National Institute of Informatics - Digital Silk Road Project
Digital Archive of Toyo Bunko Rare Books

> > > >
Color New!IIIF Color HighRes Gray HighRes PDF   Japanese English
0209 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 209 (Color Image)

New!Citation Information

doi: 10.20676/00000246
Citation Format: Chicago | APA | Harvard | IEEE

OCR Text


317. PORCELAIN   805

of Marco BARBARO'S Venetian Genealogies which deal with the Ponti (Treviso Ms., 679 v°.-680 VO.), we are at least in a position to say that the Ponti were a noble Venetian family a member of which may very well have been appointed as podestà in Constantinople c. 1260. The Ponti, originally a family of Romagna, moved to Ferrara, and afterwards to Venice where they were already established as wheat merchants in 863; on account of their long residence in Venice and of their good reputation, they entered the Councils of the Republic. Well-known in the 12th cent., the Ponti went to Germany; from 1217 onwards, there was for a time no representative of the family in Venice. But some Ponti must have returned fairly soon, since a « Simeon de Ponte » is mentioned in 1261 and 1266, and a « Joannes de Ponte » many times from 1277 to 1301. The Ponti were still well-known when BARBARO wrote his Genealogies in the middle of the 16th cent.


« Porcelain », in old French « porcelaine » or « pourcelaine », occurs in mediaeval texts with four different meanings: 1. « cowry »; 2. « china-ware »; 3. « vases of mother of pearl » (?); 4. « purslane ». Nos. 1 and 2 are met with in Polo (see « Cowry » for the readings) ; No. 4 may be provisionally left out. Scholars are agreed that Nos. 2 and 3 are derived from No. 1. So « porcelain » originally meant « cowry », or rather the genus Cypraea, and is certainly borrowed from Italian porcellana; « porcelaine » has remained the designation of Cypraea at many points on the French coast. Another word is porcelletta, used by Ca' da Mosto and others in the sense of « cowry » (see « Cowry ») ; Jourdain Cathala speaks of vasa pulcherrima... et porseleta (CORDIER, Les Merveilles de l'Asie, 92, 121, pl. xv); although the construction is abnormal and the text perhaps slightly corrupt, it will be shown further that the stuff meant is certainly « porcelain ». Porcellane has become persivolas in FRAMPTON (PENZER, 352). Port. porcelana has been altered into persulana in the Goa dialect, with the meaning « tile », which is also that of Konkani phuslfin; pusalana is « bowl », « cup », in Singhalese (cf. DALGADO, Influência do Vocabulfirio Português, 130). Opinion is also unanimous that both porcellana and porcelletta represent derivative forms which ultimately are to be traced to Latin porcus, « pig ». But unanimity stops at that; no conclusive argument has been produced to establish when, how and why derivative forms of porcus had become the Italian designation of the cowry.

MAHN (Etymol. Untersuchungen, 1st part, Berlin, 1863, 11-15) devoted to the etymology of « porcelain » a special note in which, following moreover the lead of authors of the 17th and 18th cents., those of the Encyclopédie included, he tried to establish that the Cypraea had been so called on account of the similitude of its flat bottom with the female sex organ. In Greek, the Cypraea was called Xoapty, (not expressed : x6yxr)), « pig[-shell] », from xoipoç, « pig », itself often used in the obscene sense which also attached to Latin porcus and perhaps some of its derivative forms (cf. O. KELLER, Die antike Tierwelt, u, 543). Some other names point in the same direction : Dutch Klipkoussen according to RUMPHIUS (D'Amboinsche Rariteitkamer, Amsterdam, 1705; 1741 reprint, 113); old Danish kudefisk, « mussel », lit. vulva-fish (cf. KARLGREN, in Bull. of the