Rustichello of Pisa.

The Travels of Marco Polo — Volume 2 online

. (page 40 of 88)
Online LibraryRustichello of PisaThe Travels of Marco Polo — Volume 2 → online text (page 40 of 88)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


A few years ago the King of Burma repeated the mission of his remote
predecessor, but obtained only a _model_, and this has been deposited
within the walls of the palace at Mandalé, the new capital. (_Turnour_ in
_J.A.S.B._ VI. 856 seqq.; _Koeppen_, I. 521; _Tennent_, I. 388, II. 198
seqq.; _MS. Note by Sir A. Phayre; Mission to Ava_, 136.)

Of the four eye-teeth of Sakya, one, it is related, passed to the heaven
of Indra; the second to the capital of Gandhára; the third to Kalinga; the
fourth to the snake-gods. The Gandhára tooth was perhaps, like the
alms-bowl, carried off by a Sassanid invasion, and may be identical with
that tooth of Fo, which the Chinese annals state to have been brought to
China in A.D. 530 by a Persian embassy. A tooth of Buddha is now shown in a
monastery at Fu-chau; but whether this be either the Sassanian present, or
that got from Ceylon by Kúblái, is unknown. Other teeth of Buddha were
shown in Hiuen Tsang's time at Balkh, at Nagarahára (or Jalálábád), in
Kashmir, and at Kanauj. (_Koeppen_, u.s.; _Fortune_, II. 108; _H. Tsang_,
II. 31, 80, 263.)

[Illustration: Teeth of Budda.

1. At Kandy, after Tennent. 2. At Fu-Chau from Fortune.]

NOTE 7. - Fa-hian writes of the alms-pot at Pesháwar, that poor people
could fill it with a few flowers, whilst a rich man should not be able to
do so with 100, nay, with 1000 or 10,000 bushels of rice; a parable
doubtless originally carrying a lesson, like Our Lord's remark on the
widow's mite, but which hardened eventually into some foolish story like
that in the text.

The modern Mussulman story at Kandahar is that the alms-pot will contain
any quantity of liquor without overflowing.

This _Pâtra_ is the Holy Grail of Buddhism. Mystical powers of nourishment
are ascribed also to the Grail in the European legends. German scholars
have traced in the romances of the Grail remarkable indications of
Oriental origin. It is not impossible that the alms-pot of Buddha was the
prime source of them. Read the prophetic history of the _Pâtra_ as Fa-hian
heard it in India (p. 161); its mysterious wanderings over Asia till it is
taken up into the heaven _Tushita_ where Maitreya the Future Buddha
dwells. When it has disappeared from earth the Law gradually perishes, and
violence and wickedness more and more prevail:

- "What is it?
The phantom of a cup that comes and goes?
* * * * * If a man
Could touch or see it, he was heal'd at once,
By faith, of all his ills. But then the times
Grew to such evil that the holy cup
Was caught away to Heaven, and disappear'd."
- _Tennyson's Holy Grail_


[1] _Apollonia_ (of Macedonia) is made _Bolina_; so _Bolinas_ = Apollonius
(Tyanaeus).

[2] In 1870 I saw in the Libary at Monte Cassino a long French poem on the
story, in a MS. of our traveller's age. This is perhaps one referred
to by Migne, as cited in _Hist. Litt. de la France_, XV. 484. [It "has
even been published in the Spanish dialect used in the Philippine
Islands!" (_Rhys Davids, Jataka Tales_, p. xxxvii.) In a MS. note, Yule
says: "Is not this a mistake?" - H.C.]

[3] Imprynted at London in Flete Strete at the sygne of the Sonne, by
Wynkyn de Worde (1527).

[4] The first Life is thus entitled: [Greek: Bíos kaì Politeía toû Hosíou
Patròs haemôn kaì Isapostólon Ioásaph toû Basiléos taês Indías].
Professor Müller says all the Greek copies have _Ioasaph_. I have
access to no copy in the ancient Greek.

