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0070 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 70 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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666   228. FANSUR

Shih-chên adds in his own name that the same form chieh-p'o-lo occurs in the Chin kuang-ming ching, i. e. in the Chinese version of the Suvarnaprabhcisa. But chieh-p'o-lo could only represent *karpâra, and, in fact, does not exist. We possess the Pên-ts'ao yen-i, dated 1116, which quotes Hsüan-tsang's passage (Shih-wan-chüan-lou ts'ung-shu ed., 14, 4 a), and correctly gives chieh pu-lo (another corruption of the same passage of Hsüan-tsang occurs in the P'ei-wen yün fu, s. v. to [22 A, 62 b], which, quoting it second hand from the Fa-yüan chu-lin, gives chieh-[,r - ]sa-lo). As to the Suvarnaprabheisa (ch. 7; =fig, ix, 27 a), all editions agree in giving, as the Sanskrit name

of the «p'o-lü unguent », 4   è (*kivt-lâ-sâ); this is confirmed by the Uighur version, made from
the Chinese, which gives karaso (RADLOV and MALOV's ed., 4766). But this also is an impossible form, and in TP, 1912, 475, I have already suggested that it may be a haplographic form instead of kar [pûra]rasa, karpûrarasa being known as the Sanskrit name of a mixture with a camphor basis.

Hsüan-tsang's notice on camphor is given in the notice on the kingdom of Malakuta (not « Madura » as in HR, 194) in southern India; at its southern extremity was the Malaya Mountain (the region of Cape Comorin). The notice in both Mémoires and Vie reads as follows : « The tree of the chieh pu-lo (karpûra) perfume has the body (= trunk) of a pine (sung), but with other leaves; its flowers and fruit are also different. When first cut, it is moist and does not yet have the perfume. When the wood is dry, and is split along the grain, the perfume is found inside in the shape of mica (yün-mu); its colour is like ice and snow (ping-hsüeh). This is what is called [in Chinese] 'dragon-brain perfume' (lung-nao hsiang) ». GERINI (Researches, 439) has maintained that camphor must have been obtained in India not from the Dryobalanops aromatica, but from a Blumea; to put it in his own words, however, the Blumea balsamifera is a « half-shrubby weed » (p. 435), whereas Hsüan-tsang's description no doubt refers to a tree; his comparison with a «pine» (sung) is very similar to the one which compares the Sumatran camphor tree to a fir (shan). The Ling-wai tai-ta, dated 1178, also speaks of camphor produced in the Cola country (see « Soli »), i. e. in the southernmost part of India (cf. HR, 100, 195).

A much discussed notice occurs in the Yu-yang tsa-tsu (18, 8-9), which says: «The tree of the

'dragon-brain perfume' grows in the kingdom of   P'o-li. In P'o-li, it is called ku [read ko]-

pu p'o-lü (kapur Barus); it is also grown in the kingdom of ;A   Po-ssû; the tree is 80 to 90 feet

high, and can reach six or seven spans (RI wei) in girth (or «reach three to three and a half feet in diameter », or « reach six to seven feet in diameter »; wei has been used in different ways, but I think the first translation is the most probable here). The leaves are round, with a white back; there are neither flowers nor fruit. This tree is either 'fat' or 'lean'. The lean ones give the 'perfume of the P'o-iü oil' (p'o-lii kao hsiang); some say that the lean ones give 'dragon-brain perfume'. The 'fat' ones give 'P'o-lü oil'. [The 'dragon-brain perfume'] is in the heart of the wood. The tree is cut (tuan), and [camphor] is taken by splitting [the wood]. The unguent (kao) flows out freely from the butt (tuan) of the tree; they chop up the tree and, making pits (A k'an; at the root of the trees), collect [the unguent]. There are special recipes for its use in drugs » (the last sentence has been misunderstood in HR, 194). The distinction is established between the « perfume of the P'o-lü oil », which is camphor in flakes, and the « P'o-Iü oil » itself, which is camphor oil; by omitting « perfume » (hsiang) in their translation, HIRTH and ROCKHILL have reached the result that both « fat » and « lean » trees are said to yield the same product. More important is the question