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0127 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 127 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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85. BUCKRAM   111

I have no doubt that for him « buckram a was actually a cotton-cloth. YULE may be right when he says that in many cases « buckram » was quilted cotton. This would be hardly reconcilable with the passage in which YULE makes Polo say that the Mutifili « buckrams » are so delicate that « they look like tissue of spider's web » (Y, II, 361). But this translation, still repeated by EVANs (Pegolotti, 415), must be abandoned; Polo speaks in fact of « linen-cloth of Rheims » (telle de lino de Rens; see « Rens »). I see no reason to favour MARSH'S suggestion, quoted by YULE, that « probably two words have coalesced » in « buckram ».

The mediaeval forms which are at the basis of modern French « bougran », It. « bucherame », Engl. «buckram », are many. To judge from the finals, it would seem, as is said in MURRAY'S NED, that the word was not adopted in English from the French, but from the Italian. The Spanish «bucarân» agrees with the French.

There is still some hesitation about the etymology of « buckram ». REISKE'S ç1~y' abûgireim, rendered « pannus cum intextis figuris », is an artificial compound, without any textual support. D'AVEZAC derived « bougran » from « Bokhara » (Rec. de voyages, iv, 524) ; this was accepted by HEYD (II, 703) and is adopted without reserve by LOKOTSCH (Etym. Wörterbuch, No. 342), and by BLOCH, Dict. étymol., I, 92. YULE esteemed that « if the name be local, like so many names of stuffs are, the French form rather suggests Bulgaria» (Y, I, 48). According to MURRAY, neither « Bokhara » nor « Bulgaria » agrees with the early French forms. I do not see that any serious objection can be raised against « Bokhara ». The old French forms are « bouquerant » (not « bouqueraut » as in LOKOTSCH), « bouguerant », « boquerant », « boguerant » (to the forms already quoted by FRANCISQUE-MICHEL, add those in GODEFROY and TOBLER-LOMMATSCH), but the final -t does not seem to be etymological; the low Latin forms are « boquerannus », « bucaranum », « buchiranum » (DU CANGE), « buccaranum » (Wy, 259), « bucheranus » in Z, «bocharanus» (in BRÂTIANU, Actes des notaires génois, 189), and even in French, Joinville writes « bouqueran », and F gives « bocaran ». YULE seems to have been influenced by the form « bougran », and it is true that French bougre (attested in 1178) comes from the name of the Bulgars, but, in the 13th cent., bolyari (>boryali) gave in French borgal (see «Bolgara »). The oldest French forms have -qurather than -gu-; on the other hand, the alternation of -o- and -ou- (pronounced as Latin -u-) is of no account, and we know both forms for the very name of Bokhara (see « Bucara »). Phonetically, the etymology with « Bokhara » seems to be unimpeachable, and I have no hesitation in adopting it. The name of another textile is supposed to be derived from « Bokhara ». It is that of the woollen material known in Osm. Turk. as buhur ebba Voga > éoha. « cloth »), adjectival form buburlu (RADLOV, IV, 1808), buburaki, «striped shawl » (BARBIER DE MEYNARD, I, 289), hence Rouman. buhur, « cashmere » (LoKOTSCH, No. 342).

YULE remarked ( Y, I, 62) that RAMUSIO always wrote « boccassini » instead of « bucherami » and added that « bochayrani » and « bochasini » were coupled in a Genoese fiscal statute of 1339.

Both words are used as synonyms in FRAMPTON'S version from SANTAELLA (« Bochachims or Buckrams »; Pe, 26). This shows that RAMUSIO, like FRAMPTON, had no longer a true idea of the

ancient value of «buckram », and knew it only as the coarse material which was also designated bochasino; the equivalence of the two words is given by MURRAY (NED, s. v. « buckram »).