Rawlinson, H. G. Intercourse between India and the western world from the earliest times to the fall of Rome

(Cambridge :  University Press,  1916.)



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India and the Roman Empire      123

Of the neighbouring island of Ceylon he knows
very little, but like all the writers of his time,
he thinks it a vast island projecting far into the
ocean. Then comes Masalia, the Masulipatam
district, with a great trade in muslins, and Dosarene,
the Darsana or holy land of Orissa, with its
trade in ivory. After this, our writer becomes
very vague. Further on lies the Ganges, with
a port at its mouth (probably Tamralipti) whence
come the Benares muslins, Chinese silk, and
malobathrum. A most interesting description of
the Mongolian hillmen who collect the malobathrum
on the Chinese border concludes the Periplus.
"Every year, on the borders of This (China),
assembles a tribe of men with stunted bodies and
broad, flat faces. They are timid and peaceful, and
almost wild. They are called Besatae {vishdda,
dullness, stupidity ^). They come with their families
bearing baskets of what appear to be thin grape-
leaves. They meet in a place halfway between
their own land and China, and hold a fair, spreading
out the baskets and using them as mats. After
this they return to their own land. Then the
natives who are on the watch take these mats
and pick out the leaves, which they call ' petri'
{paira, leaves). They then press them into layers
and fasten them with fibres taken from the mats.
These they make into balls of three sizes whence
come the three grades of malobathrum to be had

1 So   Lassen,   Ind. Alt.  ill.  8,  but  Lassen's  imaginary
adjective vaishada, dull, does not exist.    See p. 147.
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