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0395 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 395 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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161. CIORCIA   379

cessor that for the first time, on January 16, 928, an embassy from the Nü-chih came to the Ch'i-tan Court (Liao shih, 3, 1 b; 70, 2 b). From that date, others followed in rapid succession, almost every year and sometimes twice in the same year.

If we pass from the Ch'i-tan to the purely Chinese dynasties in the south, I do not find the name of the Nü-chên in the Chiu Wu-tai shih (Ancient History of the Five Dynasties). This is not, however, a decisive proof that it never occurred in it, since the text of that book has been reconstructed and is incomplete and has moreover been tampered with by the eighteenth-century editors precisely in the passages which concerned the north-eastern tribes, out of respect for the kinship of the latter with the reigning Manchu dynasty (cf. on this point Chang-shih ssû-tangchai ts'ang-shu mu, 1 B, 10 a-b). In the later Wu-tai shih, written by Ou-yang Hsiu (10071072), the Nü-chên are mentioned in the chapter devoted to the Ch'i-tan (72, 2 b), where we read that A-pao-chi, suspicious of the Chinese to the south, « was vexed that the Nü-chên and the P'ohai were in his rear ». But what follows only refers to the campaign against the P'o-hai, and the possibility is not to be excluded that Ou-yang Hsiu inserted the name of the Nü-chên, not from original documents transmitted from the Chinese Five Dynasties, but from information which had come from the Ch'i-tan dominions at a later date. The only certain mention I can trace of the Nüchên in a Chinese text actually written under the Five Dynasties is that of the narrative of Hu Chiao, preserved in different works the most ancient of which is Ou-yang Hsiu's Wu-tai shih (73, 3 b). Hu Chiao was detained among the Ch'i-tan from 947 to 953. In his narrative a paragraph is devoted to the Nü-chên, who lived east of the Ch'i-tan (cf. CHAVANNES, in JA, 1897, I, 404). It seems that no embassy from the Nü-chên came to the Chinese Court during the Five Dynasties. But diplomatic intercourse began almost immediately after the Sung ascended the throne (960) : in 961, the Sung Emperor received an embassy from the Nü-chên (Hsü tzti-chih t'ung-chien ch'ang-pien, 2, 13 b; Sung shih, 1, 4 b; the Sung shih, Chin shih, and Liao shih were compiled under the Mongols by the same author and always employ the form Nü-chih, though the works actually written under the Sung always give Nü-chên); and embassies then followed one another from year to year without interruption.

The conclusion is that the name of the Nü-chên does not occur before the beginning of the tenth century, and that the Chinese owe it to the Ch'i-tan. The very form « Nü-chên » favours this view, since -fr nü (ni" 'o in middle Chinese, but this pronunciation is older than the Ch'i-tan period) is not used, as far as I remember, in the transcriptions of foreign names made under the T'ang, whereas it sometimes occurs in transcriptions made under the Ch'i-tan. Such are, for instance, A 7 Nü-hsiang, a man's name (Liao shih, 116, 15 b; I have not found the corres-

ponding passage which ought to occur in ch. 68); A   Nii-li, whose biography is given in the

Liao shih, 79, 1 b-2 a; and above all A   Nii-ku. Nü-ku is a man's name; four different Nii-

ku are listed by WANG Hui-tsu 1, 3, 1 a, to whom I think we should add the A   Nü-yu of

Liao shih, 68, 4 a, probably a graphic corruption of Nü-ku. Nü-ku tribes are mentioned in the Liao shih, 1, 5 a; 69, 11 a. Nü-ku also occurs as the name of a river in *ARM_ Nü-ku mu-li, where muri is the Ch'i-tan form of Mong. mörän, mürän, « river » (cf. SHIRATORI, Beiträge

zur historischen Geographie der Mandschurei, t, 365). The place-name -A t   Nii-ku-ti of
the Liao shih, 29, 1 b, and 116, 9 a, is probably a derivative form of the same word. Moreover,