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0496 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 496 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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480   183. COTTON

it is eagerly collected, women sit at their looms, and chi-pei is woven for the new white clothes of the husbands. Chi-pei has never been the name of Bombax malabaricum, and the latter was never and could never have been used for making cloth, but only as stuffing for mattresses, etc. So Wang Kuang-yang's pan-chih hua ought to be Gossypium arboreum; but Wang may have misapplied the term, and I must admit that the colour of the flowers and the time of their opening would rather suggest the Bombax.

In speaking of errors in the names of plants, Lu Jung, a doctor of 1466, has the following passage in his Shu-yiian tsa-chi (Shou-shan-ko ts'ung-shu ed., 12, 10 a) : « The tree-cotton-flower (mu-mien-hua) grows in Nan-yüeh (= Kuang-tung and Kuang-hsi); it is a tree four or five chang high (-= 40 to 50 feet); the flower is red like the camelia (j _ shan-ch'a, Camelia japonica); the seeds (tzû) are like the fruit (shih) of the ch'u (Broussonetia papyrifera); floss (mien) is produced in the seeds, and can be used to stuff cushions; it is what the people of Su-chou (in Chiang-su) call p'an-chih-hua. What is spun and woven to make cloth should be called ' cotton-

flower ' (mien-hua) only; the _~' Ji   Yün-chien t'ung-chih (a monograph on Sung-chiang in

Chiang-su) calls it mu-mien-hua; it must be that it follows the error of Master   Ts'ai ( - Ts'ai

Ch'ên, the commentator of the Shu thing, on whom cf. infra, p. 487). »

In his Tan-ch'ien hsü lu (Pao-yen-t'ang pi-chi lith. ed., 8, 2 b), YANG Shên (1488-1559) has a brief note on mu-mien, more or less similar to that of Lu Jung. He first quotes two poems of the 9th cent. in which the expression « mu-mien flowers » occurs, then describes the mu-mien tree of the south, an armful in girth, with red flowers like the camelia and yellow pistils, states that it was not planted in Chiang-nan, and maintains that it is the « mu-mien tree » of the Wu lu (cf. supra, p. 460). He goes on to say : «This is the pan-chih hua of our days. It grows in A-mi-chou in Yün-nan(N. N.W. of Mêng-tzû), and is extremely abundant in Ling-nan (=_- Kuangtung and Kuang-hsi). » We have seen that the « mu-mien tree » of the Wu-lu was Gossypium arboreum. But Lu Jung and YANG Shên's description is that of mu-mien in the sense in which mu-mien was used in Kuang-tung, where it was the name of Bombax malabaricum. Consequently YANG Shên's identification of the « mu-mien tree » of the Wu lu is erroneous. At the same time, Lu Jung and YANG Shên must have known what was meant by pan-chih hua in their own days, at least in some parts of China, and they clearly understood Bombax malabaricum. In spite of the fact that a lofty tree like the Bombax can hardly have been from the first known under the misleading name of « flower », and also that the pan-chih hua in Wang Kuang-yang's song ought to be Gossypium arboreum, we must admit that the same change of meaning which obtained in Kuang-tung for mu-mien a?so took place in the case of pan-chih hua, and that what may originally have been a name of Gossypium arboreum was, at a slightly later date, used for the Bombax malabaricum.

The ri -115 A Min-pu shu is a short miscellany devoted to Fu-chien, and mainly to its products; it was published in 1585 by I - It WANG Shih-mou, a native of T'ai-ts'ang in Chiang-su, and contains a curious passage on the cultivation of cotton (Chieh-yüeh-shan fang ed., 7 b; cf. also T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ts'ao-mu tien, 303, tsa-lu, 1-2) : «I had formerly heard from

old men that the people of Kuang[-tung] planted cotton (,   mien-hua) which reached six or
seven feet in height and that there were some [bushes] which were not changed (, i) for four or