Chapter 20

Baghdad (Tatsin) -- Chau Ju Kua's Works Simplified

January 19, 2022
Activity Method
Trade Bullion

Baghdad is also called Likien. It is the general mart of Muslims and the place where the foreign merchants of the Arabs assemble.

Their king is called Malofu and rules in the city of Antu. He wears a turban of silk with gold embroidered characters and sits on a throne covered with a silken rug.

They have walled cities and markets with wards and streets.

In the king’s residence, they use crystal in making pillars, and plaster in guise of tiles. Wall-hangings abound. The wall have 7 gates, each guarded by 30 men.

Tribute bearers from other countries pay homage below the platform of the palace steps.

The Iraqis are tall with a fine bright complexion like the Chinese. This is why they are called Tatsin.

They have keepers of official records. They write with Hu characters. They trim their hair and wear embroidered gowns.

They also have small carts with white tops, flags, etc.

  • The roads have a shed every 10 li and a beacon tower every 30 li.
  • There are many lions that eat travelers unless they go on caravans of 100 well-armed men.

Underneath the palace they have dug a tunnel through the ground communicating with the hall of worship at a distance of over 1 li.

The king rarely goes out except to chant the liturgy and worship. On every 7th day, he goes by way of the tunnel to the hall of worship for divine service and is attended by over 50 men.

But few amongst the people know the king’s face. He rides horseback, shaded by an umbrella. The head of his horse is ornamented with gold, jade, pearls and other jewels.

The Arabs have a leader called a sultan. Every year, he deputizes men to send in tribute through military force.

Their food are cooked dishes, bread and meat.

They do not drink wine. They use gold and silver vessels and ladles. After meals, they wash their hands in golden bowls full of water.

Their native products are:

  • opaque glass
  • brocades (or kincobs)
  • coral
  • native gold
  • sarsenets
  • red cornelian
  • pearls
  • hic-ki-si or tung-tien-si precious stones

In 158-167, its ruler sent an embassy for the first time to China via the outside the frontier of Jinan. He gifted rhinoceros horns, elephants’ tusks, tortoise-shell. The gifts had no other rarities, so it was suspected that the envoys kept them back.

They sent tribute again in 280-289.

West of Yemen is Joshui and Liusha, near the place where the Siwangmu resides and near where the sun goes down.

Its people have red and white faces. The men wear plain clothes, but the women wear brocades with pearls.

They like to drink wine and eat dry cakes. They have many skilled artisans and are clever weavers of silk.

Tu Huan in the King-hing-ki says that the country of Fulin is west of the Chan country and is also called Tatsin.

It is 1,000 li in size. Its active army has over 10,000 men who have to ward off the Arabs.

It has a port-market where a silent agreement exists between buyer and seller that if one comes the other goes.

The seller first spreads out his goods. Then the would-be purchaser spreads out the equivalent offers beside the articles for sale. The seller takes them, and the purchaser gets the item.

This is called the Devil market.


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