DESCRIPTION OF THE CITY OF SINNAR
One should know that in all Africa, as far as the Moorish lands are concerned,
Sinnar is close to being the greatest trading city. Caravans are continually arriving from
Cairo, Dongola, Nubia, from across the Red Sea, from India, Ethiopia, [Dar] Fur,
Borno, the Fezzan, and other kingdoms. This is a free city, and men of any nationality or faith may live in it without a single hindrance.
After Cairo, it is one of the most populous cities. Every day a public market is
held in the square in the best possible order, with various merchants and wares that are to
be sold. In one place there are trade goods, in another elephant's teeth, in others are camels, horses, donkeys, wood,
onions, dates, wheat and dhurra from which they bake bread and with which they also
feed cattle. Here are straw, cane for the camels, meat, chickens, wood and
similar things, each being bought and sold in its special place.
Furthermore, every day at the public market human beings who are slaves--men and
women of every age--are sold like cattle. Every day two or three hundred of
them are led out onto the square. Turkish merchants, with the permission of their law,
make them serve their wantonness, and then sell them to other lands such as
Egypt and India; great are their ill-gotten gains! Those under twelve years
of age are as naked as God sent them into the world; the older ones have an
old rag about the body to cover their private parts. When they are sold people
say to the responsible party, "bring me those slaves." Then the purchaser, without
shyness or shame, looks them over like cattle, at their mouths and teeth, and
the whole body. If one pleases him, he lays out the value, for in this land it is not the
custom that one offers one's wares [at a set price] but rather that the
purchaser must say how much he wants to give for them. If the seller is not
satisfied with that price, and thinks it too small, he says "iftah Allah," that is [in Arabic]
"[May God] open (your hand to give more)." This goes on until the seller is
satisfied, or until another purchaser offers more. The ordinary price
of a male fifteen-year-old slave is thirty florins, or if he is well-formed, [p. 286]
forty. A female slave of this age, if she is of clear complexion, is sold
for fifty or sixty. At times, especially in the case of Ethiopian girls, they are sold
for eighty. In Egypt such a boy will be sold for sixty, eighty or even one hundred guilders,
and a girl, if she is pretty, goes for about one hundred, depending on the quality of her beauty.
When a king in Sinnar dies they choose another, and they do it in the following manner.
All the shaykhs and the other highest noblemen of the kingdom assemble; they elect
one of the royal princes, born to either a legitimate wife or a concubine,
and name him king. All the other [princes], who are still confined in the
palace, they then kill with lances. Should one escape, the newly-elected
king, as his blood brother, is then himself obligated to pursue him and put
him to death. This is done so that there will be no rebellion against the
king among the many princes, nor any division of the realm; the peace of the
kingdom is preserved. Under these circumstances it is better to be the
son of a slave than of the king! In regard to the princesses they have another
custom, and in their case a much happier one than with the men.
They suffer no misfortune, but are honorably married off. According to the
custom of the land, the king cannot have carnal knowledge of either a concubine
or a queen after she has borne him a prince, so that the latter might,
as the firstborn, achieve the royal choice. Such a queen or concubine is
then dismissed from the palace and given an honorable maintenance either
in the city or at another place in the kingdom. The prince, however, she must leave in the palace.
On the seventh [of May 1701] a great solemnity was held on account of the arrival
of the shaykh of Qarri. He had under him the whole kingdom of Nubia up to the Red Sea,
and was bringing the king many hundreds of slaves, horses, camels and a large
sum of money as his tribute to Sinnar.
The ceremony was as follows.
The king rode out of the city to meet him accompanied by his court,
numbering about one hundred, partly shaykhs, partly soldiers on horseback,
along with several hundred slaves on foot and armed with lances.
As they approached each other the shaykh of Qarri dismounted and kissed the king's
foot, upon which the king ordered him to remount.
They then rode together into the city, to the great [p. 287] square
(bigger than the square in Munich).
In front of the king went three hundred slave girls who served him and his concubines.
They had covered their hips with a silk scarf but all the rest was bare.
They wore silver bands on their arms, and their hair was decorated with very many silver coins,
and also some Venetian sequins, all of which rustled.
From their ears hung silver or golden rings, and around their necks were [beads of]
Venetian glass, agate or coral.
In their hands they carried baskets embroidered with very small rings of Venetian
glass, such as those from which nuns often make purses.
The baskets came to a peak about four spans high, where they were equipped
with an earthen vessel not unlike a chafing dish, from which from time to time
precious incense gave forth the most lovely fragrance.
They filled all the streets of the city with song and shouts of joy
(as the peasant lads are accustomed to doing at home), and so did all the other
women along the king's line of march.
It was a dreadful hullabaloo.
As soon as they came into the square the king placed himself on the right-hand
side with his court, while the shaykh of Qarri was on the left.
The slaves, who were barefoot and carried lances and shields, divided
themselves into two parties and marched toward each other with dreadful cries
as if they were going to fight.
Their postures were made in such a way that they shook their lances at each
other, then crouched down on the ground, then hid under their shields,
and finally stood up again with a great cry.
It was a pleasure to observe, but not to describe.
Two hundred were armed with muskets (for the king has no more), and these were now discharged one after another.
One [musketeer], the bravest, fired his piece on horseback at full gallop; everyone was astounded by his bravery,
but I laughed right from the heart at such naivete.
After the completion of this comedy, which had consumed considerable time,
the cavalry began their exercises. Some rode their dromedaries up and
down the square with such speed that it amazed the spectators. After these
dromedaries they raced pairs of horses, very beautiful, but not well built.
They guided them more with a stick for beating the head than with the reins.
They carried either lances or [p. 288] unsheathed sabres in their hands;
these were handed to them at full gallop by their slaves, after they had
cast away their sticks or whips. Each rider from first to last did this.
The king himself with his soldiers rode against the shaykh of Qarri as if
they wanted to fight each other, but all was in disorder.
Someone asked me if we also had such brave soldiers and horses in our land.
To this I replied that fifty of our soldiers on horseback could indeed put
to flight the king and his people, the shaykh of Qarri and his guard,
and in fact the whole court, and do them in. This did not please the barbarian at all,
nor did he believe a word of it, so I made no further comments.
Finally the comedy came to an end with a blast from a small field-piece,
the whole strength of this oh-so-mighty king.
On the eighth [of May 1701] we put in order the items necessary for our further journey.
Namely, the Father Prefect, I myself, Father Joseph and Father Carlo were
to go to Ethiopia before the outbreak of the great rains.
Father Pasquale was to remain here with Father Benedetto.
We exchanged the silver money which we had with us, consisting of Spanish
pieces of eight, for here the most acceptable currency is of gold.
In all Turkey no silver coin passes anymore except the Spanish piece of
eight, and of gold coins the Venetian sequin.
In Cairo, on the other hand, and in all Egypt, the Imperial Thaler,
guilders and ducats are also accepted.
In Egypt is found also another coin, which is smaller than the Thaler
and is called Abu Kalb.
It is stamped with a dog, which gives it that name (for in Arabic
kalb means "dog" and abu, "father"),
and this term thus means "father of a dog."
This coin is worth about twenty Kreutzer less than the piece of eight.
In the whole kingdom of Nubia no money, or very little, is to be found
except among the merchants who trade with Cairo.
These days they are beginning to accept the piece of eight.
In the Funj kingdom also the piece of eight is the best coin,
but they must be large and wide.
They do not mind if [the coins] are under weight,
as long as they are large;
in Egypt, however, the contrary is true.
This kingdom also has a silver coin, somewhat larger than our Kreutzer
and smaller than the Egyptian medine.
It is made of the best silver, and according to their size forty-five,
fifty or fifty-five of them are equivalent to a piece of eight or a specie
However, in buying or selling a piece of eight [p. 289] passes for sixty of
the silver coins.
In addition to this they have also another coin of iron formed into
this shape: T.
According to their size twelve, sixteen or twenty of them are worth a small
silver coin. Whoever so desires may make these iron coins, and one
may make them large or small, thick or thin, narrow or wide, long or short.
There was a Greek man by the name of Schechin who came to Sinnar with us.
He was a swordsmith by trade, but as he could find no work he turned to
this iron money, and made a good living by making two small coins out of
each large one.
In [the city of] Sinnar and this kingdom no minted gold coin is current.
The best Arabian gold is found, but it is sold in ounces.
These ounces, which weigh four Spanish doubloons, are equivalent to,
or cost, nine or ten pieces of eight.
In addition to the above, there is another sort of coinage in the Funj kingdom,
and no less in the kingdom of Nubia, and indeed in all of Africa among the Moors.
This consists of a piece of cotton cloth twenty-four arms long and two spans wide.
The Arabs, in their language, call this tob dammur.
Both male and female garments are made of this cloth;
first they fold the length double, then wrap the doubled strip twice
about the hips and tuck in the end at the side.
This covers the lower part of the body.
In Ethiopia they have another coin, namely gold, which is somewhat
cheaper than in Sinnar.
The tob dammur and civet are very cheap, for one can buy six
ounces of civet for one ounce of gold.
Fifty rectangular blocks of rock salt, each a span long and three
fingers wide on all four sides, are worth an ounce of gold.
People also make smaller blocks of which one hundred,
one hundred fifty or two hundred are worth an ounce of [p. 290] gold.
This salt is used for cooking and for all other purposes.
On the eleventh [of May 1701] we--namely our Father Prefect, Father Benedetto
da Tripalda, Father Joseph of Jerusalem, Father Carlo da Cilento and I--went
to the Jesuits and told them that we wanted to ride on with apostolic
letters which Your Holiness [the Pope] was sending to the Ethiopian emperor.
