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0472 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 472 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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456   183. COTTON

sometimes abbreviated as chi pu, which gave the auspicious meaning « fortunate cloth ». Chao Ju-kua's four categories leave out some of the terms he uses elsewhere, like pu alone (very frequent), Wigi hsi-pu, «fine cloth » (HR, 134; this was the designation of a particular fabric in Ming times and perhaps earlier), El. xji hsüeh pu, « snow cloth » (HR, 135), etc. In all such cases, HIRTH and ROCKHILL have rendered pu as « cotton cloth » or « cotton stuff », which may happen to be correct for the textiles of certain countries, but is not necessarily so; pu has been the ordinary name of « cotton stuff» only after cotton became a staple product in China, as it was not in Chao Ju-kua's time. In particular, it seems highly doubtful that, as would be implied by HIRTH and ROCKHILL'S translation (HR, 168, 171), cotton cloth should have been generally used in Corea and Japan in the first quarter of the 13th cent. According to the Nihon-koki (ch. 8), cotton was introduced into Japan, independently of China, in 799, by a shipwrecked Hindu, or, according to the Ruiju-kokushi (ch. 199), in 800 by a shipwrecked man from K'un-lun (Indonesia and Malay Peninsula) ; cf. MOOKERJI, A History of Indian shipping, 1912, p. 174 (quoting TAKAKUSU'S lecture published in Journal of the Indo-Japanese Association, Jan. 1910). But the adoption of the new textile seems to have been slow, and, moreover, would not affect the Corean aspect of the problem.

KU-CHUNG. — The question of the silk-cotton tree, the cotton tree, and the cotton plant has always been a crux for Chinese authors since Ming times. In recent Chinese works (cf. for instance Chung-kuo [R4] yao-hsüeh to tz'u-tien, 234), cotton from the silk-cotton tree is called 7(c fm mu-mien, lit. « tree-cotton », and the true cotton, Gossypium herbaceum, is called

t mien-hua, « cotton-flowers », or, still more recently, 4.   ts'ao-mien, lit. « plant-cotton ».
Not a word is said of the cotton tree, Gossypium arboreum. But all this is modern nomenclature, and a mechanical application of it to the past is responsible for many errors. One of the more serious mistakes was made by LAUFER (Sino-Iranica, 491) when he said that Li Shih-

chên, the author of the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu, considered the _ .   ku-chung as a « tree-cotton
71C{, (Bombax malabaricum) ». It is true that Li Shih-chên (36, 71 b, 72 a) speaks of the ku-chung as a mu-mien, but it is because he always uses mu-mien as a designation of both the cotton plant and the silk-cotton tree; and, in the case of ku-chung, he most emphatically declares it twice to be « the mu-mien which is like a plant », not « the mu-mien which is like a tree ».

Whether Li Shih-chên be right or not is another matter, and the problem must be approached from a different angle. In his notice on mu-mien (cotton), Li Shih-chên quotes a passage which is said to come from the lost ,-j kg Z. Nan-yüeh chih, or « Description of Nan-

yüeh » (-- Kuang-tung and Tongking), written by it   Shên Huai-yuan in the third quarter
of the 5th cent. (cf. Sung shu, 82, 7 b-8 a; Sui ching-chi-chih k'ao-chêng, 3, 8). In Li Shih-

chên, the passage is as follows : «   14j Kuei-chou produces the ;f;   ku-chung t'êng (` ku-

chung creeper'), the fruit of which is like goose down, and the kernel like    chu-hsün.

[The people] remove the kernel, spin [the down] as [one spins] silk floss (,#,,1,   ssû-mien) and

dye it to make ' variegated cloth ' (IX 414 pan-pu) ». This is the only text in which the name ku-chung occurs. Starting from it, SCHOTT in 1867 (Altaische Studien, III, 137, 138), and