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0440 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 440 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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424   181. COTAN

As a matter of fact, the only certain Christian relic brought back from Khotan is the small bronze cross acquired by GRENARD and now belonging to the Musée Guimet. It is reproduced in GRENARD, Mission dans la Haute Asie, III, 134-135, with explanations by DEVÉRIA which can also be read in the latter's memoir of JA, 1896, II, 436-437. DEVÉRIA read the signs which adorn the Cross as Chinese characters; I have already expressed my conviction that we have there merely a cross between A and 1, which is in agreement with the Greek sigla above and below (TP, 1914, 644, where I was mistaken in saying, after DEVÉRIA, that the cross had been enamelled). But the result is that we have to deal with a Melchite, not with a Nestorian monument. There have actually been Melchite communities in Russian Turkestan, and it is not surprising that some of their adepts should have reached the region of Khotan.

Khotan was always famous for its jade. The Turkish name is qas (> Mong. qas, Kalm. has), on which see «Cascar ». The Persians use the name yam, which is to a certain extent a misnomer, since yäsm, also written yap and yäsf, is the same as iâoirts and ought to designate «jasper ». Although the ancients may not have been very strict in the use of the name iacracs, Abel RÉMusAT's long argument (Hist. de la ville de Khotan, 119-239), attempting to etablish that the iam7rLs of the ancients was not our jasper, but jade (and moreover that yam [and «jasper »] and qas were etymologically one and the same word) has not been countenanced by further research (on the use of the word yam, cf. also QUATREMÉRE, in Not. et Extr. XIV, I, 476-477). It is in agreement with the Persian use of yam that Polo (Vol. I, 147; cf. Y, I, 193) speaks of jade as «jasper and chalcedony »; he had in mind, as usual, the Persian term. So does also, after him, Bento DE GOES, whose language of intercourse in Central Asia was Persian, and who speaks of «jasper» when he is at Yârkänd (cf. TACCHI-VENTURI, Opere storiche del P. Matted Ricci, I, 539; most of the text in Y1, iv, 219, is not GoES's own, but represents additions by TRIGAUT). In Russian texts, yama (< Pers. yam) is often used in the sense of « jade ». The Persian word has also passed into Turkish : yaRm is said to mean «agat» at Kazan (RADLov, III, 247), but it is quite certain that Osm. yäsäm or yäsäp means «jade », despite RADLOV (III, 380) who, labouring under the same misapprehension as under qas, wrongly translates it « Regenstein », which is the meaning of fada or yada, not of qas or « jade ».

Our dictionaries generally explain Fr. and Engl. cacholong, applied by mineralogists to a sort of chalcedony, as formed with «Kash », name of a river in «Bucharia », and a Mongol word meaning «stone ». The term actually seems to have come from Mongolia in the 18th cent., and

to represent a somewhat undue extension of the meaning of Mong.   has-c'olôn, «jade-
stone» (cf. Abel RÉMUSAT, loc. cit. 121-122, 127-130, 161-163; this undue extension already existed in Kalmuk, where tia. tsolûn is «marble »; cf. RAMSTEDT, Kalm. Wörterbuch, 171). The «Kash» river is a very small error, since « Bucharia » here means « Little Bucharia », i. e. Chinese Turkestan, and it is qas, «jade », which enters into the name of the two main branches of the Khotan River, Qara-qas (« Black lade ») and Yörüng-qag (« White Jade »). The word «cachoiong» is not given at all in BLOCH's Dictionnaire étymologique, nor is it included in LOKOTSCH'S Etym. Wörterbuch.

As to the word «jade» itself, the error which connects it with yada, fada, is so widespread and tenacious that it may be of use to denounce it once more : the yada or fada stone is a bezoar and has nothing to do with « jade », either with the word or with the thing (cf. TP, 1912, 436-