CELT document T305002

The Gaelic abridgment of the Book of Ser Marco Polo

Witness list

  • L: Book of Lismore


The following text is taken from the Book of Lismore, an Irish manuscript of the fifteenth century, now belonging to the Duke of Devonshire, and kept in Lismore Castle, co. Waterford. The text, of which no other copy is known, begins, imperfectly, on fo. 79 recto and ends, incompletely, on fo. 89 verso. It is abridged with great freedom from the Latin version of Francesco Pipino, as to which see the introduction to the late col. Yule's The Book of Ser Marco Polo, London 1875, pp. 64, 79, 92.

Our text has been noticed by Todd, Proceedings of the Royal Irish Academy June 22, 1840: by O'Curry, MS. Materials of Irish History, pp. 25, 200, and by Yule, op. cit. vol. 1, pp. 100, 101 of the introduction. But no part of it has been edited save (1) four lines (absurdly misspelt) 1 cited by Yule, p. 101: (2) the beginning and the end, cited in the preface to Lives of Saints from the Book of Lismore, Oxford 1890, pp. xxij–xxiv; and (3) the first two pages, printed in the appendix to Part III of the Facsimiles of National Manuscripts of Ireland, London 1879.

It is needless here to enlarge upon the desirability of printing the Celtic translations of Latin and French 2 texts. They are the best evidence that the mediaeval Irish and Welsh were in touch with the literary life of the Continent: they add considerably to our vocabularies; and in the case of many words and idioms they enable Celtists to ascertain meanings which would otherwise remain unintelligible or ambiguous. They also throw some light on the condition of the Continental texts at the respective dates of the translations.


[1]  {} to the kings and chieftains of that city. There dwelt then in that city a king's brother in the habit of S. Francis. He was skilled in many languages, and his name was Franciscus (Pipinus). So he is brought to the place wherein yon nobles were, and they request him to turn the book from the language of the Tartars into the Latin language. “I am afraid”, saith he, “to spend mental labour on the works of Jews and unbelievers.” They entreat him again in the same wise. “It shall be done”, saith he; “for though tidings of non-Christians are here made known, these are marvels of the true God; and whosoever shall hear this much against the faith of the Lord will pray fervently for their conversion, and he who will not pray will spend the strength of his body in defeating them. I am not afraid of this book of Marco's, for there is no lie in it. Mine eye beheld him bringing with him the relics of the holy Church; and he left, while tasting death, (his testimony) that it was true, and Marco was a godly man.”

[2] Howsoever Franciscus (Pipinus) translated this book of Marco's out of Tartar into Latin ; and the years of the Lord at that time were fifteen years, and two score and two hundred and a thousand years (i. e. A. D. 1255).

Unknown author

Edited by Whitley Stokes

The Gaelic abridgment of the Book of Ser Marco Polo



The Lesser Armenia and Turcomania (Bk. I, cc. 1, 2). 3

[3] In the first place, the Lesser Armenia, it is under tribute to Magnus. A country with abundance of towns, and unknowable treasures for trade and traffic. Glaisia, 4 which stands on the sea, is its chief city. A province therein is Tursie: 5 this is a mountainous country, and they (the inhabitants) worship Mahomet. Excellent horses they have and plenty of silk.

Of the Greater Armenia (Bk. I, c. 3)

[4] Now the Greater Armenia, this is an extensive country. It is under the yoke of Magnus. They (the inhabitants) have abundance of towns and treasures. Two noble cities it hath, Agiron and Baririm 6 are their names; and in that country is  p.249 the mount of Armenia. Thereon the Ark rested after escaping from the Deluge.

Of Georgia (Bk. I, c. 4)

[5] Beside it is the province of the Sorani, 7 and therein is a river of oil continually flowing, wherewith are filled the vessels and barques of the country-sides, near and far. And every one of them (the Sorani) is born with the figure of an eagle on his shoulder. They worship Jesus. There is in that country a monastery with a lake beside it, into the which the river Euphrates is flowing out of Paradise. It (the lake) hath abundance of fish from the first day of Lent till Easter, and after that there are none.

Of the Kingdom of Mosul (Bk. I, cc. 5, 6)

[6] Another province there is in it, the kingdom of Musul, and they (the inhabitants) worship Mahomet. There is a noble city therein, named Baldasi (Bagdad). The overlord of the Saracens, whose name is Calipus (Khalif), is king thereover. Abundance of gold and treasures had he, for he liked not to entertain warriors and champions.

[7] Alan (Alaii), the king of the Tartars, came to take his city from him by strength of battle. He had an impregnable tower filled with gold and treasures. But Calipus is taken with his tower and with his city, for there were no warriors defending him. “Though thou hast paid honour and respect to the gold”, saith Balan (Alaii) broke in his breast with grief and affliction for his gold and his treasures.

Of the City of Tauris (Bk. I, cc. 7–11)

[8] There is in that country another city called Taurisius (Tabriz) with abundance of precious stones and silken garments. There was an exceeding high mountain over against that city, and a mountain on the other side. And one day the Jews heard how the Divine Gospel saith “If ye have faith like a grain of mustard-seed and say to this mountain Pass over! and it will pass over, and nothing will be impossible to you”; that is. if thou hast as much as a mustard-seed of the love of Jesus, the mountain  p.251 will move to the other mountain, if thou so desire. “The Jesus whom ye worship is a false prophet”, say the heathens, “and his words are lies, for if ye ask yonder mountain to move on to the other mountain it would in no wise do it for you.” The Christians go together and beseech the one God to shift the mountain. “O Jesus!” they say, “let not Jews and unbelievers oppress us!” Then in the presence of the hosts the mountain arose and went upon the other mountain, and remained there forever; and at that miracle certain of the heathen received baptism.

Of the Provinces of Persia (Bk. I, c. 15)

[9] Now (as to) the provinces of Persia, they (the inhabitants) worship the fire. 'Tis an extensive territory with eight kings over it. Excellent horses it hath, each horse worth two hundred pounds.

Of the Provinces of Camandi (Bk. I, c. 18)

[10] The provinces of Camandi, 'tis apples and fruits of paradise which they (the inhabitants) consume. White oxen with long hair they have. Rams they have, each as large as an ass.
On its border is another country with a king over it. By cleverness and cunning they (the inhabitants) bring darkness over the face of the sun as if it were night. Throughout the provinces of Camandi they send raiders keeping near one another, ten thousand their host. These destroy the Camandians' forts and their strongholds, and kill their old men, and make hostages of their young. And Marco himself saw that lightlessness surrounding him, and to save himself from it he speedily gets him into an impregnable town. For the space of seven days that mist abides.

Of Timocauim (Bk. I, c. 22)

[11] Now Timocauim is an extensive country, with abundance of forts and cities. A fair plain it hath, without any fruits. Bitter waters it hath. The Tree of the Sun in its northern part, a tree straight and of enormous thickness. Vast is its length. White leaves of marvellous breadth on one side thereof, green leaves on the other side. No tree grows through ground within a hundred miles from its sides.

Of Mulete (Bk. I, c. 2.3)

[12] The provinces of Mulete (Mulehet), they (the inhabitants)  p.253 worship Mahomet. Over it there is a king named Aloadam. By him there was built in an impregnable valley on a lofty mountain a royal palace with the brightness of gold thereon, and with radiant sollars and cultivated gardens and shining fountains at its side, such as the mind of every warrior would desire; and plenty of damsels they have, and games and many feats have they. The reason why that was so fashioned is that Mahomet had said to them: “As ye will be here (so) ye shall be there in my kingdom after tasting death.” Wherefore they would partake of their feasts and their banquets, and they were valiant in battles, for there was no fear of death upon them, since they were sure that after death they would be thus. “Mahomet's Earthly Paradise” was the name given to that court, and an impregnable tower was built at its entrance, without any way into it save through the tower. The youths of the country would be carried into it, and their fill of feasts and banquets would be given them, and then sleep would fall upon them, to hearten their souls to Mahomet; and in a vision he would say to them: “According to the feasting you have had here, my feast there will endure for you.”

[13] When Alan (Alaii) the king of the Tartars heard of this wicked practice in which Aloadan persisted, he made a hosting, and killed Aloadam with his kings and chiefs, and overturned his city, so that no stone of it was left on another.

Of Bassia (Bk. I, cc. 30, 31)

[14] Bassia now is a land with the strength of the sun upon it. Black oxen it hath. Its people worship Mahomet. By wizardry and cunning they summon the aerial demons to converse with them, and they bring darkness over the face of the sun. Flesh and rice they consume. They have plenty of boars and wild swine, which pierce their dogs and their packs of hounds with the bristly hair on their backs and sides. And they obey no king on earth. 8 There are hermits in monasteries and chapels on the peaks of mountains, fasting and making offerings to Mahomet, and having honour and great reverence from yonder nobles.

[15] There is a great mountain in that country—the highest  p.255 mountain in the world—with a beautiful glen on its bosom. Abundance of sheep and rams in that glen. Six palms the breadth of every horn on those rams, so that dishes and bowls have been made thereof, from which dinners and feasts have been eaten, and they are used by the shepherds as a protection to their houses and dwellings against snow and storm. And neither birds nor other wild animals can abide on that mountain for cold and horror, and though fires be lit upon it, no food was boiled by them owing to the increase of cold.

Of the City of Sermacam (Bk. I, c. 34)

[16] Now Sermacam (Samarcand) is a noble city belonging to the son of Magnus Cam. (Its folk) worship Mahomet. There were many Christians in that city. The king died. On a lofty hill outside the city was a flagstone of marble, under which the heathen were buried, and the king was buried thereunder. After him his son took the sovranty—Sigotan was the son's name,—and he believed in the Lord of the Elements, and received the baptism of Holy Church, and this seemed hard to the heathens.

[17] Then Sigotan one day formed this project, to erect in the city a venerable chapel in honour of John the Baptist. Of the wrights from near and far the best that could be found were brought to him, and he enjoined them to spend for him all their skill and science. His wrights asked for the huge stone under which his father was buried, and that the ancestors of the Jews should be moved to the place in which they were. He grants that to them. That was a grief to the heathens; but fear of the king prevented them reproaching him. Howsoever, that structure was raised with marvellous science as would be the mind's desire of every one. There was a pillar of marble on the floor thereof to support it, with variety of every work thereon. Both were on the flagstone aforesaid.

[18] Straightway the king died, and after him his son took the sovranty; and he did not continue on his father's track, but worshipt Mahomet. When the heathens heard that the (new) king worshipt Mahomet, they ask the Christians for the stone  p.257 under which their ancestors were buried. “Not so at all”, reply the Christians. “S. John's church would fall if that flagstone were stirred. ” “Well”, say the heathens. “Ye shall have for it abundance of treasures”, say the Christians. “'Tis the flagstone that we want”, say the heathens, “and not (your) treasures.” The king sided strongly with the heathens, so … was put on the stone, and they brought it back. On seeing this the Christians besought S. John and Jesus. Then the church stood (without the support for its pillar) just as well as it had been; and it is to-day three feet over the ground, and (so) it will remain till the end of Doom.

Of the Province of Pein (Bk. I, cc. 37, 38)

[19] Now Pein is an extensive country with abundance of cities. A five days' journey in length. If one of its folk should go on a voyage or excursion and be twenty days without returning, his wife will sleep with another husband. Bitter waters it hath. A river along it, with plenty of precious stones; named “jasper” and “chalcedony.”

