Part 12 out of 23
from Ludolf), in relating the conversion of the Abyssinians by Frumentius,
speak of them only as of the [Greek: Indon ton endotero], "Interior
Indians," a phrase intended to imply _remoter_, but which might perhaps
give rise to the term _Middle India_. Thus Cosmas says of China: "[Greek:
aes endotero], there is no other country"; and Nicolo Conti calls the
Chinese _Interiores Indi_, which Mr. Winter Jones misrenders "natives of
Central India." St. Epiphanius (end of 4th century) says _India_ was
formerly divided into nine kingdoms, viz., those of the (1) _Alabastri_,
(2) _Homeritae_, (3) _Azumiti_, and _Dulites_, (4) _Bugaei_, (5) _Taiani_,
(6) _Isabeni_, and so on, several of which are manifestly provinces
subject to Abyssinia. Roger Bacon speaks of the "Ethiopes de Nubia et
ultimi illi _qui vocantur Indi, propter approximationem ad Indiam_." The
term _India Minor_ is applied to some Ethiopic region in a letter which
Matthew Paris gives under 1237. And this confusion which prevailed more or
less till the 16th century was at the bottom of that other confusion,
whatever be its exact history, between Prester John in remote Asia, and
Prester John in Abyssinia. In fact the narrative by Damian de Goes of the
Embassy from the King of Abyssinia to Portugal in 1513, which was printed
at Antwerp in 1532, bears the title "_Legatio Magni_ Indorum
_Imperatoris_," etc. (_Ludolf, Comment._ p. 2 and 75-76; _Epiph. de
Gemmis_, etc., p. 15; _R. Bacon, Opus Majus_, p. 148; _Matt. Paris_, p.
Wadding gives a letter from the Pope (Alex. II.) under date 3rd Sept.
1329, addressed to the _Emperor of Ethiopia_, to inform him of the
appointment of a Bishop of Diagorgan. As this place is the capital of a
district near Tabriz (Dehi-Khorkhan) the papal geography looks a little
NOTE 2.--The allegation against the Abyssinian Christians, sometimes
extended to the whole Jacobite Church, that they accompanied the rite of
Baptism by branding with a hot iron on the face, is pretty old and
The letter quoted from Matt. Paris in the preceding note relates of the
Jacobite Christians "who occupy the kingdoms between Nubia and India,"
that some of them brand the foreheads of their children before Baptism
with a hot iron (p. 302). A quaint Low-German account of the East, in a
MS. of the 14th century, tells of the Christians of India that when a
Bishop ordains a priest he fires him with a sharp and hot iron from the
forehead down the nose, and the scar of this wound abides till the day of
his death. And this they do for a token that the Holy Ghost came on the
Apostles with fire. Frescobaldi says those called the Christians of the
Girdle were the sect which baptized by branding on the head and temples.
Clavijo says there is such a sect among the Christians of India, but they
are despised by the rest. Barbosa, speaking of the Abyssinians, has this
passage: "According to what is said, their baptism is threefold, viz., by
blood, by fire, and by water. For they use circumcision like the Jews,
they brand on the forehead with a hot iron, and they baptize with water
like Catholic Christians." The respectable Pierre Belon speaks of the
Christians of Prester John, called Abyssinians, as baptized with fire and
branded in three places, i.e. between the eyes and on either cheek.
Linschoten repeats the like, and one of his plates is entitled _Habitus
Abissinorum quibus loco Baptismatis frons inuritur_. Ariosto, referring to
the Emperor of Ethiopia, has:--
"_Gli e, s' io non piglio errore, in questo loco
Ove al baltesimo loro usano il fuoco._"
As late as 1819 the traveller Dupre published the same statement about the
Jacobites generally. And so sober and learned a man as Assemani, himself
an Oriental, says: "Aethiopes vero, seu Abissini, praeter circumcisionem
adhibent etiam ferrum candens, quo pueris notam inurunt."
Yet Ludolf's Abyssinian friend, Abba Gregory, denied that there was any
such practice among them. Ludolf says it is the custom of various African
tribes, both Pagan and Mussulman, to cauterize their children in the veins
of the temples, in order to inure them against colds, and that this, being
practised by some Abyssinians, was taken for a religious rite. In spite of
the terms "Pagan and Mussulman," I suspect that Herodotus was the
authority for this practice. He states that many of the nomad Libyans,
when their children reached the age of four, used to burn the veins at the
top of the head with a flock of wool; others burned the veins about the
temples. And this they did, he says, to prevent their being troubled with
rheum in after life.
Indeed Andrea Corsali denies that the branding had aught to do with
baptism, "but only to observe Solomon's custom of marking his slaves, the
King of Ethiopia claiming to be descended from him." And it is remarkable
that Salt mentions that most of the people of Dixan had a cross marked
(i.e. branded) on the breast, right arm, or forehead. This he elsewhere
explains as a mark of their attachment to the ancient metropolitan church
of Axum, and he supposes that such a practice may have originated the
stories of fire-baptism. And we find it stated in Marino Sanudo that "some
of the Jacobites and Syrians _who had crosses branded on them_ said this
was done for the destruction of the Pagans, and out of reverence to the
Holy Rood." Matthew Paris, commenting on the letter quoted above, says
that many of the Jacobites _before baptism_ brand their children on the
forehead with a hot iron, whilst others brand a cross upon the cheeks or
temples. He had seen such marks also on the arms of both Jacobites and
Syrians who dwelt among the Saracens. It is clear, from Salt, that such
branding _was_ practised by many Abyssinians, and that to a recent date,
though it may have been entirely detached from baptism. A similar practice
is followed at Dwarika and Koteswar (on the old Indus mouth, now called
Lakpat River), where the Hindu pilgrims to these sacred sites are branded
with the mark of the god.
(_Orient und Occident_, Goettingen, 1862, I. 453; _Frescob._ 114;
_Clavijo_, 163; _Ramus._ I. f. 290, v., f. 184; _Marin. Sanud._ 185, and
Bk. iii. pt. viii. ch. iv.; _Clusius, Exotica_, pt. ii. p. 142; _Orland.
Fur._ XXXIII. st. 102; _Voyage en Perse, dans les Annees_ 1807-1809;
_Assemani_, II. c.; _Ludolf_, iii. 6, sec. 41; _Salt_, in _Valentia's
Trav._ II. p. 505, and his _Second Journey_, French Tr., II. 219; _M.
Paris_, p. 373; _J.R.A.S._ I. 42.)
NOTE 3.--It is pretty clear from what follows (as Marsden and others have
noted) that the narrative requires us to conceive of the Sultan of Aden as
dominant over the territory between Abyssinia and the sea, or what was in
former days called ADEL, between which and _Aden_ confusion seems to have
been made. I have noticed in Note 1 the appearance of this confusion in R.
Benjamin; and I may add that also in the Map of Marino Sanudo Aden is
represented on the western shore of the Red Sea. But is it not possible
that in the origin of the Mahomedan States of Adel the Sultan of Aden had
some power over them? For we find in the account of the correspondence
between the King of Abyssinia and Sultan Bibars, quoted in the next Note
but one, that the Abyssinian letters and presents for Egypt were sent to
the Sultan of Yemen or Aden to be forwarded.
NOTE 4.--This passage is not authoritative enough to justify us in
believing that the mediaeval Abyssinians or Nubians did use elephants in
war, for Marco has already erred in ascribing that practice to the Blacks
There can indeed be no doubt that elephants from the countries on the west
of the Red Sea were caught and tamed and used for war, systematically and
on a great scale, by the second and third Ptolemies, and the latter
(Euergetes) has commemorated this, and his own use of _Troglodytic_ and
_Ethiopic_ elephants, and the fact of their encountering the elephants of
India, in the Adulitic Inscription recorded by Cosmas.
This author however, who wrote about A.D. 545, and had been at the Court
of Axum, then in its greatest prosperity, says distinctly: "The Ethiopians
do not understand the art of taming elephants; but if their King should
want one or two for show they catch them young, and bring them up in
captivity." Hence, when we find a few years later (A.D. 570) that there
was one great elephant, and some say _thirteen_ elephants, employed in
the army which Abraha, the Abyssinian Ruler of Yemen led against Mecca, an
expedition famous in Arabian history as the War of the Elephant, we are
disposed to believe that these must have been elephants imported from
India. There is indeed a notable statement quoted by Ritter, which if
trustworthy would lead to another conclusion: "Already in the 20th year of
the Hijra (A.D. 641) had the _Nubas_ and _Bejas_ hastened to the help of
the Greek Christians of Oxyrhynchus (_Bahnasa_ of the Arabs) ... against
the first invasion of the Mahommedans, and according to the exaggerated
representations of the Arabian Annalists, the army which they brought
consisted of 50,000 men and 1300 _war-elephants_." The Nubians
certainly must have tamed elephants _on some scale_ down to a late period
in the Middle Ages, for elephants,--in one case three annually,--formed a
frequent part of the tribute paid by Nubia to the Mahomedan sovereigns of
Egypt at least to the end of the 13th century; but the passage quoted is
too isolated to be accepted without corroboration. The only approach to
such a corroboration that I know of is a statement by Poggio in the matter
appended to his account of Conti's Travels. He there repeats some
information derived from the Abyssinian envoys who visited Pope Eugenius
IV. about 1440, and one of his notes is: "They have elephants very large
and in great numbers; some kept for ostentation or pleasure, some as
useful in war. They are hunted; the old ones killed, the young ones taken
and tamed." But the facts on which this was founded probably amounted to
no more than what Cosmas had stated. I believe no trustworthy authority
since the Portuguese discoveries confirms the use of the elephant in
Abyssinia; and Ludolf, whose information was excellent, distinctly
says that the Abyssinians did not tame them. (_Cathay_, p. clxxxi.;
_Quat., Mem., sur l'Egypte_, II. 98, 113; _India in XVth Century_, 37;
_Ludolf_, I. 10, 32; _Armandi, H. Militaire des Elephants_, p. 548.)
NOTE 5.--To the 10th century at least the whole coast country of the Red
Sea, from near Berbera probably to Suakin, was still subject to Abyssinia.
At this time we hear only of "Musalman families" residing in Zaila' and
the other ports, and tributary to the Christians (see _Mas'udi_, III. 34).
According to Bruce's abstract of the Abyssinian chronicles, the royal line
was superseded in the 10th century by Falasha Jews, then by other
Christian families, and three centuries of weakness and disorder
succeeded. In 1268, according to Bruce's chronology, Icon Amlac of the
House of Solomon, which had continued to rule in Shoa, regained the
empire, and was followed by seven other princes whose reigns come down to
1312. The history of this period is very obscure, but Bruce gathers that
it was marked by civil wars, during which the Mahomedan communities that
had by this time grown up in the coast-country became powerful and
expelled the Abyssinians from the sea-ports. Inland provinces of the low
country also, such as Ifat and Dawaro, had fallen under Mahomedan
governors, whose allegiance to the Negush, if not renounced, had become
One of the principal Mahomedan communities was called _Adel_, the name,
according to modern explanation, of the tribes now called Danakil. The
capital of the Sultan of Adel was, according to Bruce at Aussa, some
distance inland from the port of Zaila', which also belonged to Adel.
Amda Zion, who succeeded to the Abyssinian throne, according to Bruce's
chronology, in 1312, two or three years later, provoked by the Governor of
Ifat, who had robbed and murdered one of his Mahomedan agents in the
Lowlands, descended on Ifat, inflicted severe chastisement on the
offenders, and removed the governor. A confederacy was then formed against
the Abyssinian King by several of the Mahomedan States or chieftainships,
among which Adel is conspicuous. Bruce gives a long and detailed account
of Amda Zion's resolute and successful campaigns against this confederacy.
It bears a strong general resemblance to Marco's narrative, always
excepting the story of the Bishop, of which Bruce has no trace, and always
admitting that our traveller has confounded Aden with Adel.
But the chronology is obviously in the way of identification of the
histories. Marco could not have related in 1298 events that did not occur
till 1315-16. Mr. Salt however, in his version of the chronology, not only
puts the accession of Amda Zion eleven years earlier than Bruce, but even
then has so little confidence in its accuracy, and is so much disposed to
identify the histories, that he suggests that the Abyssinian dates should
be carried back further still by some 20 years, on the authority of the
narrative in our text. M. Pauthier takes a like view.
