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0470 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 470 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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454   183. COTTON

fabric, ku-pei was the coarse, in contradistinction to the fine variety called po-tieh. Moreover, po-tieh, either from the outset or soon after it had been adopted, meant « white tieh»; but, in the absence of any other specification, it was used as a generic name for « fine cotton stuff». Tieh alone, however, was always felt to be a word which had this same meaning, and could be used in other combinations. The tieh was « fine », and yet we are told of « coarse tieh » (11 §i ts'u tieh; cf. Hui-lin, ch. 65, in n, ix, 72 b). Side by side with po-tieh, «white tieh », there are examples

of ,~M,   hei-tieh, «black tieh» (cf. CHAVANNES, Doc. sur les Tou-kiue, 133, where the translation
«black garments forming folds » for hei-tieh is erroneous); one could not have said «black po-tieh» without indulging in a contradiction in terms. A distinction is hardly to be traced in Sung times between ku-pei (which had become chi-pei) and po-tieh, because po-tieh seems to have already become an obsolete term by that time, occurring only in quotations made from earlier works or in allusions to them. Neither ku-pei (chi-pei) nor po-tieh occurs in Fan Ch'êng-ta's Kuei-hai yühêng chih, the preface of which is dated 1175; it employs only mu-mien (Chip pu-tsu-chaff ts'ungshu ed., 14 a). In the Ling-wai tai-ta, mu-mien is used only once (10, 9 a), in a passage which seems to be derived from a more ancient source, and it is not mentioned in the special paragraph entitled chipei (6, 12-13) which is devoted to cotton. In this chi-pei paragraph, po-tieh occurs only in connection with the Nan-chao (not « Laos » as in HR, 219, but the Ta-li kingdom in Yün-nan), but the very name « Nan-chao » betrays the antiquarian nature of the passage, since the former Nan-chao kingdom of T'ang times was known under the Sung as the kingdom of Ta-ii; and, moreover, « Nan-chao », in Chou Ch'ü-fei's text, is a misquotation from the Hsin T'ang shu, where the passage refers not to Nan-chao, but to Champa. Chao Ju-kua's two mentions of potieh, in the paragraphs on Champa and India (HR, 48 [where the rendering « white muslins » is inaccurate], 111), are also derived from T'ang sources, but nothing is said of po-tieh in the special paragraph on «cotton », entitled chi-pei (HR, 217-218). In the Supplement to the P'ei-wên yün fu (Yün fu ship-i, 105, 9 a, s. v. «po-tieh »), a passage is given as drawn from the notice of the kingdom of Ta-li in the Sung shih; the Ta-li people are said there to have had almost the same customs and the same dress as the Arabs (Ta-shih), and to have worn around the breast a piece of po-tieh which reached to their feet. But it must be a misquotation, since there is not a word of all this in the Ta-ii paragraph of the Sung shih (488, 8 a-b), and the whole passage is in Sung ship, 489, 1 a-b, and refers to Champa. It is the only one which would suggest that po-tieh was still a living term in southern China under the Sung, and it may go back to a source dating from the beginning of the dynasty. The only indication that po-tieh had more or less survived either in northern China, or in Chinese Turkestan until the Mongol period is provided by the account of Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un's travels across Central Asia in 1221-1224. In speaking of the dress of the inhabitants of what is now Russian Turkestan, Ch'iu Ch'ang-ch'un says that is was made of po-tieh (WANG Kuo-wei's ed., 2, 1 b), and repeats it in a poem (2, 2 b). In the first case, BRETSCHNEIDER (Br, i, 89) has inaccurately rendered po-tieh as « woollen stuff» and WALEY (Travels of an Alchemist, 107) correctly as « cotton »; both have omitted the poem. The «po-tieh cloth » mentioned by Hsu Kuang-ch'i in speaking of the garb of the Buddhist patriarchs (cf. infra, p. 489) is a scholarly recollection. We have, I think, instances of misleading archaizing, among hundreds of others, when the Ming i-t'ung chih (87, 35 a; followed by T'u-shu picn, 89, 31 b)