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0203 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 203 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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122. CARAUNAS   187

the Qaraunas are so called because their white Tartar fathers have intermarried with black Indian mothers. Of course, in Polo's time, the contacts between the Mongols and India were too recent and too sporadic to let us admit of the existence of such a mixed race, and Polo may have been influenced by qara, «black ». But the idea that the Qaraunas were half-breeds has been adopted again by BARTHOLD for the following reason (12 Vorlesungen, 215). In the 15th and 16th cents., the former Cayatai empire had split up in two halves, one including Russian Turkistan and Afghanistan, the other consisting mainly of Chinese Turkistan; the first one retained the name of Cayatai; the second was known as Moyolistan. But they were jealous of each other, and in the Ta'rih-i Ra. di, completed in 1547, we are told that the Cayatai people called their cousins of Moyolistan « Jätä », to which the Moyols of Moyolistan replied by calling the Cayatai people « Qarawanâs » (= Qaraunas; cf. ELLIAS and Ross, Ta'rila-i Rasidi, 148). Now yitä (or &ätä?) is the same as Osm. &ätä, « thieves », and BARTHOLD, evidently on Polo's authority, says that the rejoinder meant « half-breeds ». He may be right, but the argument is not decisive. As we shall see farther on, the Qaraunas, who were settled in the territory of the Cayatai (as a matter of fact in Afghanistan), had a well-established reputation for violence and highway robbery. This would be enough to explain that to the epithet of « Jätä », « thieves », the Mongols would reply by « Qaraunas », « brigands ». At the present stage of our information, I am inclined to think that the name of the Qaraunas, Qara'una, is really identical with the word qarayuna which is not only the name of a tree, but is also used as an epithet for a water-fowl with black markings (but I have no information on the real pronunciation of that common noun written qarayuna, that is to say I do not know whether it is qarayuna or qara'una). Both the proper and the common nouns must have originally meant « black » or « blackish », like qara'un. The name may have been given to the Qaraunas on account of their black complexion, or as a depreciatory designation. The fact that the Qaraunas appear nowhere in Rasid's account of the tribes as forming part of any of them would almost lend colour to the latter hypothesis. In such a case, they may, after all, have been originally half-breeds of some sort. One may think of half-breeds of Mongols and Qara-Qïtaï people, but without any serious ground apart from the destruction of the Qara-Qitai empire by the Mongols in Chinghizkhan's time.

The name of the Qaraunas, which appears only after Hülägü's Mongols had settled in Persia, is not known in Mongolia nor does it occur in Far Eastern texts. But in Persia, Qarauna has been the personal name of certain individuals. An emir whose name was Qarauna was put to death in 1319 (Hal, II, 277) ; another emir called Qarauna lived at the beginning of the 15th cent.; but this does not imply, as QUATREMÉRE thought (Not. et Extr. xIV, 283), that a man bearing such a name has more chance than anybody else to belong to the Qaraunas; he was named after them, sometimes on account of his mother's origin, but in most cases on quite fortuitous grounds.

The name seems to have disappeared now, as a tribal as well as a personal one. There is very little likelihood that the modern « Karwinis » represent Polo's « Caraunas », as suggested by P. SYKES (Y, I, 102), As to the Moyol « Kârnis » of MAULA BAKHSH (ELIAS and Ross, A History of the Moghuls, 491-492), whose name is said to mean «archers » or « hunters » (by a false