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0322 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 322 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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306   158. CINGHIS

« pig », and Turk. yïl, Mong. fil, « year [of the cycle] »), which is the year of the pig, in the middle of the month of autumn (dar miyänah-i mah-i payiz), on the 15th day (panzdäh rôz). » D'OxsSON (Oh, I, 38), whose text, if it be a literal translation, is taken from a different passage which I cannot trace, speaks too of « the 15th of the month of autumn of the pig year ». ERDMANN (Temudschin, 573) is in closer agreement with BEREZIN'S version, except that he speaks of « spring » instead of « autumn », by a slip probably. None of the three translators gives an equivalence in the European calendar, perhaps because they could not understand what Raid meant in the present passage. There are of course three autumn months, and we ought to have been told which of the three is referred to. Moreover, what would be the use of the pleonastic mention, first of the middle of the month, then of the fifteenth day ? Ragid gives the dates of the animal cycle according to the Uighur calendar, and we know that there were some discrepancies between that calendar and the Chinese one. But since both use lunar months, there could be no great difference — one or two days at the utmost — in the number attached to any day of a given month : the full moon was practically full at the same moment for the Uighurs as well as the Chinese. If the first month of autumn were meant, the fifteenth day would be August 28, 1227, in Chinese reckoning. But, in my opinion, the natural translation is to read, without any change of letters, dar miyänah mäh-i payïz, « in the middle month of autumn ». The fifteenth of the middle month of autumn, in the Chinese calendar, was September 26, 1227 (this seems to be the solution adopted by HUNG Chün, I A, 45, when he says, I do not know on what authority, that Western writers make Chinghiz-khan die on the fifteenth day of the eighth month). This is certainly too late, but we shall see hereafter that the apparent difficulty may give a clue for the explanation of another passage hitherto misunderstood.

  1. (Ber, III, Pers. text, 149; transi., 99) : « On the 15th day of the month of autumn of the pig year, corresponding to ramadan of the year 624, [the Emperor] departed from the perishable world... » Here there is no miyänah, « middle », nor is the day of the month of ramadan indicated. Ramadan A. H. 624 corresponds to August 15-September 14, 1227; no precision is possible, except that the fifteenth day of the Chinese month falling in ramadan A. H. 624 would of course be again August 28, 1227.

  2. (Ber, III, Pers. text, 152-153 ; transi., 101-102) : « Among the Mongols it is well established and known that Chinghiz-khan lived seventy-two Turkish years. He was born in the gaga yïl, which is the year of the pig, and he died too in the SO yïl in the country of Tangqut (-= Tangut). They brought his coffin to his ordo (ordôhai, in the plural) on the fifteenth day of the month of .'awwal of that year, which corresponds to the fourth of ramadan of the year 624 of the Hegira, and [then] made known the catastrophe. » This translation of BEREZIN is absurd. The fifteenth of ,awwal would correspond to September 29, 1227, and the fourth of ramadan to August 18, 1227. But how could a day of a month in a certain calendar correspond, in the same year, to another day of another month in the same calendar ? This is tantamount to saying that September 29, 1227, is the same as August 18, 1227 ! Obviously, the text is corrupt. Moreover, BEREZIN's Persian text gives « the fourteenth (,m4,-) of ramadan », without any variant, while his translation gives « the fourth (r)1:-) of ramadan ». Instead of J9. , « month of !awwc7l », adopted in the text and the

translation, BEREZIN mentions in a note the variant   14-t, « month of hûn » in one manuscript.