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0565 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 565 (Grayscale High Resolution Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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work which he does not mention, says of the cowries : «At present they are used only in Yun-

nan, where they are called hai-pa. One cowry is a Lt chuang; four chuang make a   shou;

four shou make a tjq miao ; five miao make a   so ». LI Shih-chên's source is very probably

the Ming i-t'ung chih, written in 1461, where the same text occurs (86, 4), with a final sentence : «Even for paying taxes they use them ». KLAPROTH published this scale in JA, Febr., 1834, 155, probably from some encyclopaedia, and gave ;It chuang for the first term. This form also occurs in the list, otherwise identical with that of the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu, which is given in

the    Yung-ch'uang hsiao-p'in (30, 10 b), a work written in the first half of the
seventeenth century (its preface is not dated, but the author, Chu Kuo-chêng, was a doctor of 1589; the last date I have noticed in the work is 1616, in 30, 26 b). The Yung-ch'uang hsiaop'in may have drawn from the Ming redaction of the Yün-nan t'ung-chih, prepared in compliance with an Imperial order of 1454, which perhaps also gave 41:. chuang (at least such is the form, as we have seen, in COURANT, Catalogue, No 1785, 7, 5-6). In his Hsü Wên-hsien t'ung-k'ao 1 W WANG Ch'i, whose preface is dated 1586, after quoting the text of 1282 on the value in gold of 20 « chains » (so) of cowries, added the following note (18, 4 b) : «In Yün-nan one cowry is a JL chuang; 4 chuang make a shou; 4 shou make a miao; 4 miao make a I t'o ». FUJITA, in his commentary on the Tao-i chih-lio (33 a), expresses the opinion that t'o may here be a corruption of so. It is possible that he is right, and so occurs elsewhere in WANG Ch'i's work (cf. p. 547), but even then the text would not be satisfactory, since it required not four, but five, miao to make a so. There is no indication, however, that, in addition to the « string » or so of 80 cowries, there should have been in Yün-nan a «bag» or t'o of 64; and we ought probably to read « five » miao. The encyclopaedia Ko-chih ching-yüan,

published in 1735, quotes (33, 26 b) from thee4r   Pai-shih lei-pien a passage which

mentions the   chuang, the shou, and, omitting the miao, says that twenty shou make a so.

This is not incorrect in itself, but one may never be sure that the quotations made in the Kochih ching-yüan are accurate. I have seen the Pai-shih lei-pien quoted more than once, and I even think I remember having formerly handled a modern reprint in small size; yet I can find no indication of a work of that title in the catalogues at my disposal. A natural inference would

be that the work referred to, with a slight change in the title, is the   Pai-shih hui-
pien in 175 chapters, of which there is no recent edition available, at least in its original form (cf. Ssû-k'u..., 132, 14). But this too is the work of WANG Ch'i, and the information given in his Hsü Wên-hsien t'ung-k'ao is not in agreement with that in the Pai-shih hui-pien. This suggested confusion between lei and hui in the title of the book actually occurs in the T'ao shuo by CHIT Yen.

From the texts quoted above it is clear that the so, which we have already found mentioned in a text of 1282, was a count of 80 cowries (4 X 4 X 5). In Ming times, the people of Yün-nan also used another character to write the name of this unit, namely t, sa. The

K'ang-shi tzti-tien quotes the   Pai shih as saying : «The people of T'ien (_= Yün-nan) say
that 80 cowries (pei) make one sa». KLAPROTH'S source, too, mentioned this sa. Here again I am not in a position to say what work the Pai shih may be; it can hardly be the Pai-shih leipien (? Pai-shih hui-pien), since the latter speaks of so, not of sa. From YUAN Chia-ku,