Marvels by Land in Foreign Countries. The Bridge of Vomiting. The Laughing-stone of Tibet. The Poison-Hill. The Double-headed Horse. The Brazen Horseman in Andalusia. The Scorpion-water of Antioch. The Padlocked Chamber in Toledo; and king Roderic. The Lebanon Fruit. The Iron Horse and the Sabbatical River. Shell-fish curing Leprosy. The Ox Spring at Acre, and the Spring at Zoar. The Granada Olive Tree. The Seven Intermittent Springs near Tiberias. The Qiblah at Jerusalem. The Church of the Raven in Spain. The Sphinx. The Column at Heliopolis. The Seven Tali mans of Nimrod. Mount Etna. Giant Bones in Bulghār. Fountains in India. The Eagle’s Spring. Wonders by Sea

Fragmentary notes: describing the wonders to be found in other parts of the inhabited world, both by land and by sea.

Of those by land, namely on dry ground, we shall mention according to each province the account of its marvels.

In the Ṣuwar-al-Aqālīm, and also by Qazvīnī, it is reported that in the Samarqand mountains is a spring that in summer- time has its water covered with ice, while in winter you may cook an egg therein (so hot it is). Qazvīnī also says that in the province of Farghānah, in the mountain of Asbarah, there is found a stone in the shape of fingers [<Arabic>] which can be burnt. This they use in place of charcoal; and its ashes are employed for soap. In the same author it is stated that in Turkistān there is a mountain known as the Fire Mountain. In this mountain is a cave, and one who should go into it forthwith dies; and there is also another cave where if any creeping or flying, or running creature should even pass before its mouth, forthwith that creature dies. The same authority relates that in the Makrān province there is a river over which is built a bridge. Anyone who crosses by that bridge forthwith vomits up all the victuals in his belly; hence when the people here have need of an emetic they pass across this same bridge. Further it is said, that in the district of Shāsh (Tashkend) there is on the summit of a certain pass a spring; whenever the weather is clear and cloudless no drop of water is to be found therein: but when the sky gets to be over- cast the basin of the spring becomes full of water. According to the same author it is said, that in the country of Tibet there is a stone of fine colour, and transparent; now every foreigner who looks at this stone falls to laughter against his will, and laughs so much that he dies. On the natives of the land, however, this stone has no effect.

The work of Jayhānī may be quoted, who states that in the Khotan province there is a mountain, which is called Kūh Samm (Poison Hill), and it is for this reason. There is here a valley, through which the usual high road from China to Tibet passes, and in that valley the high road is clearly marked out, and many images have been set up here on either side. Should anyone who passes by that high road wander [<Arabic>] away from the straight line, his breath is caught by the vapours arising from the ground here round about, and he perishes therefrom. In the same work also it is reported that the king of Sanjāb sent to Nūḥ ibn Manṣūr, the Samanid Amīr, a horse which had two heads, and two legs, and two wings with which it could fly. In the Jāmi`-al-Ḥikāyat it is related that the author had seen a woman whose face and body were all covered with hair like a bear, and she had no teeth in the lower jaw, hence her speech could not be understood. It was said that a bear had had connection with her mother, and thus she had come to be born in this condition. The same authority and also the writer of the History of Maghrib report that in Andalusia, at the frontier of a desert place known as the Valley of Ants, a talisman has been set, the same being a man and horse made of brass, which face towards the desert. Anyone about to pass him is warned by a sign from this figure of brass, and should then desist from so doing; and if such a one pays no attention to the sign, but goes forward and passes by the figure, then in that desert there are ants, each of the size of a dog, who will kill any man who comes among them; but these ants are stopped by the brazen figure from passing over to this side of the limit.

Ibn Khurdādbih describes how in the country of the people of `Ād there is a talisman on a tower of brass, whereon also stands a brazen horseman. When the Sacred Months (of the Pilgrimage) come round, living water flows out from this tower, and the people of these parts make a provision of so much of this water as will last them for the remainder of the year, and until the same season comes round again. In the Diary of Malik Shāh it is stated that in the district of Artāḥ near Antioch there is a spring, and when they sprinkle the water from this on any place where there are scorpions, every one of those scorpions must come out of his hole and collect round this water, whereby people may easily destroy them, and so be free of their annoyance. In the same work it is stated that in the city of Antioch they are wont to build houses with gardens upon their roofs, where they grow orange trees and lemons and the like; which same gardens they water after the usual fashion, while in the house they make fire and (of the water and fire) neither affects the other harmfully. Ibn Khurdādbih describes how in the palace of the king of the Visigoths (at Toledo) there was a chamber padlocked. [<Arabic>] None of the kings would ever dare to open this room; nay more, each had added another padlock thereto, until there were twenty-four padlocks in all. At length came Roderic who was to be the last of the kings, and he had insisted on opening those locks, and fain would know what was inside the chamber, in spite of all that the bishops and priests could plead to the contrary, forbidding this that he would do. So he broke open the door, and within saw many figures in the likeness of the Arabs, some riding camels, some horses, and carrying arrows. Then it came to pass that in this same year the Moslems crossed from the Arab lands and conquered all that country.