[5] Also _Migne's Dict. Légendes_, quoting a letter of C.L. Struve,
Director of Königsberg Gymnasium, to the _Journal Général de l'Inst.
Publ._, says that "an earlier story is entirely reproduced in the
Barlaam," but without saying what story.

[6] The well-known Kánhari Caves. (See _Handbook for India_, p. 306.)

[7] The quotation and the cut are from an old German version of Barlaam and
Josaphat printed by Zainer at Augsburg, circa 1477. (B.M., Grenv. Lib.,
No. 11,766.)

[8] Ed. 1554, fol. xci. _v_. So also I find in _A. Tostati Hisp. Comment.
in primam ptem. Exodi_, Ven. 1695, pp. 295-296: "Idola autem sculpta in
Aegypto primo inventa sunt per _Syrophenem_ primum Idolotrarum; ante
hoc enim pura elementa ut dii colebantur." I cannot trace the tale.




CHAPTER XVI.

CONCERNING THE GREAT PROVINCE OF MAABAR, WHICH IS CALLED INDIA THE
GREATER, AND IS ON THE MAINLAND.


When you leave the Island of Seilan and sail westward about 60 miles, you
come to the great province of MAABAR which is styled INDIA THE GREATER; it
is best of all the Indies and is on the mainland.

You must know that in this province there are five kings, who are own
brothers. I will tell you about each in turn. The Province is the finest
and noblest in the world.

At this end of the Province reigns one of those five Royal Brothers, who
is a crowned King, and his name is SONDER BANDI DAVAR. In his kingdom they
find very fine and great pearls; and I will tell you how they are
got.[NOTE 1]

You must know that the sea here forms a gulf between the Island of Seilan
and the mainland. And all round this gulf the water has a depth of no more
than 10 or 12 fathoms, and in some places no more than two fathoms. The
pearl-fishers take their vessels, great and small, and proceed into this
gulf, where they stop from the beginning of April till the middle of May.
They go first to a place called BETTELAR, and (then) go 60 miles into the
gulf. Here they cast anchor and shift from their large vessels into small
boats. You must know that the many merchants who go divide into various
companies, and each of these must engage a number of men on wages, hiring
them for April and half of May. Of all the produce they have first to pay
the King, as his royalty, the tenth part. And they must also pay those men
who charm the great fishes, to prevent them from injuring the divers
whilst engaged in seeking pearls under water, one twentieth part of all
that they take. These fish-charmers are termed _Abraiaman_; and their
charm holds good for that day only, for at night they dissolve the charm
so that the fishes can work mischief at their will. These Abraiaman know
also how to charm beasts and birds and every living thing. When the men
have got into the small boats they jump into the water and dive to the
bottom, which may be at a depth of from 4 to 12 fathoms, and there they
remain as long as they are able. And there they find the shells that
contain the pearls [and these they put into a net bag tied round the
waist, and mount up to the surface with them, and then dive anew. When
they can't hold their breath any longer they come up again, and after a
little down they go once more, and so they go on all day].[NOTE 2] The
shells are in fashion like oysters or sea-hoods. And in these shells are
found pearls, great and small, of every kind, sticking in the flesh of the
shell-fish.

In this manner pearls are fished in great quantities, for thence in fact
come the pearls which are spread all over the world. And I can tell you
the King of that State hath a very great receipt and treasure from his
dues upon those pearls.

As soon as the middle of May is past, no more of those pearl-shells are
found there. It is true, however, that a long way from that spot, some 300
miles distant, they are also found; but that is in September and the first
half of October.


NOTE 1. - MAABAR (_Ma'bar_) was the name given by the Mahomedans at this
time (13th and 14th centuries) to a tract corresponding in a general way
to what we call the Coromandel Coast. The word in Arabic signifies the
Passage or Ferry, and may have referred either to the communication with
Ceylon, or, as is more probable, to its being in that age the coast most
frequented by travellers from Arabia and the Gulf.[1] The name does not
appear in Edrisi, nor, I believe, in any of the older geographers, and the
earliest use of it that I am aware of is in Abdallatif's account of Egypt,
a work written about 1203-1204. (_De Sacy, Rel. de l'Egypte_, p. 31.)
Abulfeda distinctly names Cape Comorin as the point where Malabar ended
and Ma'bar began, and other authority to be quoted presently informs us
that it extended to _Niláwar_, i.e. Nellore.

