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Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan

Edition: Ibn-Fadlan's travel to Volga
Translation and the comment
Under editorship of academician I.Yu.Krachkovsky
Moscow-leningrad, 1939


The travel diary of A.Ibn-Fadlan is the most popular eyewitness account of the learned traveler on an official mission from Bagdad to Bulgar in 922 AD. The embassy brought profound changes in the situation of the Eastern Europe, and was one of the major steps in the chain of events that resurrected Bulgar from a vassalage to a dominant position in the pre-Mongol Eastern Europe. The diary gives the most vivid accounts of the observant, erudite and politically fluent outsider, who brings in his observations a spice of his Moslem background.

In the 1215 in the Merv library, the “Risalya” (Notes) of Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan fell into the hands of the Arabian encyclopedist Yaqut al-Hamawi (Yaqut al Rumi), who braided it into the 1224 "Geographical Dictionary". In the 1814 a Danish orientalist R. Rasmussen published a translation of the part of  “Risalya”, in the transmission of Yakut Al-Hamawi. In 1832 academician Kh.M. Fren published in Russian the rendering by Yakut. Before that, about the Itil Bulgars was officially known in Russia only from the works of V.N. Tatischev. In the 1935 the government of Iran transmitted a photocopy of Meshkhed manuscript, located by Zeki Validi Togan in the Mashhad Astane Quds Museum, to the USSR Academy of Sciences. In 1939 the USSR Academy of Sciences published “Risalya” in Russian translation under a name “Ibn Fadlan Travel to Volga“, properly avoiding mentioning of the name "Bulgaria". As it turned out, the Meshkhed manuscript did not belong to Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan, but represented extracts in a shorthand form. The books of Nadjib Hamadani (12 c.) and Amin Razi (16 c.) had extracts from “Risalya” that were not present in the Meshkhed manuscript. In 1956 A.P.Kovalevsky published a new Russian translation of “Risalya”, based on the Meshkhed manuscript, manuscript of Yakut, and the extracts of Khamadani and Razi, under a name “The Book of Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan about his travel to Volga in 921 - 922“ (Kharkov, 1956), again  properly avoiding the very mentioning of the name "Bulgaria".

This posting is mostly an English translation of the 1939 publication, and it retains some comments of the 1939 publication. This English translation removes the blatant falsification of the Russian publications, returning the meaning Kipchak to the Arabic "Sakaliba" instead of the unrelated and unrealistic "Slavs", and the "malik" instead of the "tsar", which were indiscriminately used in the "academic" 1939 publication under edition of  the  USSR academician I.Yu.Krachkovsky.

I want to note specifically the comment No 69 of the 1939 publication. The Academy publication trudges the line, mis-translating "Sakaliba" as "Slavs", but a deeply buried comment No 69 shyly states: "Ibn-Fadlan from the very beginning called by the word "As-Sakaliba" the inhabitants of the Bulgarian kingdom", i.e. the Bulgars. In some quarters translation means substituting correct verbal equivalents, but in their atmosphere the translators can't be blamed for not understanding what they were doing. A normal human decency required them "to do something". And here comes the comment No 69 (and an innocently looking translation of "Sakaliba" as "Kipchak" in the name Baris As-Saklabi (Kipchak), and the blind eye that was turned to it by the august scientific censors. They, and first of all the academician I.Yu.Krachkovsky, can't be charged for "not noticing" the little comment No 69 and its screaming contradiction with the translation. No, they turned their blessed blind eye to be and to remain decent people. This is what the regime did with the science and scientists, even with the academicians, even with the authoritative academic publications. Great people and powers write history, small people and powers read it. This instance allows us to recall that " Sakaliba" (Saqaliba) in Arabic is "White Saka", a calque from the endoethnonym "Kipchak", which in Turkic means "White Sak", continuing the tradition started by Herodotus that Persians call Scythians "Saka". This also allows to recall that in the Middle Ages in the middle course of Itil-Volga was a prominent city Saksin (Saqsin), also called Saksin-Bulgar, probably initially a Kipchak kishlak.

The words in (parenthesis), added in the 1939 publication,  are not from the original, and are retained where they help in the English translation. The numbers in [parenthesis] refer to comments of the 1939 publication. The Russian translation, in addition to using Türkisms inherent in the Russian language, on top of that retained a number of the original Türkic words that do not lend to translation, and these words were also retained in the English translation. These retained Türkisms are supplied with English translation in blue italics or mouse over.

The Arab farsa(k)h (aka farasakh) was approximately 5.76 km

' (apostrophe mark) indicates letter hamza, i.e. an occlusive glottal, or glottal stop, or glottal "h", like in al-'Abdulla, and it causes variations in the transcriptions: Abdulla is also spelled Gabdulla and 'Abdulla, reflecting the attention to the details and particulars of different dialects.

ca. 925 AD


This is a Book of Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan ibn-al-'Abbas ibn-Rashid ibn-Hammad, a servant [1] of Muhammad ibn-Sulaiman, the ambassador [2] of al-Muktadir to the malik of Kipchaks where he tells what he saw in the country of the Turks, Khazars, Ruses, Kipchaks, Bashkir and other (peoples), the distinctions of their faiths, history of their maliks, status of many of their affairs (A. Ibn-Fadlan lists Skaliba-Kipchaks separately from Ruses - Translator's Note).

Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan says: When à letter of al-Hasan son of Baltavar, the malik of Kipchaks, arrived to the ruler of the righteous al-Muktadir, in which he asked him to send him those who would teach him the faith, would teach the laws of the Islam, would build for him a mosque, would build for him a minbar so that the pray was made on it for him (malik) in his city and in the whole of his state, and asked him to construct a fortress that he can fortify in it from the maliks who are his opponents, and he received a consent to what he asked. His intermediary was Nadir al Hurami. And I was selected to read to him (malik) the letter and convey what was presented to him, and for the supervision of the fakihs and mu'allimams. And what he (Caliph) had the reason for sending these riches to him, it was for the construction about which we already informed, and for the payment for the fakihs and mu'allims for the village known under name Artahushmatin in the Khoresm land, from among the villages of Ibn-al-Furat. The ambassador to al-Muktadir from the ruler of the Kipchaks was a man called 'Abdallah ibn-Bashtu al-Hazari (Khazarian) (son of Michail Bashtu and author of "Khazar Tarihi", the Khazarian History - Translator's Note), and the ambassador from the Sultan (Caliph) was Susan ar-Rassi, a servant of Nadir al-Hurami and Takin at-Turki (Turk), Baris As-Saklabi (Barys from Kipchaks; Barys, today's Boris, is a sacral Türkic name, "thunderstorm", often associated with Alp: Alp Barys - Translator's Note), and I together with them, as I have already said. So, I handed him the gifts for him, for his wife, his children, his brothers, his leaders, and the medicines about which he wrote to Nadir, asking for them.

And we left the City of the world (Bagdad) on Thursday, when passed eleven nights of the (month) Safar, the year three hundred ninth (21 June 921 - Translator's Note). We stayed in an-Nihravan one day and (further) went strenuously, until we reached ad-Daskara. In it we stayed three days. Then we went straight, not turning off for anything, until we arrived in Hulvan and stayed there for two days, and went from it to Karmisin and stayed there for two days, then we went, until we arrived to Hamadan, and stayed there for three days, then we went until we reached Sava and stayed there for two days, and from it went to ar-Ray, and remained in it for eleven days to wait for Ahmad ibn-'Ali ahu-Su'luk, as he was in Huvar-ar-Ray, then we went to Huvar-ar-Ray and remained in it for three days, and further went to Simnan, then from it to ad-Damgan. In it we accidentally met Ibn-Karan, the supporter of ad-Da'i, and therefore we hid in a caravan and went rapidly until we reached Nayshabur. Laila ibn-Nu'man was already killed, and we found in it (Nayshabur) Hammavayh Kus, the commander of the Khurasan army. Then we went to Sarahs, then from it to Marv, then from it to Kushmahan, and that is the edge of the Amul desert, and stayed in it for three days to give a rest to the camels before going to the desert. Then we crossed the desert to Amul, were we crossed Djayhun and arrived to the Afirabr-rabat Tahira ibn-'Ali. Then we went to Baykand, then we drove to Bukhara and arrived to al-Djajhani. He is a secretary of the Khurasan Emir, and his nickname in Khurasan is sheikh-support. First of all he obtained a manor for us and appointed for us a man who would satisfy our needs and satisfied our requirements in all that we would wish. So (with him) we remained  (a number) of days. Then he asked for us an audience with Nasr ibn-Ahmad, and we went to him. And he is a beardless boy. We greeted him as Emir, and he ordered us to sit down, and the first with what we started was that he said: "How did you left my lord, the ruler of the righteous, let Allah extend his stay (in this world) and the peace in his soul, his servants, and his court". We said: "In good state". He said: "Let Allah give him well-being!" Then was read the letter to him concerning the transfer of Artahushmatin from al-Fadl ibn-Musa an-Nasrani (i.e. the Christian), manager of Ibn-al-Furat, and transfer of it (the village) to Ahmad ibn-Musa al-Huvarizmi (i.e. Horezmian), and the delivery of us and the letter to his (i.e. Emir's) governor in the Khoresm, (a letter) about the removal of obstacles for us, and the letter to Bab-at-Turk with escorting us and with removal of obstacles for us. He said: "And where is Ahmad ibn-Musa?", and we said: "We left him in the City of the world (Bagdad) so that he would leave in five days after us". Then he said: "I listen and obey what my lord, the ruler of the righteous, ordered me, let Allah extend his life". He said: "The message (about it) reached al-Fadl ibn-Musa an-Nasrani, manager of Ibn-al-Furat, and he started his sly moves about Ahmad - ibn-Musa, he wrote to the chiefs of police on the Horasan road (at the sites) from the district city of Sarahs to Bajkand that they should sent scouts about Ahmad's ibn-Musa-al-Huvarizmi (being) in the caravan-serais and customs posts, and he (Ahmad) is a man with such and such appearance and description, that who would seize him, should hold him, until he gets our letter, to which he should obey. So, he was seized in Marv and tied down. Also we stayed in Bukhara for twenty eight days. Al-Fadl ibn-Musa also agreed with 'Abdallah ibn-Bashtu and others of our comrades who began to say: "If we extend our stay, the winter will suddenly come and will miss time to go (to the new country), and Ahmad - ibn-Musa, when he comes to us, will follow us".

