National Institute of Informatics - Digital Silk Road Project
Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books

> > > >
Color New!IIIF Color HighRes Gray HighRes PDF   Japanese English
0499 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 499 (Color Image)

New!Citation Information

doi: 10.20676/00000246
Citation Format: Chicago | APA | Harvard | IEEE

OCR Text


183. COTTON   483

The texts already quoted show that the p'an-chih hua grew in the south-eastern (cf. also Tien hsi, 4, 26 a) and south-western parts of Yün-nan; a last text shows it in the northernmost districts of the province. It occurs in the Ming i-t'ung chih (87, 23 a), where it is said that the p'an-chih hua grows in Pei-shêng chou, i. e. the modern Yung-pei, north of the Yang-tzû and east of Li-chiang. The text adds that it looks like cotton (mien-hua), that cushions can be made of it, and that «it can also be used to make cloth »; I think that the last words rest on a confusion with Cossypium arboreum.

The same confusion occurs in other works. In the Chao-ch'ing f û chih, completed in 18301833 (re-edition of 1876; COURANT, Catalogue, No. 1758; 3, 43 a), there is a notice on mu-mien,

beginning as follows : « It is also called p'an-chih hua. Chi-pei sprouts are grafted on a   ,fri
wu-po root (ken; here = trunk), and they produce flowers which give cotton (i, mien). » I do

not know any such term as wu po, and I think that it is a misprint for   wu-chiu, the tallow-
tree, Stillingia sebifera, which is given in the quotation of the present passage made at an earlier date in Kuei-ssû lei-kao, 14, 5 a. The author of the latter work mentions this as an example of a «cotton plant » which becomes a « cotton tree ». I have found no other allusion to this grafting process, which to a layman seems rather extraordinary. But the main point is that the notice of the mu-mien or p'an-chih hua proceeds with quotations from an older redaction of the Chao-ch'ing fu chih and from the Kuang-tung t'ung-chih which indubitably refer in principle to the Bombax and yet mix it up with the true cotton plant. From the text, it is clear that one of the sources, perhaps ultimately going back to the Ming i-t'ung chih, had said that the floss of the mu-mien could be used not only to stuff cushions, but also to make cloth; this is why the text adds : « On inquiry from Cantonese people, there is nobody who weaves it. » A similar remark occurs in

the   !~jj r 1iß   Chih-wu ming-shih t'u-k'ao (completed in 1848; 30, 3-4), the author of
which, while reproaching Li Shih-chên with having confused mien-hua (Gossypium) with mu-mien (Bombax), gives under mu-mien quotations which can only refer to tree cotton.

YüEx-NO. — Of the terms dealt with by HIRTH and ROCKHILL (HR, 220) as probable designations of « cotton », only one remains to be examined, tfci yüeh-no (Vatilea), which they thought was perhaps the name of a country in T'ang times, and later the name of «a light cotton gauze, or muslin ». Yüeh-no was never the name of a country, but always the designation of a textile (cf. BEFEO, iv, 483). The term first occurs in the Sui shu, 83, 7 b (in the notice on Persia), and remained in use until the end of the Sung; LAUFER has discussed it in his SinoIranica, 493-496. But while stating quite correctly that the normal restitution of yüeh-no would be *varnak, LAUFER sought in it a double designation, yüeh- representing Pers. barnû, or vâlâ, or bcilâs, all names of textiles, and -no being the Pers. nah, Polo's «nac» (q. v.), a sort of brocade. There is a fundamental error in this theory : yuëh-no clearly renders one word, not two. On the other hand, the fact that yuëh-no first occurs in a notice on Persia is a mere accident (I must admit, however, that most mentions occur in connection with Persia and Mussulman countries west of India), and we have to deal with a trade-name then current in Central Asia and the Indian Sea. In my opinion, the simplest solution would be to regard yüeh-no (*1A t at-nâk) as representing some Prâkrit form of Skr. varnakei, a term derived from varnâ (usually « colour ») and