by Ibn Battuta

Travelers often view their sightseeing through the perspectives of their own culture. One such early traveler noted how the women he saw differed from those he had known at home.

Their women are of surpassing beauty, and are shown more respect than the men. These people are Muslims, punctilious in observing the hours of prayer, studying the books of law, and memorizing the Koran. Yet their women show no bashfulness before men and do not veil themselves, though they are assiduous in attending prayers. Any man who wishes to marry ne of them may do so, but they do not travel with their husbands, and, even if one desired to do so, her family would not allow her to go. The women have their "friends" and "companions" amongst the men outside their own families.

Source:J.F.P. Hopkins and N. Levtzion, eds. and trans., Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West Africian History (Cambridge: Cambridge Univeristy Press, 1981).

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