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0101 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 101 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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the Ta-huang hsi-ching was a Buddhist work, which had « evidently » borrowed the mention of the Anavatapta from the Shih-ship hsi yü clii (or chip), a work which HERRMANN ascribes to the 5th cent., but which, as a matter of fact, is no other than the Hsi-yü chih, or « Description of the Western countries », published by Tao-an (t 385 A. D.) about the third quarter of the 4th cent. But the Ta-huang hsi-ching is extant and well known; it is ch. 16 of the famous Shan-hai ching, the often fabulous geographical work which is prior to our era. It is of course impossible that the Shanhai ching should have known the Indian Anavatapta, and the critical edition of the Shih chi

published by TAKIGAWA Kametaro cites (123, 14) a note by the modern author ix   bt,_ CHANG
Wên-hu (1808-1885) saying that the passage quoted by Chang Shou-chieh does not occur in the Ta-huang hsi-ching. But I think that CHANG Wên-hu has misunderstood Chang Shou-chieh. The fable of the Jo-shui, the « Weak River », the water of which was so « weak » that, according to some, even swan's down could not float on it, is an old Chinese fable, which has western counterparts (in Herodotus, Ktesias, Strabo, etc.; cf. HIRTH, China and the Roman Orient, 291), which we shall meet again in the course of the present note (cf. infra, p. 719). The Anavatapta was the mythical lake, generally identified with the Manasarowar or « Mo-bang-tso », from which the four great rivers were supposed to flow to the four quarters. North of it was the Gandhamâdana Mountain, which came to be designated as Mount Anavatapta. But, in the first centuries of our era, Chinese Buddhists identified this Mount Anavatapta with the K'un-lun Mountains of Chinese legend (cf. Shui-ching chu, ed. Ssu-pu tsung-k'an, I, 4 b-5 a; TP, 1905, 566; T'ung tien, 192, 1 b; according to the Shih-chia fang-chih [ te, I, 88 a], this equivalence was already given in the Fu-nan chuan, which must be K'ang T'ai's Fu-nan t'u-su chuan, dated in the middle of the 3rd cent.), where Hsiwang-mu, the « Mother-Queen of the West », had her abode, and in the vicinity of which flowed the « Weak River ». The Ta-huang hsi-ching chapter of the Shan-hai ching mentions the K'un-lun, Hsi-wang-mu, and the Weak River, but of course says nothing about the Anavatapta, equally ignored by Kuo P'o's commentary. But, in his account of western countries, mainly based on Chang Ch'ien's journey, Ss ti-maCh'ien has a paragraph on An-hsi (Arsacid Persia) and another on T'iao-chih (Mesopotamia). Of T'iao-chih, it is said that it lay several thousand li west of An-hsi and that, according to the hearsay reports of old people of An-hsi, there was in T'iao-chih Hsi-wangmu and the Weak River, but that none of them had seen them. About the middle of the 3rd cent., Yü Huan said in his Wei lio that the Weak River was to the west of Ta-Ch'in (Mediterranean Orient). This is the subject of Chang Shou-chieh's remarks : « Since this Weak River [and this] Hsi-wang-mu had been heard of by old men of An-hsi, [it means that] they had not seen them. The Hou-Han shu says that, in the time of the Emperor Huan (in 166 A. D.), the King An-tun (= Marcus Aurelius Antoninus) of the Kingdom of Ta-Ch'in sent an envoy who arrived from beyond the boundaries of Jih-nan (= Annam) to offer presents and that some said that west of that kingdom there was the Weak River and the Moving Sands (Liu-sha, lit. Flowing Sands), near the place of Hsi-wang-mu, and almost where the sun sets (cf. HIRTH, China and the Roman Orient, 42-43). Many late scholars ( fl hsien ju), however, quote the Ta-huang hsi-ching as mentioning the Weak River, and

say (i. e. the scholars say) that it has two springs, which both rise in the Pi   A-nou-ta Moun-
tain (Anavatapta) which is to the north of the Kingdom of Women, and, flowing south, unite in the Kingdom of Women, one li east of the capital of that kingdom; it is more than ten feet deep,