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0510 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 510 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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494   183. COTTON

In 1923, because of Hui-Tin's remark that these « Mo-lu tieh » were « in fact woollen cloth », I referred to them as « Mo-lu fine woollen cloth ». But it is clear that Hui-lin himself felt that there was there a contradiction in terms, since Hsüan-tsang spoke of woollen textiles, and he, Hui-lin, knew that tieh or po-tieh was cotton; hence his remark, which would imply that «Mo-lu tieh » was a misnomer. I think that the solution lies in another direction, and that the « Mo-lu (*Muât-luk) tieh » have nothing to do with Bharuka (Aqsu) ; if Hui-lin brought them together, it was merely because he wrongly identified the two names on account of some phonetic analogy.

Already in Han times, the Chinese knew of the existence on the eastern part of An-hsi

(= the Parthian Empire), of a city called J;   Mu-lu, which has already been identified with
Merw by HIRTH (China and the Roman Orient, 142-143) and VON GUTSCHMID (Geschichte Irans, 66); cf. CHAVANNES (TP, 1907, 177). LAUFER (Sino-Iranica, 187) objected that Mu-lu was *Muk-luk, and could not i egularly represent Mouru, the form in which Merw occurs in the Avesta. But Môuru, or Môury — rests on old-Persian Margav —, young-Avestik Maryav- (cf. BARTHOLOMAE, Altiran. Wörterbuch, 1147, 1169), to which we find corresponding forms in «Margiana» and in Armen. « Marg » (cf. HÜBSCHMANN, Armen. Grammatik, I, 51). The geographical equivalence Mu-lu = Merw can hardly be doubted, and, to make it phonetically acceptable,

we have only to suppose that 4(∎ mu (*muk) is corrupt for   mo (*mudt), as already sug-
gested by SCHLEGEL (TP, 1901, 6). This corruption seems to have occurred in pre-T'ang times since, when the old geographical names were artificially used in 656-660 for a new administrative organization of the Western countries, the region of Bubara became the government of Mu-lu (cf. CHAVANNES, Doc. sur les Tou-kiue, 138, 273, 347). Yet it may be that the Mu-lu form in the Hsin T'ang shu is itself not original. We read in the section devoted to the Arabs in the

Hsin T'ang shu (221 B, 8 b) that « a man of 71∎ j Mu-lu in Horasân, called Ak   t 4
Ping-po-hsi-lin, rose against the Khalif Märwân (this passage had been misunderstood by BRETSCHNEIDER, On the knowledge possessed by the ancient Chinese of the Arabs, 9). From the T'ang hui-yao (100, 12 b) and the T'ai-p'ing huan yü chi (186, 13 b), we are certain that in

this case the source of the Hsin T'ang shu is the lost p   [L Ssû-i shu, «Memoir on the

four Barbarians (= on all foreign countries) », by ~_   Chia Tan (730-805). There can be no

doubt that « Ping-po-hsi-lin », in which the first two characters are corrupt (the T'ai-p'ing huanyii chi, 186, 14 a, gives Li[ ;1_]-po-hsi-lin, which is no better), transcribes the name of the well-known Abû Muslim. As to his place of origin, it is written A; , Mu-ts'u in the T'ai-p'ing

huan-yii chi (186, 14 a), but ;   Mo-ts'u in the T'ang hui-yao (100, 13 a). It is quite
certain that ts'u is corrupt for lu (the intermediary form being the ,t. variant of ts'u); but the mo reading of the T'ang hui-yao may be correct. Even if it is not, it shows how easily a confusion can take place between 7[c mu and I; mo.

But *   Mu-lu, or ;   Mo-lu, is not the only transcription of the name of Merw in
T'ang times. The Hsin T'ang shu (221 B, 8 b-9 a) has a notice on the « small kingdom » Mo-lu (*Muât-luk), located east of the Ta-shih (Arabs), in which many people have the surname A.; Mu (cf. LAUFER, Sino-Iranica, 381, 399, 402, without identification). Here again, the source of the information is not doubtful; it is them fie äL Ching-hsing chi, i. e. the account written

by $1   Tu Huan, who had been made a prisoner by the Arabs at the battle of Talas in 751,