as fascinating as their customs were mystifying?

Hi, I met a sentence and I can’t figure out what does it really mean.

The villagers found the visitors as fascinating as their customs were mystifying.

What does the “as…as” structure mean here? And who does the “their” refer to, the visitors or the villagers?

Thank you very much for your help.

Having no context, I would treat it like: The villagers found the visitors most fascinating and their customs equally mystifying.
(There were something fascinating in the visitors which made the villagers treat their customs as mystifying --both visitiors themselves and their customs fascinated the villagers.)

Hi Luckyxuan,

The villagers thought the visitors were fascinating. The villagers thought the visitors’ customs were mystifying.
The level of fascination they felt was equal to the level of mystification they felt.

Eugene is correct that far, but I would not say that it was the fascinating thing which made the customs mystifying.

Thank you, Bev.
I may have not expressed the idea clearly enough: “There were something fascinating in the visitors which made the villagers treat their customs as mystifying”–perhaps they were wearing long black garments (fascinating thing) and saying strange prayers before taking meals (mystifying). Remove the first, and the villagers could’ve possibly taken no notice of them praying–everybody say something before meals…

I don’t think that’s the case. I think they were just people from a completely different culture so they did things very differently (which is why they couldn’t understand the purpose of their customs) but at the same time found them interesting because they were not used to such visitors.

I believe you didn’t treat my words literally.
The strangers could be Spaniards riding on horses (the animals native South Americans have never seen before they arrived there with conquistadors), they could be… well, whatever thing you might think of at the moment, like I did.
The point was they looked and acted extraordinarily.

I hope I didn’t sound obstinate. :wink:

“The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one often comes from a strong will, and the other from a strong won’t.”

Thank you guys for your clarification. It’s really helpful to me!