chapter  XXVII
7 Pages

Of how the Preste on his march reached the plains of Jartafaa, and of what he found there; and of how certain Portuguese, with the permission of the Preste, went to Massowa to seek shipping for India

I can find no account of a visit to the rock-churches of Lalibela in the narrative of any English traveller. There are, however, four descriptions of them accessible: one in the Verdadeira Informafam of Alvarez, who visited them in the first quarter of the sixteenth century; a translation of his work has been published by the Hakluyt Society (vol. 64, 1881). The remaining three are in the works of modern travellers: Rohlfs, who saw them at the time of the English expedition of 1868, and whose book, Land und Volk in Africa, was published in 1870; Raffray, whose works on this subject are a monograph on the churches, with drawings, dimensions, and plans, published in 1882; and an account of his Abyssinian journey in the Bulletin de la Societe de Geographie de Paris, 1882 ; and lastly, Gabriel Simon's L' Ethiopie, ses moeurs, etc., which appeared in 1885. These two last travellers were at Lalibela in company. There is, further, a translation of part of one of the Ethiopian manuscripts in the British Museum (Or. MSS. 718,719), published byPerruchon in }892, under the title "Vie de Lalibala," in the Publications de l'Ecole des lettres d' Alger,. in this there is a valuable compendium of the facts from the side of research. From this volume, and Raffray's monograph, which Perruchon had not seen, a complete idea of these churches can be gained. Simon's work should also be consulted for the details of the decoration. There are about two hundred rock-churches within a comparatively short distance of these particular ones, but it is allowed that these are the finest examples of the class.