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0471 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 471 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   455

speaks of po-tieh as being made in Burma, or (87, 38 a; T'u-shu pien, 89, 51 a) at   Kan-yai

(also called 9 aKan-ê, at the confluence of the Nam-ti and the Ta-ping in Upper Burma; cf. BEFEO, Ix, 666; the Sino-Pa-i Vocabulary, 10 b, renders Kan-yai as 41 45 Mêng-na, which then ought to be different from the It 7~ Mêng-nai of BEFEO, ix, 669), or when it says (87, 29b;

T'u-shu pien, 89, 30 b) that Chin-ch'ih (= Yung-ch'ang) produces   #i piao-tieh (? «purple
tieh»), which is «po-tieh cloth» (po-tieh pu).

In this paragraph on chi pei, Chao Ju-kua enumerates four qualities of cotton cloth, which,

in decreasing order of value, are tou-lo-mien (cf. supra, p. 431), *   fan pu (« foreign cloth »),

mu-mien properly so called, and   chi pu. In Chao Ju-kua's accounts of the various

kingdoms, tou-lo-mien is mentioned in the kingdoms of India and of the Arabs (HR, 88, 97, 116). Fan pu often occurs, sometimes as of various colours (HR, 61, 84, 87, 88, 92, 126); we also find this term in YS, 16, 9 a, in the account of an embassy of 1291 from Quilon (see « Coilum »). Mu-mien is mentioned by Chao Ju-kua in the section on Chiao-chih (Tongking), where mu-mien and chi pei follow each other in the list of the native products (HR, 46). Moreover, in the section on Hai-nan (HR, 183), we hear of the mu-mien which the Li aborigines mix up in their textiles with threads unravelled from Chinese silken fabrics to make new cloth, but this is taken over from the Kuei-hai yü-hêng chih, 14 a, which speaks only of mu-mien (chi pei never occurs in the work), and chi pei is Chao's own and perhaps arbitrary addition. The same may be said of the next sentence, when he adds that the Li women also weave cloth made only of «mu-mien or chi pei». It looks as though the distinction apparently drawn by Chao Ju-kua between mu-mien, which he uses only for Tongking and Hai-nan, and chi pei, which occurs for these and other countries, were artificial and due primarily to his use of different sources. One might think at first that he understood chi pei as Gossypium herbaceum, and mu-mien as Gossypium arboreum, so that there should be no serious objection to the respective translations «cotton » and «tree cotton », which have been adopted by HIRTH and RocKHILL. We must remember, however, that, in 1178, Chou Ch'ü-fei knew only the cotton tree (shu), not the cotton plant (ts'ao), and it was precisely this difference which made him hesitate to accept the otherwise obvious identification of the «ku pei plant » of pre-T'ang and T'ang texts with the «chi-pei tree » of his own time (cf. infra, p. 437). Unless a great change had taken place between 1178 and 1225, Chao Ju-kua's chi pei ought also to be Gossypium arboreum, and, as such, synonymous with mu-mien. But the fact is that we lack information as to the place, time, and condition in which the cotton plant progressively took the place of the cotton tree; it is only the cotton plant which we find from the outset in Chiang-su, as results from the details given in Hu San-hsing's text (cf. infra, p. 501). As to Chao's chi pu, it does not occur anywhere else in his book, and may be a misreading for chi-pei or chi pei pu (the f, k chi pei of HR, 155, is another misreading; as to pei, used alone twice, HR, 177, 181, it is either also a misreading of chi pei, or a « literary» abbreviation based on its use in the parallel definition of po-tieh and ku-pei in the Hsin T'ang shu; cf. p. 442); chi pei, and its equivalent chi pei pu, «chi pei cloth », are repeatedly mentioned in Chao's descriptions of the various kingdoms. I must add, however, that chi pu occurs in Wang Chêng's Nung shu (21, 16 a; â A chi-i is a misquotation in Wang Chêng's text as cited by Hsü Kuang-ch'i; cf. Chin. Repository, xix, 469), and it may be, after all, that chi pei pu was