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0469 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 469 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   453

THE RELATIVE MEANING OF KU-PEI (CHI-PEI) AND PO-TIEH. — SOOTHILL and HoDOUs (A Dictionary of Chinese Buddhism, 232) say that Skr. k rpâsa is « cotton, Gossypium herbaceum», but that the Chinese transcriptions of the word refer « especially to kârpâsi, the cotton tree» (i. e. silk-cotton tree). I do not think that in the consideration of Indian sources such a strict line can be drawn between the values of kârpâsa and kârpâsi, while, on the other hand, Chinese texts certainly do not allow us to regard ku-pei (and later chi pei) as referring to the silk-cotton tree. On the other hand, kârpâsa is « cotton » rather than « cotton stuff», while potieh has always been the designation of a cotton fabric. But the fact is that both ku-pei (chi pei) and po-tieh soon came to be used as designations of textiles, and that a distinction was made between them. We have seen (p. 439) that, in 430, an Indonesian kingdom sent to China «po-tieh and ku-pei of the kingdom of T'ien-chu (India) and ku-pei of the kingdom of Yeh-po (Gandhâra)». By the way, if ku-pei were « silk-cotton tree », Bombax malabaricum, as seems to have been thought by SOOTHILL and HODOUS, the inferior fabric made out of the floss of the Bombax (if any could be made) would have travelled all the way from the north-western Indian frontier to Indonesia and China, which certainly does not seem to be probable. In Sui shu, 82, 3 a, we are told that, when

holding his Court, the king of Chên-la (Cambodia) wore   3   Fj14,chao-hsia ku-pei man,
«a sampot of dawn-rosy ku-pei »; in ordinary circumstances, he wore po-tieh. (I have refuted, TP, 1912, 480, HIRTH and ROCKHILL's mistaken explanation [HR, 218-219] of chao-hsia as a transcription of Skr. kauseya, « silken stuff [from cocoons of wild silkworms]»; cf. also my review of LÜDERS's memoir Textilien im alten Turkistan [Abhandl. d. Pr. Ak. d. Wiss. 1936, Ph.-hist. KI., No. 3], in

Oriental. Literaturzeitung, 1938, No. 3, 186; as to man, more often written   man, which also
occurs as kan-man, to-man, ho-man, it was another mistake of HIRTH and ROCKHILL, HR, 64, to derive it from Skr. kambala, «wool»; it represents the Chinese adaptation of an Indonesian word, the forms of which vary from Malay kémban to Cham aban, Bahnar habân.) So, in this case, the coloured ku-pei was a cotton stuff regarded as superior to the po-tieh, which must have been a plain white fabric. According to the Chiu T'ang shu (197, 1 a), the king of Champa (see «Ciamba ») wore po-tieh ku-pei which covered the upper arm diagonally and went round the waist,

while his consort donned chao-hsia ku-pei, which she arranged into a short skirt (A   tuan
ch'iin). On the next page (197, 1 b) in the notice of the kingdom of P'o-li (Bali?), we are told that «it has the ku-pei plant (ts'ao) ; [the people] take its flowers, and make cloth with [them] that which is coarse is called ku-pei; that which is fine is called po-tieh ». Practically the same indications are given in the Hsin T'ang shu (222 c, 1 a, b), except that, in the passage on the «ku pei plant », the Hsin T'ang shu does not say that the coarse is ku-pei and the fine po-tieh, but merely that they are pei and tieh, respectively. Here at least, the ku-pei is certainly not a «cotton tree» in the sense of « silk-cotton tree», Bombax malabaricum, nor even, probably, what I call cotton tree, Gossypium arboreum, but a plant (ts'ao), the Gossypium herbaceum; it will be remembered that tieh is defined «a cloth made with the flowers of a plant of the Western countries» by Hui-lin (Tripi¢., Ix, 72 b, 114 a). So, it would seem that ku-pei had different values : it was the name of the cotton plant, and of cotton itself, and was also used as a generic term for all cotton stuffs, so that a plain white variety could be called a po-tieh ku-pei and a gay-coloured one a chao-hsia ku-pei; but, as the specific name of a particular