The Travels of Marco Polo/Book 1/Chapter 18
|←Concerning the Kingdom of Kerman||The Travels of Marco Polo
by , translated by Henry Yule
|Of the Descent to the City of Hormos→|
Of the City of Camadi and its Ruins; Also Touching the Carauna Robbers
After you have ridden down hill those two days, you find yourself in a vast plain, and at the beginning thereof there is a city called CAMADI, which formerly was a great and noble place, but now is of little consequence, for the Tartars in their incursions have several times ravaged it. The plain whereof I speak is a very hot region; and the province that we now enter is called REOBARLES.
The fruits of the country are dates, pistachioes, and apples of Paradise, with others of the like not found in our cold climate. [There are vast numbers of turtledoves, attracted by the abundance of fruits, but the Saracens never take them, for they hold them in abomination.] And on this plain there is a kind of bird called francolin, but different from the francolin of other countries, for their colour is a mixture of black and white, and the feet and beak are vermilion colour.
The beasts also are peculiar; and first I will tell you of their oxen. These are very large, and all over white as snow; the hair is very short and smooth, which is owing to the heat of the country. The horns are short and thick, not sharp in the point; and between the shoulders they have a round hump some two palms high. There are no handsomer creatures in the world. And when they have to be loaded, they kneel like the camel; once the load is adjusted, they rise. Their load is a heavy one, for they are very strong animals. Then there are sheep here as big as asses; and their tails are so large and fat, that one tail shall weigh some 30 lbs. They are fine fat beasts, and afford capital mutton.
In this plain there are a number of villages and towns which have lofty walls of mud, made as a defence against the banditti, who are very numerous, and are called CARAONAS. This name is given them because they are the sons of Indian mothers by Tartar fathers. And you must know that when these Caraonas wish to make a plundering incursion, they have certain devilish enchantments whereby they do bring darkness over the face of day, insomuch that you can scarcely discern your comrade riding beside you; and this darkness they will cause to extend over a space of seven days' journey. They know the country thoroughly, and ride abreast, keeping near one another, sometimes to the number of 10,000, at other times more or fewer. In this way they extend across the whole plain that they are going to harry, and catch every living thing that is found outside of the towns and villages; man, woman, or beast, nothing can escape them! The old men whom they take in this way they butcher; the young men and the women they sell for slaves in other countries; thus the whole land is ruined, and has become well-nigh a desert.
The King of these scoundrels is called NOGODAR. This Nogodar had gone to the Court of Chagatai, who was own brother to the Great Kaan, with some 10,000 horsemen of his, and abode with him; for Chagatai was his uncle. And whilst there this Nogodar devised a most audacious enterprise, and I will tell you what it was. He left his uncle who was then in Greater Armenia, and fled with a great body of horsemen, cruel unscrupulous fellows, first through BADASHAN, and then through another province called PASHAI-DIR, and then through another called ARIORA-KESHEMUR. There he lost a great number of his people and of his horses, for the roads were very narrow and perilous. And when he had conquered all those provinces, he entered India at the extremity of a province called DALIVAR. He established himself in that city and government, which he took from the King of the country, ASEDIN SOLDAN by name, a man of great power and wealth. And there abideth Nogodar with his army, afraid of nobody, and waging war with all the Tartars in his neighbourhood.
Now that I have told you of those scoundrels and their history, I must add the fact that Messer Marco himself was all but caught by their bands in such a darkness as that I have told you of; but, as it pleased God, he got off and threw himself into a village that was hard by, called CONOSALMI. Howbeit he lost his whole company except seven persons who escaped along with him. The rest were caught, and some of them sold, some put to death.
- Ramusio has "Adam's apple" for apples of Paradise. This was some kind of Citrus, though Lindley thinks it impossible to say precisely what. According to Jacques de Vitry it was a beautiful fruit of the Citron kind, in which the bite of human teeth was plainly discernible. (Note to Vulgar Errors, II. 211; Bongars, I. 1099.) Mr. Abbott speaks of this tract as "the districts (of Kerman) lying towards the South, which are termed the Ghermseer or Hot Region, where the temperature of winter resembles that of a charming spring, and where the palm, orange, and lemon-tree flourish." (MS. Report; see also J. R. G. S. XXV. 56.)
