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0529 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 529 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   513

ch. 102 of the Wei shu than we have ourselves, and there is no earlier encyclopaedia known which might have preserved such a section and from which the Yüan-chien lei-han might have quoted.

There is nothing in that would-be quotation from the [Hou] Wei shu which we do not find in earlier or later sources. I consider that it is a rifacimento, a more or less conscious forgery, which cannot be adduced as being a quotation of the legend of the « ground born iambs » of a date earlier than Chang Shou-chieh.

In its section on Ta-Ch'in (193, 4 a), the T'ung tien, completed in 801, gives the same text as Chang Shou-chieh, except that, the whole paragraph being devoted to Ta-Ch'in, it simply begins here with « To the north... » (without « Ch'in » or « Ta-Ch'in »). More important is another

discrepancy : instead of the final n   wei ch'ün, « they form herds », the T'ung tien gives ,
wu ch'iin, «they have no herds ».

The Pei-hu lu was completed c. 875 (cf. BEFEO, ix, 223). We read there (Shih-wan-chiianlou ts'ung-shu ed., i, 21 b) : « Moreover, the Fu-lin kingdom has Iambs which are born in the ground. The people of the country wait until they are about to shoot forth (mêng), and [then] build enclosures to hold them, so as to prevent outside beasts from devouring them. The navel of these [iambs] is attached to the ground; if it were cut, they would die. But men don cuirasses, mount on horseback and beat drums to frighten them. The lambs shriek in terror, and the navel breaks [of itself]. Thereupon they set out in search of water and pasture. » There is here no question of the herds.

Next comes the Chiu T'ang shu (198, 12 a), which gives, in the section on Fu-lin (< *Frôm = Rôm) or Ta-Ch'in, a text identical with that of the Pei-hu lu (it is mistranslated by HIRTH, China and the Roman Orient, 54).

The T'ai-p'ing huan yü chi (184, 4 a) copies the text of the T'ung-tien, and, like the T'ung tien, says that the lambs do not form herds.

The text in the T'ang hui-yao (99, 23 a) is the same as in the Pei-hu lu and the Chiu T'ang shu.

The Hsin T'ang shu (221 B, 8 a) would represent the same text as is found in the Chiu T'ang

shu in terser literary style, except that it ends like the T'ung tien with   fiL ;: pu-nêng ch'ün,
« they cannot form herds » (* A chieh-ma, « in armour and on horseback », has been misunderstood by HIRTH, loc. cit. 60).

The T'ung chih (196, 25 a) copies the T'ung tien, and the Wên-hsien t'ung-k'ao (339, 1 a) copies the T'ung chih (LauFER, The Story of the Pinna, 116, was mistaken when he believed that the author of the Wên-hsien t'ung-k'ao was indebted to Chang Shou-chieh's quotation). A much abridged version of the same text occurs in the K'ung liu t'ieh (Po K'ung liu tieh, 96, 24 a).

So far for the story of the « ground born lambs ». All the texts go back ultimately to one original, that which was incompletely quoted by Chang Shou-chieh, and which, unless we suppose that Chang Shou-chieh made an error in indicating his source, must belong to a work written as early as the middle of the 3rd cent. So this legend is practically contemporaneous with that of the « water sheep ». It has two remarkable features : one is the armour donned by men on horseback to frighten the Iambs, the other that the lambs did not form herds, since the isolated statement to the contrary in Chang Shou-chieh's quotation is almost certainly the result of a corruption.