The Travels of Marco Polo/Book 3/Chapter 35
Treating of the Great Province of Abash, Which is Middle India, and is on the Mainland
Abash is a very great Province, and you must know that it constitutes the MIDDLE INDIA; and it is on the mainland. There are in it six great Kings with six great Kingdoms; and of these six Kings there are three that are Christians and three that are Saracens; but the greatest of all the six is a Christian, and all the others are subject to him.
The Christians in this country bear three marks on the face; one from the forehead to the middle of the nose, and one on either cheek. These marks are made with a hot iron, and form part of their baptism; for after that they have been baptised with water, these three marks are made, partly as a token of gentility, and partly as the completion of their baptism. There are also Jews in the country, and these bear two marks, one on either cheek; and the Saracens have but one, to wit, on the forehead extending halfway down the nose.
The Great King lives in the middle of the country, the Saracens towards Aden. St. Thomas the Apostle preached in this region, and after he had converted the people he went away to the province of Maabar, where he died; and there his body lies, as I have told you in a former place.
The people here are excellent soldiers, and they go on horseback, for they have horses in plenty. Well they may; for they are in daily war with the Soldan of ADEN, and with the Nubians, and a variety of other nations.  I will tell you a famous story of what befel in the year of Christ, 1288.
You must know that this Christian King, who is the Lord of the Province of Abash, declared his intention to go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem to adore the Holy Sepulchre of Our Lord God Jesus Christ the Saviour. But his Barons said that for him to go in person would be to run too great a risk; and they recommended him to send some bishop or prelate in his stead. So the King assented to the counsel which his Barons gave, and despatched a certain Bishop of his, a man of very holy life. The Bishop then departed and travelled by land and by sea till he arrived at the Holy Sepulchre, and there he paid it such honour as Christian man is bound to do, and presented a great offering on the part of his King who had sent him in his own stead.
And when he had done all that behoved him, he set out again and travelled day by day till he got to Aden. Now that is a Kingdom wherein Christians are held in great detestation, for the people are all Saracens, and their enemies unto the death. So when the Soldan of Aden heard that this man was a Christian and a Bishop, and an envoy of the Great King of Abash, he had him seized and demanded of him if he were a Christian? To this the Bishop replied that he was a Christian indeed. The Soldan then told him that unless he would turn to the Law of Mahommet he should work him great shame and dishonour. The Bishop answered that they might kill him ere he would deny his Creator.
When the Soldan heard that he waxed wroth, and ordered that the Bishop should be circumcised. So they took and circumcised him after the manner of the Saracens. And then the Soldan told him that he had been thus put to shame in despite to the King his master. And so they let him go.
The Bishop was sorely cut to the heart for the shame that had been wrought him, but he took comfort because it had befallen him in holding fast by the Law of Our Lord Jesus Christ; and the Lord God would recompense his soul in the world to come.
So when he was healed he set out and travelled by land and by sea till he reached the King his Lord in the Kingdom of Abash. And when the King beheld him, he welcomed him with great joy and gladness. And he asked him all about the Holy Sepulchre; and the Bishop related all about it truly, the King listening the while as to a most holy matter in all faith. But when the Bishop had told all about Jerusalem, he then related the outrage done on him by the Soldan of Aden in the King's despite. Great was the King's wrath and grief when he heard that; and it so disturbed him that he was like to die of vexation. And at length his words waxed so loud that all those round about could hear what he was saying. He vowed that he would never wear crown or hold kingdom if he took not such condign vengeance on the Soldan of Aden that all the world should ring therewithal, even until the insult had been well and thoroughly redressed.
