Earliest Foreign Account of China? // 9th cent. “Accounts of China and India” // Primary Source

published on July 20, 2020

the Chinese with a younger old wear silk in both winter and summer they're ruling classes where the finest silk other classes where whatever quality they can afford in winter the men wear two pairs of trousers or three four or five or

Even more pairs according to what they can afford this they do in order to keep the lower parts of their bodies warm on account of the prevalence of damp and the fear of its ill effects in summer they where a singl gown of silk or

Something of that sort they do not wear turbans their staple food is rice they often cook a sauce to go with it which they pour on the rice before eating it they're ruling classes however eat wheat bread and the flesh of all sorts of

Animals including pigs and other such creatures there various kinds of fruit apples peaches Citron's pomegranates quinces pears bananas sugar cane watermelons figs grapes serpent melons cucumbers – jubie's walnuts almonds

Hazelnuts pistachios apricots service berries and coconuts not many date palms are to be found in China except for the occasional specimen in the garden of a private home their drink is a wine made from rice grape

Wine is not to be found in their land and it is never imported indeed they do not know of it and do not drink it from rice they manufacture vinegar wine jellied sweet meats and other such products

The Chinese are unhygenic and they do not wash their backsides with water after defecating but merely wipe themselves with Chinese paper they eat carrion and other similar things just as the margins do in fact their religion

Resembles that of the margins their women folk leave their heads uncovered but put combs in their hair single woman often wearing 20 combs of ivory and and other such materials the men folk however cover their heads with something

Like a cap in dealing with thieves their practice is to put them to death if they are caught it is said that the king of China has more than 200 major cities under his rule each of which has its own King and eunuch chief of finance as well

As several lesser cities under its governance among their major cities is can fou the port for shipping which has 20 lesser cities under it her City is only designated as such if it has JA dams a jedem is an instrument that is

Blown like a like a trumpet but longer and of such a girth that both hands are needed to grasp and encircle it it is varnished with the substance used on Chinese lacquer ware and reaches three or four cubits in length and one end

Narrow enough for a man to place his mouth it's sound travels about a mile every city is four gates and each is equipped with five jams which are blown at certain times of the night and the day each city is also equipped with ten

Kettle drums which are beaten when the Jew dams are sounded the object of all this is to proclaim their obedience to the king it also enables them to know the times of night and day in addition they have indicators to regulate the

Hours they use copper coins for their transactions and although their Treasuries are like those of other rulers no other ruler has copper as the sole currency of the land they do indeed

Possess gold silver pearls brocade and silks and all in large quantities but all those are regarded as items of Commerce or the copper coins alone are used as currency ivory frankincense and copper ingots are all imported into

China as well as dable from the sea which are the shells from Turtles backs and the Bouchon which we've already described namely the rhinoceros whose horns they make into belts among the many types of animals they use

For transport they do not possess Arab horses but have other breeds instead they also have donkeys and many two-humped camel they have a fine type of clay that is made into cups as delicate as glass when held up to the

Light the liquid in them can be seen through the body of the cup even though it is of clay as soon as the sea merchants put into harbour the Chinese take charge of their goods and transport them to warehouses guaranteeing

Indemnity for up to six months that is until the last of the sea merchants arrive then three tenths of the goods are taken in kind as duty and the remainder is returned to the merchants any goods that the ruler needs he also

Takes but he gives the very highest price for them and pays immediately so he does no harm to the merchants among the goods he buys is a cam for paying fifty fukuchi s for a mound the Fang a thousand copper coins the same cam for

If the ruler had not bought it would be worth only half that price on the open market when one of the Chinese dies he's not buried until the anniversary of his death in the intervening period they placed the body in a coffin and leave it

In their house put quicklime on the corpse which absorbs the fluids from it so that it remains uncooperative their rulers aarambam din aloes and camp for they weep over the dead for three years all

Who do not weep whether women or men are beaten with wooden staves and they say to them do you not grieve for your dead eventually the Dead buried in graves like the graves of the Arabs up until the time of burial however they keep on

Giving food to the dead person for they maintain that he eats and drinks they leave the food by the corpse at night and when next morning they find none of it left they say he has eaten it they do not cease weeping over the corpse and

Giving it food as long as it remains in the house indeed they will impoverish themselves for the sake of their dead and will spend every last penny and sell every last plot of land and spend the proceeds to this end in former times

When they enter the king they used to bury him with all his household possessions such as robes and belts their belts being worth large sums of money but they have now abandoned the practice because one of these royal dead

Was dug up and the accompanying goods looted the Chinese whether poor or rich young or old all learn how to form letters and to write the titles of their rulers depend on their rank on on the size of the cities they govern in the

Case of a smaller City its ruler is entitled to sons the meaning of two sons being he set the affairs of the city straight in the case of a major city like Kant fou the title of its ruler is defu the eunuch chief of Finance is

Called the to come the eunuchs come from their own people and are deliberately castrated the Chief Justice is called lakhs Imam kun and there are other titles of this sort that we cannot set down accurately

No one is given the office of ruler if he is the less than 40 years old so they say that someone of this age experience has taught him when one of the lesser rulers sits for a public hearing in the city he sits on a judgement seat in a

