National Geographic : 1937 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE © John D. Whiting PULVERIZING DESERT COFFEE SUGGESTS AN AMERICAN DRUGGIST MIXING A PRESCRIPTION The beans are crushed in a wooden mortar with a long wooden pestle. The tribesman pounds in rhythm, "to the accompaniment of a droll song-so many downward strokes and so many taps on the sides of the mortar" (page 72). At his elbow stand large coffeepots. a boy told me that the tomb was that of one of the "great sheiks of times long ago," whose descendants still rule the sur rounding region. I asked why the grave of so great a man should be besmeared with likenesses of kitchen implements. CARVINGS PROVE GENEROSITY The boy showed a haughty disdain for my ignorance. "These are not 'tools of the kitchen,' " he said, "but emblems of gen erosity. They mean that his coffeepot never stopped boiling, his dagger always dripped with the blood of fatlings, his meat dish was nightly surrounded by guests." There are no inns or even fixed abodes in these Bedouin deserts. Yet hospitality toward the wayfarer is traditional. It works two ways. The wayfarer finds water, food, lodging, and protection. The clans, in turn, are diverted from the monotony of their every day lives. Recently I arrived at a camp of Trans Jordan Bedouins after a very hard day's journey. The sun had set and the western sky was stained with pastel pinks and purples. Welcome indeed was the sight of the Arabs' black tents nestled together in a rocky hollow. Youths rushed from here and there to meet us. One seized my horse's head, an other the stirrup to steady my saddle as I dismounted. I asked to be conducted to the guest section of the sheik's tent. In a large camp, lesser chiefs sometimes contend with the sheik for the right of entertaining the guest. In such a case it is a desert law that the guest's choice of a host is final. DESERT WELCOME FOLLOWS A RITUAL As I approached the tent, the sheik came to meet me, bowing many times. Part of the exchange of greetings is a very defi nite etiquette of posture and movement.