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as those of the Cairo bazars, making a great display of rich stuffs, and the red-and-black pottery of Assyut, and so on. I did not see one. The only articles we saw which any European would think of buying were brought down to the open-air stalls on the river bank.
The approach to Assyut by river is decidedly imposing. When the Nile is full it is very wide, and the barrage is huge and superb. It looks like a cross between a bridge and the Falls of Niagara. It is nearly 3,000 feet long and 41 feet high, and has a road over 180 feet wide on the top of it, just below the junction of the Nile with the great Ibrahimiya Canal. It was built to fill the canal and is passed by a splendid lock, like the lock at the Saoult Ste. Marie between the great lakes in Canada. Even after the immense Assuan dam the grandeur of the engineering here strikes every one who beholds it. Wherever you see a well-kept garden in Egypt you know that it belongs to an Englishman. I knew that these sleek, semi-tropical gardens, which we saw as we steamed up to the wharf, with a procession of dahabeahs moored below them, must belong to the engineers in charge of the dam, before the dragoman tendered the information. It is a mile or more from these villas to the city proper, and that part of Assyut is in the making.
There is a rice-field for example, which is not sanitary, and we came upon fellahin ploughing inundation lands before we got to the bazar, the city of minarets, which we had seen miles down the stream. There was a tramway but no tram; there was a hotel, of which only the garden was open; there was a chemist's shop which called itself, the “Confiden Pharmacy and Drug-store,” which pleased me almost as much as the announcement on the window next door, “Victor Talking Machines" --seemingly the most unnecessary invention in the world. There was a shop close by which also pleased me very much: it had four tiers of easy chairs hanging upside down on its walls. If I had not been in a hurry I should have gone in and priced several of the largest to see if the man would have taken them down with a boathook, as drapers in the suburbs hook down made-up ties for
ladies. One Assyut tradesman advertised the Devil's Pictures, not addressed, I imagine, to bridge-players. As we passed up to the bazar we were pestered with people who wished to sell us sticks and fly-switches of ebony inlaid with ivory, and rhinoceros-hide sticks made of hippopotamus hide. People wish to sell you such unreasonable things. What could an Englishman do with dried cucumbers on strings? or pink lumps in vinegar? or celluloid necklaces ? or kohl-bottles in the middle of pink pin-cushions? Compared with these the man who sat cutting his toe-nails with a tailor's shears on a table was a reasonable being. He was very dignified about it, and his feet were as well-kept as a lady's hands. Nor was there anything really odd about the boy who was weaving magenta silk stripes into a cloth with his legs through a hole in the floor. These are the commonplaces of life in Assyut.
I could not find the famous bath of Assyut alluded to by Murray, with antique granite pillars supporting its central dome, and pavements and a fountain of white marble. This bath is of great beauty, and I was anxious to compare it with the bath of the Emir Beshtak in Cairo.
Assyut is nowadays obsessed with shawls, the black-andwhite mosquito nets spotted with tin spangles, which German Venuses film their
their shoulders when they want to look languishing. When we rode up to the rock tomb, called the Stable of Antar (Antar being the Roland of Arab romances), and the tomb of Kheti, we could hardly get to them for the battalions of little black girls stitching the spangles on to the mosquito nets, who could have made a much better business by picking up the mummy-linen which strewed the hill-side. The whole river-bank by the steamer wharf was fluttering with a display of their wares by shawl-vendors. They could not keep still. They angled with their shawls with as many crafty throws as a fly-fisherman. They made the horizon their footstool for the benefit of kodakers.
Farther down the bank was a long row of stalls, on which people sold indiscreet dressing-gowns, Nile-mud pottery, the inevitable walking sticks, ink-pots for kohl, brass-ware and antiquities from the tombs. Some of the brass-ware was quite
charming; but dearer than in the bazars of Cairo. The pottery sellers were more interesting. They had a larger margin to go upon-nothing on their stall had cost them more than about twopence halfpenny, though they talked about five shillings and seven and a half shillings. “Sir, you buy coffee-service," said one—"coffee-pot, milk-pot, sugar-pot, cups—all made of Nile mud.” This was evidently a supreme attraction. When I did not buy these he offered me scratchers to use after my bath, something like a bread rasp. If I had wanted one I could have had it with a crocodile or a kneeling camel on the top. My skin is too healthy to need all this for friction. Some of the vases had a very pleasing hieroglyphic effect. Everybody looked at everything, and finally bought pipe-heads at two a penny.
All the little red pipe-bowls they use in Egypt for water-pipes coine from Assyut.
The best stalls were those spread on the ground by two humble antiquity sellers. Assyut is sufficiently far from the Pyramids and Thebes not to have developed the antiquity business. These men had genuine objects, mostly rather broken, which they had picked up in the tombs-little gods, mummy beads, and so on.
But it was almost impossible to attend to any one except the shawl-sellers; they were so persistent. " This one, one pound and a half.” It was of course the commonest of the common. I turned up my nose at it. "Well, then, I give it to you for one pound ten shillings." " I think you want better one. This one three pounds and a half. Well, then, how much you give? Lady, how much you give it? Laster price. This vera beautiful, lady ; this vera handsone one. You not pay here. I meet you Shepherd's Bush.”
And so they persisted till the police drove them off with whips as a signal that it was time for the ship to start.
Cook's steamers exploit Assyut both going up and coming down, but Tel-el-Amarna and Abydos only on the return journey.
The monuments of Tel-el-Amarna are the records of one of the most interesting incidents in the history of Egypt.
Most tourists only see the remains of Akhnaton's Palace, consisting chiefly of a stucco floor painted with splendidly executed fish in conventionalised water. There are birds in the reeds above with a black-and-white sporting dog, presumably a setter, putting up ducks amid the fan-like clumps of lotus. The paintings remind me of the paintings you get on the walls of tombs, but done on the floor. Besides these, there were the usual prisoners with their elbows tied behind them, and mysterious representations of Akhnaton's sun-disk and rays, about which the dragomans talked so much that I did not understand them at all. I should much rather have ridden over to the site of the town, which is said to be wellexcavated and unusually complete. But the dragoman said there were no donkeys, which also prevented me from seeing the tombs of Tel-el-Amarna. These are highly interesting if nothing else is, for though the tomb of Akhnaton himself was rifled in time for his body, like those of the other Pharaohs, to be taken to Der-el-Bahari, there are some large and much decorated tombs of his courtiers, in which the heretic Pharaoh presents a grotesque figure.
He was so heretical that artists in his reign were ordered to paint people as they looked.
The dragoman restrained the indignation and ambitions of the tourists, who wished to see these tombs by giving the Tel-el-Amarna people a very bad character.
“ You want Denshawai incident ?” he said. “This the place for it.” This was, I suppose, put into his mind by seeing a man with a gun, who was after all only shooting a crow, which he thought the tourists would like to buy. There was nothing else to buy except scarab-moulds, which I bought, not knowing what they were, because they looked so genuine.
But if Tel-el-Amarna is unsatisfactory, Abydos is the most fitting crown to a voyage up the Nile.
If it is to be identified with This it is the most ancient of the known capitals of Egypt, for Menes of the first dynasty, who generally heads the list of the kings of Egypt, went from This to found his city of Memphis. It was also the most sacred city of Egypt, for here the head of Osiris