Of the places where Pepper grows, and in what Manner it is procured.
Pepper grows in the kingdom of Minibar (Malabar), where it is more plentiful than in any other part of the world, being found abundantly in that country, in a forest which extends for eighteen days journey in circuit. In the wood, or forest, there are two cities, named Flandrina and Cynci lim. Flandrina is inhabited both by Jews and Christians, who are often engaged in quarrels, and even in war, in which the Christians are always victorious. In this forest which we have mentioned, the plant which produces the pepper is planted near the large trees, as we plant vines in Italy. It grows with numerous leaves, like our pot herbs, and climbs up the trees, producing the pepper in clusters like our grapes. When these are ripe, they are of a green colour, and, being gathered, are laid in the sun to dry, after which they are put into earthen vessels for sale. In this forest there are many rivers, having great numbers of crocodiles and serpents; and the natives make large fires of straw and other dry fuel, at the proper season for gathering the pepper, that they may do so without danger from these noxious animals. At one end of this forest the city of Polumbrum is situated, which abounds in all kinds of merchandize.
The inhabitants of that country worship a living ox as their god, which is made to labour in husbandry for six years, and in his seventh year, he is consecrated as holy, and is no more allowed to work. With this strange animal god, they use the following strange ceremony: Every morning they take two basons of silver or gold, in one of which they collect the urine of the holy ox, and his dung in the other; and the devotees wash their faces, eyes, and all their five senses in the urine; and anoint their eyes, cheeks,