En 16g Panj-ab Report

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    Ott 2023

    16g. Liudgeart: Panj-ab Report

    [163/10] Among my father’s papers, I found a letter written by Liudgeart the Geartman. Omitting some parts which concern only my father, I shall recount the rest here for good measure:

    ‘Panj-ab’ (which means ‘Five Waters’ and next to which we formerly lived) is a river of exceptional beauty.[1] It is called Five Waters because four other rivers flow through its mouth into the sea. Very far eastwards is another great river, called the Holy or Sacred Ganges.[2] Between these rivers is the land of the Hindus. Both rivers run down from the high mountains to the delta. The mountains from where they stream downwards are so high that they lead to (or: lie in) the ‘himel’, or heavens. Therefore, the mountain range is called ‘Himel-laya’.

    Among the Hindus and others from these lands, there are men who meet in silent solitude. They believe that they are unmingled [164] children of Finda and that Finda was born out of the Himalaya mountains, whence she descended to the delta or the plains with her children. Some of them believe that she went (has gone — ‘gonggen’) down upon the foam of the Holy Ganges with her children and that this is why the river is called 'Holy Gong-ga' (Ganges). But the priests, who come from a different land, have such people hunted down and burned. Therefore, the people dare not openly declare their creed. All priests in the land are fat and rich. In their temples, a whole assortment of statues representing gods is to be found, among which many are made of gold.

    West of the Panj-ab (Indus), there are the ‘Ira’, or ‘wrathful’, as well as the ‘Gedrostne’ (Gedrosians), or ‘runaways’, and the ‘Oryetten’ (Oritae), or ‘forgotten’. All these names were given them by the envious priests, from whom they had fled to save their own morals and beliefs. When they arrived here, our ancestors settled on both shores of the Panj-ab. But because of the priests, the settlers on the eastern shore later moved likewise to the western shore.[3] Thence we became acquainted with the Ira and the others. The Ira (Iranians) are not ireful, but good people [165] who do not tolerate or worship statues of gods. They also will not permit temples or priests and, just like us, they uphold the sacred light of Festa, as well as maintaining permanent fires in their homes.[4] Whosoever travels far to the west, however, comes upon the Gedrosians. Regarding the Gedrosians: These are bastardized with other peoples and speak many different languages. These people are genuine ireful murderers, who always roam the fields with their horses, who always hunt and rob, and who work as mercenaries for princes of the neighboring states, for whose sake they hew down all they can get close to.

    The land between the Panj-ab (Indus) and the Ganges is just as flat as Fryasland by the sea, with varied landscapes of fields and woods, fertile in all parts. However, this does not prevent thousands upon thousands sometimes starving to death there. These famines thus cannot be attributed to Wralda or Earth, but only to the princes and priests. The Hindus are just as timid and fearful before their princes as the deer before the wolves. Therefore, the Ira and others have named them ‘Hindus’, which means ‘hinds’ (deer). [166] But grisly abuse is made of their timidity: If foreign merchants come to purchase grain, everyone and everything is turned into money. This is not prevented by the priests, because they — more cunning and greedy than all princes combined — know quite well that all the money will eventually flow into their own pockets.

    Beyond the ample abuse that the people suffer from their princes, they also suffer much from the poisonous and wild animals. There are enormous elephants that go about in large herds and sometimes trample down whole fields of grain and whole villages. There are multicolored and black cats, called ‘tigers’, which are as big as large calves and devour both humans and animals. Besides many other wriggling things, there are snakes from the size of a worm all the way to the size of a tree. The largest can swallow a whole cow, but the smallest are even more dangerous: They hide between flowers and fruits in order to attack those who come to pick them. Whoever is bitten by them must die, because Earth will not give herbs against their poison as long as the people make themselves guilty of idolatry. Further, there are various types of land and water reptiles,[5] and all these — like the snakes — [167] range from the size of a worm to that of a tree trunk. According to their size and menace, they have names, of which I know not all. The greatest water reptiles of all are called ‘all-getters’ (alligators), because they bite as eagerly into the rotting animal corpses that float downstream to the delta as into any living prey within their reach.

    On the west side of Panj-ab (Indus), whence we come and where I was born, the same fruits and grains sprout and grow as on the east side. There also used to be the same wriggling creatures, but our ancestors burned all thickets and hunted wild animals so long that there are very few left. Whosoever travels very far to the west of the Panj-ab finds, besides rich pastures, also barren heathlands, which seem endless but are occasionally interspersed with lovely stretches that captivate the eye.

    Among the fruits of my land, there are many sorts which I have not found here. Among the various grains, some are golden, and there are gold-yellow apples, of which some are sweet as honey, others sour as vinegar. There are nuts as large as a child’s head, containing cheese and milk. When they are old, oil is made from them. Of the [168] husks, cords are made, and of the shells, cups and other utensils. In the woods here, I have seen berries on vines and on stalks. In our homeland there are berry trees like to your linden trees, the fruits of which are much sweeter and three times greater than stalk berries.

    When the days are at the longest and the sun is at its highest point, it shines down sheer upon your head. If you have then sailed far to the south by ship, and turn your face to the east at midday, the sun shines upon your left side, as it otherwise does upon your right.

    With this I will end, confident that my writing will make it easy enough for you to discern lying tales from true accounts.[6]

    Your Liudgeart.


