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0491 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 491 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   475

I* VI Lu Chi, tzû ± Shih-hêng, 261-303, of the Chin dynasty; on Lu Chi of the Three Kingdoms, cf. Ssti-k'u ... , 15, 8 a). The original work is lost, and the present text, in two chapters, is a rifacimento made up of early quotations, first published c. 1360 in the Shuo fu (ch. 4 of the Shuo

fu in 120 chs.), and republished by MAO Chin, with an abundant commentary, in the Chin-tai pishu. Of modern critical editions, I do not have at my disposal the one published by Lo Chên-yü, and can use only that of CHAO Yu, dated 1779, republished in Chü-hsüeh-hsiian ts'ung-shu, first chi. The text says (ch. 1, 17 a) : « Of t'ung, there are the ' blue-green t'ung ' (ch'ing-t'ung), the white t'ung ' (po-t'ung) and the ' red t'ung ' (ch'ih-t'ung). [The po-t'ung] is good for making psalteries (ch'in-shê). At present the people of Yün-nan and Tsang-ko (in Kuei-chou) make it into threads to make cloth; it is like a woollen cloth (mao pu). » The words « po-t'ung » which I have put between square brackets are not given in CHAO Yu's text, copied from the Shuo fu, nor had they been added in MAO Chin's text or in his commentary; they do not occur either in the quotation made by T'ai-p'ing yii-lan, 956, 9 a (nor in the almost identical quotation which has passed into T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ts'ao-mu tien, 237, 4 a). In CHAO Yu's commentary, it is said that this second «po-t'ung » may have been dropped accidentally, and a more recent note adds that it occurs in another edition. In this text, nothing is said of the floss or its origin; but even a superficial examination reveals that the text is incomplete, since we are not told what the Yün-nan and Tsangko people make into threads. As a matter of fact, we possess the complete passage, quoted by Su Sung (1020-1101; cf. BRETSCHNEIDER, Botanicon Sinicum, I, 47), from whom it has passed into Pênts'ao kang-mu (35 A, 25 b) and the T'u-shu chi-ch'êng (ts'ao-mu tien, 237, 15 a); it is not to the credit of MAO Chin or of CHAO Yu that they should both have ignored the quotation in Su Sung, which says : « The po-t'ung is good for making psalteries (ch'in-shê). The people of Yün-nan and Tsang-ko take the white down [which is] inside its flowers (hua chung), soak it (Pi ft yen-tzii) and make it into threads (fft chi) to make cloth (pu) ; [this cloth] is like a woollen garment (Z jJj maofu) and it is called ' flower cloth ' (hua-pu). » This is clearly the text which BRETSCHNEIDER knew from the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu, and it speaks of « flowers », not of « bark ». According to the T'aip'ing yü-lan (359, 14), the « t'ung flower cloth » (t'ung-hua-pu) was listed in the Kuang-chih among the products of the kingdom of P'iao-jên (read P'iao, Burma). As late as 1461, the Ming i-t'ung chih (ch. 87, 26 b, under Yung-ch'ang chiin-min fu) mentions the « t'ung flower cloth » of the Golden Teeth (Chin-ch'ih; see « Çardandan »), perhaps in an antiquarian mood; this has passed

into the Kuang-yü chi 21, 20 b, which speaks of   i hsi-pu, « fine cloth », as a designation of a
fabric made of t'ung flowers at Yung-ch'ang (= Chin-ch'ih). I find a mention of « bark » only in a text of the end of the 10th cent., the T'ai-p'ing huan-yü chi, which will be discussed infra, p. 478.

Despite all these quotations, I suspect that the designation of the tree as wu-t'ung is a misnomer, and that we have to deal either with a silk-cotton tree (Bombax malabaricum), or a cotton tree (Gossypium arboreum). Lu Chi's text, in which the tree from whose flowers cloth was made is called po-t'ung, says that the wood is good for making psalteries, and this would exclude Gossypium arboreum. But I think it would also exclude Bombax malabaricum. Lu CM must have combined data which concerned two different trees. There is no question of « psalteries » in the text of the Hua-yang kuo chih and the Hou-Han shu, and the name is given there as wu-t'ung, not po-t'ung. Moreover, a simple look at chs. 237-239 of the ts'ao-mu tien section of the T'u-shu