And what shall I say of it? He straightway caused the array of his horse and foot to be mustered, and great numbers of elephants with castles to be prepared to accompany them; and when all was ready he set out with his army and advanced till he entered the Kingdom of Aden in great force. The Kings of this province of Aden were well aware of the King's advance against them, and went to encounter him at the strongest pass on their frontier, with a great force of armed men, in order to bar the enemy from entering their territory. When the King arrived at this strong pass where the Saracens had taken post, a battle began, fierce and fell on both sides, for they were very bitter against each other. But it came to pass, as it pleased our Lord God Jesus Christ, that the Kings of the Saracens, who were three in number, could not stand against the Christians, for they are not such good soldiers as the Christians are. So the Saracens were defeated, and a marvellous number of them slain, and the King of Abash entered the Kingdom of Aden with all his host. The Saracens made various sallies on them in the narrow defiles, but it availed nothing; they were always beaten and slain. And when the King had greatly wasted and destroyed the kingdom of his enemy, and had remained in it more than a month with all his host, continually slaying the Saracens, and ravaging their lands (so that great numbers of them perished), he thought it time to return to his own kingdom, which he could now do with great honour. Indeed he could tarry no longer, nor could he, as he was aware, do more injury to the enemy; for he would have had to force a way by still stronger passes, where, in the narrow defiles, a handful of men might cause him heavy loss. So he quitted the enemy's Kingdom of Aden and began to retire. And he with his host got back to their own country of Abash in great triumph and rejoicing; for he had well avenged the shame cast on him and on his Bishop for his sake. For they had slain so many Saracens, and so wasted and harried the land, that 'twas something to be astonished at. And in sooth 'twas a deed well done! For it is not to be borne that the dogs of Saracens should lord it over good Christian people! Now you have heard the story.
I have still some particulars to tell you of the same province. It abounds greatly in all kinds of victual; and the people live on flesh and rice and milk and sesame. They have plenty of elephants, not that they are bred in the country, but they are brought from the Islands of the other India. They have however many giraffes, which are produced in the country; besides bears, leopards, lions in abundance, and many other passing strange beasts. They have also numerous wild asses; and cocks and hens the most beautiful that exist, and many other kind of birds. For instance, they have ostriches that are nearly as big as asses; and plenty of beautiful parrots, with apes of sundry kinds, and baboons and other monkeys that have countenances all but human.
There are numerous cities and villages in this province of Abash, and many merchants; for there is much trade to be done there. The people also manufacture very fine buckrams and other cloths of cotton.
There is no more to say on the subject; so now let us go forward and tell you of the province of Aden.
- Abash (Abasce) is a close enough representation of the Arabic Habsh or Habash, i.e. Abyssinia. He gives as an alternative title Middle India. I am not aware that the term India is applied to Abyssinia by any Oriental (Arabic or Persian) writer, and one feels curious to know where our Traveller got the appellation. We find nearly the same application of the term in Benjamin of Tudela:
"Eight days from thence is Middle India, which is Aden, and in Scripture Eden in Thelasar. This country is very mountainous, and contains many independent Jews who are not subject to the power of the Gentiles, but possess cities and fortresses on the summits of the mountains, from whence they descend into the country of Maatum, with which they are at war. Maatum, called also Nubia, is a Christian kingdom and the inhabitants are called Nubians," etc. (p. 117). Here the Rabbi seems to transfer Aden to the west of the Red Sea (as Polo also seems to do in this chapter); for the Jews warring against Nubian Christians must be sought in the Falasha strongholds among the mountains of Abyssinia. His Middle India is therefore the same as Polo's or nearly so. In Jordanus, as already mentioned, we have India Tertia, which combines some characters of Abyssinia and Zanjibar, but is distinguished from the Ethiopia of Prester John, which adjoins it.
But for the occurrence of the name in R. Benjamin I should have supposed the use of it to have been of European origin and current at most among Oriental Christians and Frank merchants. The European confusion of India and Ethiopia comes down from Virgil's time, who brings the Nile from India. And Servius (4th century) commenting on a more ambiguous passage--
:--"Sola India nigrum Fert ebenum,"
says explicitly "Indiam omnem plagam Aethiopiae accipimus." Procopius brings the Nile into Egypt [Greek: ex Indon]; and the Ecclesiastical Historians Sozomen and Socrates (I take these citations, like the last, from Ludolf), in relating the conversion of the Abyssinians by Frumentius, speak of them only as of the [Greek: Indon ton endotero], "Interior Indians," a phrase intended to imply remoter, but which might perhaps give rise to the term Middle India. Thus Cosmas says of China: "[Greek: aes endotero], there is no other country"; and Nicolo Conti calls the Chinese Interiores Indi, which Mr. Winter Jones misrenders "natives of Central India." St. Epiphanius (end of 4th century) says India was formerly divided into nine kingdoms, viz., those of the (1) Alabastri, (2) Homeritae, (3) Azumiti, and Dulites, (4) Bugaei, (5) Taiani, (6) Isabeni, and so on, several of which are manifestly provinces subject to Abyssinia. Roger Bacon speaks of the "Ethiopes de Nubia et ultimi illi qui vocantur Indi, propter approximationem ad Indiam." The term India Minor is applied to some Ethiopic region in a letter which Matthew Paris gives under 1237. And this confusion which prevailed more or less till the 16th century was at the bottom of that other confusion, whatever be its exact history, between Prester John in remote Asia, and Prester John in Abyssinia. In fact the narrative by Damian de Goes of the Embassy from the King of Abyssinia to Portugal in 1513, which was printed at Antwerp in 1532, bears the title "Legatio Magni Indorum Imperatoris," etc. (Ludolf, Comment. p. 2 and 75-76; Epiph. de Gemmis, etc., p. 15; R. Bacon, Opus Majus, p. 148; Matt. Paris, p. 372.)