Qazvīnī reports that near Ḥimṣ in Syria there is a chain of mountains, known as the Lebanon. Here all kind of fruit-trees grow, of their own accord, and without any to cultivate them they produce good fruit. This fruit, however, in the place itself has no flavour or taste, but when it is carried across the Snow River, which is in those parts, it forthwith acquires both flavour and taste. The same author relates that in the mountain called Wāsiṭ in Andalusia there is a cavern whence a tunnel leads out, and here there stands a horseman of iron. If the hand of a human being touch this horseman he disappears, but as soon as the hand is withdrawn he reappears again. If now one should persist in the touching of the figure a fire bursts forth from the tunnel, and cannot be extinguished until much vinegar has been thrown upon it. The same authority states that also in Andalusia there is a river called Nahr-as-Sabt (the Sabbatical River), because it was only possible to cross it on a Saturday. On its bank the figure of a man in brass had been set up, and on his breast was written Cross not here; else it will be impossible to return. Qazvīnī and the author of the History of Maghrib relate that at Alexandria there is a spring wherein certain shell-fish are found. At a particular time, when they are in season, if the shell-fish from this spring be taken and cooked, then those who suffer from leprosy having eaten of them with their broth, they get relief from this malady. The same authority records that at Acre in Syria is a source known as the Ox-Spring, because the ox which God Almighty gave to Adam, wherewith he might plough the land, came forth from this [<Arabic>] spring. To this day the fountain is a place of visitation, and there is a shrine here dedicated to `Alī the Commander of the Faithful. If the water from this spring be used to irrigate fields that are sown but do not yet sprout, the sprouts forthwith come up, grow well and produce a good crop. The same authority states that in the neighbour- hood of Jerusalem is a spring called Zughar (Zoar), and named after one of the daughters of the prophet Lot. For she who bore this name came to die here; and it is also reported that in the end of time this spring will go dry, which same will be a true sign of the coming of the Day of Resurrection. In the same work it is stated that at Qāṭūn* in Egypt there is a spring which throws up water, and drops from this which fall on the ground become fire.

Qazvīnī relates that in the plain of Granada, which lies in Andalusia, there is a church before which stands an olive tree: also a spring gushes forth here, but only during one day in each year. This spring waters the tree and that same day too the tree bears fruit, producing olives. These olives suffice for the people of this church during the whole of the year; and they will carry away some of this water as a medicament; also on no other day of the year but this one day does the spring flow. In the same work it is stated that on a mountain in Andalusia there are two springs side by side, there being not more than three ells space between them, and one pours forth water so hot that meat can be boiled therein, while the other has water so cold that it turns to ice. The same author further states that there is in Egypt a mountain called Kūh-i-Ṭāhir, where a spring of sweet water comes forth, and is collected in a tank from which on all sides it runs away. But if any unclean man, or a menstruous woman, comes to the side of this tank the water suddenly stops, and until he or she goes away the water in the tank does not flow off nor does it flow in from the spring. Further Qazvīnī reports that at the village of Minyah Hishām, near Tiberias in Syria, there are seven springs, and the water here for seven successive years flows forth, and then for seven other years ceases to come, and this state of things never changes. Ibn Khurdādbih recounts [<Arabic>] that in the Qiblah (or Mecca-niche of the Mosque) at Jeru- salem there is a white stone, on which, but inscribed by no mortal hand, is read the inscription:—In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful; there is no God but God, Muḥammad is His prophet, and Ḥamzah was his helper. Also on another stone is inscribed:—`Alī is the vice-gerent of God.

