Home  »  The Marvellous Adventures of Sir John Maundevile Kt  »  How Men know by the Idol, if the Sick shall die or not. Of Folk of diverse Shape and marvellously disfigured. And of the Monks that give their Leavings to Baboons, Apes and Marmosets, and to other Beasts

Sir John Mandeville. Marvellous Adventures. 1895.

Chapter XIX

How Men know by the Idol, if the Sick shall die or not. Of Folk of diverse Shape and marvellously disfigured. And of the Monks that give their Leavings to Baboons, Apes and Marmosets, and to other Beasts

FROM that Isle, in going by the Sea toward the South, is another great Isle that is clept Dondun. In that Isle be Folk of diverse Kinds, so that the Father eateth the Son, the Son the Father, the Husband the Wife, and the Wife the Husband. And if it so befall, that the Father or Mother or any of their Friends be sick, anon the Son goeth to the Priest of their Law and prayeth him to ask the Idol if his Father or Mother or Friend shall die of that Evil or not. And then the Priest and the Son go together before the Idol and kneel full devoutly and ask of the Idol their Demand. And if the Devil that is within answer that he shall live, they keep him well; and if he say that he shall die, then the Priest goeth with the Son, with the Wife of him that is sick, and they put their Hands upon his Mouth and stop his Breath, and so they slay him. And after that, they chop all the Body in small Pieces, and pray all his Friends to come and eat of him that is dead. And they send for all the Minstrels of the Country and make a solemn Feast. And when they have eaten the Flesh, they take the Bones and bury them, and make great Melody. And all those that be of his Kin or pretend themselves to be his Friends, and who come not to that Feast, they be reproved for ever and ashamed, and make great Dole, for never after shall they be holden as Friends. And they say also, that Men eat their Flesh to deliver them out of Pain; for if the Worms of the Earth eat them the Soul should suffer great Pain, as they say. And especially when the Flesh is tender and meagre, then say their Friends, that they do great Sin to let them have so long Languor to suffer so much Pain without Reason. And when they find the Flesh fat, then they say, that it is well done to send him soon to Paradise, and that they have not suffered him too long to endure in Pain.

The King of this Isle is a full great Lord and a mighty, and hath under him 54 great Isles that give Tribute to him. And in every one of these Isles is a King crowned; and all be obeissant to that King. And he hath in those Isles many divers Folk.

In one of these Isles be Folk of great Stature, as Giants. And they be hideous to look upon. And they have but one Eye, and that is in the Middle of the Forehead. And they eat nothing but raw Flesh and raw Fish.

And in another Isle toward the South dwell Folk of foul Stature and of cursed Nature that have no Heads. And their Eyes be in their Shoulders, and their Mouths be round shapen, like an Horse-shoe, amidst their Breasts.

And in another Isle be Men without Heads, and their Eyes and their Mouths be behind in their Shoulders.

And in another Isle be Folk that have the Face all flat, all plain, without Nose and without Mouth. But they have 2 small Holes, all round, instead of their Eyes, and their Mouth is flat also without Lips.

And in another Isle be Folk of foul Fashion and Shape that have the Lip above the Mouth so great, that when they sleep in the Sun they cover all the Face with that Lip.

And in another Isle there be Little Folk, as Dwarfs. And they be so small as the Pigmies. And they have no Mouth; but instead of their Mouth they have a little round Hole, and when they shall eat or drink, they take through a Pipe or Pen or such a Thing, and suck it in, for they have no Tongue; and therefore they speak not, but they make a manner of Hissing as an Adder doth, and they make Signs to one another as Monks do, by the which every one of them understandeth the other.

And in another Isle be Folk that have great Ears and long that hang down to their Knees.

And in another Isle be Folk that have Horses’ Feet. And they be strong and mighty, and swift Runners; for they take wild Beasts with Running, and eat them.

And in another Isle be Folk that go upon their Hands and their Feet as Beasts. And they be all skinned and feathered, and they would leap as lightly into Trees, and from Tree to Tree, as it were Squirrels or Apes.

And in another Isle be Folk that be both Man and Woman, and they have the Nature of the one and of the other. And they have but one Pap on the one Side, and on the other none. And they be both Men and Women when they list, at one Time the one, and another Time the other. And they beget Children, when they be Men; and they bear Children, when they be Women.