    1. River Indus, not region Punjab.
    2. ‘Ganges’ (GONG.GÁ) — explained at [164/05]; in the manuscript, the separating dot was inconsistently placed between G and À on p. [164].
    3. Changed for clarity; lit.: (our ancestors) ‘also settled on the eastern shores of the Panj-ab. But because of the priests they also moved to the western shores’.
    4. An apparent reference to Zoroastrianism.
    5. 'land and water reptiles' (HÁCH.DISKA, NYN.DISKA, Á.DISKA) — the first word seems to be equivalent to Dutch hagedissen, German Eidechsen (lizards), second word unclear, third probably means water-reptile.
    6. 'lying tales' (LÉJEN.AFTIGA TELTJAS) — this may refer to tales about India as included in Maerlant's Der naturen bloeme (he followed a tradition of describing the Orient): e.g. golden mountains, guarded by dragons and griffins, eight meters tall people, dog-headed people, mothers who only bear quintuplets (ref.: 'Maerlants wereld', F. van Oostrom, 1996, p. 154).

    Sandbach 1876

    [p.221 cont.] Among my father's papers I found a letter from Liudgert the Geertman.[1] Omitting some passages which only concern my father, I proceed to relate the rest.

    Punjab, that is five rivers, and by which we travel, is a river of extraordinary beauty, and is called Five Rivers, because four other streams flow into the sea by its mouth. Far away to the eastward is another large river, the Holy or Sacred Ganges. Between these two rivers is the land of the Hindoos. Both rivers run from the high mountains to the plains. The mountains in which their sources lie are so high that they reach the heavens (laia), and therefore these mountains are called Himmellaia. Among the Hindoos and others out of these countries there are people who meet together secretly. They believe that they are pure children of Finda, and that Finda was born in the Himmellaia mountains, whence she went with her children to the lowlands. Some of them believe that she, with her children, floated down upon the foam of the Ganges, and that that is the reason why the river is called the Sacred Ganges. But the priests, who came from another country, traced out these people and had them burnt, so that they [p.223] do not dare to declare openly their creed. In this country all the 'priests are fat and rich. In their churches there are all kinds of monstrous images, many of them of gold. To the west of the Punjab are the Yren (Iraniers), or morose (Drangianen), the Gedrosten (Gedrosiers), or runaways, and the Urgetten, or forgotten. These names are given by the priests out of spite, because they fled from their customs and religion. On their arrival our forefathers likewise established themselves to the east of the Punjab, but on account of the priests they likewise went to the west. In that way we learned to know the Yren and other people. The Yren are not savages, but good people, who neither pray to nor tolerate images; neither will they suffer priests or churches; but as we adhere to the light of Fasts, so they everywhere maintain fire in their houses. Coming still further westward, we arrive at the Gedrosten. Regarding the Gedrosten: They have been mixed with other people, and speak a variety of languages. These people are really savage murderers, who always wander about the country on horseback hunting and robbing, and hire themselves as soldiers to the surrounding princes, at whose command they destroy whatever they can reach.

    The country between the Punjab and the Ganges is as flat as Friesland near the sea, and consists of forests and fields, fertile in every part, but this does not prevent the people from dying by thousands of hunger. The famines, however, must not be attributed to Wr-alda or Irtha, but to the princes and priests. The Hindoos are timid and submissive before their princes, like hinds before wolves. Therefore the Yren and others have called them Hindoos, which means hinds. But their timidity is frightfully abused. If strangers come to purchase corn, everything is turned [p.225] into money, and this is not prevented 'by the priests, because they, being more crafty and rapacious than all the princes put together, know very well that all the money will come into their pockets. Besides what the people suffer from their princes, they suffer a great deal from poisonous and wild beasts. There are great elephants that sometimes go about in whole flocks and trample down cornfields aid whole villages. There are great black and white cats which are called tigers. They are as large as calves, and they devour both men and beasts. Besides other creeping animals there are snakes from the size of a worm to the size of a tree. The largest can swallow a cow, but the smallest are the most deadly. They conceal themselves among the fruits and flowers, and surprise the people who come to gather them. Any one who is bitten by them is sure to die, as Irtha has given no antidote to their poison, because the people have so given themselves up to idolatry. There are, besides, all sorts of lizards, tortoises, and crocodiles. All these reptiles, like the snakes, vary from the size of a worm to the trunk of a tree. According to their size and fierceness, they have names which I cannot recollect, but the largest are called alligators, because they eat as greedily the putrid cattle that float down the stream as they do living animals that they seize. On the west of the Punjab where we come from, and where I was born, the same fruits and crops grow as on the east side. Formerly there existed also the same crawling animals, but our forefathers burnt all the underwood, and so diligently hunted all the wild animals, that there are scarcely any left. To the extreme west of the Punjab there is found rich clay land [p.227] as well as barren heaths, which seem endless, occasionally varied lovely spots on which the eye rests enchanted. Among the fruits there are many that I have not found here. Among the various kinds of corn some is as yellow as gold. There are also golden apples, of which some are as sweet as honey and others as sour as vinegar. In our country there are nuts as large as a child's head. They contain cheese and milk. When they are old oil is made from them. Of the husks ropes are made, and of the shells cups and other household utensils are made. I have found in the woods here bramble and holly berries. In my country we have trees bearing berries, as large as your lime-trees, the berries of which are much sweeter and three times as large as your gooseberries. When the days are at the longest, and the sun is in the zenith, a man's body bas no shadow. If you sail very far to the south and look to the east at midday, the sun shines on your left side as it does in other countries on the right side. With this I will finish. It will be easy for you, by means of what I have written, to distinguish between false accounts and true descriptions.—Your Liudgert.

    Note Sandbach

    1. See page 165.

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