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0018 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 18 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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2   1. ABACAN

Yälügän was killed in battle at Yang-chou in 1258, and Alaqan, born in 1233, succeeded him

in command of the Mongol « wing » troops (   chu-yi; cf. the 37 yi troops enumerated in
YS, 13, 5 b; I suppose that it is the Mongol name of Alaqan's unit which follows his own name in Rand, but I do not know how to restore it). Alaqan took part in the battles at the time of Qubilai's accession to the throne, later, in 1262, against Li T'an, and later still against the Sung (cf. JNCB, 1927, 10). In 1281, he was placed in command of 400,000 Mongol troops (read « 140,000 » with T'u Chi?) to invade Japan, but died in Ning-po. The mention of Alaqan's name in Rasidu-'d-Din shows that the fame of his favour with Qubilai had reached Persia; moreover, his father may have been at some time in Persia. But much remains to be examined on this subject. T'u Chi, 102, 10 b, maintains that the AY .. iJ' Yeh-li-k'o of YS, 132, 1 a,

and the surely identical 41, I   Yeh-li-ch'ieh of YS, 135, 5 a, are other spellings of Alaqan's

name; phonetics, however, seem to exclude such an identification. But 1 i I   A-Ii-han in

YS, 129, 8 a, must be, as has been remarked by WANG Hui-tsul, 18, 5-6, another form of Alaqan (the second syllable is not accentuated, and its vowel was practically slurred). On the other hand, Rasid's various and sometimes conflicting statements (at least in BEREZIN'S edition and translation) about the several Yälügän or Yelugä of Jalair origin (cf. Ber, I, 36, 38, 84; III, 145) have never yet been discussed in connection with Mongol and Chinese texts.

Alaqan's official biography is not always in agreement with the pên-chi or with the chapter on Japan. For instance, as to the number of troops, these other texts speak of 100,000, not of 400,000. It is well known that many of the biographies of YS were compiled at the beginning of the Ming dynasty from funerary inscriptions and notices of private origin; but the pên-chi, as a rule, are more reliable. We learn from the latter ( YS, 11, 6 a) that, on account of

Alaqan's illness, an Imperial edict of July 13, 1281, named in his place ;-7   A-t'a-hai
(*Ataqai?) as commander-in-chief of the troops sent against Japan, and that Alaqan died on July 22 in the same year. Farther on, it says, under the date September 11, 1281 : « As Alaqan is dead, the order has been given that A-t'a-liai and others should garrison the Three Ports, and that A-t'a-hai should go and seize the remaining brigands at sea. » One month later ( YS, 11, 6 b), A-t'a-hai asked to use the garrison of the Three Ports for an action against bandits in Fukien, but the request was refused. A-t'a-hai (1234-beginning of 1290) has a short biography in YS, 129, 4 b-5 a, supplemented in T'u Chi, 93, 1-2 (his name is sometimes written A-ta [ ; ]hai, and once, by mistake, T'a-hai; cf. WANG Hui-tsu2, 46, 4 b). There is in YS, 129, no mention of the edict of 1281, but only of a later appointment, in 1283; T'u Chi has supposed there was an error of date in the biography. I am not certain that this is quite right. In spite of his appointment in July 1281, A-t'a-hai does not seem to have then done anything against Japan, and wanted only to march against Fukien. It was only on January 1, 1283, that A-t'a-hai was ordered to take over the 300 sea-junks which were at the disposal of Fan Wên-hu (YS, 12, 5 a, where we have the wrong form A-la[4IJ]-hai; this passage has not been noticed by WANG Hui-tsu, nor by T'u Chi. There are other cases in YS of confusion between la and t'a or ta; Fan Wên-hu is Polo's « Vonsamcin », q. v.) ; and the biography may allude to a fresh edict in the beginning of 1283. On the other hand, there are strange gaps in A-t'a-hai's biography, as has already been noticed by T'u Chi. This may be due to the fact that A-t'a-hai went through