Wadding gives a letter from the Pope (Alex. II.) under date 3rd Sept. 1329, addressed to the Emperor of Ethiopia, to inform him of the appointment of a Bishop of Diagorgan. As this place is the capital of a district near Tabriz (Dehi-Khorkhan) the papal geography looks a little hazy.
- The allegation against the Abyssinian Christians, sometimes extended to the whole Jacobite Church, that they accompanied the rite of Baptism by branding with a hot iron on the face, is pretty old and persistent.
The letter quoted from Matt. Paris in the preceding note relates of the Jacobite Christians "who occupy the kingdoms between Nubia and India," that some of them brand the foreheads of their children before Baptism with a hot iron (p. 302). A quaint Low-German account of the East, in a MS. of the 14th century, tells of the Christians of India that when a Bishop ordains a priest he fires him with a sharp and hot iron from the forehead down the nose, and the scar of this wound abides till the day of his death. And this they do for a token that the Holy Ghost came on the Apostles with fire. Frescobaldi says those called the Christians of the Girdle were the sect which baptized by branding on the head and temples. Clavijo says there is such a sect among the Christians of India, but they are despised by the rest. Barbosa, speaking of the Abyssinians, has this passage: "According to what is said, their baptism is threefold, viz., by blood, by fire, and by water. For they use circumcision like the Jews, they brand on the forehead with a hot iron, and they baptize with water like Catholic Christians." The respectable Pierre Belon speaks of the Christians of Prester John, called Abyssinians, as baptized with fire and branded in three places, i.e. between the eyes and on either cheek. Linschoten repeats the like, and one of his plates is entitled Habitus Abissinorum quibus loco Baptismatis frons inuritur. Ariosto, referring to the Emperor of Ethiopia, has:--
- "Gli e, s' io non piglio errore, in questo loco Ove al baltesimo loro usano il fuoco."
As late as 1819 the traveller Dupre published the same statement about the Jacobites generally. And so sober and learned a man as Assemani, himself an Oriental, says: "Aethiopes vero, seu Abissini, praeter circumcisionem adhibent etiam ferrum candens, quo pueris notam inurunt."
Yet Ludolf's Abyssinian friend, Abba Gregory, denied that there was any such practice among them. Ludolf says it is the custom of various African tribes, both Pagan and Mussulman, to cauterize their children in the veins of the temples, in order to inure them against colds, and that this, being practised by some Abyssinians, was taken for a religious rite. In spite of the terms "Pagan and Mussulman," I suspect that Herodotus was the authority for this practice. He states that many of the nomad Libyans, when their children reached the age of four, used to burn the veins at the top of the head with a flock of wool; others burned the veins about the temples. And this they did, he says, to prevent their being troubled with rheum in after life.
Indeed Andrea Corsali denies that the branding had aught to do with baptism, "but only to observe Solomon's custom of marking his slaves, the King of Ethiopia claiming to be descended from him." And it is remarkable that Salt mentions that most of the people of Dixan had a cross marked (i.e. branded) on the breast, right arm, or forehead. This he elsewhere explains as a mark of their attachment to the ancient metropolitan church of Axum, and he supposes that such a practice may have originated the stories of fire-baptism. And we find it stated in Marino Sanudo that "some of the Jacobites and Syrians who had crosses branded on them said this was done for the destruction of the Pagans, and out of reverence to the Holy Rood." Matthew Paris, commenting on the letter quoted above, says that many of the Jacobites before baptism brand their children on the forehead with a hot iron, whilst others brand a cross upon the cheeks or temples. He had seen such marks also on the arms of both Jacobites and Syrians who dwelt among the Saracens. It is clear, from Salt, that such branding was practised by many Abyssinians, and that to a recent date, though it may have been entirely detached from baptism. A similar practice is followed at Dwarika and Koteswar (on the old Indus mouth, now called Lakpat River), where the Hindu pilgrims to these sacred sites are branded with the mark of the god.
