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0077 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 77 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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45. BACHU   61

green », is a name not of lapis-lazuli, but of green malachite (cf. TARANZANO, Vocabulaire, 13, 678; II1, 389), and I am inclined to believe that Polo and MARTINI, followed by DU HALDE, have mistaken malachite for lapis-lazuli; moreover, MARTINI knew Polo's narrative. There has been in Shan-hsi, in ft of Tai-chou (now Tai-hsien), an important production of cch'ing-lu, mentioned already in the Hsin T'ang shu and the Sung shih; but Tai-chou seems to be too far south to be included in Tenduc; moreover ch'ing-lu means green malachite, perhaps also blue malachite (azurite) ; both are carbonates of copper and have nothing to do with lapis-lazuli (cf. CHANG, Lapidarium Sinicum, 313).

As to the third mention of «açur» in Polo, see « Green Hill ».


babelonie F babillonia L

babilon(em, is) Z

babilonia TA 3, LT, P b, Z, V, babiloyne FB

VA, S, R   babylon G

babilonie FA   bambellonia TA 1

In agreement with mediaeval usage, Polo means by « Babilonie » Egypt, and the sultan of (( Babilonie )) is the sultan residing at Cairo (on the more ancient occurrence of the Babylon of Egypt, cf. Y, I, 24). That is why, in a passage found only in VB and R where the name of Cairo occurs (B, 212), it has been tacitly replaced by « Babylon » in RR, 353, and by «Babilonia» in .8', 369. YULE ( Y, II, 439) had already surmised that there was here some « editing » due to RAMUSIO, because the name of Cairo did not occur elsewhere in Polo; but YULE then forgot VB, which RAMUSIO simply copies.

I am not convinced that the substitution of « Babilonie » for Cairo in that passage is justified. For Polo, « Babilonie » is rather the name of the country than of the city, and he may have repeated the name of Cairo for the town as he heard it; there are in that passage other technical names, such as «çerme» and « Calizene », which point to a very precise informant. Moreover, the fact that a name appears only once in Polo does not warrant its suppression; the name of « Egipte » also appears only once, and in conditions which are not absolutely satisfactory; nevertheless, it would not occur to anybody to change it.

  1. BACHU

abacco Z   abaco L, Z   bachu

abaccu R

L, Z, R all have « Abacu » or the like, but my reading is supported by «Bachu » in V. BENEDETTO (B', 437) has adopted « Abaco » and added that, as the Caspian was also called in the