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0468 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 468 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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452   183. COTTON

by women of the same country according to the reports of K'ang T'ai and Chu Ying, and this was certainly cotton. Although, at first, tieh, as the equivalent of the to or t'a of « to cloth » or « t'a cloth », may have referred to cotton of the cotton tree as well as of the cotton plant, I maintain that it has always been the name of a fabric of vegetable, not of animal origin.

In I-ching's translations of the Vinaya of the Mùlasarvâstivàdin, there is a passage, however, in which tieh is used in a wider sense. Speaking of fine textiles, the translation says (ch. 44;

  • ~ , Ix, 89 b) : « [Of fine textiles], there are four sorts, which are called ' Chia-shih fine tieh'

J~   ), , ch'u-mo fine tieh' (4 git is ), ' chu-ma fine tieh' ('T a All 0), and ' ku-ch'ê po-
chia fine tieh' ( p `l wi fie a). The « Chia-shih fine tieh » is the « Kâsi (= Benares) cotton muslin », which presents no difficulty; but ch'u-mo transcribes Skr. ksauma, « flax », « linen », chu-ma is «ramie », and ku-ch'ê po-chia, *kochavaka, can be no other than Skr. *kaucapa, a kind of « woollen blanket » or « carpet » (cf. infra, p. 492). So only the first of the four fine tieh is really a cotton stuff (the same may be said of the use of Tib. ras in Mahâvyutpatti, 9160-9163). My impression is that this is due to the loose value of Skr. pata (« strip of cotton stuff », but also a designation of strips of other textiles), which was probably the word used in the Sanskrit original which I-ching translated.

I may add that there were many mixed textiles, one-half or one-third of which was cotton; a descriptive list of such fabrics has been preserved in ch. 2 of NANJIÔ, No. 1107 (;t, x, 16 a-b). The Hsien yü eking (ch. 12, § 50; NANJIÔ, No. 1322; ra, ix, 70 b) mentions «a piece of gold

coloured tieh » (— j   s z ) made by Mahâprajàpati. The K'ang-hsi tzû-tien, quoting
this (s. v. tieh), adds that, according to a gloss of the text, this was the designation of a a A

  •    chih-ch'êng ta-i, « great garment in chih-ch'êng ». As a matter of fact the quotation in the

K'ang-hsi tza-tien is second hand, and is drawn from the Fa yuan chu-lin (ch. 41; 14: , vii, 78 b), where the gloss is an addition. We cannot check the T'ang interpretation of the passage from the Tibetan translation, because, in the latter, there is no section corresponding to ch. 12, § 50 of the Chinese text. But there is no reason to doubt the gloss of the Fa yüan chu-lin, which goes back to the 7th cent. Now, the important point is that chih-ch'êng, as it is used in the gloss, must be the technical designation of a fabric with designs and ornaments, a kind of brocade without a uniform coloured « ground » (cf. infra, p. 507). Mahâprajâpati's textile recurs in CHAVANNES, 500 Contes, III, 46 (cf. also PRZYLUSKI, in JA, 1919, I, 397), where « un vêtement

complet tissé en fils d'or » renders   gt A   chin-la chih-ch'êng i, more accurately « a
garment of gold thread brocade » (cf. also ibid. I, 281, « vêtements faits en tissu d'or », which really are « gold brocade garment »). The very fact that the said tieh was « gold coloured » precludes the possibility that it should have been a strip of plain cotton stuff. So we must be prepared to find tieh used in a number of cases with a wider meaning than the one I have deduced as original and fundamental.

Early in the Sung dynasty, a new character   tieh was formed to write the tieh of po-tieh;
it occurs for the first time in the A fA Chi yün, a dictionary published by Ting Tu (990-1053), and is mentioned in the 0 a r p Wêng--yu hsien-p'ing, a miscellaneous work written by

  • Yüan Wên (12th cent.; Wu-ying-tien cha-cha -pan ts'ung-shu ed., 4, 3 a). But it never met with general acceptance, and I know of no actual example of it in a text.