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0066 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 66 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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50   32. ARGON2

the extreme north-eastern part of the territory of the Öngüt princes of «Tendue », and particularly at the Mussulman colony of Simali. Polo mentions the manufacture there of silk and gold textiles called nab, and nasif (see « nac »). But we know that they were woven at Simali in particular, by the members of that colony of Mussulmans who had originally been brought there from the region of Samarkand (cf. JA, 1927, II, 261-279). And it will be shown further on that there is a connection between that colony of Mussulmans and the tribal name Aryun.

As to the name of the «Argons », which is certainly «Ary un », two etymologies are possible, and we have to see whether they can be reconciled.

Polo says that « Argon » means a half-breed. It has long been noticed that in the western part of Chinese Turkestan, the name of ar) un was used to designate the half-breeds of Turkestan and Ladakh parents, etc. (cf. Y, I, 290); I have heard it in Kucâ, and VON LE COQ has registered it as far as the region of Turfan (Sprichwörter and Lieder, 81). This Turkish word, under the form ar-gon, has passed into the Tibetan dialect of Ladakh; it is in JäscHKE's Dictionary, and, in Sarat Chandra Das (p. 1348). CUNNINGHAM wrote to YULE that aryun must be the Turki word meaning « fair », « not white, but ruddy or pink, and therefore fair », the word being « both Turki and Mogholi » and «applied to all fair children, both male and female ». But ar; un, with such a meaning, is not found in any Turkish dialect I know of, nor does it exist in Mongolian, unless CUNNINGHAM has confused it with Mong. ariyun (-=Turk. arï)'), «pure»; and it is in Persian that aryun means a kind of red or purple flower, and subsequently purple (BLOCHET's note, Moufazzal, 702, on arqun or aryun meaning « pure red » in Eastern Turkish is entirely wrong). By some oversight, aryun, in the sense it has in modern Turki, is not registered by RADLOV.

The sense of half-breed must be an old one in Turkish. In the QutaSyu bilig of 1069, there is a word aryun, designation of a horse, which RADLOV has considered as an equivalent of the later name ary imaq or ary amaq given to western thorough-bred horses (I, 299, 302; cf. also RAMSTEDT, Kalm. Wörterbuch, 131. I shall not discuss here the question of the ar) amaq, also named in Chinese sources, but must point out that, in 1076, Kâsyari gives arqun as meaning «a foal produced by a wild stallion and a domestic mare, running very fast» (BROCKELMANN, 12). If we take into consideration that in Kâsyari himself we have an alternation of -q- and -y- in ar) ula-, but arqucï, it seems to be certain that his arqun is identical with the aryun of the QutaSyu bilig, so that the meaning of « half-breed » for aryun, at least in a special application, existed already in Turkish in the 11th cent. So there can be no doubt that the meaning given to ary un by Polo did exist.

But at the same time, there was a tribal name Aryun. Kâsyari gives the name of Aryu to a country between Talas and Baiasay un, and mentions it more than twenty times; the name appears also in the Turfan documents (cf. BROCKELMANN, 10, 240) ; a tribe Aryun is known in day., and the Ar in (= Aryun) are one of the constituents of the Kirghiz Middle-Horde (cf. RADLOV, I, 300, 302; ARISTOV, Zamétki, Index of 1903, p. 5). Now this name of Aryun people appears very often in Chinese texts of the Mongol period. The tribe A-êrh-hun (Aryun) is named among the non-Mongolian tribes (sê-mu) in Cho-ling lu (eh. I). They formed an «army» (chün) or a « guard » (wei), like the Qipcaq, the Alans, etc. They were Mussulmans, as appears