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0240 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 240 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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say (a Great Khan not known to history), but Khublai, who died in 1294 ; MEDEIA or the Middle Empire of the Tartars is shown as ruled by King CHABECH ; i.e., Guebek or Kapak, who reigned some time between 1310 and 1320 ; and SARRA or Kipchak is under the Lord JANIBECH ; i.e., Janibeg, the son of Mahomed Uzbek, who reigned 1342-56.

One of the aids in compiling this map was almost certainly the Portulano Mediceo, now in the Laurentian Library, or perhaps it would be more safe to say that both copied from some common source. That they did so to a certain extent will be evident from a comparison of the coasts of Arabia and Persia and the west coast of India with the names entered, as they are on this map and on the map from the Portulano engraved by Baldello Boni in the Atlas to his Il Milione.2

For Cathay and the countries adjoining it we can trace Marco Polo as one of the authorities, and perhaps Odoric as another. To the former certainly belong Calajan (i.e. Carazan), Vociam, Zardandan, Michem (Mien), Penta (Pentam), and many more names found here ; to the latter perhaps Zayton and Fozo. Cincolam and Mingio are found in Odoric and not in Polo, but they are located here with a correctness which seems to imply independent knowledge.

Much cannot be said, however, for correctness of detail in Cathay. We have a good approximation to its general form and position in the map of Asia ; Chanbalech is placed correctly at the northern extremity of the empire, and Cincolam and Caynam (Hainan) at the southern, whilst Zayton and Mingio (Ningpo) appropriately occupy intermediate positions. Vociam and Zardandan are rightly placed on the south-west frontier towards Michem (Ava), and Cansio (Tiancheu) properly stands on the north-west frontier towards the desert. But in the rest of the details we have confusion or darkness. Many of the names in the interior can be recognised but doubtfully or not at all. I suspect, however, that most of them are from corrupt copies of Marco Polo. And it may be added that the representation of China and Cathay in the geography of Magini at the end of the sixteenth century is decidedly less correct in general position and almost as wild in details as this.

  • The 7548 islands ascribed to the Eastern Archipelago are certainly derived from Polo.3

As in the geographical ideas of Ibn Batuta, and it would seem of Abulfeda, one great river with its radiating branches extends all over Cathay.

The eastern peninsula of India is omitted altogether, or confused with

1 Kublai is called Quolibey in Wadding's version of Pope Nicholas III's letter to the Khan of 1278 (infra, p. 166).

2 Baldello's is not a perfect representation of the original, which contains half effaced traces of a good deal that he has not copied.

3 Murray's Polo (ii, c. 4) has 7448 islands ; Pauthier's (p. 250) 7459.