Of the City of Lop (Bk. I, c. 39)

[20] Now Lop is a noble city at the edge of a great desert. There is abundance of every treasure outside it, wherefore it is a place of tarriance for every one for trade and traffic and treasures. Its folk worship Mahomet. Camels and asses laden with provisions are taken by every one when he goes on that desert. Brackish waters are on it. Sandy plains and watery mountains on the way. A year's journey it is in length: thirty days' journey in breadth, without wild beasts, without cattle. On the way the demons come to have speech with the human beings. If they see any one of them apart from his company, they call him by his own name and appellation, and he follows the demons, for he is ignorant that they are not his comrades, and he never comes back. The demons play harps and timbrels to put men asleep and to tempt them.

Of the City of Sasion (Bk. I, c. 40)

[21] After leaving those wildernesses you come to a spacious province wnth a noble city therein, having abundance of every treasure. The folk worship Mahomet. And there, after the  p.250 weariness of yonder desert, a long rest is taken in trading and trafficking. Its name is Sasion (Shachan). If one of the inhabitants has a son it is taken to be offered to the gods, along with a ram; and the babe and the ram are brought back, and a year's joint-fostering is given them, and (then) both of them are taken to the altar of the offering, and the ram is cooked and given to be eaten to the kinsmen and gossips of the babe, with great reverence to the gods. And the ram's bones are put away to be stored in their hatches.

[22] Every dead person belonging to that city was put into a gilded bier, with cloths of silk and serge on the side of his palace (coffin?), and every night with great honour to him of meat and drink and whatsoever he was used to consume; for no one is buried in that city until his birthday. Wherefore noble herbs and balsam are put surrounding him (to keep off corruption), so that his warriors and his damsels and his comrades partake of their dinner along with him as if he were alive. And after the arrival of that day his body is burnt, with feasting and great reverence to the gods.

Of the City of Camul (Bk. I, c. 41)

[23] Two days' journey beyond that city is another city named Camul, whose folk worship Mahomet. If a guest or an outlander come … journey to a hill or a fort … On his being seen by the warrior or chief who is master, the latter goes out over the edge of the fortress, and his wife is brought to the stranger. “Do to him”, says her husband, “as if it were I that were staying in the fortress.” And he puts a written letter on the door, and he himself proceeds on his way, and the wife sleeps with the guest. Whatever is best of the food and raiment in the fort he places in the guest's power. Every day the warrior looks at the door to see if the guest would proceed on his journey, for this is the custom, (for the guest), to remove the letter if he should proceed; but if (the husband) see it he would never come.

[24] Once upon a time Magnus Cam sent envoys to that city, with an epistle, and this was its contents: “I command you”, quoth he, “to turn back from the evil usage which ye follow, for in many respects it is injurious, for none of you is certain  p.261 as to his heir whom he leaves after him, and 'tis destruction to your jewels and treasures to put them under the judgment and power of guests and foreigners.”

[25] With anger and indignation they send the envoys back to Magnus, bearing letters with these contents: “O Magnus Cam”, say they, “we beseech thee for charity and misery not to turn us back from the usage of our ancestors, for if it were so done, the earth would deprive us of her fruits. And if thou hast want of gold or many unknown treasures, thou mayst take them without resistance.” Magnus allowed them to abide with the usage of their ancestors.

Of the Province of Singsingtalas (Bk. I, c. 42)

[26] After turning (your) back on that province, you get to a long desert—it is a sixteen-days' journey (in length). Singsingcalas is on the other side thereof. A spacious province is this. Therein is a very lofty mountain, with salamanders upon it. They are small animals. They cause fibre to be produced on the earth in impure places, and this was collected by the folk of the province, and carried to streams and wells to be washed, and broken in vessels and mortars of brass. They kindled fires to put the fibre into the midst of them, and after burning away its impurity it came out white from the embers. Garments were afterwards made of it, and it was noble, venerable; and when it became dirty or dark, it was put on the embers to cleanse it, and it came thence clean.

Of the City of Campision (Bk. I, c. 44)

[27] Now as to the province of Cambu, it is a spacious, extensive province. Campision is its capital city. The inhabitants, save a few Christians, worship Mahomet. They are skilful in computing constellations and stars. Fifty wives hath each of them, and every wife changes her husband if he be poor. They have no reckoning of months and quarters, but a separate name for each day of the year. They have five days specially observed, whereon they kill no animal or wild beasts, and eat no meat, and have no toil or labour. They have no incestuous marriage, save one with a sister or a mother. Now Marco tarried a year in that city.


Of the City of Caracorum (Bk. I, c. 46)

[28] Now Caracorum was once the capital city of the Tartars, for out of it is their origin. They themselves had no king over them, but they were under tax and tribute to Prester John, the king of India, who bore another name, to wit, Unc-cam. Howbeit the kindred of the Tartars increased in Caracorum, so that their warriors and their chiefs became numerous, and there was fear of fighting them on the countrysides anear and afar. Full of fear of them was Prester John, seeing the Tartars (and) the multitude of those champions. He said to them: “Divide”, saith he, “into many provinces afar and anear, since it is not possible for Caracorum to contain you.” There were long deserts around the city at that time, void of fortresses and mansions. Wherefore this was the counsel accepted by the nobles of the Tartars, to proceed into yonder desert and dwell therein. Thus they did.

Of Simisis (Bk. I, cc. 47, 48, 49)

[29] At that time there was a wonderful warrior of the nobles of the Tartars named Simisis, and by them he was given kingship, for theretofore they had never been subject to a king. They settle on those hard lands and wildernesses without the might of (any) king on earth over them. (When they heard of the appointment) every one of his blood that was throughout the world gathered to the place where Simisis dwelt. That was the excellent king! He used to give every one his due. Howbeit seven kings submitted to him for dread of fighting him, for neither plunder nor outrage was undertaken on fort or city if voluntary obedience was rendered to him.

[30] Prester John sent some one to demand the Indian tribute from him. He refuses, for he had no fear of a king. The envoys return, and Simisis abides in his own realm. And one day, after refusing the tribute, he sent envoys to demand Prester John's daughter; and Prester John said this, that he would sooner burn his daughter (alive) than give her to Simisis, “and for asking her”, quoth he, “he shall get a shameful death.” And Prester John inflicted insult on the envoys, and they return to Simisis and relate to him what they had said and what was said to them.


[31] Full of wrath and indignation at these messages was Simisis, and his kings and chiefs were summoned to him. “This is what I desire”, quoth he, “that we should all go by one road against Prester John to avenge upon him the insult which he has inflicted upon us.” “So do we desire”, say they: they answered as with one mouth.

[32] So those Tartar hosts march against them (the Indians), without stop or stay, to the plain of Tandud (Tanduc), and they send envoys to the king of India to challenge him to battle; and their wizards are brought to them, and they inquire of them the prophecy and omen of the battle, or how it should be to them and to Prester John. The wizards went on their hurdles of knowledge, and summoned to them demons and aerial gods; and they bring a huge bulrush, and they split it and made two halves thereof, and they name one of the halves Prester John and the other Sisimis; and by wizardry and cunning they cause the two halves of the rush to contend with each other, and the half which they named Sisimis wins the victory. The wizards go back to the Tartars in joy and gladness, (for) it seems to them that it was they who would be triumphant in the battle.

Of the battle between Sisimis and Prester John (Bk. I, c. 50)

[33] Now Prester John, when he heard that he was challenged to battle and that an innumerable army was marching towards him, summoned to him his kings and chiefs and friends, anear and afar. Well, then, when the armies on either side saw each other they took on them their fighting-dress and their weapons of battle, and their trumpets were blown, and they shouted their warcries, and the armies on either side fell to smiting the other, splitting diadems and shields, so that there was an innumerable slaughter on this side and that. Still, however, the Indians were routed, and they were all slaughtered, and Prester John was killed. And then Sisimis took sovranty over the Indians and over many other countries, and he was the first king of the Tartars.

[34] And in the sixth year of his reign he was hit by an arrow at a city which he was besieging, so that he was left lifeless, and was buried on the mountain Alcahi (Altai).


Of the successors of Sisimis (Bk. I, c. 51)

[35] He left a son after him named Caiter (Cuy Khan?). He left a son named Satin (Batuy). He left a son named Roton (Alacou?). Roton left a son named Mongu. 'Tis from him that Cublay sprang, and Cublay surpassed the five other kings, and his sovranty surpassed the kingship of the Christians and the Saracens. On that very lofty mountain where Sisimis was buried there in his track the kings that succeeded him were interred. Every one, both warrior and chief, whom they (the convoy) would fall in with on the road when going to bury those kings was put to death by them, and this is what they would tell him: “Serve and guard the king in the other world, even as ye did before!” When the last of these kings was buried, 'tis a slaughter of two thousand warriors that were killed to be put with him; and for the same purpose they killed the best of the horses which they found.

Of the customs of the Tartars (Bk. I, c. 52)

[36] Now the Tartars are a numerous nation, for there is no limit to the wives or damsels which anyone may have, save the number that he is able to provide with food and clothing. But the first wife with whom a man shall sleep is she that is the superior, and the rest do sewing and handiwork. Their warriors hunt and practise warlike exercises, and the house is under the control of the wife. Their warriors have shields of leather, which are made of buffalo hide boiled. And (in war) the other battalion cannot endure the discharge of the Tartars' arrows, for to this they are reared from their swaddling-clothes. Flesh and milk are consumed by them, without excepting the flesh of deer and horses and dogs, but they would eat every flesh on earth. They like to consume the milk of their studs and their mares: “white wine” (is the name) they would put upon it. And every summer they with their studs and herds visit the peaks of mountains and the hollows of rocks, having movable pavilions over them, and their sons and daughters with them, until, at the coming of the bad wintry weather, they return together with their pavilions.

Of the god of the Tartars (Bk. I, c. 53)

[37] Natay is the god, which they worship. His figure is engraved in every house in the realm of the Tartars, with the  p.269 figure of his wife on his left shoulder and that of his son in front of him. In order that they may partake of food, the best of the Tartars' victuals is rubbed on the mouths and muzzles of the god, his wife and his son. And they spill the broth of the dinner over the door of the house, to be tasted by the gods whom they adore, for they are sure that it is Natay that rules heaven and earth.

[38] In the provinces of the Tartars, if a young man die without a wife and a girl without a husband, after they have tasted death, their contract with one another is made, and for this reason is it made, that both may be in Natay's presence. And cattle are given to the mother of the girl, for in the provinces of the Tartars cattle are not given by the wife, and their relatives remain akin and sib to each other, just as if (the dead couple) were alive.

[39] They have no marriage which they deem incest save one with a mother, a sister or a daughter; wherefore their warriors are the more numerous. Every one hath abundance of wives.

[40] They are manly in battle and heroic in arms; and every one of them is able to remain for ten days on a journey or an expedition, without food or drink, save fruits of trees and the blood of their horses.

[41] If any one commits a crime or an act not deserving of death, he gets thirty blows of a cudgel, or sixty, if the crime be greater than that, or a hundred and ten if it be thrice as great. Or if his crime be (a theft) punishable with death, 9 nine times the value (of the thing stolen) is taken from him and then he is let off.

Of the plain of Ragu (Bk. I, cc. 56, 57)

[42] Now Ragu (Bargu) is a very wide plain and forty days in length. They that dwell therein are (called) Mecrit. They live by hunting.  10 Neither corn nor vine rises above ground there. 'Tis there men see polus arcticus, that is, a certain one of the fixed stars of the firmament. There is abundance of camels and gerfalcons and elephants in those provinces. Huge stags they have, with long hair: three palms the length of every hair of them.


[43] There is another animal there, huge his size. The semblance of a deer hath he. An admirable balsam named musk, is produced by him. It is almost a panacea (?). Two teeth in every tusk he hath: three palms the length of each of them.

