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0353 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 353 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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sanctified (for the day) . Thus do the common people ; and thus do the king and queen likewise.

They worship also another idol, which is half man and half ox. And this idol giveth responses out of its mouth, and ofttimes demandeth the blood of forty virgins to be given to it. For men and women there vow their sons and their daughters to that idol, just as here they vow to place them in some religious order. And in this manner ffiany perish.

And many other things are done by that people which it would be abomination even to write or to hear of, and many other things be there produced and grown, which it booteth little to relate.1 But the idolaters of this realm have one detestable custom (that I must mention). For when any man dies, they burn him, and if he leave a wife they burn her alive with him, saying that she ought to go and keep her husband company in the other world. But if the woman have sons by her husband she may abide with them, an she will. And, on the other hand, if the wife die there is

1 PAL. bas : "And in this land there be trees that produce honey, and 'tis as good as is in the world. And there be others that give wine, and others that give wool wherewith cords and cables of all kinds are made. And there be also trees which produce fruits so big that two will be a load for a strong man. And when they come to be eaten conviene ehe altri s'unga le mani e la bocca, (?) and they are of a fragrant odour and very savoury ; the fruit is called chabassi." [The wool-bearing tree in this doubtful passage is a reference to the coir or coco-nut fibre, I think, rather than to cotton. The large fruit, fragrant and savoury, is the jack, I doubt not, but the name chabassi is probably corrupted.] "And here I heard tell that there be trees which bear men and women like fruit upon them. They are about a cubit in measurement, and are fixed in the tree up to the navel, and there they be; and when the wind blows they be fresh, but when it does not blow they are all dried up. This I saw not in sooth, but I heard it told by people who had seen it." Here again we have a genuine Oriental story, related by several Arab geographers of the island of Wak-wak in the Southern Ocean (e. g., see Bakui in Not. et Ext., ii, 399). Al Biruni denies that the island is called so, "as is vulgarly believed, because of a fruit having the form of a human head which cries Wak! Wak!" (Journ. Asiat. S., iv, t. iv, p. 266). And Eclrisi declines to repeat the "incredible story" related by Masudi on the subject, with the pious reservation, " But all things

are in the power of the Most High " (i, 92).