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0389 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 389 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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And there be also great suburbs which contain a greater population than even the city itself. For the city hath twelve chief gates, and from each of them cities extend to a distance of some eight miles, each one greater than Venice is or Padua. So that you may for six or seven days travel continually about one of these suburbs, and yet shall you seem to have gone but a very little way.

This city is situated upon lagoons of standing water [with canals] 1 like the city of Venice. And it hath more than twelve thousand bridges,~ on each of which are stationed guards guarding the city on behalf of the great Khan. And at the side of this city there flows a river near which it is built like Ferrara by the Po, for it is longer than it is broad.3

I made diligent inquiry regarding the city, and asked questions of Christians, Saracens, idolaters, and everybody else, and they all agreed as with one voice that it had a circuit of one hundred miles. And they have an edict from their Lord that every fire shall pay to the great Khan annually a tax of one balis, i.e. of five pieces of paper like silk, a sum equal to one florin and a half.4 And their way of

absar quoted by Quatremère (Rashideddin, p. lxxxviii), says the houses of Khansa "have five stories".

'- MIN. RAM.

MIN. RAM. makes Odoric take an oath to this.

3 The Arabic work 1Vlesalek-al-Absar says " the city of Khansa extends in length the space of a whole day's journey, and in breadth the space of a half-day's journey." (In Quatremère's Rashideddin, p. lxxxviii.)

4 A note on the Chinese paper currency will be found in the comment on Pegolotti. In the meantime there is something to be said about the term balis which Odoric applies to it, or rather to a certain sum estimated in that currency. It is a genuine word, applied by the Western Asiatics

in the same way. We shall meet with it in Pegolotti under the form balish (balisci), and in Ibn Batuta as bâlisht, plural bawellisht, identical in spelling with a word which he uses elsewhere for a kind of cushion. Two questions arise about the word; Whence is it ? and what value did it indicate ?

As to the first, my friend Mr. Badger writes : " If corrupted from an Arabic word, which is not improbable, I take this to be fais, a small coin,