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0153 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 153 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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country and of the politeness and civilisation of the people, as quite on a par with those of Italy. Their merchants were immensely wealthy, and had great ships much larger than those of Europe, with triple sides and divided into water-tight compartments for security. " Us," he says, " they call Franks, and say that whilst other nations are blind, we see with one eye, whilst they are the only people who see with both." Alone of all eastern nations they use tables at dinner, and silver dishes. The women paint their faces. Their tombs are caves dug in the side of a hill, arched over, and revetted on the exterior with a handsome wall. All these particulars are perfectly accurate, and can scarcely have been acquired except from personal knowledge.'

Conti has " la quale da poco tempo in qua è stata fatta di novo di questo re." Thirty miles, the circuit ascribed by Conti to Nelnptai, though above the truth, is less than more recent travellers have named (see p. 120 infra). I am not able to explain the name, though I have little doubt that it was a Mongol appellation of Nanking, perhaps connected with Ingtien, a name given to that city by the Ming when they made it their capital (ilartini), and that it is the same which occurs in Sharifuddin's life of Timur, where it is mentioned that from Tetcaul (qu. Karaill of' Shah Rukh's ambassadors ? infra), the fortified gate of the Great Wall on the Shensi frontier, it was fifty-one days' journey to KENJANFU (i.e., Singanfu, vide infra, p. 148), and from that city forty days alike to Canbalec and NEMNAI. The reading should probably be Nemtai as 'in Conti. One dot missing makes the difference (Petis de la Croix, iii, 218).

1 See India in the XVtiz cent., pp. 14, 21, 23, 27. The passage about the tombs is, indeed, in the printed edition given as of Anterior India; but I have no doubt that this is a mistake for Interior India, a term which Conti uses for China, as where he quotes the proverb about the one eye of the Franks, etc., as used by the Interiores Indi. This is inexactly translated by Mr. Winter Jones as " The natives of Central India"; but the word is used for remoter, as by Cosmas, when he says that Ceylon receives silk "from the parts further in (arô Twv ?PSoTÉpwv), I speak of Chinista and the other marts in that quarter", and again of China,".is ÉYÔUTÉpw (' further ben', as they say in Scotland), there is no other country." Ptolemy uses a like expression for remoter (see ext., at p. cl). The description of the tombs applies accurately to those of the Chinese and of no other people.

Poggio has evidently not followed Conti's Geography with any insight, and thus has mixed up features belonging to very different eastern nations. Thus the passage which is given as applicable to all the nations of India of writing vertically was probably meant only to apply to the Chinese.