Pallme Family

Back Home Up Next


Ignaz's Passport (1826)

Ignaz Pallme (-Tausch)


Ignaz Pallme biography
Travels in Kordofan
(Abstracts from Ignaz's book)
(Geography, hinabitants, history, ecc.)
Abstract from Ignaz's remarks
(Behaviour of Kordofan people, Deseases and medicine in Kordofan)
Catholic Missionaries in Sudan
(Anacleto Casolani)
(Books and articles about Ignaz Pallme)


Ignaz Pallme with his wife
(second half of 19th century)






Ignaz Samuel Pallme was born in Steinschönau on 1st Feb 1807 and died in Hainburg near Vienna on 11th June 1877. He was sons of Franz Anton Palme (born in 1762) and therefore member of the Pallme-Tausch clan, mainly glass traders with business activity in Italy. He carried out his business activity (Trader) in Italy (Naples, Palermo, Trieste) and in Cairo (1830-1840 ?) and used to travel in Egypt and Sudan.

He is famous because he spent 3 years (1837-1839) in Sudan for a business mission: during this period he also looked for the sources of the Nile river. After his return in Austria, he wrote 

a book "Kordofan" published nearly in the same time (1843 or 1844) in Germany and in England. 
Both German and English copies are at the Austrian National Library (Signat 393870 B, Band 24) in Vienna. Based on notes collected during a residence of nearly two years in Kordofan, the book is embracing a description of that province of Egypt and of some of the bordering countries, with a review of the present state of the commerce in those countries, of the habits and customs of the inhabitants, as also an account of the slave-hunts taking place under the government of Mehemed Ali.

an article  "Die Nubaneger" in Das ausland (Stuttgart und Tübingen) 15. Jg.: Nr. 140 und 141 (1842).

[ Top ]  


Travels in Kordofan
Abstracts from Ignaz's book

Ignaz's preface
TOWARDS the close of the year 1837 I undertook, at the request of a friend, a journey into the most distant portion of the countries under the government of the Viceroy of Egypt, in order to collect information referring to commerce, but more especially with the view of convincing myself whether trade might be carried on with these countries directly, instead of through the intermediation of agents, in whose hands it had hitherto rested. The task, although rather arduous, was not displeasing to me, for a residence of several years in Egypt had rendered me tolerably proficient in the Arabic language and colloquial dialect, and my prior travels in various parts of the Soudan had made me familiar with the habits of the natives, besides procuring me the acquaintance of many merchant from the more distant provinces. With these advantages I travelled during nineteen months in all directions through these countries. Whilst on my journey, or sojourning in any place, I noted down in my journal everything that appeared to me remarkable, which I laid before my friends for their amusement on my return. It is with their advice, and more particularly at the instigation of the celebrated French traveller Antoine d'Abbadie, that the information I was able to collect respect-ing a country of which so little was formerly known, now appears in print. My journey was strictly mercantile in its tendency; I cannot, therefore, venture on so explicit a description as might be expected of a traveller or a man well versed in the various sciences a traveller should profess, and yet I am not altogether diffident, inasmuch as I think that my small contribution will at least forma short guide for those who may be willing to explore these countries more fully hereafter, as it will give them many a hint before they reach these climes, which will save them much trouble and inconvenience during their residence in Kordofan. Although two distinguished German travellers

