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0541 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 541 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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183. COTTON   525

blood, but no flesh, and, instead of flesh, a certain stuff which reminded one of crawfish. It was rooted into the ground by the navel, and pastured all around the root, and when there was no more grass to eat, it would die. Wolves were very fond of [eating] it.

All this has passed into SCALIGER (§ Agnus Scythica) and CARDANO, who, however, altered the name to « borametz » and « barometz », respectively. It is clear that the word meant by HERBER-STEIN is not barantik, as said by CORDIER (Odoric de Pordenone, 426, and Y1, II, 242) but baranec (c == ts), another diminutive form of baran, « sheep » (HERBERSTEIN'S « borametz » was not a mistake, since baran occurs as baran in old Russian texts; cf. BERNEKER, Slay. Etymol. Wörterbuch, I, 43); by some misunderstanding, HERBERSTEIN attributed to the Tartars the Russian designation used by Dmitrii Daniifovic. In 1607, MARGERET (L'Estat de la Russie, 1855 ed. by H. CHEVREUL, xv, 2) describes the « animal plant », without giving its name. This was, however, well known in his time, but SCALIGER'S erroneous form borametz, or rather CARDANO'S barometz, had prevailed. In DuRET's Hist. admirable des plantes and in CoLIN's translation of Monardès, a figure of the barometz is followed by the opinions expressed on the subject by SCALIGER, CARDANO (1501-1576), G. POSTEL (1510-1581; adduced also by HERBERSTEIN as having heard a similar story from Michael, official interpreter of Turkish and Arabic in Venice; RAMUSIO's translation does not contain this paragraph, in which fur caps made from the « plant » are said to be brought from Samarkand), J. B. PORTA (1550-1615), DU BARTAS (1544-1590), and Blaise DE VIGENÈRE (1523-1596). Although largely indebted to SCALIGER, OLEARIUS (in 1636) correctly gives boranez like HERBER-STEIN; and so does J. J. STRUYSS (1669; Dutch ed. of 1686, in-4, 191; the «bonnaret» quoted by CORDIER, Odoric de Pordenone, 430, is a mistake of the French edition of 1718). John BELL of Antermony (Travels from St Petersburg, 4to ed., Glasgow, 1763, I, 43-44) comes to a negative conclusion, and so does CHAPPE d'AUTEROCHE in his Voyage en Sibérie (1768, fol., I, 346).

Even in the case of travellers who speak partly from personal experience, all the accounts can be traced back to HERBERSTEIN, either directly or through SCALIGER. AS to HERBERSTEIN himself, I entertain a suspicion that he may have known either Odoric (perhaps in the French edition of 1529), or the more popular Maundeville, and is indebted to one of them for the « melon »; but I must admit that there is no mention in Odoric or Maundeville of the sheep's navel being rooted in the ground, which finds a counterpart in mediaeval Chinese accounts. Since it also occurs in Talmudic texts, I wonder whether one of these had possibly come to the knowledge of HERBER-STEIN. BRUCKNER (Russische Revue, xxi [1882], 131-132) says that SPRENGEL was the first to connect « erroneously » the Odoric and Maundeville tale with HERBERSTEIN'S account and states that J. BAUHIN ( 1613) had carefully distinguished the two, making the former vegetable lamb to be MONARDÉS'S « dracunculus », i.e. « dragon's blood » (on which cf. HR, 197-198). This is an error, and BRUCKNER must have read very superficially BAUHIN who, in his Historia Plantarum (1650), I, lib. III, 405-406, devotes ch. 213 to « dragon's blood », and ch. 214 to « Agnus Scythica, Borometz ». It is in the latter chapter that he speaks both of the Odoric-Maundeville tale, and of the « borometz », for which he is indebted to SCALIGER. According to BAUHIN, the plant « had wool, flesh, and blood, and resembled a iamb in every respect, growing, however, on a stalk a yard high. Turning about on its flexible stem, it consumed the herbage within its reach and then pined away with the failure of the food until it died. » For the mediaeval tale, the mention that the animal.