Ibn Fadlan was a faqih, an expert in the law and Muslim faith, though his life prior to his mission is largely unknown to history. Ibn Fadlan wrote about 30 pages of text on what he observed during his trip, including the Viking death rites. Some excerpts follow: I was told that when their chieftains die, the least they do is to cremate them. I was very keen to verify this, when I learned of the death of one of  their great men. In the case of a poor man they build a small boat, place him inside and burn it. They are addicted to alcohol, which they drink night and day.
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Background[ edit ] Ahmad ibn Fadlan was described as an Arab in contemporaneous sources. Frye add that nothing can be said with certainty about his origin, his ethnicity, his education, or even the dates of his birth and death. Other than the fact that he was both a traveler and a theologian in service of the Abbasid Caliphate, little is known about Ahmad Ibn Fadlan prior to and his self-reported travels.
These were the Volga Bulgars; another group of Bulgars had moved westward in the 6th century, invading the country that today bears their name, and became Christians. Additionally, the embassy was sent in response to a request by the king of the Volga Bulgars to help them against their enemies, the Khazars. Leaving the city of Gurgan near the Caspian Sea , they crossed lands belonging to a variety of Turkic peoples, notably the Khazar Khaganate , Oghuz Turks on the east coast of the Caspian, the Pechenegs on the Ural River , and the Bashkirs in what is now central Russia, but the largest portion of his account is dedicated to the Rus , i.
When they arrived, Ibn Fadlan read aloud a letter from the caliph to the Bulgar Khan , and presented him with gifts from the caliphate. One scholar calls it an "illuminating episode" in the text where Ibn Fadlan expresses his great anger and disgust over the fact that the Khan and the Volga Bulgars in general are practicing some form of imperfect and doctrinally unsound Islam.
In general, Ibn Fadlan recognized and judged the peoples of central Eurasia he encountered by the possession and practice of Islam, along with their efforts put forth to utilize, implement, and foster Islamic faith and social practice in their respective society.
Consequently, many of the peoples and societies to Ibn Fadlan were "like asses gone astray. They have no religious bonds with God, nor do they have recourse to reason". I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blond and ruddy; they wear neither tunics nor kaftans , but the men wear a garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free. Each man has an axe , a sword , and a knife , and keeps each by him at all times.
Each woman wears on either breast a box of iron , silver , copper , or gold ; the value of the box indicates the wealth of the husband. Each box has a ring from which depends a knife. The women wear neck-rings of gold and silver. Their most prized ornaments are green glass beads.
They string them as necklaces for their women. Ibn Fadlan, on the Rus merchants at Itil, They are described as having bodies tall as date palm-trees, with blond hair and ruddy skin.
Each is tattooed from "the tips of his toes to his neck" with dark blue or dark green "designs" and all men are armed with an axe, sword and long knife. He also describes in great detail the funeral of one of their chieftains a ship burial involving rape and human sacrifice.
Saint-Petersburg: aus der Buchdruckerei der Akademie. Leipzig: Kommissionsverlag F. Dahhan, S. McKeithen, James E. Translated by Canard, Marius; Miquel, Andre.
Paris: Sindbad. Amawi; A. Jokhosha; E. Neubauer Frankfurt am Main: I. Ибн Фадлан, Пътешествие до Волжска in Bulgarian. България ИК "Аргес", София. Flowers, Stephen E. Montgomery, James E. Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies.
Princeton: Marcus Weiner Publishers. Penguin Classics.
A Viking Burial Described by Arab Writer Ahmad ibn Fadlan
Background[ edit ] Ahmad ibn Fadlan was described as an Arab in contemporaneous sources. Frye add that nothing can be said with certainty about his origin, his ethnicity, his education, or even the dates of his birth and death. Other than the fact that he was both a traveler and a theologian in service of the Abbasid Caliphate, little is known about Ahmad Ibn Fadlan prior to and his self-reported travels. These were the Volga Bulgars; another group of Bulgars had moved westward in the 6th century, invading the country that today bears their name, and became Christians.
Ahmad ibn Fadlan
Throughout Scandinavia, there are many remaining burial mounds in honour of Viking kings and chieftains, in addition to runestones and other memorials. A prominent tradition is that the ship burial, where the deceased was laid in a boat, or a stone ship, and given grave offerings in accordance with his earthly status and profession, sometimes including sacrificed slaves. Afterwards, piles of stone and soil were usually laid on top of the remains in order to create a burial mound. It was common to leave gifts with the deceased. Both men and women received grave goods, even if the corpse was to be burnt on a pyre. A Norseman could also be buried with a loved one or slave Norwegian: trell , who was buried alive with the person, or in a funeral pyre.
Ahmed ibn Rustah
The information on his home town of Isfahan is especially extensive and valuable. Ibn Rustah states that, while for other lands he had to depend on second-hand reports, often acquired with great difficulty and with no means of checking their veracity, for Isfahan he could use his own experience and observations or statements from others known to be reliable. Concerning the town itself, we learn that it was perfectly circular in shape, with a circumference of half a farsang , walls defended by a hundred towers, and four gates. Recorded information[ edit ] His information on the non-Islamic peoples of Europe and Inner Asia makes him a useful source for these obscure regions he was even aware of the existence of the British Isles and of the Heptarchy of Anglo-Saxon England and for the prehistory of the Turks and other steppe peoples. They treat their slaves well and also they carry exquisite clothes, because they put great effort in trade. They have many towns.
Ahmad ibn Rustah