The Nestorian probably said an idol-house; meaning
one of the high
towers usually erected near Chinese temples: and even this must have
stood upon a very elevated situation, in an extensive plain, to be
seen from so great a distance, perhaps of sixty miles.—E.
Of their Temples and Idols, and the Worship of their Gods.
All their priests shave their heads and beards, and are clothed in yellow; and they live in companies of one or two hundred together, observing strict celibacy. On holy days, they sit in the temple on long benches, placed directly opposite each other, holding books in their hands, which they sometimes lay on the benches; and all the time they remain in the temples, they have their heads bare, and they read to themselves, keeping profound silence: Insomuch, that when I went into the temple, and endeavoured all I could to provoke them to speak, I could not succeed. Wherever they go, they carry a string with an hundred or two hundred nut-shells, like our rosaries, and they are continually uttering the words, Ou mam Hactani, which was explained to me as signifying, O God! thou knowest. And as often as they pronounce these words in remembrance of God, they expect a proportional reward. Round the temple, there is always a handsome court, environed by a high wall, on the south side of which is a large portal, in which they sit to confer together; and over this portal they erect a long pole, rising if possible above the whole city, that every one may know where to find the temple. These things are common to all the idolaters.
On going to visit this temple, I found the priests sitting under the outer portal; and those whom I saw, appeared, by their shaven beards, like French friars. They wore conical caps of paper on their heads; and all the priests of the Jugurs wear this cap continually, and yellow strait tunics fastened down the middle like those in France; besides which, they wear a cloak on their left shoulder, flowing loosely before and behind, but leaving the right arm free, somewhat like a deacon carrying the pix in Lent. Their mode of writing is adopted by the Tartars. They begin to write at the top of the page, and extend their lines downwards, reading and writing from left to right. They make great use of written papers in their magical incantations, and their temples are hung round with short written sentences. The letters sent by Mangu-khan to your majesty, are written in these characters, and in the language of the Moal. These people burn their dead in the manner of the ancients, and deposit the ashes on the top of certain pyramids. After sitting for some time beside these priests, and having entered their temple to look at their many images, some large and others small, I asked what was their belief concerning God? To which they answered, that they believed in one