events in Tigre
THE YEARS AND THE TIME WHICH THE BET-'ABREHE KNOW.
In the country of the Mänsa' But-'Abrehe they know the years and the
periods in which some great wonders and signs have happened. Or rather
they tell about the times at which those happened, and they reckon the
birth of their children according to them. Also they reckon the birth of
their children from the death of a well known man or from [the tirnes of
their robbing or their being robbed. Now the great years that are very
well known and about which they tell much are the following.
1. The "year of stagnations."
In the "year of stagnations" rain disappeared from the earth, and famine
came over men and over beasts. And they fed the animals with leaves
stripping the trees. And when the leaves were burned, they went with all
their animals to the lowlands near the sea; and there they found locusts
for them and fed them on them. And the milk of the animals
resembled the colour of the locusts. And those that were born in this
year have died as old People long ago, they say.
1) I. e. Degac Ubie who reigned in Northern Abyssinia about the middle
of the 19th century and who was vanquished by King Theodore in the year
2. The year of the first "Obe .
When Degac 'Obe (1) had begun to reign he made a robbing excursion
against the country of the Bet-'Abrehe and the Bogos. At first Dagac
'Obe had said to the' Bet-Abrehe: Give me tribute." But the Bet-"Abrehe
had not known of tribute up
to that time; thus, they refused [it] to him. And for this reason he
made a raid upon them. The flocks fled from him, he found little, but he
killed many people. Those that were born in this year have died as old
people not long ago.
3. The year of Degge-Tasasa or the second -'Obe (1849).
,Däkäc 'Obe made a second time a raid upon the Bet-'Abréhe, when their
village was in Tasasa (2). And he took rnany animal from them. And those
that were born in this year are living yet approaching old age.
1) 1. e. between Gäläb and Läba.
4. The time of Emperor Theodore. (1)
5. The year of the small-pox.
Even before that year they had known the small-pox, but up to that year
it had not come in all its strength.
And in that year there died of the Bet-'Abrehe about seven hundred
people, old and young. And they
vaccinated the people from the matter of each other. Those that were
born in this year, are living in the prime
6. The year of the denial.
In this year there was a great denial. At that time there was the
malaria in the country of the Bet-'Abréhe, and many people died of it.
And the denial was about death: for the old people buried the youths.
(2) Those that were born in it are living as young men.
7. The year of the pulmonary disease.
The Bet-'Abrehe had not known cattle-diseases up to that time. And in
that year a pulmonary disease came over their cattle: every cow began to
cough and died after a short sickness. And when they skinned her they
found that her lung was swollen and that there was in her abdominal
cavity something spun like a spider-web.
And they called the disease sambu' (lung). They vaccinated the cattle
from the blood of each other. And this year of the pulmonary disease is
known in all the Tigre country. And only one or the other cow escaped
from the disease. Those that were born in this year are also living as
i) I. e. 1855-1868.
2) The youths denied their duty toward the old people: the opposite of
what ought to have happened.
8. The time of Emperor John and. of Ras Alula. (1)
9. The year of the earth-quake.
In this year there was an earth-quake in the whole Tigre country. About
noon-time the earth was torn asunder and trembled much; and on the
mountains fires were kindled. (2) And many large bowlders that are now
in the plain fell down from the mountains at that time, they say. And by
the [se] stones that fell down some people were
wounded in the country of the Mänsa' Bet-'Abrehe. And in the clefts of
the earth also fire was seen, they say. And there are [people] who have
seen a cow swallowed by the earth. And the earth-quake stopped after a
And also the fires were soon exstinguished. Even those that were born in
that year are living as young men. And this time is very well known.
10. The year of Wad-Qedras.
In this year the Bet-'Abrehe quarrelled among themselves, and they were
divided into three factions. Now Wad-Qedräs was a follower of the party
of Kantebay Be'emnet. And he insulted a man calling him "sorcerer"'
without any reason. And the man that had been insulted had Wad-Qedras
killed for this word. (3) But afterwards he payed the weregelt and gave
also "house and cattle" (4) to the son of the dead.
i) I. e. about 1870-I890. Emperor John died in t889, Ras Alula in 1898.
2) A proof that there are volcanoes in Abyssinia.
3) Literally "lip."
4) I. e. He married his daughter to him without pay and gave her a
11. The year of Gerdefan.
Gerdefan was a man of the 'Ad Takles. And the Bet'Abrehe made a raid
upon his flocks and killed him there. And they came with his cattle and
12.The year of 'Azzazi.
The Bet-'Abrehe were once split into parties. And 'Azzazi, the son of
Hebtes, sided with the one party. And when the two parties fought,
'Azzazi killed a prominent man of the other party, and afterwards he
died there also.
Those that were born in this year are living as youths.
13. The time of Egyptian rule or the time of Mestenger-Basa. (1)
I4. The year of the Turks and the Amhara.
In this year the Turks fought with Emperor John at Gera'. (Gura) and at
Kesad-'Eqqa, and Emperor John was
15. The year of the murrain.
In this year a disease came over the cattle. And it made them sick: it
made their hair look singed, their ears hang down, their eyes water, and
their mouths drivel. Finally they died of it. And that was the end of
their abundance of cattle. And because it did not leave over (anything),
they called it gelhay, i. e. the shaved (bald) one.
16. The year of 'Enti-écwu. (3)
1) l. e. Munzinger Pasha: the time is about 1870-1880.
2) 1, e. the war between the Egyptians and Emperor John in 1876.
3) I.e. 1896; the battle of Adua is meant. General Baratieri moved from
Entiscio to Adoa.