Ibn Battuta : biography
The Sahara to Mali and Timbuktu
In the autumn of 1351, Ibn Battuta left Fez and made his way to the town of Sijilmasa on the northern edge of the Sahara in present-day Morocco.; ; There he bought a number of camels and stayed for four months. He set out again with a caravan in February 1352 and after 25 days arrived at the dry salt lake bed of Taghaza with its salt mines. All of the local buildings were made from slabs of salt by slaves of the Masufa tribe, who cut the salt in thick slabs for transport by camel. Taghaza was a commercial centre and awash with Malian gold, though Ibn Battuta did not form a favourable impression of the place, recording that it was plagued by flies and the water was brackish.; ;
After a ten-day stay in Taghaza, the caravan set out for the oasis of Tasarahla (probably Bir al-Ksaib) where it stopped for three days in preparation for the last and most difficult leg of the journey across the vast desert. From Tasarahla, a Masufa scout was sent ahead to the oasis town of Oualata, where he arranged for water to be transported a distance of four days travel where it would meet the thirsty caravan. Oualata was the southern terminus of the trans-Saharan trade route and had recently become part of the Mali Empire. Altogether, the caravan took two months to cross the of desert from Sijilmasa.; ;
From there, Ibn Battuta travelled southwest along a river he believed to be the Nile (it was actually the river Niger), until he reached the capital of the Mali Empire. There he met Mansa Suleyman, king since 1341. Dubious about the miserly hospitality of the king, he nevertheless stayed for eight months. Ibn Battuta disapproved of the fact that female slaves, servants and even the daughters of the sultan went about completely naked.Jerry Bently, Old World Encounters: Cross-Cultural Contacts and Exchanges in Pre-Modern Times (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993),131. He left the capital in February accompanied by a local Malian merchant and journeyed overland by camel to Timbuktu.; ; ; Though in the next two centuries it would become the most important city in the region, at that time it was a small city and relatively unimportant. It was during this journey that Ibn Battuta first encountered a hippopotamus. The animals were feared by the local boatmen and hunted with lances to which strong cords were attached.; After a short stay in Timbuktu, Ibn Battuta journeyed down the Niger to Gao in a canoe carved from a single tree. At the time Gao was an important commercial center.; ;
After spending a month in Gao, Ibn Battuta set off with a large caravan for the oasis of Takedda. On his journey across the desert, he received a message from the Sultan of Morocco commanding him to return home. He set off for Sijilmasa in September 1353, accompanying a large caravan transporting 600 black female slaves, and arrived back in Morocco early in 1354.; ;
- The interiors of the Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai, UAE, opened in 2005, is inspired by the travels of Ibn Battuta, and carries the theme throughout the mall.
- The 2007 BBC television documentary Travels with a Tangerine, hosted by classicist Tim Mackintosh-Smith, traces Ibn Battuta’s journey from Tangier to China.
- He was portrayed by Richar van Weyden in the film Ninja Assassin (2009). His fictional persona is mentioned as being invited to the undisclosed training grounds in an oral history about the Ninja clans.
- Ibn Batuta pehen ke joota is a popular Hindi nursery rhyme from the 1970s, written by the poet Sarveshwar Dayal Saxena.
- Ibn-E-Batuta is a song from the 2010 Bollywood film Ishqiya, titled after Ibn Batuta.
- Layar Battuta is a song from the 2002 Malaysian album Aura sung by popular ethnic singer-songwriter Noraniza Idris, titled after the journey of Ibn Batuta to Southeast Asia.
- The 2009 IMAX film Journey to Mecca is based on Ibn Battuta’s travels.
- Unearthed: Trail of Ibn Battuta, The Video Game developed in Saudi Arabia, Available in Xbox and PlayStation 3, on May 2013.