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0128 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 128 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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In historical texts, the first mention of a ` Kingdom of Women ' in the sea which may be to the south-east of China occurs in the Liang shu (54, 12 a), whence it has been copied in Nan shih (79, 4 a), T'ung tien (186, 6 a), T'ung chih (194, 15 b) and Wên-hhien t'ung-k'ao (327, 1 b); it comes at the end of the fictitious account of Fu-sang and the ` Kingdom of Women ' due to Hui-shên, and is clearly independent from it. For earlier translations, cf. D'HERVEY DE SAINT-DENYS (Ethnographie, Orientaux, 404), SCHLEGEL (TP, III, 497 and 509), and DE GROOT (Religious System of China, Iv, 262). The text reads as follows : « In the sixth t'ien-chien year (507 A. D.), a man of Chin-an (= Ch'üan-chou in Fu-chien), while crossing the sea, was blown adrift by the wind to an island, and went ashore. People lived there. The women were like those of China, although their language could not be understood. The men had human bodies, but dogs' heads, and their voice

was a sort of barking. They lived on peas ()J,   hsiao-tou, Phaseolus Mungo), and their dress
was like linen (pu)... They built up walls of earth of a round shape, the door of which was like a dog entrance (`.-- tou, = kou-tou) ».

Data are lacking as to the location of this alleged Kingdom of Women and Cynocephali. SCHLEGEL had no hesitation in stating that the Chin-an man had seen Kurile women plucking sea-weeds and seals lying on the beach; but we have of course to deal with a mere sailor story. Its connections are with the fables of cynocephali to the north-east of China and of the ` Kingdom of the Dog Appanage ' of Kuo P'o's commentary which have been studied above, and also with the similar stories generally centred in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean, particularly in the Andaman Islands. If I feel inclined to speak, in the present case, of the east or south-east of China, it is only because a man from Ch'üan-chou is more likely to have been driven there by the wind than beyond Japan.

In his Pa-hung i-shih (Lung-wei pi-shu ed., 1, 3-4), Lu Tz'û-yün (c. 1662) devotes a paragraph

to the ` Kingdom of Women of the   Fou-ku Mountain', the origin of which I have failed
to trace : « The Fou-ku Mountain (? Mountain of the Swimming Swan) is in the sea; there is there a woman 300 years old, and 400 or 500 taoist nuns and monks who all have reached 100 years of age and study the Way in the mountain. At the time of the Emperor Wu of the Liang (502-549), they sent an envoy who offered e red ' mats. At that time, the Emperor had just made a gift of his body (to the Buddhist Church; which he did several times), and then the envoy came. [The envoy] said that a red bird had perched on the herb from which the mats were woven, and that the name (of ` red ' mats) had been given on that account. He made a picture [of the bird] and presented it; by looking at the painting [it was known that the bird] was a phoenix (luan) ». I have not met the name of the Fou-ku Mountain elsewhere, but the Liang were a southern dynasty, so that the tale must be supposed to refer to an island to the south or south-east of China.

These are isolated tales, but the fable of the ` Kingdom of Women ' in Indonesia is a widespread one. In most cases, it is connected with the famous Indian story of the rdksasi, or female demons, and the merchants who are saved from them by the divine horse Balâha. Sometimes, the Kingdom of Women is said to lie in the extreme south-eastern limit of the world, not far from the