["Marco Polo's apples of Paradise are more probably the fruits of the Konar tree. There are no plantains in that part of the country. Turtle doves, now as then, are plentiful, and as they are seldom shot, and are said by the people to be unwholesome food, we can understand Marco Polo's saying that the people do not eat them." (Houtum-Schindler, l.c. pp. 492-493.)--H. C.]
The Francolin here spoken of is, as Major Smith tells me, the Darraj of the Persians, the Black Partridge of English sportsmen, sometimes called the Red-legged Francolin. The Darraj is found in some parts of Egypt, where its peculiar call is interpreted by the peasantry into certain Arabic words, meaning "Sweet are the corn-ears! Praised be the Lord!" In India, Baber tells us, the call of the Black Partridge was (less piously) rendered "Shir daram shakrak," "I've got milk and sugar!" The bird seems to be the [Greek: attagas] of Athenaeus, a fowl "speckled like the partridge, but larger," found in Egypt and Lydia. The Greek version of its cry is the best of all: "[Greek: tris tois kakourgois kaka]" ("Threefold ills to the ill-doers!"). This is really like the call of the black partridge in India as I recollect it. [Tetrao francolinus.--H. C.]
(Chrestomathie Arabe, II. 295; Baber, 320; Yonge's Atken. IX. 39.)
- Abbott mentions the humped (though small) oxen in this part of Persia, and that in some of the neighbouring districts they are taught to kneel to receive the load, an accomplishment which seems to have struck Mas'udi (III. 27), who says he saw it exhibited by oxen at Rai (near modern Tehran). The Ain Akbari also ascribes it to a very fine breed in Bengal. The whimsical name Zebu, given to the humped or Indian ox in books of Zoology, was taken by Buffon from the exhibitors of such a beast at a French Fair, who probably invented it. That the humped breeds of oxen existed in this part of Asia in ancient times is shown by sculptures at Kouyunjik. (See cut below.)
[Illustration: Humped Oxen from the Assyrian Sculptures at Koyunjik.]
A letter from Agassiz, printed in the Proc. As. Soc. Bengal (1865), refers to wild "zebus," and calls the species a small one. There is no wild "zebu," and some of the breeds are of enormous size.
["White oxen, with short thick horns and a round hump between the shoulders, are now very rare between Kerman and Bender 'Abbas. They are, however, still to be found towards Beluchistan and Mekran, and they kneel to be loaded like camels. The sheep which I saw had fine large tails; I did not, however, hear of any having so high a weight as thirty pounds." (Houtum-Schindler, l.c. p. 493.)--H. C.]
The fat-tailed sheep is well known in many parts of Asia and part of Africa. It is mentioned by Ctesias, and by Aelian, who says the shepherds used to extract the tallow from the live animal, sewing up the tail again; exactly the same story is told by the Chinese Pliny, Ma Twan-lin. Marco's statements as to size do not surpass those of the admirable Kampfer: "In size they so much surpass the common sheep that it is not unusual to see them as tall as a donkey, whilst all are much more than three feet; and as to the tail I shall not exceed the truth, though I may exceed belief, if I say that it sometimes reaches 40 lbs. in weight." Captain Hutton was assured by an Afghan sheep-master that tails had occurred in his flocks weighing 12 Tabriz mans, upwards of 76 lbs.! The Afghans use the fat as an aperient, swallowing a dose of 4 to 6 lbs! Captain Hutton's friend testified that trucks to bear the sheep-tails were sometimes used among the Taimunis (north of Herat). This may help to locate that ancient and slippery story. Josafat Barbaro says he had seen the thing, but is vague as to place. (Aelian Nat. An. III. 3, IV. 32; Amoen. Exoticae; Ferrier, H. of Afghans, p. 294; J. A. S. B. XV. 160.)
[Rabelais says (Bk. I. ch. xvi.): "Si de ce vous efmerveillez, efmerveillez vous d'advantage de la queue des beliers de la Scythie, qui pesait plus de trente livres; et des moutons de Surie, esquels fault (si Tenaud, dict vray) affuster une charrette au cul, pour la porter tant qu'elle est longue et pesante." (See G. Capus, A travers le roy. de Tamerlan, pp. 21-23, on the fat sheep.)--H. C.]