The Father Prefect asked them to be patient until he had fulfilled his
commission, and had seen how he should be received and treated.
Then he would immediately summon [the Jesuits] so that we could work together
"in the vinyard of the Lord" as the Congregation de Propaganda Fide
In case our mission went badly (for we were publically going to Ethiopia as priests
to convert the unbelievers) and we were thrown out of the country or even killed,
they could then continue their journey as missionaries sent by the king of France.
To this they replied that they were under orders from the king of France to
pursue their journey, and therefore could not wait.
They would, however, notify us when they traveled on.
On the fifteenth [of May 1701] there came a mursal (that is, a
courier) from Ethiopia with a letter to the king [of Sinnar] in which
were discussed the articles of peace between the Ethiopian emperor and
the king of Sinnar.
Among them was that the king of Sinnar should send his physician
Father Pasquale to Ethiopia, for he wanted to have him for his personal
physician. Father Pasquale was considered a pious and experienced
physician in these lands--as indeed he was, having effected fine cures,
though more through the support of God than correct knowledge of
The Ethiopian emperor also wrote a letter to Father Pasquale himself,
in which he very politely invited him and Father Benedetto to come
to him. The king [of Sinnar], however, did not want to discharge
Father Pasquale until he found another physician to take his place,
nor could Father Benedetto due to his great weakness ride to Ethiopia.
Our Father Prefect was therefore compelled to assign one of us to Father Pasquale's place in Sinnar.
This place is the most excellent and the biggest base for any mission
in these lands.
Caravans come here from all over Africa, and we had to set up the
warehouse for all our supplies and procure the things necessary for
Further, from here one can correspond successfully with all places with which
[p. 291] our missionaries might wish to, and if it were necessary one could summon
priests from Egypt.
With the help of the king they could be supplied with all necessities.
Sinnar is no more than fifty or sixty German miles from the
imperial capital city of Ethiopia, known as Gondar or Cathema.
The Father Prefect deliberated long whether he should leave here and entrust
the cure of the half-dead brother Benedetto to another.
Finally the lot fell on me.
The Father Prefect came to me, explained his motives, and asked me to
stay here, since I had practiced medicine for two years at the Sanctus Spiritus [hospital]
in Rome and was well supplied with medications.
Also he did not want to lose this favorable base and the good will of the
king, and of course I should tend to the cure of Father Benedetto.
He said that it was hard for him to separate us; he was a man worn out
from a lifetime of study and hard travel, and should he become sick
he had been placing his whole trust on God, and on me and my medicines.
I then expressed my obedient spirit with the following words, "O Reverend
Father, sum filius obedientiae, 'I am a child of obedience,' under whose
sweet yoke I want to live and die, whether here, in Ethiopia, or another
place. Leave me my medicines and other articles."
(They had already been packed, and had to be taken out of the trunks.)
How my staying here pained Father Joseph, Father Carlo and Father Pasquale,
and especially the two Jesuit Fathers, I do not want to report.
On the twenty-fifth [of May 1701] the two Jesuit Fathers came to us and
took leave as tomorrow they will ride off for Ethiopia.
They asked us if we would not like to come along.
We wished them good luck and the blessings of God,
but said that we wanted to wait for the Ethiopian mursal, until he
On the twenty-sixth [of May 1701], the feast of Corpus Christi, the two Jesuits
took communion with us as our Father Prefect read the Mass.
Then they [departed], guided and accompanied by several of the king's
soldiers as a safe conduct as far as Turkin.
Turkin is forty German miles from Sinnar.
On the second of June  I was introduced to the king and the whole court
in public audience by Father Pasquale as the king's physician.
The king sat in the [p. 292] inner court of the palace under the shades
upon a table made of cane and covered with a beautiful carpet.
Around him stood thirty-six shaykhs and on either side one
hundred fifty soldiers with lances.
I went with Father Pasquale to the middle, next to the king,
and Father Pasquale introduced me as a good doctor with many words of praise.
The king was very contented with this and
in our presence at once gave the order to
treat me with respect.
He named Shaykh Isma`il as my particular lord protector and offered me
the same dwelling as Father Pasquale, but I thanked him saying that I wished
to live in the palace of Shaykh Diyab, whose daughter was one of the king's wives.
He then gave me as a confirmation of my office a bag filled with honey--a
roughly tanned sheepskin--and a large jarra [Zschära]
(a certain large earthen jar) in which was a hundredweight of fat.
On the sixth [of June 1701] the Father Prefect with Father Joseph and Father
Carlo left here.
They took with them only the necessary items, entrusting the remainder
to my care.
They crossed the river Nile, which flows next to the city, with the camels
and baggage; [there] they awaited the mursal, who promised to come to them
Father Pasquale and Father Benedetto stayed in the city with us until the
departure of the mursal, who hopes to set off on his expedition
tomorrow, God willing.
But the thing was postponed, I do not know for what reason, until
on the twenty-first [of June 1701] the mursal with Father Pasquale
crossed the river to our Father Prefect and his companions, after which
on the twenty-second [of June 1701] they set off on their journey to Ethiopia.
Although it was only a distance of twelve or fifteen short daily rides
they did not reach the imperial residence and capital of Gondar or Cathema
until the ninth day of August, all of which will be discussed more fully
in another place.
On the twenty-eighth [of June 1701] the shaykh of Qarri sent a mursal
with a letter to the king in which he asked that the king send the royal
physician to Qarri, as he was not well.
Qarri is about one hundred German miles from Sinnar.
On the thirtieth [of June 1701] the viceroy Shaykh `Ali sent for me
and I appeared without delay.
He told me that the shaykh of Qarri had requested me to cure him.
To this I replied [p. 293] that I myself was not well and could
not easily commit myself to such a hard journey.
I had bad diarrhea such as afflicts all foreigners in Sinnar;
it is the most common plague that puts foreigners in
this land under the sod.
On the third of July  the king sent Shaykh Isma`il to me
as my protector telling me that I should go to Qarri.
He assured me that with the change of air I should quickly recover
For many reasons I finally had to obey, with many forebodings
that things would not turn out well.
I took counsel with Father Benedetto da Tripalda, who was much better.
He advised me that I should go to Qarri since in these
lands where the king is a gruesome tyrant it is best
not to oppose his will.
On the fifth [of July 1701] the king summoned me to an audience and
asked me to go to Qarri.
He would give me a mursal and supply me with a horse and camel.
On the eighth [of July 1701] at two o'clock in the afternoon I left here
with the son of the viceroy,
who was given to me as my mursal (that is, messenger) to Qarri,
along with ten other persons on dromedaries and well equipped with
lances and shields.
The king gave me a good dromedary and his own mule so that I could
alternately ride one or the other.
After we had been riding for three hours we came to a village
which supplied us with all necessities and put us up.
This happened wherever the king's mursal went;
someone would bring us a sheep for slaughter and cooking--the
liver and intestines being eaten raw, however.
Because it was Friday I had to fast.
On the ninth [of July 1701] we rode off very early
and marched until noon at a sturdy camel trot
which caused me great bodily pain.
At noon I again had nothing to eat except a kisra.
This is their bread, baked on a platter,
half burned on the outside and raw dough within.
I also had a little milk to end my noon meal.
We stayed for two or three hours in this place,
then rode on as already described into the night.
On the tenth [of July 1701] we rode off very early.
After we had done three hours we had breakfast on the bank of the river Nile--the
leftover meat from yesterday.
After this we set off [p. 294] again and at noontime came to a village where
I requested a chicken of the mursal.
This was quickly brought to me, but the shaykh's servants ate it,
thinking to do their Prophet a favor.
I enjoyed nothing except two hardboiled eggs.
This fasting along with the continual hard riding, great heat of the sun
and the continual diarrhea from which I suffered
exhausted me dreadfully.
At about three in the afternoon we set off again and at
sundown reached another village inhabited exclusively by fuqara' or saints.
Not only did I get nothing to eat but I had to sleep on the bare ground under the
open sky in the midst of a thunderstorm that broke out into a downpour
over me in the night.
This so exhausted me that not only did my diarrhea get worse but I was
stricken with a fiery fever.
On the eleventh [of July 1701] we set off very early from there
with my stomach empty.
The shaykh and his people always carried with them a cold pigeon
and ate whenever they pleased on their camels.
At noon we stayed with the Arabs under their tents to escape the
greatest unbearable heat.
People brought us some of their wayka [Vekha] which
is a pap of water and meal cooked without salt or fat.
They also brought us a certain vegetable [wayka] that was soaked in water
and then drained which could be pulled out an ell long like glue.
The very sight of the stuff made me sick, but they ate it
with great appetite with their hands while sitting on the ground.
For me it was quite impossible as it was very hard to digest--pure
pap--and for lunch I had them boil me a couple eggs.
At about one o'clock we set off on the journey again, leaving
the Arabs, and within three hours entered the town of Arbaji.
There a heavy fever struck me during the night, brought on by the great
tortures we had endured.
I took the panacaea-solaris pills that Herr Johann Baptista Divora
had given my father in Munich for the journey.
The shaykh of Arbaji was very sorry for me and sent me a chicken cooked
in rice, but I could eat no more than a few spoonfuls.
On the twelfth [of July 1701] my illness and fever grew worse.
I used a sweating-medicine: bezoar, orientalium spiritum, salis armoni,
elexier vitae and proprietatis paracelsi and the like.