There are difficulties as to the particular locality of the port or city
which Polo visited in the territory of the Prince whom he calls Sondar
Bandi Davar; and there are like doubts as to the identification, from the
dark and scanty Tamul records, of the Prince himself, and the family to
which he belonged; though he is mentioned by more than one foreign writer
besides Polo.

Thus Wassáf: "Ma'bar extends in length from Kaulam to Niláwar, nearly 300
parasangs along the sea-coast; and in the language of that country the
king is called Devar, which signifies, 'the Lord of Empire.' The
curiosities of Chín and Máchín, and the beautiful products of Hind and
Sind, laden on large ships which they call _Junks_, sailing like mountains
with the wings of the wind on the surface of the water, are always
arriving there. The wealth of the Isles of the Persian Gulf in particular,
and in part the beauty and adornment of other countries, from 'Irak and
Khurásán as far as Rúm and Europe, are derived from Ma'bar, which is so
situated as to be the key of Hind.

"A few years since the DEVAR was SUNDAR PANDI, who had three brothers,
each of whom established himself in independence in some different
country. The eminent prince, the Margrave (_Marzbán_) of Hind, Taki-uddin
Abdu-r Rahmán, a son of Muhammad-ut-Tíbí, whose virtues and
accomplishments have for a long time been the theme of praise and
admiration among the chief inhabitants of that beautiful country, was the
Devar's deputy, minister, and adviser, and was a man of sound judgment.
Fattan, Malifattan, and Káil[2] were made over to his possession.... In
the months of the year 692 H. (A.D. 1293) the above-mentioned Devar, the
ruler of Ma'bar, died and left behind him much wealth and treasure. It is
related by Malik-ul-Islám Jamáluddín, that out of that treasure 7000 oxen
laden with precious stones and pure gold and silver fell to the share of
the brother who succeeded him. Malik-i 'Azam Taki-uddin continued prime
minister as before, and in fact ruler of that kingdom, and his glory and
magnificence were raised a thousand times higher."[3]

Seventeen years later (1310) Wassáf introduces another king of Ma'bar
called _Kalesa Devar_, who had ruled for forty years in prosperity, and
had accumulated in the treasury of Shahr-Mandi (i.e., as Dr. Caldwell
informs me MADURA, entitled by the Mahomedan invaders Shahr-Pandi, and
still occasionally mispronounced _Shahr-Mandi_) 1200 crores (!) in gold.
He had two sons, SUNDAR BANDI by a lawful wife, and Pirabandi (Vira
Pandi?) illegitimate. He designated the latter as his successor. Sundar
Bandi, enraged at this, slew his father and took forcible possession of
Shahr-Mandi and its treasures. Pirabandi succeeded in driving him out;
Sundar Bandi went to Aláuddin, Sultan of Delhi, and sought help. The
Sultan eventually sent his general Hazárdinári (_alias_ Malik Káfúr) to
conquer Ma'bar.

In the third volume of Elliot we find some of the same main facts, with
some differences and greater detail, as recounted by Amír Khusru. Bir
Pandiya and Sundara Pandiya are the _Rais_ of Ma'bar, and are at war with
one another, when the army of Alaúddin, after reducing Bilál Deo of Dwára
Samudra, descends upon Ma'bar in the beginning of 1311 (p. 87 seqq.).

We see here two rulers in Ma'bar, within less than twenty years, bearing
the name of Sundara Pandi. And, strange to say, more than a century
before, during the continental wars of Parákráma Bahu I., the most martial
of Singhalese kings (A.D. 1153-1186), we find _another Kulasaikera_ (=
_Kalesa_ of Wassáf), King of Madura, with _another Vira Pándi_ for son,
and _another Sundara Pandi_ Rája, figuring in the history of the
_Pandionis Regio_. But let no one rashly imagine that there is a confusion
in the chronology here. The Hindu Chronology of the continental states is
dark and confused enough, but not that of Ceylon, which in this, as in
sundry other respects, comes under Indo-Chinese rather than Indian
analogies. (See _Turnour's Ceylonese Epitome_, pp. 41-43; and _J.A.S.B._
XLI. Pt. I. p. 197 seqq.)

