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0371 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 371 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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When a married man dies in this country his body is burned, and his living wife along with it. For they say that she should go to keep company with her husband in the other world also.

24. Of the island of Nicoveran, where the men have dogs' faces.

Departing from that country and sailing towards the south over the Ocean Sea, I found many islands and countries, whereainong was one called NICOVERAN.I And this is a great isle, having a compass of a good 2,000 miles, and both the men and the women there have faces like dogs. And these people worship the ox as their god, wherefore they always wear upon the forehead an ox made of gold or silver, in token that he is their god. All the folk of that country, whether men or women, go naked, wearing nothing in the world but an handkerchief to cover their shame. They be stalwart men

which I have given in theintroductory notice of Odoric, p. 27. The largest turtle that I can find mentioned on modern authority had a carapace of about seven feet in length. (Eng. Cyc. Art. Chelonia).

1 The name no doubt is that of the Nicobar Islands, and is the same as that used by Polo. But there seems to be no feature of the narrative, except the nakedness of the people, appropriate to those islands. The whole chapter is an anomalous jumble. The Dog-faces belong, according to the usual story of the period, to the Andaman Islands ; the miniature ox worn on the forehead seems derived from one of Marco's chapters on Maabar ; the king's great ruby appertains to Ceylon, in connexion with which it has been celebrated by Marco, Haiton, Jordanus and Ibn Batuta; whilst the great shield covering the whole body is a genuine feature of the wilder islands of the Archipelago, being found for example upon Nyas, among the Dayaks, the more uncivilised races of the Moluccas, and on Formosa. Cannibalism is also a genuine feature characterising other races of the Archipelago besides the Battaks of whom we have spoken. Dalton, speaking of his own entertainer, the Raja of Selgie, a chief of Kayans in Borneo, says : Should the Raja want flesh (on a war expedi-

tion)   one of the followers is killed, which not only provides a meal,
but a head to boot." (Moor's Notices, p. 49).

The concluding passage of this account of the Dog-heads curiously coincides with one in Ctesias, who says of the Cynocephali, that " they are just in their dealings and hurt no man" (Baehr's edition of Ctesice Reliq., pp. 253 and 362). Regarding the probable origin of stories of Dog-faces, see note on Ibn Batuta, infra.