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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume VII by Robert Kerr

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to Damascus in Syria_[34].

Should any one wish to know the cause of my engaging in this voyage, I
can give no better reason than the ardent desire of knowledge, which
hath moved me and many others to see the world and the wonders of
creation which it exhibits. And, as other known parts of the world had
been already sufficiently travelled over by others, I was determined to
wait and describe such parts as were not sufficiently known. For which
reason, with the grace of God, and calling upon his holy name to prosper
our enterprise, we departed from Venice, and with prosperous winds we
arrived in few days at the city of Alexandria in Egypt. The desire we
had to know things more strange and farther off, did not permit us to
remain long at that place; wherefore, sailing up the river Nile, we came
to the city of new Babylon, commonly called _Cayrus_ or _Akayr_, _Cairo_
or _Al-cahira_, called also _Memphis_ in ancient times.

[Footnote 34: To accommodate this curious article to our mode of
arrangement, we have made a slight alteration of the nomenclature of its
subdivisions; calling those in this version _Sections_, which in the
original translation of Mr Eden are denominated chapters; and have used
the farther freedom of sometimes throwing several of these chapters into
one section.--E.]

On my first arrival at this place I was more astonished than I can well
express, yet on a more intimate observation it seemed much inferior to
the report of its fame, as in extent it seemed not larger than Rome,
though much more populous. But many have been deceived in regard to its
size by the extensive suburbs, which are in reality numerous dispersed
villages with fields interspersed, which some persons have thought to
belong to the city, though they are from two to three miles distant, and
surround it on all sides. It is not needful to expatiate in this place
on the manners and religion of this city and its environs, as it is well
known that the inhabitants are Mahometans and Mamelukes; these last
being Christians who have forsaken the true faith to serve the Turks and
Mahometans. Those of that description who used to serve the Soldan of
Babylon in Egypt, or Cairo, in former times before the Turkish
conquest, used to be called Mamelukes, while such of them as served the
Turks were denominated _Jenetzari_ or Janisaries. The Mameluke
Mahometans are subject to the Soldan of Syria.

As the riches and magnificence of Cairo, and the Mameluke soldiers by
whom it is occupied are well known, we do not deem it necessary to say
any thing respecting them in this place. Wherefore departing from
Babylon in Egypt, or Cairo, and returning to Alexandria, we again put to
sea and went to _Berynto_, a city on the coast of Syria Phoenicia,
inhabited by Mahometans and abounding in all things, where we remained a
considerable time. This city is not encompassed with walls, except on
the west side where there are walls close to the sea. We found nothing
memorable at this place, except an old ruined building where they say
St. George delivered the kings daughter from a cruel dragon which he
slew, and then restated the lady to her father. Departing from thence we
went to Tripoli in Syria, which is two days sail to the east of Berynto.
It is inhabited by Mahometans, who are subject to the lieutenant or
governor of Syria under the Soldan. The soil of the neighbouring country
is very fertile, and as it carries on great trade this city abounds in
all things. Departing from thence we came to the city of _Comagene_ of
Syria, commonly called Aleppo, and named by our men Antioch[35]. This is
a goodly city, which is situated under mount _Taurus_ and is subject to
the lieutenant of Syria under the Soldan of Egypt. Here are the _scales_
or ladders as they are called of the Turks and Syrians, being near mount
Olympus. It is a famous mart of the Azamians and Persians. The Azamians
are a Mahometan people who inhabit Mesopotamia on the confines of

[Footnote 35: This is a gross error, as Aleppo is above 80 English miles
N.E. and island from Antioch. From the sequel it is evident that Antioch
is the place meant by Vertomannus in the text, as the _scales_, mart, or
staple of the Syrian trade.--E.]

Departing from Antioch we went by land to Damascus, a journey of ten
days; but mid-way we came to a city named _Aman_ in the neighbourhood of
which there grows a great quantity of gossampine or cotton, and all
manner of pleasant fruits. About six miles from Damascus on the
declivity of a mountain is a city called _Menin_, inhabited by Greek
christians who are subject to the governor of Damascus. At that place
there are two fine churches, which the inhabitants allege were built by
Helena the mother of the emperor Constantine. This place produces all
kinds of fruit in great perfection, especially excellent grapes, and the
gardens are watered with perpetual fountains.


_Of the City of Damascus_.

Departing from _Menin_ we came to Damascus, a city so beautiful as
surpasses all belief, situated in a soil of wonderful fertility. I was
so much delighted by the marvellous beauty of this city that I sojourned
there a considerable time, that by learning the language I might inquire
into the manners of the people. The inhabitants are Mahometans and
Mamelukes, with a great number of Christians who follow the Greek
ritual. It may be proper in this place to give some account of the
_Hexarchatus_ or commander of Damascus, who is subject to the lieutenant
of Syria, which some call _sorya_. There is a very strong castle or
fortress, which was built by a certain Etruscan or native of Florence in
Tuscany, while he was _exarch_ or governor of Damascus, as appears by a
flower of the lily graven on marble, being the arms of Florence. This
castle is encompassed by a deep ditch and high walls with four goodly
high towers, and is entered by means of a drawbridge which can be let
down or taken up at pleasure. Within, this castle is provided with all
kinds of great artillery and warlike ammunition, and has a constant
guard of fifty Mamelukes, who wait upon the captain of the castle and
are paid by the viceroy of Syria. The following story respecting the
Florentine _exarch_ or governor of Damascus was related to me by the
inhabitants. One of the Soldans of Syria happened to have poison
administered to him, and when in search of a remedy he was cured by that
Florentine who belonged to the company of Mamelukes. Owing to this great
service he grew into high favour with the Soldan, who in reward made him
exarch or governor of Damascus in which he built the before mentioned
citadel. For saving the life of their Soldan this man is still reputed
among them as a saint, and after his death the sovereignty of Damascus
returned to the Syrians.

The Soldan is said to be much beloved by his princes and lords, to whom
he is ever ready to grant principalities and governments, reserving
always to himself the yearly payment of many thousands of those pieces
of gold called _saraphos_ or serafines, and any one who neglects payment
of the stipulated tribute is liable to be immediately put to death. Ten
or twelve of the chief noblemen or governors always reside with the
Soldan to assist him with their councils and to carry his orders into
execution. The Mameluke government is exceedingly oppressive to the
merchants and even to the other Mahometan inhabitants of Damascus. When
the Soldan thinks fit to extort a sum of money from any of the nobles or
merchants, he gives two letters to the governor of the castle, in one of
which is contained a list of such as he thinks proper to be invited into
the castle, and in the other is set down what sum the Soldan is pleased
to demand from his subjects; and with these commands they immediately
comply. Sometimes however the nobles are of such power that they refuse
to attend at the castle when summoned; and knowing that the tyrant will
offer them violence, they often escape into the dominions of the Turks.
We have noticed that the watchmen who are stationed in the towers do not
give warning to the guard by calling out as with us, but by means of
drums each answering the other; and if any of the centinels be asleep
and do not answer the beat of the patrole in a moment, he is immediately
committed to prison for a whole year.

This city is well built and wonderfully populous, much frequented and
extremely rich, and abounds in all kinds of commodities and provisions,
such as flesh, corn, and fruits. It has fresh damascene grapes all the
year round, with pomegranates, oranges, lemons, and excellent olive
trees; likewise the finest roses I ever saw, both red and white. The
apples are excellent, but the pears and peaches are unsavoury, owing as
is said to too much moisture. A fine clear river runs past the city,
which is so well supplied with water that almost every house has a
fountain of curious workmanship, many of them splendidly ornamented with
embossed or carved work. Outwardly their houses are very plain, but the
insides are beautifully adorned with various ornaments of the stone
called _oplus_ or serpentine marble. The city contains many temples
which they call mosques, the most beautiful of which is built after the
manner of St Peters at Rome, and as large, only that the middle has no
roof being entirely open, all the rest of the temple being vaulted. This
temple has four great double gates of brass, and has many splendid
fountains on the inside, in which they preserve the body of the prophet
Zacharias, whom they hold in great veneration. There are still to be
seen the ruins of many decayed canonical or Christian churches, having
much fine carved work. About a mile from the city the place is pointed
out where our Saviour spoke to St Paul, saying, "Paul! Paul! why
persecutest thou me!" at which place all the Christians who die in the
city are buried. The tower also is shewn in which Paul was imprisoned,
which joins the wall of the city; but even the Mahometans do not attempt
to shut up that part of the tower through which St Paul was conducted by
the angel, alleging that, when they close it up over night is found open
again next morning. They likewise point out the houses in which they say
that Cain slew his brother Abel, which are in a certain valley about a
mile from the city, but on the side of a hill skirting that valley.

The Mamelukes or stranger soldiers who inhabit Damascus live in a most
licentious manner. They are all men who have forsaken the Christian
faith, and who have been purchased as slaves by the governor of Syria.
Being brought up both in learning and warlike discipline, they are very
active and brave; and all of them whether high or low, receive regular
wages from the governor, being six of those pieces of gold called
serafines monthly, besides meat and drink for themselves and servants,
and provender for their horses; and as they shew themselves valiant and
faithful their wages are increased. They never walk singly about the
city, which would be deemed dishonourable, but always by two or three
together; and if they chance to meet with two or three women in the
streets, for whom even they are in use to wait in the neighbourhood of
such houses as the women frequent, licence is granted to such as first
meet them to carry them to certain taverns where they abuse them. When
the Mamelukes attempt to uncover the faces of these women, they strive
all they can to prevent being known, and are generally allowed to go
away without having their veils lifted. Hence it sometimes happens, when
they think to have abused the daughter of some nobleman or person of
condition, that they have fallen in with their own wives, as actually
happened while I was there. The women of Damascus beautify and adorn
themselves with great attention, wearing silk clothes, which they cover
with an outer garment of cotton as fine as silk. They wear white
buskins, and red or purple shoes, having their heads decorated with
rich jewels and ear-rings, with rings on their fingers and splendid
bracelets on their arms. They marry as often as they please, as when
weary of, or dissatisfied with their husbands, they apply to the chief
of their religion, called the _cady_, and request of him to divorce
them, which divorcement is called _talacare_ in their language, after
which they are at liberty to contract a new marriage; and the same
liberty is allowed to the husbands. Some say that the Mahometans have
usually five or six wives, but as far as I could learn they have only
two or three. They eat openly in the markets or fairs, and there they
cook all their food, living on the flesh, of horses, camels, buffaloes,
goats, and other beasts, and use great quantities of fresh cheese. Those
who sell milk drive flocks of forty or fifty she-goats through the
streets, which they bring to the doors of those who buy, driving them
even into their chambers, though three stories high, where the animals
are milked, so that every one gets their milk fresh and unadulterated.
These goats have their ears a span long, and are very fruitful. They use
many mushrooms, as there are often seen at one time 20 or 30 camels
loaded with mushrooms coming to market, and yet all are sold in two or
three days. These are brought from the mountains of Armenia, and from
Asia Minor, now called Turkey, Natolia, or Anatolia. The Mahometans use
long loose vestures both of silk and cloth, most having hose or trowsers
of cotton, and white shoes or slippers. When any Mahometan happens to
meet a Mameluke, even though the worthier person, he must give place and
reverence to the Mameluke, who would otherwise beat him with a staff.
Though often ill used by the Mahometans, the Christians have many
warehouses in Damascus, where they sell various kinds of silks and
velvets, and other commodities.


_Of the Journey from Damascus to Mecca, and of the Manners of the

On the 8th of April 1503, having hired certain camels to go with the
caravan to Mecca, and being then ignorant of the manners and customs of
those with whom I was to travel, I entered into familiarity and
friendship with a certain Mameluke captain who had forsaken our faith,
with whom I agreed for the expences of my journey, and who supplied me
with apparel like that worn by the Mamelukes, and gave me a good horse,
so that I went in his company along with other Mamelukes. This advantage
cost me much money and many gifts. Thus entering on our journey, we came
in three days to a place called _Mezaris_, where we tarried other three
days that the merchants might provide all necessaries for the journey,
and especially camels. There is a certain prince called _Zambei_, of
great power in Arabia, who had three brothers and four sons. This prince
possessed 40,000 horses, 10,000 mares, and 4000 camels, which he kept in
a country two days journey in extent. His power is so great, that he is
at war with the Soldan of Egypt, the governor of Damascus, and the
prince of Jerusalem all at once. His chief time of robbing and
plundering is in harvest, when, he often falls unexpectedly on the
Arabians, invading their lands and carrying away their wheat and barley,
employing himself continually in predatory incursions. When his mares
are weary with continual running, he stops to rest them, and gives them
camels milk to drink, to refresh and cool them after their fatigue.
These mares are of most wonderful swiftness, and when I saw them they
seemed rather to fly than to run in riding, these Arabians only cover
their horses with cloths or mats, and their own clothing is confined to
a single vesture somewhat like a petticoat. Their weapons are long
lances or darts made of reeds, ten or twelve cubits long, pointed with
iron and fringed with silk. The men are despicable looking people, of
small stature, of a colour between black and yellow, which we call
olive, having voices like women, and long black hair flowing on their
shoulders. They are more numerous than can well be believed, and are
continually at war among themselves. They inhabit the mountains, and
have certain times appointed for going out on predatory excursions, when
they march in troops in great order, carrying with them their wives and
children, and all their goods. Their houses or tents rather are carried
on camels, having no other houses, but dwelling always in tents like
soldiers. These tents are made of wool, and look black and filthy.

