The Travels of Sir John Mandeville, by John Mandeville

Chapter XXIX

Of the Countries and Isles that Be Beyond the Land of Cathay; and of the Fruits There; and of Twenty-Two Kings Enclosed Within the Mountains

NOW shall I say you, suingly, of countries and isles that be beyond the countries that I have spoken of.

Wherefore I say you, in passing by the land of Cathay toward the high Ind and toward Bacharia, men pass by a kingdom that men clepe Caldilhe, that is a full fair country.

And there groweth a manner of fruit, as though it were gourds. And when they be ripe, men cut them a-two, and men find within a little beast, in flesh, in bone, and blood, as though it were a little lamb without wool. And men eat both the fruit and the beast. And that is a great marvel. Of that fruit I have eaten, although it were wonderful, but that I know well that God is marvellous in his works. And, natheles, I told them of as great a marvel to them, that is amongst us, and that was of the Bernakes. For I told them that in our country were trees that bear a fruit that become birds flying, and those that fell in the water live, and they that fall on the earth die anon, and they be right good to man’s meat. And hereof had they as great marvel, that some of them trowed it were an impossible thing to be.

In that country be long apples of good savour, whereof be more than an hundred in a cluster, and as many in another; and they have great long leaves and large, of two foot long or more. And in that country, and in other countries thereabout, grow many trees that bear clove-gylofres and nutmegs, and great nuts of Ind, and of Canell and of many other spices. And there be vines that bear so great grapes, that a strong man should have enough to do for to bear one cluster with all the grapes.

In that same region be the mountains of Caspian that men crepe Uber in the country. Between those mountains the Jews of ten lineages be enclosed, that men clepe Goth and Magoth and they may not go out on no side. There were enclosed twenty-two kings with their people, that dwelled between the mountains of Scythia. There King Alexander chased them between those mountains, and there he thought for to enclose them through work of his men. But when he saw that he might not do it, ne bring it to an end, he prayed to God of nature that he would perform that that he had begun. And all were it so, that he was a paynim and not worthy to be heard, yet God of his grace closed the mountains together, so that they dwell there all fast locked and enclosed with high mountains all about, save only on one side, and on that side is the sea of Caspian.

Now may some men ask, since that the sea is on that one side, wherefore go they not out on the sea side, for to go where that them liketh?

But to this question, I shall answer; that sea of Caspian goeth out by land under the mountains, and runneth by the desert at one side of the country, and after it stretcheth unto the ends of Persia, and although it be clept a sea, it is no sea, ne it toucheth to none other sea, but it is a lake, the greatest of the world; and though they would put them into that sea, they ne wist never where that they should arrive; and also they can no language but only their own, that no man knoweth but they; and therefore may they not go out.

And also ye shall understand, that the Jews have no proper land of their own for to dwell in, in all the world, but only that land between the mountains. And yet they yield tribute for that land to the Queen of Amazonia, the which that maketh them to be kept in close full diligently, that they shall not go out on no side but by the coast of their land; for their land marcheth to those mountains.

And often it hath befallen, that some of the Jews have gone up the mountains and avaled down to the valleys. But great number of folk ne may not do so, for the mountains be so high and so straight up, that they must abide there, maugre their might. For they may not go out, but by a little issue that was made by strength of men, and it lasteth well a four great mile.

And after, is there yet a land all desert, where men may find no water, neither for digging ne for none other thing. Wherefore men may not dwell in that place, so is it full of dragons, of serpents and of other venomous beasts, that no man dare not pass, but if it be strong winter. And that strait passage men clepe in that country Clyron. And that is the passage that the Queen of Amazonia maketh to be kept. And though it happen some of them by fortune to go out, they can no manner of language but Hebrew, so that they cannot speak to the people.

And yet, natheles, men say they shall go out in the time of anti-Christ, and that they shall make great slaughter of Christian men. And therefore all the Jews that dwell in all lands learn always to speak Hebrew, in hope, that when the other Jews shall go out, that they may understand their speech, and to lead them into Christendom for to destroy the Christian people. For the Jews say that they know well by their prophecies, that they of Caspia shall go out, and spread throughout all the world, and that the Christian men shall be under their subjection, as long as they have been in subjection of them.

And if that you will wit how that they shall find their way, after that I have heard say I shall tell you.

In the time of anti-Christ a fox shall make there his train, and mine an hole where King Alexander let make the gates; and so long he shall mine and pierce the earth, till that he shall pass through towards that folk. And when they see the fox, they shall have great marvel of him, because that they saw never such a beast. For of all other beasts they have enclosed amongst them, save only the fox. And then they shall chase him and pursue him so strait, till that he come to the same place that he came from. And then they shall dig and mine so strongly, till that they find the gates that King Alexander let make of great stones, and passing huge, well cemented and made strong for the mastery. And those gates they shall break, and so go out by finding of that issue.

From that land go men toward the land of Bacharia, where be full evil folk and full cruel. In that land be trees that bear wool, as though it were of sheep, whereof men make clothes and all things that may be made of wool.

In that country be many hippotaynes that dwell some-time in the water and sometime on the land. And they be half man and half horse, as I have said before. And they eat men when they may take them.

And there be rivers of waters that be full bitter, three sithes more than is the water of the sea.

In that country be many griffins, more plenty than in any other country. Some men say that they have the body upward as an eagle and beneath as a lion; and truly they say sooth, that they be of that shape. But one griffin hath the body more great and is more strong than eight lions, of such lions as be on this half, and more great and stronger than an hundred eagles such as we have amongst us. For one griffin there will bear, flying to his nest, a great horse, if he may find him at the point, or two oxen yoked together as they go at the plough. For he hath his talons so long and so large and great upon his feet, as though they were horns of great oxen or of bugles or of kine, so that men make cups of them to drink of. And of their ribs and of the pens of their wings, men make bows, full strong, to shoot with arrows and quarrels.

From thence go men by many journeys through the land of Prester John, the great Emperor of Ind. And men clepe his realm the isle of Pentexoire.

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Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 23:10