PRAISE be ascribed to God the lord of worlds; and the blessing of God be upon our Lord Mohammed, and upon all his posterity and companions. But to proceed: The poor, and needy of the forgiveness of his bountiful Lord, Mohammed Ibn Fat'h Allah El Bailuni states, that the following is what he extracted from the epitome of the Katib Mohammed Ibn Jazzi El Kelbi (upon whom be the mercy of God), from the travels of the theologian Abu Abd Allah Mohammed Ibn Abd Allah El Lawati of Tangiers known by the surname of Ibn Batuta; and, that he did not extract any thing except what was strange and unknown, or, known by report, but not believed on account of its rarity, and the frequent carelessness of historians in delivering down what has been reported, but what he himself considered as true, in consequence of the fidelity of the Traveller, and because he had written what he believed to be credible from histories of various nations and countries; and, because that which has been reported by faithful witnesses generally receives credit and excites inquiry. Some of his statements, indeed, are opposed to the statements of others; as, for instance, his accounts of what he saw of the aromatic roots of Hindustan, which differ from those given by the physicians: and yet his accounts are probably the true ones.

        The Sheikh Ibn Batuta, the author of these travels, left his native city, Tangiers, for the purpose of performing the pilgrimage in the 725th year of the Hejira (A.D. 1324-25). I shall mention here only the names of some of the districts through which he passed, although this may contribute but little towards impressing the reader with the greatness of his courage, his religious confidence, or his indefatigable perseverance, in overcoming the difficulties of passing deserts and of crossing mountains....


        One of the greatest saints in Alexandria, at this time, was the learned and pious Imam, Borhan Oddin El Aaraj, a man who had the power of working miracles. I one day went in to him, when he said, I perceive that you are fond of travelling into various countries. I said yes; although I had at that time no intention of travelling into very distant parts. He replied, you must visit my brother Farid Oddin in India, and my brother Rokn Oddin Ibn Zakarya in Sindia, and also my brother Borhan Oddin in China: and, when you see them, present my compliments to them. I was astonished at what he said, and determined with myself to visit those countries: nor did I give up my purpose till I had met all the three mentioned by him, and presented his compliments to them.....


        In the afternoon, after the reading of the Koran, the religious [men] attached to the cell got a great quantity of wood, to which they set fire: they then walked on it, some eating it, others rolling in it, and others trampling upon it, till they had entirely extinguished it. Such is the sect called El Rephaia, and this the custom by which they are particularized. Some of them too will take great serpents in their teeth and bite the head off. It happened that, when I was in a certain part of India, there came to me a company of the religious [men] of the Hydaria sect, having in their hands and about their necks iron chains. Their leader was a black of a filthy colour. They requested me to solicit the governor of the place to bring them some wood to which they may set fire, and then wing and walk into it. I did so, and he brought them ten bundles; they then set fire to it, and commencing their song, went into it: nor did they cease dancing and rolling about in it until they had extinguished it. The leader then asked me for a shirt. I gave him a very fine one, which he put on, and then proceeded to roll about in the fire, and to strike it with his sleeves, until he had put it out. He then brought me the shirt, upon which the fire had not made the least impression. At this I very much wondered....


        In liberality Abu Is'hak [the Sultan of Shiraz] imitated the king of India: for, on one occasion, he gave to a person, who had come before him, the sum of seventy thousand dinars. No one, however, can be compared to the king of India: for he will give sums equal to this many times in the same day, particularly to those who came from the parts of Khorasan. He once said to one of his courtiers, Go into the treasury and bring as much gold as you can carry at once. The courtier filled thirteen purses with gold; and, tying them on his shoulders, attempted to go out, but fell through the weight of the purses. The king then commanded him to take and weigh it, which he did, and found it to be thirteen maunds of Dehli, the maund of Dehli being equal to five and twenty ratls of Egypt. On another occasion, he placed one of his Emirs, namely, Sharf Ul Mulk Emir Bakht of Khorasan, in a pair of scales, putting gold in the opposite part, till the gold preponderated. He then gave him the gold and said, give alms out of this for your own salvation. He also appointed to the theologian and collector of traditions, Abd El Aziz El Ardabili, for his daily expenses, the sum of one hundred dinars of silver: five and twenty of which are equal to the golden dinar. Upon one occasion the above-mentioned Sheikh [Majd Oddin of Shiraz] entered into the presence of the king, who rose; and, having kissed his feet, poured upon his head with his own hand a vessel full of gold, and said, both the gold and the vessel, which is gold, are thine.

