The Travels of Marco Polo 1: Chapter 61
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OF THE CITY OF CHANDU, AND THE KAAN'S PALACE THERE.
[...text not relevant to Armenia removed]
NOTE 6.--[...text removed]
Baber tells that among the ceremonies of a Mongol Review the Khan and his staff took kumiz and sprinkled it towards the standards. An Armenian author of the Mongol era says that it was the custom of the Tartars, before drinking, to sprinkle drink towards heaven, and towards the four quarters. Mr. Atkinson notices the same practice among the Kirghiz: and I found the like in old days among the Kasias of the eastern frontier of Bengal.
NOTE 9.--It is not clear whether Marco attributes this cannibalism to the Tibetans and Kashmirians, or brings it in as a particular of Tartar custom which he had forgotten to mention before.
The accusations of cannibalism indeed against the Tibetans in old accounts are frequent, and I have elsewhere (see _Cathay_, p. 151) remarked on some singular Tibetan practices which go far to account for such charges. Della Penna, too, makes a statement which bears curiously on the present passage. Remarking on the great use made by certain classes of the Lamas of human skulls for magical cups, and of human thigh bones for flutes and whistles, he says that to supply them with these _the bodies of executed criminals were stored up of the disposal of the Lamas_; and a Hindu account of Tibet in the _Asiatic Researches_ asserts that when one is killed in a fight both parties rush forward and struggle for the liver, which they eat (vol. xv).
[Carpini says of the people of Tibet: "They are pagans; they have a most astonishing, or rather horrible, custom, for, when any one's father is about to give up the ghost, all the relatives meet together, and they eat him, as was told to me for certain." Mr. Rockhill (_Rubruck_, p. 152, note) writes: "So far as I am aware, this charge [of cannibalism] is not made by any Oriental writer against the Tibetans, though both Arab travellers to China in the ninth century and Armenian historians of the thirteenth century say the Chinese practised cannibalism. The Armenians designate China by the name _Nankas_, which I take to be Chinese _Nan-kuo_, 'southern country,' the _Manzi_ country of Marco Polo."--H. C.]
But like charges of cannibalism are brought against both Chinese and Tartars very positively. Thus, without going back to the Anthropophagous Scythians of Ptolemy and Mela, we read in the _Relations_ of the Arab travellers of the ninth century: "In China it occurs sometimes that the governor of a province revolts from his duty to the emperor. In such a case he is slaughtered and eaten. _In fact, the Chinese eat the flesh of all men who are executed by the sword_." Dr. Rennie mentions a superstitious practice, the continued existence of which in our own day he has himself witnessed, and which might perhaps have given rise to some such statement as that of the Arab travellers, if it be not indeed a relic, in a mitigated form, of the very practice they assert to have prevailed. After an execution at Peking certain large pith balls are steeped in the blood, and under the name of _blood-bread_ are sold as a medicine for consumption. _It is only to the blood of decapitated criminals that any such healing power is attributed_. It has been asserted in the annals of the _Propagation de la Foi_ that the Chinese executioners of M. Chapdelaine, a missionary who was martyred in Kwang-si in 1856 (28th February), were seen to eat the heart of their victim; and M. Huot, a missionary in the Yun-nan province, recounts a case of cannibalism which he witnessed. Bishop Chauveau, at Ta Ts'ien-lu, told Mr. Cooper that he had seen men in one of the cities of Yun-nan eating the heart and brains of a celebrated robber who had been executed. Dr. Carstairs Douglas of Amoy also tells me that the like practices have occurred at Amoy and Swatau.
[With reference to cannibalism in China see _Medical Superstitions an Incentive to Anti-Foreign Riots in China_, by _D. J. Macgowan, North China Herald_, 8th July, 1892, pp. 60-62. Mr. E. H. Parker (_China Review_, February-March, 1901, 136) relates that the inhabitants of a part of Kwang-si boiled and ate a Chinese officer who had been sent to pacify them. "The idea underlying this horrible act [cannibalism] is, that by eating a portion of the victim, especially the heart, one acquires the valour with which he was endowed." (_Dennys' Folk-lore of China_, 67.)--H. C.]
Hayton, the Armenian, after relating the treason of a Saracen, called Parwana (he was an Iconian Turk), against Abaka Khan, says: "He was taken and cut in two, and orders were issued that in all the food eaten by Abaka there should be put a portion of the traitor's flesh. Of this Abaka himself ate, and caused all his barons to partake. _And this was in accordance with the custom of the Tartars_." The same story is related independently and differently by Friar Ricold, thus: "When the army of Abaga ran away from the Saracens in Syria, a certain great Tartar baron was arrested who had been guilty of treason. And when the Emperor Khan was giving the order for his execution the Tartar ladies and women interposed, and begged that he might be made over to them. Having got hold of the prisoner they boiled him alive, and cutting his body up into mince-meat gave it to eat to the whole army, as an example to others." Vincent of Beauvais makes a like statement: "When they capture any one who is at bitter enmity with them, they gather together and eat him in vengeance of his revolt, and like infernal leeches suck his blood," a custom of which a modern Mongol writer thinks that he finds a trace in a surviving proverb. Among more remote and ignorant Franks the cannibalism of the Tartars was a general belief. Ivo of Narbonne, in his letter written during the great Tartar invasion of Europe (1242), declares that the Tartar chiefs, with their dog's head followers and other _Lotophagi_ (!), ate the bodies of their victims like so much bread; whilst a Venetian chronicler, speaking of the council of Lyons in 1274, says there was a discussion about making a general move against the Tartars, "_porce qu'il manjuent la char humaine._" These latter writers no doubt rehearsed mere popular beliefs, but Hayton and Ricold were both intelligent persons well acquainted with the Tartars, and Hayton at least not prejudiced against them.