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0243 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 243 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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126. CATAI   227

prevented by chronological reasons from deciding in his favour. We have seen, however, that the chronology of the Chinese account could not be trusted. Wu-ku-sun Chung-tuan makes Yeh-iü Ta-shih wander several years before he was able to enter Iii territory (cf. Br, I, 28-29). On the other hand, the crushing defeat which San;ar, the Säi)ük Sultan of Horâsân, suffered in 1141 north of Samarkand at the hands of the Qara-Hïtai was the capital event which created new conditions in Central Asia for the next two generations. In my opinion, HOwORTH was right in thinking that Hu-êrh-shan, *Bursan, was ',Jordan. But the equivalence does not imply, as he believed, that the name is an epithet of the soldiers : it is the Sultan of Horâsân himself who is designated in the Chinese text by the name of his country. The identification is of special interest if we remember that, precisely on account of the victory he won over Sanjar, the gar-ban of the Qara-Hitai was considered by OPPERT and ZARNCKE as having provided the prototype of the famous Prester John (see « Prester Iohan »).

I have said that the chronology and the reign titles of the Chinese text concerning the

Qara-Hitai were not to be trusted, but the objection may be raised that a number of banknotes of these reigns are reproduced in the numismatic work Ch'üan pu t'ung-chih and have been made the subject of a monograph by H. A. RAMSDEN in Chinese Paper Money, 19H. My answer will be brief : those banknotes are glaring and clumsy forgeries, which have been wisely omitted by Lo Chên-yü from his Ssû-ch'ao ch'ao-pi t'u-lu.

We do not know why the Ch'i-tan who migrated to the West came to be known as QaràIïtai, « Black Ch'i-tan ». The Chinese texts generally speak of them as Hsi-Liao, « Western

Liao ». But the name of ;a   fig- Hei Ch'i-tan, « Black Ch'i-tan » is also met with occasionally

it occurs, together with an illustration, in a geographical work of the early Ming period (cf. GILES, Adversaria Sinica, I, 268-269; MOULE, in TP, 1930, 188); the figure of the Hei Ch'i-tan passed into the San-ts'ai t'u-hui, from which it has also been reproduced in the T'u-shu chich'êng, Pien-i-tien, 129, 8 a, at the end of the chapter devoted to the Ch'i-tan. This is not surprising, since the name of the « Black Ch'i-tan » had passed into Mongolian, and often occurs in the Secret History. But, while the Secret History, in the Chinese phonetic transcription, speaks of the Ch'i-tan of China as « Kitat » (§§ 132, 247, 250, 251, 263, 266, 271, 272), once as « Kitan » (§ 55), it always mentions the Qara-Hïtai as « Qara-Kidat » (§§ 151, 152, 177, 198, 247, 248), except once where we find « Qara-Kitat » (probably the result of a Chinese textual corruption). As there can be no foundation for such a distinction, I believe that the transcribers, at the end of the 14th cent., of course knew the Mongol pronunciation of « Kitat », alive in Mongolian current speech, but had no tradition about the Qara-Uitai and misread as -d- the letter of the Uighuro-Mongol writing which has the double value of -t- and -d-.

Since Hitai had become in Mohammedan countries the name of China herself, Persian authors were embarrassed when they had to speak of the Ch'i-tan who had remained in China. Rasidu-'d-Din solved the difficulty by transferring to those Ch'i-tan the name of « Qara-Hïtai » as well; it is not surprising that the double value thus acquired by Qara-Iiitai should have given rise to some misunderstanding (cf. TP, 1930, 42-49).

Hïtai (or Uatai) is the normal appellation of North China in Rasidu-'d-Din, but it is not the only one. QUATREMÈRE (Hist. des Mongols, LXXXVI and cxI) has quoted two parallel texts on