On the 11th of April we departed from Mezaris to the number of 40,000
men with 35,000 camels, having only sixty Mamelukes to guide and guard
us. We were regularly marshalled for the march into a van and main body,
with two wings, in which order the caravans of pilgrims always travel
in these regions. From Damascus to Mecca is a journey of forty days and
forty nights. Departing from Mezaris we continued our journey that day
till the twenty-second hour of the day. Then our captain or
_Agmirus_[36], having given the appointed signal, the whole caravan
immediately halted and disburdened the camels, two hours only being
allowed for rest and refreshment for the men and beasts. Then upon a new
signal the camels were all reloaded, and we resumed our march. Every
camel has for one feed five barley loaves, raw and not baked, as large
as pomegranates. We continued our second days journey like the first,
all day and night, from sun-rise to the twenty-second hour of the day,
and this was the constant regular order. Every eighth day they procure
water by digging the ground or sand, though sometimes we found wells and
cisterns. Likewise after every eight day, they rest two days, that the
camels and horses may recover strength. Every camel bears an incredible
load, being equal to that Which is borne by two strong-mules.

[Footnote 36: The Emir Haji, or captain of the pilgrimage, which name of
office is transposed in the text to Haji-emir, corrupted _Agmir_, and
latinized Agmirus.--E.]

At every resting-place at the waters, they are always obliged to defend
themselves against vast numbers of Arabians, but these conflicts are
hardly ever attended with bloodshed, insomuch that though we often
fought with them, we had only one man slain during the whole journey,
these Arabians are so weak and cowardly that our threescore Mamelukes
have often driven 60,000 Arabians before them. Of these Mamelukes, I
have often seen wonderful instances of their expertness and activity. I
once saw a Mameluke place an apple on the head of his servant at the
distance of 12 or 14 paces, and strike it off from his head, another
while riding at full speed took the saddle from his horse, and carried
it some time on his head, and put it again on the horse without checking
his career.

At the end of twelve days journey we came to the valley of Sodom and
Gomorra, which we found, as is said in the holy scripture, to retain the
ruins of the destroyed city as a lasting memorial of God's wrath. I may
affirm that there are three cities, each situated on the declivity of
three separate hills, and the ruins do not seem above three or four
cubits high, among which is seen something like blood, or rather like
red wax mixed with earth. It is easy to believe that these people were
addicted to horrible vices, as testified by the barren, dry, filthy
unwholesome region, utterly destitute of water. These people were once
fed with manna sent from heaven, but abusing the gifts of God they were
utterly destroyed. Departing about twenty miles from this place, about
thirty of our company perished for want of water, and several others
were overwhelmed with sand. A little farther on we found water at the
foot of a little hill, and there halted. Early next morning there came
to us 24,000 Arabians, who demanded money from us in payment of the
water we had taken, and as we refused them any money, saying that the
water was the free gift of God to all, we came to blows. We gathered
ourselves together on the mountain as the safest place, using our camels
as a bulwark, all the merchants and their goods being placed in the
middle of the camels while we fought manfully on every side. The battle
continued for two days, when water failed both with us and our enemies,
who encompassed the mountain all round, continually calling out that
they would break in among our camels. At length our captain assembled
all the merchants, whom he commanded to gather twelve hundred pieces of
gold to be given to the Arabians: but on receiving that sum they said it
was too little, and demanded ten thousand pieces and more for the water
we had taken. Whereupon our captain gave orders that every man in the
caravan who could bear arms should prepare for battle. Next morning our
commander sent on the caravan with the unarmed pilgrims inclosed by the
camels, and made an attack upon the enemy with our small army, which
amounted to about three hundred in all. With the loss only of one man
and a woman on our side, we completely defeated the Arabians of whom we
slew 1500 men. This victory is not to be wondered at, considering that
the Arabians are almost entirely unarmed being almost naked, and having
only a thin loose vesture, while their horses are very ill provided for
battle, having no saddles or other caparisons.

Continuing our march after this victory, we came in eight days to a
mountain about ten or twelve miles in circuit, which was inhabited by
about 5000 Jews. These were of very small stature, hardly exceeding five
or six spans in height, and some much less[37]. They have small shrill
voices like women, and are of very dark complexions, some blacker than
the rest. Their only food is the flesh of goats. They are all
circumcised and follow the Jewish law, and when any Mahometan falls into
their hands they flea him alive. We found a hole at the foot of the
mountain out of which there flowed an abundant source of water, at which
we laded 16,000 camels, giving great offence to the Jews. These people
wander about their mountain like so many goats or deer, not daring to
descend into the plain for fear of the Arabians. At the bottom of the
mountain we found a small grove of seven or eight thorn trees, among
which we found a pair of turtle doves, which were to us a great rarity,
as during our long journey hitherto we had seen neither beast nor bird.

[Footnote 37: This account of the stature of the Jewish tribe cannot
fail to be much exaggerated, otherwise the text must have been corrupted
at this place; as we cannot well conceive of a tribe in Arabia not
exceeding four feet two inches in average height.--E.]

Proceeding two days journey from the mountain of the Jews, we came to
_Medinathalhabi_[38] or Medina. Four miles from this city we found a
well, where the caravan rested and remained for a whole day, that we
might wash ourselves and put on clean garments to appear decently in the
city. Medina contains about three hundred houses of stone or brick, and
is well peopled, being surrounded by bulwarks of earth. The soil is
utterly barren, except at about two miles from the city there are about
fifty palm trees which bear dates. At that place, beside a garden, there
is a water-course which runs into a lower plain, where the pilgrims are
accustomed to water their camels. I had here an opportunity to refute
the vulgar opinion that the tomb or coffin of the _wicked_ Mahomet is at
Mecca, and hangs in the air without support. For I tarried here three
days and saw with my own eyes the place where Mahomet was buried, which
is here at Medina, and not at Mecca. On presenting ourselves to enter
the _Meschita_ or mosque, which name they give to all their churches or
temples, we could not be allowed to enter unless along with a
companion[39] little or great, who takes us by the hand and leads us to
the place where they say that Mahomet is buried. His temple is vaulted,
being about 100 paces long by 80 in breadth, and is entered by two
gates. It consists of three parallel vaults, which are supported by
four hundred pillars of white bricks, and within are suspended about
three thousand lamps. In the inner part of this mosque or temple is a
kind of tower five paces in circuit, vaulted on every side, and covered
with a large cloth of silk, which is borne up by a grate of copper
curiously wrought, and at the distance of two paces on every side from
the tower, so that this tower or tomb is only seen as through a lattice
by the devout pilgrims. This tomb is situated in an inner building
toward the left hand from the great mosque, in a chapel to which you
enter by a narrow gate. On every side of these gates or doors are seen
many books in the manner of a library, twenty on one side, and
twenty-five on the other, which contain the vile traditions of Mahomet
and his companions. Within this chapel is seen a sepulchre in which they
say that Mahomet lies buried with his principal companions, _Nabi_,
_Bubacar_, _Othamar_, _Aumar_, and _Fatoma_. Mahomet, who was a native
Arabian, was their chief captain. _Hali_ or _Ali_ was his son in-law,
for he took to wife his daughter _Fatima_. _Bubacar_ or Abubeker, was as
they say exalted to be chief councillor and governor under Mahomet, but
was not honoured with the office of apostle or prophet. _Othamar and
Aumar_, Othoman and Omar, were chief captains in the army of Mahomet.
Every one of these have particular books containing the acts and
traditions which relate to them, whence proceed great dissentions and
discords of religion and manners among these vile people, some of whom
adhere to one doctrine and some to another, so that they are divided
into various sects among themselves, and kill each other like beasts,
upon quarrels respecting their various opinions, all equally false,
having each their several patrons, doctors, and saints, as they call
them. This also is the chief cause of war between the Sophy of Persia
and the grand Turk, both of whom are Mahometans, yet they live in
continual and mortal hatred of each other for the maintenance of their
respective sects, saints, and apostles, every one thinking their own the

[Footnote 38: This name ought probably to have been written
Medinat-al-habi, and is assuredly the holy city of Medina, in which
Mahomet was buried.--E.]

[Footnote 39: This seems to refer to some official residents of Medina,
who must accompany the pilgrims in their visits to the holy places,
probably for profit.--E.]

The first evening that we came to Medina, our captain, or Emir of the
pilgrimage, sent for the chief priest of the temple, and declared that
the sole object of his coming thither was to visit the sepulchre and
body of the _Nabi_ or prophet, as they usually call Mahomet, and that he
understood the price generally paid for being admitted to a sight of
these mysteries was four thousand gold _serafines_. He told him likewise
that he had no parents, neither brothers nor sisters, kindred, wife, nor
children; that he had not come hither to purchase any merchandise, such
as spices, _bacca_[40], spikenard, or jewels, but merely for the
salvation of his soul and from pure zeal for religion, and was therefore
exceedingly desirous to see the body of the prophet. To this the priest
answered in apparent anger, "Darest thou, with those eyes with which
thou hast committed so many abominable sins, presume to look on him by
whom God created heaven and earth?" The captain replied that he spoke
true, yet prayed him that he might be permitted to see the prophet, when
he would instantly have his eyes thrust out. Then answered the _Side_ or
chief priest, "Prince! I will freely communicate all things to you. It
is undeniable that our holy prophet died at this place; but he was
immediately borne away by angels to heaven and there received among them
as their equal." Our captain then asked where was now Jesus Christ the
son of Mary, and the _Side_ said that he was at the feet of Mahomet: To
which the captain replied that he was satisfied, and wished for no more
information. After this, coming out of the temple, he said to us, "See I
pray you for what stuff I would have paid three thousand _serafines_ of

[Footnote 40: This word is obviously _berries_, and signifies

That same evening at almost three o'clock of the night[41], ten or
twelve elders of the city came into the encampment of our caravan, close
by one of the gates of the city, where running about like madmen, they
continually cried out aloud, "Mahomet the apostle of God shall rise
again: O prophet of God thou shalt rise again. God have mercy upon us!"
Alarmed by these cries, our captain and all of us seized our weapons in
all haste, suspecting that the Arabians had come to rob our caravan. On
demanding the reason of all this outcry, for they cried out as is done
by the Christians when any miraculous event occurs, the elders answered,
"Saw you not the light which shone from the sepulchre of the prophet?"
Then said one of the elders, "Are you slaves?" meaning thereby bought
men or Mamelukes; and when our captain answered that we were Mamelukes,
the elder replied, "You, my lords, being new to the faith, and not yet
fully confirmed in the religion of our holy prophet, cannot see these
heavenly things." To which our captain answered, "O! you mad and
insensate beasts! I thought to have given you three thousand pieces of
gold; but now I shall give you nothing, you dogs and progeny of dogs?"
Now, it is to be understood that the pretended miraculous light which
was seen to proceed from the sepulchre, was merely occasioned by a flame
made by the priests in the open part of the tower formerly mentioned,
which they wished to impose on us as a miracle. After this our commander
gave orders that none of the caravan should enter into the temple.
Having thus seen with my own eyes, I can assuredly declare that there is
neither iron nor steel, nor magnet stone by which the tomb of Mahomet is
made to hang in the air, as some have falsely imagined, neither is there
any mountain nearer to Medina than four miles. To this city of Medina
corn and all other kinds of victuals are brought from Arabia Felix,
Babylon or Cairo in Egypt, and from Ethiopia by way of the Red Sea,
which is about four days journey from the city.