In the History of Maghrib and in Banākitī it is reported that on the peninsula of the Majma`-al-Baḥrayn (Confluence of the Two Seas in Spain) there is a column of white stone a hundred ells in height, which shines by night. On the top of the column stands the figure of a man, and beyond it there is no road any- where. They have built a magnificent church beside this column, and it has a great dome covering it, on the summit of which a raven is ever perched, and for this reason it has been named the Church of the Raven. Now whenever guests are about to arrive at this place, the raven by his croaking announces the number of the same, whereby the people of the church know what to prepare of provisions for their entertainment. No one is able to explain the true cause of this, but praise be to God most high, for it is one of His wondrous works. In the History of Maghrib it is stated that on the western border of Egypt the moving-sands were very troublesome, and in past times for a talisman they carved a human figure (of the Sphinx) in marble, of very awesome aspect, and by a spell laid on this they pre- vented the moving-sands from over passing the figure, and doing hurt to the cultivated lands. This figure (of the Sphinx) from its awesomeness they called Abū-l-Hawl (the Father of Terror). By the same authority it is described how at the city of `Ayn Shams (Heliopolis) in Egypt a company of the Jinn (Demons) made, by command of king Solomon, a square column of red marble flecked with black spots, of a height of more than one hundred ells. On its summit were set three figures of men, made in brass, of which the midmost figure was the tallest, the two on either hand being smaller. From below these figures water oozes forth from the column and flows down, being caught in a tank. Further in this district there are neither underground water- courses, nor streams of any sort, and all their water is from wells. Ibn Khurdādbih, however, states that the water from this column never reaches the ground, but only comes down as far as the middle point, beyond which it does not pass, being stopped here: and he adds that this column is the work of king Hūshang. By the same authority it is reported [<Arabic>] that at Ascalon is a shrine called Mashhad-i-Ṭāhir, in which there are always visible the traces of fresh blood on the ground, for it is said that it was here that Cain slew Abel, and this same is his blood which may still be seen.

In the Ṣuwar-al-Aqālīm it is reported that in the Jifār dis- trict, which belongs to Egypt, there were many most productive villages that were the pleasure grounds of Pharaoh. But by reason of their iniquity God Almighty became wroth, and their grounds brought forth serpents, each a span long, and from the presence of these serpents this rich land forthwith passed to being a desert and uncultivated. This fact is alluded to in the Qurān (ch. VII. v. 133) where it is said: We destroyed the works of Pharaoh and the structures of his people: wherefore from that time till now this country is known as `Arīsh (the Structure). In the Jāmi`-al-Ḥikāyat it is reported that a woman in Jerusalem in times past gave birth to a child whose hands were like those of a human being, but its feet were as those of a calf, and its face was like that of no living creature. In the Jāmi`-al-Ḥikāyat also it is said that certain Sages in the time of Nimrod made for him seven talismans in seven cities;—these accounts, however, are difficult of credence. In one place there was the image of a duck, and when any stranger entered that city the duck would quack, whereby they forthwith investigated into the condition of that stranger. In the second city there was a drum, and if anyone lost anything, he struck the drum with his hand, and a voice came forth indicating the thief. In the third city was a mirror, and anyone who had a well-beloved friend on a journey could, on a certain day of the year, if he had no news of him, by looking into the mirror see his friend, no matter where he was, or what he was doing. In the fourth city there was a tank, and Nimrod on a certain day in the year would give a banquet beside the same; then for every guest would be poured into this tank the diverse drinks required, whether it were wine, or rose water, or sherbet, or vinegar or the like, and although these were all thus mixed together, yet the cupbearer would serve to each guest from the tank the drink that had been poured in for him. In the fifth city was a great basin of water, beside which, when there was litigation, the judge would sit, and cause them to bring thither both plaintiff and defendant, commanding them to cross over that water. Then he who spoke the truth would be able to cross, but he who lied would be drowned. In the sixth city there was a tank, and all around it were the representations of the various countries that were under the government of Nimrod. Then if any of their towns were in revolt against Nimrod, [<Arabic>] and the representation thereof were touched by a wand taken from the tank, within the year that town would be inundated. In the seventh city there was a tree that stood before the gate of the palace of Nimrod, and no matter how many men sought its shade, that number of men were shaded by it. Now with regard to all these blessings, seeing that Nimrod would not accept the truth, nor show gratitude for the same, nor give worship to the true God, and that he called Abraham a liar, attempting to throw him into the fire, and afterwards expelling him from the kingdom —therefore God Almighty in His just anger took back all His benefits, and slew Nimrod with a swarm of gnats, that thus he might become a warning example to the people of the earth.

