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0058 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 58 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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654   227. FACFUR

the only available. On the other hand, taking into account the fact that, on their way from China to the west, and before reaching India, the Yüeh-chih or Kusana had been in close touch with

Iranian nations, Ltvi thinks that t'ien-tzû first became bagpuhr, and that « it is probably through the intermediary of baypuhr that t'ien-tzû became devaputra » (p. 18-19). But, in such a case, it is not the meaning of t'ien which ought to be compared with that of deva, but the meaning of bay-. Whatever the case may be, the equivalence, direct or indirect, of t'ien-tzû with devaputra was so well felt that devaputra was used later in Indian Buddhist circles as the designation of the Chinese Emperor, in the same way as baypûr, baybûr and fayfûr in Iranian and Arabic countries (cf. CHAVANNES, Relig. éminents, 56, 82; TAKAKUSU, A Record of the Buddhist Religion, 136; LtvI, loc. cit., 17). About the year 1000 there reigned a king in Ladakh who had the title of Lhazi-bu (= devaputra); cf. A. H. FRANCKE, Antiq. of Indian Tibet, i, 41.

Recently, Mrs. BAZIN-FOUCHER (JA, 1938, 504) has taken exception to the theory which ascribes a Chinese origin to the royal title devaputra of the Kuana. Starting from the « divine character » of the Seleucid kings, and from the ancient « monarchic cult » inherited from the Achaemenids by the Arsacids and Sassanids, Mrs. BAZIN-FOUCHER concludes : « So it seems to me purposeless to look in China, as has been sometimes attempted, for the origin of Skr. devaputra. The Yüeh-chih did not have to bring this title with them from the borders of Kan-su : they found this royal epithet already in common use in Iran with exactly the same meaning, in Greek as Theopatôr or in Parthian Pahlavi as baypuhr. » To me this seems to take the question by the wrong end. The Kusana, on their way from Kan-su to Bactria, are not likely to have been influenced by the Greek term Theopatôr. On the other hand, baypuhr is so little attested as a common royal epithet in Parthian Pahlavi that the only example of it known hitherto is in the sense of « Son of God », with reference to Jesus. And when Sogdian baypûr and the later baybûr, fayfûr make their appearence, it is in connection with the Emperor of China. The explanation of devaputra as modelled on t'ien-tza, in the same way as and perhaps through the intermediary of baypûr, makes, in my opinion, a strong case which Mrs. BAZIN-FOUCHER'S argument has not weakened. LÉvi was even tempted to go further and to establish a connection between the title of devaputra of the Kusana and the epithet of « Son of God » used for Jesus in the « first Judaeo-Christian communities » (pp. 19-21) ; but this is a much more debatable proposition.

When I say that t'ien-tzû, « Son of Heaven », and its Iranian and Sanskrit counterparts baypûr and devaputra are originally the designation of the Chinese Emperor, this does not mean that the use of this title always remained as narrowly restricted. The epigraphy of the Kusana already shows that they had appropriated the designation, and so did the kings of Khotan. Among Altaic nations, the Hsiung-nu and the Turks, T'u-chüeh as well as Uighur, had done or did the same (tängri-dä qut bulmïl, etc.). The notion of various « Sons of Heaven » was even erected into a regular system, which is not of pure Chinese origin but which has found its clearest expression in Chinese texts. We can trace it back to the 3rd cent. A. D., but it is probably older. The earliest text speaks only of three regions of plenty : plenty of men in China, plenty of jewels in the Mediterranean Orient (Ta-Ch'in), and plenty of horses among the Yüeh-chih (Kusana). But the theory was soon evolved that there were four « Sons of Heaven » : that of the men in China, that of the elephants in India, that of the jewels in the Mediterranean Orient, and that of horses among