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.

Of the Island of Ceylon, and various parts of Hither India.

Sailing from Angaman 1000 miles west, and a little to the south, we come to the island of Zelan or Ceylon, which is 2400 miles in circumference; but was anciently 3600 miles round, as appears from the former charts of the country, the north winds having occasioned the sea to destroy a great part of it.  This is the finest island in the world, and its king is called Sendernaz.  The men and women are idolaters, and go entirely naked, except a small cloth before them.  They grow no corn except rice; and they have plenty of oil of sesame, milk, flesh, palm wine, Brazil wood, the best rubies in the world, sapphires, topazes, amethysts, and other gems.  The king of the island is said to have the finest ruby that ever was seen, as long as the hand, and as thick as a mans wrist, without spot or blemish, and glowing like a fire.  Cublai-Khan once sent to purchase this ruby, offering the value of a city for it; but the king answered that he would not part with it for all the treasure in the world, because it had belonged to his ancestors.  The men of this island are unfit for soldiers, and hire others when they have occasion to go to war.

There is a high mountain in Ceylon, to the top of which no one can ascend, without the assistance of iron chains, and on which the Saracens report that the sepulchre of Adam is situated; but the idolaters say that it is the body of Sogomon Burchan, the first founder of idol worship, son of a king of the island, who betook himself to a recluse life of religious contemplation on the top of this mountain, from whence no pleasures or persuasions could induce him to withdraw.  After his death, his father caused an image of him to be made of solid gold, and commanded all his subjects to adore him as their god:  and hence they say is the origin of idol worship.  People come here in pilgrimage from remote regions, and there his fore-teeth, and a dish which he used, are solemnly exhibited as holy relics.  As the Saracens pretend that these belonged to Adam, Cublai-Khan was induced, in 1281, to send ambassadors to the king of this country, who obtained the dish, two teeth, and some of the hairs of Sogomon Barchan:  These the great khan caused to be received without the city with great reverence and solemnity, by the whole people of Cambalu, and brought into his presence with great honour.

Sixty miles to the west of Ceylon is Moabar[1].  This is no island, but lies on the firm continent, which may be called the greater India.  In it there are four kings, the principal one of whom is Sinder Candi, in whose kingdom they fish for pearls, between Ceylon and Moabar, in a bay where the sea does not exceed ten or twelve fathoms deep.  Here the divers descend to the bottom, and in bags or nets which are tied about their bodies, bring up the oysters which contain the pearls.  On account of certain great fish which kill the divers, they hire bramins to charm

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