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0038 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 38 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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634   212. DRY (LONE) TREE

from the fruit of the Tree, and placed them under the tongue of his father, when burying him in the Valley of Hebron ; a triple shoot sprang up of cedar, cypress, and pine, but the three eventually united into one stem ( Y, I, 136) ; it is also in the Valley of Hebron that Maundevile locates the Dry Tree, but for him it was an oak : « A lytille fro Ebron is the Mount of Mambre, of the whyche the Valeye taketh his name. And there is a Tree of Oke that the Saracens clepen Dirpe, that is of Abraham's Tyme, the which men clepen the Drye Tree » (cf. Y, I, 131; instead of « dirpe », or « dyrp », some Mss. of Maundevile give « sirpe n, hence the wrong reading « supe » in MONMERQUÉ and Francisque MICHEL, quoted by CORDIER, Odoric de Pordenone, 23). There can be no doubt that Maundevile copied this passage from an earlier work, and it is practically certain that this earlier work was the Tractatus de Terra Sancta published by J. C. M. LAURENT, Peregrinatores Medii Aevi Quatuor, Leipzig, 1864, as the work of Odoric de Pordenone. This ascription has still been retained by BOVENSCHEN (in Zeitschr. d. Ges. f. Erdk., XXIII [1888], 238-240) and by HALLBERG (p. 40), but it is untenable; to YULE'S judgement in YI, n, 22-23, may be added that the Pseudo-Odoric, like his plagiarist Maundevile, locates the Dry Tree in the Valley of Hebron, whereas, as we shall see, Odoric's real identification of the Dry Tree is quite different. But the agreement of the Pseudo-Odoric with many of the Mss. of Maundevile establishes that the true « Saracen n form of the name of the tree actually is dirp, not « sirpe ». REINAUD and Francisque MICHEL, starting from dirp, have thought

of Arabic   dulb, « plane », and this would be quite satisfactory, if it were not for the indication
of the « oak D. Curiously enough, Schiltberger (LANGMANTEL ed., 72) has copied Maundevile's whole paragraph. He used a text which gave the wrong reading sirpe, hence (p. 189) FALLMERAYER'S natural, but here mistaken, derivation from Persian särw > Osm. Turk. särvi, « cypress ». But SCHILTBERGER adds the new information that heathen call the Dry Tree « Kurruthereck »; this has been explained by YULE ( Y, I, 131) and by LANGMANTEL (p. 184, perhaps tacitly copying YULE) as Turkish Quru-dirabt, « Dry Tree ». But the explanation is certainly wrong. Diraht is not Turkish, but Persian, and is excluded, although it has more or less passed as däräh in modern Turki of Chinese Turkestan. The word intended is täräk, which means « poplar », a word which RADLOV (III, 2061) hypothetically, but without any ground, connects with diraht; in fact, it is an old Turkish word, already listed as tiräk (= terdk) in Kâsyari, with the same meaning « poplar » (cf. BROCKELMANN, 209). Consequently, for SCHILTBERGER'S informants, the Dry Tree of the Valley of Hebron would seem to have been neither an oak, nor a cypress, but a poplar and not even a balsam-poplar. I must add, however, that, just in the same way as sögüt> sügät, now « willow », had in ancient Uighur the meaning of « tree » in general, « terak » is given as the Turkish word for « tree » in general in Codex Cumanicus (KuuN ed., 103). Whatever the case may be with SCHILTBERGER'S « thereck », one century after him, the tree of Hebron was an oak again according to Friar Anselmo, and quite verdant, having « remained green from the days of Abraham» ( Y, I, 132). As a matter of fact, the tree of Mamre has a long story, which, many centuries before Maundevile, reaches as far back as the time of Constantine and Theodosius. It was at first a terebinth (cf. Y, I, 132), but in the Middle Ages it had become an oak, more precisely an ilex or holly, and is described as such, dry but revered, by Marino Sanudo (Secreta fidelium crucis, BONGARS ed., 248).

The third location of the Dry Tree is that given by Odoric (Wy, 417; YI, II, 102) : « From that country I passed to Tauris, a great city and a royal, which anciently was called Susis. This Susis