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0076 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 76 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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60   43. AZURE

lazuli (cf. Y, I, 162; CHAVANNES, Doc. sur les Tou-kiue, 159; LAUFER, Sino-Iranica, 520). I may add that the whole paragraph in the Hsin T'ang shu is taken from Hsüan-tsang (JULIEN, Mém.,

II, 200, where « or pur » is a mistranslation of chin-ching). In the same chapter, in the notice on Fu-lin, mention is made of a tribute including « green [lii] chin-Ching» (cf. HIRTH, China and the Roman Orient, 54, 86, who does not know how to translate it; but his hypothesis of « dust » must be excluded; VISDELOU was perhaps right in thinking of emeralds). The information on the chin-ching produced in Kurân has also passed into T'ang hui yao, 100, 2 a, and T'ai-p'ing huan-yii chi, 186, 11 b.

With Hsüan-tsang, we go back to the first half of the 7th cent., but I can establish that chinching, with the same meaning, is at least two centuries older. In the 6th chapter of the Tafang-têng to-chi ching (NANJIÔ, No. 61), translated in A. D. 397-418, there is a list of the 32 «principal signs» (hsiang, laksana) of the Great Man (Tokyo Trip. of Meiji, f , I, 33 b-34 a). The list is not in its usual order, and it enumerates 34 laksana actually, instead of 32. The 32nd laksana is to have « hair of the colour of chin-ching ». Now, although there is no such laksana in the traditional list, one of the last among the 80 « secondary signs » or anuvyarijana is variously called (cf. BURNOUF, Lotus de la Bonne Loi, II, 605; Mahâvyutpatti, ed. Sakaki, 342) asitakesa, «with black hair»; bhramarasadrsakesatâ, «the quality of having hair similar to the [black] bee»; sunilakesatâ (in Pali). BURNOUF says the last term means « the quality of having very black hair », but sunila means « very blue » (cf. FINOT, Lapidaires indiens, 47), and sunilaka is even listed as a name of the sapphire. Now, in the Pentaglot Vocabulary, compiled in the 18th cent., the corresponding anuvyai Jana is explained in Chinese as « the colour of his hair is [like] Pi ;jr Ch'ing-ch'iu », which A. REMUSAT (Mél. asiat. I, 173) and DE HARLEZ (TP, 1896, 372) have rendered by « his hair is of the colour of lapis-lazuli ». Ch'ing-ch'iu, «blue-green gem », is not attested elsewhere, and the Skr. of the Pentaglot Vocabulary, as BURNOUF (II, 605) has already remarked, is of no help, since, through the omission of a Chinese and of the following Skr. term, there is no real Skr. correspondence here for the Chinese; but RbMUSAT and DE HARLEZ have been guided in their translation by the Mongol and Manchu equivalents ras'ivar and rasivar, which are indubitably lapis-lazuli. Although I have not tried to follow the tradition through all its stages, it is certain that, until a late period, it was admitted that the Great Man had hair of the colour of lapis-lazuli, and we are entitled to translate chin-ching by lapis-lazuli when we find it used in the same way in the beginning of the 5th cent.

The first time that Polo speaks of «açur» is in reference to Badah"san, and there is no doubt that he meant then lapis-lazuli, and that he was right in doing so. The case is somewhat different in his chapter on «Tendue » (north-west Shan-hsi). YULE ( Y, I, 289) has already quoted MARTINI, Atlas Sinensis, 50, who, in his paragraph on the Ta-t'ung prefecture, says : « On trouve dans ses montagnes de très bonne pierre d'Azur », and DU HALDE who, speaking also of Ta-t'ung, writes : « On trouve dans ses montagnes d'excellentes pierres d'azur » (YULE'S quotation, taken from ASTLEY, is not a literal rendering). I do not think that lapis-lazuli was really found in Ta-t'ung. The T'ang and Yüan geographies are silent on the subject, but the Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung

chih (III, in fine) has a paragraph on   shih-lii, which, according to the gazetteer of the pre-
fecture, is to be found on a mountain called, for that reason, Shih-lü-shan. Now shih-lü, «stone-