[44] No warrior's hair or beard is cut in that province. Fairest of women are their maidens. They choose 11 their wives, not for nobility or reverence, but for shape and size.

[45] In the countries of the Tartars no cattle are given with girls (on their marriage): 'tis the warriors that give cattle to their (brides') mothers.

Of the Province of Tenduc (Bk. T, cc. 59, 60)

[46] Now Tenduc, an exceeding wide province is this, and 'tis Jesus whom the folk worship. It belongs to the realm of India, and they are under the yoke of Magnus Cam. Ever since Prester John was killed the kings who succeeded him give their daughters to the Tartar nobles as a protection against their feud and enmity.

[47] In that province there are black cranes, of great bigness. They have other cranes with variegation of every colour, both green and red and blue. Other cranes with splendour of gold upon them. Other cranes wth a dark green spot and a red spot.

[48] After one leaves that province a three days' journey behind him he will find on the way the city of Siaudu (Chandu), which was built by Cublay, that is. Magnus Cam. Amidst it is a palace of marble, with a royal barrack beside it, having radiant rooms, with the splendour of gold upon them, without and within.

[49] An impregnable forest at the edge of the house, with dykes and plastered walls all around it: fifteen miles in compass. Stags and many does it hath, and every wild animal besides. Radiant meadows and pebbly streams are in that forest. Cublay is wont to hold a hunt therein. On a secret spot of the forest a mansion hath been built by him for hunting, and of bulrushes 12 it hath been built. Fifteen paces is the length of each rush, and three palms its breadth, and they are tied with cords of silk, shining with gold inside and out, so that foul weather or storm may do no hurt to him or the folk that be within.


[50] Three months of the year he is engaged in that hunting, to wit, June, July and August. But on the eighteenth day of August they take up that house till they come again. They also return to the city of Siaudu. Thereafter they, with their children, wives and herds, proceed to a very lofty mountain, to make offerings to the gods. Ten thousand white mares are along with him. After making those offerings, the milk of those white mares is put into vessels and choice bowls for Magnus, and this he would deal out to himself and to the (Royal) Blood to be drunk, and he would not give it to any other kindred nor to rabble-folk. Magnus would (also) spill that milk on the road, to be tasted by the gods.

[51] If a warrior or anyone (else) is lawfully executed, they eat him at that sacrifice, and they do not eat him if he die of disease or illness.

[52] By craft and (magical) cunning the king is served (at table), no one seeing anyone doing it, but the dishes and the cups moving to him through the air. This they (the enchanters) also say, that it is the gods that serve them and the king. And at that sacrifice many rams are boiled by them, and the flesh is given to the gods, and the broth is spilt on the earth. They think that for this it will yield them its produce.

[53] Cublay hath a monastery, in which are two thousand monks, serving the gods and sacrificing to them. Other monks there are in that province, and some of them have wives, and others are keeping their rule for the gods.

Endeth the first part of this book. Beginneth the second part. London.
Whitley Stokes.


Of Cublay Magnus and the revolt of Naim (Bk. 11, c. 2)

[54] Once upon a time, in the city of Cambalau, Magnus Cam saw envoys approaching him. They salute him. Magnus asked their tidings. “We have secret words for thee”, say the envoys. Magnus got up from the throne whereon he was, that they (all) might go on one side. “Naim”, say the envoys, “a brother of thy father, hath rejected the vassalage of (his) kingdom to thee. And Cadau, a son of his brother, hath made a union (with Naim) against thee. There are also the four kings who are subject to Naim,—Fuci Orcra and Cauli and Barsceel and Suchitengni—and who are marching with all their forces into thy realm. And they say that their right to the realm is better than thine.”

Of the Battle between Cublay and Nairn (Bk. IT, cc. 3, 4)

[55] That was the beginning of Cublay's reign, after he had routed many countries in numerous battles, wise was he to whom that word was said. A kingly countenance he had, with brilliant eyes. A soldier's bulk and bravery had he. His limbs were proportioned (one) to another.  13 Then he declared that he would never put the royal crown from his head till he had taken vengeance on them (Naim and the rest) for that word. So he sent messengers to his warriors and his kings in the neighbourhood, for he was sure that if he caused his far-off hosts to be  p.365 summoned. knowledge thereof would be gotten by Naim, who would then flee from him into woods and strongholds. He (also) sent a guard on the roads for fear of Naim's obtaining news. This was the number of the host that answered Cublay. twelve battalions, with thirty thousand horse men in each battalion, and two footsoldiers with each horseman. If he had summoned his armies that were far off, it would have been impossible to count them. Four elephants were harnessed for the king, with a bartizan of boards upon them. So then he went in the forefront of the battle, with his standard above him. Two and twenty days was he mustering that mighty host.

[56] To meet Cadau on a very wide plain in Cublay's kingdom, Naim marched, with a huge army, to a lofty mountain on the side thereof. Cadau was not on that plain as he had promised. That night they (Naim and his troops) rested in that stead. They pitch their tents and stretch themselves out on their sides. They had no fear, for they did not suppose that Cublay had tidings of them. Now Cublay marched all that night, for they did not like to move by day for fear of being seen, till the sun's splendour rose upon them on the same road as Naim.

[57] They saw the beautiful winged standards, and the crimson bossy bucklers, and the radiant hard-rigid helmets on the stalwart soldiers of Cambulu. And they recognised Cublay;'s standard above the helmets. And this it is that wakened the army out of its sleep, the sound of the trumpets and the pipes, and the warriors shouting their battle-cry.

[58] Cublay sent his wizards to see whether he would have good luck or bad luck in the battle. The warriors began to chill their spears and to whet their blades and spearheads against the flagstones and rocks of the earth. The wizards return with an omen of benefit to him from the battle.

[59] As to Naim, five hundred thousand was the number of his army. It was excessive (?) for them at that time, for they felt no fear.

[60] Cadu was then on his way with a hundred thousand warriors, and had not then arrived; and they knew not that Cublay had information of them. Howbeit, not for fear did he march to Naim.


[61] Those armies took their bright blue greaves of grey iron, and their strong infrangible corslets, and their helmets under their diadems polished, fair to see. They stretch their warlike variegated emblematic banners against the riveted long lances; and every good warrior closed up round his king and his chieftain, and they filled with clamour the hills and the plains on every side. And then the battalions joined with each other, and a bright cloud rose from their golden-coloured handswords, and from their plaited collars of red gold, so that there was a shining lightning in the roof of heaven above the heads of the heroes on either side. There rose, too, a grey cloud, awful, icy, from the other side of the air, between diadem and greaves, between spear and axe. They break from the battalions into the other division like cataracts against rocks, so that a crash of doom in the cliffs and caves was the roaring of the heroes upheaving their efforts of battle, and the noise of their arrows from the bowstrings, and the rush of their darts through the air, and the screams of their horses at being wounded, and the groans of their warriors at tasting death.

[62] Naim abode in the forefront of the battle along with the pick of his kings and his chieftains, a multitude of brown shining shields all around him. a wood of stiff hard spears surrounding his standard above him, which had the Cross of the Passion graven upon it (for Naim was a Christian).

[63] When Cublay saw Naim's standard, he sent forward a dense battalion of his kings and warriors, and dispersed the other battalion to the right and left, and made a prisoner of Naim, after inflicting slaughter on his soldiers. Then he routed (the rest of) Naim's hosts, so that the killed could not be reckoned.

Of Naim's death (Bk. II, c. 5)

[64] There were Christians in both those battalions. The heathens flouted their God and the figure (of the cross) that was on Naim's standard, and had not helped him, so that a great conflict arose among that host, and heathens and Christians went to the decision of battle with each other on account of their (respective) deities. When Cublay saw that he said (to the heathens): “Stay, my good people! despise not Jesus, for 'tis no blame to him not to help Naim. For Naim called himself a  p.369 Christian and (yet) his deeds were ungodly, for he rebelled against his liege-lord.”

[65] By that saying the hosts are appeased, and Naim is brought before the king in the midst of the assembly. “What is the thing for him?” say they. “Death is his due”, answered Magnus Cam: “and it is not my pleasure to spill his blood on the ground, for fear of throwing back the fruits of the earth. Nor is it my pleasure that the sun or the moon should see his death.” So this was the tragical death that was inflicted upon him: a cage of closely-joined boards was tied together with ropes and bands. Naim was bound and put in the midst of it, and then it was tossed to and fro, so that he kept falling from its sides; and thus he died.

Of Cublay's rewards to his captains (Bk. II, c. 7)

[66] Thereafter Cublay remained in his realm, without plundering or violence, without going on a campaign. But he sent his kings and his chiefs with his sons into contests, and to the son who would gain a victory he would give advancement in lordship and treasures. He used, moreover, to give a silver tablet with the name Magnus Cam written upon it in golden letters, and a lion and a gerfalcon graven on one side thereof in token of triumph. The circles of the sun and moon were graven on it. Into every one with whom that tablet was seen in the provinces of the Tartars obedience was rendered by all, and whoever would not render it suffered death by the king's law.

Of Magnus Cam's household (Bk. II, c. 8)

[67] Now Magnus Cam hath four queens, and the consort with whom he first sleeps is the superior, and the son whom she brings forth is the heir after him. These queens, moreover, have four honourable courts, and ten thousand in each court to wait upon them, both maidens and warriors. A hundred other damsels he hath, and wise, elderly ladies with them to send them to wait on Cublay in illness and disease, and to teach them needlework and morality. Should one of this hundred die, in their place there is put a damsel of the Burgoguna (Kungurat), a tribe of Tartar nobles possessing shapely damsels. And none of these damsels sleeps with another husband, but (only) attends upon the king.


Of the City of Cambalu (Bk. IL cc. 11. 12)

[68] Magnus Cam hath another city, a city named Cambalu. This is the capital city of all the Tartars. Now there was formerly a river throughout it, till Cublay saw in a vision clouds and circles of sun and moon, an omen that evil would befall him thence if the river should continue (flowing) through it. So by craft and skill he removed the city to the other side of the river.

[69] There were four backs in that city, and six miles in each of them. Three brazen gates in each quarter of it, and an impregnable palace at each of the gates and angles with shining sollars, with regal halls. Therein are put all their weapons and clothing and armour, to be stored till the hour of battle. A thousand warriors every night sentinelling the king at every gate of those twelve gates. No fear at all hath he: it is only to guard the honour of the kingship.

[70] Neither trade nor traffic takes place in that city; but outside of it there are forts and cities in which they are earned on. Also no dead body is buried in it. In the midst of Tartary it is. Many lands have an equal right (?) thereto. Not easy is it to reckon the wealth of that city, and all that enters it of precious stones and silken garments and every other goodly thing from the many lands afar and anear. That city is never without a thousand wagons drawn by horses and oxen and asses, moving silk towards it.

[71] Amidst it is an enormous bell, whereof the sound is heard in its four backs. When the bell is struck at nightfall no one dares to go about without having bright lanterns, till the sun is shining on the morrow.

Of the King's Palace (Bk. II. c. 10)

[72] The king's palace is in the midst of that city. Four backs it hath, a mile long is each of them. An admirable court have the four kings who are over it, with regal halls and with shining sollars of pure marble, and on its ramparts are impregnable towers, wherein are stored their cups and goblets and other treasures.


[73] The houses of the damsels and of the warriors besides are athwart the fortress, and cultivated herbgardens at their flanks, with shining fountains, with tameless wild beasts of every type in the world, with herbs that heal every disease.

