During his trip to Ceylon, which is modern-day Sri Lanka, Ibn Battutah visits the town of Kunakar. Ibn Battutah begins his discussion of the town by talking about its physical geography. Ibn Battutah tells that the town was built in a valley alongside a river which is called the “Channel of Rubies” because precious gems are found in it. Later in the section, Ibn Battutah goes into more detail about the rubies. Ibn Battutah says that they are only found in Kunakar and are called bahraman or carbuncles. He explains that some of the gems are fished out of the channel while others are dug out of the ground. The stones that are dug have to be cracked open like a geode to find the gems inside, which Ibn Battutah says come in a variety of colors like red, yellow and blue. Ibn Battutah also discusses how valuable these rubies are to the people of Kunakar and how they wear them on necklaces and headpieces. Ibn Battutah describes two specific examples of ruby-wearing, when he talks about the sultan of Kunakar and when the talks about the women of Ceylon. The women of Kunakar wear rubies as elaborate adornments. Even the sultan’s slave girls have headdresses decorated with rubies. The other instance of ruby-wearing is the sultan of Kunakar, called the Kunar. The Kunar owns an elephant which he rides on important occasions and the elephant wears rubies on its head. Ibn Battutah comments that the elephant is the only white elephant he has ever seen in the world. Ibn Battutah also gives an anecdote on the Kunar. He reports that the Kunar’s subordinates revolted against him and blinded him, putting his son on the throne instead. Ibn Battutah tells one other anecdote about the town of Kunakar. Ibn Battutah describes how outside of Kunakar is the mosque of Shaikh Othman of Shiraz. Ibn Battutah tells that this Shaikh used to guide pilgrims to the Foot, which is now known as Adam’s Peak. Ibn Battutah reports that the Shaikh had his hands and feet cut off because he violated Hindu law by slaughtering a cow; but because the Shaikh was so respected in the community that they only mutilated him, while his sons and slaves took over as guides for the pilgrims.
Ibn Battutah’s interests in the section on Kunakar highlight how Ibn Battutah is fascinated by two things: wonders of the world and religious matters, specifically Muslim ones. Ibn Battutah focuses on how the Muslim Shaikh was respected in the community and was virtuous, even though he was mutilated. Ibn Battutah clearly cares about the state of Muslims wherever he visits and this includes Kunakar. In the case of wonders, the stories of the elephant and the rubies both count. The story of the elephant is meant to be sensationalist because the elephant is albino, would provides a shock factor to the reader. In the case of the rubies, it is a sensationalist story because the idea of having rubies the size of hen’s eggs and palms of hands is unthinkable to most people. It also expresses the wealth of the areas that Ibn Battutah is traveling to, which elevates his own status, because he is honored in the places he visits.