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0069 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 69 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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228. FANSUR   665

is itself traced back by etymologists to Skr. karpûra, « camphor », BERNEKER saying that kafur is Persian, most others that it is Arabic. As a matter of fact, it is common to both languages, but, as a rule, the -p- ought to have been retained in Persian, whereas in Arabic, which has no p, the original -p- could be rendered only as -f- or -b-. So it seems that kafur is an arabicized form, which was adopted by the Persians at an early date; but it is somewhat surprising to find the arabicized form in Latin as early as c. 540.

As to Arabic kâfûr, LOKOTSCH explains its derivation from karpiira by saying that, already in Prâkrit, there was a form kapp ûra (it is the Pali form) ; but kapp lira ought to have given in Arabic *kaf ûr rather than kâfûr. On the other hand, we must not forget that Skr. karp ûra probably

represents a pre-Aryan word, as the case must be also with Skr. karpâsa, «cotton» (see «Cotton»), and that in Javanese the word for « cotton » is kapas (Malay kapas), just as the Javanese word for « camphor » is kapur (Malay kâpur). In the case of karpâsa, I have pronounced in favour of a derivation of kapas from karpâsa (Pali kappâsa), because I think that the cultivation of cotton is extremely ancient in India, but the case of camphor is different. In the past, it was primarily an Indonesian product, and it may well be that it is not kapur which is derived from karpûra, but karpûra which has been formed on a pre-Aryan word very close to an original Indonesian form of the kapur type. In any case, since there was in the first centuries of our era a maritime intercourse between Arabia and Indonesia, it would seem to be a natural solution to suppose that Arabic kâfûr does not represent Pali and Prâkrit kappüra (< Skr. karpûra), but was borrowed directly from the Indonesian kafur. GERINI'S objections (Researches, 810) are of no value, since they are based on the assumption that the other Malay word kâpur, « lime », « plaster », most probably an Indonesian word [cf. CABATON, Dict. Cam-Français, 57], is to be traced back to Skr. karpûra, which never had that meaning. I leave, however, the question in abeyance, because some camphor was also gathered in southern India; moreover, most of the modern Indian dialects now have the form kapûr, in Mahrati kapûr (cf. J. BLOCH, La formation de la langue marathe, 309), which also may account for Arabic kâfûr. Tibetan ga-bur (> Mong. gabur), which puzzled LAUFER (Sino-Iranica, 591), is merely one of the many sonorized transcriptions in that language, of the same type as Skr. kesara, « pistil », > Tib. ge-sar, or Skr. kurikuma, « saffron », > Tib. gur-gum and gur-kum. KOVALEVSKIÎ's Mongol gatbura or gadbura (Dictionnaire, 2431) almost certainly rests on the usual misreading d instead of r in a Tibetan original which probably gave the correct Sanskrit form karpûra; LAUFER'S explanation, based on a mistaken restoration of the ancient pronunciation of a Chinese transcription, is a failure.

The Indian word for « camphor » occurs in Chinese only in Buddhist texts, as   tr# chieh-

pu-lo (*kidt puo-lâ; not with sonant initials as in LAUFER, Sino-Iranica, 591) and lib Tti   chieh-

pu-lo (*kivp puo-lâ). The first form is the one employed by Hsüan-tsang (Mémoires, II, 123; Vie,

193) and, as usuel with him, correctly renders Skr. karpûra. the second, clearly based on a Prâkrit kappüra, occurs in a translation made by Bhagavaddharma c. A. D. 650-660 (No. 1059 of Hôbôgirin)

fascicule annexe; it is not listed in Nanjia). A third form Fa   chieh-p'o-lo (*kiät-b`uâ-lei)
is given in GILES'S Dictionary (No. 9412), STUART, Materia Medial, 157, and TARANZANO, Vocabulaire, I, 239; and is said by GILES to represent Malay kâpur. The source of this information is the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu (34, 58 b), where the form chieh-p'o-lo is ascribed to the Pên-ts'ao yen-i, and Li