The Odyssey of Ibn Battuta: Uncommon Tales of a Medieval Adventurer

By David Waines

Ibn Battuta used to be, surely, one of many world’s actually nice tourists. Born in fourteenth-century Morocco, and a modern of Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta left an account in his personal phrases of his amazing trips, punctuated via experience and peril, in the course of the Islamic global and past. no matter if sojourning in Delhi and the Maldives, wandering throughout the mazy streets of Cairo and Damascus, or contesting with pirates and shipwreck, the indefatigable Ibn Battuta dropped at brilliant lifestyles a medieval international brimming with wonder and secret. rigorously looking at the nice range of civilizations that he encountered, Ibn Battuta exhibited an omnivorous curiosity in such concerns as foods and drinks; non secular alterations between Christians, Hindus, and Shia Muslims; and concepts approximately purity and impurity, sickness, ladies, and sex.

David Waines bargains the following a sleek research of Ibn Battuta’s travelogue. this can be a gripping remedy of the existence and occasions of 1 of history’s such a lot bold, and while so much human, adventurers.

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The meal used to be preceded by means of cups of sweet water and accomplished with mugs of barley water. the ultimate symbolic contact was once the presentation to every visitor of ‘a spoonful of powdered areca with fifteen leaves of betel tied in a number with a crimson silk thread ’. the general public meal seems, notwithstanding, heavily patterned on a wide repast which the sultan had prepared every one night for a major spiritual dignitary from Tirmidh and his relatives as they have been traveling, like Ibn 104 The Odyssey of Ibn Battuta Battuta, the lengthy highway from Multan to Delhi.

Even then, the Hindu veneration of the cow and the Muslim taboo opposed to red meat have been spiritual limitations regarding ideas of impurity and infection, which neither culture may perhaps problem. Ibn Battuta chanced on, too, that he needed to clarify Indian meals customs to his readers of Arabic in phrases that may make the unusual commonplace to them. This concerned one other linguistic layer, Persian, which had turn into a lingua franca between Muslims in India. the 1st connection with foodstuffs concerning the big city of Siwasitan the place melons have been grown through the part of the Indus.

Officialdom at the circulation required the pomp of musical accompaniment. 4 different craft on each side of the ahawara bore instrumentalists, who played on drums, trumpets, bugles and reed pipes, including singers. After 5 days in Lahari and generously supplied by way of the governor with shuttle must haves, Ibn Battuta trigger back in the direction of Multan. one other river crossing by way of boat lay at the method and, to Ibn Battuta’s misery, the possibility of getting his luggage heavily searched. thankfully a consultant of the Multan governor was once available who gave orders to spare the visitor from Tangier this indignity.

In any occasion, as one Sufi grasp as soon as famously remarked of the initiation cloak, taking part in upon the same sound of 2 Arabic phrases, ‘It is the internal flame (harka) which makes the Sufi, now not the non secular gown (khirqa). ’ 118 The Odyssey of Ibn Battuta The Shadhiliyya order In Alexandria, Ibn Battuta met a disciple of one other well-known saint and pal of God (wali allah), Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhili (d. 1258). He used to be born in northern Morocco close to Ibn Battuta’s personal local urban of Tangier within the final years of the 12th century.

They arrived in Sijilmasa the place they rested for 2 weeks after which trigger back on the finish of December. Ibn Battuta’s final touch upon his travels used to be to explain their crossing a defile within the Atlas Mountains south of Fez: ‘It used to be a time of excessive chilly and loads of snow had settled at the highway. i've got obvious tough roads and lots more and plenty snow in Bukhara, Samarqand, Khurasan and the rustic of the Turks, yet I by no means observed another tough than this. ’ right here ends Ibn Battuta’s ‘Gift to people who think about the wonders of towns and the marvels of travelling’, accomplished, he states, at the third of Dhu-l Hijja of the 12 months 756ah, that's, thirteen December 1355ce.

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