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0412 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 412 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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396   168. COGATAL

Shih-Ia, i. e. Mong. Sira (< Sira), «the Yellow one» (for other Shih-la, cf. WANG Hui-tsul, 26,

3 a-b; add the   Â IJ Chia Hsi-la = Chia Sira, Chia the Yellow, of YS, 169, 2 a, also a name
imperially bestowed; for an analogous case, cf. the Mongolian name Qara, «the Black », bestowed by Qubilai on a man of the Liu family, YS, 169, 3 b, and the name Cayân, « the White », bestowed on a Tangutan, YS, 120, 1 a, and also given to, or taken by, a man from Balkh, YS, 137, 1 a). One way out of the difficulty would be to suppose that Kao Hsi was known as Kökötäi before he was renamed Sira by Qubilai; but, if Kao Hsi's biography be right, the name Sira was given him before 1281, and it is hard to believe that an earlier name should still have been used in 1282 rather than the new one bestowed by Imperial favour.

If Kao Hsi was never known as Kökötäi, we should look for another man with whom we might identify «Cogatai ». The two other officials who play something of the part attributed by

Polo to «Cogatai» are f   jr Po-tun and i 1L ,tom Chang Chiu-ssû (cf. MOULE, JXCB, 1927, 27).
But Po-tun was a Mongol, and there is no reason why he should have also been known as Kökötäi. As to Chang Chiu-ssû, he was a pure Chinese, and his biography does not speak of any Mongolian name which had been given him. Among the various Kökötäi who appear in the pên-chi of the YS, one in 1276 was commander-in-chief (tu yüan-shuai) of the Chinese troops (Han-chün) serving under the Mongols (YS, 9, 5 b); another was one of the officers in charge of lost property (see «Bularguci »), and was pardoned in 1278, when he and some of his colleagues had illegally disposed of some of the property confided to their care ( YS, 10, 1 a). But neither of them could possibly be Polo's «Cogatai ». On the whole, it may be that the true Mongolian name Kökötäi was misapplied by Polo and, provisionally, I feel inclined to believe that the man really referred to is Kao Hsi.


chogatal VA; R   cogatal F, FA, FB, P, P5, VB cogotal LT

cochobal VL   coghotal TM   gogotal VA

Cogatai» is the only reading given by the best mss. for the name of the «baron» who was sent by Qubilai to the Pope with the two elder Polos at the end of their first journey, but it is not known as a Mongol name, and Ross may be right (RR, 418) in his surmise that «Cogatai» is perhaps an early clerical error for *Cogatai, Kökötäi (see «Cogatai »). None, however, of the Kökötäi mentioned in Chinese sources can be identified with Qubilai's envoy.

According to most mss., «Cogatai» fell ill and asked to be left behind in a city which TA alone names, surely without authority (cf. Vol. z, 80; see «Alau »). According to VB, the travellers had then marched «twenty days n, which have become thirty in Santaella (cf. Pe, 17). Only in VL and the texts derived from it (cf. Pe, 17, 156, 351), « Cogatal » is said to have died in that city.