The Adventurer-Writer who Chronicled Asian Wars, Confronted Racism—and Saw the Future
He stood among the Japanese soldiers wearing a weather-beaten visored cap over his short, dark hair and a rough hewn jacket covering his broad soldiers, a cigarette angling away from his square jaw and a camera dangling from his gloved hand. As they studied documents, the Japanese troops contrasted with Jack London in their box hats and high collared uniforms. A photographer present immortalized London looking like the adventurer and writer that he was, one drawn to the battle like a missionary to his calling, who skillfully recorded the machinations of great powers while sympathizing with the underdogs who struggled to survive.
Jack London (1876-1916), easily the most popular American writer a century ago, is still praised for his Yukon novels and short stories such as The Call of the Wild, White Fang and To Build a Fire. However, his visits to Japan, Korea and Manchuria; his factual, hard hitting coverage of the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05); his astute short stories about Sino-Japanese competition; his prophetic essays predicting the rise of the Pacific Rim, and his call for respect and constructive interaction between Americans and Asians over "yellow peril" hysteria are undeservedly forgotten. These salient aspects of London's life deserve to be remembered and respected. They evidence his keen intelligence, painfully accurate vision of the future and the progressive and humane values that are still needed to bridge the East and West.
London negotiates passage with a Japanese officer in Korea during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. I explained that I was going to Chemulpo. “In a moment,” said the interpreter. I showed my ticket, my passport, my card, my credentials; and always and invariably came the answer, “In a moment.” Also the interpreter stated that he was very sorry. He stated this many times. He made special trips upstairs to tell me that he was very sorry.
The Yellow Peril Threatens the West?
Today the term “The Yellow Peril” — but not necessarily the fears and fantasies that it engenders — has gone out of fashion. But in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Westerners' dreams about the "superiority" of their civilization competed with their nightmares of Oriental hordes swarming from the East to engulf the advanced West. This was a popular theme in the day's literature and journalism, which London knew well. The term “Yellow Peril” supposedly derives from German Kaiser Wilhelm II's warning following Japan’s defeat of China in 1895 in the first Sino-Japanese War. The expression initially referred to Tokyo’s sudden rise as a military and industrial power in the late nineteenth century. Soon, however, its more sinister meaning was broadly applied to all of Asia. “The Yellow Peril” highlighted diverse Western fears including the supposed threat of a military invasion from Asia, competition to the white labor force from Asian workers, the alleged moral degeneracy of Asian people and the spectre of the genetic mixing of Anglo-Saxons with Asians.1
Many writers and journalists in the early 1900s wielded an unflattering pen when writing about Asians, boasting of Anglo-Saxon superiority over the “yellow and brown” Asians. The Hearst newspapers stridently warned of the “yellow peril”. So did noted British novelist M. P. Shiel in his short story serial, The Yellow Danger. One finds similar views in Kipling’s poem “The White Man’s Burden” and in some of his stories and novels.
The Russo-Japanese War saw Japan alter the world balance of power that the West once dominated, triggering viceral fears of a yellow peril
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Wenting Tang says her English wasn't strong enough to write the admissions essay for the University of Delaware, where she is now a junior in marketing. More Photos »
This article is a collaboration between The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education, a daily source of news, opinion and commentary for professors, administrators and others interested in academe. Tom Bartlett is a senior writer at The Chronicle covering ideas and research; Karin Fischer is a senior reporter covering international education.
LANGUAGE BARRIER Yisu Fan, left, was conditionally admitted to the University of Delaware until his language skills improve. Some professors say they've had to alter their teaching because of the influx of students from China. More Photos »
DOZENS of new students crowded into a lobby of the University of Delaware’s student center at the start of the school year. Many were stylishly attired in distressed jeans and bright-colored sneakers; half tapped away silently on smartphones while the rest engaged in boisterous conversations. Eavesdropping on those conversations, however, would have been difficult for an observer not fluent in Mandarin. That’s because, with the exception of one lost-looking soul from Colombia, all the students were from China.