Englishh translator's preface
Ignaz Pallme, a Bohemian by birth, undertook the journey to Kordofan, on commission, for a mercantile establishment at Cairo, in the hope of discovering new channels of traffic with Central Africa. In the pursuit of his object, he sojourned longer in the country than any Euro-pean before him; the information he furnishes respecting the present state of this province of Egypt in particular, and of the Belled Soudan in general, may, therefore, be considered the most authentic in existence at the present time. That few travellers have visited these countries, and subjected the information they were enabled to collect to print, may be deduced from the facts, that scarcely one-half of the places mentioned in the work before us are to be found on the most recent maps; and that in referring to the literature on these countries, for making a comparison between Pallme's opinions and those of other authors, many difficulties were experienced, and many researches proved ungratified. 
The original is characterised by an ingenuous and unassuming style; and it has been my chief endeavour to paraphrase the text as closely as compatible with the two languages. Those idiomatic constructions which may be met with in the translation, are owing to this strict adherence to the original; but I have at least the consolation of knowing that the loss by solecism may be considered as gain in authenticity—the chief object of the undertaking. Pallme's orthography has been generally followed as regards Arab terms, excepting where the same words are familiar to the public in a different garb, or where they are to be found otherwise spelt, in at least two accredited English authors; for it was impossible to furnish the certain literation, as the Arab character is not affixed to the original text.
May 1st, 1844

German preface
Der in Böhmen geborene Österreicher Ignaz Pallme hielt sich gleichzeitig mit Russeggers Expedition im Sudan auf. Er reiste allein und aus Handelsinteressen. Um 1830 war Pallme Teilhaber einer Handelsgesellschaft in Kairo, der später auch sein Bruder Joseph angehörte. 
Begleitet von einem Diener bereiste Pallme 1837-1839, 19 Monate lang, Kordofan. Die meiste Zeit verbrachte er in El-Obeid, die genauen Reiserouten sind unbekannt. 1838 nimmt Pallme aneiner Sklavenjagd für Mehmed Ali teil. Nach einigen Schwierigkeiten mit dem Sultan von Darfur kehrte Pallme nach Kairo zurück, wo er auf Anregung des französischen Reisenden Antoine dAbbadie sein Reisewerk niederschreibt. 
Es enthält zahlreiche Notizen zur Wirtschaft und dem Handel, als auch Einblicke indie Lebensgewohnheiten der Bewohner Darfurs. Bei einem längeren Aufenthalt inKobe, der damaligen Hauptstadt von Darfur, befreundete er sich mit dem Bruder des Sultan. Dieser hatte einen Unfall mit Pallmés Gewehr, woraufhin Pallme über Nubien nach Kairo flüchtete, wo er 1841 eintraf. - Kainbacher 301; Engelmann 112; Henze IV, 5f.; Zach 45ff.

