Volume 1, Chapter 12 -- Travels of Oderic of Portenau, into China and the East, in 1318.
*Section 1* -- The Commencement of the Travels of Oderic
**Section 2* -- Of the Manners of the Chaldeans, and concerning India
*Section 3* -- Of the Martyrdom of the Friars
*Section 4* -- Of the Miracles performed by the four Martyrs
**Section 5* -- Of the places where Pepper grows, and in what Manner it is procured
*Section 6* -- Of a Strange Idol, and of certain Customs and Ceremonies
*Section 7* -- Of certain Trees which produce Meal, Honey, Wine, and Poison
*Section 8* -- Of vast multitudes of Fish, which throw themselves on the dry Land
*Section 9* -- Of the Island of Ceylon, and of the Mountain where Adam mourned the Death of Abel.
*Section 10* -- Of Upper India, and the Province of Mancy
*Section 11* -- Of the City of Fuko, or Foquien
*Section 12* -- Of a Monastery, having many different kinds of Animals, on a certain Hill
*Section 13* -- Of the city of Cambalu
*Section 14* -- Of the Magnificence of the Great Khan
*Section 15* -- Of the Inns established over the whole Empire, for the use of Travellers
*Section 16* -- Of the four Solemn Feasts held yearly by the Great Khan
*Section 17* -- Of various Provinces and Cities of the East
*Section 18* -- Of a certain Rich Man, who was Fed by fifty Virgins
*Section 19* -- Of the Old Man of the Mountain
*Section 20* -- Of several wonderful things in those parts
*Section 21* -- Of the Honour and Reverence shewn to the Great Khan
*Section 22* -- Conclusion of the Travels, and Account of the Death of Friar Oderic



Oderic of Portenau, a minorite friar, travelled into the eastern countries in the year 1318, accompanied by several other monks, and penetrated as far as China. After his return, he dictated, in 1330, the account of what he had seen during his journey to friar William de Solona, or Solangna, at Padua, but without order or arrangement, just as it occurred to his memory. This traveller has been named by different editors, Oderic, Oderisius, and Oldericus de Foro Julii, de Udina, Utinensis, or de Porto Vahonis, or rather Nahonis. Porto-Nahonis, or Portenau, is the Mutatio ad nonum, a station or stage which is mentioned in the Itinerarium Hierosolymitanum, or description of the various routes to Jerusalem, a work compiled for the use of pilgrims; and its name is apparently derived from the Kymerian language, apparently a Celtic dialect, in which port signifies a stage, station, or resting-place, and nav or naou signifies nine; Port-nav, Latinized into Portus naonis, and Frenchified into Portenau, implies, therefore, the ninth station, and is at present named Pordanone in the Friul. The account of his travels, together with his life, are to be found: in Bolandi ActisSanctorum, 14to Januarii; in which he is honoured with the title of Saint. Oderic died at Udina in 1331. In 1737, Basilio Asquini, an Italian Barnabite of Udina, published La Vita e Viaggi del Beato Qderico da Udihe, probably an Italian translation from the Latin of Bolandi. The account of these travels in the collection of Hakluyt, is called "The Journal of Friar Odericus, concerning the strange things which he sawe among the Tartars of the East;" and was probably transcribed and translated from Bolandi, in which these travels are entitled De mirabilibus Mundi, or the Wonders of the World. They have very much the air of an ignorant compilation, fabricated in the name of Oderic, perhaps upon some slight foundation, and stuffed with ill-assorted stories and descriptions from Marco Polo, and other, writers, interspersed with a few ridiculous miracles, for the honour or disgrace of the minorite order. Mr Pinkerton asserts that Oderic was not canonized until 1753. But the Acts of the Saints is a publication of considerable antiquity, and he is called Beatus in the work of Asquini, already mentioned as having been published in 1787.

[1] Hakluyt, II. 142, for the Latin; II. 158, for the old English translation.--Forst. Voy. and Disc. 147.



Volume 1, Chapter 12, Section 1 -- The Commencement of the Travels of Oderic.

