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0101 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 101 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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61. BARSCOL   85

The objection to locating «Sanang Setsen »'s Bars-köl in Mongolia proper, on account of its

Turkish character, holds good also, and even more so, for a Bars-köl = « Barscol » which would be situated on the borders of Manchuria. Unfortunately no such name has been found in works of the Mongol period. The Pa-li-hun of YS, 15, 1 a, may perhaps be the Barkul, but it is not likely from the phonetic point of view, as it supposes *Barqun or *Barkul, not Barköl (Barkul), and we have here probably to do with a transcription Barqun = Baru (see «Bargu »). A granary Barstu, « Place of Tigers », in the dependency of Shang-tu, is named in YS, 19, 6 a, and a « land of Bars » occurs under 1365 in YS, 46, 7 b. But all these names simply show the current use of bars, «tiger», in Turko-Mongolian nomenclature; they do not lead to an identification of «Barscoi ».

For the present, I see only two solutions : either to suppose that the place is on the

borders of Manchuria, and then to restore it as a Mongolian Bars-yol, « Tiger River», otherwise unknown; or to take the name as a Turkish Bars-köl, in which case it must have been in a Turkish-speaking region. We know of a great many cases in which Mongol princes had appanages scattered in different regions of the empire. Nayan, though settled in Manchuria, may have also inherited rights in the Barkul region. Without laying too much stress on the point, I may add that the Bäkrin, many of whom were Christians, lived in the region of Lake Barkul in the Mongol period; if Nayan had power in Barkul, he may have drawn from the Bäkrin at least a part of his Christian contingents.

But, in favour of a location in Manchuria, some other arguments have been brought forward. In 1293, Qubilai is supposed to have said to Qara-baturu (YS, 169, 4 b) : «North from here, there is the ancient land of Nayan called jip7 it IJ hi A-pa-la-hu, which produces fish; I

am founding there a city... to which I give the name of   Chao-chou... ». PALLADIUS
(Kommentarit, 33; Y, I, 345), in agreement with the former Chinese opinion which made Nayan

a descendant of Bälgütäi, identified «A-ba-la-hu» with the modern Butba on the Nomin River (south-west of Mergen and north of Tsitsibar). It is this «A-ba-la-hu » which PALLADIUS supposed to be phonetically connected with Polo's « Barscol », together with P'u-yü-lu or Pu-lo-ho. In fact, Bälgütäi was appanaged more to the west (north of the Kerulen) and had also the region of Kuang-ning on the northern side of the Gulf of Liao-tung. We do not know who had the region of the present Butba, and moreover, there is, as far as I can see, no reason to place there the region of A-pa-la-hu, a name which occurs only once in YS. This name must be kept in mind as having a certain phonetic analogy with «Barscoi »; but it may be fortuitous, and A-pala-hu, a fish-producing region, may be some nominal form derived from Mong. abala-, «to hunt» and «to fish ».

We ought to be able to locate A-pa-la-hu, since in 1293 Qubilai established there a certain city of Chao-chou, which is also mentioned in YS, 18, 7 b, under the year 1295 ; but the

geographical section of YS, 59, 1 b, notes that the name is not registered in the official compilations of the dynasty and mentions it under Kuang-ning-fu simply because Kuang-ning-fu was Bälgiitäi's appanage and the compilers took Nayan (though wrongly) to be a descendant of Bälgütäi. There is, however, a Chao-chou which already existed under the Chin (Chin shih,

24, 1 b-2 a) and seems to be correctly identified with   PA   Chu-chia ch'êng-tzû, a place