[Footnote 1: Abou-abd-allah Mahommed was a Moor of the family who reigned over Malaga after the fall of the Kalifat of Cordova, in the early part of the 11th century, and his patronymic of Edrisi or Al Edrissy implies that he was descended from the princes of that race who had previously held supreme power in what is at the present day the Empire of Morocco. He took up his residence in Sicily under the patronage of the Norman king, Roger II., A.D. 1154, and the work on geography which he there composed was not only based on the previous labours of Massoudi, Ibn Haukul, Albyrouni, and others, but it embodied the reports of persons commissioned specially by the king to undertake voyages for the purpose of bringing back correct accounts of foreign countries. See REINAUD’S Introduction to the Geography of Abulfeda, p. cxiii.]
Edrisi did not write from personal knowledge, as he had never visited either Ceylon or India; but compiling as he did, by command of Roger H., of Sicily, a compendium, of geographical knowledge as it existed in his time, the information which he has systematised may be regarded as a condensation of such facts as the eastern seamen engaged in the Indian trade had brought back with them from Ceylon.
“In the mountains around Adam’s Peak,” says Edrisi, “they collect precious stones of every description, and in the valleys they find those diamonds by means of which they engrave the setting of stones on rings.”
“The same mountains produce aromatic drugs perfumes, and aloes-wood, and there too they find the animal, the civet, which yields musk. The islanders cultivate rice, coco-nuts, and sugar-cane; in the rivers is found rock crystal, remarkable both for brilliancy and size, and the sea on every side has a fishery of magnificent and priceless pearls. Throughout India there is no prince whose wealth can compare with the King of Serendib, his immense riches, his pearls and his jewels, being the produce of his own dominions and seas; and thither ships of China, and of every neighbouring country resort, bringing the wines of Irak and Fars, which the king buys for sale to his subjects; for he drinks wine and prohibits debauchery; whilst other princes of India encourage debauchery and prohibit the use of wine. The exports from Serendib consist of silk, precious stones, crystals, diamonds, and perfumes."
[Footnote 1: Edrisi, Geographie, Trad. JAUBERT, tom. i. p. 73.]
The silk alluded to in the last chapter must have been brought from China for re-exportation to the West. Silk is frequently mentioned in the Mahawanso but never with any suggestion of its being a native product of Ceylon.
[Footnote 1: Silk is mentioned 20 B.C. Rajaratnacari, p. 49. Mahawanso, ch. xxiii. p. 139.]