Subterranean Mammoths Revisited (for their first appearance, go here). Plus, No Bananas in Moscow!
A thing of great curiosity is the Mammatovoi Kost [mammoth bone], which was dug out of the earth in Siberia. The inhabitants tell remarkable tales about it; in fact they say that they are the bones of an animal that dwells beneath the earth, and that surpasses in size all the animals that live above the earth. In medicine they use it for the same purposes as that which is called the horn of the unicorn. A morsel was given to me which seemed to be genuine ivory, and those who are more experienced believe it to be elephant tooth, so that in the universal deluge, the teeth were carried there, and it were necessary that for a great period of time they become more and more woven into the earth.
Likewise the Adamovoi Kost or Adam's wood is obtained from the bowels of the earth on the way towards Arkhangelsk. It is blackish in color, like a stone in hardness, and with respect to its shape and its veins it recalls the branches of a tree. And the common opinion is that it is petrified wood.
There is in Russia a fruit called a Naliva, which does not delight the appetite so much by the sweetness of its taste, but is greatly alluring to the sight, for it is translucent like woadstone.
The root of the famous kidney vetch has been observed in Russia, growing in Siberia, as well as the Voltschnoi Koren, which is called [in Latin] the lupina radix [or wolf root], which is said to have the greatest [medicinal] virtue in healing wounds, and some claim that it is beneficial to chew it for the healing of wounds.
Among fish the sturgeon stands out, [as it is] considered among the Russian delicacies. The head and the tail are so long that the body itself makes up barely half of the fish. It lacks scales, but is provided with a skin akin to that of an eel. Those sturgeons are most prized the interior of whose skin is golden.
The vichochol is a large aquatic mouse that gives off a pleasant odor. Its furs are placed in the case in which linen garments are kept, thanks to which they acquire their odor.
In Slavonic Scorbuti is a sort of illness kat' exochen, for in the Slavonic tongue Scorb means 'illness'. The Russians have a truly peculiar term for designating scurvy, which they call tsinga.
The city of Yaroslavl' is celebrated above all for its manufacture of marroquin rouge.
Because the Armenians are able to easily transfer goods obtained in Holland from the Baltic Sea, along the Volga, and into Persia, henceforth the Russians allow this route to no one, unless they are travelling from Persia through Russia to the Baltic Sea.
Previously bananas from India came as far as Moscow; now it is not permitted to transport them beyond Astrakhan.
From China they bring an artificial product, which is golden in color, aromatic, and similar to chalk in texture, [and] which is called Temzui, and reputed to be an excellent medicine for many illnesses. The Bukharan Muslims, whose capital city is Samarkand, frequently go to Tobolsk, the capital of Siberia. The Kalmuk Tatars lead horses to Moscow to be sold around the beginning of autumn. A herd of horses, called a tabun, can consist in 6, 8, or 12 thousand. They also sell their children to the Russians. Their religion is the same as that of the Mughal Tatars.
--G. W. Leibniz, c. 1705-12, from V. I. Ger'e Sbornik pisem i memorialov Leibnitsa otnosyashchikhsya k Rossii i Petru Velikomu, Saint Petersburg, 1873. No. 42: "Raznye zametki o Rossii."
Magnae curiositatis res est Mammotovoi Kost, quod in Siberia ex terra eruitur. Miras de eo fabulas plebs narrat, dicunt enim esse ossa animalis sub terra degentis et omnia animalia super terra viventia magnitudine superantis. In medicina adhibent illud ad eosdem usus, ut istud quod cornu monocerotis vocatur. Frustum mihi datum fuit, quod genuinum ebur videbatur, et peritiores credunt esse dentes Elefantinos, ita ut in diluvio universali eo delatos, atque longo temporis tractu terra magis magisque textos fuisse necesse sit.
Etiam Adamovoi Kost lignum Adamiticum ex visceribus terrae in via versus Emporium Archangel emitur. Colore est subnigro, duritie lapidem, forma et venis ramos arboris refert. Communisque opinio est esse lignum petrefactum.
Est in Russia malum dictum Naliva, quod non tantum saporis suavitate gustum delectat, sed et visui valde blanditur, dum vitri instar pellucidum est.
Nota in Russia est fama radicis vulneraria, quae in Siberia crescit, et Voltschnoi Koren, lupina radix vocatur, quae maximam in sanandis vulneribus virtutem habere dicitur, et quidam asserunt masticatam vulneribus sanandis prodesse.
Inter pisces eminet Sterlet, inter cupedias Russicas censendus. Caput et cauda tam longa sunt, ut corpus ipsum vix dimidiam piscis partem excedat, squamis destitutus est, sed cute instar anguillae praeditus. Illi maxime aestimantur, quorum cutis interior pars flava est.
Vichochol est mus major aquaticus suaviter olens. Pelles illius inpositae scrinio, in quo linteae vestes asservantur, gratum illis odorem conciliant.
Scorbuti nomen est vox slavonica quasi morbus kat’ exochen, nam Scorb lingua slavonica est morbus. Russi vero peculiare vocabulum habent ad designandum Scorbutum, quem Tsinga vocant.
Urbs Jerislaw maxime celebris est ob confectionem Corii Russici.
Quia Armeni commode ex Mari Balthico merces in Hollandia emitas per Volgam in Persiam transferre possunt; hinc Russi hoc iter nemini concedunt, nisi qui ex Persia per Russiam ad mare Balthicum venit.
Baneanes ex India olim Moscuam usque veniebant; nunc illis ultra Astracanum proficisci non licet.
Ex China affereunt Factitium, quod colore flavo, odore aromatico, atque textura cretacea, quod Temzui vocant, atque egregium medicamentum in pluribus morbis reputant. Buchartzi mahumetani, quorum metropolis Samarcand, frequenter Siberiae metropolim Tobolsk adeunt. Tartari Kalmuki equos venales circa autumnale tempus Moscoviam adducunt. Grex equorum dictus tabun 6, 8, 12 millibus constare potest. Idem et liberos suos Russis vendunt. Religio eorum est ea quae Mugalorum Tartarorum.