I also made [p. 295] myself a little salnitri mixed with barley water which I
drank until I was full.
There was no way to escape the heat and so we were forced to remain here.
I had to write a letter to Father Benedetto da Tripalda whom I had left behind
in Sinnar asking for him to come care for me physically and spiritually
as I had for him, until God should order my affairs otherwise.
The shaykh [the mursal] took it saying that he would quickly send it through one of
his slaves. This he said only to pacify me; nothing was further from his mind
than to act upon his promise.
On the thirteenth [of July 1701] the heat and fever took a firm grip on me,
making me so tired that I could not stand on my feet.
I had a Barbarin, who was a Turk, and born in the kingdom of Nubia.
He spoke good Italian, having been for six years in the service of the
French consul in Cairo.
He had led four loaded camels to deliver them to Dongola.
But because one must cross the river here and pay a large tribute my mursal
had sent three slaves with him to the river with orders
that he should be passed free as a
servant of the king's physician.
The toll officers refused him a boat and even confronted the slaves with whips.
There was an encounter and three of the officers were brought to the
mursal under arrest.
He had them bound hand and foot like dogs and after half an hour the
one who had lashed out at his slaves had his back tickled by ten men
with kurbashes. They beat him like a beast until he sank to the ground.
Each stripe on his skin made a mark a finger wide, for they are naked
on the upper and lower body.
Since he had tried to escape during the beating the mursal
had slashed him across the shoulder with his sword and would have
split his head had he not been restrained by others.
He wanted to beat the other two like the first,
but I could not stand for such tyranny and got him to set them free.
Nevertheless they had to pay him eighty guilders as their penalty.
In these lands whole cities and villages quiver before these royal
mursals for they are obligated to provide him and his
servants with camels, horses and whatever else
they need or desire.
On the fourteenth and fifteenth [of July 1701] my fever continued,
but I used [p. 296] the above-mentioned medicines.
On the sixteenth [of July 1701] I had a rather good day and asked the
mursal if he had sent my letter to Sinnar, summoning Father Benedetto.
He replied that the letter was still here, upon which I resolved to return
to Sinnar. But my wishes came to nothing, since we left Arbaji at
noontime; when we left the town the mursal took the road toward Qarri.
I turned my mule toward Sinnar saying that I wanted to go back.
The servants were ordered to lead the beast to the river by force, and I
was so weak that I fell from the animal to the ground.
I began to complain to the mursal saying that I would take a case
against him before the king since he was not obeying his orders.
He should know that the king of Sinnar had left me free choice, and merely
requested me to go to Qarri.
"You, however," I said to the mursal in the presence of a great
number of people (for in these Moorish lands one addresses everyone,
even king and emperor, in the second person), "want to forcibly coerce me,
a deathly sick man, and drag me along at danger to my life."
I added that the king cared more about the health of his physician than
that of the shaykh of Qarri, etc.
The mursal was very ashamed at this and angrily ordered me,
a "dog of an unbeliever," back onto my mule.
(He was expecting a big present from the shaykh of Qarri.)
Four Moors seized me hand and foot and threw me into the saddle with
Then they held a drawn sword over me and demanded that I accept
the Muhammadan sect.
If not they would murder me as a dog of an unbeliever and a self-proclaimed
enemy of their law.
When I perceived that they wanted to torment me because of the one faith
that brings redemption my suffering at once turned into great joy..
For this reason at least I could endure somethin if the hour
was at hand when I could receive a redeeming blow of the sword and strengthen
with my blood the truth of the saving faith.
Unafraid and laughing I said right to the face of the mursal
in the presence of a great number of Moors who wanted to see what was
going on between the mursal and the king's physician,
"O you blind people! Do you not see that you have a false faith, and that
you and your false Prophet and betrayer of the people [p. 297] are all
going straight to the abyss of Hell?"
(If anyone says that in Egypt or Turkey he must either become a Turk
or be burned alive.) "I will not stop preaching Jesus Christ!"
Meanwhile they were pushing me and beating me dreadfully with kurbashes so that
even the spectators were sorry for me, a deathly sick man.
One of them [a servant of the mursal] wanted to deliver the blow
with the sword but the others prevented him.
They said that I was the king's physician and if they did this they would
be in the bad graces of the king and possibly even in danger of losing
So they continued to whip me unmercifully;
then they bound me hand and foot and carried me to the river,
which we had to cross.
From here on I said no word but was very happy to suffer this little bit
for the love of Christ.
As soon as we were across the river they freed me and we continued on
We had scarcely been riding for a quarter of an hour when the servants of the
mursal took a fine camel away from some Arabs.
Since the women ran after us for some distance, crying and begging for
the camel, it was finally restored to them.
No man among them let himself be seen by the mursal, nor out of fear
would they say anything even if [the mursal] took more than one camel.
If they did they would be beaten like dumb animals, tied up and carried off.
We rode half an hour more and stayed in a village next to the river Nile.
There I was brought a young chicken at the order of the mursal.
I boiled it well, but ate more of the broth than of the meat.
This night also I took the panacea pills but could not close an eye,
partly from weakness and partly from the pain of the blows I had received.
Toward evening the mursal visited me and spoke kindly to me.
On the seventeenth [of July 1701] we set off very early and rode on for
six hours at a strong camel trot. Never in my life had I been weaker or
more exhausted than now. I expected to fall from the mule at any moment,
and had no hope for my recovery.
That would have made the mursal and his servants very happy.
We stopped at a large village, and since the inhabitants would not give us
even a sheep the mursal had three of the most distinguished men of this
village [p. 298] bound hand and foot and beaten mercilessly.
Then they were brought along with us; we rode so hard that they had to be
lashed to the camels and were again dreadfully beaten.
At about sundown we met an Arab.
The mursal demanded that he show us the way.
To this the Arab replied that we need only ride right ahead as we were
already on the right path; we did not need for him to accompany us.
At this answer the mursal had him ferociously beaten by six of his slaves,
so badly that blood poured down over his head and face.
They tied him up as they had the other three and brought him along.
I had to keep up with the camel trot on my mule, and rode continually
at a gallop.
An hour and a half into the night we came to a village of Arabs who
showed us great honor.
Their houses were made of straw mats hung on branches.
They lived in these dwellings in the forests so that their cattle
and camels could graze.
On the eighteenth [of July 1701] we arrived very early at Peschakhre.
The shaykh of this village showed us great politeness and so we
stayed the whole day with him--especially since out of weakness
I could ride no more.
On the nineteenth [of July 1701] we set off at daybreak and rode continually
for eight hours at a camel trot.
This [pace] covers one or two German miles every hour and caused me
Then we came to a large village where we spent the night.
My pain and weakness continually increased; because no one brought me
anything to eat I complained to the mursal.
He at once had a chicken brought to me to cook; I ate half of it
this evening and the other half I saved.
On the twentieth [of July 1701] we rode as we did yesterday,
again staying in a large village where we were well treated.
On the twenty-first [of July 1701] we set off very early
and at about noon came to a large village that belonged
to the shaykh of Qarri.
People put us up well there too.
We stayed here for three hours then rode on for five hours more.
Two hours after sundown we came to some Arabs
who at once dispatched a messenger to make known our arrival to
the shaykh of Qarri.
On the twenty-second [of July 1701] we got off with the sun and came to Qarri at about nine o'clock.
The shaykh sent a man [p. 299] who was to compliment us on our visit and
lead us into the town.
The mursal and his servants were well dressed with silk sashes around
And so we rode in good order into the town.
Wherever we went we were greeted by women with their customary cries
of "yu! yu!"
When we came to the shaykh's palace we dismounted and went on foot
to an audience.
In front of the palace stood four Moors blowing long, crooked horns--this
was all the court music.
Then we entered the palace through two buttressed arches and met
the shaykh sitting on his throne.
This was of earth raised about four spans above the ground and about
twenty feet long and sixteen wide.
The throne was covered with a straw mat of beautiful colors.
Around him sat forty Moors with beautiful silk sashes around their waists.
The shaykh's clothing consisted of a half-silk blue and red shirt which
reached to his feet and had no sleeves.
Around his waist was an expensive white and blue silk sash,
and his head was covered with a little silk cap of many colors and artistically
embroidered with silver and gold.
In addition to the Moors there stood nearby about forty slaves armed
We went up to the throne, paid our compliments, and then the mursal
handed over to the shaykh the letter which the king of Sinnar had written to him.
He accepted this with great reverence, touching it to his forehead.
Then he brought it down and handed it to his secretary to read publically.
The content was simply that he had sent [the shaykh] his own physician--me--in
order to cure him.
After the reading of the letter [the shaykh] and all those present
threw themselves to their knees and kissed the ground
repeatedly, with their foreheads touching the earth.
Everyone except me did this.
When the ceremony was completed, coffee was brought for me and for
the mursal, and while we were drinking it the shaykh ordered
me to be taken to the house of `Ali Da'ud, who had a beautiful home.
Later that was done, and I was given a large part of his house.
No sooner had I moved in than the shaykh sent me a big jar of butter,
[p. 300] a crudely tanned sheepskin full of honey and several Munich
bushels of wheat, along with a live sheep and one of his slaves to
serve and wait upon me.
On the twenty-third [of July 1701] I was summoned very early to the shaykh
who told me his desire and complained of his illness.
This consisted of retention of the urine;
he could pass water only with great pain.
I had already received report of this in Sinnar.
On the twenty-fourth [of July 1701] I began the cure, and directed
him to take the panacea pills every day for three days.
