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0517 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 517 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   501

more watering, one waits six or seven days, till the sprouts come up together. Then, if the weather be dry, one waters them. Hoeing is practised, so that [the soil] should always be clean. If the [young plants] are dense, [some] are transplanted elsewhere; if they are sparse, this is not necessary. For each pace, only two plants are left. If they were [more] dense, they would not bear fruit. When the plant reaches more than two feet in height, one takes away the leading shoot. When a lateral branch reaches one foot and a half, the 'heart' (hsin) is also taken away, [so that] no leaves shall be barren (k'ung). When [the plant] flowers and bears fruit, one simply waits until the floss being about to fall is ripe; as soon as it is ripe, it is plucked and spread out on frames, exposed to the sun by day and to the dew at night. One waits until the seeds are dry to take them out [of the frames]. Then an iron staff is used, two feet long and one finger thick, the two ends gradually tapering, like a rolling-pin (t

kan-ping chang), and also a pear-wood board, three feet long, five inches broad, and two inches thick, which serves as a 'bed' (ch'uang). The floss is taken in turn and placed on the board; the iron staff is then 'rolled' to drive out the seeds, and one gets 'pure cotton' (ching-

mien, lit. 'pure floss'), which is spun and woven into   ,• mao-ssû (muslins?; cf. TP, 1933,
437-438), or into cotton garments extremely light and warm. »

The K'ang-hsi tzû-tien (s. v. ; mien) cites a long text on mu-mien as coming from j kq

Shih Chao's «Commentary on the Tzû-chih t'ung-chien» (A in   Tzû-chih t'ung-chien
shih-wên) and being a gloss on Ssû-ma Kuang's mention of the « black tent of mu-mien» of the Liang Emperor Wu-ti. Shih Chao lived c. 1060-1140 (I have now reason to believe that the approximate dates 1100-1160, which I proposed in BEFEO, ix, 214, are too late; Shih Chao could not really have been a man of the southern Sung, as is said in Ssû-k'u ... , 47, 15-16; but GILES'S « 11th century » [Biogr. Dict. No 1704] may be too early), and his commentary has a later preface, by another man and dated 1160. In view of its contents, the gloss would be of parti-

cular interest if it really were by Shih Chao. But it does not occur in his work (Shih-wan-

chuän-lou ts'ung-shu ed., 17, 5 a), and is, in fact, by a later commentator, A   Hu San-
hsing. The wrong attribution to Shih Chao occurred already in the Wu-Hsün tsa-p'ei (cf. T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ts'ao-mu tien, 303, tsa-lu, 2 a, and supra, p. 463), so that it must have been made in some Ming dictionary or encyclopaedia from which the K'ang-hsi tzû-tien copied it; the error is also repeated by Yü Chêng-hsieh (Kuei-ssû lei-kao, 14, 4 b). Hu San-hsing lived from 1230 to 1287 (the date 1307, given for his death in DES ROTOURS, Traité des examens, 76, is an error), and his commentary on Ssû-ma Kuang's work was published in December 1285. The gloss says (Tzû-chih t'ung-chien, 159, 48 a) : « There is much mu-mien (' cotton ') in Chiang-nan (i. e. in Chiang-su and Chê-chiang). To sow it, the seeds are put into place on the last day of the second or the third moon. When they come up, [the ground] must be hoed on the four sides [of the seeds] three times a month. If the hoeing is not done in time, [the ground] becomes overgrown with weeds, and [the young plants] wither and die. On entering summer, it becomes progressively luxuriant. On reaching autumn, it bears yellow flowers and forms fruit. When this is ripe, the skin splits into four, and from the slits in it (ft chan, i. e. the carpels) protrudes something like [silks] floss (mien). The peasants (t'u jên) roll out the kernels with an iron bar ( t'ing), and take what is like [silk] floss. They make a small bow of bamboo, one foot and