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0196 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 196 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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« great city » called « Maarazia » (var. « Maraazia », « Maaratia », « Marahatia »; « Maragama » on the Genoese map; LONGHENA, 137; HALLBERG, 323) for which I find no corresponding name on Fra Mauro's map, except perhaps « Maharaç ». A theory may be launched, which would see Sukhothai, the capital of Siam, supplanted in 1350 by Ayuthia, in Mauro's « Sciechutai » (left unidentified by HALLBERG, 463), and Sahr-i-nau (« New Town »), i. e. Ayuthia, in his « Scierno ». This « Scierno », also left unidentified by HALLBERG (p. 463), would be due to Conti and represent another spelling of the « Cernove » adopted by Poggio; YULE has already thought that Conti's « Cernove » might be Ayuthia, and not a city of Bengal, as formerly believed by scholars, including himself (Hobson-Jobson2, 796; to YULE'S quotations of Sahr-i-nau = Ayuthia, add the text of Sadiq Isfahani [ c. 1680] in Fe, 560, where the Persian author understands, and probably misunderstands, the name as Bahr-i-nau, the « City of the Boat »; cf. also Fe, 730). In such a case, the « Ganges » of « Cernove » would be the Menam, and, as a fresh example of what YULE called the « interdivergence of rivers » in mediaeval geography, it would be only a lower part of the Mekong, the latter actually flowing through the country of the maharaja of the Qara-Jang. A form « maharaç » = *mandräj could be reconciled with a Siamese pronunciation of the word.

That such a theory should discard all previous comments on this part of Conti's journey as complete failures would not be a serious objection , as none of them could pretend even to a semblance of the truth. Conti had travelled in Indo-China. He was the first to mention « Ava » in Burma, and many other Indo-Chinese names on Fra Mauro's map are certainly traceable to him : for instance, such is the case, not far to the west of « Ava », for « Capelang », which HALL-BERG (p. 111) merely mentions, but which is accompanied by a note « qui nasie rubini », and so clearly ought to be inserted in Hobson-Jobson2, 159, at the beginning of the quotations on « Capelan », the unidentified mountain of Burma where the rubies purchased at Pegu were said to be mined. Unfortunately Conti's vague geographical notions have become almost unintelligible in passing through Poggio's « editing ». Conti speaks of China from hearsay, and also probably of Yün-nan, if his « Maarazia » is to be located there. Granting all that, there are here, however, serious objections. One, which is as true for Conti as it would be for Polo, is that he gives as the name of a city what was the title of a prince. But what is more serious is that the title of maharaja, which really existed in Polo's time, must have long been extinct in Yün-nan when Conti was in Indo-China a century and a half later; even supposing that the twelve tsung-kuan of the Tuan family had retained the title, the last of them was captured and beheaded by the Ming in 1382. To account for any later use of the title, we ought to assume, in the geographical nomenclature of the Siamese or, less likely here, of the Burmese, a survival analogous to that which makes modern Burmese texts speak of the Chinese Emperor as udi-bhva (< udaya-bhva

_ :   Lung-ti), « Emperor of the East », or as Gandhâlarâj (pronounced Gandhàlayit), « King
of Gandhâra », both being ancient designations of the early Nan-chao sovereigns of Yün-nan (cf. YULE, in JRAS, NS, iv [1870], 356; BEFEO, rv, 158, 162-164). But one does not see that «Maharaç » could have been a popular designation of Yün-nan in Ming times, nor does it occur then in any of the vocabularies, either Pai-i, or Pa-pai, or Siamese, or Burmese.

Yet it would be too great a coincidence if an unidentified town of « Maharaç », perhaps to be looked for, as is usually done, somewhere in India, had happened by mere chance to be