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0238 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 238 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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222   126. CATAI

and Yeh-iü Ta-shih, to be read Yeh-fü T'ai-shih, may simply mean « Yeh-lü the t'ai-shih ». This old Chinese title of t'ai-shih, «Great Instructor», correctly explained as such by Ra"sidu-'d-Din, was given under the Ch'i-tan, the Jucen and the first period of the Mongols to all kinds of high officials, both civil and military.

But the name given by Rasidu-'d-Din as that of the founder of the Qara-Hitai Empire is different from all the forms occurring in Chinese sources. From the available readings in Rasid's mss. and in those of works derived from his own, it seems practically certain that the form

intended by the Persian historian is   „5.,,y Nùsi Tâifû.   BRETSCHNEIDER (Br, I, 224), noticing
that D'OHSSON spoke once of « Tùsi Tâifû » (Oh, I, 163) and another time of « Nûsi Tâifû » (Oh, I,

4.43), supposed that the second form was a misprint.   But it is in this second passage that
D'OHSSON followed the mss. ; in the first one, he tacitly corrected the reading to « Tûsi Tâifû » so as to bring the form into some agreement with the second element of « Yeh-lü Ta-shih ». HOWORTH'S hypothesis (JRAS, 1876, 263) that « Nüsi » is « Jucen » (what a name at such a date for a Ch'i-tan !) and that Tâifû is the « Chinese » translation of a « native » (i. e. Ch'i-tan) title taisi is

of course unacceptable. « Tâifû » transcribes the Chinese   (` t'ai-fu, « Grand Tutor », formerly

a high civil title like t'ai-shih, but independent from it.   D'OHssoN added in a note that t'ai-fu

meant « commander-in-chief », and BRETSCHNEIDER (Br, I, 225), who only thought of Jç -J to fu or tai fu., « great officer » (also an ancient civil title) questioned the validity of the explanation. But as I shall show in another note (see « Thai »), the Ch'i-tan gave the old Chinese title of t'ai-fu to men who were in fact army commanders. As to the first part of the name, and even granting that Ta-shih may perhaps not be the title taisi which I believe it to be and correcting Nûsi to *Tûsi as D'OHSSON did, Ta-shih can only be *Taisi, which could not give *Tii"si. Yeh-lü Ta-shih was perhaps given or took the title of t'ai-fu, although the Chinese texts make no mention of it. On the other hand, if I am right in supposing that Ta-shih merely renders the title taisi, Nan might well be the real personal name, though unknown to Chinese sources. Yeh-lü Ta-shih was an agnate of the Ch'i-tan Imperial family, a descendant at the eighth generation of the founder of the dynasty; but his lineage is otherwise unknown (he was not a brother of the last Emperor as is said by BARTHOLD, 12 Vorlesungen, 122), and he only came into prominence on account of his Western adventure.

Even then, the names and dates are often doubtful, and there are strange discrepancies between different passages in the Liao shih itself, and between the Liao shih and the Chin shih or other Chinese works (in particular Wu-ku-sun Chung-tuan's account of his mission of 1220-1222 in Br, I, 28-29), not to speak of the contradictions between Chinese data and those of Mussulman authors.

If we abide by the text of the Liao shih, Peking was taken by the Jucen in 1122 (not in 1120 as is said in Br, I, 211); Yeh-lü Ta-shih was captured by the Jucen in 1123 (Liao shih, 29, 3 a; BRETSCHNEIDER [Br, I, 220] is mistaken when he says that this capture is not mentioned in the Liao shih), but was set free soon afterwards; he then repaired to the Ch'i-tan Emperor, but not feeling safe, proclaimed himself « king » (wang) in 1124 and left for the West (Liao shih, 29, 3a-4b). Yeh-lü Ta-shih's surprising release by the Chin is almost in favour of Wu-ku-sun Chungtuan's account, according to which Yeh-lü Ta-shih had at some time betrayed the Ch'i-tan, at least,