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0481 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 481 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   465

from Tongking and Annam (Tung-hsi yang k'ao, i, 11 b). In my opinion, the t   Ttihua jui

pu, « flower-bud cloth » (or « flower-stamen cloth »), from Samarkand, mentioned in the Kuang-yü chi, 24, 15 a (and earlier in Ming i-t'ung chih, 89, 23 a; also in Khotan, ibid. 89, 25 a), was not an « ornamented cloth », as translated by LAUFER, Sino-Iranica, 251, but a « cotton cloth ».

Employed alone, the combination E~ , hua-mien, « flower floss », in the Chinese translation of the Mahâvyutpatti (Nos. 5870 [where tC hua-hsien is a misreading or a misprint] and 5871) is a late, and unusual form. Moreover, it shows once more that the translators of the Mahâvyutpatti from Tibetan into Chinese often adopted arbitrary interpretations : hua-mien, «cotton », is given as a translation of Skr. vakkali, Tib. bag-le-ba. But the would-be Skr. vakkali can be nothing else than a Prâkrit form of Skr. valkala, « bark garment » (cf. Pali vakkala and vakkali), and Tib. bag-le-ba seems to be an adjectival form of bag-le, itself based on a Prâkrit form similar to Beng. bâklâ, « bark » (on which cf. J. BLOCH, La formation de la langue marathe, 404; but bag-le-ba may have been contaminated by Bag-le-pa or Bag-le-ba, « of Balkh »).

I may add that the change of?,, mien to n mien, in order to show that the product was vegetal and not « silk » (i. e. animal) floss, had been anticipated by the creation of another character. The ti T4 tu-chung, Eucommia ulmoides, is sometimes called mu-mien, on account of the silky fibres which can be drawn out when breaking its bark (cf. STUART, Materia Medica, 166; mu-mien is already given as an alternative name of tu-chung in ch. 12 of the Hsin-hsiu pên-t''ao, written in the 7th cent. [Chuan-hsi-lu ts'ung-shu ed.]). In the early Middle Ages, this tree was merely called mien in what corresponds to the modern provinces Chê-chiang and Chiang-su. For writing that mien, a character 4,6, mien was created, which is obtained through the addition of the « tree » radical to the character mien meaning « silk floss »; this character already occurs in the Yü p'ien, the author of which died in A. D. 581, and the tree, with its name written in this way, was described under the Sung dynasty by Su Sung (cf. K'ang-hsi tza-tien). The more modern fm mien of mu-mien, « cotton », was coined in the same spirit, and in a way it may be said to be but a simplified form of tfrt mien, Eucommia ulmoides.

CH'Ü-SHUN. — Other ancient names of cotton, given in our dictionaries, remain to be examined.

One is )   ch'ü-shun (*k'ivat-siuën). It is said to be a Sanskrit word meaning « great fine cloth»
(ta hsi pu), and is the name of the material of the robe which Bodhidharma had inherited from the patriarch Sirpha and which he transmitted to his successors. It was blue-black, and had been made from cotton plucked at « the heart of the flowers ». Hsü Kuang-ch'i had actually seen it, or its substitute (Nung-chêng ch'üan-shu, 35, 2). The earliest mention I know of it occurs in the Fan-i ming-i chi, dated 1143 (not 1151 as in NANJI5, Catalogue, No. 1640; rA , xi, 87 b; cf. also FujIi's,

Bongo jiten, 145; ODA Tokuno, 301). The Ko-chih ching-yüan (27, 22 b) quotes the 14    Nan-

hua chih, a work which I do not know, as stating that « the ritual garment (in   hsin-i) of the sixth
patriarch was made of seven strips (t'iao) of [cloth of] gold thread (chin lii); it is the ch'ü-shun cloth; in the Western Countries (Hsi-yü), they consider the ch'ii-shun as ' fine cloth ' (hsi-pu) ». One can never vouchsafe for the accuracy of the quotations in the Ko-chih ching-yiian; but the « gold threads » are impossible, since they could not be « cotton », or even be confused with « cotton ». Ch'ü-shun seems to be a term of the Dhyàna or Zen sect, and like everything regarding the person-