An account of a trip to the southwestern regions of the Ethiopian Empire 1896-97
Originally published in St. Petersburg, 1897, Printed by V. Kirshbaum, 204 pages
Reissued in 1971 as part of the volume With the Armies of Menelik II, edited by I. S. Katsnelson of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R."Science" Publishing House Chief Editorial Staff of Oriental LiteratureMoscow 1971, entire book 352 pages, Entotto pp. 32-156
A young Russian cavalry officer witnessed as Ethiopia vied with Italy, France, and England for control of previously unexplored territory in east-central Africa. His two books are an important source of historical and ethnographic information about that little-known but critical and exciting period.
Almost all official Ethiopian documents from the 1890s were destroyed during the war with Italy in 1936. The historical record depends largely on the observations of European explorers and visitors, of whom Alexander Bulatovich was one of the very best. The books included here cover the first two (1896-97 and 1897-98) of his four trips to Ethiopia.
Bulatovich sensed that Ethiopia was in a delicate state of transition, that what he was seeing would not remain or even be remembered in a generation or two. He had the instincts, although not the training, of an anthropologist, trying to preserve some record of fast-disappearing cultures. But he was not a scientist who observed with cool detachment. Rather, he was actively involved in the events he described, particularly on the expedition to Lake Rudolf. He became ambivalent, torn by his military duty (as an officer attached to the army of Ras Wolda Giyorgis) and by his personal values and sense of justice. Time and again, he found himself party to the decimation of the very people whose culture he wanted to preserve.
He approached his subject with enthusiasm, fascination, and, at times, with almost religious respect. He did not presume that European culture and technology were morally superior. Nor did he romantically prefer the "primitive."
Empathizing with many of the peoples he encountered, he witnessed the tragedy of the clash between traditional ways and modern arms. He considered modernization inevitable, but prefered that it be done in the most humane manner. Hence he considered conquest and gradual change under the Amharic rulers of Ethiopia as preferable to the total destruction which would be likely in case of conquest by a European power.
Bulatovich had a strong natural interest in military and religious matters, and that was at the heart of his respect for these people. He saw the Abyssinian military as having recently passed through a golden age of cavalry charges and individual heroism, which called to mind the by-gone days of medieval Europe. He saw the Ethiopian Church as close to the Russian Orthodox Church and the origins of Christianity, and he greatly respected all the details of their belief and practice, and all their unique legends and saints.
He was, however, a product of his time: the time of Kipling and the Berlin Conference. In those days, it was common for Europeans to make judgements about cultures, based on a scale in which their own culture was at the top. He shows great respect for and understanding of Amhara, Galla (Oromo), and several other Ethiopian peoples and cultures, with whom he had prolonged contact and whose languages he learned. But he uses strong negative terms to describe the people and cultures of what is now Southern Ethiopia. In part, this prejudice is due to ignorance -- he had little contact with these people and did not understand their language. In part, too, it was a reflection of the attitudes of his comrades-in-arms -- Amhara and Galla warriors -- who also were encountering these people for the first time, and for whom they were just as foreign and incomprehensible as they were to Bulatovich.
His works should appeal to anyone interested in the history or anthropology of Africa and Ethiopia. They also provide a clear picture of the relations between Russia and Ethiopia in the 1890s, which planted the seeds of their present-day relations. And these accounts can help fill in historical details regarding events and individuals during that era, and can serve as a valuable resource to specialists.
Up until now, the main source in English about Russian activities in Ethiopia and their observations of that country has been The Russians in Ethiopia: An Essay in Futility by Czeslaw Jesman. This is an amusing collection of rumors and anecdotes, based primarily on Italian sources. Unfortunately, it is often wrong; but, in the absence of a better source, its errors have often been repeated.
One speech which Bulatovich made to the Russian Geographical Society was translated into Italian and French and is frequently cited. But his two books, up until now, were available only in Russian. Hence his observations and contributions have remained virtually unknown in the West.
Bulatovich's first book, From Entotto to the River Baro, published in 1897, consists of journals of two excursions he went on during his first trip to Ethiopia 1896-97, plus a series of essays based on what he heard and observed during his year-long stay with the Russian Red Cross Mission. The essays deal with various peoples of Ethiopia (Galla/Oromo, Sidamo, Amhara) -- their history, culture, way of life, beliefs and languages; on the governmental system and its historical background, on the army, on commerce, and on the Emperor's family.
With the Armies of Menilek II, published in 1900, is the journal of Bulatovich's second trip to Ethiopia 1897-98, during which he served as an advisor to the army of Ras Wolda Giyorgis as it conquered the previously little-known southwestern territories from Kaffa to Lake Rudolf. Here he builds on his previous knowledge of the country and also recounts an exciting personal story of military adventure, which builds to a climax in the final chapters.
Both books, edited and with an introduction by Isidor Savvich Katsnelson, were reissued by The Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow in 1971.
I first discovered Bulatovich in the London Times of 1913, while looking for another story, on which I wished to base a novel. The article described how Russian troops had besieged two monasteries at Mount Athos in Greece and exiled some 660 monks to remote parts of the Russian Empire for believing that "The Name of God was a part of God and, therefore, in itself divine." Bulatovich -- a former cavalry officer who had "fought in the Italo-Abyssinian campaign, and afterwards in the Far East" -- was the leader and defender of the monks. ("Heresy at Mount Athos: a Soldier Monk and the Holy Synod," June 19, 1913).
News was a more leisurely business then than now. The reporter drew an analogy to characters in a novel by Anatole France and drew an interesting sketch of the background and motivations of the main figure. I got the impression of Bulatovich as a restless man, full of energy, chasing from one end of the world to the other in search of the meaning of life. Eventually, he sought tranquility as a monk at Mount Athos, only to find himself in a battle of another kind.
I was hooked by this new character and new story. What would a Russian soldier have been doing in Ethiopia at the turn of the century? What war could he have fought in the the Far East? What was it that compelled him to go from one end of the world to the other, and then to become a monk?
After getting out of the Army, I moved to Boston, where my future wife, Barbara lived. There I tracked down all available leads to this story, but could find very little additional information. There was a poem by Mandelshtam about the heresy. The philosopher Berdyayev had nearly been sent to Siberia for expressing support for the heretics. But that was it.
Then in the spring of 1972, the "B" volume of the new edition of the official Soviet Encyclopedia (Bolshaya Sovietskaya Entsiklopedia) appeared. The previous edition had mentioned an "Alexander" Bulatovich who died about 1910. The Bulatovich in the Times article was named "Anthony" and was very much alive in 1913. The new edition made it clear that Alexander and Anthony were the same man. (In the Russian Orthodox Church, when becoming a monk, it is common to adopt a new name with the same first letter.) The new article corrected the date of his death (1919) and referenced books that Bulatovich had written about his experiences in Ethiopia. This encyclopedia item was signed by Professor I.S. Katsnelson, from the Institute of Oriental Studies, in Moscow.
I wrote to Professor Katsnelson, and to my delight, in his reply, he sent me a copy of a recently published reprint of Bulatovich's Ethiopian books, which he had edited, and also gave me the name and address of Bulatovich's sister, Princess Mary Orbeliani, who was then 98, and living in Canada.
Katsnelson offered to help me gain access to Soviet archives that had some of Bulatovich's unpublished notes and other related materials. But my Army security clearance prevented me from travel behind the Iron Curtain. (I was then in the Army reserves.)
Instead, in the summer of 1972, I traveled to Mount Athos, where I spent two weeks, mostly doing research in the library of St. Pantelaimon, the one remaining Russian monastery there.
Meanwhile, I corresponded with Princess Orbeliani, and visited her for two days the following summer in Penticton, British Columbia. In long tape-recorded conversations and in letters before and after that visit, she provided me with valuable information about her brother's life and insight into his character. At 99, she was very articulate, lucid, and helpful. She was delighted that someone was showing an interest in her brother's work and beliefs. She was a remarkable and inspiring person -- unassuming, warm and open. Living in a nursing home, she continued to pursue her artwork, specializing in water colors. Although her fingers were swollen from arthritis and she had difficulty even unwrapping a piece of candy, she could still play Chopin on the piano from memory, smoothly and without hesitation. Her own tale would make an interesting book: flight during the Revolution by way of Baku to Yugoslavia, and hardship there under the Nazis; sending her son to engineering school in Louvain, Belgium; his career in the Belgian Congo; and then eventually joining him in British Columbia. (She passed away in 1977 at the age of 103).
Increasingly, I was getting caught up in the research, carrying it far beyond what one would normally do to write an "historical novel." Each new piece of information raised more questions and pulled me in even deeper.
At Harvard's Widener Library, I was able to follow up references and find related materials. In this manner, I found and photocopied numerous books and articles about Ethiopia, as well as the heresy, and the Manchurian campaign of 1900.
I was fascinated by Bulatovich's character and wanted to work out the puzzle of his motivations, and what might have led to the shifts and twists of his life: from St. Petersburg, to Ethiopia, to Manchuria, then back to St. Petersburg where he became a monk, and on to Mount Athos, becoming the champion of the "heretics" there, then a chaplain at the Eastern Front in World War I, surviving the Revolution and Civil War, and returning to preach on what had been his family's estate in the Ukraine, only to be murdered by bandits.
What drove him to do the things he did? How could I present all these facts I had uncovered in a way that they seemed plausible?
Eventually, I wrote The Name of Hero. Intended as the first part of a trilogy, this novel focuses on Manchuria, with flashbacks to his childhood and to Ethiopia. Professor Katsnelson died in 1981, the year that Hero was published.
Katsnelson (1910-1981) was a professor at Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R., in Moscow. He was a specialist in ancient Egypt and Nubia, best known for his monograph Napata and Meroe -- the Ancient Kingdom of Sudan published in 1971. He had a personal interest in Ethiopia and Bulatovich in particular. In 1975, together with G. Terekhova, he published a popularized biography of Bulatovich entitled Through Unknown Lands of Ethiopia. He also edited and, in 1979, published a book by another Russian explorer of Ethiopia, a contemporary of Bulatovich, L.K. Artamanov, entitled Through Ethiopia to the Banks of the White Nile. Katsnelson also uncovered in the Soviet Archives a series of previously unpublished documents by and about Bulatovich in Ethiopia. These were eventually published in Moscow in 1987 as Third Expedition in Ethiopia by Bulatovich. Selections from his introduction to the first Bulatovich books, with unique biographical details about Bulatovich, are included at the end of this volume.
While I was researching my novel, I translated portions of Bulatovich's Ethiopian books for my own use. The more I read about Ethiopia, the more it became clear to me that experts in the field were unfamiliar with these works and could benefit from them, and also that they contain much that would interest the general reader and lover of history. Finally, with the prompting of Professor Harold Marcus of Michigan State University, I made the time to translate both books in full. I am now writing the next Bulatovich novel.
Up until the Revolution, Russia used the Julian or "old style" calendar, which, in 1897-98 lagged 12 days behind the Gregorian calendar, which was used by the rest of the world. Since Bulatovich used the "old style" and celebrated religious holidays, such as Christmas, in accord with that calendar, his usage has been retained in this translation.
I have not anglicized the names -- except Biblic ones in a church or historical context (e.g. the Queen of Sheba), and Bulatovich's middle name Xavieryevich (instead of Ksaveryevich), to indicate the Roman Catholic origins of his father, Xavier.
Ethiopian words in the text pose a particular problem. Bulatovich used non-traditional phonetic methods to render what he heard into Cyrllic characters. Strictly following standard Cyrllic-to-English transliteration practice would lead to unnecessary confusion, making it difficult to recognize when he is writing about well-known historical people, places, and events. For instance, the general he accompanied on the expedition to Lake Rudolph is commonly rendered in English as Wolda Giyorgis, but direct transliteration from Bulatovich's Cyrillic would yield Val'dye Gyeorgyis. And the common title dajazmatch in direct transliteration would have been dadiazmach.
To avoid this problem, where the Amharic original is obvious and the person, place, or thing is well-known, I follow the spelling in The Life and Times of Menelik II by Harold G. Marcus.
In other cases, I deviate from standard transliteration to yield spellings consistent with well-known ones. For instance, the Russian letter "U" at the beginning of a word and before a vowel is rendered "W" in this text (as in Wollo and Wollaga). Also, the Russian character that is normally rendered with the two-letter combination "kh" is transcribed here simply as "h" when it falls at the beginning of a word (as in Haile). And the combination of two Russian letters -- "d" and the letter normally rendered as "zh" -- is here treated as the single letter "j" (as in Jibuti and Joti). Also, the series of titles ending in -match, such as dajazmatch, are rendered consistently with "tch" rather than just "ch" as in Bulatovich's usage.
For convenience, when Bulatovich uses Russian units of measure for distance (verst), length (vershok, arshin, sagene), temperature (Reamur), weight (pood), I provide a direct translation and immediately follow with the conversion to common American units of measure [in brackets].
The paragraph breaks are the same as in the orginal (for easy comparison of one text with the other).
Ellipses (...) are used here the same as in the original. They do not indicate that material has been omitted.
Thanks to the dozens of people from the Internet newsgroups soc.culture.soviet and k12.lang.russian who took the time to help me decipher obscure and obsolete Russian terms and identify literary quotations. Alexander Chaihorsky deserves special thanks for his insight into the meaning of "sal'nik" based on his experience as an explorer in northern Mongolia. Thanks also to another Internet contact: Zemen Lebne-Dengel, who explained for me the Amharic words t'ef and dagussa.
[NB numbers refer to footnotes which are at the end of this document]
In the summer of 1896, I had the opportunity to take part in a journey into Abyssinia, and decided to take advantage of it. I set out toward the western regions because Ethiopia was almost completely unexplored in that direction. Only three Europeans had up until then been on that side of the Didessa River:
1) Ilg2 by order of Emperor Menelik went up the Dabus River, but didn't cross the Gaby River.
2) Schuver3 went from Gedaref across the Abbay River between theDabus River and the Tumat River and discovered the basin of that river.
3) And Pino, a French merchant, went on several campaigns with Ras Gobana4,5 and was the only European to have crossed the Gaba River. But he didn't reach the River Baro.
The whole southwestern portion of the Ethiopian highlands was up to this time completely unexplored. This was true not because of lack of people who wanted to, and not so much because of insuperable natural obstacles to such exploration. Rather, up until very recent times, this region was ruled by a series of independent Galla tribes.6 You could get there only by passing through Shoa; but because of the continual wars between Abyssinians and Galla, that was impossible. Now the Abyssinians rule this country and, only with great reluctance let anyone go there.
In addition, this journey was interesting because, according to informed sources, the western provinces, together with Harar, were the richest in Abyssinia, and were almost the sole source of the state treasury. It would also be interesting to observe how the Abyssinians rule a recently conquered region.
From an ethnographic point of view, it would be interesting to learn the morals, manners, customs, and character of the Galla, who were the native inhabitants of this country and who up to this time were almost completely unknown.
A visit to this region also had interest from a military point of view, because this is where the main forces of Abyssinia are -- presenting the opportunity to study the Abyssinian army, which was very difficult to do in Entotto.
I was unprepared for this journey and didn't have the appropriate instruments; so, unfortunately, I couldn't try to solve the scientific questions which I otherwise would have pursued. But it was impossible to obtain the instruments. I received the invitation to make this journey at the end of September. If I had ordered scientific instruments, at best they couldn't arrive before the beginning of January, and there would always be the risk that they would be broken in transit.
Therefore, not setting myself unrealistic scientific goals, I decided to take advantage of this rare opportunity I had been given to visit this interesting country, and I tried to do everything I could to make my journey useful.
This book is an account of my journey and description of the country, its governmental structures, and the beliefs and customs of the tribes who lived there. These are the fruits of my best efforts at observation. I know very well that my conclusions are in many ways inexact and that a more detailed study of the country will reveal that this account is not without errors. I myself, after my trip, frequently had to correct my own errors.
But I tried, as much as it was in my powers, to
determine the truth. Keeping in mind the proverb, "The one who is mistaken
is the one who does nothing," I decided to publish this work.
When Emperor Menelik gave me permission for my journey, the main condition he imposed on me was that I could not cross the borders of his realm. I agreed to that, unwillingly.7
On Oct. 28, 1896, the Emperor granted me a farewell audience. Saying good-bye, His Highness wished me a good trip and gave me two letters: one to Dajazmatch8 Demissew (his domain was halfway to Leka), and the other to Dajazmatch Tesemma, who lives at the far western frontiers of Abyssinia.
At noon on Oct. 29, cordially seen off by those members of the Russian Red Cross who were staying in Entotto and by several Abyssinian friends, I left by the road to Leka.
My detachment consisted of 17 servants and eight animals (seven mules and one horse). It was very easy to find servants.
Knowing of my upcoming trip, they came and voluntarily applied for work, despite the extremely modest conditions (five talers for clothes and pay per servant on our return). I selected just 17 men. This number was a few more than what I needed, but the road ahead was such that we would not be able to pass that way without losses, and it would be impossible to replenish the ranks en route. So I increased by a third the number of people I needed (I estimated 11 for guns and one for tent posts). Our weapons consisted of three 3/8-inch-caliber rifles which were provided by the Red Cross (with 50 cartridges for each gun), one carbine (with 50 cartridges), one double-barreled hunting gun (500 cartridges), six Gra guns (1200 cartridges), and one revolver (18 cartridges). Our side-arms consisted of a sword, three Abyssinian sabers and four metal spears. Our transport consisted of eight pack mules which could carry a total of 45 poods [1620 pounds] of cargo.9
On the first day, we only went 15 versts [9.9 miles] because the pack loads were not yet adjusted and required frequent stops and fixing. We spent the night at Mete. On Oct. 31, we crossed the upper reaches of the Awash River and stayed at the home of a Galla. In all, in three days, we went 75 versts [49.5 miles]. Crossing the Awash, we came to the residence of Dajazmatch Ubye -- the husband of Woyzaro10 Zawditu11, daughter of Menelik.
At our next stop we met the uncle of the Dajazmatch -- a gray-haired, hunched old man, 65 years old, of Semitic features and with oblong, suspicious eyes. He was supposed to lead me through the domain of his nephew. The house where we stayed belonged to a rich Galla. Our host was absent, and his two beautiful wives received us. The house was rather large, of a low circular design 15-20 paces in diameter with a gabled roof, propped up with a large number of posts. The house was divided by partitions into three separate apartments. At night the livestock was driven into the apartment nearest to the outside doors, the largest one (Galla houses are not surrounded with fences). The hearth was found in the middle apartment, and the farthest apartment was the sleeping chamber of the host.
On November 1, we stopped in the land of Gura at the house of a shum12 of my friend Dajazmatch Haile Maryam, the older brother of Ras Makonnen13. The domain of Haile Maryam used to be very great; but four years ago, he argued with the Empress Taitu14 and everything was taken away from him. Now part of the confiscated land has been returned to him -- namely Chobo, Gura, and Tikur.
The home of the shum was located on a beautiful spot on the bank of the River Guder. Knowing that I would pass through his land, the Dajazmatch, who at that time was in Addis Ababa, sent a courier to the shum; and that evening they brought to me a large durgo15: a plump ram, 200 pieces of injera16, tej17, tala18, honey comb, butter, hens, eggs, and a sauce for the servants. A gybyr (feast) was prepared. First Ato Zennakh, Ato Balaynekh and I, and then all the servants and local Abyssinians ceremoniously carried in a ram, which had just been slaughtered and hung it on a post. Ato Zennakh, with the air of an expert of Abyssinian gastronomy, cut it into pieces. A servant with bare shoulders, who had wrapped his shamma19 around him, lifted the still warm thigh of a ram over a basket with injera, around which we sat.
(In good homes at eating time, one is supposed to wear the shamma in this manner. In the palace, those close to the emperor in general do not have the right to wear the shamma at all) Each of us chose a piece of meat for ourselves and cut it from the leg.
It is hard to imagine anything more delicious than raw fresh-killed meat, but unfortunately, thanks to it, there is scarcely an Abyssinian who does not suffer from tape-worm, and all of them, beginning with the Emperor and ending with the beggar, regularly, every two months, take boiled and crushed berries of the kusso tree, and, in low-lying places, of the enkoko bush. At times of severe illness, before receiving the Eucharist, the Abyssinian takes his kusso, and he considers it indecent to die without cleansing himself of tape worms.
On November 2 we crossed the rapid Uluk River by a natural stone bridge, which is some sort of wonder of nature. The
countryside was of striking beauty. In the narrow and deep ravine, the river rushed past with a roar. The steep banks were overgrown with high kolkual cactuses, having found shelter by some miracle on the almost sheer cliffs. This countryside is rich in hot mineral springs, well-known both among the Abyssinians and the Gallas for their medicinal strength. The three main springs are found by the same river, at the bridge.
They are named Iesus, Maryam and Giyorgis [Jesus, Mary, and George]. Alongside the river, somewhat higher, there is a lake with a large number of springs, which also bear the names of saints. Nearby there is a market. It was market day and groups of Galla and Abyssinians stretched out on both sides. Along the way, they would plunge into the medicinal water of the lake and water their cattle. My fellow travelers did likewise. All this compact mass of supple and slender black bodies of antique beauty now shone dark bronze under the oblique rays of the evening sun, in the middle of the wild lake, surrounded by ancient forest and rocks.
On this day, passing along the valley of the Guder River and having crossed it by a narrow bridge made of liana, we stopped at the foot of the Toke mountain ridge. On November 3, we climbed the mountain ridge; and on November 4, we descended into the valley of the Gibye River20. Both the ascent and the descent were extremely difficult because of the steepness and the muddy forest road.
Ato Zennakh asked me to stop over at his house, and I accepted the invitation, because the unsuitability of my pack saddles for mountainous roads was already beginning to tell: one mule was hurt; and the next day, we decided the next day to cauterize its back in the customary Abyssinian fashion. This operation is done in the following way: they bring the mule down on the ground and, having made two sickles red-hot on pressed cow's dung, they seared it in seven places on each side of the backbone, each in the form of a line five vershoks [8.75 inches] long, extending from the backbone down along the ribs. On the following day, in spite of the fact that the whole back of the mule was swollen, they saddled it with a light load, and by evening the swelling had gone away.
In the absence of the Dajazmatch, who almost always stays with the Emperor, Ato Zennakh manages all of his vast property. His house is located at the foot of Mount Jibat in a delightful, heavily populated valley of one of the tributaries of the Gibye River. Built on a small terrace with a very steep climb, and surrounded by a high fence, it towers over all the surrounding countryside. There are many legends about Mount Jibat. They say that on the summit there used to be a castle of Negus Zara Yakob21 (fifteenth century A.D.). The ruins of this castle exist to this day, but the mountain has become overgrown with such thick forest that to get to them is very difficult.
Ato Zennakh entertained me as well as he possibly could. An ox and two rams were slaughtered and a feast was prepared, at which was drunk an enormous number of gombs22 of tej.
On November 6, the holiday of my regiment, after a sufficiently long march, we stopped at the house of a rich Galla. In solitude, I drank a bottle of red wine in honor of the regiment.
On November 7, our route went along the valley of the Gibye River -- wide and low, still swampy from the rain. From the north it is bounded by the Chalez Mountains, and from the south by the Jibat Mountains and Koletcho-Ale. It is said that in these mountains there is a summit to which a cross descended from heaven; and that, to this day, it is guarded by some mysterious old man and old woman. But no one has ever climbed this mountain and seen this cross, since according to popular belief -- which scarcely ever is wrong -- anyone who dares to climb here will suddenly die.
At noon we crossed the Gibye River, the main tributary of the River Omo. The water still hadn't abated after the rain, and we swam the horses and mules across. Galla carried our goods by hand over a hanging bridge. This bridge was constructed in a very eccentric way. From two enormous trees on both banks of the river were stretched lianas, on which were placed the web of the bridge; several lianas served as hand-rails on the sides. The length of the bridge was 40 paces; its width was one pace. This year, the water was very high and damaged part of the bridge, such that mules couldn't pass along it.
Our animals swam in groups of two or three; and we nearly had an accident. The current took my horse and two mules, and since the banks were steep and the animals were in no condition to scramble out, they were quickly pulled down. But the selflessness of two Galla and of my servants saved the animals.
Here, among other things, a humorous episode took place. One of the servants was wearing my old flabby top hat; when the servant was crossing the bridge, the wind caught the hat, and it fell in the water. A Galla, seeing this, jumped straight from the bridge, from a height of at least five arshins [six and a half yards], after the hat into the water, and with celebration brought it to me, apparently thinking it was of great value.
The whole crossing, with and without loads, took an hour and a half.
On November 8 we crossed the property of Dajazmatch Ubye into the land of Dajazmatch Demissew and stopped at the large market of the village of Bilo. This day we succeeded in killing an enormous chamois-bull (orobo). The bullet from the 3/8-inch-caliber rifle, as it turned out that time, hit the cheek and went through, but, in spite of that, the orobo continued to run and only fell at a distance of 700-800 paces from the spot where it was wounded. Both the entry and exit holes made by the bullet were scarcely noticeable.
The Gibye River separates the lands of Dajazmatch Demissew and Dajazmatch Ubye. We parted cordially with Ato Zennakh, and I gave him a watch.
Dajazmatch Demissew sent a large convoy (150-200 men) to meet us and, along with two of his senior commanders -- Abagaz Bakabil and Ato Wolda Maskal -- and, in addition, five flutes, which is considered a great honor. The title abagaz means "father of the estate." Usually this is an old man, who has known the owner from childhood. Sometimes he is a slave, who nursed him. Always he is someone connected to the estate with strong ties of friendship. Such was Abagaz Bakabil. Ato Wolda Maskal was the commander of 2,000 soldiers and in the absence of the dajazmatch was his deputy.
The town of Bilo, where we stopped, was one of the most significant commercial centers of western Abyssinia. Although it is located on the land of Dajazmatch Demissew, it was not under his command, but rather under the nagada-ras (in translation -- "head of the merchants"), who is in charge of all the trade of a certain district and of all the merchants found there, in judicial, administrative, and fiscal matters. The significance of Bilo as a commercial point derives from its position at a crossroads. Everything that goes from western Abyssinia to Shoa and Gojjam and from the south to Gojjam passes through Bilo.
Through it pass large caravan tracks to Wollaga, Ilu-Babur, Jimma, Kaffa, Leka, and on the north and east to Gojjam, and from there to Massawa, Jibuti and Zeila through Shoa and Harar.
Recently, with the increase in export through Zeila and Jibuti at the expense of Massawa, trade from southern Abyssinia and Kaffa goes not through Bilo, but straight to Shoa through Sodo and Jimma. In Bilo itself, there are no more than 300 households, but already with the first steps you feel the difference between this settlement and those which are near it. It is immediately evident that this is a commercial center with lively and exuberant interests. Here one can buy both hay and injera and tala and tej and even cognac and absinthe. At a dinner held in my honor, the shum of this city, son of the nagada-ras, asked me about the governments of Europe, about Egypt and India, showed interest in politics and in his turn told what he knew about Kaffa and dervishes. As usual, they overloaded us with durgo.
After the meal, singers sang the victories of Menelik, and also improvised on the friendship of Russians and Abyssinians. Those singers were soon relieved by others who, together with the beggars who had assembled, gave me no peace all night long.
On November 10, we crossed through the Koncho mountain ridge, which unites the mountain groups of Sibu, Chelea and Limu, and descended into the valley of the Wam River, a tributary of the Didessa. On November 11, at noon, we swam across the Wam and climbed on Mount Leka. On November 12, met by all the available soldiers of Dajazmatch Demissew ceremoniously entered his residence. He himself came out to meet me and accommodated me in his house. Son of an afa-negus23, who had great influence on the emperor, he until recent times was fitaurari24 and ruled a small region of Gera and Guma which bordered on Kaffa. But after the death of the Fitaurari Gabayu, Takle, and Damto, killed in the last war, he was given authority over these lands and the rank of dajazmatch. To him was also entrusted the chief supervision over two Galla states which had submitted to Menelik and therefore had maintained their former government: Wollaga -- Dajazmatch Joti, and Leka -- Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer. Thus the property of Dajazmatch Demissew extends from the extreme western and northwestern borders of Ethiopia.
I spent two days as a guest of this amiable host, also becoming acquainted with his wife, who is very nice, but in appearance almost a little girl. She is 14 years old, but, by her own words, Demissew is her third husband. Woyzaro Asalefech (literally "forcing to go"), a cousin of the Empress Taitu, got married for the first time at the age of nine and recently, in accordance with the wishes of the itege25, divorced her second husband and married Dajazmatch Demissew. The life of women of the upper class in Abyssinia is a sad one. As much as a woman of the lower class is free, the life of a woman of the upper class is secluded. For entire weeks and sometimes months, they do not leave their elfin26. They are always surrounded by dozens of maid servants. Here, in addition, several boys are always found, sons of well-known people who are subordinates of the dajazmatch, who teach etiquette and grammar. All this is guarded by several gloomy, wrinkled, beardless eunuchs.
On November 14, bidding good-bye to the Dajazmatch and his wife, I left this amiable host. He led me with flutes and with all his army to the banks of the Didessa and at parting gave me a splendid mule with silver gear. In return, at his request, I gave him a Gra gun, 100 cartridges, and part of my traveling medicine chest -- some of all the medicines, and likewise several bottles of vodka.
At three in the afternoon we crossed the wide Didessa River.
The goods and people were transported by Gallas on small, dug-out canoes, and the horses and mules swam across. During the crossing there was a small accident. One of my servants and a Galla were on one of the canoes. A servant held the reins of my horse and the mule which had just been given to me in order to lead them across to the other side. But the new mule, as soon as it no longer felt the bottom under its feet, suddenly turned back toward the bank. The reins fell under the stern of the canoe and the canoe capsized. My servant, not knowing how to swim, almost drowned, but this was, fortunately, close to the bank, so Galla arriving just in time saved him, at the same time as losing a 3/8-inch-caliber rifle and also some other things. The whole crossing took three hours.
The Didessa here is quite wide (300-400 paces) and very deep. The banks are overgrown with an enormous ancient forest, interwoven with lianas, overhanging down to the water. The river abounds with fish, crocodiles and hippopotamuses. During the crossing the Galla tried to make as much noise as they could in order to scare away crocodiles.
At this place, the forest on the banks of the Didessa stretches out in a narrow strip, behind which lies a wide plain, overgrown with dense five-arshin [four-yard] high grass, completely hiding both rider and horse. The road is intersected by a thick network of interlacing paths, among which it is difficult to distinguish which were made by animals and which by people, and the high grass conceals from you all points of orientation. Because of this, we finally lost our way and were separated from our mules. We had to spend the night in a secluded Galla farmstead, consisting of five houses.
Almost half of the population of this farmstead died this year from fever. At our call, a boy appeared. He was quite emaciated. A sheep skin thrown over his thin shoulders was his only clothing. He was shaking all over from fever, and the moans of several more sick people were heard from the house. At the entrance several piles of stones were heaped up; and bundles of high grass, scraps of material, coffee seeds and some beads and shells were thrown on them. This is how Galla offer sacrifices to the fever in order that it pass by their houses.
The valley of the Didessa is one of the most fever-ridden. The fever here is especially strong and every year takes many victims. But the illness only lasts from May-June to October-November. The other unhealthy characteristic of this place is that every little wound easily turns into an ulcer; almost the whole populace is afflicted by them.
At night I sent everyone to search for the mules and goods, but it took until noon the next day for them to find them and get back together. We spent the night at the home of Ato Balaynekh, a shum of Dajazmatch Tesemma who had been sent to meet us. He is responsible for the law court -- wambyr -- in the half of the property of Dajazmatch Tesemma which lies between the Didessa and Gaba Rivers. But his main duty, aside from managing his own district, is to keep an eye on the collections of taxes by the other shums. Here, as before, I was received extremely cordially.
Ato Balaynekh is an interesting type of Abyssinian of the old stock: lean, lively, sometimes brutal, apparently brave, not as refined as the emperor's courtiers today, rough and proud. He took part in the last expedition to Aussa and, as he asserted, killed 32 Danakils.26 He doesn't know how to shoot a rifle, but uses a spear exceptionally well.
On this side of the Didessa, the road turns to the southwest; and the countryside changes sharply. Here everything is completely concealed by forest and bushes. The elevated and hilly countryside is broken by narrow, deep valleys, in which many streams, descending from the summits of Kaffa, pour their crystal clear water into the Baro or the Gaba. All these valleys are thickly grown with coffee. The air is very damp, and in the morning the dew is plentiful. Endless spring reigns here, and there is no time of the year when no trees are in flower. Ten to twelve years ago this countryside was completely settled and, of course, there wasn't a piece of good land left uncultivated. But a cattle disease led to famine, and destruction of the population during the subjugation of the region has half depopulated it.
Riding through, every minute you come across straight lines of kolkual cactus among the overgrowth, indicating former property boundaries or the former fence of a farmstead. Now the territory all around is completely covered with bushes, thickly interwoven with thorny lianas. Rarely, you come upon a Galla settlement, surrounded with banana trees. More often, here and there, clearings are seen, where peas grow among chopped and knocked down trees. By this picture you can judge the fertility of the soil. Uncultivated ground gives just as fine a harvest as that which has been sown. Beehives hang from all the high trees near settlements. The honey from this area is celebrated for its strength. The general impression produced by this region is the most delightful: if it is possible to apply the phrase "flowing in milk and honey" to any country, then truly this is that country.
On November 16, we crossed the Dobona River by bridge and spent the night at the home of a Galla. The family consisted of the host, (the father of whom was killed by Abyssinians during the subjugation), his mother and two wives. One of the wives was exceptionally beautiful. The host himself, apparently, was reconciled with his fate, but his mother looked on Abyssinians with fear and anger and sat by the fire all night long.
On the seventeenth, we took a very difficult road to the Gaba River and, crossing it by bridge, spent the night at the house of Balambaras28,29 Mansur. He was on a raid with the Dajazmatch, and his wife took us in.
The banks of the Gaba River are precipitously steep and do not allow crossing by ford. They took advantage of this circumstance and on that side of the bridge built a gate for the collection of duty from all incoming and outgoing merchandise. Aside from the revenue, it also has military significance, since it prevents desertion. An excellent mule of mine died here. The day before, it was still quite healthy; but at eleven o'clock in the morning, descending to the Gaba River, it suddenly took ill. White foam poured from its nostril, and after two minutes it was dead.
On the nineteenth, we crossed the Sor River, also by bridge. The banks of the Sor, like those of the Gaba were entirely overgrown with coffee.
On the twenty-first, we were ceremoniously met by Fitaurari Wolda Ayb, a deputy of Dajazmatch Tesemma. He had come three versts [two miles] from the town with his available garrison.
Together, we went to the town of Gori. This is the last Abyssinian town on the north-west border. The troops who had come to meet me, bowed down to the ground to me, and, surrounding me, led me to the house that had been prepared for us. The clergy came from the church in Gori to meet me with crosses and icons. The priest recited the Lord's Prayer, and then began hymns, accompanied with dancing.
Gori is the residence of Dajazmatch Tesemma. At this time, he was on a small expedition against the neighboring Mocha. He had left Fitaurari Wolda Ayb as his deputy, an old man, who had also served his father, Dajazmatch Hadou. My arrival threw the old man into great confusion. The day before, he had received a letter from the Emperor addressed to the Dajazmatch, explaining the purpose of my visit and ordering him to meet me with honor and to receive me well. In Menelik's letter, it was said that I came to look at the country and that he should show it to me.
But without a direct order from the Dajazmatch the Fitaurari was afraid to do that. On the day following my arrival, all this became clear. I demanded that the Fitaurari give me a guides to Dajazmatch Tesemma in Mocha, but he did not agree to this. Then I explained to him that I didn't come here just to sit around; and, having the permission of the emperor, in two days I would either set out to find Dajazmatch Tesemma or go north to Dajazmatch Joti. The Fitaurari was in despair. He implored me to wait here two weeks, believing that in that time the dajazmatch should definitely return. But I foresaw that two weeks would drag on to two months and did not agree to that. My departure was set for Tuesday. Unfortunately, I could not carry out this intention. The fever which I had suffered in Addis Ababa and which had not left me for the whole time of the trip, now came back in a stronger degree, complicated by a large abscess on my stomach at the place where I had had a hypodermic injection of quinine. On November 25, I finally took to my bed, and only got up again three weeks later.
The twenty-third and twenty-fourth of November, I had a misunderstanding with the servants. They demanded that I give them five talers for clothing, and when I said no, they went on strike. But I forestalled it, firing the chief instigator. I whipped another who continued to stir up trouble, and the commotion quieted down. At first, the one who had been punished was bitterly offended and went to give his gun back to me. I dismissed him and gave him three more talers for the return journey. But in less than half an hour, priests came to ask forgiveness for him, and he himself began to kiss my feet. I was very happy at this outcome, as a moral victory, definitely establishing my authority over him.
My illness, apparently, was not of the lungs, since I suffered badly for three to four days, until I lanced the abscess with a knife washed in sublimate. All the servants sat at the entrance to my tent and wept mournfully.
On December 12, somewhat recovered from the illness, I designated the fifteenth as the day of departure. But this again had to be put off since the chief of my servants, Wolda Tadik, became seriously ill. On December 20 a letter arrived for me from Dajazmatch Tesemma, which said that he would be happy to see "the eyes of a Russian friend" and asked me to wait until Christmas, since he hoped to return at that time. The letter was written from Mocha, and it was brought from there by a Galla woman. I answered that I would wait, and I used the free time to hunt, and also to become acquainted with the beliefs, customs and history of the Galla. Through my servants I questioned merchants who came that way, who had relations with Negroes of Bako and Kaffa.
Our internal life was often troubled by my servants fighting among themselves or with the local inhabitant. That kind ofbusiness made it necessary for me to dress wounds. On December 23, having quarreled with one another, some took up guns, some took up sabers, and the issue threatened to become a regular battle. Fortunately, I intervened in time and calmed them down.
That's the way things were until December 31. Wolda Tadik recovered. There was no news from Dajazmatch Tesemma. There was no reason to stay here any longer, but I also didn't want to leave without having seen the lands on the other side of the Baro River. Since there was no legal way I could penetrate beyond the Baro River, I tried to accomplish it by cunning and force.
During my stay here, I was treated almost like an honored captive. Fifty soldiers were posted Around the house, day and night, in order to "protect me from danger," as the Fitaurari asserted. If I went out anywhere, to stroll or to hunt, they all went along with me.
On the morning of December 31, I ordered two horses be saddled (one of which I had bought the day before); and at 8 o'clock in the morning, accompanied by one servant, I quickly set out along the road that leads to the bridge across the Baro. We took several biscuits with us and armed ourselves: I had a sword, revolver and rifle, and my servant had my carbine and saber.
Each of us had 40 cartridges. At 12 noon we got as far as Didu Mountain, having covered, along a mountainous road with frequent crossings, 50 versts [33 miles] in four hours. Another 15 versts [12 miles] of difficult, swampy forest road remained up to the Baro. Having given the horses a quarter hour of rest, we moved along farther, but were soon forced to dismount. The road was swampy, and we were sometimes up to our knees in mud. The forest was shady and cool, since the ancient enormous trees blocked the light of the sun. Among the trees everything was completely overgrown with coffee bushes.
Already after eight versts [5 miles], we heard the rumbling of a waterfall. Finally, at three o'clock in the afternoon, we reached the great river. Over the river a bridge had been thrown, for which they used two rocks halfway along the riverbed. In this manner, the bridge was made up of three spans, each 40 paces in length. Beyond the Baro began the theater of military action and Mocha, a state that is kindred to Kaffa, populated by people of the same Sidamo tribe.29 To the north from Mocha, Negro tribes begin. Not being able to seriously acquaint myself with these regions, I wanted at least to glance superficially at them, and therefore, in spite of the insistence of my servant that we return, I went farther. The sun had already set, but the forest did not end, and there were no traces of habitation. But there in a thicket the sound of voices was heard. We went toward the sound; and in half an hour, we found ourselves in the middle of coffee pickers. The wife of the Abyssinian shum on this side of the Baro, had gathered all her husband's remaining soldiers and risked crossing the river to harvest coffee. At the entrance to a hut, hidden by banana leaves, a fire crackled, and fifteen Abyssinian men sat around it, chattering in an undertone. Our arrival absolutely amazed them. In the hut, where they led me, I saw the bold woman leader of this small detachment. Verybeautiful, with almost white skin, she reclined on a bed and breast-fed a child. They treated me to flat-cakes made from cornand freshly picked coffee; this was all of their provisions.
Chatting cheerfully, we sat around almost to the coming of the new year.
My departure had caused a terrible commotion in the city. Fitaurari Wolda Ayb raised everyone to their feet and sent them after me. He wasn't afraid of a trick, but rather that something had happened to me.
On the following day, having taken leave of our hostess, I set out for the border of Mocha. Having gone some distance through a countryside devastated by war, we turned north and reached Alga, the farthest Abyssinian observation point. This was a sort of small fort, surrounded by a deep moat, with little bridges thrownover it. A guard stopped us here in the name of Menelik and wouldn't let us in, until the commandant came and, realizing who I was, admitted me. In Alga, I was overtaken by a unit of men sent by the Fitaurari, with Kanyazmatch30 Sentayukh and Azzaj31 Dubal. They asked me to return, saying that I was at risk of being killed and that that would be the ruin of them. On thefollowing day, taking the direction to the north along the slope of the mountains, after a very difficult crossing we reached Sale, the district which borders the lands of Negro tribes. From there, continuing again to the north and descending, we again reached the Baro. At this place it is even more beautiful than where I crossed it the first time. Fifteen versts [10 miles] below the bridge, the Baro divides into two streams which again unite here, forming two beautiful waterfalls, of which the first is several sagenes higher than the second [sagene = 2.13 meters].
Pedestrians cross the Baro here by jumping from rock to rock, but horses and mules cannot do that. We tried to have a mule cross by swimming above the waterfall, where the current was not so strong; but the mule and the Abyssinian who was crossing with him almost perished. Halfway across the river, the servant hit a rock under the water, and letting go of the mule, was carried away to the waterfall. Fortunately, we at that moment held out a spear to him, which he grasped and leaped out on the bank. While we saved the Abyssinian, the mule, fighting against the current with difficulty, swam backwards and helplessly floundered and fought in the water, not having the strength to climb up on the steep bank, which had been undermined by water. Passing lianas under his belly and grabbing him -- some by the ears and some by the tail -- we somehow finally dragged him from the water.
Forced to build a bridge, we made full use of all the cutting weapons we had at hand. We wove the web of the bridge out of lianas. The work moved along at full swing; and after three hours, the bridge was ready. On this side, it began with a climb on a smooth stone surface, along which ran part of the water of the upper channel. My horse slipped and falling, began to slide down the inclined plane to the waterfall. The selflessness of my servants saved it. By some miracle, they held their ground on the slippery inclined plane, caught hold of it as well as possible, and, tying it with lianas, dragged it back up. This day, crossing an uninhabited border zone, that separates the lands of the Gallas and the Negroes of the Bako tribe, we spent the night in the neighborhood of the well-known market of Bure.
Bure is an important point of barter with Negro tribes on this side of the Baro. At Saturday markets, they bring for sale elephant tusks and sometimes their livestock, and in exchange for that they buy ornaments, beads and cloth. Besides this, Bure, located on the road from western Wollaga to Kaffa and from Mocha and western Kaffa to Leka and Gojjam, is important as a market for coffee. From Kaffa, Mocha, and the neighboring districts, coffee goes to Bure, where it is resold by other merchants who convey it to Leka or Bilo and there, in turn, resell it.
Together with coffee goes much civet musk. I succeeded in seeing a civet cat32 at the shop of a Galla merchant, who had a large quantity of them.33 This animal is found in great numbers in this area; they catch these animals in snares. They put the captured cat in a long round cage, in which it cannot turn around. They always keep it at the hearth in homes. In almost every house, we saw two or three of these cages. They feed these animals meat cooked in butter. Ten civets can eat a ram in a day. Every nine days they gather the musk. This takes three men. One, having opened the cage from behind, takes the civet by the tail; another takes both back legs; and the third, with a horn spoon, carefully scrapes the discharge that has accumulated over this time. In nine days about two teaspoons accumulates.
On the following day, in the morning, before going to Gori, we went to see the market. It was eight o'clock in the morning; and people began to gather at the large square, surrounded with low huts, covered with banana leaves. Old men, women with infants tied behind them at the waist, and youths all stretched out in a long file, and each brought something: this one a hen, that one a piece of salt, that one large banana leaves, that one beads, that one handfuls of coffee... All of them, waiting for the chekashum34, crowded at the entrance and with fear and curiosity looked at the never-before-seen white man. Finally the shum arrived and climbed up into his tower. One after the other, they let pass those who arrived. His helpers inspected to see what each had with him, and if it wasn't much, let him go by. From the others they collected a tax. For a ram or goat they took salt (1/20 of a taler); for a shamma they also took a little salt; from a sack of cotton several handfuls of it, from a sack of corn likewise,and so on for all the products. There weren't any large-scale merchants here. The large-scale merchants had houses nearby, and it was an advantage for them to sell at home rather than here. At the market, all the surrounding population gathered, as at a large party. Each had some kind of trifle with him, in order to trade it for something else. For several coffee seeds, they sold a cup of beer; for several bundles of cotton, tobacco in a pipe. There were almost no talers in circulation, and all commerce was exclusively by barter. They brought cows here as well, to mate with a good bull, also for a known price.
There were baskets here and palm mats. Most of the Galla wore a shamma thrown over their shoulders, with a small leather apron around the waist; on the head they wore a pointed hat made of the skin of a goat or a monkey. Galla of this district have an exceptionally beautiful physique and are tall. Among the Galla women I saw very many who were beautiful. Around their waist was wrapped a large hide trimmed with beads and shells, which they wore as a [White Russian] kokhlushka skirt; on others even something like a leather sarafan. Most wore their hair shoulder-length, plaited in large numbers of braids. Some had their hair fluffed up and encircled with thin horizontal braids.
One Galla woman had the most original hair style: the hair was wound round a large number of sharp sticks which stuck out of her head like needles. The men wear their hair short, and children have their heads shaven all around, with a clump of hair left in the middle.
In addition to the Galla, several Negroes from the Yambo and Bako tribes came to the market. They wore aprons made of leaves.
Their upper front teeth were knocked out, and on the cheeks and on the forehead there were three longitudinal lines. They brought cotton with them.
I returned to Gori that day, covering 50-60 versts [33-40 miles] in five and a half hours. Everyone in the town was in complete despair, not having had any news of me. The Fitaurari arrested the Arab merchant who sold me the horse, and kept close watch on my servants. Learning of my return, he came with bows and expressions of joy on the occasion of my safe arrival. On my insistence, he freed the imprisoned Arab. I set the day of my departure for January 7.
On the evening from January 5 to 6, we took part in the religious procession to the Jordan. All the neighboring population assembled for the church holiday and the procession became huge. The deacons went first, all the children from eight to twelve years old, after them the priests ceremoniously carried on their heads the holy books and vessels; then came a chorus of scribes -- debtera, and then an endless crowd of laymen, consisting of a large number of separate choruses, singing songs that were not at all spiritual. The deacons ring little bells, the debtera sing hymns and beat on drums, the children and women shout shrilly, several people shoot guns, and the procession ceremoniously proceeds to the Jordan. After the religious procession, the leaders dined at my tent. All night long, the singing and dancing did not stop. This revelry presented astonishing contrasts. Hymns of the debtera were interrupted by the loud women's chorus and the song "Gobilye, gobilye", which means Lover, lover." And in the intervals, when it was quiet, the measured reading of the holy Gospel and the book of Mistir35 was heard. And among all this, now and then, gun shots resounded.
