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0259 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 259 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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362. TINGIU   855

do not refer to two different cities (BI, 448). I believe that Polo mentions only one place, and that RAMuslo's passage, although clumsily expressed, has a true origin. RAMusIO's text reads as follows : « Il flume, che entra nel porto di Zaitum è molto grande, & largo, & corre con grandissima velocità, & è vn ramo, che fa it flume, che viene dalla città di Quinsai. & doue si parte dall' alueo maestro vi è la citta di Tingui. Della quai non si ha da dir altro, se non, che in quella si fanno le scudelle, & piadene di porcellana in questo modo, secondo, che Ii fu detto... » (II, 1559, 49c). YULE ( Y, II, 243) sees in this passage an example of the mediaeval belief in « the interdivergence of rivers in general, and especially of Chinese rivers ». This is true, but we may, I think, go one step further. The various river systems, of the Ch'ien-t'ang River of Hang-chou (« Quinsai »), of the Ou River passing Lung-ch'üan in its upper course, and of the Min River of Fu-chou (which Polo unduly extends to Ch'üan-chou, and not only, as I believe, in the present passage), all start from the region of the Bohea hills, and a short portage would carry the Lung-ch'üan ware from the source of the Ou River to P'u-ch'êng on the Min River (cf. HIRTH, Ancient Porcelain, 39-41). Moreover, according to the Lung-ch'üan hsien chip, 3, 18 b, some at least of the so-called Lung-ch'üan kilns must have been at Ch'ing-yüan, on the upper course of the Min River. I think that Polo actually alludes to that complex of river sources in the passage more or less distorted by RAMUSIO's editing.

There is something more, which HIRTH did not and could not know: « azure », given only in Z, establishes that the Tê-hua white ware, even if it was produced and exported in Polo's time, is excluded and that, as could be anticipated, Polo's description refers to « celadon ». Here again it may be objected that « azure » is blue, while celadon is green. But we see elsewhere that Polo uses « azure » (q. v.) for malachite which is blue-green or definitely green in colour, and when speaking of a place characteristically called « Green Hill » (q. v.). It is well known that Ch. cch'ing means both blue and green and that it has been the cause of many misapprehensions in the European history

of Chinese porcelain; but   ch'ing-tz'ü (Jap. seiji), «ch'ing porcelain », is and has long been
the usual term for celadon in China and in Japan. We must only conclude that Polo, after his long stay in the Far East, and perhaps owing to his interpreter, had taken to the moreover fairly common confusion between blue and green.

One problem remains to be solved: the name of the place. Our best course is first to inquire what Chinese sources of the Mongol period have to say on the subject of the export of porcelain. In 1225, Chao Ju-kua mentions in his notices of many different countries that they buy « porcelain»; sometimes he says « green » (ch'ing) or « white » porcelain, but always without any indication as to the place of origin of the ware (HR, 78, 156, 158). Chou Ta-kuan, in the Description of the Customs of Cambodia which he wrote after he was sent as a member of the embassy to that country in 1296-1297, mentions among the Chinese goods appreciated in Cambodia « the green porcelain of Ch'üan-chou » (Ch'üan-chou ch'ing-tz'û; not « blue » porcelain as I translated it in 1902 in BEFEO, II, 168). This again does not lead us very far. The « green porcelain » is certainly celadon, but it was exported from Ch'üan-chou, and not manufactured there. This passage, however, is interesting for two reasons. First, celadon ware must have been exported mainly from Ch'üan-chou to be commonly designated by the name of that port, and this is in favour of the mention which Polo makes of it at the end of his chapter on Ch'üan-chou (« Çaiton» ). On the other hand such