Bertat - Encyclopedia

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BERTAT (Arab. Jebalain), negroes of the Shangalla group of tribes, mainly agriculturists. They occupy the valleys of the Yabus and Tumat, tributaries of the Blue Nile. They are shortish and very black, with projecting jaws, broad noses and thick lips. By both sexes the hair is worn short or the head shaved; on cheeks and temple are tribal marks in the form of scars. The huts of the Bertat are circular, the floor raised on short poles. Their weapons are the spear, throwing-club, sword and dagger, and also the kulbeda orthrowing-knife. Blocks of salt are the favourite form of currency. Gold washing is practised. Nature worship still struggles against the spread of Mahommedanism. The Bertat, estimated to number some 80,000, c. 1880, were nearly exterminated during the period of Dervish ascendancy (1884-1898) in the eastern Sudan. Settled among them are Arab communities governed by their own sheiks, while the meks or rulers of the Bertat speak Arabic, and show traces of foreign blood. (See Fazogli.) See Koeltlitz, "The Bertat," Journal of theAnthropological Institute, xxxiii. 5 1; Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, edited by Count Gleichen (London, 1905).

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