And in another Isle be Folk that go always upon their Knees full marvellously. And at every Pace that they go, it seemeth that they would fall. And they have in every Foot 8 Toes.

Many other diverse Folk of diverse Natures be there in other Isles about, of the which it were too long to tell, and therefore I pass over shortly.

From these Isles, in passing by the Sea Ocean toward the East by many Days’ Journeys, Men find a great Country and a great Kingdom that Men call Mancy. And that is in Ind the More. And it is the best Land and one of the fairest that may be in all the World, and the most delectable and the most plentiful of all Goods that is in the Power of Man. In that Land dwell many Christian Men and Saracens, for it is a good Country and a great. And there be therein more than 2000 great Cities and rich, besides other great Towns. And there is more Plenty of People there than in any other Part of Ind, for the Bountifulness of the Country. In that Country is no needy Man, nor any one that goeth a-begging. And they be full fair Folk, but they be all pale. And the Men have thin Beards and few Hairs, but they be long; but scarcely hath any Man passing 50 Hairs in his Beard, and one Hair sits here, another there, as the Beard of a Leopard or of a Cat. In that Land be many fairer Women than in any other Country beyond the Sea, and therefore Men call that Land Albany, because that the Folk be white.

And the chief City of that Country is clept Latorin, and it is a Day’s Journey from the Sea, and it is much greater than Paris. In that City is a great River bearing Ships that go to all the Coasts in the Sea. No City of the World is so well stored of Ships as is that. And all those of the City and of the Country worship Idols. In that Country be double times more Birds than be here. There be white Geese, red about the Neck, and they have a great Crest as a Cock’s Comb upon their Heads; and they be much more great there than they be here, and Men buy them there all alive, right greatly cheap. And there is Plenty of Adders of whom Men make great Feasts and eat them at great Solemnities; and he that maketh there a Feast be it never so costly, if he have no Adders he hath no Thank for his Travail.

Many good Cities there be in that Country and Men have great Plenty and great Cheapness of all Wines and Victuals. In that Country be many Churches of religious Men, and of their Law. And in those Churches be Idols as great as Giants; and to these Idols they give to eat at great Festival Days in this Manner. They bring before them Meats all sodden, as hot as they come from the Fire, and they let the Smoke go up towards the Idols; and then they say that the Idols have eaten; and then the religious Men eat the Meat afterwards.

In that Country be white Hens without Feathers, but they bear white Wool as Sheep do here. In that Country Women that be unmarried, they have Tokens on their Heads like Garlands to be known for unmarried. Also in that Country there be Beasts taught of Men to go into Waters, into Rivers and into deep Tanks to take Fish; the which Beast is but little, and Men call them Loirs. And when Men cast them into the Water, anon they bring up great Fishes, as many as Men would. And if Men will have more, they cast them in again, and they bring up as many as Men list to have.

And from that City, passing by many Days’ Journeys is another City, one of the greatest in the World, that Men call Cassay; that is to say, the “City of Heaven.” That City is well a 50 Mile about, and it is strongly inhabited with People, insomuch that in one House Men make 10 Households. In that City be 12 principal Gates; and before every Gate, a 3 Mile or a 4 Mile in Length therefrom, is a great Town or a great City. That City sits upon a great Lake on the Sea, as doth Venice. And in that City be more than 12,000 Bridges. And upon every Bridge be strong Towers and good, in the which dwell the Wardens to keep the City from the great Chan. And on the one Side of the City runneth a great River all along the City. And there dwell Christian Men and many Merchants and other Folk of divers Nations, because that the Land is so good and so plentiful. And there groweth full good Wine that Men call “Bigon,” that is full mighty, and gentle in drinking. This is a Royal City where the King of Mancy was wont to dwell. And there dwell many religious Men, as it were of the Order of Friars, for they be Mendicants.