- The word rendered banditti is in Pauthier Carans, in G. Text Caraunes, in the Latin "a scaranis et malandrinis." The last is no doubt correct, standing for the old Italian Scherani, bandits. (See Cathay, p. 287, note.)
- This is a knotty subject, and needs a long note.
The KARAUNAHS are mentioned often in the histories of the Mongol regime in Persia, first as a Mongol tribe forming a Tuman, i.e. a division or corps of 10,000 in the Mongol army (and I suspect it was the phrase the Tuman of the Karaunahs in Marco's mind that suggested his repeated use of the number 10,000 in speaking of them); and afterwards as daring and savage freebooters, scouring the Persian provinces, and having their headquarters on the Eastern frontiers of Persia. They are described as having had their original seats on the mountains north of the Chinese wall near Karaun Jidun or Khidun; and their special accomplishment in war was the use of Naphtha Fire. Rashiduddin mentions the Karanut as a branch of the great Mongol tribe of the Kungurats, who certainly had their seat in the vicinity named, so these may possibly be connected with the Karaunahs. The same author says that the Tuman of the Karaunahs formed the Inju or peculium of Arghun Khan.
Wassaf calls them "a kind of goblins rather than human beings, the most daring of all the Mongols"; and Mirkhond speaks in like terms.
Dr. Bird of Bombay, in discussing some of the Indo-Scythic coins which bear the word Korano attached to the prince's name, asserts this to stand for the name of the Karaunah, "who were a Graeco-Indo-Scythic tribe of robbers in the Punjab, who are mentioned by Marco Polo," a somewhat hasty conclusion which Pauthier adopts. There is, Quatremere observes, no mention of the Karaunahs before the Mongol invasion, and this he regards as the great obstacle to any supposition of their having been a people previously settled in Persia. Reiske, indeed, with no reference to the present subject, quotes a passage from Hamza of Ispahan, a writer of the 10th century, in which mention is made of certain troops called Karaunahs. But it seems certain that in this and other like cases the real reading was Kazawinah, people of Kazvin. (See Reiske's Constant. Porphyrog. Bonn. ed. II. 674; Gottwaldt's Hamza Ispahanensis, p. 161; and Quatremere in J. A. ser. V. tom. xv. 173.) Ibn Batuta only once mentions the name, saying that Tughlak Shah of Dehli was "one of those Turks called Karaunas who dwell in the mountains between Sind and Turkestan." Hammer has suggested the derivation of the word Carbine from Karawinah (as he writes), and a link in such an etymology is perhaps furnished by the fact that in the 16th century the word Carbine was used for some kind of irregular horseman.
(Gold. Horde, 214; Ilch. I. 17, 344, etc.; Erdmann, 168, 199, etc.; J. A. S., B. X. 96; Q. R. 130; Not. et Ext. XIV. 282; I. B. III. 201; Ed. Webbe, his Travailes, p. 17, 1590. Reprinted 1868.)
As regards the account given by Marco of the origin of the Caraonas, it seems almost necessarily a mistaken one. As Khanikoff remarks, he might have confounded them with the Biluchis, whose Turanian aspect (at least as regards the Brahuis) shows a strong infusion of Turki blood, and who might be rudely described as a cross between Tartars and Indians. It is indeed an odd fact that the word Karani (vulgo Cranny) is commonly applied in India at this day to the mixed race sprung from European fathers and Native mothers, and this might be cited in corroboration of Marsden's reference to the Sanskrit Karana, but I suspect the coincidence arises in another way. Karana is the name applied to a particular class of mixt blood, whose special occupation was writing and accounts. But the prior sense of the word seems to have been "clever, skilled," and hence a writer or scribe. In this sense we find Karani applied in Ibn Batuta's day to a ship's clerk, and it is used in the same sense in the Ain Akbari. Clerkship is also the predominant occupation of the East-Indians, and hence the term Karani is applied to them from their business, and not from their mixt blood. We shall see hereafter that there is a Tartar term Arghun, applied to fair children born of a Mongol mother and white father; it is possible that there may have been a correlative word like Karaun (from Kara, black) applied to dark children born of Mongol father and black mother, and that this led Marco to a false theory.
[Major Sykes (Persia) devotes a chapter (xxiv.) to The Karwan Expedition in which he says: "Is it not possible that the Karwanis are the Caraonas of Marco Polo? They are distinct from the surrounding Baluchis, and pay no tribute."--H. C.]
