I was informed by certain credible persons, that in the mountains of Kapsei, in the kingdom of Kalor, which is in the dominions of the great khan, there grow certain gourds, or pompions, which open when ripe, and a little beast is found within them, resembling a young lamb. I have likewise heard, that there grow certain trees upon the shore of the Irish sea, which carry a fruit like gourds, and that these fall into the sea at certain times, and are changed into birds called Bernacles.
Of various Provinces and Cities of the East.
After a residence of three years in Cambalu, I departed from the empire of Kathay, and travelled fifty days to the west, when I arrived in the dominions of Pretegoani, whose principal city is Cosan. Continuing my journey for many days, I came to the province of Casan, which is well inhabited, and one of the first countries in the world, for abundance of provisions, and commodities of all kinds, especially of chesnuts; and, is so extremely populous, that, on leaving the gates of any one city, we may always have the gates of another within sight. This country is fifty days journey in breadth, and it is above sixty days journey in length. This is one of the twelve great provinces belonging to the great khan.
Farther on, I came into another kingdom belonging to the khan, called Tebek or Thibet, which is, in my opinion, more abundant in bread and wine than any other country in the world. The inhabitants mostly dwell in tents of black felt, The principal city is surrounded by beautiful walls, built of large white and black stones, disposed chequerwise; and all the highways of the country are well paved. In this country, from certain religious notions, no one dares shed the blood of a man, or of any beast. The Abassi, who is their Pope, dwells in the city already mentioned, being the head or prince of all the idolaters, on whom he bestows gifts; just as our Pope of Rome considers himself to be the head of all the Christians. The women of this country wear a prodigious number of ornaments, and they have two long teeth like the tusks of a boar. When any man dies in this country, his son assembles all the priests and musicians that he can procure, to do honour to his father, whose body he causes to be carried out into the fields, accompanied by all the kindred, friends, and neighbours of the family. Then the priests, with great solemnity, cut off the head of the deceased, which they give to his son; after which, they divide the whole body into small pieces, which they leave strewed about the place; and then the whole company return home in solemn procession, accompanied with prayers, the son bearing his fathers head. On their departure from the field, the vultures of the country, accustomed to similar banquets, come down from the mountains, and carry off all the remains of the deceased person; who is thereupon pronounced holy, because the angels