I was for some time much disposed to do likewise, but after examining the
subject more minutely, I am obliged to reject this view, and to abide by
Bruce's Chronology. To elucidate this I must exhibit the whole list of the
Abyssinian Kings from the restoration of the line of Solomon to the middle
of the 16th century, at which period Bruce finds a check to the chronology
in the record of a solar eclipse. The chronologies have been extracted
independently by Bruce, Rueppell, and Salt; the latter using a different
version of the Annals from the other two. I set down all three.
BRUCE. RUEPPEL. SALT.
Reigns. Duration Dates. Duration Reigns. Duration Dates.
of reign. of reign. of reign.
Years. Years. Years.
Icon Amlac 15 1268-1283 15 .. .. 14 1255-1269
Igba Zion 9 1283-1292 9 Woudem Arad 15 1269-1284
Bahar Segued \ Kudma Asgud
Tzenaff " | Asfa " 3 1284-1287
Jan " | 5 1292-1297 5 Sinfa "
Hazeb Araad | Bar " 5 1287-1292
Kedem Segued / Igba Zion 9 1292-1301
Wedem Arad 15 1297-1312 15 .. .. .. ..
Amda Zion 30 1312-1342 30 .. .. 30 1301-1331
Saif Arad 28 1342-1370 28 .. .. 28 1331-1359
Wedem Asferi 10 1370-1380 10 .. .. 10 1359-1369
David II 29 1380-1409 29 .. .. 32 1369-1401
Theodorus 3 1409-1412 3 .. .. 1 1401-1402
Isaac 17 1412-1429 15 .. .. 15 1402-1417
Andreas 0-7/12 1429 0-7/12 .. .. 7 1417-1424
Haseb Nanya 4 1429-1433 4 .. .. 5 1424-1429
Sarwe Yasus \
| 1-1/12 1433-1434 1 .. .. 5 1429-1434
Ameda Yasus /
Zara Jacob 34 1434-1468 34-1/8 .. .. 34 1434-1468
Beda Mariam 10 1468-1478 10 .. .. 10 1468-1478
| 17 1478-1495 17-7/12 .. .. 16 1478-1494
Ameda Zion /
Naod 13 1495-1508 13 .. .. 13 1494-1507
David III 32 1508-1540 32 .. .. 32 1507-1536
Claudius .. 1540 .. .. .. .. ..
Bruce checks his chronology by an eclipse which took place in 1553, and
which the Abyssinian chronicle assigns to the 13th year of Claudius. This
alone would be scarcely satisfactory as a basis for the retrospective
control of reigns extending through nearly three centuries; but we find
some other checks.
Thus in Quatremere's Makrizi we find a correspondence between Sultan
Bibars and the King of Habasha, or of Amhara, _Mahar_ AMLAK, which
occurred in A.H. 672 or 673, i.e. A.D. 1273-1274. This would fall within
the reign of Icon AMLAK according to Bruce's chronology, but not according
to Salt's, and _a fortiori_ not according to any chronology throwing the
reigns further back still.
In Quatremere's _Egypte_ we find another notice of a letter which came to
the Sultan of Egypt from the King of Abyssinia, IAKBA SIUN, in Ramadhan
689, i.e. in the end of A.D. 1289.
Again, this is perfectly consistent with Bruce's order and dates, but not
The same work contains a notice of an inroad on the Mussulman territory of
Assuan by David (II.), the son of Saif Arad, in the year 783 (A.D.
In Rink's translation of a work of Makrizi's it is stated that this same
King David died in A.H. 812, i.e. A.D. 1409; that he was succeeded by
Theodorus, whose reign was very brief, and he again by Isaac, who died in
Dhulkada 833, i.e. July-August 1430. These dates are in close or
substantial agreement with Bruce's chronology, but not at all with Salt's
or any chronology throwing the reigns further back. Makrizi goes on to say
that Isaac was succeeded by Andreas, who reigned only four months, and
then by Hazbana, who died in Ramadhan 834, i.e. May-June 1431. This last
date does not agree, but we are now justified in suspecting an error in
the Hijra date, whilst the 4 _months'_ reign ascribed to Andreas shows
that Salt again is wrong in extending it to 7 _years_, and Bruce
presumably right in making it 7 _months_.
These coincidences seem to me sufficient to maintain the substantial
accuracy of Bruce's chronology, and to be fatal to the identification of
Marco's story with that of the wars of Amda Zion. The general identity in
the duration of reigns as given by Rueppell shows that Bruce did not tamper
with these. It is remarkable that in Makrizi's report of the letter of
Igba Zion in 1289 (the very year when according to the text this
anti-Mahomedan war was going on), that Prince tells the Sultan that he is a
protector of the Mahomedans in Abyssinia, acting in that respect _quite
differently from his Father who had been so hostile to them_.
I suspect therefore that _Icon Amlak_ must have been the true hero of
Marco's story, and that the date must be thrown back, probably to 1278.
Rueppell is at a loss to understand where Bruce got the long story of Amda
Zion's heroic deeds, which enters into extraordinary detail, embracing
speeches after the manner of the Roman historians and the like, and
occupies some 60 pages in the French edition of Bruce which I have been
using. The German traveller could find no trace of this story in any of
the versions of the Abyssinian chronicle which he consulted, nor was it
known to a learned Abyssinian whom he names. Bruce himself says that the
story, which he has "a little abridged and accommodated to our manner of
writing, was derived from a work written in very pure Gheez, in Shoa,
under the reign of Zara Jacob"; and though it is possible that his
amplifications outweigh his abridgments, we cannot doubt that he had an
original groundwork for his narrative.
The work of Makrizi already quoted speaks of seven kingdoms in Zaila'
(here used for the Mahomedan low country) originally tributary to the Hati
(or Negush) of Amhara, viz., _Aufat_, _Dawaro_, Arababni, _Hadiah_,
Shirha, Bali, Darah. Of these Ifat, Dawaro, and Hadiah repeatedly occur in
Bruce's story of the war. Bruce also tells us that Amda Zion, when he
removed _Hakeddin_, the Governor of Ifat, who had murdered his agent,
replaced him by his brother _Sabreddin_. Now we find in Makrizi that
_about_ A.H. 700, the reigning governor of Aufat under the Hati was
_Sabreddin_ Mahomed Valahui; and that it was 'Ali, the son of this
Sabreddin, who first threw off allegiance to the Abyssinian King, then
Saif Arad (son of Amda Zion). The latter displaces 'Ali and gives the
government to his son Ahmed. After various vicissitudes Hakeddin, the son
of Ahmed, obtains the mastery in Aufat, defeats Saif Arad completely, and
founds a city in Shoa called Vahal, which superseded Aufat or Ifat. Here
the _Sabreddin_ of Makrizi appears to be identical with Amda Zion's
governor in Bruce's story, whilst the _Hakeddins_ belong to two different
generations of the same family. But Makrizi does not notice the wars of
Amda Zion any more than the Abyssinian Chronicles notice the campaign
recorded by Marco Polo.
(_Bruce_, vol. III. and vol. IV., pp. 23-90, and _Salt's Second Journey to
Abyssinia_, II. 270, etc.; both these are quoted from French versions
which are alone available to me, the former by _Castera_, Londres, 1790,
the latter by _P. Henry_, Paris, 1816; _Fr. Th. Rink, Al Macrisi, Hist.
Rerum Islamiticarum in Abyssinia_, etc., Lugd. Bat. 1798; _Rueppell_,
Dissert. on Abyss. Hist. and Chronology in his work on that country;
_Quat. Makr._ II. 122-123; _Quat. Mem. sur l'Egypte_, II. 268, 276.)
NOTE 6.--The last words run in the G.T.: "_Il ont singles de plosors
maineres. Il ont_ gat paulz (see note 2, ch. xxiii. supra), _et autre
gat maimon si devisez qe pou s'en faut de tiel hi a qe ne senblent a vix
d'omes._" The beautiful cocks and hens are, I suppose, Guinea fowl.
[We read in the _Si Shi ki_: "There is (in Western Asia) a large bird,
above 10 feet high, with feet like a camel, and of bluish-grey colour. When
it runs it flaps the wings. It eats fire, and its eggs are of the size of a
_sheng_" (a certain measure for grain). (_Bretschneider, Med. Res._, I. pp.
143-144.) Dr. Bretschneider gives a long note on the ostrich, called in
Persian _shutur-murg_ (camel-bird), from which we gather the following
information: "The ostrich, although found only in the desert of Africa and
Western Asia, was known to the Chinese in early times, since their first
intercourse with the countries of the far west. In the History of the Han
(_T'sien Han shu_, ch. xcvi.) it is stated that the Emperor _Wu-ti_, B.C.
140-186, first sent an embassy to _An-si_, a country of Western Asia,
which, according to the description given of it, can only be identified
with ancient _Parthia_, the empire of the dynasty of the Arsacides. In this
country, the Chinese chronicler records, a large bird from 8 to 9 feet high
is found, the feet, the breast, and the neck of which make it resemble the
camel. It eats barley. The name of this bird is _ta ma tsio_ (the bird of
the great horse). It is further stated that subsequently the ruler of An-si
sent an embassy to the Chinese emperor, and brought as a present the eggs
of this great bird. In the _Hou Han shu_, ch. cxviii., an embassy from
An-si is mentioned again in A.D. 101. They brought as presents a lion and a
large bird. In the History of the _Wei_ Dynasty, A.D. 386-558, where for
the first time the name of _Po-sz'_ occurs, used to designate Persia, it is
recorded that in that country there is a large bird resembling a camel and
laying eggs of large size. It has wings and cannot fly far. It eats grass
and flesh, and swallows men. In the History of the _T'ang_ (618-907) the
camel-bird is again mentioned as a bird of Persia. It is also stated there
that the ruler of _T'u-huo-lo_ (Tokharestan) sent a camel-bird to the
Chinese emperor. The Chinese materia medica, _Pen ts'ao Kang mu_, written
in the 16th century, gives (ch. xlix.) a good description of the ostrich,
compiled from ancient authors. It is said, amongst other things, to eat
copper, iron, stones, etc., and to have only two claws on its feet. Its
legs are so strong that it can dangerously wound a man by jerking. It can
run 300 _li_ a day. Its native countries are _A-dan_ (Aden) _Dju-bo_ (on
the Eastern African coast). A rude but tolerably exact drawing of the
camel-bird in the Pen-ts'ao proves that the ostrich was well known to the
Chinese in ancient times, and that they paid great attention to it. In the
History of the _Ming_ Dynasty, ch. cccxxvi., the country of _Hu-lu-mo-sz'_
(Hormuz on the Persian Gulf) is mentioned as producing ostriches."--H.C.]
 Reinaud (_Abulf._ I. 81) says the word _Interior_ applied by the Arabs
to a country, is the equivalent of _citerior_, whilst by _exterior_
they mean _ulterior_. But the truth is just the reverse, even in the
case before him, where _Bolghar-al-Dakhila_, 'Bulgari Interiores,' are
the Volga Bulgars. So also the Arabs called Armenia on the Araxes
_Interior_, Armenia on Lake Van _Exterior_ (_St. Martin_, I. 31).
 Thus (2) the Homeritae of Yemen, (3) the people of Axum, and Adulis or
Zulla, (5) the _Bugaei_ or Bejahs of the Red Sea coast, (6) _Taiani_ or
Tiamo, appear in Salt's Axum Inscription as subject to the King of Axum
in the middle of the 4th century.
 _Muir's Life of Mahomet_, I. cclxiii.
 _Ritter, Africa_, p. 605. The statement appears to be taken from
Burckhardt's _Nubia_, but the reference is not quite clear. There is
nothing about this army in Quatremere's _Mem. sur la Nubie_. (_Mem. sur
l'Egypte_, vol. ii.)
 Armandi indeed quotes a statement in support of such use from a
Spaniard, _Marmol_, who travelled (he says) in Abyssinia in the
beginning of the 16th century. But the author in question, already
quoted at pp. 368 and 407, was no traveller, only a compiler; and the
passage cited by Armandi is evidently made up from the statement in
Poggio and from what our traveller has said about Zanjibar. (Supra, p.
422. See _Marmol, Desc. de Affrica_, I. f. 27, v.)
 834 for 836.
 On Aufat, see De Sacy, _Chrestom. Arabe_, I. 457.
CONCERNING THE PROVINCE OF ADEN.
