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0044 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 44 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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640   215. EGIPTE

times » in the YS. Apart from Kuo K'an's biography, I have noted it only once (43, 3 a), when

Jani-bäg in 1353 sent the Chinese Emperor a tent (IX ;)j;   ch'a-i-êrh, read ch'a- [4] ch'ih-êrh,

Mong.   < Turk. cratir [BROCKELMANN, Kâsyari, 51] < Pers. câdar) of fa IT; tIJ sa-ha-la (Mong.

saqalat < Pers. saglat and sagirlât, « scarlet » [as the name of a woollen cloth before being that of

a colour] ; cf. JA, 1925, II, 211), swords, bows, and coats of mail of [t {    Q, Mi-hsi-êrh, and two
pairs of western horses, one grey, the other white. Here again, the swords of Misr must be Syrian swords of Damask make.

The Chinese transcription, based on Misir, represents the form which Misr had taken in Uighur. Men were often called by names of countries, and the man « Misir » of a Uighur document of Turfan (cf. RADLOV and MALOV, Uigur. Sprachdenkmäler, 286) must have borne the very name of Egypt. In the Uighur legend of Oyuz-khan, Oyuz fights against a sovereign called « Masar »; despite BANG and RACHMATI'S opinion to the contrary (SPA N, 1932, 714), I still adhere to the view I expressed in TP, 1930, 340, that « Masar » is probably miswritten instead of Misir. The name had passed under the same form Misir into Mongolian : it occurs in Aryûn's famous Mongolian letter of 1289 to Philip the Fair. In « Sanang Setsen » (SCHMIDT ed., 100), misäri bolot is « Egyptian steel », with the probable real value of Damask steel (the change in the second syllable from -i- to -ä-was to avoid a pronunciation mi. it-). The same holds good for Tibetan, where a particularly hard iron, probably steel, is called mi-che-ri (ch- = aspirated is-; cf. Sarat CHANDRA Das' Dictionary, 397; the word has escaped LAUFER'S researches in TP, 1916, 403-552). BLOCHET says (BI, II, 339) that « miser » exists in Tibetan; I have failed to trace it. In modern Turki tales of Chinese Turkestan translated by Mrs. E. DE ZACHARKO in Museon, xxxvi [1923], 297, 300, 301, mention is made of « Egyptian swords », called mizran, a form which I do not know, but which seems to be derived from Misr, perhaps with a contamination due to Turk. (< Arabic) mizraq, « spear ». Probably with the intermediary of Osm. Misir (< Misr), Bulgar. mesiryak and Serb. misirka are the words for « turkey », not much stranger than « turkey » itself or French « dinde » (= d'Inde) as names of that American fowl (cf. LOKOTSCH, No. 1473).

Under the Ming dynasty, the Huang-ming hsiang-hsü lu, dated 1629, merely copied (5, 27 a) the first part of Chao Ju-kua's notice of 1225. Yet two embassies at least came to China under the Ming from Mi-hsi-êrh or Mi-ssû-êrh, one in the first quarter of the 15th cent., the second on 11 Oct. 1441. This second one had been sent by the Sultan Asraf. If this be Asraf Saifu-'d-Din Bars-bai, the embassy was long on the way, since that sultan died in June 1438. But, contrary to the opinion of BRETSCHNEIDER (Br, ii, 308), many of the Burji Mamlûk took the epithet of Asraf, and it may be that the one intended is7,âhir Saifu-'d-Din Yaqmaq. Mi-ssû-êrh also occurs in a Ming

itinerary across the whole of Asia (cf. Br., ii, 332; A   ± It A ;[A 4 Hsi-yä t'u-ti jên-wu lüeh,
in T'ien-hsia chün kuo li ping shu, 117, 4 a-9 b; BRETSCHNEIDER, China Rev., y, 227).

In Arabic, Misr was not only the name of Egypt, but also a designation of the capital. Although Cairo was generally mentioned in the west as Babylon, or sometimes as Cairo, Schiltberger speaks of the city of « Misser » which the Christians call « Cair » (LANGMANTEL ed., 78) ; the equivalence of « Missir » and « Kair » occurs a second time (p. 82). So the traveller expresses himself in a very loose way when he says elsewhere (p. 64) that he has been «in the kingdom Arabia », the capital of which is called « Missir » by the heathen. But it is not correct to say, as HALLBERG does (p. 356),