(8). Arabian Cafes. Story Tellers. Musicians. Singers, etc.
Arabian Cafes (kahwa) are frequented by the lower classes ex¬
clusively. The front generally consists of woodwork with a few open
arches. Outside the door runs a mastaba, or raised seat of stone or
brick, two or three feet in height and of about the same width,
covered with mats, and there are similar seats on two or three
sides of the interior. Coffee is served by the kahwegi at 1/i~i pias.
per cup (fingdn), and several nargllehs or shlshehs and gozehs (water-
pipes) are kept in readiness for the use of customers. The tumbdk,
a kind, of Persian tobacco, smoked in the latter is sometimes mixed
with the intoxicating hashish (hemp, Cannabis indica), the strong
and unmistakable smell of which is often perceptible even in the
street. The sale of hashish is now nominally prohibited in Egypt.
Story Tellers (who in private domestic circles are generally
women) still form a characteristic Oriental institution. Wherever
they make their appearance, whether in the public streets or the
coffee-house, in the densely peopled alleys of the large towns, in
the smallest country villages, or among the tents of the wandering
Arabs, they are sure to attract an attentive, easily pleased, and ex¬
ceedingly grateful crowd. The more sensational the tale, the better,
and the oftener is the narrator applauded with protracted cries of
'Aah', or 'Allah', or 'Allahu akbar 1'.
Most of the story-tellers belong to the so-called Sho'ara (sing.
Shd'ir), literally 'singers'. They are also known as 'Andtireh (sing.
'Antari) or Abu-Zldlyeh, according as their theme consists of tales
and romances from the history of 'Antar, a Beduin hero, or from
that of Abu Zed. Others again are called Mohadditin, i.e. narrators
of history, their province being the recital in prose of passages from
the history of Sultan Ez-Zahir Bibars, who reigned over Egypt in
1260-79 (p. xcvi). The entertainments of the lalf Uleh u Itleti
(thousand and one nights) are, however, no longer heard, as popular
superstition has branded this collection of tales as 'unlucky'. The
themes of the whole fraternity are too often of an immoral character.
Musicians by profession, called Alatiyeh (sing. Alati), are in¬
dispensable on every festive occasion. The usual instruments are
the rekk or tambourine with little bells, the nakkdreh or semi-
spherical tambourine, the zemr or hautbois, the tabl beledi or
drum, the tabl shdmi or kettle-drum, and the darabukeh, a kind
of funnel-shaped drum (generally made of earthenware, but some¬
times of wood inlaid with mother-of-pearl and tortoise-shell, with
a fish-skin stretched over the broad end), which last is accompanied
by the zummdra, a kind of double flute. A better class of instru¬
ments, used for chamber music, consists of the ndi, a kind of flute,
the kemengeh or two-stringed violin, the body of which consists of a
cocoa-nut shell, the rebdbeh, or one-stringed violin with a square
wooden body, the kdnun, a kind of zither with strings of sheep-