A SHEIK—AMERICAN AND ARAB MEANINGS
After leaving Siwa I put aside
my khaki clothes and assumed desert garments, traveling as a Bedouin
sheik. I find that in America sheik means something very terrible
and fascinating; but 90 per cent of the sheiks in the desert are as
little likely to run away with a beautiful woman as the same per cent of
the sedate bankers of America!
The word "sheik"
(p237) in Arabic means "an old man," and it
has come in time to mean the oldest man of the tribe—that is, its chief,
or the head of the religion, or the head of a caravan.
From Siwa my route lay to
Jaghbub, the great educational center of the Senussi sect. Near here I
encountered Sayed Idris El Senussi, head of the Senussi, who was on his
way to Egypt. My longstanding friendship with this powerful leader was,
in large measure, responsible for the success o this expedition, as well
as for a previous one in 1921 since it was through his kind solicitude
and the letters he gave me that I was able to overcome hostility at many
a camp farther south.
the dome of
the mosque at jaghbub, under which is the tomb of the grand senussi
The university of the powerful Senussi sect is located at Jaghbub.
[photo page 238]
Jaghbub is a small oasis, having
no trade and no industry. Its existence depends solely upon the
university. It has a mosque which can accommodate 500 or 600 persons,
and within the enclosure is the great dome under which is buried the
Grand Senussi, founder of the sect (see text, page 234).
It was necessary to stay in
Jaghbub for five weeks, partly because of inability to
(p238) obtain camels and partly through the
fear of men of other tribes to trespass on the route between Jaghbub and
Jalo, the Zwaya and Majabra preserve. However, I eventually secured a
Zwaya caravan going westward.
Two days’ journey from Jaghbub,
on the way to Jalo, we came across a petrified forest. The big bits of
petrified trees are still used as landmarks on the way, set up according
to an age-old practice of the desert.
wekil, a representative of sayed idris, head of the senussi sect and a
friend of the author
He is seated before a tea tray. The white rock at his right is a loaf of
sugar, from which bits are broken off with a hammer, but if this
implement is not at hand the tea drinker is apt to pick up the lump and
bite off his share. [photo page 239]
It is customary when a caravan
finds small pieces of stone lying about along the route to heap them up,
to show that some one has passed. Of course, tracks in the sand are
obliterated by the wind. It is a wonderful sight sometimes, when one has
been trekking for five or six days without seeing any sign of the hand
of man, to come across a pile of two or three stones on the ground. It
straightway encourages one. The body of a camel or even the skeleton of
(p240) traveler, though an awful sight, at
least shows that a caravan has passed that way.
THE JUDGE AT
JALO WHO LIVED IN THE TIME OF THE GRAND SENUSSI
He was a very useful
source of information to the author in collecting Senussi history. In
his right hand is a fly swisher. [photo page 240]