Among them was Yisu Fan, whose flight from Shanghai had arrived six hours earlier. Too excited to sleep, he had stayed up all night waiting for orientation at the English Language Institute to begin. Like nearly all the Chinese students at Delaware, Mr. Yisu was conditionally admitted — that is, he can begin taking university classes once he successfully completes an English program. He plans to major in finance and, after graduation, to return home and work for his father’s construction company. He was wearing hip, dark-framed glasses and a dog tag around his neck with a Chinese dragon on it. He chose to attend college more than 7,000 miles from home, Mr. Yisu said, because “the Americans, their education is very good.”
That opinion is widely shared in China, which is part of the reason the number of Chinese undergraduates in the United States has tripled in just three years, to 40,000, making them the largest group of foreign students at American colleges. While other countries, like South Korea and India, have for many years sent high numbers of undergraduates to the United States, it’s the sudden and startling uptick in applicants from China that has caused a stir at universities — many of them big, public institutions with special English-language programs — that are particularly welcoming toward international students. Universities like Delaware, where the number of Chinese students has leapt to 517 this year, from 8 in 2007.
The students are mostly from China’s rapidly expanding middle class and can afford to pay full tuition, a godsend for universities that have faced sharp budget cuts in recent years. But what seems at first glance a boon for colleges and students alike is, on closer inspection, a tricky fit for both.
Colleges, eager to bolster their diversity and expand their international appeal, have rushed to recruit in China, where fierce competition for seats at Chinese universities and an aggressive admissions-agent industry feed a frenzy to land spots on American campuses. College officials and consultants say they are seeing widespread fabrication on applications, whether that means a personal essay written by an agent or an English proficiency score that doesn’t jibe with a student’s speaking ability. American colleges, new to the Chinese market, struggle to distinguish between good applicants and those who are too good to be true.
Once in the classroom, students with limited English labor to keep up with discussions. And though they’re excelling, struggling and failing at the same rate as their American counterparts, some professors say they have had to alter how they teach.
Colleges have been slow to adjust to the challenges they’ve encountered, but are beginning to try new strategies, both to better acclimate students and to deal with the application problems. The onus is on them, says Jiang Xueqin, deputy principal of Peking University High School, one of Beijing’s top schools, and director of its international division. “Are American universities unhappy? Because Chinese students and parents aren’t.”
“Nothing will change,” Mr. Jiang says, “unless American colleges make it clear to students and parents that it has to.”
WENTING TANG is quick to laugh, listens to high-energy bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and OK Go, and describes herself on her Facebook page as “really really fun” and “really really serious.” Ms. Tang, a junior majoring in management and international business, speaks confident, if not flawless, English. That wasn’t always the case. When she applied to the University of Delaware, her English was, in her estimation, very poor.
Ms. Tang, who went to high school in Shanghai, didn’t exactly choose to attend Delaware, a public institution of about 21,000 students that admits about half its applicants — and counts Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. among prominent graduates. Ms. Tang’s mother wanted her to attend college in the United States, and so they visited the offices of a dozen or more agents, patiently listening to their promises and stories of success.
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Brief Biography: Bar Sauma, born in Tai-tu (Northern China) about 1260, was a descendant of the Onggud Turks who joined the Mongols early in the reign of Chinggis Khan. Like other Onggud Turks, his family were members of the Nestorian church, the most active Christian church in Central Asia. By the age of twenty-five, Sauma had taken vows to become a Nestorian monk and built a cell to meditate in isolation. Able to read Syraic, Turkic, and possibly Chinese, he was well-educated as well as pious. Fired by a zeal to visit Nestorian monuments in the Middle East and Jerusalem, Sauma and his student Markos, later to become the patriarch and leader of the Nestorian church centered in Baghdad, set out on their arduous pilgrimage sometime before 1278. They reached the Mongol territories in Persia, but were unable to continue their journey to Jerusalem because of the political situation. Instead Sauma eventually found himself appointed to a diplomatic mission which would take him to Constantinople, Genoa, Paris, Bordeaux, and Rome and which would involve negotiations for joint operations to force the Mamluks of Egypt out of the Holy Land. He died in Baghdad in 1313 without reaching Jerusalem.
