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0390 Marco Polo : vol.1
Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 390 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000271
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  • 174•

THE PEARL FISHERS AND BRAAMAN OF MAABAR MARCO POLO z fish them as I shall tell you. And there will be many ships' like this because it is true that z there are many merchants who2 pay attention to this fishing; & they make many companies. z And all the merchants who are associated together on one ship will have several boats which will tow VB the ship through the gulf. • The small boats carry the anchors of the large boats to land. And they G z buy many men who can swim well and clever pearl fishers for hire, with whom they make VB P agreement • by the month, that is they give them so much' for the whole month of April till z P mid May or so long as the said fishery lasts in the said gulf. • There are moreover in that

L P bay of the sea • a multitude of •great fishes which would kill the fishers going down into the sea. But provision against that danger is made by the merchants in this way. The merchants take certain VA P magicians •with them •who are called braaman, who with their enchantments and diabolical art control and stupefy those fishes so that they can hurt no one. And because this fishing is

done by day   not by night, those magicians make spells by day which they break for the following
R P night; for they are afraid lest anyone go down by stealth • without • the leave of the merchants VA P R into the sea • by night • to take pearls . But the thieves do not attempt to go down into the sea • by P night from fear of the fishes; nor is any found who knows how to make such enchantment except those braaman who are hired by the merchants. And the merchants give such duty z on them, on these pearls or scallops, as I shall tell you. First of all they give the tenth

I a part of what they take to the king. Again they give some to him who charms the FA large fishes that they may not do harm to the men who go under the water to find

L the pearls; to this they justly give one of twenty' of them, and these are [78c] z z called braaman, who charm the fishes by day; but they charm them by day only, for at night they break the charm so that the fishes can do with them as they please, TA Z so that no one fishes by night. And again I tell you that these braaman know how to z charm also all beasts, both all birds and all animals. And when they come to the place, z the ship is anchored and the men who are in the small barques and who come to have the hire of the merchants leave the barques and go under the water some four paces

V Z and some five, up to seven and twelve, according as the water is more and less deep in any


1 Jordan of Sévérac says that more than 8000 ships were sometimes employed. cf. CORDIER Les Merveilles de l'Asie p. 116 (Pl. IXa): Infra istam insulam & terrain firmam capiuntur perle sou margarite in tanta quantitate quod est mirum, ita quod aliquociens sunt plusquam octo milia barcarum sou itauium per tres menses continue

2 quia (?) Read probably qui, see p. lxx.

3 aitant perhaps for autant or possibly for a.i.tant (a un tant). B. by some accident prints urn] tant as if the original were utant

4 R: sema P accidentally(?) omits et sine Port: e sem

5 Z, V: "ten"