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0177 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 177 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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278. MALAIUR   773

it is to this second « Pentan » (which he has suppressed) that BENEDETTO applies the name in the beginning of the next chapter, and that is why he substitutes « Malaiur ».

I see things in a different light. BENEDETTO'S view is that Polo really went from Bintan to

  • Malaiur », and then from « Malaiur » to « Ferlec » on the north-western coast of Sumatra. But, since BENEDETTO admits that « Malaiur » was towards the Jambi river, there was no reason for Polo's junk to go first from Bintan South to Jambi and then a long way north again before turning towards

  • Ferlec ». It is much more natural to admit with YULE and BLAGDEN that the whole section on

  • Malaiur » is a digression, and that the next chapter starts from Bintan again, following the normal route (FERRAND'S objection, JA, 1918, II, 94, to Polo's speaking of « Malaiur » in Sumatra, and then coming back to Bintan to go again to the same island of Sumatra, is of no avail; Polo did not know that « Malaiur », where he did not go, was on the same island as the north-western states he visited; moreover, there would be no more point in coming back from Malacca to Bintan to pursue a road towards « Ferlec »). As to the alterations in the text, I think they can be accounted for. An early « intelligent » copyist was shocked when reading, after the notice of « Malaiur », that the traveller went on from « Pentan », and added « Pentan » as the name of the « island » of « Malaiur ». Another « intelligent » copyist, who did not have that spurious addition of a second « Pentan », (Mss. FA) arranged things by making the account start again from « Malaiur » instead of « Pentan »; moreover, to fit better with the general course of the journey, he suppressed the mention, given by both F and Z, that to go from « Pentan » to « Malaiur », one had to travel « South-East » (which is true from Bintan to Jambi, especially for people who thought Sumatra to extend due West-East;

  • South-East » is omitted by YULE, and consequently by FERRAND). My conclusion is that we must suppress the mention of « Pentan » as the name of the « island » of « Malaiur », but carefully keep « Pentan » afterwards as the point from which the journey and the narrative start again.

As to « Malaiur », which one reaches South-East of « Pentan », and in spite of wrong distances collected by hearsay, I have no doubt that it is in the south-eastern half of Sumatra. In 1904, I had spoken of the region of Palembang. But, in view of all the information that has been collected since, it seems practically certain that « Malaiur » is here a name used for the Minangkabàw kingdom, the centre of which was on the Jambi river. The Malàyu kingdom of Minangkabaw exerted political influence, and even had a real power in the southern half of the Malay Peninsula, and that is why, at the end of the 13th cent., the Ma-li-yü-êrh, that is to say the Malàyu of Minangkabàw, could wage war there with the Siamese (cf. BEFEO, xxiIi, 475).

The name of « Malaiur » seems to have been omitted from mediaeval cartography, unless it is represented by the city of « Melaro » which the Catalan Map places on the northern coast of Java (Cf. HALLBERG, 347).

FERRAND has attempted to connect with the name Malàyu the legendary    ~~ A Ma-liu-jen
of ancient Chinese texts, which are interpreted in Chinese as « men left behind by Ma [Yuan] » (cf. JA, 1918, II, 163-168); I am not prepared to join in that saltus mortalis.