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0551 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 551 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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184. COWRIES   535

Febr., 1834, 148; the text, as translated here, is that of the T'ang « stone classics») : « The pei which

lives on land is the 0R piao; the one which is in water is the   han. Great ones are it hang;

small ones are 6A chi. The black (hsüan) is [called] tif,.   i-pei (or «The hsican-pei is a black

pei[i pei] »; the hsüan pei is mentioned in the Wang hui chapter of the I Chou shu, and by Huan K'uan [cf. infra, p. 539]). The et IM yii-ch'ih is yellow with white streaks ; the et, yü. ch'üan is white with yellow streaks. The to pa (or p'a) is wide [in the middle] and pointed at both ends (t1 k'uei); the KA ch'ün is large and thin (? ßA hsien); the itt tsê is small and cylindrical (#i t'o). » This text is not always clear, nor even established with certainty : for instance la chi and it( tsê are graphically similar, and similarly defined; Kuo P'o's commentary (beginning of the 4th century A. D.) and Hsing Ping's sub-commentary (beginning of the 11th century) are based on a text which gave one and the same character in both cases. On the other hand it is abnormal, though not unique, to have in the Êrh-ya two definitions for the same word; the second mention and definition of chi or tsê may or may not be an early interpolation. The i of i-pei

ought perhaps to be read t'ai, since it is certainly the same word as   t'ai of identical meaning.
There are other doubtful forms, and one may hesitate between in hang and in hang, M ch'ih

and   ch'ih, etc. The han, given here as the name of a pei living in the water, occurs elsewhere
(9, 20 b) as the designation of small spiral shells ( - lo). What is clear, however, is that, for the author of the Êrh-ya, the pei was not necessarily a sea-shell. Nor was it always a univalve (gastropod). The ' s J 4 Shang-shu ta-chuan, written in Han times speaks of « great pei» (ta-pei) of the lower Chiang (= Yang-tzû-Chiang) and Huai, which were as big as the feiioe of a cart ($ 4 ch'ê-ch'ii), and ch'ê-ch'ü (written 4 4) has become in later times the regular designation of a large bivalve, the mother-of-pearl shell; Kuo P'o says that these « great pei» were of the hang class. And « great pei» are mentioned, on the same occasion, by Huai-nan-tzû and the T'ai-kung liu-t'ao. In Lu Chi's «Memoir on natural history in the Book of Odes» (middle of the 3rd century; see CorroN, p. 474; Chin-tai pi-shu, ed., 2 B, 42 a), we are told that large pei reached a diameter of one foot (another reading gives « one foot and six or seven inches »); the Tz'i -yilan even speaks of ch'ê-ch'ii measuring three feet in diameter. In the same Tz'u-yican, pei is given as the common designation of both gastropods and bivalves. These various shells were popular enough to have been made the subject of a special treatise, the 40 ft f= Hsiang pei Ching, or «Doctrinal book on the properties of pei». Its text however is poorly established and, as we have it, certainly incomplete. It is to be found in different encyclopaedias or ts'ungshu (T'ai-p'ing yü-lan, 807, 14 b; Shuo fu in 120 ch., ch. 97; MAO Chin's commentary on Lu Chi's Memoir, 2 B, 44-45; T'u-shu chi-ch'êng, ch'in-ch'ung-tien, 156, 3-4; Kao Ssû-sun's Wei lio, Shou-shan-ko ts'ung-shu ed., 1, 5-6; also in one of the enlarged editions of the Han-Wei ts'ungshu, etc.; cf. Ts'ung-shu to tz'û-tien, 4-189); yet none of the editions I have seen seems to have copied the somewhat different passage quoted in T'ai-p'ing yü-lan, 941, 1 a. KLAPROTH (JA, Febr., 1834, 149) and KARLGREN (Some fecundity symbols, 35) have translated part of its descriptions of pei, some of the names of which do not occur elsewhere, and may be imaginary (several of these names are now given as scientific designations of various species of Cyprcea, for

instance   R wei-pei, f ,: shou-pei, {4` ~ fou-pei (cf. TARANZANO, Vocabulaire, I, 372), but
they seem to have been merely culled from the Hsiang pei ching by modern scholars). KARLGREN