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0486 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 486 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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470   183. COTTON

Mai (I-chien chih, end of ch. 45) describes what he himself shows to be seeds of ts'io-chia, i. e.

Gleditschia chinensis, which have certainly nothing to do with the true so-lo tree.

More definite is the use of   so-lo as a designation of the   t'ien-shi li, « Celes-
tial Master's chestnut » (by allusion to Chang t'ien-shih or Chang Tao-ling, the reputed founder of the Taoist church; BRETSCHNEIDER'S explanation of t'ien-shih as « Buddha », Botanicon Sinicum, I, 65, is erroneous), i. e. the horse-chestnut, Aesculus chinensis (cf. Pên-ts'ao kang-mu, 29, 32-33; T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ts'ao-mu tien, 222, 10 a [with a wrong reading p'o-lo instead of so-lo] ; STUART, Materia Medica, 19; TARANZANO, Vocabulaire, II, 575). In the sense of horse-chestnut, so-lo is

perhaps more regularly written!   so-lo, but this is not certain; %'   J so-to-tzic is a common

form of the same name, and all quotations mentioning a ? '   so-lo tree are referred to the
Aesculus in the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu shih-i, 7, 30-31. GILES in his Chinese-English Dictionary (No. 10.193) states that it is the name of the Indian sala tree which has been transferred in China to the horse-chestnut. I think he is right. We have seen that Mei Yao-ch'ên used the last given

form tit   so-lo for what he intended to be the Indian sala tree, Shorea robusta. As a matter
of fact, I have little doubt that the passage of the name from the Shorea robusta to the Aesculus chinensis occured very early, the confusion being due to the fact that the Shorea robusta was unknown in China, and at first the Aesculus chinensis was found only in a few districts of Sstich'uan (cf. also the verse on the so-lo flower in the I pu fang-wu lio-chi, by Sung Ch'i [998-1061], Chin-tai pi-shu ed., 6 b; here the so-lo is different from the t'ien-shih-li, ibid. 3 a). Absurd as it is, the story in Shêng Hung-chih's Ching chou chi seems already to betray the confusion. This is established, anyhow, by another consideration. STUART (p. 19) remarks that another Aesculus, the

Aesculus turbinata, is known to the Japanese as tochi-no-ki (Ch.   ch'i-yeh shu, « tree with
seven leaves »), but that it is not mentioned in the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu and may not exist in China. This is only partly true. Though the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu does not speak of the ch'i-yeh tree, it is described in the Lo-yang ming-yüan chi, a work of the end of the 11th cent. (Chin-tai pi-shu ed., 6 a; cf. Ssû-k'u..., 70, 13), and the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng (loc. cit. 309, chi-shih, 2a) duly cites the passage in its chapter on the so-lo tree. A poem of Ou-yang Hsiu (1007-1072) is entitled « The

tree with seven leaves ' (ch'i-yeh shu) of the Ting-li-yüan » (at Lo-yang), but in the poem itself the tree is called so-lo (cf. T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ts'ao-mu tien, 309, i-wên, 3 a). The old Chiang-ning fu-chih speaks also of ch'i-yeh shu in temples of the Nanking region and considers them as so-lo trees (ibid. 309, tsa-lu, 2); two more quotations are given in Pen-ts'ao kang-mu shih-i, 7, 71 b. It is also an Aesculus which is described as « flower of the so-lo tree » in the Tsao-lin tsa-tsu,

chung chi, 54 a, with the alternative name   hao-ling, « crane feathers ». In his Ch'i-hsiu lei-

kao (40, 3 b-4 a), Lang Ying opposes the common belief that the so-lo tree was the )J rfr   yiieh-

chung kuei (« moon cinnamon », Litsea glauca), since it was in fact the ch'i-yeh tree (mu). This identification of the so-lo tree with the Aesculus chinensis also occurs in a notice in which so-lo trees are mentioned on the T'ien-t'ai Mountain in Chê-chiang, and these trees had only « six or seven leaves » at the end of each branch (T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ibid. 309, chi-shih, 2 a).

We are now prepared to approach the problem of so-lo as a designation of a «cotton tree ». WAITERS was first, I believe, to say that, in the latter sense, so-lo represented salmali, the Indian name of the silk-cotton tree (Essays on the Chinese language, 435). He even went as