236 Route 3. CAIRO. Religious Festivals.
in the Ezbekiyeh, next door to the Cafe de la Bourse. The last also keeps
a stock of good cigars, generally of Dutch or German manufacture. Good
cigars cost 10 fr. per hundred and good tobacco 40 fr. per okka (p. 28).
Arabian Bazaars, see pp. 23, 251. Near the end of the Muski is a
shop kept by a Nubian, who sells various Egyptian and Nubian articles,
suitable for presents. Thus an ostrich-egg costs 3 fr. and upwards, a
specimen of the fakaka, or ball-fish (p. 84) 3-5 fr., a Nubian lance 1 fr.,
bow with six arrows 12-15 fr., small fiddle 12 fr., square fiddle 20 fr.,
leopard skin 15-30 fr. (the skins, however, are insufficiently tanned, and
almost entirely stripped of their hair). Unless the proprietor of this shop
happens to be in want of money, it is difficult to obtain anything from
him at a reasonable price, and lie sometimes closes his shop entirely. —
Sticks and whips of Hippopotamus Skin are sold by a Pole (who speaks a
little Italian) near the Roman Catholic church.
Arabian Woodwork is sold by "Parvis, an Italian, on the left side of
a court near the entrance to the Muski. Strangers should not fail to visit
his interesting workshop, which they may do without making any pur¬
chase. Similar objects may be obtained at a more moderate rate from
Venisio, opposite Shepheard's Hotel, and Bertini, adjoining the Hotel du
Nil; but their workmanship is scarcely so artistic as that of Parvis.
The dates of the Religious Festivals of the Mohammedans, of which
Cairo is the principal scene, cannot easily be given according to the Euro¬
pean computation of time, owing to the variable character of the Arabian
lunar year. Calendars reducing the Mohammedan and Coptic reckoning
of time to the European system may, however, be obtained at any book¬
The first month of the Arabian year is the Moharrem, the first ten
days of which ('ashr), and particularly the 10th (ydm 'ashura), are con¬
sidered holy. On these days alms are distributed, and amulets purchased.
Mothers, even of the upper classes, carry their children on their should¬
ers, or cause them to be carried, through the streets, and sew into the
children's caps the copper-coins presented to them by passers-by. On the
10th Moharrem, the highly revered 'Ashura day, on which Adam and Eve
are said first to have met after their expulsion from Paradise, on which
Noah is said to have left the ark, and on which Husen, the grandson of
the prophet, fell as a martyr to his religion at the battle of Kerbela, the
Gami' Hasanen (p. 292) is visited by a vast concourse of religious de¬
votees, whose riotous proceedings had better not be inspected except from
a carriage, especially if ladies are of the party. Troops of Persians in
long white robes parade the streets, cutting themselves with swords in
the forehead until the blood streams down and stains their snowy gar¬
ments. Two boys, representing Hasan and Husen, are also led through
the streets on horseback, with blood-stained clothes. Strangers may also
obtain admission to the Persian mosque, in which the orgies are continued,
by special introduction. Towards evening a great zikr of whirling der¬
vishes takes place here (p. 239).
At the end of Safar, the second month, or at the beginning of Rabi'
el-awwel, the third', the Mecca Caravan (p. 148) returns home, its ap¬
proach being announced by outriders. Some of the faithful who go to
meet the procession proceed as far as three days' journey, but most of
them await its arrival at the Birket el-IIagg (p. 335), or pilgrims' lake.
Detached groups of pilgrims occasionally return before the rest of the
cavalcade, and their arrival is always signalised by the blowing of trum¬
pets and beating of drums. A pyramidal wooden erection, called the
Mahmal, hung with beautifully embroidered stuffs, and carried by a
camel, accompanies the procession as a symbol of royalty. The interior
of the Mahmal is empty, and to the outside of it are attached two copies
of the Koran. The procession usually enters the city by the Bdb en-Nasr
(p. 280). In l'/2-2 hrs. it reaches the Rumeleh (p. 262), the large open
space in front of the citadel, from which last twelve cannon-shots are
fired as a salute. The cortege then sweeps round the Rumeleh, and fin¬
ally enters the citadel by the Bab el-Wezir (PI. E, 2). The departure of
he pilgrims (p. 238) is attended with similar ceremonies.