(Orient und Occident, Goettingen, 1862, I. 453; Frescob. 114; Clavijo, 163; Ramus. I. f. 290, v., f. 184; Marin. Sanud. 185, and Bk. iii. pt. viii. ch. iv.; Clusius, Exotica, pt. ii. p. 142; Orland. Fur. XXXIII. st. 102; Voyage en Perse, dans les Annees 1807-1809; Assemani, II. c.; Ludolf, iii. 6, sec. 41; Salt, in Valentia's Trav. II. p. 505, and his Second Journey, French Tr., II. 219; M. Paris, p. 373; J.R.A.S. I. 42.)
- It is pretty clear from what follows (as Marsden and others have noted) that the narrative requires us to conceive of the Sultan of Aden as dominant over the territory between Abyssinia and the sea, or what was in former days called ADEL, between which and Aden confusion seems to have been made. I have noticed in Note 1 the appearance of this confusion in R. Benjamin; and I may add that also in the Map of Marino Sanudo Aden is represented on the western shore of the Red Sea. But is it not possible that in the origin of the Mahomedan States of Adel the Sultan of Aden had some power over them? For we find in the account of the correspondence between the King of Abyssinia and Sultan Bibars, quoted in the next Note but one, that the Abyssinian letters and presents for Egypt were sent to the Sultan of Yemen or Aden to be forwarded.
- This passage is not authoritative enough to justify us in believing that the mediaeval Abyssinians or Nubians did use elephants in war, for Marco has already erred in ascribing that practice to the Blacks of Zanjibar.
There can indeed be no doubt that elephants from the countries on the west of the Red Sea were caught and tamed and used for war, systematically and on a great scale, by the second and third Ptolemies, and the latter (Euergetes) has commemorated this, and his own use of Troglodytic and Ethiopic elephants, and the fact of their encountering the elephants of India, in the Adulitic Inscription recorded by Cosmas.
This author however, who wrote about A.D. 545, and had been at the Court of Axum, then in its greatest prosperity, says distinctly: "The Ethiopians do not understand the art of taming elephants; but if their King should want one or two for show they catch them young, and bring them up in captivity." Hence, when we find a few years later (A.D. 570) that there was one great elephant, and some say thirteen elephants, employed in the army which Abraha, the Abyssinian Ruler of Yemen led against Mecca, an expedition famous in Arabian history as the War of the Elephant, we are disposed to believe that these must have been elephants imported from India. There is indeed a notable statement quoted by Ritter, which if trustworthy would lead to another conclusion: "Already in the 20th year of the Hijra (A.D. 641) had the Nubas and Bejas hastened to the help of the Greek Christians of Oxyrhynchus (Bahnasa of the Arabs) ... against the first invasion of the Mahommedans, and according to the exaggerated representations of the Arabian Annalists, the army which they brought consisted of 50,000 men and 1300 war-elephants." The Nubians certainly must have tamed elephants on some scale down to a late period in the Middle Ages, for elephants,--in one case three annually,--formed a frequent part of the tribute paid by Nubia to the Mahomedan sovereigns of Egypt at least to the end of the 13th century; but the passage quoted is too isolated to be accepted without corroboration. The only approach to such a corroboration that I know of is a statement by Poggio in the matter appended to his account of Conti's Travels. He there repeats some information derived from the Abyssinian envoys who visited Pope Eugenius IV. about 1440, and one of his notes is: "They have elephants very large and in great numbers; some kept for ostentation or pleasure, some as useful in war. They are hunted; the old ones killed, the young ones taken and tamed." But the facts on which this was founded probably amounted to no more than what Cosmas had stated. I believe no trustworthy authority since the Portuguese discoveries confirms the use of the elephant in Abyssinia; and Ludolf, whose information was excellent, distinctly says that the Abyssinians did not tame them. (Cathay, p. clxxxi.; Quat., Mem., sur l'Egypte, II. 98, 113; India in XVth Century, 37; Ludolf, I. 10, 32; Armandi, H. Militaire des Elephants, p. 548.)
