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0033 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 33 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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13. ALAINS   17

T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, Pien-i-tien, 67, quotes a text on the « Kingdom of A-lan » from the Wei shu, 101, 7 a, which would also seem to provide a mention of the name in the 4th-6th cent. A. D. But the location it gives does not fit that of the Alans. As the parallel text in the Pei shih (96, 8 b) writes TIT Aff K'o-lan, and as this last form is confirmed by a citation from an independent source in T'ai p'ing yü-lan, 797, 19 a, there can be no doubt that K'o-lan (*Qalan, *Qaran?) is correct; the Alans are out of the question (cf. HALOUN, in ZDMG, 1937, 275). It is a little later, for about 600 A. D., that the Sui shu (84, 8 b; copied also in Pei shih, 99, 9 a) mentions the

A-lan as living east of Fu-lin   Frûm = Rûm, the Byzantine Empire) ; although these A-lan are
included in a list of nomad tribes which are mainly of Turkish origin, the Alans are certainly meant.

The name A-lan of the Alans occurs only once more in Chinese, on the map of the Chingshih ta-tien of c. 1330, from which it passed into YS, 63, 16 a; the form is there a double one, I i

pg 14-4 E A-lan A-ssü, Alan-As (« A-su » is a slip in Br, II, 88). But the map is really copied from a Western original; Alan is not the name under which the Alans were then known to the Mongols and the Chinese; the form A-ssû itself, although found occasionally in Chinese texts, is also rather a Western one, representing As (it is used twice in YS, 63, 16 a; cf. JA, 1920, I, 166; also in YS, 18, 4 b); but the Secret History of the Mongols (§§ 262, 270, 274) uses Asut, a regular Mongol plural from As, and it is this Asut which is correctly rendered by the Chinese

transcription i>'pj   A-su, occurring hundreds of times in the Yüan period (BRETSCHNEIDER [Br,
I, 305; II, 99] is wrong in saying that Asut is a plural of « Asu »; «Asu » does not exist; CHARPENTIER, lot. cit., 362, who still believes that A-su remains unexplained, is mistaken when he attributes also the form A-su to Ragidu-'d-Din, and, in the u of A-su [= Asut], a specifically Mongol

form, sees an « evident » parallel with Ptolemy's 'A'rc). An abnormal spelling pi !A-   is

used once, in 1316 (YS, 25, 4 a) ; an adjectival form in -tai, jrP3   -L A-su-tai, *Asutai (---:*Asut-

tai?), occurs once, in 1283 (YS, 12, 9 b), and is also known as the personal name of various

individuals; fit?   A-su in JA, 1920, I, 168, is a slip (the YS has here the usual form).

The two names « Alan » and « As » for the mediaeval Alans are well attested; « Alani sive Assi », says Plan Carpine (Wy, 89); Rubrouck, while still west of the Don, speaks of the «Alani qui ibi dicuntur Aas », and a little later of the « Alani sive Aas » who live in the high mountains of the south, together with the Circassians (Wy, 191, 199; the reading « Acias » of some mss. is corrupt, and moreover would not give the « Akas » mentioned in QUATREMÈRE, Hist. des Mongols, 70, Pa, 487, and Mo, 260, 261, still less the « Aq-As », « White As », which I have seen somewhere, but cannot trace). On the other hand, nobody has ever doubted that descendants of at least one branch of the great Alan nation are to be found to-day in the Iranian Ossets of the Caucasus (in the neighbourhood of the Dariel Pass), so called from the Georgian form Owset-i

of an original Ows, the same name as As or u Aas »,   As or 1 13s in Mussulman mediaeval
writers (the Georgian final, despite T'u Chi, 160, 17 b, has of course nothing to do with the Mongol plural in -ut of Asut). I cannot discuss here to what extent we must, strictly speaking, make a distinction between Alan and As in the history of the Caucasus.

Opinions are at variance as to the earliest appearance of the name As. MARQUART (Osteurop. and Ostasiat. Streifzüge, 167) has proposed to identify with As the last part of names like Dobsas and Tùlâs (or Tuwalâs), so that the name As would already be attested in the first half of