[Footnote 41: Counting from sunset after the manner of the

Having remained three days in our encampment on the outside of Medina to
rest and refresh ourselves and our animals, and being satisfied, or
disgusted rather, by the vile and abominable trumperies, deceits, and
hypocritical trifles of the Mahometan delusions, we determined to resume
our journey; and procuring a pilot or guide, who might direct our way by
means of a chart and mariners box or compass, as is used at sea, we bent
our journey towards the west, where we found a fair well or fountain
whence flowed an abundant stream of water, and where we and our beasts
were satisfied with drink. According to a tradition among the
inhabitants, this region was formerly burnt up with drought and
sterility, till the evangelist St Mark procured this fountain from God
by miracle. We came into the _sea of sand_ before our arrival at the
mountain of the Jews, formerly mentioned, and in it we journeyed three
days and nights. This is a vast plain covered all over by white sand as
fine almost as flour; and if by evil chance any one travels south while
the wind blows to the north, they are overwhelmed by drifted sand. Even
with the wind favourable, or blowing in the direction of their journey,
the pilgrims are apt to scatter and disperse, as they cannot see each
other at ten paces distance. For this reason those who travel across the
sea of sand are enclosed in wooden cages on the backs of camels, and
are guided by experienced pilots by chart and compass, as mariners on
the ocean. In this journey many perish by thirst, and many by drinking
with too much avidity when they fall in with wells. Owing to this
_Momia_ is found in these sands, bring the flesh of such as have been
_drowned in the sea of sand_, which is there dried up by the heat of the
sun, and the excessive dryness of the sand preventing putrefaction. This
_Momia_ or dried flesh is esteemed medicinal; but there is another and
more precious kind of _Momia_, being the dried and embalmed bodies of
kings and princes, which have been preserved in all times from

When the wind blows from the north-east, the sand rises, and is driven
against a certain mountain, which is a branch from Mount Sinai; and in
that place we found certain pillars artificially wrought, which are
called _Januan_. On the left hand side of that mountain, and near the
highest summit, there is a cave or den, to which you enter by an iron
gate, and into which cave Mahomet is said to have retired for
meditation. While passing that mountain, we heard certain horrible cries
and loud noises, which put us in great fear. Departing therefore from
the fountain of St Mark, we continued our journey for ten days, and
twice in that time we had to fight against fifty thousand Arabians. At
length, however, we arrived at Mecca, where we found every thing in
confusion, in consequence of a civil war between two brothers who
contended for the kingdom of Mecca.


_Observations of the Author during his residence at Mecca_.

The famous city of Mecha or Mecca is populous and well built, in a round
form, having six thousand houses as well built as those in Rome, some of
which have cost three or four thousand pieces of gold. It has no walls,
being protected or fortified as it were on all sides by mountains, over
one of which, about two furlongs from the city, the road is cut by which
we descended into the plain below; but there are three other entries
through the mountains. It is under the dominion of a sultan, one of four
brethren of the progeny of Mahomet, who is subject to the Soldan of
Egypt, but his other three brothers are continually at war with him. On
the 18th day of May, descending from the before-mentioned road obliquely
into the plain, we came to Mecca by the north side. On the south side of
the city there are two mountains very near each other, having a very
narrow intervening valley, which is the way leading to Mecca on that
side. To the east there in a similar valley between two other mountains,
by which is the road to a mountain where they sacrifice to the
patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, which hill or mount is ten or twelve miles
from Mecca, and is about three stone throws in height, being all of a
stone as hard as marble, yet is not marble. On the top of this mount is
a temple or mosque, built after their manner, having three entrances. At
the foot of the mountain are two great cisterns, which preserve water
free from corruption: one of these is reserved for the camels belonging
to the caravan of Cairo, and the other for that of Damascus. These
cisterns are filled by rain water, which is brought from a great way
off. We shall speak afterwards of the sacrifices performed at this
mountain, and must now return to Mecca.

On our arrival we found the caravan from Memphis, or Babylon of Egypt,
which had arrived eight days before us, coming by a different way, and
consisted of 64,000 camels, with a guard of an hundred Mamelukes. This
city of Mecca is assuredly cursed of God, for it is situated in a most
barren spot, destitute of all manner of fruit or corn, and so burnt up
with drought, that you cannot have as much water for twelve pence as
will satisfy one person for a whole day. Most part of their provisions
are brought from Cairo in Egypt, by the Red Sea, or _Mare Erythreum_ of
the ancients, and is landed at the port of _Gida_, Joddah or Jiddah,
which is about forty miles from Mecca. The rest of their provisions are
brought from the _Happy Arabia_, or _Arabia Felix_, so named from its
fruitfulness in comparison with the other two divisions, called
_Petrea_ and _Deserta_, or the Stoney and Desert Arabias. They also
get much corn from Ethiopia. At Mecca we found a prodigious multitude of
strangers who were _peregrines_ or pilgrims; some from Syria, others
from Persia, and others from both the Indies, that is, from India on
this side the river Ganges, and also from the farther India beyond that
river. During my stay of twenty days at Mecca, I saw a most prodigious
number and variety of people, infinitely beyond what I had ever before
seen. This vast concourse of strangers of many nations and countries
resort thither from various causes, but chiefly for trade, and to
obtain pardon of their sins by discharging a vow of pilgrimage.

From India, both on this side and beyond the Ganges, they bring for sale
precious stones pearls and spices; and especially from that city of the
greater India, which is named _Bangella_[42] they bring much
_gossampyne_ cloth[43] and silk. They receive spices also from
Ethiopia[44]; and, in short, this city of Mecca is a most famous and
plentiful mart of many rich and valuable commodities. But the main
object for which pilgrims resort thither from so many countries and
nations, is, to purchase the pardon of their sins. In the middle of the
city there is a temple after the manner of the coliseum or amphitheatre
of Rome, yet not built of marble or hewn stone, being only of burnt
bricks. Like an amphitheatre, it has ninety or an hundred gates, and is
vaulted over. It is entered on every side by a descent of twelve steps,
and in its porch is the mart for jewels and precious stones, all the
walls of the entry being gilt over in a most splendid manner. In the
lower part of the temple under the vaults, there is always to be seen a
prodigious multitude of men; as there are generally five or six thousand
in that place, who deal solely in sweet ointments and perfumes, among
which especially is a certain most odoriferous powder, with which dead
bodies are embalmed. From this place all manner of delightful perfumes
are carried to all the Mahometan countries, for beyond any thing that
can be found in the shops of our apothecaries.

[Footnote 42: This must necessarily be the kingdom or province of

[Footnote 43: Fine cottons or muslins are here evidently meant.--E.]

[Footnote 44: This is inexplicable, as Ethiopia possesses no spices,
unless we may suppose the author to mean here the sea of Ethiopia or Red
Sea, as the track by which spices were brought to Mecca.--E.]

On the 23d day of May yearly, the pardons begin to be distributed in the
temple, after the following manner: The temple is entirely open in the
middle, and in its centre stands a turret about six paces in
circumference, and not exceeding the height of a man, which is hung all
round with silken tapestry. This turret or cell is entered by a gate of
silver, on each side of which are vessels full of precious balsam, which
the inhabitants told us was part of the treasure belonging to the sultan
of Mecca. _At every vault of the turret is fastened a round circle of
iron, like the ring of a door_[45]. On the day of Pentecost, all men
are permitted to visit this holy place. On the 22d of May, a great
multitude of people began early in the morning, before day, to walk
seven times round the turret, every corner of which they devoutly kissed
and frequently handled. About ten or twelve paces from this principal
turret is another, which is built like a Christian chapel, having three
or four entries; and in the middle is a well seventy cubits deep, the
water of which is impregnated with saltpetre. At this well eight men are
stationed to draw water for all the multitude. After the pilgrims have
seven times walked round the first turret, they come to this one, and
touching the mouth or brim of the well, they say these words: "Be it to
the honour of God, and may God pardon my sins." Then those who draw
water pour three buckets on the heads of every one that stands around
the well, washing or wetting them all over, even should their garments
be of silk; after which the deluded fools fondly imagine that their sins
are forgiven them. It is pretended that the turret first spoken of was
the first house that was builded by Abraham; wherefore, while yet all
over wet by the drenching at the well, they go to the mountain already
mentioned, where the sacrifice is made to Abraham; and after remaining
there for two days, they make their sacrifice to the patriarch at the
foot of the mountain.

[Footnote 45: This description is altogether unintelligible.--E.]

When they intend to sacrifice, the pilgrims who are able to afford it,
kill some three, some four, or more sheep, even to ten, so that in one
sacrifice there are sometimes slain above 3000 sheep; and as they are
all slaughtered at sun-rise, the shambles then flow with blood. Shortly
afterwards all the carcasses are distributed for God's sake among the
poor, of whom I saw there at least to the number of 20,000. These poor
people dig many long ditches in the fields round Mecca, where they make
fires of camels' dung, at which they roast or seethe the sacrificial
flesh which has been distributed to them by the richer pilgrims. In my
opinion, these poor people flock to Mecca more to satisfy their hunger,
than from motives of devotion. Great quantities of cucumbers are brought
here for sale from Arabia Felix, which are bought by those who have
money; and as the parings are thrown out from their tents, the
half-famished multitude gather these parings from among the mire or sand
to satisfy their hunger, and are so greedy of that vile food, that they
fight who shall gather most.

On the day after the sacrifice to Abraham, the _cadi_, who is to these
people as the preachers of the word of God among us, ascends to the top
of a high mountain, whence he preaches to the people who stand below. He
harangued for the space of on hour, principally inculcating that they
should bewail their sins with tears and sighs and lamentations, beating
their breasts. At one time he exclaimed with a loud voice, "O! Abraham
the beloved of God, O! Isaac the chosen of God and his friend, pray to
God for the people of the prophet." As these words were spoken, we
suddenly heard loud cries and lamentations, and a rumour was spread that
an army of 20,000 Arabians was approaching, on which we all fled into
the city, even those who were appointed to guard the pilgrims being the
first to make their escape. Mid-way between the mountain of Abraham and
the city of Mecca, there is a mean wall, about four cubits broad, where
the passengers had strewed the whole way with stones, owing to the
following traditionary story: When Abraham was commanded to sacrifice
his son Isaac, he directed his son to follow him to the place where he
was to execute the divine command; and as Isaac was following after his
father, a devil met him in the way near this wall, in the semblance of a
fair and friendly person, and asked him whither he went. Isaac answered
that he was going to his father, who waited for him. To this the arch
enemy replied, that he had better not go, as his father meant to
sacrifice him. But Isaac despising the warnings of the devil, continued
his way, that his father might execute the commandments of God
respecting him. On this the devil departed from him, but met him again
as he went forward, under the semblance of another friendly person, and
advised him as before not to go to his father. On this Isaac threw a
stone at the devil, and wounded him in the forehead; in remembrance of
which traditionary story it is that the people, on passing this way, are
accustomed to throw stones at the wall before going to the city. As we
went this way, the air was in a manner darkened with prodigious
multitudes of stock doves, all, as they pretend, derived from the dove
that spoke in the ear of Mahomet, in likeness of the Holy Ghost. These
doves are seen in vast numbers in all parts about Mecca, as in the
houses, villages, inns, and granaries of corn and rice, and are so tame
that they can hardly be driven away. Indeed it is reckoned a capital
crime to kill or even take them, and there are certain funds assigned
for feeding them at the temple.

Beyond the temple there are certain parks or inclosures, in which there
are two _unicorns_ to be seen, called by the Greeks _Monocerotae_, which
are shewn to the people as miracles of nature, and not without good
reason, on account of their scarcity and strange appearance. One of
these, though much higher than the other, is not unlike a colt of thirty
months old, and has a horn in its forehead, growing straight forwards
and the length of three cubits. The other is much younger, resembling a
colt of one year old, and its horn is only four hand breadths long.
These singular animals are of a weasel chesnut colour, having a head
like that of a hart, but the neck is not near so long, with a thin mane,
hanging all to one side. The legs are thin and slender, like those of a
fawn or hind, and the hoofs are cleft much like those of a goat, the
outer parts of the hind feet being very full of hair. These animals
seemed wild and fierce yet exceedingly comely. They were sent out of
Ethiopia by a king of that country, as a rare and precious gift to the
sultan of Mecca[46].

[Footnote 46: The unicorn is an unknown, or rather a fabulous animal,
and the most charitable interpretation that can be made of the
description in the text is, that Verthema was mistaken, or that one of
the horns of some species of antelope had either been removed, or was
wanting by a lusus naturae. The only real _Monoceros_, or one horned
animal, known to naturalists, is the rhinoceros monoceros, or one-horned
rhinoceros, which bears its horn on the nose, a little way above the
muzzle, not on the forehead.--E.]

It may seem proper to mention here certain things which happened to me
at Mecca, in which may be seen the sharpness of wit in case of urgent
necessity, which according to the proverb, has no law; for I was driven
to the extent of my wits how I might contrive to escape privately from
Mecca. One day, while in the market purchasing some things by the
direction of our captain, a certain Mameluke knew me to be a Christian,
and said to me in his own language _inte mename_, which is to say,
"Whence are you?" To this I answered that I was a Mahometan, but he
insisted that I spoke falsely, on which I swore by the head of Mahomet
that I really was. Then he desired me to go home along with him, which I
willingly did; and when there he began to speak to me in the Italian
language, affirming that he was quite certain I was not a Mahometan. He
told me that he had been some time in Genoa and Venice, and mentioned
many circumstances which convinced me that he spoke truth. On this I
freely confessed myself A Roman, but declared that I had become a
Mahometan at Babylon in Egypt, and had been there enrolled among the
Mamelukes. He seemed much pleased as this, and treated me honourably.
Being very desirous of proceeding farther in my travels, I asked him if
this city of Mecca was as famous as was reported in the world, and where
the vast abundance of pearls, precious stones, spices, and other rich
merchandise was to be seen, which was generally believed to be in that
city, wishing to know the reason why these things were not now brought
there as in former times; but to avoid all suspicion, I durst not make
any mention of the dominion acquired by the king of Portugal over the
Indian ocean and the gulfs of Persia and Mecca. Then did he shew the
cause why this mart of Mecca was not so much frequented as it used to
be, assigning the whole blame to the King of Portugal. Thereupon I
purposely detracted from the fame of that king, lest the Mahometan might
suspect me of rejoicing that the Christians resorted to India for trade.
Finding me a professed enemy to the Christians, he conceived a great
esteem for me, and gave me a great deal of information. Then said I to
him in the language of Mahomet _Menaba menalhabi_, or "I pray you to aid
me." He asked me in what circumstance I wished his assistance; upon
which I told him that I wished secretly to depart from Mecca, assuring
him under the most sacred oaths that I meant to visit those kings who
were the greatest enemies to the Christians, and that I possessed the
knowledge of certain estimable secrets, which if known to those kings
would certainly occasion them to send for me from Mecca. He requested to
know what these secrets were, on which I informed him that I was
thoroughly versant in the construction of all manner of guns and
artillery. He then praised Mahomet for having directed me to these
parts, as I might do infinite service to the true believers; and he
agreed to allow me to remain secretly in his house along with his wife.