Brief Itinerary: Leaving Taitu shortly after Marco Polo arrived in China, Sauma and Markos followed the Yellow River southwest to Ningxia. From there, they took the southern silk road below the Taklamakan Desert passing through Miran and following a course along the Chenchen river for about 500 miles to Khotan. The section of their travel from Ningxia to Khotan took two months. They proceeded to Kashgar, Talas, and Tus, the Ilykhan capital of Khurasan, Maragha, and finally Baghdad. From there the two men travelled to Nestorian centers in Beth Garmai, Arbil, Mosul, and back to Baghdad. From there they went to Tabriz and Ani, and then headed to port cities abong the Black Sea. At this point Armenian and Georgian friends advised them of the great danger of trying to reach the Holy Land, so they return to Maragha.
THE HISTORY OF RABBAN SAWMA.
There was a certain man who was a believer, and he was a nobleman and a fearer of God. He was rich in the things of this world, and he was well endowed with the qualities of nature; he belonged to a famous family and a well-known tribe. His name was SHIBAN the Sa'ora (i.e. the Inspector or Visitor--Periodeutes). He dwelt in the city which is called KHAN BALIGH or KHAN BALIK (i.e. Pekin), that is to say (4) the royal city in the country of the East. He married according to the law a woman whose name was KEYAMTA. And when they had lived together for a long time, and they had no heir, they prayed to God continually and besought Him with frequent supplications not to deprive them of a son who would continue [their] race. And He who giveth comfort in His gracious mercy received their petition, and He showed them compassion. For it is His wont to receive the entreaty of those who are broken of heart, and-to hearken unto the groaning of those who make supplications and petitions [to Him]. " Everyone who asketh
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receiveth; and he who seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it is opened to him " (Matt. vii. 8), He said, confidently concerning the certain hope. And behold, this is performed for both orders (i.e. sexes), namely, men and women, when petitions are presented with a right intention. For behold, Hanna, the wife of Halkana was not prohibited, seeing that she made entreaty with a right object (I Sam. i. 10 ff.), and the wife of Menokh (Manoah) was not rejected, and she received the angel readily in her chamber (Judges xiii. 2 f.).
Now God made the spirit of conception to breathe upon the woman Keyamta, and she brought forth a (5) son, and they called his name " SAWMA" [i.e. the son who was obtained by fasting; his full name was " BAR SAWMA," i.e.; the " son of the fast."]. And they rejoiced [with] a great joy, neighbours of his family and his relations rejoiced at his birth.
And when they had brought him (after a praiseworthy system of education) to the period when he was capable of receiving instruction, they handed him over to a worthy teacher, and before him (i.e. under his direction) they trained him diligently in ecclesiastical learning; and they betrothed him to a maiden and rejoiced in him. He was held to be worthy to receive the grade of priest, and he was numbered among the ranks (?) of the clergy, and he became Keeper in
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the church of above-mentioned city. He led a life of strict chastity and humility, and he devoted himself with great diligence to the acquisition of spiritual excellences, and he struggled to make himself fit for the things of the world which is to come. And when he was twenty years of age the divine fire was kindled in his heart, and it burned up the brambles (or thorny growth) of sin, and cleansed his chaste soul from impurity and contamination of every kind. For he preferred more than any other thing whatsoever the love of his Lord, and, grasping the plough, he was unwilling to look behind him (Luke ix. 62). He cast away forthwith the shadow of the world, and renounced straightway the desirable things thereof. (6) He esteemed dainty meats as things which had no existence, and he rejected wholly the drinks which make a man drunk.
Now when his parents perceived this, great pain overtook them, and acute sorrow cleaved to them, because their only son was separating himself from them. They rose up and with broken hearts made supplication to him, and brought before him promises of things of this world, saying, "Why, O our precious son, is separation from us beloved by thee? How is it that our affliction is desired by thee? Why is our mourning sweet in thy sight? Consider now. To whom will our wealth revert? Think, who is our heir? Ponder well who will be the master of the [produce of] our toil?
