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0479 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 479 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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and the explanations engraved in Latin, Tarsic,1 and Persian characters, that all may be able to read them in one tongue or another.

1 " Tarsic letters," says Remusat, quoting this passage, are those of the Uigurs, to whose country the relations of that age gave the name of Tarsia from a Tartar word signifying infidel, and which appears to have been applied in Tartary successively to the followers of Zoroaster, and to the Nestorian Christians." (Nouv. Melanges Asiat., ii, 198).

The name of Tarse is applied expressly to the kingdom of the Pogurs by Hayton the Armenian ; and Marino Sanudo the Elder also speaks of the kingdom of Tarse where the Tartars first learned letters and also idol worship ; he is probably drawing from Hayton. (Secreta Fidel. Crucis, p. 235.) Carpini likewise (p. 709) has Tarci in his list of nations conquered by the Mongols, but the reading is doubtful. Thane appears in Fra Mauro and Tarssia in the earlier Catalan Map, somewhere about Turkestan. The author was apparently also following Hayton, as he states that the Three Kings came from that country. Trigautius tells us that in his time (the beginning of the seventeenth century) the Mahomedans in China spoke of the old professors of Christianity in that country as Terzai, the origin of which appellation he was ignorant of ; but he heard from an Armenian that the Armenian Christians in Persia were called by the same name. (De Christiana Exped. apud Sinas, 1617, p. 137). The word is apparently that given by Meninski as "Tarsd, a Christian, an infidel, a fire-worshipper." Its application to the Uigurs and their character perhaps indicates the extensive prevalence of Nestorian Christianity among them.

Quatremère quotes the author of a book called Tabakati Naseri, as saying that the inhabitants of a certain city of Tibet professed the Din Tarsdyi, which he renders religion Chrétienne, though considering that the writer had mistaken Buddhism for Christianity. (Rashideddin, p. 198.)

The Uigur character was the original source of those still used by the Mongols and Manchus, and was itself almost certainly derived from the old Syriac character through the Nestorians.

The modern Tartar characters are written (and, I presume, read) in vertical lines from top to bottom of the page, the lines succeeding each other from left to right. It seems doubtful whether the Uigur itself was thus written; at least, Remusat says that the only document in that character which was known to him was written in horizontal lines, though the language of Rubruquis as to the Uigur writing most precisely describes the vertical direction of the modern Tartar alphabets. Remusat thinks that the vertical direction may have been acquired by the frequent necessity of interlining Chinese documents, a suggestion which seems ingenious rather than convincing. It has, indeed, been maintained by some authorities that the ancient Syriac itself was vertical, and an old line is cited,

E ceelo ad stomachum relegit Chaldma lituras," but Remusat denies this.