- To the 10th century at least the whole coast country of the Red Sea, from near Berbera probably to Suakin, was still subject to Abyssinia. At this time we hear only of "Musalman families" residing in Zaila' and the other ports, and tributary to the Christians (see Mas'udi, III. 34).
According to Bruce's abstract of the Abyssinian chronicles, the royal line was superseded in the 10th century by Falasha Jews, then by other Christian families, and three centuries of weakness and disorder succeeded. In 1268, according to Bruce's chronology, Icon Amlac of the House of Solomon, which had continued to rule in Shoa, regained the empire, and was followed by seven other princes whose reigns come down to 1312. The history of this period is very obscure, but Bruce gathers that it was marked by civil wars, during which the Mahomedan communities that had by this time grown up in the coast-country became powerful and expelled the Abyssinians from the sea-ports. Inland provinces of the low country also, such as Ifat and Dawaro, had fallen under Mahomedan governors, whose allegiance to the Negush, if not renounced, had become nominal.
One of the principal Mahomedan communities was called Adel, the name, according to modern explanation, of the tribes now called Danakil. The capital of the Sultan of Adel was, according to Bruce at Aussa, some distance inland from the port of Zaila', which also belonged to Adel.
Amda Zion, who succeeded to the Abyssinian throne, according to Bruce's chronology, in 1312, two or three years later, provoked by the Governor of Ifat, who had robbed and murdered one of his Mahomedan agents in the Lowlands, descended on Ifat, inflicted severe chastisement on the offenders, and removed the governor. A confederacy was then formed against the Abyssinian King by several of the Mahomedan States or chieftainships, among which Adel is conspicuous. Bruce gives a long and detailed account of Amda Zion's resolute and successful campaigns against this confederacy. It bears a strong general resemblance to Marco's narrative, always excepting the story of the Bishop, of which Bruce has no trace, and always admitting that our traveller has confounded Aden with Adel.
But the chronology is obviously in the way of identification of the histories. Marco could not have related in 1298 events that did not occur till 1315-16. Mr. Salt however, in his version of the chronology, not only puts the accession of Amda Zion eleven years earlier than Bruce, but even then has so little confidence in its accuracy, and is so much disposed to identify the histories, that he suggests that the Abyssinian dates should be carried back further still by some 20 years, on the authority of the narrative in our text. M. Pauthier takes a like view.
I was for some time much disposed to do likewise, but after examining the subject more minutely, I am obliged to reject this view, and to abide by Bruce's Chronology. To elucidate this I must exhibit the whole list of the Abyssinian Kings from the restoration of the line of Solomon to the middle of the 16th century, at which period Bruce finds a check to the chronology in the record of a solar eclipse. The chronologies have been extracted independently by Bruce, Rueppell, and Salt; the latter using a different version of the Annals from the other two. I set down all three.
BRUCE. RUEPPEL. SALT. Reigns. Duration Dates. Duration Reigns. Duration Dates. of reign. of reign. of reign. Years. Years. Years. Icon Amlac 15 1268-1283 15 .. .. 14 1255-1269 Igba Zion 9 1283-1292 9 Woudem Arad 15 1269-1284 Bahar Segued \ Kudma Asgud Tzenaff " | Asfa " 3 1284-1287 Jan " | 5 1292-1297 5 Sinfa " Hazeb Araad | Bar " 5 1287-1292 Kedem Segued / Igba Zion 9 1292-1301 Wedem Arad 15 1297-1312 15 .. .. .. .. Amda Zion 30 1312-1342 30 .. .. 30 1301-1331 Saif Arad 28 1342-1370 28 .. .. 28 1331-1359 Wedem Asferi 10 1370-1380 10 .. .. 10 1359-1369 David II 29 1380-1409 29 .. .. 32 1369-1401 Theodorus 3 1409-1412 3 .. .. 1 1401-1402 Isaac 17 1412-1429 15 .. .. 15 1402-1417 Andreas 0-7/12 1429 0-7/12 .. .. 7 1417-1424 Haseb Nanya 4 1429-1433 4 .. .. 5 1424-1429 Sarwe Yasus \ | 1-1/12 1433-1434 1 .. .. 5 1429-1434 Ameda Yasus / Zara Jacob 34 1434-1468 34-1/8 .. .. 34 1434-1468 Beda Mariam 10 1468-1478 10 .. .. 10 1468-1478 Iskander \ | 17 1478-1495 17-7/12 .. .. 16 1478-1494 Ameda Zion / Naod 13 1495-1508 13 .. .. 13 1494-1507 David III 32 1508-1540 32 .. .. 32 1507-1536 Claudius .. 1540 .. .. .. .. ..
