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0473 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 473 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   457

independently MAYERS (in Notes and Queries, II, 95), followed by HIRTH and ROCKHILL (HR, 219), have thought of a Fukienese pronunciation « ku-tiing », and explained the term as a transcription of the Arabic qutn, qutun, « cotton » (cf. supra, p. 427). This is certainly the reason why ku-chung is underlined as being a transcription in TARANZANO, Vocabulaire, i, 344. LAUFER was right in denouncing such an etymology as impossible for many reasons; but one of his reasons will not stand, when, contrary to Li Shih-chên's plain statements, he says that Li Shihchên held the ku-chung to be a « tree-cotton » (in the sense of Bombax). Moreover, had he not neglected the word t'ung, he would have noticed that a « creeper » was not a tree. But more serious difficulties have hitherto been left unnoticed. The Nan yüeh chih was certainly written in the 5th cent. But Kuei-chou, which corresponds to the present Kuei-lin in Kuanghsi, is an administrative name which was adopted for the first time in 507 (cf. Ta-Ch'ing i-t'ung chih, 355, 1 a). We shall see farther on that another quotation made from the Nan-yüeh chih by Li Shih-chên cannot be pre-T'ang. Perhaps the present one of unknown origin, if it be

genuine, may come from the later continuation of the Nan-yüeh chih, the m j   Hsü
Nan-yüeh chih, on which cf. MASPERO, in BEFEO, XVIII, ni, 7. Neither passage is among the fragments of the Nan-yüeh chih published in the Shuo fu in 120 chs., ch. 61. The extant fragments of the Nan-yiieh chih have been successively collected by CHANG Tsung-yüan and YEN K'o-chün, but unfortunately their work has never been published (cf. WANG Chung-min in Fu jên hsüeh-chih, in [1932], No. 1, 17). In the present case, the authenticity of the passage may all the more be challenged on account of its disturbing similitude with the still more doubtful text quoted in the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng as from the Nan-chou i-wu chih (cf. supra, p. 439). This latter text says : « The mu-mien (cotton) is produced by the chi-pei. When it is ripe, it is like goose down, and finer (hsi) than silk floss (ssii-mien). Inside there are kernels like chu-hsiin. To use the [mu-mien], [the people] remove the kernels. Formerly they employed a rolling mill ( *di chan-chou); now they employ a seed cleansing stand GA Ai chiao-ch'ê), which is more convenient. The cloth they make is called ' variegated cloth ' (pan-

pu). That which is gaily ornamented (   F fan-ju) is called JA ch'êng (? 'city [cloth]'); a

coarser one is called   wên ju (' ornamented ') ; a still coarser one is called ,g   wu-lin
(' black piebald ') ». It seems clear that the passing from the « rolling mill » to the « seed cleansing stand » (this stand is depicted and described in Nung shu, 20, 16 b) and all the Chinese trade names for the different kinds of « variegated cloth » could only have been thought of at a time when the manufacture of cotton had reached a certain stage of development in China, that is to say, certainly not before the Sung dynasty. But, at the same time, if we leave out the name of the « ku-chung creeper » on the one hand, and the process of the manufacture of cotton stuff on the other, there is between the so-called text of the Nan-yiieh chih and that attributed to the Nan-chou i-wu chih too striking a coincidence in the trend and the terms of the description to be accidental. The « goose down » (the comparison with « goose down » and the name pan-pu, « variegated cloth », are used in the description of the cotton of Champa in Nan shih, 78, 1 b), the « silk floss » and, above all, the «chu-hsün » would not have spontaneously come twice in the same order to the mind of two different authors. There is even perhaps some ground to think that the so-called Nan-yüeh chih quotation may have been