Chapter I - Borders, rivers, soil and climate
KORDOFAN, one of the most southern provinces under the government of the Viceroy of Egypt, extends in the north from Haraza to Kodero, in the south from the Nuba mountains, and east wardsfrom Caccia to the Shilluk or Shillook* mountains, about four degrees of longitude. The desert of Dongola forms its northern border, that of Darfurits western limit. Towards the south, no definite confines can be described, as the extent of these dominions increases or decreases accordingly as their habitants of this part of the country become tributary, either by their own free-will, or are rendered subjects by force, as occasionally occurs, and subsequently free themselves from the yoke. On this account the present government has divided the country into five districts, and regards Kodero, and the free heathen Nuba, as its southern border.
Kordofan has no townships on the Bahr-Abiad, or White Nile, for the village nearest to this river is situate at a distance of about four hours' march from its banks. The Nomadic tribes, inhabiting the western shore, belong to the realms of Sennaar, and are entirely distinct from the natives of Kordofan ; the Bakara-Kubbabeesh° only, a Nomadic tribe, also, frequently drive their herds to the borders of the White River for pasturage. The five districts are named severally: Korci, Bara, Ketshmar, Abou-Haraz, and Dayara. Each of them is governed by a Casheff, or captain of the district, who is at the same time captain in a regiment of the line. Taking a general view of Kordofan, it maybe said to consist chiefly of a cluster of small and large oases, which are not far distant from each other, as in the Great Desert. The soil is sandy throughout, and the country is rather flat than mountainous. In the vicinity of Haraza, however, a chain of mountains arises, shelving off towards the White River; while the mountains in the interior are in considerable, several of which may be seen towards the south and south-east. The soil is, on the whole, very fertile; for, with the commencement of the rainy season, vegetation springs up from the earthas if by magic, and nature then shows herself in her full vigour and pomp; balsamic odours, which act almost intoxicatingly on the senses, are everywhere breathed forth, and the traveller might imagine himself transplanted into the fairy gardens of the Arabian Nights' tales. Kordofan has no flowingrivers; during the rainy season, some few running streams are formed, but these dry up as quickly as they appear. Thereare several lakes, or large ponds, in the country, amongst which those at Arat, Birget#, Ketshmar,and Caccia, are the most considerable; in the latter, many leeches are found; but the other stagnant waters, which are generated during the rainy sea-son, quickly evaporate, and only those above-named contain water throughout the year. In the vicinity of Haraza, in a north-easterly direction from the village, pure and fresh water for drinking is found on the summit of a mountain during the whole year. There is an abundance of iron ore in the province, respecting which more explicit information may be gleaned from the work of Russegger, the Royal Imperial inspector of mines, who, in the year 1837, travelled through this country as far as Sheibon, to which book I must refer my readers, as geognostic research was not the purpose of my travels. The climate is very unhealthy, especially during the rainy season; no hut is then, indeed, to be met with in which there are not at least several sick; in the dry season, again, all disease disappears; at this time, however, not only man, but all living creatures, suffer from the extreme heat. The eye then rests with melancholy on the desolate and parched plains,— trophies of the victory of the heat over animated nature,—where nothing is to be seen but bones of menand animals bleached by the burning sun. During the whole of this season, which endures about eight months, the sky is clear and cloudless, and the heat is insupportable, especially in the months of April and May. From eleven o'clock, A.M., to three, P.M., when the thermometer stands in the shade at 38°,or even at 40°, Reaumur (117° to 122° Fahrenheit), it is impossible for any breathing creature to remain in the open air. Every living being, both men and cattle, with equal eagerness seek the shade, to protect themselves from the scorching rays of a fierce sun. Man sits during these hours as if in a vapour-bath, his cheerfulness of disposition declines, and he is almost incapable of thought; listless, and with absence of mind, he stares vacantly before him, searching in vain for a cool spot. The air breath edis hot as if it proceeded from a heated furnace, and acts in so enervating a manner on the animal economy, that it becomes a trouble even to move a limb. All business ceases, everything is wrapped in a sleep of death, until the sun gradually sinks, and the cool air recalls men and animals again into life and activity. The nights, on the other hand, are so sharp, that it is necessary to be more careful in guarding against the effects of cold in this country, than in the northern parts of Europe during the severest winter, for the consequences frequently prove fatal. During the whole year, day and night

* The Rev. J. Russell's Nubia and Abyssinia, p. 179.—Tr
• A pastoral race
# Birket, as found on the maps of Arrowsmith.

Chapter II - History
EVERY one will agree that it is no easy matter to write the history of a country, or, rather, of a province, whose inhabitants live in a state of utter ignorance, and care little for the occurrences which took place but half the period of the life of man before them. There, exist, moreover, no chronicle scapable of giving information on any event which might serve as reference ; thus I was unable to ex-tend my researches, or to learn more than was com-municated to me by a faquir,* seventy-eight years of age, who appeared to me worthy of belief, and who had been an eye-witness of all the recent events. Kordofan takes its name from a mountain, situ-ate at three and a half hours' march to the south-east of Lobeid. The aborigines are African natives from Nubia, who, even at the present time, inhabit manyparts of Kordofan. The word Kordofan itself is of Nubian derivation. Three tribes subsequently immigrated : the Hadejat, el Giomme, and Bederie.
The period of this immigration, however, cannot be definitely determined. These three nomadic tribes distributed themselves over the country round about Mount Kordofan, occupied themselves with cattle-breeding, and each tribe had its sheikh, or magistrate ; but from these three tribes, collectively, a beadwas chosen, who acted as impartial judge in all questions of difficulty, and, in fact, as the last authority. This people became, towards the middle of the last century, better acquainted with Sennaar. The King- of Sennaar, namely, sent, in the year 1779, the Sheikh Nacib, with two thousand cavalry, to take possession of the country, and the tribes surrendered, with a pretty good grace, to their fate, without ottering much resistance. Thus they remained for about five years, under the government of Sennaar. A Melekwas instituted, and the people felt themselves happy under his government. Several Arab tribes, and people from Sennaar and Dongola, immigrated into the country, and agriculture and commerce began to flourish. Darfour now directed its attention to-wards this province, and entered on a campaign, in which the Melek-el-Hashma was driven out of Sennaar, and expelled the country for ever. Meleks now governed this country in the name of the Sultan of Darfour, up to the year 1821, during thirty-five years of the reign of Mehemed Ibn Fadels. During this epoch the country was also prosperous; the inhabitants lived in peace, and were not troubled with taxes; the merchants were exempt from

