386 PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
see one near the Shoemakers' Bazaar, on page 398, and another more important one opposite
the citadel, on page 400.
Outside the north-eastern (the Christian) quarter of Damascus, on the north-east road,
called " the Zenobian way," which leads to Palmyra, and is approached from Bab Tuma (see
page 416), there are many very attractive cafes, frequented chiefly by Christians, where the
favourite beverage is raki, or raisin brandy. Here, too, there are some large gardens, where
native family parties frequently spend the day from sunrise to sunset. But the pleasantest
place for a picnic, according to my experience, is by the swiftly flowing stream which traverses
the myrtle plantations of the Salihiyeh, the north-western suburb of Damascus, when the ever-
fragrant trees, which rise to the height of sixty or seventy feet, are covered with blossom, or in
December, when the fruit (which is a valuable astringent) is quite ripe. The trees are heavily
taxed, but a large revenue is derived from the sale of myrtle branches, with which mourners in
Muslim cemeteries decorate the tombs of their friends. It is very usual for all the women and
children of a Muslim family to go regularly once a week to the burial-ground, generally on
Thursday or Friday, to commune with the dead and place fresh flowers or myrtle branches on
the family grave.
There is an extensive and picturesque Muslim cemetery outside the eastern walls of the
city, and another still larger one on the south-west side, which is called " Makbaret Bab es
Saghir " (the Burial-ground of the Little Gate). A portion of this is shown on page 404.
The gate from which the cemetery derives its name leads from the densely populated quarter
called the Shagur, which is chiefly inhabited by peasants, and very rarely traversed by
strangers. The gate is sometimes called Bab esh Shagur. The Christian cemeteries are
on the south-east side of the city, and beyond them there are some very ancient Jewish graves.
In Damascus there are seventy large or, as they may be called, cathedral mosques
(Jamia), in which sermons are preached and congregational prayers are offered up for the
reigning Sultan every Friday. Besides these there are about one hundred and eighty Muslim
oratories or chapels (Mesjtd), to many of which schools are attached. Prayers are also
frequently said at the grated windows of the little shrines or tomb-houses of celebrated
welys, or saints, which are numerous in Damascus. Men of the higher classes rarely go to the
mosques except on Fridays, as they can command proper places for ceremonial ablution and
prayer in their own houses; but to a Muslim of the lower ranks, a large mosque which is
open every day from sunrise to sunset or later, is like a second home. In its courts or cloisters
he may not only rest and sleep, or read (see pages 388 and 403), but he may take his food
and eat it there, and even pursue any cleanly and simple avocation. Notwithstanding this
liberty the greatest decorum is observed.
The largest and most ancient mosque in Damascus is the Jamia el Amwy, " The Great
Mosque of the Omeiyades," which ranks only next in importance to the sanctuaries of Mekka,
Medina, and Jerusalem. " Amwy" literally translated means " the little slave-girl." Tab'ary,
the Arab historian, states that the Kinyah, or surname, of the founder of the Omeiyades dynasty