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0216 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 216 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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812   318. PULISANGHIN

Portulaca oleracca, in Chinese is ,1 it   ma-ch'ih-hsien, lit. « horse-teeth amaranth »; another

ancient designation is ma-ch'ih [ f ] lung-ya, « horse-teeth and dragon sprouts », the second part

being perhaps fora   lung-ya, « dragon teeth », which is in fact given by TARANZANO ; another

name, for a species with smaller leaves, is „, a   shu-ch'ih-hsien, lit. «crat-teeth amaranth» (cf. Pên-

ts'ao kang-mu, 27, 12 b; STUART, Materia Medica, 347). These names are said to have been given on account of the way in which the leaves are ranged on the stalk, but, whatever the case may be, there is something in the purslane which reminded the Chinese of the teeth of certain animals; and we know that one of the best attested ancient names of the cowry in Chinese was pei-ch'ih, « shell teeth» (see «Cowry »). On the other hand, I cannot but be struck by the extraordinary coincidence which, independently of any European influence (hardly possible moreover in view of the mediaeval scholarship it would have required), occurs in the Siamese name of the « purslane » : this is phak bid, « cowry vegetable n, in other words porcellana (cf. PALLEGOIX, Dictionarium linguae Thai, 54). I wonder whether some analogous comparison did not help in the corruption which altered a derived form of porcilaca, « purslane n, and made it coincide with porcellana, « cowry ».


palisangin V poluisanguis VL pulinçanghim LT pulinzachi TA3 pulinzanchiz TA1 pulinzanghym LTr pulisanchi Fr

pulisangan R pulisanghin Ft, FBr, t pulisanghinc (?) L pulisanghins FB pulisanghinz F pulisanghyn Z

pulisangam FAt pulisanglinz VA pulisangra FAr pulisangriz P pulisanguins FA pullicanzino VB

The question has long been debated whether we should take this name for the Persian Pul-isängin, « Stone Bridge », or as a Sino-Persian Pul-i-Sangin, « Bridge of the Sang-kan n, 4 qt Sang-

kan being then commonly used as a name of the   ~pJ Hun-ho (cf. Y, II, 5-8; « Hwan-ho » and « Lu-
ku-k'iao » are bad transcriptions for « Hun-ho » and « Lu-kou-ch'iao »). Polo certainly gives the name which was known to Persian-speaking people, and he may not have had himself a clear idea about what it really meant. But if we remember that Rasidu-'d-Din speaks of the Sang-kan river,

and calls it   Ab-i-Sangin, « Sangin river » (BI, II, 463), the balance of evidence will be
in favour of Pul-i-Sangin, « Bridge of the Sang-kan ». Moreover, Polo gives as the name of a river what is really the name of a bridge, and his error would be more serious if the name meant only «Stone Bridge ». It is possible however, that the name, originally derived from that of the Sangkan river, was given in Persian-speaking circles the easy popular etymology of Pul-i-sängin, « Stone Bridge ».