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: I saw dirhams of Bukhara of different grades (colors), including the dirhams called al-gitrifi. They consist of copper, red copper and yellow copper, from which is taken a quantity without weight. Hundred of them (dirhams) are equal to one dirham of silver. And here are the conditions about the kalym for the women (it is said): "Marries a son of such and such on the daughter of such and such for so much and so much thousand gitrifian dirhams". And also in the same way (takes place) the purchase of real estate and purchase of their slaves: they do not mention other (grades) of dirhams. They (still) have dirhams, (for which) only yellow copper is used. Forty of them are equal to (one) danak. They (still) have dirhams, (for which) only the yellow copper is used, called Samarkandian. Six of them are equal to one danak. So, when I heard the words of 'Abdallah ibn-Bashtu and the words of others, warning me about unexpected approach of the winter, we left Bukhara, coming back to the river, and hired a ship to Khoresm. And the distance to it from the place where we hired the ship, is more than two hundred farsahs, so we went for a few days. For us the travel on it (river), as a whole, was not the same, owing to the cold and its severity, until we arrived in Khoresm. We came to its (Khoresmian) Emir. It was Muhammad ibn-'Irak Horezm-shakh. So he honored us, gave us gifts, and arranged for us a stay. He ordered us to come after three days, discussed with us the (question) about (our) entrance to the country of the Turks and said: "You do not have a permission for it and (I) should not let you to leave and blindly risk your blood. I know, that it is a trick that was arranged by this adolescent, Takin, as he was a smith here and he is already familiar with the sale of iron in the country of infidels, and he was the one who has deceived Nadir and induced him to address the ruler of the righteous and to send to him the letter of the Kipchak malik. The Great Emir, that is Emir of Khurasan, had more rights to erect the sermon for (for the benefit of) the ruler of the righteous in this country, if he would find an opportunity, because you are far and as between you and the country about which you talk, (is) one thousand tribes of infidels. And it is (all) distortion of the truth concerning the Sultan. So, I advise you: it is necessary (to send) the letter to the great Emir that he should communicate with the Sultan,  let Allah help him, by correspondence, and you shall stay (here) till that time, as we receive the answer". And so we left from him that day. Then we again came to him and did not cease to please him and to flatter him, saying: "It is the order of the ruler of the righteous and his letter, what is sense to write him on this occasion", so he gave us his permission. So, we went down from Khoresm to al-Djurdjania. Between it and Khoresm by water are fifty farsahs. I saw the Khorezm dirhams chopped and lead, and light-weighted and copper. And they call dirham "tazidja", when its weight is four danaks and a half. Their money-changers (from their place) sell bones (for game) and inkwells and dirhams.

They (Khorezmians) are the most rough of the people in speech and in the nature. Their speech is like a cry of starling. Near (al-Djurdjania) is a settlement at a (distance) of a day (travel), called Ardaku. The population of it is called al-Kardalia (Kardalians). Their speech is like the croaking of frogs. They renounce the ruler of the righteous 'Ali ibn-Abu-Talib, let Allah be pleased with him, at the end of each pray. So, we remained in al-Djurdjania (many) days. Also the river Djayhun from the beginning to its end has frozen, and there was a thickness of ice seventeen quarters, and horses and mules and camels and carriages pass on it as if on the roads, and it was firm and did not shake. And it remained in such condition for three months. And we saw the country (such), that we thought it is not nothing other than the gates of az-Zamharir opened from it to us. The snow does not fall in there other as with gusty strong winds. If a man from its (country) inhabitants would give a present to his friend or would want (to make) him something good, he tells him: "Let's come to me to talk, I have a good fire". And (thus) he renders him the greatest blessing and a favor. But only the great Allah had mercy to them about the firewood, he made it cheap for them: the cargo of a wagon of fire wood at-tag costs only two dirhams, the weight of it is three thousand ratlas. The custom of their beggars is that the beggar does not stop at the doors, but enters into the somebody's house and sits some time at his fire to warm up. Then he says: "Pakand", which is "bread". Our stay in al-Djurdjania extended, we remained there the days (months) of Radzhab, Sha'ban, Ramadan month, Shavval (from 5 November 921 till 2 March 922 - Translator's Note), and the length of our stay depended on the cold and his strength. Really, a story reached me that twelve camels (went) for two people to bring on them the firewood from some floods, and both overlooked to take with them a flint and a tinder. And they had a night without fire. When they rose in the morning, the camels were dead from the cold. And really, I saw the cold air and that the market and streets from it (such air) really become empty, so that a person walks most of the streets and markets and does not find anybody, and is not met by any person. Once I came from the bath, and when I came into the house and looked at my beard, it was one chunk of a snow until I approached the fire. And really, I was the whole time in the middle of the house, and in it was a yurt from the Turkish felt, and I arrange for myself a nest from the clothes and furs. And sometimes my cheek was glued to the pillow. And really I saw, as the cisterns covered with sheep furs cracked and broken at night, so it (winterizing) helped nothing. And really I saw the ground cracked and in it split (were formed) big ravines from the force of the cold, and a huge old tree really broke up in two half from it.

When passed a half of the Shavval of the three hundred ninth (2 Feb 922 - Translator's Note), time began to change, the river Djayhun thaw, and we started attending the necessary supplies for travel. We bought Turkish camels and ordered road bags of the camel leather for crossing the rivers which we will have to pass in the country of the Turks. We provisioned for three months (for the road) bread, millet, dried meat. We asked those from the inhabitants (of this) country with whom we were friends, to assist with clothes and in acquiring them in quantity, and they frightened us with this enterprise and exaggerated the story about it, but when we faced it, it turned out twice greater than how it was described to us. So, each person of us had a jacket, atop of it was haftan, atop of it a fur coat, atop of it a felt cap and burnus from which were visible only his two eyes, and sharovars ordinary and the others double (lined), and gaiters, and sapogs of kimuht and atop sapogs other sapogs, so each of us, when riding a camel, could not move because of the clothes which we wore. And behind us fell the fakih and mu'allim and the youths who left with us from the City of the world (Bagdad), being afraid to enter that country. And went these: I, and the ambassador, and the brother of his sister, and two youths Takin and Faris. That day when we dared to depart, I told them: "Oh, people! With you is the youth of the malik, and he is familiar with your task. With you is the letter of the Sultan, and I do not doubt that in it (is) a message about him sending four thousand musayyab dinars for him (malik). And you will arrive to the foreign-speaking  malik, and he will demand from you the payment of it". Then they said: "Don't be afraid of it. Really (probably) he will not demand payment from us". And I warned them and said: "I know that he will demand the payment from you", but they did not agree. The task (of outfitting) the caravan was completed, we hired a guide by the name Falus from the inhabitants of al-Djurdjania.


Then we relied on Allah mighty and great, placed in him our enterprise, and set out from al-Djurdjania on Monday after two nights of Dulka'd (month) of three hundred ninth (4 Mar 922 - Translator's Note) and have stopped at rabat, called Zamdjan, and it is Bab-at-Turk (Turkish Gates). Then we went for another day and stopped at a stop called Habab. We were overtaken by snow, so the camels stepped in it to a knee. So, we stopped at this stop for two days, then we streamed into the country of the Turks, not turning off at nothing, and we met nobody in the deserted steppe without any mountains. So, we went in it for ten days, and had disasters, difficulties, strong cold and consecutive snowfalls, when the cold of Khoresm felt like summer days. And we forgot everything that passed by us, and were close to the loss of our souls. Really, during several days a strongest cold fell on us. Takin was riding next to me, and next him was a man from the Turks, who talked to him in Turkish. And Takin started to laugh and said: "Really, this Turk tells you: What our lord wants from us? He kills us with a cold, and if we knew what he wants, we would surely give it to him". Then I said to him: "Tell him, he wants from you to say: "There is no god except Allah". He laughed and said: "If we knew (it), we would surely do it". After that we arrived to a place where was a huge quantity of a at-tag tree. I took it down, made a fire (in the) caravan, and they (co-journeyer) were warmed, removed their clothes and dried them …

Then we went and rode without stopping with the most strenuous and intense driving what only happens, every night from the midnight till the dusk time immediately after the midday. Then we stop. When we passed fifteen days, we reached a big mountain with a lot of rocks, from which the springs are flowing if you excavate for water. When we crossed them, (we) came to a tribe of the Turks known under a name al-Guzziya. And they are coachers; their homes are from hair (from koshma) and they (Guzzes) halt or leave. You see their houses (once) in one place, then the same houses in another place, as do the nomads in their coaching; and here they are in a pitiful position. At the same time they are as wandering donkeys, do not submit to Allah, do not use a reason and do not worship anything, but call their oldest their lords. So, when one of them asks advice from the leader, he tells him: "Oh, my lord, what I shall do in such and such (case)?". And rules them a council between them. But (as soon as) they spend for something or decide something, then comes the most insignificant and the most pitiful of them and destroys what they already agreed. And I heard them saying: "There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah", trying to come with these words nearer to those Moslems who pass by them, but not believing in it. And if injustice fells on one of them or happens something unpleasant, he lifts his face to the sky and says: "Bir Tengri", and that in Turkish is "One God", as "bir" in Turkish is "one", and "Tengri" is God (Allah) in the language of the Turks. They do not clear of excrements and from urine, and do not wash from the sexual uncleanness and (do not do) other similar things. They do not do anything with water, especially in the winter. Their women do not cover from their men and from others of them, and also a woman does not cover anything of her body from anybody of the people. And really, in one of the days we stopped at a man of theirs and sat down, and the wife of this person sat together with us. And, talking to us, she opened her "fardj" and scratched it while we looked at her. Then we closed our faces and said: "My God, Forgive me!" The husband of hers laughed and said to the translator: "Tell them, - we open it in your presence and you see it, and she protects it so, that there is no access to it. It is better, than if she would cover it and (at the same time) would concede it to somebody". They do not know fornication, but if they find out anything about somebody, they break off him in two halves, namely: they pull together an branches of two trees, then tie him to the branches and release both trees, and the one between the unbending (trees) is ripped apart. One of them said: "Let me hear the reading". So, he liked the Koran, and he started to tell the translator: "Tell him: "do not stop reading". Once this person told me with the language of the translator: "Tell this Arab: "Is our God mighty and great a woman?". I was stunned by that, gave a glorification to Allah and asked for the pardon. And he also gave a glorification and asked for the pardon, the same as I did it. And this is (in general) exactly the rule of the Turk, every time he hear a Moslem saying glorification and saying "There is no god except Allah", he says the same as he.

