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0080 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 80 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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are said to have issued from Wang Mêng's back; moreover, the Kingdom of Men is stated in a lost sentence to lie 20,000 miles off (i. e. west of) the famous Yü-men, « Jade gate », in western Kan-su. The « two sons » of the tale seem to be due to the idea that, except for the first ancestor, two parents were necessary to have children, even if these parents be of the same sex as in the Kingdom of Men. In the same way, two women lived together in the Kingdom of Women.

There are counterparts in Indian and Mussulman folklore to the « Kingdom of Men » and the « Kingdom of Women » leading separate lives; but more often men and women, like those of Polo's Male and Female Islands, met at a certain time of the year. The tradition reported by Kuo P'o, according to which pregnancy was the result of a bath in a certain lake or spring, was also known in Mayrib, i. e. in north-western Africa (cf. FERRAND, in JA, 1925, II, 47).

The Kingdom of Men and the Kingdom of Women are placed by the Shan-hai ching among the

countries « outside the seas » to the west of China; but the   Su-shên occur in the same enumera-
tion both in the Huai-nan-tzü and the Shan-hai ching, and Kao Yu's commentary on the first work locates the Su-shên north of the present region of Peking. This puzzled Pi Yüan, who wondered whether there was not another Su-shên in the west ; he does not seem to have noticed that, in spite of Kao Yu's commentary, the Su-shên of the Huai-nan-tzic too were in the west. Kao Yu's commentary is based on the mistaken identification in Han times of the half-fabulous ancient Su-shên with tribes in Manchuria (see « Ciorcia »). I quite admit that the location of all these legendary nations to the west of China is sometimes surprising. In the case of the Kingdom of Men, however, the story in Kuo P'o's commentary, which makes the ancestor first pass the place of the « Mother Queen of the West », bears evidence to the existence of a legend, more detailed than those that have reached us, which concerned a «Kingdom of Men» in the further west. The enumeration in the Huai-nantzii being from north-west to south-west, followed by another from south-west to south-east, it would seem that, under the first Han dynasty, the Women Folk and the Men Folk were in fact conceived as being to the north-west of China. It is hard to say whether there can be here any connection with the western traditions concerning the Amazons, still more, in view of the great interval in space and time, whether the early mediaeval tradition of a Terra Feminarum « east of the eastern sea » in northern Europe may be adduced as a parallel. On this Terra Feminarum of Adam of Bremen (c. 1085) and the sixth-century text of pseudo-Zachariah the Rhetor, cf. Adam von Bremen Hamburg. Kirchengeschichte, ed. B. SCIIMEIDLER, 1917, 157, 242, 244, 246-7; Hist. Eccles. Zachariae Rhetori adsor., ed. E. W. BROCKES, 1924, II, 145; MARQUART, Osteurop. u. ostasiat. Streifzüge, 355, sq.; WESTBERG, in Zurnal' Min. Nar. Prosy., 1908, 376; also his papers Ibrahim ibn-Ja'kûb's Reisebericht, in Zap. Imp. Ak. Nauk, Series viii, Vol. III, 88-89, 136-159; Zur Wanderung der Longobarden, ibid., Vol. VI, 1-5; LAUFER, in Aufsätze... Ernst Kuhn... gewidmet, 205; TALLGREN, Idrisi, La Finlande, Helsinki, 1930, 34, 38, 77, 140; Mi, 191. Of the tales referring to this Terra Feminarum in north-eastern Europe, I shall only mention the fact that the women were supposed to conceive by drinking water (virginum terra quae gustu aquae concipere protestatae sunt; also eas aquae gustu dicunt aliqui concipere, cf. Adam v. B., 246-7), and that, according to Adam of Bremen (op. cit., 247), the women of the Terra Feminarum gave birth to boys who had dogs, heads or to girls who were beautiful (cf. Y, ni, 110) ; two features which betray a combination of two originally different tales.

In the above notes on a « Kingdom of Women » to the north-west of China, I have provisionally