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Flood Of The Nile

Flood Of The Nile image
Parent Issue
Day
14
Month
June
Year
1895
Copyright
Public Domain
OCR Text

The tourist who only comes to Egypt to shun "winter and foul weather" knows aothing of the majestio glories of the Nile flood. The ancient Nilometer at the south end of the island of Roda, just above Cairo, is one of the most interesting sights of the place. The water enters from the river by a culvert into a well about 18 f eet square, with a graduated stone pillar in the center. Ou each side of the well is a recess about 6 feet wide and 8 feet deep, surmounted by a pointed arch, over which is carved in relief a Kulic inscription, and a similar inscription is carried all around the well, consisting of verses of the Koran. A Btaircase goes down the well, from the steps of which the initiated may read the height of the water on the pillar, but they are few in number, and the hereditary sheikh of the Nilometer, whose duty it is to keep the record, is a person of some importance. The Nilometer dates from A. D. 861, and I believe in the archives of Cairo may be found the daily record for 1,000 years. I ueed hardly teil you that when our English engineers took the river in hand we established a nuruber of gauges at Wadi-Halia, Assuau, Cairo and many other pointson more scien tifie principies thnu tñe venerable Nilometer of the Roda island. After the river has begun to rise lts height is daily chanted through the Cairo streets uutil it reaches 1G cubits on the gauge. At this point the Khalig el Masri, the oíd canal that flows through the heartof Cairo, is opened - up to this point it is dry, and full or empty it is little more thaü a sauitary abominatiou at present, but in former days it occupied au important place, and when the Nile water was high enough to flow down its bed it was looked ou that the flood had f airly set in, aud that the kindly fruits of the earth might be dnly expected. The head of this canal is on the right bank of the river, just south of Cairo. The water enters achanuel some 30 feet wide, with a high wall on its left and a sloping bank ou its right or southern flank. The water then flows under the pointed arch of an old stone bridge. The bed of the canal is cleared so that it would flow in at a gauge of about 14 % cnbits, but an earthen bank is tlirown across it about four feet higher. Thereis nomore interestingceremony in Egypt than the annual cutting of the khalig, as the opening ceremony is called. It takes place between Aug. 5 aud 15. Days bef ore preparations are made for the festival. Tents with innumerable lamps are placed aíong the wall on the one side. Frames for aïl manner of fireworks are erected on the sand bank on the other side. All the notables are there in full uniform or in canonicals. The khedive tnmself or his representative, the Sheikh ui Islam, the highest dignitary of the Moharnüiedan faith ; the Sheikh el Bekri, the Sheikh el Sadat, all the learned scribes of the great university of the Azhar, the cabinet ministers and under secretaries, the sirder of the army and his staff, the judges and the financiers. The Egyptian troops are tumed out, salutes are fired, and about 8 o'clock in the warm summer night the classes all assemble under the gayly lighted tents, the ïnasses crowd rouud the frames for the fireworks, the Street is lined with harem carriages full of closely veiled figures, though it is uot much that they eau see from their broughams. Out in the river justopposite the canal'smouth is moored an old huik of a certaiu seagoing outline, which has been towed up from Bulak during the day and is au emblem of the time when the great republic of Venice sent au envoy to witness the ceremony. This boat s full of lamps, and fireworks too. As the night deepens the excitement increases. The populace on the bridge and opposito bank are shouting, yelling and dancing wildlv round the fireworks. Ou the other sideare the fray uiiiforins and lighted teuts, from whicb we eau look over thowull down on the dark water, where you see brown iisurps phuKing in and, waist deep, (ligging with their hoes at the embankment that blocks tho canal's nrouth. Long before rniduight tlie fireworks have gone out and lef t the splendid stars to themselves ; the grandees have all gone to bed, but the people keep np the revelry, and in the morning, by 7 :30, every oue has come back. Then but little of the bank is left nncut, and a few more strokes of the big hoes will do it, and the brown skins and brown water reflecttbe briglit sunlight from above. Then the tíheik hul Islam solemnly thanltó the Almighty. Allah the all powerful, the all meroifnl. He implores his blessing on the flood, and at a signal the bank is cut, the waters rush in, and with them a crowd of swhnmers. A bag of silver piastors is scatteredamougthem, and theceremouy is at an end.-

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Subjects
Ann Arbor Argus
Old News