At two o'clock in the morning, the service at the Jordan began. At five o'clock, the water was blessed. The priest submerged the cross in water three times -- in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit -- after which he poured it three times on his own head, on the heads of other priests and on me. Then, nearly crushing one another, the people rushed to the Jordan. After dinner on the bank of the river, the return procession began, even more lively than the day before. To the earlier choruses was added another one of Galla, who although pagan were caught up in the general merriment and joined in the holiday and danced their dance. The lead singer, a Galla man of enormous size with a brutal face, stood in the middle of a large circle. The chorus repeated on refrain, in a fury: "Hoda, hoda;" and with the backs of their heads to one another, the Galla made a tight circle and, holding spears straight up and down, jumped up in time to the music. The lead singer was in complete ecstasy, with the song on his lips. He ran up to one and then another and aimed a spear at him. With the sharp end right at your chest, looking at the ferocious, brutal appearance of the Galla, it seemed he wouldn't hold back, and the spear would pierce into your body... Several jumped up, wildly growling and performing unusual body motions during the jump...
Finally, the procession reached the church. After a three-time religious procession around the church, a volley of all guns was fired, and the priest went into the church.
On January 8, having written a letter to the Dajazmatch with thanks for his hospitality and having given this to the Fitaurari, I left, accompanied by a huge convoy with Azzaj Dubal and Kanyazmatch Work at the head. In the name of the Dajazmatch, the Fitaurari gave presents to me and all of my servants and also asked me to take a mule with gear, but I declined this on the pretext that not being acquainted with the Dajazmatch, I could not take gifts from him. He lead me beyond the city with all his available soldiers, but, in spite of all these honors, I realized that he secretly ordered that no one should lead me to nor show me any other road than the one by which I had arrived. Soldiers were sent far ahead with the order to send away from the path any Galls whom I could ask about the road. I intended to cross the Gaba, to move north by the large road from Leka to Wollaga, but by chance found out that there is another bridge and a better road across the Gaba. Despite all the difficulties and the cunning of the convoy, I turned onto this road, after first reconnoitering it. On January 11 we reached the gates of the bridge across the Gaba. They didn't want to let us pass, but we went by force.
On the far side begins Wollaga, and the countryside changes completely. Here already it is not so humid as in Ilu-Babur and Mocha, and the vegetation is not as rich, but the country is more populated and the soil, although not as black, is nonetheless apparently fertile. The prevailing type of tree is mimosa. The inhabitants are the same type, but apparently they are wealthier here. All of them were dressed in shammas, and many even had trousers. Likewise the houses are better and larger and as was the livestock -- true sign of abundance. I came upon many women with chocolate-colored skin: some seemed from a distance white-skinned. Their hair was divided into many thin locks, covered with a layer of light yellow clay.
On January 12, we crossed the border of the property of Dajazmatch Tesemma, and entered the estate of Dajazmatch Demissew, and going past the large markets of Supe and Sodo, we spent the night in the land of Abeko. On January 13, we reached the large commercial settlement of Gunji. Gunji and Sodo, just like Bilo, is under the authority of a nagada-ras. Here I received news that completely changed my former plans. I found out that Dajazmatch Demissew was actively gathering provisions to go on an expedition against Abdurakhman (who rules over Beni Shangul and the course of the Tumat River), and Dajazmatch Joti had been called to Dajazmatch Demissew and already was on the way. Since the expedition, evidently, could not be postponed because the rains were coming, I decided to go as soon as possible to Dajazmatch Demissew to find out from him the true state of affairs; and if there was going to be an expedition, to try to take part in it. At seven o'clock in the morning, accompanied by one servant and a guide, who led us to the main road, I went to Didessa. After a five-hour fast trek by very difficult mountain road including crossing the Dobana River, we reached the gates on that side of the Didessa. I demanded that the leader of the guard post give us a guide to show us the ford, but he refused. My servant and I had to find it ourselves. The difficulty of finding it was heightened by the fact there were a large number of trails on the other bank and it was hard to distinguish which of them had been made by people and which by hippopotamuses. We used guess-work and crossed successfully. At six o'clock in the evening, having made a 80-90 verst [53 to 60 mile] passage, we reached the outpost of the Dajazmatch. He was sick, but finding out about my arrival greeted me with extreme pleasure, like an old friend. From him I learned that the Emperor had indeed commanded him to prepare for an expedition, and, at the first order, to quickly advance to the western borders for action against Abdurakhman. He had everything ready for the expedition, except 1,000 guns which he should receive from Addis Ababa and for which men had already been sent. Knowing of my desire to take part in the expedition, he replied that he would be in the highest degree happy if I would go with him, but it was necessary to get the permission that for this from His Majesty. On the following morning, I sent letters: one to the Emperor asking for permission to take part in the expedition, and the other to Russia with the same request.
On the third day after my arrival, the rest of my servants and mules arrived. There had been an accident while the crossing the Didessa, and crocodiles had carried off one of my servants. Waiting for the answer from the Emperor, I went hunting.
Having waited in vain for 14 days for the answer to my letter, I began to fear that some difficulty had arisen, and decided to go in person to Addis Ababa. On January 29, at eight o'clock in the morning, accompanied by one servant -- he on a mule and I on a horse -- we set out on our journey. The road was familiar, and we moved quickly. We had some biscuits and a few pounds of barley, the supply of which we refilled at local stops. The order of movement was as follows: having fed the mules at dawn, we set out at six o'clock in the morning and went at a trot, where the terrain permitted, otherwise at a walk or by foot up until twelve or one o'clock. Then at noon we took a short break and continued our advance until sunset. In this manner, depending on the road, we crossed from 90 to 110 versts [60 to 73 miles] a day. On the fourth day, February 1, having in this time gone 350 to 370 versts [231 to 244 miles], I arrived in the evening at the capital and stayed at the home of Mr. Mondon-Vidailhet.36
On the day after my arrival, I was received by the Emperor. He was very interested in my journey and was amazed at the speed of my passage. He told me that the expedition would not take place, since Abdurakhman had said he was ready to submit and agreed to the demand of the Negus to come in person or send to Addis Ababa his father as an expression of submission.
After several days disturbing news came from Ras Wolda Giyorgis, who was on an expedition against Kaffa, and the emperor ordered Demissew to go with his troops to help him. Finding out about this, I returned to the Emperor with my former request, but the Negus declined, justifying this refusal on the grounds that he was a afraid I might be killed in his country. All these troops had participated in the Italian war. Many of them had relatives and friends killed there. Knowing that Abyssinians make little distinction between white men, the Emperor was afraid that that there could be some who would use this occasion to avenge the death of their friend or relative and would shoot me from behind on the day of battle. Despite my argument that I would take all the consequences on my own responsibility, he remained inflexible. I had to reconcile myself with the bitter thought of being so close to war and not taking part in it.
On February 11, my mules and servants arrived, and on February 13, I set out, without luggage, on an elephant hunt with Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer in Leka.
My equipment consisted of a small tent, two packs with gifts, linen and clothes, and two large skins with peas.37 The armament consisted of six Gra guns, two 3/8-inch-caliber rifles, one carbine, one double-barreled hunting gun, and one Gra system four-gauge elephant gun (with explosive bullets) weighing 24 pounds, which I bought in Addis Ababa for 120 talers.
Including my personal servant and the senior servant, there were 14 servants, one per gun. Two men carried the elephant gun in turns, since in addition to it, they also had another burden and long marches were planned.
From Addis Ababa to Lekamte, the residence of Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer is an estimated 360-400 versts [238-264 miles]. The elephant hunting season had already begun. I had little time left. I intended to cover this distance as fast as possible, so that after hunting I could catch the steamer leaving Jibuti on April 2. Therefore, having provided myself with a letter from the Emperor to Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer, I declined a translator and durgo along the way.
We set out at 12 noon on February 13. On the 15th, we camped at the vertex of a road crossing in Chalea. On the 16th, having passed the city of Bareilu, and having made a brief daytime stop at the city of Likamakos38 Abata, we climbed Mount Tibye. The shum of the Likamakos killed a ram for us, and here we took part in the Lenten church service. On the 17th, we passed the summit of Mount Tibye and Mount Amara. On the 18th, we crossed the upper reaches of the Gibye River; and on the 19th, at 12 noon, we arrived at Lekamte. Thus we traversed the whole distance in six days, going 60 versts [40 miles] a day along a very difficult mountain road. We set out at six in the morning and walked till noon or one o'clock, made a short stop and then again walked until evening. We were on the move ten to eleven hours a day.
Our food for this time consisted almost exclusively of peas fried in a pan; and for the first days, up until Lent, we ate gazelles killed along the way, for the most part raw, so we did not have to drag them along with us.
Notified by me of my arrival, the Dajazmatch sent all the soldiers at hand to meet me. I already knew Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer from before. During my stay at the home of Dajazmatch Demissew, Gebra Egziabeer was gravely ill. He had a severe fever which he had caught on an elephant hunt. It was immediately after the rains, when the huge grass was not yet burnt. Having surrounded the elephants, they set fire to the grass, but a stiff wind suddenly arose and spread the fire over the whole field and carried the flames toward the hunters. They saw too late the danger that was threatening them. Already there was no way out.
Fortunately, there was a swamp nearby into which they all threw themselves and hid in mud up to their heads. The fire passed them by, taking several victims. Without exception, all the survivors fell sick with a fever, from which several men died.
Being of very strong constitution and not having previously been sick, the Dajazmatch suffered especially severely from the fever and asked me by letter to help him. One day I went to him and gave him some of my quinine.
Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer is a Galla. From time immemorial, his clan has ruled this region. Twenty years ago it was conquered by the Tekla Haymanot, the Negus of Gojjam; but he could not hold out here. Ras Gobana, the famous general of Emperor Menelik, subdued all the surrounding Galla lands, and Leka, in view of its hopeless situation, voluntarily submitted to Menelik and now pays him a tribute consisting of 100 ukets39 of ivory (150 pounds), 500 ukets of gold (about one pound) and a fixed tax for houses and cattle. Moreover, the inhabitants are obliged to maintain the troops of the Emperor who are stationed within the bounds of the region. At the time of the death of his father, Abakumsa (as Gebra Egziabeer used to called) was christened and had one of his three wives christened andrepudiated the rest, giving them to his retinue. Emperor Menelik and Empress Taitu were their godparents. At the christening, he took the name Gebra Egziabeer -- which literally means "God's slave." Promoted to Dajazmatch by Menelik, he inherited all the possessions of his father: very extensive possessions which, on the west, border on the possessions of Abdurakhman. The Dajazmatch is a very sympathetic and intelligent man. He is interested in everything, understands what can interest a European, and recounts very wisely and interestingly the history of his people and their former customs.
On February 20, together with 800 men armed with military guns, we began the hunt and set out to the north toward the valley of the Abbay -- the Blue Nile. Each soldier, in addition to a gun, also carried little skins of grain or flour, enough for ten days. The kitchen went with us: two servants, carrying on their shoulders in rope nets large broken pumpkins in which hung dough that was being made sour for injera. It was a luxury which I would have liked to have foregone, but the Dajazmatch insisted on it.
My whole cargo was packed on one mule and consisted of a small tent, one change of linen and two large skins of corn for the servants -- enough for ten days.
The leader of the hunt was Baljeron40 Haile Maryam, also a Galla, but baptized and trying in every way to imitate the Abyssinians.
The hunt was unsuccessful. We wasted ten days, sending out scouts and looking for elephants where they had been before. We found old tracks, but there were no elephants.
We came across other game in great quantities, but it was forbidden to shoot them.
On the last day, I killed a hippopotamus in the Angar River. Since the provisions had run out, the Galla had not eaten for a day. They dragged the dead hippopotamus with lianas to the shore and quickly ate it up, roasting its white flesh on the campfire.
On March 2 we returned to Lekamte.
Handek, the area where we hunted, embraces all the southern course of the Angar River and the rivers which flow into it from the left, and likewise the valley of the Didessa River. Beyond Angar begins Lima, the property of the Gojjam Negus, which extends to the Abbay River. Both the one region and the other are uninhabited in their low-lying parts because of dreadful fevers that reign there. Enticed by the fertility of the soil, Galla go down there at the good time of the year, sow seeds, and come back later to harvest. Large areas of land are planted with cotton. It's hard to imagine a place more beautiful than this.
Bounded on the southeast, the east and the northeast by high mountains, cut by frequent streams and rivulets, the banks of which are overgrown with thick forest, it is all covered with low fruit trees with bright green glittering leaves. These trees bear varieties of fruit which all have a very thick layer of flesh and a stone in the middle. In taste, they are for the most part sour.
On the day after our return, the Dajazmatch assembled another party of hunters; and on March 4, we set out again, this time with a detachment of a thousand Galla men, armed only with spears, to places where no one had disturbed the elephants for three years. The leaders of this hunt were Azzaj Haile Iesus and Agafari41 Wolda Giyorgis. Of the thousand men, four hundred were on horse and armed with three small spears each, and the other six hundred were on foot, half with small spears and the other half with four-arshin-long [three-yard-long] spears with huge points and yard-long blades. This long spear is called a jambi.
They throw it from the top of a tall tree when an elephant passes under it. The force of the fall of the spear is so great that it sometimes pierces all the way through an elephant. Usually, one such spear is sufficient to bring an elephant down.
Only my servants and several soldiers of the dajazmatch were armed with guns.
At first we divided into two detachments, one of the azzaj, the other of the agafari, and set out toward the west to the Didessa valley. After fruitless searches in the forests surrounding the Didessa, on the third day we united again and went up north, toward the watershed between the Angar and the Didessa. For five days, our searches were fruitless, despite the fact that setting out at dawn we only began to set up camp at sunset. I was simply amazed at the endurance of the Galla and, in particular, the endurance of the scouts who were sent out ahead. If we did 40 versts [26 miles], then they, probably, did at least 60 [40 miles], through dense bushes overgrown with thorns, in part through high grass which was half-burnt with sharp hard stalk bases. When you look at that terrain, you are amazed at how they, barefoot, not only walk through it, but even run.
We usually made camp in the valley of some rivulet. When night fell and the campfires were lit, all the old Galla would gather in conference with the azzaj, discussing what to undertake and where to go tomorrow. Gray, taciturn, with an invariable pipe between the lips, they seated themselves around the fire and sedately deliberated, sometimes conjectured. When the camp began to quiet down, each day a dialogue took place that on the one side was the orders for the following day and on the other side was a public prayer.
"Abe, abe," was heard from one end of the camp.
"E,e,e," they answered from the other end.
"Tomorrow we will set out early to this place."
"We have a guest with us."
"I know. I know."
"Until he shoots, no one else attack."
"May God help us find the elephant."
"Let it be so."
"Let Maryam help us."
"Let Giyorgis, Mikael, Gabriel help us."
"Listen, listen," cries one to the other. "May Satan not get
mad at us."
"May he not send a goro42 at us."
"Let him not strike us with sickness."
"May the Angar, the Didessa Rivers help us."
"Let the Jirgo, Tume Sibu, Tibye Mountains help us."
"All pray God that He help us." And amid the night stillness there begins a drawling, plaintive song. Someone asks for mercy upon him. Someone asks for an elephant to be sent to him.
Someone asks that his spear be guided. Some enumerate their previous triumphs. And long, long into the night stillness,
these plaintive sounds are heard.
Finally, on Sunday, March 9, we came upon a fresh night track. The scouts who had been sent ahead reported this to us; and the whole band, those who were on horseback at a trot and the rest at a run, rushed there. Up until noon, we couldn't catch the elephants. Finally, at 12:30, the scouts reported that the elephants were resting in the shade of trees by a nearby stream.
The azzaj gave the order to surround the elephants, and seventy mounted men (including me, since a week before I had bought myself a hunting horse) rushed at a gallop straight to the indicated spot. Having galloped three versts [two miles], we suddenly heard cries, "There they are!" Fifty paces in front of us, we saw a huge herd of elephants fleeing from us. A hundred head of elephant, big and small and all red from the clay of the stream bed, flapping their ears and trembling with their whole bodies, raising high their trunks, ran in panic. I shot several times from my horse. Some of my companions shot, too. But the elephants hid. Meanwhile, the bearers of jambi succeeded in climbing into the trees which stood in the middle of the stream.
The other spear-bearers on foot likewise came in time. The elephants, having tried to flee to the other side of the stream, turned when they saw the mounted hunters. The grass was set afire, and the frightened elephants scattered, like a broken brood of partridges. There was no escape for them. In the forest, the jambi struck them; on the edge of the forest -- the spear-bearers on foot and my servants with guns. Just as they broke out farther, we surrounded them, like a swarm of flies, and even behind them along the plain, where high grass grew and thick trees, we struck with whatever we could. Those who had guns shot. The others hurled spears which plunged into the elephants' bodies and which the elephants pulled out of their wounds with their trunks and angrily threw back at us. Anyone whom an elephant charged saved himself by fleeing while others distracted the animal off to the side. If an elephant pursued someone all the way to the hill, it was almost impossible to escape. I saw how one elephant, having rushed at a Galla who had galloped by at twenty paces from me, in the twinkling of an eye snatched him from the saddle with his trunk, let forth a cry and threw the man against the ground, intending to trample him. Fortunately, others succeeded in distracting the elephant, and it left his victim. In another case, an elephant threw a large broken branch at a Galla who had been with us and broke his arm. Five, ten, fifteen minutes of pursuit and an elephant fell. It was then considered the catch of the one who first wounded it, and the fortunate hunter rushed to cut the tail and the end of the trunk and the ears as material evidence of his triumph.
The field of the hunt presented an interesting picture. All around the grass blazed with a crackling sound. In the woods,there was endless shooting and cries of terror or triumph, and all this uproar was drowned out by the bellow and screech of the panic-stricken elephants, throwing themselves now at one person, now at another. The Galla believe that at such moments of despair the elephants are praying to God, throwing sand and grass to heaven. I personally saw elephants doing this.
Only at 7:30 in the evening did this hunt, that was really more like a battle, end. None of us had had any food in our mouths since morning, nor a drop of water. It was impossible to drink from the stream because it was all red with blood. But no one bothered to think of food or drink.
On this day forty-one elephants were killed. Five were my share. (I killed three and my servants two). We lost five men killed: three crushed by elephants and two killed by our shots. One man had a broken bone in his right arm. With triumphant songs, we returned to camp, not feeling tired.
On the following day, one group set out to extract the tusks and another set out to pursue the wounded elephants. Meanwhile I examined the wounds inflicted by my elephant gun. It had a remarkable effect. I killed all my elephants with it, and with a single bullet in the head.
On Tuesday, all the elders gathered and sorted out the disputes about who first wounded an elephant. The Gallas do anything to show their right to an elephant. They resort to bribes and to guile. But the Azzaj knew the people he was dealing with. He waited until the provisions had been exhausted, so that hunger would separate the true from the false. He didn't miscalculate. I didn't wait for the end of the disputes. Since my elephants were without question, I hurried off with my trophies to Lekamte.
On Thursday, March 13, at noon, the Dajazmatch ceremoniously met me; and on Friday the 14th, at three in the morning, I set out for Addis Ababa. The send-off was moving, since during the hunt the Galla had grown fond of me. As a gift, many of them on the day of the hunt had brought me their spears, covered with the not yet dry blood of elephants. They did this completely unselfishly. Gebra Egziabeer and I exchanged gifts. I gave him the elephant gun, and he gave me his own saber and a large buffalo goblet.
I forgot to mention that on the trip back to Leka, the Galla drove out a buffalo. We pursued it on horseback. The buffalo adroitly evaded and beat off the javelins with its horns, but, nonetheless, loss of blood and the long gallop tired it. Its head sunk all the lower. It raised high its tail and breathed heavily. At that moment, a Galla ran up to it and finished it with his spear.
The city of Lekamte, which I was leaving, is a very important commercial center. All roads from southern and western Abyssinia to Gojjam and from Gojjam to Massawa pass through it. In addition, fords across the Didessa and the Abbay are nearby. Through it also passes the road from Wollaga to Shoa. Finally, apart from other considerations, here is concentrated all the trade in gold, and here is found the main trade in civet musk bought in the southwestern territories. Lekamte is a very lively place and presents a motley mixture of languages, dress, and peoples. You see here Arabs from Beni-Shangul, and Negroes, and people from Gojjam, and Tigreans, and Galla. There is even a Greek and an Englishman here. There are two very interesting characters. The Greek, Balambaras43 Giyorgis, settled here 25 years ago. He fought in the ranks of Negus Tekla Haymanot and took part in rebellions against him, was several times imprisoned and again pardoned. At one time, he molded the guns of the Negus, now he lives in Lekamte as a merchant. He is the mainbuyer of gold and civet musk. He described his life in a book, illustrated with drawings. This book is written in the Geez language.44
The Englishman, Mekkelby, is a former lackey who deserted his master, the name of whom he no longer remembers -- apparently, he was one of the members of the embassy to Negus Tewodros. He now serves Balambaras Giyorgis and has completely forgotten his native tongue.
Of the sights of Lekamte, one worthy of note is its newly built church. It is large, stone and decorated by local artists. Like the majority of Abyssinian churches, this is a round building with a quadrangular altar and four gates to the four sides of the world. On the royal and west gates are depicted Archangels Gabriel and Raphael, the former on the right side of the door, the latter on the left. Gabriel is dressed in a colorful shirt, red hat and red turned-up shoes, and in his hand is a raised sword; under him is depicted the sea in which Pharaoh and his Egyptians drown; and on the bank, Moses, with a long black beard, dances and claps his hands among a chorus of Levites. Archangel Raphael is dressed the same as Gabriel, and is shown standing over the sea with fish swimming in it. He has pierced one of the fish through the gills with a spear. According to legend, the fish turned into an island, on which saints hid in time of persecution. To the right of the royal gates, under a large icon of the Mother of God, Menelik and Taitu are depicted, pointing to Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer and his wife with two children. The Dajazmatch devoutly looks upward and holds in his hands the Psalter. To the left of the royal gates, under icons of Archangel Michael and George the Victorious, the Dajazmatch is also depicted, with his associates -- Azzaj and Nagada-ras -- his uncle and his brother.
I once attended mass in this church and saw a large number of newly christened Galla receiving communion. Christianity here makes enormous progress, and each Sunday the newly converted number in the dozens. In spite of the fact that the Dajazmatch does not does not collect taxes for himself personally, the palace of the Dajazmatch is notable for its splendor and comparative comfort. One sees the desire to imitate Abyssinian etiquette in everything.
Leaving Lekamte on March 14, at three in the afternoon, we spent the night at a distance of 20 versts [14 miles], at hehouse of the uncle of the Dajazmatch. Early in the morning of the day of my departure, I sent a letter to the Emperor with news of the successful hunt.
Because of the addition to our baggage of ten tusks and two buffalo horns, I had to add another horse to our previous two mules.
The animals had rested during the time of the hunt, staying in the town; but after uninterrupted, tiresome marches in very poor conditions the servants were, apparently, exhausted. Out of the 29 days, counting from the day we left Addis Ababa, they had had only one day of rest and one day of partial rest, when they took the tusks. In the first six days, we went 360 versts [240 miles]; for the rest we journeyed for no less than seven hours a day. Many had broken toenails and cracks in the soles of their feet and limped. But their spirit was cheerful, and on the sixth day, on Wednesday, March 19, we made camp in the evening at a distance of three versts [two miles] from Addis Ababa (one stage of the journey, from Bilo to Jibat, we made without stopping, starting at 5:30 in the morning and finishing at 8 o'clock at night. One mule stopped, and I replaced it with a horse).
On March 20, the Emperor, learning of my arrival, sent a large convoy to meet me. With firing of guns, singing and dancing, as is customary in such cases, they led me to the palace, where Menelik ceremoniously received me. After the reception, he invited me to lunch, and likewise fed all my servants. On the following day, he gave me a private audience and, knowing that I intended to leave on Saturday, asked me to postpone my departure to Tuesday, March 25.
My mules were exhausted, and my servants also. Therefore, for the journey to the coast I had to refill the ranks. ( On leaving, I sold the mules remaining from the first trip, since they were almost all done for). I found servants very quickly and hired 12 men, the same as the number of guns. The Emperor gave me six mules for as far as Harar.
The Emperor ceremoniously received me in a farewell audience, and expressed the desire to see me again in Abyssinia. Saying good-bye to my friends and the European colony, I left on Tuesday, March 25, at one o'clock in the afternoon. The Emperor bestowed on me a lion's battle dress and lion's head band.
On April 4, at 7 o'clock in the morning, we arrived in Harar, having gone a distance of about 600 versts [400 miles] in ten and a half days along the mountainous Chercher road, despite the fact that during this time I went 40 versts out of the way to meet the caravan of Ato Iosif, for my goods. On April 8, at 10 o'clock, I set out with eight servants and the same mules to Geldessa, where I arrived that same day. On the following day, at 12 o'clock, having put together a caravan of five camels and having sent the mules back, I moved on to Jibuti, where I arrived on April 16 at 8 o'clock in the morning, having left the caravan 50 versts [33 miles] behind. (It arrived on the following day at 12 o'clock).
On April 21, the French steamship "Amazon" arrived, and I left the shores of Africa, which had been so hospitable to me. I took with me the best and warmest memories of this country where I had been and of the people whom fate had destined that I come to know.
The western regions of southern Ethiopia belong to the following basins: 1) Awash, 2) Guder (tributary of the Blue Nile), 3) Gibye (tributary of the Sobat), 4) Didessa (tributary of the Blue Nile), and 5) Baro (tributary of the Sobat).
1) The Awash rises in the mountains of Mecha, among the peaks of Dolota and Elfek. At first it flows to the south and then going out of the mountains into the plain, it receives several insignificant streams from the left and from the right. Reaching the mountains of Sodo and having taken into itself from the left the Akaki River, which descends from the mountains of Entotto, the Awash turns east, and then going 200 versts [132 miles] in this direction, to the north, where from the left it takes the Kassam River, which descends from the mountains of Shoa. Not reaching the sea, the Awash disappears in the sands.
At the spot where I crossed the Awash, its river-bed differed from other rivulets, which discharge into it and flow in the same plain, by its seemingly polished stone bottom. The banks of Awash are very beautiful. To the right and the left in a strip a hundred sagenes [213 meters] in width, they are overgrown with beds of young trees, like islands, isolated amid the high grass.
In each such clump, the trees grow close to one another and belong to various species, of which many only grow in much lower zones and are not normally found in places near the Awash. It must be that their seeds were brought here by the wind. I think that such an eccentric grouping of trees must be attributed to the yearly flooding of the Awash and the speed of its current.
2) The Guder arises on the Tikur plateau from a small swampy lake. It flows at first to the north, and from the mountains of Mecha turns northwest and empties into the Abbay. Its current is very swift and rough, with frequent waterfalls. Its banks are rocky. Of its more significant tributaries one can mention the Uluk River, which descends from the mountains of Chobo. It empties into the Guder from the right. The Haratit River flows from the mountains of Toke and empties into the Guder from the left. Both of those flow in rocky banks. On the Uluk River, in the vicinity of Ambo, there are hot springs.
3) The Gibye arises in the mountains of Guder and flows in deep canyons among the mountains of Tibye and Sibu to the south, where, passing these mountains, it enters a wide plain. Here it takes on from the left the Alanga River, which gathers into itself all the waters of the southern slopes of Chalea and the western slope of Toke, and continues to go to the south along a wide valley. Having taken into itself from the right another river also named "Gibye," which flows from the mountains of Limu, and joining with the Omo River, which falls down from the mountains of Kaffa, it is a river with many names, which turns to the west, skirts Kaffa from the south, then turns north and empties into the low-lying marshy plain of Bako, where it joins with the Baro and rivers of the western slopes of the Kaffa heights and flows out to the west under the name of the Sobat45 River.
I believe that after the loss of the expedition of Captain Bottego46 there can no longer be any doubting the fact that the the upper reaches of the Gibye River are the same as the upper reaches of the Sobat River, and not some other river, which empties into Lake Rudolf, as had been supposed before. D'Abbadie had even earlier proposed that the Gibye is the upper reaches of the Nile.47
The goal of the expedition of Captain Bottego was to discover the course of this river. The expedition was annihilated at the end of February 1897 approximately 800 versts [528 miles] to the west of Entotto and 200 versts [132 miles] to the north of the city of Gori in the property of Dajazmatch Joti in the province of Wollaga. The fact that it was destroyed at this place serves as evidence of what was said above, since, following the course of the river, the expedition left Kaffa behind and arrived at this place, which is the low-lying plain in which the tributaries of the Sobat join together. From time to time, news of this expedition was received from Abyssinian sources, which made it possible to draw conclusion about its whereabouts. So, in the summer of 1896, the expedition was at the upper reaches of the Webi, since several of its soldiers fled from there. In the fall, rumor had it that there were Europeans with guns to the south of Mocha.
The campaigns of Abyssinians to the south likewise confirm that the Gibye is the upper reaches of the Sobat. In his last campaign from Ilu-Babur to Mocha and Gimiro, Dajazmatch Tesemma went with his armies to a large river which was impassable. They named it Nichsar, which means "white grass," and are convinced that it is the Nile.
The Gibye at the place where I crossed it, flows in low-lying banks. Its width is about 75 paces. The current is not very fast. The banks are overgrown with a narrow band of forest, behind which stretches steppe, covered with grass five arshins [four yards] high.
4) The Didessa River flows from the mountains of Gomo to the north and empties into the Abbay. From the right, it takes into itself the Rivers Enareya and Aet which flow from the mountains of Lima, and then the large Wam River, which arises in the north in the mountains of Sibu, 100 versts [66 miles] to the north from Abbay. The Wam flows at first to the south, and skirting the mountains of Leka, turns to the north and empties into the Didessa. Not far from where it empties into the Abbay, the Didessa takes on from the right the large Angar River, which flows from the mountains of Guder. From the left side, the Dobana River, which rises in the mountains of Guma, empties into the Didessa.
The Didessa and its tributaries in its upper reaches is very rough and swift, and flows in rocky banks, but passing into the plain it flows quietly and is only occasionally interrupted by rapids. The banks are low and overgrown with a thick band of forest. In the place where I crossed it, the speed of the current was one to one and a half sagenes [2 to 3 meters] per second. Its width was about 100 sagenes [213 meters]. At the time of our crossing in November, it was so deep that I couldn't reach the bottom with a long spear. In January, we were able to wade across. After its junction with the Angar there are no longer any rapids and, according to reliable individuals who know the area, both it and the Abbay can be navigable.
5) The Baro River descends from the mountains of Kaffa and flows at first to the south. Going down into the low-lying valley of Bako, it joins with the Gibye or the Omo.48 The Baro takes into itself from the right side the Gaba River, and from the left the Gunji River. The Baro and all these rivers flow in deep canyons, overgrown with coffee forests. Their current is very swift, with frequent waterfalls. The bottom is stone. The width of the Baro at the place where I crossed it is 120 paces. The depth in the middle is more than two sagenes [4 meters]. On the stone banks there are characteristic craters. The Gaba River flows down from the mountains of Goma and flows between rocky cliffs, with only two crossing points, where there are bridges.
The Gaba takes from the left the Sor River, which flows down from the mountains of Soyo, and from the right the Birbir River. The Birbir is a significant river. After joining with the Didessa, the Abbay does not have any significant tributaries until the Dabus, since along its left bank stretches a mountain ridge, which consists of a continuation of the mountain ridge of Darima.
Therefore, all the water of the southern slopes of this mountain ridge, despite its closeness to the Abbay, cannot join with it, and, going into the Birbir River, empties into the Gaba.
Thus we see that with the exception of the Awash, which flows in the direction of the Red Sea and is lost in the sand, all the other waters belong to the two main tributaries of the Nile, to the basins of the Sobat and the Abbay.
The water of these rivers is exceptionally clear and clean. In time of rain, it becomes red from mixing with clay from the mountains. This clay is composed of the same fertile components as the silt of the Nile.
The mountains of the south-west regions of Ethiopia are the heart of a mountain range, extending from three mountain masses.
1) The Mountains of Metalla and Mecha are a continuation of the plateau of Shoa. Mecha is a a plateau with separate summits of Tulu, Elfek and Dolota. To the south they end in rocky cliffs.
2) The Gurage plateau, turning into the Tikur plateau, is continued by the mountain ridges of Toke, Chalea, Tibye, Guder and Lima to the northwest, where it breaks off in the valley of the Abbay.
The appearance of this mountain range is extraordinary along all its extent. Chobo and Dandi look like a plateau strewn with round hills. The Tikur plateau looks like a plain with the summits of Bolo and Roge towering in the middle. Toke is a group of cone-shaped mountains covered with forest. Following it, the mountains of Chalea have a peculiar form of oblong heights with the appearance of an ellipse with two cones on both ends, of which the southern is larger than the northern. The tributaries of the Guder flow in the rocky cliffs of the mountains of Chalea.
The Chalea-Wobo rises and intersects the mountains of Tibye, which look like a row of raised mountain ridges with separate cone-shaped sharp rocky summits. Such are the summits of Tibye, Tulu, Amara, Shumbera, Araresa-Ganou and Tulu-Gomdo.
North of Tibye, the mountains get lower and, rising again on that side of the Gibye River, form the high Sibu mountain group with the summit of Tuka (3,120 meters). Tuka Mountain has the appearance of a pyramid with very wide base compared with its height, such that from a distance it does not give the impression that it is as high as it is. A series of peaks, joining with the mountains of Nonno stretches out from it very characteristically to the southeast. They look like stone posts or rock caps.
To the north, the mountains of Sibu intersect with the mountains of Guder, which intersect the mountains of Lima. One of the spurs of Sibu descends, getting lower to the south. Going to the banks of the Didessa, it again rises and forms the mountain ridge of Leka.
The average height of these mountains is 2,500 meters, and individual peaks attain 3,000 meters. The summit of Tuka, the highest, is 3,120 meters.
3) To the west of the just described mountain ridge, the mountains are in essence mountain ridges, extending from the Kaffa heights. One of these goes to the east and consists of the mountains of Lima or Enareya. The latter get lower to the north and intersect with the mountains of Nonno with the mountain peak Koncho. Nonno is a group of mountains in the shape of cones, surrounded by cap-shaped rocky hills.
Another mountain ridge goes to the north along the left bank of the Didessa and is divided into two spurs. One of these spurs, which at first is called Buna and then Dolati, goes along the left bank of the Didessa, separating it from the Dobana River. The other, named Darima, at first follows along the left bank of the Dobana River and separates the basin of the Dobana from the basin of the Gaba River. Then it separates into two spurs: one goes to the west, separating the basins of the Gaba and the Birbir, and the other continues to go along the left bank of the Didessa, then turns to the west and follows along the left bank of the Abbay until it empties into the Dabus.
The following summits are found on these spurs: in the land of Guma at the point where the main mountain range separates into two spurs is the summit of Tulu Jiren, which from a distance looks like an extinct volcano; in Buna is the summit Anna, covered with forest, which gives the impression of a large hill; on the mountain ridge of Dolota are the mountains of Tulu Amara and Tuto, which also look like large hills, but not covered with forest; on the Darima mountain ridge is the extinct volcano Mako, and farther is a mountain group with the extinct volcano Tulu Jirgo. The height of all these summits is no greater than 3,000 meters, and the general average height of the mountain ridge is 2,200 meters.
The third mountain ridge goes from the Kaffa heights to the west, forming the mountain group of Sayo, with a summit of the same name which is shaped like a hill and covered with forest, then, in turn, separates into several mountain ridges which, spreading out like radii, separate the tributaries of the Baro River and the Gaba River. The western spur is the highest and ends in the Dida mountain group. On one of the middle spurs there are several rocky summits, and its northern extremity is crowned with Guratcha Mountain. The average height of these mountain ridges is about 2,000 meters above sea level. The summit of Sayo is about 2,500 meters high, as is Dida.
All the mountain ridges and the separate heights of these mountains are covered with thick forest.
The fourth mountain ridge goes from the Kaffa heights along the left bank of the Baro, forms the mountain ridges of Alga and Sale and comes to an abrupt end in the Bako plain. It also is covered with forest.
By its outward appearance and geological structure, part of the mountains of the west Ethiopian heights are undoubtedly of volcanic origin. All the mountains to the east of the Gaba River are of volcanic origin. To the west of the Gaba and to the north of the Birbir, they do not have that nature. The difference is apparent in the shape of these mountains. The soil is also different. Red and black volcanic clay on the east changes to black earth in areas of rich vegetation and sands in the lowlands. The difference is noticeable also in the fact that the eastern mountains abound in iron, and gold is extracted from the northwest mountains. Hot sulfuric springs are found very often in the eastern mountains.
This region should be extremely interesting from the geological point of view, but to my deepest regret, I am not well enough acquainted with that field of human knowledge to make useful observations and draw correct conclusions.
Depending on the elevation of the area above sea level, Abyssinians distinguish three climatic zones: dega, wayna-dega, and kola. Those areas which are higher than 2,500 meters above sea level are called dega. Areas from 1,800 to 2,500 meters are called wayna-dega. And those lower than 1,800 meters are called kola. In translation dega means "elevation" or "cold".
Wayna-dega means "grape elevation," or "place where you can grow grapes." Kola means "hot place." Almost all the territory of this part of the western Ethiopian heights belongs to the wayna-dega zone. The only exceptions are individual summits, which cross into the dega zone, and low-lying valleys of rivers and likewise the whole Handek area which are kola.
But aside from this division by elevation above sea level, southwestern Ethiopia is also categorized into three separate climatic zones by its humidity, and the time of year and quantity of rainfall:
1) The area to the west of the Didessa and the Sibu mountain ridge and Leka, and likewise the elevated area on the right side of the Gaba River -- Wollaga and Abeko;
2) the low-lying area along the course of the Didessa and Abbay; and
3) the area south of the Gaba River.
In the first area there is one rainy season, which begins in June and continues to September. This period is called keremt.
The period of time that follows that -- baga -- has no rain, and in November the level of the rivers goes down. The hottest season is January and February. Then the sky is cloudless and there is no wind. In March rain falls rarely and there are southern winds. In May strong eastern winds blow and keremt comes, at the end of which strong western winds blow.
In the second area, the winds are the same as above, but the rainy season begins later and ends earlier, and rain falls less frequently. There is one rainy season in July and August. The air is also much drier than in the first area.
In the third area, there are two rainy seasons. The first and strongest lasts from July to September. The second begins at the end of January and lasts to the end of March. The air is extremely humid. During the first rainy season eastern winds blow, during the second southern winds, and in between there is calm.
Such a difference of climate between the first two areas and the third can, I believe, be explained by the location of the mountains. The mountains of Kaffa and Gurage prevent free access of southern winds in the first two areas, while they cannot prevent access to the third area, because this area is on the western slopes of the Kaffa heights, which in this case rather prevents free access of eastern winds. The climate here must be similar to the climate of the great lakes. The most healthy of these climates is that in the first area. Dry air is healthy.
The climate of the second area is also very favorable, but the air is too humid, and diseases there are more frequent. The most unhealthy climate is the third area. For six months of the year, from April to November, strange fevers reign there. Furthermore, every little wound opened in that area almost always turns into a malignant sore. This territory is entirely uninhabited. Galla from lands that border this region go down there in the better time of the year, do their sowing, and go away, returning again at harvest time.
The temperature of the first and third areas is very moderate. It does not go higher than 40o Reaumur [122o F] in the sun during the day, and at night does not fall to lower than 12o Reaumur [59o F]. On the summits of mountains the temperature at night drops to 8o Reaumur [50o F]. In low-lying areas the temperature during the day goes up to 45o Reaumur [133o F] in the sun, and at night does not go lower than 15o Reaumur [66o F].
The transparency of the air changes depending on the time of year. It is clearest for some time after the end of the rainy season, when the air is not yet filled with mist. In January they begin to burn the dry grass and the air is filled with particles of smoke and dust and becomes very opaque. Because of the dryness, the air in clearer in the eastern regions than in the west.
Thunderstorms happen most often in March and April and at the onset of the rainy season. There are no thunderstorms during the rainy season. Sometimes these storms are very violent and local inhabitants fear them. You repeatedly hear about fatal lightning accidents.
The length of the day is the same as in the rest of the tropics in general: between the longest and the shortest day there is a several minute difference which depends on latitude.
Night falls extremely swiftly. About half an hour after sunset, it is already completely dark.
Vegetation differs in the dega, wayna-dega, and kola zones.
The western and eastern regions also differ from one another.
The characteristic tree for the dega area is the kusso49 -- a very beautiful leafy tree, which attains great size. Its fruit has the appearance of large red clusters. The Abyssinians use them to purge themselves of parasitic worms. They take kusso regularly every two months. The characteristic grain of the dega is barley, which is not sown in lower areas.
The majority of trees are common to both the dega and wayna-dega. The forests mainly abound in ted and tis --two kinds of juniper. These trees attain great height and size. Old trees are covered with white moss, picturesquely mixed with the branches, which the Abyssinians call zaf shebat -- "the gray hair of the tree." A dense network of thin lianas covers the trees.
Large fig-trees and sycamores -- vanza50 and worka51 are found near settlements. You could arrange an entire battalion in their shade. There is also a very beautiful leafy tree -- the birbirsa. In forests the gesho52 bush grows in abundance. Its leaves are useful for cooking honey: they take the place of hops. The kolkual are remarkably enormous cactus trees, which Galla plant around their farmsteads. From the trunks of the cactus they also hollow out beehives, because the wood is very soft and light. On the plains of Wollaga, Leka and Shoa gerara trees grow separately. These acacias are characteristic of the landscape of these plains. In Abyssinia there are several varieties of gerara; the variety changes depending on the altitude of the place and the quantity of moisture. In addition, the jibara53 is a characteristic plant, with its sharp thorny leaves, with a lilac-colored flower on top of its long stem. Of the cultivated trees, we mention the kogo or banana ensete -- musa ensete. The root of this tree is used as food. Around their homes, Galla also plant trees which bear nuts from which they press out oil.
The grain plants which belong in the wayna-dega zone are very diverse: wheat, mashella (sorghum), tef54, dagussa55 from which beer is made, and bakhr mashella (corn); but bakhr mashella is mainly grown in the kola zone. They grow a lot of red pepper, ater (peas), shumbera (another variety of peas, which does not twist and the seeds of which are not round, but rather faceted), and bakela (beans), a plant which gives pods with very small seeds. The bakela is very poisonous and strikes the nervous system; but, nevertheless, Abyssinians cultivate it. After cooking, when the water is poured out, it loses its poisonous properties. In their gardens, they plant a cabbage, which does not have heads and attains enormous height. They sow onions (shunkurt), garlic (nachshunkurt), and lentils (mysyr). In several areas, they sow talby, a kind of flax. Its stalk isn't used, but they eat the seeds which, they say, restore one's strength. They cultivate the following rootcrops: potatoes, which are less oblong and harder than ours; and guder, a twisting plant with fruit like small red spotted pumpkins. The guder has a root that is very tasty and resembles the taste of potatoes.56
The Gallas also sow pumpkins. One species of pumpkins, almost hollow inside, serves in the manufacture of containers for water.
From these they also make canteens for travel. The huge burdock57 is characteristic of the uncultivated plants. Its stem is similar to the trunk of a tree, and its flowers are the size of a man's head.
The steppe is covered with grass that reaches a height of one to one and a half arshins [about 28 to 42 inches]. No sooner does it dry than it burns.
The vegetation of the western regions, thanks to the moisture of the climate, is much richer. Huge forests have grown up, dense with trees of every possible species, and a non-botanist has difficulty distinguishing among them. Enormous trees with triquitrous [triangular] stems are characteristic of these forests. For instance, coffee trees grow in abundance along the banks of rivers. These coffee trees attain a height of two sagenes [4.26 meters] and in November are entirely strewn with seeds, which are harvested at the end of December, when they are already falling from the trees. Since the seeds turn black by lying on the damp ground, this coffee loses part of its value.
Among these trees there are many which possess medicinal properties, for instance the enkoko tree. Its fruit, which looks like a cluster, is used as a laxative and to purge parasitic worms. There are poisonous trees, such as the acacia, which bears fruit which looks like beans. These beans poison fish, which, having eaten them, die instantly. A very wide-spread soapy tree is the entod. Its fruit is dried, turned into flour and serves as an excellent soap. Bamboo and palm trees are found in the forests. All the trees are thickly interwoven with liana of several varieties, one of which has terribly sharp thorns. Its leaves and fruits do not at all differ from our raspberries. In general, the forests abound in thorny trees. There is even one tree which has thorns on its trunk.
The cultivated plants in the west are the same as those found in the east, with the exception of a few which are not found in the east or which are very rare there. For instance, in the west, they sow sugar-cane, which closely resembles mashella among plantings of mashella. They eat it raw: they clean the skin from the stalk, then chew the stalk, and having sucked out the sap, spit it out what remains.
The forest abounds in flowers. Twisting plants with round fruit two and a half inches in diameter are among those which are characteristic of these forests. The fruit is covered with a rind which is green with spots and has a white core with black seeds -- in a word, it is similar to a watermelon. The forests of the western regions are strewn with them: Abyssinians call them yasaytan duba, that is "the devil's own pumpkin."
The vegetation of the kola, and for the most part of Handek, differs from the vegetation of the areas just described. All along the steppe are scattered separate trees, which are small with bright-green shiny leaves without thorns. By their appearance they resemble peach and apple trees. The Galla distinguish 12 varieties of this tree, depending on the fruit which they bear. Unfortunately, at the time when I was there, there was no fruit, because it only ripens in August and September. I tasted only one species -- red berries with a very thin layer of flesh and a huge seed, with a sour taste. The banks of streams are overgrown with huge forests.
At the good time of the year, when there is no fever, Galla descend to the kola regions and sow corn and cotton. Many of the herbs are medicinal and spicy. There is ginger, a spicy plant called korkoruma, and a kind of red pepper mit-mita, which is terribly hot. Grass in the kola attains enormous height, hiding both horse and rider. In river valleys, the stalks of grass are five arshins [four yards] high.
In these areas, it would be possible to successfully grow chinona, cinnamon, cork, and tea trees, and likewise many other trees which yield valuable products.
The insect kingdom is very rich. Huge red and black ants are characteristic of the western regions. They are the scourge of the population, destroying edible supplies and flooding the house every evening. Another species of ant, the white, mist, destroys buildings. Every three years the inhabitants have to build their houses over again. Furthermore, bees abound in this area. They give three kinds of honey.
Especially black honey, from which very strong tej is made, is found in the western forest regions. Especially white and particularly fragrant honey is found in the lower regions in Handek. And a honey which is the average between these two appearances is found in the other regions. There is a kind of wasp, named tasm, which gives honey. It is found in the ground.
This honey is very tasty, somewhat sour, particularly nutritious and restores one's strength. The inhabitants recommend it for its medicinal properties.
In the west, in January I came upon a swarm of locusts, accompanied by flocks of white birds, which were feeding on them.
Thanks to the fact that the farmsteads were widely dispersed, the inhabitants succeeded in not allowing them to get to the crops, chasing them into the forest.
In the west, the flies are larger but, in general there are not very many of them. Of reptiles, there are lizards, turtles, and snakes, including many poisonous ones. There are huge snakes the teeth of which are considered a talisman and remedy for diseases. These teeth are very difficult to obtain and therefore are very costly -- up to 15 talers per tooth. Crocodiles are found in the rivers.
The fauna, which depends on the elevation of the area, is divided into two groups. In the first group belong animals which inhabit the heights of the dega and wayna-dega. In the second belong animals of the kola. The most wide-spread animals in the wayna-dega are antelopes and chamois-bulls of several varieties.