Let us turn now to the name of Nogodar. Contemporaneously with the Karaunahs we have frequent mention of predatory bands known as Nigudaris, who seem to be distinguished from the Karaunahs, but had a like character for truculence. Their headquarters were about Sijistan, and Quatremere seems disposed to look upon them as a tribe indigenous in that quarter. Hammer says they were originally the troops of Prince Nigudar, grandson of Chaghatai, and that they were a rabble of all sorts, Mongols, Turkmans, Kurds, Shuls, and what not. We hear of their revolts and disorders down to 1319, under which date Mirkhond says that there had been one-and-twenty fights with them in four years. Again we hear of them in 1336 about Herat, whilst in Baber's time they turn up as Nukdari, fairly established as tribes in the mountainous tracts of Karnud and Ghur, west of Kabul, and coupled with the Hazaras, who still survive both in name and character. "Among both," says Baber, "there are some who speak the Mongol language." Hazaras and Takdaris (read Nukdaris) again occur coupled in the History of Sind. (See Elliot, I. 303-304.) [On the struggle against Timur of Toumen, veteran chief of the Nikoudrians (1383-84), see Major David Price's Mahommedan History, London, 1821, vol. iii. pp. 47-49, H. C.] In maps of the 17th century, as of Hondius and Blaeuw, we find the mountains north of Kabul termed Nochdarizari, in which we cannot miss the combination Nigudar-Hazarah, whencesoever it was got. The Hazaras are eminently Mongol in feature to this day, and it is very probable that they or some part of them are the descendants of the Karaunahs or the Nigudaris, or of both, and that the origination of the bands so called, from the scum of the Mongol inundation, is thus in degree confirmed. The Hazaras generally are said to speak an old dialect of Persian. But one tribe in Western Afghanistan retains both the name of Mongols and a language of which six-sevenths (judging from a vocabulary published by Major Leech) appear to be Mongol. Leech says, too, that the Hazaras generally are termed Moghals by the Ghilzais. It is worthy of notice that Abu'l Fazl, who also mentions the Nukdaris among the nomad tribes of Kabul, says the Hazaras were the remains of the Chaghataian army which Mangu Kaan sent to the aid of Hulaku, under the command of Nigudar Oghlan. (Not. et Ext. XIV. 284; Ilch. I. 284, 309, etc,; Baber, 134, 136, 140; J. As. ser. IV. tom. iv. 98; Ayeen Akbery, II. 192-193.)
So far, excepting as to the doubtful point of the relation between Karaunahs and Nigudaris, and as to the origin of the former, we have a general accordance with Polo's representations. But it is not very easy to identify with certainty the inroad on India to which he alludes, or the person intended by Nogodar, nephew of Chaghatai. It seems as if two persons of that name had each contributed something to Marco's history.
We find in Hammer and D'Ohsson that one of the causes which led to the war between Barka Khan and Hulaku in 1262 (see above, Prologue, ch. ii.) was the violent end that had befallen three princes of the House of Juji, who had accompanied Hulaku to Persia in command of the contingent of that House. When war actually broke out, the contingent made their escape from Persia. One party gained Kipchak by way of Derbend; another, in greater force, led by NIGUDAR and Onguja, escaped to Khorasan, pursued by the troops of Hulaku, and thence eastward, where they seized upon Ghazni and other districts bordering on India.
But again: Nigudar Aghul, or Oghlan, son of (the younger) Juji, son of Chaghatai, was the leader of the Chaghataian contingent in Hulaku's expedition, and was still attached to the Mongol-Persian army in 1269, when Borrak Khan, of the House of Chaghatai, was meditating war against his kinsman, Abaka of Persia. Borrak sent to the latter an ambassador, who was the bearer of a secret message to Prince Nigudar, begging him not to serve against the head of his own House. Nigudar, upon this, made a pretext of retiring to his own headquarters in Georgia, hoping to reach Borrak's camp by way of Derbend. He was, however, intercepted, and lost many of his people. With 1000 horse he took refuge in Georgia, but was refused an asylum, and was eventually captured by Abaka's commander on that frontier. His officers were executed, his troops dispersed among Abaka's army, and his own life spared under surveillance. I find no more about him. In 1278 Hammer speaks of him as dead, and of the Nigudarian bands as having been formed out of his troops. But authority is not given.