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How can it possibly be pleasing to thee for our seed and name to be blotted out? Why doth the thought of thy heart suggest that strangers should be our heirs?" And having persuaded him with tears in this manner, and having stirred up grief in him by their lamentation and talk similar [to that given above], he hearkened to them outwardly, and dwelt with them as far as his body was concerned, but very unwillingly. And during the three years in which he ministered to his parents according to the body, he never (7) ceased from his toil, and he contended continually in his laborious career.
And when [his parents] saw that their exhortations were of no avail, and that, in comparison with the love of Christ, their words were accounted as nothing, they left him to perform his desire. Then he divided all his possessions, that is to say, his apparel and his clothing generally (or furniture), among the poor, and took the garb of the monk; and he received the tonsure from the holy and pious father, Mar Giwargis (George) the Metropolitan. And he began to toil in the vineyard of his Lord with the hope of the kingdom which is to come, and the confidence the possession of heavenly happiness, and that he would receive the whole dinar as his wages. (Matt. xx. 1-16). He set apart a cell for himself and he shut himself up therein seven years; and after that [period] he decided to remove
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himself from the children of men, and to practice himself in the ascetic life in the mountain, in a place which was wholly isolated, so that he might rest there [undisturbed] in his life as a recluse. Then he set out and went a journey of one day from their [i.e. his parents'] city, and he elected to dwell there. And he found (8) a certain place where there was a cave, and there was by the side of it in that mountain a spring of water. And he dwelt there peacefully and thanked his Lord, which held him to be so worthy that at length the report of him went forth in that region, and men used to gather together about him to hear his words, and honour was set apart for him (i.e. ascribed to him) by every man.
THE HISTORY OF MAR YAHBH-ALLAHA,
THE CATHOLICUS AND PATRIARCH OF THE EAST.
In the foreknowledge of God everything is known. And the thoughts of the children of men, whether they belong to the right hand (i.e. be good), or whether they belong to the left hand (i.e. be bad), all of them, even before they are formed in the breast, are revealed unto Him. He therefore, in accordance with their character, elects and makes righteous [if they be good], and because of them [if they be bad] He chastiseth and punisheth. Now unto Moses it was said, "Behold, I have given thee [as] God to Pharaoh." (Exod. vii. I). And his election maketh known concerning the good disposition [of Moses] (9) and the hardness of the heart of Pharaoh. For even before Pharaoh existed, it was known [to God] that he would be hard: [of heart], and he was rejected. For unto Jeremiah God said, " Before I had formed thee in the belly I knew thee, 'and before thou didst go forth from the womb I sanctified thee and gave thee to be a prophet to the nations" (Jer. i. 5). And Paul said, "God hath not cast aside His people who from the very beginning were known to Him" (Rom. xi. I, 2),
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because assuredly, of [their] good will and pure thoughts. Now, certain characteristics of election make themselves visible in the person of him that is elected, and certain radiances shine forth from him which makes known that he is worthy of grace. The man who hath an enlightened mind perceiveth these, but the man who hath not an understanding mind knoweth them not. Since the person about whom we are going to speak was elected because of his superior discipline (or, exalted life), it is necessary for us to describe the manner of his election, and show how of a certainty it contributed to the perfect will.
There was, in the city of KAWSHANG, of the country of the East, a certain righteous and believing man (10), pure and spotless, who served God continually in His church, and observed His laws strictly and carefully. [The city of Kawshang, i.e. Kung-Tschang lay between Pekin and Tangut, and was about fifteen days' journey from the former city. Chabot would identify it with Ho-tchung-fu in the province of Shan-si.] His name was BAYNIEL; he was an archdeacon and he had four sons. The youngest of them [who was born in the year of our Lord 1245] was called MARKOS (Mark), and he was trained in ecclesiastical learning more than all his brethren……….
[The text is defective here, or some words have been omitted.]
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and they admonished (or exhorted) him concerning these and much like matters, and it seemed to them that they might be talking rather to a statue than to a rational man. But even after suffering affliction in many ways he did not turn back from his course, and his mind did not resist from its quest. On the contrary he made straight his aim, and after fifteen days of great labour he arrived at the place where RABBAN SAWMA was. And he gave the salutation of peace to RABBAN SAWMA, who rejoiced in him and received him gladly.
