Of their Laws and Judgments, and of their Death and Burial.
When two men fight, no one must interfere to part them, neither may a father presume to aid his own son; but he who considers himself injured must appeal to the court of his lord, and whoever shall offer him any violence after this appeal is put to death. He who is appealed against, must go without delay, and the appellant leads him as a prisoner. No one is punished capitally, unless taken in the act, or unless he confesses; but when witnessed against by many, he is severely tortured to extort confession. Homicide, adultery, and fornication, are punished with death; but a man may use his own slave as he pleases. Great thefts are punished capitally; but for small ones, as for stealing a sheep, when the party is not caught in the fact, but otherwise detected, the thief is cruelly beaten. And when an hundred strokes are to be given by order of the court, an hundred separate rods are required, one for each blow. Pretended messengers are punished with death, as are likewise sacrilegious persons, whom they esteem witches, of which more will be said hereafter.
When any one dies, he is mourned for with violent howlings, and the mourners are free from tribute during a whole year. Any one who happens to enter a house, in which a grown up person lies dead, must not enter the house of Mangu-khan during a whole year; if the dead person is a child, he is only debarred for one lunation. One house is always left near the grave of the deceased; but the burial place of any of the princes of the race of Jenghis-khan is always kept secret; yet there is always a family left in charge of the sepulchres of their nobles, though I do not find that they deposit any treasure in these tombs. The Comanians raise a large barrow or tomb over their dead, and erect a statue of the person, with his face turned towards the east, holding a drinking cup in his hand; they erect likewise, over the tombs of the rich, certain pyramids or sharp pinnacles. In some places, I observed large towers built of burnt bricks, and others of stone, though no stones were to be found about the place. I saw the grave of a person newly buried, in honour of whom there were hung up sixteen horses hides, four of which towards each quarter of the world, between high poles; and beside the grave they had set cosmos, that the deceased might drink, and flesh for him to eat, although the person was said to have been baptized. Farther east, I saw other kinds of sepulchres, consisting of large areas, paved with stone, some round and others square, having four large stones placed upright around the pavement, and fronting the four cardinal points. When any one lies sick in bed, a mark is affixed to the house, that no one may enter, as no one ever visits the sick, except his own servant; and when any one belonging to the great courts is sick, watchmen are placed at a great distance, all round, that no one may enter the precincts; as they dread lest evil spirits, or bad winds, might enter along with visitors. They consider their soothsayers, or people who practise divination, as priests.