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0176 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 176 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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772   278. MALAIUR

at the basis of this name. PAUTHIER (Pa, 565) looked for it at Malacca, YULE ( Y, II, 281) at Palembang's colony, Singapore, or rather at Palembang itself. GERINI thought « Malaiur » was Singapore Researches, 533). In RR, 426, « Malaiur » is rendered by « Malay Peninsula ». BLAGDEN (in Pe, LVIII-LIX) is in favour of the Jambi river in Sumatra, and seems to be the source of a similar opinion in B', 445. Already in 1904, I had pronounced in favour of the region of Palembang (BEFEO, Iv, 332); at the same time, I had collected all the mentions of Maiâyu in Chinese texts from the 7th cent. to the beginning of the 14th. In 1918, FERRAND contributed a long monograph, Malaka, le Malâyu et le Malâyur(JA, 1918, I, 391-484; II, 51-154), where he tried to prove that, while the Maiâyu of the 7th-8th cent. was at Sumatra, the Malayu and Maiâyur of the Chinese texts of the Mongol period and of Marco Polo lay on the Malay Peninsula, and more particularly at Malacca, which, against all former scholars, he believed to have existed already in the 8th cent. ; his conclusions have been accepted by L. DAMES, Duarte Barbosa, u, 170. I must confess that this learned paper appears to me as a masterpiece of wrong reasoning, and I concur with ROUFFAER'S refutation in Bijdragen... van Ned.-Indië, No. 77 [1921], 1-174, 359-604, approved of also by COEDES in BEFEO, xxiii, 475.

The first question is the form of the name. There are in Polo's text cases of final -r which seem due to copyists' errors (see « Succiu », « Caccia modun »), but it seems to be different with « Malaiur ». Of course, the real Malay form is Maiâyu, it is the only one represented in the Chinese transcriptions of the 7th-8th cents., and we find it also in the transcriptions of the Mongol period.

But these give also, in 1295, a a   Ma-ii-yü-êrh, *Maliyur, which is almost identical with
Polo's « Malaiur » (this form occurs also in Yüan wen lei, 41, 20 b). I have quoted also in 1904 Arabic forms Malàyur, which I think better to leave out now, as I agree with FERRAND (JA, 1918, II, 137-139) that these f. L Malàyur may be misreadings of OA Maiâyu. But « Malaiyùr » occurs already in 1030 in the Tamil inscription of Tanjore (cf. JA, 1922, u, 45). Probably on account of this inscription, « Malaiur » has been said by BLAGDEN (in Pe, La) to be « a Tamil corruption of the real name Malayu »; but that would suppose that the informants of the Chinese in 1295 were Tamil, and that such was also the case with Polo a few years earlier, not to speak of the possible Maiâyur in Arabic sources; we want more light on that « corruption ». In any case, we all agree that « Malaiur » is but another form of Maliiyu.

The situation of « Màlaiur » is more perplexing than the name, and the Mss. are not satisfactory. When leaving « Pentan » (Bintan), all texts speak of steering a course between « these » two islands, when only one island has been spoken of. That is why a sentence taken from FB (cf. Vol. I, 370) has been inserted in RR, 281, and BI, 292, « Not far off, there are two other islands »; it may or may not be right.

All the main Mss. say that Malaiur was the name of the city, while the island was called Pentan; this second mention of an island « Pentan » has been suppressed in Y, II, 280; RR, 292; B', 292. At the beginning of the next chapter, all the main Mss. say : «After leaving the island of Pentan », which has been kept in Y, n, 284, and RR, 281, but altered in BI, 293, in « After leaving the island of Malaiur ». In two notes (B', 433-434), BENEDETTO explains that he has suppressed the second island of « Pentan », the city of which is « Malaiur », because Polo would not have named a second island of the same name without some remark about the identity of the names; on the other hand,