Back to Table of Contents 8
To next page
Al Himyari: Kitab ar-rawd al Mi'tar (1461)
(The Fragrant Garden)

Taken from : Lewicki, Tadeusz: Arabic external sources for the history of Africa.....
Ibn abd al-Munim al Himyari : his book is a recast of a relative of the same name from the 13th century. They relied on Idrisi.
The places situated in his book on the east African coast are: Al-Banis, Daghwata, Dandama, Sayuna, Malinde, Monbasa. As well as the land of the Waqwaq lying on the southern borders of the land of the Zanj. He also talks about the gold and the excellent iron of these areas, about the trade between Oman and the land of the Zanj, and about the river on which Sayuna was laying.

Taken from:


Full name: Muhammad ibn Abd al-Munim Humairi



Al Banas

This village in the last place of the Zinj, a place full of people, and they worship their idol a drum Kalptip folded from one side, and tied with a skin strip it has a tremendous sound to be heard three miles away and so on, and the city of Al Bana is the last Zinj settlement before the land of Sofala the golden, and in all the country of Al Zenj there is iron and leopard skins. These are the red skins very soft and they do not have pack-animals, but transport themselves their belongings on their heads and on their backs to the cities of Menbsp (Mombasa) and Mlndp (Malindi) for sale, and the Zeng do not have boats for travelling but (their goods) enter the boats from Oman and other to India, and the Zinj have in their hearts a great respect for the Arabs, so when meeting Arab merchants, they will say these words: Blessed are you, O people of Yemen. And these Arabs and travellers come to their country stealing Zinj people deceiving them with dates, making them follow them from place to place, then take them and sell them. The coastal countries of Zanzibar are close to islands called Zabaj. They are large, their land is large, and their people are very sultry and are cultivating corn, sugar cane and camphor trees.




 In Abyssinia, on the coast, the ruins of a few stone buildings and rough housing and dirty spots where live families of fish and meat from shells, frogs, snakes and rats and other animals that are not eaten, and they fish in the sea by floating; they make nets and connect them on their feet, but mostly they are very poor. They are in obedience to the Zinj.



…the Arabian Peninsula to the banks of the sea, and left the country of Zinj, on its coast the sea throws amber, then goes on to pass the coast of Hadramout, Abyan and Aden to end up …


Damaharat: Which is the island of the moon from the islands of India, and this Island where the head brings them together and defends them with a lot of energy, and his wife rules among the people and speaks to them and does not hide from them, and wears a permanent jacket of a gold-woven garment topped with a crown of gold, crowned with types of precious stones, and her husband made her golden shoes, and no one walks (with shoes) in this Island, except the queen, and when one was found that he was wearing shoes, his feet were cut off. And when this queen is on a ride in her city, and is followed in full attire of elephants, banners and trumpets, and the king, her husband and all the ministers follow her at a distance from her, and this queen collects funds collected this money is used to help the poor people of her country that day and do not believe in anything but charity, and the people of her country comment on the ways and places and make types of silk clothes, and the costume is good. The women of this island, stuck in her head ten combs more or less and, they are their jewels.



Small city in the land of Sofala on the banks of the sea, where not much is happening, they live only from the iron, in the country of Sofala is found in the mountains much iron, and the people of Zabay and other inhabitants of those places come to them and export it to the country of India, where they fetch a good price because the country of India does not have enough good iron.

Dndmp is one of the places under Sofala.

And in the whole country of Sofala there is gold dust, …, they nevertheless prefer copper to gold for their jewelry, and this (gold) dust is located in the land of Sofala…While other gold dust needs to be worked with mercury the gold dust of Sofala (is so pure) it does not need it.




 Island at the end of the country of Sofala, and it is the main place, and they are naked they do not have clothes but cover themselves with their hands when they meet traders entering from other neighboring countries. They and their wives do not enter markets because they are naked, …this is the city and their land with the most gold dust, such as existing elsewhere in Sofala.



Al Zanj:

The islands of Al Zanj are many, and large, and correspond to the country Al Zenj coast and its people Samarun; it is said that when there was trouble in China and a lot of injustice and confusion then the Chinese merchants came to Al Zanj and other Dzairha because of the fairness and good treatment they received.



…Socotra, and it belongs to the country of Zinj, and most people of this island are Christians…




 City related to the land of Sofala, of medium size, with people of India and of the Negroes and others, who come from the bank of the Nile, and the chief lives in this city, with soldiers who do not have horses, and they are on the boats meeting those traveling to enter (the country). 



City in the country of Al Zenj on the shore of the sea, which is great and people engage in hunting and fishing, and there is a fish in the sea called whale and they have iron mines and sorcerers  who claim that they enchant harmful animal who even do not harm anyone but those who wanted to harm him, and the lions and tigers belong to them to have thes magic.




 A city in India is the home of the king of the Zabaj, and he is never engaged in the war of Zanjis who are within the limits of his protection because the Zabaj is connected to the black Negro and the al-Badiatayn are within a march of five months.



Menbsp (Mombasa):

Small city in the country of Al Zenj on the coast, people work in iron mines they also hunt tigers, with red dogs who overcome all wolves, and other wild animals, It is on the sea shore opposite the mouth of a great river up which it is possible to sail for two days. Its banks are uninhabited because of the wild beasts that live in the forests were the Zanj go to hunt, as we have already said. And this city is the residence (of the king of) Zinj, and the soldiers walk because his men do not have any animals as those do not live in their land.




There are some people who say: it derives from under the mountain of the moon behind the equator seven degrees and a half, out of twelve sources there, they meet in the two lakes, then branched of each three rivers all of which converge to the tip of the first province, and comes out of this Batihah the Nile of Egypt and other big rivers, and in the burning south where it is not a plant or animal, from that place was said the Nile is emitted in the sands and mountains, and then penetrate the ground of the Sudan following the country of Zinj, and then emits in a bay that would split the land of Zinj and fall into the sea of ​​Zinj and it show in this bay the same increase that appears in the Nile of Egypt.


Malay: A town of the Island of the Moon from the Indies, and the king is not concealed and is served  in his food and drink by sissies who wear precious clothes of Chinese and Iraqi silk, and each of them a gold bracelet, these bisexual men marry men instead of women, and serve the king during the day and return at night to their husbands; and in this island the plants are, nargile (coconuts) and sugar cane, and this island has wood what there is no like in the world, and their elders have little white beards like Turks, they claim to be of Turk origin.


al Wakwak

Al Wakwak is related to the land of Sofala, and the city is Hakertan, with few people very poor, and they have a big village called Dgrgp. They are Sudan with deformed faces ans strange appearance, and their words are a kind of whistling, and they are naked they live on very little, and eat whale and mother of pearl and meat turtles, and relate to their islands al Wakwak and nobody ever reaches their country…


Taken from : L'Afrique Dans Le Uns Al-Muhag Wa-Rawd Al-Furag D'Al-Idrisi Edition, traduction et commentaire, Leuven, By Jean-Charles Ducène


Gawa : its people raise cattle and trade in them. They steal children from each other and sell them to merchants who take them to Egypt on foot or by water.

(Gawa is also mentioned in the Uns Al-Muhag Wa-Rawd Al-Furag D'Al-Idrisi)