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0185 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 185 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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288. MONGATAI   781

more details, JA, 1921, II, 315). The name appears in the 13th cent. at the latest. The labial vowel of the first syllable is established for the beginning of the 15th cent. by the Chinese

transcription 7K   - Mu-ku-tu-shu (*Mugudusu; cf. TP, 1933, 297). In EI, s. v. Makdishû,
E. CERULLI says that the place appears as an Arab colony in the 10th cent.; he does not allude to Polo, nor to the Chinese texts.

Now, what was the form originally adopted in Polo's text ? « Mogelasio » of F (< *Mogdasio), Mogdaxo of Z would point to « Mogdasio » only. But Polo writes -sci- for -i-, and it is -scio which can account for -scar. On the other hand, it is with a vowel between -g- and -d- that we can understand, with a metathesis, how « Madeiga- » or «Madega-» came from « Mogeda- ». That is why I think Polo's original form is « Mogedascio »; I have nevertheless written «Mogedaxo» on account of Z.

As to the modern use of the name « Madagascar », the explanation is fairly simple. Towards the end of the 15th cent., Martin Behaim put on his globe an island of Madagascar and, more to the South, an island of Zanzibar; all this is derived from Marco Polo, with the wrong reading «Madagascar» for «Mogedaxo» or «Mogedascio ». Others certainly did the same. From the information already collected by others, we are lead to suppose that, in the first half of the 17th cent., learned travellers found in the South-East of Madagascar a tribe they call « Matacasi », « Madegache », « Malegasses », etc.; naturally enough, they may have thought of Polo's pseudo-island Madagascar; however, they specify that « Madagascar » is a name given by geographers, unknown as such in the country. This, nevertheless, does not cover all the facts. Ramusio, in the middle of the 16th cent., adds to the title of the chapter of « Magastar » the words « hora detta di San Lorenzo », and speaks of a map said to have been copied from one used by Polo or by his father, but which had later received many additions, and he notes that on that map is figured the island of « Magastar », now called San Lorenzo (Dichiarazione, 17 a). As is well-known, San Lorenzo, Saint-Laurent, is the first European name of Madagascar. So the wrong application of a wrong name of Mogadiso to Madagascar goes back at least to the time of Ramusio. But the fact remains that a clerical error in Polo's manuscripts gave the great island its name for evermore.


mogata V

mongatai F, VB; R   mongatay FA, FB

I have retained the name, since Marco Polo probably used it, and although CHARIGNON (Ch, III, 13) maintains it ought to be « Nangatai », that is to say Nangiatai (or Nangiadai). The case is a difficult one.

There are many Nangiatai or Nangiadai (written Mongol Nanggiyadai) in Mongol history, as

it is an ethnic derived from the name Nanggiya (<   Nan-chin, « the Southerners »; cf. JA,
1913,4 460-466) given by the Chin to the Southern Chinese, and which the Mongols inherited from the Chin; the Nanggiya of the Mongols are the same as those called Manzi (see « Mangi ») in