Many things are related by various authors, concerning the customs, fashions, and conditions of this world: Yet, as I, friar Oderic of Portenau in the Friul, have travelled among the remote nations of the unbelievers, where I saw and heard many great and wonderful things, I have thought fit to relate all these things truly. Having crossed over the great sea[1] from Pera, close by Constantinople, I came to Trebizond, in the country called Pontus by the ancients. This land is commodiously situated as a medium of intercourse for the Persians and Medes, and other nations beyond the Great Sea, with Constantinople, and the countries of the west. In this island I beheld a strange spectacle with great delight; a man, who led about with him more than 4000 partridges. This person walked on the ground, while his partridges flew about him in the air, and they followed him wherever he went; and they were so tame, that when he lay down to rest, they all came flocking about him, like so many chickens. From a certain castle called Zauena, three days journey from Trebizond, he led his partridges in this manner to the palace of the emperor in that city. And when the servants of the emperor had taken such a number of the partridges as they thought proper, he led back the rest in the same manner, to the place from whence he came.

From this city of Trebizond, where the body of St Athanasius is preserved over one of the gates, I journeyed into the Greater Armenia, to a city named Azaron, which was rich and flourishing in former times, but the Tartars have nearly laid it entirely waste; yet it still has abundance of bread and flesh, and victuals of all sorts, excepting wine and fruits. This city is remarkably cold, and is said to be situated on a higher elevation that any other city of the world. It has abundance of excellent water, which seems to originate from the great river Euphrates,[2] which is only at the distance of a days journey. Azaron stands in the direct road between Trebizond and Tauris. In journeying farther on, I came to a mountain named Sobissacalo; and we passed by the very mountain of Ararat, on which the ark of Noah is said to have rested. I was very desirous to have gone to the top of that mountain, but the company with which I travelled would not wait for me; and the people of the country allege that no one was ever able to ascend to its top, because, say they, it is contrary to the will of God. Continuing our journey, we came to Tauris,[3] a great and royal city anciently called Susa, which is reckoned the chief city in the world for trade and merchandize; for every article whatever, both of merchandize and provision, is to be had there, in the greatest abundance, Tauris is most conveniently situated, and to it may all the nations of the earth, almost, resort for trade. The Christians in those parts report, that the emperor of Persia derives more tribute from this city alone than the king of France receives from the whole of his dominions. Near this city there is a hill of salt, from whence every one may take as much as he pleases, without paying any thing whatever to any person. Many Christians from all parts of the world are to be found in this place, over whom the Saracens have the supreme authority.

From Tauris I travelled to the city called Soldania,[4] where the Persian emperor resides during the summer; but in winter he changes his residence to another city upon the sea of Baku.[5] Soldania is a large city, but very cold, from its situation in the mountains, and has considerable trade, and abundance of good water. From thence I set out with a caravan of merchants, for the Upper India, and in our way, after many days journey, we came to Cassan or Casbin,[6] the noble and renowned city of the three wise men, which abounds in bread and wine, and many other good things, but the Tartars have nearly destroyed it. From this city to Jerusalem, to which the three wise men we're led by miracle, the distance is fifty days' journey. For the sake of brevity I omit many wonderful things which I saw in this city. Going from thence, we came to the city of Geste,[7] whence the sea of sand, a most wonderful and dangerous track, is distant only one day's journey. In the city of Yezd there is abundance of all kinds of victuals, especially of figs, grapes, and raisins, which are there more plentiful, in my opinion, than in any other part of the world. It is one of the principal cities in all Persia, and its Saracen inhabitants allege that no Christian can live there above a year. Continuing our journey forwards for many days, I came to a city named Comum,[8] which was a great city in old times, near fifty miles in circumference, and often did much damage to the Romans. In this place there are stately palaces, now destitute of inhabitants, yet it hath abundance of provisions. Travelling from thence through many countries, I came at length into the land of Job, named Us,[9] which borders on the north of Chaldea. This land is full of all kinds of provisions, and manna is here found in great abundance. Four partridges are sold here for less than an Italian groat; and the mountains have excellent pastures for cattle. In this country the men card and spin, and not the women; and the old men are very comely.