In a note with which Dr. Caldwell favoured me some time before the first
publication of this work, he considers that the Sundar Bandi of Polo and
the Persian Historians is undoubtedly to be identified with that Sundara
Pandi Devar, who is in the Tamul Catalogues the last king of the ancient
Pandya line, and who was (says Dr. Caldwell,) "succeeded by Mahomedans, by
a new line of Pandyas, by the Náyak Kings, by the Nabobs of Arcot, and
finally by the English. He became for a time a Jaina, but was reconverted
to the worship of Siva, when his name was changed from _Kun_ or _Kubja_,
'Crook-backed,' to _Sundara_, 'Beautiful,' in accordance with a change
which then took place, the Saivas say, in his personal appearance.
Probably his name, from the beginning, was Sundara.... In the inscriptions
belonging to the period of his reign he is invariably represented, not as
a joint king or viceroy, but as an absolute monarch ruling over an
extensive tract of country, including the Chola country or Tanjore, and
Conjeveram, and as the only possessor for the time being of the title
_Pandi Devar_. It is clear from the agreement of Rashiduddin with Marco
Polo that Sundara Pandi's power was shared in some way with his brothers,
but it seems certain also from the inscription that there was a sense in
which he alone was king."

I do not give the whole of Dr. Caldwell's remarks on this subject,
because, the 3rd volume of Elliot not being then published, he had not
before him the whole of the information from the Mussulman historians,
which shows so clearly that _two_ princes bearing the name of Sundara
Pandi are mentioned by them, and because I cannot see my way to adopt his
view, great as is the weight due to his opinion on any such question.

Extraordinary darkness hangs over the chronology of the South Indian
kingdoms, as we may judge from the fact that Dr. Caldwell would have thus
placed at the end of the 13th century, on the evidence of Polo and
Rashiduddin, the reign of the last of the genuine Pandya kings, whom other
calculations place earlier even by centuries. Thus, to omit views more
extravagant, Mr. Nelson, the learned official historian of Madura,
supposes it on the whole most probable that Kun Pandya _alias_ Sundara,
reigned in the latter half of the 11th century. "The Sri Tala Book, which
appears to have been written about 60 years ago, and was probably compiled
from brief Tamil chronicles then in existence, states that the Pandya race
became extinct upon the death of Kún Pandya; and the children of
concubines and of younger brothers who (had) lived in former ages, fought
against one another, split up the country into factions, and got
themselves crowned, and ruled one in one place, another in another. But
none of these families succeeded in getting possession of Madura, the
capital, which consequently fell into decay. And further on it tells us,
rather inconsistently, that up to A.D. 1324 the kings 'who ruled the
Madura country, were part of the time Pandyas, at other times
foreigners.'" And a variety of traditions referred to by Mr. Nelson
appears to interpose such a period of unsettlement and shifting and
divided sovereignty, extending over a considerable time, between the end
of the genuine Pandya Dynasty and the Mahomedan invasion; whilst lists of
numerous princes who reigned in this period have been handed down. Now we
have just seen that the Mahomedan invasion took place in 1311, and we must
throw aside the traditions and the lists altogether if we suppose that the
Sundara Pandi of 1292 was the last prince of the Old Line. Indeed, though
the indication is faint, the manner in which Wassáf speaks of Polo's
Sundara and his brothers as having established themselves in different
territories, and as in constant war with each other, is suggestive of the
state of unsettlement which the Sri Tala and the traditions describe.