You must know that in the province of ADEN there is a Prince who is called
the Soldan. The people are all Saracens and adorers of Mahommet, and have
a great hatred of Christians. There are many towns and villages in the
This Aden is the port to which many of the ships of India come with their
cargoes; and from this haven the merchants carry the goods a distance of
seven days further in small vessels. At the end of those seven days they
land the goods and load them on camels, and so carry them a land journey
of 30 days. This brings them to the river of ALEXANDRIA, and by it they
descend to the latter city. It is by this way through Aden that the
Saracens of Alexandria receive all their stores of pepper and other
spicery; and there is no other route equally good and convenient by which
these goods could reach that place.[NOTE 1]
And you must know that the Soldan of Aden receives a large amount in
duties from the ships that traffic between India and his country,
importing different kinds of goods; and from the exports also he gets a
revenue, for there are despatched from the port of Aden to India a very
large number of Arab chargers, and palfreys, and stout nags adapted for
all work, which are a source of great profit to those who export them.
[NOTE 2] For horses fetch very high prices in India, there being none bred
there, as I have told you before; insomuch that a charger will sell there
for 100 marks of silver and more. On these also the Soldan of Aden
receives heavy payments in port charges, so that 'tis said he is one of
the richest princes in the world.[NOTE 3]
And it is a fact that when the Soldan of Babylon went against the city of
Acre and took it, this Soldan of Aden sent to his assistance 30,000
horsemen and full 40,000 camels, to the great help of the Saracens and the
grievous injury of the Christians. He did this a great deal more for the
hate he bears the Christians than for any love he bears the Soldan of
Babylon; for these two do hate one another heartily.[NOTE 4]
Now we will have done with the Soldan of Aden, and I will tell you of a
city which is subject to Aden, called Esher.
NOTE 1.--This is from Pauthier's text, which is here superior to the G.T.
The latter has: "They put the goods in small vessels, which proceed _on a
river_ about seven days." _Ram._ has, "in other smaller vessels, with
which they make a voyage on a gulf of the sea for 20 days, more or less,
as the weather may be. On reaching a certain port they load the goods on
camels, and carry them a 30 days' journey by land to the River Nile, where
they embark them in small vessels called _Zerms_, and in these descend the
current to Cairo, and thence by an artificial cut, called _Calizene_, to
Alexandria." The last looks as if it had been _edited_; Polo never uses
the name _Cairo_. The canal, the predecessor of the _Mahmudiah_, is also
called _Il Caligine_ in the journey of Simon Sigoli (_Frescobaldi_ p.
168). Brunetto Latini, too, discoursing of the Nile, says:--
"Cosi serva su' filo,
Ed e chiamato Nilo.
D'un su' ramo si dice,
Ch' e chiamato _Calice_."
--_Tesoretto_, pp. 81-82.
Also in the _Sfera_ of Dati:--
--"Chiamasi il _Caligine_
Egion e Nilo, e non si sa l'origine." P. 9.
The word is (Ar.) _Khalij_, applied in one of its senses specially to the
canals drawn from the full Nile. The port on the Red Sea would be either
Suakin or Aidhab; the 30 days' journey seems to point to the former.
Polo's contemporary, Marino Sanudo, gives the following account of the
transit, omitting _entirely_ the Red Sea navigation, though his line
correctly represented would apparently go by Kosseir: "The fourth haven is
called AHADEN, and stands on a certain little island joining, as it were,
to the main, in the land of the Saracens. The spices and other goods from
India are landed there, loaded on camels, and so carried by a journey of
nine days to a place on the River Nile, called _Chus_ (_Kus_, the ancient
_Cos_ below Luqsor), where they are put into boats and conveyed in 15 days
to Babylon. But in the month of October and thereabouts the river rises to
such an extent that the spices, etc., continue to descend the stream from
Babylon and enter a certain long canal, and so are conveyed over the 200
miles between Babylon and Alexandria." (Bk. I. pt. i. ch. i.)
Makrizi relates that up to A.H. 725 (1325), from time immemorial the
Indian ships had discharged at Aden, but in that year the exactions of the
Sultan induced a shipmaster to pass on into the Red Sea, and eventually
the trade came to Jidda. (See _De Sacy, Chrest. Arabe_, II. 556.)
+Aden is mentioned (_A-dan_) in ch. cccxxxvi. of the Ming History as
having sent an embassy to China in 1427. These embassies were subsequently
often repeated. The country, which lay 22 days' voyage west of _Kuli_
(supposed Calicut, but perhaps Kayal), was devoid of grass or trees.
(_Bretschneider, Med. Res._, II. pp. 305-306.)
[Ma-huan (transl. by Phillips) writes (_J.R.A.S._, April 1896): "In the
nineteenth year of Yung-lo (1422) an Imperial Envoy, the eunuch Li, was
sent from China to this country with a letter and presents to the King. On
his arrival he was most honourably received, and was met by the king on
landing and conducted by him to his palace."--H.C.]
NOTE 2.--The words describing the horses are (P.'s text): "_de bons
destriers Arrabins et chevaux et grans roncins_ a ij selles." The meaning
seems to be what I have expressed in the text, fit either for saddle or
[_Roncins a deux selles_. Littre's great Dictionary supplies an apt
illustration of this phrase. A contemporary _Eloge de Charles VII._ says:
"_Jamais il chevauchoit mule ne haquenee, mais_ un bas cheval trotier
entre deux selles" (a cob?).]
In one application the _Deux selles_ of the old riding-schools were the
two styles of riding, called in Spanish _Montar a la Gineta_ and _Montar a
la Brida_. The latter stands for the old French style, with heavy bit and
saddle, and long stirrups just reached by the toes; the former the Moorish
style, with short stirrups and lighter bit. But the phrase would also seem
to have meant _saddle and pack-saddle_. Thus Cobarruvias explains the
phrase _Hombre de dos sillas_, "Conviene saber de la gineta y brida, _ser
de silla y albarda_ (pack-saddle), _servir de todo_," and we find the
converse expression, _No ser para silla ni para albarda_, good for
But for an example of the exact phrase of the French text I am indebted to
P. della Valle. Speaking of the Persian horses, he says: "Few of them are
of any great height, and you seldom see thoroughbreds among them; probably
because here they have no liking for such and don't seek to breed them.
For the most part they are of that very useful style that we call horses
for both saddles (_che noi chiamiamo da due selle_)" etc. (See
_Cobarruvias_, under _Silla_ and _Brida; Dice. de la Lengua Castellana por
la Real Academia Espanola_, under _Silla, Gineta, Brida; P. della Valle_,
Let. XV. da Sciraz, sec. 3, vol. ii, p. 240.)
NOTE 3.--The supposed confusion between Adel and Aden does not affect this
The "Soldan of Aden" was the Sultan of Yemen, whose chief residence was at
Ta'izz, North-East of Mokha. The prince reigning in Polo's day was Malik
Muzaffar Shamsuddin Abul Mahasen Yusuf. His father, Malik Mansur, a
retainer of the Ayubite Dynasty, had been sent by Saladin as Wazir to
Yemen, with his brother Malik Muazzam Turan Shah. After the death of the
latter, and of his successor, the Wazir assumed the government and became
the founder of a dynasty. Aden was the chief port of his dominions. It had
been a seat of direct trade with China in the early centuries of Islam.
Ibn Batuta speaks of it thus correctly: "It is enclosed by mountains, and
you can enter by one side only. It is a large town, but has neither corn
nor trees, nor fresh water, except from reservoirs made to catch the
rain-water; for other drinking water is at a great distance from the town.
The Arabs often prevent the townspeople coming to fetch it until the latter
have come to terms with them, and paid them a bribe in money or cloths. The
heat at Aden is great. It is the port frequented by the people from India,
and great ships come thither from Kunbayat, Tana, Kaulam, Kalikut,
Fandaraina, Shaliat, Manjarur, Fakanur, Hinaur, Sindabur, etc. There are
Indian merchants residing in the city, and Egyptian merchants as well."
[Illustration: Attempted Escalade of ADEN by the Portuguese under
ALBOQUERQUE in 1513 (Reduced Facsimile of a large Contemporary Wood
Engraving in the Map Department of the BRITISH MUSEUM supposed to have
been executed at Antwerp) Size of the Original (in 6 Sheets) 12 Inches by
The tanks of which the Moor speaks had been buried by debris; of late
years they have been cleared and repaired. They are grand works. They are
said to have been formerly 50 in number, with a capacity of 30 million
[Illustration: Attempted Escalade of ADEN by the Portuguese under
ALBOQUERQUE in 1513 (Reduced Facsimile of a large Contemporary Wood
Engraving in the Map Department of the BRITISH MUSEUM supposed to have
been executed at Antwerp) Size of the Original (in 6 Sheets) 12 Inches by
[Illustration: View of Aden in 1840.]
This cut, from a sketch by Dr. Kirk, gives an excellent idea of Aden as
seen by a ship approaching from India. The large plate again, reduced from
a grand and probably unique contemporary wood-engraving of great size,
shows the impression that the city made upon European eyes in the
beginning of the 16th century. It will seem absurd, especially to those
who knew Aden in the early days of our occupation, and no doubt some of
the details are extravagant, but the general impression is quite consonant
with that derived from the description of De Barros and Andrea Corsali:
"In site and aspect from the seaward," says the former, "the city forms a
beautiful object, for besides the part which lies along the shore with its
fine walls and towers, its many public buildings and rows of houses rising
aloft in many stories, with terraced roofs, you have all that ridge of
mountain facing the sea and presenting to its very summit a striking
picture of the operations of Nature, and still more of the industry of
man." This historian says that the prosperity of Aden increased on the
arrival of the Portuguese in those seas, for the Mussulman traders from
Jidda and the Red Sea ports now dreaded these western corsairs, and made
Aden an entrepot, instead of passing it by as they used to do in days of
unobstructed navigation. This prosperity, however, must have been of very
brief duration. Corsali's account of Aden (in 1517) is excellent, but too
long for extract, _Makrizi_, IV. 26-27; _Playfair, H. of Yemen_, p. 7;
_Ibn Batuta_, II. 177; _De Barros_, II. vii. 8; _Ram._ I. f. 182.
NOTE 4.--I have not been able to trace any other special notice of the
part taken by the Sultan of Yemen in the capture of Acre by the Mameluke
Sultan, Malik Ashraf Khalil, in 1291. Ibn Ferat, quoted by Reinaud, says
that the Sultan sent into all the provinces the most urgent orders for the
supply of troops and machines; and there gathered from all sides the
warriors of Damascus, of Hamath, and the rest of Syria, of Egypt, and of
_Arabia_. (_Michaud, Bibl. des Croisades_, 1829, IV. 569.)
"I once" (says Joinville) "rehearsed to the Legate two cases of sin that a
priest of mine had been telling me of, and he answered me thus: 'No man
knows as much of the heinous sins that are done in Acre as I do; and it
cannot be but God will take vengeance on them, in such a way that the city
of Acre shall be washed in the blood of its inhabitants, and that another
people shall come to occupy after them.' The good man's prophecy hath come
true in part, for of a truth the city hath been washed in the blood of its
inhabitants, but those to replace them are not yet come: may God send them
good when it pleases Him!" (p. 192).
 All ports of Western India: Pandarani, Shalia (near Calicut),
Mangalore, Baccanore, Onore, Goa.
CONCERNING THE CITY OF ESHER.
Esher is a great city lying in a north-westerly direction from the last,
and 400 miles distant from the Port of Aden. It has a king, who is subject
to the Soldan of Aden. He has a number of towns and villages under him,
and administers his territory well and justly.
The people are Saracens. The place has a very good haven, wherefore many
ships from India come thither with various cargoes; and they export many
good chargers thence to India.[NOTE 1]
A great deal of white incense grows in this country, and brings in a great
revenue to the Prince; for no one dares sell it to any one else; and
whilst he takes it from the people at 10 livres of gold for the
hundredweight, he sells it to the merchants at 60 livres, so his profit is
Dates also grow very abundantly here. The people have no corn but rice,
and very little of that; but plenty is brought from abroad, for it sells
here at a good profit. They have fish in great profusion, and notably
plenty of tunny of large size; so plentiful indeed that you may buy two
big ones for a Venice groat of silver. The natives live on meat and rice
and fish. They have no wine of the vine, but they make good wine from
sugar, from rice, and from dates also.