[1] Perhaps the sea of Marmora; or it may indicate the Euxine or Black.--E.
[2] The holy traveller ought rather to have said, that the springs or rivulet near Azaron flowed into the Euphrates. Azaron is obviously Erzerum, on or near one of the higher branches of the Frat or Euphrates.--E.
[3] Tebriz in Persia.--E.
[4] Sultania or Sultanie.--E.
[5] The Caspian; so called in this place, from Baku or Baccou, a city on its banks, in the province of Shirvan.--E.
[6] Oderic must have made a mistake here, as Casbin is not above seventy or eighty miles from Sultanie, and the journey of the caravans between these cities, could not have exceeded four or five days.--E.
[7] Yezd, about 500 miles east from Ispahan.--E.
[8] This is obviously the city of Kom or Koom, above 400 miles to the north-west of Yezd, and much nearer Sultanie. Our traveller, therefore, must either have strangely forgotten his route or he came back again from Yezd, instead of journeying forwards.--E.
[9] Khus or Khosistan, the south-western province of Persia.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 12, Section 2 -- Of the Manners of the Chaldeans, and concerning India.

From thence I travelled into Chaldea, which is a great kingdom, having a language peculiar to itself, and I passed beside the Tower of Babel. The men of this country have their hair nicely braided and trimmed, like the women of Italy, wearing turbans richly ornamented with gold and pearls, and are a fine looking people: but the women are ugly and deformed, and are clad in coarse shifts, only reaching to their knees, with long sleeves hanging down to the ground, and breeches or trowsers which likewise reach the ground, but their feet are bare. They wear no head-dresses, and their hair hangs neglected and dishevelled about their ears. There are many other strange things to be seen in this country.

From thence I travelled into the lower India, which was overrun and laid waste by the Tartars.[1] In this country the people subsist chiefly on dates, forty-two pound weight of which may be purchased for less than a Venetian groat. Travelling on for many days, I arrived at Ormus on the main ocean, which is a well fortified city, having great store of merchandize and treasure. The heat of this country is excessive, and constrains the people to make use of extraordinary expedients to preserve their lives.[2] In this place, their ships or barks are called jase, the planks of which are sewed together with hemp. Embarking in one of these vessels, in which I could find no iron whatever, I arrived in twenty-eight days' sail at Thana,[3] in which place four of our friars suffered martyrdom for the Christian faith. This country is well situated for trade, and has abundance of bread and wine, and of all other articles necessary for the food of man. The kingdom in ancient times was very large and populous, and was under the dominion of King Porus, who fought a great battle with Alexander the Macedonian conqueror. The inhabitants are idolaters, worshipping the fire, and likewise paying divine honours to serpents, and even to trees. The Saracens have conquered the whole of this land, and are themselves under subjection to king Daldili.[4] In this country there are great numbers of black lions; apes and monkies are also very numerous, and their bats are as large as our pigeons. They have rats also, as large as the dogs in Italy, which are hunted by means of dogs, as cats are unable to cope with them. In this country every one has a bundle of great boughs of trees, as large as a pillar, standing in a pot of water before the door; and there are many other strange and wonderful novelties, a relation of which would be exceedingly delightful.

[1] By lower India, our author seems here to indicate the southern provinces of Persia.--E.
[2] Tantus est calor, quod virilia hominum exeunt corpus, et descendant usque at mediam tibiarum: ideo faciunt unctionum, et ungunt illa, et in, quibusdam sacculis ponunt circa se cingentes, et aliter morerentur.
[3] This place seems to have been Tatta, in the Delta of the Indus.--E.
[4] This unknown king, rex Daldili, is probably an error in translating from the Venetian or Friul dialect of Oderic into Monkish Latin, and may have been originally Il Re dal Deli, or the King of Delhi.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 12, Section 3 -- Of the Martyrdom of the Friars.[l]

Four of our friars, Tolentinus de Marchia, James of Padua, Demetrius, a lay brother, and Peter de Senis, suffered martyrdom in the city of Thana. These friars had engaged for their passage at Ormus to Polumbrum, but were forcibly carried to Thana, where there are fifteen houses of Christians, schismatics of the Nestorian communion, and on their arrival they were hospitably entertained in one of these houses. A strife happened to take place between the man of that house and his wife, in which the man beat his wife severely. She complained to the kadi, who interrogated her how she could prove her assertion. On which she answered that there were four priests of the Franks who were present, and could attest the bad usage she had received. On this a person of Alexandria, who was present, requested of the kadi that these men might be sent for, since they were learned men, versant in the scriptures, and it would be right to dispute with them concerning the faith. Our friars were accordingly sent for, and, leaving Peter to take charge of their goods, the other three went to the Kadi; who began to dispute with them concerning our faith, saying, "That Christ was a mere man, and not God."

