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AFTER Marco Polo had remained a considerable while at the court of Cambaluc and had executed several special missions for the Emperor, he seems to have travelled to the westward for several days, but upon what special function he neglects to state. The narrative, we may mention, is hardly a consecutive one, and hence to follow the writer is to proceed, at times, with considerable indefiniteness. He states that after departing from the city called Jaci, and travelling ten days' journey westward, he came to a city called Carazan, which was governed, by a son of the Khan. The rivers in the immediate region were distinguished as yielding great quantities of gold, both in dust and nuggets, while on the mountains near by was an auriferous vein of gold of such remarkable richness that gold was exchanged at the ratio of one of gold for six of silver. But notwithstanding this plentifulness of the precious metals, it was not used for money, porcelain being substituted instead. The inhabitants here, like those in nearly all the other cities described, were idolaters, and by the inference which we gain from his descriptions they were quite barbaric.


Polo speaks of the country being infested with great serpents, growing to a length of thirty feet, and bodies of proportionate thickness. He describes them as having two little feet near the head, armed with three talons or claws like lions, while their eyes were larger than a loaf, and of exceeding brightness. They had mouths and jaws so very wide that they were able to swallow a man, and with teeth so strong and sharp that they were able to rend the largest animals; they indeed attacked and devoured lions, wolves and other beasts. Their appearance struck great terror to the natives, who destroyed them by fastening iron spikes in the tracks through which these great animals usually passed, and as these trails were invariably followed by the animals in going to and from the water, they thus empaled themselves upon the sharp instruments thus set. When the animal was killed, the native hunters took off the skin, which they used for various purposes; but the most precious thing obtained from the creature was its gall, which the people used as a medicine, esteeming it of the greatest virtue for the curing of mad-dog bites, and for carbuncles and all malignant eruptions. It is not difficult for us to determine, though the description is inexact, that the creatures thus described were crocodiles such as infest all the rivers of the lower countries of Asia.


The Tartars of that region were great robbers, and being armed with spears and strong bows, and protected with an armor made of the hides of crocodiles and buffaloes, they were enabled to overcome any small party whom they went against. Living by robbery and rapine, they provided themselves against every emergency, and as they carried death in all their attacks, so they expected that their crimes would sooner or later bring them to a more wretched end; for it was customary at that time to put such felons to death, when captured, by the most horrible tortures. The robbers carried with them a potent poison which they swallowed when they found themselves unable to escape; but to prevent them from dying in this manner, and thus cheating Justice, the lords of the Great Khan, who were sent against them, carried potions of dog's dung which they forced the captives to swallow, thus causing them to vomit the poison, and leaving them to suffer the tortures which would then be inflicted upon them.

One of the most curious customs practised by the strange people in the province of Carazan is thus described by Polo: "When one of their women is once delivered, she forsakes the bed, washes the child and dresses it, and then the husband lieth down, and keeps the child with him forty days, not suffering it to depart; is visited all that time by friends and neighbors to cheer and comfort him. The woman looks to the house, and carries the husband his broths to the bed, and gives suck to the child by him."


The next remarkable city described by Marco was called Mein, the capital of the province of that name, which was a part of the Great Khan's kingdom. But prior to its conquest by Kublai, it was governed by a king whose name is not given, but who left a peculiar memento of his sovereignty: --when being ready to die, he commanded that near his sepulchre there should be erected two towers, in the form of pyramids, one at the head, the other at the feet, both of marble, of the height of sixty feet. On the top of
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each was placed a round ball, one of which he caused to be covered all over with gold a finger thick, and the other with silver; and upon the top, round about the balls, were made many little gold and silver bells, which were so hanged that the wind imparted to them a swinging motion, and caused them to send forth a pleasant, tinkling sound. The domes of these towers were covered with plates, one of gold and the other of silver, but of what thickness our traveller does not state. These two monuments were set up in honor of his soul, and with the intent that his memory should never die among men. When Kublai Khan undertook to subdue the city of Mein he sent the greater part of his army, which was composed of cavalry, under this most valiant general, who made such an onslaught upon the city that it fell into his hands with small resistance; but while if was the custom to demolish or burn the buildings of cities thus acquired by conquest the general would not consent to such vandalism as the destruction of the gold and silver towers without first communicating with the Emperor and ascertaining his will. To the great credit of the Tartar monarch, let it be said, that upon ascertaining that the monument was erected in honor of the soul of a great ruler, he immediately commanded that the towers be preserved from injury, to the end particularly that no violence might be done to the things which belonged to the dead. It is very evident, from the description given of Mein, that it must have been the modern Burmah, formerly called the Old Pagan, on the Irawada river, which has from time immemorial been the royal residence.

Eastward of Mein was the province of Cangigu, which was also a country yielding vast quantities of gold, and which lay near the sea. These people are described as being handsomely made, and given much to the practice of tattooing, which Polo describes as a process of embroidering the flesh.


Eastward of Cangigu is Amu, where the people worshipped idols and made sacrifices to them both of flesh and the products of the field. The people were very wealthy, both men and women wearing bracelets of gold and silver of great value on their arms and legs. The province of Tholoman, which is eighth days further eastward, was also remarkable for its wealth of the precious metals; but in
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no place was either gold or silver used as money, porcelain being substituted instead. At Cintiqui Marco found the people little addicted to such finery as distinguished the neighboring provinces to the west. Instead, therefore, of adorning their bodies with gold and silver ornaments, they used only the simplest cloths, made from the bark of trees, which, however, were dexterously made and worn most becomingly. Many lions were found in that region, and which betrayed such ferocity that the people never exposed themselves at night, and even the vessels sailing on the river never approached the bank at night-time, but anchored in mid stream. The natives, however, hunted these lions with dogs of extraordinary size and ferocity. The native hunter, armed with bow and arrow, boldly disputed with the king of beasts by the aid of his powerful dogs which he sent in to worry the animal, while he made his attack from behind, and was thus able to give the lion a mortal arrow wound without incurring any great danger himself.

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