And I must tell you another very strange thing. You must know that their
sheep have no ears, but where the ear ought to be they have a little horn!
They are pretty little beasts.[NOTE 3]
And I must not omit to tell you that all their cattle, including horses,
oxen, and camels, live upon small fish and nought besides, for 'tis all
they get to eat. You see in all this country there is no grass or forage
of any kind; it is the driest country on the face of the earth. The fish
which are given to the cattle are very small, and during March, April, and
May, are caught in such quantities as would astonish you. They are then
dried and stored, and the beasts are fed on them from year's end to year's
end. The cattle will also readily eat these fish all alive and just out of
the water.[NOTE 4]
The people here have likewise many other kinds of fish of large size and
good quality, exceedingly cheap; these they cut in pieces of about a pound
each, and dry them in the sun, and then store them, and eat them all the
year through, like so much biscuit.[NOTE 5]
NOTE 1.--_Shihr_ or _Shehr_, with the article, ES-SHEHR, still exists on
the Arabian coast, as a town and district about 330 m. east of Aden. In
1839 Captain Haines described the modern town as extending in a scattered
manner for a mile along the shore, the population about 6000, and the
trade considerable, producing duties to the amount of 5000_l._ a year. It
was then the residence of the Sultan of the Hamum tribe of Arabs. There is
only an open roadstead for anchorage. Perhaps, however, the old city is to
be looked for about ten miles to the westward, where there is another
place bearing the same name, "once a thriving town, but now a desolate
group of houses with an old fort, formerly the residence of the chief of
the _Kasaidi_ tribe." (_J.R.G.S._ IX. 151-152.) Shehr is spoken of by
Barbosa (_Xaer_ in Lisbon ed.; _Pecher_ in Ramusio; _Xeher_ in Stanley; in
the two last misplaced to the east of Dhofar): "It is a very large place,
and there is a great traffic in goods imported by the Moors of Cambaia,
Chaul, Dabul, Batticala, and the cities of Malabar, such as cotton-stuffs
... strings of garnets, and many other stones of inferior value; also much
rice and sugar, and spices of all sorts, with coco-nuts; ... their money
they invest in horses for India, which are here very large and good. Every
one of them is worth in India 500 or 600 ducats." (_Ram._ f. 292.) The
name Shehr in some of the Oriental geographies, includes the whole coast
up to Oman.
NOTE 2.--The hills of the Shehr and Dhafar districts were the great source
of produce of the Arabian frankincense. Barbosa says of Shehr: "They carry
away much incense, which is produced at this place and in the interior; ...
it is exported hence all over the world, and here it is used to pay ships
with, for on the spot it is worth only 150 farthings the hundredweight."
See note 2, ch. xxvii. supra; and next chapter, note 2.
NOTE 3.--This was no doubt a breed of four-horned sheep, and Polo, or his
informant, took the lower pair of horns for abnormal ears. Probably the
breed exists, but we have little information on details in reference to
this coast. The Rev. G.P. Badger, D.C.L., writes: "There are sheep on the
eastern coast of Arabia, and as high up as Mohammerah on the
Shatt-al-Arab, _with very small ears indeed;_ so small as to be almost
imperceptible at first sight near the projecting horns. I saw one at
Mohammerah having _six_ horns." And another friend, Mr. Arthur Grote, tells
me he had for some time at Calcutta a 4-horned sheep from Aden.
NOTE 4.--This custom holds more or less on all the Arabian coast from
Shehr to the Persian Gulf, and on the coast east of the Gulf also. Edrisi
mentions it at Shehr (printed _Shajr_, I. 152), and the Admiral Sidi 'Ali
says: "On the coast of Shehr, men and animals all live on fish" (_J.A.S.B._
V. 461). Ibn Batuta tells the same of Dhafar, the subject of next chapter:
"The fish consist for the most part of sardines, which are here of the
fattest. The surprising thing is that all kinds of cattle are fed on these
sardines, and sheep likewise. I have never seen anything like that
elsewhere" (II. 197). Compare Strabo's account of the Ichthyophagi on the
coast of Mekran (XV. 11), and the like account in the life of Apollonius of
Tyana (III. 56).
[Burton, quoted by Yule, says (_Sind Revisited_, 1877, I. p. 33): "The
whole of the coast, including that of Mekran, the land of the _Mahi
Kharan_ or Ichthyophagi." Yule adds: "I have seen this suggested also
elsewhere. It seems a highly probable etymology." See note, p. 402.
NOTE 5.--At Hasik, east of Dhafar, Ibn Batuta says: "The people here live
on a kind of fish called _Al-Lukham_, resembling that called the sea-dog.
They cut it in slices and strips, dry it in the sun, salt it, and feed on
it. Their houses are made with fish-bones, and their roofs with
camel-hides" (II. 214).
CONCERNING THE CITY OF DUFAR.
Dufar is a great and noble and fine city, and lies 500 miles to the
north-west of Esher. The people are Saracens, and have a Count for their
chief, who is subject to the Soldan of Aden; for this city still belongs to
the Province of Aden. It stands upon the sea and has a very good haven, so
that there is a great traffic of shipping between this and India; and the
merchants take hence great numbers of Arab horses to that market, making
great profits thereby. This city has under it many other towns and
Much white incense is produced here, and I will tell you how it grows. The
trees are like small fir-trees; these are notched with a knife in several
places, and from these notches the incense is exuded. Sometimes also it
flows from the tree without any notch; this is by reason of the great heat
of the sun there.[NOTE 2]
NOTE 1.--_Dufar_. The name [Arabic] is variously pronounced Dhafar,
DHOFAR, Zhafar, and survives attached to a well-watered and fertile plain
district opening on the sea, nearly 400 miles east of Shehr, though
according to Haines there is now no _town_ of the name. Ibn Batuta speaks
of the city as situated at the extremity of Yemen ("the province of
Aden"), and mentions its horse-trade, its unequalled dirt, stench, and
flies, and consequent diseases. (See II. 196 seqq.) What he says of the
desert character of the tract round the town is not in accordance with
modern descriptions of the plain of Dhafar, nor seemingly with his own
statements of the splendid bananas grown there, as well as other Indian
products, betel, and coco-nut. His account of the Sultan of Zhafar in his
time corroborates Polo's, for he says that prince was the son of a cousin
of the King of Yemen, who had _been chief of Zhafar under the suzerainete
of that King and tributary to him_. The only ruins mentioned by Haines are
extensive ones near Haffer, towards the _western_ part of the plain; and
this Fresnel considers to be the site of the former city. A lake which
exists here, on the landward side of the ruins, was, he says, formerly a
gulf, and formed the port, "the very good haven," of which our author
A quotation in the next note however indicates Merbat, which is at the
eastern extremity of the plain, as having been the port of Dhafar in the
Middle Ages. Professor Sprenger is of opinion that the city itself was in
the eastern part of the plain. The matter evidently needs further
This Dhafar, or the bold mountain above it, is supposed to be the _Sephar_
of Genesis (x. 30). But it does not seem to be the _Sapphara metropolis_
of Ptolemy, which is rather an inland city of the same name: "Dhafar was
the name of _two_ cities of Yemen, one of which was near Sana'a ... it was
the residence of the Himyarite Princes; some authors allege that it is
identical with Sana'a" (_Marasid-al-Ittila_', in Reinaud's Abulfeda, I. p.
_Dofar_ is noted by Camoens for its fragrant incense. It was believed in
Malabar that the famous King Cheram Perumal, converted to Islam, died on
the pilgrimage to Mecca and was buried at Dhafar, where his tomb was much
visited for its sanctity.
The place is mentioned (_Tsafarh_) in the Ming Annals of China as a
Mahomedan country lying, with a fair wind, 10 days N.W. of _Kuli_
(supra, p. 440). Ostriches were found there, and among the products are
named drugs which Dr. Bretschneider renders as _Olibanum_, _Storax
liquida_, _Myrrh_, _Catechu_(?), _Dragon's blood_. This state sent an
embassy (so-called) to China in 1422. (_Haines_ in _J.R.G.S._ XV. 116
seqq.; _Playfair's Yemen_, p. 31; _Fresnel_ in _J. As._ ser. 3, tom. V.
517 seqq.; _Tohfut-ul-Mujahideen_, p. 56; _Bretschneider_, p. 19.)
NOTE 2.--Frankincense presents a remarkable example of the obscurity which
so often attends the history of familiar drugs; though in this case the
darkness has been, like that of which Marco spoke in his account of the
Caraonas (vol. i. p. 98), much of man's making.
This coast of Hadhramaut is the true and ancient [Greek: chora
libanophoros] or [Greek: libanotophoros], indicated or described under
those names by Theophrastus, Ptolemy, Pliny, Pseudo-Arrian, and other
classical writers; i.e. the country producing the fragrant gum-resin called
by the Hebrews _Lebonah_, by the Brahmans apparently _Kundu_ and _Kunduru_,
by the Arabs _Luban_ and _Kundur_, by the Greeks _Libanos_, by the Romans
_Thus_, in mediaeval Latin _Olibanum_, and in English _Frankincense_, i.e.
I apprehend, "Genuine incense," or "Incense Proper." It is still
produced in this region and exported from it: but the larger part of that
which enters the markets of the world is exported from the roadsteads of
the opposite Sumali coast. In ancient times also an important quantity was
exported from the latter coast, immediately west of Cape Gardafui
(_Aromatum Prom._), and in the Periplus this frankincense is distinguished
by the title _Peratic_, "from over the water."
The _Marasid-al-Ittila'_, a Geog. Dictionary of the end of the 14th
century, in a passage of which we have quoted the commencement in the
preceding note, proceeds as follows: "The other Dhafar, which still
subsists, is on the shore of the Indian Sea, distant 5 parasangs from
Merbath in the province of Shehr. Merbath lies below Dhafar, and serves as
its port. Olibanum is found nowhere except in the mountains of Dhafar, in
the territory of Shehr; in a tract which extends 3 days in length and the
same in breadth. The natives make incisions in the trees with a knife, and
the incense flows down. This incense is carefully watched, and can be
taken only to Dhafar, where the Sultan keeps the best part for himself;
the rest is made over to the people. But any one who should carry it
elsewhere than to Dhafar would be put to death."
The elder Niebuhr seems to have been the first to disparage the Arabian
produce of olibanum. He recognises indeed its ancient celebrity, and the
fact that it was still to some extent exported from Dhafar and other
places on this coast, but he says that the Arabs preferred foreign kinds
of incense, especially benzoin; and also repeatedly speaks of the
superiority of that from India (_des Indes_ and _de l'Inde_), by which it
is probable that he meant the same thing--viz., benzoin from the Indian
Archipelago. Niebuhr did not himself visit Hadhramaut.
Thus the fame of Arabian olibanum was dying away, and so was our knowledge
of that and the opposite African coast, when Colebrooke (1807) published
his Essay on Olibanum, in which he showed that a gum-resin, identical as
he considered with frankincense, and so named (_Kundur_), was used in
India, and was the produce of an indigenous tree, _Boswellia serrata_ of
Roxburgh, but thereafter known as _B. thurifera_. This discovery,
connecting itself, it may be supposed, with Niebuhr's statements about
Indian olibanum (though probably misunderstood), and with the older
tradition coming down from Dioscorides of a so-called Indian _libanos_
(supra p. 396), seems to have induced a hasty and general assumption
that the Indian resin was the olibanum of commerce; insomuch that the very
existence of Arabian olibanum came to be treated as a matter of doubt in
some respectable books, and that down to a very recent date.
In the Atlas to Bruce's Travels is figured a plant under the name of
_Angoua_, which the Abyssinians believed to produce true olibanum, and
which Bruce says did really produce a gum resembling it.
In 1837 Lieut. Cruttenden of the Indian Navy saw the frankincense tree of
Arabia on a journey inland from Merbat, and during the ensuing year the
trees of the Sumali country were seen, and partially described by
Kempthorne, and Vaughan of the same service, and by Cruttenden himself.
Captain Haines also in his report of the Survey of the Hadhramaut coast in
1843-1844 speaks, apparently as an eyewitness, of the frankincense
trees about Dhafar as extremely numerous, and adds that from 3000 to
10,000 _maunds_ were annually exported "from Merbat and Dhafar." "3 to 10"
is vague enough; but as the kind of _maund_ is not specified it is vaguer
still. Maunds differ as much as _livres Francais_ and _livres sterling_.