But friar Thomas[2] shewed evidently, both from reason and by examples drawn from Scripture, that Christ was really God and man, and so confounded the Kadi and the other infidels, that they were unable to produce any rational arguments in contradiction to him. On this some one exclaimed, "And what do you say concerning Mahomet?" To this friar Thomas replied; "Since I have proved to you that Christ is really God and man, who hath given the law to mankind, and since Mahomet set himself contrary thereto, and taught an opposite law, if ye are wise, you may well know what ought to be concluded respecting him." But the Kadi and the other Saracens insisted that he should declare his own opinion concerning Mahomet. "You may all see," said he, "what must be my opinion; and as you insist that I should speak out plainly, I must declare that your Mahomet is the son of perdition, and is in hell with his father the devil. And not him only, but all who have held his law, which is entirely abominable and false, contrary to GOD, and adverse to the salvation of souls." On hearing this, the Saracens cried out, "Let him die! let him die! who hath thus blasphemed against the prophet."

Then they seized upon the friars, and exposed them to the burning sun, that they might suffer a severe death by the adust heat of the suns rays: For such is the excessive heat of the sun in that place, that any person who remains exposed to its direct influence, during the time necessary to say the mass, is sure to die. But the friars remained hale and joyful, from the third to the ninth hour of the day, praising and glorifying the Lord. The Saracens, astonished at this, came to the friars, saying, "We intend to make a large fire, and to throw you therein; and if your faith is true, as you say, the fire will not be able to burn you; but if you are burnt, it will plainly appear that your faith is false." To this the friars answered, that they were ready to endure chains and imprisonment, and even the fire, and all other torments for the faith; but should the fire consume them it was not to be inferred that it did so on account of their faith, but as a punishment for their sins: declaring that their faith was most true and perfect, and the only one by which the souls of men could possibly be saved.

While they thus determined upon burning the friars, the report of this affair spread over the whole city, and all the people of both sexes, young and old, flocked to behold the spectacle. The friars were accordingly led to the most public square of the city, where a great fire was lighted up, into which friar Thomas endeavoured to throw himself; but a Saracen held him back, saying: "You shall not do so, old man, as you may have some spell or contrivance about you, for preventing the fire from hurting you, and you must allow another of your people to go into the fire." Then four of the Saracens seized upon friar James, intending to have thrown him into the fire, but he requested permission to walk in of his own accord, to shew his devotion to the faith. This, however, they refused, and threw him in headlong. The fire was so large and fierce that he could not be seen; yet his voice was heard from the midst of the flames, calling upon the name of the Glorious Virgin. When the fire was totally consumed, friar James was seen standing on the embers, unhurt and joyful, with his hands raised to heaven in form of the cross, and himself praising and glorifying GOD, who had thus manifested the greatness of his faith; and nothing whatever about his person, not even his clothes or his hair, was found in the slightest degree injured by the fire. Upon this, all the people began to cry aloud, "They are holy! they are holy! it is sinful to do them any injury, for we see now that their faith is good and holy." To this the Kadi objected, saying that he was not holy, notwithstanding he remained unhurt amid the fire; but that his tunic, being fabricated from the wool of the land of Habraa, had protected him: That he ought therefore to be thrown naked into the fire, and they should then see whether or not he would be consumed.