There is a difficulty in co-ordinating these four or five brothers at
constant war, whom Polo found in possession of different provinces of
Ma'bar about 1290, with the Devar Kalesa, of whom Wassáf speaks as slain
in 1310 after a prosperous reign of forty years. Possibly the brothers
were adventurers who had divided the coast districts, whilst Kalesa still
reigned with a more legitimate claim at Shahr-Mandi or Madura. And it is
worthy of notice that the Ceylon Annals call the Pandi king whose army
carried off the sacred tooth in 1303 _Kulasaikera_, a name which we may
easily believe to represent Wassáf's Kalesa. (_Nelson's Madura_, 55, 67,
71-74; _Turnour's Epitome_, p. 47.)

As regards the position of the port of Ma'bar visited, but not named, by
Marco Polo, and at or near which his Sundara Pandi seems to have resided,
I am inclined to look for it rather in Tanjore than on the Gulf of Manar,
south of the Rameshwaram shallows. The difficulties in this view are the
indication of its being "60 miles west of Ceylon," and the special mention
of the Pearl Fishery in connection with it. We cannot, however, lay much
stress upon Polo's orientation. When his general direction is from east to
west, every new place reached is for him _west_ of that last visited;
whilst the Kaveri Delta is as near the north point of Ceylon as Ramnad is
to Aripo. The pearl difficulty may be solved by the probability that the
dominion of Sonder Bandi _extended_ to the coast of the Gulf of Manar.

On the other hand Polo, below (ch. xx.), calls the province of Sundara
Pandi _Soli_, which we can scarcely doubt to be _Chola_ or _Soladesam_,
i.e. Tanjore. He calls it also "the best and noblest Province of India,"
a description which even with his limited knowledge of India he would
scarcely apply to the coast of Ramnad, but which might be justifiably
applied to the well-watered plains of Tanjore, even when as yet Arthur
Cotton was not. Let it be noticed too that Polo in speaking (ch. xix.) of
Mutfili (or Telingana) specifies its distance from Ma'bar as if he had
made the run by sea from one to the other; but afterwards when he proceeds
to speak of _Cail_, which stands on the Gulf of Manar, he does not specify
its position or distance in regard to Sundara Pandi's territory; an
omission which he would not have been likely to make had _both_ lain on
the Gulf of Manar.

Abulfeda tells us that the capital of the Prince of Ma'bar, who was the
great horse-importer, was called _Bíyardáwal_,[4] a name which now
appears in the extracts from Amír Khusru (_Elliot_, III. 90-91) as
_Birdhúl_, the capital of Bir Pandi mentioned above, whilst Madura was the
residence of his brother, the later Sundara Pandi. And from the
indications in those extracts it can be gathered, I think, that Birdhúl
was not far from the Kaveri (called Kánobari), not far from the sea, and
five or six days' march from Madura. These indications point to Tanjore,
Kombakonam, or some other city in or near the Kaveri Delta.[5] I should
suppose that this Birdhúl was the capital of Polo's Sundara Pandi, and
that the port visited was Kaveripattanam. This was a great sea-port at one
of the mouths of the Kaveri, which is said to have been destroyed by an
inundation about the year 1300. According to Mr. Burnell it was the
"_Pattanam_ 'par excellence' of the Coromandel Coast, and the great port
of the Chola kingdom."[6]

[Illustration: Chinese Pagoda (so called) at Negapatam. (From a sketch
taken in 1846 by Sir Walter Elliot.)]

