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0344 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 344 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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328   158. CINGHIS

But the fact remains that hsing-kung, in the Mongol period, was the Chinese translation of ordo, « royal [semi-sedentary] encampment »; that the four ordos (the Mongolian plural of ordo) of Chinghiz were in Mongolia; that the chief of them, perhaps that of yaiautai (NAcA, followed by YANAI, 672, thought that the « Great Ordo » of Chinghiz-khan was that of Ködä'ü-aral on the Kerulen; he may be right, but this also leaves us in Northern Mongolia), is meant when, in the beginning of 1233, Ögödäi repaired to the hsing-kung of T'ai-tsu (= Chinghiz-khan, YS, 2, 2 a), when again, in the sixth month of 1257, Mongka went to the hsing-kung of T'ai-tsu and offered a sacrifice to his « standard and drum » (YS, 3, 3 b), and when lastly the Emperor T'ai-ting, on ascending the throne on October 4, 1323, issued an edict of amnesty « in the Great Ordos of

Chinghiz-khan » (YS, 29, 1 b :   ;*   a; another passage in the text
shows that CHAVANNES was right [TP, 1905, 39], when he translated the wo-êrh-to, ordo, in this passage as being in the plural); finally, that it would be an extraordinary coincidence if Chinghizkhan had died at a « Ha-lao-t'u hsing-kung of the Sa-li Valley » in Kan-su, while one of his four Mongolian ordos was at yalautai (= yalautu) of Sa'ari-kä'är in Mongolia.

For these reasons, I agree with NAcA and YANAI that it is the name of the latter which appears in the account of the YS. This entails of course a correction in the text. Chinghiz-khan

died at the «western river » within the jurisdiction of the hsien of Ch'ing-shui in Kan-su, but

immediately, his coffin was carried to the yala'utu-ordo of Sa'ari-kä'är. Something is missing here, but the error must not be put to the account of the compilers of the YS; it must have occurred in

their primary source, the shih-lu, or « true annals », since the Cho-kêng lu, completed three years before the compilers of the YS set to work, already says (I, 11 a) that Chinghiz-khan died « in the Sa-li Valley ». On the other hand, it will be remembered that there is a discrepancy between the date of Chinghiz-khan's death as given by Juwaini, August 18, 1227, and that of the YS, August 25,

1227. Does the correction in regard to the place of his death in the text of the YS affect the question of the dates it gives? In other words, would it be possible that August 18 should be the

date of his death near Ch'ing-shui and August 25 the date on which, the coffin having reached Sa'ari-kä'är, his death was announced? This is in fact not possible. The distance between the two places is so great that, whatever speed the procession might have made, it could not have been covered in seven days. There is every probability then that the YS is right here, and that Chinghiz-khan, having fallen ill on August 18, actually died on August 25, 1227.

According to Polo, Chinghiz « died of an arrow-shot in the knee at the siege of Caagiu» (q. v. : HowoRTH, I, 103, attributes to Bar Hebraeus too the story of the arrow-shot; but this is a mistake;

Bar Hebraeus, in both his chronicles [PococKE, u, 304; BRUNS, H, 498], says that Chinghiz-khan

died of malaria). YULE (Y, I, 245) quotes GAUBIL in support of a wound from an arrow-shot at the siege of Ta-t'ung in 1212. The original source is YS, I, 7 a : in 1212, Chinghiz « attacked the

Western Capital (II ~, Hsi-king, the « Segin » of Rubrouck, Wy, 237, 578, = Ta-t'ung). The Emperor was hit by a stray arrow, whereupon the siege was raised.» But he survived the siege a full fifteen years, and, if this wound were the origin of Polo's statement, the traveller was misinformed as to its consequences. Plan Carpine's statement that Chinghiz-khan was killed by lightning (Wy, 65) may be a distorted echo of the superstitious terror which thunder created among the Mongols. No attention need be paid to the late Mongolian legends of poisoning, which are tinged