Their rules of marriage are such: if one of them is asking another for any woman in his family, his daughter or his sister or anybody from those whom he owns, he presents him for so and so many of the Horezmian clothes. And when he pays it, he carries her to him. And sometimes the bride money are the camels or horses or something similar. And nobody can copulate with his wife until the bride money, agreed with her (woman) owner, is paid. And if he paid it, he goes without shyness, until he enters the premise where she is, and takes her in the presence of her father and her mother and her brothers and they do not interfere with him. And if a person with wife and children dies, the oldest of his children marries his wife if she was not his mother. No merchant or some one else can make ablution after uncleanness in their presence, but only at night when they do not see him. And this is because they get angry and say: "This one wants to bewitch us: don't you how he was staring into the water" and force him to pay money.

And no Moslems can pass through their country until they appoint to him from their people a friend with whom he stays, and until he brings him from the country of Islam the clothes, and for his wife a cloak, a little pepper, millet, izüm and walnuts. And so, when he arrives to his friend, that puts for him a yurt, and delivers to him as many as he can sheep, so the Moslem only needs to slaughter them, as the Turks do not slaughter them. Really, some one of them beats the ram on the head until it dies. And if that person wants to leave, and he needs any of his (Turk) camels, or his horses, or he needs money, he leaves what had remained with his Turk friend, and takes of his camels, horses and property what is necessary for him and leaves, and when he comes back from that direction where he went, he compensates to him the money and returns to him of his camels and horses. And exactly the same, if a person whom he does not know passes by a Turk, (and if) then that would tell to him: "I am your guest, and I want (to receive) from your camels and your horses and yours dirhams", he gives him what he wanted. And if the merchant in that travel would die, and the caravan comes back, the Turk meets them and says: "Where my guest?". And if he is told: "He has died", then the caravan unloads. Then he goes to the most outstanding of the merchants whom he sees among them, unties his property in his view, and takes from his dirhams accordingly to his property (that was used) from this (diseased) merchant without an extra grain, and also takes from the horses and camels and tells: "It is your cousin (literally, the son of your paternal uncle) and you more than others should  pay for him". And if he (the first merchant) fled, he does the same, and tells him (to the second merchant): "He is the same Moslem as you; you take from him". And if (this) Moslem would not agree to compensate for his visitor in this way, he will ask about a third one, where he is, and he is directed to him, he would go, looking for him, at a distance of a few days, until he arrives to him and  takes away his property from him, and also what he gave as a gift. The same is the Turkish custom also: if he drives to al-Djurdjania and asks about his guest, he would stay with him until he leaves (back). And if the Turk would die at his Moslem friend, and (if) his friend would be a caravan, they would kill him and say: "You killed him, putting him in prison, if you did not put him in prison he certainly would not die". And exactly the same, if he would give him to drink nabil and he would fall down from a wall, they would kill him for him. And if he is not in the caravan, they take the most outstanding one who is among them, and kill him.

The gay acts they (punish) very seriously. Really, once a certain person from the inhabitants of Khoresm stopped among the Kudarkin's tribe, and the Kudarkin is a deputy of the Turkic malik, and remained with the host for some time to buy sheep. And the Turk had a beardless son, and the Horezmian did not cease to court him and attract him, until he agreed to his desire. The Turk came and found both of them in a connection. Then the Turk made a complaint about it to Kudarkin. He told him: "Gather the Turks". And he gathered them. When they gathered, he said to the Turk: "Do you that me judge by the law or for nothing?" He said: "By the right". He said: "Bring your son". He brought him. He said: "Both  him and the merchant should be killed". From this the Turk came to anger and said: "I shall not give up my son". He said: "Then the merchant will give you a ransome for himself". He did it and paid to the Turk with sheep for what he did with his son, and paid Kudarkin four hundred rams that he has removed from him (the punishment), and left from the country of the Turks.

The first of their maliks and leaders whom we met was Yanal (yynal?) the younger. Before, he already accepted Islam, but he was told: "If you accepted Islam, you are not our head any more". Then he forsake his Islam. When we arrived to that place where he was, he said: "I shall not allow you to pass, as it is such a thing about which we did not hear at all, and we do not even imagine that it exists". Then we wormed to him so that he would agree to (receiving) a Djurdjan haftan costing ten dirhams and a piece (of cloth) paybaf, flat breads, a handful of izüm, and a hundred of walnuts. When we handed all this over to him, he bowed (to the ground) to us. And this is their rule, if the person is honored (with gift) by a person, he bows to him. He said: "If my houses were not far from the road, I would surely give you sheep and wheat", and he left us. We set out, and next we met one person from the Turks, a contemptible creature with a shabby appearance, a puny built, with a pity essence. And a heavy rain fell on us. He said: "Stop", and the whole caravan has stopped, that is about three thousand horses and five thousand people. Then he said: "None of you will not pass!" And we stopped, obeying his order. We said to him: "We are friends of Kudarkin". He started to laugh and said: "Who is Kudarkin? I defecate on the Kudarkin's  beard". Then he said: "Pakand", which is "bread" in the language of Khoresmians. Then I handed over to him the flat breads. He took them and said: "Pass, I took pity on you".

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: And if a person who has she-slaves and slaves falls ill, they serve him, and nobody of his members of household would come nearer to him. A yurt is set up for him away from the houses and he remains in it, until he  die or  recover.

If he was a slave or a poor man, they abandon him in the desert and drive off from him.

And if the their person has died, they dig a big tomb like a house for him, take him, dress him in his jacket, his belt, his bow, put in his hand a wooden bowl with nabid, leave in front of him a wooden vessel with nabid, bring all his property, and lay all this in this house. Then they sit him there, and cover the house with wooden planks above him, built above him a kind of a yurt from clay, take his horses depending on their number and kill from them a hundred heads, or two hundred heads, or one head, and eat their meat, except for the head, legs, skin, and the tail. And really they stretch this (all) on wooden stakes and say: "It is his horses on whom he will ride to paradise". If he has killed a man and was brave, they cut out images from a tree in the number of those whom he killed, and place them on his tomb and say: "Here are his youths who will serve him in paradise". Sometimes they fail (do not care) to kill horses for a day or two. Then comes to them an old man from their elders and says: "I saw such, that died, in a dream and he said to me: "You see, I am already overtaken by my comrades and my legs are cracked from following them, and I cannot catch up with them and I remained alone". Under these circumstances they take his horses and kill them and stretch them on his tomb. And when a day or two would pass, this old man comes to them and tells: "I saw that man, and he says: "Tell my members of household and my comrades that I have already caught up with those that left before me, and that I have found the calm from the weariness".

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: All Turks pluck out their beards, except for moustaches. Sometimes I saw a decrepit old man from their number who plucked his beard and left a little bit of it under his chin, and he wears a fur coat, and if a man sees him from afar he would not doubt that is a goat. The malik of the Turk Guzzes is called Yabgu or (truer) it is a title of the ruler, and everyone who reigns above this tribe, is called with this title. And his assistant is called Kudarkin (Kudar-Khan - Translator's Note). And thus everyone who substitutes a leader of theirs is called Kudarkin.

Then we, (already) leaving from the area of these (Turks), called on the commander of their army. His name is Atraksyn al-Kat'ana. He set for us the Turkish yurts, and we stayed in them. And he has servants and retinue and big houses. He brought us sheep, and were brought horses that we would slaughter sheep and ride the horses. He invited all members of his household and the sons of his (paternal) uncle and slaughtered for them plenty of sheep. And we have already (earlier) presented him with gifts of clothes, izüm, walnuts, pepper and millet. I saw his wife who was a wife of his father. She took the meat and milk and some things that we added, went from the house into the desert, dug up a hole and buried in it what she brought, and said (some) words. I said to the interpreter: "What is she saying?" He said: "She says: "These gifts presented by the Arabs are for al-Kat'an father of Atrak". When the night came, I and translator came to him, and he sat in the yurt, we had a letter of Nadir al-Hurami which suggested to him to accept Islam (lit: "orders submission to him", i.e. to Allah), induced him to it, and send him fifty dinars among which was a lot of Musayyab dinars and three miskals with muskus, the whole leather skins, two merv clothes, and we made out of both of them (this and another) for him two jackets and whole sapogs, parcha clothes, five silk clothes, and we handed over to him presents for him, and handed over his wife a cloak and a ring. I read him the letter, and he said to the translator: "I shall not tell you anything until you come back. I shall write to the Sultan (i.e. to the Caliph) what I would decide about it". And he took off the brocade he wore, to put on the presented clothing which we mentioned. And then, I saw a jacket under it ( parcha), and it was torn (saturated) with filth, as they have (such) customs, that none of them remove clothes contacting his body until it would decay into shreads. And he plucked all his beard and moustaches and remained as a eunuch. I saw, as Turks said, that of them he is the most dexterous equestrian. And really, once I saw him when he went next to us, riding a horse, and a goose flew by. He tensed his bow while his horse run under it (goose), then shot at it, and here he already brought it down. In one of the days he summoned the leaders who are close to him, and they are the following: Tarhan, and Yanal, and the son of Dzhabh, and Bagliz. Also was the Tarhan the most noble of them, and he was lame, blind, and one-armed. So he (Atrak) told him: "Really, these are the ambassadors of the malik of the Arabs to my son-in-law Almas (ALMS in the original, the Russian scientists distort it to Almush, apparently to make this name different from the widespread Türkic name Almas, i.e. diamond,  and the Russian word "almaz", diamond - Translator's Note) son of Shilka (=Djilka=Horse - Translator's Note), and it would be not good if I let them go without an advice from you". Then Tarhan said: "We never heard or saw of such am affair, and by us never passed any ambassadors of a Sultan since we and our fathers lived here. And what I think, is that Sultan is making tricks and sends these (people) to the Khazars to raise them to war against us, and (my) opinion is, let him (Atrak) cut these ambassadors into halves-and-halves (everyone into halves), and we shall take what they have".

Also another of them said: "No! But we should take what they have, and leave them naked, for them to come back from where they came". And (still) another said: "No! But the Khazar malik has our captured. So we shall send these to redeem those". And thus they did not stop arguing among themselves about these things for seven days, and we were in deadly situation, until they united in that opinion to release us and let us pass. We presented Tarhan with a Merv haftan and two pieces (of cloth) pajbaf, and his comrades with a jacket, and also to Yanal, and handed them pepper, millet, flat breads. And they left us. We went until we reached the river Bagnadi. People pulled out their road bags, and they are from camel leather. They spread them and took the female Turkish camels as they are round, and placed them in the cavities until they stretched. Then they loaded their clothes and belongings, and when they were full in each road bag sat a group of five, six, four, more or less. They took in their hands wood sticks of hadang (white poplar) and held them as oars, striking continuously, and the water carried their road bags and they were spinning until they crossed. And they shout at horses and camels and they cross by swimming. A group of the fighters with weapons has to cross first before any from the caravan crosses. They are an avant guarde for the people behind them, (for protection) from the Bashkirs, (so) that they (i.e. Bashkirs) would not capture them when they cross. So, we crossed Bagnadi by the method we described above.