By the same authority it is reported that in Little Armenia there is a Fire-temple, the roof of which is plastered over with cement, and below the gutter from the roof is a tank in which the water is collected that falls on the roof. The people are wont to drink of this, and if but little rain should fall, then with some of the water that is left they wash the roof of this Fire-temple, and forthwith rain again falls, and so the tank is refilled. Ibn Khurdādbih states that near Rūmīyah (New Rome or Con- stantinople) in the Frank country there is a tree on which are diverse birds like starlings, made of brass. Now when the season for olives is come they set those brazen birds a-whistling, and the wild starlings imagining that these are captive birds bring to them each three olive berries, two in the claws and one in the beak, and laying them down before the brass birds, so leave them. This trick being thus carried out many olives are collected, and the guardians of this tree get a sufficiency to serve their wants and needs for the space of a whole year, and yet in that country for a distance of twenty leagues round there are no olive trees. Qazvīnī says that the writer of the History of Sicily states that in that kingdom is a mountain of very great height, so that its summit is never free from snow, and here there is a mine for sulphur. By day vapour is seen to rise from here, and by night fire is visible, and thus the summit of this mountain is never at any time free from both fire and snow. In the History of Magh- rib it is further stated that in Sicily there is a mountain which is called Jabal-an-Nār (the Mountain of Fire, Etna). Smoke by day and by night flames are visible issuing from its summit, and the light therefrom shines for ten leagues round, so that the people of these districts are able to do work by night [<Arabic>] from its illumination. At times great blocks of stone are hurled forth by this mountain into the air. Such stones as fall on any beast will burn it up, and such as fall into water the fire in the stone is not thereby extinguished and its burning is in no wise diminished by the water. Trees, however, and plants take no hurt therefrom, and it is only animals that are burnt.

Qazvīnī states that in the Baḥr-i-Khazar (the Caspian) there is an island where there are snakes in such countless numbers that the ground is covered by them. And they lie one on the other so that birds lay their eggs on the top of them, and hatch their chicks, and the snakes are unable to do any hurt to either the eggs or the young ones of the birds. Further any man who comes to carry away the eggs, or chicks, or the birds, to him likewise the snakes can do no hurt. The same authority reports that on the further side of Darband there is a spring gushing forth between two trees that is called `Ayn-ath-Thawāb (the Spring of Recompense). On the eve of each Friday people go thither, and at a certain time of night a light shines forth from that spring like the light of the sun. In the same work it is stated that in Bulghār bones like those of the (giant) people of `Ād are found. The top of the skull of one of these was like a cupola for size, and the teeth were a span across and four spans in length; and for hardness, these bones were better than ivory. The same author further states that he saw a man in Bulghār who must have been of the race of the (giant) people of `Ād. His height was over seven ells, and his strength and his limbs were in proportion. The Lord of Bulghār had made him the chief of his soldiers, and had had made for him arms suitable to his size, and his strength was equal to that of a thousand men.

Ibn Khurdādbih reports that near by the Bahr-i-Khazar (the Caspian) is found an extensive country, where it always rains. For this reason it is that the people there can get no opportunity to winnow their corn out of doors: hence they bring it in, in the ear, and winnow it at their leisure as needed. It would appear that this country must be Gīlān, for there it is most times raining, as above described. The same author says that near Ṣan`ā in Yaman is a place where a mighty fire bursts forth. Qazvīnī re- ports that in the province of Asfār* there is a brook the water of [<Arabic>] which runs for one year, and stops running during eight years, then in the ninth year it again begins to run, and so on unceasingly. The same author states that the Imām (Shāfi`ī) reported having seen in Yaman a woman who bore a child, which lived and grew up. This was a girl and the lower half of her body up to below the chest was like in form to that of any other woman; but from the chest upwards she was made after the fashion of two women, having two heads, and two chests, and four arms. She could do all usual things, and had got herself a husband. By the same author it is said that in the Ṣan`ā province there is a mountain on which two kiosks stand, and these by night shine brightly like stars, but it is impossible for anyone to get up close to them, in order to see how this is, and ascertain what is their condition. Further they are said to have been built by the Jinn (Demons). Qazvīnī reports that in India they had made the images of two lions, and water came forth from their mouths, which same irrigated the lands of two villages. But the people of one village thinking to increase their own water supply, broke the mouth of the lion that was their neighbours’ supply. The water from this source stopped flowing, but the water from their own fountain was not increased. And the people of the other village then went and in retaliation broke the mouth of the lion that was their neighbours’, when the spring here likewise stopped flowing. Thus by senseless evil doing both villages came to ruin.

