EXTRACTS REGARDING CHINA FROM ABULFEDA.1
"China is bounded on the west by the lands between India and China ; on the south by the sea ; on the east by the Eastern Atlantic ; on the north by the lands of Gog and Magog, and other regions respecting which we have no information. Writers on the customs and kingdoms of the world have in their works mentioned many provinces and places and rivers as existing in China under the different climates, but the names have not reached us with any exactness, nor have we any certain information as to their circumstances. Thus they are as good as unknown to us ; there being few travellers who arrive from those parts, such as might furnish us with intelligence (respecting those places), and for this reason we forbear to detail them.
" Some places, however, are named by persons who come from those parts, and of these one is KHANFU,2 which is known in our day as KHANSA, and on the north side of which is a lake of fresh water called SiiuHU about half-a-day's journey in circumference.3
" It is also stated that SHANJU, known in our time as ZAITIIN, is one of the ports of China, and with them the ports are also the places of customs.
" Khanfu is one of the gates of China, and is situated on the river, as it is stated in the Ketnûn.4 Ibn Said says it is mentioned in books, and
My friend Mr. Badger was kind enough to make a literal translation of these extracts for me. I have slightly smoothed the ruggedness of a literal version from Arabic, whilst trying not to affect the sense.
It is to be lamented that M. Reinaud has left his version of Abulfeda's Geography unfinished for some eighteen years. There is a Latin translation by Reiske in Biisching's Magazine, but I have no access to it.
s The word is written as in Jaubert's Edrisi, Khcinkû, but I believe there can be no doubt as to the right reading. See above, pp. lxxx, cv, cix.
3 The Si-hu or Western Lake of Hangcheu. Its mention here is no doubt a part of Abulfeda's scanty recent information, as well as the next paragraph.
4 The Kanun is I believe the lost work of Al Biruni upon Geography. The " Gates of China" appears to have been a sort of technical expression for the chief ports of China, connected with the view of the access to that country conveyed in the Relations and in Edrisi. In approaching China ships find a series of mountainous islands or promontories.