On the twenty-seventh [of July 1701] I gave him a purgier electuarium
episcop to cleanse the kidneys. It had a good effect.
On the twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, thirtieth and thirty-first [of July 1701]
it seemed appropriate to have him take termentin, potabilem spiritum
termentinae squinantem, and lapidum judaicum, all of which I
had ready-mixed with me.
It had a distinct effect on him; he soon found himself much better and showed
me much honor.
During this time I also gave medicine to many others, so successfully that
I earned for myself a great reputation among them, as if I had been a
During this time and afterwards while I was here I frequently witnessed
the most gruesome tyranny, which is customary in these lands.
Every morning and afternoon the shaykh held public court,
in which both the plaintiff and the defendant chose advocates from
among those present.
The spokesman for the plaintiff would tell what was charged against
the defendant, and then the representative of the defendant
would refute the charges and justify him.
When the two advocates had stated their cases those present joined in,
pro and con, after which the shaykh would pronounce sentence,
which is without appeal.
Because they are poor slaves such delinquents are usually
punished with stripes.
Every day I saw one, two or more dreadfully beaten with thin sticks
which were kept in readiness.
Scarcely would the shaykh pronounce the word udrubu, "beat him,"
than in the twinkling of an eye everyone would seize the little sticks.
Sometimes the other offenders themselves were given kurbashes.
Then they would beat the guilty party on the bare skin, [including]
his head, hands and feet, until he fell to earth completely
wounded, or until the shaykh gave the sign to desist with
the word yakfi, "it is enough."
I will let each one calculate for himself how I felt about being in this
kingdom alone and without a companion.
On the first of August  the shaykh clothed beautifully one of his
slaves who had been very faithful to him and made him shaykh over a certain
village. He summoned the slave and in the midst of the great throng
gave a speech in praise of him because of his faithful service.
He concluded with words to the effect that he would always reward
service such as his, but would punish those who did wrong.
He then had him clothed by his secretary in a very beautiful silk
embroidered shirt such as they wear, and he girded him in a silk sash.
He then put a sword into his hand, which is a sign of authority.
After this the slave at once threw himself to the earth on his knees
and touched the ground about thirty times with his forehead.
With the sword in his hand he made about a hundred crooked leaps
and clownish bends.
Finally he called to those present to rise, for they were all sitting
on the ground crosslegged in Turkish fashion.
The secretary and I however remained sitting next to the shaykh
on a platform raised about two spans above the ground.
Then he gave a speech in praise of the shaykh during the duration of which
those standing around were asked if it were not true that the shaykh
was the most powerful, most just and richest along with a hundred other titles
of honor of the same sort which he gave him.
It was a very long speech, and to each inquiry those standing responded
Then all wished him good fortune and proclaimed the praises of the shaykh.
In the evening all the subjects who live in the town (and this must take
place daily) were gathered together and conducted to the shaykh by one who
bore a long staff in his hand and was the leader.
One after another they saluted the shaykh with the words
manjil (this was the title of honor that one gives these shaykhs
in Arabic [manjil is not Arabic, but Funj]),
ana `Ali that is, "I am," or "my name is," `Ali,
and so each one said his name.
Then they placed themselves on either side.
The shaykh repeated the name, `Ali, etc., for ana means "I" in Arabic.
During this ceremony the war-kettledrums are continually sounded.
I went to this function every day out of curiosity but did nothing
except lay my right hand on my breast and bow my head,
saying manjil, to which the shaykh replied hakim,
that is, "doctor."
Afterwards these two parties, with drawn swords or sticks in their hands,
go into remarkable postures; first they make them small, [p. 302]
They jump and hop here and there without saying a word as if they wanted to strike
at each other.
This lasts for a quarter or half an hour.
After that they are dismissed, and each one wends his way home.
On the third [of August 1701] I again asked the shaykh to send me back to Sinnar.
Because he was not inclined to send a few camels there,
he replied that he could not let me go at that time.
He must first give me a mursal (such as the king had done) along
with big presents to maintain his reputation and in recognition of my
exertion and labors.
I replied that I wanted nothing to do with presents, for it was enough
that he and his king had achieved their intent.
He told me further that a caravan from Cairo had arrived in Dongola
and that two Europeans or Franks were with it.
From this I concluded that it could be no other than our two missionaries
Father Antonio of Malta and Father Carlo Maria of Genoa.
He added that they would soon arrive here, and therefore I should have
patience. He wanted to have me conducted to Sinnar along with them,
and to this I consented.
On the fourth [of August 1701] I ate with the shaykh in the evening.
Our meal consisted of a wooden bowl full of kisra, which as
already reported they bake on a hot platter, over which a little
broth and a few pieces of meat had been poured.
The table and benches were the bare earth, and since we had no
silverware we ate without knife, fork or spoon with our hands.
This was the whole royal banquet.
In order to avoid similar events in the future I told the shaykh
how one of his subjects had dealt with me in a public place,
calling me a dog of an unbeliever, banner of the devil, an enemy of
the law, who was fit only to be chopped into a thousand pieces with
a sword. After listening to this charge the shaykh asked me if I
knew the man. He wanted to call all his subjects together in my
presence and have the offender run through with lances as an example
to the others.
I replied that I could no longer recognize the man,
and said that I had paid no attention but rather went on my way.
On the fifth [of August 1701] he wanted forcefully to know who this man was.
But as yesterday I replied that I could no longer recognize him.
He then issued an edict that each and every one [p. 303] should treat me
with the respect due a king's physician.
On the tenth [of August 1701] the shaykh received news that the caravan had
fortunately passed through the desert called Bayuda and arrived in Treira.
He immediately gave orders that it should not delay but come directly to Qarri.
On the fifteenth [of August 1701] the shaykh was told that the caravan was
approaching Qarri along the river.
He then quickly summoned me, saying that the caravan had arrived and with
it the Franks.
If I wanted to go to them I should let him make arrangements.
He then ordered his own brother to have prepared for me his personal horse
with silver trappings.
That is, [it had silver] reins, stirrups, and rolls hung on a wide band
around the neck--three beside each other, similar to what one often sees on a
sleigh harness in Germany.
He and five other shaykhs would accompany me as a mursal or emissary,
and so it came to pass.
At nine o'clock in the morning we rode off to the beat of war-kettledrums
and in an hour came to the river, which was very wide.
As soon as the jallabs saw us they began to beat kettledrums and
salute us with several volleys of musket fire.
A small boat made of a hollowed-out tree came to us at once and took us across the river.
We left the horses in the care of some slaves in a shady place.
As soon as we reached the landing I saw Antonio of Malta,
about whom I knew only that he was a European--nor did he know me any
Being in doubt of the correct identity I addressed him in Italian;
at this he at once recognized me and expressed astonishment.
He had expected sooner to find death here than me.
He then led me into his tent where I received Father Carlo Maria of Genoa
with greatest joy.
Then he made me a little Arab lunch of a drink of Nile water,
a few dates, and biscuit-bread.
Each one then complained to the others of his need, with tales of
the great tortures and trials we had endured.
But we could not long discuss these things with each other
for each had endured much the same.
My mursal at the order of his brother the shaykh gave the
deputies the order that Father Antonio and Father Carlo
(the former I had introduced as my brother and the second as my countryman)
should be brought across the river with their four camels and two donkeys
free, without paying the customary tribute, and before everyone else. [p. 304]
So we said farewell, crossed the river, and rode again into Qarri.
There I was received with the greatest courtesy by the shaykh, to whom
I said that one of them, Father Antonio, was my brother and that the other
traveled with him.
At that he wished me luck and was very happy.
Early on the sixteenth [of August 1701] Father Antonio sent his Barbarin
with a letter in which he told me that because he would not pay the
customary toll which all jallabs must pay--this according to the
will of the shaykh--people would not let him and his camels pass.
I went at once to the shaykh and told him about it.
He promptly sent a mursal with the Barbarin of Father Antonio ordering that he be
taken across without payment of the customary toll. So it came to pass.
On the seventeenth [of August 1701] at about noon he came to me in my
quarters by special grace and permission of the shaykh,
whereby he did not have to remain outside the city in the open field like the
I received him with great consolation and joy, prepared as good a meal as
I could, and refreshed him as well as possible.
Before sunset he and I went to salute the shaykh.
The shaykh spoke to Father Antonio with special pleasure as he was very
fluent in Arabic.
In Malta people speak corrupt Arabic, and he had already spent many
years in Egypt as a missionary.
On the eighteenth [of August 1701] the shaykh sent me triple rations of
meat, for he was maintaining us here at his own expense.
He did the same on the following days.
On the nineteenth [of August 1701] most of the jallabs came before
the shaykh to show him great respect,
and in the presence of Father Antonio and me.
The shaykh sat on a place raised about four spans above the ground
and twenty feet long by sixteen wide.
It was covered with a beautifully fashioned straw mat.
Father Antonio and I sat beside him, while about fifty slaves armed
with lances stood round about.
As the jallabs approached us they threw themselves to their knees,
and as a sign of submission touched the earth with their foreheads.
The shaykh in very friendly fashion told them to rise, greeted them
and received from each one of them a special present.
The presents consisted variously of a piece of soap, a sugar hat,
coffee, pepper or mahlib.
This latter is a brown fruit from India the size of an apple seed [p. 305]
that smells very good.
They commonly mix it with the fat of a camel or another animal into
an ointment. If the Moors did not continually salve their bodies, which are
exposed to the heat of the sun, with ointment such as this, the unbearable
heat of the sun would crack their skins.
