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0182 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 182 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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166   118. CARACOROM

and it is a pity that so many authorities should persist in tracing it back to a pseudo-Mongol original *Qara-kürän, which never existed (« Qara-kürän » still occurs for instance in Ch, I, 164, and ley, 30). According to YS, 58, 18 a, [Qara-]Qorum owed its name to a river Ha-la-ho-lin, Qara-qorum, running west of the city. r~ ft; a Chang Tê-hui, who visited Qubilai in his camp of Mongolia in 1247-1248 and left a diary, a fresh translation of which is badly wanted, speaks of a road leading to the city of Ho-lin ( [Qara-] Qorum) . The text goes on to say that there was there a large plain, and PALLADIUS'S translation (Izv. Sibirsk. Otd. I. R. Georg. Ob. c., Nos. ix-x, Irkutsk, 1867, 582 sq., retranslated into English by SCHUYLER, with notes by YULE, in The Geogr. Magazine, 1875, 7 sq.) as well as BRETSCHNEIDER'S (Br, r, 55) then give : « In the middle of it runs the river Ho-lin ». It would thus seem that Chang Tê-hui's account corroborates the information of YS. But both translators agree that the river Ho-lin is the Orkhon. Now the Orkhon was known as such at least since T'ang times, and its name can have nothing in common with that of Ho-lin — Qorum. But I think that the translations are not accurate. Chang Tê-hui,

after speaking of the large plain, says cp go   )I[ A «in the middle [of the plain] is the
valley (ch'uan) of Ho-lin». The word ch'uan means both a « stream » and a « valley with a stream ». In my opinion, Chang Tê-hui simply says that this was the valley in which [Qara-] Qorum lay, but not that [Qara-] Qorum was the name of the river. The result is that the passage of the YS, 58, 18 a, stands alone, and it is contradicted by both Chinese and Persian texts. The YS, 122, 1 a, at the beginning of the biography of the Uighur iduqut Barcuq-art-tegin, gives some information on the ancient seat of the Uighur empire of T'ang times, a region where the Tula and the Selenga had their sources « in the Ho-lin (Qorum) mountains » (cf. Br, I, 247-248; the same text occurs in Yü Chi's Tao-yuan hsüeh-ku lu, 21, 8 sq.). A similar tradition was heard by Juwaini. According to it, the Uighurs originally dwelt on the bank of the Orkhon River, which takes its rise in mountains called Qara-qorum from which Ögödäi's new city derived its name; their first legendary king had been born at the junction of the Tuyia (> Tûla) and the Selenga, both of which take their rise in the Qara-qorum mountains (Mirzâ Muhammad khan QAZWINI, Juwaini, I, 39-40 ; Oh, I, 430-431 ; Br, I, 254-255). Rasidu-'d-Din's account is different from that of Juwaini; but he also speaks of the mountain Qara-qorum, from which the

city founded by the « gain » (= Ögödäi) took its name (Ber, I, 125). With such agreement between Chinese and Persian texts, I feel much inclined to suppose that the « river » Qara-qorum

of the YS is the result of some confusion. One point, however, must not be forgotten : the Chinese texts which speak of the [Qara-] Qorum mountains as well as the mentions of the Qaraqorum mountains in Juwaini and Rasidu-'d-Din all occur in a traditional account which is less concerned with the Mongol period than with the legend of Uighur origins.

The name being then alive in Uighur tradition, it is no wonder that it should be fundamentally Turkish, and not Mongolian. In Turkish, qorum means «rolled stone», « boulder »; the

word occurs in the Qutai'yu bilig and in Kâsyari (RADLov, II, 561; BROCKELMANN, 161). Qara• qorum, « Black boulder », is an appropriate name for a mountain. As a matter of fact, the name of the Mongol capital, derived from the Turkish name of a mountain in the Orkhon basin, is identical with that of the modern Qara-qorum Chain, the Karakorum of our maps, at the southwestern end of Chinese Turkestan.