58. Concerning the trip of the pious king of the Armenians, Het'um, to Batu and Mongke-Khan.

[Translator's note: For a scholarly commentary on this chapter see J. A.Boyle, "The Journey of Het'um I, King of Little Armenia, to the Court of the Great Khan Mongke", Central Asiatic Journal 9(1964) pp. 175-89.]


[301] The devout, Christ-loving king of the Armenians in the Cilicia area had his seat in the city of Sis. He previously had sent his brother Smbat, who was his general, to Guyuk-Khan with presents and gifts and [Smbat] returned thence with honor and edicts of acceptance. Now when Mongke-Khan ruled, Batu the great "king's father" and general sent to king Het'um so that he would come to see him and Mongke-Khan. [Batu] dwelled in the northern regions with a numberless multitude [of troops] under him by the shore of the great, fathomless river Et'il [Volga] which runs into the Caspian Sea. [Het'um] who feared the sultan of Rum whose name was 'Izz al-Din [Kaykaus II (Azadin), 1246-59] travelled [through Rum] secretly and in disguise since he feared the Turks who were his neighbors. Now [the Turks] had an inveterate hatred [for Het'um] for allying with the T'at'ars. [Het'um] speedily traversed ['Izz al-Din's] territory in twelve days and arrived at the city of Kars. He visited Baiju-noyin, the commander of the T'at'ar army in the East, as well as other grandees, and he was honored by them. Then he stayed in the village of Vardenis at the foot of mount Aragats, opposite [g364] [302] Aray mountain, in the home of a prince of Armenian nationality named K'urd. [This prince] was a Christian [and lived in the village with] his sons Vach'e and Hasan, and his wife Xorishah. [Xorishah] was of the Mamikonean line, a daughter of Marzban, and sister to Aslan-bek and Grigor. [Het'um] stayed there until goods from his house, useful presents and gifts were brought to him from his father, the prince of princes Kostand. At this time [Kostand] was old and had left his sons, Lewon and T'oros, as his substitute. His own pious queen [Zapel] already had passed to Christ. Zapel translates Elisabeth, the "seventh day of God", and her name suited her for she was at rest in the will of God: benevolent, merciful and a lover of the poor. [Zapel] was the daughter of the great King Lewon, the first to wear the crown [in Cilician Armenia].

As soon as the great kat'oghikos Kostand learned that [Het'um] had travelled safely and now had stopped in Greater Armenia, he sent to him the great vardapet Yakob, a wise and learned man. [The kat'oghikos] previously had sent this same man to the Byzantine Emperor John (who was ruling in Asia and who had grown strong) and to their patriarch to achieve friendship and unity. [Yakob] went there armed with the prudent words of Scripture and, in the Greek council of inquiry, repudiated the Byzantines who accused us of being Eutychians for saying [303] that there is one nature in Christ. [Yakob] [g365] rationally demonstrated through Scripture that the two [natures] are united in Christ, completely divine and completely human two [natures] in ineffable unity, not losing divinity, not confusing the humanity, glorified in one nature working divinely and humanly. Similarly concerning [the hymn] Holy God (Surb Astuats) there are words which we say about the Son, according to the witness of the evangelist John. [Yakob] refuted theologically and on the testimony of Scripture other similar slanders which [the Greeks] had regarding our doctrine. He turned their minds toward friendship and unity with our people, and departed from them in honor. Lord Step'anos the bishop came [to Het'um]; vardapet Mxit'ar who was at Skewrha where he had travelled from the Eastern areas came as did the priest Barsegh who was an emissary to Batu. With him came the celibate priest T'oros as well as Karapet who was the king's court priest, a man of mild and scholarly manner; and many princes also came.

The king took all these men with him to the land of the Aghbanians and through the Darband gate (which is the Chora pass) [g366] to Batu and his son Sartakh who was a Christian. [Het'um] was honored by them with many privileges. Then they sent him to Mongke-Khan on a long journey on the other side of the [304] Caspian Sea.

Those who departed [from Batu] left on the sixth of the month of Marer, and on the thirteenth of May crossed the Ayex [Ural] river and came to Or which is midway between Batu and Mongke-Khan. Then crossing the Ert'ich [Irtysh] river they entered the Nayiman [Naiman] country. They came to Xaraxeta [Khara-Khita] and crossed into T'at'arstan on the fourth of the month of Horhi, the thirteenth of September on the celebration of the feast of the Cross, and they saw Mongke-Khan seated in venerable glory. [Het'um] gave the Khan gifts and was honored by him according to his dignity. He remained at the urdo for fifty days and [Mongke-Khan] gave him a noteworthy edict that no one dare harass him or his country. He also gave him a document proclaiming freedom for the Church everywhere.