Having thus cemented a friendship with the Mahometan, he requested of me
to obtain permission from the captain of our caravan that he might lead
fifteen camels from Mecca loaded with spices under his name, by which
means he might evade the duties, as thirty gold seraphines are usually
paid to the sultan of Mecca for the custom of such a number of camels. I
gave him great hopes that his request might be complied with, even if he
asked for an hundred camels, as I alleged he was entitled to the
privilege as being a Mameluke. Then finding him in excellent good
humour, I again urged my desire of being concealed in his house; and
having entirely gained his confidence, he gave me many instructions for
the prosecution of my intended journey, and counselled me to repair to
the court of the king of _Decham_, or Deccan, a realm in the greater
India; of which I shall speak hereafter. Wherefore, on the day before
the caravan of Damascus was to depart from Mecca, he concealed me in the
most secret part of his house; and next morning early the trumpeter of
our caravan of Syria gave warning to all the Mamelukes to prepare
themselves and their horses for the immediate prosecution of the
journey, on pain of death to all who should neglect the order. Upon
hearing this proclamation and penalty I was greatly troubled in mind;
yet committing myself by earnest prayer to the merciful protection of
God, I entreated the Mamelukes wife not to betray me. On the Tuesday
following, our caravan departed from Mecca and the Mameluke went along
with it, but I remained concealed in his house. Before his departure,
the friendly Mameluke gave orders to his wife that she should procure me
the means of going along with the pilgrims who were to depart from
_Zide_ or Juddah the port of Mecca for India. This port of Juddah is 40
miles from Mecca. I cannot well express the kindness of the Mamelukes
wife to me during the time I lay hid in her house; and what contributed
mainly to my good entertainment was that a beautiful young maid who
dwelt in the house, being niece to the Mameluke, was in love with me;
but at that time I was so environed with troubles and fear of danger,
that the passion of love was almost extinct in my bosom, yet I kept
myself in her favour by kind words and fair promises.

On the Friday, three days after the departure of the caravan of Syria, I
departed about noon from Mecca along with the caravan of India; and
about midnight we came to an Arabian village, where we rested all the
rest of that night and the next day till noon. From thence continuing
our journey we arrived at Juddah on the second night of our journey. The
city of Juddah has no walls, but the houses are well built, resembling
those in the Italian cities. At this place there is great abundance of
all kinds of merchandise, being in a manner the resort of all nations,
except that it is held unlawful for Jews or Christians to come there. As
soon as I entered Juddah I went to the mosque, where I saw a prodigious
number of poor people, not less than 25,000, who were attending upon
the different pilots, that they might go back to their countries. Here I
suffered much trouble and affliction, being constrained to hide myself
among these poor wretches and to feign myself sick, that no one might be
too inquisitive about who I was, whence I came, or whether I was going.
The city of Juddah is under the dominion of the Soldan of Babylon or
Cairo, the Sultan of Mecca being his brother and his subject. The
inhabitants are all Mahometans; the soil around the town is very
unfruitful, as it wants water; yet this town, which stands on the shore
of the Red Sea, enjoys abundance of all necessaries which are brought
from Egypt, Arabia Felix, and various other places. The heat is so
excessive that the people are in a manner dried up, and there is
generally great sickness among the inhabitants. This city contains about
500 houses. After sojourning here for fifteen days, I at length agreed
for a certain sum with a pilot or ship-master, who engaged to convey me
to Persia. At this time there lay at anchor in the haven of Mecca near
an hundred brigantines and foists, with many barks and boats of various
kinds, some with oars and some with sails.

Three days after I had agreed for my passage, we hoisted sail and began
our voyage down the Red Sea, called by the ancients _Mare
erythraeum_[47]. It is well known to learned men that this sea is not
red, as its name implies and as some have imagined, for it has the same
colour with other seas. We continued our voyage till the going down of
the sun, for this sea cannot be navigated during the night, wherefore
navigators only sail in the day and always come to anchor every night.
This is owing _as they say_, to the many dangerous sands, rocks and
shelves, which require the ships way to be guided with great care and
diligent outlook from the _top castle_, that these dangerous places may
be seen and avoided: But after coming to the island of _Chameran_ or
Kamaran, the navigation may be continued with greater safety and

[Footnote 47: The _Mare erythraeum_ of the ancients was of much more
extended dimensions, comprising all the sea of India from Arabia on the
west to Guzerat and the Concan on the east, with the coasts of Persia
and Scindetic India on the north; of which sea the Red Sea and the
Persian gulfs were considered branches or deep bays.--E.]


_Adventures of the Author in various parts of Arabia Felix, or Yemen_.

After six days sailing from Juddah we came to a city named _Gezan_,
which is well built and has a commodious port, in which we found about
45 foists and brigantines belonging to different countries. This city is
close to the sea, and stands in a fertile district resembling Italy,
having plenty of pomegranates, quinces, peaches, Assyrian apples,
_pepons_? melons, oranges, gourds, and various other fruits, also many
of the finest roses and other flowers that can be conceived, so that it
seemed an earthly paradise. It has also abundance of flesh, with wheat
and barley, and a grain like white millet or _hirse_, which they call
_dora_, of which they make a very excellent bread. The prince of this
town and all his subjects are Mahometans, most of whom go nearly naked.

After sailing five days from _Gezan_, having always the coast on our
left hand, we came in sight of some habitations where 14 of us went on
shore in hopes of procuring some provisions from the inhabitants; but
instead of giving us victuals they threw stones at us from slings, so
that we were constrained to fight them in our own defence. There were
about 100 of these inhospitable natives, who had no other weapons except
slings, and yet fought us for an hour; but 24 of them being slain the
rest fled, and we brought away from their houses some poultry and
calves, which we found very good. Soon afterwards the natives returned,
being reinforced by others to the number of five or six hundred; but we
departed with our prey and reimbarked.

Continuing our voyage, we arrived on the same day at an island named
_Kamaran_, which is ten miles in circuit. This island has a town of two
hundred houses, inhabited by Mahometans, and has abundance of flesh and
fresh water, and the fairest salt I ever saw. The port of Kamaran is
eight miles from the Arabian coast, and is subject to the sultan of
_Amanian_ or _Yaman_, a kingdom of Arabia Felix. Having remained here
two days, we again made sail for the mouth of the Red Sea, where we
arrived in other two days. From Kamaran to the mouth of the Red Sea the
navigation is safe both night and day; But from Juddah to Kamsran the
Red Sea can only be navigated by day, as already stated, on account of
shoals and rocks. On coming to the mouth of the Red Sea, we seemed quite
inclosed, as the strait is very narrow, being only three miles across.
On the right hand, or Ethiopian coast, the shore of the continent is
about ten paces in height, and seems a rude uncultivated soil; and on
the left hand, or coast of Arabia, there rises a very high rocky hill.
In the middle of the strait is a small uninhabited island called
_Bebmendo_[48], and those who sail from the Red Sea towards Zeyla, leave
this island on the left hand. Such, on the contrary, as go for Aden,
must keep the north eastern passage, leaving this island on the right.

[Footnote 48: This word is an obvious corruption of Bab-el-Mondub, the
Arabic name of the straits, formerly explained as signifying the gate or
passage of lamentation. The island in question is named _Prin_.--E.]

We sailed for _Bab-al-Mondub_ to _Aden_, in two days and a half, always
having the land of Arabia in sight on our left. I do not remember to
have seen any city better fortified than Aden. It stands on a tolerably
level plain, having walls on two sides: all the rest being inclosed by
mountains, on which there are five fortresses. This city contains 6000
houses, and only a stone's throw from the city there is a mountain
having a castle on its summit, the shipping being anchored at the foot
of the mountain. Aden is an excellent city, and the chief place in all
Arabia Felix, of which it is the principal mart, to which merchants
resort from India, Ethiopia, Persia, and the Red Sea; but owing to the
intolerable heat during the day, the whole business of buying and
selling takes place at night, beginning two hours after sunset. As soon
as our brigantines came to anchor in the haven, the customers and
searchers came off, demanding what we were, whence we came, what
commodities we had on board, and how many men were in each vessel? After
being satisfied on these heads they took away our mast, sails, and other
tackle, that we might not depart without paying the customs.

The day after our arrival at Aden, the Mahometans took me prisoner, and
put shackles on my legs in consequence of an _idolater_ calling after me
that I was a Christian dog[49]. Upon this the Mahometans laid hold of
me, and carried me before the lieutenant of the sultan, who assembled
his council, to consult with them if I should be put to death as a
Christian spy. The sultan happened to be absent from the city, and as
the lieutenant had not hitherto adjudged any one to death, he did not
think fit to give sentence against me till my case were reported to the
sultan. By this means I escaped the present danger, and remained in
prison 55 days, with an iron of eighteen pounds weight fastened to my
legs. On the second day of my confinement, many Mahometans went in great
rage to the lieutenant to demand that I should be put to death as a
Portuguese spy. Only a few days before, these men had difficultly
escaped from the hands of the Portuguese by swimming, with the loss of
their foists and barks, and therefore greatly desired to be revenged of
the Christians, outrageously affirming that I was a Portuguese and a
spy. But God assisted me, for the master of the prison made fast its
gates, that these outrageous men might not offer me violence. At the end
of fifty-five days, the sultan sent for me into his presence; so I was
placed on the back of a camel with my shackles, and at the end of eight
days journey I was brought to the city of _Rhada_, where the sultan then
resided, and where he had assembled an army of 30,000 men to make war
upon the sultan of _Sanaa_, a fair and populous city about three days
journey from _Rhada_, situated partly on the slope of a hill and partly
in a plain. When I was brought before the sultan, he asked me what I
was: on which I answered that I was a Roman, and had professed myself a
Mahometan and Mameluke at Babylon in Egypt, or Cairo. That from motives
of religion, and in discharge of a vow, I had made the pilgrimage to
_Medinathalhabi_, to see the body of the _Nabi_ or holy prophet, which
was said to be buried there; and that having heard in all the countries
and cities through which I passed, of the greatness, wisdom, and virtue
of the sultan of Rhada, I had continued my travels to his dominions from
an anxious desire to see his face, and I now gave thanks to God and his
prophet that I had attained my wish, trusting that his wisdom and
justice would see that I was no Christian spy, but a true Mahometan, and
his devoted slave. The sultan then commanded me to say _Leila illala
Mahumet resullah_, which words I could never well pronounce, either that
it so pleased God, or because I durst not, from some fear or scruple of
conscience. Wherefore, seeing me silent, the sultan committed me again
to prison, commanding that I should be carefully watched by sixteen men
of the city, every day four in their turns. After this, for the space of
three months, I never enjoyed the sight of the heavens, being every day
allowed a loaf of millet bread, so very small that seven of them would
hardly have satisfied my hunger for one day, yet I would have thought
myself happy if I could have had my fill of water.

[Footnote 49: According to the monk Picade, Christians are found in all
regions except Arabia and Egypt, where they are most hated.--_Eden_.]

Three days after I was committed to prison, the sultan marched with his
army to besiege the city of _Sanaa_, having, as I said before, 30,000
footmen, besides 3000 horsemen, born of Christian parents, who were
black like the Ethiopians, and had been brought while young from the
kingdom of _Prester John_, called in Latin _Presbyter Johannes_, or
rather _Preciosus Johannes_. These Christian Ethiopians are also called
Abyssinians, and are brought up in the discipline of war like the
Mamelukes and Janisaries of the Turks, and are held in high estimation
by this sultan for the guard of his own person. They have high pay, and
are in number four-score thousand[50]. Their only dress is a _sindon_ or
cloak, out of which they put forth one arm. In war they use round
targets of buffaloe hide, strengthened with some light bars of iron,
having a wooden handle, and short broad-swords. At other times they use
vestures of linen of divers colours, also of _gossampine_ or _xylon_,
otherwise named _bomasine_[51]. In war every man carries a sling, whence
he casts stones, after having whirled them frequently round his head.
When they come to forty or fifty years of age, they wreath their hair
into the form of horns like those of goats. When the army proceeds to
the wars, it is followed by 5000 camels, all laden with ropes of

[Footnote 50: This is a ridiculous exaggeration, or blunder in
transcription, and may more readily be limited to four thousand.--E.]

