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0355 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 355 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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under it many cities and towns. And in this realm is laid the body of the Blessed Thomas the Apostle. His church is filled with idols, and beside it are some fifteen houses of the Nestorians, that is to say Christians, but vile and pestilent heretics. There is likewise in this kingdom a certain wonderful idol, which all the provinces of India greatly revere. It is as big as St. Christopher is commonly represented bs the painters, and it is entirely of gold, seated on a great throne, which is also of gold. And round its neck it hath a collar of gems of immense value. And the church of this idol is also of pure gold, roof (and walls) and pavement.' People come to say their prayers to the idol from great distances,

that the Arabic name (Ma'abar, the passage or ferry) was, as some one has suggested, originally a corruption of Marawar, the name of the Hindu state which adjoined Adam's Bridge, and the chief of which state was called Setu Pati, the lord of the bridge." Such corruptions are often twisted for the sake of an apparent etymology among Orientals, and also among Occidentals. Thus in India the English word receipt is converted into Rasid, and understood by many as deriving its meaning from the Pers. Rasidan, to arrive. Jerusalem artichokes afford a Western instance.

Marawar, or Marava, on the other hand, is perhaps also the Marull6 of Cosmas Indicopleustes, which was on the continent adjoining Ceylon and produced conch-shells. I know not if the obvious suggestion has been put forward that the pearl fisheries in this vicinity originated the Pers. Marwdrid, from which we get Margarita.

Ritter puts Ma'abar on the west coast, and Lassen (iv, 888) says that the name with Ibn Batuta signifies the southernmost part of the Malabar coast, but both learned authors are certainly wrong. Kunstmann again says, "it has been recently pointed out that the name applies neither specially to the south-west coast nor to the south-east, but to the whole southern apex of the peninsula." I do not know what evidence can be alleged. All use of it that I have seen is clear for its being the southeast coast, as Abulfeda precisely says, commencing from Cape Comorin. (See Gildemeister, pp. 56 and 185.)

I Pure gold leaf perhaps. From what we see in Burma, where many

obsolete Indian practices have been preserved by Buddhism, we may judge that extensive gilding of sacred buildings was formerly much more common than it is now. An Indian example is still familiar in the Sikh sanctuary at Amritsar. There were, however, temples of enormous wealth in this part of India. A few years before, the soldiers of Ala-eddin King of Dehli had carried off a fabulous booty of gold and jewels from the temples of Dwara-Samudra and Ma'abar. (Briggs's Firishta, i, 373.)