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0619 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 619 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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The important fact is that it was already known to the Arabs in the 9th cent. as being visible in the land of the Zängi. Later Arabic lore gives the same information. In Ya'qût's geographical dictionary, completed in 1224, there is a paragraph to the following effect (cf. DEVIC, Le pays des Zendjs, 21; STORBECK, in MSOS, XVII [1914], II, 111) : « [In the land of the Zinj, people] see in the sky something of the size of the moon, similar to an arch (taga) or to a small cloud, which neither disappears nor recedes. I asked many people about it, and all gave the same answer. The Zinj give it a name which I do not remember, and they do not know what it really is. » Of course, DEViC here suggests the same explanation that it was a Magellanic cloud which YULE thought of for Pietro d'Abano. It may be worth pointing out that Ya'giit's «arch» (which I prefer as an equivalent of toga to DEViC's «fenêtre ronde », or to STORBECK'S «Schieier »; the word is ambiguous) is in agreement with Polo's supposed drawing, especially when the latter is looked at vertically, as it is given in the ms., instead of being drawn horizontally as in Y, t, 120.

A manuscript note left by YULE and added in Y, t, 120, n. -j-, draws attention to the resemblance of the drawing in Pietro d'Abano's work with «cloud » designs in Oriental carpets, the « nebula » in heraldry, an undetermined Chinese term signifying « cloud », and a mysterious Persian term «silen-i-khitai ». I am not in a position to throw any light on these points. A friend suggested that the drawing may be meant for the « Caput draconis », the usual sign for which is SI. The similarity is certainly striking, but can hardly be more than a coincidence. The «star» meant by the Arab sources and by Polo is something real, whereas the «Caput draconis» is merely an astronomical point, the ascending node of the moon. The designation of the ascending and descending nodes of the moon as « head » and «tail» of the dragon is a very old notion, common to ancient Greek as well as Chinese astronomy and astrology. Although they have often been regarded as «planets» (the Râhu and Ketu of Indian lore), they were fictitious astral bodies, which nobody of course could pretend to have seen in the sky.

On the relative location of «Çanghibar» and «Mogedaxo n according to Polo, see «Mogedaxo D.


ardadam, zedandi (?) G ardanda TA', TA3 ardandam LT, P ardandan VA

arddandan F ardidan VB cardandan R chardadan V

çardandan Fr, t, L, Z iardandam FAt zardandan FA, FB

Polo's form strictly transcribes the Persian 3\.6.) Zar-dandin « Gold-teeth », of exactly the

same meaning as the corresponding Chinese name   Chin-ch'ih. The Catalan Map gives
« p. zardadain », = Provincia Zardadain (misread « Perzae-dadain » by BUCHON, Not. et Extr. XIV, ii, 142, and by CORDIER, L'Extrême-Orient dans l'Atlas Catalan, 16, 22; other misreadings in