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0439 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 439 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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181. COTAN


grandson Aluyu fixed his capital at Khotan (the true form of the name, Aluyu, and not Alyu as is said generally, is guaranteed by an unpublished Uighur inscription of 1326). He first tendered his allegiance to Qubilai, but afterwards opposed him. Qubilai, after trying to bring his cousin to reason through the intermediary of envoys, finally sent an army under Buqa-tämür to conquer Khotan (YS, 120, 2 a; 133, 6 b; Br, I, 161; T'u Chi, 148, 42 b). Aluyu is supposed to have died in 1266 (BARTHOLD, 12 Vorlesungen, 185). Qubilai's authority seems to have been supreme at Khotan for some years, and must still have been so when the Polos arrived there, probably late in 1273 or early in 1274. But the situation was to change soon afterwards. Güyük's youngest son,

Hoqu   Oqu; the « prince of Ta-ming » of Br, I, 161; cf. WANG Hui-tsu2, 33, 13 b; T'u Chi, 148,
48 a), who resided in the West and had received gifts from Qubilai at the same time as Baraq (see « Barac ») in 1268, rebelled against the Great Khan and gained forcible possession of Khotan. A text of the beginning of 1276 speaks of people who had been prevented by Hoqu's rebellion from going to work in the mines of Badabsân for Qubilai (see «Badascian ») and had then been detailed for other work; so the rebellion cannot have taken place later than 1275, and under «Yarcan » I have proposed to connect with this rebellion certain measures taken in the beginning of 1274 to ensure the security of the official postal relays in the regions of Khotan, Yàrkänd and Kâsyar. But the most precise information we have on Hoqu's rebellion comes from the History of Mar Yahbalaha III. When he and Rabban Çauma reached Khotan on their way to the Holy Land, «there had been a war between the King of Kings (= Qubilai-khan) and the King Oqu who had fled and had come to this country where he put to death thousands of men. The roads and ways had been cut; wheat was scarce and could not be found; many people died of hunger» (CHABOT, Hist. du patriarche Mar Jabalaha III, 23-24). The two monks stayed six months at Khotan and then went on to Kàsyar, which they found just as badly ravaged. CHABOT (p. 181) dates their departure from the Far East in 1278. This would be irreconcilable with what we known of the events at Khotan, and CHABOT is certainly mistaken, since Mar Yahbalaha III, in 1310, says himself that he « came from the East » thirty-five years before, i. e. in 1275. With a margin of one year at the utmost, the stay of the two Nestorians at Khotan must be dated at the end of 1274 or the beginning of 1275; and it is likely that they had crossed the caravan of the Polos in Northern China.

Polo, who speaks of Christians at Kâsyar and Yarkänd, makes no mention of them at Khotan. It is at Khotan, however, that we hear of Christians from other sources. Gardézi, who wrote in 1050-1052 from older sources, says that « there are at Khotan two Christian churches, one in the central city, the other in the suburbs » (BARTHOLD, Ot&t o poézdké y Srednyuyu Aziyu [18971, 119). According to Juwaini (I, 49), copied by Rasidu-'d-Din (Ber, III, 39), when Küclüg the Naiman conquered Khotan, he obliged the Mussulmans to become either Christians or Buddhists.

A late tradition has it that the village of U;at, on the left bank of the Qara-qas River, was once «inhabited by Nestorian Christians, or at least by people who were considered as insincere

Muhammadans » (STEIN, Serindia, 96). With all due caution, STEIN draws attention to a small cave in the cliff opposite Faizâbad. «That it is of pre-Muhammadan date seems to me highly probable », STEIN says, « and if that is the case attribution to either Nestorian Christians or Manichaeans naturally suggests itself. » But the explorer could only examine the cave from a distance