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0281 Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2
Notes on Marco Polo : vol.2 / Page 281 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000246
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384. YARCAN   877

abnormal spellings are collected in Southern Tibet, IX, y, 143 (even that list is incomplete, omitting for instance « Yerghien » in ASTLEY'S map reproduced VII, pi. X).

Yârkänd can neither mean « Extended land » as is said in Hsi-yü t'ung-wên chip (cf. Pa, 141; Y, I, 188-189), nor « New City » as CORDIER preferred to have it. The only plausible explanation is to see in Yârkänd a Turkish name formed with yâr, « cliff», and känd, « city » (the latter was originally an Iranian word, kä6, käut, känd, but it passed into Turkish) ; « Yarkand » is no more a real hybrid name than Taskänd, our Tashkend (from Turk. tas', « stone », and känd, « city »), or « Ordukänd » (see « Cascar »).

When STEIN published his Ancient Khotan in 1907, he could still say (p. 87) that it was « difficult to trace back its (i. e. Yârkänd's) name... previous to the Mongol conquest in the thirteenth century ». From the mention of the name in Kâsyari (BROCKELMANN, 244), we are now certain that it existed at least as early as 1076. Perhaps it was adapted from an earlier, non-Turkish name of the river, if not of the city. In Gardézi's Persian text of 1050-1052, which draws from earlier sources, an itinerary is given from Kâsyar to Khotan, and the text adds that « in the middle [of the country] between these points flows the s,, Yarâ River » (cf. BARTHOLD, Otc'êt o poézdké y Srednyuyu Aziyu, 94, 119). This must be the Yarkand River, and one might think that the yâr of Yârkänd was semantically adapted from Yârä. But the reading in Gardézi's unique Ms. is doubtful; a parallel list, drawn earlier from the same source, but with forms often more corrupt, occurs in the equally unique Ms. of the Hudûd al-`jlam, and there the name of the river is written ...;), B.rn.ya (cf. Mi, 93, 260). It must be noticed that the name of Yârkänd is not found in that itinerary, and probably did not then exist. I shall return to this question farther on.

Cl. HUART has published in JA, 1914, ii, 607-627, three documents in Arabic which I had acquired at Kucâ early in 1907. Excavated, I was told, at Yârkänd, they are official deeds for the transfer of land and are dated respectively 1096, 1112 and 1114. They testify to the rapid advance of Mussulman culture in the region; some of the witnesses, however, still used Uighur writing. In the three documents, the name of Yârkänd is written in Arabic ,.),;.()l_ Yârkändâ, a form for which I do not know how to account. Fifteen documents belonging to the same find came into the hands of Sir G. MACARTNEY and now belong to the Indian Government. One of them, probably of 1101, was published in 1923 by BARTHOLD (BSOS, III, 151458); there also the name is written Yârkändä, but the editor makes no remark on that spelling (neither in that paper, nor in his later 12 Vorlesungen, p. 133, does BARTHOLD mention HUART'S paper of 1914; the date of 1911 given for the discovery of the documents in an additional note by D. Ross, p. 158, is of course too late, in view of the year in which my own documents were acquired). Kändä, kändäh means « moat » in Persian, but the word has not passed into Turkish, and Kâsyari already gives the modern form Yàrkänd at a date somewhat earlier than our three documents. Yârkänd must be mentioned in the Persian histories of the Mongol period, although I have not been able to find the name in them hitherto; at any rate, it occurs as Yàrkänd in the geographical section of the Nuzhatal-Qulûb, completed in 1340 (LE STRANGE, transi., 251). The Ta'ri-i-Rasadi of course speaks very often of Yârkänd (cf. the index of ELIAS and Ross). Curiously enough, the Persian work Haft iglim, which copies the Ta'rih.-i-Ras'idi, seems to write « Yarkän », without final -d, as is the case in Kalmuk spelling (cf. the translation by QUATREMÈRE, in Not. et Extr., XIV, I, 475-476).

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