[The presents consisted] also of spikenard root,
and other gallantries of the same sort as already discussed in another place.
The shaykh thanked them greatly for this and gave the whole caravan permission
to continue its march.
On the twenty-second [of August 1701] all the jallabs prepared to ride off
from here to Sinnar the next day.
Therefore we also sought permission from the shaykh, asking that he might
permit us to go with the caravan.
To this he would not give his consent, saying that he wanted to have us
conducted to Sinnar with his own mursal as befitted his reputation.
If he did otherwise he would be doing the king a dishonor.
However, I protested against such courtesies, for I knew better his wiles.
Father Antonio, however, much against my will consented to them.
On the twenty-sixth, twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth and twenty-ninth
[of August 1701] we held ourselves in readiness to depart daily.
We said that as the rainy season was setting in, my medicine
and other articles which I had left in Sinnar were in great danger of
For one should know that every year the houses for the most part fall
into heaps due to the heavy rain.
Since the people must live in these dirty and damp houses,
it causes the greatest and most dangerous illnesses.
But with no regard for whatever sort of motive we placed before him
[the shaykh] paid no attention and refused to let us go--though he
consoled us from day to day.
It could truthfully be said, "Pharoah's heart was hardened," since he
had no other thought than to get possession of all the medicines and
things that we had with us.
Every day he would ask us for this and that, and offer to pay us
three times its value.
He also began to deprive us of the customary provisions.
Here one should know that if a European, of whatever rank he may be,
wants to travel through such lands, they should not take much baggage with
They should go about badly and poor; otherwise they will be robbed of
most of their possessions.
Everyone wants first this, then that, and if you do not give it people
hate you so much that your life is in danger.
However, if one travels with little baggage, few trunks and camels, and
has his wealth in pieces of eight, [p. 306] one will never lack anything
and will always be happy on his travels.
Further, one should not get too friendly with the Moors and Turks.
In particular one should never do anyone any favors,
for if one does that he will be continually
taken advantage of; what one does
in the beginning out of good will will soon be expected as a matter
You should also see to it that no one gets the better of you.
On the first of September  four boils arose on my right hand due to
They caused me great pain, and my hand became inflamed so that before
long I was stricken with fever.
On the second [of September 1701] I purged myself with the pillulis tribus,
which had a good effect.
On the third, fourth and fifth [of September 1701] the fever remained strong;
the boils gradually followed their course, due to my strong doses of
On the seventh [of September 1701] I had a good day, and the fever abated
Father Antonio and I sought an audience with the shaykh.
We talked to him at some length and rather firmly.
He was very disgusted at this, and soon took back the slave he had assigned to cook
and attend to my necessities after my arrival.
On the tenth [of September 1701] I again went out and complained to the shaykh
in the following manner: since he left me lying like a dog, had taken
the slave away, and had not provided us with anything,
I therefore had absolutely no intention of staying here any longer.
I demanded to "turn the wagon" toward Sinnar.
But all was in vain: "Pharoah's heart was hardened," though he
let us hear his continual raven-croak of "soon, soon I will dismiss you."
On the eleventh [of September 1701] Father Carlo was stricken with a fiery fever.
On the twelfth [of September 1701] I purged him.
On the thirteenth [of September 1701] I bled him.
On the fifteenth [of September 1701] I was again stricken with a heavy fever,
so that poor Father Antonio had to attend to two patients.
He not only cooked but also took care of the camels and donkeys
(his two Barabra had gone on to Sinnar with the caravan) and brought
water from the river Nile, which was three quarters of an hour distant,
every morning and evening on his donkey in bags made from goat skin.
On the sixteenth and seventeenth [of September 1701] my fever increased,
with tightness of chest so that I expected to die at any moment.
I could not eat, but had such a thirst that I consumed two or three
measures of water every hour of the day and night, [p. 307] none
of it escaping from my body through urine or stools.
On the eighteenth [of September 1701] at about sunset Father Antonio
bled me from the vein of my right foot.
This was the first time that even a drop of blood left me through
cupping or the opening of a vein.
He let the blood flow out until I passed out;
I then had great diarrhea, which brought me some relief.
On the nineteenth [of September 1701] the great heat and fever continued.
My thirst increased and so did my great difficulty in breathing.
Father Carlo, however, found himself somewhat improved.
During this time various shaykhs and Moors came daily, even hourly,
to visit me.
In these lands nothing is more highly regarded than to visit the sick.
The Moors have the custom of never saying that anyone is ill as long as
body and soul hold together, even if one is drawing his last gasp.
They were continually saying, tayyib, that is, "may he be well,"
and they had great pity for me as they saw me lying there deathly ill,
miserable, weak and suffering.
On the twenty-second [of September 1701] I had a dangerous day, and so I
made a general confession and prepared myself as well as possible to die.
I resigned everything that I had for my own use, both here and in Sinnar,
by turning over the key with my will to Father Antonio in place of my
Thus I was rid of everything worldly, so that I could more easily
accept the eternal.
I then attempted as well as my weakness would allow to put my will
into writing, asking that Father Antonio turn it over to my Superior,
Father Francesco Maria da Salemi.
On the twenty-fourth [of September 1701] I found myself a bit better,
though not out of danger.
I had not the slightest hope for any earthly aid, but thought of what
was written to me in Rome from Munich by our Provincial Father
Fortunatis Hueber in his farewell letter.
[He had written] that I should seek refuge in the holy Archangel Michael
in all my distresses, dangers and illnesses,
for then I should always be comforted.
In fact that was what I did; next to God and the most blessed Virgin Mary,
Saint Joseph, Saint Joachim and Saint Anne, Saint Francis and
Saint Anthony (the special patron saints of our mission)
I took all my hopes and fears to the holy Archangel Michael
and sought refuge in him.
I made him this vow; that if he saved me through his special [p. 308]
intercession from this obviously mortal danger, I would
make a special remembrance to him every day of my life.
On the twenty-fifth, twenty-sixth and twenty-seventh [of September 1701]
I did not improve in the slightest.
I will let each one imagine what sort of tortures and travails the
good Father Antonio and Father Carlo were enduring.
The former waited on me by day and the latter by night, even though if they
had nothing other to do during the day than haul water it would have been enough.
It was hard to believe how much water I drank.
During this whole time I enjoyed nothing except a meat or chicken soup, in
which a little meal was sometimes cooked.
I could neither eat nor excrete, though I omitted no medicine that might
get my body into order.
[I used] a certain drink of senna leaves, which are abundant in these places,
as a laxative.
To keep me in a continual sweat there served me very well my black sweat-producing
powder, which I had prepared witha threefold dissolving in white rosewater of ex opio thebarico
(very expensive) which I had procured in Rome.
Likewise [I took] the spiritus salis amoniaci, elixir proprietatis paracelsis,
along with other [remedies] of the same sort, which I poured in drops into water.
What worked best for me was a diaphoretic powder that I prepared for myself
as follows: R. 'Bezoar occid. contrierva, corno de cervo, filos, mater aazi,
M.F. pul. fortilissi, a e fi dividino in xii parte equali lequali si danno
una la matina in pranzo nel acchiaro primo, & un altra la sera e questo per sei
giorni. Because I was both weak and could not sleep, I made myself a heart strengthening bolum,
and took confection hiacynthi drachma i laudani opiati grani 2,
after which I could sleep a little better. It was well said, "Physician, heal thyself!"
For several days I was too weak to move from my hard bed without help.
My sickbed was a roughly tanned sheepskin, the blanket my Nubian cloak,
the household utensils a large water jar that stood in front of me with
the drinking vessel half a hollow gourd, a wooden bowl,
along with a few medicines.
On the twenty-eighth [of September 1701] I again had a very bad day.
About two hours before sunset I fell into such a weakness that I thought I was slipping off this mortal coil.
I could hardly move, and lay already half dead on the spot.
Without any further request Father Carlo gave me extreme unction,
for they thought [p. 309] that I would die while they were salving me.
I prepared myself well for death, and asked for nothing more than to be
relieved of this mortal body and to be with Christ my creator.
I turned again to my patron the Archangel Michael, whose vigil was today,
and begged him not to leave me at my final end.
But what a miracle!
While I was occupied with these thoughts I fell into a soft sleep,
and after it was over I found myself somewhat better.
On the twenty-ninth [of September 1701] I again found myself somewhat better,
God be praised!
Toward evening my great fever abated, and I began to speak again--for
speech, along with any mental faculties, had escaped me.
Nevertheless not a soul who saw me dared hope for my recovery.
On the thirtieth [of September 1701] I was again laden with fever,
though not as badly as on previous days.
On the first of October  I again had a bad day, and was not
yet out of danger.
On the third and fourth [of October 1701] I again found myself somewhat better,
though my thirst increased from hour to hour.
I drank of the pure water of the Nile until I was satisfied, which
dampened some of the great heat.
From the outside I laid moist cloths over my heart and other highly fevered
members; in a short time they gave off much moisture and became
dry, as I was burning from inner heat.
On the fifth [of October 1701] I again had a bad day.
Toward evening the shaykh came under the pretext of wanting to see me.
[He really wanted] to visit our trunks and take out what he wanted.
He actually asked me for the key and wanted to open it.
At that I got excited and addressed him with sharp words,
In order to speak in their manner I said to the secretary,
"Do not you Moors and Turks have a law and custom of visiting the
sick, to extend a helping hand, and not to do the least contrary deed?"
To this he replied affirmatively.
"What would the shaykh do," [I continued], "if someone were charged
with such insolence to a deathly-sick man?"
