Chapter 13

Ceylon (Lanwuli under Sumatra)

by Chau Ju Kua
Activity Method
Trade Barter

The exports of Ceylon are:

  • sapan-wood
  • elephants’ tusks
  • white rattan

The people are warlike and often use poisoned arrows.

With a north wind one comes within 20 days of Ceylon which under the Chalukya (Nanpi).

Sailing from Ceylon, one arrives at Silan by seeing a continual flashing of lightning.

The King of Ceylon is black. His hair is unkempt and head uncovered.

  • He only wears a cotton cloth of different colours wrapped around him
  • He wears sandals of red leather, tied with golden strings.
  • He rides an elephant or is carried in a litter

All day, he chews a paste of betel nut and pearl ashes.

His palace is ornamented with cat’s-eyes, blue and red precious stones, cornelians, and other jewels.

The very floor he walks upon is

There is an eastern and western palace

  • Each has a golden tree, the trunk and branches are made of gold.
  • The flowers, fruit, and leaves are cat’s-eyes, blue and red precious stones and such like jewels.
  • At the foot of these trees are golden thrones with opaque glass screens.

When the king holds court, his court uses the eastern palace in the forenoon and the western in the afternoon.

When (the king) is seated, the jewels flashing in the sunshine, the glass (screens) and the jewel-tree shining on each other, make it like the glory of the rising sun.

Two attendants are always present holding a golden dish to receive the remains of the betel nut (paste) chewed by the king.

The king’s attendants pay a monthly fee of 20 taels of gold into the government treasury for the privilege of getting the betel nut (paste) remains, for it contains plum flower, camphor, and other precious substances.

The king holds in his hand a jewel of five inches in diameter, which cannot be burnt by fire.

  • It shines at night like a torch
  • The king rubs his face with it daily
  • He still retains his youthful looks even if he is past 90 years old

The people are very dark-skinned.

  • They wrap a sarong around their bodies.
  • They go bare-headed and barefooted.
  • They use their hands in eating food.
  • Their household utensils are of copper.

Ceylon has a mountain called Siluntie. On the top, there is a huge imprint of a man’s foot, over 7 feet long, and a like imprint is visible in the water (of the sea) within over 300 li from the mountain. All the forest trees on the mountain, bend towards it (as if reverencing it).

It exports include:

  • cat’s-eyes
  • red transparent glass
  • camphor
  • blue and red precious stones.

Its crops are

  • cardamoms
  • mulan bark
  • coarse and fine perfumes

Foreign traders exchange for them:

  • sandal-wood
  • cloves
  • camphor
  • gold
  • silver
  • porcelain- ware
  • horses
  • elephants
  • silk stuffs.

This country sends a yearly tribute to Sumatra.


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