The chamois-bulls (orobo) live in the lowest plains, but are seen also in the kola. They have sleek, brown hair. In their size and in the shape of their face, they are like an ox. They have huge horns (one to one and a half arshins [28 to 42 inches] long), which stand straight up. The surface of the horn is not smooth, but spiral shaped. They are very easy to shoot because they are not watchful and not easily frightened. An orobo, having heard a shot, will at first look for where the shooting came from and who his enemy is. If he doesn't see a human and isn't wounded, he does not run away. This means that you can shoot and stay put several times in the ox's vicinity. Another type of chamois-bull is the dukula. It is the size of a calf and has a face like an ox, but its horns are lighter and straight, from 4 to 6 vershoks [7 to 10-1/2 inches] in length. Its hair is sleek and brown. They are very watchful and it is difficult to hunt them . They are found in the wayna-dega zone and rarely descent to the kola. Antelopes belong in two categories: bokhor and myeda-feyel. The bokhor is the size of a goat, with sleek brown hair, and horns bent a bit backwards. The myeda-feyel is smaller, with gray hair and straight horns. The word myeda-feyel in translation means "billy-goat of the plain." They live in plains and in mountains of the wayna-dega, rarely going down from there. These animals are very sensitive and watchful and it is difficult to hunt them. You have to shoot from a very great distance.
The forest of the wayna-dega abounds in four species: zinjero -- large baboons -- live in the higher places, on rocky mountains. They attain the size of a large dog. They have an oblong, dog-like face, a long tail that stands up when they travel by land, and bristling, long, rigid, dark brown hair.
They are very watchful and it is quite difficult to shoot them. The gureza is ape-like. They live in less elevated places. There are lots of them in the forests of the western regions. Their hair is very beautiful -- black, long and silky. On the middle of the spine, on the stomach and on the tail they have long white hairs. Their face is very ugly and flattened out.
They bear some resemblance to human beings. Their teeth are almost black. The Gallas and Abyssinians hold them in high esteem. They don't disturb them and can't bring themselves to touch a dead gureza because of fear of bad luck. They consider that these animals have human characteristics. Abyssinians confirm that gurezas fast on Wednesdays and Fridays and that they never disturb the crops, exclusively feeding on the leaves of trees. Gurezas rarely come down on the ground, almost always staying in the trees.
Small monkeys known as tota live in the forests of wayna-dega. They have light-gray hair and on the face white whiskers. They always settle near farmsteads and are the scourge of farmers, since they destroy crops. They seem to have great love for one another. Relatives almost always carry away a wounded or killed tota, as the Abyssinians assert. I never saw this happen, but, having wounded a little tota, I at the same place killed a large female and male, who openly came out to save it, in spite of the fact of our presence. They are said to be revengeful and malicious. Abyssinians affirm that captured and domesticated totas will set fire to houses in revenge for some offense.
A very rare species, which I succeeded in seeing, the so-called small monkey chana only appears in Ilu-Babur. It is about the same size as the tota, but its hair is very beautiful: an ashen color with some gray.
All species of predatory animals known in Central Africa live in the wayna-dega: lion, panther, leopard, the spotted hyena, the jackal, and the wild cat. There is a special species of predatory animal which no European has yet seen, but which Abyssinians and Gallas affirm exists. They say these animals, which they call vobo or asambo, are the most terrible. The animal known as tryn, which gives a musk called zebad, also belongs to the species of predatory animals. This animal is similar to a cat: its hair is multi-colored, its tail is comparatively short, and it is the size of a small dog. They catch them in traps, then lock them in cages and keep them at the hearth in their homes, feeding them meat. They are found in the lower moist regions of the wayna-dega. Of the remaining animals in the wayna-dega there are wild boars and hares. Predatory animals abound on the plateaux of Tikur and in the mountains ofChalea and Chobo. In the west, in general, there are fewer, with the exception of panthers, which are only found in the west.58
The kola, which is uninhabited by humans, abounds in animals even more than the wayna-dega region. Predatory animals, such as the lion, go down there for hunting. The characteristic inhabitant of the kola is the elephant. Unfortunately, from year to year, they decline in numbers because of systematic destruction. The Abyssinian elephant is smaller than the Indian and more malicious than it. It possesses large tusks, which sometimes attain six poods [216 lbs.] each. Elephants usually travel as whole herds, but those which have the largest tusks go separately and are very cunning, quick-witted and malicious. A hunt for such solitary elephants always costs many casualties.
Handek above all abounds in elephants, since this area gives elephants every comfort: forest, plenty of shade, many fruit trees whose leaves they eat, an abundance of beautiful water, and an entire uninhabited country measuring several hundred square versts [verst = 2/3 mile]. Aside from elephants, in the kola are found rhinoceroses, hippopotamuses, buffalo, and a species of antelope called sala with straight and very long horns. This antelope is about the size of a calf, with light brown hair.
There are many birds both in the kola and in the dega regions.
You come across the most diverse species, from the smallest to the largest. There are very beautiful little birds with yellow and black feathers. There is a little bird with a very long tail which sometimes does not fly straight, but rather describes a parabola in the air. In the forests of wayna-dega there are manysong birds. Of large birds, in the wayna-dega you come across the workum -- a non-predatory bird which attains the size of a large turkey. It has a long, very strong beak, with a horny crest at the base and red crop under the beak. There are several different varieties of dove. There are particularly many of them in the kola. Their trilling is characteristic of these steppes.
Many partridges and guinea fowls are found here, and on the plateaux you come across bustards. The lakes and rivers abound in various species of duck and geese. In the swamps, there are many snipe and woodcock, and you chance upon ibises and herons.
There are especially many predatory birds. There are enormous eagles. There are species of crows -- black and of the same size as ours, but with long beaks bent downward. There are white predatory birds which destroy locusts. In the kola there is also a particularly small bird which is a friend of the hippopotamus and never leaves it.
In the large rivers there are many fish.
All the land from Addis Ababa westward up to the Baro River and from Abbay on the south up to the Kaffa mountains is settled by Galla (Oromo). Beyond the Baro River to the west live Negroes. The Kaffa highlands are populated by Sidamo, and the region to the north of the Abbay is settled by Abyssinians (Amhara).59
Although the whole area under consideration, as we saw above, is very favorable for settlement, with the exception of the lower kola, the distribution of population in these regions is unequal and depends on political principles (the better the leader of a province, the larger the population) and on whether more or fewer people were destroyed during the recent conquest of the territory.
I tried to determine the size of the population, based on the number of aba-koro (chiefs of tribes) and the number of aba-langas (assistants) found under their leadership. I also used for this determination official data regarding fortifications. These observations made it possible for me to determine the number of Galla in the territory 200 versts [132 miles] wide and 400 versts [264 miles] long, stretching from Addis Ababa to the west -- over an area of 80,000 square versts [35,556 square miles] -- to be 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 people.
The distribution of population in this zone is as follows: the densest population center is between the rivers Didessa and Gibye -- approximately 8,000 [3,556 square miles] with 160,000 inhabitants; the least populated are the extreme south-western provinces, west of the Didessa and south of the Gaba, which have no more than 10 people per square verst -- in total 115,000 inhabitants in an area of 11,500 square versts [5,111 square miles]. The density of population of the remaining areas is approximately 15 people per square verst, which for 60,000 square versts amounts to 900,000 to 1,000,000 inhabitants.
This calculation is, of course, very rough, but it is justified by many facts, which I observed: 1) the density of Galla settlements, 2) the quantity of cultivated land, 3) the number of chiefs (aba-koro) in each region and the number of their assistants (aba-langa), 4) information regarding fortifications, staffed with soldiers and leaders, and which have their very own separate leaders, 5) the number of troops stationed in the given area (in all, there are from 30,000 to 40,000 men stationed in this zone, which is also in keeping with the proposed number for the population).
The just enumerated population of this zone belongs to two Galla tribes: east of the Awash River is the Tuluma tribe, and west of it is the Mocha tribe. The Mocha is divided into five main clans. The Liban clan inhabits the regions south of the Awash -- Sodo, Chobo, Dandi, and also Mecha. The Afrenjo clan inhabits the valley between Mecha and Chobo and likewise the mountains of Toke and Nonno. The Javi -- the most numerous clan -- lives in Lima, Jimma, Chalea, Tibye, Siba, Wollaga, and Ilu-Babur. The Homo clan inhabits Leka, and the Tuma the left bank of the Didessa.
But besides this division of the whole tribe into five main clans, each of these main clans is also divided into a number ofsmall clans, which occupy some region, separated from others by natural boundaries and forming an independent state. The Galla gave their land names which came from either the name of a clan leader or from some important geographical name of their country, such as a high mountain or a river in their territory. This name is sometimes characteristic of the place. For instance Guratcha is "black," which means wooded. These names serve as almost the only names to guide a traveler, since there are no villages, and towns are extremely rare. In each region there is a marketplace, but it does not have a special name and is not found near settlements, but simply among the more heavily populated areas at the intersection of roads.
The main regions are the following: Meta, Bocho and Ejirsalafu, all three of which are the personal property of the Emperor. They are governed by Azzaj Gyzau. There are no towns nor significant marketplaces there. The countryside is level, steppe-like, and without trees.
Mecha is a plateau, populated by the Liban clan. It is ruled by Dajazmatch Ubye. Chobo, Dandi, and Tikur are plateaux populated by the Liban clan. They are governed by Dajazmatch Haile Maryam. His residence is in the town of Chobo. Toke, Dano, Bake and Nonno are inhabited by the Afrenjo tribe. This area is mountainous with forests. Dajazmatch Ubye rules it.
These regions supply the capital with bamboo for building and with gesho leaves for the production of honey.
Chalea, Chalea-Wobo, Gobu, Tibye, and Sibu are populated by the Javi tribe. The area is mountainous, and covered with forest in places. They are governed by Likamakos Abata. The town of Bareilu -- a large, permanent military camp -- has about 2,000 residents. It also has some commercial significance, lying on a major caravan route from Wollaga to Shoa.
The mountains of Budera-Lima are inhabited by the Javi tribe, and are ruled by the Gojjam Negus Tekla Haymanot.
On the little river Bilo, a tributary of the Gibye River, the Bilo commercial center with 3,000 inhabitants is found. It is settled exclusively by merchants and is ruled by Nagada-Ras Ingeda Gobaz.
Bilo is located at the intersection of several major roads: from Shoa to Wollaga, from Shoa to Ilu-Babur, from Jimma to Gojjam and from Ilu-Babur to Gojjam.
At the center of the town is a large square and marketplace. On Mondays and Fridays large markets are held. There are no streets in the town. The buildings are of brushwood, covered with thatch. Homestead are surrounded with high fences and follow one another without interruption.
Botor, Enareya-Lima, Jimma-Aba-Jefar are mountainous regions, populated by Galla of the Javi clan. Jimma -- an independent Galla kingdom -- is under the chief supervision of Ras Wolda Giyorgis. Botor and Lima are governed directly by him. Judging by the accounts of eye-witnesses, Jimma is very densely populated and very industrial. The best iron items and cloth are fashionedthere. Merchants from Jimma conduct trade with the southernregions and with Kaffa. Their caravans pass from Berber through Kofir. All the residents of Jimma, as well as King Aba Jefar, are Mohammedan.
Leka, Degay, Gurangur, Bayo, Bunaya, Dabo, Guma, Goma, and Gera are inhabited by the Homo or Gomo tribe. Leka is very densely populated. Part of it represents an independent state under the rule of Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer, a christened Galla, It is also under the main supervision of Dajazmatch Demissew, who rules all the chasvanymi regions. In Leka the main town is Lekamte with 8,000 inhabitants. It is located at the intersection of important trade routes from Shoa to Wollaga and from Kaffa and Ilu-Babur to Gojjam. Here is found the residence of Gebra Egziabeer. For the most part, the inhabitants are merchants. Every Saturday a large market is held. Leka is the main marketplace for buying gold, musk, and ivory. Twenty versts [14 miles] from it is another town -- Gatama, which like Bilo is populated exclusively with merchants and is independently governed by a nagada-ras. There are about 2,000 inhabitants there. Each Monday a large market is held. The residence of Dajazmatch Demissew is in Leka in the town of Deseta, which was recently build. It used to be in the nearby town of Roga. Both the one and the other are located on the heights of the mountain ridge that stretches along the right bank of the Didessa. This mountain ridge is partly covered with forest. In Deseta, there are about 4,000 inhabitants, mainly soldiers of the Dajazmatch, with their wives and children. Roga has about 1,500 nhabitants.
Dabo, Guma, Goma and Gera are likewise densely populated.
Dabo, Guma, and Goma are mountainous, and partly covered with forest. But Gera, which is lower, is located on the lower course of rivers which flow from Kaffa to the Omo.
Guma and Gera produce lots of wild coffee. In Gera, in addition, many elephants are killed, a little fewer than in Handek of Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer. In both regions they get up to 150 pairs of tusks a year. Through Guma and Goma a large road runs to Kaffa.
The towns of Deseta and Gori each consist of a group of homes of military leaders dispersed here and there, around which huddle little shacks or, rather, huts of their soldiers. All the buildings are of wood, covered with thatch.
Abeko, Wollaga and Darima are also governed by Dajazmatch Demissew. Wollaga and Abeko are populated by the Javi clan.
This mountainous region is, in places, overgrown with forest. A large part of Wollaga is an independent state, governed by Dajazmatch Joti, who pays tribute to the emperor and is under the supervision of Dajazmatch Demissew. His region is very rich and quite densely populated. Gold and ivory are obtained there.
Through Wollaga a trade route passes to Khartoum, to the dervishes, and Joti has dealings with them. He is married to a daughter of one Arab ruler of a bordering province.
Darima is a very mountainous area, populated by the Tuma clan. Darima is rich in forest and produces lots of honey. Near it is found the large independent commercial town of Gunji and large markets, surrounded by the homesteads of the merchants of Sodo and Supe. Gunji is ruled by a nagada-ras on the same basis as Bilo and Gatama. In it are found up to 2,000 inhabitants, mainly merchant families. On Tuesdays a large market is held. From the outside, this town does not differ from Bilo. Sodo and Supe are just marketplaces with the homesteads of merchants spread out nearby. All these points are located on the large trade route from Ilu-Babur and Mocha, which abound in coffee, to Wollaga and Gojjam, where coffee is resold.
Buna and Chiro are populated by the Tuma tribe and are a wooded mountainous area. These regions are relatively sparsely populated. In the lower areas, a lot of cotton is produced. A lot of honey is also obtained. These regions are ruled by Dajazmatch Demissew. Gosho, Embo, Ayo and Orumu are populated by the Tuma tribe. Ilu-Babur, Make, Abiyu-Bure, Alga and Dida are populated by the Javi tribe. The population is very sparse.
Dajazmatch Tesemma rules these regions. The country is wooded, mountainous and abounds in coffee. In the region of Abiyu-Bure lies the significant trading center of Bure. This is a marketplace with the homesteads of merchants spread around it.
Bure is on outskirts of Galla settlements and on the border with the Negro tribes Gambi and Bako, which bring there ivory, cloth, ornaments and iron items to exchange. To Bure also come the sellers of coffee from Wollaga and Leka. The town of Gori in Ale is the residence of Dajazmatch Tesemma. This town is a large permanent military camp, with up to 4,000 inhabitants. In the domain of Dajazmatch Tesemma there are several gates built at fords across rivers that are not passable at other places. There are two of them on the Gaba River. In addition, there is one gate on the banks of the Didessa and one at a ford across the Baro. At these gates they collect taxes from merchants -- a known percent of the goods transported. In addition, the garrisons at these gates are responsible for arresting deserters.
Each such gate consists of a high watch post surrounded by a fence, and has about ten soldiers with guns.
On the far side of the Baro, in the border region of Sale, there is a small fort that looks like an observation post. It issurrounded by a deep ditch, across which is built a small bridge with a permanent guard. The garrison consists of 500 men, armed with guns. They live in the fort on a permanent basis.
Beyond Sale to the west begin the Negro settlements of the Gambi, Bako, and Masanko tribes, and to the south the Sidamo tribes: Mocha and Kaffa; and beyond those again the Negro tribes of Gimiro, Shiro and others.
According to wealth, industry and abundance of means of development, the population is distributed in the following manner:
The richest and most industrial settlements are Leka, Jimma and Wollaga. The inhabitants of these regions are involved in agriculture, commerce, and crafts. They extract gold and grow cotton. They have many live-stock, particularly cattle. There are only a small number of horses, mules, and donkeys, which among them are very expensive. As a consequence of this, the means for development of these regions is insignificant.
The inhabitants of the steppes of the Tikur, Chobo, Chalea, Tibye and Mecha plateaux are less rich. They are primarily involved in raising live-stock and produce excellent horses, mules and donkeys in large quantities. The means for development of this region are enormous.
Even poorer are the inhabitants of the wooded and unusually fertile regions found to the west of the Didessa. They harvest coffee and also do farming. But all the cultivation is done by hand since the live-stock died partly from the conquest of the area and partly from the plague which followed it. There are almost no horses, mules or donkeys, and the means for development of the country are nonexistent.
The population of southwestern Ethiopia consists of the following main groups: Galla, Sidamo, and Amhara60; and on the western and southern borders -- Negroes.
The Galla dwell to the west of Entotto up to the River Baro.
There are two tribes of them: Tuluma and Mocha. The latter extends from the Awash River to the Baro River in the west and from Abbay to Kaffa in the south. They belong to the Galla -- Oromo.
The inhabitants of Kaffa, Mocha, Gurage, Kulo, Kusho, Sidamo, and Amaro are called "Sidamo." Some authors suggest that these were the first inhabitants of the Ethiopian plateau.
Amhara, or, as we have become accustomed to called them, "Abyssinians," constitute the latest, military, and official population of these regions and are scattered among them rather uniformly.
The origin of these people has still not been accurately established; and, with regard to this question, there are only hypotheses, often contradictory.
Some authors call all three groups "Cushitic." Others, considering the first two Cushitic, count the Abyssinians as of Semitic race. But to call Galla and Sidamo descendants of Cush, the son of Ham, doesn't mean anything at all. Why between the ones and the others is there such a huge difference with regard to culture and customs and language? Where did the ones and the others come from? I am too little acquainted with this question to take upon myself its resolution. But bringing my personal observations together with works I have read about this question, I believe the most probable explanation of the existing ethnographic grouping is as follows. Galla, Somali, Adali (the latter two are steppe nomadic tribes who occupy the coast of the Red Sea from the Ethiopian plateau) are all Cushites and occupied these places, it must be, in the time when the descendants of Mesraim occupied Egypt. They arrived here, probably, by a dry route with their herds, and to the present have remained semi-savage.
In the reverse movement of Cushites from Africa to the Arabian peninsula, (which was mentioned by Lepsius), they encountered Semites, who, so to say, cut them in half. The Finikiyane were driven toward the Mediterranean Sea, and the other part toward the Arabian Sea. This forced the migration of the latter to Africa across the Bab-el-Mandeb Gulf. These immigrants occupied the Ethiopian plateau. They must have been culturally higher than the Galla and drove the Galla to the south. Aren't these the ancestors of those peoples we call Sidamo, Agau, Bylen, the original inhabitants of the country? And don't the inhabitants of Harar likewise belong to them? Much data inclines me to accept this hypothesis. Firstly, the type of the Harar and the Sidamo; secondly, the similarity of sounds in the languages of these groups; and thirdly, the level of culture.
From the fifteenth century B.C., a vast movement of Semites into Africa began. Between Ethiopia and the Arabian peninsula there were very active trade dealings. They spread out on the plateau, but unevenly. In all probability, their port of entry, so to speak, the point for settlement of the plateau was Massawa.
Therefore, we see the greatest concentration of Semites in Northern Ethiopia: Felasha, Abyssinian Jews in the mountains of Semien, and Tigreans in Tigre. Southern Ethiopia was under the least influence of Semitism. From the Arabian peninsula, they brought with them the language that belongs to the Hamitic root -- this is the present-day Geez language (literary). The Semites, having mixed with the inhabitants of the country, changed their language and pronunciation and hence came about the present-day Amhara, or Abyssinian, or Amharic language. "Amhara" is the name that the Abyssinians give themselves. The name "Abyssinian," accepted now in Europe, came about thus: Arabs call them "Habesh," which means "mixture" (confirmation of what we surmised that the Abyssinians are a mixed race). The Portuguese changed the word "Habesh" to "Habeks," and German scholars from "Habeks" made "Abessinen."
Although the Amharic language differs in grammar from the Geez (literary), many of its roots are borrowed from the Geez; so that the Amhara language is really Geez changed by mixing with other languages. The pronunciation of it likewise differs from the Geez. The Amharic language has no gutturals, which are characteristic sounds for Semitic languages, whereas Geez does have them.61
Let's now consider these nationalities in more detail. Galla -- Oromo The first mention of the Galla in The Abyssinian History of the Kings ("Tarika Negest") is attributed to 1480 A.D. During the reign of Iskander, the Galla made their first invasion into Abyssinian land and destroyed the monastery of Atones Maryam. In 1539 appears Gran.62 He is a native of the Harar region, which at that time already belonged to Galla who had adopted Mohammedanism. On the one hand, using the Galla's desire to occupy Abyssinian lands and on the other hand raising the banner of the prophet among the Moslem population of the coastal zone and declaring holy war, Gran invaded Abyssinia, burning and destroying monasteries and churches. At first, the Galla attacked Shoa and the provinces of Menjar and Ankober. But then, while the Arussi Galla independently waged war against the tribes of South Ethiopia, gradually ejecting them and occupying their places, Gran, inspired by the idea of Islam, made his way to North and Central Abyssinia, to the cultural and religious center of the empire, and destroyed Aksum. In 1545, Gran was killed in Damby, at Lake Tana. With his death, the Galla invasion lost its significance as a religious war. The Galla-Mohammedans who came with him occupied the best land in the province of Wollo. In the south, too, and in the west, Arussi Galla continued to gradually oust the indigenous inhabitants of these lands -- Amhara and Sidamo: the first to the north beyond Abbay, the second to the south to the mountains of Kaffa.
This gradual conquest continued until very recent times. The Galla of Leka, for instance, consider that they occupied this country only 180 years ago. Thus, in Abyssinia we meet Gallas of two kinds. Some, Mohammedans, came from the east, from Chercher -- they are Wollo Galla. Others, pagans, came from the southeast, from Arussi -- these are the Tuluma and Mocha tribes.
The first occupy the territory between the Kassam and Awash Rivers; the second are found to the south of the Abbay River and to the west of the upper Awash. Each of these tribes is divided into small clans. Tuluma is divided into seven clans, and Mocha into five (Liban, Afrenjo, Homo, Tume, Javi). Each of these small clans occupies a separate region, separated from the others by accurately established boundaries. But they all recognize that they belong to the Galla nation. They all call themselves "Oromo." Almost all of them have the same customs, language, type, and character, despite the difference of faith which exists between Galla pagans and Galla Mohammedans.
The Galla physical type is very beautiful. The men are usually very tall, with statuesque physique, lean, with oblong face and a somewhat flattened skull. The features of the face are regular and beautiful. The nose though sometimes fleshy is not a snub-nose. The mouth is moderate. The lips are not thick.
They have excellent even teeth; large and in some cases oblong eyes; and curly hair. Their arm bones are of moderate length, shorter than the bones of Europeans, but longer than among the Amhara tribes. The feet are moderate and not turned in. The women are shorter than the men, and very beautifully built. In general, they are stouter than the men, and not as lean as they.
Among them one sometimes encounters very beautiful women. And their beauty does not fade as quickly as among the Abyssinians.
The skin color of both men and women ranges from dark to light brown. I did not see any completely black Galla.
The separate clans of the Mocha tribe differ somewhat. The far western clans are more thick-set and taller than the eastern and northern. Among them there is a more uniform and consistent type. This, I think, must be explained by the greater purity of their clan, since, being farther from the Abyssinians, they could not mix with them.
The various tribes also do not dress all the same way, depending on the location of the settlement. Tribes which are closest to the Abyssinians wear the shamma63, but they do not drape it as beautifully as the Abyssinians, tossing most of both ends on one shoulder and leaving the right arm and half the chest bare. In the southwestern regions, where cotton is scarce, instead of a shamma they wear lamb or goat skin. You only see trousers on rich Galla or those who live in border areas. They usually tie some kind of leather apron around their hips . Often you can see on their heads a pointed cap made of goat skin . (A piece of skin from a recently slaughtered goat is stretched on a sharp metal casting. When it dries, the ends are cut off and the hat is ready.) Women's clothing also changes depending on how close they are to the Abyssinians. In the border regions, they wear the long women's shirts of the Abyssinians. In places more ndistant from the border, they tie around their body a piece of material or treated oxhide, sewn with shells and beads, such that it looks something like a White Russian plakhta. Some women make themselves a kind of sarafan out of leather.
The men wear their hair shaved close to the skin or standing in a shock. The Galla who border on the Abyssinians adopted from them their manner of braiding hair in small plaits, lying close to the head and connected together at the back of the head. This is a sign of bravery. The right to wear such a hairstyle belongs to: he who has killed a man -- for one year; a lion -- for two years; and an elephant -- 40 years. Women usually wear their hair separated into small matted locks, each braided into a small plait and dangling in this manner on all sides. Some spread an abundance of butter on their hair; others, who in particular are encountered in Wollaga, spread on their hair a yellow clay taken from water and renew this layer of clay each two to three weeks.
Then, from a distance, they appear to be blond, and the color of their face takes on a special shade which can be compared with the color of cinnamon. In Leka, after treating hair this way, they gather it in a bun in the middle of the head. The ends of the braids stick out then above the head in all directions in the form of a hat. In general, such a hair style resembles sheaf of grain, planted down the head. Sometimes they arrange even more original hair styles, inserting long wooden needles in the hair.
Galla love all kinds of decoration: bracelets and rings are in wide use among them. These are made out of copper, lead,ivory and iron. They even wear rings on their toes. They put bracelets in bunches on their arms, on the arm above the elbow and on their feet. You sometimes come across such large and heavy bracelets that your are amazed at how they can work with them.
Children up to the age of ten to eleven do not wear any clothes. Usually their head is shaved and only in the middle to they leave a shock of hair. Mothers carry infants usually either from the side at the waist, or from behind. The mother ties the baby to her skirt and works with the baby on her.
The family life of the Gallas is just as simple as all the rest of their life. They do not build villages. Each family settles separately. Among them, polygamy is widespread. Each wife lies in a separate house since a separate household is established for each wife. The construction of their houses differs from that of the Abyssinians in that the roof rests not on a single post but on many. Inside, houses are divided into three parts by partitions. The first section from the entrance is intended as an enclosure for cattle at night, since houses are not protected by fences. In the middle part, the hearth burns and food is cooked. The part farthest from the entrance is covered with mats and serves as the bedroom. Strangers are not allowed there. The food of the Galla consists of cooked cabbage, or cooked roots of ensete and guder, cooked seeds of mashella, peas or shumbur, and lentils. They make of this something similar to our porridge [kasha], which they call gunfo and which they eat with spoons made of horn. They almost never use butter in their food, but rather use it exclusively for garnishing of hair. Instead of bread they make unleavened flat cakes -- kita. They also make a kind of bread. The leavened dough is spread out on an earthenware pan and from the top in the middle of a round loaf another smaller pan is squeezed. Fire is lighted under the large pan and on top of the small one. A somewhat heavy, but tasty bread results. They prefer to eat meat raw. They eat their food without flavoring, not adding either salt or pepper.
They love milk and meat. As for beverages, the most widespread is a beer, which they make from barley with the addition of finely minced leaves of the gesho plant, which substitutes for hops. Galla beer is thicker than Abyssinian. They don't know how to make mead, but they drink honey, diluted with water. They do not wash their hands before dinner, as the Abyssinians do. The wife first feeds her husband, and then eats with the children.
They buy themselves wives, paying the parents of the girl an amount that depends on the beauty of the bride and the wealth of the groom, up to 50 cows. In addition, they give the bride jewelry in the form of bracelets, rings or shells. On the day of the wedding, a feast is held at the house of the parents of the bride. After the feast, they take the bride to the house of the groom, where the feast continues, but without the parents of the bride. After the wedding, the husband cannot show himself to his father-in-law or mother-in-law until a child is born. In case of an accidental meeting, he must hide in the bushes. The number of wives is not limited and depends on one's prosperity. Each wife usually lives separately. The husband roams from one cabin to another. They sleep separately; to sleep together is considered indecent. Marriage takes place late: for men not earlier than 18 years, and for women not earlier than 16. When parents consider that their daughter has reached maturity, they perform an operation on her (removing the clitoris) and then give her in marriage. (I ascertained that this operation is performed by Galla of Wollaga, Leka, and Ilu-Babur). Once married, the wife becomes the slave of her husband, and there is no divorce under any circumstances. Conjugal infidelity is very rare. It is not considered infidelity if the younger brother of the husband has relations with the wife. In case of discovery of adultery, the husband can kill his wife on the spot; but for the most part, he exacts a fine from the culprit.
The birth of a child is not at all celebrated in the family, and no operation is performed on the new born. The mother gives him a name; but in the plateaux, the head of a family is always known by the name of his horse, for instance Aba Morke, Aba Jefar (the name of the king of Jimma).
Death is mourned by the whole family and all the neighbors of the deceased. They bury the dead in a deep grave, men to the right of the entrance to the house, and women to the left. First they lay brushwood on the body, and then pour earth. In eastern regions, they pile on a high stack of stones, and on top they lay reed stalks, coffee seeds, barley, and mashella. By the quantity and type of what is spread on it, one can determine the fortune of the person who is buried. In the city of Gunji, for instance, I saw an enormous grave with cruets spread out on stakes driven into the ground. In western regions they do not make such large graves, but in contrast to the eastern ones, they surround their graves with fences. The bury the deceased beside the house where he lived; and for twenty years after and sometimes for her whole life, the wife guards the grave of her husband. After twenty days, the wife can pass on to the brother of the deceased.
During the twenty days after the death, several times relatives and neighbors of the deceased gather and, sitting in a circle, weep and remember his brave deeds. In addition, they have one very original custom. While living, a Galla rarely boasts of his deeds, and it is considered improper if he himself begins to talk about how many enemies he killed (completely the opposite of Abyssinian behavior). After death, his brother or friend has the responsibility to recount where, when and in what circumstances the deceased distinguished himself. On the death of the father, all the property passes to the eldest son, to whom also passes the leadership of the tribe, if the father was its chief.
In the family, the authority of its head is recognized, but only to a certain degree. The Galla family is not comparable to our Northern Russian family, but rather is closer to the White Russian. The son, as soon as he marries, separates himself from his parents; and although he respects his father and olderbrother, he is, in actuality, quite independent.
Galla Culture For the most part, the Galla are a settled (rather than nomadic) people. But here one can distinguish three shades of their culture. There are settled Gallas who are almost exclusively satisfied with the products of their raising of livestock, who almost never work the land, and for vegetable food make use of the roots of banana ensete [or kogo]. But at the present time, losses of cattle and recent wars have almost deprived them of livestock. Others occupy themselves almost exclusively with tilling the soil and bee-keeping. A third category occupies itself now with the one and now with the other equally and also with domestic crafts. The entire center and the Javi and Gomo tribes belong to this last category. The inhabitants of the extreme western provinces are exclusively tillers of the soil.
The inhabitants of the plateaux and the eastern provinces are primarily breeders of livestock. These three shades correspond to the three transitional stages from a nomadic to a completely settled state. Related to this is the development of the idea of the right of land property separately from the right of ownership. In the first case, all the land and water is the general property of the tribe. In the second case, the individual has a right to land which he actively possesses. In the third case, we see an exact differentiation of lots of land, purchase, sale and obligation.
Where I was, I did not see nomadic Gallas, but they are still found in Arussi. In Ilu-Babur, in Sale and in Alga up until the conquest of those last provinces by the Abyssinians, inhabitants there were in a semi-nomadic state. Now, having lost their cattle, they have been forced to turn to tilling of the soil.
Since there is a lot of free land in these regions and it is all equally fertile and abundant in water, the inhabitants rarely stay long at the same place, but each three to four years select for themselves another; all the more so because they often build new huts, which termites usually destroy very fast.
Although those Gallas who till the soil dig in the ground less than Egyptian fellahs, they love their land and cultivate it comparatively well enough. A Galla farmstead makes a remarkably fine impression. Usually there is a small round hut for those who do not have livestock and a large one, surrounded by high banana trees (musa ensete) for those who do have cattle. The huge leaves of these trees completely hide the low pointed straw roof of the house. Several trees, from the nuts of which oil is squeezed, are planted at the entrance to the house and among them are woven root-crop plants which they call guder. Around the house there is a silky crop of tef (a kind of very small millet), a huge mashella (a Turkish millet), corn, a high cabbage which attains two arshins [56 inches] in height and does not have cabbage-heads, peas, and another plant like peas but not twisting, that is called shumbur, crops of tobacco, beans, lentils and pumpkins. On the plateaux there is wheat and barley.
From what has been enumerated, it is clear that there is quite a wealth of various kinds of crops that, with small changes, depending on the elevation of the place, you find almost everywhere.
The techniques for cultivation are the same in the various regions. There are two kinds: by oxen and by hand. They were forced to resort to cultivating by hand after the loss of livestock in Bune, Ale, and Ilu-Babur. The tool used for this is a small shovel or axe, sitting perpendicularly on a handle about 3/4 arshin [21 inches] long. They do not dig the earth with it, but rather chop. In those places where they cultivate with oxen, they use a tool which is like a wooden plough. A pole with an iron tip serves as a ploughshare. Into the ground that is ploughed or dug this way, they toss seed, and that's the end of all the effort of sowing. The fertile soil takes care of any defect in the cultivation. In Ilu-Babur I saw an even simpler technique. There the countryside is wooded, the climate is humid, the soil is soft, black earth, and the entire effort of cultivation is limited to just cutting out a clearing in the forest, and sowing right on top of the wood that was felled, not even taking away the felled trees. I saw a field which was sowed in this way with peas, and which produced an excellent harvest.
They reap with sickles with a toothed blade, and they bind in very small sheafs. In those places where livestock remain, they thresh the grain by driving oxen in a circle over ground which is covered with it. In the other places, they thresh with a long flexible stick. The soil throughout the whole extent is fertile to a high degree and, depending on irrigation, produces from two to four harvests a year.
The raising of livestock, which formerly was originally the main form of farming, has now fallen greatly and in some regions it is rare that you see a cow. But in the eastern plateaux cattle are still kept and without them no family at all would be thinkable there, since the countryside is completely deforested and the absence of firewood is made up for with pressed cow dung.
The Gallas love their livestock and look after them, and at night they drive them into their homes. They have a curious breed of horses. In all probability these horses are descended from the Arabian breed, but their type is very different from them. The head of the horses is larger. The cheek is short, narrow and low placed. The chest is narrow and the ribs are insufficiently long. Very often, the legs are wet. Key factors of the hind quarters leave much to be desired. The sacrum sags. (I enumerate their bad qualities in comparison with Arabian horses.)
In spite of all these deficiencies, this is a fast horse, with great endurance and a large heart. For their small stature(rarely larger than two arshins [56 inches]), they carry a comparatively heavy weight. Mares, mated with donkeys, produce excellent mules. These mules are not as tall as European ones but in endurance, strength, and speed of step they are indispensable on journeys. The donkeys are very small and not as hardy as the Egyptian ones. The hooves of horses, mules, and donkeys are of striking strength and grow very quickly. Neither the clearing nor the shoeing of hooves is known there, but nevertheless they carry out journeys of a thousand versts [700 miles] and even longer, along mountainous roads.
Cattle, bulls and cows are of the same kind as in Egypt, with humps. The cows produce very little milk: this is a more meat kind of cattle. The sheep are without tails. They have goats.
Of domestic birds, you only see chickens. Bee-keeping is an important branch of farming but it is not spread equally everywhere. Above all to the west of Didessa, where, as you go past houses, you see all the large mimosa trees surrounding them hung with beehives. In December and January, the bees swarm, and at this time the Gallas spread out their beehives. These hives are made either rolling up bark with wood and wrapping it in straw, or hollowing out a crude casting from the trunk of kolkual cactus trees. When the time comes to take out the honey, this is done in two ways -- either smoking out the bees with smoke of pressed cow dung, or cutting the rope which holds up the beehive. The hive then falls from a height to the ground, and the frightened bees fly away. Depending on the vegetation there are three kinds of honey: very black and bitter in the southwest in Ilu-Babur; quite white, aromatic and very sweet in Handek; and an average between these two in the other places.
Artisans such as blacksmiths and weavers are found among the Galla. Blacksmiths forge knives and spears from iron, which is mined in the country. The manufacture of steel is unknown to them. Weavers weave rough shammas from local cotton. The loomis set up very simply. The weaver sits in a hole and, pressing his feet on the treadle, in turn raises and lowers the the appropriate row of basic threads. With dextrous movement of hisarms, he passes the shuttle through, after which another horizontal bar, hanging above the cloth, adds the just thread that has just passed through to those already woven. In addition to this, there is also the production of earthenware from unbaked clay. They make large gombas, somewhat like large pitchers without handles, with a volume from half a vedro [ten and a half pints] to four vedros [84 pints], earthenware pans for baking bread and pots for cooking food. There are joiners who make saddle-trees and wooden supports for the head, which serve in place of pillows. You find the above mentioned handicrafts among all the Galla, but in addition at the courts of the rulers there are also goldsmiths, and in Leka and Jimma there are leather craftsmen, who make excellent Morocco; harness makers who make the most intricate riding gear; artisans who make shields; weavers of straw hats (all Galla know how to weave parasols and baskets); armorers who make steel sabers; weavers who weave delicate shammas, etc. Commerce among the Gallas is in a transitional state from barter to monetary.
The monetary units, the Abyssinian taler and salt are accepted by the Gallas, but talers are found in the country in relatively small quantities and are concentrated in the hands of merchants.
Three-pound bars of Abyssinian salt, which go for five to seven for the taler, are cut into four pieces by the Galla. These piece go for from 16 to 20 for the taler. Galla have great love for commerce and exchange. In each little area there is at least one marketplace, where they gather once a week, and there is hardly an area which is relatively larger and populated which does not have marketplaces strewn throughout. Usually the marketplace is a clearing near a big road in the center of Galla settlements. In the middle is an elevated place for the collector of taxes from those who have brought things for sale, on which sits the head of the market, an Abyssinian. Rarely does any Galla man or woman skip market day. They come, even with empty arms or with a handful of barley or peas, with a few coffee beans or little bundles of cotton, in order to chat, to hear news, to visit with neighbors and to smoke a pipe in their company. But besides this petty bargaining, the main commerce of the country is in the handsof the Galla, and they retain it despite the rivalry of the Abyssinians. Almost all the merchants are Mohammedan. They export coffee, gold, musk, ivory, and leather; and they import salt, paper materials, and small manufactured articles. They are very enterprising and have commercial relations with the Sudan, Kaffa, and the Negro tribes.
But they rarely take their wares to the sea, and prefer to sell them in Gojjam, Shoa or Aba Jefar's Jimma.
The customs, manners, religion and language of the Galla correspond to their state of culture. Industrial Jimma, the merchants and Galla who have distinguished themselves by their position have accepted Mohammedanism, but the remaining masses are still pagan. Their beliefs are not fixed, and are not put together in any system. There is some indeterminate expression of instinctive feeling of belief in a higher being, but they have no definite concept of God. Believing that God -- Wak -- is in heaven, that he is great and omnipotent, they do not try to explain him further to themselves and to represent him more definitely. In this way, they have avoided idolatry, to which inquisitive intellect inevitably led other nations. "Wak is there in heaven," says the Galla, pointing upward and lowering his eyes (in the Galla language the word "wak" also means heaven).
The religious beliefs of the Galla are not reduced to a logical system. All that is out of the ordinary strikes the Galla. He loves nature, feels her, lives with her, and, to him, it seems that she likewise is endowed with a soul. River, mountain, large tree -- all these are living beings, particularly interested in this or that side of human life. First comes Borenticha -- the bearer of evil and of all misfortune. Men worship him under the name of "Borenticha," and women under the name "Borentiti."
Secondly, Adbar -- the bringer of the harvest and rain. Third, Oglye -- the spirit whom women worship in order to have children.
Fourth, Atelye-hora, masculine, and Atetye-dula, feminine -- also influences child-bearing, fertility, and reproduction of cattle.
The Galla pray to all these beings and offer sacrifices which vary with the importance of the occasion and the supposed power of the deity -- from a bull to a little bunch of grass or handful of pebbles. Usually each year on one of the Tuesdays or one of the Saturdays of May, each family offers a sacrifice to Borenticha. A ram is killed, beer is brewed, honey is gathered, flat cakes are cooked, and to this feast come all the relatives and neighbors. During the feast, some of everything is thrown on the ground. For instance, some beer is poured out saying "Here's for you, Borenticha. Here's to you, Borentiti. Pass us by. Don't touch us."
Trying to explain to themselves why they offer sacrifice once a year, namely in May, you hear two motives which, apparently affect this. First, the time coincides with the approach of the rains, and the well-being of the Gallas depends on the quantity of rains. Borenticha, as the great evil being, can hurt this.
Secondly, this time coincides with great feasts in honor of the Mother of God in Abyssinia and with "Bayram" among the Mohammedans. Seeing the ones and the others celebrate at this time, they made a holiday for themselves, and at the same time they sacrifice to Borenticha.
Aside from this annual sacrifice to Borenticha, they pray when undertaking anything like a hunt or war and also in case of illness. Prayer consists of song in which the one who prays expresses by his words the essence of what is asked. In time of illness, relatives of the sick man sing in a toneless voice, andgrowl and leap, trying to chase away the sickness.
They offer two sacrifices to Abedara, spirit of the Earth: before sowing and after harvesting. Usually, women cook some flat cakes made of tef, go into a thicket, throw the cakes under a big tree and sing and dance there in honor of Abedara.
Women often pray to and offer sacrifices to Atetye, throwing bunches of grass under big trees.
"Oglye" in different places signifies something different. In Leka, for instance, this god is identified with an elephant. In other regions he is considered of feminine gender, givingfertility. In any case, each time when a ram or a bull is killed in the home, women smear their neck and chest down to the stomach with fat and hang a piece of "white fat"64 in the form of a necklace around their neck. Men, too, having gathered blood in a shield and having mixed it with ashes of grass, cover their forehead and cheeks with this blood and hang "white fat" around the neck, and on the arms wear bracelets of fat. The latter give them good luck in war. The entire night after this, wild singing and dancing continues.
Thus, we see gods entangled among themselves. But this original polytheism is even more entangled when it gets mixed with worship of Christian saints: the Mother of God, Saint George the Victor, and Archangel Michael. This should not be taken as an indication that they were formerly Christians.
Rather, simply being neighbors with Abyssinia and seeing how the Abyssinians worship these saints, the Gallas came to the conclusion that these are probably likewise great beings whom they didn't know about before; and they began to worship them too. They always call one of the olive trees near the house "Maryam," and during the big Abyssinian feasts of the Mother of God in January, they offer sacrifices: they pour a handful ofbarley or wheat and pour some beer under the olive tree and sing songs.
They also offer sacrifices to mountains and large rivers. As already mentioned above, these sacrifices are very diverse, beginning with a bull or a ram and ending with only a bunch of grass. But there is still another unique kind of charm at times of sacrifice that I came upon accidentally. In Wollaga, in the middle of the road, I saw a clay figurine that represented a four-legged animal with a horse's head, lying on a pile of stones, sprinkled on the top with little bunches of cotton. I ordered my servants to pick it up for me, but they wouldn't, saying that you shouldn't do this, that this is an enchanted object which would bring misfortune to anyone who picks it up.
Then I myself picked it up. To my questions about what this meant, they explained to me that probably this figurine, which represented the devil, was thrown along the road by a Galla out of malice to his enemy.
By the way, when in a great hurry, instead of a ram, for instance, Gallas offer a clay image of it as a sacrifice.
There is one more interesting rite. At the exit of the path which leads from the house to the big road, you almost always come upon a little bed of stones, and on it lies dry grass. This is made so that Borenticha, having seen the sacrifice, won't stop at the house, but will pass by.
The Gallas don't have their own weekly or annual feasts, and they also don't have fasts. But living as neighbors with Abyssinia, the Gallas adopted from the Abyssinians some annual feasts: Holy Cross Day, which coincides with the end of the rains and the onset of spring, called in Abyssinian Maska and in Galla Maskalya; and Christmas, called Guma by both Abyssinians and Galla.
The Galla have no public worship, no priests, no altars, no idols. But in their midst there are soothsayers, whom they call kalicha. Conditions necessary to become a kalicha are not fixed: anyone who has a calling can make himself one. But the degree of respect for a kalicha depends on the degree to which hispredictions and advice are good. Sometimes the name kalicha is hereditary and passes from generation to generation to the eldest in the generation. A kalicha who advises well and speaks the truth is very respected by the people. They come to him from afar to get advice and offer gifts.
When the country was subjugated, the first thing the Abyssinians did was to capture and execute the kalichas. Now there are almost none of them in the country, or they hide secretly in thickets. In appearance, they differ from others in the fact that they grow very long hair.
The Galla have many superstitions, for instance belief in werewolves which they call buda. One glance of a buda is enough to kill a man, especially at meal time.
From what has been said above, it can be seen that the faith of the Gallas is not in any way fixed. But at the same time, because it includes an understanding of God-Spirit, and of the origin of evil -- Borenticha -- as well as a precarious understanding of life beyond the grave, it cannot present a serious hindrance to their conversion to Christianity.
Right now, in Shoa, and particularly in Leka, Galla are baptized in large numbers. But unfortunately, this is superficial, since the Abyssinian clergy have no missionaries who would try to explain the essence of the Christian faith to the Galla.
The language of the Galla people is melodious and simple, and the words are easily pronounced because of the abundance of vowels.
It has none of the guttural sounds of Semitic languages, and I didn't notice any differences between abrupt and drawling consonants, as, for instance, in the Amharic letters "k" and "t".
The form of sentences is simpler and less flowery than that of the Abyssinians. Clauses are short and abrupt. And in conversation, the listener after each sentence of the speaker answers "yes" with a drawling "e" sound, after which the speaker continues.
In conversation with a person of higher station, the Galla begins his speech with the word duguma, which means "this is true." This must be because, in general, they often lie.
For conjugation, they use pronouns and auxiliary verbs for the future, present, pluperfect tenses. The perfect past, as in Amharic, is a basic verbal form.
They use participles and gerundives, but to less a degree than the Abyssinians.
Unfortunately, I am not well enough acquainted with this language to resolve its detailed and exact nature.
I tried to find out if the Galla have any epic folk tales, but only managed to collect a few proverbs and stories. I didn't find any epic folk tales.
By the way, here's a little story that an old Galla man told me as an amiable introduction to a gift: "A mouse came to an elephant to ask for the hand of his daughter. The elephant said, 'What! You, who are so little, want my daughter?' 'Never mind,' says the mouse. 'Give me your daughter.' The elephant did so.
Some time later, elephant hunters came to this place. The mouse having found out about this went by night to the hunters' camp and gnawed through all the saddle girths and horse gear and in this way saved the elephants."
The main character trait of the Galla is love of complete independence and freedom. Having settled on any piece of land, having built himself a hut, the Galla does not want to acknowledge the authority of anyone, except his personal will.
Their former governmental system was the embodiment of this basic trait of their character -- a great number of small independent states with figurehead kings or with a republican form of government.65
Side by side with such independence, the Galla has preserved a great respect for the head of the family, for the elders of the tribe, and for customs, but only insofar as it does not restrain him too much.
The Galla is a poet. He worships nature, loves his mountains and rivers, considering them animated beings. He is a passionate hunter.