After this, the wicked Saracens, by direction of the kadi, made a fire twice as large as the former; and, having stripped James quite naked, they washed his body, and anointed him abundantly with oil, besides pouring a great quantity of oil upon the faggots which composed the fire; and when the fire was fully kindled, they threw friar James into the midst. Friars Thomas and Demetrius, retiring from among the people, remained on their knees praying to GOD, with many tears. Friar James, however, came a second time unhurt from the fire, and the people again cried out that it was sinful to injure these holy men. Upon this the Melich, or governor of the city, called friar James to his presence, and causing him to put on his garments, said to the friars, "We see, brothers, that by the Grace of God ye have suffered no harm from us: wherefore we are convinced that ye are holy men, and that your faith is good and true; we advise you to take yourselves away out of this land as quickly as possible, as the Kadi will do his utmost to destroy you, because you have confounded his arguments". At this time, likewise, the people were full of astonishment and admiration of what they had seen, and were so filled with wonder at the miracle, that they knew not what to believe, or how to conduct themselves. The Melich ordered the three friars to be carried across a small arm of the sea, into a village at a moderate distance from the city, where he ordered them to be lodged in the house of an idolater.

Afterwards the Kadi went to the Melich, and represented to him that the law of Mahomet would be overthrown if these people were allowed to live. He observed farther, that, by the precepts of Mahomet in the Alcoran, it was declared, that any one who slew a Christian, acquired as much merit by that action as by the pilgrimage to Mecca. Then said the Melich unto him, "Go thy way, and do what thou wilt." Whereupon the Kadi took four armed men, whom he directed to go and slay the friars. These men crossed over the water while it was night, but were then unable to find the friars. In the meantime, the Melich caused all the Christians in the city to be taken up and thrown into prison. In the middle of the night, the three friars rose up to say matins, and being then discovered by the four armed Saracens, they were dragged out of the village to a place beneath a certain tree, where they thus addressed our friars: "Know ye that we are ordered by the Kadi and the Melich to slay you, which we are very unwilling to do, as you are good and holy men; but we dare not refuse, as we and our wives and children would be put to death."

Then answered the friars, "Do ye even as you have been commanded, that by a temporal death we may gain eternal life; since, for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was crucified and died for us, and in honour of our faith in his holy gospel, we are prepared willingly to suffer every kind of torment, and even death itself." A Christian man, who had joined company with the friars, reasoned much with the four armed Saracens, declaring, if he had a sword, he would either defend these holy men from death, or would die along with them. Then the armed men caused the friars to take off their garments, and friar Thomas, on his knees, and with his arms folded in form of the cross, had his head smitten off. Friar James had his head divided to the eyes by the first blow, and by a second, his head was severed from his body. They wounded friar Demetrius at first in the breast, and then cut off his head. In the moment of the martyrdom of these holy men, the moon shone out with unusual splendour, and the night became so exceedingly light, that all admired greatly: After which, it suddenly became excessively dark, with great thunder and lightning, and violent coruscations, so that all expected to be destroyed; and the ship, which ought to have carried away the friars, was sunk, with all on board, so that no tidings of it were ever heard afterwards.

In the morning, the Kadi sent to take possession of the goods belonging to the friars, and then friar Peter de Senlis, who had been left in charge of the goods, was found, and carried before the Kadi; who, together with the other Saracens, promised him great things, if he would renounce the Christian faith, and conform to the law of Mahomet. But friar Peter scorned all their offers, and derided them: Whereupon they inflicted every species of torment upon him, from morning until mid-day, which he bore with patience and constancy in the faith, continually praising God and holding out the belief in Mahomet to scorn and contempt. The Saracens then hung him up on a tree; and, seeing that he bore this unhurt from the ninth hour till evening, they cut him in two. In the morning after, when they came to look for his body, no part of it was to be found. It was afterwards revealed to a person worthy of credit, that God had hidden his body for a season, until he should be pleased to manifest the bodies of his saints, and should shew the souls of the saints, rejoicing together with GOD and his angels and the saints, in bliss.

