June 14, 2012

Historic description of Bisharin tribes

From The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan: a compendium prepared by the officers of the Sudan Government. Edited by Count Gleichen  Volume 1, 1905

Text was originally scanned- some spelling mistakes may exist...

The Bisharin

The Bisharin inhabit the desert bounded on the north, roughly, by the Alagi and its tributaries, on the south by the Atbara, on the east by the Red Sea from Shalatein to J. Asotriba, and thence by a Hne joining Mitateb or Umbeiba on the Atbara, and on the west by the Nile from the mouth of the Atbara to Abu Hamed, and thence by the old trade route from Abu Hamed to Korosko.

The Ababda and Bisharin formerly lived a good deal further south in the districts now occupied by the Hadendoas; both tribes moved northwards probably about 100 years ago.

The Ababda by their move north, came into a more civilised country. Their Sheikhs, through the transport needed on the Korosko—Abu Hamed road, came into touch with the Government and acquired at this time great wealth, and with wealth, their numbers increased, whilst the Bisharin of the hills, left far behind as regards progressiveness, soon came to be despised by them.

The Bisharin claim descent from Bishar, the son of Kahl, who was also the father of Abad and Amar, from whom the Ababda and Amarar are said to have sprung.

Kahl is said to have been descended from Zubeir Ibn El Awam,* whose wife was a sister of Abbas, uncle of the Prophet. They maintain, therefore, that they are descended from the noble Koreish Tribe. In the genealogy of the tribe, the three principal ancestors are Kahl, Bishar, and Ali Jalan; on this all accounts seem to agree. The present generation of Sheikhs is generally said to be the ninth or tenth from Ali Jalan.

The descendants of Kahl most likely originally inhabited part of the district now occupied by the Hadendoas, the Bisharin, and Ababda, as stated above, having latterly moved northwards.

The Bisharin are divided into two great families, the Um Ali and Um Naji. The former live in the north, the latter in the south, of their country. Both sections are named after the wives of Ali Jalan, the great grandson of Bishar, who had the following sons :—

Ali .. Shanatir Amer . Hamedor Aliab. Shantirab. Amrab. Hamedorab. Hanr . Eira . Nafi . Mansur
Hanr. Eireiab. Nafab. Mansurab.

Boundaries of Bisharin.
Aliab.— The Aliab, who are far more numerous and wealthy than any of the Um Ali or Um Naji tribes, are divided into the following sub-tribes : Koatil, Mallak, Hamedomerab, Kurbeilab, and Balgab.
The first three named are sometimes classed together and known as the Sararab, on account of their near common ancestry.

The Sheikh of the Koatil has for two generations been the representative Sheikh of these three families ; before this the Sheikhship was with the Hamedomerab.

Sub-tribes of the Aliab.
Koatil.— The Koatil, under Sheikh Isa Abdalla, are a small tribe, and poor. They live at Meshushenai and Terfaui.

Hamedomerab. —Sheikh Mohammed Wad Kurab. This, again, is a small tribe, owning few camels, but good flocks of sheep and goats.  Wadi Meisa, at the head of which is Bir Meisa, is where most of the tribe are to be found during the summer. Their two wells are Meisa and Didaut, close together in the small hills north of the Elba red granite range.

Mallak.— Sheikh Isa Shingeirab. The Mallak, the third Sararab tribe, is by far the richest, and own many camels, and of a breed which is famous among all the neighbouring tribes. The Mallak own many wells.

Balgab.— The next of the Aliab tribes is the Balgab (Isa Abdalla), who live in the hills about Is. They have never, since the time of Abdalla, the father of Isa, had a representative Sheikh, but have always been represented by the Sheikh of the Sararab. They have good herds of camels, sheep, and goats. They do not frequent the Aswan market as much as the other Aliab sub-tribes, but they sell a great deal to merchants who come from there, and buy much of their corn in good

* In spite of their claim to be of Semitic origin, the Bisharin are not true Arabs and are of Hamitic descent,...

Compensation for murder or wounds.

The traditional "diia" or compensation for loss of life among these Arabs is: for a man, 50 male and 50 female camels; for women or children, or loss of legs, arms, eyes, 25 male and 25 female camels.
Wounds are assessed according to their gravity. The cause in which murders are committed, or a wound is received, is always taken into consideration. The above amounts are the limit of compensation.

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