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0378 Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1
Cathay and the Way Thither : vol.1 / Page 378 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000042
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104   THE TRAVELS 01?

ters, and from all the great Khan's officers, and they all told me, with one consent as it were, that the province of Manzi hath two thousand great cities ; cities I mean of such magnitude that neither Treviso nor Vicenza would be entitled to be numbered among them.1 Indeed in that country the number of the people is so great that among us here it would be deemed incredible ; [and in many parts I have seen the population more dense than the crowds you see at Venice on. the Ascension Day] .° And the land hath great store of bread, of wine, of rice, of flesh, and of fish of sorts, and of

fore, a mistake to suppose, as has been put forward by Assemanni and others, that Manzi or Mangi is a corruption of the Machin and Masin of the Persians and Arabs. These last are merely modifications of the Sanscrit Mafia Chin, Magna China. But it seems probable that a confusion did take place between the two words ; for in the history of Rashideddin (as probably in other Mahomedan writers) Machin is sometimes used for Manzi, as the special naine of Southern China. (Journ. As., ii, ser. xi, 337, 341, 343 ; Davis's Chinese, i, 180; Baldello, i, 29 ; Martini, Atlas Sinensis.) Pauthier, it should be added, gives quite a different explanation of Manzi. He says that Fokien was formerly called the principality of Mdn, a name still applied in poetry. Hence the subjects of the Sung Emperors were called by the Northern Chinese Mcln jin, or Men of Mdn (op. inf. cit., p. 117). But M. Pauthier seems to have now abandoned this opinion; see his fine new edition of Polo, p. lvii.

1 So Wassaf says : "China possesses besides Khanzai, four hundred considerable cities, of which the smallest surpasses Baghdad and Shiraz." (D' Ohsson, ii, 418). There is great exaggeration in Odoric's statement. The number of cities of different classes in China (which includes much more than Manzi) is, according to modern official statements, as follows :-

Fu, or chief cities of Prefectures.......   ...   182

Chen,   of circles...   ...   ...   134

Hien,   „   of districts...   ...   1281

Other cities ...   ......   112

Total, 1709

(From Pauthier, Chine Moderne, p. 129.)

2 The feast of the Ascension was the first day of the great fair at Venice, in the middle ages one of the greatest fairs in the world. Like the fairs in India it combined religion and trade, for many then came as pilgrims either to visit the relics of the saints at Venice, or to take passage for the shrines beyond sea, such as Loretto, Rome, Compostella, or Jerusalem. On the Ascension Day also took place the celebrated espousals of the Adriatic. Semedo likewise compares the throng habitually encountered