Then we crossed after that the river Djam, also in the road bags, then we crossed Djahash, then Adal, then Ardan, then Varish, then AdalAhti, then Vabna, and all these are big rivers. After that we came to Bajanaks, and they stayed by the water similar to a sea, not flowing, and they are dark brunettes with completely shaved beards, they are poor in comparison with Guzzes. In fact I saw some Guzzes that owned ten thousand horses and hundred thousand heads of sheep. Most frequently sheep graze in the snow, kicking with hoofs and searching for a grass. And if they do not find it, they gnaw snow and grow excessively fat. And in the summer they eat grass and grow thin. We stayed with  Bajanaks for one day, then we went and stopped at the river Djayh, and it is the biggest river what we saw, the widest and with the strongest current. And really, I saw a road bag which overturned  in it, and those who were in it sunk, and many men died, and a quantity of camels and horses sunk. We crossed it with difficulty.


Then we went for some days and crossed the river Djaha, then after it{her} through the river Ajan, then through Badja; then through Samur, then through Kabal, then through the river Sukh, then through the river Ka(n)djala, and we came to the country of the Türk people called al-Bashgird. We were mindful of them with the greatest precision, because they are the worst of the Turks, dirtiest of them and more than others inclined to murder. A man meets a man, cuts off his head, takes it with him, and leaves. They shave the beards and eat louses when they catch them. Some of them in checks in detail the seam of his jacket and cracks louses with his teeth. Really, one of them, who has already accepted Islam, was with us and served us, and I saw one louse in his clothes, he crushed it with his nail, and then ate it.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: (Here is) the opinion deviating (from the truth), each of them chops off a piece of a wood sized about a fall and hangs it on himself, and if he would want to journey or would meet an enemy, he kisses it (the piece of a tree), prays it and says: "Oh, Lord, do me that and that". And I said to the translator: "Ask some of them, what is the explanation of it and why he made it his God?" He said: "Because I came out from a similar to this and relating to myself I do not know another Creator, except for this". Some of them say that he has twelve Gods: a winter has a Lord, a summer has a Lord, a rain has a Lord, a wind has a Lord, trees have a Lord, people have a Lord, horses have a Lord, water has a Lord, night has a Lord, day has a Lord, death has a Lord, land has a Lord, and the Lord in the sky, is the greatest of them, but he is uniting with them (other gods) in a consent, and each of them approves what his companion does. The Allah is above what say the impious, in height and greatness.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: We saw how one (group) worships snakes, (another) group worships fish, (third) group worships cranes, and I was told that they (once) waged a war with a people from among their enemies, that they (enemies) turned them (Bashkirs) into flight, and that cranes cried behind them (enemies) so that they were scared and themselves turned to flight after they had turned (Bashkirs) to flight, and consequently they (Bashkirs) worship cranes and say: "These (cranes) are our Lord as he turned into flight our enemies", and consequently they worship them (and now).


He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: So, we went from the country of these (people) and crossed the river Djaramsan, then crossed the river Uranus, then crossed the river Uram, then crossed the river Ba(b)a(n)adj, then crossed the river Vati, then crossed the river Banasna, then crossed the river Djavashin. Distance from the river to the river, which we mentioned, is two days, or three or four, more or less.

(FromYakut)  Bulgar is a city of Kipchaks, far in the north, in a strong cold, the snow almost does not clear from its land in the summer and winter, and its inhabitants seldom see a dry ground. Their buildings are only from wood, namely, they set logs atop logs and rivet them together with dowels of same wood, very strong. Fruit and bread in their soil does not grow well. Between the Itil, the Khazar city, and Bulgar the steppe road is about one month, and sailing up to it by the Itil river is about two months, and at sailing down (the river) is about twenty days. And from the Bulgar to the nearest border of Byzantium is about ten marches, and from it to the Kuyab, the city of Ruses, twenty days, and from the Bulgar to the Bashdjird twenty five marches. The malik and population of the Bulgar have already accepted Islam in the days of al-Muktadir-bi-llah and have sent ambassador to the Bagdad, notifying al-Muktadir about it and asking him about sending somebody who would teach them prayers and laws (Sheriyat). However, I (still) have not learned the reason of their acceptance of Islam. (FromYakut)

When we were at a distance of a day and night march from the malik of the Kipchaks, to whom we were coming,  he sent to meet us  four maliks under his power (lit. under his arm), his cortiers and his children, and they met us with bread, meat and millet, and joined us. When we were from him at two farsahs, he met us himself, and when he saw us, he dismounted and dropped to the ground, bowing with gratitude to Allah great, mighty. In his sleeve he had dirhams, and he has showered us with them. He set up for us domes and stayed in them. Our arrival to him was on Sunday when passed twelve nights of the muharram (month) three hundred tenth (12 May 922 - Translator's Note), and the distance from al-Djurdjania to his country is seventy days. So, we remained Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the tents which were set for us, until he gathered maliks, leaders and inhabitants of the country to hear the letter. When Thursday came and they gathered, we unfolded two banners we had with us, saddled a horse with saddle delivered to us, dressed him (malik) in black and crowned him with a turban. Then I took out the letter of Caliph and told him: "We should not be sited when this letter " is read". And he raised on his feet, he and (also) the nobles present there from the inhabitants of his state, and he is a man very heavy and big-bellied. Then I began, read the beginning of the letter, and when I reached the place: "I call peace on you and truly I shall glorify to you the Allah except whom is no other god", I said: "Reply with a wish of peace to the ruler of the righteous". And he answered and all answered together. The translator continuously translated word for word. When we finished, they proclaimed " Allah is great!" with such exclamation that the ground trembled. Then I read the letter of the Vezier Hamid ibn-al-'Abbas while he (malik) was standing. Then I ordered him to sit down, and during the reading of the Nadir al-Hurami letter he was sitting. When I ended, his followers showered on him (malik) numerous dirhams. Then I took out the gifts (consisting) of aromas, clothes, jemchug for his wife, and I kept putting on him and on her one thing for another until we finished with it. Then I have dressed his wife into a (honourable) khalat in the presence of the people while she sat next to him, that is their law and custom. And when I khalat on her women showered her with dirhams, and we departed.

When some time has passed, he sent for us and we came to him when he was in his tent. The maliks were on his right side, he ordered us to sit on his left side, while his children sat in front of him, and he alone on a throne covered with Byzantian parcha. He directed to serve a table. It was brought, and on it was only a fried meat. And he began, took a knife and cut off a slice and ate it, and then a second, and the third, then cut a piece and handed it to the ambassador Susan, and when he received it a small table was brought to him and put in front of him. Also the rule is that nobody extends his hand to the meal until the malik hand him a slice. And as soon as he receives it, he is served with a table. Then he handed (meat) to me and a table was brought to me, then he handed to the fourth malik, and to hin was brought a table, then handed over to his children, and to them were brought tables, and we ate everyone from his table, not being a companion at a table with somebody else, and except for him nobody took anything from his table and when he finished with his meal anything that remained on the table was taken back to their lodging places. When we had eaten, he (malik) ordered to bring a drink of honey, which they call as-sudjuv, (using it) day and night, he drunk one goblet, then rose up and said: "This my joy is about my Lord, the ruler of the righteous, let Allah prolong his days". And as he has risen, also rose four maliks and his children, and we rose also as he did it three times. Then we departed from him.

Even before my arrival for him at his minbar was already being proclaimed a hutba: "Oh, Allah! Save the malik Baltavar, the malik of Bulgar". And I said to him: "Malik, in truth, this is Allah, and at a minbar nobody is called by this name, except for Him, great and mighty. And your Lord, the ruler of the righteous, was himself satisfied with that on the minbars in the east and the west was proclaimed about him: "Oh, Allah! Keep your slave and viseroy (Caliph) Dja'far imam al-Muktadir-bi-llah, the ruler of the righteous", and in the same way (did)  his fathers Caliphs before him. And the prophet said, let Allah bless him and save: "Do not praise me without a measure as Christians praise Jesus of son Mary, in fact I am a slave of Allah and his envoy". And he told me: "Then how the hutba should be proclaimed for me?" I said: "By your name and the name of your father". He said: "But really my father was infidel, and I do not want to mention his name from the minbar, and me too, and I do not want that my name was pronounced the way it was when I was infidel. But, however, what is the name of my Lord, the ruler of the righteous?" I said: "Dja'far". He said: "Would it be proper if I was called by his name?" I said: "Yes". He said: "(So), I have already renamed myself Dja'far, and renamed my father 'Abdallah, so give an order about it to hatib". I did it, and he (hatib) began to proclaim for him (malik) hutba: "Oh, Allah! Save your slave Dja'far ibn-'Abdallah, the ruler (Emir) of Bulgar, a dependant of the ruler of the righteous".

When passed three days after the reading of the (Caliph) letter and delivery of the gifts, he sent for me. He news about four thousand dinars reached him, and what was the trick of the Christian for their delay. About them (dinars) was mentioning in the letter. So, when I came to him, he ordered to me to sit, and I sat down, and he threw me the letter of the ruler of the righteous and said: "Who brought this letter?" I said: "I". Then he threw me the letter of the Vezier and said: "And this too?" I said: "I". He said: "And the money mentioned in both of them, what happened with them?" I said: "Tt was difficult collecting them, our time was constrained, we were afraid to miss (opportunity) to come (here) we left (them) so that would follow us". Then he said: "Really, all of you came together, and what my Lord has spent for you, he spent it for the delivery of this money, for me to build from them a fortress which would protect me from Jews who have enslaved me, as to the gift, my servant could deliver it nicely". I said: "It is true, but only truly we also have tried". Then he said to the translator: "Tell him, I do not know those people, and really only know you alone, and that is because these people not Arabs and if the ustad (? - Translator's Note) knew , let Allah help him, that they would deliver what you delivered, he would not send you that you would save it for me and would read the letter to me and would listened to my answer. I shall not ask for any dirhams from anybody, except for you, so return the money and this is the best for you". So, I left from his face frightened, depressed. And this man had (such) appearance and stateliness, he was thick and wide, so he spoke as though from a (big) jug. So, I stepped out from him, and collected my co-journers and relayed to them, what took place between him and me. And I told them: "I warned you about it".

