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0043 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 43 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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215. EGIPTE   639

MMrayim), transcribed ?jJ itfi   (*Mjuat-sip,-lji) in 1178 by Chou Ch'ü-fei, and in the

same manner in 1225 by Chao Ju-kua; but, in another section, and probably from a different source,

Chao Ju-kua gives the same name, transcribed   ft,   Mi-hsti-li (*Mjét-zjwo-Iji9), as that of the
capital of the Arabs (cf. HR, 24, 115, 120, 144-145).

Under the Mongols, the same name Misr is transcribed Pi   If Mi-ssû-êrh on the map of
c. 1330, directly traced on a Mohammedan original (cf. BRETSCHNEIDER in JNCB, x, 295, and Br, u, 135-136), but is omitted from the corresponding list of YS, 63, 16 b, because Egypt was outside the dominions of the Ilkhan, and has also been left out by T'u Chi (160, 22-33). A short notice on %`;

Mi-ch'i-êrh (read Mi-[ â ]hsi-êrh), Misr, has been preserved in the account of Ch'ang Tê's mission to Persia in 1259 (cf. Br, I, 141-142; the text is poorly established, and partly mistranslated) : «To the west (of T'ien-fang, Mecca), there is the kingdom of Misr; this kingdom is very rich and produces gold. People examine at night the places which are brilliant and mark them with ashes (or « with lime »); the next morning, they dig at them, and there are pieces [of gold] as big as jujubes. There are more than 6 000 li [from there] to Bagdad. West of the kingdom [of Misr] is the sea, and west of the sea the kingdom of Fu-lang (Franks) ». In YS, 149, 6 a-b, the biography of Kuo K'an is often parallel to the account of Ch'ang Tê's mission (cf. also T'u Chi, 59, 5 a). There we are first told that Kuo K'an defeated the Arab (T'ien-fang = Arabia, Mecca, not Egypt) general Chu-shih,

and that then the Sultan ,   Pa-êrh made his submission and surrendered his 185 cities. The Mon-
gol army went 40 li further to the west and arrived at Mi-hsi-êrh (Misr). It was dark already. Nevertheless, leaving invalid soldiers behind, the troops went on for more than 10 li more to the west with gags in their mouths, and the enemy was assailed at night unawares. The Sultan TIT 75 K'o-nai was greatly frightened and made his submission. All this is given in the biography as having taken place in 1257. The whole account is terribly confused, and, probably based on a private document where the part played by Kuo K'an was unduly magnified, it deserves only partial confidence. BRETSCHNEIDER (Br, I, 141) proposed to see in the Sultan *Bar « the Emir Baibars, who commanded the Egyptian army, which entered Syria in 1260 ». The same hypothesis has been formulated, perhaps independently, by NAKA Michiyo, and accordingly it is Baibars who is named in the new biography of Kuo K'an written by T'u Chi (59, 5 a, who moreover hopelessly confuses «Misr» and «Mussulman »). However the account refers not to 1260, but to 1257, and one point is certain : Kuo K'an was already back in Ssû-ch'uan in August 1259; it is hard to believe that Baibars should have been called « sultan » before that date (see « Bondocdaire »); moreover the Sultan *Bar in the Chinese account is not connected with Misr, i. e. Egypt. The Sultan K'o-nai of Misr has been identified more satis-

factorily : it must be Qotuz, and -pi* Jrj K'o-nai is probably altered either from pr   *K'o-to as
supposed by BRETSCHNEIDER, or from 7 Tj *K'o-tao as supposed by NAKA. Michiyo. I hardly need say that the Mongol army never entered Egypt ; but, here as in the case of Polo's « Egipte », I think that we must take Misr as the designation of the whole of the empire of the Mamink, and that any real fighting which may have taken place in 1257 must have occurred on the eastern borders of Palestine and in Syria. Qotuz did not make his submission to the Mongols, either then or later, any more than Baibars after him. But the biographer is lavish in praising the high deeds of Kuo K'an, who, he says, crossed the sea and came back with the submission of the Sultan of the Franks!

BRETSCHNEIDER says (JNCB, x, 295) that the name of Mi-hsi-êrh, or Egypt, occurs « several