Some corroboration of the supposition that the Tanjore ports were those
frequented by Chinese trade may be found in the fact that a remarkable
Pagoda of uncemented brickwork, about a mile to the north-west of
Negapatam, popularly bears (or bore) the name of _the Chinese Pagoda_. I
do not mean to imply that the building was Chinese, but that the
application of that name to a ruin of strange character pointed to some
tradition of Chinese visitors.[7] Sir Walter Elliot, to whom I am
indebted for the sketch of it given here, states that this building
differed essentially from any type of Hindu architecture with which he was
acquainted, but being without inscription or sculpture it was impossible
to assign to it any authentic origin. Negapatam was, however, celebrated
as a seat of _Buddhist_ worship, and this may have been a remnant of their
work. In 1846 it consisted of three stories divided by cornices of stepped
brickwork. The interior was open to the top, and showed the marks of a
floor about 20 feet from the ground. Its general appearance is shown by
the cut. This interesting building was reported in 1859 to be in too
dilapidated a state for repair, and now exists no longer. Sir W. Elliot
also tells me that collectors employed by him picked up in the sand, at
several stations on this coast, numerous Byzantine and _Chinese_ as well
as Hindu coins.[8] The brickwork of the pagoda, as described by him, very
fine and closely fitted but without cement, corresponds to that of the
Burmese and Ceylonese mediaeval Buddhist buildings. The _architecture_ has
a slight resemblance to that of Pollanarua in Ceylon (see _Fergusson_, II.
p. 512). (_Abulf._ in _Gildemeister_, p. 185; _Nelson_, Pt. II. p. 27
seqq.; _Taylor's Catalogue Raisonné_, III. 386-389.)

Ma'bar is mentioned (_Mà-pa-'rh_) in the Chinese Annals as one of the
foreign kingdoms which sent tribute to Kúblái in 1286 (supra, p. 296);
and Pauthier has given some very curious and novel extracts from Chinese
sources regarding the diplomatic intercourse with Ma'bar in 1280 and the
following years. Among other points these mention the "five brothers who
were Sultans" (_Suantan_), an envoy _Chamalating_ (Jumaluddín) who had
been sent from Ma'bar to the Mongol Court, etc. (See pp. 603 seqq.)

NOTE 2. - Marco's account of the pearl-fishery is still substantially
correct. _Bettelar_, the rendezvous of the fishery, was, I imagine, PATLAM
on the coast of Ceylon, called by Ibn Batuta _Batthála_. Though the centre
of the pearl-fishery is now at Aripo and Kondachi further north, its site
has varied sometimes as low as Chilaw, the name of which is a corruption
of that given by the Tamuls, _Salábham_, which means "the Diving," i.e.
the Pearl-fishery. Tennent gives the meaning erroneously as "the Sea of
Gain." I owe the correction to Dr. Caldwell. (_Ceylon_, I. 440; _Pridham_,
409; _Ibn Bat._ IV. 166; _Ribeyro_, ed. Columbo, 1847, App. p. 196.)

[Ma Huan (_J. North China B.R.A.S._ XX. p. 213) says that "the King (of
Ceylon) has had an [artificial] pearl pond dug, into which every two or
three years he orders pearl oysters to be thrown, and he appoints men to
keep watch over it. Those who fish for these oysters, and take them to the
authorities for the King's use, sometimes steal and fraudulently sell
them." - H.C.]

The shark-charmers do not now seem to have any claim to be called
Abraiaman or Brahmans, but they may have been so in former days. At the
diamond mines of the northern Circars Brahmans are employed in the
analogous office of propitiating the tutelary genii. The shark-charmers
are called in Tamul _Kadal-Katti_, "Sea-binders," and in Hindustani
_Hai-banda_ or "Shark-binders." At Aripo they belong to one family,
supposed to have the monopoly of the charm. The chief operator is (or was,
not many years ago) paid by Government, and he also received ten oysters
from each boat daily during the fishery. Tennent, on his visit, found the
incumbent of the office to be a Roman Catholic Christian, but that did not
seem to affect the exercise or the validity of his functions. It is
remarkable that when Tennent wrote, not more than one authenticated
accident from sharks had taken place, during the whole period of the
British occupation.

The time of the fishery is a little earlier than Marco mentions, viz. in
March and April, just between the cessation of the north-east and
commencement of the south-west monsoon. His statement of the depth is
quite correct; the diving is carried on in water of 4 to 10 fathoms deep,
and never in a greater depth than 13.

I do not know the site of the other fishery to which he alludes as
practised in September and October; but the time implies shelter from the
south-west Monsoon, and it was probably on the east side of the island,
where in 1750 there was a fishery, at Trincomalee. (_Stewart_ in _Trans.



Online LibraryRustichello of PisaThe Travels of Marco Polo — Volume 2 → online text (page 40 of 88)