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0511 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 511 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   495

and came back to China in 752 (cf. CHAVANNES, Doc. sur les Tou-kiue, 298); important fragments of his account have survived because they have been quoted by his kinsman Tu Yu in the T'ung tien, completed in 801. But, in our texts of the T'ung tien (193, 9 a), the name of the kingdom of Mo-lu, the notice of which is much more detailed than in the Hsin T'ang shu,

has been altered to   ji; Chu-lu, and the surname of the local people occurs as   Chu; the

T'ung chih, 196, 32 a, gives Mo-lu and Mo; the Wên-hsien t'ung-k'ao, 339, 7 a,   Mi-lu and
Mi, respectively. The true form of the « surname » occurring as 7r Mu, or , Chu, or iz Mo (in the T'ai-p'ing huan yü chi, 186, 16 a), or even as -* Mi, must clearly be the same as the first part of the name of the kingdom, and the true form of the name of the kingdom is certainly Mo-lu as in the Hsin T'ang shu, the T'ai-p'ing huan yü chi and the T'ung chih, that is to say is identical with the « Mo-lu » of Hui-sin's « Mo-lu tieh »; and in point of fact Tu Huan

says that, in that kingdom, there is « fine soft tieh cloth » (j   hsi-juan tieh-pu). We
certainly have to deal here with the Merw cotton stuffs which were famous in the Middle Ages; at the Congress of Persian Art in London in 1931, WIET spoke of the praise bestowed on the Merw cotton stuffs in early Arabic works.

We are now in a position to pass judgement on Hui-fin's would-be « Mo-lu tieh» of Bharuka (Aqsu). What Hui-lin really knew as Bharuka textiles were the woollen stuffs mentioned by Hsüan-tsang. He also had some knowledge of cotton stuffs from Mo-lu, and, out of phonetic analogy, attributed them to Bharuka. But this was a mistake, and the would-be Bharuka cotton stuffs actually were of Merw manufacture. The only point which remains uncertain is about the K'uo-ti chih. Hui-lin wrote in 817, that is to say after Tu Yu had published his T'ung tien; moreover, Hui-lin may have known Tu Huan's original account, which perhaps expressly mentioned the « Mo-lu tieh », and the K'uo-ti chih might be a misquotation. But it

is no less possible that Tu Huan was not the first to use    Mo-lu to render the name of
Merw, and that the K'uo-ti chih really mentioned the « Mo-lu tieh ». The only point of interest for the present inquiry is that we must definitely dissociate the woollen stuffs mentioned by Hsüan-tsang at Aqsu from the « Mo-lu tieh ». These were really cotton stuffs, as their name implies, but they were manufactured at Merw, not in Chinese Turkestan. There is nothing in Hui-sin's gloss, once it is corrected, which would tend to show that Aqsu was famous for the production of refined cotton stuffs in the first half of the 7 th cent. The cotton cultivation attested in the first half of the 6 th cent. in the region of Turfan by the Liang shu has hitherto found no counterpart in any other oasis of Chinese Turkestan.

Returning to China, it is also under the T'ang dynasty that we hear of the « so-lo tree » as yielding cotton, and of the so-lo lung tuan, which must have been cotton damasks; as Hsü Kuang-ch'i surmised, this so-lo, the name of which has remained in use until now, can be no other than Gossypium arboreum. The name was known outside of Yün-nan, since a text of

that time mentions a « so-lo floss tree » at Ya-chou in Ssû-ch'uan, but this « so-lo floss tree », from its description, was not a Gossypium, but a Bombax (cf. supra, pp. 470-477); cotton cultivation was thus still restricted to Yün-nan and Tongking, or at least its beginnings in other regions remained unnoticed in the sources now extant.

In all likelihood, it had already begun in Hai-nan under the T'ang dynasty, perhaps among