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0118 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 118 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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102   79. BRAAMAN

*ibonus or *ibenus. But this form is purely Latin, and there is no reason to suppose that it was used by Polo as an Oriental word, or sounded as such to Rustichello. For Oriental references to ebony, cf. Fe, 235-237 and 701.

In F, ebony is only mentioned as growing in Champa, but VB speaks of it for Siam (« Lochac ») and Z for Sumatra (« Lesser Java »). All are ebony-producing countries. The ancient classical world received ebony from the Upper Nile and, at the beginning of the Christian era, from India; Indo-Chinese ebony was not known to it. On the other hand, from the first centuries of our era, China was acquainted with that Indo-Chinese ebony. But I cannot agree with LAUFER (SinoIranica, 485) when he wants to refer to a Malayan Po-ssû a text supposed to be of the 4th cent.

which speaks of the transport of ,t;7   * wu-wên-mu (« wu-wên wood ») on board Po-ssù ships.
This text (for which, by the way, T'ai-p'ing yu-lan, 961, is a much older source than the Pênts'ao kang-mu quoted by LAUFER) is of doubtful date and authority, but Po-ssû ships, until about A. D. 1000, can only mean « Persian ships »; even African ebony could well come to China on board Persian ships in the 6th-10th cents.

Wu-wen, later ,(24 j wu-mên and wu-mên-tzû [ f ], were supposed by HIRTH and RocKHILL (HR, 216) to render the same original as Persian abnûs. LAUFER must have been right when he maintained on the contrary that wu-wên, « [wood with] black streaks », and its later substitute wumên or wu-mên-tzû, « black mên » were purely Chinese terms ; a more common name of ebony is ,f7 2f* wu-mu, « black wood » (Sino-Iranica, 485-486). Another old Chinese name of ebony,

as a produce of Annam-Tonking, is   i-mu, also written 4'   i-mu; this is the name
erroneously read wo-i-mu in HR, 216, and i muk-i in Sino-Iranica, 486.


abraaman, braaman 1 abraiamain F, Ft, L abraiaman Fr

abraiamanin, abraiemanin,

brahaman, habraiamain L abraianim, abraiani VA abraiemant, abrivamam, abrue-

main F

abraimains, abrivaman FA abramains FA, FA4, FB abrassanyni G

abrayani, abriayani P abremani, breamani V abriamani, briuiama VB abrivamain FB abrivamains FA, FB

blagmani LT bragmani VL bragmanos S bramini R bregghomanni TA3 breghomanni TA' grecomanvi TAl

YULE ( Y, II, 367), under the influence of « Abraiamain » in F (and of a final -min which, as a matter of fact, occurs only in RAMUSio's « Bramini »), had thought of « an incorrect Arabic plural such as Abrkhamin ... », and this, repeated in Hobson-Jobson2, 111, has been adopted in Pe, 249. But I have no doubt that the initial a- is of the same type of clerical alteration as in «Abacu» and «Amien». RAMUSIo's « Bramini » looks like a learned correction, but there are other readings without a-, and the form in Z is regularly « Braaman », which is approved of in B,