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0232 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 232 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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828   332. SCIENG

shu-shêng, the others the provincial « moving » Chung-shu-shêng (cf. YS, 58, 1). Rasidu-'d-Din gives a full list of the twelve shêng (sing), and Wassâf also knows this use of L .eng (or sing); cf. Hat, 43; Y', III, 125-129; Bl, II, 484-497; also Abü-l-Fidâ, transi. REINAUD, II, II, 125; JIitainâmäh, in Mél. Orientaux published by the Ec. des Langues Orient., 47. Here again, the name could be used in reference either to the office or to the officer. Ragidu-'d-Din speaks of the officer of the pan, entitled .eng, who resides at Zaitûn (see « Çaiton »; cf. ELLIOT, History of India, 12, 71-72, where « shak » is a misreading for sreng).

Now, if we read Polo's text with some attention, we cannot fail to be struck by the fact that, although the very words he uses seem to concern only the metropolitan Chung-shu-shêng, much of his information does in fact refer to the eleven provincial or « moving » Chung-shu-shêng. And this is confirmed by what Polo says in his paragraph on Yang-chou. We read in F : « En ceste cité siet un des xii baronz dou grant kaan; car elle est esleue por un des xii sajes ». Yang-chou was in fact the seat of a shêng during part of Qubilai's reign (see « Yangiu »). YULE (Y, II, 154, 156-157) has supposed that the « sajes » of F and « sieges » of FA etc. were altered from an original

  • sing» (= « scieng »). As BENEDETTO says (B, 137), « una de sedibus duodecim » in Z is based on a reading « sajes » or « sieges », and does not favour YULE'S hypothesis. But YULE may be right nevertheless : an early alteration of « scieng » into « sajes » or « sieges » was easy because « scieng » was a foreign word, which in the present case might well have been contaminated by the influence of the preceding « siet ». It is in the same way that we read in Odoric : « Hoc imperium in XII partes ipse dominus divisit, quelibet quarum signo duodecim nominatur. » Although the last editor does not comment on this passage (Wy, 476), the text as it stands does not make much sense. The Mss. give various readings « syno », « singo », « siglo », « strigo », and I agree with YULE'S reading « singo » = sing, i. e. « scieng », shêng (YI, II, 231). Moreover, even if « sajes » were to be retained, there can be no doubt that these twelve « sajes » are the twelve shêng. Former editors have not called attention to the fact that, in the chapter on the twelve barons of the

  • thai » and the twelve barons of the « scieng », Polo makes all of them live at the capital, while here he says most clearly that the twelve barons live at the seats of the twelve provinces. It may be that the contradiction is due to Polo himself, but I do not feel confident about it. It is to be regretted that there is no chapter on the « thai » and « scieng » in Z. In any case, I think that the notion of the twelve barons of the « scieng » has arisen out of the governors of the twelve « scieng » or provinces, and that, consequently, we need not torture the Chinese texts to extract from them a list of twelve members of the metropolitan Chung-shu-shêng.

I have spoken of the twelve « provinces » which are the shêng of Chinese nomenclature, but they are not Polo's « provinces ». The shêng were regarded by Polo as « kingdoms », at least when he speaks of those of Manzi, and including that of Yang-chou. The twelve barons of the

  • scieng », according to Polo, gave their orders to the « judge » and the « scribes », appointed in

every one of the 34 « provinces ». The « judges » may be the   tuan-shih-kuan (Mong.
jaryuei, Turk. yaryuc'i), who, although in charge of judicial affairs, were dependent on the Chungshu-shêng, and not on the Hsing-pu or Board of Justice; their numbers in Qubilai's reign varied from 13 to 35, 36, and finally 41. As to the «scribes», they may be the bitigäei or bicigegi, «writers ». The number of 34 « provinces » is difficult to account for. CORDIER (Y, I, 433) supposed that it