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0164 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 164 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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148   109 A. CAMOCAS

chin-chia was a misreading of   chin-tuan, commonly used for   f chin-tuan, «gold

brocaded satin », and phonetically, could not give the etymology of kimhdb. LAUFER himself (TP, 1916, 477; Sino-Iranica, 539) proposed .1$ rt chin-hua, «as, for instance, used by Cao 2ukua with reference to the brocades of Ta Ts'in ».

Some of the above hypotheses can be disposed of at once as phonetically impossible : such

are HOFFMANN'S chin-sha (*kiam-sa) and ROCKHILL'S chin-chia once correctly read chin-tuan (*kiam-d'uân). LAUFER's chin-hua is a slip and does not in fact exist; in the above-mentioned passage, Chao Ju-kua speaks of hua-chin « flowered damask » (HR, 103), a term which he uses more than once (for instance in the sections corresponding to HR, 115 and 155).

The chin-ch'i (*kiam-k'jie) adduced by PHILLIPS is, from Han times downwards, a well-attested term, which is used for instance by both Chou Ch'ü-fei in 1178 (Ling-wai tai-ta, 3, 2 b) and Chao Ju-kua in 1225 (HR, 14121-22) in their accounts of foreign countries. One of the com-

ponents of chin-ch'i is   chin (*lam), the very word we usually translate «brocade ». The word
chin is formed with a right half po meaning « silk », which ought to be the « radical » if it had not been left out of the modern system of 214 radicals, and a left half chin which originally meant « metal », and later « gold », but which is to be taken here as a phonetic. Of course the composite character might indicate that there was in the spoken language a « silk » fabric called chin because it was partly made of « metal » or « gold » (chin) threads, so that, in the written character meaning « brocade », the chin half would play a double part, semantic and phonetic, a case of frequent occurrence in Chinese script. We must not forget, however, that such a view would run counter to the oldest definitions of chin in native works : all agree in making chin a « silk textile of

different colours », without any allusion to the use of gold or silver in its manufacture.   Chin
is in principle « silk damask »; the usual, but misleading translation « brocade » (not to speak of the mistaken « gold brocade ») can be retained only for the modern loose use of the latter word, not for its original meaning of a textile made of gold and silver threads. True chin had a « ground » (i1 ti) on which the portions in other colours were woven; when no « ground » was used, the textile was called a b, chih-ch'êng « weaving-made » (a term which misled European translators, and in particular HIRTH in China and the Roman Orient). As to ch'i (*kjie), it differed from chin by being a damask silk of one colour only. The purpose of this apparent digression on the history of chin is to show that Chinese chin, not being a « gold » brocade, exactly fits in with the descriptions we have of mediaeval « camocas ». On the other hand, the kim- of kimhdw is exactly what we should expect, in T'ang times, as a transcription of chin (*kiam), be it chin «metal », «gold », or chin «silk damask », « brocade » (the Cantonese pronunciation «kam» adduced by HIRTH, in fact kvm, has not to be taken into consideration since we must start from kimhdw, not from kamhd). There are, however, certain difficulties in PHILLIPS'S hypothesis. One is that chin and ch'i are properly the names of two different textiles and that the composite term chin-ch'i is a class designation, somewhat bookish, and not very likely to have passed abroad. But the main objection is of a phonetical order. While chin (*kiam) accounts for kim- of kimhâw, ch'i (*k'jie) cannot well be transcribed as -hdw. In the 9th-10th cents., we know a few cases when Ch. k- is rendered by Arabs or Persians as h-, for instance in Hanfû < Kuang-[chou-]fu (see «Quinsai» and « Çaiton »), or Hamiu (Hamcu) < Kan-chou (see « Campçio »); but in neither case