But to slay men, to invade the territories of others, to take away the goods of other people, and to act contrary to the commands of God, is no crime among them; and they know nothing of the life to come, or of eternal damnation. But they believe in a future life, in which they shall tend flocks, eat and drink, and do those very things which they do in this life. At new moon, or when the moon is full, they begin any new enterprise; they call the moon the great emperor, and they worship that luminary on their knees. All who dwell in their houses must undergo purification by fire, which is performed in this manner. Having kindled two fires at a convenient distance, they fix two spears in the earth, one near each fire, stretching a cord between the tops of these spears, and about the cord they hang some rags of buckram, under which cord, and between, which fires, all the men, and beasts, and houses must pass; and all the while, a woman stands on each side, sprinkling water on the passengers, and reciting certain verses. If any one is killed by lightning, all that dwell in the same house with the dead person must be thus purified; otherwise, the house, beds, carts, felts, garments, and every thing else would be abandoned as unclean. When any messengers, princes, or other persons arrive, they and their gifts must pass between two fires for purification, lest they should bring witchcraft, poison, or any other mischief.
Of the Beginning of their Empire.
The land of Mongolia was formerly divided among four different tribes or nations. One of these was the Yeka-Mongal, or the great Mongols. The second Su-Mongal, or the Water Mongols, who called themselves Tartars, from a river of that name in their territories. The third was named Merkat, and the fourth Metrit. All these tribes resembled each other in form, and complexion, and spoke the same language, though they were divided into distinct provinces, under separate princes. In the land of the Yeka-Mongal, lived one named Zingis, a great hunter, who used to rob and take much prey, going into the neighbouring districts, where he seized all that came in his way, and associated many under his command, till at length the people of his nation attached themselves to him, and followed him as their leader to do evil. After some time, Zingis went to war with the Su-Mongal or Tartars, slew their duke, and subjugated the nation; and he successively reduced the Merkats and Metrites to his growing dominion. The Naymani, to whom all the surrounding tribes then paid tribute, were much indignant at the elevation of Zingis; but their great emperor had lately died, leaving the authority divided among his sons, who were young and foolish, and knew not how to rule the people; yet they invaded the territories of the Mongals, slaying the inhabitants and carrying off much prey. On this Zingis collected the whole