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0375 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 375 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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and this signifieth the same as "Unclean". They who dwell in that island are an evil generation, who devour raw flesh and every other kind of filth. They have also among them an abominable custom ; for the father will eat the son, the son the father, the wife will eat the husband, or the husband the wife. And 'tis in this way :—Suppose that the father of some one is ill. The son goeth then to the astrologer or

the name. But it is just possible that Dondin or Dandin. might be a misread contraction of Isola D'Andiman (b'attbttt ?). Stories like that related here, about the treatment of the sick or the aged were told in old times (as by Herodotus) of the Padda i and other people, and are still very rife in the East in regard to certain races, just as stories of men with tails are, but the alleged locality shifts with the horizon. " I was informed," says Raffles, of the Battaks, that formerly it was usual for the people to eat their parents who were too old for work. The old people selected the horizontal branch of a tree, and quietly suspended themselves by their hands, whilst their children and neighbours, forming a circle, danced round them, crying out, ` When the fruit is ripe it will fall'. This practice took place during the season of limes, when salt and pepper were plenty, and as soon as the victims became fatigued and could hold on no longer they fell down, when all hands cut them up and made a hearty meal of them." (Memoirs, p. 427). Gasparo Balbi tells the same story of the same people, not omitting the salt and pepper, and so does a notice in Moor. And I have heard it almost exactly as told by Raffles, from a native of Arakan, when I was travelling in that country in 1853, the alleged actors being some of the wild tribes then to the north-east of us. Something similar is related by Edward Barbosa of a tribe in the interior of Siam. Vincent Le Blanc says he was assured by the people of Pulowé that the islanders of Sumatra eat their dead, but we found it quite the contrary," he goes on, " and saw them buried." He nevertheless tells the same story as true, of an island called Pulovois (apparently imaginary) south of the Maldives.

The custom, or its allegation, is not confined to the old world. Tribes (e. g.), both of Brazil and of Vancouver's Island, are stated to have been in the habit of putting sick relatives to death, when the conjuror or medicine-man despaired of recovery. And the Brazilian tribe ate the bodies of those who were thus given over.

The particular story related by Odoric is evidently the same as that told by Marco Polo of "the kingdom of Dragoian" in the island of Java Minor or Sumatra. The situation of Dragoian has been much disputed, but if Marco's kingdoms were, as they seem, recounted in geographical succession, it must have been nearly coincident with Achin. And it is worth noticing that Balbi ascribes this cannibalism to the kingdom of the " Rey del Dagin", which he afterwards lets us see is meant for Achin. Can Odoric mean the same place by Dondin ?