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0538 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 538 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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522   183. COTTON

the titles A. g, Hsi-yü tsung-chih and A" I.4   so-t'an. In the ms. copy of the

Bibliothèque Nationale (COURANT, Catalogue, Nos. 1830-1831, where it is given as anonymous, and cf. No. 707) the passage occurs in ch. 8 (it has been omitted in GUELUY'S translation, Description de la Chine occidentale, in Muséon, 1886-1887). Ch'i-shih-i's work is dated 1778 and is based to a great extent on personal information; but I am not certain that, in the present case, he is not

indebted to JUAN K'uei-shêng. A similar passage in   3 CHAO Shên-chên's   ji   Yii-
ch'ao tsa-chih (2, 30 a-b) is expressly stated to have been derived from the Hsi-yü wên-chien-lu, but CHAO Shên-chên introduces the quotation with the following remark : « Formerly I had heard that in the Western Countries (Hsi-yü) they sowed bones to produce sheep. The method was to sow [the bones] the preceding year; the next year, at the vernal equinox, people would recite spells and beat drums, and the sheep would jump out by themselves. The accounts in the books of stories (shuo pu) say the same.... » At the end of the passage, we read that the « sheep with

heavy bones » which were of grey colour were popularly known as A f   ts'ao-shang shuang,
« frost on grass ». The latter term has remained in use down to our own day as the designation of « grey astrakhan » (cf. GILES's Dictionary, s. v. shuang; KIONG and COURTOIS, Quelques mots sur la politesse chinoise [Var. Sin. No. 25], 24, 102, and Tx'û yüan). In the modern name of ano-

ther fur, _4   ch'ing chung-yang (ibid. 102), lit. « blue-green sowed sheep », I can see but a
survival of the old tale. No modern Chinese author seems to have doubted the existence of this

vegetable animal, and an author of the middle of the last century 'tit    LIANG Shao-jên, who

speaks of some (very doubtful) freaks of nature in his jfi ftt   ]4j 4- 0   Liang-pan ch' iu yü-
an sui-pi, completed in 1837 (Hsiao-shuo pi-chi tu-kuan ed., 8, 25 b), is content with the remark that « as to the ' sowed sheep ' (chung-yang) of the Western Countries, it is still more difficult to explain D.

After quoting the Chinese texts, we must now interpret them, and this will only be possible by making use also of Western documents.

The chief authority is Odoric (Y', u, 240-241; Wy, 482-483) : « Another really marvellous thing may be related, which however I did not see, but heard from trustworthy persons. For it is said that Cadeli (var. Cadelis, Cadili, Calle, Cauli, Caoli, Caloy, Kaloy, Chadli; Maundeville :

Cadilla, Caldilhe; cf. also HALLBERG, 89) is a great kingdom, in which there are the mountains which are called Caspei (var. Capesei, Capesci; ' Capei ' in Wy, 482, is a misprint). And it is said that very large melons (pepones) grow there, which, when they be ripe, open of themselves, and a little beast is found inside like a small lamb, so that they have both the melons and the meat that is there. And although that may seem incredible, yet it may be quite true; just as it is true that there be in Ireland trees which produce birds. »

LEE (The Vegetable Lamb, 11) says that « Capsius » (in fact, this form does not occur) is

«probably an error of transcription for ' Caspius '. The mountain of Caspius (now Kasbin) is about eighty miles due south to the Caspian Sea, and in Persian territory, near Teheran ». LAUFER (The Story of the Pinna, 125) repeats and adopts this identification, which he attributes to YULE; but YULE said nothing of the kind, and CORDIER (in Y', u, 243) expressly stated that LEE was « here mistaken ». LEE'S « Kasbin » is of course Qazvin (see « Casvin »), which is the name of a city, not of a mountain. YULE'S own opinion (Y1, u, 242) was that « the Caspian mountains are cif