In 1844 and 1846 Dr. Carter also had opportunities of examining olibanum
trees on this coast, which he turned to good account, sending to
Government cuttings, specimens, and drawings, and publishing a paper on
the subject in the Journal of the Bombay Branch of the R. As. Society
[Illustration: The Harvest of Frankincense in Arabia. Facsimile of an
engraving in Thevet's _Cosmographie Universelle_ (1575), reproduced from
the _Bible Educator_.]
But neither Dr. Carter's paper and specimens, nor the previous looser
notices of the naval officers, seemed to attract any attention, and men of
no small repute went on repeating in their manuals the old story about
Indian olibanum. Dr. G. Birdwood however, at Bombay, in the years
following 1859, took up the subject with great zeal and intelligence,
procuring numerous specimens of the Sumali trees and products; and his
monograph of the genus _Boswellia_ in the Linnaean Transactions (read
April 1869), to which this note is very greatly indebted, is a most
interesting paper, and may be looked on, I believe, as embodying the most
correct knowledge as yet attainable. The species as ranked in his table
are the following:
[Illustration: Boswellia Frereana (_Birdw._).
1. _Boswellia Carterii_ (Birdw.), including the Arabian tree of
Dhafar, and the larger variety called _Mohr Madau_ by the Sumalis.
2. _B. Bhau-dajiana_ (Birdw.), _Mohr A'd_ of the Sumalis.
3. _B. papyrifera_ (Richard). Abyssinian species.
4. _B. thurifera_ (Colebr.), see p. 396 supra.
5. _B. Frereana_ (Birdw.), _Yegar_ of the Sumalis--named after
Mr. William Frere, Member of Council at Bombay. No. 2 was named from Bhau
Daji, a very eminent Hindu scholar and physician at Bombay (Birdw.).]
No. 1 produces the Arabian olibanum, and Nos. 1 and 2 together the bulk of
the olibanum exported from the Sumali coast under the name _Luban-Shehri_.
Both are said to give an inferior kind besides, called _L. Bedawi_. No. 3
is, according to Birdwood, the same as Bruce's _Angoua_. No. 5 is
distinctly a new species, and affords a highly fragrant resin sold under
the name of _Luban Meti_.
Bombay is now the great mart of frankincense. The quantity exported thence
in 1872-1873 was 25,000 _cwt._, of which nearly one quarter went to China.
Frankincense when it first exudes is milky white; whence the name "White
Incense" by which Polo speaks of it. And the Arabic name _luban_
apparently refers to milk. The Chinese have so translated, calling
_Ju-siang_ or Milk-perfume.
Polo, we see, says the tree was like a fir tree; and it is remarkable that
a Chinese Pharmacology quoted by Bretschneider says the like, which looks
as if their information came from a common source. And yet I think Polo's
must have been oral. One of the meanings of _Luban_, from the Kamus, is
_Pinus (Freytag)_. This may have to do with the error. Dr. Birdwood, in a
paper _Cassells' Bible Educator_, has given a copy of a remarkable wood
engraving from Thevet's _Cosmographie Universelle_ (1575), representing
the collection of Arabian olibanum, and this through his kind intervention
I am able to reproduce here. The text (probably after Polo) speaks of the
tree as resembling a fir, but in the cut the firs are in the background;
the incense trees have some real suggestion of _Boswellia_, and the whole
design has singular spirit and verisimilitude.
Dr. Birdwood thus speaks of the _B. Frereana_, the only species that he
has seen in flower: "As I saw the plant in Playfair's garden at Aden ... in
young leaf and covered with bloom, I was much struck by its elegant
singularity. The long racemes of green star-like flowers, tipped with the
red anthers of the stamens (like aigrettes of little stars of emerald set
with minute rubies), droop gracefully over the clusters of glossy,
glaucous leaves; and every part of the plant (bark, leaves, and flowers)
gives out the most refreshing lemon-like fragrance." (_Birdwood_ in
Linnaean Transactions for 1869, pp. 109 seqq.; _Hanbury and Flueckiger's
Pharmacographia_, pp. 120 seqq.; _Ritter_, xii. 356 seqq.; _Niebuhr,
Desc. de l'Arabie_, I. p. 202, II. pp. 125-132.)
 "_Drogue franche_:--Qui a les qualites requises sans melange"
(_Littre_). "_Franc_ ... Vrai, veritable" (_Raynouard_).
The mediaeval _Olibanum_ was probably the Arabic _Al-luban_, but was
popularly interpreted as _Oleum Libani_. Dr. Birdwood saw at the Paris
Exhibition of 1867 samples of frankincense solemnly labelled as the
produce of Mount Lebanon!
"Professor Duemichen, of Strasburg, has discovered at the Temple of
Dair-el-Bahri, in Upper Egypt, paintings illustrating the traffic
carried on between Egypt and Arabia, as early as the 17th century B.C.
In these paintings there are representations, not only of bags of
olibanum, but also of olibanum-trees planted in tubs or boxes, being
conveyed by ship from Arabia to Egypt." (_Hanbury_ and _Flueckiger_,
_Pharmacographia_, p. 121.)
 Published in _J.R.G.S._, vol. XV. (for 1845).
 By courtesy of the publishers, Messrs. Cassell, Petter, & Galpin.
CONCERNING THE GULF OF CALATU AND THE CITY SO CALLED.
Calatu is a great city, within a gulf which bears the name of the Gulf of
Calatu. It is a noble city, and lies 600 miles from Dufar towards the
north-west, upon the sea-shore. The people are Saracens, and are subject
to Hormos. And whenever the Melic of Hormos is at war with some prince
more potent than himself, he betakes himself to this city of Calatu,
because it is very strong, both from its position and its fortifications.
They grow no corn here, but get it from abroad; for every merchant-vessel
that comes brings some. The haven is very large and good, and is
frequented by numerous ships with goods from India, and from this city the
spices and other merchandize are distributed among the cities and towns of
the interior. They also export many good Arab horses from this to India.
[NOTE 2] For, as I have told you before, the number of horses exported
from this and the other cities to India yearly is something astonishing.
One reason is that no horses are bred there, and another that they die as
soon as they get there, through ignorant handling; for the people there do
not know how to take care of them, and they feed their horses with cooked
victuals and all sorts of trash, as I have told you fully heretofore; and
besides all that they have no farriers.
This City of Calatu stands at the mouth of the Gulf, so that no ship can
enter or go forth without the will of the chief. And when the Melic of
Hormos, who is Melic of Calatu also, and is vassal to the Soldan of
Kerman, fears anything at the hand of the latter, he gets on board his
ships and comes from Hormos to Calatu. And then he prevents any ship from
entering the Gulf. This causes great injury to the Soldan of Kerman; for
he thus loses all the duties that he is wont to receive from merchants
frequenting his territories from India or elsewhere; for ships with
cargoes of merchandize come in great numbers, and a very large revenue is
derived from them. In this way he is constrained to give way to the
demands of the Melic of Hormos.
This Melic has also a castle which is still stronger than the city, and
has a better command of the entry to the Gulf.[NOTE 3]
The people of this country live on dates and salt fish, which they have in
great abundance; the nobles, however, have better fare.
There is no more to say on this subject. So now let us go on and speak of
the city of Hormos, of which we told you before.
NOTE 1.--_Kalhat_, the _Calaiate_ of the old Portuguese writers, is about
500 m by shortest _sea-line_ north-east of Dhafar. "The city of Kalhat,"
says Ibn Batuta, "stands on the shore; it has fine bazaars, and one of the
most beautiful mosques that you could see anywhere, the walls of which are
covered with enamelled tiles of Kashan.... The city is inhabited by
merchants, who draw their support from Indian import trade.... Although
they are Arabs, they don't speak correctly. After every phrase they have a
habit of adding the particle _no_. Thus they will say 'You are eating,--
no?' 'You are walking,--no?' 'You are doing this or that,--no?' Most of
them are schismatics, but they cannot openly practise their tenets, for
they are under the rule of Sultan Kutbuddin Tehemten Malik, of Hormuz, who
is orthodox" (II. 226).
_Calaiate_, when visited by d'Alboquerque, showed by its buildings and
ruins that it had been a noble city. Its destruction was ascribed to an
earthquake. (_De Barros_, II. ii. 1.) It seems to exist no longer.
Wellsted says its remains cover a wide space; but only one building, an
old mosque, has escaped destruction. Near the ruins is a small fishing
village, the people of which also dig for gold coins. (_J.R.G.S_. VII.
What is said about the Prince of Hormuz betaking himself to Kalhat in
times of trouble is quite in accordance with what we read in Teixeira's
abstract of the Hormuz history. When expelled by revolution at Hormuz or
the like, we find the princes taking refuge at Kalhat.
NOTE 2.--"Of the interior." Here the phrase of the G.T. is again "en fra
tere _a mainte cite et castiaus_." (See supra, Bk. I. ch. i. note 2.)
There was still a large horse-trade from Kalhat in 1517, but the
Portuguese compelled all to enter the port of Goa, where according to
Andrea Corsali they had to pay a duty of 40 _saraffi_ per head. If these
_ashrafis_ were pagodas, this would be about 15_l._ a head; if they were
_dinars_, it would be more than 20_l._ The term is _now_ commonly applied
in Hindustan to the gold mohr.
NOTE 3.--This no doubt is Maskat.
RETURNS TO THE CITY OF HORMOS WHEREOF WE SPOKE FORMERLY.
When you leave the City of Calatu, and go for 300 miles between north-west
and north, you come to the city of Hormos; a great and noble city on the
sea.[NOTE 1] It has a _Melic_, which is as much as to say a King,
and he is under the Soldan of Kerman.
There are a good many cities and towns belonging to Hormos, and the people
are Saracens. The heat is tremendous, and on that account their houses are
built with ventilators to catch the wind. These ventilators are placed on
the side from which the wind comes, and they bring the wind down into the
house to cool it. But for this the heat would be utterly unbearable.
I shall say no more about these places, because I formerly told you in
regular order all about this same city of Hormos, and about Kerman as
well. But as we took one way to go, and another to come back, it was
proper that we should bring you a second time to this point.
Now, however, we will quit this part of the world, and tell you about
Great Turkey. First, however, there is a point that I have omitted; to
wit, that when you leave the City of Calatu and go between west and
north-west, a distance of 500 miles, you come to the city of Kis.[NOTE 3]
Of that, however, we shall say no more now, but pass it with this brief
mention, and return to the subject of Great Turkey, of which you shall now
NOTE 1.--The distance is very correct; and the bearing fairly so for the
first time since we left Aden. I have tried in my map of Polo's Geography
to realise what seems to have been his idea of the Arabian coast.
NOTE 2.--These ventilators are a kind of masonry windsail, known as
_Bad-gir_, or "wind-catchers," and in general use over Oman, Kerman, the
province of Baghdad, Mekran, and Sind. A large and elaborate example, from
Hommaire de Hell's work on Persia, is given in the cut above. Very
particular accounts of these ventilators will be found in P. della Valle,
and in the embassy of Don Garcias de Silva Figueroa. (_Della Val._ II.
333-335; _Figueroa_, Fr. Trans. 1667, p. 38; _Ramus._ I. 293 v.; _Macd.
Kinneir_, p. 69.) A somewhat different arrangement for the same purpose is
in use in Cairo, and gives a very peculiar character to the city when seen
from a moderate height.
["The structures [at Gombroon] are all plain atop, only _Ventoso's_, or
Funnels, for to let in the Air, the only thing requisite to living in this
fiery Furnace with any comfort; wherefore no House is left without this
contrivance; which shews gracefully at a distance on Board Ship, and makes
the Town appear delightful enough to Beholders, giving at once a pleasing
Spectacle to Strangers, and kind Refreshment to the Inhabitants; for they
are not only elegantly Adorned without, but conveniently Adapted for every
Apartment to receive the cool Wind within." (_John Fryer, Nine Years'
Travels_, Lond., 1698, p. 222.)]
NOTE 3.--On _Kish_ see Book I. ch. vi. note 2.
[Chao Ju-kua (transl. in German by Dr. F. Hirth, _T'oung Pao_, V. Supp. p.