The Galla are a warlike people. They are very brave, and killing among them, as among other peoples, is elevated to a cult. Very recently there were some Galla tribes where a youth did not have the right to get married until he killed an elephant, a lion, or a man. Having killed one of them, a Galla greased his head with butter, worse bracelets, rings, and an earring.
But comparing their bravery with the bravery of other peoples, I should say that this is not the nervous enthusiasm of the Abyssinian, not the selflessness of the Russian, but a quicker bent for blood. This bent makes the Galla dreadful to such a point that he doesn't notice danger.
The armaments of the Gallas consist of a metal spear (which has a different shape among the various clans), a knife in his belt, and a large shield. Whether or not a Galla is a cavalryman depends on his place of residence. On the plateaux of Chalea, Wobo, Tikur, Shoa, and Leka, which are abundant in horses, all the Galla are cavalrymen. In the mountains and forests of the west and southwest regions adjacent to Kaffa, almost none are.
The ambush, the night attack, the single combat -- those are the favorite tactics of the Galla.
Both on horse and on foot, the Galla fights for his personal goal -- to kill and to get trophies. There is no general concept of "patriotism." To run away is not considered a disgrace. The Galla likewise have no concept of all being related to one another by blood and kinship. In the recent subjugations of the Galla by the Abyssinians, the most violent fighters in the ranks of the Abyssinians were themselves Galla.
Galla make excellent cavalrymen. Their horses are plain and small, but hardy and fast. In battle, they very rarely get close to the enemy. Instead, having galloped at the enemy in full career and having thrown a spear, they abruptly turn around and gallop away. In general, the Galla are marvelous military material, and particularly now, after that school of obedience and discipline that they pass through under the power of the Abyssinians.
The ambition and sense of honor of the Galla do not go very far. The Galla passionately wants to kill somebody or something in war or in a hunt to have the right to grease his head with butter and to return home with songs. But you can defeat a Galla without risk. In case of injustice, the beaten man feels indignation, but never outrage.
The Galla is a beggar, sooner generous than stingy, sooner good than bad. You can only believe him with caution. Formerly, there was almost no thievery among the Galla, but this was not due to principled honesty, but rather to the absence of want -- all the more so because the distribution of property was very equal. But now, theft has become very common.
As regards the difference between separate clans of the Mocha, those who inhabit the plateau are more warlike and blood-thirsty than those who live in the lowland. As regards culture, the inhabitants of Wollaga, Leka, and Jimma differ sharply from the others. These are mainly trading and manufacturing regions.
The original form of government of the Galla and the beginnings of their legal procedure and of criminal law were entirely changed with the conquest of the area by the Abyssinians.
Originally, they were separated into a mass of separate clans, and each clan was a completely independent unit. A large part of them, namely all the western clans, had a monarchic form of government. But some southern clans had a republican form of government.
The republics of Goma and Gera chose several rulers, whom they drove away quickly whenever they had the slightest cause for dissatisfaction. In all the other clans, the eldest in the clan, descended by the eldest line from the founder of the clan, was the head of state. But his rights were completely fictitious.
He did not have the use of any revenues from his subjects, because he did not have the right to collect taxes. His revenues consisted of rare voluntary gifts, portions of military plunder and revenues from his own properties, cattle, and land. This was because, in the primogeniture system of inheritance he, descended by the eldest line from the founder of the clan, was the richest landowner in his tribe. In case of war, he was at the head of his clan, but he could neither begin nor end war, nor undertake anything at all independently without having consulted with the elders. He presided in the lube, but all the business was decided there without his knowledge.
The lube is a very unique institution. Each head of a family in the state has the right each 40 years to become a member of the lube for five years. If the head of a family turns out to be a young boy, this does not prevent him from taking part. This assembly of the leaders of the families of the state perform all the functions of court and of state government.
The court, whether civil or criminal court, is conducted in the following manner. The plaintiff and the respondent, or the accuser and the accused, each entrust their business to one of the members of the lube. Those entrusted explain the essence of the matter to the council, wrangle with one another; then when the matter has been made sufficiently clear, the lube decides on the verdict. For the duration of the trial, neither the respondent nor the plaintiff have the right interfere. They are not asked about anything. There are two criminal punishments -- fine and exile. And, in some western regions there is still sale into slavery.
There is no capital punishment for ordinary criminal acts.
Premeditated murder is punished the most severely. The property of the killer is confiscated for the use of the family of the victim, and he himself is expelled from the borders of the country. But if after some time he arrives at an agreement with the family of the victim on the extent of compensation, then he can return again. Theft is punished by large fines and, in some border regions, by sale into slavery. Adultery is punished by fines, if the deceived husband did not already deal with the insulter in some way.
Since the right of property in land in the majority of regions up to now has been identified with actual possession, law suits on this question could only arise in the thickly populated regions of Leka, Wollaga, and Jimma, where already there exist not only property in land but also servitude.
Aside from the administration of justice, it was likewise the duty of the lube to reconcile quarreling clans.66
Such was the form of government of Galla states up until their conquest by the Abyssinians. But from that time the peaceful, free way of life, which could have become the ideal for philosophers and writers of the eighteenth century, if they hadknown of it, was completely changed. Their peaceful way of life is broken; freedom is lost; and the independent, freedom-loving Gallas find themselves under the severe authority of the Abyssinian conquerors.
The Abyssinians pursue two goals in the governing of the region: fiscal and political -- security of the region and prevention of an uprising. All families are assessed a tax.
This is very small, not more than a unit of salt a year per family. In addition, families are attached to the land. Part of the population is obliged to cultivate land for the main ruler of the country, and part is divided among the soldiers and military leaders. The whole region is divided among separate military leaders who live off their district and feed their soldiers.
The dreadful annihilation of more than half the population during the conquest took away from the Galla all possibility of thinking about any sort of uprising. And the freedom-loving Galla who didn't recognize any authority other than the speed of his horse, the strength of his hand, and the accuracy of his spear, now goes through the hard school of obedience.
The lube no longer exists. The Abyssinians govern through clan leaders aba-koro and aba-langa (the aba-koro's assistant).
The aba-koro is the head of the clan, who gathers the Gallas for work, gathers coffee for the leader of the region, levies taxes for them, and, when it is necessary, collects durgo. The Abyssinian leaders only supervise the correctness of the actions of the aba-koro. The court of the first instance is the aba-koro, but important matters go straight to the leader of the region who punishes in accord with Abyssinian laws, and, in the case of political crimes, robbery, attempted murder or murder of an Abyssinian, uses capital punishment.
That's the way things are done in the conquered regions. But aside from these there are three states -- Jimma, Leka, Wollaga -- which voluntarily submitted to Abyssinia and pay it tribute.
In those places, the former order has been preserved, although the lube no longer exists. The Abyssinians obtain taxes from them and do not interfere in their self-government. Aside from payment of taxes, they also feed the troops stationed there.
After all that has been said above, the question automatically arises -- what are the relations of the conquered to the conquerors? Without a doubt, the Galla, with their at least five million population, occupying the best land, all speaking one language, could represent a tremendous force if they united. But the separatist character of the people did not permit such a union. Now subjugated by the Abyssinians, who possess a higher culture, they little by little adopt this culture from the Abyssinians, and accept their faith. Since there is no national idea, in all probability, they will with time blend with the Abyssinians, all the more because the Abyssinians skillfully and tactfully manage them, not violating their customers and religious beliefs and treating them lawfully and justly.
Only those states that pay tribute and preserve their independence represent a danger. Among these, hate for the Abyssinians is apparent in the ruling class, although they have adopted all the customs and even the household etiquette of the Abyssinians. In case of internal disorders, these states will certainly try to use such opportunity to their advantage. But Emperor Menelik doesn't disturb these states for the time being, in view of the fact that they are the most profitable regions of his empire.
Pressed from the north by Abyssinians, from the south and east by Galla, Sidamo tribes ceded to the newcomers almost all the territory they formerly occupied, partly merging with them, and keeping some territories, such as Kaffa, Mocha, Kulo, Sidamo, Amaro and Gurage. Kaffa and Mocha to this day retain their independence. The others have been subdued by the Abyssinians.
Up until the invasion of the Galla in the sixteenth century, these regions, judging by the Abyssinian Tarika Negest, belonged to them. For example, the names Kaffa and Mocha were given to them, according to legend, by Atye Zar Yakob, who in the fifteenth century conquered them. The word "Kaffa" derives from the word kefu meaning "wicked," and Mocha from the word mot meaning "death," because the conquest in all probability did not come easily to the Abyssinians, thanks to the war-likeness of the inhabitants and the difficult mountainous and forested terrain.
At the time of the invasion of Gran (sixteenth century), one of the sons of Atye Zar Yakob reigned. The Gallas, having occupied all the intervening country, waged uninterrupted war against the remnants of the former population, but the difficulty of the terrain and the bravery of the inhabitants of the above-named regions, preserved them like islands up until today.
It is worthy of note that the Galla call all Abyssinians "Sidamo," not seeing the differences between the two nations.
This serves, besides, as an indication that the Galla came from Arussi, since Sidamo is the name of the province which borders Arussi and Ethiopians inhabit it. Having first become acquainted with the Ethiopians of Arussi, they called all the other Ethiopians by the same name.
The Sidamo type is very beautiful, particularly the women. The color of the skin is lighter than that of the Galla and the Abyssinians. The women are quite light. The features of the face are very regular: thin straight noses, thin lips, oblong eyes, small hands and feet. The skull is not flattened out and is more round than among the Galla. The hair is curly. Their stature is smaller than that of the Galla. The women are thinner and more graceful.
I passed through the regions of Mocha and Alga, which are inhabited by them, during time of war and did not have a chance to become acquainted in detail with their way of life andcharacter. But, judging by questions, their character differs little from that of the Abyssinians. They dress similarly in shammas, have the same food, and have a similar governmental organization. For example, Kaffa has a negus (a descendant of Zar Yakob) and is divided into 12 provinces governed by rases (six Christian and six Mohammedan).67 Mocha is also ruled by a king, who they call tetchuchanochi, and the four regions into which it is divided are ruled by aga-rases.
Kaffa is half-Christian. There are churches and priests. But the question arises -- who assigns the priests, since they do not have relations with the Abyssinian clergy and do not have their own bishops. Mocha also preserves a memory of Christianity.
They call God Erotchi, believe in Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, and several saints. They fast on Wednesdays and Fridays, and celebrate on Saturdays.
All the Sidamo tribes speak dialects which are different, but very close to one another. They are very brave and warlike.
Their weapons consist of spears, shields, sometimes bows and arrows. They say that there are guns in Kaffa. Their spears are not the same simple shape as the Galla's, but are very intricate and almost always poisoned. The Abyssinians consider war with them much more difficult than with the Galla. It is said that they poison the water and resort to all possible measures of war against the enemy, in which the terrain which is rugged, mountainous and forested helps them greatly.
I decided not to recount here everything that I heard about them since, not being in a position to verify what I heard, I could easily fall into error.
The relationship of the Abyssinians to these tribes is different from their relationship with the Galla. They consider the Sidamo as related with them by blood, and many highly placed persons among them have Sidamo wives (for instance, the afa-negus, the chief judge).
The Abyssinians rule the subdued Sidamo tribes the same way as they do the Galla.
The western borders of Abyssinia and part of the southern are inhabited by Negroes. The borders between Galla and Negroes in the west are the Baro and Dabus Rivers. To the south from Mocha on the slopes of the Kaffa Mountains there also live Negroes of the Gobo, Suro or Shiro, and Gimiro tribes; and on the western borders on the far side of the Baro are the Gambi, Bako, Masanko and Madibis68 tribes.
I did not succeed in going to Negro settlements, but I saw several Gambi and Bako inhabitants, and likewise saw captured slaves of the Madibis and Gimiro tribes.
The type of the Bako tribe is of very tall build, dry, long-legged, with very large feet, which are turned inward, and large arm bones, an oblong shaped skull, a turned-up meaty nose, thick lips, curly hair, and skin that is completely black. They extract their two upper front teeth and pierce the lower ends of their ears. In addition, they tattoo their cheeks, making three lines on each side. They dwell in a very unhealthy, low-lying, swampy valley, in which all the tributaries of the Sobat join together. It is extremely difficult to make your way there.
Hence very little is known about them, and they are rarely seen at markets in the town of Bure. They don't wear clothes, but instead they make aprons out of leaves. The Gambi tribe has just as much tattooing as the Bako, but differs from it in smaller stature and not such long legs. The language of the Gambi and the Bako is the same. The Gambi build wooden houses, similar to those of the Galla. Their food consists mainly of roots of ensete bananas (fruitless bananas). They have cattle.
The Madibis tribe is found to the north of the Bako. Judging by answers to questions, it is under the authority of Arabs.
There reigns someone named Amati, who according the words of the Negroes is white. He has only one wife who also is white. He has double-barreled guns. (This is according to the words of a Negro boy, whose sister was a slave at the court of Amati. He was sold to Galla lands several years ago.) The type of the Madibis is very well built with a round skull, turned-up meaty nose, thick lips, small eyes, and curly hair. Their arms and legs are large and their feet are turned inward. They make three marks on each cheek and extract the front upper teeth. They build stone houses, have monogamy, and married people, under threat of being sold into slavery, do not have the right to sleep together. They have many livestock, but they eat only those that have died. On those rare occasions when they hold a feast, they do not just butcher a cow, but rather murder it, removing its head. Their usual food consists of soup, and they are not squeamish about putting mice in it. The same slave who told meall this showed me how they dance. The women run in place and cry piercingly, "A-a-a!." The men at first do not run like the women, and then going into an ecstasy begin to jump back and forth, spreading their legs wide and crying "Bum-bum!" All these Negro tribes are related to one another, in all probability. It must be that they belong to the Shilluk69 [Nilot].
Bordering Mocha from the south, the Gimiro tribe represents a different type than the rest. They are very ugly, with a very turn-up nose and a huge mouth. They have a different kind of tattooing: two vertical marks on the bridge of the nose and two such marks at the ends of the mouth. They build straw houses, like huts. They are involved in agriculture. By the testimony of the Abyssinians, all these tribes are very brave and warlike and adults never surrender themselves into captivity -- only women and children fall into the hands of the conqueror. They very quickly accustom themselves with their new position and completely forget their former life and language. I managed to transcribe several words of the Gimiro and Madibis languages,70 from which it can be concluded that these two peoples have completely different languages.
Relations between these tribes and the Abyssinians have up until now been such that the Negro tribes have served the Abyssinians as the target of wars and raids. Abyssinians have tried to take as much livestock and as many prisoners as possible, and then would go back home. Now this predatory way of conducting war is being replaced by another, based on the annexation to the empire of new territories and the general expansion of the empire. Evidently, the Negroes will not be strong enough to defend themselves against this, and in all probability, the time will soon come when all the surrounding Negro tribes, who inhabit places that are not extremely unhealthy, will be annexed by Ethiopia.
The Abyssinians, rulers of the country, call themselves "Amhara" in contrast to the inhabitants of Tigre. Through all the extent of my journey to the west, I did not come across any areas that they had completely settled, but, on the other hand, in those most recently conquered, all the rulers and troops are Abyssinian.
As said above, being a mixture of all the peoples who gradually occupied the country, they are not of one uniform type.
The shape of the skull, the shade of the skin, the height, the features of the face are all diverse. Side by side with a clearly Semitic type, you see the regular facial features of the ancient Egyptians and a turned-up nose. But, in spite of this apparent diversity, the national character is very determined and homogeneous, with small deviations that could lead to two types -- Gojjam and Shoan.71
It is hard to imagine so many contrasts united in one person, as are united in the Abyssinian character. Their character is like the nature around them -- where precipices, cliffs, mountains and plains alternate among one another, and cold is mixed with tropical heat. If I allow myself a rather free comparison, this is how I would characterize the Abyssinian. He is talented and receptive, like a Frenchman. With his practicality, with the way he deals with those he has conquered and his governmental abilities, he is like an Englishman. His pride is like that of a Spaniard. By his love for his faith, his mildness of character and tolerance, he is like a Russian. By his commercial abilities, he is like a Jew. But in addition to all these characteristics, he is very brave, cunning, andsuspicious.
At the present time, Abyssinia -- with its ancient culture, Christianity, and historically shaped governmental order -- appears like an island among other peoples who are almost in a childlike condition. Abyssinians have professed the Christian faith since 343 A.D., and before then, from the time of Solomon, they professed the Jewish faith, which even today is reflected in their ceremonies.72 To this day they separate animals into pure and impure; they give great significance to the ability to butcher cattle; and they circumcise their children. There are many other similarities, but I will tell of them in greater detail later.
Their language is of Semitic origin and of Hamitic root, since their ecclesiastical and literary language, Geez, derives from the Hamitic. The Geez language was brought to Ethiopia at the time of the Semitic migration. The Semites, becoming the ruling nation, made Geez their language. Mixing with Ethiopian tribes, Cushites who lived on the Ethiopian plateaux, they modified theirlanguage, adopting much from the surrounding tribes. Since thedistribution of Semites was not uniform, with more to the north than to the south, to the north the language retained a greater purity, and at the present time we see in Abyssinia three dialects: Geez, ancient Hamitic, is the ecclesiastical and literary language; the Tigrean dialect which differs little from Geez; and the Amharic language, which has many Geez roots, but which has a grammar and pronunciation which is completely different from Geez. The Amharic language is very sonorous. In it there are not of the characteristic guttural "ha-ga" sounds of Semitic languages, including Geez and Tigrean. Conjugation and declination are also completely different between these two languages. The alphabet of both consists of 202 letters. Each syllable is represented by a different letter. The written form of the letters is similar to ancient Chaldean. They write from left to right. (It is significant to note that the all easternpeople write from right to left.) Regarding the pronunciation of several consonants there are several complications. Forinstance, there are three different ways to pronounce the letters"h" and "t"; there is a difference between "ts" and "t-s"; andthere are two ways to pronounce the letter "s." All books are printed in the Geez language, and only in recent times have several appeared in Abyssinian: Feta Negest and Tarika Negest.
The first of these is a modified Code of Justinian; and the second is the history of the reigns of kings. The people have preserved some legends relating sometimes to former kings, but mostly to saints. Of the kings, Atye Zar Yakob (1434-1468) still lives in the memory of the people. He ruled all of present-dayEthiopia, including Kaffa and Mocha. I was unable to find any epics. There are some stories and proverbs.73 There are veryfew songs about the country, almost none, because their singers prefer to touch upon lively interests of the day with their songs or to sing unceremoniously about the person who invited them, in hope of getting a good tip. If the tip isn't good enough, thepraise slowly turns to insulting abuse. Songs with indecentcontents are also very wide-spread. In Abyssinia there are two kinds of itinerant singers: azmari and lalibala, which arealways at odds with one another. The azmari sing, accompanying themselves on a single-stringed instrument like a violin, which is called a masanko.74 The lalibala sing heroic couplets with great enthusiasm, and with them there is a chorus of boys or girls who sing the refrain. These singers represent a completely different class of people, and are not subject to the general laws of the land. No one has the right to bother them, under threat of severe punishment, and the singers can ridicule and blame whomever they please, even the emperor himself to his face.
They all are afraid of this mockery and generously reward singers, using them also as a way to increase their popularity.
Azmari sing with great affectation, somewhat nasally, and during the song and roll over with their whole body in time to the music. For the most part, what they sing is improvised. Some of their tunes are very nice. Lalibala do not sing, but rather yell or growl some kind of heroic recitative; then the chorus sings some monotonous tune.
The family life of the Abyssinian is very simple and almost the same in all classes. Houses in Shoa are wooden; those in the north are stone. Their structure is very simple. They drive sticks or stakes that are two and a half to three arshins long [70 to 84 inches] into the ground around a circle with a radius that is also three arshins [84 inches]. In the middle is a large post which serves as the base for the roof. The roof and the walls consist of the same kind of stakes and are connected together with ropes or pieces of bast. The house is not divided by partitions, but from one of the sides they make a back shed for horses or sheep. In the middle of the house is the hearth, on which they cook food in clay pots. By one of the walls is the alga -- a bed, consisting of a wooden frame on supports and a belt binding. All the rest of the space is covered with large clay pots. There are no kitchen-gardens. Large houses of leaders are built by the same system and attain 16 arshins [12 yards] in diameter. Sometimes they build them without a central post. Around the circumference, they stick large slivers of wood or stakes five arshins [4 yards] high, and in the middle around the circumference of a little circle drawn inside are several large posts. On these posts is placed a circle of flexible bamboo poles, tied together with ropes, and on this circle is held the whole roof, which consists also of flexible thin spokes or slivers, joined together above in a conic shape and fastened to a whole series of intermediate horizontal circles made of bent bamboo. The wrap these circles with multi-colored skins, and obtain a very beautiful appearance.
The clothing of the Abyssinians consists of white trousers. The well-to-do have white thin cotton shirts. The highest personages wear silk ones. The waist is wrapped in a long wide piece of cotton material, over which they wear a bandoleer, if they have one, and a saber. On the shoulders they throw a shamma, a large square piece of white cotton material made locally. It is worn like a Roman toga, and there are many nuances in the way it is worn. At home, where each Abyssinian considers himself as an independent lord with full rights, like the emperor in the empire, the Abyssinian dons the shamma throwing the ends behind both shoulders and wrapping it around his whole body. The extreme expression of pride is a sitting or quietly moving Abyssinian, wrapped up to his nose in a shamma, looking with disdain on all that surrounds him. In the presence of or in the home of a higher person, no one other than this person can wear his shamma in this way. Others wear theirs in two ways. Half the shamma is wrapped around the waist, forming a kind of skirt; and the other, free half is picturesquely thrown over the shoulders. This is how all wear it when they speak with the negus. for instance, or a slave before his master. In addition, during a conversation the rule is observed that the younger when speaking to the elder, covers his mouth with the free end of the shamma. Furthermore, a courtier, when leaving the emperor or his leader, covers both of his shoulders with the free half of theshamma. Also, in law court, the plaintiff and the defendant wrap half the shamma around the waist and, hold the other hand in their hands. They like to cover their head with white muslin.
This is in imitation of Menelik. Previously each brave man who had killed an elephant, lion or man braided his hair in plaits.
Menelik always wears a headband. In recent times, felt hats with wide brims have come into use. They usually don't wear footwear and only when going to hot places do they wear something resembling sandals. The highest persons put on over the shamma what they call a kabba. This is a satin cloak with a hood, bordered with fringe. For covering from rain and cold, they have something like our felt cloak. This consists of thick felt, butsewn so that it doesn't come undone. The hood is on the back ofit. The clothing of the women differs from that of the men in that, instead of trousers and a thin shirt, they wear a long, thick shirt that extends to the heels. The wealthy have themembroidered with silk. Around their waist they wrap the same kind of sash as the men, and on top they throw a shamma, and some a cloak.
The usual food of the Abyssinian consists of injera (a kind of pancake bread, which is round, about 3/4 arshin [21 inches] in diameter), which they eat dipped in sauce made of pea meal with pepper. The wealthy add to that butter and meat. Their national and favorite dish, which they succeed in eating quite rarely is brindo, raw fresh-killed meat. A huge fillet or thigh is held by a servant over a basket around which those who are eating sit.
Each chooses a piece for himself and cuts it out. They can eat an enormous quantity of raw meat, but all Abyssinians without exception have the inevitable consequence of that -- tapeworm.
Therefore, it is the established practice among them to eat once every two months the cooked berries of the kusso tree to expel the parasitic worms. They very strictly observe fasts. On Wednesdays and Fridays they do not eat until noon; and during fasts, even fish is forbidden.
In his own home the Abyssinian is the complete master and zealously protects his right of the inviolability of his dwelling, like an Englishman. In the home of each wealthy Abyssinian the same strict etiquette is observed as at the court of the emperor, although, of course, to a lesser degree. There is a whole series of various domestic posts. For instance, the agafari, is the one who admits those who wish to see his master.
There are agafari of the husband, the wife, who manage large receptions. They are usually very important and full of their own dignity. They always have in their hand a thin stick or little whip. The azzaj manages the house and all the property.
There are chiefs of the various departments of the household economy. The kitchen chiefs are the cookers of honey, the injera-byet, wot-byet, and tej-byet. The chief of the stables is the balderas. The asalyfi is the one who cuts the food in pieces and serves the food and drink. The elfin ashkers are the servants of the bedroom. They are usually notably good-looking youths with gentle, graceful movements, with refined Abyssinian manners, always remarkably draped in their shammas.
The day of an Abyssinian noble usually begins and ends very early. He gets up at sunrise and with his secretary -- tsafi -- and get down to work. The secretary reads to him the correspondence that has been received and answers to these letters are composed. Having finished that the noble goes to the courtroom to dispense justice. All available soldiers and chiefs have already assembled in the yard to accompany him. He sits on a richly attired mule. Over him they unfurl a parasol, and the huge procession moves to the courtroom. At eleven o'clock on ordinary days and at two to three o'clock on fast days they have dinner. The wife is not at this meal. She sits in the elfin -- the bedroom. Nobles dine with their closest leaders. After the dinner of the master, the servants who are in attendance on him eat what remains, and if the master wants to especially distinguish one of them, he gives him his partly eaten piece of meat or partially drunk decanter of mead. After dinner, mead -- tej -- and beer -- tella76 -- is brought in decanters. And conversation begins, the thread of which is always maintained by the master. In this regard they have striking talent, and the popularity of a leader to a large extent depends on his skill in conducting conversation.
At every minute people come to disturb the master about this or that matter. Only in the evening do all the retainers go away, business ends and he can spend a few hours with his family.
At about seven o'clock he has supper with his wife, and at about nine o'clock he has already gone to bed.
Families, as we know them, do not exist among the Abyssinians. Therefore, mutual love among members of a family, with very rare exceptions, does not exist. The absence of family is due to the position of women in Abyssinia and the instability of marriage.
With very few exceptions, all marriages are civil. As a result, it is sufficient if the groom and bride in the presence of two witnesses -- kuas -- declare in the name of the negus that the marriage is made, and then the witnesses look after the property brought by the wife and also are responsible for the obligations which the groom takes on himself in relationship to the family of the bride. From the moment of swearing by the name of the negus, the marriage is completed, but to divorce is just as easy as to marry. In front of two witnesses, the husband sets the wife free, and then if the divorce was not a consequence of discovering unfaithfulness of the wife, than in going she has the right to half of all the property which they then divide. Only after many years of peaceful life together do the husband andwife decide to have a church wedding, which is inviolable.
Priests are all married in church weddings. Because divorce is so easy and families change so frequently, one mother might have children from several fathers; and the position of the children is extremely uncertain. For instance,having divorced the first husband, the mother takes an infant with her and leaves another with the husband. Then she marries a second time, also has children from the second husband and a second time divorces, and this time leaves all the children both from the first and from the second marriage with the second husband. I saw little love of parents for their children. Above all, brothers and sisters are friendly to one another. At a strikingly early age children cease being children. They are very serious, rarely play pranks and you can entrust them with important things to do, which they will take care of and not make a mess of it. Their independent life begins very early.
The Abyssinian woman is terribly coquettish and beautiful; but for the most part, she is short, poorly built and rarely has many children. Having few children must be due to the very early marriages. I knew a case where a girl seven years old was given in marriage. They marry quite frequently at nine years old,regardless of the fact that they are physically completely developed. The position of women is very free in the lower class and completely closed in the higher class. Eunuchs watch over them. They cannot go anywhere without a huge escort. In other words, on those rare occasions she is accompanied by her whole staff of chamber maids and eunuchs, and they sit her on the mule and take her off the mule, closely screening her by shammas from the view of strangers. In the higher class, almost all women are literate and even well-read. Very often, important correspondence is carried on between husband and wife. Since relations between the sexes are very easy, there are almost no instances of love affairs and jealousy. Catching the wife in infidelity at the scene of the crime, the husband has the right, with impunity, to kill both of them, and usually does so. But until such time as the infidelity has not been clearly discovered, the husband does not express either jealousy or suspicion. The closed conditions of women of the upper class are stipulated by etiquette.
The birth of a child is not a prominent, happy event in the family. For the Abyssinian woman a child is almost always a burden. At birth, a male child is circumcised on the seventh day and christened on the twentieth. A female child is circumcised on the fourteenth and christened on the fortieth. At the christening, the child is given the name of some saint. They never call themselves just by this name but always with prefixes, for instance Wolda Mikael -- "birth of Michael," Gebra Maryam -- "slave of Mary," Haile Iesus -- "strength of Jesus." For the most part they do not call themselves by the name given at christening but with a nickname. There are some very original nicknames, for instance, Setayukh -- "How much I see" or Enatenakh -- "You are to mother," Sefraishu -- "Find the place", and for women, for instance, Terunesh -- "You a clean person," Worknesh -- "You are gold," Deseta -- "Happiness."
Death among them is a very sorrowful event, mourned by all the relatives and acquaintances. And on this occasion there appears a contradiction of their character. Indifferent in his family feelings, the Abyssinian comes from afar to mourn at the grave of a relative. The Abyssinian dies quietly, in spite of the fact that during a grave illness for several days before death, in his house a mass of people crowds together, before time, to mournhim. (By the way, this happened to me when I was seriously illin December of 1896, and my servants believed that my end wascoming.) When it is apparent that death is unavoidable, the person who is sick takes kusso (a purgative) to drive out parasitic worms before death. (It is considered indecent to die with these in one's stomach). Then he takes confession and is given communion. They wash the corpse, roll it up in linen and, with loud weeping, carry it to the church where, after mass, they bury it with the head to the east. They have mourners, but they do not collect the tears in a vessel. Relatives wear mourning clothes, consisting of dirty, torn and old clothing. For several days the closest relatives do not leave the house, and during this time everyone who knew the deceased pays his relatives a visit of sympathy; and, over a small bottle of tej (mead), they weep together with them. In such cases the effusiveness of the Abyssinian character is expressed. Whether he rejoices or grieves, he tries as much as possible to express this and let it be known. Their mimicry and manner of conducting themselves always corresponds remarkably to the occasion. For instance, mourning the death of someone who is a completely stranger, the Abyssinian seems at this time to be completely crushed by grief, and finally having convinced himself of this, he weeps almost sincerely.
The property of the deceased is divided among the children and among them they do not have the right of inheritance by the eldest. Always the land, and very often all the property of the deceased is inherited by whoever of the children was closest to him.
Some writers compare present-day Abyssinia with Europe in feudal times and identify its system with the feudal system. But is this really so? The first condition of a feudal system is the division into classes and hereditary ownership and class advantages, which Abyssinia does not have. In Abyssinia there is an aristocracy of position -- people who at the present moment are in power. There are merchants, priests, monks, soldiers, artisans, and peasants. But all of these are differences in positions or occupations, and not separate closed classes.
In Abyssinia there is no hereditary nobility, and it would even be unthinkable given the country's family structure. There are some families which lead their kin from afar. There are some who consider themselves descendants of kings and at this time are in the lowest position. In the Abyssinian language, there isn't even a word to express "nobility." Sometimes in an argument they say, that "I am bale abat," which means "one who has a father."
But this is not to determine his noble parentage, but rather in contrast to someone whose father was a slave or who himself was a slave. The concept of hereditary nobility is incompatible with the practical mind of the Abyssinian. They admire wealth, position, and personal servants, as long as these elements of strength are evident. But if they should go away -- if the wealthy man is impoverished, if the leader had his territory taken away from him, if someone who was powerful at court falls into disgrace, or if children of a powerful and great man do not represent anything remarkable by their wealth or position -- then these people become equal with all others and the lowest soldier will talk down to them ["tutoyer" in French]. But nevertheless, when distinguishing among gentlemen, they always give preference to individuals whose fathers were in the same position.
Selection for the highest government posts is based on the principle of personal merit. And in addition to that, in order to be recognized as emperor, besides the actual power, one must have the ability to show that one is descended from Solomon.
Rases and dajazmatches are very often relations by marriage or by blood with the reigning emperor and his wife. The emperor and empress try to tie them closer to the throne by having them marry their relatives. But some of them came from the very lowest positions.
Thus we see that nobility as a class does not exist, but there is a class of those in high positions; or you could call it a service aristocracy, the membership of which is half by chance.
The concept of "mesalliance" does not exist in the upper class. They select their wife by desire, and sometimes from among the servants. Children of the upper class usually start out at a young age at the court of the emperor or of one of his principal leaders. There they carry out the responsibilities of a houseservant and receive the highest Abyssinian education: they learn to play the lyre (bagana),77 to play chess, reading, writing, theology and military exercises. Becoming personally known by the emperor or another individual at whose court they serve, and finally, winning the favor and confidence of him, they obtain some appointment. But at court are found not only the children of those in the highest posts, but also many who are there by chance. Posts are neither for life nor progressive. Each person who holds a post considers himself the the direct servant of the person who gave him that assignment. The only similarity between present-day Abyssinia and Europe in feudal times is the apparently considerable independence of those who govern the territories, but was we will see later, this autonomy is veryrelative and the proprietorship is not hereditary.
The life of the upper class is very simple and uniform. In this regard it differs from the life of others. This crowded court and etiquette represents in miniature the court of the emperor. Their manner of conducting themselves with subordinates is notable for remarkable restraint and dignity. In general, the upper serving class have great qualities. They are very devoted to the leaders who assigned them to their job and zealously guard the interests of their patrons.
The Abyssinian clergy consists of "white" -- priests and deacons, "black" and debtera -- scribes, who are secular individuals who live in churches. The similarity to feudal times lies in the existence of ecclesiastical lands, very large and independent properties controlled by them. Each church has its land, half worked by peasants. Each monastery also has lands, and, in addition, their bishops and ychygye (the leader of the monastic order of Saint Abun Tekla Haymanot) own extensive lands.
Each man who feels the vocation can go into the clerical ranks. But only those who have been prepared for it and who marry in a church ceremony are consecrated as priests. All deacons are children. Those who have prepared themselves for the clerical calling, but have not been consecrated as priests, not feeling this vocation, continue to live in churches and are called debtera -- scholars or scribes. They have great influence on the affairs of the church. In each church, the leader of all the clergy who live there (the clergy of a parish can reach as highas 300 men in a single church and never is less than 25) and of the church lands is appointed from among the debtera. The clergy -- especially the debtera and itinerant monks -- have great influence on the people. Each person of the upper class has a confessor, who plays a large role in his family life. In the Abyssinian clergy, many characteristics of Judaism have been preserved. Debtera, for example, take the place of the former scribes and Levites. They sing during the church service, devote themselves to theology and copying holy books. The Abyssinians have preserved some ceremonies borrowed from the Jews. They read the Psalms of David more often than the Gospels. But, in spite of all that, Abyssinians, and especially their clergy, are ardent and sincere believers, and among their monks there are many ascetic heroes. (For more details on that see the chapter "Church and Faith.")
Military service is the favorite profession of Abyssinians, but having the full freedom of a person in the limits of the responsibilities he has taken on for himself, each enters into service by his own desire and choice. The army is very well paidand in peace time does not entail any work. (The army will be described in detail later.)
Merchants constitute a somewhat separate class and are subordinate to nagada-rases ("chief of traders" -- of which there are three). Some towns are populated exclusively by merchants and regardless of the fact that they are located among other estates, they are governed separately from the others. The merchants are distinguished by great resourcefulness and commercial abilities, which they inherit, in all probability, from their Semite ancestors. They usually buy goods from Galla merchants and take them to the sea. Some even take them to Aden.
Membership in the merchant class is as random as is membership in the other classes, and is not based either on heredity or on other positions.
Those who work the land (peasantry as a class does not exist) become such by their own desire. There are two kinds of them: those who owe a rent to whoever has title to their land, whether this is the emperor or someone else, and those who in some provinces possess their won land. Abyssinian farms have less of a many-field system than Galla ones. They do not grow roots, as the Galla do. But they work the land well enough using the same tools as the Galla. The livestock among them is the same as among the Gallas: bulls, cows, sheep, goats, horses, mules, donkeys, and in the north there is a special breed of rams with very long wool.
The artisans -- for the most part descendants of the Felasha -- are concentrated at the courts of rulers. Weavers and smiths often live separately. Among the artisans are smiths, joiners, tanners, saddle makers, weavers, goldsmiths, and gunsmiths.
Continuous wars which yield many prisoners, and the necessity for a large number of workers to support the way of life of the upper class gave rise to slavery. But this slavery is only similar in name to what we are accustomed to understanding by this term. By a law issued by the Emperor Menelik, slavery has been abolished in the country; and at risk of having one's hands cut off, it is forbidden to sell or buy slaves. Nevertheless, those who were captured earlier, and recently captured Gallas and Negroes stay at the homes of their masters and continue to work for them, receiving food and clothing in return. This is a very indefinite condition, which could not be called either slavery or freedom.
For instance, a runaway when captured is returned to his former master and is punished for escaping, but the children of slaves are not slaves, and willingly, faithfully, by force of habit stay at home and serve their masters. To buy or sell slaves is forbidden, but you can give them. Today you can also say with certainly that that the last remnants of slavery will soon be abolished and Abyssinians will change to paid labor since the waythey conduct wars has already begun to change its character, turning from the former raids to conquest of new lands and annexation of them. Since all the conquered inhabitants are attached to the land, war will not yield slaves. But the slavery there is today is a very mild of it. They treat their slaves very well, do not force them in their work and consider them as members of the family.
The distribution of property in the country, despite the existence of a large number of beggars, is rather even. Few are those who stand out conspicuously above the general level. The right to own land only exists in a few provinces, namely Tigre and Shoa and others at a distance from the imperial power. All land belongs to the emperor. The distribution of land in central Abyssinia took place historically. Part is owned directly by the emperor, part is granted to the church, part is given to the proprietorship of private individuals half and half or by other arrangements, and part is distributed to military leaders in the form of pay. Galla lands together with their population belong to the emperor by right of conquest. All Galla are considered obliged to pay rent, and at the present time the same process is beginning which took place in Russia at the time of Boris Godunov -- the process of turning people into serfs. Considering himself free, a Galla who is dissatisfie with the governor of the territory or with the burden of taxes abandons his home and goes to another Galla, who willingly accepts him. This phenomenon serves, in the first place, as a curb against too greedy administrators, but then, on the other hand, it gives rise to a large number of complaints against neighbors -- a constant correspondence with demands for returning those who have left,which, of course, rarely succeed. In former times, the majority of Galla fled to the autonomous Galla lands -- Leka, Wollaga and Jimma. But now the emperor has forbidden the rulers of these lands from accepting new immigrants. This should be the first step toward finally turning the whole Galla population into serfs.
The export and import trade of Abyssinia is in the hands of Abyssinians and a few Europeans: French, Armenians, and Greeks.
For the most part, imports consist of guns (through Jibuti), cheap paper linen from India, glass vessels (small decanters), silk and velvet cloth, and small items. Exports consist of coffee, ivory, gold, musk, and skins. Both imports and exports are directed to four points -- Massawa, Jibuti, Zeila, and Berber. Massawa has now, with the shift of the political center of Abyssinia to the south, lost its former significance. Jibuti is gaining more and more importance as the sole point for import of guns, but the main part of the native trade goes by way ofZeila to Aden. Berbera serves as the port for Somali lands and the southern regions of Jimma and Kaffa. Merchants sell their wears at marketplaces which are found at each little populated point. Exchange is conducted in money. The monetary unit is the Maria Theresa taler and pieces of salt (amulye) which are six vershoks [nine inches] long, and one vershok [one and three-quarters inches] thick. They give seven pieces of salt for one taler. Now the emperor is trying popularize coins of his own mint of various values, but up until now he has been unsuccessful.78
It is said that how they pass their free time and games indicate the character of a people. In this regard, the Abyssinians have a wide range of games according to the time of the year and their appropriateness for big holidays. The Abyssinian sometimes does not play an unseasonable game, even though all the circumstances favor it.
In the month of September on the holidays of Maskal, Holy Cross Day, everyone who owns a horse plays guks. They prepare horses for this big game, and on the day of the holiday they all go out on the plain. This game is an imitation of actual individual cavalry combat. Dividing themselves in two groups, several dare-devils engage in battle. They fly at full career at someone on the opposite team and, not having galloped a hundred steps, sharply turn and gallop away. Those who are summoned and others with them pursue those who summoned them and throw at them a javelin without a point, which the others parry with their shield, and some who are dextrous parry with a javelin. Once started the battle becomes general: clouds of flying javelins, sometimes the dry sound of one striking a shield and a mass of riders racing forward and backward at full career. Among the horses, servants of the gentlemen dart in and out and bring them javelins. It is rare that such a game takes place without unfortunate accidents, sometimes ending in death, since besides the force of falling of the javelin, even without a point, is so great that it pierces the shield. And I know of an incident when one Abyssinian broke his arm because a javelin pierce through his shield. (By the way, the Gallas, having adopted this game from the Abyssinians, are enthusiastic about it even more than the Abyssinians are.)
In November begin the games that lead up to the great games of guna on Christmas. The people call the holiday of Christmas also guna. The reason for this, I believe, is the same as that amongus in Russia, where a holiday of a pagan cult is timed to take place with a Christian one. For example, kolyada, Shrovetide, is the celebration of John the Baptist.
The game of guna consists of two teams, armed with wide sticks that are an arshin (28 inches) in length, try to drive a small piece of wood to the enemy's side. All, old and young, play at Christmas this game that, like guks, rarely can take place without unfortunate accidents.
From the beginning of Lent begins the time for the playing of was -- a ball made of rags. One person, sitting on the shoulders of another, throws in a heap the playing balls. Whoever gets the ball sits on the shoulders of the one who threw it, and the game goes on forever.
At Easter again they play guks and the so-called giji. A thin pole is set us and they throw javelins at it from 50 paces. When someone hits the target three times, all the others lie on the ground and the winner goes past them.
In August after the rains, they play jiraf -- long whip. All, having armed themselves with a long strap, are divided into two teams and try to drive one another away. In the end, the weaker team runs away. This also doesn't happen without mutilation.
These games have great educational significance. The whole nation takes great interest in them and these games demand from the player great endurance, dexterity, and quickness of understanding and accustom them to danger.
Their household games are senterei (chess) and gebeta, a kind of backgammon. The chess moves are the same as the way we play the game, but the circumstances are different. For example, the game is not considered lost if the king is taken. Gebeta is similar to backgammon, but dice are not thrown. Rather the game is based on calculation, so it requires very quick wits. On a board or simply on the ground, there are 12 or 18 little holes.
At the beginning of the game half the holes belong to one player and half to the other. In each little hole there are three pebbles. Shifting these pebbles in accord with known rules, they win over from their opponent his holes and pebbles. The person whose last pebble arrives at a hole where there are three pebbles takes possession of that hole.
The empire of the now-reigning Menelik II, king of kings of Ethiopia, consists of the following domains. Listing them from north to south, they are:
Ras Mengesha Yohannes -- Tigre. Ras Mengesha is a natural son of Emperor Yohannes IV. Yohannes' legitimate son and heir to the throne was Ras Area, who married the daughter of Menelik -- Woyzaro Shoareg. Ras Area died. The boundaries of Tigre once extended to the shores of the sea; but first Turks and Egyptians and, especially in recent times, Italians drove back the Abyssinians to the other side of the Mareb River. Although the Italians were defeated in the last war, in the peace treaty it is assumed that the boundaries stay at Belesa-to-Mareb.79
Ras Wali -- the mountain province to the south of Tigre: Lasta Samyen, Eju. He is a brother of the Empress Taitu and son of the Tigrean Ras Wolda Giyorgis.
The dynasty of the Wagshums -- the provinces of Wag and Derru. There are two brothers: Wagshum Wangul and Wagshum Kabeda. They are a strong Jewish type, but in all probability theirancestors were Felasha kings, since the mountains of Samena and Wag are populated by them. (Felasha are Abyssinian Jews).
Ras Mikael -- Wollo. Ras Mikael, baptized by the Emperor Yohannes, is a Galla,formerly king of Wollo.
Negus Tekla Haymanot is king of Gojjam, Damot, Amhara, Gindeberat, Jimma, Lima, Guder and Horro. Negus Tekla Haymanot, formerly Ras Adal, is the son of Ras Gosho. He was crowned negus by Atye Yohannes in 1881 for the conquest of Kaffa.
Ras Mengesha Bituaded80 -- Gondar and Begamedyr. The title bituaded means "favorite." It is usually given to one of the rases who is closest to the reigning emperor. He is entrusted with the government of the provinces of Gondar and Begamedyr. The city of Gondar was formerly the official capital of Abyssinia. (Today, besides Ras Mengesha Bituaded there is a Bituaded Atnafi, an old man, ruler of a small area, and a favorite of the negus.)
Azzajs -- those who rule lands of Emperor Menelik, are generals of his own army. They rule parts of the kingdom of Shoa, of the hereditary domain of Emperor Menelik. Shoa consists of the provinces of Tegulet, Ifat, Menjar, Bulga and Ankober.
Ras Makonnen -- Harar, Chercher, Itu, Erer, Ogaden. Ras Makonnen is a nephew of the emperor on his mother's side.
Dajazmatch Wolda Gabriel -- Bali and part of Arussi.
Ras Dargi -- Arussi, the homeland of the Galla people. Ras Dargi is the son of Atye Sahle Selassie, the grandfather of Menelik. Besides this recently conquered province, he also rules a small region near Gondar. He is very dear to the emperor and has great influence.
Dajazmatch Balachio -- Sidamo. Formerly Lyj, Balachio is a son of Dajazmatch Beshakha. Balachio was in Petersburg with the embassy of Damto. This year on the occasion of the death of his father, killed at Adowa, the emperor gave him the government of his father's former lands. The other half of Sidamo is ruled by Dajazmatch Mul Saged.
Fitaurari Abto Giyorgis -- Gurage and Sodo.
Dajazmatch Haile Maryam -- Chobo, Bocho and Tikur.
Dajazmatch Haile Maryam is a nephew of the emperor, the oldest brother of Ras Makonnen.
Dajazmatch Ubye -- Mecha, Ejir-Salafu, and Nonno. Ubye is married to Woyzaro Zawditu, the second daughter of Emperor Menelik.
Dajazmatch Demissew -- Gera, Guma, Gomo, Buna, Leka and Wollaga. He is the son of Afa-negus Nasibu, the chief judge. He has the main supervision of the autonomous Galla provinces of Leka, under Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer and Wollaga, under Dajazmatch Joti.
Likamakos Abata -- Chalea, Tibye, Wobo, and Sibu. Likamakos is a court rank equivalent to Adjutant General.
Dajazmatch Tesemma -- Ilu-Babur, Buna, Burye, Alye, and all the southwestern areas of Abyssinia.
Tessema, the son of Dajazmatch Nadou, is married to the god-daughter of Empress Taitu, the daughter of the Galla king of Guma.
Ras Wolda Giyorgis -- Botor-Limu, Kulo, Kosho, Konta-Shiro. He also has main supervision over the kingdom of Jimma of Aba-Jefar. (Negus Aba-Jefar is a Mohammedan.)
The recently conquered province of Walamo is directly under the command of Menelik. These days, Abdurakhman, the king of Beni-Shangul has submitted to the Emperor.
All these domains are not hereditary, but rather are bestowed by the Emperor (with the exception of the domains of Negus Tekla Haymanot, Tigre, the kingdom of Jimma, Leka, and Wollaga). The size of each domain depends purely on personal factors -- on the relationship of the Emperor to the proprietor and on his personal merit, and consists of one or several provinces. The connection between these provinces is not permanent and can always be broken either by one of them being taken away or by the addition of a new area. All these "polymarchs," as these rulers of regions can be called, are completely independent in internal affairs, justice, the distribution of lands and jobs. But in all else they are absolutely under the command of the Emperor. They recognize his power and pay him tribute in the form of taxes or presents.
