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0191 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 191 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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119. CARAGIAN   175

Hua-yang kuo-chip, that is, somewhat earlier than the inscription of 405. It may even be, although I have not made any further investigation on the subject, that a man of the surname of Ts'uan is named in the 3rd cent. (cf. K'ang-hsi txû-tien, s. v. « Ts'uan »). CHAVANNES must be right when he says that the surname (except, however, in the Chan-kuo ts'ê) is derived from the name of the tribe, but this is not necessarily a mistake of the Chinese. Ts'uan noblemen had taken to Chinese ways, like those whose funerary inscriptions were studied by CHAVANNES, or another who became Chinese governor of Chiao-chou (Kuang-tung and Tonking). I think it was those men themselves who, having to adopt a Chinese surname, deliberately used as such the name of their tribe. It is quite another problem to decide why the Loh) people were first called Ts'uan by the Chinese. If the use of the surname Ts'uan among the Lolo had been more ancient than the use of Ts'uan as an ethnical designation, we might suppose that the character Ts'uan was chosen to render phonetically a native clan name, since it was already used as a surname in the Chan-kuo ts'ê. It seems more probable that Ts'uan became an ethnical designation of the Lolo among the Chinese before it was used by any Lolo as a surname. But even then, Ts'uan was probably a transcription of a native Lolo name, and the complicated character may have been chosen by a pedantic Chinese precisely because it occurred already in ancient Chinese literature if not as an ethnical name, at least as a surname. But, and we come back here to Jang, the Chinese rendering of the native name may have been only an approximation. If the Ch. Ts'uan on the one hand and the Tib. 'Jan or the Mong. Tang on the other go back to a common native original which we do not know, neither of these transcriptions needs to be rigorously accurate. On the whole, and without pretending that the case is proved, I think that the leading part played by the Ts'uan lo in Yün-nan from the 4th to the 8th cent. makes it a likely assumption that their name was retained among their Tibetan cousins as the common designation of the various ethnical groups of the whole region, that is to say of the Nan-chao and their direct heirs and successors the sovereigns of the Ta-li kingdom (Qara-Jang), but also of the Mosso (Cayân-fang) and even of the Lolo of southern Ssû-ch'uan (Lolo-Yang).

The use of a common name Yang for the Nan-chao (and Ta-li), the Mosso, and the Lolo is surprising, however, in view of the fact that the Nan-chao are always said to have been Thai. This is probably true, although the ethnic appurtenance of the Nan-chao has never been established beyond doubt. If they are admitted by general consent to have been Thai, it is because chao is said to render a native word meaning « prince », and the word actually means « chief » in all the Thai dialects (cf. BEFEO, rv, 163) ; and also because a word of doubtful reading meaning « district » is supposed to be identical with « the Siamese or Laotian word generally written Xieng or Keng» (CHAVANNES, in JA,1900, u, 384). But, even granting the identity of the word meaning « district », it may have been borrowed by the Thai tribes. And as to chao, though this is less likely, it may have been borrowed from the Thai by the Nan-chao as it has been borrowed by the Burmese (cf. BEFEO, iv, 163-168). Without saying that the Nan-chao were not Thai, I have always wondered about some of their ethnical connections. The close intercourse of the Nan-chao with Tibet, which went to the extent of earning for the Nan-chao sovereign the Tibetan title of blan-pho euri, «Younger Brother of the blan pho » (cf. LAUFER, in TP, 1914, 83), may simply be the result of the brilliant but short-lived fortune of the Tibetan empire in the 8th cent.