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0401 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 401 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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FRIAR ()DORIC.   127

37. The Friar reacheth Cambalech, and discourseth thereof, and of
the Great Caan's Palace there.

And departing thence, I passed on through many a city and many a town towards the east, until I came to that noble city CAMBALECH, an old city of that famous province of CATHAY.' The Tartars took the city, and then built another at a distance of half-a-mile, which they called TAYDO.

1 Khan-bcclig (Along., " The Khan's city"), the Cambalu of Marco, PEKING. The Chinese capital was still so called by the Turks in the time of P. Ricci, and may probably be called so to this day.

  • The city on this site was originally (multurn est vetus et antiqua, as Odoric says) the capital of the kingdom of Yan. B.c. 222, this was conquered by the Thsin sovereigns of China, and the city lost its importance. A.D. 936, it was taken by the Tartar Khitan, and became their " Nan-king" or

Southern Capital". In 1125, it fell to the Kin, ancestors of the Manchus, who gave it the name of Si-king or " Western Capital". In 1153, it received from the fourth Kin sovereign the name of Chung-tu or " Central Court". It seems also to have been known as Yen-king under this dynasty. It: was captured by Chinghiz in 1215, and in 1264 Kublai made it his chief residence. In 1267 he built a new city, three li to the north-east of the old one, to which was given the name of Ta-tu or " Great Court", called by the Mongols Daidu, the Taydo of Odoric and Taidu of Polo, who gives a description of its dimensions, the number of its gates, etc., similar to that in the text. The Chinese accounts give only eleven gates.

This city was abandoned as a royal residence on the expulsion of the Mongol dynasty in 1368, but re-occupied in 1421 by the third Ming Emperor, who built the walls as they now exist, reducing their extent and the number of the gates to nine. This is what is commonly called the Tartar city of the present day (called also by the Chinese Lau-chhing or "Old Town"), which therefore represents the Taydo of Odoric. The ruins of the older Yen-king or Chungtu were still visible in the time of the Ming, but they were embraced in the new southern city called Waichhing or Outer Town", the wall of which was built in 1554.

The circumference of the present Tartar city appears from the plans to be about fifteen miles. Martini speaks of it as having still twelve gates in his time, but he was almost certainly wrong. It has three on the south side, and two on each of the others. The circuit of the two cities together is about twenty-two miles according to the scale on the plan given by Pauthier, though Timkowski states it at forty versts, or 261 miles. But Odoric's dimensions may have been quite correct, for the Tartar city was larger, and there was a space of more than half-a-mile between the two. (Timkowski, i, 315, etc., etc.)