The muezzin, calling for a pray, proclaimed ikama to him twice. And I said to him (malik): "Truly, your Lord, the ruler of the righteous, in his house proclaims ikama once". Then he said muedzinu: "Accept  that he tells you, and do not disagree with him". Thus muezzin made a pray according to this instruction for some days while he (malik) asked me about money and disputed with me about them, and I drove him to dismay about it and defended by evidence in it. When he was driven to resignation about it; he gave an order to the muezzin to proclaim ikama twice, and he did it. And he (malik) wanted to cause a dispute with me. So, when I heard that muezzin doubled the ikama, I forbade it to him and shouted at him. The malik learned about it, ordered me to come and my co-journeyrs ordered to come. When we gathered, he said to the translator: "Tell him, - that is me, - that you will you say about two muezzins one of which proclaimed ( ikama) once, and another twice, then both of them prayed with people, - is it admissible or not?" I said: "The pray is allowable". He said: "With a dissentions (of mudjtehids) about it or with common opinion (bil-idzhm)?" I said: "With common agreement". He said: "Tell him: and what will you tell about a man who handed over the money (intended) for people deprived, besieged, enslaved,  to a somebody, and about those who have deceived him?" I said: "It is inadmissible and these are people are awful". He said: "With a disagreement or with a common opinion?" I said: "With common agreement". Then he said to the translator: "Tell him: Do you think, if Caliph - let Allah prolong days (in this world)! - would send against me an army, would he overcome me?" I said: "No". He said: "And the Emir of Khurasan?" I said: "No". He said: "Is it because of long distance and a large number of infidel tribes between us?" I said: "Yes". He said: "Tell him: So, Allah be the witness, I am really in the remote location, where you see me, but I really respect my Lord, the ruler of the righteous, and I particulerly afraid that he would hear about me something that he would consider disgusting, so that he would damn me and I will perish in my far location, while he would remain in his state and between me and him would be the expenses of the far countries. While you constantly ate his bread and carried his clothes and saw him, you have deceived him about the size of a packet which he sent me with you, to the people poor, you have deceived Moslems, I do not accept (help) from you in respect to the faith, until such (person) would come to me who would be truthful with me in what he tells. And if such a man comes, I shall take from him". Thus he shut our mouthes, we did not say anything in the return, and departed from him.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: After that conversation he (malik) favored me, has brought me closer, has distanced my co-journers, and named me Abu-Bekr As-Saduk.

I saw in his country so many amazing thing, that I would not list them because they are so numerous, for example, in the very first night we spent in his country, I saw before the sunset, in the usual hour, the heavenly horizon to redden extensively, and heard  in the atmosphere strong noise and loud grumbles. Then I raised my eyes and, there's a cloud like fire, not far from me, and this grumble and noise come from it, and, likes of people and horses in it, and, spears and swords in it in the remote figures like people, which sometimes seemed to me completely clear and sometimes only imaginary. And another piece similar to these (figures) in which I also saw men, horses and weapons, and this piece started to fall on that piece, as a squadron would attack another squadron. We've got scared of it and started to plead and to pray, and they (inhabitants) are laughing at us and are amazing by what we are doing. He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: And we looked at the squadron attacking  another squadron, and they mixed together for some time, then were separated and this way the action continued for a part of the night. Then they disappeared. We asked malik about it, and he divulged that his ancestors were telling that these (horsemen) belonged to believers and non-believers djinns, and they battle every evening, and that they do it as long as they live, every night.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: (Once) I  and a visiting malik tailor, of the inhabitants of Bagdad, who happened to be in this area, came to my tent for a talk. So, we talked for so long, that a man would not even read a half of one seventh (of the Koran). We were waiting for the night azan. But after azan we left the tent, and was already a dawn. Then I asked muezzin: "What azan did you call?" He said: "Dawn azan". I said: "And the last night (azan)?" He said: "We read its pray together with the sunset pray". I said: "And night one?" He said: "See for yourself. They were even shorter than this one, but they already began to increase in length". He said that for month he does not sleep, afraid to miss the morning pray, and is because the man puts a caldron on fire at sunset, then he reads the morning pray and the caldron does not begin to boil.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: I saw, that their day is very long, during a part of the year it is long, and the night is short, then the night is long, and the day is short. So, next night, I sat outside of the tent and observed the sky, and saw there only few stars, I think like fifteen stars, because of low darkness, so (at night) a man recognizes another man from a distance greater than a flight of arrow.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: I saw, that the crescent does not reach the middle of the sky, but shows up at its edges for short time, then the dawn comes, and the crescent disappears.

The malik told me, that behind his country at a distance of three months travel are people which called Visu. Their night is less than an hour. He said: I saw that during sunrise in that country everything is turned red, whatever is there, the land, and the mountains, and everything what a man sees, and the ascending sun is like a cloud in size, and this redness lasts until it reaches the meridian. The inhabitants of that settlement told me, that really, in the winter, the night is the same length as the summer day, and day becomes as short, as the night, so if one of our men would really leave during the dawn to the place called Atil, - and between us and it the road distance is less than a farsah,  he would reach it only by the nightfall time, when appear there all the stars so they are covering the sky. And we do not leave the city while the night is long, and the day is short.

I saw, that they believe howl of the dogs is very favorable for themselves and are pleased by it, and forecast a year of abundance, blessing and well-being. I saw that they have so many snakes, that on a branch of a tree, truly, would be wound ten of them or more. They do not kill them, and they (snake) do not harm them, so, truly, once I saw in one place a long tree which length was more than a hundred feet (lit. elbows). It has already fallen, and so I see, that its trunk is  extremely huge. I stopped, looking at it and then it started to move, and it frightened me. I looked at it closely and then, a snake on it of thickness and length similar to it. When it saw me, it went down from it (tree) and disappeared between the trees. I returned scared. So, I told that to the malik and those who were at his reception. They did not give it any significance, and he (malik) said: "Do not worry, it would not do you any harm".

We stopped (once), together with the malik, for a stopover. I and my co-journers Takin, Susan and Baris, and with us a man of the malik's retinue, came and in (a certain place) between trees, and he showed us a little bush, small, green, and so thin as a spindle, but with a longer blade. At the top of the fork it carries a leaf on each arm, a wide, spread on the ground, where the plants are like spread out, and among leaves are berries. Who eats them, does not doubt that it is a pomegranate fruit. So, we ate them and found that it is a great pleasure, so we did not stop looking for them and eat them.

I saw that  they have apples of very green color and of even greater acidity, like wine vinegar, which girls eat and grow fat from them. I did not see in their country anything in larger quantity than the walnut trees. Really, I saw forests of them such that each forest had forty farsahs (length) at similar (width).

I saw that  they have a tree, I do not know what kind, extremely tall, its trunk does not have leaves, and its top is like a top of a palm, and and it has brunches. And he (Ibn-Fadlan) said: however they (brunches) join, coming to a known to them (inhabitants) place on the trunk. They (inhabitants) drill it and put under it a vessel, and a liquid (water) more pleasant than honey flows from this hole. If a man drink it, it will intoxicate him as wine, and even more.

Their food is millet and horsemeat, but they have plenty of wheat and barley, and everyone sow something, takes it for himsel, and the malik does not have any rights on it, except that they pay him each year a skin of a sable from each house. If he will order his troops to raid a country, and they would bring booty, he has together with them his share. Everyone who has a wedding or calls a feast with invitations, has to make a tribute (of products) to the malik, depending on the size of the feast, and then he would bring (for the guests) the honey nabid and bad wheat, because their ground is black and smelly, and they do not have storing places where to keep their food, so they dig in the ground wells and keep food in them. Thus only a few days pass as it spoils and attains a smell, and it cannot be used.

And they do not have (olive) oil, or hemp oil, or any fat, and they really use instead of these the fish oil, and everything that they use with it, is strongly smelling. They make of barley a flour drink, which drink girl and adolescents by small gulps, and sometimes they cook barley with meat, and the masters eat the meat and feed the girls with barley. But only in the early morning she eats some meat.

All of them wear hats. So, when the malik rides, he rides alone, without a servant, and nobody is with him, and when he passes a market, nobody remains sitting, but removes the hat from the head and puts it under armpit, when he has passed them, they put the hats on the heads again. And exactly the same, everyone who enters to the malik, small and great, inclusive of his children and brothers, as soon as they appear before him, they immediately remove their hats and put them under armpit. Then they gesture him with their head and sit down, then they stand until he orders them to sit down, and everyone who sits in front of him, truly, sits kneeling, and does not take out his hat and does not show it, until he exits from him (malik), and then he puts it on. All of them (live) in yurts, with the only difference that the malik's yurt  is very large, with space for one thousand humans, with most part covered by the the Armenian carpets. In the middle of it is a throne covered with Byzantian parcha. Of their customs one is such, that if a son of a man has a child, he is taken away by his grandfather, before his father, and he (grandfather) says: I have greater rights on a share of him than his father, until he becomes a man; if their man dies, his brother inherits him ahead of his son. So, I instructed the malik, that that is not allowed, and taught him what are the correct rights of succession, until he completely comprehended them.

I saw many thunder-storms in their country, and if the thunder-storm will strike a house, they do not come near it and leave it as it is, and all that is in it, people and property and everything other, until time destroys it, and they say: This is a house on whose inhabitants an ill-fate lays.

And if a man of them would will kill a man intentionally, they execute him, and if he would kill unintentionally, they make for him a sunduk of hadang (white poplar) wood, put him inside of it, nail it, and put with him three flat breads and a cup with water. They set for him three wooden poles like the thills (of a plough), suspend it between them, and say: "We are suspending him between heaven and earth so he will be subjected to rain and sun, maybe, Allah will take pity on him". And it remains suspended, until time would wear it out and winds would fluff it.

And if they see a man with mobility and knowledge of things, they speak: "This has a right to serve our Lord". So, they take him, put on his neck a rope and hang him up on a tree until he dies. And really, the malik's translator told me that some sindian stopped in this country and remained with the malik for long a time in his service. And he was handy, quick-witted. And so, one group of them (inhabitants) wanted to to set off by their routs. And so, this sindian asked for a malik's sanction to go together with them. And he (malik) forbade it to him. And he (sindian) insisted (on it) until he allowed to go. So, he left together with them on a ship. And they saw that he is mobile, sharp-witted. So, they agreed between themselves and said: "This is excellent for service to our Lord, so we shall go with him to him (Lord)". They passed on their way by a forest, and they lead him ( sindian ) into it, put a rope on his neck, tied him at the top of a high tree, left him there, and went on.

And if they are on the road, and one of them gets an urge to urinate and he urinates, armed with weapons, they would rob him, taking his clothes and everything that is with him, and it is their custom. And who would disarm the weapons from himself and would put them aside and (then) urinates, they do not interfere with him.

