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0523 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 523 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   507

capital, Nan-ching, our « Nanking », was first used by Europeans as the designations of certain

silks : cf. for instance « xopas (   . *CI shou-p'a, ' handkerchiefs ') de nanquim » in 1534
(DALGADO, Glosscirio Luso-Asiattco, II, 535), and « raw Lankine silk » in 1615 (YULE, HobsonJobson2, 616). But, in the 18th cent., « nankeen » was used for a kind of cotton stuff. In this sense, YULE'S earliest quotation is dated 1793-1794; the term occurs, however, in Paul et Virginie (1787), and BLOCH (Dict. étymologique, II, 85) traces it back to 1766; it may even be older. The curious fact is that the best « nankeens » do not seem to have always been woven with cotton grown in China. Hsü Kuang-ch'i already remarked that foreign cotton was superior to the Chinese product (cf. supra, p. 489), and, according to a statement which seems to rest on good authority, the best Chinese « nankeens » were made with cotton imported from Pegu (cf. CORDIER, La France en Chine au xviii'' siècle, xxxvi). But this was no longer the case in the 19th cent., as is shown by R. FORTUNE'S Three years wanderings in the Northern Provinces of China, London, 1847, 264-265. According to HEDDE (Description méthodique, 306), the cotton known as Nanking cotton was the yellow one, a fact confirmed by FORTUNE. The three main colours of cotton, white, yellow and bluish, had come to the knowledge of the Chinese, but they are merely accidental varieties of the same species, and often occur together in the same fields (cf. FORTUNE, loc. cit. 265). CHAO Hsüeh-min (Pên-ts'ao kang-mu shih-i, 5, 10 a) quotes a certain it 4kp SHN Chao, whom I cannot identify, as saying : « Among the Barbarians, there are three kinds [of cotton], blue-green, yellow, and white; at present, it is the only white which is particulary current. »

THE AGNUS SCYTHICUS.   Much has been written about the lamb-plant, or Tartarian lamb,

or Agnus scythicus; the main elements of information may be found in Br, I, 154-155; HIRTH, China and the Roman Orient, 54, 260-263; H. LEE, The Vegetable lamb of Tartary, London, 1887; SCHLEGEL, The Shui-yang... and the Agnus scythicus... (in Actes du VIF Congrès international des Orientalistes, 4e partie, 4e section, 17-32); CORDIER, Odoric de Pordenone, 425432; CHAVANNES, in TP, 1907, 183-184; LAUFER, The story of the pinny and the Syrian lamb (in The Journal of American Folk-Lore, xxviii [1915], 103-128); Ed. BRUCKNER, Das Pflanzenschaf (Baranetz) [in Russische Revue, xxi (1882), 131-146; not mentioned in CORDIER, Bibl. Sinica2, 1879, 3981-3982]. I have to examine the problem here because, in some respects, it is closely connected with the history of cotton in Asia.

There are two series of texts, one which speaks of the AK   shui-yang, or « water sheep »,

the other of the ff   chung-yang, or « sowed sheep ».

It has always been said that the earliest text to mention the shui-yang occurred in the Hou-Han shu; but in fact, as in the case of po-tieh (cf. supra, p. 445), the Hou-Han shu really draws from a post-Han source, which is here certainly the Wei lio (second third of the 3rd cent.). In its section on Ta-Ch'in (= Mediterranean Orient), the Wei lio says (cf. HIRTH, China and the

Roman Orient, 71, 112) :   gA

  • -+   TR. 4Ii 0   W *0

^   *redff   . This passage is rendered by HIRTH : « ...They weave fine cloth,

and say they use the down of water-sheep in making it; it is called Hai-hsi-pu [cloth from the