40), a Chinese Official of the Sung Dynasty, says regarding Kish: "The
land of _Ki-shih_ (Kish) lies upon a rocky island in the sea, in sight of
the coast of Ta-shih, at half-a-day's journey. There are but four towns in
its territories. When the King shows himself out of doors, he rides a
horse under a black canopy, with an escort of 100 servants. The
inhabitants are white and of a pure race and eight Chinese feet tall. They
wear under a Turban their hair loose partly hanging on their neck. Their
dress consists of a foreign jacket and a light silk or cotton overcoat,
with red leather shoes. They use gold and silver coins. Their food
consists of wheaten bread, mutton, fish and dates; they do not eat rice.
The country produces pearls and horses of a superior quality."--H.C.]
[Illustration: A Persian Wind-Catcher.]
The Turkish Admiral Sidi 'Ali, who was sent in 1553 to command the Ottoman
fleet in the Persian Gulf, and has written an interesting account of his
disastrous command and travels back to Constantinople from India, calls
the Island Kais, or "_the old Hormuz_." This shows that the traditions of
the origin of the island of Hormuz had grown dim. _Kish_ had preceded
Hormuz as the most prominent port of Indian trade, but old Hormuz, as we
have seen (Bk. I. ch. xix.), was quite another place. (_J. As._ ser. i,
tom. ix. 67.)
WARS AMONG THE TARTAR PRINCES AND SOME ACCOUNT OF THE NORTHERN COUNTRIES
_Note_.--A considerable number of the quasi-historical chapters in
this section (which I have followed M. Pauthier in making into a Fourth
Book) are the merest verbiage and repetition of narrative formulae without
the slightest value. I have therefore thought it undesirable to print all
at length, and have given merely the gist (marked thus <+>), or an
extract, of such chapters. They will be found entire in English in H.
Murray's and Wright's editions, and in the original French in the edition
of the Societe de Geographie, in Bartoli, and in Pauthier.
CONCERNING GREAT TURKEY.
In GREAT TURKEY there is a king called CAIDU, who is the Great Kaan's
nephew, for he was the grandson of CHAGATAI, the Great Kaan's own brother.
He hath many cities and castles, and is a great Prince. He and his people
are Tartars alike; and they are good soldiers, for they are constantly
engaged in war.[NOTE 1]
Now this King Caidu is never at peace with his uncle the Great Kaan, but
ever at deadly war with him, and he hath fought great battles with the
Kaan's armies. The quarrel between them arose out of this, that Caidu
demanded from the Great Kaan the share of his father's conquests that of
right belonged to him; and in particular he demanded a share of the
Provinces of Cathay and Manzi. The Great Kaan replied that he was willing
enough to give him a share such as he gave to his own sons, but that he
must first come on summons to the Council at the Kaan's Court, and present
himself as one of the Kaan's liegemen. Caidu, who did not trust his uncle
very far, declined to come, but said that where he was he would hold
himself ready to obey all the Kaan's commands.
In truth, as he had several times been in revolt, he dreaded that the Kaan
might take the opportunity to destroy him. So, out of this quarrel between
them, there arose a great war, and several great battles were fought by
the host of Caidu against the host of the Great Kaan, his uncle. And the
Great Kaan from year's end to year's end keeps an army watching all
Caidu's frontier, lest he should make forays on his dominions. He,
natheless, will never cease his aggressions on the Great Kaan's territory,
and maintains a bold face to his enemies.[NOTE 2]
Indeed, he is so potent that he can well do so; for he can take the field
with 100,000 horse, all stout soldiers and inured to war. He has also with
him several Barons of the imperial lineage; i.e., of the family of
Chinghis Kaan, who was the first of their lords, and conquered a great
part of the world, as I have told you more particularly in a former part
of this Book.
Now you must know that Great Turkey lies towards the north-west when you
travel from Hormos by that road I described. It begins on the further bank
of the River JON, and extends northward to the territory of the Great
Now I shall tell you of sundry battles that the troops of Caidu fought
with the armies of the Great Kaan.
NOTE 1.--We see that Polo's error as to the relationship between Kublai
and Kaidu, and as to the descent of the latter (see Vol I. p. 186) was not
a slip, but persistent. The name of Kaidu's grandfather is here in the G.
T. written precisely Chagatai (_Ciagatai_).
Kaidu was the son of Kashin, son of Okkodai, who was the third son of
Chinghiz and his successor in the Kaanate. Kaidu never would acknowledge
the supremacy of Kublai, alleging his own superior claim to the Kaanate,
which Chinghiz was said to have restricted to the house of Okkodai as long
as it should have a representative. From the vicinity of Kaidu's position
to the territories occupied by the branch of Chaghatai he exercised great
influence over its princes, and these were often his allies in the
constant hostilities that he maintained against the Kaan. Such
circumstances may have led Polo to confound Kaidu with the house of
Chaghatai. Indeed, it is not easy to point out the mutual limits of their
territories, and these must have been somewhat complex, for we find Kaidu
and Borrak Khan of Chaghatai at one time exercising a kind of joint
sovereignty in the cities of Bokhara and Samarkand. Probably, indeed, the
limits were in a great measure _tribal_ rather than territorial. But it
may be gathered that Kaidu's authority extended over Kashgar and the
cities bordering the south slopes of the Thian Shan as far east as Kara
Khoja, also the valley of the Talas River, and the country north of the
Thian Shan from Lake Balkhash eastward to the vicinity of Barkul, and in
the further north the country between the Upper Yenisei and the Irtish.
Kaidu died in 1301 at a very great age. He had taken part, it was said, in
41 pitched battles. He left 14 sons (some accounts say 40), of whom the
eldest, called Shabar, succeeded him. He joined Dua Khan of Chaghatai in
making submission to Teimur Kaan, the successor of Kublai; but before
long, on a quarrel occurring between the two former, Dua seized the
territory of Shabar, and as far as I can learn no more is heard of the
house of Kaidu. Vambery seems to make the Khans of Khokand to be of the
stock of Kaida; but whether they claim descent from Yunus Khan, as he
says, or from a son of Baber left behind in his flight from Ferghana, as
Pandit Manphul states, the genealogy would be from Chaghatai, not from
NOTE 2.--"To the N.N.W. a desert of 40 days' extent divides the states of
Kublai from those of Kaidu and Dua. This frontier extends for 30 days'
journey from east to west. From point to point," etc.; see continuation of
this quotation from Rashiduddin, in Vol. I. p. 214.
 The Jaihun or Oxus.
OF CERTAIN BATTLES THAT WERE FOUGHT BY KING CAIDU AGAINST THE ARMIES OF
HIS UNCLE THE GREAT KAAN.
Now it came to pass in the year of Christ's incarnation, 1266, that this
King Caidu and another prince called YESUDAR, who was his cousin,
assembled a great force and made an expedition to attack two of the Great
Kaan's Barons who held lands under the Great Kaan, but were Caidu's own
kinsmen, for they were sons of Chagatai who was a baptized Christian, and
own brother to the Great Kaan; one of them was called CHIBAI, and the
other CHIBAN.[NOTE 1]
Caidu with all his host, amounting to 60,000 horse, engaged the Kaan's two
Barons, those cousins of his, who had also a great force amounting to more
than 60,000 horsemen, and there was a great battle. In the end the Barons
were beaten, and Caidu and his people won the day. Great numbers were
slain on both sides, but the two brother Barons escaped, thanks to their
good horses. So King Caidu returned home swelling the more with pride and
arrogance, and for the next two years he remained at peace, and made no
further war against the Kaan.
However, at the end of those two years King Caidu assembled an army
composed of a vast force of horsemen. He knew that at Caracoron was the
Great Kaan's son NOMOGAN, and with him GEORGE, the grandson of Prester
John. These two princes had also a great force of cavalry. And when King
Caidu was ready he set forth and crossed the frontier. After marching
rapidly without any adventure, he got near Caracoron, where the Kaan's son
and the younger Prester John were awaiting him with their great army, for
they were well aware of Caidu's advance in force. They made them ready for
battle like valiant men, and all undismayed, seeing that they had more
than 60,000 well-appointed horsemen. And when they heard Caidu was so near
they went forth valiantly to meet him. When they got within some 10 miles
of him they pitched their tents and got ready for battle, and the enemy
who were about equal in numbers did the same; each side forming in six
columns of 10,000 men with good captains. Both sides were well equipped
with swords and maces and shields, with bows and arrows, and other arms
after their fashion. You must know that the practice of the Tartars going
to battle is to take each a bow and 60 arrows. Of these, 30 are light with
small sharp points, for long shots and following up an enemy, whilst the
other 30 are heavy, with large broad heads which they shoot at close
quarters, and with which they inflict great gashes on face and arms, and
cut the enemy's bowstrings, and commit great havoc. This every one is
ordered to attend to. And when they have shot away their arrows they take
to their swords and maces and lances, which also they ply stoutly.
So when both sides were ready for action the Naccaras began to sound
loudly, one on either side. For 'tis their custom never to join battle
till the Great Naccara is beaten. And when the Naccaras sounded, then the
battle began in fierce and deadly style, and furiously the one host dashed
to meet the other. So many fell on either side that in an evil hour for
both it was begun! The earth was thickly strewn with the wounded and the
slain, men and horses, whilst the uproar and din of battle was so loud you
would not have heard God's thunder! Truly King Caidu himself did many a
deed of prowess that strengthened the hearts of his people. Nor less on
the other side did the Great Kaan's son and Prester John's grandson, for
well they proved their valour in the medley, and did astonishing feats of
arms, leading their troops with right good judgment.
And what shall I tell you? The battle lasted so long that it was one of
the hardest the Tartars ever fought. Either side strove hard to bring the
matter to a point and rout the enemy, but to no avail. And so the battle
went on till vesper-tide, and without victory on either side. Many a man
fell there; many a child was made an orphan there; many a lady widowed;
and many another woman plunged in grief and tears for the rest of her
days, I mean the mothers and the _araines_ of those who fell.[NOTE 2]
So when they had fought till the sun was low they left off, and retired
each side to its tents. Those who were unhurt were so dead tired that they
were like to drop, and the wounded, who were many on both sides, were
moaning in their various degrees of pain; but all were more fit for rest
than fighting, so gladly they took their repose that night. And when
morning approached, King Caidu, who had news from his scouts that the
Great Kaan was sending a great army to reinforce his son, judged that it
was time to be off; so he called his host to saddle and mounted his horse
at dawn, and away they set on their return to their own country. And when
the Great Kaan's son and the grandson of Prester John saw that King Caidu
had retired with all his host, they let them go unpursued, for they were
themselves sorely fatigued and needed rest. So King Caidu and his host
rode and rode, till they came to their own realm of Great Turkey and to
Samarcand; and there they abode a long while without again making war.
NOTE 1.--The names are uncertain. The G.T. has "one of whom was called
Tibai or Ciban"; Pauthier, as in the text.
The phrase about their being Kaidu's kinsmen is in the G.T., "_qe_
zinzinz (?) _meisme estoient de Caidu roi_."
NOTE 2.--_Araines_ for _Harims_, I presume. In the narrative of a merchant
in Ramusio (II. 84, 86) we find the same word represented by _Arin_ and
NOTE 3.--The date at the beginning of the chapter is in G.T., and
Pauthier's MS. A, as we have given it. Pauthier substitutes 1276, as that
seems to be the date approximately connecting Prince Numughan with the
wars against Kaidu. In 1275 Kublai appointed Numughan to the command of
his N.W. frontier, with Ngantung or 'Antung, an able general, to assist
him in repelling the aggressions of Kaidu. In the same year Kaidu and Dua
Khan entered the Uighur country (W. and N.W. of Kamul), with more than
100,000 men. Two years later, viz., in 1277, Kaidu and Shireghi, a son of
Mangu Khan, engaged near Almalik (on the Hi) the troops of Kublai,
commanded by Numughan and 'Antung, and took both of them prisoners. The
invaders then marched towards Karakorum. But Bayan, who was in Mongolia,
marched to attack them, and completely defeated them in several
engagements. (_Gaubil_, 69, 168, 182.)
Pauthier gives a little more detail from the Chinese annals, but throws no
new light on the discrepancies which we see between Polo's account and
theirs. 'Antung, who was the grandson of Mokli, the Jelair, one of
Chinghiz's Orlok or Marshals, seems here to take the place assigned to
Prester John's grandson, and Shireghi perhaps that of Yesudar. The only
prince of the latter name that I can find is a son of Hulaku's.