Men and women go down to the river and bathe together naked, do not cover one from another and do not commit adultery in any way and there is no possibility. And who of them committed adultery, whoever he was, for him are staked four thills,  his hands and legs are tied to them and he is dissected with an axe from his nape to his hips. And the same way they deal with the woman too. Then each piece of him and her is suspended on a tree. I did not cease to try that women would be covered from men, but that I did not manage to correct. And they kill a thief the same way as they kill a fornicator.

In their woods is a lot of honey in the dwellings of bees, which they (inhabitants) know and are go for gathering it, and sometimes people from among their enemies attack them (inhabitants), so they kill them. They have a lot of merchants who journey to the land of the Turks, and bring sheep, and to the country called Visu, and bring sables and black foxes.

We saw members of a household of one "house"  known under a name al-Barandzhar, in quantity of five thousand souls of women and men, they all have already accepted Islam. For them was built a wooden mosque, so that they would prayed in it. They can not read, so the crowd does how (others) pray. Really, once one man by the name Talut accepted Islam under my supervision. So, I named him "Abdallah", and he said: "I want you to name me with (your own) name Muhammad", and I did it. And his wife, and his mother, and his children also accepted Islam, and all of them began to be called Muhammad. I taught him: "Praise Allah" and "Say: Allah is one", and his pleasure from these two suras was more than would be his pleasure if he became a malik of the Kipchaks. When we arrived to the malik, we found that he stayed in so-called Haldja (i.e. Sulcha, see M.Zakiev - Translator's note), and these are three lakes, from which two are large, and one is small. But only among all of them is no one which bottom could be reached. Between that place and their huge river flowing to the country of Khazars, called river Atil, is about a farsah. And on this river at any time is the market  place, and in it a lot of useful goods are sold.

(Per Yakut) Itil is the name of the huge river similar to Tiger, in the Khazar country. It also flows through the countries of Ruses and Bulgars. Also, Itil is the capital of the Khazar country and the river is named on its name. I read in Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan book ibn-al-'Abbasa ibn-Rashida ibn-Hammada, the ambassador al-Muktadira in the countries Kipchaks are inhabitants of the Bulgar.(Per Yakut)

Takin had told me that in the country of the malik there is a man of extremely huge built. So, when I arrived to that country, I asked malik about him. He said: "Yes, earlier he was in our country, and has died. He was not of the inhabitants of this country and even not from people. His history  is this, some merchants went to the river Atil as they usually do. And this river rose, and its water overflowed its banks. I did not have time to rouse that day as a crowd of merchants already arrived to me and said: "Oh, malik, on the water went a man, and if he from the neighboring people we cannot remain living in these settlements, and have no choice but to move". So, I went astride together with them, until arrived at the river, and there, I came near this man, and he, measured with my elbow, is twelve elbows, and his head is a biggest caldron that ever existed, and his nose is more than a quarter, and both eyes are huge, and every finger is more than a quarter. His appearance has frightened me, and I was seized by the same fear, as those people had. And we started talking with him, and he did not talk, but just looked at us. I transported him to my quarters and wrote to Visu people, and they are from us at three months' travel, asking them about him. They wrote to me informing me that this the man is from (people) Yadjudj and Madjudj, and they are from us (Visu) at three months' travel, between us (Visu) and them is a sea on which coast they are really located, and they, like cattle, copulate with each other (Visu are presumed to be Veps (Vepslaine, Bepslaane, Lüdinik and Lüdilain), an exceedingly decimated nation of Baltic-Finnic language group, akin to Finns and Estoninas, reportedly illiterate before the advent of the Russian civilization, but somehow literate in 922, before the incipience of the same Russian civilization. The Bulgarian Kan and Vesps must have had a common alphabet to write, and either Veps knew Türkic, or Bulgars knew Finnish to communicate in writing - Translator's note). Allah mighty and great brings them every day a fish from the sea, and then, each of them comes and has a knife, and carves from it for himself as much as is enough for him and for his family. If he will take more than they need, his stomach will ache, and stomaches at his family will also ache, and sometimes he would die and all of them would die. When they take from it what they need, it turns and returns to the sea. So, they  live by that every day. And between us and them is the sea, (which they have) on the one side,  and the mountains surround them from other sides, and the wall is also between them and a gate through which they usually went. And when the Allah mighty and great would want to lead them to the inhabited lands, he will open the barrier and dry the sea, and the fish will end for them".

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: Then I asked him (malik) about this man, and he said: "He lived with me for some time. So, it happened, a boy could not look at him without dying, and a pregnant without ejecting her fruit. Also it was happening, if he would seize a person he would compress him with both arms until he killed him. When I saw that, I hung him up on a high tree until he died. If you want to look at his bones and his head I shall set out with you for you to look at them". I said: "I swear by Allah, I want it very much". So, he went astride with me to a large forest with huge trees. And already decayed on the tree..., and his head under it, and I saw, that the his head is like a big vat, his ribs are like big dry branches of a fruit palm, and so are the bones of his shins and of his both elbow bones. I amazed by it and departed.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: The malik moved from the water called Haldja (i.e. Sulcha, see M.Zakiev - Translator's note) to the river named Djavashir, and remained near it for two months. Then he again wanted to move and sent to the people called Savan (i.e. Saban - Translator's note) an order to go together with him. But they refused, and divided into two groups: one group with some clan with a malik by the name of Virag (?). Then the malik (of Bulgar) sent to them and said: "Truly the Allah mighty and great has already favored me, giving me Islam and the Supreme authority of the ruler of the righteous, so I am his slave, and resolved that (?).... who (?) would contradict me I will face him with a sword". Another group from a certain tribe was with a malik whose name was malik Askal. He (Askal) was subordinated to him (malik of Bulgar), but only he (Askal) has not accepted Islam yet. So, when he (malik of Bulgar) sent to them that message, they were afraid of his intentions and went all as a whole together with him (malik Askal) to the river Djavashir. And this is a river of small width, its width is five elbows, and its water to a navel, and in places to the neck, and in the most part it reaches a height of a man. Around it are trees, and many of these trees are hadangs (white poplar) and others, and near it is a wide steppe about which is told, that in it is an animal, in size smaller than a camel, but higher than a bull. Its head, is a head of a sheep, and its tail is a tail of a bull, its body is a body of a mule, its hoofs are like the hoofs of a bull. In the middle of the head it has one thick round horn, as it raises it becomes thiner, until becomes like a tip of a spear. And some of them are five elbows to three elbows long, according to the bigger or smaller size (of the animal). It grazes on the leaves of trees with excellent sprouts. When it sees a horseman it goes to him, and if a racehorse is under him (horseman), it (racehorse) runs for rescue from it in a fast flight, and if it would catch up with him (horseman) it grasps him with its horn from the back of the horse, then throws him into the air and catches him on its horn, and does not stop doing it until it kills him. And it causes no harm to the horses in any way. And they (inhabitants) search for it in the steppe and forests until they kill it. So, they climb high trees between which it is. A few shooters with poisoned arrows gather for this purpose, and when it appears between them they shoot at it, until they wound it and kill it. And really, at the malik I saw three big bowls, similar to the Yemen (shells) "jaz", he told me that they (bowls) are made from the base of the horn of this animal.

Also some people from the inhabitants of the country tell that this is a rhinoceros.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: I did not see among them (any) person who had a fever, however the majority of them are ill, and die from it. A majority of them has cramps, and even, truly, their baby children have it.

And when their Moslem, or when any Horezmian woman dies, they are washed with Moslem ritual, then carry them on a cart which carries slowly with a banner, until arriving to the site of the burial. And when he arrives there, they take him from the cart and lay him on the ground, then mark around him a line and move him aside, then dig out the grave inside this line, make a lateral recesses for him and bury him.

 And in the same way they treat their dead. Women do not cry over diseased, but their man cry over them. The) come the day he died. So they stop at the doors of his tent and shout the most awful cries that can only be produced, and the most wild. These are free people. When their crying ends, come the slaves, carrying) braided leather, and continuously cry and lash the side and back parts of their bodies with these sables, until their bodies are scarred  by the scourges. They (inhabitants) have to set up on the doors of his yurt a banner, they bring his weapons and lay them around his tomb and do not stop crying for two years. When the two years end, they remove the banner and cut off from their hair, and the relatives of the diseased call a commemoration meal which signal the termination of their grief and if he had a wife, she re-marries. It is if he was one of the leaders, as to the simple people, they do with their diseased (only) something from this (ritual).

On the Kipchaks' malik is imposed a tribute he pays to the malik of Khazars, a skin of a sable from each house in his state. And when arrives a ship from the Khazar land to the Kipchak country, the malik rides out and accounts what is there, and takes from everything a tenth part. And when arrive Ruses or others from other tribes, with the slaves, the malik truly chooses for himself one head from each ten heads. The son of the Kipchak malik (is) a hostage with the Khazar malik. Still earlier a news about the beauty of the daughter of the Kipchak malik reached the Khazar malik. So, he (Khazar malik) sent to ask to marry her, and he (Kipchak malik) cited reasons against it and refused him. Then that sent to take her by force, though he is Jewish, and she is a Moslem. So, she died while in his possession. Then he sent, demanding in a second time. And, as soon as that reached the Kipchak malik, he hastened, and she was married to Askal, one of his subjects, who did it for his malik, as he (Kipchak malik) was afraid, that he (Khazar malik) would take her away  from him by force as he has done with her sister. And, really, the Kipchak malik called (secretary) to write to the Sultan (Caliph) and to ask him that he has constructed for him a fortress, as he was afraid of the Khazar malik.

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: Once I asked him and said to him: "Your State is extensive, and your (monetary) means are plentiful, and your income is numerous, so why have you asked the Sultan that he has constructed a fortress on his unlimited means?" Then he said to me: "I saw, that (state) of Islam stands ahead of (others) and that their (monetary) means are taken by everyone who rules them, and therefore I have addressed with the request for it. If, really, I wanted to build a fortress from my means, for silver or gold, there is no difficulty for me in it. And truly I only wanted to receive a blessing from the money of the ruler of the righteous, and asked him about it".

