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0035 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 35 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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13. ALAINS   19

A good bibliography on the Alans is given in Mi, 444; the main Chinese texts relating to the Alans (« Asut ») of the Mongol period have been summarized or translated in Br, II, 84-90, by MOULE in JRAS, 1917, 21-26, and in Mo, 260-264, and, in Russian, by A. I. IvANOV, in Khristianskii Vostok, II (1913), 281-300. The old Alan confederation no longer then existed, and the Alans of the Chinese texts, the Asut, are Caucasian Alans; they are mentioned first in connection with the conquest of their country, and afterwards, on many occasions, because they formed, after deportation, an important part of the Imperial Guard.

The Secret History of 1240 mentions a town of Mäkät (§ 270) or Mägät (§§ 274, 275). In JA,

1920, I, 168, I have supposed it to be identical with the « city of A it   Mieh-ch'ieh-ssû (*Mäkäs)
of the A-su (Asut) » which was conquered by Mongka in the winter of 1239-1240, after a siege of

three months (YS, 2, 3 b; T'u Chi, 47 2 a, corrects it to 1238-1239) ; the name is written

Mieh-ch'ieh-ssû in YS, 122, 6 a; IC it 10 Mai-ch'ieh-ssû in YS, 128, 6 a;   ,ai, Mai-ko-ssû

(*Mägäs) in YS, 132, 4 a; it occurs also in an inscription of the 4k   t Mu-an chi, 13, 8 b; but

that important document is useless as we have it, since all foreign names in it have been

«corrected» by the Ch'ien-lung commissioners; cf. also ibid., 19, 10 b.   I had since noted the

phonetic similarity of *Mäkäs, *Mägäs, with   Ma'a§ or yam• Mayas, given in the 10th cent. by

Mas'ûdi (II, 42) as the name of the Alan capital (cf. MARQUART, Osteurop. Streift., 165); recently,
MINORSKY (Mi, 4.46) has also, independently, thought of a connection between the two names.

I had further quoted, as representing probably the same name, the   Mäkäs of Rasidu-'d-Din;
MINORSKY (Mi, 446), who cites other passages from Juwaini, thinks that this last name is more likely to apply to the Moka, a Mordvan tribe; without being dogmatic, I still incline to my

former view. The question is further complicated by the mention, in YS, 2, 4 a, of a 7(C~

w   mu-cha shan-ch'ai in the region of the Asut (A-su; absurdly altered into Aqsu by the
18th cent. commissioners). «Mu-cha shan-ch'ai » can be understood either as « the mountain stronghold of Mu-cha» (this is the view taken by T'u Chi, 4, 14 a, but his interesting note is marred by an error which makes of «Mas'ûdi» himself the name of an Alan city), or as «the palisaded mountain stronghold »; I favour this last interpretation (mu-cha, «palisade », occurs for instance in YS, 8, 9 b), and think that this unnamed stronghold may also be our Mäkäs or Mägäs. Of Mäkäs, all I can say is that T'u Chi, 47, 2 a, I do not know on what authority, makes it back on the mountains and face the sea (perhaps T'u Chi has applied to Mäkäs what is said later of the capital of the kingdom of A-su in the Ming shih [cf. infra]; the information would then be irrelevant).

Although some of the Alans were still opposing the Mongols when Rubrouck went to Mongolia, a great part of the nation, with their princes, had then already been carried to the Far

East to serve with the Mongol armies.   Nevertheless Marignolli is mistaken when he speaks of
Alan troops in Chinghiz-khan's army (Wy, 543); the date of 1229 given by DEVtRIA (JA, 1896, II, 432) seems to be also too early; troops were levied against the As (A-ssû) in the autumn of

1230 according to   Mjj fj Ch'iu-chien chi, 51, 7 a, but this date must be wrong, and is corrected
to 1235 by T'u Chi, 47, 1 b. I doubt even that the enrolling in the Imperial Guard of half the troops of the Alan prince Arslan should be dated 1236-1237 (DEVRIu, 432); 1239-1240 or 12381239 are perhaps more likely. Anyhow, the Alan corps lasted until the end of the Yuan