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0022 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 22 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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of Greek ûÄrß, « matter ». The name has passed into Y, II, 485. Qarâ Milan, however, can hardly be anything else than a misreading of ,35.1,*;Ip Qarânyulûq, « Darkness » in Turkish.

I do not think that the mention of the mares and the she-asses in one of Ragid's legendary accounts of Oyuz-khan can serve to prove the great antiquity of the tale. Both Rasid's notices are

pervaded with Mussulman influence; on the contrary, nothing is said of the land of Darkness in the Uighur legend of Oyuz-khan, which, though not earlier than Rasid, is free from any Mussulman element (cf. TP, 1930, 349-358). In my opinion, both Rasid's source and Polo are in fact indebted, at least indirectly, to some Oriental rifacimento of the romance of Alexander.

This connection of the legend of Alexander with the Oriental tradition concerning the land of Darkness is, moreover, established by a passage of the Masâlik al-Absâr (middle of the 14th cent.) :

« Beyond that, you see no trace of habitation except a great tower built by Alexander, after which

there is nothing but Darkness » (cf. Y, It, 485; in this note, YULE, in agreement with QUATRE-MERE [Not. et Extr., XIII, I, 275] says that « Julman » is supposed to be the region on the Kama and

Viatka; but this seems hardly reconcilable with the statement in Rasidu-'d-Din [QUATREMkRE, 275-276], and with the text quoted by QUATREMÈRE himself, p. 278, which locates Colman between Sibir and Ibir [or Abar] to the west, and Qara-Qorum to the east; cf., however, MARQUART, Ueber das Volkstum der Comanen, 134).

Ibn Battûtah, when at Bulyâr (= Uspenskoe, four miles east of the Volga, and about 90 miles

south of Kazan; see « Bolgara »), thought of visiting the « land of Darkness » (:.,   Ard-a--

7uimah; in other texts Ard a?-Zulmât in the plural), but gave it up on account of the difficulty of getting there; it lay forty days beyond Bulyâr, and people had to travel in dog sledges; merchants get there skins of sable, vair, and ermine through dumb trade, from people whom they never see.

Instead of the « land of Darkness », earlier Mussulman writers, whose accounts go back to the lost one of Ibn Fadiân, mention the , Visa, whose country lay three months beyond Bulyâr;

Ibn Fadiân was at Bulyâr in A.D. 922. FRÄHN was the first, in his Ibn-Foszlan (written in 1823;

p. 205-233), to identify the Visa with the Finnish Ves' (pi. Vesi) in the Chronicle of Nestor, who, in their turn, are probably the same as the Vas of Jordanes (c. A. D. 552) and the Wilzi (read Witzi

or Wizzi) of Adam of Bremen (t 1076 A. D.). This solution is now universally accepted (cf. Y, it,

486; MARQUART, Osteurop. and ostasiat. Streifzüge, 10; Über das Volkstum der Komanen, 29; FERRAND, in JA, 1925, II, 24, 118, 238, 270). According to Ibn Fadiân, the king of Bulyâr had

written to the Wisû who, in their answer, stated that they were at three months' distance from Gog and Magog (FRÄHN, 207-208). Nestor expressly says that the Ves' country lay in the region of the Béloe Ozero, or « White Lake »; this is considered to be identical with the present Béloe Ozero, in the northern part of the Novgorod Government, on the southern bank of which is Bélozersk. Perhaps drawing from a lost source which may ultimately be Ibn Fadiân, Qazwini (t 1283) is first (FRÄHN, 210) to ascribe to the Wisû the dumb trade which, a little later, Abû-'l-Fida (II, t, 284) and Ibn Battûtah describe almost in the same terms, but without giving the name of any nation. Qazwini adds that the same is said to be practised in southern countries with the negroes. Bâkuwi (FRÄHN, 205) merely copies Qazwini. The other Qazwini, I3amdullah Mustawfi, writing in 1339, certainly also mentioned the Wisû in connection with the land of Darkness; but the names are