And after MARK had rested and was refreshed RABBAN SAWMA asked him, saying, "My son, whence comest thou? And how did it happen to thee that thou hast come to this mountain? (11) In what city do thy kinsfolk dwell? Who is thy father, and whose son art thou? "
And MARK answered him, saying, " I am the son of Bayniel the archdeacon of the city of Kawshang, and I am called ' Mark.' "
And RABBAN SAWMA said unto him, "What is thy reason for coming to me with such labour and fatigue?" And MARK said unto him, "I wish to become a monk (or anchorite). Because I heard the report of thee I dropped everything and have sought thee; deprive me not of my desire." And RABBAN SAWMA said unto him, "O our brother, this path is difficult. Even the old [and experienced] monks endure the hardness
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thereof with the greatest difficulty; shall I permit youths and children to Journey on it?" And having besought him for many reasons to return to his parents, and MARK having refused to do so, RABBAN SAWMA admitted him [to his cell] and taught him; and he clothed him in a woollen garment, and made him to labour in the ascetic life. After three years MARK received the tonsure, that is to say the garb of the monk, from the pious Metropolitan MAR NESTORIS (Nestorius) on the first day of the week, or the Sunday [when the prayer beginning] "Rukha Paraklita" is said. And he continued to perform many ascetic labours and kept the fasts which lasted all day until the evening. And [the monks] in that mountain used to toil in (12) the cultivation of purity and holiness, and they were comforted by God unto Whom they had committed their souls.
RABBAN SAWMA AND RABBAN MARKOS WISH
One day they meditated, saying, "It would be exceedingly helpful to us if we were to leave this region and set out for the West, for we could then [visit] the tombs of the holy martyrs and Catholic Fathers and be blessed [by them]. And if Christ, the Lord of the Universe, prolonged our lives, and sustained us by His grace, we could go to Jerusalem, so that we might receive complete pardon for our offences, and absolution for our sins of foolishness. Now although RABBAN SAWMA opposed RABBAN MARK, and [tried to] frighten him with the toil of the journey, and the fatigue of travelling, and the terror of the ways, and the tribulations that would beset him in a (13) foreign country, RABBAN MARK burned to set out on the road. His mind seemed to reveal to him that there were treasures laid up for him in the West, and he pressed RABBAN SAWMA with his words, and importuned him to depart. And the two of them having agreed together that neither of them should be separated from his companion, even if one of them might have to
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submit to what was evil for his sake, they rose up and distributed their furniture, and the objects which they used in everyday life, among the poor, and they went to that city (i.e. Pekin) so that they might take companions for the journey [i.e. join a caravan] and provide themselves with food for the way.
Now when the Christians who were living there became acquainted with them, and knew their intention, they gathered together about them so that they might make them abandon their plan. And they said [unto them}, "Peradventure ye do not know how very far off that region is to which ye would go? Or, perhaps ye have not the least idea in your minds, or have forgotten, how difficult it will be for you to travel over the roads, and that ye will never reach there? Nay, sit ye down here, and strive to perform the works whereunto ye have been called. For it is said, 'The kingdom of heaven is within you'" (Luke xvii. 21). And RABBAN SAWMA and RABBAN MARK replied, "It is a long time since we (14) put on the garb of the monastic life, and we have renounced the world; we consider ourselves to be dead men in respect of it. Toil doth not terrify us, neither doth fear disturb us. There is, however, one thing which we ask of you: for the love of Christ pray for us. And ye shall cast away the word which would produce doubt (or hesitation), and shall make supplication to God that our desire may be
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fulfilled." [And the Christians of that city] said, "Depart in peace." And they kissed each other, and parted with bitter tears and distressful words, saying, "Depart in peace. And may our Lord, Whom ye seek, be with you, and may He allot to you that which is pleasing to Him, and will be of help to you! Amen."
