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0052 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 52 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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648   222. ESCEQE

originally meant « desert », like qobï > yobi, our Gobi, and the two words are connected; the « hollow of a tree » is a late invention. This legend of the birth from the « hollow of a tree » is not known elsewhere in connection with the Uighurs. Yet Polo is not so wrong in his statements. Both Juwaini and the YS (122,1 a) relate how at night a stream of light fell upon a tree; whereupon the tree began to swell and in due time gave birth to five boys, the youngest of whom was the first king of the Uighurs (cf. Br, i, 247; MARQUART, in SPA W, 1912, 490). I have already expressed the view (TP, 1930, 22) that the two legends must have a common origin.


esceqe F sech Z siechi R

antixi VA chadi VB

ueschoui TA3

vechi V veschovi TA' vieillars FB viellars FA

Esceqe, not «esceque» as in B, 205 (cxcii2), represents Arabic saih meaning « old man », « elder », as Polo says, and is our sheikh; it occurs as « seic » in Joinville. On the various forms of the word in European languages, cf. LOKOTSCH, No. 1775; and it is s'eg in Tibetan (LAUFER, SinoIranica, 595). « Sech » in Z may be for *Scech or *Siech (cf. R's Siechi), and it may be that, owing to Polo's explanation « old man », it is this word which has been altered (and not at first translated) into vechi in V and veschovi in TAi. In FA and FB, «vieillars» does not of course represent esceqe, which is omitted in all Mss. except F, Z, but its meaning of «old man» as given by Polo (in FC1 it has become « vilains »).

VB offers a « learned » correction when its substitutes « chadi » for esceqe. « Chadi » is Arabic

ol; gâdi, a Mussulman « judge », but the word does not occur in Polo (see « Casses »). On the forms in European languages, cf. LOKOTSCH, No. 984, particularly Span. and Port. cadi, Span. alcalde. In India, the Arabic dwâd sounds z, so that the Anglo-Indian forms are based on gâzi (cf. Hobson-Jobson2, 177-180). In Malay, it is pronounced -ll-, so that gâdi becomes gâlli; this accounts for the form kali in Cham (cf. CABATON, Dictionnaire cam français, 67). Modern Chinese transcriptions in Central Asia are based on gâzi, as is shown in the second half of the 18th cent.

by the transcriptions PA   ha-tzic and ilk   hai-tzû in ch. 8 of the Hsi-yü wên-chien lu (COURANT,
Catalogue, No. 1831). But the mediaeval transcriptions suppose gâdi. Such is the case with the « cadi » repeatedly mentioned by Odoric in the region of Bombay ( ley, 424-434) and with the « cadinus » of Jourdain Cathala (JRAS, 1928, 349-376) or the « cadini » (plural) of Pascual de Vittoria (icy, 505). It was also the pronunciation gâdi which the Chinese transcribed in the Mongol period

as Pp   ha-ti. The ha-ti had official authority over the Mussulmans, but their offices were sup-
pressed in 1311 (cf. YS, 24, 4 a; T'ung-chih t'iao-ko, 29, 5 a-b). So we may practically be certain that, if Polo had mentioned the gâdi, it would have been as cadi or chadi; but this is not enough to make us accept VB's « chadi » as really due to Polo.