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0382 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 382 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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called Zayton,l where we friars minor have two houses ;2 and there I deposited the bones of our friars who suffered martyrdom for the faith of Jesus Christ.

In this city is great plenty of all things that are needful for human subsistence. For example you can get three pounds and eight ounces of sugar for less than half a groat. The city is twice as great as Bologna,3 and in it are many monasteries of devotees, idol worshippers every man of them. In one of those monasteries which I visited there were three thousand monks and eleven thousand idols.4 And one of those idols, which seemed to be smaller than the rest was as

1 Zayton, Zaitun, Zeithum, Çayton, the great port of Chinese trade with the west in the middle ages ; that from which Polo sailed on his memorable voyage ; that at which Ibn Batuta landed, and from which Marignolli sailed for India, is mentioned by nearly all the authors who speak of China up to the fourteenth century inclusive. A veil falls between China and Europe on the expulsion of the Mongols, and when it rises in the sixteenth century, Zayton has disappeared.

Martini had hinted, and De Guignes had conjectured, that Polo's Zeithum was the port of Thsivancheufu, in the province of Fokien. It remained for Klaproth to show from the Imperial Geography that the port in question was originally called Tseu-thung, the corruption of which to Zeithum and Zayton would be easy.

From this port sailed the expeditions of the Mongol sovereign against Java and Japan, and for a time after the rediscovery of China it was one of the harbours frequented by the Portuguese, under the name of Cinceo; that of Zayton having passed away from common use, though it is not unlikely that an Arab or Malay skipper could have pointed out the place so called. (Martini, in Thevenot, iii (1666), p. 155; De Guignes iv, 169,180; Klapr., Mem. ii, 200 and seq.; Polo, i, 81; iii, 2,4 ; Hakluyt (reprint), ii, 546).

2 See both of these establishments spoken of by Bishop Andrew of Zayton in a letter below, which was written a year or two after Odoric's visit. John Marignolli mentions a third house in his time, twenty years later.

3 MIN. RAM.: "Men and women, both, are of pleasing manners, handsome and courteous, especially to foreigners."

4 Far greater numbers of monks are ascribed by Fahian to monasteries of Ceylon in his day, and by Huc to Tibetan monasteries in our own. The great establishment at Pooto, an island off Chusan, had three thousand monks in the beginning of the last century, and even in her modern decay, in our own day, had two thousand monks, with idols innumerable (Astley, iv, 43 ; Davis ii, 189). The Dutch embassy of 1655 speaks of a famous temple near Nanking, which had ten thousand images.