In general, Ethiopia represents a single state, divided for government among the main military leaders, under the absolute imperial power of the king of kings, all the strength of whom rests in the army and in the love of the people.
A necessary condition to becoming Emperor is belonging to the house of Solomon and Menelik I. (The exception to this was the dynasty of Zagye and the Emperors Tewodros and Yohannes.)
From this we see that the Ethiopian Empire is a purely military state. It became this historically, having earlier experienced many other phases.
It is not within the limits of my work to describe the history of Ethiopia, but I consider it necessary to indicate some of its prominent moments.
The name "Ethiopia," which the Abyssinians give to their country, is a Greek word and in translation means "black face." Homer called all of Central Africa "Ethiopia," stretching from the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean to the Atlantic. Diodor the Sicilian distinguished three Ethiopias: Western -- the Congo Basin, High -- the present-day highlands of Ethiopia, and Eastern -- which included the lower, east coast of Africa and South-Western Arabia.
In the history of Ethiopia, the following moments can be distinguished:
1. The period which preceded the Queen of Sheba. This period is almost completely unknown with regard to what is now Ethiopia, and apparently doesn't have any connection with it.
2. The Queen of Sheba and the Solomonic81 dynasty which followed her were displaced by King Del Noad of the Zagye dynasty in the year 901 A.D. According to the Abyssinian Tarika Negest, the Queen of Sheba, having heard about the greatness of Solomon, went to him and had by him a son named Menelik or Ybnakhakim.
There is much disagreement regarding the etymology of this word. Several believe that it derives from the Amharic words men which means "what" and alykh which means "you say." In other words, "what you say or tell." Others translate Menelik as "second I." But the name Ybnakhakim, which is equivalent to Menelik, comes from the Arabic, and the most probable translation for that is "descended from a wise man." Hakim -- "wise" -- was the Arabic name for Solomon.
The Queen of Sheba, Azyeb or the Southerner, also had many other names: Makeda and Nikola. The Abyssinians affirm that Aksum was her capital, but others say it was Yemen. There is also dissension among scholars on this question. Some, such as, for example, Patriarch Mendes and Bruce,82 accept the legendabout her journey to Solomon and consider her to be actually a queen of Aksum. Others (such as Pined) consider her to be an Arabian queen. Most probably, she ruled both present-day Ethiopia and the Arabian peninsula, at least part of the one and the other, since between Arabia and Ethiopia there was a close connection at that time, based on the continual migration of Semites to Africa.
The legend says further that Menelik, having come of age, was sent to Jerusalem. He was supposed to give Solomon gifts from his mother. Abyssinians have preserved the legend that at the time of his reception for the first time by Solomon, Solomon, wanting to test his son, stood in the ranks of his retinue, and on the throne placed one of his retainers. Menelik, although he had never seen his father, having first bowed to the man on the throne, did not give him the gifts, but rather began to search with his eyes among the retinue and, having finally seen Solomon, bowed to him.
He was very similar to his father and enjoyed great popularity. As a result of this, it is said that Solomon, having generously given him presents and many Levites, priests and children of many noble families, let him return to his homeland.
On leaving, Menelik, it is said, stole the Ark of the Covenant and one of the tablets of Moses.
He reigned under the name of David. He converted his whole people to Judaism and abolished idolatry in the country.
In the ninth year of the reign of Bazen, a king of this dynasty, Christ was born.
At the time of the fortieth king of this dynasty, Abrekh-Atsebakh, the light of Christian learning penetrated Abyssinia in the person of Saint Frumentius, called by theAbyssinians Aba Salama (343 A.D.)
From this dynasty in 521 A.D. there reigned King Kaleb who had undertaken a campaign against the Jewish King Zu-Nuvas,83 well-known for his oppression of Christians of Nauad. Kaleb defeated Zu-Nuvas, and the Ethiopian kingdom was founded by the son of Kaleb, Abrekh, who then died at the siege of Mecca. His two sons were routed by the Persians and the kingdom was destroyed.
3. In 901 A.D. the Zagye dynasty was established and reigned until 1255 when on the imperial throne again appeared a king from the dynasty of Solomon thanks to the insistence of Saint Tekla Haymanot. The man who re-established the dynasty was Ikuna Amlak.
The most outstanding member of the dynasty of Zagye was King Lalibala, ranked by the Abyssinians as one of the saints. He is known as a builder of churches. Legend also attributes to him an attempt to divert the water of the Nile to the Red Sea.84
4. Beginning with Ikuna Amlak in the Tarika Negest more detailed descriptions make there appearance. This period, which continued until the invasion of Gran in 1534 A.D., is very similar to the Middle Ages in Europe. Apparently, in this era, the feudal system flourished. The king was only the first feudal lord of his kingdom. There existed individual land property of the gentry with hereditary rights and privileges.
From 1434 to 1468 Atye Zara Yakob reigned, and in his reign Ethiopia attained its highest brilliance of power and majesty.
He was an ardent Christian and was interested in church dogma. In his reign, a church council was convened, and the dogma was established about the Holy Trinity -- one in nature and three inpersons. The first relations with Europe were started by him.
At the time of the Florentine Council he wrote through Aba Nikodim, the father superior of the Abyssinian church in Jerusalem, a letter to Pope Eugene IV. He conquered Kaffa, Mocha, and Enareya and converted them to Christianity. According to tradition, he gave those lands their names. "Kaffa" comes from the word kefu which means "evil." Mocha comes from mot,which means "death." And Enareya in translation means "slaves," since those who were conquered were turned to slaves.
After the death of Atye Zara Yakob, relations were opened with Portugal.
In Europe, the legend of "Prester John" circulated. He reigned somewhere in the East -- in India or in Africa. The Portuguese King John sent John Covilha and Alfonso de Paiva to find him. The second died on the way, but the first reached Ethiopia, visited at the court of Atye Eskender and reported to his government that he had found "Prester John."
When Eskender died, there ascended the throne the under-age Lebna Dengel, known by the name of David. His grandmother, Eleni, threatened from the east and the south by Mohammedans, sent Covilha with an Armenian named Matthew to the Portuguese King Dom Manuel with a request for help. In reply was sent a
mission, consisting of Duarte Galvano, Rodrigo de Lima, Alvares and Bermudes. All of them, with the exception of Galvano, who died in the Kamaran Islands, reached David II in 1520.
The wars of Gran and the mission of Portuguese and Jesuits that took place then are sharply distinguished from the rest of the history of Ethiopia, almost constituting a separate epoch.
The Abyssinian Tarika Negest says almost nothing about these events. But Portuguese sources, and in particular Jeronimo Lobo ("Voyage historique d'Abyssinie")85, elucidates for us this epoch, which lasted from 1534 to 1635, when the Jesuits were expelled by Emperor Fatsilidas.86
The embassy of Rodrigo de Lima and Alvares returned in 1526 and brought with them an Abyssinian monk -- Saga za Ab or Christovl Likonat. Rodrigo carried with him a letter to the Portuguese king and Alvares carried one to the Pope. But in 1534 Gran appeared, and the frightened David sent Bermudes to thePortuguese king with a request for help and promise to adopt the Roman faith and give a third of his lands to the Portuguese.
King John III appointed Estevano da Gama, son of the famous Vasco da Gama, as viceroy of India. ("India" at that time was the name for all the eastern coast of Africa and present-day Abyssinia.)
He ordered him to destroy the Turkish and Arabian fleets in the Red Sea. He didn't succeed in finding the Turkish fleet, and he put ashore 400 Portuguese under the command of Christovao da Gama (his brother) at Massawa. This landing of troops was very opportune since the Ethiopian empire was at that time in acritical position. Gran had for several years managed to put allof Abyssinia to fire and sword, beginning with Menjar and up to Aksum, which he torched and destroyed. But what kind of man was Gran and what were these hordes that came with him?
Lobo calls him a Moor from the cape of Guardafui and his horde also Moors (however, Portuguese called almost all Mohammedans "Moors.") Bruce also calls his army "Moors." In Portuguese sources he is called King of Adal and Emir of Zeila, and they conjecture that he was Somali. But how is this? In Lobo's book, the entire east cost of the Gulf of Tajura is called Zeila, and nothing is mentioned of Harar, which at that time was a considerable city and an independent region. Evidently, he did not know about Harar. The province of Harar was originally populated by a people related by blood to Agau, Guragye and Kaffa -- in other words, pre-Semitic inhabitants of the plateau.
Before their invasion into Ethiopia, the Galla occupied all the lands of Harar, and its surviving inhabitants gathered in one place and built the city of Harar and preserved their national independence up until that time. Both Galla and the people of Harar, who were close to the coast and consequently in the sphere of influence of Islam, were among the first to adopt Mohammedanism. According the unanimous traditions of the Abyssinians, Galla and people of Harar, Ahmad Gran was born close to Harar and was a Galla. The indication in history that he was king of Adal (the inhabitants of Aussa on the coast of the Gulf of Tajura, located to the north from the Somalis, are called Adalis) doesn't prove anything, because, in all probability, he was the chief of the whole Mohammedan population, including Adalis and Somalis, and they, for a certainty, helped him in his campaigns. But the main part of his armies consisted of Galla.
This is demonstrated by the fact that all the conquered Abyssinian lands were settled by none other than the Galla -- Galla of Wollo, Borena, and Tuluma. In the ranks of his armies were janissaries, Turkish riflemen and artillery, who were sent to him at his request after the defeat inflicted on him by the Portuguese. I give very little credence to the indication that the Adalis were armed with guns, since if in the last expedition of the Adalis to Aussa, instead of using Rozdan or Italian guns, they preferred to hang them on trees, then, I think all the more that, at that time, they were not capable of operating fire-arms.
The Portuguese who had landed were ceremoniously met by Eleni, who saw them as her saviors. The Emperor Galawdewos was at that time in Gondar. Da Gama went to him. At Belut the first battle with Gran took place, where 400 Portuguese, thanks to their fire-arms, completely crushed a many-times stronger enemy.
Nevertheless, in view of their small numbers, they were forced to spend the winter in Membret, surrounded by once again assembled hordes of Gran, to whom were now joined Turkish riflemen and artillery. In the battle that took place there, Christovao da Gama was killed, and the remaining Portuguese joined forces with Emperor Klavdiy in Damby. Gran went there and attacked Galawdewos, but the Portuguese Peter Lev killed him, and this decided the outcome of the battle and the Galla invasion. This happened in 1547.
Gran was an outstanding personality and to this day still lives in the memory of the people, who ascribe to himsupernatural qualities. For example, they say that on the Chercher road a spring summoned forth from a stone by a stroke of Gran's spear; and as evidence of that, they point to traces of his sword in the rock, etc. He was able to unite and direct toward a single general goal tribes that are extremely freedom-loving and independent, and of which, besides, some are completely different from others by their lineage and theirlanguage. The epoch of Gran threatened Abyssinia with terrible danger. But with his death, this danger went away, because neither before Gran nor after him was there a personality who could unite all these tribes together. Part of his forces went back, and part stayed on the conquered lands and engaged in raids against Abyssinians and civil war. In the south there continued a war of separate families for land, and the Galla, not stopping, a little at a time, gave way more and more to the west.
The despotism, exactingness, and lack of tact of the Portuguese meant that they could not excite sympathy toward themselves, and we see that discord began between Emperor Klavdiy and them, and that he expelled Patriarch Bermudes. But with this expulsion the pretensions of the Vatican on Ethiopia did not end.
We see a whole series of Catholic patriarchs of Ethiopia, a whole series of Jesuit missions, which busied themselves more with politics than faith, and relied more on the strength and prestige of Portugal than on their strength of persuasion. The results were the same as in the states of Europe -- hatred of the people, civil war, plots, discord an finally the expulsion of the Jesuits. This was a significant period in the history of Abyssinia. Having started relations with Europe, freed by Europeans from ruin, Abyssinia was very close to complete unity with Europe, if only the Europeans had been a little more tactful and not so demanding. But instead of this, what happened was completely opposite. They had to save themselves from their saviors. And having learned such a lesson, the Abyssinians have been prejudiced against whites up until this time, and will be so even longer.
6. The epoch that followed this one, from 1635 to 1769, the year of the death of Atye Ayto Ioas,87 can be called the time of development of imperial power on the ground of the feudal system which had been destroyed by the Galla invasion. In this epoch was laid the foundation, which, completed by King Tewodros, would constitute the basis of today's empire. This basis was the military organization of the empire and the fact that the well-being of everyone depended on the kindness of the emperor.
The native lands of the Abyssinians which had been conquered by the Galla were once again taken back by the emperors and, as if by right of conquest of new lands, were declared the property of the king. This produced a revolution in the life of the people. Up until that time in Abyssinia there existed classdivision: there were nobles, who owned land, and there were peasants, who worked half and half for large landholders. In this way a blow was dealt to the nobility, but the peasants continued to live in their former conditions, with this difference -- that they became obligated for the land to the emperor himself. This revolution took place imperceptibly. At first only the legal situation was proclaimed -- that all land belongs to the emperor. But by the smallest steps, little by little, lands were taken away and given to others. In addition, separate districts were formed which were responsible for some special service, for instance a district of spear carriers etc.
Each possesses a district on condition of known obligations to the empire. The small districts carried out the above named auxiliary service. Those that were more sizable were obliged to supply a known number of soldiers in time of mobilization. The number of soldiers depended on the size of the district.
In this manner, the old feudal system was completely destroyed, and a new foundation was established which gave the empire great strength. The population was divided into two parts. One went to the land on known conditions. The other grouped itself around the throne, the source of charity andprosperity, and placed all their hope in service to the emperor.
Around the emperors there formed a significant army, which they used more for the expansion of the boundaries of the empire than for internal wars, whereas before it had been the reverse. The army itself was almost obliged to conduct war, since without it there would be no means to satisfy its needs. Thus we see thatthe former citizens who took up arms only for self-defense, were turned into soldiers for whom war is a profession, and the hereditary feudal lords turned into non-hereditary polymarchs.
7. In this epoch the same cause which gave rise to the previous epoch now brought it down almost completely. This time, beginning with the death of Atye Ayto Ioas in 1769, continued to the accession to the throne of Emperor Tewodros II in 1855.
Due to the greatly increasing power of separate military leaders, civil wars occurred in the country. The strongest of the military leaders captured Begamedyr and crowned his pretender to the throne from the house of Solomon, having forced him to proclaim himself "Ras Bituaded." And Begamedyr ruled the empire under this title. Among these Bituadeds was the remarkable dynasty of Ras Guksa. Guksa was the grandson of Ali the Great, a Galla Mohammedan, chief of the Iju tribe.88 The descendants of Guksa for a long time disposed of the throne of Ethiopia by their arbitrary rule.
The reign of Tewodros II89 marked the beginning of the revival of imperial power, which has now attained its apogee.
I am not going to enlarge upon the reigns of Tewodros II and Yohannes IV90. In general outline, these reigns are well known to all, and in detail each of them could be the subject of a separate work. I will stop only at the history of the accession to the throne of Emperor Menelik and several years of his reign.
Menelik was the son of the Shoan Negus Haile Malakot, grandson of Sahle Selassie,91 (patron of Europeans) who is well known from the works of d'Hericourt.92 He traces his family from Solomon.
The kingdom of Shoa, separated from the rest of Ethiopia by Gallas of Wollo, kept its independence and ancient traditions and peacefully prospered while the rest of Ethiopia was torn apart with civil wars. Originally, the ruler of Shoa, one of the sons of Zara Yakob, had the title of meridazmatch.93 With the fall of imperial power, the meridazmatches of Shoa took the title of negus and declared themselves independent. Emperor Tewodros, having set his sights on uniting and restoring the empire, launched a campaign against Haile Malakot, the king of Shoa. In 1856, the Shoans were beaten, Haile Malakot was killed and the government of Shoa was given to the brother of Haile Malakot, Ato Ayale,94 with the title of meridazmatch. Eleven-year-old Menelik(who was born in 1845)95 was taken prisoner together with all the remaining relatives of Haile Malakot.
As soon as Tewodros went away, a brother of Ato Ayale who had fled, Ato Seyfu united with Ato Bezaby96 and went against Ayale.
They defeated him and divided Shoa among themselves. But four years later, Tewodros returned to punish the rebels. Ato Bezaby was able to obtain pardon and gain the confidence of Tewodros,but Ato Seyfu fled and was killed. The government of the wholekingdom of Shoa was given to Ato Bezaby, who ruled until 1866, the time of the return of Menelik. That year, 20-year-old Menelik fled with only one slave Wolda Tadik (now Azzaj WoldaTadik, ruler of Ankober) to the ruler of Wollo. The son of thatruler was at that time in captivity at Tewodros', and he,intending to do Tewodros a service and mitigate the lot of his son, put Menelik, who had come to him, in chains and decided to give him to the emperor. At this time news arrived that his son had been executed. In revenge for this, he freed Menelik and with honors and an escort sent him to Ankober. Menelikceremoniously entered there and was accepted by the populace as the legal king. The cruelty and injustice of Ato Bezaby for the time when he governed the region succeeded in setting the whole population against him. Around Menelik quickly gathered the former soldiers of his father and grandfather, and he declared himself negus. Having learned of all this, Ato Bezaby, who has at that time at the borders of Shoa, hastened to Ankober with his whole army, but the day before the battle all the soldiers wentover to the side of Menelik. Bezaby was taken prisoner and the negus, having forced him to pay a fine of 2000 talers for"disrespect to the legal king," pardoned him. Regarding this episode, I heard the following story, that on the day of battle not accompanied by anyone, Menelik set out for the enemy side; and that with a speech, in which he declared himself the legal king and gave himself into their hands, he drew them all to his side. Later Bezaby again rebelled and paid for it by dying. In 1868 Magdala fell and King Tewodros killed himself.
After a short interregnum the Tigrean Dajazmatch Kassa ascended the throne and was crowned in 1872 under the name of Yohannes IV. Negus Menelik at first did not recognize him and in the year of his accession to the throne wrote a letter to the English resident in Aden, explaining his legal right to the imperial throne. In 1881 Emperor Yohannes, pursuing, as had Tewodros, the idea of uniting and restoring the empire, went against Menelik. The matter did not reach a battle, since Menelik, having secured beforehand the consent of Yohannes, went to him at his camp with an expression of submissiveness -- a stone around his neck. Yohannes pardoned him and confirmed him in kingly dignity.
The personality of Emperor Yohannes was in the highest degree remarkable. He was a Christian fanatic and made up his mind not to have any Moslems among his subjects. He forcibly converted them to Christianity. Just as Tewodros, he dreamed of the restoration of the greatness of the Ethiopian empire. He intended for the empire to consist of four kingdoms: Tigre, Gojjam, Wollo, and Shoa. In each kingdom he intended to have a separate bishop and to this end he sent for four abunas from Alexandria, paying 10,000 talers for each. In 1881 he, with this aim, crowned as the Gojjam negus Ras Adalya, who took the name of Negus Tekla Haymanot. But the great plans of Emperor Yohannes were not destined to come true. In 1889 he was accidentally killed at the siege of Metamma.
At that time Menelik, supported by Italy, had put together a conspiracy with Negus Tekla Haymanot against Yohannes. Relations of Menelik with Europe began from the very first year of his rise to the throne of Shoa. When Italy took Assaba there started up the most lively relations between him and it.
Having aroused his ambitious intentions, Italy thought to raise Menelik against Yohannes and having divided them to conquer them, separately, following the principle of "divide et impera" [divide and conquer.]
The Red Sea coast belonged to Ethiopia up until the seventeenth century. But with the loss of a large part of its lands at the time of the Galla invasion it also lost the coastal region. In 1557 Massawa was taken by the Turks where gave it to the Egyptians in 1866. In 1869 the Italian steamship company Rubatino bought from the Adal Sultan of Rakheyta, Beregan, the port of Assaba with adjacent territory up to Rakheyta, and in 1879 gave all this to the Italian government.
From this time there were engendered in Italy interests in Eastern Africa, and Italy used every chance to expand its possessions. In 1881 a convention was concluded with Beregan, the Sultan of Rakheyta, concerning the mission of the Italian protectorate (perhaps this convention was just as hollow as the Treaty of Wichale). On March 15, 1883, a treaty was concluded with the Aussa Sultan about free transport of goods through his possessions. On May 22 1883 a commercial treaty was concluded with Menelik, negus of Shoa. In 1885, the Egyptians abandoned Massawa and their possessions on the eastern shore, and Massawa was slowly taken by Italy. The new possessions received the name of the Eritrean Colony, and with this was laid the beginning ofthe struggle between Italy and Abyssinia which so tragically ended for Italy last year.
Italy was extremely interested in these new acquisitions. Diplomatic ties were begun with Ethiopia. A whole series of travelers set out to study the country, and many of them paid for it with their life (Jullietti was killed in 1881, Bianchi was killed in 1884, Count Porro, Chiarini).97 Ambitious plans were engendered in Italy.
In 1887 the first catastrophe happened. Considering the seizure of the territory adjacent to Massawa an encroachment on his rights, Emperor Yohannes sent his best military leader, Ras Alulu, who at Dogali destroyed an entire Italian detachment of 500 men. This led to the equipping that same year of an entire expedition which without opposition took Saati in 1888.
An Italian diplomat, Count Antonelli, energetically worked at this time to sow discord and civil war in the country. They incited Menelik against Yohannes, promised him support and supplied him with arms. They also tried to incite the Gojjam Negus to revolt. In 1888 the Sultan of Aussa accepted the protectorate of Italy.
Negus Menelik, who for a long time had felt his dependence on the emperor as a burden, conspired against the Emperor Yohannes, having agreed to act together with the Gojjam Negus Tekla Haymanot. Emperor Yohannes, having found out about this, wrote insulting letters to both of them with the threat of punishing them. But his position was difficult. Enemies surrounded him from all sides. Having left the Italians, Yohannes went against the Gojjam King and forced him to submit again. Having finished with him, Yohannes wanted to deal the same with his second opponent, Menelik, but at this time in the west dervishes swept into Galabat, and Yohannes, putting off the punishment of Menelik for another time, proceeded against them, where he was killed atthe siege of Metamma on March 11, 1889.
When he received news of the death of Yohannes, Menelik immediately went to Gondar where he was crowned emperor. Between him and Negus Tekla Haymanot, who also had a claim on the imperial throne, civil war broke out, which ended in the complete victory of Menelik, who took from his opponent almost all the land to the south of the Abbay River and left him only his native possessions.
Ras Zaudi was appointed Ras Bituaded in Begamedyr, but he soon conspired against Menelik. At first, it seemed that everything favored Zaudi, but at the decisive minute the troops went over to the side of their legal king. Zaudi was captured, put in chains and to this time still lives on one of the mountains in Ankober.
The government of Menelik was distinguished for its justice, restraint, lawfulness and concern for the people and the army.
The war cry of his soldiers: Aba Danya -- "father judge" (the name of his horse) -- serves as his best character reference.
For the soldiers he did not grudge them money nor food and tirelessly tried to obtain as many more guns as he could. His popularity was very high, and the number of his troops grew. He divided them into regiments of 1000 men each, and gave them to rulers in the outlying districts, to ensure against rebellion by those rulers. His reign was marked by continuous wars against the Gallas and constant expansion of territory. He had some outstanding military leaders: Ras Gobana, Fitaurari Gabayu and several others. Ras Gobana is now a legendary personality in Abyssinia. He was a Galla, a remarkable cavalryman, an outstanding athlete and courageous man. He conquered for Menelik all the Galla lands to the west from Entotto to Beni-Shangul and to the southwest to the River Baro, to the east and south together with the Emperor he conquered Harar, Arussi and Guragye.
He died in 1890 as a result of an accidental fall from a horse during a game of guks. Arussi was conquered in 1886. In 1887 in a battle at Chialanko, Emir Abdulakhi was defeated; and a result of his defeat was the annexation of Harar. In 1892 Walamo was subdued. In 1896 Menelik covered himself with glory at Adowa and showed Europe that such was the present-day Ethiopia and such is her power.
But we will turn to a continuation of the history of the relations of Menelik with Italy. Making use of the troubledtimes, of the change of regimes, the Italians tried to seize as much land as they could, and succeeded in doing so. In the year that Menelik ascended the imperial throne, they concluded with him the Treaty of Wichale. That is so well known that I won't say anything further about it.98
The friendship of Italy, which at first was advantageous for Menelik, now became a burden for him, thanks to the claims and seizures of the Italians. Relations quickly changed for the worse and ended in an open break and war. At this time another power, interested in the failure and weakening of Italy -- France -- appeared to help Menelik. France also owned the coast of the Red Sea which was closest to Shoa and Harar. In 1862, Frenchmen bought Oboka. In 1884 established a protectorate over the Somali coast of the Gulf of Tajura from Ras-Dumeyra (to the south ofRakheyta) to the the well of Hadu (to the south from Jibuti). In 1888 the spheres of influence were demarcated between France and England. In 1886 was established the governorship of Oboka and the Somali coast, and from this time France had active official relations with Abyssinia, vigilantly and jealously following its politics.
The help of France to Menelik at the time of his struggle with Italy consisted of admission and delivery of firearms. We know how this struggle ended. We are familiar with its details. And the war that followed is fresh in our memory.
From this short outline we see that the history of Ethiopia is one of continual war with both internal and external enemies.
The basis of imperial power can only be actual military strength, and on the army as on a foundation, has been built all the rest of the edifice of the Ethiopian Empire. What kind of an army is this?
Almost all those who have traveled in Abyssinia and written something about it always have given information about the military. They described the hierarchy, the numbers, the tactics and other details. Many have admired its bravery. But isn't it strange that none of them has touched upon the most important feature of this army? Why is it that one person has a large army and another a small one? Perhaps because one has greater means and land? No, that is only partly true. Most important here is the soldiers and how to pay them and how to rouse them.
The Abyssinian army is the Abyssinian people with its distinctive characteristics -- independence and a critical attitude to everything. It is more developed than the rest of the population, extremely sensitive and rather spontaneous. The soldier goes to serve whoever suits him best, whoever is popular for his generosity, good fortune and personality. For example, Menelik now has 60,000 of his own soldiers and Tekla Haymanot has 5,000 in all; and formerly these numbers were the reverse.
The Abyssinian army -- this spontaneous army, seems to us, Europeans, disorganized. But in the apparent disorganization are contained historically developed traditions, internal discipline and a manner of conducting war. Its relation to the European manner of conducting war can be compared to the relation of a trained horse to one which has not yet been broken. Anyone who is somewhat acquainted with the rules of riding can ride a trained horse. But only a good horseman can ride one which has not been broken. The Abyssinian army requires outstanding military leaders and, in actuality, has an excellent cadre of officers. But let's look into it in more detail.
The Abyssinian army consists of the following types of troops:
1) The personal regular troops of the emperor.
2) Private regular troops of individual military leaders.
3) Territorial troops assembled only in case of mobilization.
The personal regular troops of the emperor or, as they are called, gondari constitute the main body of the army and support of the throne. There are about 60,000 of them, part divided in regiments of 1,000 men under the leadership of bashi, and each regiment divided into companies (units of a hundred) and half companies. Companies are under the leadership of a yamato alaka.
Half companies are under a yaamsa alaka. The leader of a half company appoints a sergeant major to help him. In addition, a half company is divided into squads of five to ten men.
The field army is divided into two parts. One half is found near the emperor, and the other half at the borders and with separate rulers with the aim, first, of increasing their military strength against internal and external enemies, and second, in order to hold them well in hand.
Private regular troops of individual military leaders consist of soldiers personally recruited by them, armed and paid by them, and serving them personally. These troops are not broken into regiments like the personal troops of the emperor.
They are distributed among officers of this or that military leader, each of whom has the right to recruit their own soldiers as well, in addition to soldiers given to them by their senior leader. The number of troops of individual leaders is not determined by law for each separately, but rather depends on the wealth, the popularity of the leader, and the size of the region that provides the means for maintaining the troops. At the present time, the largest of these is that of Ras Darga, with up to 30,000 men. In total, there are about 90,000 of this kind of troops.
Territorial and auxiliary troops consist of owners of plots of land, which are connected with the obligation of service in time of war. There are plots which supply porters and others which supply warriors. The number of men supplied by each plot of land depends on its size. These auxiliary troops are not organized inseparate detachments; but rather are distributed in units that already exist. Their total number is between 80,000 and 100,000men.
Irregular troops consist of inhabitants who voluntarily join the army. Most of them are Galla. Their number is very indeterminate and depends on the circumstances and the expedition which is being undertaken.
As we already saw, only part of the regular troops of the emperor are distributed in thousand-man regiments. The rest of them are unequally distributed among military leaders.
The military hierarchy is extremely involved and cannot in any way be reduced to a table of ranks. In concept, the gradation of ranks seems to be in the following steps:
Negus negasti -- the emperor, commander-in-chief of all armies.
Negus -- king, commander of the army of his own kingdom.
Ras -- field marshal, independent commander of the army of his region or of one of the armies of the emperor or of a negus.
Dajazmatch -- full general or lieutenant general, commander either of his own army or of a detachment of the emperor, of a negus or of a ras.
Fitaurari -- major general, leader of either a separate army or one of the detachments of the emperor, a negus, a ras, or a dajazmatch. Etymologically, fitaurari means "to plunder forward," in other words, leader of the advance guard.
Kanyazmatch -- colonel, leader of a detachment. This word can be translated as "leader of the right wing," but this is completely untrue. They are just as often on the left wing as on the right. Zmatch means "nobleman" and kan means "right." In other words, "nobleman of the right." Formerly, in ceremonial processions, they stood to the right of the throne, just as the likaunts and azzajs were of the right and left sides. Dajazmatch means "noble of the doors." They stood in front of the throne and even farther in front of them stood the fitaurari.
Gerazmatch -- lieutenant colonel, noble of the left, leader of a detachment of the emperor, a ras, a dajazmatch, or afitaurari.
Balambaras -- commandant. Literally translated "leader where there is a fort"; corresponds to captain.
Yamato alaka -- leader of a company, captain, junior captain.
Yaamsa alaka -- leader of a half company, lieutenant.
In the thousand-man regiments of the emperor, their commanders -- bashi -- correspond to kanyazmatches or colonels. These are military ranks , but in addition, each civilian and court occupation is connected with command over its own soldiers, the number of which sometimes exceeds 1,000 men.
Afa negus -- "mouth of the negus," the chief justice, general procurator.
Azzaj -- court marshals or those who govern estates.
Bajeronds -- also court posts of paymasters or heads of workshops. Of all of these we must note the likamakos -- the post of adjutant general. They constantly must be near the emperor and have great influence. Formerly, they had the responsibility of dressing in the clothes of the emperor in time of war. They have their own soldiers and are comparable in importance to a dajazmatch -- commander of a detachment.
This hierarchical sequence exists only in concept. In reality, there is no such sequence. there are fitaurari who aremuch more important than dajazmatches. And the correlation of fitaurari, kanyazmatches, gerazmatches, and balambarases is impossible to establish, even in comparison with civilian ranks. For example, an azzaj of the emperor is more important than any dajazmatch, and a balambaras of the emperor is more importantthan a Kanyazmatch of anyone else, and near the emperor there are gerazmatches who are more important than fitauraris.
As I already said before, the national character does not permit any abstract limits and regulations. They always considerthe actual situation, and if a gerazmatch is stronger and moreinfluential than a ras then he makes use of his great importance.
Promotion in the ranks is not based on gradual succession but rather depends solely on the will of the person doing the promoting. A private can, on the spot, be made a ras.
Once someone has a certain rank, he cannot be demoted. He might be removed from a post and suffer any criminal punishment, but the title stays with him forever.
Independent commanders of regions -- neguses, rases, some dajazmatches, and fitaurari -- have the right to promote in the ranks. In this regard, each of these has the right of promotingto all ranks up to the one that comes just before his own. In other words, a dajazmatch can promote up to fitaurari, and a fitaurari up to Kanyazmatch.
These leaders have nagarits -- kettledrums -- as signs of independence and power. These nagarits can be bestowed only by the emperor, a negus, or a ras. The number of nagarits that thevarious rulers have differs greatly and depends largely on the size of the region. The emperor has more than 40 of them. The prerogatives of power connected with the possession of nagarits include: the right of commanding one's own army, independent government of a region in all its relations, the right of criminal punishments up to and including cutting off of hands, and the right of promoting in the ranks, as noted above.
The troops are distributed in the area of the Ethiopian empire in the following way:
On the northern borders in Tigre, the Rases Mengesha, Wali and Wagshum Wangul -- in total about 10,000.
In Central Abyssinia, Ras Mengesha Bituaded -- 15,000.
In the northwest and west, in Gojjam, Negus Tekla Haymanot -- 5,000.
In the northwest and west, Ras Mikael in Wollo -- 4,000.
In the present-day political center of Abyssinia, in Shoa -- 30,000.
In the west and southwest in Harar and Ogaden -- 18,000.
In the south in Arussi and the far southern borders, Ras Dargi, Ras Wolda Giyorgis -- 40,000.
In the near western Galla lands -- Dajazmatch Demissew, Dajazmatch Balachio, Fitaurari Abto Giyorgis -- 17,000.
On the far southwestern border -- Dajazmatch Tesemma -- 8,000.
On the far western border, the autonomous Galla states -- Wollaga of Dajazmatch Joti and Leka of Dajazmatch Gebra Egziabeer -- 4,000.
Thus we see that the main body is grouped around the capital of the emperor. A large mass is in the former political center of the empire for protection from internal disorders. The northern, northwestern and northeastern borders are occupied comparatively weakly, and the southern, southwestern and southeastern borders are strongest of all since in these directions the empire is expanding its conquests, from year to year getting all the larger.
In peacetime, not all the soldiers of the regular army are under arms, but only the necessary part of them. The rest take leave and live on their plots of land.
The recruiting of regular troops is based on the principle of free individual will and personal choice. Troops are recruited voluntarily and they join the service for an undetermined period of time. A soldier serves only as long as he wants. The age of the recruit at the time of joining has no significance. They take men who have attained some degree of manhood, but also who are not yet decrepit. The induction itself takes place in thefollowing manner: the person who has joined receives a gun (this is not obligatory) and presents a guarantor -- tayaja -- who is responsible for him in case of flight or loss of the gun. The newly recruited solider is assigned to one of the commanders and from that moment his real service begins.
The territorial troops are recruited from those who wish to work plots of land which are connected with obligations.
Ownership of such plots of land for the most part passes from father to son.
Irregular troops are formed from volunteers at the moment of declaration of war.
The Abyssinian field troops consist of one kind of arms -- infantry. The cavalry is almost all irregular and does not consist of separate tactical units. The emperor himself has artillery and several of his military leaders have some cannon, but that's the exception.
Infantry (neftenya) is armed mainly with guns of all sorts of systems. There are Veterli, Gra, Winchester, and Remington; and the newest systems are also seen. Each soldier has a cartridge belt with 35-40 cartridges. The total number of guns in the empire together with those taken in the last war amounts to 125,000. This quantity suffices for the majority of regular troops of the emperor and private commanders. Those who do not have guns are armed with spears.
The sidearms of the infantryman are a saber in the form of a curved, double-edged yataghan or a large straight sword. In recent times, a saber of European manufacture is in greater use.
The defensive weaponry of the Abyssinian is a shield made of the hide of buffalo, hippopotamus or ox. From the development of battle with firearms, shields fell into disuse in the infantry.
The clothing of soldiers does not in any way differ from that of other citizens. Only when he goes into battle, he winds his shamma around his waist or leaves it in camp and puts on his shoulders a lemd -- the hide of a ram, of some wild animal, or velvety clothing made to look like hide. The purpose of thisclothing is to protect the body from thorns. Commanders dress especially splendidly -- their horses in rich silver gear, sabers trimmed with gold; they wear lion or velvety lemds trimmed with gold decorations, and on their heads they distinguish themselveswith lion manes.
The troops do not wear footgear. Only when they go down into low-lying, sandy plains do they wear a kind of sandal.
Each soldier receives either a plot of land or a ration in the form of meal, mead, and meat. In Galla lands, together with a plot of land, they are given some gabars -- serfs. The monetary allowance is several talers a year for clothing and gifts in the form of a mule, a horse or a donkey. In general, besides rations, each soldier costs not less than 5-7 talers a year. I personally as a witness as was distributed 50,000 talers sent by Menelik to be given out to men of Gondar who were under the command of Dajazmatch Demissew. They received the gifts variously and not all got them. Some received 12 talers for a mule, some 8 for a horse, and some 4 for a donkey.
It appears that the commander is responsible for entertaining his soldiers. The emperor gives banquets twice a week (Thursdays and Sundays) for his personal guard and all commanders who are in the capital. On important holidays he feeds all available soldiers, and the other commanders do likewise at their own homes.
Having given a soldier a gun and cartridges and having satisfied him with a ration or land and salary, the commander lets the soldier himself take care of his own equipment. This equipment is extremely diverse and depends on the prosperity of each individual soldier.
Territorial and auxiliary troops are armed with spears, sabers, and shields. Their clothing is the same for all. They don't receive any allowance.
Mounted troops consist of cavalrymen who voluntarily follow the army. They are irregular and are not divided into tactical units. In addition, all commanders fight on horseback and those of the soldiers of the field armies who have horses. The cavalryman -- farasenya -- is armed with several light spears, a saber and a shield. The horses are of the local breed (see above). The saddles are small, light, with front and back arches, stirrups in the form of small rings, letting through only one large toe. The bit is a mouthpiece with a ring instead of a chain, extremely severe. Riding is all based on balance. All the managing of the horse is by the outward reins and by the legs. The clothing of cavalrymen does not differ from that of others. They do not receive any allowance.
The artillery of the emperor consists of 101 guns -- 32 former ones and 69 taken in the last war. In the number of recently taken ones are 8 machine guns; the rest are mountain guns. Of the former guns, three are bronze, three machine guns, and the rest are Hotchkiss 37 millimeters. Artillerymen -- medfanya -- are selected from the more well-developed men, primarily from those who are are on the coast. The main command over the emperor's artillery is entrusted to Likamakos Abata, a favorite of the negus. He is assisted by Bajerond Balcha and Gerazmatch Iosif. There are six men for each gun. They receive comparatively greater pay than others. Their dress in normal times is the same as that of the others, but in battle they dress in red shirts, green wide trousers and green with red turbans.
In addition to that of the emperor, the following individuals have artillery: Ras Makonnen has four Krupp guns that were taken from Sultan Abdulakhi, Ras Dargi has three guns, and Ras Mengesha Bituaded has six former guns and two newly taken ones, Dajazmatch Wangul has one gun; Azzaj Wolda Tadik and Dajazmatch Demissew each have one, and Negus Tekla Haymanot has three.
The mobilization of the Abyssinian army takes place very quickly, which considering the bad roads and the fact that in peacetime most of the army is dispersed at their homes, is especially remarkable. Mobilization, either general or private, of separate military leaders, is announced with beating of kettle drums -- nagarits -- in squares and marketplaces and at the courts of commanders of provinces. The mustering point is designated and how much provisions each should bring with him -- and with this all anxiety about mobilization ends. The army assembles itself at the designated place with striking speed. I was present at one such mobilization in the lands of Dajazmatch Demissew. No sooner did they beat the nagarits than on all roads there stretched out an endless line of separate caravans of soldiers.
Each soldier went by himself to the mustering point.
The whole Abyssinian army can be mobilized and concentrated in one and a half to two months.
Abyssinian soldiers, setting out on a march must take care of their own clothing. For the most part, they take their wives, sometimes children, slaves or servants if they have such since each soldier goes with his own transport, which greatly impedes and slows the movement of the army.
On the march each goes there where he finds it more convenient for himself, but in bivouac that are in groups, surrounding the tents of their commanders. Near the enemy, the transport is left behind under escort of the rear guard -- wobo, and the troops go in battle order, making use of either several roads or the commander-in-chief goes by a path and the rest go in a compact mass forward, right and left, conforming with the movement of the commander, about which they judge by the parasol held over him.
The supply of provisions during a march inside the state consists of durgo -- products brought by local residents on order of the authorities as a gift. In enemy country they supply themselves by pillage and only in extremity do they resort to their own provisions.
Judging by the recent campaign against the Italians and wars against Gallas, the Abyssinians, depending on the enemy, conduct war by two different methods. In the first case, against Europeans, the Emperor tried to keep his army assembled, and conducted guerrilla warfare with local residents and with Italiantroops of Ras Sebat who had changed sides. Going to the bounds of a hostile tribe, all troops dividing into small groups, lay waste the country, burning houses, taking prisoners and livestock, and at night usually assemble in camp. The main aim of war was to take the king or the leader of the tribe, since by this the war would end and the tribe would be subdued. For this they set in motion both stratagems and bribery. In case the enemy troops are concentrated, they also concentrate their troops and if the matter turns into a battle, then it takes on the character of a series of isolated battles.
The tactics of the Abyssinians are the tactics of outflanking and turning movements. Reserves do not exist. All troops are brought into battle at once. Since each man tries to get to the enemy as quickly as possible, outflanking seems to be a natural consequence of this. Troops in the rear, seeing before them the whole front occupied, catch up from the flanks.
The formation is difficult to categorize under a concept of loose or close order. It is not close since the separate parts do not know close order, and not loose since it does not have the form of a chain. In general, it is more or less a thick crowd of people, adapting itself to the ground.
Management of troops up until battle is in the hands of the main commander. At the time of attack the parasol of the commander-in-chief serves as the direction of it and the leading subject. Each soldier goes after his direct leader, who already independently, if he has not received special orders, is adapting to the surrounding circumstances. The attack is usually accompanied by beating of kettledrums and playing of horns -- malakot -- and flutes -- embilta. Troops introduced into battle go out of the hands of their commanders.
The infantry strives as quickly as possible to meet the enemy at the distance of a near rifle shot. Then they seek cover, adapt to the ground, and open fire. As soon as the opponent begins to waver, they throw themselves into the attack with sidearms and tirelessly pursue the enemy who has turned in flight. In case the attack does not succeed or having learned of the death of their leader, his soldiers leave the battle and, mourning the leader, carry away his body or run. In the latter case, running is not considered a disgrace. Infantry prefers closed and rugged terrain for battle.
A cavalry battle is a battle of isolated riders who, having picked for themselves a place that is convenient for racing, in full career ride up to their opponent and throw spears at him.
In case of confusion in the infantry or of flight, the cavalry merges with them. A battle of cavalry against cavalry consists of a whole series of isolated mounted encounters that occur in one place. The cavalrymen ride up to the enemy and throw spears at them, then sharply turn back and ride away. Several cavalrymen rush in pursuit of those who had attacked, but already new cavalrymen from the other side fly to the rescue. In this way, the battle continues until some, having felt the moral and numerical superiority of the opponent, are forced to run, and then others follow them.
Artillery in the Battle of Adowa was formed all together as a battery. The emperor was well satisfied with its activity. It fired frequent shots. By our understanding, it leaves much to be desired. In the recent battle, it had rather a moral significance.
Action with sidearms and firearms differs greatly from ours.
When firing from canons, they badly adapt to the gunsight and aiming of shrapnel. From rifles, they always shoot with a constant sight, changing the gunsight only depending on distance.
With saber, they always cut from the right down to the left, and saber wounds are less serious than they would be with skillful chopping. Their ability to wield a spear is striking, especiallythe ability of cavalrymen. Cavalrymen can throw a spear at full gallop for 150-300 paces.
The spirit of the Abyssinian army is extremely high, and to each individual soldier his purpose is clear -- to kill his opponent.
They do not make for themselves any illusions on this account and do not consider it necessary to adorn this fact in any way. He knows that war is murder, and he goes to it with joy. In addition, war for an Abyssinian is a pleasant pastime, a source of income, a means to gratify ambition, to show one's valor and to receive well-known honors.100
Murder is raised to a cult. Each man keeps track of the number of men he has killed in war and for each one killed hasthe right to braid his hair and grease it for a year. On the return of a hero, he is met with songs and dances, andaccompanied by his friends he goes to his leader where with enthusiasm he tells about the victory.
The main psychological difference between their army and European ones consists in the fact that war as they understand it seems more active. The Abyssinian soldier goes to kill. In the soul of the majority of Europeans, there is rather a feeling of preparedness for self-sacrifice than a desire to personally kill an opponent.
The whole spirit of the army is formed in agreement with this. For the weaker to run is not considered a disgrace butrather good sense. At first, an attack is extremely energetic; but, once repelled, they rarely return. Incidents of heroic self-sacrifice by entire units, to the best of my knowledge, simply don't appear in the annals of their military history.
They adore battle and go to it with joy. They are brave and, although hot-tempered, are quick-witted in battle and know how to use the terrain and circumstances. Their youngest leaders and the majority of the soldiers understand the situation. In addition, this army has extremely great endurance. They content themselves with a very small quantity of food, and endure cold, heat, and long marches extremely well. But this army requires good leaders. The leader who does not enjoy the faith and respect of his subordinates cannot lead them into battle. In the opposite case, soldiers are in the highest degree devoted to him, even to the detriment of the general concept. In battle each soldier fights not for the general concept, but for himself and his direct commander and repeats only the war cry of that commander.101 There is no patriotic pan-Ethiopian concept, but there is the concept of "ashker" -- servant of someone or other.
As regards discipline and subordination, they have the one and the other, but in a unique way that is not similar to ours. They have a constant, conscientious and critical relationship to everyone, and they do not obey their commander if he orders them to do something that in their opinion is not appropriate.
Beginning with the most junior and up to the highest, the commander is the spokesperson of the general will of individual persons and rarely is in a position to oppose that will, except perhaps only if he has such real exceptional moral strength as Menelik II.
But as much as the opinion is erroneous that the Abyssinian army is ideally organized and disciplined, so too it would be untrue to consider it an undisciplined horde. Although it is organized on the basis of personal will and therefore only he who wants to serves and serves whom he wants, this does not have an effect on the total number of the army, since militarism is the characteristic of their national spirit, and only the particular grouping of separate commanders changes. Although in their army one can note the rudiments of "praetorianism," in the form in which they are, they do not represent a danger for the empire.
Although in form their army seems undisciplined, this is more than made up for by their quick wits and understanding of the situation, and one can dare to say that their military order is that ideal of personal initiative and ability to adapt to the circumstances for which European armies strive. The lack of training is made up for by their upbringing and by historical traditions. Training in the European manner would be for them at the present time extremely out of place, since as they say "to teach the learned man only corrupts him."
The whole internal government of the state is closely connected with the military organization. With regard to government, the whole country is divided among the main military commanders, with the exception of lands that belong to the church (about a tenth of all land) and to the emperor.
Having received the authority to govern some region, a commander chooses a piece of it for himself, distributes a piece among his officers and soldiers, and leaves a piece in the possession of peasants obliged to some auxiliary service in the army.
A distinction is made between gabar and gindebelt peasants.
Gabar -- etymologically "tributary," means "serf." For the use of land of the owner or of his officers or of his soldiers, the serf is obligated to work for him or pay taxes to him. For thistax, he sows a known quantity of land on the estate and separates a part of the mead and meat for the owner. Galla are allconsidered gabars. In Central Abyssinia only those who voluntarily agree to it are serfs. Gindebelts are owners of separate plots of land, and this ownership has known obligations connected with it, such as supplying porters for a march. Theleaders who manage gabars are called melkanya, and those whomanage gindebelts are called meslanye. The general management ofboth kinds is in the hands of azzajs of the emperor or of separate rulers. Each minor leader manages his province in allthese relations: collects taxes, looks into complaints,maintains appropriate administrative order, declaresmobilization, and performs judicial functions. But he is obliged to give a detailed account to a senior commander regarding everything that he does. Senior commanders govern lands distributed to officers on the same basis as the main commander of the whole region. They are not obliged to pay a tax to him, but it is accepted practice periodically to give one's commander products of one's farm or some article obtained in war. Soldiers hire out their land to gabars in exchange for half the produce.