The second Nigudar is evidently the one to whom Abu'l Fazl alludes. Khanikoff assumes that the Nigudar who went off towards India about 1260 (he puts the date earlier) was Nigudar, the grandson of Chaghatai, but he takes no notice of the second story just quoted.
In the former story we have bands under Nigudar going off by Ghazni, and conquering country on the Indian frontier. In the latter we have Nigudar, a descendant of Chaghatai, trying to escape from his camp on the frontier of Great Armenia. Supposing the Persian historians to be correct, it looks as if Marco had rolled two stories into one.
Some other passages may be cited before quitting this part of the subject. A chronicle of Herat, translated by Barbier de Meynard, says, under 1298: "The King Fakhruddin (of Herat) had the imprudence to authorise the Amir Nigudar to establish himself in a quarter of the city, with 300 adventurers from 'Irak. This little troop made frequent raids in Kuhistan, Sijistan, Farrah, etc., spreading terror. Khodabanda, at the request of his brother Ghazan Khan, came from Mazanderan to demand the immediate surrender of these brigands," etc. And in the account of the tremendous foray of the Chaghataian Prince Kotlogh Shah, on the east and south of Persia in 1299, we find one of his captains called Nigudar Bahadur. (Gold. Horde, 146, 157, 164; D'Ohsson, IV. 378 seqq., 433 seqq., 513 seqq.; Ilch. I. 216, 261, 284; II. 104; J. A. ser. V. tom. xvii. 455-456, 507; Khan. Notice, 31.)
As regards the route taken by Prince Nogodar in his incursion into India, we have no difficulty with BADAKHSHAN. PASHAI-DIR is a copulate name; the former part, as we shall see reason to believe hereafter, representing the country between the Hindu Kush and the Kabul River (see infra, ch. xxx.); the latter (as Pauthier already has pointed out), DIR, the chief town of Panjkora, in the hill country north of Peshawar. In Ariora-Keshemur the first portion only is perplexing. I will mention the most probable of the solutions that have occurred to me, and a second, due to that eminent archaeologist, General A. Cunningham. (1) Ariora may be some corrupt or Mongol form of Aryavartta, a sacred name applied to the Holy Lands of Indian Buddhism, of which Kashmir was eminently one to the Northern Buddhists. Oron, in Mongol, is a Region or Realm, and may have taken the place of Vartta, giving Aryoron or Ariora. (2) "Ariora," General Cunningham writes, "I take to be the Harhaura of Sanscrit--i.e. the Western Panjab. Harhaura was the North-Western Division of the Nava- Khanda, or Nine Divisions of Ancient India. It is mentioned between Sindhu-Sauvira in the west (i.e. Sind), and Madra in the north (i.e. the Eastern Panjab, which is still called Madar-Des). The name of Harhaura is, I think, preserved in the Haro River. Now, the Sind-Sagor Doab formed a portion of the kingdom of Kashmir, and the joint names, like those of Sindhu-Sauvira, describe only one State." The names of the Nine Divisions in question are given by the celebrated astronomer, Varaha Mihira, who lived in the beginning of the 6th century, and are repeated by Al Biruni. (See Reinaud, Mem. sur l'Inde, p. 116.) The only objection to this happy solution seems to lie in Al Biruni's remark, that the names in question were in general no longer used even in his time (A.D. 1030).
There can be no doubt that Asidin Soldan is, as Khanikoff has said, Ghaiassuddin Balban, Sultan of Delhi from 1266 to 1286, and for years before that a man of great power in India, and especially in the Panjab, of which he had in the reign of Ruknuddin (1236) held independent possession.
Firishta records several inroads of Mongols in the Panjab during the reign of Ghaiassuddin, in withstanding one of which that King's eldest son was slain; and there are constant indications of their presence in Sind till the end of the century. But we find in that historian no hint of the chief circumstances of this part of the story, viz., the conquest of Kashmir and the occupation of Dalivar or Dilivar (G. T.), evidently (whatever its identity) in the plains of India. I do find, however, in the history of Kashmir, as given by Lassen (III. 1138), that in the end of 1259, Lakshamana Deva, King of Kashmir, was killed in a campaign against the Turushka (Turks or Tartars), and that their leader, who is called Kajjala, got hold of the country and held it till 1287. It is difficult not to connect this both with Polo's story and with the escapade of Nigudar about 1260, noting also that this occupation of Kashmir extended through the whole reign of Ghaiassuddin.
