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0521 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 521 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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  1.  Of the manner in which they do bury their dead.

When a child is born they take good heed to register the day of his birth, and when he dies his friends and kinsfolk put the body on a bier of paper adorned with gold and with silver and on this bier they place myrrh and incense with the body. And then they put the bier upon a car, and this car is drawn by all of the dead man's kin to the place appointed specially ; and there they burn the dead, with bier and car and all. And they give a reason for this, for they say that it is thus with fire that gold is purged, and so must the human body also be purged by fire, in order that it may rise again in all purity. When they have thus burned their dead they return•to their houses, and in memory of the dead they cause an image to be made in his likeness. And this image they set in a certain place, and every year on his birthday they burn before this image lignaloes and other manner of fragrant spices; and so they keep the dead man's birthday in remembrance.'

  1.  Concerning the Minor Friars who sojourn in that country.

In the said city of Cambalec there was an archbishop, whose name was Friar John of Montecorvino, of the Order of Minor Friars, and he was legate sent thither by Pope Clement. This archbishop did establish in the said city three houses of Minor Friars, and these are a good two leagues apart one from another.2 He made also two others in the city of Zaiton,3 which is distant from Cambalec a three months' journey, and standeth upon the seashore. In

1 Though burial of the dead appears to be the universal custom in China now, it is seen from many passages of Marco Polo that cremation was a

usual practice in his day. See also Ibn Batuta, infra.

2 We have seen the history of two of the churches in the archbishop's

letters. The third must have been built at a later date.

3 See Ocloric, p. 97, and Ibn Batuta and Marignolli, infra. The latter

about 1346 found three churches at Zayton also.