National Institute of Informatics - Digital Silk Road Project
Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books

> > > >
Color New!IIIF Color HighRes Gray HighRes PDF   Japanese English
0071 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 71 (Color Image)

New!Citation Information

doi: 10.20676/00000246
Citation Format: Chicago | APA | Harvard | IEEE

OCR Text


228. FANSUR   667

of the kingdom of P'o-li, and of the kingdom of Po-ssû. HIRTH and ROCKHILL have said that P'o-li (*B`uâ-lji) was « Perak, or thereabout », an identification which seems to be based on an unsatisfactory phonetic analogy; but there is no indication that the name Perak is of ancient date. The location of P'o-li, a name which occurs in historical texts before the T'ang dynasty, is not yet ascertained. MOENS (loc. cit., 353-362) pronounces in favour of the southern half of Sumatra, but his argument is vitiated by a number of confusions. In 1904, I had proposed Bali, a solution which LnuFER endorsed (Sino-Iranica, 479); Borneo, less satisfactory from a phonetic point of view, is not impossible altogether. But the main fact is that I now feel sure that « P'o-li » in the Yu-yang tsa-tsu is a corruption of *P'o-Iii, Barus, which occurs in the name of the product. The text would read much better with « The tree of the 'dragon-brain perfume' grows in the kingdom of *P'o-Iii; in *P'o-lü it is called kapur barus... ».

That in T'ang times camphor was known to come from the kingdom of Barus is established by the T'ang pên-ts'ao, which, written in the 7th cent., antedates the Yu yang tsa-tsu by two centuries. Part of its notice on camphor has passed into the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu (34, 58 b) under

the name of   3,v Su Kung, one of the authors of the T'ang pên-ts'ao; part also of the quotation

made there from   IA Su Sung, an author of the northern Sung dynasty, was in fact copied by

Su Sung from the T'ang pên-ts'ao. Of the T'ang pên-ts'ao itself, we possess an incomplete Japanese Ms., which has been reproduced in the Chuan-hsi-lu ts'ung-shu and in which the notice of camphor

i      occurs in ch. 13; the text is very faulty, and it would be of some interest to restore it in its original
form by comparison with the quotations from Su Kung and Su Sung in the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu; but I cannot do it here. Suffice it to say that, both in the incomplete copy of the T'ang pên-ts'ao and in the quotation from Su Kung in the Pên-ts'ao kang-mu, the « dragon-brain perfume » and the « oil perfume » are said to come from the « kingdom of P'o-iü », and that the « P'o-lü perfume » (p'o-lü hsiang) owes its name to this kingdom. In these notices, no mention is made of « P'o-li ».

More difficult is the problem raised by the sentence in the Yu-yang tsa-tsu that the « tree of the 'dragon-brain' perfume » also grows in Po-ssû. Po-ssû (*Puâ-sie) usually transcribes the name of « Persia » (see « Persie »); but no camphor is produced in Persia. HIRTH and ROCKHILL (HR, 194) have explained « i. e. it was brought to China by Persian ships ». LAUFER (Sino-Iranica, 479), opposed this, and saw in this passage a fresh argument in favour of his theory of a « Malayan Po-ssû ». I do not think he was right. In another chapter, the Yu yang tsa-tsu (1, 3 b) speaks of an embassy which came from Tongking in 756 or shortly before that date. It brought as tribute « 'dragon-brain' (= camphor) which was like cicadas or silkworms. Po-ssû (people) said that it was only to be found in the joints of old (lao) camphor trees (lung-nao shu). In the Palace,

[this camphor] was given the name of la At   jui lung-nao, « Auspicious dragon-brain »... »
(cf. HR, 194, where the passage is misunderstood; there is no name lao lung-nao). It is clear that the Po-ssû people who are at the Court of the T'ang Emperor are, as usual, Persians, and they speak, nevertheless, of camphor trees. I think that the « kingdom of Po-ssû » mentioned in the notice of camphor in the Yu yang tsa-tsu is also Persia, and the mention of the name may be due either to the fact that the author had already spoken of Persians, in connection with camphor, in an earlier chapter, or to the transportation of camphor on Persian ships, as supposed by HIRTH and ROCKHILL.