FUNJ (FUNNIYEH, FUNG, FUNGHA), a very mixed negroid race, occupying parts of Sennar and the hilly country to the south between the White and Blue Niles. They traditionally come from west of the White Nile and are affiliated by some to the Kordofan Nubas, by others, more justifiably, to the negro Shilluks. These Funj, who became the dominant race in Sennar in the 15th century, almost everywhere assimilated the speech, religion and habits of the Arabs settled in that region. Until the 19th century they were one of the most powerful of African peoples in the eastern Sudan. About the end of the 15th century they overthrew the kingdom of Aloa, between the two Niles, and conquered the neighbouring peoples of the Sudan, Nubia and even Kordofan. The Funj had mixed much with the Arabs before their conquests, and had been converted to Islam. But they were still in many ways savages, for James Bruce (who traversed the district in 1772) says that their most famous king, Malek-el-Gahman, preferred human liver to any other food, and the Belgian traveller E. Pruyssenaere (1826-1864) found them still performing pagan rites on their sacred Mount Gula. Ernst Marno declared that as late as 1870 the most southern branch of the race, the Boruns, a non-Arabic speaking tribe, were cannibals. The Funj kings were content with levying tribute on their neighbours, and in this loose way Shendi, Berber and Dongola were once tributary. The Arab viziers gradually absorbed all power, the Funj sovereignty becoming nominal; and in 1821 the Egyptians easily destroyed the Funj domination. To-day the Funj are few, and represent no real type. They are a bright, hospitable folk. Many of them are skilful surgeons and go far afield in their work. The fellahin, indeed, call surgeons "Senaari" (men of Sennar). See further Sennar and Sudan (Anglo-Egyptian).
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