From that City Men go by Water, solacing and disporting them, till they come to an Abbey of Monks that is fast by, that be good religious Men after their Faith and Law. In that Abbey is a great Garden and a fair, where be many Trees of diverse Manner of Fruits. And in this Garden is a little Hill full of delectable Trees. In that Hill and in that Garden be many diverse Beasts, as Apes, Marmosets, Baboons and many other diverse Beasts. And every Day, when the Convent of this Abbey hath eaten, the Almoner makes bear the Leavings to the Garden, and he smiteth on the Garden Gate with a Clicket of Silver that he holdeth in his Hand; and anon all the Beasts of the Hill and of diverse Places of the Garden come out a 3000, or a 4000; and they come in Guise of poor Men, and Men give them the Leavings in fair Vessels of Silver, cleanly over-gilt. And when they have eaten, the Monk smiteth eftsoons on the Garden Gate with the Clicket, and then anon all the Beasts return again to their Places that they come from. And they say that these Beasts be Souls of worthy Men that resemble in Likeness the Beasts that be fair, and therefore they give them Meat for the Love of God; and the other Beasts that be foul, they say be Souls of poor Men and of rude Common-folk. And thus they believe, and no Man may put them out of this Opinion. These Beasts above-said they take when they be young, and nourish them so with Alms, as many as they may find. And I asked them if it had not been better to have given those Leavings to poor Men, rather than to the Beasts. And they answered me and said, that they had no poor Men amongst them in that Country; and though it had been so that poor Men had been among them, yet were it greater Alms to give it to those Souls that do there their Penance. Many other Marvels be in that City and in the Country thereabout, that were too long to tell you.

From that City go Men by the Country a 6 Days’ Journey to another City that Men call Chilenfo, of the which City the Walls be 20 Mile about. In that City be 60 Bridges of Stone, so fair that no Man may see fairer. In that City was the first Siege of the King of Mancy, for it is a fair City and plentiful of all Goods.

After, pass Men overthwart a great River that Men call Dalay. And that is the greatest River of fresh Water that is in the World. For there, where it is most narrow, it is more than 4 Mile of Breadth. And then enter Men again into the Land of the great Chan.

That River goeth through the Land of Pigmies, where that the Folk be of little Stature, and be but 3 Span long, and they be right fair and gentle, after their Size, both the Men and the Women. And they marry them when they be half a Year of Age and get Children. And they live not but 6 Year or 7 at the most; and he that liveth 8 Year, Men hold him there right passing old. These Men be Workers of Gold, Silver, Cotton, Silk and of all such Things, the best of any other that be in the World. And they have often-times War with the Birds of that Country that they take and eat. This Little Folk neither labour in Lands nor in Vines; but they have great Men amongst them of our Stature that till the Land and labour amongst the Vines for them. And of those Men of our Stature have they as great Scorn and Wonder as we would have among us of Giants if they were amongst us. There is a good City, amongst others, where there is dwelling great Plenty of those Little Folk, and it is a great City and a fair. And there be great Men that dwell amongst them, but when they get any Children they be as little as the Pigmies. And therefore they be, all for the most part, all Pigmies; for the Nature of the Land is such. The great Chan makes keep this City full well, for it is his. And albeit, that the Pigmies be little, yet they be full reasonable according to their Age, and know enough both of Good and of Evil.

From that City go Men by the Country by many Cities and many Towns unto a City that Men call Jamchay; and it is a noble City and a rich and of great Profit to the Lord thereof, and thither go Men to seek Merchandise of all manner of Thing. That City is full much worth yearly to the Lord of the Country. For he hath every Year as Rent of that City, as they of the City say, 50,000 Cumants of Florins of Gold: for they count there all by Cumants, and every Cumant is 10,000 Florins of Gold. Now Men may well reckon how much that it amounteth to. The King of that Country is full mighty, and yet he is under the great Chan. And the great Chan hath under him 12 such Provinces. In that Country in the good Towns is a good Custom: for there be certain Inns in every good Town, and whoso will make a Feast to any of his Friends, he that will make the Feast will say to the Hosteler (or Innkeeper), “Array for me to-morrow a good Dinner for so many Folk,” and telleth him the Number, and deviseth him the Viands; and he saith also, “Thus much will I spend and no more.” And anon the Hosteler arrayeth for him so fair and so well and so honestly, that there shall lack nothing; and it shall be done sooner and with less Cost than if a Man made it in his own House.

And a 5 Mile from that City, toward the Head of the River of Dalay, is another City that Men call Menke. In that City is a strong Navy of Ships. And all be as white as Snow like the Trees that they be made of. And they be full great Ships and fair, and well-ordained, and made with Halls and Chambers and other Easements, as though it were on the Land.

From thence go Men, by many Towns and many Cities, through the Country, unto a City that Men call Lanterine. And it is an 8 Days’ Journey from the City above-said. This City sits upon a fair River, great and broad, that Men call Caramaron. This River passeth throughout Cathay. And it doth often-time Harm, and that full great, when it is over great.