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0293 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 293 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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155. CIN


A century later, GOUVEA speaks of a bishop of « Masina » mentioned in an old document (Mo, 15).

All these are stereotyped or vague mentions, which create no serious difficulty. The case is different with Nicoiô de' Conti. In his account as written down in Latin by Poggio, Conti (LONGHENA, 140-146) speaks of Ava in Burma, adding that the province is called « Macinum » (but without an alternative name « Mangi », despite HALLBERG, 334) and abounds in elephants. He then goes on to give a notice of « Cathaium » and its two principal cities « Cambaleschia » (see « Cambaluc », Peking), and « Nemptai » (certainly Nan-t'ai = our Nanking; see « Namgin »); the whole of the section on « Cathaium » (Cathay) seems to transmit hearsay information. YULE has drawn from the text the natural inference that for Conti « Main » was located in Indo-China, adding that Fra Mauro followed Conti in this and that the Ain-i Akbari, if he remembered rightly, applied the name « Macin » to Pegu (Y1, z, 151).

This calls for comment. As is well known, Fra Mauro certainly obtained from Conti himself much information which is not to be found in Poggio's text (see « Caragian » and Y1, I, 176-177). Even when the names occur in both sources, they are more correct in Fra Mauro. In the present case, Fra Mauro's Map gives not only «Macin » (not the Latin « Macinum » of Poggio) in a region which seems to be Indo-China in fact, but also a « provincia Macin » on the border of Yün-nan, a « provincia Bangala nel Macin » already in « India seconda », and a « provincia Macin » almost in «India prima». This disposes, by the way, of LONGHENA'S hypothesis (p. 96) that «Macinum» might be Fra Mauro's «Mangi » : there is no «Mangi » in Fra Mauro, but «Mango » (cf. «Mangon » in V), and quite apart from «Macin » (I do not think it necessary to refute LONGHENA'S other assertion, p. 140, that «the name Macinum is given by the Chinese to northern Indo-China »!). As to the Ain-i Akbari, YULE was right in remembering that there was something strange in it about Pegu, but his remarkable memory was for once at fault as to what it was. In the Ain-i Akbari, «Mahâcin, which is commonly pronounced Macin» is given as another name of Hitâ, that is to say of China herself. The text speaks later of Arakan with the port of Chittagong, and goes on to say : « Near that tribe is Pegu, which is also called ein; in certain ancient accounts, it is mentioned as the capital of Cin » (Fe, 551-552). So it is not «Macin », but on the contrary « Cin », which is equated with Pegu in the Ain-i Akbari, so that Conti's Indo-Chinese «Macin» remains isolated.

I do not think that we ought to lay too much stress on these two passages. Conti's interesting account is crammed with inconsistencies. As to the Ain-i Akbari, it is a composite text, an uncritical patchwork of all sorts of data; some error must underlie the statement that ancient accounts make Pegu the capital of « Cin ». I would suggest the following explanation. During the Liao and Chin dynasties and during the first part of the Yüan, China had been divided into two parts, for which there were separate names, Hitai in the north, Cin and Macin in the south. With the unification of China under the Mongols, the name Hitai gained ground and ultimately superseded that of tin and Macin in the Mussulman world. Conti's Indo-Chinese «Macin » and the Peguan « Cin » of the Ain-i Akbari would be the outcome of the erroneous, but natural tendency to find a location for names which still lingered in popular memory, though they had already served and lost their purpose. I see no ground for supposing, with YULE (Y1.