[74] A host-house in the midst of it, of marble it was erected. Vast its length and its breadth. The splendour of gold upon it outside and externally. Graven upon it, moreover, with variety of every colour, were the images of the battles and conflicts that were fought in those many countries, and the form of every wild beast on earth, so that to gaze upon it was destruction to the sight of one's eyes.

[75] Glazed windows it hath, with beautiful adorned arches upon them. Chambers and cells at the sides in that wise. Of the Tartar nobles six thousand would be at meat around the king in that barrack, and twice twenty thousand of their warriors and champions used to have their meals in the houses at its sides.

[76] Four chieftains guarding it, and three thousand warriors with each chieftain. Three nights for each of these chieftains, one after the other, watching over the king; and thus they are wont to spend their space of time. For the royal dignity this was done by him, and not for fear (of any one) whatever.

[77] Five doors there are, side by side, in the palace the midmost door with beautiful emblematic arches on it, for no one passes in save the king and his army keeping the doors at his side.

[78] Cublay would sit on his throne, with his back to the north and his face to the south, and his eldest son on his right hand, and his kings and his chieftains one after the other on that side according to their right, and the queen of his choice on his left hand, and the other queens after her, and the wives of the kings and the chieftains fittingly arranged after the kings. The (great) king is (seated) above the hosts beholding them, and so that the crown of each of his people is on a level with his sole.

[79] Amidst the palace was a golden tun, at whose sides are four golden tuns of smaller size, and wine drawn into them from the former. Queens and barons are serving those banqueters  p.375 with a variety of every viand on earth. Then another set of his chieftains go with great tuns and pitchers of red gold. 'Tis an effort of two warriors to carry them. Those pitchers they range on the backs and corners of the banqueting-hall, and out of those great pitchers they fill, athwart the hall, every one's goblet or golden cup, so that he becomes intoxicated and merry. Every tune and melody is played to them, so that the whole court becomes a sound of music. Another set perform tricks and jugglery for them. Now there is no king nor chieftain among them that does not kneel on the floor while Cublay is at his portion.

[80] For three months they are wont to be in this wise, namely December. January and February. No kings or hosts on earth are like them.

Of the Green Mount (Bk. TI. c. 10)

[81] There is a lofty hill outside that city, with tall trees around it that never shed their leaves, and herbs in like wise that change not their colour, so that it is a mental glory to every one to behold it. The Green Mount it is called.

Of Cublay's sons (Bk. II, cc. 9, 17)

[82] Now Cublay had seven and forty sons. Upon that mount there was builded a royal palace for the most distinguished of those sons. Chem-chini (Chimkin) was his name. He was an excellent warrior. The fortress was given him in token of heirship, and he put his writings and his family treasures into that fortress to preserve them. It was his wont, after leaving the city of Cambalu, to proceed to that fortress and tarry there to his mind's desire. Now he had a law binding all the Tartars, for thirty miles on every side of that fortress, to hunt swine and deer and every merciless wild beast besides, and to bring them undestroyed to that fortress. In the skins of those beasts the king used to keep the weapons and dress of bis household and his soldiers.

[83] Chem-chini died, and he left a son named Temin (Temur). To him Cublay gave the fortress, for the sovranty of the Tartars was taken in succession to the other.


Of Cublays Birthday Feast (Bk. IT, c. 14)

[84] Now a festival is kept by Cublay on the day of his birth. Thirteen venerable feasts he would give to the Tartars in the year. Twelve thousand of his kings and chieftains would be at that banquet, with a beautiful golden robe around each of them. After that host-house had been arranged by them, they would drop their knees on the ground, and each of them would entreat the god which he worshipped that Cublay might get prosperity in his kingship. On the twenty-eighth day of the month of December (leg. September) the feasting is held. On every one severally the king would bestow enormous gifts of gold and unknown treasures. They would sit down again in their drinking-places. Dukes and earls would come to attend them in the backs and sides of that banqueting-hall. The king would be above them on his throne, looking at the hosts, until, after (hearing) melodies and (seeing) feats in plenty, they went apart to their cells and chambers.

Of the Feast held on New Year's day (Bk. II, c. 15)

[85] Another feast was held by Cublay on the first day of the year. The first day of February is what they call New Year's day. No one of their kings or chieftains abstains on that day from going into Cublay's presence, each of them wearing a white dress, for thus they deem the year will be lucky for them, from (one) year to another. On that day they liked not to handle or see aught in the world save something shining. The (whole) kingdom of the Tartars, boys and wives, was in that wise. After those nobles had entered the host-house, Cublay ascends the throne above them, with his face towards the solar light in the south and his back to the north, the kings on his right hand, and the queens on his left. A warrior rises in the midst of the company and exclaims: “Arise ye, and worship the king as a god!” All cast their knees and their heads against tile ground. Then they go before the king, and each king and each chieftain gives him a race-horse, so that their gifts amount to five thousand horses, all of them white.

[86] In the midst of that palace is a venerable altar, upon which is a crimson tablet with the name of the king graven  p.379 thereon in letters of gold. There is incense over golden censers which the king's and chieftains are shaking on the backs and sides of the house. Each of those nobles gives a kiss, with exceeding great reverence, to the name of the king. Then each man returns to his drinking-place.

[87] On that day neither goblet, nor cup, nor drinkinghorn, nor pitcher is produced to serve them, which is not completely white. Wherefore they call it the White Feast, and 'tis white clothing that every one wears on that day.

[88] Lions are then brought in before the king: they make obeisance to him, just as yon nobles have done.
At that feast they remain a month.

[89] After that they go a-hunting, and Cublay hath as masters of the hounds, two brothers named Baym (Baian) and Nuncam (Mingan). Each of them is chief over ten thousand hound-masters, and each of these masters hath five thousand hounds. As to the hunting-forest which they take, they stretch out all around it, hand to hand, so that they leave no stag or boar without being started and killed. The king, too, with the nobles of his kings and his chiefs (is) on a lofty hill watching them in that wise. And besides the pack of hounds, he has lions from which no quarry nor other wild beast on earth would escape; for 'tis on them he has reared them. Bristly hair they have upon them, like nails or teeth on their backs.

[90] Another kind of hunting—for birds and birdflocks—is carried on by Cublay with many kinds of every hawk in the world. For he had eight and forty taloned gerfalcons trained to hunt the animals of the air; and of his household there is a chief with ten thousand men for hunting and keeping his hawks. Five thousand of them he puts on the hills and the plains of the provinces, afar and anear, so that his hawks, when cast at birds, may not go into distant countries. On the foot of each of these hawks is a little golden bell, with the king's name graven thereon, so that every one recognises it, and if it go into faroff countries may bring it back again.

[91] As to the king, thus he is at that hunting: his chamber, with splendour of gold thereon and waggon-wheels thereunder, borne on elephants, and lions' skins outside it, shielding him from  p.381 cold and storm. In that house he carries a flight of his gerfalcons; his kings and his chiefs and his armies in their rows and in pairs outside thereof. When they see the birdflocks in the air, they lift the skins from the chamber, and the king makes a cast of the gerfalcons at them. and he himself remains seated, watching those feats and diversions; so that both he and his kings have their hearts' delight in looking at both sets of birds.

[92] In Casi Mordin, then, those hunts are held. A passing wide plain it is, and for a twenty days' journey from the sides thereof the Tartars do not venture to kill wild beasts or birds. On that plain habitations are erected by Cublay, for sake of hunting: ten hundred pavilions is their number. A thousand warriors would eat in the king's pavilion. The splendour of gold is upon it. The skins of lions, white and black and red in their spots, are on it to protect it from snow and storm. Tent ropes of silk outside them. The ladies' pavilions, what covers them is all silk. The tents of the kings and the soldiery are arranged in rows and in streets at their sides in the same way as in the city of Cambalu.

[93] For the month of March they (tarry) thus. (Then) they proceed to the city of Cambalu.

Of the twelve chieftains (Bk. II, c. ) 14

[94] Twelve chieftains hath Cublay, and 'tis they that control what is said to him and by him. Four and thirty provinces they have to administer on every side of that city, and by his authority the inhabitants are set free or enslaved by those chieftains.

Of the Money made of Bark (Bk. II, c. 24)

[95] Three forests grow about that city, and 'tis of their skins that the king makes money for the trade and traffic of the province. And not for want of gold or wealth is that done by him: for he hath more gold and wealth than (all) the kings in the world.

[96] When a regulation or law has to be promulgated, those twelve chieftains bring it to him, and he gives them writings to be sent throughout the country in order to publish those regulations. Messengers are sped with those writings, (mounted) on swift horses. For the king has more than five thousand horses stationed at the cities afar and anear, prepared  p.383 for the messengers, and they do not loose the horse from its course till it is exhausted. They leave that horse, and get another in the city ahead, and gallop upon it with speed and haste. Such is their speed that the riders are tied to their gilded saddles for fear that they would not stick to them. So that from morning to evening Magnus Cam's messengers travel to ten thousand cities with the news of his laws and his regulations.

Of the river Fuli saingium (Bk. II, c. 35)

[97] Once when Marco Junior was in the presence of Magnus Cam, he said: “O Marco, go with my stewards athwart the provinces, and bring information of every part in which they will be.” So he proceeds on their way till they met a very large river on the road, with a bridge of marble over it, three hundred cubits in length, ten cubits in width, with thirty pillars supporting it, and a variety of every ornament upon them. Arches bowed and covered (extend) from (each) one of these pillars to another.
Images of lions and of every merciless beast on its two sides. Twelve thousand lions carven in marble upon it. Fuli saingium  15 is the name of that river.

[98] Thereafter they proceed to Caycai: a noble city it is, which was built by king Darius for Prester John, the king of India, when he was cast into slavery by Darius. Prester John one day complained to his troops of the captivity in which he was held by Darius. There were then seven of his household listening to him. “If a guerdon were given to us”, say they, “we would bring that Darius unto thee in captivity.” He promised that. They proceed to the place where Darius was dwelling, and they continue in his household for a year. One day Darius went to hunt, and those warriors overtook him when he had but few of his servants along with him. They carry him off to Prester John as they had promised. He remained a year in captivity, when Prester John allowed him to return home, declaring that each should be at peace and friendly with the other; and they abode thus as long as they were alive.

Of the City of Fundifa (Bk. II, c. 44)

[99] Then they (Marco and the stewards) go to the city of Fundifa (Sindafu) which is twenty miles in compass. After the  p.385 death of the king who ruled it, his three sons divided the city among them into three. They draw through it plastered walls, marking out their divisions. Magnus Cam put them under his dominion.

[100] Through the midst of it runs the river Quianfa (Kiansuy), whose length is eighty days' journey. There is a bridge at that city: of marble it is, both arches and supports: five hundred cubits in length, ten cubits in breadth. Over it is a roofing of noble timbers with chambers and cells under them. wherein folk trade and traffic.

Concerning Thibet (Bk. 11, c. 45)

[101] The province of Thibet, there is a long desert country in the midst thereof. 'Tis a journey of twenty days in length. Proper provisions men take with them, on oxen and asses, to traverse it. The wood upon that road is bulrushes, fifteen cubits is the length of each reed, and three palms in breadth, when travellers halt at nightfall on the road they kindle fires of the withered wood of those reeds. The venomous wild beasts, on seeing the fires, run swiftly to destroy them (the travellers). But this is the help that the fire-lighters get, a noise breaks out of the withered wood so that the wild beasts flee from that loud report, without doing them scathe.

[102] After leaving that wilderness they find a province with seven kings under one chief (?). Though they have many husbands, no husband sleeps with a maiden, and their maidens are deflowered thus: when any party of outlanders proceeds on its way for trade or warfare the girls' mothers and (other) kinsfolk come along with them to the place where the travellers are halting, and make the young women over to them. The girls sleep with those companions so long as they remain in those countrysides, but do not go with them any further. On the breast of each of these young women is a silver tablet, with the name of every one with whom she sleeps graven upon it; for in that country the more men girls sleep with the more easily do they get husbands. For folk think that the strangers have chosen them for their charms.

