Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/236

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2 26 Some Algerian Superstitions.

but who were compelled, not without a gallant struggle, to accept Islam when the Arabs overran North Africa.

Our researches into native surgery led us to traverse the massif of the Aures by different routes from south to north each year, and obliged us to stay for days together in very remote hamlets, where the Berber may be found as little altered by the French occupation of the country as in any part of Algeria ; we were also obliged to stay for some time among the Ouled Ziane so-called Arabs, a nomad people who wander with their flocks over the desert to the south west of the Aures during the winter, migrating to the northern slopes of these hills in summer, when the arid plains in the south will no longer support their goats and sheep.

The French administrators of the districts in which we stayed very kindly lent us the services of orderlies to assist us in procuring accommodation from the sheykhs (in whose houses we were always received as honoured guests) and to act as interpreters, for my own knowledge of Algerian Arabic, while sufficient for the ordinary needs of the traveller, is not such as to enable me to obtain intricate information from the natives, and I am ignorant of the Shawia Berber dialect.

The orderly who accompanied us among the Ouled Ziane was an Arab, while in the Aures proper we were accompanied by a Shawi orderly who was able to render us exceptional services in his native land. Both these orderlies, though speaking excellent French, were staunch followers of the Prophet and firm believers in the various superstitions of their people.

A few customs of the town population of Am Touta, on the western border of the Aures, which are mentioned in this paper were described to me by the Arab orderly ; those of the people of El Kantara (on the railway to the south west of the massif) and the Shawia and Ouled Ziane were obtained on the spot from the people themselves.