To this he replied that the offender would be severely punished.
"Why then," I concluded, "is the shaykh so bold as to molest me,
a deathly ill man?"
At that the shaykh angrily said, "You dog of an unbeliever,
if you were not sick I would certainly pay you!"
He left blushing with shame and confusion.
On the sixth and seventh [of October 1701] I again improved.
The great fever and thirst slackened off and I began to have
an appetite to eat.
On the eighth, ninth and tenth [of October 1701] things got better
day by day. I became strong enough to walk about and my appetite
continued, though I dared not eat more than a chicken soup and
a little meat. The chickens in these lands are not as large as ours.
On the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth [of October 1701}
I thought it was impossible to eat enough to satisfy me.
On the fifteenth [of October 1701] two hours after sundown one of the
wives of our landlord died.
Father Carlo and I were sitting in front of the door of the house
discussing things with each other.
There was beautiful moonlight, it being the fourteenth day of the
Then I saw, off to the side where this Muslim woman had died,
an innumerable horde of little men no bigger than locusts.
They were running around the house and jumping up and down
so that they darkened the moonlight.
We became very afraid, and the camels and Father Antonio's donkey
wanted to break loose and run away.
I asked Father Carlo if he saw anything.
He replied that he saw nothing, but that his skin was shivering
and that he heard the noise of the camels.
But I quickly concluded that they must be spirits from Hell,
waiting for the soul of this unfortunate Muslim woman, lost forever.
I then went into the room and took the fragment of the Holy Cross
which Your Grace Herr Baron von Eberhardt in Amberg
had given me, along with the other holy relics that I had
with me at all times, and I exorcised these hellish spirits.
At that moment they disappeared.
As soon as this unfortunate soul left its coal black body and the
woman was dead, her husband and children shaved their heads,
which is a common usage in these Moorish lands.
Then they rubbed their skin with ashes and bound their loins with cords.
The other wives, daughters, relatives and acquaintances did the
same as the men, except that they did not cut their hair.
Then they began a dreadful crying and outcry, so that the whole town heard it.
The shaykh sent his war-kettledrums, which played music day and night through the
whole of this.
The whole town followed them, and everybody sprinkled their heads with ashes as
did the bereaved, and howled and cried pitifully.
It was certainly gruesome to see and dreadful to hear.
I think that one could make no better sketch of Hell than this. [p. 311]
How dreadful and monstrous a music this is, no one who has not heard it
Big and small, old and young, men and women raise their voices together
in wailing and shrieking.
To make this outcry even more fearsome they hold the hands in front of
the mouth; whoever can scream more bitterly and pitifully is the most esteemed.
If they were just crying naturally one would of course have patience,
but they were forcing it according to the dictates of formality in order
to make this hellish music better.
From then on people slaughtered camels to provide a free banquet to these
The shaykh sent two camels to be slaughtered for this solemnity,
and other good friends and relatives sent large wooden bowls full of
meat and kisra.
These solemnities and music lasted for three whole months;
during this whole time no person could live in the room where
the noblewoman had died,
except for those who came to mourn.
There was a free banquet every noon, evening and night,
and so everyone came to cry, feed himself, and have a good time.
At night forty or fifty women would be in this room,
doing nothing but crying and shrieking, after which
they would spend their time in eating,
drinking and tom-foolery, while continuing the monstrous music.
It made my head so warm that I thought I could no longer remain here,
especially as I was still weak.
On the seventeenth [of October 1701] the whole town was summoned
to the burial by the beat of war kettledrums.
All those who could move attended.
The mournful howling and crying was dreadful.
As they carried this food for ravens to burial,
the first-described mourning seemed to be only a shadow.
The accompanying to the grave seemed to me to resemble a
living image of the O! and Woe! of Hell.
The whole town was full of dreadful cries such as I never heard.
The men went in front, singing the praises of the deceased with
the most dreadful gestures; they held their hands over their ears
and threw their heads back and forth.
Then followed the body, accompanied by the husband, children
and other wives. Under the beat of the kettledrums they tried
as hard as possible to increase their dreadful howling with the
most detestable and disgusting gestures.
After the burial, which was a quarter of an hour outside the [p. 312]
town, they came back to us crying afresh.
They had a free banquet with laughing and tom-foolery.
I could not marvel enough at this great foolishness,
but in view of their deluded state of faith, I felt sorry for them.
I do not want to omit a description of the animal dabuch, which lives in these lands and is as large as a wolf.
Description of the Dabuch
On the twentieth [of October 1701] as on the following days, although I was
very weak I went with Father Antonio to the shaykh and absolutely demanded
to go to Sinnar.
He promised to send me there, and indeed with honor, but it was all in vain, for
he never intended to honor his promise.
He postponed things from day to day so that our stay was worse than a true
We did not know how our missionaries in Ethiopia and Father Benedetto in Sinnar
were getting along, which caused a thousand sorrows.
Nor could we think much good of the shaykh on account of our long stay.
On the first, second, third, fourth and fifth of November  as on the
previous days we besought the shaykh to release us, but always in vain.
Therefore we resolved to leave without his permission.
Very early on the seventh [of November 1701] we loaded our camels and got underway,
but he quickly had us brought back by force.
This made us even more sorrowful, for hereafter that way of taking flight was cut off for us.
Also we had to procure all necessities for ourselves, our camels and donkeys,
and [p. 313] dig into the provisions that Father Antonio had brought along for the missionaries.
Our long stay cost us dearly of these, but this counted as nothing
compared to our inner distress.
On the tenth [of November 1701] I again attempted to flee.
Father Antonio led his donkey out of town very early; I had gone on ahead and was waiting.
I took his donkey and a little money to ride to Sinnar.
After I had been riding for five hours I met two Arabs;
I promised them my donkey if they would guide me along little-known paths to Sinnar.
Because they knew me well, and I promised to give them more in Sinnar,
they agreed to this pact and went at once to get their camels, which were not far away.
But before they returned two mounted soldiers with lances came hot on my trail.
They grabbed me and took me back by force.
By the time we got to Qarri, two hours after nightfall, I was completely
exhausted from hunger, thirst and heat.
They wanted to lead me to the shaykh's secretary, who governed everything,
but I protested against it, saying that if the secretary had something
to say to me, he could come to me.
He was a servant of the shaykh, but I was the king's personal physician.
He should wait upon me, not I upon him.
Very early on the eleventh [of November 1701] the secretary came riding up to me on his mule accompanied by six slaves.
He gave me words as sweet as the sweetest honey, but I paid little attention to him.
The shaykh himself summoned me, but I sent Father Antonio in my place, saying that I was a bit indisposed.
He also gave the shaykh to know that the king in Sinnar would be abundantly informed that I was extremely
The shaykh himself was uncomfortable about the whole business,
and considered having us put out of the way by having us massacred.
On the twelfth [of November 1701] the shaykh called for me again.
He showed himself full of love for me, and promised to have me sent
to Sinnar the day after tomorrow.
In our presence he ordered his brother to make himself ready for the journey.
And so on the fourteenth [of November 1701] we again packed our camels, but
He had no thought of rewarding us, but rather intended to rob us and take
everything we had with us, even our lives if it could be cleverly done.
What a heartbreaking, unendurable and indescribable delay!
On the fifteenth [of November 1701] Father Antonio met a Barbarin on the square,
and struck an agreement [p. 314] with him that he should take me to Sinnar
on his camel.
If I could have reached there, Father Antonio and Father Carlo would soon have
been freed by the command of the king.
He was promised eight florins and was satisfied with that, saying that
early tomorrow morning, God willing, we would ride off.
On the sixteenth [of November 1701] that took place, but scarcely were we half an hour outside
the town than we were brought back as we were before.
I can not express the pain that this boring delay and barbaric imprisonment
We wrote to Father Benedetto that he should procure an order from the king to release us
and have us sent back to Sinnar.
But no letter came from him to us or to him, since in these lands
one has no opportunity to send anything here and there except with a caravan,
or when a courier was dispatched from the shaykh to the king, both
of which were precluded as far as we were concerned.
On the seventeenth [of November 1701] the shaykh called for me about noon.
I went to him at once, and found him sick with a strong alteration.
I also found his skin swollen and his blood very warm.
I asked him what the cause of his illness might be, and I came
to realize that it must be great rage.
His chamberlain had given something to one of his wives,
sending it through a slave girl who served the wives.
At this he became so furious that he at once had the chamberlain,
who was a slave, bound hand and foot with irons and ropes,
and ordered him to be beaten to death.
He divorced the wife, sold the slave girl, and after a few weeks,
as far as one could ascertain, had the chamberlain himself
chopped into little pieces by eight slaves with swords.
After I understood this I gave him plenty of panacea pills and
made him sweat mightily.
In the evening I bled him from the right foot.
On the eighteenth [of November 1701] I purged him, with good effect.
In these hot lands one must give two, three or four times the ordinary dose.
Today I was also called to the five-year-old daughter of the secretary,
who was stricken with a great fever.
As there was no hope of her recovery I baptized her secretly,
and a few days later she died.
On the twenty-second [of November 1701] the shaykh was quite well,
and so I unrestrainedly importuned him to release me.
But cras vos dimittam, [Latin] "tomorrow I will release you"
[p. 315] was the answer.
On the twenty-third [of November 1701] he again made all sorts of excuses,
meaning to keep at least Father Antonio with him because of the medicine.
Because of the king he dared not push me any farther.
In order to satisfy us a little he gave us each a camel along with a young
Moor thirteen years old, and a promise to see us off tomorrow.
