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0023 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 23 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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desperately corrupt (cf. LE STRANGE, The geographical parts of the Nuzhat-al-Qulub, transi., 231, 249).

Without questioning the identification of the Wisû with the Ves', it must be admitted that many points remain open to doubt. FRÄHN showed some hesitation in identifying the people practising the dumb trade according to Abû-'I-Fida and Ibn Battûtah with the Wisû of Ibn Fad'an, and this hesitation is reflected in YULE'S note. The distances cannot easily be reconciled, being forty days in one case, and three months in the other. But Qazwini expressly speaks of the dumb trade in connection with the Wisû, and it is hard to believe that people who would not show themselves to traders should have answered a letter sent to them by the king of Bulyar; still more that they should have had any knowledge of Gog and Magog. HERBERSTEIN (Notes upon Russia, MAJOR'S transi., Hakluyt Society, i, 40) speaks of the dumb trade, but in connection with the people of Luksmore, in the region of the Obi (cf. also BADDELEY, Russia, Mongolia, China, I, LXIXLXX). Even the connection of the Ves' with the Béloe Ozero rests only on the passage in Nestor's Chronicle. YULE has echoed ( Y, II, 486) the opinion of « a Russian author » according to whom the Béloe Ozero was anciently called Wiisu (not « Wiisu » as in YULE), which, « misunderstood into Weissensee », was rendered Béloe Ozero into Russian. The « Russian author » is TATIMEV, who stated (Istoriya Rossiïskaya, II, 362) that the name « Béloe Ozero » was translated from the «Sarmatian» Wiisu, altered into Ves' by Nestor. FRÄHN (pp. 221-222), while admitting that TATI REV generally used « Sarmatian » in the sense of « Finnish », could not find any Finnish term giving the alleged sense, and then thought of a dialectical German *Wiis-su equivalent to « Weisser See » (not « Weissensee »). But there is no authority for TATIMEV's statement beyond his own word, a German *Wiis-su is quite arbitrary, and there is no visible reason why the Russians should have resorted to a German intermediary to name a lake in Finnish territory. This etymology is the weakest part in FRÄHN's otherwise very scholarly argument. I may add that the « White Lake » may have been conceived as much more extensive than the present Béloe Ozero. On Fra Mauro's map, there is a « Mar Biancho », from which several rivers flow to the west unto the Volga; twice we are told that the « Tartar » name was « Hactenis », = Aq-tängiz, which actually means « White Sea » in Turkish (cf. Zu, 25, 31; HALLBERG, 76; « Tactenis » is a misreading of ZURLA). This « sea » is identified by ZURLA (Zu, 114-115) with the Baikal, and it is true that its location on the map is quite eastern. But, at the same time, Fra Mauro, explaining the three Russias, « White Russia », « Black Russia », and « Red Russia », says that White Russia was the part of Russia which was in the region of the White Sea, and this excludes the Baikal. But the names of places in Russia or adjacent to Russia on Fra Mauro's map would require a long discussion which cannot be undertaken in the present note (for the importance retained by the « White Lake » in the cartography of the first part of the 16th cent., cf. BADDELEY, op. cit., I, cxvi).

Fra Mauro also mentions a « region de tenebre », and in it a notice occurs : « Questi populi de Boler e Mallamata al tempo de inverno habitano soto terra » (cf. Zu, 31, not quite correct, and HALLBERG, 328, 529). I do not know what « Mallamata » is. As to « Boler », HALLBERG (p. 74) was mistaken in identifying it with Polo's « Bolor » (q. v.) on the borders of Afghanistan and India : it is the « Bular » or « Bolar » of the Secret History, Abû-'l-Fida, and Schiltberger, the « Bileri » of Plan-Carpine, i. e. Bulyâr (see « Boigara »). But this shows an undue extension of the Land of