OF THE KINGDOM OF COILUM.
When you quit Maabar and go 500 miles towards the south-west you come to the kingdom of COILUM. The people are Idolaters, but there are also some Christians and some Jews. The natives have a language of their own, and a King of their own, and are tributary to no one.[NOTE 1]
A great deal of brazil is got here which is called brazil Coilumin from the country which produces it; ’tis of very fine quality.[NOTE 2] Good ginger also grows here, and it is known by the same name of Coilumin after the country.[NOTE 3] Pepper too grows in great abundance throughout this country, and I will tell you how. You must know that the pepper-trees are (not wild but) cultivated, being regularly planted and watered; and the pepper is gathered in the months of May, June, and July. They have also abundance of very fine indigo. This is made of a certain herb which is gathered, and [after the roots have been removed] is put into great vessels upon which they pour water and then leave it till the whole of the plant is decomposed. They then put this liquid in the sun, which is tremendously hot there, so that it boils and coagulates, and becomes such as we see it. [They then divide it into pieces of four ounces each, and in that form it is exported to our parts.] [NOTE 4] And I assure you that the heat of the sun is so great there that it is scarcely to be endured; in fact if you put an egg into one of the rivers it will be boiled, before you have had time to go any distance, by the mere heat of the sun!
The merchants from Manzi, and from Arabia, and from the Levant come thither with their ships and their merchandise and make great profits both by what they import and by what they export.
There are in this country many and divers beasts quite different from those of other parts of the world. Thus there are lions black all over, with no mixture of any other colour; and there are parrots of many sorts, for some are white as snow with red beak and feet, and some are red, and some are blue, forming the most charming sight in the world; there are green ones too. There are also some parrots of exceeding small size, beautiful creatures.[NOTE 5] They have also very beautiful peacocks, larger than ours, and different; and they have cocks and hens quite different from ours; and what more shall I say? In short, everything they have is different from ours, and finer and better. Neither is their fruit like ours, nor their beasts, nor their birds; and this difference all comes of the excessive heat.
Corn they have none but rice. So also their wine they make from [palm-] sugar; capital drink it is, and very speedily it makes a man drunk. All other necessaries of man’s life they have in great plenty and cheapness. They have very good astrologers and physicians. Man and woman, they are all black, and go naked, all save a fine cloth worn about the middle. They look not on any sin of the flesh as a sin. They marry their cousins german, and a man takes his brother’s wife after the brother’s death; and all the people of India have this custom.[NOTE 6]