On the twenty-fourth [of November 1701] we put our things in order very early,
intending to ride off.
But the shaykh told us that a caravan from Dongola had arrived in Treira
and would be here in two or three days.
He would send us to Sinnar with it.
We resolved to have patience for this little time more.
Today, as we found out later, Father Benedetto received our letter,
in which we told him at some length how badly things were going for us.
At that he went at once to our protector Shaykh Isma`il,
and laid charges against the shaykh of Qarri.
[Shaykh Isma`il] quickly put the whole matter before the king,
who commanded Shaykh Yusuf (who was setting off one of these days
to Qarri to the shaykh) to convey his command to the shaykh of
Qarri that I should be delivered to Sinnar without delay.
On the twenty-sixth [of November 1701] there arrived a mursal
from the army that the shaykh had along the Red Sea.
He reported that the brave soldiers had defeated the enemy,
who for their part would cause no more trouble.
Here one should know that this shaykh governs all of Nubia as far as
the Red Sea and Arbaji.
Therefore he can (with the permission of the king in Sinnar, who is his
lord), root out his opponents with fire and sword, and compell
the disobedient to obey.
At this good news the shaykh declared a great celebration, and had
six fine young camels slaughtered as a thank-offering to their false Prophet.
They sprinkled the blood over every door and gate of the palace,
and they divided the meat among the people and gave it away.
We also received a goodly portion, but as it was a false
blood-offering, we did not eat it.
In these lands the Moors usually slaughter such offerings either to avert a
misfortune that is staring them in the face, or as a way of giving
thanks for a good deed that has come their way. During my time here
this took place very frequently.
On the twenty-eighth [of November 1701] the caravan arrived here towards evening.
On the twenty-ninth [of November 1701] we asked permission of the shaykh
to leave with the caravan, as he had always promised.
On the first of December  we arranged with a certain Barbarin
of Dongola, who was our good friend, to guide Father Carlo to
Sinnar with one of our camels.
We were doubtful that the shaykh would ever let us leave,
or whether we would be completely robbed.
So we packed our best things together onto our strongest
camel, and today sent it off into the night.
No one in the caravan knew about it.
However long the shaykh might detain us,
Father Carlo would come to Sinnar with our best things.
Early in the morning we again requested permission from the shaykh
to leave and to go with the caravan.
But we were told that the caravan would not be leaving for
On the second [of December 1701] the caravan rode off very early,
and with it Father Carlo.
And so we complained to the shaykh, who pretended to have them
In our presence two soldiers on horseback were sent out to
stop the caravan.
This was done only to throw dust in our eyes,
for the soldiers really carried an order that the caravan should
march on rapidly without halting.
On the third [of December 1701] we again asked to be released,
but as always, in vain.
What we have endured during this time is not to be described.
The shaykh was giving us nothing any more, and we had to
supply ourselves, paying double in money for everything.
We also had to cook, haul water, and drive the camels to
pasture, as we had no means to maintain our beasts any longer.
We had to cut back on what we ate, too.
On the fourth [of December 1701] we again loaded a camel with our
remaining things, for the heaviest and best had already been
sent on ahead.
I rode a second camel, Father Antonio a third, and the two
young Moors rode a fourth.
The fifth had died on us in Qarri.
We were going to go insalutato hospite to Sinnar.
But we were brought back by soldiers and led immediately to the shaykh.
When he saw that we were leading only a single pack
camel which was not carrying much he asked us where our things were.
To this we replied that our companion Father Carlo
had taken them with him to Sinnar.
At that he became very enraged--though he dared not let this rage become
very visible--and said quite softly,
"stay with me, and the day after tomorrow I will give you my mursal.
Who could have imagined that such devilish politics were also to be found among these barbarous people?
On the fifth [of December 1701] the mursal that the king of Sinnar
sent to Qarri [p. 317] arrived here.
Because he was among the highest nobility of the realm,
the shaykh and his whole court rode out to meet him.
There was a public entry not unlike that which the king of Sinnar
had held for the shaykh of Qarri.
After the completion of the entry procession we waited for the shaykh
and told him that tomorrow we were definitely going to depart.
Today before sundown we went with our camels to that place lying
outside the town where the jallabs usually encamp.
We spent a whole sleepless night, bag and baggage, upon the open
field under the sky.
The secretary sent us a letter ordering us not to depart
until the shaykh gave us a mursal.
But we had him say [to the shaykh] that no one was asking anything
of him, and that we Franks--especially I, the king's
physician--were not his slaves.
On the sixth [of December 1701] at the break of day we set off from
here without waiting for an answer.
After we had ridden for six hours, and were making our meal of
dates and biscuit-bread under a tree, we saw four soldiers
with lances riding up to us on horseback.
They wanted to tell us very politely to turn back to Qarri;
we replied heartily that they could take our camels and
everything we carried with us, but the shaykh would never
see us again.
The good soldiers did not know what was to be done.
They finally persuaded us to go to the next village,
where they sent one of them back to the shaykh on account of us.
On the seventh [of December 1701] he rode back to Qarri on horseback
very early, and told the story of everything that had happened.
During this tale the mursal of the king of Sinnar
was also present.
He delivered to the shaykh the royal command to send me unhindered
to Sinnar with further orders that if he met me along the way I
should go as quickly as possible with the royal retainers and at
royal expense to Sinnar.
At that the shaykh sent me a present of thirty guilders through
one of his soldiers, and told me that tomorrow he would send
a mursal to accompany us as far as Arbaji.
On the eighth [of December 1701] the feast of the Immaculate Conception,
the mursal came to us at about midday, and we rode off toward Sinnar
with the greatest joy.
Our "bondage in Egypt" was at an end.
Every day we put six, seven or eight German miles behind us.
Every night we stayed [p. 318] in a little village,
where the mursal would order all necessities brought to us.
On the way, as we rode continually, we suffered great hunger,
but we observed our required fasts as always on our journey,
just as if we had been in our cloisters.
We always requested fat and eggs, and cooked ourselves a
hot soup, sometimes with a little meal.
I did this alone, while Father Antonio looked after the camels.
On the tenth [of December 1701] I took it slow,
letting the mursal ride on with the camels.
Because it was early and cool, I followed my custom of going on foot,
to say my horas, or rather, the miserere for those
who had died, as directed by our Father Prefect.
Suddenly without warning two Arabs with lances came running right
I could no longer hurry back to the mursal and the
company, so I drew my large Terzerol which I always
had with me, and stood against them.
I threatened to shoot dead the first one to come a step closer.
When they saw me unafraid with a gun in my hand, these two
ran off even more quickly than they had hurried toward me.
The Arabs fear one pistol more than ten lances,
because they believe that one pistol shot can kill
And so by the grace of God I again this time escaped
an obvious danger not only of being robbed,
but of losing my life.
Today as on the days before we have seen an indescribable
multitude of turtledoves sitting here and there in
fields or flying.
Because people do not kill them they die of old age,
or are eaten by vultures and eagles.
On the fifteenth [of December 1701] we pulled in to Arbaji, where we
met some merchants just ready to go to Sinnar.
We joined them, and sent the mursal back with a
On the twentieth [of December 1701] (to God be the highest thanks!)
we came happily to Sinnar, and were received with special joy
by Father Benedetto and Father Carlo Maria.
These days we have not passed along the right hand road,
but have had out right hand toward the dwellings of the Arabs.
Next to their houses they have cisterns surrounded
by earthworks and trees.
These cisterns, filled with water by the great storms,
[p. 319] serve as a source of drinking water for themselves
and their beasts during the time of dessication and dryness.
We rode through the most beautiful forests full of the trees
from which the Arabs extract gum.
We drove off an innumerable flock of the most
These were somewhat larger than ours; they have on their
heads a sky-blue crown in the shape of a tree and a
small plume of the most beautiful blue and black feathers.
The feathers on their bodies are sprinkled with black and white,
but their breast is completely a beautiful sky blue.
One sees thousands of these partridges running together
in these forests.
Many of them are taken to Egypt where French merchants
deal in them, sending them to France as a rarity.
There are many bees in these forests--and especially
those of Ethiopia--which make their honey in hollow trees.
Though the inhabitants do not get the half of it,
it is nevertheless available in great quantity and
at a very low price.
I had scarcely ridden into town when the king,
who had knowledge of our arrival, sent a mursal
to our dwelling to ask why I had stayed so long.
To this I answered that I had been sick,
for if I had told him how the shaykh of Qarri
had dealt with me, he would have sent a new
mursal to punish him dreadfully.
For this any missionary who wanted to pass
that way would have to pay.
For this reason I dissimulated everything
with great patience and silence.
After this I was daily called to attend the sick.
God be praised, I have fortunately cured them all.
The year 1702. On the twelfth of January the king sent me a
mursal ordering me to come to him to treat a wound which he had
carelessly given himself in the right foot with his sabre.
Fortunately I healed him within a few days
with the balsam of Innocent XI.
On the sixteenth [of January 1702] Shaykh Idris, son of the
viceroy, became sick.
Within ten days, with the help of God, I cured him of jaundice
and a fiery illness.
On the seventeenth [of January 1702] the eldest son of the Qadi
became sick, but in a short time he, like many others, got well.
On the twentieth [of January 1702] I took into treatment an Arab whose right
foot had been trodden upon by a horse.
His foot was in very bad shape. [p. 320]
The best was, that in these lands horses are not shod as they are with us.
I healed him in a short time, applying nothing but fresh butter
mixed with finely-ground snuff tobacco and honey, from which I made a salve.
