Imatges de pÓgina
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BRITIS TE

10 NO 1900

MUSEUM

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plains the water of the Nile; and in Nubia, where the current remains constantly sunk in its rocky bed, there is a succession of sakies or wheels, by which it is raised, and conducted over the adjoining fields. In this way a belt of cultivation, of about a mile in breadth, is perpetuated along the whole upper course of that great river.

In all the tropical and more arid regions, the prevailing grains are of inferior character, coarse and small,—rather, as Jobson says, like seeds than grains, and fitted less for bread than for paste or pottage. The dhourra is the most common, extending over all Eastern Africa; while millet in the west, and teff in Abyssinia, are productions nearly similar. In the latter country and Houssa, both wheat and rice are raised, but only in favourable situations, and for the tables of the more opulent. Perhaps the greatest exertion of agricultural industry is that bestowed upon the culture of the manioc, which forms the main article of food in Congo and some of the insular territories. Considerable care is required in rearing it, and cleaning the ground round the plants; after the root, which is the valuable part, has been dug up, it must be ground in a species of mill, and dried in small furnaces, before it can be used as flour. The process is represented in the accompanying plate.

Manufactures, in a country where men are contented with the simplest accommodations, cannot attain any high importance. There are, however, certain fine fabrics peculiar to Central Africa; of which the most general is cotton cloth, produced in several districts of a very beautiful texture, dyed blue with fine indigo, and receiving from the processes employed a very brilliant gloss. Leather in Houssa

is dressed and dyed in the same rich and soft style as in Morocco; and probably, in both cases, the manufacture is native. Mats, used both for sitting and sleeping on, are the staple manufacture in many parts of Western Africa. Gold and silver ornaments are made with some taste, and iron is generally fabricated, though with a varying and imperfect degree of skill.

The tribes of Africa have scarcely in any instance arrived at the first rudiments of maritime commerce. The circuit of that continent presents no spacious inlets of the sea,-no deep bays to cherish the growth of infant navigation. Even the great lines of rivercourse are little if at all subservient to the purposes of inland communication, but are often so situated as to obstruct the career of the traveller, who crosses them in canoes hollowed out of a single tree, or on slight and dangerous rafts. Almost all the commerce of Africa is carried on by land. Caravans, kafilas or coffles, cover all the routes, and connect the most distant extremities of the continent. These are formed by a union of travellers, an arrangement strictly necessary for mutual aid amid the difficulties and perils by which almost every track is beset. The native traders do not employ camels, which have been introduced by a foreign race from Arabia into the northern deserts, for which they are perfectly adapted. The waggon, and indeed every species of draught, is nearly unknown, and would be ill suited to the African roads, the best of which are narrow paths cut through thick and entangled forests. In the hilly and central districts, either the back of asses, or the head of slaves and women, serves as the ordinary vehicle.

The largest branch of the native trade of Africa

originates in the great demand for salt, and the longing desire which is felt for it in all the provinces to the south of the Great Desert. This commodity is chiefly brought from the sea-coast; from large pits in the Western Desert; and also from the lakes or ponds of Domboo in the country of the Tibboo. In like manner, from the west are sent up cowries or shells, the chief currency of the interior kingdoms, and goora or kolla nuts, a favourite luxury, which, on account of the agreeable taste they impart to the water drunk after them, are called African coffee. The returns are made in gold, ivory, fine cloths, and too often in slaves. The trade with Northern Africa across the Desert consists in foreign commodities. The chief imports are gaudy and glittering ornaments; for the power of distinguishing between the genuine and the false in finery does not seem to exist beyond the Sahara. Captain Lyon enumerates nine kinds of beads, silks, and cloths of bright colours, especially red, copper kettles, long swords, powder and ball. Antimony to blacken the eyes, with cast-off clothes, and old armour, find also a ready market. The returns are the same as those sent to the shores of the Atlantic. The monetary system of the negro countries is most imperfect; for the shell-currency, of which it requires several thousand pieces to make up a pound sterling, must be intolerably tedious. The only metallic form appears in Loggun, where it consists of rude bars of iron. In Bornou, and several countries on the coast, cloth, mats, or some other article in general demand, is made the common measure of value.

All the accommodations of life throughout this continent are simple and limited in the greatest

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