[Footnote 51: These terms unquestionably refer to cotton cloth. Perhaps
we ought to read gossamopine _of_ Xylon, meaning cotton cloth from

[Footnote 52: The use of this enormous quantity of cotton ropes is
unintelligible. Perhaps the author only meant to express that the packs
or bales on the camels were secured by such ropes.--E.]

Hard by the prison to which I was committed, there was a long court or
entry in the manner of a cloister, where sometimes I and other prisoners
were permitted to walk, and which was overlooked by a part of the
sultan's palace. It happened that one of the sultan's wives remained in
the palace, having twelve young maidens to wait upon her, who were all
very comely, though inclining to black. By their favour I was much
aided, after the following manner: There were two other men confined
alone with me in the same prison, and it was agreed among us that one of
us should counterfeit madness, by which we might derive some advantage.
Accordingly it fell to my lot to assume the appearance of madness, which
made greatly for my purpose, as they consider mad men to be holy, and
they therefore allowed me to go much more at large than before, until
such time as the hermits might determine whether I were _holy mad_, or
raging mad, as shall be shewn hereafter. But the first three days of my
assumed madness wearied me so much, that I was never so tired with
labour, or grieved with pain; for the boys and vile people used to run
after me, sometimes to the number of forty or fifty, calling me a mad
man, and throwing stones at me, which usage I sometimes repaid in their
own coin. To give the better colour to my madness, I always carried some
stones in the lap of my shirt, as I had no other clothing whatever. The
queen hearing of my madness, used oftentimes to look from her windows to
see me, more instigated by a secret love for my person than the pleasure
she derived from my mad pranks, as afterwards appeared. One time, when
some of the natives played the knave with me in view of the queen, whose
secret favour towards me I began to perceive, I threw off my shirt, and
went to a place near the windows, where the queen might see me all
naked, which I perceived gave her great pleasure, as she always
contrived some device to prevent me going out of her sight, and would
sometimes spend almost the whole day in looking at me. In the mean time
she often sent me secretly abundance of good meat by her maids; and when
she saw the boys or others doing me harm or vexing me, she called to me
to kill them, reviling them also as dogs and beasts.

There was a great fat sheep that was fed in the court of the palace, of
that kind whereof the tail only will sometimes weigh eleven or twelve
pounds. Under colour of my madness, I one day laid hold of this sheep,
repeating _Leila illala Mahumet resullah_, the words which the Sultan
desired me to repeat in his presence, by way of proof whether I was a
Mahometan or professed Mameluke. As the sheep gave no answer, I asked
him whether he were Mahometan, Jew, or Christian. And willing to make
him a Mahometan, I repeated the formula as before, which signifies,
"There is but one God, and Mahomet is his prophet," being the words the
Mahometans rehearse as their profession of faith. As the sheep answered
never a word to all I could say, I at length broke his leg with staff.
The queen took much delight in these my mad tricks, and commanded the
carcass of this sheep to be given me, and I never eat meat with more
relish or better appetite. Three days afterwards I killed an ass that
used to bring water to the palace, because he would not say these words
and be a Mahometan. One day I handled a Jew so very roughly, that I had
near killed him. On another occasion I threw many stones at a person who
called me a Christian clog, but he threw them back at me with such
vengeance, that he hurt me sore, on which I returned to my prison, of
which I barricadoed the door with stones, and lay there for two days, in
great pain, without meat or drink, so that the queen and others thought
me dead, but the door was opened by command of the queen. Those Arabian
dogs used to deride me, giving me stones in place of bread, and pieces
of white marble, pretending that they were lumps of sugar, and others
gave me bunches of grapes all full of sand. That they might not think I
counterfeited madness, I used to eat the grapes sand and all.

When it was rumoured abroad that I had lived two days and nights without
meat or drink, some began to believe that I was a holy madman, while
others supposed me to be stark mad; wherefore they consulted to send for
certain men who dwell in the mountain, who lead a contemplative life,
and are esteemed holy as we do hermits. When they came to give their
judgment concerning me, and were debating among themselves for upwards
of an hour on my case, I pissed in my hands, and threw the water in
their faces, on which they agreed I was no saint, but a mere madman. The
queen saw all this from her window, and laughed heartily at it among her
maids, saying, "By the head of Mahomet this is a good man." Next morning
I happened to find the man asleep who had so sore hurt me with stones,
and taking him by the hair of his head with both hands, I so punched him
in the stomach, and on the face with my knees, that I left him all
bloody and half dead. The queen happening to see me, she called out,
"Kill the beast, Kill the dog." Upon which he ran away and came no more
nigh me.

When the president of the city heard that the queen took so much delight
in my mad frolics, he gave orders that I might go at liberty about the
palace, only wearing my shackles, and that I should be immured every
night in another prison in the lower part of the palace. After I had
remained in this manner for twenty days, the queen took it into her head
to carry me along with her a hunting; but on my return, I feigned myself
sick from fatigue, and continued in my cell for eight days, the queen
sending every day to inquire how I was. After this I took an opportunity
to tell the queen that I had vowed to God and Mahomet to visit a certain
holy person at Aden, and begged her permission to perform my vow. She
consented to this, and immediately gave orders that a camel and 25 gold
seraphins should be given me. Accordingly I immediately set off on my
journey, and came to Aden at the end of eight days, when I visited the
man who was reputed as a saint, merely because he had always lived in
great poverty, and without the company of women. There are many such in
those parts, but doubtless they lose their labour, not being in the
faith of Christ. Having thus performed my vow, I pretended to have
recovered my health by miracle performed by this holy person, of which I
sent notice to the queen, desiring permission to visit certain other
holy persons in that country who had great reputation. I contrived these
excuses because the fleet for India was not to depart from Aden for the
space of a month. I took the opportunity to agree secretly with the
captain of a ship to carry me to India, making him many fair promises of
reward. He told me that he did not mean to go to India till after he had
gone first to Persia, and to this arrangement I agreed.

To fill up the time, I mounted my camel and went a journey of 25 miles,
to a certain populous city named _Lagi_, seated in a great plain, in
which are plenty of olives and corn, with many cattle, but no vines, and
very little wood. The inhabitants are a gross and barbarous people of
the vagabond Arabs, and very poor. Going a days journey from thence, I
came to another city named _Aiaz_, which is built on two hills, having a
large plain between them, in which is a noted fountain, where various
nations resort as to a famous mart. The inhabitants are Mahometans, yet
greatly differ in opinion respecting their religion. All those who
inhabit the northern mount, maintain the faith of Mahomet and his
successors, of whom I have formerly spoken; but those of the south
mountain affirm that faith ought only to be given to Mahomet and Ali,
declaring the others to have been false prophets. The country about
_Aiaz_ produces goodly fruits of various kinds, among which are vines,
together with silk and cotton; and the city has great trade in spices
and other commodities. On the top of both of the hills there are strong
fortresses, and two days journey from thence is the city of _Dante_, on
the top of a very high mountain, well fortified both by art and nature.

Departing from _Dante_, I came in two days journey to the city of
_Almacharam_, on the top of a very high mountain of very difficult
ascent, by a way so narrow that only two men are able to pass each
other. On the top of this mountain is a plain of wonderful size, and
very fertile, which produces abundance of every thing necessary to the
use of man. It has also plenty of water, insomuch that at one fountain
only there is sufficient water to supply a hundred thousand men. The
Sultan is said to have been born in this city, and to keep his treasure
here, which is so large as to be a sufficient load for an hundred camels
all in gold. Here also always resides one of his wives. The air of this
place is remarkably temperate and healthy, and the inhabitants are
inclining to white. Two days journey from _Almacharam_, is the city of
_Reame_, containing 2000 houses. The inhabitants are black, and are much
addicted to commerce. The country around is fertile in all things,
except wood. On one side of this city is a mountain, on which is a
strong fortress. At this place I saw a kind of sheep without horns,
whose tails weigh forty or fifty pounds. The grapes of this district
have no stones or grains, and are remarkably sweet and delicate, as are
all the other fruits, which are in great abundance and variety. This
place is very temperate and healthful, as may be conceived by the long
life of its inhabitants, for I have conversed with many of them that had
passed the age of an hundred and twenty-five years, and were still
vigorous and fresh-coloured. They go almost naked, wearing only shirts,
or other thin and loose raiment like mantles, having one arm bare.
Almost all the Arabs wreath their hair in the shape of horns, which they
think gives them a comely appearance.

Departing from thence, I came in three days journey to the city of
_Sanaa_ or _Zenan,_ upon the top of a very high mountain, and very
strong both by art and nature. The Sultan had besieged this place for
three months with a great army, but was unable to prevail against it by
force, yet it was afterwards yielded on composition. The walls of this
city are eighteen cubits high and twenty in thickness, insomuch that
eight camels may march abreast upon them. The region in which it stands
is very fertile, and resembles Italy, having abundance of water. The
city contains four thousand houses, all well built, and in no respect
inferior to those in Italy, but the city is so large in circuit, that
fields, gardens, and meadows are contained within the walls. This city
was governed by a Sultan, who had twelve sons, one of whom named
Mahomet, was four cubits high, and very strong, of a complexion
resembling ashes, and from some natural madness or grossly tyrannical
disposition he delighted in human flesh, so that he used to kill men
secretly to feed upon them.

Three days journey from thence I came to a city upon a mountain, named
_Taessa,_ well built, and abounding in all things necessary to man, and
particularly celebrated for roses, of which the inhabitants make rose
water. This is an ancient city, having many good houses, and still
contains several monuments of antiquity. Its temple or chief mosque is
built much like the church of Sancta Maria Rotunda at Rome. The
inhabitants are of an ash-colour, inclining to black, and dress much
like those already mentioned. Many merchants resort thither for trade.
Three days journey from thence I came to another city named _Zioith_ or
_Zabid_, half a days journey from the Red Sea. This is a well built
city, abounding in many good things, particularly in excellent white
sugar and various kinds of delicious fruits. It is situated in a very
large plain between two mountains, and has no walls, but is one of the
principal marts for all sorts of spices, and various other merchandise.
One days journey from thence I came to _Damar_, which is situated in a
fruitful soil, and carries on considerable trade. All these cities are
subject to a Sultan of Arabia-Felix, who is called _Sechamir_, or the
holy prince; _Secha_ signifying holy, and _Amir_ prince, in the Arabian
language. He is so named, because he abhors to shed men's blood. While I
was there in prison, he nourished sixteen thousand poor, including
captives in prison, who had been condemned to death, and he had as many
black slaves in his palace.

Departing from Damar I returned in three days journey to Aden, passing
in the mid way by an exceedingly large and high mountain, on which there
are many wild beasts, and in particular the whole mountain is as it were
covered with monkeys. There are also many lions, so that it is by no
means safe to travel that way unless in large companies of at least a
hundred men. I passed this way along with a numerous company, yet we
were in much danger from the lions and other wild beasts which followed
us, insomuch that we were forced to fight them with darts, slings, and
arrows, using also the aid of dogs, and after all we escaped with some
difficulty. On arriving at Aden I feigned myself sick, lurking in the
mosque all day, and going only out under night to speak with the pilot
of the ship formerly mentioned, from whom I obtained a bark in which I
secretly left Aden.

We at length began our voyage for Persia, to which we were to go in the
first place, our bark being laden with _rubricke_, a certain red earth
used for dying cloth, with which fifteen or twenty vessels are yearly
freighted from Arabia Felix. After having sailed six days on our voyage,
a sudden tempest of contrary wind drove us back again and forced us to
the coast of Ethiopia, where we took shelter in the port of _Zeyla_. We
remained here five days to see the city, and to wait till the tempest
was over and the sea become quiet. The city of Zeyla is a famous mart
for many commodities, and has marvellous abundance of gold and ivory,
and a prodigious number of black slaves, which are procured by the
Mahometan or Moorish inhabitants, by means of war, from Ethiopia in the
country of Prester John, the Christian king of the Jacobins or
Abyssinians. These slaves are carried hence into Persia, Arabia Felix,
Cairo, and Mecca. In this city justice and good laws are observed. The
soil produces wheat and other convenient things, as oil which is not
procured from olives but from something else that I do not know. It has
likewise plenty of honey and wax, and abundance of animals for food,
among which are sheep having tails of sixteen pounds weight, very fat
and good; their head and neck black, and all the rest of their bodies
white. There are also sheep all over white, whose tails are a cubit
long, and hang down like a large cluster of grapes, with great flaps of
skin hanging from their throats. The bulls and cows likewise have
dewlaps hanging down almost to the ground. There are also certain kine
having horns like to those of harts, which are very wild, and when taken
are given to the sultan of the city as a gift worthy of a prince. I also
saw other kine of a bright red colour, having only one horn in the midst
of the forehead, about a span long, bending backwards, like the horn of
the unicorn. The walls of this city are greatly decayed, and the haven
bad and unsafe, yet it is resorted to by vast numbers of merchants. The
sultan of Zeyla is a Mahometan, and has a numerous army both of horse
and foot. The people, who are much addicted to war, are of a dark
ash-colour inclining to black, and wear loose vestments like those
spoken of in Arabia. After the weather had become calm, we again put to
sea, and soon afterwards arrived at an island on the coast of Ethiopia
named _Barbora_, which is under the rule of a Mahometan prince. It is a
small island, but fertile and well peopled, its principal riches
consisting in herds of cattle, so that flesh is to be had in great
plenty. We remained here only one day, and sailing thence went to


_Observations of the Author relative to some parts of Persia._

When we had sailed twelve days we came to a city named
_Divobanderrumi_[53], which name signifies the holy port of the _Rumes_
or Turks. This place is only a little way from the Continent, and when
the tides rise high it is an island environed on every side with water,
but at ebb tides the passage between it and the land is dry. This is a
great mart of commerce, and is governed by a person named
_Menacheas_, being subject to the sultan of Cambaia. It is well
fortified with good walls, and defended by a numerous artillery. The
barks and brigantines used at this place are smaller than ours of Italy.
Departing thence we came in three days to _Zoar_[54], which also is a
well frequented mart in a fertile country inhabited by Mahometans. Near
this place are two other good cities and ports named _Gieulfar_ and
_Meschet_ or _Maskat_.

