The Great Mosque, Damascus
DAMASCUS & ITS PEOPLE
MODERN LIFE IN SYRIA
Late of the British Syrian School, Damascus
LONDON: First Edition 1883
BRITISH WOMAN ACCOUNT of
DAMASCUS in 1882
with Description of
SYRIA & LEBANON
Fifteen Plate of Illustrations
from over 125 Years Ago
From Preface ...
DAMASCUS is one of the very few ancient cities of the world that still retain anything of their former greatness. Nineveh and Babylon are buried in ruins, and Tyre is now a small fishing village ; but Damascus, boasting of an antiquity of 4,000 years, is still a prosperous city, with a large, industrious and lively population. It has associations with great names in the past, and a busy, stirring life in the present ; it is a city of ancient art and of modern activity, peopled by men of various races and of various creeds, in themselves a study of more abiding interest than the blades,' the ` damasks ' and the ' roses ' with which the name of Damascus is commonly connected.
It is with the present that this little volume is mainly occupied. No attempt has been made to give any historical sketch of this long-surviving city my chief desire has been to awaken fresh interest in its present inhabitants, with many of whom a residence of seven years in Damascus has given me opportunities of forming an intimate acquaintance. If reference has been made to the past, it is mainly in connection -with those Bible narratives which the scenery and customs of an Eastern country continually serve to illustrate. For obvious reasons the names of persons connected with incidents in the following chapters have been suppressed or replaced by names equally common in that country.
Acknowledgment is due to the Rev. Dr. Jessup, of Beyrout, from whose interesting book on ` The Women of Syria,' a few translations of Arabic poetry have been taken. Nor must we fail to remember those at whose desire we took up our residence in Damascus. It would be ungrateful not to mention the unceasing kindness of Mr. and Mrs. Mott and their sisters, who have devoted their lives and their means to the welfare of Syria, and with whom we have been closely associated in missionary work for upwards of twelve years. To the Syrian people, among whom we have found such pleasure and interest in working, we have become warmly attached, and but for repeated failures in health we might have been among them still.
Woman with Horn
View from Salihiya.—Population.—Grave of Forty Saints. —The Kûrds.—Myrtle Groves.—Flowers .—Military Hospital. — Diligence Office. — Prisons. — Post-office. — Seraglia. — Bazaars. — Street Dogs. — Street Rubbish. —Churches.—British Syrian Schools.—Houses.—Furniture. — The Hananiya. — Police. — Law-courts. —Bribery. — City Gates. — Door-keepers. — Weddings. — Funerals.—Mourning.
THE MOHAMMEDAN QUARTER
The Mohammedan Quarter quiet and secluded.—Unhappiness of Moslem Home-life.—Habit of Swearing.—Avoidance of Outward Defilement.—Respect and Love for the Koran.— Sects among Mohammedans.—Their Fear of Bells.--Objection to take Animal Life.—The Great Mosque.—The Seven Great Prophets.—Dancing Dervishes.—Ramadan.—Pilgrimage to Mecca.—The Feasts of Bairam.
THE JEWISH QUARTER
Formed in the Time of Ahab.—The Butcher's Shop.—The Jews Natives of Damascus, and not of Foreign Ex-r traction. — Fine Houses and fine Dresses. — Jewish Bankers and Money-changers.—Usury.'—Employments of Women.—Observance of their Sabbath.—Women not admitted to the Synagogue.—Feasts : Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, Purim.—Jewish Schools for Boys, but none for Girls.—The Levites.—The Rabbis.
THE CHRISTIAN QUARTER
Salutations.—Houses.—Cooking.—Housekeeping.—Use of Housetop. — Feast-days. — Letters. — Greek Church. — Dress.—Employments of Women and Men.
The Bazaars crowded.—Street Straight.—A Shop.—Khan for Silk Goods.—Bargaining.—Linen-drapers' Bazaar.—Shoemakers' Quarter. — Public Factories. — Cabinet Bazaar.— Saddlers' Bazaar. — Shops for Brass-ware. — Stalls for Mecca Curiosities. —Want of Neatness in Finish and Execution.—The Bazaars at Night.—The Watchmen.—Slave-market.--Men standing for Hire.--Caravan from Mecca.