The lands of the emperor are also distributed among his officers, soldiers, gabars and gindebelts. The gabars andgindebelts are under the supervision of azzajs.
Such is the general administrative structure and distribution of land. In each region there are some exceptions, but I will not enlarge about that, not having been able to become more deeply acquainted with it.
The owner in his own home is the absolute boss within the limits of his competency -- that is the distinctive trait of the national character. Such is their government. Each little leader is in the highest degree independent in all particularquestions of government. The home of each such leader is in miniature the home of a ras or the emperor. Etiquette is strictly observed. But, although they are so independent in particular questions, they cannot undertake anything that can infringe in the slightest on the interests of a commander. Each of them is responsible for anything that could lead to damage for a senior commander. This makes them extremely suspicious and cautious.
There is no organized police in the country, but each Abyssinian, seeing some illegal act, considers it his duty to stand up against it in the name of Menelik or of the main ruler of the country. In this case, their great sense of lawfulness.102 is striking.
The exercise of judicial functions rests partly in the emperor and commanders of regions and districts, and partly in the people itself.
1) Each leader has the right to judge and punish his subordinates, and each individual person has the same right over his servants.
2) Minor civil and criminal cases that end in fines are judged by whomever is chosen by the litigants.
3) Important civil cases and land disputes which end in punishment not higher than cutting off of hands are judged by the main commander of the territory.
4) In the second instance, important cases are judged by the afa-negus ("mouth of the negus," the chief judge and general procurator.
5) Cases of murder and repeated robbery and civil cases in the highest instance and also especially important cases are judged by the emperor himself.
In all these cases, the trial is public and open. If the litigants turn to a third party for resolution of their dispute, this third party judges them "ba Menelik alga" which means "by the throne of Menelik." This takes place in the following fashion. The judge and all those present sit on the ground. The litigants, having wrapped half their shamma around their waist, and holding the other half in their hands, explain the case at issue. This is always accompanied with gestures, mimicry, picturesque poses, exclamations, and swearing.103 When the case is sufficiently clear and witnesses have been interrogated, the judge, having asked the advice of those present, decides the verdict.
The law court of commanders differs from this only in that it takes place at the court of this commander and, also, the commander sits on a bed covered with carpets during the judicialsession. The emperor himself goes out to hold law-court two or three times a week -- most often on Wednesdays and Fridays from 6 to 10 or 11 o'clock in the morning. At this law court all the highest secular and church officials -- likaunts -- gather. The emperor sits on his throne in a special building that is called Saganeyt, near doors which open on the square. Behind theemperor sits his whole suite. Below on a platform is the afa-negus -- the chief judge; wambers -- judges; and higher clergy -- likaunts. Commanders of the guard and gentlemen in waiting (agafari) stand in front, keeping order. The case of the litigants is set forth by one of the judges. They stand in front of the emperor, surrounded and separated from one another by gentlemen in waiting; for this occasion, their shoulders must be bare. During the exposition of the case, judges ask them several questions. In reaching a decision, in important cases, the emperor consults with the clergy and his retinue. The afa-negus announces the verdict. Some criminal punishments are carried out there and then, such as flogging (punishment with a whip or jiraf). For the cutting off of hands, the executioners are kettledrummers.
Written law -- Fetanegest -- and custom -- serat -- serve as a guide for criminal and civil cases. Fetanegest was translated from the Arabic in 1685 during the reign of Emperor Iyasu I, at the insistence of Empress Sabla Wangel. This book consists of a collection of articles of the Justinian Codex, several decrees of the Nicaean Council and other supplementary items. It is divided in two parts:
1) 22 chapters about ecclesiastical law; and
2) 51 chapters about state, civil and criminal law.
In the forty-fourth chapter, it talks about imperial power. The time of appearance of this book coincides with the apogee of imperial power.
The first guide in determining criminal punishments is the principle: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Crimes and punishments are as follows:
1) State crime -- capital punishment (in very rare cases); cutting off the right hand and left leg; most often, putting inchains and life imprisonment.
2) Insulting majesty -- cutting out the tongue.
3) Murder -- the murderer is given to the family of the person killed, who kill him in the same manner that he killed.
4) Robbery -- capital punishment (in this way, Emperor Menelik eliminated robbery, which formerly was very widespread).
5) Petty theft -- first conviction: monetary fine and flogging (with jiraf), up to eight lashes; second: monetary fine and flogging up to 50 lashes; third: monetary fine and cutting off of hands; fourth: capital punishment.
6) Insulting a personality by action or word104 -- monetary fine.
7) Rape -- monetary fine; obligation to marry.
8) Fraud -- monetary fine.
9) Accidental manslaughter -- monetary fine from 50 to 1,000 talers.
10) Non-performance of instruction of the government -- monetary fine and flogging.
11) Criminal breach of trust -- removal from job, putting into chains, monetary fine, confiscation of property. The imposition of punishments by separate individuals goes in the following steps:
1) Each private individual in relationship to servants and minor commanders have the right to throw someone into chains for an indeterminate time and to impose 25 lashes by birch rods (kurbach).
2) The commander of a marketplace can impose monetary fines and flogging with whip (jiraf) up to 8 lashes.
3) The commander of an area -- cutting off hands, up to 50 lashes (jiraf), and monetary fine.
4) Afa-negus -- cutting off hands, up to 75 lashes (jiraf), and monetary fine.
5) The emperor -- capital punishment, up to 100 lashes (jiraf), monetary fine, and life imprisonment. Capital punishment is carried out by hanging, or, in case of murder, it is carried out by relatives in the same manner in which the murderer killed. When the murderer is sentenced, he is given over to the relatives, who take him outside town and kill him. Very often, this task is entrusted to a child.
The cutting off of hands is carried out by kettledrummers. One of them holds the arm of the criminal at the elbow. Another, having taken the hand, quickly cuts through the veins and skin that surround the bone and, with an abrupt movement, removes the hand.
Flogging is also carried out by kettledrummers.
Putting someone in chains is the lightest punishment and corresponds to our disciplinary punishment -- arrest. It is done very often -- sometimes only for a few hours. It consists of the right and left arms being put into irons or simply being tied with rope.
Prisons are very rare in Abyssinia and only state criminals are imprisoned there. An important criminal is chained with his right arm to the left arm of another free man who takes care of him until the end of the trial.
The economic condition of the state, in view of its purely military character, of course, cannot be brilliant. Constant wars do not give the rulers time to indulge in cultural improvements and development of commerce in their region. They all, not worrying about tomorrow, sooner exhaust their region than enrich it. A large part of the land serves for supplying the army, for satisfying the needs of the court, part for support of the clergy, and very little directly brings revenue to the state treasury.
In general, the annual income of the state treasury is about 800,000 to 900,000 rubles, which for a population of 15 to 17 million amounts to 5 or 6 kopecks per person. These 900,000 rubles are spent as follows: about 300,000 a year goes to pay the army; about 20,000 as gifts to churches; about 100,000 for weapons; about 80,000 to buy cloth and similar things, for making silver articles for gifts; part is set aside each year; and part, paid in kind, is spent on the court.
The sources of income of the state treasury (in rubles per year) are as follows:
I. Tribute of Wollaga, Leka, Jimma (Aba Jefar):
Leka (gold, ivory, and money) 60,000
II. Customs duties -- 10% of all goods in Harar and from other regions about 100,000
Income from the personal lands of the emperor 100,000
III. Income from Galla land 200,000
IV. Income from the right of trade and from marketplaces, collected by nagada-rases (chiefs of merchants) 100,000
V. Gifts paid in kind and income from remaining regions 200,000
Obviously, both expenses and income are expressed here in extremely rough numbers and by eye, since the Abyssinians themselves do not know what they collect.
At the conclusion of this chapter, I consider it necessary to describe the family and court of the emperor.
The family of the Emperor consists of his wife -- Empress Taitu; two daughters -- Shoareg and Zawditu from his first wife Bafana; his grandson from Woyzaro Shoareg -- Balambaras Ayale; his uncle Ras Dargi; cousins, sons of Ras Dargi -- Dajazmatch Tesemma, Mul Saged, and Lyja Tasfa; cousins -- Ras Makonnen and Dajazmatch Haile Maryam.
The Emperor was married in a church ceremony to Empress Taitu in 1881. She comes from a very good family in Tigre. Her grandfather was the well-known Ras Wolda Giyorgis. Before Menelik, she was married three times. Her first husband, Dajazmatch Wandi, is still alive and has a little land, but he does not appear at court. Her second husband, Dajazmatch Wolda Gabriel, was killed by Tewodros who took Taitu for himself. Butshe refused to favor him, saying it was because of illness, for which she was put in chains. On the death of Tewodros, she married a third time, to Kanyazmatch Zakargacho; and then married Menelik, with whom she had a church wedding in 1881, at the age of 30 (she was born in 1851).105 She has had no children with Menelik; but from a previous marriage, she has a daughter who is married to Ras Mengesha. She is very beautiful, with very light skin. She is short and dresses the same as other Abyssinian women. She is notable for her intelligence and her great influence on the Emperor in matters of faith and internal government.
The Emperor's daughter Shoareg was first married to Ras Area, son of Atye Yohannes. After the death of her first husband, she married Ras Mikael, the ruler of Wollo. During her latest marriage she had a son by Dajazmatch Waju, son of Ras Gobana.
Her son, Balambaras Ayale, is now ten years old. He is a very lively, intelligent child, the very image of Menelik.
Woyzaro Zawditu, married to Dajazmatch Ubye, is childless. She is short, very light -- a rather good-looking woman.
Ras Dargi is the third brother of Menelik's father, Haile Malakot, the son of Sahle Selassie. He was imprisoned together with Menelik at the court of Tewodros. On Tewodros' death, hereturned to his nephew who met him with great honor, and to this time he continues to play an important role at court. The Emperor consults with him about everything, and in conversation Ras Dargi always addresses Menelik with the familiar form of "you," rather than the formal "you." (This is exactly how Menelik treated Ras Gobana, his celebrated military commander.)
Ras Dargi has three sons -- Dajazmatch Tesemma, Mul Saged, and Tasfa. They sent Tasfa in 1894 to Switzerland to be educated on the guarantee of Count Ilg, who put him in boarding school. But the translator who was with him, having been bribed by Italians, convinced the boy to go over to the side of Italy, and he did so. All who know Tasfa are sorry about this because it is said he was a boy with exceptional abilities.
Dajazmatch Tesemma, the oldest son of Ras Dargi, is the grandson of Atye Sahle Selassie. They say that he is ambitious. They keep him at a distance from the court, and Dajazmatch Wolda Gabriel constantly keeps an eye on him.
Ras Makonnen is a cousin of the emperor, a grandson of a sister of Menelik's father. At the present moment he is the most popular of all the Abyssinian military commanders -- the richest and the strongest. He is very well liked by the emperor. All foreign affairs are conducted through him and on his advice.
This is a man remarkable for his abilities and intelligence. He is a widower with two sons.
Dajazmatch Haile Maryam, brother of Ras Makonnen, is the former type of a feudal lord. Alternately with Dajazmatch Ubye, he stands guard over the emperor and the capital.
Thus, from this list we see that there are three possible pretenders to the throne: first Dajazmatch Tesemma, second Balambaras Ayale, and third Ras Makonnen.
We will be careful not to predetermine what the future will show, except only what you can almost guarantee -- namely that there is no way to avoid civil war if Menelik does not name his successor before his death and prepare the ground for him. The succession to the throne is the sorest subject in the present-day Ethiopian empire.
The personality of Emperor Menelik is probably so well known that I can scarcely add to his character, and there remains to me only to repeat what others have said -- that this is in the highest degree a bright, genial, cheerful person. He is one of those historical figures who appear at intervals of many centuries and who make their own era in history.
Abyssinians are filled with deep respect and love for their Emperor. They relate to him prophecies that came to King Zadyngylyu from Angel Raguil and to Sahle Selassie from Auriel.
They have besides a whole book of prophecies that they keep in secret. There are prophecies that they relate to Russia. In one of the prophecies of Raguil to Atye Zadyngylyu (he received revelations in his sleep and then wrote them down), it is said that a king from the north will be with a king of Ethiopia one in spirit and one in heart. In another prophecy of Angel Auriel to Sahle Selassie, it is said that a king of the north and of Jerusalem will meet with a king of Ethiopia in Mysyr (Egypt) and will conquer Egypt. After this, they will divide among them all the land.
The government of Menelik is distinguished for its gentleness, in contrast to the previous reign, and for its justice and tact.
Menelik's motto is justice and his main rule is: never stretch the strings too hard so as not to break them. All these qualities have strengthened the throne for him, and his wisdom, military abilities and military good fortune have expanded the boundaries of the empire to an extent that his predecessors never dreamt of.
The court of the emperor and court etiquette are determined by a special book Kybyra Negest "The Honor of Kings."106 There is found the ceremonial of coronation. At the present time not all the rules of the Kybyra Negest are carried out.
In the eighteenth century, judging by the accounts of d'Abaddie and other travelers, at the court of the emperor there was a council of four likaunts (clergy chosen from several ancient families) and four azzajs. This council shared with the emperor the functions of justice and government and could, in some cases, exercise a veto. I did not find such an institution today. At this time, they do call the highest clergy likaunts, and they are present during trials; but there are not four of them -- rather there is an undetermined number -- and they are not specially chosen. There are five azzajs at the emperor's court, but they are exclusively for economic necessities, and do not wear turbans, like clergy.
Let's add the following list of court ranks:
Likamakos -- adjutant general, a title which is held by two people: Abata (commander of the artillery) and Adenau. Abata is a young, talented man, who distinguished himself at Adowa, a favorite of the Emperor and Empress, but not liked by the rest of the court. Adenau did not manifest valor at Adowa and therefore is in disfavor.
Bajeronds are chiefs of separate divisions of the economic management. There are three of them: Bajerond Balcha is a favorite of the Emperor, a hero of the recent war, wounded at Adowa. He guards the whole treasury and jewels and is an assistant of Likamakos Abata in the management of the artillery.
Bajerond Katama is the commander of the imperial guard. He is also responsible for distribution of all letters and decrees of the Emperor in the whole empire. Bajerond Wolda Giyorgis manages the gold and silver smiths of the Emperor.
Azzajs manage the personal lands of the Emperor and parts of the court household.
Azzaj Wolda Tadik escaped from Tewodros. He is a favorite of the Emperor and managers Ankober.
Azzaj Bezaby manages Menjar and part of the court household.
Azzaj Gyzau manages Meta and all the food supply parts of the court of the Emperor (to him also is entrusted the care of distinguished foreigners).
Ato Vadaju is the assistant of Azzaj Gyzau.
Azzaj Aba Tekhsas manages the court of the Empress. (He is noted for great personal bravery. At Adowa he carried the imperial parasol.)
There are several agafari, "those who bring in" or gentlemen in waiting.
Ya elfin askalakay Ishaka Ibsa is "he who forbids entrance to the inner chambers." He commands all the court guards and stays near the Emperor all day. He manages admittance to the emperor.
Ishaka Ibsa is still a young man, raised from childhood by the Emperor.
Agafari Wolda Gabriel manages the official audiences of the Emperor.
In addition to these main ones, there are still some more agafaris, and one separate agafari for the court of the Empress.
Walderas is the chief of the stables.
Asalafi is the gentleman carver and high cup bearer. During dinner he cuts the Emperor's food in pieces and gives it to him.
Elfin ashkers are servants of the inner chambers, in the sense of gentlemen-in-waiting. There are many of them. Most of them are children of former chief officers of the army. There areseveral relatives of former emperors. From childhood they are raised at court as pages, and then become elfin ashkers. Their responsibility is to escort the emperor here. Those among them who distinguish themselves and demonstrate their abilities are chosen for higher posts.
In addition to these people, there are managers of separate parts of the court household: managers of cooks, of bakers, of makers of beer and mead, and of smiths.
At court there are two translators: Gerazmatch Iosif, a favorite of the emperor, accompanied Ras Makonnen during his journey to Italy. This very intelligent person has influence in foreign affairs.
Ato Gabriel translates clippings from French and Egyptian newspapers and manages foreign mail.
The Emperor's priest is Ychygye Gebra Selassie.
The chief secretary of the Emperor, who manages all the emperor's correspondence on all matters is Alaka Gebra Selassie.
The abilities and memory of this man are truly enormous. He works like no one else. His office consists of several copyists.
He conducts all the internal correspondence, and he must remember everything. There are no incoming or outgoing journals.
Correspondence with all the provinces is enormous, and he mustreally be notable for outstanding capabilities in order to be in condition to look into all these matters and not confuse them.
Protection in the capital is entrusted, in turn, to the troops of Dajazmatch Haile Maryam and those of Dajazmatch Ubye.
There are several Europeans at court: Count Ilg serves as Minister of Public Works and Chief Advisor on Foreign Affairs.
His position has now become official since he received in March, together with Mr. Mondon, the rank of state councilor -- mangyst mekerenya. (Mondon is the official representative of the French government. Another person from the French government, Mr. Clochette,107 a former captain of the French naval artillery, is their secret military agent.)
Mr. Dyuba manages the suburban forest of Mangasha. He is a French deserter, a former lieutenant of a cuirassier regiment. He deserted in 1870.
Tigran, an Armenian goldsmith, is very well liked by the Emperor and Empress. An Armenian is gardener. A Greek is baker. The Emperor's day begins at dawn. At 6 o'clock in the morning he already takes the daily report of his secretary Alaka Gebra Selassie. In good weather, this takes place on the terrace in front of the court, and no stranger can be present during it.
Having finished with the report, the Emperor goes to look at construction that is under way and work in the court or rides to the quarry, to the forest, etc. He always takes advantage of such occasions to utilize the soldiers who accompany him. For example, if he rides past a quarry, then he gets down off his mule and takes a stone, and all those traveling with him must do likewise.
On such excursions, he usually rides on a luxuriously adorned mule, dressed just like all the others except that there is a large felt hat with gold lace on its head . They carry a red parasol over the Emperor. In front they lead two of his horses in case His Majesty wants to play guks, which happens very frequently. (The Emperor is an excellent cavalryman). Supper is served at eleven o'clock on meat days and at two or three o'clock on fast days. With the exception of Thursdays, Sundays and high holidays, the Emperor dines in the elfin (inner chambers) with the Empress. Only the very closest associates are allowed there, as, for example, Ras Dargi, Ras Makonnen, and some other balamuals. (People who have permission to enter the inner chambers without previous announcement are called balamuals).
Dinner continues long and consists of dishes that are generally accepted in Abyssinia. After dinner, the Emperor rests for an hour or two and then again he either receives or takes care of business or visits workshops. At six o'clock in the evening, the suite dissolves to their own houses. At seven o'clock, supper is served in the inner chambers. Only some of the very closest elfin ashkers and Ishaka Ibsa are present there. At nine o'clock, the Emperor goes to bed. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the Emperor goes out personally to hold court. On Thursdays, Sundays and on high holidays, there is a gybyr -- a meal for all officers, soldiers of the guard, and, on high holidays, for the whole populace. One is notified about dinner by the beating of kettledrums. Dinner is held either in large tents or in a separate building called Aderash. First, the Emperor himself eats, separated from others by a red silk curtain. Inside, behind the curtain, only balamuals are allowed. Our mission also had this honor. After the Emperor has finished his meal, the curtain is opened and others are admitted. Trumpeters and flutists go in front. After them, a dense crowd goes. Not bowing to the Emperor, but only wrapping themselves in their shammas in accord with etiquette, they take seats close around baskets with injera. Over each basket, a servant holds a large piece of raw fresh-killed meat. Other servants pass out large horn goblets of tej to those who are dining. Having sated themselves, the dinner guests, without saying anything and not bowing to anyone, leave just as they had come. During dinner, the trumpeters play malakots and the flutists play embiltas.
During breaks, they drink and azmari [itinerant musicians] play violins. Dinner lasts several hours; and on high holidays it lasts from nine o'clock in the morning until four o'clock in the afternoon.
Twelve times a year, during the monthly Mother of God holidays, there are dinners of the Society of Mary (Makhaber Zamariem). This Society consists of the Emperor and eleven ofhis closes balamuals. On these days, the Emperor eats on the floor from one basket with the rest of the members of theSociety. When a member is absent, in his place they seat another person chosen by the Emperor. Each member in order treats theothers to dinner. (The main members of this Society are Ras Dargi, Ras Makonnen, Afa-negus Nasibu, Ras Wolda Giyorgis, Ras Mengesha Bituaded, Dajazmatch Ubye, Dajazmatch Tesemma, Dajazmatch Haile Maryam, Likamakos Abata, and Alaka Gebra Selassie.)
Ceremonial receptions take place in a separate building called Adebabay. This is a pavilion made of carved wood. The platform ends in railings to which is attached, from inside, an alga (bed)which signifies the throne of the Emperor. From the platform downwards goes a wide staircase, and under the throne a secondplatform, where stands the person who is being received in audience. During the reception, everything is covered with carpets. The Emperor is surrounded by his whole suite. The Emperor received the Red Cross Mission in Aderash, which was specially outfitted for this occasion. Appointments to posts and ceremonial receptions of those who have killed elephants and lions take place in Saganeyt, the same place as the law court.
On the appointment of someone to a post and the granting to him of a region, they announce this by beating on kettledrums, and an auaj or herald proclaims the new appointment. The newly appointed person bows down to the ground before the Emperor; and then, accompanied by all his friends and servants, goes home with songs, dances, and firing of guns, and gives at home a feast for all who come, which lasts several days. Such ovations and feasts also take place in case of someone having killed an elephant or a lion.
The Emperor very zealously fulfills his duties as a Christian. He strictly observes fasts and during the great fast on Wednesdays and Fridays does not eat until sunset and sometimes spends the night in church on the floor. Each holiday he attends mass. He also makes large donations to churches.
The Ethiopian church is under the authority of the Alexandrian patriarch. Abyssinians consider themselves attached to the Alexandrian church by decree of the Nicaean Council, at which it was also decided that they should receive bishops from Alexandria. Thanks to this dependence on the Alexandrian church, the Ethiopian church did not send representatives to the ecumenical councils and separated itself simultaneously from the Alexandrian church and from the rest of the church after the censure of the monophysite doctrine of the Alexandrian patriarch Aba Dioskuros by Pope Leo at the Chalcedonian Council.
Like the Alexandrian church, the Abyssinians consider the Apostle Mark as their enlightener. They acknowledge only five councils, receive bishops from Alexandria, but in spite of this outward unity, they differ from the Copts in many dogmas and in the divine service; and their relationship with the Alexandrianchurch and the abunas (bishops) they receive from them is rather one of antipathy. The Debra-Libanos religious belief that nowpredominates in Abyssinia is closer to Orthodox diophysitism than to Coptic monophysitism.
According to Latin sources, the Abyssinians were converted to Christianity by Saint Frumentius. Saint Frumentius was going to India together with Edeziy and Merope, but they were lost in a wreck in the Red Sea. Saint Frumentius found himself at the court of the Ethiopian king. From there he returned to Jerusalem, then was ordained by the Alexandrian patriarch as bishop of Ethiopia, and, returning there, baptized King Abrekh-Atsebakh and the whole nation. The Abyssinians named him Aba Salama.
There are several versions of this story in Abyssinian sources.
In an authentic copy that I have of the Abyssinian Tarika Negest, it is said, "At the time of the reign of Abrekh-Atsebakh, the baptism took place when they were in Aksum.
At this time, there were no Turks. The father of Aba Salama was a merchant. Aba Salama came with his father. At this time, the Ethiopian people in part bowed to the Law of the Prophets and in part to wild animals (baauri). After this, Aba Salama taught them about the descent of Jesus Christ -- the birth, suffering,crucifixion, death, and resurrection. He performed many miracles before them. At that time, they believed in Christian baptism and were baptized. The conversion took place in 343 A.D. and they built Aksum." (R. Basset, Etudes sur l'histoire d'Ethiopie, "Chronique ethiopienne," Paris, 1882, issue No. 30, page 220). In the book Synkysar (a collection of sacred books, arranged according to the day of the year), Frumentius (Frementos) and Edeziy (Adzios) are called relatives of Merope.
One Abyssinian scholar, Alaka Sou Aganyekh, father superior of the church in the city of Gori, recounted to me a completely newnversion of the Aba Salama story, that has a legendary character. (I cite it since it is very curious.) In Tigre, there was a good man who got sick and died. They washed him and wanted to bury him, but by some indications, they noticed that he wasn't completely dead. They waited three days, but the situation didn't change. Then, on the advice of a wise man, they decided that this was some very important sign and that one should not oppose the clearly expressed will of God. For a large sum of money, they got a blind beggar woman and took her to the dead man. After this the dead man quieted down, and after nine monthsand five days the blind woman gave birth to a son whom they called "Fre Mentotos," which means "creation of an unknown guest." In three years his mother died; and in his seventh year, merchants brought him into slavery and took him to Egypt. He spent twelve years there. After this, the man who had taken him to Egypt died himself and, in dying, set the slave free. In four years, after having visited Jerusalem, he returned to Abyssinia.
There, at this time, reigned Abrekh-Atsebakh, who, having found out about his arrival, summoned him to him and began to ask what he had done in Alexandria and Jerusalem. He told about the birthof Christ, the suffering, death, and resurrection from the dead.
The king having given him much money, sent him to Jerusalem in order that, after studying theology there, he could give Abyssinia a new faith. He stayed in Jerusalem for seven years, and in the eighth year was consecrated as a bishop by the Alexandrian patriarch and returned to Ethiopia where he baptized the king and all the people. Aba Salama brought with him 45 books of the Old Testament -- Billugat -- and 36 books of the New Testament -- Hadisat -- translated by him to the Ethiopian language.
After the death of Aba Salama, in 383, Abyssinia continued to receive its bishops from Alexandria and was under its influence.
Together with the Alexandrian church it separated itself from other churches, but this separation took place imperceptibly for Abyssinians and they were not responsible for it. The spiritual influence of the Alexandrian church was strong in Abyssinia. The works of Alexandrian theologians played a large role in this case. The works of Aba Dioskuros were were translated into the Ethiopian language and his fate was explained as an unjust persecution by Pope Leo. In their eyes, Dioskuros was a martyr since they only knew one side of the dispute.
After the moderate monophysite teaching of Dioskuros, there appeared in Abyssinia the more extreme teaching of Eustaphy. It got most of its followers in western Ethiopia -- Gojjam Both new teachings penetrated Ethiopia from the west and north and spread more in these parts. The south preserved its original apostolic faith, the apologist and the interpreter of which was the most revered saint in Abyssinia Abuna Tekla Haymanot. I consider it my duty to dwell on him at greater length.
The time of Tekla Haymanot coincides with the return of the imperial throne from the dynasty of Zagye to the dynasty of Solomon. According to Abyssinian sources, he was born in 1350 and died in 1443. Here is how the life of Saint Tekla Haymanot is described in Synkysar. The Abyssinian scholar Dabtara Sou Aganyekh translated Synkysar to the Amharic language and wrote it down for me.
Abuna Tekla Haymanot came from the tribe of Levi, from Azariya, a Jewish high priest, sent by Solomon to Abyssinia together with Menelik. The father of Tekla Haymanot, Tsara-Zaab,was a priest in the vicinity of Tisa in the province of Bulga, which belongs to Shoa. His mother was Egzioharaya. Both of them were married for a long time and had no children. At this time, King Matolome (in all probability not pagan, but Jewish) arrived from Damot and abducted the wife of Tsara-Zaab. He liked her and decided to marry her. On the way, he sent word to his people about his decision and ordered them to prepare a marriage feast with 10,000 oxen, 20,000 sheep, lots of injera, beer, and mead.
Egzioharaya cried day and night, and prayed to God and on the day of the wedding when she had already put on her wedding dress, she saw Archangel Michael with sword in hand. He took her to the church where at this time her husband was serving dinner. From church they returned home, and on this day she conceived a son,who was born after nine months and five days on the 24th of Tekhsas (December 19). They called him Tekla Haymanot. At the moment of his birth, light filled the whole house. On the third day, when they anointed the mother with oil, the whole house was filled with fragrance. In the third year, they sent Tekla Haymanot to church to study and in four years he was consecrated as a deacon. After this, he was consecrated as a monk -- "put on monastic belt and hood" as the Abyssinians say. His spiritual lineage is as follows. Saint Anthony put on the hood and belt by order of Archangel Michael. Anthony ordained Aba Markariy, who ordained Aba Pakhomiy, who ordained Aba Aragaui, also known as Zamikael. Aba Aragaui ordained Aba Krystos Bezana. Krystos Bezana ordained Aba Maskal Moa. Aba Maskal Moa ordained Aba Iokhani, who ordained Iisus Moa, who ordained Abuna Tekla Haymanot. At first, he was in Haik, then in Debra Damo, and then he founded the monastery of Debra Libanos, where he stayed to the end. His life story is filled with descriptions of miracles performed by him. Abyssinians claim that on his spine there were six wings, thanks to which he flew four times to Jerusalem. In four days, on his return for the third time from Jerusalem, he resurrected someone who had died twelve years before. In Damot, he in one day resurrected a thousand men. In Haik, he fasted for seven years, standing in one place without food and drink. In the sixth year, one of his legs broke and one wing was burnt by a wax candle, but he put a piece of wood under the leg andcontinued to stand. In the seventh year, he saw the Lord in the clouds. And the Lord told him to ask for whatever he wanted.
Tekla Haymanot asked for three things: first -- for Ethiopia and all pious people who were there -- that God forgive them, for his sake; second -- for the monastery of Debra Libanos -- that God illuminate the whole place where it stands; third -- for the kings of Ethiopia from the family of Solomon -- that God bless them and keep the throne in their hands. In four days at the end of his fast, he flew again to Jerusalem and, having returned from there to Debra Libanos, he extracted water from a stone with a cross, and to this day this spring has healing powers and masses of ill people, both Abyssinians and Gallas, gather there.
From this story it is evident how much the personality of Abuna Tekla Haymanot is legendary. It is known for certain that he was in holy orders ychygye -- head of all monasteries, that hefounded the monastery of Debra Libanos, and that he served as an apologist of the faith in the spirit of Orthodoxy. His relics to this day are preserved in undecayed form and are greatly revered.
Thus we see in the Ethiopian church three successive influences: remnants of the original apostolic faith (the teaching of Tekla Haymanot), the extreme monophysitism of Eustaphy, and the moderate monophysitism of Dioskuros. In the sixteenth century, there appeared in addition the Catholic influence of Portuguese Jesuits. From this time, disputes of faith began in the Ethiopian church, which led to bloody wars.
Political questions became associated with questions of faith, and this or that dogma became the catchword of this or that party. At one time, Catholicism triumphed, but not for long. It was superseded by the extreme monophysitism of the Gojjam Eustaphiants, who believed the human nature in Christ is special and not material like other men. Eustaphiants were superseded by followers of the Debra Libanos doctrine, and they in their turn were replaced by Tigreans who were followers of Dioskuros, the so-called faith of the knife -- Kara Haymanot. These last believe that the humanity in Jesus Christ is absorbed by his divinity.
The disputes in the Ethiopian church have been remarkably well described, the action of Catholic and Protestant missionaries has been well characterized, and the conditions of missionary work in Abyssinia have been recounted in a book by our well-known professor of the Ecclesiastical Academy, V. Bolotov -- Some Pages from the Church History of Ethiopia, published in 1888. The only point for which I did not find confirmation is the belief in three births of Jesus Christ, which he attributes to the Debra Libanos doctrine, and his assertion this doctrine differs in this regard from the party of Kara Haymanot, which recognizes two births.
I have in my hands a Debra Libanos book of catechism, Emada Mistir, given to me by their ychygye. I spoke with many Debra Libanos scholars, and they all quite definitely told me that they recognize just two births. I suspect that they may have formerly believed in three births, and I think that the conclusion drawn by Mr. Bolotov from foreign sources, was, it must be, a mistake of the authors of those other works. The struggle of the three doctrines ended with the triumph of the Tigrean doctrine -- Kara Haymanot or moderate monophysitism. Emperors Tewodros II and Yohannes IV professed this faith. Coptic bishops also were followers of that faith. Emperor Yohannes definitively gave this faith the upper hand. The doctrine of Eustaphy was judged heretical and ceased to exist any longer. (There are only secret adherents in Gojjam). The followers of the Debra Libanos doctrine -- all Shoa -- kept their former faith, so that now this question is in the following position. Under Yohannes, Menelik attended the council called by Yohannes to discuss the dogmas and formally joined the moderate Kara Haymanot monophysitism of theTigreans. But in his soul, he remained an believer in the Debra Libanos doctrine. The Empress Taitu, who is very interested in questions of faith, since she is of Tigrean origin professes Tigrean monophysitism. Abunas, Coptic bishops, are monophysites.
All monks of the order of Abuna Tekla Haymanot (and now this is the only monastic order in Abyssinia), all Shoa, and the ychygye -- all of them are followers of the Debra Libanos doctrine, professing if not complete diophysitism, then, in any case, very moderate monophysitism, which in its dogmas differs very little from Orthodoxy. Menelik doesn't raise questions of faith, leaving them open. Since a numerous majority adhere to DebraLibanos and their clergy grow in strength, I think that the Debra Libanos doctrine is prevailing. The six demands which the church makes on a Christian are:
1) to go to mass on Sundays and holidays;
2) to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays for the duration of four fasts;
3) to confess once a year;
4) once a year, come what may, to receive the Eucharist;
5) to give alms; and
6) to not arrange feasts and not get married at unauthorized times.
The seven sacraments of the church are the following:
baptism -- maternek,
anointing -- miron,
receiving the Eucharist -- kurban,
confession -- manazaz,
extreme unction -- kyba kedus,
entering priesthood -- ekakhat shumat, and
marriage -- bakhyg magbat.
The Holy Scripture includes 45 books of the Old Testament (Biluyat) and 36 books of the New Testament Hadisat). These 36 books are the following: 4 gospels, 8 synodic books (decrees of apostolic councils), 14 letters of Apostle Paul, 3 letters of John, 2 letters of Peter, 1 letter of James, 1 letter of Jude, the Acts of the Apostles, and decrees of two ecumenical councils.
In addition, books inspired by God include the essence of the works of John of Damascus [Golden Mouth], of Vassily [Basil] the Great, of Marisakhak, of Efrem, of Aragaui, of Manfasaui, and several others.
The collection of all the holy books of the Ethiopian Church is Synkysar. It looks like a huge calendar with saints and works of some of the fathers of the church corresponding to each day.
Each Abyssinian year has the name of one of the evangelists in order. The first year after leap year is Matthew, the second Mark, the Third Luke, and the fourth (leap year) is John. Their counting of years is eight years behind ours. Right now for them it is 1889 Matthew. They have 365 days in a year, except 366 inleap year. The year is divided into 12 months of 30 days each and, in addition, there is a remainder of 5 or 6 days. The year begins on September 1. There are monthly and annual holidays.
I'll briefly describe their calendar:
September -- Maskarem, 30 days
1st -- Saints John Raguil, Iov, Bartholemew
5th -- Abuna Gebra Hyyauat
6th -- Aba Pataleon
7th -- holiday of the Holy Trinity
10th -- birth of George
11th -- Hanna
12th -- holiday of Archangel Michael
14th -- Stephen
16th -- Kidana Mykhrat
17th -- Maskal (Holy Cross Day)
18th -- Aba Eustatios
19th -- Archangel Gabriel
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
23rd -- holiday of George the Victorious
24th -- holiday of Abuna Tekla Haymanot
25th -- Mercury
27th -- Madhani Alem (holiday of the salvation of the world)
29th -- Baala Egziabeer (the Lord's holiday)
30th -- John
Tykymt, 30 days
4th -- Abrekh-Atsebakh, king of Aksum (who had Ethiopia baptized)
5th -- Abo (a highly revered saint)
6th -- Pataleon
7th -- holiday of the Holy Trinity
11th -- Anna, Fasilyadas, Klavdiya [Claudia]
12th -- holiday of Archangel Michael, Matthew the Evangelist
14th -- Abuna Aragaui
17th -- Stephen
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
22nd -- Luke the Evangelist
23rd -- holiday of George the Victorious
25th -- Abuna Abib
27th -- Madhani Alem (holiday of the salvation of the world), Aba Tekla Maryam
29th -- Baalye Wald (holiday of the Son)
30th -- John
Hedar, 30 days
1st -- Raguil
6th -- Kissakuan
7th -- holiday of the Holy Trinity
8th -- holiday of cherubim and seraphim
11th -- Anna
12th -- Michael
13th -- legion of angels
15th -- Minas
17th -- Saint Waletta Petros
18th -- Apostle Philip
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
23rd -- holiday of George the Victorious
24th -- heavenly host
25th -- Mercury
26th -- Samaatata Nagyran
27th -- holiday of the salvation of the world
29th -- holiday of the Son
Tekhsas, 30 days
1st -- The prophet Ilya [Elijah]
4th -- Apostle Andrew, Abuna Tekla Alfa
12th -- Archangel Michael, Aba Samuil [Samuel]
15th -- Aba Eustaphy
19th -- Archangel Gabriel
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
22nd -- Daksios
23rd -- holiday of George the Victorious, David
24th -- holiday of Abuna Tekla Haymanot
27th -- holiday of the salvation of the world
28th -- Gehenna
29th -- birth of Christ [Christmas]
Tyr, 30 days
3rd -- Libanos
4th -- John the Thunderer
6th -- Galilee
15th -- Kirkos the Younger
18th -- George the Victorious
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
29th -- the Lord's holiday
Ekatit, 30 days
8th -- birth of Simeon
10th -- Jacob [or James] Alfeev
16th -- Kidana Mykhrat
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
29th -- the Lord's holiday
Magabit, 30 days
5th -- Abuna Gebra Manfas Kedus
8th -- Matthias, Haria
10th -- the Lord's cross
12th -- Archangel Michael
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
23rd -- death of George the Victorious
24th -- holiday of Abuna Tekla Haymanot
29th -- the Lord's holiday
30th -- Mark
Miazia, 30 days
7th -- holiday of the Holy Trinity
12th -- Archangel Michael
17th -- Apostle James
19th -- Archangel Gabriel
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
23rd -- death of George the Victorious
24th -- holiday of Abuna Tekla Haymanot
29th -- the Lord's holiday
30th -- Mark
Gynbot, 30 days
1st -- birth of the Mother of God; Yared, teacher of Ethiopia
5th -- Abo
12th -- Archangel Michael, John of Damascus [Golden Mouth], death of Abuna Tekla Haymanot
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
23rd, 24th, 25th -- days of the holiday of the Mother of God
26th -- Apostle Foma [Thomas?]
28th -- Emmanuel
29th -- holiday of the Son
Saniye, 30 days
8th -- holiday of the Mother of God
12th -- Archangel Michael, King Lalibala
20th -- Hyntsata Biyeta
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
23rd -- George the Victorious, Solomon
27th -- salvation of the world
29th -- the Lord's holiday
30th -- John
Hamlye, 30 days
2nd -- Faddey [Thaddeus]
5th -- Peter and Paul
7th -- holiday of the Trinity
8th -- Abuna Kiros, Abo
10th -- Nathaniel
12th -- Michael
17th -- Aba Garema
18th -- Jacob [or James]
19th -- Archangel Gabriel
21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
29th -- the Lord's holiday
Nakhasye, 30 days
1st -- holiday of the Holy Virgin
3rd -- Queen Sophia
10th -- Council of 318 fathers of the church
11th -- Anna
12th -- Michael
13th -- the Lord's Transfiguration
16th -- Felseta (Assumption of the Mother of God)
17th -- death of George
18th, 19th, 20th, 21st -- holiday of the Mother of God
23rd -- George
24th -- Abuna Tekla Haymanot
27th -- salvation of the world
28th -- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
29th -- the Lord's holiday
30th -- John
Pagume, 5 or 6 days
3rd -- Archangel Raphael
Nine annual holidays of the Lord are the following: baptism [Epiphany], resurrection from the dead [Easter], Ascension, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles [Pentecost], PalmSunday, birth of Christ [Christmas], Transfiguration, Feast of the Purification, and Holy Cross Day.
There are 33 holidays of the Mother of God.
Over the year, there are four major fasts which are comparable to ours in time and duration, except for Lent, which lasts for eight weeks. They also fast on Christmas Eve, Epiphany, and theday of the beheading of John the Baptist. Two weeks before Lent there is a minor fast, which lasts three days -- Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. In addition, they fast every Wednesday and Friday.
A fast consists of not eating meat, eggs, or milk. On usual Fridays and Wednesdays, those who are fasting do not eat anything until afternoon, and for Lent on Wednesdays and Fridays they donot eat anything until sunset. Ardently pious people do not eat anything at all on Fridays and Saturdays.
The Abyssinian church is very rich in holy traditions. For example, they have preserved the names of the two thieves crucified on the right and left sides of Christ. They are named Titos and Koridos. The name of the soldier who pierced Christ with a spear is Longinos. Anna, the mother of Mary, was thesecond wife of Ioakim, who inherited her from his brother. They consider, as far as I can understand, that James and John are relatives of Jesus Christ, children of the first wife of Joseph.
By tradition, the gall which they gave Christ to eat on the cross was the gall of an elephant.
The Abyssinian Creed is literally the same as ours. They do not make the sign of the cross during prayer. In those rare times when I saw them make the sign of the cross, they did so in the most diverse ways -- courtiers with one finger raised high, squeezing the rest of the fingers in a fist, crossed from left to right; clergy who had been in Jerusalem crossed themselves in the Orthodox manner.
The worship service of the Abyssinians differs from ours.
Services are as follows: performing of the seven sacraments, midnight and morning vigils, and prayers. I did not see all the sacraments performed, and it was very hard for me to find reliable witnesses about the method of their performance.
Consecration to ecclesiastical rank is performed at the end of mass. The abuna (bishop) goes to the altar. (During this same mass he stands facing the king's gates, beside the ychygye, tothe right of the emperor). There he, apparently, lays hands on those to be consecrated. I'm afraid I am mistaken, but it seems that the whole ceremony of performing the sacrament consists only of this.
The sacrament of marriage consists of those who are betrothed receiving the Eucharist together. (I also do not guarantee that this ceremony is limited just to this).
The sacrament of confession consists of confessing one's sins to a priest.
The sacrament of baptism consists of the parents of the infant, together with his god-parents, bringing him -- if he is a boy, on the fortieth day, and if a girl on the eightieth day -- to the church where he at first is baptized and anointed and then, after mass, receives the Eucharist. Judging by what one Abyssinian priest told me, the sacrament of baptism, is performed in the following manner: when the infant is brought into the church by his parents and by his godfather and godmother, the priest, serving together with a deacon, consecrates the water.
Before the consecration, they read the Creed; letters of Apostle Paul; the Gospels; the 50th, 68th and 123rd Psalms; and then the prayer of the Mother of God. The water is scented with incense spread with a censer and is blessed with a cross. Having taken the infant, the priest says, "I believe in one God the Father. I believe in one God the Son. I believe in one God the Holy Spirit." Then the deacon, having taken the infant, bows with him down to earth three times in the primary directions of the world, saying: "I bow to the Father. I bow to the Son. I bow to the Holy Spirit." Then they pour water on the infant three times, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. After the baptism, they anoint him with myrrh, just as among us, and then after mass they give the Eucharist.
Some writers assert that the Abyssinians consider it necessary to be baptized each year, and that this takes place on the Holiday of Baptism. This is totally wrong, since in their catechism and Creed it is definitely stated that baptism can be performed only once. This error was made because the pouring of holy Jordan water must have made the Jesuits think of baptism. I personally witnessed the blessing of water on the Holiday ofBaptism, and a priest three times poured water on my head. But no one thought to consider this a ceremony of baptism.
The sacrament of Eucharist takes place during mass. Mass is called kedasye, and Eucharist is called kurban. They have 14 masses. These include masses of Jesus Christ, the Mother of God, and the twelve apostles; in addition to which, there are the liturgies of John of Damascus [Golden Mouth], Vassily [Basil] the Great, and Gregory the Theologian. The liturgy consists of only one part -- the liturgy of the faithful. There are no liturgiesof catechumen and offertory. The gifts are prepared at the end of the all-night [vespers and matins] mass. Communion bread is baked of leavened wheat dough in the form of large round flat cakes, the surface of which is notched into small squares with lengthwise and transverse cuts. They do not use wine. In its place, they moisten dried grapes and squeeze the juice from it. Grapes are obtained from Gondar. The wheat flour is ground at the church itself by some innocent boy. The liturgy must be served by no less than five clergymen -- two priests and three deacons. There can be seven, nine, or 12 clergymen, but never less than five. The whole mass is sung by priests and deacons, without the participation of the choir. Only once, after the consecration of the holy gifts, when the prayer for the whole world is spoken, the choir sings Ekzio maren (Lord have mercy). The giving of the Eucharist is performed in both forms. At first one of the priests offers the body, having separated a square with his fingers. Then he offers the blood. The gifts are carried in by all the clergymen through the western doors.
On this occasion, a deacon rings a little bell and all fall on their knees. The gifts are also carried back out through the western doors.
The liturgy of John of Damascus [Golden Mouth] differs, as far as I could tell, from our liturgy of John of Damascus. First there is no liturgical prayer. In all probability the liturgical prayer is a later addition made by the Byzantine church. There is likewise no liturgy of the catechumen. As for the rest, apparently, there is much similarity to ours. At the consecration of the holy gifts, the clergymen mourn for the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. For the most part, the clergymen are completely carried away in spirit to the events they are mourning.
Matins together with the midnight service precede mass. The service begins at two to three o'clock in the morning and continues until sunrise, when mass begins. Kidan consists of the reading of books of the Old and New Testaments and singing by a choir of debtera.
At times, a priest and deacon go out from the altar with a censer and crosses. The Gospel is read by one of the priests. After mass, there is some kind of public prayer. All the priests and deacons who are serving go out from the altar with crosses and censer and stand silently in front of the king's gates facing the people. A choir of debtera sings an improvisation in honor of the emperor, then in honor of the holiday, and in honor of the Holy Mother of God. For the most part, the alaka (father superior of the church) improvises; the choir repeats his words or sings the refrain haile (glory) or haleluya (hallelujah). If the improvisation is successful, then all those gathered round approve it, saying "Malkam, malkam" ("Good, good"). The singers get more and more enthusiastic.
They sing while swinging in beat with their whole body, ringing copper rattles and beating in time with staffs on the ground.
The movement becomes more and more energetic. The beating on drums becomes more frequent and louder. The singers leave their rattles and clap their hands. Some squat and act like ducks [pochards], describing a cross with the movement of their heads.
The priests, standing in front of the people, also sing. Some of the debtera go to the middle of the circle, making smooth and graceful steps and swinging a staff in time to the music. The oppressive heat becomes dreadful. Sweat pours in torrents from the singers. But all are terribly electrified. The religious enthusiasm is enormous. And there are not at this moment any other than purely religious sensations. But now the singing stops abruptly. One of the debtera goes around to all who are present and, dividing them into groups, designates to each a saint to whom to pray. He goes around thus several times until he has enumerated all the saints. After this, a priest says some prayers which end with the prayer "Our father" (Abuna zasamayat) and lets the people go. Leaving, each considers it his duty, just as when arriving, to kiss either an icon or the door of the church.
Many are inclined to condemn the Abyssinians for their "holy dance." But in the form in which it takes place among them, there is nothing immoral about this dance. It is only an expression of the highest degree of religious enthusiasm.