* A hermit, and also a schoolmaster

[ Top ]  



KORDOFAN, a country of north-east Africa, forming a mudiria (province) of Sudan. It lies mainly between 12° and 16° W. and 29° and 32r E., and has an area of about 130,000 sq. m., being bounded W. by Darfur, N. by the Bayuda steppes, E. by the White Nile mudiria and S. by the country of the Shilluks and other African tribes, forming part of the Upper Nile mudiria. The greater part of Kordofan consists of undulating plains, riverless, barren, monotonous, with an average altitude of 1500 ft. Thickets and small acacias dot the steppes, which, green during the kharif or rainy season, at other times present a dull brown burnt-up aspect. In the west, isolated peaks, such as Jebel Abu Senum and Jebel Kordofan, rise from 150 to 600 ft. above the plain. North-west are the mountain groups of Kaja and Katul (2000 to 3000 ft.), in the east are the Jebel Daier and Jebel Tagale (Togale), ragged granitic ranges with precipitous sides. In the south are flat, fertile and thickly wooded plains, which give place to jungle at the foot of the hills of Dar Nuba, the district forming the southeast part of Kordofan. Dar Nuba is well-watered, the scenery is diversified and pretty, affording a welcome contrast to that of the rest of the country. Some of the Nuba hills exceed 3000 ft. in height. The south-western part of the country, a vast and almost level plain, is known as Dar Homr. A granitic sand with abundance of mica and feldspar forms the upper stratum throughout the greater part of Kordofan; but an admixture of clay, which is observable in the north, becomes strongly marked in the south, where there are also stretches of black vegetable mould. Beneath there appears to be an unbroken surface of mica schist. Though there are no perennial rivers, there are watercourses (khors or wadis) in the rainy season; the chief being the Khor Abu Habl, which traverses the southcentral region.

The inhabitants are roughly divisible into two types - Arabs in the plains and Nubas in the hills. Many of the villagers of the plains are however of very mixed blood - Arab, Egyptian, Turkish, Levantine and African. It is said that some village communities are descended from the original African inhabitants. They all speak Arabic. The most important village tribe is the Gowama, who own most of the gum-producing country. Other large tribes are the Dar Hamid and the Bederia - the last-named living round El Obeid.

Of the early history of Kordofan there is little record. It never formed an independent state. About the beginning of the 16th century Funj from Sennar settled in the country; towards the end of that century Kordofan was conquered by Suleiman Solon, sultan of Darfur. About 1775 it was conquered by the Funj, and there followed a considerable immigration of Arab tribes into the country. The Sennari however suffered a decisive defeat in 1784 and thereafter under Darfur viceroys the country enjoyed prosperity. In 1821 Kordofan was conquered by Mahommed Bey the defterdar, son-in-law of Mehemet Ali, pasha of Egypt.