Gentle and Teachable, but Obstinate.—Jewesses often interested in the New Testament.—Many given to Swearing.— Amusements.—Story-telling.--' The Girl and the Kadi.' — Children unaccustomed to Obey. — Dress. — Native Prejudices against Education.—Early Marriages among Moslems. — Damascus Children ignorant of Country Life. —A Greek Baptism.—Jewish and Moslem Circumcisions.
BETROTHAL AND MARRIAGE
Contempt for Women. — A Moslem Wedding. — The Mother's Duty to find Wives for her Sons.—A Protestant Betrothal and Marriage.—A Greek Wedding.
THE COUNTRY ROUND DAMASCUS
The Jews and Jobar.—The People of the Greek Church and Saidnaya.—`Going to Meet the Monk.'—Excursions to the Fijeh and along the Barada (Abana).—T he Canals. —The Wady.—The Lakes.—Apricot Harvest at Caboon. —Burzeh, the Village of Abraham, the Friend.
Journey to Nebk.—The Hoopoe.—The Turtle-dove.—The Stork.—The Gecko. —Gazelles. — Kiteifeh. —Muleteers, Star-gazers.—Difficulties in Housekeeping.—The Ibex.—Kindness of People in Nebk.—The Men, Traders with distant Towns.—The Women, Active and Industrious.—A Moslem School taught by a Woman.—Contrast between Nebk, Deir Atiya and Yabrûd.—Marketing in Yabrûd. — Madder and Ishnumn. — Watch-towers. — Khans.
A RIDE THROUGH THE DESERT
Preparations for Journey to Palmyra.—Journey through the Dowh.—The Jerboa.—Underground Water Canal.—Kiryatein.—The Great Dowh.—Arrival at Palmyra or Tadmor.—Sulphurous Spring. Present Inhabitants of Palmyra.—The Ruins.—Temple of the Sun.— Colonnades.—Moslems.—' Ghuzus.'—Return to Kiryatein.—A Natural Vapour-bath.—Upper and Lower Beth-horon.Sunday at Deir Atiya.—System of Irrigation.—Maalûla.
No Arabic Word exactly signifying ' Farm.'—Almost all Villagers Farmers.—Difficulties in Farming from want of Capital.—Many Kinds of Farm Land.—The Granaries of Syria.—Zahleh.—Rain. —The Bukaa.—Ploughing.— Sowing.—Cold and Snow.
Grass on Housetops. -- The Vines.—Spring Flowers. — Young Corn.—Tares.—Horses and Cattle at Grass.—Missionary Work at Zahleh.—Muallaka.—Noah's Tomb. —Journey to Baalbec.—Ruins.—Return to Damascus.—Young Locusts.
Times for Harvest differ according to Altitude.—Rain in Harvest rare.—Reapers and Gleaners.—Threshing and Threshing -floors. — Winnowing. — Treading' out the Straw.—Store-houses and Store-pits.—The Locusts.
THE SHEPHERD AND THE FLOCK
The Meedan. —Corn-dealers.— An Eastern Shepherd.—Syrian Sheep.—Pasture.—Noonday Rest.—Obedience to Shepherds.—Shepherd's Care by Night and Day.—Pasture on the Mountains.—Dangers from Robbers and Wild Beasts.—Fattening the Sheep.
Tears of Mohammed.'—Vineyards. — Seventy Kinds of Grapes. —B'hamdoon. — Abundance of Grapes. — The Watchman. — Jackals. — Foxes. — Boars. — Bears.—Raisins .—Wine.—Dibs.—Arrack.