And RABBAN SAWMA and RABBAN MARK came to the city of KAWSHANG. And when the people of the city and the parents of RABBAN MARK heard that these two monks had come there, they went out to meet them with joy, and they welcomed them with gladness and delight, and they escorted them into the church with great honour. And they enquired of them how they had come to make the journey thither. Now they thought that the two monks were going to tarry with them, and that RABBAN MARK had done so in order that he might be near the people of his family (I5). And when they knew of a certainty that they were going to Jerusalem, and that they had made their plan to travel to the West, they suffered greatly and were sorely afflicted.
And the report of the arrival of the two monks reached the lords of that city, KONBOGHA (i.e. Sun-worshipper) and IFOGHA (or IBOGHA) (i.e. Moon-worshipper), the sons-in-law of the King of Kings, KUBLAI KHAN (Plate XII), and as soon as they heard the report they sent messengers and had
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the two monks brought to the Camp. And they received them with gladness, and the fire of love for them burned in their breasts. And when the Lords knew that they were "going to flee from us," they began to say unto them, "Why are ye leaving this country of ours and going to the West? For we have taken very great trouble to draw hither monks and fathers from the West. How can we allow you to go away?" RABBAN SAWMA said unto them, "We (16) have cast away the world. And as long as we live in the society of men there will be no peace to us. Therefore it is right that we should flee because of the love of Christ, Who gave Himself unto death for our redemption. Whatsoever is in the world we have cast behind us. Although your love moveth us not to depart, and your gracious goodness would hold us fast, and your alms are bestowed upon us lavishly; and although it is grateful to us to sojourn with you, we remember the Lord's word which saith, 'What shall it profit a man if he possess the whole world and lose his soul? And what shall a man give as a substitute for his soul?' (Matt. xvi. 26). We earnestly desire the separation, but wherever we shall be we shall always remember, according to our feebleness, both by night and by day, your kingdom in [our] prayers."
And when the Lords of the city saw that their words had no effect upon them, and that they would
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not yield to their persuasion, they selected for them gifts, namely, beasts on which to ride, and gold, and silver, and wearing apparel [and rugs]. Then the two monks said, "We have no need of any [of these things]. For what can we do with these possessions? (17) And how can we possibly carry such a weight [as] this?" And the kings mentioned above replied, "Ye have no knowledge of the length of this journey, and the expenses which it demands. We, however, do know, and we advise you not to set out empty [handed]; if ye do ye will be unable to arrive at the place which ye have decided to be your destination. Accept then these gifts from us as a loan (or trust), and if some occasion of necessity should befall you, spend what ye need from them; if, on the other hand, the necessity does not arise, and ye arrive safe and sound, distribute them among the monasteries and habitations of the monks which are there, and the Fathers (i.e. Bishops), so that we may enjoy association with our Western Fathers. For it is said, 'Let your superfluity be [a supply] for those who are in want' " (2 Cor. viii. 13). Then the two monks, seeing that the kings were giving with a sincere heart, accepted what they gave to them. And they bade farewell to them sorrowfully, and they shed tears wherewith joy was mingled.
And they came from thence to the city of TANGOTH [i.e. TANGKUT, or TANGAT, or THANGCHU,
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a country in Central Asia; its capital was HIATCHEU, or NING-HIA-FU]. When the people of that city heard (18) that RABBAN SAWMA and RABBAN MARK had come there in order to go to Jerusalem, they went forth eagerly to meet them, that is to say, old men and women, young men and youths, and boys and young children, for the people of TANGOTH were ardent believers, and their minds were pure. And they loaded the two monks with gifts of every kind, and they received their blessings, and a crowd escorted them on their way, and shed tears, saying, "The Lord Who hath elected you to the honour of His service shall Himself be with you. Amen."
And from there they went to the country of LOTON [? KHOTAN, or HO-THIAN, or YUTHIAN, a city between TANGOTH and KASHGAR], a toilsome and fatiguing journey of two months; the region was a bare and barren desert and it was without inhabitants, because its waters were bitter, and no crops are sown there. And on the whole journey there were only eight days when, with the greatest difficulty, was sweet water found which the travellers could carry with them.(1) And in the days when they arrived at LOTON it happened that a war was raging between the King of Kings (19) KUBLAI KHAN and King OKO ['O-'ho, Commander-in-chief of the army of Mien?].
