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0039 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 39 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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212. DRY (LONE) TREE   635

was the country of the King Ahasuerus. In this (city) they say the Dry Tree (arbor sicca) is in a mosque, that is to say in a church of the Saracens. » John of Hildesheim, writing in 1364-1375, also says that the Dry Tree stood in a temple of the Tartars (cf. KAMPERS, Vom Werdegange, 116) ;

but, in my opinion, it can hardly be doubted that he is here indebted to Odoric. At the beginning

of the next century, Clavijo too saw the Dry Tree at Tabriz (cf. CORDIER, Odoric de Pordenone, 24-25; SREZNEVKIÎ, Klavikho, 170-171; LE STRANGE, Clavijo, 154-155 [ not literal]) : « In the city,

near a square, a dry tree (un arbol seco) stands in a street, close to a house, and it is said that the

tree will become verdant [again], and that, at that time, a Christian bishop will go to that city with a great many Christians; that he will raise up a Cross with his hand, and will convert those of the

said city to the faith in Jesus Christ. This, they say, is what a Moor Zayten, who was a sort of her-

mit, had said. They say that the people of the city were highly incensed about this and went to fell that tree; they struck three blows with the axe on it, but those who struck had their arm broken.

The Moor who had said the [above] died a short time ago, and people say that he had said many other things. They even say that when Tamurbec (= Tamerlane) was in the city, he sent for the Moor, and that the Moor told him that and many other things. The said tree stands to-day there in that street, and nobody dares approach it. » « Zayten » is supposed to represent santon, but this would require collateral evidence. I do not see why YULE ( YI, II, 103) says that « there is some hiatus» in Clavijo's story. Clavijo's evidence, clearly independant from Odoric, corroborates the text of the latter as to the location of the Dry Tree in Tabriz.

Of the three Dry Trees mentioned above, that of Mamre, in the Valley of Hebron, has no title to be identified with the Dry Tree which was, so to say, at the limit of the world; it was a holy dry tree, with much symbolism attached, but no more. In fact, the conflicting data are only those of Odoric, who locates the Dry Tree at Tabriz, and of Polo, for whom it was somewhere in north-eastern Uorasân. I think it is not impossible to account for the discrepancy.

We have seen that, according to Odoric, Tabriz was anciently called « Susis », and was the city of the King Ahasuerus; this leaves no doubt that Odoric means Susa. « Suors » of the Acta Sanctorum is an erroneous reading. Jean Le Long's French translation gives « Faxis, autres dient Sussis » (CORDIER, Odoric de Pordenone); the first form is also a mere misreading of the second, though it is responsible for the « Faxis »>- « Taxis » in Maundevile. Of course, the location of Susa at Tabriz sounds absurd to us, but it was commonly accepted in the Middle Ages. In 1404, the author of the Libellus de notitia orbis, who had spent part of his life in the East, speaks of «Thauris—que ohm Susis dicebatur, ubi Assuerus convivuum magnum fecit ut in iibro Hester habetur » (cf. A. KERN, in Arch. Fratr. Praedicat., VII, [1938], 117). Even Fra Mauro, whose map correctly mentions « Susa » and « Susiana » near the Persian Gulf, has the following notice on Tabriz (cf. Zu, 46; HALL-BERG, 521) : « Civitas magna Thauris (« Cuntas n in ZURLA and HALLBERG is a misreading of « Ciuitas »). questa e sul termine de persia e fo za granda tra armini de la quai teredatio (= Tiridates) ne fo re. ma da poi presa per tamberlan (= Tamerlane) esso quasto ogni sua nobilitade. ete vulgo in queste parte questa esser stada la citade de susi (« Fusi » in ZURLA and HALLBERG is a misreading) dove se dire alexandro tollese la bataia con dario. e al presente el fiol de charaisuf (= Qara-Yûsuf) ne signor e questa e nel arminia granda ».

Apart from the identification of Tabriz with Susa, the remarkable passage in this notice is the