292 Route 3.
The chief wares brought to Bulak are gum, ostrich-feathers, ivory,
and senna-leaves. The best quality of gum, called 'samgh kordofani',
comes from Kordofan, while the inferior 'talh' is from Sennar. The
ostrich-feathers come from Kordofan, where the birds are reared, and
also from Wadai and Dar-Fur. The feathers are carefully tied up in
bundles , and well peppered to protect them against moths. They are
sold by weight, a rotl (pound) of good and pure white feathers realising
as much as 30!. The'black and grey feathers are much less expensive.
After reaching Europe they require to be washed before being used.
Of late years it has become usual to pick out the finest feathers, and to
offer them for sale to travellers at high prices, even as far up as Assuan.
At Bulak, and at the moorings of Embdbeh, farther to the N.,
the traveller will find the dahabiyehs, or boats fitted up for the
voyage to Upper Egypt. At the N. end of the town is situated
the Arsenal, founded in 1835, with a manufactory of weapons at¬
tached to it. Machinery for Egyptian manufactories arriving from
Europe is put together at Bulak before being sent to its final
destination , and all repairs of machinery are also executed here.
Bulak also boasts of a large Iron Foundry, an Ecole des Arts et
Metiers, a Paper Manufactory, a House of Correction for Women,
a Lunatic Asylum, and the Government Printing Office, none of
which establishments will interest ordinary travellers.
The Viceregal Printing Office (el-matba'a; the director is Hosein Bey,
and the chief reader is the learned Shekh ed-Dasuki, whose reputation ex¬
tends to Europe, and who speaks a little French) was founded by Jloham-
med 'Ali, chiefly for the purpose of printing and disseminating transla¬
tions of European scientific works of all kinds , and particularly school-
books. The introduction of printing had at first to contend against serious
prejudices, as many of the JIuslims feared that the name of God would be
defiled by contact with impure substances used in the process. To this day,
indeed, the Koran is preferred in a written form ; but, thanks to the per¬
severance of'the government, the prejudice against other printed books has
now almost entirely disappeared, and there are few of the many modern
institutions recently introduced into Egypt which have thriven so well
as this printing-office. Within the last fifty years there have been printed
here , according to the government statistics, 418,375 copies of 226 works
(393 vols.) of various kinds, without reckoning works printed at the cost
of private individuals.
The number of private printing-offices is also increasing from year to
year, the most important being that of 3Iustafa Wahabi, where works
published by a scientific society (gem'iyet el-ma'arif) are printed. Litho¬
graphy is also beginning to come into use, but the execution is often
Of the works printed in Egypt 1000-4000 copies are usually struck off,
and the fact that the whole of them are generally sold within a few years
affords a proof that the taste for literature in the East is again on the
increase. Some works, such as Bokhari's collection of traditions, have
an immense sale. Energetic attempts are still being made to render
European works accessible to Orientals in the form of translations, chiefly
from the French. Thus, among the legal works, may be mentioned a
translation of the Code Napoleon, among the geographical the works of
3Ialte Brun, and among the historical the Life of Charles XII. by Vol¬
taire ; and a few years ago the libretto of Offenbach's Belle Helene was
even thought worthy of being printed in Arabic at the government print¬
ing-office of Bulak. — At the same time the national literature has not
been neglected, and a number of valuable early Arabian works have
recently been brought into notice by the agency of the printing-press,
such as the historical works of Ibn el-Athir (comp. p. 199), those of Ma-
krizi (p. 199), those of El-Makkari, the writer of Spanish history (17th
cent.), and the 'Book of the Songs' by Abulfarag el-Isbahdni (d. 966).