[Footnote 53: From the context, this place appears to have been on that
part of the oceanic coast of Arabia called the kingdom of Maskat,
towards Cape Ras-al-gat and the entrance to the Persian gulf. The name
seems compounded of these words _Div_ or _Diu_, an island, _Bander_ a
port, and _Rumi_ the term in the east for the Turks as successors of the
Romans. It is said in the text to have been subject to the sultan of
Cambaia, but was more probably tributary to the king or sultan of

[Footnote 54: In the text of Hakluyt this place is called _Goa_,
assuredly by mistake, as it immediately afterwards appears to have been
in the neighbourhood of Maskat, and in the direct voyage between Aden
and Ormus, by creeping along the coast from port to port.--E.]

Proceeding on our voyage we came to the fair city of _Ormuz_ or
_Armusium_, second to none in excellence of situation, and abundance of
pearls. It stands in an island twelve miles from the Continent, being in
itself very scarce of water and corn, so that all things required for
the sustenance of the inhabitants are brought from other places. At the
distance of three days sail from thence those muscles are procured which
produce the fairest and largest pearls. There are certain people who
gain their living by fishing for these muscles in the following manner:
Going in small boats to that part of the sea where these are found, they
cast a large stone into the sea on each side of the boat fastened to
strong ropes, by which they fix their boat steadily in one place like a
ship at anchor. Then another stone with a cord fastened to it is cast
into the sea, and a man having a sack hung upon his shoulder both before
and behind, and a stone hung to his feet, leaps into the water, and
immediately sinks to the bottom to the depth of 15 paces or more, where
he remains gathering the pearl muscles and putting them into his sack.
He then casts off the stone that is tied to his feet and comes up by
means of the rope. At _Ormuz_ there are sometimes seen almost three
hundred ships and vessels of various sorts at one time, which come from
many different places and countries. The sultan of the city is a
Mahometan. There are not less than four hundred merchants and factors
continually residing here for the sake of trade in silks, pearls,
precious stones, spices, and the like. The principal article of their
sustenance at this place is rice.

Departing from Ormuz I went into Persia, and after ten days journey I
came to _Eri_[55] a city in _Chorazani_ which also we may name
_Flaminia_. This region is fertile, and abounds in all good things,
particularly in silk, so that one might purchase enough in one day to
load 3000 camels. Owing to the fertility of this country corn is always
cheap. Rhubarb is in such abundance that six of our pounds of twelve
ounces each may be bought for one gold crown. This city, in which dwells
the king of that region, contains about seven thousand houses, all
inhabited by Mahometans. In twenty days journey from thence, I noticed
that the inland parts of Persia are well inhabited and have many good
towns and villages. In this journey I came to a great river called by
the inhabitants _Eufra_, which I verily believe to be the Euphrates,
both from the resemblance of names and from its great size. Continuing
my journey along this river by the left hand, I came in three days
journey to another city named _Schyra_[56], subject to a prince who is a
Persian Mahometan, and is independent of any other prince. Here are
found all sorts of precious stones, especially that called _Eranon_,
which defends men against witchcraft, madness, and fearfulness
proceeding from melancholy. It is the stone commonly called _Turquoise_,
which is brought in great abundance from a city named _Balascam_, where
also great plenty of _Castoreum_ is procured and various kinds of
colours. The reason why so very little true _Castoreum_ is found among
us is because it is adulterated by the Persians before it comes to our
hands[57]. The way to prove true castoreum is by smelling, and if
genuine and unadulterated it makes the nose bleed, as I saw proved on
four persons in succession. When genuine and unadulterated, _castoreum_
will preserve its flavour for ten years. The Persians are a courteous
and gentle people, liberal and generous towards each other, and kind to
strangers, as I found by experience. While here, I met with a Persian
merchant to whom I was known in the year before when at Mecca. This man
was born in the city of _Eri_ in Chorozani, and as soon as he saw me he
knew me again, and asked by what fortune I had come into that country.
To this I answered, "that I had come thither from a great desire to see
the world." "Praised be God, said he, that I have now found a companion
of the same mind with myself." He exhorted me not to depart from him,
and that I should accompany him in his journeys, as he meant to go
through the chief parts of the world.

[Footnote 55: In the rambling journey of Verthema, we are often as here
unable to discover the meaning of his strangely corrupted names.
Chorazani or Chorassan is in the very north of Persia, at a vast
distance from Ormuz, and he pays no attention to the particulars of his
ten days journey which could not have been less than 400 miles. We are
almost tempted to suspect the author of romancing.--E.]

[Footnote 56: Supposing that the place in the text may possibly mean
_Shiras_, the author makes a wonderful skip in three days from the
Euphrates to at least 230 miles distance--E.]

[Footnote 57: What is named _Castoreum_ in the text was probably musk,
yet Russia castor might in those days have come along with rhubarb
through Persia.--E.]

I accordingly remained with him for fifteen days in a city named
_Squilaz_, whence we went in the first place to a city named _Saint
Bragant_[58], which is larger than Babylon of Egypt and is subject to a
Mahometan prince, who is said to be able to take the field when occasion
requires with 60,000 horsemen. This I say only from the information of
others, as we could not safely pass farther in that direction, by reason
of the great wars carried on by the Sophy against those Mahometans who
follow the sect of _Omar_, who are abhorred by the Persians as heretics
and misbelievers, while they are of the sect of Ali which they consider
as the most perfect and true religion. At this place my Persian friend,
as a proof of his unfeigned friendship, offered to give me in marriage
his niece named _Samis_, which in their language signifies the Sun,
which name she well deserved for her singular beauty. As we could not
travel any farther by reason of the wars, we returned to the city of
Eri, where he entertained me most honourably in his house, and showing
me his niece desired that she might immediately become my wife. Being
otherwise minded, yet not willing that I should appear to despise so
friendly an offer, I thanked him for his goodness, yet begged the match
might be delayed to a more convenient time. Departing soon afterwards
from Eri, we came in eight days journey to _Ormuz_, where we took
shipping for India.

[Footnote 58: Of Squilaz and Saint Bragant it is impossible to make any
thing, even by conjecture--E.]


_Observations of the Author on various parts of India._

We arrived in India at a certain port named _Cheo_[59], past which flows
the great river Indus, not far from the city of _Cambay_. It is
situated[60] three miles within the land, so that brigantines and foists
can have no access to it except when the tide rises higher than
ordinary, when it sometimes overflows the land for the space of four
miles. At this place the tides increase differently from what they do
with us, as they increase with the wane of the moon, whereas with us
while the moon waxes towards full. This city is walled after our manner,
and abounds in all kinds of necessaries, especially wheat and all manner
of wholesome and pleasant fruits. It has also abundance of _gosampine_
or _bombassine_ (cotton) and some kinds of spices of which I do not know
the names. Merchants bring here such quantities of cotton and silk, that
sometimes forty or fifty vessels are loaded with these commodities for
other countries. In this region there is a mountain in which the _onyx_
commonly called _carneola_ is found, and not far from thence another
mountain which produces _calecdony_ and diamonds. While I was there, the
sultan of Cambay was named Mahomet, and had reigned forty years after
having expelled the king of Guzerat. The natives are not Mahometans,
neither are they idolaters, wherefore I believe if they were only
baptised they would not be far from the way of salvation, for they
observe the pure rule of justice, doing unto others as they would be
done by. They deem it unlawful to deprive any living creature of its
life, and never eat flesh. Some of them go entirely naked, or only cover
the parts of shame, wearing fillets of a purple colour round their
heads. Their complexion is a dark yellow, commonly called a _leonell_

[Footnote 59: This name is inexplicably corrupted; and nothing more can
be said of it than is contained in the text, which indeed is very

[Footnote 60: Verthema appears at this place to make an abrupt
transition to the city of Cambay, taking no farther notice of Cheo.--E.]

The sultan of Cambay maintains a force of 20,000 horse. Every morning
fifty men riding on elephants repair to his palace to reverence and
salute the king, which is done likewise by the elephants kneeling down.
As soon as the king wakes in the morning there is a prodigious noise of
drums, trumpets, and other warlike instruments of music, as if in token
of joy that the sultan still lives. The same is done while he is at
dinner, when likewise the elephants are again brought forward to do him
reverence. We shall afterwards have occasion to notice the customs,
docility, and wisdom of these beasts. The sultan has his upper lip so
large and gross that he sometimes beareth it up with a fillet as women
do their hair. His beard is white and hangs down below his girdle. He
has been accustomed to the use of poison even from his infancy, and he
daily eats some to keep him in use; by which strange custom, although he
feels no personal hurt therefrom, yet is he so saturated with poison
that he is a certain poison to others. Insomuch that when he is
disposed to put any noble to death, he causes the victim to be brought
into his presence and to stand before him while he chews certain fruits
called _Chofolos_[61] resembling nutmegs, chewing at the same time the
leaves of a certain herb named _Tambolos_, to which is added the powder
of oyster shells. After chewing these things for some time, he spits
upon the person whom he wishes to kill, and he is sure to die within
half an hour, so powerful is the venom of his body[62]. He keeps about
four thousand concubines, and whoever of them chances to sleep with him
is sure to die next day. When he changes his shirt or any other article
of his dress, no one dare wear it, or is sure to die. My companion
learnt from the merchants of Cambay that this wonderful venomous nature
of the sultan had been occasioned by his having been bred up by his
father from a child in the constant use of poison, beginning by little
and little, and taking preservatives at the same time.

[Footnote 61: It is evident from the text that the _areka_ nut is here
meant, which is chewed along with _betel_ leaf, called tambolos in the
text, and strewed with _chunam_ or lime made of oyster shells.--E.]

[Footnote 62: This ridiculous story can only be understood as an eastern
metaphor, expressive of the tyrannous disposition of the sultan.--E.]

Such is the wonderful fertility of this country that it surpasses all
description. The people, as already said, go almost entirely naked, or
content themselves with a single garment, and are a brave and warlike
nation, being at the same time much given to commerce, so that their
city is frequented by traders of all nations. From this city, and
another to be named afterwards, innumerable kinds and quantities of
merchandise are transported to almost every region and nation of the
world; especially to the Turks, Syrians, Arabians, Indians, and to
divers regions of Africa, Ethiopia, and Arabia; and more especially vast
abundance of silk and cotton, so that by means of this prodigious trade
the sultan is astonishingly rich. The sultan of Cambay is almost
continually at war with the king of _Joga_, whose realm is fifteen days
journey from Cambay, and extends very far in all directions. This king
of _Joga_[63] and all his people are idolaters. He maintains an army
always on foot of 30.000 men, and is continually in the field travelling
through his dominions with a prodigious train of followers at the
charge of his subject, his camp containing at the least 4000 tents and
pavilions. In this perpetual progress he is accompanied by his wife,
children, concubines, and slaves, and by every apparatus for hunting and
amusement. His dress consists of two goat-skins with the hair side
outwards, one of which covers his breast and the other his back and
shoulders. His complexion is of a brown weasel colour inclining to
black, as are most of the native Indians, being scorched by the heat of
the sun. They wear ear-rings of precious stones, and adorn themselves
with jewels of various kinds; and the king and principal people paint
their faces and other parts of their bodies with certain spices and
sweet gums or ointments. They are addicted to many vain superstitions;
some professing never to lie on the ground, while others keep a
continual silence, having two or three persons to minister to their
wants by signs. These devotees have horns hanging from their necks,
which they blow all at once when they come to any city or town to make
the inhabitants afraid, after which they demand victuals and whatever
else they are in need of from the people. When this king remains
stationary at any place, the greater part of his army keeps guard about
his pavilion, while five or six hundred men range about the country
collecting what they are able to procure. They never tarry above three
days in one place, but are continually wandering about like vagabond
Egyptians, Arabs, or Tartars. The region through which they roam is not
fertile, being mostly composed of steep and craggy mountains. The city
is without walls, and its houses are despicable huts or hovels. This
king is an enemy to the sultan of _Machamir_? and vexes his country with
incessant predatory incursions.

