The country is bounded on the south by a kingdom called Mosul, the people of which are Jacobite and Nestorian Christians, of whom I shall have more to tell you presently. On the north it is bounded by the Land of the Georgians, of whom also I shall speak. On the confines towards Georgiania there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance, insomuch that a hundred shiploads might be taken from it at one time. This oil is not good to use with food, but ’tis good to burn, and is also used to anoint camels that have the mange. People come from vast distances to fetch it, for in all the countries round about they have no other oil.[NOTE 5]
Now, having done with Great Armenia, we will tell you of Georgiania.
NOTE 1.—[Erzinjan, Erzinga, or Eriza, in the vilayet of Erzrum, was rebuilt in 1784, after having been destroyed by an earthquake. “Arzendjan,” says Ibn Batuta, II. p. 294, “is in possession of well-established markets; there are manufactured fine stuffs, which are called after its name.” It was at Erzinjan that was fought in 1244 the great battle, which placed the Seljuk Turks under the dependency of the Mongol Khans.—H. C.] I do not find mention of its hot springs by modern travellers, but Lazari says Armenians assured him of their existence. There are plenty of others in Polo’s route through the country, as at Ilija, close to Erzrum, and at Hassan Kala.
The Buckrams of Arzinga are mentioned both by Pegolotti (circa 1340) and by Giov. d’Uzzano (1442). But what were they?
Buckram in the modern sense is a coarse open texture of cotton or hemp, loaded with gum, and used to stiffen certain articles of dress. But this was certainly not the mediaeval sense. Nor is it easy to bring the mediaeval uses of the term under a single explanation. Indeed Mr. Marsh suggests that probably two different words have coalesced. Fr.-Michel says that Bouqueran was at first applied to a light cotton stuff of the nature of muslin, and afterwards to linen, but I do not see that he makes out this history of the application. Douet d’Arcq, in his Comptes de l’Argenterie, etc., explains the word simply in the modern sense, but there seems nothing in his text to bear this out.
A quotation in Raynouard’s Romance Dictionary has “Vestirs de polpra e de bisso que est bocaran,” where Raynouard renders bisso as lin; a quotation in Ducange also makes Buckram the equivalent of Bissus; and Michel quotes from an inventory of 1365, “unam culcitram pinctam (qu. punctam?) albam factam de bisso aliter boquerant.”
Mr. Marsh again produces quotations, in which the word is used as a proverbial example of whiteness, and inclines to think that it was a bleached cloth with a lustrous surface.