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0474 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 474 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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458   183. COTTON

remodelled on that of the pseudo-Nan-chou i-wu chih at a late date. Both the Nan yüeh chih in Li Shih-chên's quotation and the Nan-chou i-wu chih as reproduced in the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng

speak of Al   pan pu, « variegated cloth », but in the quotation of the latter text made in 1313

by the author of the Nung shu, this term is written twice in the form 0   pan pu, of iden-

tical meaning, which is often used in pre-Sung texts (cf. the quotations in the P'ei-wên yün fu) ; of course, both quotations may have used the more modern form, but it may also be that the so-called Nan yiceh chih quotation was copied from the pseudo-Nan-chou i-wu chih after one form of pan pu had, in the latter text, been changed into the other. More striking is the case of At ifij chu-hsün, which I have left untranslated. It occurs on the one hand in the quotation from the pseudo-Nan-chou i-wu chih as given in the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, and on the other in the quotation from the Nan-yiieh chih in the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu; and it is carefully retained by the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng (ibid. 303, 11 a) and by the Chung-kuo yao-hsüeh to tz'û-tien (p. 235) in copying Li Shih-chên's notice (but the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ibid., chi-shih, 1 a, leaves out hsün, retaining only chu, when reproducing the Nan-yiieh chih passage alone). Yet it does not make much sense. Chu means « pearl », and hsün is a half-precious stone more or less similar to jade (I do not know on what authority TARANZANO, II, 581, says it is a « branch of coral »).

Now, instead of chu-hsün, the quotation in the Nung shu gives   fiLj chu-kou, with a phonetic
note expressly stating that the second character is to be read kou. Kou is also the designation of a kind of jade, and chu-kou is not much more satisfactory than chu-hsün. But I feel inclined to think that we have here an unauthorized form of some popular term designating perhaps seed pearls, with which cotton seeds could be compared and which was still understood in 1313. At any rate, the Nung shu, with its phonetic gloss, must have preserved the original reading, and since the quotation from the Nan yüeh chih gives the same corrupt form chu-hsün which we find in the pseudo-Nan-chou i-wu chih as quoted in the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, there is a fair chance that the so-called Nan yüeh chih passage is a piecemeal forgery later than 1313. Some clue may perhaps be found to the origin of part at least of the so-called quotation from the Nan yüeh chih. The I-wen lei-chü, a T'ang encyclopaedia completed c. 640, quotes a passage from P'ei Yüan's Kuang-chou chi, a work prior to 527 (cf. infra, p. 462), on the use of mu-mien (« cotton ») by the southern Barbarians to make cloth. The first sentence of the quotation will be translated farther on in the discussion of mu-mien. Then come four characters

which I hardly dare translate OJE (J   'f' , «the skin is round like that of the bamboo »?), and
a last sentence : « They peel (iJ po) old « green creepers » ( a aku-lü t'êng) and spin (, chi) [the skin] to make cloth (pu) ». This text is certainly not clear; moreover it looks as if two different quotations, perhaps from two different works, had erroneously become amalgamated into one. The «peeling » of creepers occurs elsewhere : the Nan fang ts'ao-mu

chuang (quoted in Ch'i-min yao-shu, 10, 36 a) describes a creeper, called ift   êrh-t'êng,
« tuft creeper », which the people of the south « peel » (po) to make tufts (êrh). But the interpretation of ku lü t'êng is doubtful. It may be taken as the name of a creeper, the « ku-Iii creeper »; or as meaning « old ' green creepers' », « green creeper » being then the name of a lü-t'êng creeper; or as meaning old creepers which are still green; or even, though less probably, as meaning «old [and] green creepers ». I have found no trace of a creeper called