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0080 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 80 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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64   47. BADASCIAN

161), and B', 438, while adopting « Balascian », thinks Polo may have used both. As a general rule, I am not readily inclined to believe that the same man uses at the same date two different forms (that is, fundamentally different, and not only in spelling) for one and the same name. In F, the ms. gives « Badascian » in the notice on the « Caraunas » and when speaking of the river of Badahsân, but (( Balascian » in the notice on the country where Polo speaks also of the rubies «baiasci ». This may perhaps help us out of the difficulty.

The name of the country is   Badahsân (and   Bai'abgân), from which the name
for the ruby mined in Badahsân is regularly derived, in the forms badaMdni, badah i and even badab. (cf. VULLERS, I, 201). There is no form *Badahsân for the country, nor *balahs for the stone in Persian dictionaries, although *Badahsân must have existed in some eastern dialects (on similar forms, cf. BENVENISTE, JA, 1936, 234), and the Codex Cumanicus of c. 1300 gives balacs as the Persian form. In Arabic, a popular form al-balahj for badali.ri (ba3aMi) is given by Ibn Battûtah. It is this popular form which passed to the West c. 1200, and has given our «basas» (« balais» in French); on this word, cf. QUATREMÉRE, Hist. des Sultans Mamlouks, u, 71 (but read « balakhsch » instead of « balkhasch » ); Not. et Extr., xiv, 222-223; HEYD, Hist. du Commerce, II, 653-654; YULE, Hobson-Jobson2, s. v. «Balass» (where Polo's «baiasci» has been forgotten); DALGADO, Vocabulario Luso-Asiâtico, s. v. « Balais, balax »; DAMES, Barbosa, II, 220; Codex Cumanicus, p. 108, Lat. balaxius, Pers. balacs; Fel , 387. Polo called these rubies of course by the form of the name which was understood in the West. But if he had always spoken of «Baiascian» nobody in the West could have changed it to the correct form « Badascian ». Let us suppose, on the contrary, that Polo always used « Badascian » for the country, but «baiasci» for the stone. A learned transcriber, who knew the form « Balascian » because he had found it elsewhere, could easily correct « Badascian » to « Balascian » in this chapter, so as to bring the name of the stone into agreement with that of the country; and « Badascian » would remain in the other chapters. I think this is what happened with F. The next stage would be to unify the name as « Balascian » everywhere; that is the case with Z and R. Now, there is a well-known work which could have provided learned copyists with the form « Balascian »; that is the work of Hethum, written in 1307, which gives «Balacxan « (cf. Hist. des Crois., Arm., II, 125 and 265, taking the various readings into more account than the editors have done). I have suspected elsewhere (see « Ulau ») that Hethum's work may have influenced early copyists of Polo, and we have perhaps another example of it in the present case. Provisionally, I suppose that Polo himself only used « Badascian » (or «Badacscian» ?) and « balasci ». On the forms, cf. also MARQUART, Erânsahr, 279; LENTZ, in ZDMG, 1932, 12-14; Mi, 349, 485. For general information on the subject, cf. BARTHOLD'S important notice in EI, s. v. « Badakhshan ».

The name of Badahsân appears in Chinese texts already in the 7th cent. (cf. CHAVANNES, Doc. sur les Tou-kiue, 69, 275; Br, II, 65-66), and the geographical documents of the 14th cent. write E - i 1 Pa-ta-ha-shang (YS, 63, 15 b; for final Persian -n then indicated by -ng [—nasalized vowel], see «Caxan », «Ispaan», and cf. other cases in Br, II, vII-VIII). But it may be worth while to quote here the following text : «The 13th year chip-yüan, in the first moon, ... on [the day] wu-tzii (February 8, 1276), the officials of the Chung-shu-shêng said that Wang Hsiao-chung, for some fault, had been ordered to go to A Â Ui Pa-ta-shan (Badahsân) to mine precious stones