Large courtyard with another seat placed before him and written submissions concerning the legal proceedings of the populace are presented to him behind the ruler stands a man called a lick who and if the ruler makes a slip in any of his

Pronouncements and gets it wrong this official rejects the decision they give no considerations to anything a petitioner has to say unless it is set down in writing moreover before a litigant enters the rulers presence his

Written submission is examined by a man who stands the palace gate and looks over each person's documents if it contains an error he rejects it consequently only a scribe well-acquainted with a legal law will

Write anything to be submitted to the ruler furthermore he has to write on the document written by so-and-so son of so-and-so so that if it does contain an error the blame falls on the scribe and he will be beaten with wooden staves the

Ruler never sits in judgment until he has eaten and drunk lest he judge wrongfully in contrast to these provincial rulers the great king is seen in public only every ten months free says if the people see me more often

They will look on me with a less reverence successful rulership calls for display of kingly pride the common people have no idea of fairness in a ruler so haughty attitude should be adopted towards them in order to

Increase our importance in their eyes their landed property is not subject to attacks indeed they themselves a taxed per capita of the male population according to the authorities estimation of individual circumstances in the case

Of any Arab or other foreigner resident in the land a tax is paid on his property in order to safeguard that property if the price of grain Rises too high the ruler releases stocks from his granaries and sells it at less than the

Market price causing the inflation to end the income of the public treasury comes from the poll tax I believe that the daily income from the public treasury in can Fuu is as much as fifty thousand dinars even though it is not

The greatest of the cities among the country's minerals the ruler has exclusive rights to salt he also has the rights to applaud that they drink with hot water and it is sold in every city for large sums of money called sack it

Is the fear than alfalfa and a little more aromatic with a bitterness to it to prepare it water is boiled then the leaves are sprinkled on it and it serves them as an antidote to all ailments the entire income of the public treasury

Consists of the poll tax and the receipts from salt and this plant in every city there is something called the der ah this is a bell hanging over the head of the ruler of the city and connected to a cord stretching until it

Passes over the middle of the highway for the use of all the common people the distance between the ruler and the highway is about far sac if the cord is moved even slightly the Bell moves to anyone who has a complaint against

Injustice moves the cord causing the Bell to move over the rulers head the complainant is then permitted to enter the rulers presence so that he may deliver in person an account of his circumstances and set forth his

Grievance this procedure is used throughout the land anyone wanting to travel from one part of China to another obtains two documents one from the ruler and one from the eunuch chief of Finance the

Document from the rule there is a permit for the road made out in the name of the traveller and those accompanying him and stating his age and his companions ages and the tribe from which he comes all persons in China whether of its native

Population or the Arabs or other foreigners are required to declare their ancestral origin from some group with which they may be officially identified the second document from the eunuch concerns the travelers money and any

Goods he may have the reason for this procedure is that there are guard posts on the road where they examine both documents and when a traveller arrives at one they write so-and-so son of so-and-so and such and such an origin

Arrived at our guard post on the enth day of the enth month of the enth year accompanied by so-and-so this is in order that none of the travelers money or goods should go missing whenever anything is actually lost or a traveler

Dies the manner in which this occurred will be known and his property returned to him or his heirs the Chinese act fairly where financial dealings or deaths are concerned if someone makes a loan to another person he writes a

Document to the borrower obliging him to repay the borrower also writes a document to the lender marking it with a mark between his two fingers the middle and index finger the two documents have been placed together and folded in on

Each other and an inscription is written across both of them at the place where the edge is drawn and the recipient of the loan receives his copy and acknowledges his debt subsequently if one of the parties should repudiate the

Other he is taught to reduce his copy of the document it may then happen that the debtor maintains that he does not have one were upon the creditors copy in the debtors own handwriting and with his mark can be presented his proof in such

A case a debtor who still repudiate his creditor will be told use another document then stating that this sum is not owed by you and if you cannot and the creditors claim which you have repudiated is shown to be beyond

Dispute then you will be made to suffer 20 blows on the back with wooden staves and to pay twenty thousand fuku G's of copper coins the fine would amount to around two thousand dinars while the 20 blows would be enough to kill him no one

In China would willingly bring that upon himself for fear of ruining both his person and his property and we never have seen anyone have to undergo it consequently they act fairly towards each other

they have a stone tablet setup 10 cubits tall on which is written in engraved characters a list of remedies and diseases each particular disease paired with its appropriate remedy and if a

Sick person is poor he is given the cost of his medicine from the public treasury when a male child is born to anyone his name is registered with the ruler and when he reaches the age of 18 he has to pay the poll tax if however he lives to

The age of 80 he no longer has to pay the tax instead he is given a pension from the public treasury before they say when he was young he paid us a tax now he is old we pay him a pension also every city has a school and a teacher to

Teach the poor how to write and the children of the poor are fed from the public treasury there is a village in the mountains in China called Tai Yu where the people are short in stature every sure person in China is

Said to come from there the Chinese are a fine-looking tool people with clear pale complexions tinged with red no people have black a hair than they


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