George Francis Lyon, 1795-1832
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“A Sand Wind on the Desert”

At 7 cleared the pass, and proceeded to a small wadey, where, in spite of a strong Siroc, we succeeded in pitching our tents. The sand, however, flew about in such quantities, that we were unable to prepare any food, and we could not even see thirty yards from us. Mukni took shelter with us, and advised that we should strip to our shirts, as the lightest way of withstanding the sand showers. [p. 70]

“The Castle of Morzouk”

Morzouk is a walled town, containing about 2500 inhabitants, who are blacks, and who do not, like the Arabs, change their residence. . . . The town has seven gates, four of which are built up in order to prevent the people escaping when they are required to pay their duties. A man is appointed by the Sultan to attend each of these gates, day and night, lest any slaves or merchandize should be smuggled into the town. . . . Many palms grow in the town. . . . The street of entrance is a broad space of at least a hundred yards, leading to the wall that surrounds the castle, and is extremely pretty: here the horsemen have full scope to display their abilities when they skirmish before the Sultan. The castle itself is an immense mud building, rising to the height of eighty or ninety feet, with little battlements on the walls (a fancy of the present Sultan’s); and at a distance looks warlike. Like all the other buildings, it has no pretensions to regularity: the lower walls are fifty or sixty feet in thickness; the upper taper off to about four or five feet. In consequence of the immense mass of wall, the apartments are very small, and few in number. The rooms occupied by the Sultan are of the best quality, (that is to say, comparatively), for the walls are tolerably smooth, and white-washed, and have ornamental daubs of red paint in blotches, by way of effect. His couch is spread on the ground, and his visitors squat down on the sandy floor at a respectful distance; we, however, were always honoured by having a corner of the carpet offered to us. [pp. 97-98]

"Tuaricks of Ghraat" and "Tuarick in a Shirt of Leather / Tuarick of Aghades"

Many parties of Tuarick came with their slaves and goods during the last month, (July), from Kashna, Aghades, and Ghraat. They are the finest race of men I ever saw; tall, straight, and handsome, with a certain air of independence and pride, which is very imposing. They are generally white, that is to say, comparatively so; the dark brown of their complexions only being occasioned by the heat of the climate. Their arms or bodies, (where constantly covered), are as white as those of many Europeans. Their costume is very remarkable, and they cover their faces as high as the eyes, in the manner of women on the sea-coast. Their original motive for so doing is now forgotten; but they say it must be right, as it was the fashion of their forefathers. This covering extends as high as half way up the bridge of the nose, from whence it hangs down below the chin on the breast, much in the same way (but longer) as crape or lace is hung to a lady's half mask. This cloth is generally of blue glazed cotton; but yellow, red, white, and many other colours are worn according to taste, or the ability of the wearer to purchase them. The beard is kept close clipped, so as not to interfere with the covering which is tied behind; their red caps are generally very high, but some wear yellow or green ones, fitted close to the head: others have no caps at all, but leave their hair to grow, and plait it in long tresses. All wear turbans, which are never of any fixed colour: blue is the most common and cheap; but gaudry hues are preferred. A large loose shirt (having the sleeves the same size as the body), called Tobe, is the common dress; it is cotton, generally blue, or blue and white, and is of their own manufacture, although some wear those of Soudan, which are considered the best that are made. . . . A leather kaftan is also much worn, of their own manufacture, as are leather shirts of the skins of antelope, very neatly sewed, and well prepared. Their trowsers are not made so full as those of the Moors, as they would in that case be much encumbered in riding their maherries; they rather resemble those called Cossack trowsers, and are made of cotton stuff, dark blue being the most common. Their sandals are the most elegant part of their dress, being made of black leather, with scarlet thongs to brace them on the feet. The ornamental needle-work on the inside of the sole is really admirable. They all wear a whip, hanging from a belt passed over the left shoulder by the right side. Their swords are straight and of great length, and they wield them with much ease and dexterity. From the left wrist is suspended a dagger, with the hilt towards the hand; it has a broad leather ring attached to the scabbard, and through this the hand is passed. No Tuarick is ever seen without this appendage, and a light elegant spear, sometimes entirely of iron, inlaid with brass; others are of wood, but are also highly ornamented. In making war, they have three longer and heavier spears, and a strong lance, which are fastened behind the saddle. A long gun is also generally carried; and these people are considered sure marksmen. [pp. 109-111]


“Tibboo of Gatrone”

Gatrone is surrounded by sand hills, on which are built the low palm huts of the Tibboo, who appear to form a separate community . . . These females are light and elegant in form . . . They have aquiline noses, fine teeth, and lips formed like those of Europeans; their eyes are expressive, and their colour is of the brightest black: there is something in their walk, and erect manner of carrying themselves, which is very striking. . . . The costume of the head is almost universally the same, the hair being plaited on each side, in such a manner as to hang down on the cheeks, like a fan. . . . Their necks are loaded with gaudy necklaces, and one-half of their well-formed bosoms is shown by the arrangement of their drapery: their arms are bare to the shoulders . . . In the ear they wear three or four silver rings of various sizes, the largest in circumference hanging the lowest. Their most singular ornament is a piece of red coral, through a hole in the right nostril, which really does not look becoming. The dress is a large shawl of blue, or blue and white cotton, of which they have a variety of patterns, fastened over the shoulders and across the bosom, and hanging in graceful folds, so as to show the back, right breast, and right arm bare. These dresses are very short, and exhibit the leg to the calf; but with all this display, their general appearance offered nothing offensive or immodest. . . . The Tibboo men are slender and active in their form, and have intelligent countenances; their agility is proverbial; and they are frequently, by way of distinction, called “the Birds.” [pp. 224-27]

"Camel Conveying a Bride to Her Husband"

In the evening all the village assembled outside the walls, to carry a bride in procession to her husband's house. A camel was ornamented with a frame-work, covered over with carpets, shawls, and ostrich feathers; and the bride was placed within it on his back. The camel was led by a relation of the bride, preceded by dancing people, music, mounted and dismounted Arabs, who shouted and fired, running backwards and forwards in front of the procession. The bridegroom walked before them, with a fan in his hand, and his fingers dyed with henna, loaded with tawdry clothes, and looking very solemn. The bride was carried round the town and gardens, and in the end conducted to her husband's house. The village all night resounded with songs, and the shrill voices of the women; and we had several bowls of provisions sent out to us. We found the flies here very tormenting. [p. 299]