The Garden Guide

Book: History of Garden Design and Gardening
Chapter: Chapter 5: Gardens in Asia, America, Africa, Australia

Tangier Cemetery

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820. The cemetery of Tangier, which is beyond the walls (as is always the case in Barbary), is quite open, and extends to a considerable distance, containing almost as much space as is enclosed within the walls of the town. The ground, which is high and irregular, is in a state of nature, being overrun with scattered bushes ; while the luxuriancy of the vegetation almost entirely conceals the simple graves, which are merely surrounded by a border of stones, placed edgewise. The tombs, which consist generally of low white walls, are seen peeping out among the thickets of aloe and prickly pear, and have a pretty though mournful appearance. Here and there a white rag, suspended on a stick, denotes the humble resting-place of a saint of inferior fame; while, occasionally, the appearance of a small dome indicates one of greater reputation. The tomb and sanctuary of Sidi Mohammed el Hadje, who was a saint of very extended celebrity, strikes the eye at a distance, for no Christian is permitted to approach it ; and its white cupolas, emerging from the thick surrounding foliage, render it a picturesque object. The wild and melancholy look of this Moorish burial-ground is heightened by the mournful appearance of the Moorish women, who are to be seen at all hours, even at dawn of day, wandering through it. On the afternoon of Friday, the Mahometan sabbath, this burial ground is resorted to by great numbers of women of all ranks, who, enveloped in their deadly-looking hayks, wander, like unearthly beings, along the tangled winding paths, visiting the graves of their departed friends, strewing them with flowers, and offering up prayers for their repose. Sometimes they sit by the side of the tombs for hours, lost in meditation or in seeming converse with their departed friends; when their deathlike appearance presents to the imagination the form of a spirit newly risen from the grave, and, attired in its grave-clothes, hovering over the spot where its earthly remains have been laid. (Ibid., vol. ii. p. 279.)