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

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 770 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 01.

I now return to some provinces more to the north, where many Tartars dwell, who have a king called Caidu, of the race of Zingis, but who is entirely independent.  These Tartars, observant of the customs of their ancestors, dwell not in cities, castles, or fortresses, but continually roam about, along with their king, in the plains and forests, and are esteemed true Tartars.  They have no corn of any kind, but have multitudes of horses, cattle, sheep, and other beasts, and live on flesh and milk, in great peace.  In their country there are white bears of large size, twenty palms in length; very large wild asses, little beasts called rondes, from which we have the valuable fur called sables, and various other animals producing fine furs, which the Tartars are very skilful in taking.  This country abounds in great lakes, which are frozen over, except for a few months in every year, and in summer it is hardly possible to travel, on account of marshes and waters; for which reason, the merchants who go to buy furs, and who have to travel for fourteen days through the desert, have wooden houses at the end of each days journey, where they barter with the inhabitants, and in winter they travel in sledges without wheels, quite flat at the bottom, and rising semicircularly at the top, and these are drawn by great dogs, yoked in couples, the sledgeman only with his merchant and furs, sitting within[7].

Beyond these Tartars is a country reaching to the extremest north, called the Obscure land, because the sun never appears during the greatest part of the winter months, and the air is perpetually thick and darkish, as is the case with us sometimes in hazy mornings.  The inhabitants are pale and squat, and live like beasts, without law, religion, or king.  The Tartars often rob them of their cattle during the dark months; and lest they might lose their way in these expeditions they ride on mares which have sucking foals, leaving these at the entrance of the country, under a guard; and when they have got possession of any booty, they give the reins to the mares, which make the best of their way to rejoin their foals.  In their, long-continued summer[8], these northern people take many of the finest furs, some of which are carried into Russia, which is a great country near that northern land of darkness.  The people in Russia have fair complexions, and are Greek Christians, paying tribute to the king of the Tartars in the west, on whom they border.  In the eastern parts of Russia there is abundance of fine furs, wax, and mines of silver; and I am told the country reaches to the northern ocean, in which there are islands which abound in falcons and ger-falcons.

[1] This concluding section may be considered as a kind of appendix, in
    which Marco has placed several unconnected hearsay notices of
    countries where he never had been personally.—­E.

[2] Mandeigascar in the Trevigi edition, and certainly meant for

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