Ruses (i.e. Swedes)

He (Ibn-Fadlan) said: I saw Ruses when they arrived on their trading affairs and landed at the River Atil. I have never seen more perfect bodies than theirs, they are like palm trees, fair and reddish. They do not wear jackets or caftan, but any man wears a cloak with which he covers one half of his body, leaving one of his arms uncovered. Every one of them has an axe, a sword and a dagger and is never without all of that which we have mentioned. Their swords are Frankish type, with broad, ridged blades. Each man from the nails of his toes to his neck is covered with dark-green lines, pictures and the like. Each their woman tied  a small ring on her breast, made of either iron, silver, copper or gold, with quantity according to her husband's means. Each ring has a box to which a dagger is attached, also resting on her breast. Around their necks they wear bands of gold and silver. If a man owns ten thousand dirhams, he arranges a band for his wife; if he owns  twenty thousand dirhams, he has two bands made for her, for every ten thousand more, he gives another band to his wife. One woman may wear many bands around her neck. The ornaments they prize the most are the dark-green ceramic beads they have on their boats: they buy beads for one dirham a piece and string them as necklaces for their wives.

They are the filthiest of all Allah's creatures: they do not clean themselves of excrements, from urine, or wash from sexual uncleanness and do not  wash their hands after meal. Indeed they are like wandering donkeys.

They arrive from their country  and moor their boats by the Atil, and it is a large river, and build on its banks large wooden houses. They gather in one house tens and twenties, sometimes more, sometimes less, and each of them has a bench on which he sits, and with them are beautiful slave girls for trade. One man will copulate with his slave-girl and his companions look on. Sometimes many of them come together for this, each in front of the other. Sometimes a merchant will come in to buy a slave-girl from one of them and he finds him in such position having sex with her, but he (rus) does not leave her until he satisfied his need. They have to wash their faces and heads every day, they do it with the filthiest and dirtiest water imaginable, like this, every day a slave-girl comes in the morning with a large washbowl with water, and she brings it to her owner. He washes his hands and his face and his hair in the water, then he dips his comb in the water and brushes his hair, blows his nose and spits in the washbowl, does not leave anything dirty but casts it all in the water. After he is done, the slave-girl takes the bowl to a man beside him and he does the same as his friend. She continues carrying it from a man to the next man until everyone in the house blows his nose, and spits, and washes his face and hair in the bowl.

And as soon as their boats reach this dock each of them disembarks, carrying bread, meat, onions, milk and nab³dh, and goes to a tall empaled log with a face like the face of a man and surrounded by small images, and behind of these images are long pieces of wood thrust in the ground. So, he approaches to the big image and worships it, then  tells it: "Oh, Lord, I came from a distant land, bringing so many slave-girls so many and so many heads and so many sables so many and so many pelts." He continues until he mentioned all the merchandise he brought, then says, "And I brought this offering," leaving what he has brought in front of the piece of wood, saying, "I wish you to provide me with a merchant who has many d³nars and dirhams  and who will buy from me what I want  without bargaining what I set." Then he leaves. If he has trouble selling and he has to remain late, he again comes with a gift in second and third time and if appears difficult he brings an offering to every one of those small images and asks its intercession, saying, "These are the wives, daughters and sons of our Lord." He goes up to each images and asks it, begging its help and humiliatingly bow before them. Sometimes sale happens for him easy and he makes a quick sell, then he say, "My Lord has satisfied my request, so I should renumerate him." He gets a number of sheep or horned livestock and slaughters them, distributes a portion of the meat, and takes the rest and throws it before the large piece of wood and the small ones around it. He hangs the heads of horned livestock or sheep to that piece of wood thrust  in the ground. At night come dogs and eat it all. And the man who did all this would say, "My Lord was pleased with me and ate my gift."

When one of them falls ill, they set up a tent away from them and throw him into it, giving him some bread and water. They do not come near him or speak to him, but visit him every three (?) days, they do not contact with him for the duration of his illness, especially if he is deprived or a slave. If he recovers and rise, he comes back to them and if  die they burn him. If he dies, they bury him.  If he was the slave, they leave him there to be eaten by dogs and predatory birds.

And if they catch a thief or a robber, they bring him to a thick tree and tie a strong rope around his neck and tie it to the tree and leave him hanging there until he  break to pieces from winds and rains.

I was told that when their leaders die, the least they do is to burning them, so I would like to be present, when I learned of the death of one of their great men. They placed him in his tomb with a roof for ten days, until they finished making and sewing his clothes.

And it happens so, that for the poor man they build a small boat, place him inside and burn it, and for rich man, they gather together his money and divide them into three, one third for his family, one third to use to make his  garments, and one third for nabid which they drink on the day when his slave-girl kills herself and is burnt together with her lord. And they are addicted to nabid, they drink it night and in the afternoon, sometimes one of them dies holding a bowl in his hand.)

And if the leader dies, his family ask his slave-girls and slave-boys, "Who among you will die with him?" and some of them reply, "I". If he said this, it becomes compulsory and it is impossible to turn back. If that person try to, he is not allowed to do so. And the majority of those who offer this are slave-girls.

And, when that man whom I mentioned earlier died, they said to his slave-girls, "Who will die with him?", and one of them said, "I". So they placed two slave-girls in charge of her to take care of her and accompany her wherever she went, even that they sometimes washed her feet with their hands. They started preparing the dead man, preparing his clothes for him and doing all what was needed. The slave-girl drink and sing every day happy with the future.

When came the day when he and the slave-girl were to be burned I arrived at the river where his ship was, - and it already was puuled on the beach and propped with four planks of hadang (white poplar) and other (wood) had around it like large foresten scaffolds. Then the ship was hauled and placed on top of this wood. They started to leave and come, and spoke words which I did not understand. And he (dead) was far in the tomb and was not brought over...

Then they brought a bench, and placed it on the ship, covering it with quilts of Byzantine parcha and cushions of Byzantine parcha, and came an old woman whom they call the "Angel of Death" and she spread on the bench the coverings we have mentioned. She is responsible for sewings and preparation of him, and she kills the girls. And I saw her: a witch (?), gloomy, weighty woman, neither young nor old.

When they came to his grave, they removed the soil from the wood and then removed the wood, taking him in the izar in which he died, and, I saw, that he has turned black because of the coldness of the country. And they still before placed nabid , fruit and a tunbur  in the grave, all of which they took, and he did not begin to stink and has not changed in anything, except for his color. They clothed him in wide trousers, gaiters, both sapogs, a jacket, and a parcha caftan with golden buttons, and placed on his head a parcha cap (kalansuva) with sable. And they carried him inside the tent on the ship and laid him on the quilt, propping him with pillows. Then they brought nabid , fruit and herbs  and placed them beside him. Also they brought bread, meat and onions, which they threw in front of him, and a dog, which they cut in two and threw onto the ship, and all of his weaponry, which they placed beside him. They then brought two mounts, and drove them until they were sweating, cut them with swords into pieces and threw the flesh onto the ship. They next fetched two cows, which they also cut up into pieces and threw onto the ship, and a cock and a hen, which they slaughtered and threw onto it.

And the girl who wished to be killed was coming and going, entering one yurt after another, and the owner of the yurt have intercourse with her and say to her, "Tell to the lord: "Really, I did this purely out of love for you."

When time came after midday on Friday, they brought the girl to a thing that they made, like a door-frame, and she placed her feet on the hands of the men and was raised above that door-frame and said something in the language and they brought her down, then they lifted her up a second time and she did what she had done the first time, they brought her down and then lifted her up a third time and she did what she had done the first two times. They next gave her a hen, she cut off its head and threw it away. They took the hen and threw it on board the ship.

I asked the interpreter about her actions and he said, "The first time they lifted her, she said, 'I see my father and my mother.' The second time she said, 'I see all of my dead relatives, seated.' The third time she said, 'I see my master, seated in a gardenand the garden is beautiful and verdant, and with him his men and his male-slaves, and he calls me, so bring me to him.'" So they carried her to the ship and she removed two bracelets she was wearing, handing them to the woman called the "Angel of Death," the one who was to kill her. She also removed two anklets she was wearing, handing them to the two slave-girls who waited upon her: they were the daughters of the woman known as the "Angel of Death." Then they lifted her onto the ship but did not bring her into the tent, and came men with their shields and sticks and gave her a cup of nabid and she sang and then drank. The interpreter told me that she bids her female companions farewell. She was handed another cup, which she took and sang for a long time, while the woman urged her to drink it and to enter the pavilion where her master lay. I saw that she was confused and wanted to enter the pavilion but put the head between it and the ship. The woman grabbed her head and pushed it into the pavilion, entering at the same time, and the men began to bang their shields with the sticks that her screams could not be heard and exciting the other girls, who would cease to seek to die with their lords.

Six men entered the tent and all had intercourse with the slave-girl.  They laid her down beside her master and two of them held her feet, two her hands. The woman called the "Angel of Death" placed a rope around her neck with the ends going in the opposite directions, and handed it to two (men) to pull it, and she approached holding a broad-bladed dagger and began to thrust it in and out between her ribs, while the two men strangled her with the rope until she died.

Then the deceased's next of kin approached and took a piece of wood and lit it from a fire. He walked backwards, with his nape to the ship, his face to the people, with the lighted piece of wood in one hand and the other hand on his buttocks, being naked, until he ignited the wood under the ship after they had placed the slave-girl whom they had killed beside her master. Then came people with sticks and firewood, each one carrying a stick the end of which he ignited and threw on top of the wood. The wood caught fire, and then the ship, the pavilion, the man, the slave-girl and all it contained. A horrifying wind arose and the flames rose and fiercely blazed.

One of the Ruses stood beside me and I heard him talking to my interpreter. I asked him what he said, and he replied, "He said, 'You Arabs are a foolish lot!'" So I said, "Why is that?" and he replied, "Because you purposely take those who are dearest to you and whom you hold in highest esteem and throw them under the earth, where they are eaten by the earth, midges and worms, and we burn them in the fire in a blink of eye, so that they enter Paradise immediately." Then I asked about it, and he said: "Because of the love of his Lord for him, he sent the wind to take him away in an hour."   And, really, an hour has not passed as the ship, and fire wood, and the girl, and her lord turned into ashes, then in (smallest) soot.

Then they built over the ship, which they pulled out of the water, something like a round hillock,  and placed in the middle of it a large piece of hadanga wood (white poplar), on which they wrote the name of the man and the name of the King of the Ruses, and then they left. (Most of the ritual, with identical sanctuary, hanging human offering on a tree, a boat for a waggon, and a kurgan are eery reminiscent of the Kipchak Turkic rituals, too eery for uncontaminated Swede/Germanic traditions  - Translator's Note)

He (Ibn Fadlan) said: One of the customs of the King of the Ruses is that in his palace he keeps company with four hundred of his bogatyrs and most trusted companions; they die when he dies and die fighting for him. Each of them has a slave-girl who waits on him, washes his head and prepares his food and drink, and another whom he uses as concubine. These four hundred sit below his throne, which is huge and studded with precious stones. On his throne there sit forty slave-girls who belong to his bed. Sometimes he copulates with one of them in the presence of the companions whom we mentioned above. He does not come down from his throne. When he wants to satisfy an urge, he satisfies it in a basin. When he wants to ride, they bring his horse to the throne, and he mounts it, and when he wants to dismount, his horse is brought to it so that he can dismount there. He has a vicegerent who leads the army, attacks the enemy and stands in for him among his subjects.

