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0515 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 515 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   499

with an iron staff and gently card [the floss] with a small bow to make it mix and rise; then they spin and weave it into a cloth which is called chi-pei. At present, that which the trade appreciates in mu-mien is the sort which is fine and dense (54 chin). That must be considered

superior which has most flowers; in counting (cross-wise) [the mu-mien] which reaches up to 120 flowers is of the best quality. The southern Barbarians (Man-jên) of Hai-nan (or 'south of

the Sea') weave the [mu-mien] into napkins ((f 1 chin), on which they draw small characters or

various flowers, with the most clever art; this is what was anciently called 'po-tieh napkins' (po-tieh chin) ...» Fang Cho's mu-mien, seven or eight feet high, is clearly the Gossypium

arboreum. I feel inclined to believe that his « Hai-nan Man-jên » are not some undetermined Barbarians « south of the Sea », i. e. of the South Seas, but really the Li aborigines of Hai-nan, and that he was right in attributing to them the manufacture of the « po-tieh napkins », mentioned more than once by T'ang poets.

The Tun-chai hsien-lan was written at the beginning of the 12th cent. (cf. supra, p. 438). The passage on mu-mien is too similar to that in the Wên-ch'ang tsa-lu not to have been copied

from it. Yet it contains a sentence which is not in the original, unless it has been omitted in

the quotation made of it in the Shuo fu. The Tun-chai hsien-lan says : « Beginning with Min (= Fu-chien) and Kuang[-tung] and more to the south, there is much cotton (mu-mien). The

local peasants emulate one another in planting it, and some have as much as several thousand stalks. They collect its flowers to make a cloth which is called chi-pei cloth (chi pei pu). » Then the Tun-chai hsien-lan speaks of the ku-pei of the Nan shih in the same terms as the Wen-ch'ang tsa-lu.

Yü Chêng-hsieh (Kuei-ssa lei-kao, 7, 21 a, and 14, 4 b) has mentioned a passage on the

forms chi-pei and ku-pei, which occurs in what he calls « P'êng Shêng's   J Mo-

k'o hui-hsi »; in fact, it is to be found in the Hsü [,] Mo-k'o hui-hsi (Han fên-lou ts'ung-shu

ed., I, 6-7), and is identical with the one just translated from the Tun-chai hsien-lan. But, although the Ssû-k'u ... Commissioners accepted the ascription of the work to P'êng Shêng

and were forced to suppose that he was homonymous with, but different from, the well-known P'êng Shêng of the Northern Sung (Ssû-k'u ... , 141, 9-10), it is now well established that both the Mo-k'o hui-hsi and the Hsii Mo-k'o hui-hsi are anonymous compilations made up in late Sung times of extracts from the works of Sung authors, one of these works being precisely the Tun-chai hsien-lan (cf. WANG Kuo-wei's Kuan-t'ang wei-chi, I, 3, and TP, 1929, 156).

Even if we discard the last two texts as not being original, those of the Wên-ch'ang tsa-lu and the Po-chai pien leave no doubt that cotton cultivation was already extensively practised in Kuang-tung and Fu-chien at the end of the 11th century.

The aA3/4Nung-sang chi-yao, « Manual of agriculture and silkworm breeding », in 7 chs. was prepared by order of Qubilai, and has a preface dated 1273 by the well-known scholar,

_L   Wang P'an (on whom, cf. YS, 160, 1-3; not I it Wang P'an, as in BRETSCHNEIDER,

Botanicon Sinicum, I, 82). It went through several editions, in 1314 (?), 1320, perhaps 1322, and by Imperial order was largely distributed throughout the country in 1329, 1332 arid 1342;

it was really the official manual of husbandry of the Mongol period (cf. PELLIOT, A propos du Keng tche t'ou, in Mém. conc. l'Asie Orientale, I, 112; Tu-shu min-ch'iu chi chiao-chêng, 3 B,