(1) Or perhaps the meaning is, "was sweet water found wherewith to load (i.e. to fill) the water-skins."
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And OKO had fled from him and had entered [this] country, and destroyed thousands of men therein. The caravan roads and ways had been cut, and grain (?) was scarce and could not be found; and many died of hunger and perished through want.
And after six months the two monks went forth from that place and came to the country of KASHKAR [or KASHGAR, a city on the frontiers of CHINA and TURKESTAN]. And they saw that the city was empty of its inhabitants, because it had been already plundered by the enemy. And because the aim of the monks was right, and they pleased God with all their hearts, He delivered them from every affliction, and no suffering attacked them, and He saved them from obstructions by highway robbers and thieves.
And they came to the place where King KAIDO [a nephew of KUBLAI KHAN] was encamped by the Teleos (i.e. TALAS). And they went into his presence, and prayed that his life would be preserved, and they blessed his kingdom, and they asked him for a written order so that no man in his country might do them harm. And with the greatest difficulty (20) and in a state of exhaustion whereto fear was added, they arrived at KHORASAN, [a province of north-eastern Persia, which lay between Persian 'Irak and Afghanistan]. Having lost the greater part of what they had on the road, they went to the monastery of Saint MAR SEHYON,
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which was in the neighbourhood of the city of TUS [the capital of KHORASAN], and they were blessed by the bishop who lived therein and by the monks. And they thought (i.e. felt) that they had been born into the world anew, and they gave thanks unto God in Whom they had trusted; they had placed their hope in Him, and had been delivered, for He is the sustainer and helper of every one who maketh entreaty unto Him.
And having enjoyed the conversation of those brethren they set out to go to ADHORBIJAN [a frontier province of Persia, on the north-west], so that they might travel from there to BAGHDAD, to MAR DENHA, the Catholicus [he succeeded MAKIKA A.GR. I577=A.D. 1266, according to Bar Hebraeus, Chron. Eccles., sect. ii, p. 439]. Now; it happened that Mar Catholicus had come to MARAGHAH [a town of ADHORBIJAN the capital of HULAGU KHAN], and they met him there. And at the sight of him their joy grew great, and their gladness was increased, and their minds were made to be at peace, and their anxious thoughts were set at rest. And they fell down on the ground before him, and they wept as they did homage to him (21) and they behaved as if they saw our Lord JESUS CHRIST in the person of MAR DENHA, the Catholicus. May his memory be for blessing! And they said unto him, "The mercies of God [shown to us] are many, and His grace is poured out abundantly upon us since
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we have seen the glorious and spiritual face of our General Father." And when he asked them, "Whence [come] ye?" they replied, "From the countries of the East, from KHAN BALIK, the city of the King of Kings [KUBLAI] KHAN. We have come to be blessed by you, and by the Fathers (i.e. Bishops), and the monks, and the holy men of this quarter of the world. And if a road [openeth] to us, and God hath mercy upon us, we shall go to JERUSALEM.
And when the Catholicus saw their tears, and that they were moved with gladness at their meeting with him, his mercy showed itself unto them, and he comforted them and said unto them, Assuredly, O my sons, the Angel of Providence shall protect you on this difficult journey, and he shall be a guide unto you until the completion of your quest. Let not your toil make you sad, for it is said in the Prophet (22) 'Those who sow in tears, shall reap in joy' (Ps. cxxvi. 5). That for which ye hope ye shall attain, and in return for the sufferings and tribulations which ye will have to bear, ye shall receive a perfect recompense and wages twofold in this world, and never-failing good things and never-ending delights in the world which is to come." And they did homage to him, and gave thanks to him.
And having enjoyed intercourse with him for a few days they brought forward [the following]
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request: " If we have found mercy (i.e. favour) in the eyes of Mar our Father, let him permit us to go to BAGHDAD, in order that we may receive a blessing from the holy sepulchres (or relics?) of MAR MARI [the disciple of Saint ADDAI, Bar Hebraeus, Chron. Eccles., sect. ii, p. 15], the Apostle, the teacher of the East, and those of the Fathers that are there. And from there we would go to the monasteries that are in the countries of BETH GARMAI and in NISIBIS that we may be blessed there also, and demand assistance."
