Massow Ati, Or Mesowafi
MASSOW ATI, or MESOWAFI, a town on the Abyssinian coast of the Red Sea, on a small coral island of the same name, in 15° 30' N. lat. and 39° 30' E. long. The height of the island is from 20 to 25 feet above the sea, the length does not exceed i• mile, and the breadth is about mile The western half is occupied by the town ; in the eastern half are Mohammedan burying-grounds and dismantled cisterns. Most of the dwelling-houses are mere straw huts ; the mosque, the Roman Catholic church, the Government buildings and custom-house, and the residences of the principal merchants are of stone. Water was formerly scarce, and had for the most part to be carried from the mainland ; but in 1872 an ancient aqueduct from Mokullu was restored, and continued by an embankment to the town. Besides the original Ethiopians, who speak a Tigre dialect corrupted with Arabic, the population, estimated at from 5000 to 6000, comprises Arabs from Yemen and Hadramaut, Gallas and Somalis, and Hindus from Surat. The trade, which consists mainly in exporting hides, butter, Abyssinian coffee, and civet, and importing European and Indian cotton goods and silks, increased in value from about £65,000 per annum in 1865 to from £240,000 to £280,000 between 1879 and 1881.
The island of Massowah (locally Base) has probably been inhabited from a very early date. It was at Massowah (Matzua, as they called it) that the Portuguese landed in 1542 under Christovan da Gains. Captured by the Turks in 1557, the island has remained inore or less strictly a Turkish possession ever since, A military colony of Bosnians settled at Arkiko was appointed, not only to defend it in ease of attack from the mainland, but to keep it supplied with water in return for $1400 per month from the town's customs. For some time in the close of last century Maseowah was held by the sherif of Mecca, and it afterwards passed under Mehemet Ali of Egypt. The Turks. were reinstated about 1850, but in 1865 they handed the island back to Egypt for an annual tribute of 2i million piastres.
See Bruce's Travels, vol. iv. ;lleuglin in Petermann's Mitikeilungen, 1860; Bassani, Brit. Mission to Abyssinia,.1869 ; Pennazzi in Nuova Antolo9ia, July 1880.