Topsy-Turvy Land / Arabia Pictured for Children

Produced by Curtis Weyant, Melissa Er-Raqabi and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at http://www.pgdp.net.

Cover


TOPSY-TURVY LAND

ARABIA PICTURED
FOR CHILDREN

BY

SAMUEL M. ZWEMER

AND

AMY E. ZWEMER


ARAB BOYS.
ARAB BOYS.

TOPSY-TURVY LAND

ARABIA PICTURED
FOR CHILDREN

BY

SAMUEL M. ZWEMER

AND

AMY E. ZWEMER

Fleming H. Revell Company
NEW YORK CHICAGO TORONTO

Copyright, 1902 by
Fleming H. Revell Company
(July)

DEDICATED
TO THE BOYS AND GIRLS
WHO ARE HELPING TO TURN THE WORLD
UPSIDE DOWN


PREFACE

This is a book of pictures and stories for big children and small grown-up folks; for all who love Sinbad the sailor and his strange country. It is a topsy-turvy book; there is no order about the chapters; and you can begin to read it anywhere. It is intended to give a bird’s-eye view to those who cannot take birds’ wings. The stories are not as good as those of the Arabian Nights but the morals are better—and so are the pictures. Moreover the stories are true. You must not skip any of the chapters or the pictures but you may the preface, if you like.

{S.M.Z.
{A.E.Z.

Bahrein, Arabia.


Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


I

WHY IS ARABIA TOPSY-TURVY LAND?

On this big round earth there are all sorts of countries and peoples. Men walk on it on every side just like flies crawling over a watermelon and they do not fall off either. On the next page you can see how they travel all around the world; some in steamships, some in carriages or on horses, some in jinrickshaws and some in the railway coaches. In Topsy-turvy Land they have no railroads and not even waggon-roads or waggons. A horse or a camel or a donkey is used for passengers and the camel caravan is a freight train.

Or if you wish, the camel is a topsy-turvy ship which sails in the sand instead of in the water. It is called the ship of the desert. The masts point down instead of up; there are four masts instead of three; and although there are ropes the desert-ship has no sails and no rudder—unless the rudder be the tail. When the ship lies at anchor to be loaded it feeds on grass and the four masts are all snugly tucked away under the hull. In Arabia you generally see these ships of the desert in a long line like a naval procession, each battleship towing its mate by a piece of rope fastened from halter to tail! But not only is the mode of travel strange in Topsy-turvy Land, even the time of the day is all upside down. When the boys and girls of America are going to bed the boys and girls of Arabia are thinking of getting up. As early as four o’clock by western time the muezzin calls out loud from the top of the minaret (for Moslem churches have no steeples and no bells) to come and pray. Arabs count the hours from sunrise. It is noon at six o’clock and they breakfast at one; at three o’clock in the evening all good boys and girls are asleep.

MODES OF TRAVEL.
MODES OF TRAVEL.

In Topsy-turvy Land all the habits and customs are exactly opposite to those in America or England. For instance when a boy enters a room he takes off his shoes but leaves his hat on his head. I do not know whether we should call it a hat, however. His hat has no rim and is not made of felt or straw, but is just a folded handkerchief of a large size and bright colour with a piece of cord to hold it wound round his head—a sort of a hat in two pieces. The girls go without shoes but carefully cover their pretty (or ugly) faces with a black veil.

At home you eat with a spoon or use a knife and fork. Here the Arabs eat with their fingers; nor do they use any plates or butter dishes, but a large piece of flat bread serves as a plate until it is all eaten. So you see in Arabia the children not only eat their rice and meat but their plates also. You read a book from left to right but in Arabia everybody begins at the right-hand cover and reads backward. Even the lines read backward and in Arabic writing there are no commas or capitals and the vowels are written not next to the consonants but stuck up above them. Potato in Arabic would be written with English letters this way:

OAO
TTP

Can you read it?

In your country a carpenter stands at his bench to work, but here they sit on the ground. With you he uses a vise to hold the board or stick he is planing; here he uses his bare toes. With you he pushes the saw or, especially, the plane away from him to cut or to smooth a piece of wood, but in Topsy-turvy Land he pulls his tools towards him. Buttons are on the button-hole side and the holes are where you put the buttons. Door keys and door hinges are made of wood, not of iron as in the Occident. The women wear toe-rings and nose-rings as well as earrings and bracelets. Everything seems different from what it is in a Christian country.