And when the Catholicus saw the beauty of their object, and the innocence of their minds, and the honesty of their thoughts, he said unto them, "Go ye, my sons, and may Christ, the Lord of the Universe, grant unto you your petition (23) from His rich and overflowing treasury, and may He grant you a full measure of His grace, and may His compassion accompany you whithersoever ye go. And he wrote for them a pethikha (i.e. a letter of introduction) to these countries so that they might be honourably entreated whithersoever they went; and he sent with them a man to show them the way, and to act as guide along the roads.
And they arrived in Baghdad, and thence they went to the Great Church of KOKE [at Ctesiphon wherein every Catholicus was consecrated]. And they went to the monastery of MAR MARI, the Apostle, and received a blessing from the sepulchres
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(or relics?) of that country. And from there they turned back and came to the country of BETH GARMAI, and they received blessings from the shrine (or tomb) of MAR EZEKIEL [the prophet, near Dakok], which was full of helps and healings. And from there they went to ARBIL, and thence to MAWSIL (i.e. Mosul on the Tigris). And they went SHIGAR (SINJAR), and NISIBIS, and MERDA (MARDIN); and were blessed by the shrine [containing] the bones of MAR AWGIN, the second CHRIST. And thence they went to GAZARTA of BETH ZABHDAI, and they were blessed by all the shrines and monasteries, and the religious houses, and monks, and the Fathers (i.e. Bishops) in their dioceses. And they paid the vows which they had laid upon themselves, and they spread (24) tables of food [wherefrom all might eat], and they gave alms and oblations wherever they went. And they turned back and came to the holy monastery of MAR MICHAEL of TAR'IL. And they bought a cell, and both of them were received by the monks who were there. And the thought which made them toil through the journey had rest, although they had not arrived at the end of [their] expectation.
Now when MAR DENHA or DENKHA, the Catholicus, heard of their manner of life, he sent and asked them to go to him; and they went forthwith and gave him the customary salutation.
And he said unto them, " We have heard that ye
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have been received into a monastery. This however, doth not please us. For whilst the two of you sojourn in the monastery ye will be able to make perfect your own peace (or rest), and that is all that ye will do, but if ye abide with us ye will bring benefit and peace (or rest) to the whole community. Therefore stay ye with us, and support the Door of the Kingdom [compare Sublime Porte] in whatever manner cometh to your hands." And they said unto him, "Whatsoever thou commandest (25), O our Father, we will do." And the Catholicus said unto them, "Ye shall go to King ABGHA [or ABAGHA KHAN, or ABAKA KHAN, the son and successor of HULAGU KHAN, and great grandson of Chingiz Khan, who ascended the throne of Persia as the second Mongol Khan in 1265], and obtain for us PUKDANE (i.e. written orders, or letters patent confirming his appointment as Catholicus)." And the two monks said unto him, "Thus shall it be, but let Mar our Father send with us a man who shall take the Pukdana [from the king] and give it to him (i.e. the Catholicus), and we will go on from there to JERUSALEM." And the Catholicus granted them this [request], and gave them blessings on their journey.
And when the two monks went to the Blessed Camp, the Amirs brought them in before the King, and he asked them about the object of their coming, and what their native country was;
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and they made a reply to him which revealed unto him their object. And ABHGHA KHAN commanded the nobles of his kingdom to fulfil their petition, and to give them the written orders (Pukdane)which they had asked for. And the two monks sent the written order which Mar Catholicus had demanded to him by the hands of his messenger, and they and their companions set out for JERUSALEM.
And when they arrived at the city of Animto [i.e. ANI, the ancient capital of Christian ARMENIA, situated on an affluent of the river Araxes], and saw (26) the monasteries and the churches therein, they marvelled at the great extent of the buildings and at their magnificence. And thence they went towards BETH GURGAYE (i.e. the country of Georgia), so that they might travel by a clear (or safe?) road, but when they arrived there they heard from the inhabitants of the country that the road was cut because of the murders and robberies which had taken place along it.
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