Wednesday, July 24, 2013

THE SLAVE BAZAAR, CAIRO

NEGRESS WAITING TO BE SOLD IN THE SLAVE BAZAAR, CAIRO
NEGRESS WAITING TO BE SOLD IN THE SLAVE BAZAAR, CAIRO

From "Visits To Monasteries in the Levant," by Robert Curzon (1849) -- Some miserable-looking black slaves caught our attention, clothed each in a piece of Isabel-coloured canvas and led by a well-dressed man, who had probably just bought them. Then a great personage came by on horseback with a number of mounted attendants and some men on foot, who cleared the way before him, and struck everybody on the head with their sticks who did not get out of the way fast enough. These blows were dealt all round in the most unceremonious manner; but what appeared to us extraordinary was, that all these beaten people did not seem to care for being beat. They looked neither angry nor affronted, but only grinned and rubbed their shoulders, and moved on one side to let the train of the great man pass by. Now if this were done in London, what a ferment would it create! what speeches would be made about tyranny and oppression! what a capital thing some high-minded and independent patriot would make of it! how he would call a meeting to defend the rights of the subject! and how he would get his admirers to vote him a piece of plate for his noble and glorious exertions! Here nobody minded the thing; they took no heed of the indignity; and I verily believe my friend and I, who were safe up at the window, were the only persons in the place who felt any annoyance.

The prodigious multitude of donkeys formed another strange feature in the scene. There were hundreds of them, carrying all sorts of things in panniers; and some of the smallest were ridden by men so tall that they were obliged to hold up their legs that their feet might not touch the ground. Donkeys, in short, are the carts of Egypt and the hackney-coaches of Alexandria.  (source: "Visits To Monasteries in the Levant," by Robert Curzon (1849) )

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