Can anyone tell me which Arabic word(s) in Ibn Battuta's Travels were translated (in 1929) as "Negrolands" and "negroes" (317-318) and "blacks" (323-324) in reference to people of Mali?
Ibn Battuta, Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354, tr. and ed. H. A. R. Gibb, 2 vols. (London: Broadway House, 1929) in Internet Medieval Sourcebook at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/1354-ibnbattuta.html.
A student asked, and I can't find an easy answer.
Thanks in advance (on or off list),
Prof. Sue Peabody
Washington State University
Dear Sue Peabody,
The Arabic words translated are "Bilad al-Sudan" ("Land of the Blacks") and "Sudan". As other Arabic geographers, Ibn Battuta used them to mention Sahelian Western Africa and people of West Africa.
"Bilad al-Sudan" and "Sudan" were usually used to mention specifically Sahelian West Africa and its inhabitants, as opposed to the "Bilad al-Zanj" (Eastern Africa, roughly from Southern Somalia to Mozambique), "Bilad al-Habasha" ("Land of the Abyssinians" i.e. The Horn) and "Bilad al-Nuba" (Nubia). Arabic geographers roughly divided African people and regions with those four very vague names (sometimes adding a few others).
As a start, see "Sūdān" in Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition.
See also: J.O. HUNWICK, “A REGION OF THE MIND: MEDIEVAL ARAB VIEWS OF AFRICAN GEOGRAPHY AND ETHNOGRAPHY AND THEIR LEGACY.” Sudanic Africa 16 (2005): 103–36.
In French, also a good start: J.-C. Ducène, « Conceptualisation des espaces sahéliens chez les auteurs arabes du Moyen Âge », Afriques, 04 | 2013, https://journals.openedition.org/afriques/1114
See you in Paris in June.
C. Patrick Burrowes
The phrase commonly used then was “Bilad al-Sudan", which translates to "land of the Blacks".
Many thanks to all who replied, on and off list. I'm grateful to this community!