Somewhere I read that the Spanish also have holy dances. Among the Abyssinians, the dances appear to be a legacy of paganism.
The worship service on major holidays differs from the usual one only in the greater length of the songs after mass. For christening, the church is carried in a tent to the Jordan and all the local inhabitants arrange themselves in a camp around it.
On Holy Cross Day, a religious procession is performed around six high, upright stacks of firewood, stuck into the ground, which are then set on fire at night.
The structure of the church itself is different among them from among us. The altar is in the middle of the church and looks like a separate square room or house. In some churches, the walls of the altar are painted with icons, on which the Abyssinians never give their saints black skin, but rather the color of the faces on the icons is always yellow. In the altar, there are four gates from the primary directions. Some altars only have three gates -- northern, western, and southern.
Sometimes the gates are made double in each of the four primary directions. The credence [altar] is partitioned off with curtains. The gifts are always brought in and taken out through the west gates. Worshipers arrange themselves in the church in the following manner. In the capital, opposite the king's gates to the left stands the emperor, to the right the abuna (bishop) and the ychygye (head of all monasteries). Behind them stands a choir of debtera. During mass, the father superior of the church stands right at the king's gates; at the end of mass, he goes tothe choir. The men arrange themselves on the northern and western sides; the women on the southern, separated from the men by a curtain. And on the eastern side stand the priests and monks and those clergy who are not taking part in the choir.
There are always many men and women behind a fence. These are people who did not keep known rules and, considering themselves unclean, do not have the right to enter the church.
Holy vessels and church utensils used in the divine service are the following:
Communion cup -- for the most part, a glass cup.
I did not see a paten.
The lamb is carried out on a large dish (what kind I was never able to find out). They carry it out covered with large silk shawls, just the same as they carried it out the day before a baptism, when the church moves into a tent. Then the Abyssinians call it tabot. Isn't this the tabot mentioned by many who have written about Abyssinia, some of whom assert that it has the form of a box and others of a board? It seems to me most probable that the tabot among them plays the role of communion cloth and substitutes for the paten.
The church spoon is for the most part silver. There is no duplicate. They separate pieces of the lamb by finger.
The gifts are covered by large silk shawls.
The church utensils consist of parasols, censers, crosses, staffs, little bells, rattles, and drums. Parasols play a very important role. They are unfurled above the holy gifts. Little bells are rung when the holy gifts are carried in. The censer is very large, made of fretted copper with attached bells. During the exits, a deacon leaves with the cross, and a priest with a censer. They stand in front of the king's doors, face to face and turn around one another three times, bowing. During this time, the priest swings the censer. The staff consists of a long cane stick with an iron or other kind of cane-head. It serves for resting the shoulders on it during the service. It is about two arshins [56 inches] long. The rattles are similar to a very long tuning fork; among its prongs on the transverse pivot arehung copper ringlets. Their drums are very long. They beat them with the palms of their hands, while sitting on the floor. On the roofs of churches, they make crosses out of ostrich eggs embedded on reeds. In recent times, in some churches there have appeared bells, but the Abyssinians still do not know how to ring them.
The clothing of priests consists of a long silk shirt; and over it, a silk chasuble, which extends to the knees, is worn on the shoulders. For the most part, there are hoods with tassels behind these chasubles. The dress of deacons is similar to that of priests, with the difference that priests' heads are covered with muslin and the deacons' heads are clean shaven. In ceremonial worship services, priests and deacons put silver, gilded headgear in the form of crowns on their heads. This headgear is in different shapes for deacons and for priests.
Those who perform the divine service are obliged to change all their clothes, and they do not have the right wear these clothes outside the church. They serve barefoot.
The ecclesiastical ranks of the Ethiopian church are as follows: deacon, kes (priest), komos, kiros, episkopos, papas,
The likapapas is the Alexandrian patriarch. The papas is the metropolitan, Abuna Mateos, one of the three abunas in Abyssinia.
Two abunas have the rank of episkopos -- Abuna Petros and Abuna
Lukas. (At the time of Emperor Yohannes, Abuna Petros was the metropolitan). Ychygye Gebra Selassie has the rank of kiros.
All father superiors of monasteries and other high church figures have the rank of komos.
There are now three abunas in Abyssinia, of whom Mateos fulfills the duties of metropolitan and the others -- Petros and Lukas -- the duties of bishops. They arrived in Ethiopia at the time of Emperor Yohannes, together with a fourth abuna, Markos, who died. Emperor Yohannes intended to divide the whole empire into four kingdoms and to establish a diocese in each. The bishop of Tigre carried out the duties of a metropolitan, but with the ascension of Emperor Menelik, that duty shifted to the Shoa bishop. For each of these bishops, Yohannes paid the Alexandrian church 10,000 talers.
The duties of the bishops consist almost solely of ordaining for church posts. Sometimes during agitation over important church questions, the bishops send circular messages throughoutthe diocese. But this happens very rarely. In normal times, they live on their lands, rarely going to the capital. And when they do go to the capital, they are never at court, except for one occasion -- the holiday of Maskal (Holy Cross Day). In case of need, the emperor himself goes to them.
The relationships of the bishops among themselves are strained. They openly do not agree with one another on many questions. For instance, Abuna Petros strongly condemns Abuna Mateos for taking money from those who are being ordained.
Relationships of the Abyssinian clergy to the abunas are very hostile. They call the abunas mercenaries. The current metropolitan by far does not stand on that moral height which is demanded by his high position. Nonetheless, he has great importance.
The highest church figure after the abunas is Ychygye Gebra Selassie. With the rank of kiros, he is the father superior of the monastery of Debra Libanos and is the head of all monasteries and the head of all monks of the order of Tekla Haymanot. This old man is a very sympathetic and is loved by all. He also serves as confessor of the emperor. From the very beginnings of Christianity in Abyssinia, an ychygye has existed together with abunas. Saint Abuna Tekla Haymanot was also ychygye. The ychygye owns large lands. They do not have the right to ordain those who perform the divine service. In Aksum, the father superior of the cathedral church there carries the title of nabr hyda. This title derives from High Priest Azariy, who was sent by Solomon together with Menelik. He has the rank of komos. His duty is to preserve the Ark of the Convenant, which was brought by Menelik from Jerusalem, as if it still existed to this day.
The father superior of all the churches in Gondar carries the title of akibe saat. He also has the rank of komos. The head priests in large monasteries are called kes hatse, They, just like mamhyry, who are the father superiors of these monasteries, have the rank of komos. Kes (priests) are ordained when they have reached maturity and are already married. Before ordination they undergo something like an examination. Priests must be married in the church ceremony; and in view of this, they all take as wife the very youngest girls. Deacons are boys from eight to twelve years old. Those who have been prepared for a clerical vocation, but then for various reasons are not ordained as priests nor as deacons and who do not become monks, stay in churches, constituting a special class reminiscent of ancient scribes. They are called debtera (scholars). Their duties in the church consist of singing. One of them is selected as the head of he church and of church property. He likewise designateswho of the priests and deacons serves. (In this regard, they are extremely punctilious. Only those priests serve who are notable for their irreproachable behavior.)
Monasticism in Abyssinia is very widespread. Formerly, there were two orders: the order of Saint Tekla Haymanot and the order of Eustaphy. The latter was in Gojjam. But now now this orderapparently does not exist. There are monks who are itinerant, and others who live in the world, and others who live on the summits of cliffs in monasteries. There are also nuns.
Abyssinian monks are notable for their asceticism. In general, the clergy have many good qualities. They have a very strong influence on the people. They always take on the role of supporters of the weak and as peacemakers. Each church has the right of sanctuary. In civil relations, each church represents itself as an independent entity. Each church owns land, which is worked by its peasants and serfs. It is surrounded by a whole ecclesiastical settlement -- all the priests, monks, debtera, and deacons who live at the church and are fed by its means. Each church has no less than 50 clergymen. All of this is administered by one of the debtera, called the "alaka."
In the Ethiopian church there remain several vestiges of ancient Judaism. They circumcise children -- boys at seven days, and girls at fourteen days. They only eat meat that has been slaughtered in a well-known way and, without fail, by a Christian. And they categorize animals clean and unclean.
There is almost no Abyssinian who has not dreamed about Jerusalem. Scarcely should a convenient occasion arise, and they would go there with joy -- for the most part, without any means, dooming themselves to every hardship of the road. To bathe in the River Jordan, to drink the water of the Jordan, to bow down at the Lord's tomb -- that is the secret dream of almost every Abyssinian. In Jerusalem, they have a church and a monastery with it. I found there about 100 pilgrims. But the position of Abyssinians in Jerusalem is sad. They formerly stood at the entrance of the Armenian church and received some food-stuffs from it. They also had a cemetery in common with the Armenians.
On the grounds of the Alexandrian Copts, they built a church with their own money. In recent times, they separated themselves from the other churches and declared themselves to be independent. In view of this, the Armenians took away their cemetery, and the Copts do not let them into the church which they had built withtheir own means. The Abyssinians themselves do not have enough experience in the conduct of business with the Turkish government, which is extremely complicated due to the constant disputes of the various churches among themselves. The position of the Abyssinians is is lamentable. They do not have their own representative, and none of the representatives of the other powers, who do not have direct orders to do so from their governments, will take care of the Abyssinians. Their material position is also very sad. They receive in all about 1000 rubles a year -- 500 from the Emperor and 500 from Ras Makonnen. I dare say that Russia could, without damage to itself, take on the moral support of the Abyssinians in Jerusalem and render them strong material help. For this there is no need for concluding treaties, since any such treaty would be seen as a protectorate over Abyssinia. From what has been said above, it is evident that there are very few important differences in dogma between our church and the majority of Abyssinians. Therefore, the union of our churches is very possible in the not too distant future.
And in this sense, we must begin to influence Abyssinia from Jerusalem and not by sending missionaries to Abyssinia. This would arouse the sympathy of the people on our side, thanks to our support and care for them there in Jerusalem, where they above all need it. This would instantly be felt by all Abyssinia, after which it wouldn't be hard for us to complete therest. Likewise, those who want to prepare themselves formissionary activity in Abyssinia should study the Abyssinian language and their theology in Jerusalem. The union of the churches presents for the Abyssinian government a direct materialinterest. It would be much more advantageous and agreeable to them to have bishops supplied to them from Russia or even to have the ability to supply themselves, than to pay the Alexandrian patriarch tens of thousands of talers from their treasury.
Finally, I consider it necessary to summarize my impressions of Abyssinia and, on the basis of these impression and observations, to draw some conclusions about this country in the form of answers to questions which commonly interest us Russians:
1) Are the Abyssinians savages? I think that having become acquainted, just in my short overview, with their faith, morals, customs and governmental structure, no one should have the slightest doubt that the Abyssinians are an old cultured race, although considerably backward today, compared to Europe, as a result of historical causes. They are surrounded by savages.
2) What kind of government does Abyssinia have? Is its power based exclusively on the extraordinary personality of Menelik or does it rest on firm foundations? Does this government have vitality or does it contain within itself many corrupting elements?
From the historical overview we see that Abyssinia has passed through a period of civil war. On the debris of the power of separate military leaders and independent rulers, which was broken by Emperors Tewodros and Yohannes, there grew a single strong imperial power, supported by the whole people in the form of a volunteer army. The state is bound to this new phase not exclusively by the personality of Emperor Menelik, but rather it was prepared for it by the preceding destruction of the old foundations. The reliability of the foundations of the state comes from the deep feeling of lawfulness and the consciousness of the people, and likewise from the fact that there are no strong opponents of the imperial power. There may be disturbances when there is a change of ruler, but they could not be serious. Internal opposition to the imperial power has been done away with. There are no external enemies who are close and sufficiently strong. Consequently, the state has all the prerequisites for a long existence.
3) Are the Abyssinians Christian or is their faith a mixture of pagan, Christian and Jewish beliefs?
From my perspective, they are very close to Orthodoxy. They are deeply believing Christians, who have preserved many peculiarities of the ancient apostolic church. They have some vestiges of Judaism, but these do not appear to have influenced their basic Christian faith.
4) Is Abyssinia a poor country, or, on the contrary, is it rich? While the people is poor, the country, especially the Galla lands, is very rich.
5) What kind of relations does it have with Europeans? After all that they learned from their recent bitter lessons, it is hard to expect great love. Those who are at the helm of power fear the Europeans. Some envy them, and the majority hold them in contempt. But in this case, it depends on the tact of each individual person to make himself respected or even loved, or the reverse. In any case, Abyssinians show much greater sympathy for Russians, especially those Abyssinians who have had the opportunity to get to know us. "Moscow is Christian" is the general belief of the people, while they aren't convinced that other Europeans really are Christian.
Let's move on then to the question that is most interesting to us: What kind of relations can we have with Abyssinia? We'll break that into two questions: What can the Abyssinians expect from us? And what benefit can we get from Abyssinia?
The Abyssinians can want from us:
first, moral support in their relations with foreign powers;
second, material support in the form of delivery of weapons and shells to them, in the form of teaching young Abyssinians handicrafts and technical sciences, in the form of sending to Abyssinia our doctors, technicians, artisans, and artillery instructors.
For us, Abyssinia can present the following interest. Having cast a glance at the map of Central Africa and on the borders of the Ethiopian Empire, you can easily see that being located inthe vicinity of the Middle Nile, halfway between Egypt and the great lakes, which belong to England, Abyssinia, which isexpanding each year more and more and taking large tracts of land which had been free -- rich and densely populated territory -- must become the natural and main enemy of England in Central Africa. England is also our main enemy. To help the enemy of our enemy, to make him as much stronger as possible -- that isour main goal in Abyssinia.
But apart from this main goal, we have other important interests. As is evident from what has been said before, trade with Abyssinia can be very advantageous for Russia.
In the not too distant future, a union of the Ethiopian church with Orthodoxy could take place.
Considering how easy it is to recruit soldiers in Abyssinia, we could use this source to put together several detachments of Abyssinians for action on our south-eastern and eastern borders.
In case of European war, they could be of great use to us thanks to the great moral effect which they could have on our enemies. Their endurance and fighting qualities are well known. The cost of maintaining them would exceed by little the cost to maintain our field troops.
But to bring all this about, it is necessary first of all to transfer the accidental and sometimes odd relations betweenRussia and Abyssinia to serious ground. It is my deep conviction that Abyssinia can stand us in good stead, and that Russia can benefit from paying attention to it.
My equipment consisted of:
o One round tent of the Abyssinian style, six arshins (14 feet) in diameter.
o One small tent of the Abyssinian style for each servant.
o One caldron (25 pounds) for the servants.
o Two field mess-tins.
o One Abyssinian frying pan (one and a half pounds) for cooking flat cakes.
o One copper coffeepot.
o One enameled teapot.
o One large enameled mug.
o 500 Abyssinian biscuits, weighing about six poods [216 pounds], (a gift from Emperor Menelik).
o One sack of rye flour, two poods and 5 pounds [77 pounds] of millet grain.
o One 30-pound wineskin of ground pepper and tef meal.
o Five pounds of oatmeal.
o Two jars of concentrated milk.
o One jar of cocoa.
o Five pounds of tea and two pounds of sugar.
o Five bottles of vodka.
o Ten bottles of cranberry essence.
o Twenty-five pieces of salt (money and food), one pood and 10 pounds [46 pounds).
o 400 Maria Theresa talers.
o 12 pounds of candles, at eight to the pound (96 candles).
o 300 packets of matches.
o One Red Cross lantern.
o One Red Cross field bed.
o One tarpaulin.
Two packets of wadding and 12 gauze bandages in a holster. One two-pound packet of quinine and 35 powders. Forty laxative powders. Seventy powders for rheumatism. Twenty mustard plasters. Two bottles of castor oil. One bottle of opium. One battle of sublimate in tablets (50 tablets). One bottle of iodoform. One bottle of Dzhevinskiy eye drops, unknown in medicine. One bottle of strychnine. Sticking and mercurial plaster. One spool of American antiseptic plasters.
Two axes. Six sickles. A screwdriver, tongs, and cleaning rods for cleaning guns. Two awls. Two stakes for horse lines, a brush, and a horse comb. One pair of scissors. Needles and thread. Forty arshins [about 31 yards] of towing rope.
Felt cloak, overcoat, greatcoat, raincoat, full hussar uniform, Swedish jacket, Austrian jacket, and four pair of blue trousers.
Two white canvas suits. Five changes of flannel underwear. Twelve pairs of woolen socks. Twelve handkerchiefs. Six towels.
Five pairs of boots (one hussar, one personal, one hunting, and two half-boots.).
Six Abyssinian shammas. Forty arshins [about 31 yards] of silk cloth. Forty arshins of red calico. Ten arshins [about eight yards] of muslin. Four nickel-plated watches with chains. Five Swedish knives. Sixty silver crosses and little icons. Six silk shawls. Six bottles of perfume. Books, writing materials, andwashing set.
All of these amounted to a weight of 45 poods [1620 pounds], including 20 poods [720 pounds] of powder, three poods [108 pounds] of shot, and 800 cartridges. It was carried by eightmules, which amounted to about six poods [216 pounds] per mule.
The packing was done as follows:
The large tent with appurtenances was wrapped in the large tarpaulin. The field bed was packed in the trunk that goes with it. Writing and washing materials, blanket, felt cloak, twochanges of underwear, Swedish jacket, quarter pound of tea, one candle, two boxes of matches, sack of coffee, sack of salt, spoon, knife, fork, and one bottle of vodka were all packed in a hold-all. Clothes, gifts, and money were packed tight in two field pack-loads, ordered by me in Petersburg. Wine was carefully packed and taken in a sack. A tin box with alcohol anda tin box with water were each taken in a skin. Axes and sickles were in a separate sack. Powder, shot, and hunting gear were intwo boxes. Biscuits were in a pack trunk of the Zvyagin system.
(On the third march, I had to throw this trunk away and repack the biscuit in a wineskin). Rye flour was in a sack. Victuals of the servants were in a wineskin. Five pounds of millet, five pounds of oatmeal, dried vegetables, two jars of milk, one jar of cocoa, candles, matches, and tea were all in two wineskins. Salt was tied up in ropes and taken in a skin. The caldron, mess-tins, teapot, coffeepot, frying pan, and tin box for water were strapped to packs. The first-aid kit was packed in a holster and carried by one of the servants; likewise the photographic apparatus.
All this was divided among seven mules as follows:
Mule Number 1: The large tent in a tarpaulin with the tools.
Mule Number 2: Sack of meal on one side; hold-all with everydaynecessities and bed on the other.
Mule Number 3: A pack with dried crust, strapped teapot, coffeepot, and tin for water; and on top a box with 400 Gra cartridges.
Mule Number 4: A small tent and on it two boxes with powder and shot; on top a caldron, strapped mess-tins and frying pan.
Mule Number 5: Two pack trunks with clothing, gifts, and money; on top, wine.
Mule Number 6: Two wine skins with supplies; on top, a tin with alcohol and salt.
Mule Number 7: One wineskin with victuals, little wineskins andindividual knapsacks; on top, a tin with water and a box with 400 Gra cartridges.
For packing, the tent was put together in such a way as to make a bale two and a half arshins [about two yards] long and one arshin [28 inches] wide. It was put on the back of the mule in the middle.
A sack of meal on one side and the bed with the hold-all on the other, each package strongly tied with ropes, thoroughly tightened and placed on the saddle so that the pressure fell onthe base of the ribs.
The biscuits were first put in the trunk of the Zvyagin system. Each of the biscuits were 14 vershoks [24-1/2 inches]long, 10 vershoks [17-1/2 inches] thick, and 6 vershoks [10-1/2 inches] wide. The first day we tried to pack them ingeniously but this turned out to be too uncomfortable. The middle bank connecting both trunks was too long and the trunks hung on thesides, weighing heavy on the spine and squeezing the sides. In addition, this position was very unsteady and required constant adjusting. Thanks to that position of the trunks, the straps forpacking touched the mule at only two points: the middle of the back and under the belly. On the following day, the servants packed it in their own way, and in this new way the mule was more comfortable. But nevertheless on the third day it succeeded in throwing and shifting off two wineskins of biscuits.
Two boxes with powder and shot were tightly connected to one another, making two sides of a pack. For softness, a small tent was placed under them. Four hundred Gra cartridges were placed in the gun box and packed lengthwise on top of a mule.
Two pack trunks were tightly connected with rope. Two wineskins with supplies were tightly connected as the previous packs, and on top was packed a large tin with vodka.
Thus, for the anticipated six-month journey my goods were distributed by sections in the following way:
Articles of comfort: tent, bed -- five poods [180 pounds].
Clothing and footwear -- one pood [36 pounds].
Gifts -- 3 poods [108 pounds].
Food stuffs -- meal victuals, biscuits -- seven poods [252 pounds].
Alcohol, vodka, and wine -- two poods [72 pounds].
Salt and money -- two poods.
Lighting -- 12 pounds.
Powder, shot, and cartridges -- eight poods [288 pounds].
First-aid kit -- 7 pounds.
The most meager section was food stuffs. But, according to the information I had, a large part of the journey passed through thickly settled places, and the food stuffs were taken as an inviolable reserve to make sure. With my 17 servants, we could be satisfied for 15 days with the biscuits and meal we had taken.
I threw away the meal on the sixth march since one of my mules
opened the old packing, and meal was always easy to obtain on the way.
The main principle of loading is that one must arrange the pack in such a way that it lies on the base of the ribs evenly, not touching the spine. Tightly connected, both sides of the pack are lifted by two servants who going behind the mule place the pack on its back. A third servant holds the mule by the reins.
The pack is attached with long straps -- one inch wide and 10 to 12 arshins [about 8 yards] long. In the middle a noose is tied, and the strap is placed in such a way that it lies in the middle of the load along the back of the mule, with the noose behind.
Then the strap from both sides is placed under the front part of the pack, and the ends are pushed through the noose and thrown over to the opposite side, forming in this way in its turn a one and a half to two arshin [42 to 56 inch] noose. [The original showed this in a drawing.] These nooses are stretched to the opposite side under the stomach and are drawn by the ends of the straps. This method of packing is very simple and in case of unhurried travel is completely satisfactory. But for quick marches is it insufficient since it requires constant pulling of the straps, and especially if the mules will trot. The limit of speed of movement with light and balanced packs is eight versts[a little over five miles] an hour.
Composition of the detachment:
14 servants, two pack mules, and one saddled mule.
One small tent. Two pack-loads including: two changes of underclothing, two pairs of boots (the usual hussar kind), gifts, two watches, 20 arshins [about 16 yards] of silk cloth, and three bottles of perfume.
Rolled up thick felt for bedding at night and in it a blanket. Abyssinian shamma. Twelve candles. Twelve boxes of matches. Wadding and bandages for dressings. One bottle of cognac. One pound of coffee. And 300 talers.
Two wineskins with peas, field mess-tin, frying pan, teapot, five pieces of salt, bag with tools, two axes and three sickles, and 400 spare cartridges.
A field first-aid kid and photographic apparatus were carried separately.
The description of several wounds, inflicted on several animals by a 3/8-inch-caliber rifle 1891 model. (Excerpt from my hunting journal).
On November 8, 1896, a chamois -- orobo was killed. It was wounded by a first shot at a distance of 200 paces and, having been wounded, it ran. We followed it for 1,000 paces from the place where the first shot struck him. The bullet punched a two-vershok [three and a half inch] hole in its neck in front ofthe shoulders. The cervical vertebrae were not touched. The wound was barely noticeable.
On November 7, an antelope (bokhor) was wounded. It ran after the first shot. On the second shot from a Gra rifle my servant laid it low, hitting it in the head. The first bullet from a distance of 100 paces punched a hole in him through both lungs, not touching the ribs. The wound was scarcely noticeable. There was internal hemorrhaging.
On March 6, a hippopotamus was killed. A bullet from a distance of 200 paces struck it at the base of the neck, punched through the shoulder bone, making a crack in it and passing out through the lower part of the stomach. The wound was more than two arshins [56 inches] long. The entry opening was scarcelynoticeable. The exit had two openings. The bullet went along the skin and in the lower part of the stomach -- two lacerated wounds in the shape of longitudinal sections, the first about one vershok [one and three-quarters inches] long, and the secondsomewhat larger.
On March 9, an elephant was killed with a shot to the head from a distance of 50 paces. The bullet punched through the base of the right tusk and went into the skull. In the meat there is a scarcely noticeable little hole. The bone was splintered.
Words of the Gimiro and Madibis Languages
Gimiro Russian Madibis [English]
bog Babata, Iuda God
dyavol botya devil
chelovyek agara man
ay voda fere water
zemlya tiaka land
damu ogon fala fire
otets baba father
mat aa mother
devushka bempel girl
brat abolonka brother
ruzhe alemendi gun
ebo kopye beri spear
loshad nokhti horse
gali golova okholo head
zhilishche katenna, shuli dwelling
myshami kukum soup with mice
donka durra terbakero sorghum, a Turkish millet
reka wolo river
kamen balye stone
inchu les chicho forest
bo zhivot stomach
Constant wars, poor means of communication, the poverty of the populace and the absence in it of capital mean that the trade and industry of Abyssinia are insignificant in comparison with what they could be under other circumstances. As a matter of fact, Abyssinia itself is a poor country. Not for nothing, the English, having taken Magdala in 1867 and, evidently, having had, in that troubled time, the possibility of securing a firm footing here, did not take advantage of this and completely repudiated any pretension to it. Evidently, the game was not worth the candle. But at that time, Abyssinia did not yet own the marvelous lands of the Galla -- the homeland of coffee, gold deposits, and lowlands teeming with elephants. The present-day capital, Entotto, was still inaccessible for Abyssinians and in the hands of Galla. Since then, the times have changed and the commercial revenue of Abyssinia grows from year to year. But, of course, there still remains much to desire. The poverty of the inhabitants makes for very limited demand. Guns, cheap cotton and silk cloth, some cheap household articles such as, for instance, tin cups and glass decanters -- such are the main imported articles. Exports consist of gold, ivory, musk and primarily coffee. The export of exclusively expensive and difficult to obtain articles is caused by the poor means oftransportation. Were that not the case, the country could quickly develop agriculture, cotton-growing, tobacco-growing, andothers. Constant wars also, evidently have a great influence on commerce.
The absence of a convenient monetary unit and the constantly changing rate of exchange also have bad effects. The existing monetary unit is the Maria Theresa taler, and recently the talers of Emperor Menelik, minted in France. The value of both is the same, but inside Abyssinia they accept the taler of Emperor Menelik at a lower price than the old one. The rate of exchange in Aden fluctuates from 2 francs 50 to 3 francs 10. Each taler weighs 27 grams, and consequently, you need to have a separate mule for loading 3,000 talers. In Central and SouthernAbyssinia, bars of salt six vershoks [10-1/2 inches] long and one vershok [1-3/4 inches] thick and weighing from 3 to 4 poundsserves as small change.
Articles for export usually pass several times from hand to hand before reaching the sea. For instance, coffee is bought in the west and southwest from local landowners. It is carried by Galla merchants to some central point, as for instance, Bilo, Supe, or Lekamte, where it is resold to other merchants who takeit to Shoa or even to Harar. There it falls either into the hands of Europeans (mainly the trading house "Tian and Company")or of Arabs and Indians. They take it to Aden. Such resale within the country is made necessary by the fact that usually after a 300-400 verst [210-280 mile] trip, the mules, which carry very important cargo, which weighs up to eight poods [288 pounds], by bad roads and eating exclusively scanty pasturage, find themselves completely emaciated and beaten and demand rest.
Gold comes from Wollaga and from the basin of the Tumat River, which belongs to Abdurakhman, until this time an independent ruler. The Galla gather the gold beyond a waterfall in a hole at the bottom of the river. They thoroughly wash the gold sand inthe most primitive way and then they melt the gold they obtain into ringlets. It differs greatly in purity: from 1000 to 810 parts of pure gold. It is of a light yellow color, very soft and easily squeezed. Twenty-seven grams (the weight of a taler is called an uket) is worth 28-30 talers locally, and in Aden is worth 34 talers. Apparently, trade is not very profitable, but taking into account the rate of exchange of talers and the factthat for gold they are paid in merchandise and make a profit on that, all this turns out to be not as unprofitable as it seems at first glance. Considering the taler at 2 francs 60, a pound of 19-carat gold costs 444 rubles locally. But 30 talers for anuket is a price which French traders consider little profitable for themselves.In Aden a kilogram sells for 3025 francs, that is one pound -- 467 to 468 rubles, which amounts to 24 rubles per pound of gross profit, i.e., 5%. But in essence, as I mentioned above, in view of the fact that for this traders are paid in merchandise, gold brings much greater profit, all the more in view of the fact that its small volume means transport costs very little. As far as I know, among us at the present time one pound of gold costs about 400 rubles, but this is the cost of 14-caratgold; pure gold costs about 500 rules.
Consequently, trade in gold with Abyssinia could be profitable.
Civet musk is obtained in the humid forested western regions from an animal which the Abyssinians call tryn. The method of obtaining the musk is described by me. The cost in Aden of one kilogram is 1,600 francs, which amounts to one pound or 246 rubles, i.e. almost 17 times more valuable than the same weight of silver. In Entotto, musk sells for eight times more than the same weight of silver, that is one uket for 8 talers, or one pound for 118 rubles. Consequently, for 246 rubles you can obtain 128 rubles of gross profit, i.e. 52%. But trade in thisarticle is very difficult and unreliable, since pure musk is hard to get usually pass several times from hand to hand. Here they dilute it with the feces of this animal and also cow butter, and these admixtures are very difficult to detect; so in Aden they are very suspicious of musk and knocking down the price for it even for good musk. Frequently, local French merchants do not send musk to Aden, since they conduct direct dealings with Paris.
Ivory is sold for the most part from the court of the emperor. Sometimes the emperor pays his debts to suppliers with tusks.The ivory is of very good quality. In Aden, one pound of ivorycosts more than 4 rubles for tusks weighing not less than a pood [36 pounds] and less for other tusks. Locally, one uket of ivory, i.e. the weight of 840 talers or 1 pood 28-1/10 pounds [64-1/10 pounds], costs 77 talers, i.e. one pound costs a littlemore than a ruble. This is the price of large tusks. Thus, the gross profit amounts to 300 to 400%. But this trade, more than all others, varies in price. The fluctuation makes trade in it very difficult. Scarcely does someone announce a large quantity of ivory for sale, and the price immediately drops terribly, and many Frenchmen who are in Abyssinia suffer great losses. Thelargest trading house that buys ivory is "Tian and Company," which, however, holds in secret the quantity of goods it has for sale, and sometimes tusks lie in its storeroom for many years before they are sold.In Petersburg at the present time, one pound of ivory from large tusks costs six rubles, and this article could find a direct market in Russia.
Coffee is divided into two main kinds: wild coffee of Kaffa, Mocha, and western regions, and cultivated coffee of Harar and Chercher. Both of them are of excellent quality, comparable tothe very best kind of Mocha coffee. Harar coffee costs more since it is harvested at the right time. Kaffa coffee is harvested after it falls from the tree; which means that from lying on the ground it blackens and loses part of its aroma and hence its value.
Buyers of coffee in Abyssinia itself are almost exclusively Abyssinians and Galla. Europeans in this trade do very little business inside the country since transport of coffee demands a great quantity of mules. The representatives of the large companies from Aden which buy coffee are found in Harar. In Aden, the price for one kilogram of the best coffee is 3 francs 50 centimes. In Harar, it costs half that; and inside Abyssinia the price is a quarter or a fifth what it is in Aden. In Harar a frazla (measure of weight) is equal to 37-1/2 pounds and sells for 6 to 8 talers, i.e. one kilogram for 1 franc 38 centimes, a Russian pound for 21 to 22 kopecks. In Petersburg, one pound of the best coffee costs 65 kopecks. Coffee could likewise become an article from import into Russia from Abyssinia; and, undoubtedly, quite a lot of coffee could be sold here since it is accepted practice mainly to call "Abyssinian" the Mocha coffee that reaches us far from the first hands.
Of the remaining articles exported from Abyssinia, we must mention wax, which is of very good quality but is exported in small quantities; and skins which are exported in very large quantities. A lot of incense is exported from the port of Zeila.
It is obtained in the coastal Somali steppes. Gum arabic is also from there. From Abyssinia, many mules were exported in the past, but in recent times that export has been stopped since in the recent war many mules were killed.
Agricultural produce is not exported from Abyssinia despite the great fertility of the region. Likewise they do not export cotton, which they get there in excellent quality, but all of which is consumed inside the country. This results from the low price of these articles compared with their volume and the difficulty of transporting them.
The main imported article is guns. Most of all they import guns of the Gra system, which the Emperor buys for 18 talers each. On the side, they are sold for 20 to 25 talers.
The revolvers they import are mostly second-hand and old and sell for 12 to 20 talers each.
Saber blades are very expensive, especially thin, long ones. They sell for 12 talers each.
Silver is imported annually in large quantities in the form of money -- Maria Theresa talers. Because the value of exports exceeds the value of imports, this money stays in the country.
These talers are made in Austria, and the silver is of very low purity. Other imported metals include: iron in the form of wires and small manufactured articles, copper and lead in ingots,steel and mercury for gilding. All of these are imported in very small quantities.
Cotton fabric is imported into Abyssinia in small quantities. Above all they import inexpensive, thin, white cotton fabric of Indian manufacture, which is used in Abyssinia in the sewing oftrousers and tents. In Addis Ababa a piece of abujedi -- which is what the Abyssinians call this fabric -- sells for 4 talers.
One such piece measures 18 meters or 26 arshins, or 48 "elbows" (the local measure of length from the elbow to the end of thefingers). Aside from abujedi, they also import a better kind ofcotton fabric, but in very small quantities. Usually all the caravans which carry coffee sell their coffee in Harar and buy abujedi there, and take them to Entotto where they buy salt and take it to the far western regions where they exchange it for coffee.
Salt is obtained from Lake Assal and Lake Massovy. The salt is set in the form of bars six vershoks [10-1/2 inches] long and 1 vershok [1-3/4 inches] thick, weighing from three to four pounds. Now in Addis Ababa for one taler you can get six new salt bars or seven old ones, which comes to about four kopecks apound. They import silk fabric (in the form of part silk material for shirts), velvet, and velveteen. They import a lot of these fabrics because they go in shirts and in the battle dress of officers of the army.
Silk fabric is required in bright colors with narrow lines of mixed-colors (two colors) alternating among themselves. They prefer thick fabric, including cotton underwear. One kend of this fabric, i.e. an "elbow" ten vershoks [17-1/2 inches] long, sells in Abyssinia for one taler, i.e. an arshin [28 inches] for one rubles 60 kopecks.
Velvet in solid bright colors sells in Addis Ababa for the same price.
Silk thread of various colors, especially dark blue, almost black (the latter manufactured in Smyrna), which all Christians wear around their neck, is sold in Addis Ababa by weight. A bundle of silk that weighs as much as 12 talers sells for 6 talers, i.e. a pound goes for 7 rubles 40 kopecks.
Cognac and vodka of very poor quality are imported in large quantities.
The very cheapest cognac, of Greek manufacture, sells in Addis Ababa for one and a half talers per bottle. Vodka sells for one taler. They import red Greek wine and cheap champagne, but invery small quantities.
Sugar is imported in small quantities, in the form of small lumps or in grains. It is of French manufacture and very poor quality -- soft, with a small percentage of pure sugar. It is sold in Addis Ababa for 40 kopecks a pound.
Small glass decanters of Venetian manufacture are a necessary possession for each Abyssinian house that is in the slightest degree prosperous. In Addis Ababa two decanters cost one taler, or a decanter for 50 kopecks.
Enameled tin cups for drinking mead in Addis Ababa sell for two for a taler.
Cheap printed rugs likewise are imported.
They import many such objects as: cheap watches; perfume of the very worst quality, brightly painted cotton shawls, beads, felt hats with wide brims, parasols, and soap.
Aden is the main marketplace of Abyssinia and the place where its exports are concentrated and through which imports go.
Trade in the direction from the sea to the middle of the country goes by four routes: 1) Massawa to Gojjam, 2) Jibuti to Harar to Shoa, 3) Zeila to Harar to Shoa, and 4) Berber to Kofir to Jimma to Kaffa.
The first route lost its significance with the shift of the political and economic center of Abyssinia to the south, and likewise after the capture of the Sudan by the dervishes.
The second route is the most convenient since it has almost weekly steamship communication with Europe.
The third route is the richest in means of conveyance through desert. It is the favorite of local merchants.
The fourth route is unknown to Europeans, and about its existence one can rather conjecture.
Consequently, the two main points are through Jibuti and Zeila to Harar and Shoa.
The conditions of transport and the cost of transporting one pood of cargo by both routes is the same. They differ only in the internal order of each port and its transport connections with Europe. Jibuti belongs to France and was built recently.
Thanks to the regular and frequent transport of the General-Madagascar "messagerie maritime," which has two lines - - Indochinese and Madagascar -- the steamships of which visit Jibuti almost weekly, this port has very quickly gained great significance. One of the two steamships that come to Jibuti goesthrough Aden. The significance of Jibuti to Abyssinia is bound up with the fact that up until now this was the only port through which guns were allowed to pass into Abyssinia. Aside from the steamships, Arab sail-powered barges also carry on frequent commercial transport with Aden and other coastal ports.
These conveniences of Jibuti are paralyzed by:
1) The establishment of import and export duties. For example, import duties: for of one gun -- 2 francs 65 centimes; for a revolver the same; for 500 cartridges 2 francs 50 centimes; for one kilogram of powder 3 francs; for cognac and strong drinks 20 centimes per liter; for alcohol 80 centimes per liter. Export duties: for each animal -- horse, mule, cow, ox -- 4 talers 11 francs.
2) The punctilliousness of the French administration. The administration has established many rules, putting useless restraints on the inhabitants. For instance, it requires that camel-drivers remove from the streets the manure left by their camels (in case of refusal they are put into prison). I heard about this requirement in Leka, in the commercial town of Bilo, where merchants were indignant about this, saying that it would be necessary to tie a sack to the tail of the camel. And finally,
3) The comparative difficulty of transport connections with Aden. Zeila is 40 versts [28 miles] east of Jibuti. It belongs to the English. The port does not present conveniences like Jibuti, and large ships cannot put in there, having to drop anchor very far from shore. Transport with Aden is carried out by small steamboat, which completes a trip once every two weeks, and by Arab sail-powered barges. Nevertheless almost all the trade in coffee and a large part of the imports go through Zeila. For comparison, I will present the data on exports of coffee through Jibuti and Zeila for 1891. From Jibuti coffee valued at 250,000 franc was exported; from Zeila 1,380,310 francs -- i.e. almost six times as much. The remaining articles of export are distributed more evenly between these two ports. Frenchmerchants in Abyssinia send their goods to Jibuti (Messieurs Savure, Monat, Trule, Stevena, Pineau and some others). And all the Armenians and Greeks together with Arabs and Abyssinians send their good to Zeila (the main Armenian merchant is Tigran).
I do not have exact data on annual exports through Zeila and Jibuti. But there is data on exports and imports through Jibuti for three months (January, February, and March) from which I derive several characteristic numbers:
There was imported:
guns -- 394 boxes (4728 guns)
cartridges -- 592 boxes
cotton fabric -- 3450 items (valued at 604,000 francs)
silk fabric -- 14 items
strong drink -- 53 boxes (valued at 1,590 francs).
There was exported:
ox-hide and sheepskin -- 11,549 items (valued at 86,544 francs)
coffee -- 4,180 frazla -- 62,700 kilograms (valued at 53,440 francs)
musk 1,000 ukets -- 27 kilograms (valued at 43,200 francs)
gold worth 20,000 francs
ivory worth 18,000 francs
raw wax worth 2,000 francs.
The cost to transport a pound of cargo to Addis Ababa includes: 1) what you pay to hire camels from Jibuti or Zeila to Erer or to Harar, what you pay to hire camels from Erer to Balchaand then from Balcha to hire mules to Addis Ababa, or by the high road in Harar to buy mules and carry cargo to Addis Ababa; 2) thepay and cost of up-keep for servants and 3) customs duties at a rate of 1/10 the value of all products which they pay either in Harar or in Addis Ababa.
1) Transport by the road through Harar amounts to: the price of hiring a camel which can carry a load weighing 500 pounds or 12-1/2 poods, or for two camels each carrying half a load equals 14 talers or rubles.
From Geldessa (an Abyssinian border point and customs house) to Harar other camels are hired at a cost of 1-1/2 talers for a full load of 12-1/2 poods.
The composition and movement of caravans is very simple. From Jibuti or Zeila you announce the news to these people that you need so many camels, and they supply them to you quickly enough if camels are available at that time and not too weakened at the end of the hot season. If they are not available, you must wait or send the cargo in parts. The leader of a caravan, called the aban, selects the members of the caravan. He is the person responsible for all the belongings entrusted to him, and he carries out his responsibilities honestly enough, since from Jibuti or Zeila to Harar special care and protection are not required. You promise and give the aban several talers as a reward. You pay part of the money for the transport at the outset and part at the delivery of the cargo. For best protection of belongings, it is good if some of your own servants with guns go along with the caravan -- servants whom they usually pay 5 talers at Harar and give upkeep. The caravan workers and the abans are Somali, but for servants you must hire Abyssinians.
You buy mules in Harar. The average price of a pack mule is 32 to 34 talers. For slow going, for every five mules you must have three servants. The pay to them from Harar to Entotto is 5 talers plus upkeep. The upkeep for three servants costs about two talers for the whole trip. Consequently the transport of cargo by five mules, i.e. 30-35 poods [1,080 to 1,260 pounds], amounts to, including the purchase price of the mules, 187 talers; and not including the purchase price of the mules -- 17 talers. Consequently, transport of a pood [36 pounds] of cargo from Jibuti or Zeila through Harar to Addis Ababa costs, taking into account the cost of buying mules:
to Harar -- one pood for one ruble and 20 to 25 kopecks
from Harar to Addis Ababa -- one pood for 5 rubles 34 kopecks
total for one pood = 6 rubles and 54 to 60 kopecks.
The distance by this road is 850 to 900 versts [570 to 600 miles]; the total per verst per pound is .73 kopecks. If you do not take into account the cost of the mules, then the transport from Jibuti and Zeila to Addis Ababa costs for one pood one ruble 75 kopecks, i.e. .2 kopecks per verst.
By the second route the cost is as follows.
2) From Jibuti or Zeila to Erer with a fully loaded camel costs 16 talers and a reward to the aban. In Erer they change Somali camels for Danikil ones, with the help of their leader from the Tumbakho tribe. He designates one of them as the responsible aban, but this serves as a very bad guarantee of the safety of the belongings, which they deal with very carelessly.
The price of a camel for a full load from Erer to Balcha is 18 talers. For the safety of the cargo, it is necessary to send several armed servants with the caravan, and you pay these servants about 10 to 12 talers for the trek from Jibuti to Addis Ababa. In Balcha you hire mules, donkeys, and horses to Addis Ababa at four talers for the cargo of one mule. Thus, by this road the transport of a pood [36 pounds] of cargo costs about three rubles, which for a distance of 900 versts [600 miles] amounts to .33 kopecks per verst.
Delivery through Harar is faster, but does not allow for transport of bulky items and requires the availability of one's own mules. Therefore, Europeans prefer the second route for their caravans. All the local merchants use the first route as safer for passenger trips and because it passes through territory in which the climate is not as hot.
From the this overview, it is evident that trade with Abyssinia does not involve insurmountable difficulties. It is completely possible and would be far from unprofitable for us Russians.
All the articles of export from Abyssinia which find a ready market in Russia, we obtain second hand and overpay considerably, (for instance, coffee or gold, which at the first-hand price would be profitable for our state treasury to obtain).
Some items of import to Abyssinia, as, for instance, silk, cotton, iron, steel, and glass manufactured articles, guns, sugar, alcohol and strong drinks, and kerosene, for which they need a seacoast, we make in Russia; and ours cost no more than the foreign ones.
The distance from Odessa to the Red Sea coast is equal to the distance from Marseilles. Consequently, the transport couldn't cost us more. There remains only to establish direct communication with some port of this coast. And one can not only express the hope, but truly say that profits of trade will become so evident that owners and capital will be found to put our commercial relations with Abyssinia on firm foundations.
B: = Bulatovich, author
K: = Katsnelson, editor of the Russian reprint
S: = Seltzer, translator
1 K: With insignificant abridgments, this is published in accord with the text of the book From Entotto to the River Baro. An Account of a Trip to the Southwestern Regions of the Ethiopian Empire 1896-97, 204 pages.
Entotto, the first residence of Menelik, is located on the heights that have the same name, is quite close to the present-day Addis Ababa, which became the capital of the country in 1889.
2 K: Alfred Ilg (1854-1916) was a Swiss engineer. He spent 30 years in Ethiopia (1878-1907), and from 1897 to 1907 was a minister. He was engaged in the building of railroads, helping very much the penetration of foreign capital into Ethiopia. His influence at the court of Menelik was very significant, especially in questions of external politics.
In 1880 Alfred Ilg went as far as the River Baro (C. Keller, Alfred Ilg. Sein Leben und Wirken alsschweizerischer Kulterbote in Abessinien. Frauenfeld -- Leipzig, 1918).
3 K: Dutchman Jan Maria Schuver made a trip to this region in 1881-1882 (see: J. M. Schuver, Reisen in oberen Nilgebiet. Erlebnisse und Beobactunguen auf der Wasserscheide zwischenBlauen und Weissen Nil and der agyptisch-abessinischen Grenzlandern, 1881 und 1882, Gotha, 1883).
4 B: A distinguished military leader of Menelik.
5 K: Ras Gobana (1817-1889) subdued the Galla tribes for Menelik. He went as far as Bure on the River Baro in 1886.
6 K: The Galla tribes (who call themselves "Oromo"), arrived from the south in the sixteenth century and settled in the central, western and, partially, in the north-western regions of Ethiopia. At the present time, they number about five million. The Galla language is related to the Cushitic group. They partially mixed with the Amharas and adopted Christianity. In the eastern regions, where their basic occupation is cattle-breeding, Gallas profess Islam.
However, they still preserve many vestiges of more primitive religious beliefs. See: G.M. Huntingford. The Galla of Ethiopia. The Kingdom of Kaffa and Janjero, London, 1955 (Ethnographical Survey of Africa. North-Eastern Africa, part II).
7 B: Before this I petitioned the commander of the Russian Red Cross Detachment, General Shvedov, for permission to undertake a journey to Kaffa. But the Emperor categorically refused, saying that to let me go there would be to doom me to certain death, and he didn't want me to die through any fault of his.
8 K: Dajazmatch, see section on Military Hierarchy: "full general or lieutenant general, commander either of his own army or of a detachment of the emperor, of a negus or of a ras."
9 B: For details about equipment, packing, and loading, see Appendix 1.
10 B: Lady.
11 K: Zawditu was a daughter of Menelik II. From 1916-1930 she was empress of Ethiopia.
12 B: Head of an administrative district.
13 K: Ras, see section on Military Hierarchy: "field marshal, independent commander of the army of his region or of one of the armies of the emperor or of a negus."
14 K: Taitu, the wife of Menelik II, had significant political influence (see the section on the Emperor's Family).
15 B: A duty paid in kind, consisting of what the inhabitants furnish as provisions and forage to all who travel with the permission or under the orders of the Emperor.
16 B: Flat round pancakes, which serve as a substitute for bread.
17 B: An intoxicating drink made from honey.
18 B: A drink like the Russian "kvas," made from sugar.
19 K: See the section on Abyssinian Clothing.
20 K: Here he means the valley of the River Omo (its upper reaches). Also see note 46.
21 K: Zara Yakob (Constantin I) ruled from 1434-1468. Under him, Medieval Ethiopia attained the apogee of power, since Zara Yakob was able to, although with cruel means, achieve the unification of the country.
