A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 647 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels Volume 01.
with some disasters in their domestic concerns, they sent ambassadors to the khan, earnestly entreating him to revoke so grievous a mandate, and to permit them to continue a custom which had been handed down by their ancestors.  To this the khan answered, “Since you glory in your shame, you may go and act according to your customs.”  The messengers who brought back this favourable answer, were received with great rejoicings by the nation; and the above custom continued when I Marco was among them.

After leaving the province of Chamil, we enter into that of Chinchintalas[3], subject to the great khan, which is bounded by the desert on the north, and is sixteen days journey in length.  It has large cities and many castles, the inhabitants being divided into three sects or religions:  The greater number are idolaters, a considerable number are Mahometans, and a small proportion are Nestorian Christians.  In this province there are mountains containing mines of steel, and andanicum or audanicum, and also a mineral substance called salamander or asbestos, from the wool of which an incombustible cloth is manufactured, which, if cast into the fire does not burn.  This cloth is actually made of stone in the following manner, as I was informed by a Turk named Curifar, an intelligent industrious person of my acquaintance, who had the superintendence of the mines in this province.  A certain mineral is found in these mountains, which yields fibres resembling wool:  After being thoroughly dried in the sun, this substance is pounded in a brass mortar, and then washed to remove all earthy impurities; and the clean fibrous matter is spun in the same manner as wool, and woven into cloth.  When this cloth requires to be cleaned or whitened, it is thrown into the fire for an hour, and is then taken out unhurt, and as white as snow.  It is said, there is a napkin at Rome of this salamander wool, in which the handkerchief of the Lord Jesus is kept wrapped up, which a certain king of the Tartars sent as a present to the Pope.  But as for the salamander or serpent, which is reported to live in the fire, I could hear of no such creature in all the eastern countries.

Leaving this province, we travel for ten days between the east and north-east, during which there are few habitations or things worthy of remark; after which we come to the province of Succir[4], in which there are many towns and villages, the chief city being called Succir.  In this province, which is subject to the great khan, there are a few Christians among a great number of idolaters.  The best rhubarb[5] is found in great quantities in this province, and is carried thence by merchants to various parts of the world.  Strangers dare not go to the mountains where the rhubarb grows, on account of certain poisonous plants, which occasion any beasts that feed upon them to cast their hoofs; but the beasts of the country know this plant, and avoid feeding upon it Campion[6] is a great city, and is the chief place in all Tangut. 

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A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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