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0239 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 239 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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126. CATAI   223

ostensibly, and taken service with the first Chin Emperor, who gave him a Chin princess to wife; but he took his family and fled as soon as he had a chance (cf. Br, I, 28). At the head of 200 horsemen, he travelled first to the north for three days, crossed the ,~a„ yJC Hei-shui or Black River, met Congyur, the head of the « White Tatar » (see « Ung ») and proceeded west to ij fc

K'o-tun-ch'êng, the «City of the Qatun ». He stopped at the « Protectorate General» (tu-hu-fu)

of 4t   Pei-t'ing and there convened a meeting of the heads of seven « districts » (chou) and
eighteen tribes (pu). BRETSCHNEIDER (Br, I, 212) has taken it for granted that the meeting took place at Beg-balk' (near Ku-ch'êng, to the north-east of Urumêi). Now, it is true that, under the T'ang, the Protectorate General of Pei-t'ing was at Beg-baiïq, but it is no less evident, from the names of the districts and tribes the heads of which attended the meeting and from what follows in the account, that Yeh-iü Ta-shih had not then even come near the Uighur country and that the

place referred to must be sought for in Eastern Mongolia (the name of the first « district »,   g
Wei-wu, equated to « Uighur » without comment by BRETSCHNEIDER, seems to be a purely Chinese name and never occurs as a transcription of « Uighur »). Either the name « Protectorate General of Pei-t'ing » has in the text another value than it had in T'ang times, or it is corrupt. « The following year, in the second month, on the chia-wu day », Yeh-iü Ta-shih sacrificed a grey (ch'ing) ox and a white horse to Heaven, the Earth and to his ancestors and set out for the West. This would seem to have occurred in 1125, but there is no chia-wu day in the second month of 1125,

and either the year is wrong (for 1124 or 1126?), or   chia-wu is corrupt for ip   chia-tzû
(March 28, 1125). It was then that Yeh-lü Ta-shih, going out of Mongolia, asked permission to pass through the dominions of the Turfan Uighur, and proceeded towards the territory of the Qarakhanids (Iii and the western part of Chinese Turkestan). BARTHOLD has deduced from Mohammedan sources that the advance of the Ch'i-tan was made in two directions : part of them went through the Uighur country, and suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Khan of Kasyar; but the other group advanced successfully through Mongolia to the Upper Yenisei, turned to the south-west towards Gugucak and reached the land of the Qarakhanids (cf. BARTHOLD,

12 Vorlesungen, 122).   No indication of that double progress is found in the Chinese texts,
according to which Yeh-lü Ta-shih himself was accompanied by the Uighur king when passing through his dominions. It is stated in the Chin shih, 3, 7a, that in 1131 (not « 1130 » as in Br, I, 222), « the Uighur of Ho-chou » (i. e. of the Turfan region; see « Carachoço »), having captured a partisan of Yeh-Iü Ta-shih, sent him to the Chin. The date seems to be too late to refer to a member of the party of 1224-1226; but a biography in the Chin shih (121, 2 b; cf. Br, I, 221) shows Yeh-Iü Ta-shih as still being in the region of Turfan in 1130. Any attempt to reconcile Chinese and Mohammedan sources will prove futile until the whole material is carefully studied and discussed.

On the whole, I have a suspicion that the Chinese accounts of Yeh-lü Ta-shih's progress to the West, of his reign there and of those of his successors are not much to be trusted. The Liao dynasty fell at the time of Yeh-lü Ta-shih's departure, and from that date on, no independent Ch'i-tan historiography exists; all fresh information of course went to the reigning Chin dynasty. Now it is a striking fact that the Chin were long unaware of Yeh-lü Ta-shih's movements; and the little they heard falls in with the Mohammedan sources which bring down Yeh-iü Ta-shih's advance