Kathay is on the ocean, and I was told by the French goldsmith at Caracarum, that there is a people or nation called Tante and Manse, inhabiting certain islands, the sea around which is frozen in winter, so that the Tartars might invade them; but they sent messengers to the great khan, offering a tribute of 2000 tuemen or jascots yearly, to permit them to live in peace. A tuemen, toman, or jascot, is a piece of money equal to ten marks.
The ordinary money of Kathay is of paper made like pasteboard, the breadth and length of a hand, on which lines are printed, like the seal of Mangu. They write with a pencil like that used by our painters, and in one figure they comprehend many letters, forming one word. The people of Thibet write as we do, and their characters are very like our own. Those of Tangut write from right to left, like the Arabs, and multiply their lines ascending; while the Jugurs write in descending columns. The common money of the Rutenians or Russians, consists in spotted or grizzled furs.
When our Quinquagesima came, which is the Lent time of all the people of the east, the lady Cota fasted all that week, and came every day to our oratory, giving meat to the priests and other Christians, of whom a great company came daily to attend the service. But the porters of the court, seeing such multitudes come daily to our chapel, which was within the precincts of the court, sent one to tell the monk, that they would not allow such multitudes to come within their bounds; to this the monk made a sharp reply, and threatened to accuse them to the khan; but they prevented him, and lodged a complaint before Mangu, that the monk was too full of words, and gathered too great a multitude to hear him speak. On this he was called before the khan, who reproved him severely, saying, that as a holy man, he should employ himself in prayers to God, and not in speeches to men. But he was afterwards reconciled, by promising to go to the Pope, and to induce all the nations of the west to yield obedience to the khan. On his return to the oratory, the monk asked me if I thought he might gain admission to the Pope as the messenger of Mangu; and whether the Pope would supply him with horses to go to St James in Galicia; and whether your majesty would send your son to the court of Mangu. But I counselled him, to beware of making false promises to Mangu, and that God needed not the service of lies or deceitful speaking. About this time a dispute arose between the monk and one of the Nestorian priests, more learned than the rest, as the monk asserted that man was created before paradise, which the other denied; on reference to me, I said that paradise was created on the second day, when the other trees were made, whereas man was made on the sixth. Then the monk said, that the devil brought clay on die first day, from all the corners of the earth, of which he made the body of man, which God inspired with a soul. On this