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Senegal (and inland West Africa) in the "Book of All Kingdoms"

Last modified: 2012-11-17 by rob raeside
Keywords: senegal | book of all kingdoms | tocoron | buda | guinoa | organa | tauser | tremecin | amenuan | gotonie |
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Tocoron

[Flag of Tocoron] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 November 2007

The 68th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to Tocoron, a city-state across the Sahara from Sijilmasa. This as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a white flag with black mountain outline, with seven trees (?), in the ogival default shape of this source. The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "E el rey d’esta Tocoron á por señales un pendón blanco e en medio un monte prieto, commo el rey de Guinoa." (And the king of this Torocon has for device a white pendon and on its middle a black hill, just as the king of Guinea.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 November 2007

The Halkyut Society edition refers to Tocoron as being Tammergrut on the banks of the Draa river. Could this be Tamegroute in Morocco?
Phil Nelson, 30 November 2007


Buda

[Flag of Buda] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 November 2007

The 69th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to Buda, a city-state in the Sahel. This as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a white flag with a red crescent (with black lining visible) pointing to the hoist but not in the ogival default shape of this source: the flag is quadrangular with eight round shallow scallops on the fly edge, and shows a black line where the said ogival shape would be in other flags. The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "E sus señales son un pendón blanco con una luna bermeja tal como esta." (And its device is a white pendon with a red moon like this one.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 November 2007

The only thing I can find is a reference in the Halkyut Society edition of Buda being an oasis south of the Atlas.
Phil Nelson, 30 November 2007


Guinoa

[Flag of Guinoa] image by António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 November 2007

The 70th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to Guinoa - Guinea, but not matching the current countries of the same name. This is, as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a yellow flag with black mountain outline, with seven trees (?), in the ogival default shape of this source. The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "El rey d’esta Guinoa ha por señales un pendón de oro e en medio un monte prieto." (The
king of this Guinea has for device a golden pendon and on its middle a black hill.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 30 November 2007

The Halkyut Society edition attributes this Guinea to Senegal.
Phil Nelson, 30 November 2007

And as a further clarification, the 1912 attribution of Senegal probably refers more to present day Mali, then the French colony of Upper Senegal and Niger, rather than to modern-day Senegal. "Guinea" to medieval Europeans meant what is now usually called "the Empire of Ghana" -not located in present Ghana, nor much of Guinea, but mostly in what is now Mali, extending a bit into modern Mauretania, Senegal, and Guinea. For maps of the Empire of Ghana see http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Ghana_empire_map.png and http://www.metmuseum.org/TOAH/hd/ghan/hd_ghan.htm#. For a map of 1912 Upper Senegal & Niger see http://www.terra.es/personal7/jqvaraderey/191206af.gif.
Ned Smith, 30 November 2007


Organa

[Flag of Organa] image by Eugene Ipavec, 6 January 2010

The 70th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to Organa, which the notes of the Halkyut edition locate in current northern Senegal. This is, as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a white flag with a green palm issuant from the bottom between two yellow upright keys pointing downwards, the flag in the ogival default shape of this source. According to the Halkyut edition (which shows a more detailed depiction), this image comes from manuscript "S". The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "E el rey d’esta Organa ha por señales un pendón blanco con una palma verde e dos llaves d’esta manera." (The King of Organa has for his device a white flag with a green palm tree and two keys, as translated in the Halkyut Society edition.
António Martins-Tuválkin, 1 December 2007

The National Geographic (1917) says "on the upper Senegal", which would place it in modern Mali. However some other sources suggest it was even further east, probably in modern Niger and Nigeria. Organa appears on some portolano maps roughly contemporary with the Book of Knowledge, and is shown to the east of the Mali Empire. For example see http://www.bnf.fr/enluminures/images/jpeg/i8_0000m.jpg. [Organa is represented by the monarch with blue robe, red shield, and scimitar.]