[Het'um] left [Mongke-Khan] on the fiftieth day, on the twenty-third of the month of Sahmi, on November first. In thirty days [the party] reached Ghumsghur. And they came to Perpalex and Peshpalex and to the sandy country where [g367] there are naked wild men with hair on their heads only. The women there have very large and long breasts and the people are mute. In that land are found wild horses of black and yellow colors, and mules of white and black colors, larger than horses or [305] asses, as well as wild camels with two humps.

From there they came to Arhlex, to K'ulluk and Enkax, to Chanpalex, Xut'ap'ay and Ankipalex.

They then entered T'urk'astan. Thence to Ekop'ruk, Dinkapalex and P'ulat. They crossed Sut-k'oln and K'atntsov (Milk Sea) and came to Alualex and Ilanpalex. Then they crossed the Ilansu river and over a branch of the Taurus mountains to Dalas and came to Hulegu, who was Mongke-Khan's brother, and who had taken the Eastern regions as his portion.

[The party] then turned from a westerly direction northward and reached Xut'uxch'i, Perk'ant', Sughulghan, Urosoghan, [g368] K'ayik'ant', Xuzax (K'amots'), to Xndaxoyr and to Sghnax (Xarchux mountain) where the Saljuqs (Salch'uk'ik') are from; [Xarch'ux] begins at the Taurus mountain and goes as far as P'arch'in where it ends.

They travelled from there to Sartakh, the son of Batu, who was travelling to Mongke-Khan. Then [they went] to Sghnax and Sawran (which is extremely large) to Xarach'ux, Ason, Sawri, Ot'rar, Zurhnux, and Dizak and then after thirty days [came] to Samarqand, Sarhip'ul, K'rman and Bukhara. Then they crossed the great Jehun river [Amu-Darya; Oxus], and [306] arrived at Mrmen, Saraxs, and Tus which is opposite Khurasan (which is called Rhoghastan). They entered Mazandaran and [travelled] thence to Pstan, then to the land of Iraq which is in the borders of the Assassins (mulhed). Then [they travelled] to Tamgha and the great city of Ray (Rhe) and to Qazvin (Xzuin) to Awahr, to Zangian, to Miana, thence to Tabriz after twelve days. After twenty-six days they crossed the Erasx river to Sisian to the chief of the [g369] T'at'ar army, Baiju-noyin. Now [Baiju] sent [Het'um] to Xocha-noyin, a man he had left as his substitute as head of the forces. Meanwhile he himself took the chiefs of the army and went before Mongke-Khan's brother Hulegu, who was coming to the East.

The pious King Het'um came to the home of prince K'urd in Vardenis village where he had left his goods and baggage, and awaited the return of the priest Barsegh whom he had sent to Batu once more to show him the documents and orders of Mongke-Khan so that [Batu] also would write orders of the same sort.

Then there came to Het'um his vardapets: Yakob whom he had left [in Greater Armenia] for church work, and Mxit'ar (who had returned from Batu before [the latter] travelled to Mongke-Khan); and other bishops and vardapets and priests and Christian princes. [Het'um] received them all with affection for he was an agreeable man, wise and literate. He gave gifts [307] as he could and sent them all off happy. He gave priestly garments to adorn the Church, for [Het'um] greatly loved mass and the Church. He received all the Christian peoples and [g370] beseeched them to deal with one another affectionately as brothers and members of Christ, as the Lord commanded: "By this you shall be recognized as my pupils, that you love one another" [John 13, 35].

[King Het'um] told us many marvellous and unknown things about the barbarian peoples, things he had seen and heard about. He said: "There is a land beyond Ghatayik' [Cathay, China] where women have the forms of natural women, while the men have the forms of dogs. They are mute, large, and hairy. The dogs let no one enter their land and the dogs hunt from which prey they and the women eat. From the comingling of dogs and women, the males are born in the shape of dogs, the females in the shape of women.

"There is, too, a sandy island where a type of bone (which is prized) grows like a tree. It is called Dzknatam (Fish Tooth) and when one is cut, another grows in its place, like horns.

"There is, too, a land of many idol-worshippers who [308] worship extremely large clay idols named Shakmonia [Shakiamuni] and say that he is god for 3040 years. Then another thirty-five duman years [elapse] (one duman being 10,000) after which [g371] [Shakiamuni] is removed from godship. Then there is another one named Madri [Matreya] of whom they also made a clay image of unbelievable size in a beautiful temple.

"An entire people, women and children included, are priests. They are called Toyink', and have their heads and beards shaven. They wear cloaks like Christian [priests] but [fastened] at the breast, not at the shoulder. They are moderate in eating and marriage. [Men] marry at twenty years of age and until age thirty approach their wives three times a week. From age thrity to age forty they approach them three times a month; from forty to fifty, three times a year; and after fifty, not at all."

The wise king related much else about the barbarian peoples which we omit, lest it seem extraneous to anyone.

Eight months after leaving Mongke-Khan, Het'um reached Armenia. This was in 704 A.E. [1255].



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