The description of the battle in this chapter is a mere formula again and
again repeated. The armies are always exactly or nearly equal, they are
always divided into corps of 10,000 (_tomans_), they always halt to
prepare for action when within ten miles of one another, and the terms
used in describing the fight are the same. We shall not inflict these
tiresome repetitions again on the reader.
WHAT THE GREAT KAAN SAID TO THE MISCHIEF DONE BY KAIDU HIS NEPHEW.
<+> (That were Caidu not of his own Imperial blood, he would make an utter
end of him, &c.)
OF THE EXPLOITS OF KING CAIDU'S VALIANT DAUGHTER.
Now you must know that King Caidu had a daughter whose name was AIJARUC,
which in the Tartar is as much as to say "The Bright Moon." This damsel
was very beautiful, but also so strong and brave that in all her father's
realm there was no man who could outdo her in feats of strength. In all
trials she showed greater strength than any man of them.[NOTE 1]
Her father often desired to give her in marriage, but she would none of
it. She vowed she would never marry till she found a man who could
vanquish her in every trial; him she would wed and none else. And when her
father saw how resolute she was, he gave a formal consent in their
fashion, that she should marry whom she list and when she list. The lady
was so tall and muscular, so stout and shapely withal, that she was almost
like a giantess. She had distributed her challenges over all the kingdoms,
declaring that whosoever should come to try a fall with her, it should be
on these conditions, viz., that if she vanquished him she should
win from him 100 horses, and if he vanquished her he should win her to
wife. Hence many a noble youth had come to try his strength against her,
but she beat them all; and in this way she had won more than 10,000
Now it came to pass in the year of Christ 1280 that there presented
himself a noble young gallant, the son of a rich and puissant king, a man
of prowess and valiance and great strength of body, who had heard word of
the damsel's challenge, and came to match himself against her in the hope
of vanquishing her and winning her to wife. That he greatly desired, for
the young lady was passing fair. He, too, was young and handsome, fearless
and strong in every way, insomuch that not a man in all his father's realm
could vie with him. So he came full confidently, and brought with him 1000
horses to be forfeited if she should vanquish him. Thus might she gain
1000 horses at a single stroke! But the young gallant had such confidence
in his own strength that he counted securely to win her.
Now ye must know that King Caidu and the Queen his wife, the mother of the
stout damsel, did privily beseech their daughter to let herself be
vanquished. For they greatly desired this prince for their daughter,
seeing what a noble youth he was, and the son of a great king. But the
damsel answered that never would she let herself be vanquished if she
could help it; if, indeed, he should get the better of her then she would
gladly be his wife, according to the wager, but not otherwise.
So a day was named for a great gathering at the Palace of King Caidu, and
the King and Queen were there. And when all the company were assembled,
for great numbers flocked to see the match, the damsel first came forth in
a strait jerkin of sammet; and then came forth the young bachelor in a
jerkin of sendal; and a winsome sight they were to see. When both had
taken post in the middle of the hall they grappled each other by the arms
and wrestled this way and that, but for a long time neither could get the
better of the other. At last, however, it so befel that the damsel threw
him right valiantly on the palace pavement. And when he found himself thus
thrown, and her standing over him, great indeed was his shame and
discomfiture. He gat him up straightway, and without more ado departed
with all his company, and returned to his father, full of shame and
vexation, that he who had never yet found a man that could stand before
him should have been thus worsted by a girl! And his 1000 horses he left
As to King Caidu and his wife they were greatly annoyed, as I can tell
you; for if they had had their will this youth should have won their
And ye must know that after this her father never went on a campaign but
she went with him. And gladly he took her, for not a knight in all his
train played such feats of arms as she did. Sometimes she would quit her
father's side, and make a dash at the host of the enemy, and seize some
man thereout, as deftly as a hawk pounces on a bird, and carry him to her
father; and this she did many a time.
Now I will leave this story and tell you of a great battle that Caidu
fought with Argon the son of Abaga, Lord of the Tartars of the Levant.
NOTE 1.--The name of the lady is in Pauthier's MSS. _Agiaint, Agyanie_; in
the Bern, _Agyanic_; in the MS. of the G.T., distinctly _Aigiaruc_,
though printed in the edition of 1824 as _Aigiarm_. It is Oriental
Turkish, AI-YARUK, signifying precisely _Lucent Lune_, as Marco explains
it. For this elucidation I am indebted to the kindness of Professor
Vambery, who adds that the name is in actual use among the Uzbek women.
Kaidu had many sons, but only one daughter, whom Rashiduddin (who seems to
be Hammer's authority here) calls _Kutulun_. Her father loved her above
all his sons; she used to accompany him to the field, and aid in state
affairs. Letters were exchanged between her and Ghazan Khan, in which she
assured him she would marry no one else; but her father refused her hand
to all suitors. After Kaidu's death, this ambitious lady made some attempt
to claim the succession. (_Hammer's Ilkhans_, II. 143-144.)
The story has some resemblance to what Ibn Batuta relates of another
warlike Princess, Urduja, whom he professes to have visited in the
questionable kingdom of Tawalisi on his way to China: "I heard ... that
various sons of kings had sought Urduja's hand, but she always answered,
'I will marry no one but him who shall fight and conquer me'; so they all
avoided the trail, for fear of the shame of being beaten by her." (_I.B._
IV. 253-254.) I have given reasons (_Cathay_, p. 520) for suspecting that
this lady with a Turkish name in the Indian Archipelago is a bit of
fiction. Possibly Ibn Batuta had heard the legend of King Kaidu's
The story of Kaidu's daughter, and still more the parallel one from Ibn
Batuta, recall what Herodotus tells of the Sauromatae, who had married the
Amazons; that no girl was permitted to marry till she had killed an enemy
(IV. 117). They recall still more closely Brunhild, in the Nibelungen:--
--"a royal maiden who reigned beyond the sea:
From sunrise to the sundown no paragon had she.
All boundless as her beauty was her strength was peerless too,
And evil plight hung o'er the knight who dared her love to woo.
For he must try three bouts with her; the whirling spear to fling;
To pitch the massive stone; and then to follow with a spring;
And should he beat in every feat his wooing well has sped,
But he who fails must lose his love, and likewise lose his head."
HOW ABAGA SENT HIS SON ARGON IN COMMAND AGAINST KING CAIDU.
Abaga the Lord of the Levant had many districts and provinces bordering on
King Caidu's territories. These lay in the direction of the _Arbre
Sol_, which the Book of Alexander calls the _Arbre Sec_, about
which I have told you before. And Abaga, to watch against forays by
Caidu's people sent his son Argon with a great force of horsemen, to keep
the marches between the Arbre Sec and the River Jon. So there tarried
Argon with all his host.[NOTE 1]
Now it came to pass that King Caidu assembled a great army and made
captain thereof a brother of his called Barac, a brave and prudent man,
and sent his host under his brother to fight with Argon.[NOTE 2]
<+> (Barac and his army cross the Jon or Oxus and are totally routed by
Argon, to whose history the traveller now turns.)
NOTE 1.--The Government of this frontier, from Kazwin or Rei to the banks
of the Oxus, was usually, under the Mongol sovereigns of Persia, confided
to the heir of the throne. Thus, under Hulaku it was held by Abaka, under
Abaka by Arghun, and under Arghun by Ghazan. (See _Hammer, passim._)
We have already spoken amply of the Arbre Sol (vol. i. p. 128 seqq.).
NOTE 2.--Barac or Borrak, who has been already spoken of in ch. iii. of
the Prologue (vol. i. p. 10), was no brother of Kaidu's. He was the head
of the house of Chaghatai, and in alliance with Kaidu. The invasion of
Khorasan by Borrak took place in the early part of 1269. Arghun was only
about 15, and his father Abaka came to take the command in person. The
battle seems to have been fought somewhere near the upper waters of the
Murghab, in the territory of the Badghis (north of Herat). Borrak was not
long after driven from power, and took refuge with Kaidu. He died, it is
said from poison, in 1270.
HOW ARGON AFTER THE BATTLE HEARD THAT HIS FATHER WAS DEAD, AND WENT TO
ASSUME THE SOVEREIGNTY AS WAS HIS RIGHT.
After Argon had gained this battle over Caidu's brother Barac and his
host, no long time passed before he had news that his father Abaga was
dead, whereat he was sorely grieved.[NOTE 1] He made ready his army and
set out for his father's Court to assume the sovereignty as was his right;
but he had a march of 40 days to reach it.
Now it befel that an uncle of Argon's whose name was ACOMAT SOLDAN (for he
had become a Saracen), when he heard of the death of his brother Abaga,
whilst his nephew Argon was so far away, thought there was a good chance
for him to seize the government. So he raised a great force and went
straight to the Court of his late brother Abaga, and seized the
sovereignty and proclaimed himself King; and also got possession of the
treasure, which was of vast amount. All this, like a crafty knave, he
divided among the Barons and the troops to secure their hearts and favour
to his cause. These Barons and soldiers accordingly, when they saw what
large spoil they had got from him, were all ready to say he was the best
of kings, and were full of love for him, and declared they would have no
lord but him. But he did one evil thing that was greatly reprobated by
all; for he took all the wives of his brother Abaga, and kept them for
Soon after he had seized the government, word came to him how Argon his
nephew was advancing with all his host. Then he tarried not, but
straightway summoned his Barons and all his people, and in a week had
fitted out a great army of horse to go to meet Argon. And he went forth
light of heart, as being confident of victory, showing no dismay, and
saying on all occasions that he desired nought so much as to take Argon,
and put him to a cruel death.[NOTE 3]
NOTE 1.--Abaka died at Hamadan 1st April 1282, twelve years after the
defeat of Borrak.
NOTE 2.--This last sentence is in Pauthier's text, but not in the G.T. The
thing was a regular Tartar custom (vol. i. pp. 253, 256), and would
scarcely be "reprobated by all."
NOTE 3.--Acomat Soldan is AHMAD, a younger son of Hulaku, whose Mongol
name was Tigudar, and who had been baptized in his youth by the name of
Nicolas, but went over to Islam, and thereby gained favour in Persia. On
the death of his brother Abaka he had a strong party and seized the
throne. Arghun continued in sullen defiance, gathering means to assist his
HOW ACOMAT SOLDAN SET OUT WITH HIS HOST AGAINST HIS NEPHEW WHO WAS COMING
TO CLAIM THE THRONE THAT BELONGED TO HIM,
<+> (Relates how Acomat marches with 60,000 horse, and on hearing of the
approach of Argon summons his chiefs together and addresses them.)
HOW ARGON TOOK COUNSEL WITH HIS FOLLOWERS ABOUT ATTACKING HIS UNCLE ACOMAT
<+> (Argon, uneasy at hearing of Acomat's approach, calls together his
Barons and counsellors and addresses them.)
HOW THE BARONS OF ARGON ANSWERED HIS ADDRESS.
<+> (An old Baron, as the spokesman of the rest, expresses their zeal and
advises immediate advance. On coming within ten miles of Acomat, Argon
encamps and sends two envoys to his uncle.)
THE MESSAGE SENT BY ARGON TO ACOMAT.
<+> (A remonstrance and summons to surrender the throne.)
HOW ACOMAT REPLIED TO ARGON'S MESSAGE.
And when Acomat Soldan had heard the message of Argon his nephew, he thus
replied: "Sirs and envoys," quoth he, "my nephew's words are vain; for the
land is mine, not his, and I helped to conquer it as much as his father
did. So go and tell my nephew that if he will I will make him a great
Prince, and give him ample lands, and he shall be as my son, and the
greatest lord in the land after myself. But if he will not, let him be
assured that I will do my best to bring him to his death! That is my
answer to my nephew, and nought else of concession or covenant shall you
ever have from me!" With that Acomat ceased, and said no word more. And
when the Envoys had heard the Soldan's words they asked again: "Is there
no hope that we shall find you in different mind?" "Never," quoth he,
"never whilst I live shall ye find my mind changed."
<+> (Argon's wrath at the reply. Both sides prepare for battle.)
OF THE BATTLE BETWEEN ARGON AND ACOMAT, AND THE CAPTIVITY OF ARGON.
<+> (There is a prolix description of a battle almost identical with those
already given in Chapter II. of this Book and previously. It ends with the
rout of Argon's army, and proceeds:)
And in the pursuit Argon was taken. As soon as this happened they gave up
the chase, and returned to their camp full of joy and exultation. Acomat
first caused his nephew to be shackled and well guarded, and then, being a
man of great lechery, said to himself that he would go and enjoy himself
among the fair women of his Court. He left a great Melic[NOTE 1] in
command of his host, enjoining him to guard Argon like his own life, and
to follow to the Court by short marches, to spare the troops. And so
Acomat departed with a great following, on his way to the royal residence.