We seem to have a memory of Polo's story preserved in one of Elliot's extracts from Wassaf, which states that in 708 (A.D. 1308), after a great defeat of a Mongol inroad which had passed the Ganges, Sultan Ala'uddin Khilji ordered a pillar of Mongol heads to be raised before the Badaun gate, "as was done with the Nigudari Moghuls" (III. 48).
We still have to account for the occupation and locality of Dalivar; Marsden supposed it to be Lahore; Khanikoff considers it to be Dirawal, the ancient desert capital of the Bhattis, properly (according to Tod) Deorawal, but by a transposition common in India, as it is in Italy, sometimes called Dilawar, in the modern State of Bhawalpur. But General Cunningham suggests a more probable locality in DILAWAR on the west bank of the Jelam, close to Darapur, and opposite to Mung. These two sites, Dilawar-Darapur on the west bank, and Mung on the east, are identified by General Cunningham (I believe justly) with Alexander's Bucephala and Nicaea. The spot, which is just opposite the battlefield of Chilianwala, was visited (15th December, 1868) at my request, by my friend Colonel R. Maclagan, R.E. He writes: "The present village of Dilawar stands a little above the town of Darapur (I mean on higher ground), looking down on Darapur and on the river, and on the cultivated and wooded plain along the river bank. The remains of the Old Dilawar, in the form of quantities of large bricks, cover the low round-backed spurs and knolls of the broken rocky hills around the present village, but principally on the land side. They cover a large area of very irregular character, and may clearly be held to represent a very considerable town. There are no indications of the form of buildings,... but simply large quantities of large bricks, which for a long time have been carried away and used for modern buildings.... After rain coins are found on the surface.... There can be no doubt of a very large extent of ground, of very irregular and uninviting character, having been covered at some time with buildings. The position on the Jelam would answer well for the Dilawar which the Mongol invaders took and held.... The strange thing is that the name should not be mentioned (I believe it is not) by any of the well-known Mahomedan historians of India. So much for Dilawar.... The people have no traditions. But there are the remains; and there is the name, borne by the existing village on part of the old site." I had come to the conclusion that this was almost certainly Polo's Dalivar, and had mapped it as such, before I read certain passages in the History of Ziyauddin Barni, which have been translated by Professor Dowson for the third volume of Elliot's India. When the comrades of Ghaiassuddin Balban urged him to conquests, the Sultan pointed to the constant danger from the Mongols, saying: "These accursed wretches have heard of the wealth and condition of Hindustan, and have set their hearts upon conquering and plundering it. They have taken and plundered Lahor within my territories, and no year passes that they do not come here and plunder the villages.... They even talk about the conquest and sack of Delhi." And under a later date the historian says: "The Sultan... marched to Lahor, and ordered the rebuilding of the fort which the Mughals had destroyed in the reigns of the sons of Shamsuddin. The towns and villages of Lahor which the Mughals had devastated and laid waste he repeopled." Considering these passages, and the fact that Polo had no personal knowledge of Upper India, I now think it probable that Marsden was right, and that Dilivar is really a misunderstanding of "Citta di Livar" for Lahawar or Lahore.
The Magical darkness which Marco ascribes to the evil arts of the Karaunas is explained by Khanikoff from the phenomenon of Dry Fog, which he has often experienced in Khorasan, combined with the Dust Storm with which we are familiar in Upper India. In Sind these phenomena often produce a great degree of darkness. During a battle fought between the armies of Sindh and Kachh in 1762, such a fog came on, obscuring the light of day for some six hours, during which the armies were intermixed with one another and fighting desperately. When the darkness dispersed they separated, and the consternation of both parties was so great at the events of the day that both made a precipitate retreat. In 1844 this battle was still spoken of with wonder. (J. Bomb. Br. R. A. S. I. 423.)
Major St. John has given a note on his own experience of these curious Kerman fogs (see Ocean Highways, 1872, p. 286): "Not a breath of air was stirring, and the whole effect was most curious, and utterly unlike any other fog I have seen. No deposit of dust followed, and the feeling of the air was decidedly damp. I unfortunately could not get my hygrometer till the fog had cleared away."