[Footnote 63: What sovereign of India is meant by the _king of Joga_ we
cannot ascertain, unless perhaps some Hindoo rajah in the hilly country
to the north-east of Gujerat. From some parts of the account of this
king and his subjects, we are apt to conceive that the relation in the
text is founded on some vague account of a chief or leader of a band of
Hindoo devotees. A king or chief of the _Jogues_.--E.]

Departing from Cambay, I came in twelve days journey to the city of
_Ceull_[64], the land of Guzerat being interposed between these two
cities. The king of this city is an idolater. His subjects are of a dark
yellow colour, or lion tawny, and are much addicted to war, in which
they use swords, bows and arrows, darts, slings, and round targets. They
have engines to beat down walls and to make a great slaughter in an
army. The city is only three miles from the sea on the banks of a fine
river, by which a great deal of merchandise is imported. The soil is
fertile and produces many different kinds of fruits, and in the district
great quantities of cotton cloth are made. The people are idolaters like
those of Calicut, of whom mention will be made hereafter, yet there are
many Mahometans in the city. The king has but a small military force,
and the government is administered with justice. Two days journey from
thence is a city named _Dabuly_[65] on a great river and in a fertile
country. It is walled like the towns of Italy, and contains a vast
number of Mahometan merchants. The king is an idolater, having an army
of 30,000 men. Departing from thence I came to the island of _Goga_[66],
not above a mile from the continent, which pays yearly a tribute of 1000
pieces of gold to the king of _Deccan_, about the same value with the
seraphins of Babylon. These coins are impressed on one side with the
image of the _devil_[67], and on the other side are some unknown
characters. On the sea coast at one side of this island there is a town
much like those of Italy, in which resides the governor, who is captain
over a company of soldiers named _Savain_, consisting of 400 Mamelukes,
he being likewise a Mameluke. Whenever he can procure any white man he
takes them into his service and gives them good entertainment, and if
fit for military service, of which he makes trial of their strength by
wrestling, he gives them a monthly allowance of 20 gold seraphins; but
if not found fit for war he employs them in handicrafts. With this small
force of only 400 men, he gives much disturbance to the king of

[Footnote 64: There is a district on the west of Gujerat or Guzerat
named _Chuwal_, on the river Butlass or Banass which runs into the gulf
of Cutch, which may be here meant.--.]

[Footnote 65: No name having the least affinity to that in the text is
to be found in any modern map of India near the coast of Gujerat. It
would almost appear that the author had now gone down the coast of
India, and that his Chuwal and Dabuly are Chaul and Dabul on the coast
of the Concan.--E.]

[Footnote 66: Nothing can possibly be made of this island of Goga. There
is a town on the coast of Gujerat and western side of the gulf of Cambay
called Gogo, but it is no island, and could not possibly be subject to
the king of the Deccan; and besides Verthema is obviously now going down
the western coast of India.--E.]

[Footnote 67: Of a Swammy or Hindoo idol.--E.]

From the island of _Goga_ I went to the city of _Dechan_[68], of which
the king or sultan is a Mahometan, and to whom the before mentioned
captain of the Mamelukes at _Goga_ is tributary. The city is beautiful,
and stands in a fertile country which abounds in all things necessary
for man. The king of this country is reckoned a Mameluke, and has 35,000
horse and foot in his service. His palace is a sumptuous edifice,
containing numerous and splendid apartments, insomuch, that one has to
pass through 44 several rooms in a continued suite before getting to the
presence-chamber of the sultan, who lives with wonderful pomp and
magnificence, even those who wait upon him having their shoes or
_starpins_ ornamented with rubies and diamonds, and rich ear-rings of
pearls and other precious stones. Six miles from the city is a mountain
from which they dig diamonds, which mountain is surrounded by a wall,
and guarded by a band of soldiers. The inhabitants of the city are
mostly Mahometans, who are generally clad in silk, or at least have
their shirts or lower garments of that fabric; they wear also thin
buskin and hose or breeches like the Greek mariners, or what are called
trowsers. Their women, like those of Damascus, have their faces veiled.
The king of Deccan is almost in continual war with the king of Nursinga;
most of his soldiers being white men from distant countries hired for
war, whereas the natives are of a dark colour like the other inhabitants
of India. This king is very rich and liberal, and has a large navy of
ships, but he is a great enemy to the Christians. Having visited this
country, I went in five days from thence to _Bathacala_ or _Batecolak_,
the inhabitants of which are idolaters, except some Mahometan merchants
who resort thither for trade. It abounds in rice, sugar, wheat,
_walnuts_[69], figs, and many kinds of fruits and roots unknown to us,
and has plenty of beeves, kine, buffaloes, sheep, goats, and other
beasts, but no horses, asses, or mules. From thence, at the distance of
a days journey I came to _Centacola?_ the prince of which has no great
riches; but the district has plenty of flesh, rice, and such fruits as
grow in India; and to this place many Mahometans resort for trade. The
king is an idolater, and is subject to him of Batecolah. Two days
journey from thence I came to _Onore_, the king of which is an idolater,
subject to the king of Narsinga. The prince or king of Onore has eight
armed foists or barks, which make excursions by sea, and subsist by
piracy, yet is he in friendship with the Portuguese. The district
produces plenty of rice, and has many kinds of wild beasts, as wild
boars, harts, wolves, _lions_[70], and many kinds of birds, such as
peacocks and parrots, besides others very different from ours. It has
likewise many cattle of a bright yellow colour, and fine fat sheep. It
has also abundance of flowers of all kinds. The air is so temperate and
healthy, that the natives live much longer than we do in Italy. Not far
from this place is another city named Mangalore, whence about sixty
ships depart yearly with cargoes of rice. The inhabitants are partly
idolaters, and part Mahometans.

[Footnote 68: Dechan, Deccan, or Dacshin, is the name of a territory or
kingdom, and properly signifies southern India, or simply the south, in
reference to Hindostan proper, on the north of the Nerbuddah: But
Verthema almost always names the capital from the kingdom.--E.]

[Footnote 69: By walnuts, I suspect that coca-nuts are meant, and
rendered walnuts by some mistaken translation.--E.]

[Footnote 70: There are no lions in India, and tigers are certainly here

Departing from thence we went to the city of _Cananore_, where the king
of Portugal has a strong garrison, though the king of the city is an
idolater and no great friend to the Portuguese. At this port many horses
are imported from Persia, which pay a high duty. Departing from thence
into the inland we came to the city of _Narsinga_[71], which is
frequented by many Mahometan merchants. The soil in that country bears
no wheat, so that the inhabitants have no bread, neither hath it vines
or any other fruits except oranges and gourds, but they have plenty of
rice and such walnuts as that country _produces_[72]. It has likewise
plenty of spices, as pepper, ginger, mirabolans, cardamum, cassia, and
others, also many kinds of fruits unlike ours, and much sweeter. The
region is almost inaccessible, _for many dens and ditches made by
force_[73]. The king has an army of 50,000 _gentlemen whom they call
heroes_[74]. In war they use swords and round targets, also lances,
darts, bows, and slings, and are now beginning to use fire arms. These
men go almost entirely naked, except when engaged in war. They use no
horses, mules, asses, or camels; only employing elephants, which yet do
not fight in battle. Great quantities of merchandise are consumed in
this city, insomuch that two hundred ships resort thither yearly from
various countries[75].

[Footnote 71: Bijanagur was the capital of the kingdom known by the name
of Narsinga; but from the neighbourhood of Cananore, it is possible that
Verthema here means Narsingapoor, about 25 miles S.S.W. from

[Footnote 72: The walnuts of this author must have been cocoa-nuts,
perhaps converted to walnuts by erroneous translation.--E.]

[Footnote 73: This singular passage probably means, that the country is
defended by a great number of forts and garrisons, as indeed we know
that the interior table land of southern India is thickly planted with
_droogs_ or hill forts, which must then have been impregnable.--E.]

[Footnote 74: Probably meaning Nairs or Rajputs, who are reckoned of a
high or noble cast, next to the Bramins--E.]

[Footnote 75: This is a most astonishing error, as Narsingapoor is above
100 miles from the nearest coast.--E.]

Departing from Narsinga, and travelling 15 days to the _east_[76], we
came to the city of _Bisinagar_, or Bijanagur, which is subject to the
king of Narsinga. This city stands upon the side of a hill, and is very
large, and well fortified, being surrounded by a triple wall, eight
miles in circuit. The district in which it stands is wonderfully
fertile, and produces every thing requisite for the necessities, and
even the delicacies and luxuries of man. It is likewise a most
convenient country for hunting and hawking, having many large plains,
and fine woods, so that altogether it is a kind of earthly paradise. The
king and people are idolaters; and the king has great power and riches,
maintaining an army of 4000 horsemen, although it may be noted that a
good horse in this country costs four or five hundred gold coins called
pardaos, and sometimes eight hundred. The reason of this high price is,
that these horses are brought from other countries, whence they can
procure no mares, as the exportation of these is strictly prohibited by
the princes of the countries whence the horses are procured. He has
likewise 400 elephants to serve in his wars, and many of those swift
running camels which we commonly call _dromedaries_[77].

[Footnote 76: Bijanagur is 175 miles directly _north_ from

[Footnote 77: In modern language the term dromedary is very improperly
applied to the Bactrian, or two-hunched camel, a slow beast of burden.
The word dromedary is formed from the Greek _celer_, and only belongs to
a peculiar breed of camels of amazing swiftness.--E.]

At this place I had an excellent opportunity of learning the docility
and almost reasoning wisdom of the elephant, which certainly is the most
sagacious and most docile of all animals, approaching even to human
reason, and far exceeding all other beasts in strength. When used for
war, the Indians fix great pack-saddles on their backs, resembling those
used in Italy for mules of burden, but vastly larger. These saddles are
girt round their bellies with two iron chains, and on each side is
placed a small house, cage, or turret of wood, each of which contains
three men. Between the two turrets an Indian sits on the back of the
animal, and speaks to him in the language of the country, which the
creature understands and obeys. Seven men, therefore, are that placed
on the back of each elephant, all armed with coats of mail, and having
lances, bows, darts, and slings, and targets for defence. Also the
trunk, snout, or proboscis of the elephant is armed with a sword
fastened to it, two cubits long, very strong, and a handbreadth in
width. When necessary to advance, to retreat, to turn to either side, to
strike, or to forbear, the governor or conductor of the elephant sitting
on his back, causes him to do whatever he wills, by speaking in such
language and expressions as he is accustomed to, all of which the beast
understands and obeys, without the use of bridle or spur. But when fire
is thrown at them, they are wonderfully afraid and run away, on which
occasions it is impossible to stop them; on which account the Indians
have many curious devices of fire-works to frighten the elephants, and
make them run away. I saw an instance of the extraordinary strength of
these animals while at Cananore, where some Mahometans endeavoured to
draw a ship on the land, stem foremost, upon three rollers, on which
occasion three elephant, commodiously applied, drew with great force,
and bending their heads down to the ground, brought the ship on the
land. Many have believed that elephants have no joints in their legs,
which therefore they could not bend; but this notion is utterly false,
as they have joints like other beasts, but lower down on their legs. The
female elephants are fiercer than the males, and much stronger for
carrying burdens. Sometimes they are seized by a kind of fury or
madness, on which occasions they run about in a disorderly manner. One
elephant exceeds the size of three buffaloes, to which latter animals
their hair has some resemblance. Their eyes resemble those of swine.
Their snout or trunk is very long, and by means of it they convey food
and drink to their mouths, so that the trunk may be called the hand of
the elephant. The mouth is under the trunk, and is much like the mouth
of a sow. The trunk is hollow, and so flexible, that the animal can use
it to lay hold of sticks, and wield them with it as we do with the hand.
I once saw the trunk of a tree overthrown by one elephant, which 24 men
had in vain attempted. It has two great teeth or tusks in the upper jaw.
Their ears are very broad, above two spans even on the smallest
elephants. Their feet are round and as broad as the wooden trenchers
which are in ordinary use, and each foot has five round hoofs like large
oyster shells. The tail is about four spans long, like that of a
buffaloe, and is very thin of hair. Elephants are of various sizes, some
18 spans or 14 spans high, and some have been seen as high as 16 spans;
but the females are larger than the males of the same age. Their gait is
slow and wallowing, so that those who are not used to ride upon them are
apt to become sick, as if they were at sea; but it is pleasant to ride a
young elephant, as their pace is soft and gentle like an ambling mule.
On mounting them, they stoop and bend their knee to assist the rider to
get up; but their keepers use no bridles or halters to guide them. When
they engender they retire into the most secret recesses of the woods,
from natural modesty, though some pretend that they copulate backwards.

