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0104 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 104 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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88   63. BASORA

currently of the princes of « Samudra-Pasè ». The state may have had a native name Pasè and a Sanskrit name Samudra, just as the island of Singapore was called Sirnhapura, but also had the native name of Tumasik or Témasik. Almost all Chinese texts of the Mongol period speak of «Sumudra» (= Samudra, Sumatra); if I am right in supposing that the Pa-hsi of 1309 is Pasè, it is the only link hitherto available between the Malayan Po-ssû of the Sung and Pa-hsi, Pasem, Pazze of the 16th cent. The two Malay legends on the late foundation of Pasè, alluded to in Y, II, 288-294, have little historical value. Neither Pasè nor Samudra is named in 1225 among the dependencies of San-fo-ch'i (then Jambi), although the list includes Lamuri; but we can only conclude from this very incomplete list that Pasè-Samudra had not in 1225 the importance it attained later on.

But if Pasè is the same as Samudra-Sumatra, the conclusion must be drawn that Basman cannot be Pasè, since Polo has another notice on the kingdom of « Sumatra », and this unavoidable conclusion leads us to reconsider the case of Pasaman. Pasaman is a place of some importance; the king of Achin mentions it in 1615 among his possessions (Fe, 671). It is said, in the dictionary quoted by SCHLEGEL to CORDIER, that « Basman» is regularly the Arab pronunciation of the name Pasaman (it might have been *Fasman), and thus it strictly corresponds with Polo's form. Of course, Pasaman is not on Polo's itinerary, and Polo attaches to his description of «Basman» details of the rhinoceros which can only be those of an eye-witness; as to his monkeys made up to look like pygmies nobody has yet offered an explanation. Nor does it seem that Polo went to «Fansur» (his mysterious « Dagroian » has also been looked for far to the south-east of Perlak, the point at which Polo's ship seems to have reached the island of Sumatra; but I think that view is wrong). Although I am not positive on the point, it may be that Polo gave his description of the rhinoceros when speaking of a kingdom in Sumatra of which he had only heard, and from which his monkey-pygmies were said to come. In such a case, Pasaman would have a fair chance of being « Basman », and that is the reason why I have adopted this spelling in preference to «Basma ». In Bijdragen, LvII, 8, ROUFFAER, after giving the current identification of « Basman » with Pasè, adds « or Pasaman ?». If « Basman » be Pasaman, we have, in Fansur and Pasaman, yet another example of Polo's digressions which have been altered so as to give to his account the appearance of a continuous itinerary.


balsara R barsera S bascha V baschra VL

bascra F, FA, FB (?), TAI, bastra FB (?), P

TA3, VB, Z   bosera VA

basora L   vassara P

lira scaLT

In Arabic, ay.,, Basra; the Basra of our maps. On it, cf. LS, 44-46. YULE ( Y, I, 65) says that the mss. have «Bascra », but that it is almost certainly an error for « Bastra », which he