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0232 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 232 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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216   126. CATAI

126. CATAI

alcathay Z

alchay, catha, cathayum, cay


auchara, chattai, chattay TA',


carcai, cartai FA

castay FB

cata F, FA. FB

( c. 24)

achata (per) TA'

achate (in) VA

aghata (per) TA3

alochayray (per) Z

catagio, catayo chatagio,

chatalio VL

catai F, Fr, FA, L, VB

cataio VB, VL; R

catay F, Ft, FA, FB, L,


cathay FBr, LT, P, Z; G

anchasa (per) V atan (auch) G aucata (en) FB cairo (al) R

cattayo, ouchach, ouchacha R

charesse, chatay TA'

chatai F, VA

chataio V, VL

chatan V

chattau TA3

cata (au) F, FA catha (per) LT la ducata (per) VL

« Catai» is the mediaeval name of China, and more particularly of northern China which we have long become accustomed to write « Cathay ». « Alcathay », « Auchara » (read « Auchata ») is the same name with the article; but I hold it to be here a Western article, not the Arabic one (see also « Calif »). The Catalan Map gives « Catayo »; Fra Mauro, « Chataio ». HALLBERG, s. v. « Cataia » (p. 125) merely refers the reader to an « Appendice I » of which I find no other mention and which does not seem to have been published.

The earliest Western mention of the name which I can trace is the « Chata» of the document describing the Mongol campaign against the Mussulmans which was translated from the Arabic into Latin at Damietta in 1221 (cf. ZARNCKE, Der Priester Johannes, II, 50). The vicinity of this « Chata » to Hwarizm seems to me to imply, however, that it is not China we have to deal with here, and that we should take the name with its other mediaeval value of « Black Cathay», on which more anon. The « Catha » or « Chatha » of Sembac the Constable's letter of February 7, 1248, more probably refers to true Cathay, i. e. North China (cf. D'ACHERY, Spicilegium2, iii, 624-628; Y', I, 162, 263). Plan Carpine often speaks of the « Kitai », and also of the « Karakitai » or « Black Kitai » (Wy, 48, 53-55, 88, etc.). Rubrouck has much to say of « Cataia » and of « Caracatai » or « Black Catai » ( Thy, 181, 206-207, 236, etc.). Hethum begins his Flor des estoires de la terre d'Orient with a chapter on « Cathay ». The Gestes des Chiprois speak of « Hata» (Hist. des Croisades, Arm., ii, 841). Further mentions are : « Cathay » in Monte Corvino ( Wy, 352) ; « Catay» in Odoric ( Wy, 471) ; « Katay » in Marignolli (Wy, 542) ; « Catay » in Marino Sanudo's map (in BONGARS, Gesta Dei per Francos, at the end of the Secreta). Pegolotti's « Gattaio » (EvANS, 401) shows the same softening of the initial as in « Gamalecco » _ Han-baliq, or in « Gostantinopoli »; this form makes it somewhat doubtful that « cattua » or « cattuia », used three times in Pegolotti for silk coming from afar, should represent « Cathayan » as admitted by HEYD (Hist. du Commerce, n, 673) and EVANS (p. 399).

It has long been recognized that « Catai » represents the name of the M Jÿ- Ch'i-tan (*K°1attân). This Altaic tribe founded in northern China, in A. D. 907, the dynasty afterwards known