[103] Coral is their money for trade and traffic. They make a shapely carving (?) on it. They have abundance of wild  p.387 boars and deer, and plenty of hounds for hunting. Each of these hounds is as big as an ass. And of the skins of their wild beasts they make admirable garments, with buckram on the outside.

Of the Province of Cariaiam (Bk. II, c. 48)

[104] On its flank is the province of Cariaiam (Carajan), and it includes seven kingdoms. A son of Cublay's named Cusentemus reigns over it. No vine raises its head through the soil throughout it, so that they make their intoxicating feasts with wine of rice and herbs.

[105] There is a lake in that same province, a hundred miles in compass: it hath abundance of pearls and precious stones. If Cublay would allow them to be collected, such is their abundance that they would have no value. In the cliffs and edges of that lake is uncountable gold, whereof they make masses and ingots of gold, and these they do not divide into smaller portions, but sell them by weight.

[106] In that realm no one finds fault it his wife sleep with another man. And when guests or outlanders come to their house or fort, if they love him they will kill him, for they suppose that his soul will not pass over the door of the fort, but stay along with them. And Magnus Cam prohibited that custom.

[107] As to the province of Cariaiam, again, a son of Magnus Cam's named Iaci is king over it. There are plenty of huge snakes throughout it. Ten cubits is the length of each, and ten feet its length. It swallows a man whole, or a lion or any other untame beast. By day they stay in tunnels of earth, and every night they go throughout the country devouring its herds and its cattle. And thus the men of the country destroy those snakes. They go before the tunnel of earth behind the snakes, and set in it iron stakes. When the serpents turn back to that tunnel the stakes meet them, and penetrate their bodies, and leave them lifeless. The men cook it (the snake) and broil it. Its gall cureth every poison on earth. They give its flesh to the kings and nobles of the country, and get endless honour therefor. Moreover it helpeth women hard in labour.

[108] In that kingdom no flesh is boiled; but they eat it raw with salt.


Of the Province of Aroandum (Bk. II, c. 50)

[109] Now the province of Aroandum (Zar-dandan) belongs to the realm of Magnus Cam. Throughout it, when a damsel has been delivered of a child, the husband lies down for the space of forty days and nights. His friends and kinsfolk come to visit him. and the damsel is waiting upon them.

[110] Each man's ancestor is the god which he worships. They have neither leech nor physician. When illness or disease attacks any one of them they enquire of their wizards whether there is any help for him. The wizards go to summon their devilish deities to meet them, in order to obtain an omen of that disease. When he is like to die, they say there is no help for him. But if there is help for him, they tell him that the anger of the gods is against him, and they say that he must make offerings to them. Then they (the wizards) bring a vessel of the sick man's blood, and rams that have black heads, and they fling the blood high into the air along with the best of the offering. The gods come to converse with them. They offer them the sick man here and there.

Of the War between Miena and Aroandum (Bk. II, c. 51)

[111] There is another country on the frontier of that country. Its name is Miena, and it had no king. A quarrel grew up between that country and the province of Aroandum. Magnus Cam despatched a chieftain of his household with a vast army to support the province, for Miena was not obedient to him. Niscardin was the chieftain's name. His army numbered twelve thousand horsemen besides infantry. When Bagul, the king of Miena, was told that the Tartar army was marching towards him, he sent messengers to bring his kings and chieftains and soldiers to him, for he feared that the Tartars would invade his country. This was the complement that answered him: sixty thousand warriors, two thousand elephants with bartizans of boards upon them, wherein were warriors for fighting above the hosts. That army marched to Vocia (Vochan), the capital city of Miena, and they pitch their camp beside it.

[112] Now Niscardin, when he was told of the size of the army that was marching to meet him, drew up his troops on the  p.391 edge of an impregnable wood beside the city, (for) they liked not that that huge host should attack them on the rear. He summoned his chieftains and champions. “Fear not yon vast armies”, saith he, “for your fighting-men are manlier than theirs, and ye have been reared to deeds of valour.”

[113] On either side the hosts break forth against each other, like billows against a beach. Howbeit, the Tartars, on seeing the elephants, could not get their horses to charge them. For owing to their dread of the elephants the horses turned back to the wood aforesaid, neither rider nor bridle having control over them. Bagul with his forces followed them up. The Tartars halt at the wood, tie their horses to the trees, and face Bagul and his forces.

[114] Bravely was that battle fought by them on this side hither and thither, so that “sole was struck against neck and neck against sole.” The Tartars wound the elephants with their arrows, for there was not on earth an army that was better than they at archery. The elephants become mad and furious, and escaping from the control of the warriors upon them, rush through the forest; and the war-castles, with the armed men therein, are overthrown by the oaks and trees of the wood: so that in this wise Miena's hosts were destroyed.

[115] The Tartars, however, could not stop the elephants until they had set their prisoners free as the price of taming the beasts. The prisoners (then) catch two hundred elephants for the Tartars. Niscardin takes them to Magnus Cam. For till then riding on elephants had not been known to his armies.

Of the great descent towards the kingdom of Miena (Bk. II, c. 53)

[116] In that province is a great plain a two days' journey in length and in breadth. 'Tis a desert with peaks and very lofty mountains around it. They are as high as the roof of heaven. 'Tis on their summits the people of the province dwell. They have gold in abundance. On certain days they descend into that plain to barter their gold for every thing they need. On those days many countries come, from far and near, to meet them on the plain and to buy the gold, when the people of  p.393 the province depart, they allow no one on earth (to accompany them so as) to see their abodes; wherefore no one knows anything about their manners or their customs. Such is the elevation of the place in which they reside that their stoutest folk are two days and nights coming from above to yonder plain.

Of the two Towers (Bk. II, c. 54)

[117] On its frontier is the province of Cangigu. This was subject to an excellent king, who deemed it dishonourable that Magnus Cam should reign over him. So Magnus Cam despatched an army to seize him by dint of battle. Sickness attacked the king of Cangigu, so that his last day arrived. He gave orders that he should be honourably buried and that a tower, ten cubits high, should be erected on each side of his tomb. On one of the towers is a dome, with a plating of gold two inches in thickness, and there are golden bells over it so that the wind makes them tinkle. There are silver bells on the other tower.

[118] Now the Tartars set to burning and raiding the country till they came to Cangigu's tomb, when they saw the gold and the uncountable treasures on the towers, they send messengers to Magnus Cam for instructions as to what they should do with them; for they would fain divide the treasures among themselves. “Nay”, quoth Magnus Cam. “when any king's honour abides on his tomb, I do not wish that it should be abated.” So at the word of Magnus Cam, the armies leave the tomb intact, and accordingly, in the countries of the Tartars, the honour of a tomb is not abated, whether it be a friend's or a foe's.

Of the Province of Cangigu (Bk. II, c. 56)

[119] Afterwards, then, that king (i.e. the king of Cangigu for the time being) submits to Cublay. Three hundred queens hath the king that rules. Much gold they have. No vine grows through ground therein. They eat flesh and rice. They make an admirable balsam of lions and dragons and wild animals. They put variety of every colours upon it (a tattooing needle?). They make its marks upon them, men, boys, women, so that they never get rid of them, and there is variety of every colour upon their limbs, and the forms of the wild animals are pricked upon  p.395 them; and the more this (ornament) is on any person, the more he is honoured by his countrymen.

[120] When any one dies in that kingdom 16 they make ashes of his body, and put them in a covered chest on the peaks of mountains or in the breasts of cliffs, so that neither human beings nor birds ever see him.

Of the Province of Singuy (Bk. II, c. 59)

[121] The province of Singuy then. They (the inhabitants) manufacture excellent garments of the barks and skins of their trees. There are many lions throughout it, so that no one can travel over it alone. It is on the edge of the sea. The fear of the lions forbids a vessel or barque to remain a night at the bank of the harbour, or to fasten an anchor to the shore. Neither troop nor band of them (the inhabitants) sleeps on the roads. In that country hounds keep off the lion, wherefore no warrior moves on foot or on horseback without having two hounds and a quiver from which the arrows are poured on the lion while the dogs are fighting him: so thus it is that the Warriors of the country destroy them.

Of the River Coramora (Bk. II, c. 64)

[122] The Province of Cayguy. The river Coramora is flowing (?) throughout it: 'tis in India it rises at first. Vast its length, ten hundred cubits in breadth. At anchor rides the king's fleet wherein he proceeds to sea. Fifteen thousand vessels is its number: twenty fighting men in each, to tend them: fifteen horses in each vessel, and all provided by Magnus Cam with food and drink and clothing or equipments. For he likes not to be unready with an army and a fleet to proceed to the sea-islands and capture them by dint of battle.

Of the Province of Mangna (Bk. II, c. 65)

[123] There is another province on its frontier, with a king over it. He also is independent of Magnus. This is the province of Mangna (Monzi). Stactur is the name of its sovran lord. In all the world there is no king better than he, save Cublay. For he had no fear of king on earth, because of the multitude of his warriors and the strength of his fortresses and his cities: for each of these fortresses was surrounded by a moat full of water, an arrow-flight in breadth.


[124] He was compassionate to every one, and throughout his realm no one ventured on robbery or outrage. No house of theirs was ever closed, though it were full of treasures and jewels. He used to send messengers throughout his realm to repair it for the people, to bring to his fortress any poor person among them, to fetch him every fatherless or motherless infant to be tended, and, when they grew up, to endow and wed the boys and girls to each other. So that there were more than ten thousand of them continually being fed and clothed by Stactur.

[125] He had a capital city called Quinglay. It was the strongest city in the world. Prophets once foretold of it that it would never be overcome by the world's men till the arrival of someone who bore the name “Hundred eyes” before he should come to destroy it. So his mind rejected (the notion that) any king on earth would prevail over it, for he was sure that there never had been, and never would be, born any one with a hundred eyes.

[126] Stactur, however, made the many lands, afar and anear, afraid of encountering him, so neither battle nor combat was offered to him, and fear of him prevented his law from being perverted, for he did no wrong to anyone on earth. So they abode in that prosperity, and neither king nor chief took thought of anything save feasting and feats and melodies, till their valour melted away, and not a warrior or soldier had a weapon or a battle-dress.

[127] Now Magnus Cam was grieved at heart that any king on his frontier should be independent of him. So his kings and his chiefs and his champions of battle and bravery were summoned to him, and he said: “This is my desire, that you should proceed with innumerable armies to the province of Manguay, to conquer it by dint of battle, for it is dishonourable to me that Stactur should be on my frontier without giving me hostages.”

[128] One of his household, an excellent leader, was listening to him. and he was Cublay's general in chief. His name was Baiam. This in the tongue of the Tartars is the same as cét súil “a hundred eyes” in the Scotic language. “If I obtain the command of armies”, saith Bayam, “I will march into Manguay  p.399 and bring thee their hostages.” So Cublay sends an army with Bayam into Manguay. They fell to destroying the country and breaching its fortresses and cities, till they had captured twelve cities of their indestructible strongholds.

[129] Stactur, then, he himself and his kings and his chiefs were filled with fear of that army; for his champions were (too) aged for battle, and in the pleasantness of peace they had not sent their young men to war. So this is the counsel they believed in, to sail away to the sea-islands which they possessed, for they were not fit for fighting. So the king, leaving a guard over his fortresses, fared forth to those islands with the crews of a thousand vessels.

