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0162 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 162 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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146   109 A. CAMOCAS

been collected in FRANCISQUE-MICHEL, Recherches sur le commerce, la fabrication et l'usage des étoffes de soie, d'or et d'argent, n [1854], 171-174. « Camocas » was still made in Cyprus at the beginning of the 16th cent.

Although the components and the technique of the manufacture of « camocas » may have

changed in course of time, there is no doubt that the word at first designated a costly Oriental textile of silk damask, woven in all colours, sometimes with stripes of gold and silver, the designs being mainly birds. The « camocas » may be said to have been a brocade, but only if we do not take brocade in its most ancient meaning of a textile exclusively woven with gold and silver threads.

Du CANGE and FRANCISQUE-MICHEL had no satisfactory etymology for «camocas ». DOZY (Glossaire 2, 246) was, I think, the first who proposed, in 1869, to derive « camocas » from Pers. l J_ kämlhä, «damasked silk»; this theory met at once with general acceptance. For kämhä itself, DOZY added a Chinese etymology which will be discussed below.

The history of Pers. kämhä, in so far as I am in a position to trace it, is somewhat puzzling.

The first occurrence of the word is in Arabic, when Ibn HordàSbäh, himself of Persian origin, mentions in 844-848'ßt( kimhâw among the products which were imported from China (Fe, 31), and in relating the legend of the submission of the sovereign of China to Alexander the Great, speaks of the 500,000 pieces of kimhäw which formed part of the presents made by this sovereign to Alexander (cf. DE GOEJE, Ibn Khordädhbeh, Leyden, 1889, 51, 206, 215). The word is again used in the same form in 902 by Ibn al-Faqih, a man from Hamadan, also writing in Arabic (DE GOEJE, ibid. 215). A third instance is provided, again in Arabic, by Tha'alibi (-I- 1037), whose mss. give )6,...ç kimhär, corrupt for 96.4ç kimhâw (cf. DOZY, Glossaire 2, 246; KARABAUK, in Mitt. d. K. K. Oester. Mus. f. Kunst u. Ind., VII [1879], 302). The first mention I can trace in a Persian texts occurs in Wâssàf, that is at the beginning of the 14th cent., with

the spelling   kmhb, which can be read both kimhäb or kämhäb (cf. VON KREMER, in
{VZKM, III [1889], 111-112). At the same time, Ibn Battiztah, writing in Arabic, mentions twice the l ( kmhä manufactured at Zäitûn (transi. DEFRÉMERY and SANGUINETTI, IV, I, 269; the rendering « velvet » is wrong). A Persian spelling l f kämhâ is used twice by 'Abdu-'r-Razzàq

in his account of Sàh-Rûb's embassy to China in 1420-1422 (cf. QUATREMÉRE, in Not. et Extr., XIV, I, 214, 315; here again, the word is wrongly translated « velvet »).

Consequently, the kimhâw of the 9th cent. evolved in two different ways, giving both a form

in as well as a form in -b; when the first vowel is noted, it is 4-, but a short -a- is also possible with both forms. It seems evident that « camocas » and all the mediaeval Western forms are based on kamhä, and this is confirmed by a Greek letter of c. 1300, quoted by YULE (Hobson-Jobson 2, s. v. «kincob »), which speaks of the textile which « the Persian tongue calls xatzew (acc.) D. But an epenthetic labial vowel after m- must have been developed already in the East to account for all the European forms which have an -o- or an -u- in the middle of the word.

Our Persian dictionaries, following the indications of the Burhän-i OW, list different forms, l r kämhâ, f kimhä, S kimhâ, ~ f kämhäb, "lx.f kimhäb, kimhwäb, and say that the forms with -a- in the first syliabe refer to a damasked silk of one colour, and those with -i- to a polychrome variety (cf. VULLERS, II, 885, 938, 939). I do not