Thus then Acomat had left his host in command of that Melic whom I
mentioned, whilst Argon remained in irons, and in such bitterness of heart
that he desired to die.[NOTE 2]
NOTE 1.--This is in the original _Belic_, for Melic, i.e. Ar.
_Malik_, chief or prince.
NOTE 2.--In the spring of 1284 Ahmad marched against his nephew Arghun,
and they encountered in the plain of Ak Khoja, near Kazwin. Arghun's force
was very inferior in numbers, and he was defeated. He fled to the Castle
of Kala'at beyond Tus, but was persuaded to surrender. Ahmad treated him
kindly, and though his principal followers urged the execution of the
prisoner, he refused, having then, it is said, no thought for anything but
the charms of his new wife Tudai.
HOW ARGON WAS DELIVERED FROM PRISON.
Now it befel that there was a great Tartar Baron, a very aged man, who
took pity on Argon, saying to himself that they were doing an evil and
disloyal deed in keeping their lawful lord a prisoner, wherefore he
resolved to do all in his power for his deliverance. So he tarried not,
but went incontinently to certain other Barons and told them his mind,
saying that it would be a good deed to deliver Argon and make him their
lord, as he was by right. And when the other Barons had heard what he had
to put before them, then both because they regarded him as one of the
wisest men among them, and because what he said was the truth, they all
consented to his proposal and said that they would join with all their
hearts. So when the Barons had assented, BOGA (which was he who had set
the business going), and with him ELCHIDAI, TOGAN, TEGANA, TAGACHAR,
ULATAI, and SAMAGAR,--all those whom I have now named,--proceeded to the
tent where Argon lay a prisoner. When they had got thither, Boga, who was
the leader in the business, spoke first, and to this effect: "Good my Lord
Argon," said he, "we are well aware that we have done ill in making you a
prisoner, and we come to tell you that we desire to return to Right and
Justice. We come therefore to set you free, and to make you our Liege Lord
as by right you are!" Then Boga ceased and said no more.
HOW ARGON GOT THE SOVEREIGNTY AT LAST.
When Argon heard the words of Boga he took them in truth for an untimely
jest, and replied with much bitterness of soul: "Good my Lord," quoth he,
"you do ill to mock me thus! Surely it suffices that you have done me so
great wrong already, and that you hold me, your lawful Lord, here a
prisoner and in chains! Ye know well, as I cannot doubt, that you are
doing an evil and a wicked thing, so I pray you go your way, and cease to
flout me." "Good my Lord Argon," said Boga, "be assured we are not mocking
you, but are speaking in sober earnest, and we will swear it on our Law."
Then all the Barons swore fealty to him as their Lord, and Argon too swore
that he would never reckon it against them that they had taken him
prisoner, but would hold them as dear as his father before him had done.
And when these oaths had passed they struck off Argon's fetters, and
hailed him as their lord. Argon then desired them to shoot a volley of
arrows into the tent of the Melic who had held them prisoners, and who was
in command of the army, that he might be slain. At his word they tarried
not, but straightway shot a great number of arrows at the tent, and so
slew the Melic. When that was done Argon took the supreme command and gave
his orders as sovereign, and was obeyed by all. And you must know that the
name of him who was slain, whom we have called the Melic, was SOLDAN; and
he was the greatest Lord after Acomat himself. In this way that you have
heard, Argon recovered his authority.
HOW ACOMAT WAS TAKEN PRISONER.
<+> (A messenger breaks in upon Acomat's festivities with the news that
Soldan was slain, and Argon released and marching to attack him. Acomat
escapes to seek shelter with the Sultan of Babylon, i.e. of Egypt,
attended by a very small escort. The Officer in command of a Pass by which
he had to go, seeing the state of things, arrests him and carries him to
the Court (probably Tabriz), where Argon was already arrived.)
HOW ACOMAT WAS SLAIN BY ORDER OF HIS NEPHEW.
And so when the Officer of the Pass came before Argon bringing Acomat
captive, he was in a great state of exultation, and welcomed his uncle
with a malediction, saying that he should have his deserts. And he
straightway ordered the army to be assembled before him, and without
taking counsel with any one, commanded the prisoner to be put to death,
and his body to be destroyed. So the officer appointed to this duty took
Acomat away and put him to death, and threw his body where it never was
 "_Il dit a son ungle qe il soit le mau-venu_" (see supra, p. 21).
HOW ARGON WAS RECOGNISED AS SOVEREIGN.
And when Argon had done as you have heard, and remained in possession of
the Throne and of the Royal Palace, all the Barons of the different
Provinces, who had been subject to his father Abaga, came and performed
homage before him, and obeyed him, as was his due.[NOTE 1] And after
Argon was well established in the sovereignty he sent CASAN, his son, with
30,000 horse to the _Arbre Sec_, I mean to the region so-called, to
watch the frontier. Thus then Argon got back the government. And you must
know that Argon began his reign in the year 1286 of the Incarnation of
Jesus Christ. Acomat had reigned two years, and Argon reigned six years;
and at the end of those six years he became ill and died; but some say
'twas of poison.[NOTE 2]
NOTE 1.--Arghun, a prisoner (see last note), and looking for the worst,
was upheld by his courageous wife BULUGHAN (see Prologue, ch. xvii.), who
shared his confinement. The order for his execution, as soon as the camp
should next move, had been issued.
BUKA the Jelair, who had been a great chief under Abaka, and had
resentments against Ahmad, got up a conspiracy in favour of Arghun, and
effected his release as well as the death of ALINAK, Ahmad's
commander-in-chief. Ahmad fled towards Tabriz, pursued by a band of the
Karaunas, who succeeded in taking him. When Arghun came near and saw his
uncle in their hands, he called out in exultation _Morio!_--an exclamation,
says Wassaf, which the Mongols used when successful in archery,--and with a
gesture gave the signal for the prisoner's death (10th August 1284).
Buka is of course the _Boga_ of Polo; Alinak is his _Soldan_. The
conspirators along with Buka, who are named in the history of Wassaf, are
_Yesubuka_, _Gurgan_, _Aruk_, _Kurmishi_, and _Arkasun Noian_. Those named
by Polo are not mentioned on this occasion, but the names are all Mongol.
TAGAJAR, ILCHIDAI, TUGHAN, SAMAGHAR, all appear in the Persian history of
those times. Tagajar appears to have had the honour of a letter from the
Pope (Nicolas IV.) in 1291, specially exhorting him to adopt the Christian
faith; it was sent along with letters of like tenor addressed to Arghun,
Ghazan, and other members of the imperial family. Tagajar is also
mentioned by the continuator of Abulfaraj as engaged in the conspiracy to
dethrone Kaikhatu. ULATAI was probably the same who went a few years later
as Arghun's ambassador to Cambaluc (see Prologue, ch. xvii.); and Polo may
have heard the story from him on board ship.
(_Assem._ III. pt. 2, 118; _Mosheim_, p. 80; _Ilchan._, passim.)
Abulfaragius gives a fragment of a letter from Arghun to Kublai, reporting
the deposition of Ahmad by the princes because he had "apostatized from
the law of their fathers, and adopted that of the Arabs." (_Assemani_,
_u.s._ p. 116.) The same historian says that Ahmad was kind and liberal to
the Christians, though Hayton speaks differently.
[Illustration: Facsimile of the Letters sent to Philip the Fair King of
France, by Arghun Khan in A.D. 1289 and by Oljaitu in A.D. 1305.]
NOTE 2.--Arghun obtained the throne on Ahmad's death, as just related, and
soon after named his son Ghazan (born in 1271) to the Government of
Khorasan, Mazanderan, Kumis, and Rei. Buka was made Chief Minister. The
circumstances of Arghun's death have been noticed already (supra, p. 369).
HOW KIACATU SEIZED THE SOVEREIGNTY AFTER ARGON'S DEATH.
And immediately on Argon's death, an uncle of his who was own brother
to Abaga his father, seized the throne, as he found it easy to do owing to
Casan's being so far away as the _Arbre Sec_. When Casan heard of his
father's death he was in great tribulation, and still more when he heard
of KIACATU'S seizing the throne. He could not then venture to leave the
frontier for fear of his enemies, but he vowed that when time and place
should suit he would go and take as great vengeance as his father had
taken on Acomat. And what shall I tell you? Kiacatu continued to rule, and
all obeyed him except such as were along with Casan. Kiacatu took the wife
of Argon for his own, and was always dallying with women, for he was a
great lechour. He held the throne for two years, and at the end of those
two years he died; for you must know he was poisoned.[NOTE 1]
NOTE 1.--KAIKHATU, of whom we heard in the Prologue (vol. i. p. 35), was
the brother, not the uncle, of Arghun. On the death of the latter there
were three claimants, viz., his son Ghazan, his brother Kaikhatu, and his
cousin Baidu, the son of Tarakai, one of Hulaku's sons. The party of
Kaikhatu was strongest, and he was raised to the throne at Akhlath, 23rd
July 1291. He took as wives out of the Royal Tents of Arghun the Ladies
Bulughan (the 2nd, not her named in the Prologue) and Uruk. All the
writers speak of Kaikhatu's character in the same way. Hayton calls him "a
man without law or faith, of no valour or experience in arms, but
altogether given up to lechery and vice, living like a brute beast,
glutting all his disordered appetites; for his dissolute life hated by his
own people, and lightly regarded by foreigners." (_Ram._ II. ch. xxiv.)
The continuator of Abulfaraj, and Abulfeda in his Annals, speak in like
terms. (_Assem._ III. Pt. 2nd, 119-120; _Reiske_, _Ann. Abulf._ III. 101.)
Baidu rose against him; most of his chiefs abandoned him, and he was put
to death in March-April, 1295. He reigned therefore nearly four years, not
_two_ as the text says.
 _Frer carnaus_ (I. p. 187).
HOW BAIDU SEIZED THE SOVEREIGNTY AFTER THE DEATH OF KIACATU.
When Kiacatu was dead, BAIDU, who was his uncle, and was a Christian,
seized the throne.[NOTE 1] This was in the year 1294 of Christ's
Incarnation. So Baidu held the government, and all obeyed him, except only
those who were with Casan.
And when Casan heard that Kiacatu was dead, and Baidu had seized the
throne, he was in great vexation, especially as he had not been able to
take his vengeance on Kiacatu. As for Baidu, Casan swore that he would
take such vengeance on him that all the world should speak thereof; and he
said to himself that he would tarry no longer, but would go at once
against Baidu and make an end of him. So he addressed all his people, and
then set out to get possession of his throne.
And when Baidu had intelligence thereof he assembled a great army and got
ready, and marched ten days to meet him, and then pitched his camp, and
awaited the advance of Casan to attack him; meanwhile addressing many
prayers and exhortations to his own people. He had not been halted two
days when Casan with all his followers arrived. And that very day a fierce
battle began. But Baidu was not fit to stand long against Casan, and all
the less that soon after the action began many of his troops abandoned him
and took sides with Casan. Thus Baidu was discomfited and put to death,
and Casan remained victor and master of all. For as soon as he had won the
battle and put Baidu to death, he proceeded to the capital and took
possession of the government; and all the Barons performed homage and
obeyed him as their liege lord. Casan began to reign in the year 1294 of
the Incarnation of Christ.
Thus then you have had the whole history from Abaga to Casan, and I should
tell you that Alaue, the conqueror of Baudac, and the brother of the Great
Kaan Cublay, was the progenitor of all those I have mentioned. For he was
the father of Abaga, and Abaga was the father of Argon, and Argon was the
father of Casan who now reigns.[NOTE 2]
Now as we have told you all about the Tartars of the Levant, we will quit
them and go back and tell you more about Great Turkey--But in good sooth
we _have_ told you all about Great Turkey and the history of Caidu,
and there is really no more to tell. So we will go on and tell you of the
Provinces and nations in the far North.
NOTE 1.--The Christian writers often ascribe Christianity to various
princes of the Mongol dynasties without any good grounds. Certain coins of
the Ilkhans of Persia, up to the time of Ghazan's conversion to Islam,
exhibit sometimes Mahomedan and sometimes Christian formulae, but this is