[130] The Tartar armies begin the siege of Maunglay, and stretch their tents along its sides, and this was Stactur's royal city. The hosts began to destroy it. When the garrison of the city was told that Baiam was the leader of the destroyers and that his name meant “Hundred eyes”, they understood the wizards' former prophecy, and surrendered the city.

Of the capture of Siangfu (Bk. II, c. 70)

[131] The Tartar host proceed to Siangfu, a strong city of Stactur's, situate by the sea. And it could be attacked only on one little corner, for he had sent from the islands a fleet to succour it. Howbeit those armies suffered a slaughter of fighting-men hither and thither, in storming the city; and for the space of three years during which they were besieging that city, the Tartars failed to overcome it.

[132] They send messengers to Magnus Cam to tell him that Quinglay was escaping them, Marco and his comrades were along with Magnus Cam. listening to the messengers. To Magnus those tidings were displeasing. The two Marcos and Nicolas ask him for mangonels; and from the wood in front of them they build three mangonels by which huge stones could be hurled, for whilom they had been skilled in destroying cities.

[133] Magnus Cam sent the messengers back again to Quinglay with the mangonels. On reaching Baiam's army, they cast out of them on the city abundance of stones and huge rocks, so that its battlements and houses were shattered. Fear at those unknown signs seized the folk of the city, so they surrendered it. Then  p.401 (the other) cities of Manguay submit to Magnus Cam. But Stactur remained on the sea-islands, without submitting to Magnus Cam; for he deemed it dishonourable to yield to (any) king on earth.

Of the river Quian (Bk. II, c. 71)

[134] There is a river, named Quian, along the province of Manguay: a hundred days' journey in length, ten miles in width: two hundred cities on its two sides. It has more shipping than (all) the rivers of the world.

Of the City of Sintuy (Bk. II, c. 75)

[135] In that province is another city, called Sintuy (Suju). 'Tis sixty miles in girth, and in it are seven thousand bridges under which a sailing ship can pass. The folk deem that there is no city in the world that has more fighting men.
Now the city of Singuy (Suju) is the same as the “city of the earth.”

Of the City of Quinlay (Bk. II, cc. 76, 77)

[136] There is another city, five days' journey on that side. Five miles it is in girth. Its name is Quinlay (Kinsay) which in their language is the same as “the Heavenly City”: for in the world there is no greater city. Twelve thousand bridges it hath, under which huge ships pass without lowering a sail, and there is a strong tower on each of these bridges, and four of Magnus' soldiers on guard at each bridge, for fear of the city revolting. For it had once been the capital of the kingdom of Manguay.

[137] In the lake amidst that city they built a royal palace. In the world there is neither its like nor its equal. For it hath twenty host-houses in each of which ten thousand could dine, and in the midst of each banqueting-hall an ever-living fire, and all around it a thousand radiant rooms for sleeping in and waiting, with the splendour of gold upon them, and the form of every wild animal on earth graven upon them with manifold variety of every hue.

[138] When Magnus Cam conquered that city and the province of Manguay, nine kings of the Tartars were appointed over them; and he distributed among them the twelve thousand cities which were situate in that realm. And none of these cities was without a garrison of Magnus Cam's soldiers, guarding it lest it should revolt against him.


[139] Amidst that city is a lake, thirty miles in compass. Two islands are on it, and in the midst of each a royal fortress. They do not belong to any one (in especial), and whatever is best of the food and drink and treasures of the city folks put into the centre of the fortresses. And he who desires to hold a feast goes to partake of it therein, and he shall find it. And no one of the city owns any fort or castle throughout it, but each has an equal right thereto. And this is what causes the multitude of those bridges: the city is built on rivers and waters, and save by them (the bridges) there is no passage (from one part) to another.
Forty thousand households: forty times (that number) is the population of that city.

[140] As soon a child is born therein, his name is written down, as well as the form in which the moon and the stars of heaven are at his birth. And when any of them departs (this life) his name is erased and it is written down again, with the names of his horses and his treasures and his comrades. And both (these documents) are burnt along with his body, and they suppose that all (the persons and things) that have been written down for him will be along with him in the other world.

[141] There are many venerable churches in that city. But only one of them is for the worship of God.

[142] Howbeit, if Cublay had no realm save that of the nine kings who were appointed over Stactur's kingdom it would surpass the heritage of the king of the world.

Of the Province of Stucguy (Bk. II, c. 80)

[143] After leaving Quinglay there is another province on the frontier of Stactur's. This is the province of Stucguy (Fuju). Numerous forts and cities it hath, and excellent fighting-men. They eat the flesh of their warriors and their soldiers, and in battles they drink their blood and choose it in preference to any thirst-quenching draught on earth. But they do not eat (a man's flesh) if he have died of disease.
This is of the province Manguay.

Here endeth the second book.


Begin the chapters of the third book.

[144] Here is the beginning of the marvels and description of India, by Marcus on his voyage in the first place.


Of Merchant ships on the Indian seas (Bk. III, c. 1)

[145] They set a fence of planks over their barques to protect them from the sea-waves. They put no pitch thereon, but oil and chalk with hemp chopped small and mixed with them, and with this (mixture) they pay their ships. It sticks to them always, and protects their weak vessels when at sea. Every ship has four sails. Every year for the space of seven years they put one plank over another, until there are seven planks, back to back, on each of the (first) planks; and (hen they use her no longer for voyaging: on the high seas.

Of the Island of Sipangu (Bk. III, cc. 2, 3, 4)

[146] Now Sipangu is an island in the high seas, and it hath a king over it who is subject to no king on earth. The people have abundance of gold, which their king forbids them to send into other countries by trade or traffic. In the depth of the sea is that island, so that there are few ships or barques to which it is known.

[147] They have a capital city. In the midst thereof the king has built a noble palace with a royal hall and radiant chambers. Both of them he covered with plates of purified gold. There was no skylight along it that was not closed with gold, and that was to its floor.

[148] One day Magnus Cam sent an army to conquer that island. It was commanded by two generals named Abatam and Uosachim. The fleet (in which they embarked) put out to sea and landed in Sipangu. They leave their ships and began to invade the country, so that they took the strong city that lay in island. They overcome it by dint of swords and shields, and inflicted slaughter on the folk of the city, men, boys and women, save only eight, out of whom they, with their spear-points or sword-edges, were unable to get a drop of blood. For they (the eight) had demonic charms cunningly put on them by magic and devilry by means of stones inside their skins, so that the wounds closed behind them, wherefore they could not be slain. When the Tartars learned this, they beat them with cudgels and rocks of the earth, so that their bones and bodies were shattered, and they left them lifeless.


[149] As to the generals, a bitter (?) quarrel grew up between them concerning the jewels and treasures of the city and the rest of the country, so that neither would obey the other's orders. And the armies hated each other more than the people of the country. So they turned back again to the fleet. After they had embarked, an exceeding great storm scattered them. There was an island on their lee. The tempest drove the best part of the ships against the sides and shores of the island: plank was not left on plank; and (many of) their fighting-men and soldiers were overwhelmed. The other part of the fleet sailed straight back to the countries of the Tartars. After losing all hope of life, thirty thousand of the troops in the (shipwrecked part of) the fleet got to shore in the island on planks and benches of their vessels. No one could count the number of them that were drowned. The Tartars then remained on their island without food or drink.

[150] Now the king of Sipangu, when he was told of that misfortune to the fleet of the Tartars, brings his armies to him. They proceed in their ships, and land on the island wherein the Tartars were staying. They go on shore to destroy them. The Tartars. however, took another road behind them, reached their ships (which were left unguarded), and landed in the island of Sipangu. They march before the royal city. The citizens open the gates wide, for they knew not that the armies they saw were not the armies of their own country. So the Tartars seize the city; but the armies in the island get away on board some of the ships (which had not been carried off), and take the road on the track of the Tartars.

[151] When they saw that the city was captured, the islanders summon their soldiers and their champions afar and anear, and beleaguer the city. They fall to combats and destroying each other, till they had a slaughter of soldiers hither and thither. Seven months they were at that attack; for the Tartars hoped that Magnus Cam would succour them. Then the Tartars surrender the city, and they were delivered to Cublay. They separated, one from the other, in peace and good will.

[152] Sipangu, now, is an extensive realm. The fairest of  p.409 fighting-men for their armies and for their young women. They believe in idols and images, and their forms are carven by them with three heads or with four faces on one head, or with ten hands on one body, or even with a hundred hands, they are of opinion that the more shapes their gods have, the greater are their powers. When a captive is taken from a foreign country into that island, if a ransom be sent after him he gets his freedom. If he remain unloosed they kill him and boil him, and eat him with great honour.

[153] Folk that have travelled through the Indian sea have formerly put a number on its islands. (They said) that seven thousand and forty-seven islands are found therein, of which few are uninhabited and many are extensive kingdoms.

Of the country culled Chamba (Bk. 11, c. 5)

[154] Ciamba, now, is a sea-island subject to a king. 'Tis white pepper that grows in that kingdom.

[155] There are in the year but two winds that blow on those islands, half the year, without changing, back from it (i. e. Ciambu), and the other half, without changing, towards it.

[156] Magnus Cam once sent a chieftain of his household with enormous armies into Ciamba to conquer it by might of battle. Such was its strength and the valour of its fighting-men that they could not destroy a single fort or city. Then the host fell to cutting down their crops and their vines. Then Acupius, the king of the island, sent envoys to yield tribute to Magnus, and the king was then aged, for such was the number of wives he had formerly that his children were three hundred and thirty, whereof thrice fifty were soldiers valiant in battle. Howbeit, he makes submission to Magnus Cam; and agrees to pay him twenty elephants every year for ever. And they, the king and the army, part from each other in peace and good will.

Of the great island of Java (Bk. III, c. 6

[157] Java is a great island on the border of that kingdom, and its king is not under the sway of any king on earth. Three thousand miles is the compass of that kingdom. It is full of every good thing in the world.


Of the isles of Gendur, Gondur and Leoach (Bk. III, c. 7)

[158] Gendur and Gondur are on the border of that kingdom. Two sea-islands are they, possessing abundance of every treasure. The island of Leoach (Locac) is outside them. It is an extensive kingdom. and its king is servant to no king on earth. Manly and numerous are its fighting-men. A luminance of gold and elephants throughout it.

Of the Isle of Pentam (Bk. III, c. 8)

[159] The Isle of Pentam (Bintang), then, this is a country abounding in fruitful woods, with a shallow sea around it, (only) four feet in depth. For a hundred miles on each side of it no ship is fit to sail or steer on that sea.

Of the Island of Little Java and the Kingdoms of Ferlech and Basman (Bk. III, c. 9)

[160] Now as to the Island of Little Java (Sumatra), 'tis a spacious country, subject to seven kings. “I myself,” says Marco, “have been in six of these kingdoms.” Two thousand miles is the girth of that island.

[161] The kingdom of Fer-lech, then, is the first of these kingdoms in which I dwelt. They (the townsfolk) worship Mahomet: and the first animal that anyone (of the hill-people) shall see at daybreak is the god whom he worships till sunrise on the morrow. They eat the flesh of dogs and human beings and every winged thing in the world.

[162] Basman, then, is the second of these kingdoms. 'Tis a mountainous country, and the people have no law at all save to spend their lives like any wild animal, or beasts. And they say that they honour Magnus Cam; but they give him no tribute or due. There is abundance of unicorns throughout that kingdom. It hath the hair of a buffalo, the head of a pig, and the legs of an elephant, a huge horn at the division of the two eyes, and a tongue with plenty of prickles thereon. This last is its weapon of destruction. There is abundance of every kind of ape in that country. Folks hunt a species of small apes which have the shape of human beings, and they take them for sale in many countries: and tis this they say,  p.413 that these apes are young men, and the kings of the many countries prize their flesh for eating.