Outstanding men among them are inclined to occupy themselves with tanning and are not ashamed of this lowly occupation. The cloth of these lands and localities is famous, especially that of their capital, which is called Kyawh (Kyiv). Famous and noted cities of the Rus are Crsk and Hrqh .

End of Ruses


As for the malik of the Khazars, who is called Khakan, he, truly, does not show up other than in each four months, appearing at a distance. He is called Great Khakan, and his assistant is called Khakan-Bekh. He is the one who leads armies and controls them, supervises the affairs of the state and takes care of it, and shows up at meetings, and to him express their submission the neighboring maliks. And he enters every day to Great Khakan submissively, showing his humility and calmness, and he does not enter to him other than barefoot, with fire wood in the hand, and when he greets him, he lights up  this fire wood in front of him. When he is finished with the fuel, he sits on his (malik) bench together with the malik on his right side. His substitute is a man called Kundur-Khakan, and that is substituted by the man called Djavishgar. And the custom of the greater malik is that he does not give audience to people and does not talk to them, and nobody comes to him, except for those whom we mentioned, and the administration, carrying out the punishments, and the governing of the state is on his assistant Khakan-Bekh. And the custom of the great malik is that if he dies, a big court yard with twenty houses are built for him, and is dug out for him (Khakan) in each of the houses a tomb, and stones are crushed so that they become like surma, and it is spread (in the tomb) and  atop of it is thrown unslaked lime. And under this yard and this tomb (?) is a big flowing river, and they run this river over the tomb and tell that that is to ensure that no shaitan or a man could reach it, nor the worms, nor midges. When he is buried, the necks are chopped off of those who buried him, so that it would not be known in which of these houses (is) his tomb. His tomb is called paradise and (they) say: "He entered paradise". And all houses are covered with parcha, embroidered by gold. And the custom of the Khazar malik is that he has twenty five wives, each of these wives is a daughter of some rival maliks who he takes willingly or by force. And he has sixty concubine girls for his bed, and only such who are noted for their beauty. And each of free (wives) and concubines (is) in a separate palace, a domed premise, covered with tic (wood), and around each dome a space.

And each of them has a eunuch who guards her. So, if the (Khakan) would want to used her as concubine, he sends for the eunuch who guards her, and (eunuch) comes to her faster than a blink of eye for him (Khakan) to put her in his bed,  and the eunuch stops at the doors of of the malik's "dome".  When he (malik) used her as concubine, he (eunuch) takes her by the arm and leaves, and does not leave her after that even for an instant. When this great malik rides all the army (also) rides on the occasion of his appearance, and between him and the escort detachments one mile (distance), and any of his subjects sees him only while bowing to the ground, submitting to him, (and) without lifting the head until he passes by. The length (of rule) of their malik is forty years. If he outlasts by (even) one day, the subjects and the nobles kill him and say: "He is such that his mind already diminished, and his judgment (became) irresolute". If he sends (to a campaign) a unit, in no way it would retreat, and if it would flee, everyone from it who came back to him (malik) is executed. And as to commanders and his assistant, if they will turn to flight, they with their wives and their children are brought and given as gifts in their presence, while they are looking at it, and exactly the same their horses and their  property and their weapons and their homes, and sometimes he (malik) splits each of them in two pieces and crusifies them on a cross, and sometimes hangs them up by their necks on the trees. Sometimes, if he would mercy them he would make them his grooms. The Khazar malik (has) a huge city on the Atil river. It consist of two sections, Moslems in one of these two parts, the malik and his court in the other part. The Moslems have a commander from the underlings of the malik called Khaz. He is a Moslem, and the jurisdiction over the Moslems living in the Khazar country and their visitors for trading matters, is given to this Moslem underling, so nobody hears their cases and judges between them except for him. The Moslems in this city have a cathedral mosque in which they  pray and go during Friday days. It has a tall minaret and a few muezzins. And, when it came to the Khazar malik in the three hundred tenth (after 1 May 922 - Translator's Note), that Moslems destroyed a synagogue in the al-Babunadj manor he ordered that a minaret destroyed, executed  muezzins and said: "If, truly, I was not afraid that in the Islamic countries would not remain any synagogue not destroyed, I would certainly destroy the mosque". The Khazars and their malik are all Jews, and the Kipchaks [69] and every of their neighbors are subordinated to him (malik), and he addresses to them as slaves, and they obey him with humility.

(Per Yakut) And some of them (writers) hold that Yadjudj and Madjudj are Khazars. (Per Yakut)

From this point starts the narrative from the name of Ibn-Fadlan. But, in all likelihood, the previous text also belongs to him. A mark as a circle with dot in the middle marks a separate section.


(Outside of 1939 publication) Embassy departure.

In August 922 the embassy left for a return trip. Seid (head of the Bulgaria Moslems) Akhmed Bakir and Almysh’s son Gasan (Khasan, Hasan - Translator's Note) advised the ambassador Susan Ar-Rassi to go by the Bukhara road. However, Sheik Khasan dissuaded them. The embassy left by the Khorysdan (aka Korostel, Kubar, aka Batavyl, present Putivl - Translator's Note) road. They sailed by a boat to Arbuga (present Syzran - Translator's Note). In Burtas Susan Ar-Rassi visited a mosque and consecrated it with a pray. After the service he named this mosque “Mardjan”. Later, Susan Ar-Rassi consecrated one more mosque, built in a fortress along their road.

The embassy was accompanied by the Kan Almysh’s brother Mardjan, Sheik Khasan, his son Tadja, and also by a guide Balus (1; 65). After Burtas, the great ambassador stopped for a rest at the following road stations:

Razi-Suba, Kubar (present Putivl - Translator's Note), Burtas-Simbir (Russian Simbirsk, present Ulyanovsk - Translator's Note), Yozek, Veshna, Leubat (Aibat), Boryk, Saryk-Kune, Sygyr, Chyrty, Balyn (present Suzdal - Translator's Note), and then followed the stations outside the control of the Bulgarian authorities. (Outside of 1939 publication)


1939 publication's comments

1. In this case is "volnootpushchennyj", taking place under the patronage of the very important person, In Yakut, Ibn-Fadlan earlier was a client of the Caliph. He says: "Ahmad Ibn-Fadlan, etc. was sent, the client of the ruler of the righteous, then a client of Muhammada ibn-Sulaiman, to the malik of Kipchaks".
2. Yakut directly states that Ibn-Fadlan was himself an ambassador. Undoubtedly, the full title also mean that, as his patron Muhammad ibn-Sulajman did not go with the embassy at all. However, from further down is visible that in the head of the embassy officially stood Susan-ar-Rassi, though apparently Ibn-Fadlan played a leading role.
69. From the very beginning Ibn-Fadlan designated with word "As-Sakaliba" the inhabitants of the Bulgarian kingdom.


Bibliography of manuscripts

I. Meshkhed manuscript Manuscript containing works of Ibn-al-Fakih, Abu-Dulaf and Ibn-Fadlan, kept in the library at the sepulture of imam Ali ibn-Riza in the Iranian city of Meshed (abbr. Ì). The oldest catalogue of the Meshkhed library, compiled under direction of Mutavalli-bashy mirza Muhammad Husein Afzud-al-Mulk, who in 1851 was an envoy of Persia to Petersburg. He has visited the Public library and familiarized with its catalogues. Probably, this acquaintance also induced him to draw the catalogue of the Meshkhed library. In the next Meshkhed catalogue, compiled in 1894-1895, this manuscript appears in the 17-th department - "Historical  Books" under number 110.

II. Manuscript of the "Geographical Dictionary" by Yakut. The manuscript comes from so-called first collection of Russo, a French consul general in Aleppo, bought in the 1819. The first mentioning of the manuscript is in the directory by Russo himself, a print of which was present during the sale of the collection. Russo, the owner of the manuscript, was born in 1780, served as a consul in Basra in 1805, as a general consul first in Aleppo in 1808, and then in Bagdad in 1814, and died in Tripolli (Africa) in 1831. His collection had approximately 500 manuscripts from Syria, Iran and Iraq. The manuscript was catalogued under number C 588 in the Institute of Oriental studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.

III. Manuscript of the Institute of Oriental studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR ¹ D 128. The manuscript is a copy of the first volume of the manuscript "Geographical dictionary" by Yakut in Meshed in the same book-depository as the Ibn-Fadlan manuscript M. Number of sheets 315.

IV. Asian museum copy. The bigger part of the records are extracts of a number of articles mainly about the districts of Persia adjoining the southern coast of the Caspian Sea. Manuscript in 227 sheets with 25 lines per page.

V. Copenhagen manuscript of Yakut. The manuscript was used as a base for the Rasmussen translation. It has two volumes, but per Fren, it has a lot of omissions.

VI. Oxford codex of Yakut. For the first time it was used by Fren. The manuscript is written in the 876/877-1471/1472.It was also used by Zeyppel. It is considered, as well as the Parisian, one of the best in Europe.

VII. Berlin code of Yakut from the Shprenger collection. The code was used for the Vüstenfeld edition. It is easily read, but has a lot of mistakes and omissions. The manuscript belonged to Dr. Shprenger and was purchased from him in 1857. Shprenger stayed in the East for 13 years, first in India, and then in Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, Iraq and many other countries. He passionately collected different manuscripts. In the manuscript are very interesting variations to Ibn-Fadlan.

VIII. London code of Yakut in the British museum. The manuscript is very incomplete and from Ibn-Fadlan contains only articles: "Khazars", "Khoresm" and "Ruses". The code is under number 1313.

IX. London code of Yakut in the British museum. It was used by Zeyppel. Catalogue Ñ. Rieu No 1312. Probably, a copy of the 16th century. Written with multiple handwritings. The copy is damaged: pieces of pages are torn off.

X. London code of Yakut in the British museum. Catalogue Ñ. Rieu ¹ 966-967. The manuscript contains multiple mistakes, as the copyist barely knew the Arabic language.

XI. Parisian code Magnificently copied about 1850 from some Istanbul manuscript. Per Vüstenfeld, it is a third manuscript in quality in Europe. Old code is Supplement 886.

In Russian
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Sabir Dateline
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