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0078 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 78 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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mentions in the Laccadives an island the name of which is given without remark as « Mangamangalam » in FERRAND'S translation, although it is printed Kanjamanjalam in his Arabic text (JA, 1924, I, 116, 117) ; whatever the correct form may be, it seems to be out of the question as an explanation of Mangla. Nebila or Nebile certainly suggests the Arabic nabilah, « beautiful », as said by YULE; and under « Mogedaxo » it will be shown that this part of the nomenclature used by Marino Sanudo, Paolino da Venezia. and later by Fra Mauro may go back to a Mussulman original through a Syrian intermediary.

If the names of the islands of « Curia » and «Muria» really occur on Fra Mauro's map, as stated by ZURLA, quite close to the true Scotra, the location is erroneous, but would almost suggest that somebody, perhaps Conti, had already made the identification which has been upheld more recently by PAUTHIER (Pa, 671). One does not see, however, what could lead to it except Polo's indications of distance, but they are precisely not the ones which have been adopted by Conti, at least in Poggio's text. Both Idrisi (JAUBERT transi., I, 45, 48) and Ibn al-Wards (c. 1340; cf. Fe, 413 and 424) speak of the two islands Muriyân and Muriyân; there are even more than two islands in the bay of Kurian Murian, and, although Hallannia is notably larger than the others, I see no reason to correct with FERRAND the Arabic texts so as to have only one island called Muriyân-Muriyân. Nothing similar occurs on Marino Sanudo's or Paolino da Venezia's maps (GOLUBovICH, II, 85), which show, in the vicinity of Nebile, islands called Termelit (Fra Mauro's «Termeli », Zu, 64), Celtales, Asizia, and Camar. I cannot explain the first three names; for Camar, see « Mogadexo ».

BENEDETTO (BI, 444) wisely says that the Male and Female Islands remain unidentified. Ricci-Ross (p. 421) think, on the contrary, that the Female Island was « an island in Malaya supposed to be inhabited solely by women »; and they give a reference to Chao Ju-kua (HR, 151). But this is a misleading statement. It is clear that Polo heard the story not in Malaya but much more to the west, and ascribed it to islands in the western part of the Indian Ocean. The island in Malaya is merely one Female Island out of several; and it is not the one meant by Polo.

Much has been written on the various « islands » or « kingdoms » of Women, and an exhaustive treatment of the subject is not possible in the present notes. YULE (II, 405-406; add CORDIER, in Y, III, 120) saw in Polo's story « a mere ramification of the ancient and widespread fable of the Amazons », and, with his unusually vast range of reading, has followed it in northern Europe and across Asia and America (on the American «Lands of Women », one of which is responsible for the name of the Amazon River, cf. VINING, An Inglorious Columbus, New-York, 1885, 489-493). The popularity of the Romance of Alexander, in its various redactions, helped the diffusion of the tale, and the Amazons often appear side by side with Pygmies and Cynocephali. To what has been said by YULE and many others (cf. STRIEKER, Die Amazonen in Sage und Geschichte, Berlin, 1873), I have only to add a certain number of data derived from Chinese sources and occasionally from their comparison with other sources, mainly of Mussulman origin. Hitherto, Chinese sources concerning the Kingdoms of Women, apart from YULE, have been mainly put to use by KLAPROTH (Notice sur les Amazones de l'Asie centrale, dans Magasin asiatique, I, 230-235), HIRTH (China and the Roman