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0283 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 283 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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155. CIN


never been really alive in Greek, was due to the analogy of 0/5, « sand-heap », «down », gen. Ocv6s, acc. Diva. The name of the Egyptian town may also be responsible, to a certain extent, for the declension of the name in the Periplus. But, at the same time, I cannot accept FRISK'S hypothesis of a nominative *O'ç (; *Otv-s) for the name of the Chinese town. Either the name was /Diva in the nominative (with a final -a which was not necessarily etymological), and the declension is irregular and due to analogy; or the nominative was */Div, with a regular declension due perhaps to the attraction of that of Ois.

In the following century, Ptolemy speaks of the /ivat and of their sea-port Kcerriyapx as being south of the f;ipcx)f. A name •I y imi in Vettius Valens (c. 161-180) may possibly refer to China, although the form cannot easily be accounted for (cf. TP, 1912, 733). Cosmas Indicopleustes (middle of the 6th cent.) refers three times to T arvio-ra; the name is more completely given as Tac11io7Ta2' in an astrological text (ibid.).

The view has long prevailed that «Sères» was the name used by those who had heard of China by land, and *Ow, «Sinai», Tatvio-rav by those who had heard of it by sea. Such was still the opinion of YULE (Y', I, 1) and LAUFER (TP, 1912, 725), and it has been repeated in 1936 by HENNIG (Terrae incognitae, I, 169 sq.). As the Sanskrit and Malay name of China is «Cina» (« Cina »), attempts have been made to explain the name as a Malayan term, for the etymology of which extravagant hypotheses, like RICHTHOFEN'S J J «Jih-nan» Or TERRIEN DE LACOUPERIE'S rt Tien, were proffered; I need not repeat the refutation I published in BEFEO, iv, 143-149.

Evidently in connection with the «Malayan » hypothesis, YULE thought it «remarkable » that «the name of China is used in the Japanese maps » ( Y', I, 2). But the Malay name « Cina » is merely, like so many others, borrowed from the Sanskrit. As to the « Shina » (not « China ») of Japanese maps, it is not a survival of a «Malayan » form which had reached Japan independently, but represents the modern Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese Buddhist transcription Chih-na of the Skr. Cina.

The whole case rests on a curious misunderstanding. It is true that the author of the Periplus, and Cosmas after him, had heard of China by sea, but only inasmuch as they had reached India by sea. They did not go farther east, and the names they use are those they had heard in India, and probably from Iranians in the north-western part of the coasts of India.

The originals of the names are not doubtful : *Oil, and « Sinai » render forms connected

with Skr. Cina; rgiviaTa (more correctly T ivio-rav) has long been equated with Skr. Cinasthâna. YULE (Y1, I, 11) was of opinion that the names must have reached the Greek world « through people of Arabian speech », as the Arabs, lacking the sound 5, made Cina (Cina) « into Sin, and perhaps sometimes into Thin ». This is certainly an error. The various transcriptions with 0-, s-, T- are not due to an Arabic intermediary, but represent so many attempts to render the c which did not exist in Greek : it was in the same way that the king Candragupta had become in Greek Sandrakottos.

But, if the connection of *0 iv and TRcvi'Tav with Cina and Cinasthâna is not open to doubt, I am not certain that they are the direct representatives of Sanskrit forms. If 0- renders 5-, */Div is really *Cin, not Cina (Cina). As will be seen further on, there is a language in which the name of China occurs at an early date without the final vowel; this is Middle Persian.