On the night following the martyrdom of these holy friars, they appeared to the Melich in a vision, glorious and resplendent like the noon-day sun, each holding a sword on high, in a menacing posture, as if about to stab or cut him in pieces. In horror at the sight, he cried out aloud, to the great terror of his family, to whom he said, that these rabbis of the Franks, whom he had ordered to be slain, had come upon him with swords to slay him. The Melich likewise sent for the Kadi, to whom he communicated his vision, seeking advice and consolation, as he feared to be slain by the martyrs. And the Kadi advised him to give large alms to their brethren, if he would escape from the hands of those whom he had slain. Then the Melich sent for the Christians, whom he had thrown into prison, from whom he begged forgiveness for what he had done, promising henceforwards to be their companion and brother; and he ordained, that if any person in future should injure a Christian, he should suffer death; and sending away the Christians unhurt, each man to his home, the Melich caused four mosques or chapels to be built in honour of the four martyrs, and appointed Saracen priests to officiate in them. When the Emperor Dodsi[3] heard of the slaughter of the four friars, he ordered the Melich to be brought bound before him, and questioned him why he had cruelly ordered these men to be slain. The Melich endeavoured to justify himself, by representing that they had exerted themselves to subvert the laws of Mahomet, against whom they had spoken blasphemously. The emperor thus addressed him; "O! most cruel dog! when you had seen how the Almighty God had twice delivered them from the flames, how dared you thus cruelly to put them to death?" And the emperor ordered the Melich, and all his family, to be cut in two; sentencing him to the same death which he had inflicted on the holy friars. On these things coming to the knowledge of the Kadi, he fled out of the land, and even quitted the dominions of the emperor, and so escaped the punishment he had so justly merited.

[1] The whole of this and the following section is omitted in the old English of Hakluyt, and is here translated from the Latin.--E.
[2] Probably he who is named above Tolentinus.--E.
[3] Probably the same called, at the close of the former sections, Daldili, and there conjecturally explained as the King of Delhi.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 12, Section 4 -- Of the Miracles performed by the four Martyrs.

It is not the custom in that country to commit the bodies of their dead to the grave, but they are exposed in the fields, that they may be consumed by the heat of the sun. But after the bodies of these martyrs had remained fourteen days exposed to the sun, they remained as fresh and uncorrupted as on the day of their martyrdom. On this being seen by the Christians who inhabited the land, they buried the bodies with great reverence. When I, Oderic, heard of the circumstances attending the death of these martyrs, I went to the place and dug up their bodies; and having collected all their bodies into beautiful towallias, I carried them with me into upper India to a certain place, assisted by a companion and a servant. While we were on our way, we rested in the house of a hospitable person, and placing the bones at my head, I went to sleep. And while I was asleep, the house was suddenly set on fire by the Saracens, that I might be burnt therein. My companion and servant made their escape, leaving me and the bones in the burning house. Seeing the fire above and all around me, I took up the bones, and withdrew with them into one of the angles of the house; whence I saw all the other three corners on fire, while I remained safe along with the bones. So long as I remained there with the bones, the fire kept itself above my head, like lucid air; but the moment that I went out with the bones, the whole of that place where I had stood was enveloped in the flames, and many other surrounding buildings were likewise burnt to the ground.

Another miracle happened as I was going by sea with the bones to the city of Polumbrum, where, pepper grows in great abundance, when the wind totally failed us. On this occasion, the idolaters began to pray to their gods for a favourable wind; but which they were unable to attain. Then the Saracens industriously made their invocations and adorations, to as little purpose. After this, I and my companion were ordered to pray to our God, and the commander of the ship said to me in the Armenian language, which the rest of the people on board did not understand, that unless we could procure a favourable wind from our God, he would throw both us and the bones into the sea. Then I and my companion went to our prayers, and we vowed to celebrate many masses in honour of the Holy Virgin, if she would vouchsafe us a wind. But as the time passed on, and no wind came, I gave one of the bones to our servant, whom I ordered to go to the head of the ship, and cast the bone into the sea; which he had no sooner done, than a favourable gale sprung up, which, never again failed us till we had arrived at our destined port in safety, owing entirely to the merit of these holy martyrs.

We then embarked in another ship, on purpose to sail to the higher India; and we arrived at a certain city named Carchan, in which there are two houses of the brethren of our order, and we intended to have deposited these holy relics in that place. There were in that ship above 700 merchants and others; and the idolaters have a custom, that always before they go into port, they search the whole ship carefully for, the bones of dead animals, which they throw into the sea, thinking by that means the more readily to reach the harbour, and to escape the danger of death. But though they searched frequently and carefully, and even often touched the bones, of the martyrs, their, eyes were always deluded, so that they could not perceive them: And thus we brought them reverently to the dwelling of our brethren, where they rest in peace, and where God continually works miracles by their means among the idolaters. When any one labours under heavy sickness, they go to the place where the bodies of the martyrs are deposited, and taking some of the earth, it is mixed among water, which is drank by the diseased persons, who are thus freed from their infirmities.