In the same author it is said that in India there is a spring called `Ayn-al-`Uqāb (the Eagle’s Spring), and for this reason that when an eagle becomes old and weak, he dips himself in this spring, and moulting his old feathers, gets new ones in their place, also renewing again the power of his youth. The same author reports that in Yaman, or else it may be in Andalusia, there is a mighty mountain called Shakrān, over the summit of which a wind is always blowing, so that it is impossible to get up to it. On the summit by day the figure of a peacock is seen, but by night the light of a fire; and no one can explain how this is. Ibn Khurdādbih states that a Rajah of India sent many presents of various kinds of jewels to the Caliph Mamūn, also a maiden of exquisite beauty and loveliness, who was seven ells in stature, but with all her limbs in just proportion, and at sight of her the heart was troubled beyond repose. The same author [<Arabic>] states that in Ṣan`ā of Yaman, and in the country round, during the months of June, July, August and part of September, which is the hottest season of the year, daily at mid-day rain falls, and no day passes without rain; hence it is the custom for people who have business with one another to say each to the other—‘Hasten, before the rain comes.’—But true knowledge in all these matters lies with God Almighty alone.

Of Wonders by Sea. Now these exceed all reckoning and compute, so that none has knowledge to comprehend them all. Hence it is that they are wont to say—‘They tell so and so of the Sea’ in relating what is marvellous. Here, therefore, I shall relate only what I have found in the books of such of the learned as are worthy of credence, or have myself heard related by nar- rators who were to be depended on, and the responsibility is on the narrator. Qazvīnī says that in the Indian Sea there are creatures that come out of the water to pasture on the land, and from their mouths fire issues, which burns up the grass lands round and about. He further states that in the Caspian Sea there is an island on which a spring gushes out from the rock, and in the water of this spring pieces of copper are found of the weight of a scruple or half a scruple. By the same author it is reported that during the reign of the Caliph Wāthiq the Chief of Sarīr made a fishing excursion on the Caspian Sea in honour of Sallām the Interpreter*, who was here on his way to investigate the condition of the Wall of Gog and Magog. On this occasion they caught a large fish, inside the belly of which was found a mermaid of surpassing beauty, wearing neither smock nor drawers, but with a skin like that of a human being down to her knees. She began to beat her face and tear her hair, making great lamentations, and after a while she died. The writer of the History of Maghrib also vouches for the truth of this story. In the same work it is stated that in the Island of Qayṣūr, which is in India, there is a place where there are certain fish; and as soon as these are taken away from the water they turn to hard stone and lose their animal nature. Ibn Khurdādbih reports that in India there is found a fish that is twenty ells in length. Inside this lives a second fish, and inside this again a third, and so to a fourth, each fish within the last. In the same work it is stated [<Arabic>] that in those seas lives a turtle that is twenty ells round. It gives milk, and from its tortoiseshell they make weapons of war, also they find inside it more than a thousand eggs. In the same work it is said that in the Red Sea lives a fish that is like a camelopard, and it gives milk. Of its skin they make armour, and bucklers, and javelins are unable to penetrate the same.

Qazvīnī relates that in the Indian Sea lives a crab, which as long as it is in the water has soft flesh, but as soon as it is taken therefrom it turns to stone and so loses its animal nature. Also the same authority states that in the island of Sicily, in the Western Sea, there is a sulphur spring. The sulphur here gives out light by night, all round and about, so that by its means the road may be well seen; but if the sulphur be taken from here to any other place its quality of giving light ceases. This therefore shows that only as long as it is in quantity can it give forth light, and when it fails therein (being too little in amount) then it no longer shows forth its proper peculiarity. By the same authority it is stated that in the Island of Kalah Ham, in the Frank Sea, there are trees, which for fruit bear birds. At the time of budding the trees grow a little bag, in which the bird is found, and its beak pierces outside the bag when it gets to maturity, and then rips the same open, so that the bird comes out. For most of their meat and victuals the people of this country depend upon these birds. In the same work it is stated that in the Island of Abrīnā in the Frank Sea there is a spring and anything that is laid in this after a week becomes covered outside with stone. In the same island of that Sea, according to the authority aforesaid, there is a mountain from which fire flames forth, and extends to a height of two or three spear lengths. It never becomes extin- guished, and it ceaselessly gives light: also at any time of general gathering and going forth its fire blazes out the more. But God Almighty alone knows the truth of this matter.