The king of Narsinga exceeds in riches and dominion, all the princes I
have ever seen or heard of. In beauty and situation the city resembles
Milan, only that being on the slope of a hill it is not so level. Other
subject kingdoms lie round about it, even as Ausonia and Venice surround
Milan. The bramins or priests informed me that the king receives daily
of tribute from that city only the sum of 12,000 _pardaos_. He and his
subjects are idolaters, worshipping the devil like those of Calicut. He
maintains an army of many thousand men, and is continually at war with
his neighbours. The richer people wear a slender dress, somewhat like a
petticoat, not very long, and bind their heads with a fillet or broad
bandage, after the fashion of the Mahometans, but the common people go
almost entirely naked, covering only the parts of shame. The king wears
a cape or short cloak of cloth of gold on his shoulders, only two spans
long; and when he goes to war he wears a close vest of cotton, over
which is a cloak adorned with plates of gold, richly bordered with all
kinds of jewels and precious stones. The horse he rides on, including
the furniture or caparisons, is estimated to equal one of our cities in
value, being all over ornamented with jewels of great price. When be
goes a hunting, he is attended by other three kings, whose office it is
to bear him company wherever he goes. When he rides out or goes a
journey he is attended by 6000 horsemen; and from all that we have said,
and various other circumstances respecting his power, riches, and
magnificence, he certainly is to be accounted one of the greatest
sovereigns in the world. Besides the pieces already mentioned, named
_pardaos_, which are of gold, he coins silver money called _fano_, or
_fanams_, which are worth sixteen of our smallest copper money. Such is
the excellent government of this country, that travellers may go through
the whole of it in safety, if they can avoid the danger of _lions_[78].
This king is in amity with the king of Portugal, and is a great friend
to the Christians, so that the Portuguese are received and treated in
his dominions in a friendly and honourable manner.

[Footnote 78: Wherever lions are mentioned by this traveller in India,
tigers are to be understood.--E.]

When I had tarried many days in this great city, I returned to Cananore,
whence, after three days stay I went to a city twelve miles from thence,
named _Trempata_[79], a sea-port, inhabited by idolaters, but frequented
by many Mahometan merchants. The only riches of this place consists in
Indian nuts, or cocoa-nuts, and timber for ship-building. Passing from
thence, by the cities of _Pandara_ and _Capagot_[80], I came to the
famous city of Calicut. To avoid prolixity, I pass over many other
kingdoms and peoples, such as _Chianul_? _Dabul_, _Onoue_? _Bangalore_,
_Cananore_, _Cochin_, _Cacilon_? and _Calonue_, or _Coulan_[81]. I have
so done on purpose to enable me to treat more at large of Calicut, being
in a manner the metropolis of all the Indian cities, as the king thereof
exceeds all the kings of the east in royal majesty, and is therefore
called _Samoory_ or _Zamorin_, which in their language signifies _God on

[Footnote 79: About that distance south from Cananore is

[Footnote 80: No names in the least respect similar to these are to be
found in the indicated route between Cananore and Calicut.--E.]

[Footnote 81: Of the three places marked with points of interrogation,
the names are so disfigured in the orthography as to be unintelligible;
_Cianul_ may possibly be Chaul, _Onouhe_ Onore, and _Cacilon_


_Account of the famous City and Kingdom of Calicut._

The city of Calicut is situated on the continent or main land of India,
close upon the sea, having no port; but about a mile to the south there
is a river which runs into the ocean by a narrow mouth. This river is
divided into many branches among the fields in the plain country, for
the purpose of being distributed by means of trenches to water the
grounds, and one of these branches not exceeding three or four feet
deep runs into the city. Calicut is not walled, and contains about 6000
houses, which are not built close adjoining each other, as in European
cities, but a certain space is left between each, either to prevent the
communication of fire, or owing to the ignorance of the builders. It is
a mile in length, and its houses are only mean low huts, not exceeding
the height of a man on horseback, being mostly covered with boughs of
trees, instead of tiles or other covering. It is said that on digging
only five or six spans into the ground they come immediately to water,
on which account they cannot dig foundations of any depth. Warehouses or
lodgings for merchants may be bought for 15 or 20 pieces of gold; but
the common run of houses cost only two pieces of gold or even less.

The king and people of Calicut are idolaters, and worshippers of the
devil, though they acknowledge one supreme God, the Creator of heaven
and earth, the first chief cause of all things. But they allege that God
could have no pleasure in his government, if he were to take it upon
himself, and hath therefore given it in charge to the devil, who was
sent as they say from heaven, to rule over and judge the world,
rendering good or evil to men according to their deserts. The great God
they call _Tamerani_, and this devil or subordinate deity _Deumo_. The
king has a chapel in his palace, where this Deumo is worshipped. This
chapel has an open vault or arch on all the four sides, about two paces
in breadth, and it is about three paces high. The entrance is by a
wooden gate, ornamented with carved work of monstrous forms or shapes of
devils. In the midst of the chapel is a royal seat or throne of copper,
on which sits the figure or image of the devil, likewise of copper. On
the head of this image is a crown like that worn by the pope, but having
the addition of four horns, besides which he is represented with a great
gaping mouth, having four monstrous teeth. The nose is horridly
deformed, with grim lowering eyes, a threatening look, and crooked
hands, or talons like flesh-hooks, and feet somewhat like those of a
cock; forming on the whole, a monster terrible to look at. In every
corner of the chapel there are other figures of devils of shining
copper, as if flames of fire devouring miserable souls. These souls are
about the size of half a finger, some of them larger, and each figure
puts one of these souls into his mouth with the right hand, while the
left is on the ground lifting up another. Every morning the priests,
who are called Bramins, wash the idol with rose water, and perfume him
with sweet savours, after which they pray to him prostrate on the earth.
Once every week they sacrifice to the idol after this form. They have a
little altar or cupboard, three spans high, five spans long and four
broad, on which they strew all manner of flowers and sweet-smelling
powders; then bringing a great silver chafing-dish full of warming
coals, they kill a cock with a silver knife, throwing the blood into the
fire, together with many sweet perfumes, and even thrust the bloody
blade of the knife often into the fire that none of the blood may be
lost; then the priest maketh many strange gestures with the knife, like
a fencer, giving or defending thrusts. In the mean time other priests
with burning censers go round about the altar perfuming it with incense,
and ringing a small silver bell all the time of the sacrifice. The
priest who sacrifices the cock has his arms and legs garnished with
silver plates and pendants, which make a noise when he moves like
hawks-bells, and he wears a kind of boss on his breast inscribed with I
know not what signs, being perhaps the secret character of some hidden
mystery. When the sacrifice is finished, he fills both his hands with
wheat, and goes backwards, keeping his eyes fixed on the altar till he
comes to a certain tree whereon he casts the wheat; then returning to
the altar he removes all that is upon it.

The king never sits down to eat till four of his priests have offered
his meat in this manner to the idol; lifting their hands above their
heads with many fantastical gesticulations and murmuring voices, they
present the meat to the idol, and after many foolish ceremonies bring
back the meat to the king. The meat is offered in a wooden tray, after
which it is laid on the broad leaves of a certain tree. The meat of the
king consists of rice and divers other things, such as fruits; and be
eats sitting on the ground without cloth or carpet. During his repast,
the priests stand round him at four or five paces distance, carefully
observing all his orders; and when he has done eating, they carry away
all the remains of his food, which they give to certain crows, which
being used to be thus fed, come upon a signal, and being esteemed holy,
it is not lawful for any one to take or even hurt them. The chief
priests of these idolaters are the bramins, who are with them as bishops
are among us, and are considered as the order of highest dignity. The
second order among them are the nairs, who come in place of our
gentlemen, and go out to war with swords and bucklers, lancet, bows,
and other weapons. The third order consists of mechanics and handicrafts
of all kinds. In the fourth are victuallers, or those that make
provision of fish and flesh. Next to them are those who gather pepper,
cocoa nuts, grapes and other fruits. The baser sort are those who sow
and gather rice, who are kept under such subjection by the bramins and
nairs that they dare not approach nearer to them than 50 paces under
pain of death and are therefore obliged to lurk in bye places and
marshes; and when they go anywhere abroad they call out continually in a
loud voice, that they may be hoard of the bramins and nairs otherwise if
any of these were to come near they would certainly put these low people
to death.

The dress of even the king and queen differ in little or nothing from
the other idolaters, all going naked, barefooted, and bareheaded, except
a small piece of silk or cotton to cover their nakedness; but the
Mahometans wear single garments in a more seemly manner, their women
being dressed like the men except that their hair is very long. The king
and nobles eat no kind of flesh, except having first got permission of
the priests; but the common people may eat any flesh they please except
that of cows. Those of the basest sort, named _Nirani_ and _Poliars_,
are only permitted to eat fish dried in the sun.

When the king or zamorin dies, his male children, if any, or his
brothers by the fathers side, or the sons of these brothers, do not
succeed in the kingdom: For, by ancient law or custom, the succession
belongs to the sons of the kings sisters; and if there be none such, it
goes to the nearest male relation through the female blood. The reason
of this strange law of succession is, that when the king takes a wife,
she is always in the first place deflowered by the chief bramin, for
which he is paid fifty-pieces of gold. When the king goes abroad, either
in war or a-hunting, the queen is left in charge of the priests, who
keep company with her till his return; wherefore the king may well think
that her children may not be his; and for this reason the children of
his sisters by the same mother are considered as his nearest in blood,
and the right inheritors of the throne. When the king dies, all his
subjects express their mourning by cutting their beards and shaving
their heads; and during the celebration of his funerals, those who live
by fishing abstain from their employment during eight days. Similar
rules are observed upon the death of any of the kings wives. Sometimes
the king abstains from the company of women for the space of a year,
when likewise he forbears to chew _betel_ and _areka_, which are
reckoned provocatives.

The gentlemen and merchants of Calicut, when they wish to show great
friendship to each other, sometimes exchange wives, but on these
occasions the children remain with their reputed fathers. It is likewise
customary among these idolaters, for one woman to have seven husbands at
the same time, each of whom has his appointed night to sleep with her;
and when she has a child, she fathers it upon any of the husbands she
pleases. The people of this country, when at their meals, lie upon the
ground, and eat their meat from copper trays, using certain leaves
instead of spoons; their food consisting for the most part of rice and
fish seasoned with spices, and of the ordinary fruits of the country.
The lowest people eat in a filthy manner, putting their dirty hands into
the dish, and thrusting their food by handfuls into their mouths. The
punishment of murder is by impalement; but those who wound or hurt any
one have to pay a fine to the king. When any one is in debt, and refuses
to pay, the creditor goes to the judges, of whom there are said to be a
hundred, and having made due proof of the debt, he receives a certain
stick or branch of a tree, with authority to arrest his debtor, to whom,
when he is able to find him, he uses these words: "I charge you by the
heads of the Bramins, and by the head of the king, that you stir not
from the spot on which you stand till you pay me what you owe." The
debtor has now no resource but to pay immediately, or to lose his life:
for, if he escape after this ceremony, he is adjudged a rebel, and it is
lawful for any man to kill him.

When they mean to pray to their idols, they resort before sunrise to
some pool or rivet where they wash themselves, after which they resort
to the idol-house, taking especial care not to touch any thing by the
way, and say their prayers prostrate on the ground, making strange
gesticulations and contortions, so marvellously distorting their faces,
eyes, and mouths, that it is horrible to behold. The nairs or gentlemen
may not begin to eat, till one of them has dressed and set the food in
order, with certain ceremonies, but the lower orders are not bound to
such rules. The women also have no other care than to dress and beautify
themselves, as they take much pains to wash and purify their persons,
and to perfume their bodies with many sweet savours. Likewise when they
go abroad, they are singularly loaded with jewels and ornaments on their
ears, arms, and legs.

In Calicut there are certain teachers of warlike exercises, who train up
the youth in the use of the sword, target, and lance, and of such other
weapons as they employ in war; and when the king takes the field he has
an army of 100,000 infantry, but there are no cavalry in that country.
On this occasion the king rides upon an elephant, and elephants are used
in their wars. Those who are next in authority to the king wear fillets
round their heads of crimson or scarlet silk. Their arms are crooked
swords, lances, bows and arrows, and targets. The royal ensign is an
umbrella borne aloft on a spear, so as to shade the king from the heat
of the sun, which ensign in their language is called _somber_. When both
armies approach within three arrow-flights, the king sends his bramins
to the enemy by way of heralds, to challenge an hundred of them to
combat against an hundred of his nairs, during which set combat both
sides prepare themselves for battle. In the mean time the two select
parties proceed to combat, mid-way between the two armies, always
striking with the edge of their swords at the heads of their
antagonists, and never thrusting with the point, or striking at the
legs. Usually when five or six are slain of either side, the Bramins
interpose to stop the fight, and a retreat is sounded at their instance.
After which the Bramins speak to the adverse kings, and generally
succeed to make up matters without any battle or farther slaughter.

The king sometimes rides on an elephant, but at other times is carried

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