I Shall Describe Their Office, As I
Learnt It From The Goldsmith And Others.
Of these soothsayers there are
great numbers, under the direction of a chief priest, whose house is always
about a stone's throw in front of the great house of Mangu-khan, and under
his charge are all the chariots which carry idols.
The other soothsayers
dwell behind the court, in places appointed for them; and such as have
confidence in their art come to consult them from various distant parts.
Some of them are skilful in astronomy, especially their chief, and they
foretel eclipses of the sun and moon. When these are to happen, all the
people prepare their food, that they may not be under the necessity of
going out of doors, and during the eclipse they play on various instruments
of music, and set up loud shouts: when it is over, they indulge in feasting
and carousing, to express their joy.
These soothsayers pretend to foretell lucky and unlucky days for all
affairs; and the Tartars never levy an army, or undertake a war without
their approbation. They had long since resumed their attack on Hungary, but
that the soothsayers have always opposed it. They make every thing which is
sent to court pass between two fires, as a purification, likewise, all the
household stuff belonging to a dead person must be purged in the same
manner; and, if any living creature drop down, or any thing whatever fall
to the ground during the ceremony, it becomes the property of the
soothsayers, who, besides, have a certain proportion of every thing which
they purify as their due.
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