On the twenty-sixth [of January 1702] a shaykh with syphillis came to me
for a cure.
He was in bad shape, but fortunately within fifteen days I cured him.
As a reward he honored me with his silver-decorated sabre.
In these lands there is no disease more prevalent than syphilis--the
"French disease," or as some say, the Neapolitan.
With God's support I was fortunately able to cure it in most cases,
along with other illnesses of the same sort.
On the twenty-seventh [of January 1702] I was called to a three-year-old boy
who was stricken with a high fever.
Because I had no hope for his survival I baptized him,
and on the thirtieth of this month he died.
During this whole time we have received no letter from Ethiopia,
and so we do not know whether our missionaries and the two Jesuits were
dead or alive.
It inspired considerable speculation.
On the third of February  our Tubatschi Sidi Hammet, a noble Turk from
Egypt, was stricken with a high fever, of which I quickly relieved him.
He wanted to give me a whole handful of pieces of eight in payment,
but I refused.
I said that the Christians wanted to visit the lands of the Barabra only to
do good to one and all, out of love for Christ Jesus the true son of God,
and with his support.
Without any desire for profit or riches we would leap to the side of the
ailing, cure them and, in so far as we could, give them health.
In return for this curing of the ill we wanted and took only those things
necessary for our maintenance.
This was amazing both to the Turk, who knew very well who we
were and how we operated, and to all the other people.
They praised us and our law highly.
On the tenth [of February 1702] I was summoned to treat the youngest
son of the viceroy, who was eight months old.
Because I saw that it was in vain, I had a little water brought
on the pretext of washing away the scribblings that they had
painted on his head, and secretly baptized him.
I used similar strategies in other cases also.
Finally I rubbed him with an ointment of roses that I had with me.
[p. 321] After a few days the viceroy shaykh `Ali summoned me,
saying that his son had died, and indeed at about the time I had predicted.
I comforted him with the common [Arabic] expression maktub, that is,
that it was ordained by the Eternal.
This word eases things for the Turks in all undesired events and
unhappy situations, for they believe, in the sense of this word,
that everything is predestined by the Eternal.
On the twelfth [of February 1702] there came a Barbarin, a servant of the Jesuits,
with a letter from Father Paoletti.
It was addressed to me.
He wrote to us that Father Granier was sick, and that on July fourteenth
he had found himself in the Ethiopian capital of Gondar.
He had been given an audience with the Ethiopian emperor, along with
Father Antonio della Terza, who was highly regarded by the king.
He could give no account of our Father Prefect and his companions,
for they arrived a month later.
This Barbarin fell sick along the way.
He told us that he had met our missionaries at Turkhim,
four days distant from Gondar the Ethiopian capital.
All of them were in rather bad shape because of the incessant rain,
especially the Father Prefect.
From this we concluded that he was seriously ill,
for the Turks in these lands never bring bad news.
They always say that someone is [Arabic] tayyib,
that is, "he is well," even if he is already dead.
This gave rise to considerable speculation on our part, and
threw us into the greatest consternation.
On the twenty-fourth [of February 1702] on the feast of
Saint Matthew a dreadfully large comet appeared about
an hour after sundown.
To be sure, it was not as large as the one seen in 1680
in Germany, but it was quite as dreadful and terrifying
to look upon.
It had no star at its head, but a very long tail
which bent directly toward Europe.
The Moors could not imagine what it might mean,
since nothing similar had been seen within
We, however, quickly concluded that it must refer
to the kingdom of Spain, which at that time was
without a head.
Also the moonlight changed remarkably,
all of which did not bode well.
On the sixth of March  a few Ethiopians came to Sinnar with the report
that three Franks had died there.
They could not tell us what actually happened, and so we had to await the outcome patiently.
I will let the gracious reader imagine for himself how this unlooked-for
news increased our hearts' sorrow. [p. 322]
On the seventeenth [of March 1701] Shaykh Isma`il called me, saying that
three Franks had died,
but that the others were all on the way to Sinnar
and would soon arrive here.
What a state we were in!
We did not know who was dead and who was alive, or whether anything had worked out
We could draw no other conclusion but that things had not gone as planned,
and had probably gone very badly indeed.
[We concluded that] they had been expelled in disgrace and mockery by the emperor.
So we awaited the outcome with great pain; every moment seemed like
a day until we should know the true state of things.
We probably made a hundred calendars, and discussed nothing else but our
It was a cross that Almighty God gave us to eat with our daily bread,
to think that if a cross, trouble and persecution had taken place,
then a worse and heavier [persecution] would soon follow for us.
On the twenty-eighth [of March 1702] we learned that four Franks from Ethiopia were coming,
and were already by the river.
On the twenty-ninth [of March 1702] they came--Father Joseph of Jerusalem,
Father Pasquale da Montella, Father Antonio della Terza, and
Father Antonio Paoletti the Jesuit.
Our Father Prefect, Father Carlo da Cilento and Father Granier the
Jesuit had left their bones under the earth in Ethiopia.
Father Paoletti was deathly sick.
Father Joseph had with him eight Ethiopian boys to take to Rome; Father Pasquale had two and Father Paoletti, one.
The latter, deathly sick, threw his arms around my neck with tears in his eyes and said,
"Dearest Father Theodoro, you may thank God every day of your life that
you stayed here. Had we followed your advice my comrade would not have
died, nor would I be deathly sick. I beg you for the love of God not
to leave me, but to stay with me until I exchange the temporal for
He turned over to me all his missionary materials, his money,
and whatever else he had, with the request that after his death I would either
take them personally or have them reliably sent to the two Jesuit Fathers
I promised him that I would, and honestly without the loss of a Thaler,
I did so.
Because his eyes began to close during this and other quiet talk
I could not keep from crying.
I led him into my room, made a place for him to lie down as best I could,
and comforted him as [p. 323] much as possible.
Because I saw that he must soon die I asked him if he wanted to
confess, etc., and that took place--though he had cleaned his conscience
through sacramental absolution only a few days before.
I cooked him a little something, but he was too weak to eat.
The diarrhea from which he had been suffering for three months
had wasted and weakened him so that he was nothing but skin and bones,
and he was too weak to stand on his feet.
I spent the whole night beside him, and bore his sorrows with continual reminders
of his holy father Ignatius [Loyola] and the holy Francis Xavier, two
zealous apostolic missionaries, along with others from his praiseworthy society,
through whose services and intercession he would be received into the host of holy martyrs
as the reward for his exertion and labor, the tortures, hunger and thirst he had
endured, and so many other obvious dangers to life and limb that he had
put behind him in this world.
He listened to me with pleasure, and made a hundred little heroic gestures.
After midnight he became very weak.
I gave him extreme unction, which he himself had requested.
Toward day his features gradually became tense,
and I spoke to him until about noon,
when he laid his spirit in the hands of its creator.
And so on the thirtieth [of March 1702] he died. As soon as he had gone to God
I went out at once to the market square and purchased a piece of cotton cloth,
snow white and twelve ells long. This the Turkish nobility also use in burials.
I wrapped the body in this as best I could. Then I went to an Egyptian Christian,
a good friend of ours, and besought him to have a grave dug at my expense at the
place where the Christians here usually bury their dead. The Egyptian Christians
and foreigners have their own burial ground, as the Turks consider it the greatest
abomination if one who does not belong to their accursed sect should be buried among them.
I then summoned to the funeral all the Egyptian Christians, who were Copts, fifteen in number,
and also our two Portuguese and the two Greeks who adhered to the true
Catholic Christian religion. Most of them, with a few exceptions, appeared.
We placed him on a litter as long as a man's body, made of four sticks fastened together and laced with thongs of camel leather.
I laid a clean carpet under him and over him, and we carried [p. 324]
him for about half an hour to the place of burial--I, Father Antonio della Terza,
Father Carlo Maria of Genoa, Father Pasquale da Montella, Father Benedetto
da Tripalda, and Father Joseph of Jerusalem. It was two hours before sundown.
We made a large cross of stones upon his grave, which lay toward the east.
The Turks were very amazed that we did not howl, shriek and cry at our burial.
Those who accompanied the body I invited to dinner. May he rest in holy peace. [p. 325]
On the fourth of April  Father Antonio della Terza, like Father Paoletti, was stricken with diarrhea
and lay bedfast. One after another of the boys whom our missionaries had brought followed after, for they could not accustom
themselves to cooked foods. As housemaster and quartermaster, I would bring meat into the house--a
sheep, pigeon or calf--and have it butchered. As soon as I did so the young
Ethiopians, unless I took great care, fell upon it like a cat upon a mouse
and ate it either completely raw or warmed a little over the coals. I could
not teach them otherwise during the whole remainder of our journey. Often I
pretended not to see, and permitted them to satisfy their hunger according to their own usage, until they would become used to cooked food.
In Ethiopia one eats meat either completely raw or warmed a little over the coals in pieces.
Liver, lungs and other organs are never cooked in these lands, but are eaten raw as a delicacy. The way to prepare it is
as follows. They wash the tripe, stomach and innards very little, but at once cut the
lungs, liver and intestines into little pieces. They put on pepper, salt, and quite a bit of onion, then take the gall from the animal
and sprinkle it upon this uncooked hors d'oeuvre, since the liver, lungs and
intestines are too sweet by themselves, and in this way they give it a good taste. Then they mix
it up with their hands. It tasted extremely good to me, so that when I got
back to Germany it made me sick even to look at a cooked liver, much less to eat one.
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