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0085 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 85 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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who united with snakes, cf. DE GROOT, Religious System of China, iv, 260-261). But we may have here an echo of Indian stories concerning countries like Ahicchatra or Vyâiagriva, in the names of which the first part means « serpent ».


In his uncritical paper on the Kingdom of Women (TP, III, 495-510), SCHLEGEL has used (pp. 499-500) a passage of Ma Tuan-lin's late compilation and (TP, vi, 248), at second hand, one from the Hou-Han shu on a Kingdom of Women to the north-east of China; HIRTH and ROCKHILL have adduced a similar passage from the Po-wu chih (2, 2 b) «of the middle of the sixth century»; LAUFER (Beiträge... 205-206) has quoted the original passage from the Hou-Han shu. As a matter of fact, there are two parallel passages, one in the San-kuo chih, 30, 7b, the other in the Hou-Han shu, 115, 4-5, both drawing from a lost and more complete earlier source, probably the Wei lio; but the San-kuo chih was published in c. 280, and the Hou-Han shu only after its author had been put to death in 445. The Po-wu chih, although we do not possess it in its original complete text, is not to be dated in the « sixth century », but is the work of Chang Hua (232-300) ; moreover, the passage alluded to by HIRTH and RocKHILL is merely copied verbatim from the one in the Sankuo chih. As a matter of fact, the passage on this Kingdom of Women ought not to have been included in the Hou-Han shu, since the story was heard only in connection with - J .E f Wuch'iu Chien's Corean campaign of A. D. 242, well after the fall of the Later Han dynasty A. D. 220.

Wu-ch'iu Chien had defeated on the banks of the Ya-lu the Corean king g Kung who fled

north first to the i*   Wu-tsu, and later to the Northern Wu-tsu (Pei Wu-tsu) ; Wu-ch'iu Chien
entrusted one of his generals, ] h-4 Wang Ch'i, with the pursuit of the king Kung as far as the territory of the Northern Wu-tsu (cf. GIBERT, Dict. hist. et géogr. de la Mandchourie, 695). The Northern Wu-tsu lived north of the Ch'ang-pai-shan, and to the east reached the sea. Wang Ch'i advanced towards the sea shore (cf. GIBERT, ibid., 957). I translate what is said next in the Sankuo chih : « [Wang Ch'i] asked the old men [of the Northern Wu-tsu] whether there were still more men to the east of the sea. The old men said : 'Men of our kingdom who had embarked on a boat to catch fish met with a wind and were blown for several decades of days, until to the east they reached an island. On the island there were men, but they could not understand one another's language; the custom [of the islanders] was always to drown in the sea ({t { ch'en hai) a virgin in the seventh moon (.L ) ch'i yüeh)'. »

SCHLEGEL, in TP, III, 499, maintained against D'HERVEY DE SAINT-DENYS that they only plunged the virgins into the sea, and that the virgins became pregnant as the result, and this has been repeated by CORDIER in Y, II, 406; but the mistranslation is on SCHLEGEL'S side. Instead of « seventh moon » the present text of the Po-wu chih (2, 3 b) gives .L 3i ch'i hsi, « the seventh evening », i. e. the seventh evening of the seventh moon; but, as a rule, the San-kuo chih has been better transmitted than the Po-wu chih, and moreover there is no reason why the Chinese should have attributed to these islanders their own celebration of the ch'i-hsi. It is still ch'i yüeh in this passage of the Po-wu chih as reproduced in T'ai-p'ing kuang-chi, 480, 8 a; and ch'i hsi is merely the result of clerical corruption.