Page:The Perfumed Garden - Burton - 1886.djvu/11

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NOTES OF THE TRANSLATOR
RESPECTING THE
CHEIKH NEFZAOUI[1]


The name of the Cheikh has become known to posterity as the author of this work, which is the only one attributed to him.

In spite of the subject-matter of the book and the manifold errors found in it, and caused by the negligence and ignorance of the copyists, it is manifest that this treatise comes from the pen of a man of great erudition, who had a better knowledge in general of literature and medicine than is commonly found with Arabs.

According to the historical notice contained in the first, leaves of the manuscript, and notwithstanding the apparent error respecting the name of the Bey who was reigning in Tunis, it may be presumed that this work was written in the beginning of the sixth century, about the year 925 of the Hegira.

As regards the birthplace of the author, it may be taken for granted, considering that the Arabs habitually joined the name of their birthplace to their own, that he was born at Nefzaoua,[2] a town situated in the district of

  1. Note in the autograph edition, 1876. — The reader will bear in mind in perusing this work that the remarks and notes by the eminent translator were written before 1850, when Algiers was but little known, and Kabylia in particular not at all. He will therefore not be surprised to find that some slight details arc not on a level with the knowledge acquired since.
  2. The district of Nefzaoua contains many isolated villages, all on level ground, and surrounded by palm trees; with large reservoirs in their midst. The pilgrims believe that the land is called Nefzaoua, because there are in it thousand "zaoua" (a chapel in which a marabout is buried), and it is alleged that the name was first El Afoun Zaouia, later corrupted into Nefzaoua. But this Arabian etymology does not appear to be correct, as according to the Arabian historians the names of the localities are older than the establishment of Islamism. The town of Nefzaoua is surrounded by a wall built of stones and bricks; having six gateways, one mosque, baths, and a market; in the environs are many wells and gardens.