Of the Kingdoms of Samara and Dragoiam (Bk. III. c. 10)

[163] Samaria (Samara) is the third of these kingdoms. Neither vine nor wheat grows through mould in it, wherefore the people eat flesh and rice-bread. There is a wood in that country, and men girdle its trees so that juice drops from them like watery pipes. Red and white are the colours of that juice. It is collected in covered pots by the folk of the country, so that they have enough of the drink which they get in this wise; and it is better than wine.

[164] The fourth of these kingdoms is Dragoiam. If disease attack anyone, they inquire of their sorcerers whether there is any help for him. The sorcerers go to get an omen from the gods. If they say that there is no help for him, his kinsmen and his friends come together to him, and they say to him: “Is it not better for thee to be eaten by us while thy form and thy flesh abide upon thee than to be eaten by the worms after thou hast been corrupted by the disease from which thou art suffering”. (Then) he is killed by them, and they partake of his flesh with much reverence.

Of the Kingdoms of Lambri and Fansur (Bk. III, c. 11)

[165] Lambri is the fifth of these kingdoms. There is a wood named Birsi (brazil) in this country. The people of the country take its trees (leg. shoots) out of the ground and transplant them, and they are three years growing above the ground without being cared for (?). Then they come with excellent fruits upon them.
There is a part of the people of that province on peaks of mountains and in hollows of cliffs, and on their old men tails grow as on dogs.

[166] Fansur is the sixth of these kingdoms. Therein no corn whatever nor vine grows through ground, wherefore they live on rice. As we said before, the juice dropping from the trees is their beverage. There is in this country a tree of vast thickness. The folk of that country take from the inside of the  p.415 bark of those trees as much meal and excellent flour as suffices them for food.

Of the Island of Necuran (Bk. III, c. 12)

[167] After leaving that country thou wilt find a sea-island named Necuran (Nicobar). The people worship Mahomet. Not a man or woman of them has any clothing whatever; but they go stark naked just as when they are born.

Of the Island Augamam (Bk. III, c. 13)

[168] At the side of that island thou wouldst find the island of Augamam (Andaman).

Of the Island Seylam (Bk. III, c. 14)

[169] This (Seylam = Ceylon) is a spacious kingdom: the folk worship Mahomet. It was once 3100 miles in compass, till an inroad of the sea caused by wind consumed it, so that today its girth is only 2000 miles. The folk of that country consider that there is no better island on earth. Only a few of its people wear clothing. The force of the wind lifts many of them into the sea, so that they are drowned. Their king obeys no king on earth. The folk of that country do not go to battle; but if they have a quarrel they bring outlanders to help them, and give them pay out of their treasures. There are plenty of precious stones in it. The king has the finest stone in the world: 'tis red, as thick as a man's arm, and a span in length. 'Tis as clear as embers without a spark. Magnus Cam sent envoys to ask the king for this precious stone. The king replied that the stone was an ancestral treasure of the kingfolk of Seylam, and that he himself was not empowered to give it up.

Of Mulahar (Bk. III. cc. 16, 17)

[170] Towards the coast of that island is India. The nearest part of it is the province of Maabar (Malabar). This is ruled by five kings. The name of the king of the first of these kingdoms is Buaar scuderba. 17 The folk spend their lives completely and always naked. There is abundance of precious stones in that country: and that king is wont to wear always an hundred and four jewels on his neck, and more thereof on his hands and feet. Every day he offers one hundred and four  p.417 prayers to the gods, and the same number every night, that he may have their help. Five (hundred) choice wives he hath.

[171] Now Uar is the second of these kingdoms. An ox is the god of their adoration. They do not kill the ox, and they eat not his flesh if he be killed. They make an excellent balsam of his flesh and his tallow, and this they rub on the corners and angles of the mansion, in order that the mansion may be hallowed by having the tallow of the sacred ox rubbed upon it.

[172] If a king of theirs, or a chief, comes to die. they kill his comrades and all the officers he had, so that they may attend him in the other world; and they also kill his wife, to put her with him, for fear of her having another husband; and they burn both their bodies.

Of the body of Saint Thomas (Bk. III, c. 18)

[173] 'Tis in that country the apostle Thomas was martyred, after going to preach God's word unto them: and if any of the descendants of his executioners remain, he cannot go in over the threshold of the church in which Thomas' body was buried. And the place in which they killed him is today red with his blood, just as it was on the first day. The mould makes a panacea for every one who partakes of little or much of it in a potion. There are a few Christians about the village that contains Thomas' body. Many miracles of the True God are shewn there.

[174] In Uar, too, no one looks on any of the sins with women as sin.

[175] The people of that country lie on the ground, and 'tis this that they say: “Of the earth we are, and to the earth we shall go.” They never partake of wine, and they utter (?) no curse or abuse of any one that drinks it. They wash themselves every day. No one has any weapons save a spear and shield. They never steal anything. No one is ever killed by them as a feat of arms. No horse of their studs ever grows up so that in every year they purchase ten thousand horses. (There are) five kings of Malabar. Boiled flesh and eggs and rice their horses eat. Every year almost all their horses die of the uncouth food. And owing to the excessive heat of the sun, the people of the country wend their ways stark-naked: tor no one can travel that country save during three months in the year, namely June, July, August, that is, the two last months of summer and the  p.419 first month of autumn. Death would carry them off with the sun's rays if they were not holpen by these months. 18 Black hawks they have: the best of hawks are they. Bats they have as big as ravens.

[176] Now the kingdom of the pagans is the fifth kingdom of the province of Malabar. An ox is the god of their adoration, and they say this, that the shape of the Devil is white, wherefore they paint the images of their gods black. And they put black ointments and oils on themselves, so that they may be of the same colour as their gods. And if one of them be white at his birth they stay not till he become dark.

[177] If they go into a battle or conflict they take with them hair of the ox which they worship as God, and they have no treasures that they more regard.

Of the Kingdom of Mutfili (Bk. III, c. 19)

[178] The realm of Mutfili, then, is at the frontier of the kingdom of the Pagans, and it submits to no king on earth. There are neither streams nor rivers throughout that country—they have only bright wells pouring out of the depth of the earth. In these when they ebb at sunrise, men find abundance of precious stones. There are mountains and lofty peaks in that country, with white eagles upon them, and plenty of venomous serpents; and the huge eagles eat the serpents and of these precious stones are formed in the birds, so that the like of those stones is not found save there: their names are adamant, which is the same as diamond. Those eagles dwell in huge trees, and such is their valour that the people of the country are afraid to go near them. So they put pieces of flesh into the indestructible glen which is below them. The eagles on seeing the flesh swoop down from above. Then the people of the country go after them, and find the precious stones in their droppings, after having (thus) got the eagles away from them. And the best of these stones belong to the neighbouring kings, and the rest of them is taken for sale athwart the world.

Of the Kingdom of Lar and the Brahmans (Bk. III, c. 20)

[179] The kingdom of Lar, now, the folk never tell a lie. Ahraiamini (Brahmans) is the appellation (of those) that dwell  p.421 therein. They never partake of wine or flesh; and no human being or other animal is ever killed by them. Each of them hath (but) one wedded wife. They eat no tree or green leaf, supposing that a soul exists therein. They are always stark-naked, and the god whom they worship is an ox. After the death of this ox they make ashes of his bones, and form it on them. 19 Abstinent and fasting for the gods are they. The form of an ox is painted on the forehead of each of them, and the leaves of the Tree of Paradise are the dishes whereon they eat.

Of the Kingdoms of Cailum and Cumor (Bk. III, cc. 22, 23)

[180] The country of Coylus, then, this is an extensive kingdom. It serves no king on earth; and no one there sleeps with a companion, unless they are both in the third degree of kinship, or the woman is a surviving wife of the man's father or brother. There are plenty of black lions in that country. Polus arcticus (the North star) is seen therein risen a cubit above the sea.

[181] The kingdom of Cumor (Kumári). and the kingdom of Melibor, and the kingdom of Gusurach (Guzerat), and the kingdom of Coria (Thána) and the kingdom of Combaech (Cambaet) and the kingdom of Semanach (Semenat) and the kingdom of Osmacoram (Kesmacoran), they belong to the Greater India, and many kingdoms besides them; and the tongue would be weary in giving a description of them.

[182] They that know the sea formerly reckoned 12700 islands in that Indian sea, besides the islands of Lesser India; and we will here mention a few of them.

Of the Island of the Women and the Island of the Men (Bk. III, c. 31)

[183] There are two islands in the depth of that sea. and the people worship Jesus. The “Island of the Women” and the “Island of the Men” are the names they bear. The women never stir out of their own island; but in every month, for three days and nights, the men go to them as their yokefellows, each man abiding with his wife in her own house during that space of time. Then the men return to their houses till the following month; and 'tis thus that they spend their life. When the  p.423 women bear children, if girls, they rear them up to sewing and handiwork, but if boys, they send them to their fathers, to be brought up to manly deeds.

[184] The men are keen hunters of the beasts of sea and land. Both men and women consume milk and flesh and every kind of fruit of sea and land. A bishop is chief over them.

Of the Island of Scoria (Bk. III, c. 32)

[185] Now that bishop has an island called Scoria (Socotra), five hundred miles from them (the Island of the Women and the Island of the Men), and he has many men who are believers and others who are idolaters. They never wear raiment or clothing. By their heathenism the Jews turn ships under sail against the wind, and (then) seize them and divide (their cargoes) among them.

Of the Island of Madeigascar (Bk. III, c. 33)

[186] After leaving Scoria a journey of ten hundred miles thou wilt find a huge island, the greatest of the islands of earth, two thousand miles in compass. Madeigascar is its name. It hath many races of men. They worship Mahomet. They eat the flesh of camels. 'Tis hard to reckon all the camels they have. White are these camels, and there is not on earth a breed to which they can be compared for size. They have vast woods: which are red, both leaves and bark. Many flocks they have of many kinds of birds, both common and rare. They have also enormous winged things, named Rukh, biggest of the birds of earth. 20 In their talons they take up the elephants into the firmament, and drop them again, so that they make fragments of their limbs, and then they eat them.

Of the Island of Zanzibar (Bk. III, c. 35)

[187] After this thou wilt find another island: vast is its size, two thousand miles in compass. Its name is Samsibár (Zanzibar). Many gigantic races inhabit it. Huge noses in the fronts of their foreheads, (and) their eyes askew. They have black hair and broad lips. As broad as any four of the human kind are their men and their women, but they are not taller than others. More valiant than (any) four is (each of them) for  p.425 strength and fighting. They have no horses, but they fight on elephants and camels. They have neither raiment nor clothes. Flesh and milk and rice they consume. Their beverages are made of sugar and rice and many herbs also, for they have no vines. And they give their elephants and their camels draughts of these beverages to increase their spirit and their fury for the battling.

[188] Having gone over a few of them, there is now nothing more but to rest from tales of the islands and countries of India, for we should never succeed in giving an account of them (all). But these are the limits of the two Indias as regards many lands: the Greater India, from the province of Malabar to Rosmocorum (Kesmacoran), and the Lesser India, from Caiamba to Mechile.

Of the province of Abash (Bk. III. c. 35)

[189] Abash (Abyssinia), then, is a vast kingdom ruled by seven kings, of whom four are worshipping the true God, and there is a cross of gold on the forehead of each of them, and they are manly in battles, for they have been trained to war by contending with the heathens. The three other kings are given over to unbelief and idolatry.