In addition, the "teasers" from some academic journals at J-STOR seem to support this. I cannot open the articles without a subscription but excerpts from some of the articles include:
"A kingdom of "Organa" appears regularly on fourteenth-century Catalan and Italian maps of west Africa in the land east of Mali."
...Traditions, Documents, and the Ife-Benin Relationship
John K. Thornton, History in Africa, Vol. 15, 1988 (1988), pp. 351-362

"In the Catalan Atlas of 1375 A.D. Bornu itself is called the Regnum Organa, or kingdom of the Rex Organa, a name which may be meant for Arkana" ...Trident-Gods in Sahara and Western Sudan
H. Richmond Palmer, Man, Vol. 41, May - Jun., 1941 (May - Jun., 1941), pp. 60-62

"Africa in European eyes became a land of principalities and powers- the Rex Malli (Melle), the Rex Organa (Bornu), Prester John, Ganuia (Guinea), etc.,..." ...Review: [Untitled]
Reviewed Work(s):
Caravans of the Old Sahara: An Introduction to the History of the
Western Sudan by E. W. Bovill
Author(s) of Review: H. R. P.
Journal of the Royal African Society, Vol. 32, No. 128 (Jul., 1933), pp. 328-329

Bornu was a kingdom whose core was in southern Niger and northeast Nigeria, bordering Lake Chad.

And for just one more possibility- if "Organa" is related to "Arkana" as one of the excerpts suggests, it might be of interest to note that about the relevant time, a ruler of the Songhai Empire, also in Niger was named Mar-Arkana. See http://starnarcosis.net/obsidian/noafrica.html#Songhai.

Ned Smith, 2 December 2007

Apart from color, this differs from the other "palm tree between two keys" flag in the Book, Tripoli (Libya) in that the keys are differently shaped and face in the same direction, not mirrored, and the palm tree bears fruit on its fronds, not in clusters hanging beneath the crown, which presumably means it is of a different species.
Eugene Ipavec, 6 January 2009


Tauser

[Flag of Tauser] image by Eugene Ipavec, 23 December 2009

The 72nd flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to Tauser, an oasis state probably somewhere in current Mauritania or Mali. This is, as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a yellow flag with black mountain outline, with seven trees (?), in the ogival default shape of this source. This is identical to the 70th flag, Guinoa, and the Halkyut edition does not illustrate it separately. The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "El rey d’este reinado Tauser "…"á por señales un pendón de oro con un monte prieto como el rey de Guinoa." ("The King of this kingdom of TAUSER"…"has for his device a flag of yellow with a black mountain, like the King of GUYNOA", as translated in the Halkyut edition.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 4 December 2007


Amenuan

[Flag of Amenuan] image by Eugene Ipavec, 7 December 2007

The 77th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to Amenuan, which according to the Halkyut edition is "Miniana and Amina, regions north of the Kong mountains." This is, as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a white flag with a black human contour, suggesting nakedness, facing the hoist and pointing towards it with his downward stretched right arm, the flag in the ogival default shape of this source. The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "E el rey dende á por señales un pendón blanco con una ídola tal." ("The King has a white flag with an idol", as translated in the Halkyut edition.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 6 December 2007.

This may be difficult to place as what information I've been able to derive about the Kong Mountains appears to point out that these were not a real mountain range. They appeared on several period maps as a range that divided Africa, but according to "The warped world of mental maps; students worldwide share a skewed vision of the continents" (http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+warped+world+of+mental+maps%3B+students+worldwide+share+a+skewed...-a012735579) is described as a fictitious mountain range, possibly in southern Mali. A French military officer, Louis-Gustave Binger, finally wiped the Kong Mountains off the maps after his well-publicized expedition to this region in the late 1880s.
Phil Nelson, 6 December 2007


Gotonie

[Flag of Gotonie] image by Eugene Ipavec, 7 December 2007

The 76th flag mentioned and illustrated in the Book of All Kingdoms is attributed to Gotonie. This is, as depicted in the 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription, a spear with a yellow cravatte with black pattern attached to its point and possibly a white flag in the ogival default shape of this source. The [original] image includes an ogival flag outline, but solid, not dashed; I can't decide if this is a white flag with yellow cravatte, as depicted, or just the cravatte with a black placeholder for a non existing flag. Anyway, this image is fully identical to the 51st, Ptolemais / Tolmeitha in Libya, which may indicate a placeholder, all-purpose image, not an observed design.

 The anonymous author of Book of All Kingdoms describes the flag thus: "E sus señales son unos tovajones de oro en una lança." ("Its device is some yellow sashes on a spear", as translated in the Halkyut edition.)
António Martins-Tuválkin, 6 December 2007.

The Halkyut text lists this kingdom in "Soudan and Senegambia".
Phil Nelson, 6 December 2007


 
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