[ Top ]  


Abstracts from Ignaz's remarks

Behaviour of Kordofan people

I can not sufficiently praise the kind and even cordial behaviour of the people of kordofan. I could not have expected better treatment in my own country, from my nearest relations. P.104. The natives of Kordofan are altogether the best tempered people in the world. 95. In Kordofan the traveller meets everywhere with a kind hospitable reception. P. 92 (Ignatious Pallme: Travel in Kordofan, London, 1844

Deseases and medicine in Kordofan

In his book, Ignatius Pallme wrote his observations on the diseases of Kordofan. He said that the chief diseases are fevers, dysentery, abscesses about the neck (called durore) [tuberculous adenitis!],[11] dropsy, small pox, jiggers, skin diseases, and lues [syphilis]. For treating durore, he said, ‘they open the abscesses with the actual cautery, and when the matter is discharged, dress the wound with an ointment prepared of butter and clay’. He said that syphilis had been totally unknown in this region in the preceding century, and the local people had only been inoculated a few years before he wrote, when the stationing of Egyptian troops in the province, provided the impetus and the technical means. He also described how the local people of Kordofan give lavage through an enema syringe.

“The lavements [lavages] are administered in the following manner: they take the thigh bone of a fowl, and clearing away the marrow, fasten to it a portion of the intestines of a sheep, into which they pour a decoction of qara’ [pumpkin!], and then insert the pipe into the anus, compressing the gut until the whole of the contents pass into the abdomen.”[32]

[ Top ]  


Catholic Missionaries in Sudan

At this time (about 1844) Annetto Casolani - a priest from Malta, who had studied in Rome and knew Arabic - was fascinated by the exploration taking place in Africa. When reading the book by the Austrian Ignaz Pallme, he learnt about the people of Kordofan, and their world of slavery, slave-hunting and slave-markets /*/. He persuaded the Vatican to set up the Vicariate of Central Africa in 1846 which covered an enormous area from the Red Sea as far as the Atlantic in places and as far south as modern Zimbabwe.

/*/ There are no solid figures for the number of Nuba that were abducted into slavery during the Turkeyya. Indications range from 5000 in one specific year - 1843 - (Denman, 1986: 73) to an estimated annual 10- to 12,000 for the whole period (Schultze, 1963: 31). On top of the raids by the army and the Bagara, it seems that some Nuba tribes also sufferend from raids by other Nuba tribes (Pallme, 1844: 160, 168).

[ Top ]  



  1. Der Afrikaforscher Ignaz Pallme
    doctorate research carried out by Dr Josef Lumpe.
    It was submitted on 8th June 1936 to the University oh Prague.

  2. Annali universali di statistica economia pubblica, storia, viaggi e commercio (1843 lug, Serie 1, Volume 77, Fascicolo 229) 
    Descrizione di Kordofan e di alcuni paesi limitrofi, con relativi cenni intorno al commercio, alle usanze ed alla moralità degli abitanti, come pure intorno alle caccie degli schiavi fatte per ordine di Mehemed-Aly: di Ignazio Pallme (G. L.)
    Original copy of an article concerning Ignaz’ book is at Biblioteca Braidense, Milano

  3. Der Ackermann aus Boehmen (1938) ,
    Adam Kraft Verlag – Karlsbad (pages 121-127, 175-178, 216-222),
    available at the Austrian National Library in Vienna

  4. "k.u.k. kolonial. Habsburgermonarchie und europäische Herrschaft in Afrika"
    by Walter Sauer - Böhlau Verlag ( 2002.
    A chapter concerning Ignaz Pallme (-Tausch), written by Dr Michael H. Zach (Institut für Afrikanistik der Universität Wien), is in this book.

  5. L’Africa nera fra Cristianesimo e Islam. L’esperienza di Daniele Comboni.
    Giampaolo Romanato, Corbaccio, 2003

[ Top ]  


Contact for further information

For any further information about Ignaz Pallme, you can contact Oscar Pallme *