        The most famous meshhed [religious shrine] of Shiraz Is that of Ahmed Ibn Musa, the brother of El Riza, which is indeed held in the highest estimation. In this is the tomb of the Imam El Kotb El Wali Abu Abd Allah Ibn Khafif, who is the great exemplar of all the region of Fars. This Abu Abd Allah is the person, who made known the way from India to the mountains of Serendib, and who wandered about the mountains in the island of Ceylon.

        Of his miracles, his entering Ceylon, and wandering over its mountains in company with about thirty fakeers is one: for when these persons were all suffering from extreme hunger, and had consulted the Sheikh on the necessity of slaughtering and eating an elephant, he positively refused and forbade the act. They, nevertheless, impelled as they were by hunger, transgressed his commands, and killed a small elephant, which they ate. The Sheikh, however, refused to partake. When they had all gone to sleep, the elephants came in a body, and smelling one of them, put him to death. They then came to the Sheikh, and smelled him, but did him no injury. One of them, however, wrapt his trunk about him, and lifting him on his back, carried him off to some houses. When the people saw him, they were much astonished. The elephant then put him down and walked off.

        The infidels were much delighted with the Sheikh, treated him very kindly, and took him to their king. The king gave credit to his story, and treated him with the greatest kindness and respect. When I entered Ceylon I found them still infidels, although they had given great credit to the Sheikh. They also very much honour the Mohammedan Fakeers, taking them to their houses and feeding them, contrary to the practice of the infidels of India; for they neither eat with a Mohammedan, nor suffer him to come near them....


        At the distance of half a day from this place [Zafar] is the city of El Ahkaf ["Sand-hills"], the residence of the people of Aad [a tribe mentioned in the Qur'an]. In this city there are many gardens, in which there is the large and sweet fruit of the banana, the seed of one of which will weigh ten ounces. There is also the betel-tree, and that of the cocoa-nut, which are generally found nowhere else except in India, and to those of India may these be compared. I shall now describe both.

        With respect to the betel-leaf, its tree is supported just as that of unripe grapes generally is; they prop it up with reeds. It is planted near the cocoa-nut, and is sometimes supported by it. The betel-tree produces no fruit, but is reared merely for its leaf, which is like the leaf of the thorn, and the smallest are the best. These leaves are plucked daily. The people of India esteem it very highly, for whenever any one of them receives a visit from another, the present made is five of these leaves, which is thought to be very splendid, particularly if the donor happens to be one of the nobles. This gift is esteemed among them as being much more valuable than that of gold or silver. Its use is as follows: A grain of fawfel (which is in some respects like a nut-meg) is first taken and broken into small pieces: it is then put into the mouth and chewed. A leaf of the betel is then taken, and when sprinkled with a little quicklime is put into the mouth and chewed with the fawfel. Its properties are to sweeten the breath, help the digestion, and to obviate the danger to drinking water on an empty stomach: it also elevates the spirits and stimulates to venery.

        As to the cocoa-nut,  it is the same with the Indian nut. The tree is very rare and valuable. It is something like the palm. The nut is like a man's head; for it has something like two eyes and a mouth; and within, when green, is like the brains. Upon it too is a fibre like hair. From this they make cords with which they sew their vessels together, instead of using nails. They also make great ropes for their anchors out of it.

        The properties of this nut are, to nourish and quickly to fatten the body, --to make the face red, and greatly to stimulate to venery. Milk, oil olive, and honey, are also made out of it. They make the honey thus: having cut off the tendril on which the fruit would be formed, leaving it, however, about the length of two fingers, they then suspend a larger or smaller pot to it, and into this a kind of water drops, which they collect morning and evening. They then expose it to the fire, just as they do dried grapes, and it becomes stiff, and exceedingly sweet, honey: out of this they make sweetmeats. As to the making of milk, they open a side of the nut, take out the whole of the inside with a knife, and put it on a plate. This they macerate well in water. It then becomes milk, both as to taste and colour: and is eaten as such. The oil-olive is thus made: When the nut is ripe and has fallen from the tree, they peel off the bark and cut it into pieces; it is then placed in the sun, and when it is withered they head it in a pot, and having extracted its oil, eat it with their breakfast and other meals....

*on to chapter 2*

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