Bruce checks his chronology by an eclipse which took place in 1553, and which the Abyssinian chronicle assigns to the 13th year of Claudius. This alone would be scarcely satisfactory as a basis for the retrospective control of reigns extending through nearly three centuries; but we find some other checks.
Thus in Quatremere's Makrizi we find a correspondence between Sultan Bibars and the King of Habasha, or of Amhara, Mahar AMLAK, which occurred in A.H. 672 or 673, i.e. A.D. 1273-1274. This would fall within the reign of Icon AMLAK according to Bruce's chronology, but not according to Salt's, and a fortiori not according to any chronology throwing the reigns further back still.
In Quatremere's Egypte we find another notice of a letter which came to the Sultan of Egypt from the King of Abyssinia, IAKBA SIUN, in Ramadhan 689, i.e. in the end of A.D. 1289.
Again, this is perfectly consistent with Bruce's order and dates, but not with Salt's.
The same work contains a notice of an inroad on the Mussulman territory of Assuan by David (II.), the son of Saif Arad, in the year 783 (A.D. 1381-1382).
In Rink's translation of a work of Makrizi's it is stated that this same King David died in A.H. 812, i.e. A.D. 1409; that he was succeeded by Theodorus, whose reign was very brief, and he again by Isaac, who died in Dhulkada 833, i.e. July-August 1430. These dates are in close or substantial agreement with Bruce's chronology, but not at all with Salt's or any chronology throwing the reigns further back. Makrizi goes on to say that Isaac was succeeded by Andreas, who reigned only four months, and then by Hazbana, who died in Ramadhan 834, i.e. May-June 1431. This last date does not agree, but we are now justified in suspecting an error in the Hijra date, whilst the 4 months' reign ascribed to Andreas shows that Salt again is wrong in extending it to 7 years, and Bruce presumably right in making it 7 months.
These coincidences seem to me sufficient to maintain the substantial accuracy of Bruce's chronology, and to be fatal to the identification of Marco's story with that of the wars of Amda Zion. The general identity in the duration of reigns as given by Rueppell shows that Bruce did not tamper with these. It is remarkable that in Makrizi's report of the letter of Igba Zion in 1289 (the very year when according to the text this anti-Mahomedan war was going on), that Prince tells the Sultan that he is a protector of the Mahomedans in Abyssinia, acting in that respect quite differently from his Father who had been so hostile to them.
I suspect therefore that Icon Amlak must have been the true hero of Marco's story, and that the date must be thrown back, probably to 1278.
Rueppell is at a loss to understand where Bruce got the long story of Amda Zion's heroic deeds, which enters into extraordinary detail, embracing speeches after the manner of the Roman historians and the like, and occupies some 60 pages in the French edition of Bruce which I have been using. The German traveller could find no trace of this story in any of the versions of the Abyssinian chronicle which he consulted, nor was it known to a learned Abyssinian whom he names. Bruce himself says that the story, which he has "a little abridged and accommodated to our manner of writing, was derived from a work written in very pure Gheez, in Shoa, under the reign of Zara Jacob"; and though it is possible that his amplifications outweigh his abridgments, we cannot doubt that he had an original groundwork for his narrative.