[190] And the kingdom of Aden, the soldan is king over them.

[191] And once upon a time the king of Abash conceived this project: to proceed to the place where Jesus was buried. “By no means”, said his nobles and his soldiers to him, “for we should be afraid that the heathens would kill thee on the road, for 'tis through them thou wouldst fare. Thou hast a holy bishop”, say they, “and send him, with plenty of gold, to Jesu's sepulchre” …

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Title statement

Title (uniform): The Gaelic abridgment of the Book of Ser Marco Polo

Title (extended): Book of Lismore, fo. 79a1–89b2

Editor: Whitley Stokes

Responsibility statement

translated by: Whitley Stokes

Electronic edition compiled by: Beatrix Färber

proof-read by: Beatrix Färber and Alan Mac an Bhaird

Funded by: the School of History, University College, Cork

Edition statement

1. First draft, revised and corrected.

Extent: 20038 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland—http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2011

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: T305002

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Notes statement

Manuscripts containing Marco Polo's writings are extant in a number of languages across Europe: See Arlima project website (http://www.arlima.net/mp/marco_polo.html) for further details.

Source description

Manuscript source of Irish text

  • Derbyshire, Chatsworth House, Book of Lismore, fo. 79a1–89b2. Fifteenth to sixteenth century; 200 folios; c. 37 by 255 mm; scribes Aonghus Ó Callanáin and at least two other anonymous scribes; origin probably the Franciscan Friary of Timoleague, Co Cork. The MS is acephalous (missing 42 folios) and is lacunose. A patron's book, written for Fínghin Mac Carthaigh Riabach (died 1505) and his wife Caitlín (died 1505), daughter of Thomas, Earl of Desmond. The codex was at Timoleague in June 1629 when it was used by Míchél Ó Cléirigh. It may have passed into the possession of the Earl of Cork in 1642 and then disappears from view. Discovered in Lismore Castle in 1814 in the course of building works, it was transferred from Lismore to Chatsworth in 1930. Facsimile edition by R. A. S. Macalister (ed.), The Book of Mac Carthaigh Riabhach otherwise the Book of Lismore, Facsimiles in Collotype of Irish Manuscripts, 5 (Dublin 1950). (This information was kindly provided by Donnchadh Ó Corráin.)


  1. J. B. G. Roux de Rochelle, Voyages de Marco Polo [original French text and Latin translation] (Paris: La Société de Géographie 1824).
  2. Colonel Henry Yule, The book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian: concerning the kingdoms and marvels of the East; newly translated and edited with notes, maps, and other illustrations. 2 vols. (London: John Murray 1875).
  3. N. M. Penzer, The most noble and famous travels of Marco Polo, together with the travels of Nicolò de' Conti, edited from the Elizabethan translation of John Frampton; with introduction, notes and appendixes. (London: The Argonaut Press 1929).
  4. Marco Polo, Von Venedig nach China. Die größte Reise des 13. Jahrhunderts, neu herausgegeben und kommentiert von Theodor A. Kunst. (Stuttgart, Wien & Bern, Edition Erdmann in K. Tienemanns Verlag 1983).


  1. R. E. O. John, 'Colonel Yule's Marco Polo', Ocean Highways (December 1872) 285–286.
  2. Karl von Schumann, Marco Polo, ein Weltreisender des XIII. Jahrhunderts. (Berlin: Habel 1885).
  3. Henri Cordier, Centenaire de Marco Polo: conférence faite à la Société d'études italiennes le mercredi 18 décembre 1895 à la Sorbonne, suivie d'une bibliographie, (Paris: Leroux, Bibliothèque de voyages anciens 3, 1896).
  4. Johannes Witte, Das Buch des Marco Polo als Quelle für die Religionsgeschichte. (Berlin: Hutten 1916).
  5. Henri Cordier, Ser Marco Polo: Notes and Addenda to Sir Henry Yule's Edition, Containing the Results of Recent Research and Discovery. (London: Murray 1920).
  6. R. Almagià, La figura e l'opera di Marco Polo secondo recenti studi. (Rome: Istituto italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente 1938).
  7. Richard Hennig, Terrae Incognitae. Eine Zusammenstellung und kritische Bewertung der wichtigsten vorkolumbianischen Entdeckungsreisen an Hand der darüber vorliegenden Originalberichte. 4 vols. (Leiden 1939).
  8. Leo Olschki, Marco Polo's Precursors. (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press 1943).
  9. Iwamura Shinobu, Manuscripts and Printed Editions of Marco Polo's Travels. (Tokyo: National Diet Library 1949).
  10. Luigi Foscolo Benedetto, 'L'art de Marco Polo', Mélanges de philologie romane et de littérature médiévale offerts à Ernest Hoepffner. (Paris: Belles Lettres; Strasbourg: Publications de la Faculté des lettres de l'Université de Strasbourg, 1949) 313–326.
  11. Maurice Collis, Marco Polo. (London: Faber and Faber [1950]).
  12. Bernard Lewis, 'The sources for the history of the Syrian assassins', Speculum 27:4 (1952) 475–489.
  13. Rodolfo Gallo, Marco Polo, la sua famiglia et il suo libro. (Venezia: Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 1954).
  14. Ronald Latham (ed.), The travels of Marco Polo, translated and introduced by Ronald Latham. (London: Folio Society 1958).
  15. Paul Pelliot, Notes on Marco Polo. 3 vols. (Paris, Maisonneuve et Imprimerie Nationale, 1959, 1963, 1973).
  16. Richard Humble, Marco Polo. Introduction by Elizabeth Longford. (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1975).
  17. Pierre-Yves Badel, 'Lire la merveille selon Marco Polo', Revue des sciences humaines 55:183 (1981) 7–16.
  18. Hiroshi Watanabe, Marco Polo Bibliography, 1477–1983. (Tokyo: Toyo Bunko 1986).
  19. Francis Dubost, Aspects fantastiques de la littérature narrative médiévale, XIIe–XIIIe siècles: l'autre, l'ailleurs, l'autrefois. 2 vols. (Paris: Champion, Nouvelle bibliothèque du Moyen Âge 15, 1991).
  20. John Critchley, Marco Polo's Book. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Variorum, 1992).
  21. Michel Mollat, Les explorateurs du XIIIe au XVIe siècles. Premiers regards sur des mondes nouveaux. (Paris, Comité des travaux historiques et scientifiques, 1992).
  22. Folker E. Reichert, Begegnungen mit China. Die Entdeckung Ostasiens im Mittelalter. (Sigmaringen: Jan Thorbecke 1992) (Beiträge zur Geschichte und Quellenkunde des Mittelalters 15).
  23. Juan Gil, En demanda del Gran Kan. Viajes a Mongolia en el siglo XIII. (Madrid: Alianza 1993).
  24. Martin Gosman, 'Marco Polo's Voyages: the conflicts between confirmation and observation', Travel Fact and Travel Fiction: Studies on Fiction, Literary Tradition, Scholarly Discovery, and Observations in Travels Writing, ed. Z. von Martels (Leiden: Brill 1994) 72–84.
  25. Laura Minervini, 'Leggende dei cristiani orientali nelle letterature romanze del medioevo', Romance Philology 49:1 (1995) 1–12.
  26. Frances Wood, Did Marco Polo go to China? (London: Secker and Warburg 1995).
  27. Consuelo Dutschke, 'The truth in the book: the Marco Polo texts in Royal 19.D.I and Bodley 264', Scriptorium 52 (1998) 278–300.
  28. Marina Münkler, Marco Polo. Leben und Legende. (München: C. H. Beck 1998).
  29. John Larner, Marco Polo and the Discovery of the World, (New Haven & London: Yale University Press, 1999).
  30. Frances Wood, The Silk Road: two thousand years in the heart of Asia (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002).
  31. Laurence Bergreen, Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu (New York: Alfred A. Knopf 2007).
  32. Nick McCarty, Marco Polo: The boy who traveled the Medieval World (National Geographic Society, 2008).
  33. See also the Arlima webpages: http://www.arlima.net/mp/marco_polo.html.

The edition used in the digital edition

‘The Gaelic abridgment of the Book of Ser Marco Polo’. In: Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie‍ 1. Ed. by Whitley Stokes, pp. 244–273, 362–438.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  editor 	 = {Whitley Stokes},
  title 	 = {The Gaelic abridgment of the Book of Ser Marco Polo},
  journal 	 = {Zeitschrift für Celtische Philologie},
  volume 	 = {1},
  date 	 = {1896/97},
  address 	 = {Halle/Saale},
  publisher 	 = {Max Niemeyer},
  pages 	 = {244–273; 362–438}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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Correction: The text has been proofread three times. Text supplied by the editor is tagged sup resp="WS". One correction by an anonymous editor of the hardcopy (marked "anon-ed") is integrated.

Normalization: The electronic text represents the editor's introduction and the edited text, on odd pages 245–425. The glossary on pp. 426–438 is omitted. Editorial notes may take the form of variant readings, editorial corrections or annotations, and these are integrated into the electronic edition accordingly.The Irish original is available in a separate file, G305002.

Quotation: Direct speech is tagged q.

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Segmentation: div0=the book; div1=the section; page-breaks and paragraphs are marked. Manuscript foliation is marked mls unit="MS folio" n="". Stokes numbered all sections sequentially, through the three books.

Standard values: Dates are standardized in the ISO form yyyy-mm-dd.

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Profile description

Creation: Translation by Whitley Stokes

Date: 1896

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)
  • Some words and phrases are in Latin. (la)
  • Two words are in Irish. (ga)

Keywords: travel; description; prose; Marco Polo; 15c; translation

Revision description

(Most recent first)

  1. 2011-01-18: More proofing; remaining content encoding added; header created with bibliography; conversion script run; SGML and HTML versions created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2010-12-09: File proofed (2). (ed. Alan Mac an Bhaird)
  3. 2010-12: File proofed (1); structural markup added in line with Irish text (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  4. 2010-11-29: Text captured by scanning. (data capture Beatrix Färber)

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G305002: The Gaelic abridgment of the Book of Ser Marco Polo (in Irish)

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  1. Thus for ̇fonses, fcula read Fronses, forcula: for mtansin, mleabhoz read intansin, inleabhor: for cg inteng read cusin tengaid🢀

  2. See Nettlau's lists, Revue Celtique 10, 184, 460, 461. 🢀

  3. Here and elsewhere I refer to the books and chapters of Yule's translation. 🢀

  4. Polo's Layas, now Ayas, anciently Aegas. 🢀

  5. Turcomania. 🢀

  6. Polo's Arziron (now Erzrum) and Arzizi, which Yule does not identify. 🢀

  7. Footnote text not given by Stokes. 🢀

  8. This and the following sentence are from the chapter on Kashmere. 🢀

  9. As, for example, horse stealing. 🢀

  10. Literally, hunting, they consume it. 🢀

  11. Literally, sleep with 🢀

  12. i.e. bamboos 🢀

  13. This and the two preceding sentences seem suggested by the description of Cublay's personal appearance in Polo's Bk. II, c. 8. 🢀

  14. Chapter number missing. 🢀

  15. i.e. Pul-i-sangin, “the Stone Bridge.” 🢀

  16. rectius the Province of Coloman (Bk. II, c. 58). 🢀

  17. Sundara Pandi Devar. 🢀

  18. The rainy season in Malabar, as Marco Polo erroneously asserts. 🢀

  19. i. e. of the ashes they make the figure of an ox and wear it. 🢀

  20. See Richard Dawkins, The Ancestor's Tale, on the legendary Rukh and the extinct elephant bird of Madagascar. (BF) 🢀


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