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Diary entry by Gertrude Bell

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Bell, Gertrude Margaret Lowthian
Creation Date
Extent and medium
1 entry, paper

27.5114102, 41.7208243

Sat. March 7 [7 March 1914] Took an azimuth and made preparations for departure. At 11 came a man and permission to see the qasr. I lunched and went off with F. [Fattuh], M. al M [Muhammad al Ma'rawi], Salim, Fellah and Mustafa. Much excitement in the streets but so far as I cd see no ill will. In the little market place the Beduin women were selling milk and butter and semneh. I was received at the qasr by Sa'id, who did not look pleased and a pale faced man with sore eyes whose name I do not know. He it was who took me round the Modif and allowed me (even encouraged me) to photograph. We went through the great gate into a little court with inscrips and entrelac, columned on 3 sides, and the walls with a rude band of frescoes, ships[?], 4 or 5 very antiquated pieces of artillery in it (before the time of Mohammad they said) into the kahwah columned too, where were the largest dallals I ever saw. The kahwaji has a little enclosed place to himself, against the wall, where he made us coffee, for the big hearth was cold. Then we went down a long passage to the left of the gate, between high walls but not roofed into another court with 3 or 4 more cannon, and so into the Modif court, in 2 storeys, columned all round. Below and above rooms for guests and the great dishes for meat and rice hung on the walls. At the farther end was the kitchen, its columns and roof black with smoke. The huge cooking pots, 2 of them big enough to boil a camel, stood raised on stones against the wall and along 2 sides the Saj for bread making. There is a slave to each saj. At one end the women were pounding taman[?] and singing as they worked. The dull reds or oranges of their robes splendid against the smoke black columns. Beyond the kitchen is a tiny open court with a water basin in it. The water is pumped in by a suwani outside. So back to the Modif court where I photographed and upstairs where we were brought dates and fresh butter. The balustrade of the gallery and also the roof are garnished with the usual battlement motive. Here the Arab shaikhs are lodged. Then back to the gate. The extraordinary beauty of the gate doorway with the slaves in their richly coloured cotton robes standing in it. I photographed outside, the Mashab and the mosque colonnade and then came in and had coffee in the Modif. The little Muhammad son of Tellal sat by me. As I walked away there came an invitation from Turkiyyeh. I went to her house with F. and M. al M. and 'Atullah and was received with enthusiam. She apologized for the smallness of her house after the qasr. I said it was the house of my sister. Inside the door was a tiny kahwah (she said it was the house of a woman - her husband receives his friends in the kahwah of his family's house - and then a court with a naranj and a citron growing in it - the fruit hung like big jewels. Out of this opened the room in which we sat. The bedroom to one side. Above this room was an upper roshan opening onto an open court and we went upstairs onto its roof and looked over Hayyil [Hail]. The women sitting on their roofs came in to see me and little Muhammad whom I photographed. Ya ba'd haiyyu[?]! said T. why do you come in clothes like a bedawi. You should wear shaikhs' clothes and a sword. She said she had gone to Mudi and Fatima and told all my tale and they said was that all? To which she replied that there was nothing else in my mind. Thereupon they let me go. When I got back to my house I went outside the town and photographed from the inscribed rock. A crowd of little boys, all very friendly. Singular beauty of Hayyil in the afternoon light, standing in the flat plain of clean grit, with the gardens about it and the rocky peaks of 'Ajah beyond. At night I paid off my men and then sat with Mabrukah and 'Atullah and drank tea in the dim kahwah, the columns lost in blackness.

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