Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 1)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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2IO                           ALBERUNPS INDIA.

lead on the right path him who has gone astray and
give him meat and drink. At all events, thus the
matter stands according to popular belief. If there is
Page 103. any truth in this, the effect must be produced by the
melody, the like of which we have already mentioned
in connection with the hunting of gazelles (v, p. 195).
Islands in         The eastcm islands in this ocean, which are nearer to

and Chinese China than to India, are the islands of the Zdhaj, called
^'^^^'           by the Hindus  Suvarna-dvipa, i.e. the  gold  islands.

The western islands in this ocean are those of the Zanj
(Negroes), and those in the middle are the islands
Bamm and the Diva islands (Malediva, Laccadiva), to
which belong also the Kumair islands. It is peculiar
to the Diva islands that they rise slowly; flrst, there
appears a sandy tract above the surface of the ocean ; it
rises more and more and extends in all directions, till
at last it becomes a flrm soil, whilst at the same time
another island falls into decay and melts away, finally
is submerged and disappears in the ocean. As soon as
the inhabitants become aware of this process, they search
for a new island of increasing fertility, transport there
their cocoa-nut palms, date palms, cereals, and house¬
hold goods, and emigrate to it. These islands are,
according to their products, divided into two classes, the
Diva-kudha, i.e. the Diva of the kauri-shells, because
there they gather kauri-shells from the branches of the
cocoa-nut palms which they plant in the sea, and Diva-
kanbdr, i.e. the Diva of the cords twisted from cocoa-
nut fibres, and used for fastening together the planks of
the ships.

The island of Alwdkivdk belongs to the Kumair
islands. Kumair is not, as common people believe, the
name of a tree which produces screaming human heads
instead of fruits, but the name of a people the colour of
whom is whitish. They are of short stature and of a
build like that of the Turks. They practise the religion
of the Hindus, and have the custom of piercing their
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