Volume 1, Chapter 12, Section 5 -- Of the places where Pepper grows, and in what Manner it is procured.

Pepper grows in the kingdom of Minibar (Malabar), where it is more plentiful than in any other part of the world, being found abundantly in that country, in a forest which extends for eighteen days journey in circuit. In the wood, or forest, there are two cities, named Flandrina and Cyncilim.[1] Flandrina is inhabited both by Jews and Christians, who are often engaged in quarrels, and even in war, in which the Christians are always victorious. In this forest which we have mentioned, the plant which produces the pepper is planted near the large trees, as we plant vines in Italy. It grows with numerous leaves, like our pot herbs, and climbs up the trees, producing the pepper in clusters like our grapes. When these are ripe, they are of a green colour, and, being gathered, are laid in the sun to dry, after which they are put into earthen vessels for sale. In this forest there are many rivers, having great numbers of crocodiles and serpents; and the natives make large fires of straw and other dry fuel, at the proper season for gathering the pepper, that they may do so without danger from these noxious animals. At one end of this forest the city of Polumbrum is situated, which abounds in all kinds of merchandize.

The inhabitants of that country worship a living ox as their god, which is made to labour in husbandry for six years, and in his seventh year, he is consecrated as holy, and is no more allowed to work. With this strange animal god, they use the following strange ceremony: Every morning they take two basons of silver or gold, in one of which they collect the urine of the holy ox, and his dung in the other; and the devotees wash their faces, eyes, and all their five senses in the urine; and anoint their eyes, cheeks, and breasts with the dung; after which, they consider themselves sanctified for the whole of that day; and even the king and queen of the country use this absurd superstition. They worship an idol also, which resembles a man from the navel upwards, all below being in the likeness of an ox; and this idol delivers oracles, as they believe, and sometimes requires the sacrifice of forty virgins. On this account, the people consecrate their sons and daughters to the idols, even as we Christians dedicate our sons and daughters to some particular order of religion, or to some of the saints in Heaven. They even sacrifice their sons and daughters, so that many are put to death in honour of this accursed idol; and they commit many other abominable and beastly actions; and I saw many other strange things among them which I refrain from relating.[2]

This nation has another most abominable custom; that when a man dies, his body is burned to ashes, and his living wife is burned along with him, that she may assist her husband in his trade or husbandry in the next world. Yet, if she have children by her husband, she may remain alive with them, if so inclined, without shame or reproach; yet most of them prefer to be burnt with the bodies of their husbands. But husbands are not influenced by any similar law, as when they lose their wives they may marry again. There are some other strange customs among the people of this country; insomuch that the women drink wine, which the men do not; and the women shave their eyebrows, and eyelids, and their beards, besides many other filthy customs, contrary to the true decorum of the sex. From that country I travelled ten days journey to another kingdom called Moabar,[3] in which there are many cities; and in a certain church of that country, the body of St. Thomas the apostle lies buried; which church is full of idols, and round about it there are fifteen houses inhabited by Nestorian priests, who are bad Christians, and false schismatics.

[1] The names of these cities or towns, in the pepper country of Malabar, which is called Minibar in the text, are so thoroughly corrupted, that no conjectural criticism can discover them in our modern maps. Hakluyt on the margin, corrects Flandrina, by an equally unknown Alandrina. They may possibly refer to places now fallen into ruin, in the kingdom or province of Travancore, which has always been a great mart of pepper.--E.
[2] Friar Oderic appears only to have observed the superstitions in the southern part of India very superficially, if at all; and as many opportunities will occur in the course of this collection, for explaining the strange beliefs, customs, and ceremonies of the braminical worship, it has not been thought necessary to discuss these in notes on the present occasion.--E.
[3] Hakluyt has explained Moabar on the margin by Maliassour or Meliassour. The country here indicated is obviously the Carnatic, or kingdom of Arcot of modern times, from the circumstance of containing the shrine of St Thomas. The idols mentioned by Oderic, as filling the church of St Thomas, were probably Nestorian images; not sanctioned by the Roman ritual.--E.


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