[General Houtum-Schindler, l.c. p. 493, writes: "The magical darkness might, as Colonel Yule supposes, be explained by the curious dry fogs or dust storms, often occurring in the neighbourhood of Kerman, but it must be remarked that Marco Polo was caught in one of these storms down in Jiruft, where, according to the people I questioned, such storms now never occur. On the 29th of September, 1879, at Kerman, a high wind began to blow from S.S.W. at about 5 P.M. First there came thick heavy clouds of dust with a few drops of rain. The heavy dust then settled down, the lighter particles remained in the air, forming a dry fog of such density that large objects, like houses, trees, etc., could not even faintly be distinguished at a distance of a hundred paces. The barometers suffered no change, the three I had with me remained in statu quo." "The heat is over by the middle of September, and after the autumnal equinox, there are a few days of what is best described as a dense dry fog. This was undoubtedly the haze referred to by Marco Polo." (Major Sykes, ch. iv.) --H. C.]
Richthofen's remarkable exposition of the phenomena of the loess in North China, and of the sub-aerial deposits of the steppes and of Central Asia throws some light on this. But this hardly applies to St John's experience of "no deposit of dust." (See Richthofen, China, pp. 96-97 s. MS. Note, H. Y.)
The belief that such opportune phenomena were produced by enchantment was a thoroughly Tartar one. D'Herbelot relates (art. Giagathai) that in an action with a rebel called Mahomed Tarabi, the Mongols were encompassed by a dust storm which they attributed to enchantment on the part of the enemy, and it so discouraged them that they took to flight.
- The specification that only seven were saved from Marco's company is peculiar to Pauthier's Text, not appearing in the G. T.
Several names compounded of Salm or Salmi occur on the dry lands on the borders of Kerman. Edrisi, however (I. p. 428), names a place called KANAT-UL-SHAM as the first march in going from Jiruft to Walashjird. Walashjird is, I imagine, represented by Galashkird, Major R. Smith's third march from Jiruft (see my Map of Routes from Kerman to Hormuz); and as such an indication agrees with the view taken below of Polo's route, I am strongly disposed to identify Kanat-ul-Sham with his castello or walled village of Canosalmi.
["Marco Polo's Conosalmi, where he was attacked by robbers and lost the greater part of his men, is perhaps the ruined town or village Kamasal (Kahn-i-asal = the honey canal), near Kahnuj-i-pancheh and Vakilabad in Jiruft. It lies on the direct road between Shehr-i-Daqianus (Camadi) and the Nevergun Pass. The road goes in an almost due southerly direction. The Nevergun Pass accords with Marco Polo's description of it; it is very difficult, on account of the many great blocks of sandstone scattered upon it. Its proximity to the Bashakird mountains and Mekran easily accounts for the prevalence of robbers, who infested the place in Marco Polo's time. At the end of the Pass lies the large village Shamil, with an old fort; the distance thence to the site of Hormuz or Bender 'Abbas (lying more to the west) is 52 miles, two days' march. The climate of Bender 'Abbas is very bad, strangers speedily fall sick, two of my men died there, all the others were seriously ill." (Houtum-Schindler, l.c. pp. 495-496.) Major Sykes (ch. xxiii.) says: "Two marches from Camadi was Kahn-i-Panchur, and a stage beyond it lay the ruins of Fariab or Pariab, which was once a great city, and was destroyed by a flood, according to local legend. It may have been Alexander's Salmous, as it is about the right distance from the coast, and if so, could not have been Marco's Cono Salmi. Continuing on, Galashkird mentioned by Edrisi, is the next stage."--H. C.]
The raids of the Mekranis and Biluchis long preceded those of the Karaunas, for they were notable even in the time of Mahmud of Ghazni, and they have continued to our own day to be prosecuted nearly on the same stage and in the same manner. About 1721, 4000 horsemen of this description plundered the town of Bander Abbasi, whilst Captain Alex. Hamilton was in the port; and Abbott, in 1850, found the dread of Biluch robbers to extend almost to the gates of Ispahan. A striking account of the Biluch robbers and their characteristics is given by General Ferrier. (See Hamilton, I. 109; J. R. G. S. XXV.; Khanikoff's Memoire; Macd. Kinneir, 196; Caravan Journeys, p. 437 seq.)