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0186 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 186 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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Arabian Gulf. Again, let us look at some of Our Lord's words, as when he calls those places the Ends of the Earth, saying, ` The Queen of the South shall rise up in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it, for she came from the Ends of the Earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon.' The fact is, fomerite is at no distance from Barbary, for the sea between them has only a width of some two days' sail. And beyond that is the Ocean, which thereabouts is called the Sea of Zinj. And just as the Incense Country has the Ocean near it, so also has the Land of Sas where the gold mines are. Now, year by year the King of the Axumites, through the ruler of Agau,' sends men of his own to Sas for the purchase of gold. And many others bound on the same speculation accompany them on this expedition, so there shall be more than five hundred in the party. They take with them beeves, and pieces of salt, and iron. And when they get near the country they make a halt at a certain place, and take a quantity of' thorns with which they make a great hedge, within which they establish themselves, and there they slaughter the oxen and cut them up, and put the meat, and the pieces of salt, and the iron on the top of the hedge. So the natives then approach with gold in nuggets, like peas, which they call Tancharan, and each of them deposits one or two of these upon the joints of meat, or the salt, or the iron as he pleases, and then stands aloof. Then the owner of the beef etc., comes up, and if he is satisfied he takes the gold, whilst the other party comes and removes the flesh, or piece of salt or iron. But if the trader is not satisfied he leaves the gold where it is, and when the native comes up and sees that his gold has not been taken, he either adds to the quantity or takes up his gold and goes away. This is the mode of barter among the people in that quarter ; for they are of different language and have no supply of interpreters. The time of their stay to do business in that country extends to five days, more or less, according to the rate at which customers present themselves until they have sold off all their goods. And on the return journey they all form themselves into an armed body ; for there are certain people in the tract they pass through who hang about them and endeavour to plunder the gold. The whole business carried on in this way takes some six months ; the journey thither being accomplished more slowly than the retnrn, chiefly because of the cattle that accompany them, and also because they make great haste on the way back that the winter rains catch them not on the

1 Alvarez in Ramusio speaks of certain lordships of Abyssinia "the people of which are called Agaos," and who are a mixture of Gentiles and

Christians. The Agaus appear to be scattered widely over Abyssinia. Salt speaks of them along the Takazzé to the east of Gondar, and one of

Petermann's maps shows Agau also to the south-west of Tzana Lake,

which again lies south-west of Gondar. A country including both of these positions would lie south and a little west of Axum (Ramusio

f. 250 ; Salt's Second Travels, French transi., 1816, ii, 21 seq. ; Petermann's illittheilungen, 1857, pl. 23).