Metrites, Meclites, or Markaets.—Forst.
No such appellation is to be
found in modern geography; but the discontinuance of the designations,
of temporary and continually changing associations of the wandering
tribes of the desert, is not to be wondered at, and even if their
records were preserved, they would be altogether unimportant.—E.
Of the vast Countries to the North of Tartary, and many other curious Particulars.
We now return to Campion, or Kantcheou, on the river Etzine. Proceeding thence five days journey towards the east, we come to the country of Erginul in the province of Tangut, which is subject to the great khan. In this kingdom there are many idolaters, with some Nestorians and Turks. It contains many cities and castles, the chief place being of the same name with the province.
Going south-east from this place towards Kathay, we come to the famous city of Cinguy, situated in a province of the same name, which is tributary to the great khan, and is contained in the kingdom of Tangut. Some of the people are Christians, some of them Mahometans, and others are idolaters. In this country there are certain wild cattle, nearly as large as elephants, with black and white hair, which is short all over the body, except on the shoulders, where it is three spans long, exceedingly fine, pure white, and in many respects more beautiful than silk. I brought some of this hair to Venice as a rarity. Many of these oxen are tamed and broke in for labour, for which they are better adapted, by their strength, than any other creatures, as they bear very heavy burdens, and when yoked in the plough will do twice the work of others. The best musk in the world is found in this province, and is procured from a beautiful animal, the size of a goat, having hair like a stag, the feet and tail resembling an antelope, but has no horns; it has two teeth in the upper jaw, above three inches long, as white as the finest ivory. When the moon is at the full, a tumor, or imposthume, grows on the belly of this animal, resembling a bladder filled with blood, and at this time people go to hunt this animal for the sake of this bag or swelling, which they dry in the sun, and sell at a high price, as it is the best of musk. The flesh also of the animal is good for eating. I, Marco, brought the head and feet of one of these animals to Venice.
The people of this country of Singui live by trade and manufacture, and they have abundance of corn. They are idolaters, having fat bodies, small noses, black hair, and no beard, except a few scattered hairs on their chins. The women are exceedingly fair, and the men rather make choice of their wives by their beauty than by their nobility or riches; so, that when a great nobleman marries a poor but beautiful wife, he has often to assign a large dowery to obtain the consent of the mother. This province extends twenty-five days journey in length, and is very fertile. In it there are exceedingly large pheasants, with tails eight or ten handbreadths long, and many other kinds of birds, some of which have very beautiful and finely variegated plumage.