22 B: A large earthenware pitcher.
23 B: "Mouth of the negus" -- chief judge.
24 K: Fitaurari, see section on Military Hierarchy: "major general, leader of either a separate army or one of the detachments of the emperor, a negus, a ras, or a dajazmatch. "
25 B: Empress.
26 B: Home of a woman; in translation "bedroom."
27 K: Danakils are nomad cattle-breeders who inhabit the Danakil Desert and the sea coast of Eritrea (the northern part of the region of Harar, the eastern regions of Wollo and Tigre). Their language, Afar, belongs to the Cushitic group. Their general population is about three hundred twenty thousand. Their religion is Islam.
28 B: Military rank. [K: Balambaras, see section on Military Hierarchy: "commandant. Literally translated 'leader where there is no fort'; corresponds to captain."]
29 K: Sidamo is the collective name of a series of peoples of Ethiopia.
30 K: Kanyazmatch, see section on Military Hierarchy: "colonel, leader of a detachment."
31 K: Azzaj, see section on Military Hierarchy: "court marshalls or those who govern estates."
32 B: Civetta viverra.
33 B: The traveller Bianchi [K: G. Bianchi, Alla terra dei Galla. Narrazione della spedizione Bianchi in Africa nell'1879-1880, Milano, 1884 (second edition 1886)] in his works claims that civets are kept in special yards with furances built in them and from superstition they do not show them to Europeans. I never came across such yards, and I doubt the truth of this story.
34 B: The chief of the market; literally "chief of mud."
35 B: Abyssinian catechism.
36 K: C. Mondon-Vidailhet, the author of several scientific works (and likewise of many newspaper articles) about the languages of Ethiopia, arrived there in 1892. He soon became "state councillor of the emperor of Ethiopia" (see the section on the Emperor's Family).
37 B: Likamakos is a court rank. The main function of a likamakos is to stand under a red umbrella in the attire of the negus during a battle, while the negus in simple attire, having mixed with the soldiers, takes part in the battle.
38 B: An uket is a unit of weight the quantity of which varies with the kind of goods. An uket of gold is lighter than a uket of musk, which is lighter than an uket of ivory.
39 B: Military rank.
40 B: Court rank.
41 B: Court rank.
42 B: Evil elephant.
43 B: Military rank.
44 K: The Geez language, now a dead language, is related to the Southern Semitic branch of the Semitic group of the Semitic-Hamitic family of languages. From the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries it was the literary and cultural language of Ethiopia.
45 K: At the time of his first journey, A.K. Bulatovich mistakenly supposed that the Gibye River (a tributary of the River Omo) forms the upper reaches of the Sobat River, unites with the Baro River and then flows west. In reality, the Omo and the Baro do not unite. The Omo flows into Lake Rudolf, and the Baro and the Pibor River, flowingtogether, form the Sobat River.
46 K: V. Bottego succeeded in going to Lake Rudolph from the east and in proving that the River Omo flows into it. Then he went as far as the valley of the Sobat River. In 1897 hewas killed by local residents. For information on his second expedition see: L. Vannutelli and C. Citerni, Seconda spedizione Bottego. L'Omo, Milano, 1899; I.I. Bok, "Successes of Europeans in the Eastern Half of Africa," News of the Russian Geographical Society [Izvestiya Russkogo geograpficheskogo obshchestva], vol. 35, 1899, issue 5, pages 473-474. About Bottego, see: A. Lavagetto, La vita eroica del capitano Bottego, Milano, 1935.
47 K: The brothers Antoine (1810-1897) and Arnaud Mishel (1815-1893) D'Abbadie. Over the course of a 12-year (1837-1848) stay in Ethiopia, they gathered much valuable information about the geography and ethnography of this country and published it in accounts of their journeys.
For the areas visited by Bulatovich, especially important is Antoine d'Abbadie, Geographie d'Ethiopie. Ce que j'ai entendu faisant suite a ce que j'ai vue, volume 1, Paris, 1890; Arnaud d'Abbadie, Douze ans de sejour dans la Haute Ethiopie (Abyssinie), volume 1, Paris, 1868.
48 K: See note 45.
49 B: Brayera anthelmintica.
50 B: Ficus daro.
51 B: Cordia abyssinica.
52 B: Rhamnus prinoides.
53 B: Phynehopetalum montanum.
54 S: Tef is a type of very small diameter grain (smaller than sorghum). It is the basis for injera, the staple food of Ethiopia. Native to Ethiopia, it is now also being grown in the American Mid-West and is used to make a flour which is sold in many health stores. (Thanks to Zemen Lebne-Dengel).
55 S: Dagussa is slightly larger than tef in diameter. It is used to make the drink tella.
56 B: Enchot -- also a rootcrop, with the leaves of the water lily, very sweet and tasty.
57 B: Echinops giganteus.
58 B: They are captured with traps (large pits, covered with leaves). Some surpass the size of lions. Their hair is dark brown, almost black, with clear , small completely black spots.
59 B: For more details see the chapter "Population of the South-West Regions of Ethiopia."
60 K: Bulatovich uses a transcription system which is now dated. Thus he writes "amara" instead of "amkhara", "amarinskiy" language instead of "amarskiy," "khushity" instead of "kushity."
61 K: Problems of the settlement of Ethiopia and the classification of languages are very complex and up untilnow cannot be considered to be definitively resolved. At the present-day level of knowledge, the majority of scholars agree that in the Medieval period the country was settled by tribes which spoke Sudanese languages. Then with the arrival of conquerors -- Hamitic, mainly Cushitic tribes which held the commanding position -- began the process of mixing of languages. As a result of this, Hamitic languages dominated. Still later there appeared in Ethiopia immigrants from South-West Arabia, bringing with them the Sabean dialect of the Southern Arabic language, i.e. a Semitic langugae. They subdued the country, as a result of which the semitization of the local dialects began and the cushitization of the language of the new-comers. Thus, the Amharic language, now the most wide-spread language in Ehtiopia, ought to be defined as "a Semitic language on a Hamitic base," i.e. an organically integral Semito-Hamitic language.
As regards Cushitic languagess, they differ from other Hamitic languages, for example the Galla, Somali and others. The languages of the Sidamo tribes (Gonga, Gunza, Gimirra, Kaffa and others) belong to them. Formerly they were considered one group, in wich was included the languages of Yamma, Sidamo, Ometo, Gimiro, Kaffa, Mao, and Shinasha. However, now the classification of M.M. Moreno is recognized ass correct. It distinguishes groups: Sidamo (Sidamo, Kombatta, Hadiya, Alaba, Darasa), Gimirra (Gimirra, Maji), Ometo (Wolamo, Basketo and others), Kaffa. See: E. Cerulli, "Peoples of South-West Ethiopia and its Borderland," London, 1956 (Ethnographic Survey of Africa. North-Eastern Africa, part 3), p. 87. One must emphasize one should not, in any case, identify linguistic classification with anthropological. They do not at all coincide. The present-day population of Ethiopia arise as a result of the mixing of various ethnic elements: Ethiopian, Berber and Negro.
62 K: Gran "the Left-Handed," is the nick-name of Ahmed ibn Ibrahim, who in 1527 invaded Ethiopia at the head of Galla tribes. Only with great difficulty did NegusLebna Dangel succed in repelling the invasion of the enemy and defending the independence of the country.
63 B: A large rectangular piece of white cotton material, which is thrown on the shoulders.
64 S: There is no simple English equivalent of the Russian word "sal'nik." Found in the abdomen of a sheep, "white fat" is a paraffin-like substance which is basically like fat, but with a higher melting point. It looks like roundedagregates of white spheres. (Thanks to Alexander Chaihorsky for this information. He became familiar with "sal'nik" as an explorer in Northern Mongolia.)
65 K: By "republican system" the author means communal-tribal system.
66 K: About the luba system (more precisely, gada) which up until now has still been insufficiently studied, see for more detail: D.A. Olderogge, "Population and social system," in the collection Abyssinia, Moscow and Leningrad, 1936, pages 116-123.
67 K: For more detail regarding Kaffa, see With the Armies of Menelik and also the introduction [Katsnelson's] to this book.
68 K: Under the heading of "Negroes," A.K. Bulatovich unites quite different tribes and peoples. For instnace, the
Gobo, more precisely Jimma-Gobo, is one of the Galla tribes; likewise to the Cushites also belongs Gimirra, which is in the group of Sidamo peoples. As regards Bako and Gamba, in spite of the significant language differences, they are counted as belonging to the Western Sidamo group of Ometo peoples, with which their common culture unites them. In general, these tribes are little known (E. Cerulli, "Peoples of South-West Ethiopia and its Borderland," page 96). Only comparatively recently did there appear a detailed description of the Ometo people in the first volume of the series Peoples of Southern Ethiopia: "Volker Sud-Athiopiens. Ergebnisse der Frobenius Expedition 1950-52 und 1954-56," volume 1. "Altvolker Sud-Athiopiens," hrsg. von Ad. E. Jensen, Stuttgart, 1959. Suro or Shuro and likewise Masanko belong to the number of tribes which speak languages of the solitary Suri-Surma-Mekan group, which sometimes are brought together with languages of the Murle tribes, in so far as these tribes have some generalcultural features in common (A.N. Tucker and M.A. Bryan, Non-Bantu Languages of North-Eastern Africa, London, 1956).
69 K: The assumption of A.K. Bulatovich regarding the fact that these tribes belong to the Shillukam, i.e. Nilotic, ismistaken. See note 65.
70 B: See Appendix No. 4.
71 B: The inhabitant of Gojjam differs from the Shoan with a more industrious character. He also is more proud and vain. The Shoan is more warlike that the Gojjam and less hot tempered.
72 K: This is not true. In ancient times, up until the conversion to Christianity, polytheism predominated in the kingdom of Aksum. As regards Judaism, it began to spread later, basically at the time of the christianization of thecountry (M. Rodinson, "Sur la Question des 'influences juives' en Ethiopie," Ethiopian Studies, Manchester, 1963, pages 11-19.).
73 K: In reality, the literature of Ethoipia, in particular the folklore of its different peoples and tirbes, is quite rich and varied. See: E. Cerulli, Storia della letteratura etiopica, Milano, 1956; Golden Land. Stories, legends, proverbs and tales of Ethiopia, [Zolotaya zemlya. Skazki, legendy, poslovitsy i pogovorki Efiopii], edited by E.B. Gankina, Moscow, 1960.
74 B: The masanka is a single-stirnged insturment. They play it with a bow made of hiar, holding the masanka in the left hand, with the long part below, against the chest.
75 K: About the way of life of the peoples of Ethiopia, in particular the Amhara, for more detail see: M.V. Rayt, Peoples of Ethiopia, [Narody Efiopii], Moscow, 1965.
76 B: Drinks of the Abyssinians. Tej is made from honey, dissolved in cold water. To it they add leaves from the gesho tree, which serves as a substitute for hops. This is a very strong drink. Tella is made from barley, also with gesho leaves.
77 B: The bagana is a wooden multi-stringed lyre. They play it while sitting, holding i between the knees and both arms. Abyssinians assert that it is the lyre of David.
78 B: By the way, it is interesting to note the means that the emperor resorted to in order to put this little coin intocirculation. In the palace he built a shop where one an buy bread, injera, candles, vodka, mead, wine, and meat, where one can drink coffee and eat. In order to force his retinue to use the shop, he often went there himself, gave some money and forced them to buy something edible that was eaten or drunk here. Now the shop is in full swing.
There are several coinages of the Maria Theresa taler, and the Abyssinians are extremely discrimating about them. Although one year appears on all of them, even on those which are minted at the present time, the Abyssiniansdistinguish between talers with straight and hooked noses, not accepting those with a face obliterated and insufficient relief in the bow on the shoulder. In some places they prefer old talers and in others they prefer newones. It weights 27 grams and is minted in Vienna.
79 B: Now these borders are disputed by Menelik.
80 K: Ras Bituaded (more precisely Bituadded) the highest court title, evidently was already established in the ourteenth century. Originally there were two bituadeds, who occupied the places to the right and left of the king. Their position was so significant that the son of the king gave himself this title. Subsequently, the number of bituadeds, trusted high officials, increased.
81 K: Here and farther on, A.K. Bulatovich tells legends which do not have anything in common with historical reality and which evidently arose in the surroundings of the Ethiopian clergy, who wanted to sanctify the origin of the Ethiopian state and of the ruling dynasty with the help of Biblic tradition.
82 K: J. Bruce (1730-1794), a well-known traveller in Africa, was Scottish in origin. He explored the coast of the Red Sea and Ethiopia, and spent time in the Sudan and other countries. IN 1770 he discovered Lake Tana and the sourceof the Blue Nile. His description of his travels has been published many times (J. Bruce, Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile in the Years 1768-1773, volumes 1-8, third edition, Edinburgh, 1813).
83 K: A.K. Bulatovich uses an unusual transciption system for proper names. He is talking about the Hamitic king Zu-Nuvas, who adopted Judaism under the name of Joseph.
84 K: The project of Lalibala is explained by the desire to deprive Egypt of water, to doom it to starvation.
85 K: Jeronimo Lobo, Historia de Etiopia, Coimbre, 1669.
86 K: Fatsilidas ruled from 1632 to 1667.
87 K: Ioas I (Adyam Sagad III) ruled from 1755 to 1769.
88 K: The Iju tride, more precisely the Ittu, belongs to the eastern Galla.
89 K: Tewodros II reigned frmo 1855-1868. The politics of Tewodros II, which were directed toward the centralization of the country, aroused the discontent of the feudal lords and acted against the colonization intentions of England. Having seized on the murder of Consul Cameron and of several Europeans, the English in 1867 disembarked in the Port of Zeila and besieged Fort Mardalu, where Tewodros II was seeking refuge. Seeing no escape from the situation that had arisen, he shot himself.
90 K: Yohannes IV (1868-1889) was a protege of England. Incited by England, he went to war with the Mahdists and was killed in battle.
91 K: Sahle Selassie, the ruler of Shoa (1813-1847), was the grandfather of Menelik II.
92 K: C.E.X. Rochet d'Hericourt, a French traveller, twice visited Ethiopia and gave special attention to the region of Shoa. (See his works: Voyage sur la cote orientale de la Mer Rouge dans la pays d'Adal et le royaume de Choa, Paris, 1841; Second voyage sur les deux rives de la Mer Rouge dans le pays des Adels et le royaume de Choa, Paris1846).
93 K: Meridazmatch, more precisely meredazmatch (from meredi "he who compels to tremble" and azmatch "warrior") is a title which was conferred on the commander of the reserve corps.
94 K: Ato Ayale (Haile Mikael) was the son of Sahle Selassie and uncle of Menelik II.
95 K: Menelik II was born on June 18, 1844.
96 K: Abagach Bezabe was a pretender to the throne of Shoa. Abagach, "father of the army on campaign," is a title which was given to the commander of the army or the ruler of a border region (in this case it corresponded excellently with "margrave.") Bezabe was appointed by Emperor Tewodros. Regarding these events, see: Guebre Sellassie, Chronique du regne de Menelik II, roi des rois d'Ethiopie, volume 1, Paris, 1930, pages 86-106.
97 K: D. Porro and his fellow travellers were killed in the spring of 1886 on order of the ruler of Harar. Chiarini
died in 1979.
98 K: For the official diplomatic documents see: C. Rossetti, Storia diplomatica dell'Etiopia durante il regno di Menelik II, Torino, 1910.
99 K: Regarding the organization of the army in Ethiopia at the turn of the century, see: K. Arnoldi, Military sketches of Ethiopia [Voennye ocherki Abissinii], St. Petersburg, 1908 (the author often cites the books of A.K. Bulatovich).
100 B: Rewards for military disinction include advancement in the ranks and outward signs of distinction: gold trim on thesaber, gold miters on the head, lemds made of the hide of a lion and velvety with gold decorations; horses and mules with rich trappings.
101 B: In battle the Abyssinians yell entire recitatives, in a hoarse, shrill voice, passionately. For instance: "Koretcha Farda! Aba Sanchayo! Enye Zaraf! Enye Geday! Enye Yaba Danya Lydzh! Anchi man nesh? Enye Yaaba Danya Ashker! Enye Gabro Mariam!" In translation this would be: "Horse of the hero! Killer! I am a robber! I am a killer! I am the child of Aba Danyi -- 'Father of Justice' (the name of Menelik's horse). Who are you? I am the servant of Aba Danya! I am Gebra Maryam (the name of the person talking)."
102 B: For example, one need only by chance come upon hay-mowing of Menelik, and from all side they begin to cry: "Ba Menelik! Ba Menelik Amlak!" Which means, "In the name of Menelik! By the God of Menelik! You must not go there!"
103 B: The litigants always begin their speech with the following formula: "Egziabeer asayo, Krystos Iamalaketo." Which means "May God bear witness to you and may Jesus Christ testify."
104 B: It is remarkable that insulting someone with words is punished very severely, and that among the Abyssinians there are almost no swear words. "Who is his father" is considered a very strong expression and "Afer Bela" which means "Eat sand" is the height of swearing.
105 K: Taitu married Menelik in April 1883.
106 K: Kebra Nagest which means "Glory of the Kings" is a collection of historical and church legends and traditions,of the apocrypha, etc. Here appears the well-known story about King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, from which supposedly the dynasty of Ethiopian kings arose. Mentions of this collection date back to the fifteenth century. (See, Kebra Nagast czyli Chwala Krolow Abysinii. Fragmenty, Warsaw, 1956, page 8).
107 K: Captain Clochette died in 1897 in Gore.
Selections from the introduction to Katsnelson's edition of Bulatovich's Ethiopian books -- With the Armies of Menelik II, edited by I. S. Katsnelson of the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R."Science" Publishing House Chief Editorial Staff of Oriental LiteratureMoscow 1971.
[Numbers refer to footnotes at the end of this document]
Africa has hidden and still hides much that is unknown, unexplored, enigmatic. Even today there are regions of Africawhere the foot of an explorer has never trod. Kaffa (now one of the provinces of Ethiopia) remained a legendary country up until the very end of the last century -- "African Tibet" -- having fenced itself off from the outside world. Foreigners were strictly forbidden access to this country. Even now, we know less about it, its history, morals, customs, and the language of the inhabitants and the neighboring tribes to the south and west than about any other region of Ethiopia. The first traveller and explorer who crossed Kaffa from end to end and compiled a detailed description of it was the Russian officer Alexander Xavieryevich Bulatovich.
The life path of A.X. Bulatovich was truly unusual. Having begun in one of the most exclusive educational institutions of tsarist Russia and in the fashionable salons of Petersburg, in the circle of brilliant guard officers, he dashes across deserts, mountains, and plains of the least known regions of Ethiopia; across the fields of battle and hills of Manchuria; a solitary monastic cell and monasteries of Mount Athos embroiled in fanatic scholastic arguments; across First World War trenches soaked with blood, saturated with stench; and tragically, senselessly comes to an abrupt end in a little hamlet in the Ukraine.
The posthumous fate of A.X. Bulatovich was no less amazing.
At the very end of the last century and before the First World War, he repeatedly found himself at the center of attention of the Russian, and, at times, also of the foreign press. But then he was completely forgotten.
To a considerable extent, the cause of this was the October Revolution and events of succeeding years. But, however it came about, up until recent times almost nothing was known about A.X. Bulatovich. Even the year of his death given in the second edition of the Big Soviet Encyclopedia -- "around 1910" -- was incorrect.1 His discoveries and observations did not receive full appreciation. In any case, no one who wrote about him indicated that he was in fact the first man to cross Kaffa.1
Only now, when searches have been begun in the archives and some people who knew A.X. Bulatovich or were related to him have responded,3 his image has become more distinct and the great significance of his journeys and of his scientific work is becoming clearer.
However, this research is still far from complete. Much apparently needs to be amplified, and also, possibly to be made more accurate. For instance, we now know almost nothing about the last three to four years of his life, and the circumstances of his death are known only in the most general way. We will try here to sum up briefly all that we have learned about him in recent years.
A.X. Bulatovich was born September 26, 1870 in the city of Orel4. At that time, the 143rd Dorogobuzhskiy Regiment, which was stationed there, was commanded by his father, Major-General Xavier Vikentyevich Bulatovich, who was descended from hereditary nobles of Grodno Province. X.V. Bulatovich died around 1873, leaving a young widow, Evgeniya Andreyevna, with three children.
The childhood years of Alexander Xavieryevich and his two sisters were spent at their wealthy estate known as "Lutsikovka" in Markovskaya Volost, Lebedinskiy District, Kharkov Province.5 Already at that time some traits of his character and world view took shape: courage, persistence, passionate love for his native land, and deep religious piety.
In 1884, Evgeniya Andreyevna moved with the children to Petersburg. It had come time to send them to school. The girls entered the Smolny Institute. The elder daughter soon died of typhus. A.X. Bulatovich, who was then 14, began to attend the preparatory classes of the Alexandrovskiy Lyceum -- one of the most exclusive educational institutions.
Having passed the entrance examinations, A.X. Bulatovich was admitted to the Lyceum. His only difficulty on the exam, strange as it may seem, was in geography, which he just barely passed.
Subsequently -- right up to graduation -- he studied excellently, advancing with prizes from class to class.7 Future diplomats and high government officials received their preparation at this Lyceum. Therefore, the pupils mainly studied foreign languages -- French, English, and German -- and jurisprudence. In other words, A.X. Bulatovich received an education in the humanities, but that didn't prevent him from becoming a capable mathematician, as indicated by the geodesic and cartographic surveys he conducted.
In 1891 A.X. Bulatovich finished the Alexandrovskiy Lyceum as one of the best students and went to work in May of that same year in "His Majesty's Personal Office in the Department of Institutions of the Empress Mary," which directed educational and beneficial institutions. He was awarded the rank of the ninth class, which is "titular councillor." However, a civil career did not entice him; and following the family tradition, he submitted an application and enlisted on May 28, 1891 as a "private with the rights of having volunteered" in the Life-Guard Hussar Regiment of the Second Cavalry Division, which was one of the most aristocratic regiments. Only a select few could become officers of such a regiment.
After a year and three months, August 16, 1892, A.X. Bulatovich received his first officer's rank -- cornet. After another year, he made his way onto the fencing team, formed under the command of the Horse Grenadier Guard Regiment, with the task of becoming a fencing instructor. He stayed here for a half-year, then on April 10, 1894, was sent back to his regiment, where he was first appointed assistant to the head, and then, on December 24, 1895, head of the regimental training detachment.
Although A.X. Bulatovich was taught in a civil educational institution, he acquired riding skills in childhood and youth; and through persistent training at riding school and at race courses, he became an excellent horseman -- possibly one of the best of that time. That was not an easy accomplishment: Russian cavalry and Cossack regiments always had a reputation as first-class horsemen. According to trainer I.S. Gatash, who served in the stable of A.X. Bulatovich, (quoted by V.A. Borisov who found the old man), "For Alexander Xavieryevich, the horse he couldn't tame didn't exist."
Thus, interrupted only by races and other horse competitions, the years of service in the regiment passed rather quietly, until events which at first glance did not have any relation to A.X. Bulatovich suddenly broke the settled tenor of life of the capable, prospering officer.
At the end of the nineteenth century the colonial division of Africa among England, France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal was completed. Only Ethiopia had preserved its independence, together with the almost unexplored regions adjacent to it on the south and southwest, plus some difficult-to-reach regions of the central part of the continent. Italy, which had joined in the division of Africa later than the other European imperialistic powers, felt that it had been done out of its fair share. Only at the end of the 1880s did it settle in Somalia and Eritrea.
Now, according to the plan of its leading circles, should come the turn of neighboring Ethiopia.
[Katsnelson describes the events leading up to the Battle of Adowa]
In Russia, a collection of goods was organized to help the sick and wounded Ethiopian soldiers [from the Battle of Adowa], and a detachment of the Red Cross was sent. The decision to do this was made in March 1896, and 100,000 rubles was allocated for expenses. Aside from the leader -- Major General N.K. Shvedov -- 61 men joined.
It is hard to say what directly prompted A.X. Bulatovich to apply for inclusion in this detachment to which he was assigned March 26, 1896. One of his fellow travellers, F.E. Krindach, in a book that was published in two editions but which is now very rare, Russian Cavalryman in Abyssinia (second edition, St. Petersburg 1898), "dedicated to the description of the 350-verst trek, outstanding in difficulty and brilliant in accomplishment, which was carried out under the most extraordinary circumstances by Lieutenant A.X. Bulatovich in April 1896," considered it necessary in the introduction "first of all to establish the fact that A.X. Bulatovich was assigned to the detachment at his own request, as a private person."
A.X. Bulatovich strove to prepare himself as thoroughly as possible for the jouney. We know about this not only from his first book, but also from other sources. For instance, Professor V.V. Bolotov, historian of the early church, a man with great and deep knowledge in this area, having mastered many new and ancient eastern lanuages, including Geez and Amharic, on March 27, 1986 wrote "... there appeared an Abyssinian Hierodeacon Gebra Hrystos [Servant of Christ] and told me that he wanted me to see Hussar Guard Bulatovich who is going to Abyssinia. It turned out that Bulatovich wanted to know which grammar and dictionary of the Amharic language to get..." Apprently, his progress was considerable, because a year later when A.X. Bulatovich had extended his theoretical preparation and supplemented it with practice, this same V.V. Bolotov reported to another addressee "... in March there was no one in Petersburg who knew Amharic better than I did. Now Life-Guard Kornet A.X. Bulatovich, who has returned from Abyssinia, speaks and even writes some in this language."
The trip to Ethiopia turned out to be longer than anticipated, due to obstacles put in their way by Italians who hadn't given up hope of consolidating their position in Ethiopia. Naturally, any help to Ethiopia, even medical, was undesirable to them.
In any case, the detachment was not only denied entrance to the port at Massawa, despite previously obtained permission, but a cruiser was even dispatched to keep watch on the steamer with the Russian doctors. Therefore, N.K. Shvedov and his companions sailed from Alexandria to Jibuti, where they arrived on April 18, 1896, as indicated in the book written by F.E. Krindach, who we now let tell the story, since Bulatovich himself doesn't mention anywhere the events of the first days of his stay in Africa.
While the caravan was being formed, the state of affairs38 made it necessary to send ahead to Harar an energetic, reliable person, in view of the fact that the rainy season was rapidly approaching. One of the prerequisites for successfully completing this mission was to travel as fast as possible. To carry out this difficult and dangerous mission, they asked for a volunteer. Kornet (now Lieutenant) A.X. Bulatovich accepted the offer. The small Jibuti settlement buzzed with the most diverse rumors and speculation relating to the possible outcome of undertaking such a journey, which would be immense for a European. Not knowing the language and the local conditions, being totally unprepared from this method of travel -- on camelback -- and the change of climate -- all this justified the skepticism of the local residents, the majority of whom did not admit the possibility of a successful outcome.
It is 350-370 versts [233-247 miles] from Jibuti to Harar. Almost the whole extent of the route runs along very mountainous and, in part, arid desert, and permits only travel with a pack animal.39
The decision to dispatch A.X. Bulatovich as a courier was finally made on April 21. Taking a minimal quantity of the simplest provisions and only one waterskin of water, A.X. Bulatovich set out on the route, in spite of the fact that on the way he could count on only two springs, of which one was hot and mineral.
On that very day, April 21, at 10 in the evening, A.X. Bulatovich, accompanied by two guides, left Jibuti. Even though he had only had a few hours to practice riding on "the ship of the desert," on the first leg of the journey he went for 20 hours without stopping. By the end of the following day, they had covered 100 kilometers. It is impossible here to describe all the troubles of this fatiguing and monotonous journey. The distance of greater than 350 versts [233 miles] A.X. Bulatovich managed in three days and 18 hours, in other words about 6-18 hours faster than professional native couriers. In the course of 90 hours spent on the road, the travellers rested no more than 14. No European up until A.X. Bulatovich ever achieved such brilliant results. This trek "made an enormous impression on the inhabitants of Ethiopia. Bulatovich became a legendary figure. The author [that is F.E. Krindach] had occasion to hear enthusiastic accounts of this trek."
However, Alexander Xavierevich couldn't stay long in Harar. The detachment, having arrived after him, intended to continue on the way farther to Entotto when orders came from the Negus to wait. Since the rainy season was approaching, which threatened many complications to making further progress, N.K. Shvedov decided once again to send A.X. Bulatovich ahead, so he could in person explain the situation and have Menelik change his order.
"The immense crossing from Harar to Entotto, about 700 versts [466 miles], despite the difficulty of the route, Bulatovich accomplished in eight days. It turned out that Abyissinians, accustomed to Europeans who came to Abyssinia for the most part chasing after personal profit, couldn't understand the unselfish purpose of this detachment. Therefore, several rases were opposed to the arrival of our detachment in Entotto.
Bulatovich's explanation not only convinced Menelik to expedite the permission, but even inspired him with impatience for the rapid arrival of the detachment. ...
On July 12 the detachment reached the residence of the Negus and was met by Bulatovich...42
The completion of this mission nearly cost Bulatovich his life. The road from Harrar to Entotto went through the Danakil Desert. The small caravan (Bulatovich was accompanied by seven or eight men) was set upon by a band of Danakil bandits who took all their supplies and mules. By chance, on June 2, 1896, they were met by N.S. Leontiev, who was going from Entotto to Harrar.
This was the first meeting of two Russian travellers in Africa. Judging by the words of N.S. Leontiev's apologist Yu. L. Yelts, Leontiev furnished A.X. Bulatovich with all necessities and gave him letters of recommendation to Frenchmen who were living in Entotto in the service of Menelik.
A description of the work of the Red Cross Detachment is a separate subject which has been sufficently covered in works and publications which were sited above, and in the stories of individuals who were members of it.
Even several Englishmen, who were forced to accept the presence of Russians in Ethiopia, couldn't help but note that the mission sent to them rendered "unselfishly and with good will" help to the wounded. At the end of October 1896, the detachment curtailed its work and in the first days of January of the following year, they returend to Petersburg.
As for A.X. Bulatovich, through N.K. Shvedov, he submitted an application for an excursion "for a better understanding of the circumstances in Abyssinia at the time the Red Cross Detachment left the country" and permission to carry out a journey to little known and unknown regions of western Ethoipia. He also wanted to go into Kaffa, which was living out its last days of independent existence. This request was supported by the Chief of the Asiatic Bureau Chief of Staff Lieutenant General A. P. Protseko, who noted the energy of A.X. Bulatovich in striving to as much as possible become better acquainted with the coutnry, and his knowledge of their language and also that the information collected would be very helpful for the further development of relations with Ethiopia.
Menelik categorically forebade crossing the borders of his realm, since this would mean unavoidable death for the traveller.
On Oct. 28, 1986 A.X. Bulatovich was received by the Negus. Having obtained all necessary permissions, on the following day he left the capital and with his fellow travellers set out for the River Baro. This expedition lasted three months. He returned on Feb. 1, 1987 and then just two weeks later on Feb. 13 again set out on a trip, this time to Lekemti, and then to Handek -- a region in the middle course of the River Angar and its left tribuaries and of the valley of the River Didessa. Here A.X. Bulatovich took part in an elephant hunt and occupied himself with learning about the country, its people and the natural conditions. On his return on March 27, 1897, there was prepared for him a ceremonial reception at the residence of the Negus, who on the folowing day gave him a private audience. Leaving the capital on March 25, A.X. Bulatovich arrived at Harar on April 4, in Jibuti on April 16, from where on April 21 he sailed to Europe.
On December 6, 1896, A.X. Bulatovich was promoted to lieutenant with seniority dating back to August 4, and for help of the Red Cross Detachment; and for his successful expendition he was awared the Order of Anna in the third degree.
The material he had gathered in the time of his trip, he put into the form of a book, entitled From Entotto to the River Baro. An account of a journey in north-western regions of the Ethiopian Empire and published it on orders of the General Staff. It appeared in September of that same year 1897. Thus A.X. Bulatovich wrote it in a very short time.
[Katsnelson discusses reactions to that book and then goes over details of the second expedition and book, and mentions his third expedition as well.]
Returning to Russia [after the third expedition], A.X. Bulatovich intended to pass through the Sudan and Egypt. But the English Resident in Egypt, Lord Cromer, at first absolutely refused to grant permission for passage, claiming this was because of "disorder in of the region." However, the true reason was different: Harrington, the representative of England in Addis Ababa, "had already for a long time considered Staff-Rotmister Bulatovich as a very energetic and knowledgeable man whom the English should beware of." Naturally, they didn't want to let into the Sudan this wise, experienced, and observant traveller, who could bring back for the use of Ethiopia any information he gathered. Only under pressure of the Russian general consul in Cairo, T.S. Koyander, was Lord Cromer forced to give permission for he passage of A.X. Bulatovich through the Sudan. But it was already too late. He set out for his native land by the route he had taken previously, intending to visit Jerusalem and then Iran and Kurdistan.115 However, he was forbidden to travel to both of these countries by the Minister of War, A.N. Kuropatkin.116
Stopping by at his mother's residence in Lutsikovka, A.X. Bulatovich returned to Petersburg at the beginning of May 1900. But this time, too, his stay in his native land turned out to be brief -- even shorter than before. On June 23, 1900, in accord with personal instructions of the Tsar to the Chief of Staff, he was sent to Port Arthur to the command of the Commander-in-Chief of Kwantung Province, for attachment to one of the cavalry or Cossack units operating in China.117 What gave rise to this assignment is not known. Probably, the hurried departure prevented A.X. Bulatovich from reworking and publishing his notes from his third journey that he had brought back with him from Ethiopia. Subsequently, he never returned to those notes, and one must suppose that a significant part of them perished together with the rest of his papers.
At the completion of military activities, on July 8, 1901, A.X. Bulatovich returned to his regiment. After a month, he was assigned, at first temporarily, and then permanently,118 to command the Fifth Squadron. On April 14, 1902, he was promoted to the rank of "rotmister" [Captain of cavalry]. He was also awarded the Order of Anna of the Second Degree with Swords and the Order of Saint Valdimir of the Fourth Degree with Swords and a Bow.119 On August 21, 1902, there followed permission to accept and wear the Order of the Legion of Honor120 that had been conferred on him by the French government. At that time, too, he finished, with first-class grades, an accelerated course at the First Pavloskiy War College.
A brilliant military career awaited the intelligent, talented, courageous guard officer. But after returning from Manchuria, the life of A.X. Bulatovich suddenly changed. The events of the last decade of his life are still far from clear. A few separate episodes and dates show through more or less distinctly, but even those were established only recently. It remains to hope that subsequent research will be crowned with success, and we will be able to get a fuller and clearer idea of this unusual man.
December 18, 1902, A.X. Bulatovich was released from command of the squadron; and, as of January 27, 1903, he was discharged into the reserves "for family reasons."121 Apparently, it was at this time that he made the decision to take monastic vows.
What led to this act that amazed not only all of fashionable Petersburg, but even his closest friends? We can only guess. A deeply religious man, perfectly honest, kind, inquisitive, he fell under the influence of a preacher and mystic who was well-known at that time -- Father Ioann of the Kronstadt Cathedral. By other accounts, he was oppressed by unreciprocated feelings for the daughter of the commander of the the regiment, Prince Vassilchikov. Undoubtedly, his experiences in the field of battle, the bloody brutalities of war played a large role.
Apparently, it is more correct to speak of the sum of all these causes, but, for the persent, it is impossible to give a precise answer.
After taking monastic vows (probably in 1906, because on March 30, 1906, he retired from the army), "Father Anthony," as A.X. Bulatovich now called himself, set out for the "Holy Mountain" of Athos. According to his own account, up until 1911 his life was "secluded, silent, solitary." He was entirely occupied with his own religious activities, and never went beyond the walls of the monastery. "I kept myself away from all business and did not know what happened in the outside world, for I read absolutely no journals nor newspapers." In 1910 he was made a hieromonk, and at the very beginning of 1911, Father Anthony set out for the fourth and last time to Ethiopia.
In 1898 by Lake Rudolph, Alexander Xavieryevich had found a badly wounded boy named "Vaska," had nursed him back to health, and then had taken him back to Russia, baptized him, taught him Russian, and looked after his education. According to M.X. Orbeliani, Vaska was a "kind, gentle, and unfortunate boy," who had suffered much from his mutilation. Entering the monastery, A.X. Bulatovich took Vaska with him as a lay brother, but Vaska suffered from constant mockeries. Finally, when an opportunity arose, Bulatovich sent him back to his native land. Missing his ward, after a three year separation, Father Anthony, in his own words, "wanted to see him and give him the Holy Eucharist." So Father Anthony went for a year to Ethiopia.122 What he did there, aside from "giving the Holy Eucharist," was determined quite recently from the report of the charge d'affaires in Ethiopia B. Chemerzin to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in December 15, 1911.123 It appears that it was not just anxieties about saving the soul of Vaska that attracted Father Anthony to Ethiopia.
On his arrival in Ethiopia, Father Anthony was sick for the first two months.
At this time, the Emperor Menelik had been severely ill for a long while. He didn't appear at official ceremonies and received no one, which had led to the spread of rumors that he had really died and that his death was being concealed by those in court circles.
Using his old connections and his relationship with the Emperor, Father Anthony not only obtained an audience but even got permission to "treat" the royal patient. Praying, Anthony sprinkled and massaged the body of the Emperor with holy water and oil, and applied wonder-working icons. But, of course, he did not succeed in bringing about any improvement in Menilek's health. As a result, B. Chemerzin notes with irony, it was established that the Emperor was alive and that all the rumors that someone who resembled him had been substituted for him were absolutely false.
Next, A.X. Bulatovich tried to found in Ethiopia a Russian Orthodox ecclesiastical mission and an Athonite monastery. On an island of Lake "Khorshale" [Lake Shala?] he wanted to found a monastery with a school, where the children of local inhabitants could get an elementary education. He assumed that the money to do this could be collected by voluntary contributions, of which he himself would collect the greater part. However, the impracticality of such projects and the lack of sympathy both in Ethiopia and also at Mount Athos for the proposed undertaking prevented its accomplishment. On Dec. 8, 1911, A.X. Bulatovich left Addis Ababa forever, "taking with him only hopes and not a single firm pledge from the wealthy," as B. Chemerzin expressed it.
Unfortunately, our knowledge of this fourth and last visit by the Russian traveller to the country he so loved is limited to this general description. Almost all documents of the period of Menilek's reign were destroyed at the time of the war with Italy in 1936. As for the papers of the Russian Embassy, in 1919 tsarist diplomats gave them to the French Embassy "for safekeeping"; and in 1936, they were taken to Paris, where they were burned along with other archives in June 1940.124
In 1912-13, A.X. Bulatovich got caught up in a conflict between two groups of Athonite monks, known as the "Name Fighters" and the "Name Praisers."125 (Father Anthony sided with the latter.) This affair took such a scandalous turn that Father Anthony was forced to leave Mount Athos. The scandal at Mount Athos received wide publicity, and from January 1913 stories about the mutinous monks and their leader appeared from time to time in newspapers. Over the course of 1913-14, the name of A.X. Bulatovich didn't leave the pages of the press, giving occasion for all kinds of wild tales, often based on gossip and the desire of petty reporters to snatch fees.126
Having taken on the role of defender of the "Name Praisers," A.X. Bulatovich was caught up in a storm of activity: he wrote and published polemical articles and brochures, sent letters to his followers, recommended that they stand fast and not give in to their opponents. The Synod assigned him to residence in the Pokrovskiy Monastery in Moscow. But, instead, he lived first with his sister, M.X. Orbeliani, in Petersburg, until he attracted the attention of the police to her and her husband; then at his mother's house in Sumy, and next at Lutsikovka.
As soon as the war began, A.S. Bulatovich left Lutsikovka. On August 21, 1914, he went to Sumy and from there to Moscow and Petrograd and obtained an appointment in the active army. "Holy wars are defensive. They are God's work. In them miracles of bravery appear. In offensive wars, there are few such miracles," he wrote a year before that. From 1914 to 1917, Father Anthony was a priest in the 16th Advanced Detachment of the Red Cross.
Judging by the stories of people who met him, he here once again exhibited "miracles of bravery," in spite of his age, his eye disease, and the cassock of an ecclesiastical pastor.
After the end of the war and the disbandment of his detachment, in Feb. 1918, A.X. Bulatovich sent requests from Moscow to Patriarch Tikhon and the Synod for permission to retire to the quiet of the Pokrovskiy Monastery, to which he had been assigned before, because his situation was "quite disastrous."
The request was granted, but without the right of religious service, apparently because of the "heretical" beliefs in which the applicant continued to persist.
In the summer of 1918, A.X. Bulatovich applied to the "Holy Council" with a new petition, for removal of this restriction and for transfer to the Athonite St. Andrew Monastery in Petrograd.
The answer to this request is still unknown, but could scarecely have been positive, because at the end of November 1918 Tikhon and the Synod looked into the application of "the excommunciated Hieromonk Anthony (Bulatovich)," who "professing 'God-making' reverence for the Name of the Lord, rather than agreeing to revere the Name of the Lord relatively, as today's church authority requires, has separated himself from all spirital contact, henceforth until the Holy Synod has held a trial on the substance of the matter." The issue was passed along to the authority of the Moscow Diocese for "further consideration."
Apparently, not waiting for a decision, A.X. Bulatovich preferred to go to Lutsikovka, where he spent the last year of his life, about which almost nothing is known. Only very recently was it established that he was murdered by bandits on the night of December 5-6, 1919.
The great and terrible years of revolution obliterated the memory of A.S. Bulatovich. And even more, the fanatical Father Anthony almost completely overshadowed the courageous traveller of unknown African lands.127
Indeed, this affair that absorbed all the thoughts and motivated all the deeds of A.X. Bulatovich at the end of his life seems to us unwarranted and even bad. But it was also a manifestation of discontent with existing reality, of inner discord. Raised and educated in certain surroundings, he could not surmount the errors and prejudices of his time and his circle. However, even amid these errors, let it be said that honor, straigthforwardness, stoicism, sincerity, and courage were in the highest degree inherent in A.X. Bulatovich. Namely these characteristics, in combination with ardent patriotism and sense of duty, impelled the young hussar officer to accomplish in four years the deeds that glorified his name and placed him in the ranks of the most outstanding Russian travellers.
[Ts.G.V.I.A. and G.I.A.L.O. are references to Soviet Archives.]
1. Bolshaya Sovietskaya Entsiklopediya, second edition, volume 6, p. 258.
2. For example: M.P. Zbrodskaya, Russian Travellers in Africa, Moscow, 1955, pp. 62-66; M.V. Rayt, "Russian Expeditions to Ethiopia in the Middle of the 19th and the 20th Centuries and their Ethnographic Materials" in African Ethnographic Collection, volume 1, Moscow, 1956, pp. 254-263.
3. V.A. Borisov worked strenuously on such searches, and graciously shared the results with me. The sister of A.X. Bulatovich, Mary Xavieryevna Orbeliani, who now lives in Canada, answered and sent her recollections of childhood and youth, which contain information which, naturally, no other source could provide. S. A. Tsvetkov, who from 1913-14 was secretary of A.X. Bulatovich, and who died several years ago in Moscow, turned over some interesting material. G. F. Pugach, president of the Belopolsky Regional Office of the Society for the Preservation of Natural and Cultural Monuments, let me know the exact date of death of A.X. Bulatovich.
4. Service Records of Staff- and Ober- Officers of the Life Guard Hussar Regiment on January 1, 1900 (Ts.G.V.I.A., P. S. 330-463, line 149). In any case, he was christened in Orel in the church of the 143rd Dorogobuzhskiy Regiment. See: GIALO, f. 11, op. 1, d. 1223, line 76. In the reference sent from there (No. 499 from Dec. 9, 1962), apparently, the year of birth -- 1871 -- was erroneously indicated. Compare, in the same source, d. 1185, lines 12-13; Ts.G.I.A. U.S.S.R., f. 1343, op. 17, d. 6777, line 12.
5. Now the Lutsykovsky Village Soviet of the Belopolsky Region of the Sumskiy Area ("Sumsky Area, Administrative-Territorial Divisions," Sumy, 1966, p. 15).
6. G.I.A.L.O., f. 11, op. 1, d. 1166, line 258 -- petition of E. A. Bulatovich.
7. G.I.A.L.O., f. 11, op. 1, d. 441, lines 10, 188-189, 264, 351, 415, 441.
8. G.I.A.L.O., f. 11, op. 1, d. 1223, lines 77, 80.
9. Ts.G.V.I.A., P.S. 330-463. Service Records of Staff- and Ober-Officers of the Life Guard Hussar Regiment on January 1, 1900, lines 149-155. A copy of the service record of A.X. Bulatovich is likewise in the files of the commander of the armies of the Kwantung Region (Ts.G.V.I.A., P.S. 308-178). Data about his military service were determined from these records, which go as far as 1900. Dates are given in the "old style."
10. "Government Herald" from August 19, 1892. [Note that this is only a selected portion of Katsnelson's introductory article. The original footnote numbers are retained here.]
38. This "state of affairs" consisted of obstacles created by the English, who were likewise striving to prevent the establishment of direct contacts between Russia and Ethiopia.
For example, they in every way made it difficult to obtain camels for the caravan. The railroad from Jibuti to Addis Ababa was then only beginning to be built.
39. F.E. Krindach, Russian Cavalryman in Abyssinia. From Jibuti to Harar, St. Petersburg, 1898, pp. 12-13.
42. Note of the president of the Russian Society of the Red Cross M.P. Kaufman (AVPR, Political Archives, document 2015, lines 2-9).
115. Letter of A.X. Bulatovich from February 8, 1900 (Ts.G.V.I.A., f. 400, op. 261/911, d. 92/1897, chapter 4,
116. Telegram of A.N. Kuropatkina to the Russian Consul in Jerusalem from April 4 1900 (Ibid., line 11).
117. In accord with the reply of the General Staff from June 23, 1900 for Number 33673 (Ts.G.V.I.A., P. S. 308-178).
118. Ts.G.V.I.A., f. 3591, op. 1, d. 157. Order of the Life Guard Hussar Regiment from December 8, 1901.
119. "Record of Rotmisters of the Guard Cavalry by Seniority on May 1, 1902," Saint Petersburg, 1902, p. 23.
120. Reference of the State Regional Kharkov Archive, No. 15 (187), from June 16, 1962.
121. Ts.G.V.I.A., f. 3591, op. 1, d. 160, line 57.
122. Hieromonk Anthony (Bulatovich), My Conflict with the 'Name-Fighters' on the Holy Mountain, Petrograd, 1917, pp. 10-11.
123. A.V.P.R., "Greek Department," d. 678.
124. Czeslaw Jesman, The Russians in Ethiopia, London, 1958, p. 150.
125. The Synod in a decision from August 27, 1913 for Number 7644 conferred on the adherents of this "heresy" the designation "Name Idolators" (Ts.G.I.A. U.S.S.R., f. 797, op. 86, d. 59, line 80.)
126. Namely in the supplement to Russian Word -- the weekly of Spark (Number 9 for 1914) there appeared photographs of Alexander Ksaveryevich with captions, which were used by I. Ilf and E. Petrov in Twelve Chairs as the source for the story of "Hussar-Heretic" Count Aleksey Bulanov.
127. Thus, for example, A.X. Bulatovich isn't even mentioned in an essay on the history of geographical discoveries in Ethiopia by N.M. Karatayev. See: Abyssinia (Ethiopia). Collection of Articles, Leningrad, 1936, pp. 1-83.