The work of Makrizi already quoted speaks of seven kingdoms in Zaila' (here used for the Mahomedan low country) originally tributary to the Hati (or Negush) of Amhara, viz., Aufat, Dawaro, Arababni, Hadiah, Shirha, Bali, Darah. Of these Ifat, Dawaro, and Hadiah repeatedly occur in Bruce's story of the war. Bruce also tells us that Amda Zion, when he removed Hakeddin, the Governor of Ifat, who had murdered his agent, replaced him by his brother Sabreddin. Now we find in Makrizi that about A.H. 700, the reigning governor of Aufat under the Hati was Sabreddin Mahomed Valahui; and that it was 'Ali, the son of this Sabreddin, who first threw off allegiance to the Abyssinian King, then Saif Arad (son of Amda Zion). The latter displaces 'Ali and gives the government to his son Ahmed. After various vicissitudes Hakeddin, the son of Ahmed, obtains the mastery in Aufat, defeats Saif Arad completely, and founds a city in Shoa called Vahal, which superseded Aufat or Ifat. Here the Sabreddin of Makrizi appears to be identical with Amda Zion's governor in Bruce's story, whilst the Hakeddins belong to two different generations of the same family. But Makrizi does not notice the wars of Amda Zion any more than the Abyssinian Chronicles notice the campaign recorded by Marco Polo.
(Bruce, vol. III. and vol. IV., pp. 23-90, and Salt's Second Journey to Abyssinia, II. 270, etc.; both these are quoted from French versions which are alone available to me, the former by Castera, Londres, 1790, the latter by P. Henry, Paris, 1816; Fr. Th. Rink, Al Macrisi, Hist. Rerum Islamiticarum in Abyssinia, etc., Lugd. Bat. 1798; Rueppell, Dissert. on Abyss. Hist. and Chronology in his work on that country; Quat. Makr. II. 122-123; Quat. Mem. sur l'Egypte, II. 268, 276.)
- The last words run in the G.T.: "Il ont singles de plosors maineres. Il ont gat paulz (see note 2, ch. xxiii. supra), et autre gat maimon si devisez qe pou s'en faut de tiel hi a qe ne senblent a vix d'omes." The beautiful cocks and hens are, I suppose, Guinea fowl.
[We read in the Si Shi ki: "There is (in Western Asia) a large bird, above 10 feet high, with feet like a camel, and of bluish-grey colour. When it runs it flaps the wings. It eats fire, and its eggs are of the size of a sheng" (a certain measure for grain). (Bretschneider, Med. Res., I. pp. 143-144.) Dr. Bretschneider gives a long note on the ostrich, called in Persian shutur-murg (camel-bird), from which we gather the following information: "The ostrich, although found only in the desert of Africa and Western Asia, was known to the Chinese in early times, since their first intercourse with the countries of the far west. In the History of the Han (T'sien Han shu, ch. xcvi.) it is stated that the Emperor Wu-ti, B.C. 140-186, first sent an embassy to An-si, a country of Western Asia, which, according to the description given of it, can only be identified with ancient Parthia, the empire of the dynasty of the Arsacides. In this country, the Chinese chronicler records, a large bird from 8 to 9 feet high is found, the feet, the breast, and the neck of which make it resemble the camel. It eats barley. The name of this bird is ta ma tsio (the bird of the great horse). It is further stated that subsequently the ruler of An-si sent an embassy to the Chinese emperor, and brought as a present the eggs of this great bird. In the Hou Han shu, ch. cxviii., an embassy from An-si is mentioned again in A.D. 101. They brought as presents a lion and a large bird. In the History of the Wei Dynasty, A.D. 386-558, where for the first time the name of Po-sz' occurs, used to designate Persia, it is recorded that in that country there is a large bird resembling a camel and laying eggs of large size. It has wings and cannot fly far. It eats grass and flesh, and swallows men. In the History of the T'ang (618-907) the camel-bird is again mentioned as a bird of Persia. It is also stated there that the ruler of T'u-huo-lo (Tokharestan) sent a camel-bird to the Chinese emperor. The Chinese materia medica, Pen ts'ao Kang mu, written in the 16th century, gives (ch. xlix.) a good description of the ostrich, compiled from ancient authors. It is said, amongst other things, to eat copper, iron, stones, etc., and to have only two claws on its feet. Its legs are so strong that it can dangerously wound a man by jerking. It can run 300 li a day. Its native countries are A-dan (Aden) Dju-bo (on the Eastern African coast). A rude but tolerably exact drawing of the camel-bird in the Pen-ts'ao proves that the ostrich was well known to the Chinese in ancient times, and that they paid great attention to it. In the History of the Ming Dynasty, ch. cccxxvi., the country of Hu-lu-mo-sz' (Hormuz on the Persian Gulf) is mentioned as producing ostriches."--H.C.]