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0417 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 417 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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172. COILUM   401

Although the « Great Quilon » is a fiction of the Hsing-ch'a shêng-lan, the fact remains that, in the middle of the 14th cent., we find the name of Quilon without epithet changed to that of « Small Quilon ». Much has been written about it already, and the problem is not an easy one.

ROCKHILL (TP, 1915, 446) supposed that «Small Quilon » was « Kayan Kulam or Kain Colan,

the Singuyli of Friar Jordanus, as suggested by YULE, ... which in turn is the ( '   Sêng-
ki-li of YS, 210 »; cf also TP, 1914, 441. CORDIER also says (Les Merveilles de l'Asie, 84) that YULE places « Singuyli » at Kayan-Kullam. But « Singuyli » must be left out. YULE had thought of this equivalence in his translation of Jourdain Cathala published in 1863, but justly abandoned

it in Cathay2, I, 82; II, 133-134; III, 249; iv, 78; Hobson-Jobson2, 828-829.   HEYD, II, 661, who
started from Odoric's « Cyngilin », etc., and knew that YULE had identified it with Cranganore, has tried to maintain its identity with Kayan-Kullam by starting from « Caincolon »; « de là à la forme Cyngilin, it n'y a qu'un pas ». But since we know a real name Kayan-Kullam and a real name

Singili, it is of course impossible to bring them together phonetically.   Singili (this is the correct
form, not « Sinkali », etc.) is certainly an old name of Cranganore.

As to Kayan-Kullam, it is a port on the backwater, a few miles north of Quilon. The name is written « Caincoulan » in RAMUSIO's Italian version of Barbosa (ed. 1606, I, 312 b), « Caymcolan » in the Spanish one, and « Cale Coilam » in the Portuguese text; in the anonymous Sommario of RAMUSIO (I, 332 a), we find «Caicolam» and in a supposed letter of Amerigo Vespuce, «Caincolon» (I-IEY), II, 661). Arabic sources of the first half of the 16th cent. have fl[3,« Kâin-Kûlam (Fe, 530; JA, 1924, I, 115). DAMES (Barbosa, II, 96) has adopted « Cale Coilam », and supposes it to be « an Arab form of the Malayalam name », «Cale being clearly the Arab Kal'a ‘a fort ' ». This seems to me most unlikely. We know the Arabic form, Kâin-Kûlam, which is in agreement with the native Kayan-Kullam, and one does not see how the Italian and Spanish translators of Barbosa could alter another supposed and unattested Arabic form to hit on just the correct native name. There are other cases where the Italian and Spanish versions of Barbosa are superior to the Portuguese text as we have it now (see « Chisce »). I take « Cale Coilam » to be an error for « Cain Coilam », even if Barbosa wrote « Coilam » at all and not, both here as well as in the rest of his work, « Coulam ».

FERRAND, following in RocKHILL's wake, has considered an as etablished fact (JA, 1920, II,

101; 1924, I, 115) that « Little Quilon » was Kayan-Kullam and that the Hsing-ch'a shêng-lan's « Great Quilon » was our Quilon. But we have seen that this « Great Quilon » never existed. The whole problem is to decide whether the change of Chü-ian (Quilon) to Hsiao Chü-nan and Hsiao Ko-lan, « Little Quilon », is due to a change of harbour and, if it is, what has been the change. I am not in a position to explain why the Chinese name was changed in the middle of the 14th cent., but I rather feel that in all cases Quilon only is meant, and DAMES (Barbosa, II, 97) has evidently taken the same view. PHILLIPS'S map, which is a Chinese translation of an Arabic map, names only « Little Ko-lan », and it seems to me most improbable that, in the beginning of the 15th cent., the original Arabic map should have mentioned Kayan-Kullam and omitted Quilon. It was and has remained the main harbour on this part of the coast; the Chinese Imperial fleets, bringing Imperial orders to the local prince, could not well have failed to enter it.