A VILLAGE HOME
Furniture.—Simple House Ornaments.—Eye-painting.—Sleeping Arrangements.—Tattooing.—Kitchen.—Second Visit.—Birth of a Baby-girl.—Great Sadness and quiet Resignation.—Third Visit .—Native Cookery .—The Baby. —The Evil Eye.—The Cradle.—Dress.—Swaddling.—Washing.—Management of Children.—Rejoicings at the Birth of a Boy.—Girls not counted.—Mothers-in-law and Daughters-in-law.
A DRUZE VILLAGE
Difference between Geramâna and an English Village.—Visit to Sheikh Faris.—Reception by the Sheikh, not by his Wife.—The Druze great Politicians.—Refreshments. —The Sitt.—Her Dress. —Divorce frequent.—Room prettily arranged.—No Church or Mosque.—Sacred Meeting on Thursday Evening.—Difficulty of Missionary Work among the Druze.—Olive Groves.
Olive Wood used for Fuel.—Olives largely eaten in Syria. —Olive Oil used in Cooking, especially during the Feasts.—The Olive Press.—Cedars and Palms rare, but Olive Trees very abundant though heavily taxed.—Old Olive Trees and young Shoots.—The Vale of Cedron.—Kafr Sheema.—Large Olive Groves in Phoenicia.—Soap Factories. — Blossoms. — Grafting.— Olive Harvests in Autumn.—Gleaning left for the Poor.
The Bedouin Mohammedans in Name.—Large Encampments.—Migrations.—Tents.—Occupations of Bedouin Women.—Hospitality.—The Bedouin Woman and the Lamb.—A Bedouin Baby.—Simple Food of the Bedouin. —Dress.—Weapons.—Riches in Flocks and Herds.—Camels.—The Sleib Arabs.—` Ghuzus.'—Blood Feuds.—Contempt for Agriculture .—Great Extent of Country through which they wander.—Their Objection to encamp near Babylon.
A RIDE ALONG THE SEA-SHORE
Beyrout.—View of the Town .—The British Syrian Training Institution.—Seller of Water Jars.—Beyrout Seashore.—Early Start for Sidon and Tyre.—Palm Trees. —Flowers.—Crossing the Damûr.—Neby Yûnas.—The `Great Fish.'—Sidon.—Ancient Tear Bottles.—Lamps. Orchards.—Sarepta.—Alexander's Causeway.—Tyre.—Door-key.—Ruins.—Fishermen.—Tyrian Dye.—Ancient Pools of Ras-il-Ain.—Mount Hermon.—Tomb of Hiram. —English School at Tyre.—Hasbeya.—British Syrian School.—View from Hermon.
RACES AND RELIGIONS
Arabic the Language of the Country.--Mohammedan Sects. Sunnites.—Metâwileh.—The Nûsairiya.—The Rev. Mr. Lyde.—The Bedouin Arabs.—The Druze.—The Christians.—The Greek Church.—Greek Catholics.—Maronites.—Priests and Monks wishing to become Protestants. —The Hauran Priest .—The Probationer.—Difficulties of Missionary Work among the Maronites, Jacobites, and Armenians.—The Jews.—Protestants and their Missions.
SUNDAY IN DAMASCUS
Early Services in Eastern Churches.—Sunday Market.—Native Protestant Service.—English Service.—Sunday Schools.
Bedouin Woman and Child
East Gate of Damascus
British Syrian School, Damascus
Distance View of Damascus
The Great Mosque, Damascus
Courtyard of a House in the Jewish Quarter
Woman Wearing the Izzar
The Great Khan
The Barada, the Ancient Abana
Country Men with Ibex Horn
Ruins of Tadmor
An Eastern Shepherd
Woman with Horn
Bedouin Woman and Child
A Seller of Water Jars
British Syrian School,
A Seller of Water Jars
Courtyard of a House
in the Jewish Quarter
Woman Wearing the
Ruins of Tadmor
Full leather binding rubbed at corners and edges, front hinges cracked but holding fine, slight bend on binding, school prize book-plate inside cover, foxing on early pages, otherwise book is in good condition. Very scarce and hard to find work.