One strange sight is to meet people out riding. Do you know that the men ride donkeys side-saddle, but the women ride as men do in your country? When a missionary lady first came to Bahrein in Eastern Arabia and the boys saw her riding a donkey they called out: “Come and see, come and see! The lady has no feet!” Because they saw only one side of her. Then another one called out and said: “Yes she has, and they are both on this side!”

EUROPEAN VISITORS ON DONKEYS.
EUROPEAN VISITORS ON DONKEYS.

Another odd custom is that Arabs always turn the fingers of the hand down as we turn them up in beckoning or calling anybody. Many other gestures seem topsy-turvy as well.

In your country boys learn the lesson of politeness—ladies first; but it is not so over here. It is men first in all grades of society; and not only men first but men last, in the middle, and all the time. Women and girls have a very small place given them in Topsy-turvy Land. The Arabs say that of all animal kinds the female is the most valuable except in the case of mankind! When a girl baby is born the parents are thought very unfortunate. How hard the Bedouin girls have to work! They are treated just like beasts of burden as if they had no souls. They go barefoot carrying heavy loads of wood or skins of water, grind the meal and make fresh bread every morning or spin the camel’s hair or goat’s hair into one coarse garment. They are very ignorant and superstitious, the chief remedies for sickness being to brand the body with a hot iron or wear charms—a verse from the Koran sewn up in leather or a string of blue beads, which are supposed to drive away evil influences.

How very thankful girls should be that in all Christian lands they have a higher place and a better lot than the poor girls and women of Arabia! For the greatest contrast is the religion of the inhabitants of Topsy-turvy Land. That is all upside down too. The Lord Jesus teaches us to pray in secret not to be seen of men; we are to go quietly alone and tell God everything. But Mohammed, the prophet of Arabia, taught his followers to pray openly on any street corner, or on the deck of a ship, in public, just like the Pharisees whom Jesus condemns. And when these people fast, as they are supposed to for a whole month, they do not really go without food, but each day at sunset they begin to eat in larger quantity than usual!—because they think by such fasting to gain favour with God and do not know that to fast from sin and evil habits is the fast God wants. Another thing very sad in this land of Topsy-turvy is that there are no Sunday-schools—they do not observe our Sabbath—and the boys and girls do not have bright Sunday-school lesson leaves or a picture-roll. They spend Sunday and every other day in learning all the evil they see in those that are grown up. Poor children! They have never heard the sweet words of Jesus, “Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” We tell you all this about them that you may pray for them that God may soon send more missionaries to preach to them these precious words. We want you all by prayer and offerings to help put a silver lining in the dark clouds of their lives.

The other chapters in this little book will tell you more about the land and its people and as you read them do not forget to pray for them.

If you are faithful and true, always shining for Jesus, your bright light will reach as far as dark Arabia, and will help to turn that land of Topsy-turvy right side up. When joy and gladness will take the place of sorrow and sadness, and ignorance give way to the knowledge of the Truth. In one place in the Bible it tells how to make these topsy-turvy lands right side up again. Do you know where that is? Acts 17:6-7. “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also … saying that there is another King, even JESUS.”


II

A LESSON IN GEOGRAPHY

In the atlas Arabia looks like a big mail-pouch hung up by the side of some railway station, pretty empty of everything. But this queer mail-pouch country is not as empty as people imagine. It is a country larger than all of the United States east of the Mississippi. It is longer than the longest mail-pouch and much wider. From north to south you can ride a camel one thousand miles and from east to west more than six hundred. But the geography of the country is topsy-turvy altogether and that is why it has been so long a neglected peninsula. People kept on wondering at the queer exterior of the mail-pouch and never opened the lock to its secrets by looking into the interior.

First of all, Arabia is perhaps the only land that has three of its boundaries fixed and the other always shifting. Such is the case with the northern boundary of Arabia. It is different on every map and changes every year because the inhabitants go about as nomads; that is, they “have no continuing city.”

Arabia has no rivers except underground. It has no railroad and very few roads at all. Some parts of the country are very green and fertile and in other parts there is not enough grass the year around to give one square meal to a single grasshopper. Arabia has four thousand miles of coast and yet only six harbours where steamers call. There are better maps of the North Pole and of Mars and of the moon than of southeastern Arabia. The reason is that men have spent millions of dollars to find the North Pole and telescopes are all the time looking at the moon; but no one has ever spent time or money to explore this part of Arabia. The Greek geographers had a better knowledge of Arabia than we have to-day.

MAP OF ARABIA.

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