening of the canal), to enjoy the view of the large expanse of water, which, though very turbid, is refreshing to the sight in so dry and dusty a place as Cairo, and at this hot season of the year. Several tents are pitched by it, at which visiters are supplied with coffee; and one for the sale of brandy, wine, &c.; and numerous stools and benches of palm‐sticks are set there. The favourite time of resort to this place is the evening; and many persons remain there for several hours after sunset: some, all night. There are generally two or three story‐tellers there. At all hours of the day, and sometimes even at midnight, persons are seen bathing in the lake; chiefly men and boys, but also some young girls, and even women; the latter of whom expose their persons before the passengers and idlers on the banks in a manner surprising in a place where women in general so carefully conceal even their faces, though most of these bathers are usually covered from the waist downwards. It often happens that persons are drowned here.17

On the day after the cutting of the dam, the Munádee continues to repeat his first cry; but uses a different form of expression in stating the height of the river; saying, for instance, “four from sixteen;” meaning, that the river has increased four “ḳeeráṭs” (or digits) from sixteen cubits. This cry he continues until the day of the Nórooz, or a little earlier.

On the “Nórooz,” or Coptic New‐year's‐day (10th or 11th of September), or two or three days before, he comes to each house in his district, with his boy dressed in his best clothes, and a drummer and a hautboy‐player; repeats the same cry as on the Wefà; and again receives a present. Afterwards he continues his former cry.

On the day of the “Ṣaleeb” (or the Discovery of the Cross), which is the 17th of the Coptic month of Toot, or 26th or 27th of September, at which period the (p.459) river has risen to its greatest height, or nearly so, he comes again to each house in his district, and repeats the following cry:—“In uncertainty,18 thou wilt not rest: nor in comparing19 wilt thou rest. O my reproacher,20 rest. There is nothing that endureth. There remaineth nothing [uncovered by the water] but the shemmám21 and lemmám22 and the sown fields and the anemone and safflower and flax: and may my master, such a one [naming the master of the house], live, and see that the river has increased; and give, to the bringer of good news, according to a just judgment. Aboo‐Raddád23 is entitled to a fee from the government; a fee of a shereefee24 for every digit of the river's increase: and we are entitled to a fee from the people of generosity; we come to take it with good behaviour. The fortunate Nile of Egypt hath taken leave of us in prosperity: in its increase, it hath irrigated all the country.”—The Munádee, on this occasion, presents a few limes, and other fruit, to the rich, or persons of middle rank, and some lumps of dry mud of the Nile, which is eaten by the women, in many families. He generally receives a present of two or three or more piasters. His occupation then ceases until the next year. (p.460)


(1) . I believe that this period has been called by all European writers who have mentioned it, except myself, “El‐Khamseen,” or by the same term differently expressed, signifying the Fifty; i.e. the Fifty days; but it is always termed by the Arabs “el‐Khamáseen,” which signifies the Fifties, being a vulgar plural of Khamseen. In like manner, the Arabs call the corresponding period of the Jewish calendar by a term exactly agreeing with “el‐Khamáseen;” namely “el‐Khamseenát; only its last day being termed “elKhamseen.” See De Sacy's Chrestomathie Arabe,’ 2nd ed., vol. i., p. 98 of the Arabic text, and pp. 292 and 320 of his translation and notes. This eminent scholar, however, appears to have had no authority but that of Europeans for the name of the above‐mentioned period of the Coptic calendar; for he has followed the travellers, and written it “Khamsin.”

(2) . Commonly pronunced “ghubbeyrè.”

(3) . “Kishk” (as the word is commonly pronounced, but properly “keshk,”) is prepared from wheat, first moistened, then dried, trodden in a vessel to separate the husks, and coarsely ground with a handmill: the meal is mixed with milk, and about six hours afterwards is spooned out upon a little straw or bran, and then left for two or three days to dry. When required for use, it is either soaked or pounded, and put into a sieve, over a vessel; and then boiling water is poured on it. What remains in the sieve is thrown away: what passes through is generally poured into a saucepan of boiled meat or fowl, over the fire. Some leaves of white beet, fried in butter, are usually added to each plate of it.

(4) . Beans soaked in water until they begin to sprout, and then boiled.

(5) . Chap. ii.ver. 244.

(6) . That is, to his tomb.

(7) . He would be guilty of a sin if he did not do this when desired.

(8) . This present year (1834), the river having risen with unusual rapidity, the dam was cut on the 5th of August. Fears were entertained lest it should overflow the dam before it was cut: which would have been regarded as an evil omen.

(9) . The words thus translated, the boys pronounce “Ófa‐llèh,” for “Owfa‐lláh.”

(10) . This is an old building between the aqueduct and Maṣr el‐’Ateeḳah, where the Sulṭáns and Governors of Egypt used to alight, and inspect the state of the river, previously to the cutting of the dam of the canal.

(11) . The person before whose house the announcement is made.

(12) . In Paradise.

(13) . A Fountain of Paradise.

(14) . “’Aḳab” is the collective name of the largest kind of the boats which navigate the Nile: and “'aḳabeh” (plural “'aḳabát”), the name of a single boat of this kind.

(15) . “Et‐turabeeyeh.”

(16) . “Ḥogget‐el‐baḥr.”

(17) . I have mentioned on a former occasion that the bed of the lake of the Ezbekeeyeh has been filled up since my second visit to Egypt.

(18) . Doubting whether the Nile will rise sufficiently high.

(19) . That is, in comparing the height of the river at a particular period in the present year with its height at the same period in preceding years.

(20) . O thou who hast said to me, “Why dost thou not bring better news?”

(21) . Cucumis dudaim.

(22) . Mentha Kahirina.

(23) . The Sheykh of the Miḳyás, or Nilometer.

(24) . A gold coin, now become scaree. Its value, I am informed, is about a third of a pound sterling, or somewhat less.