The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter lix.

Concerning the Province of Tenduc, and the Descendants of Prester John.

Tenduc is a province which lies towards the east, and contains numerous towns and villages; among which is the chief city, also called TENDUC. The king of the province is of the lineage of Prester John, George by name, and he holds the land under the Great Kaan; not that he holds anything like the whole of what Prester John possessed.1 It is a custom, I may tell you, that these kings of the lineage of Prester John always obtain to wife either daughters of the Great Kaan or other princesses of his family.2

In this province is found the stone from which Azure is made. It is obtained from a kind of vein in the earth, and is of very fine quality.3 There is also a great manufacture of fine camlets of different colours from camel’s hair. The people get their living by their cattle and tillage, as well as by trade and handicraft.

The rule of the province is in the hands of the Christians, as I have told you; but there are also plenty of Idolaters and worshippers of Mahommet. And there is also here a class of people called Argons, which is as much as to say in French Guasmul, or, in other words, sprung from two different races: to wit, of the race of the Idolaters of Tenduc and of that of the worshippers of Mahommet. They are handsomer men than the other natives of the country, and having more ability, they come to have authority; and they are also capital merchants.4

You must know that it was in this same capital city of Tenduc that Prester John had the seat of his government when he ruled over the Tartars, and his heirs still abide there; for, as I have told you, this King George is of his line, in fact, he is the sixth in descent from Prester John.

Here also is what we call the country of GOG and MAGOG; they, however, call it UNG and MUNGUL, after the names of two races of people that existed in that Province before the migration of the Tartars. Ung was the title of the people of the country, and Mungul a name sometimes applied to the Tartars.5

And when you have ridden seven days eastward through this province you get near the provinces of Cathay. You find throughout those seven days’ journey plenty of towns and villages, the inhabitants of which are Mahommetans, but with a mixture also of Idolaters and Nestorian Christians. They get their living by trade and manufactures; weaving those fine cloths of gold which are called Nasich and Naques, besides silk stuffs of many other kinds. For just as we have cloths of wool in our country, manufactured in a great variety of kinds, so in those regions they have stuffs of silk and gold in like variety.6

All this region is subject to the Great Kaan. There is a city you come to called SINDACHU, where they carry on a great many crafts such as provide for the equipment of the Emperor’s troops. In a mountain of the province there is a very good silver mine, from which much silver is got: the place is called YDIFU. The country is well stocked with game, both beast and bird.7

Now we will quit that province and go three days’ journey forward.

NOTE 1. — Marco’s own errors led commentators much astray about Tanduc or Tenduc, till Klaproth put the matter in its true light.

Our traveller says that Tenduc had been the seat of Aung Khan’s sovereignty; he has already said that it had been the scene of his final defeat, and he tells us that it was still the residence of his descendants in their reduced state. To the last piece of information he can speak as a witness, and he is corroborated by other evidence; but the second statement we have seen to be almost certainly erroneous; about the first we cannot speak positively.

Klaproth pointed out the true position of Tenduc in the vicinity of the great northern bend of the Hwang–Ho, quoting Chinese authorities to show that Thianté or Thianté-Kiun was the name of a district or group of towns to the north of that bend, a name which he supposes to be the original of Polo’s Tenduc. The general position entirely agrees with Marco’s indications; it lies on his way eastward from Tangut towards Chagannor, and Shangtu (see ch. lx., lxi.), whilst in a later passage (Bk. II. ch. lxiv.), he speaks of the Caramoran or Hwang–Ho in its lower course, as “coming from the lands of Prester John.”

M. Pauthier finds severe fault with Klaproth’s identification of the name Tenduc with the Thianté of the Chinese, belonging to a city which had been destroyed 300 years before, whilst he himself will have that name to be a corruption of Tathung. The latter is still the name of a city and Fu of northern Shansi, but in Mongol time its circle of administration extended beyond the Chinese wall, and embraced territory on the left of the Hwang–Ho, being in fact the first Lu, or circle, entered on leaving Tangut, and therefore, Pauthier urges, the “Kingdom of Tanduc” of our text.

I find it hard to believe that Marco could get no nearer TATHUNG than in the form of Tanduc or Tenduc. The origin of the last may have been some Mongol name, not recovered. But it is at least conceivable that a name based on the old Thianté-Kiun might have been retained among the Tartars, from whom, and not from the Chinese, Polo took his nomenclature. Thianté had been, according to Pauthier’s own quotations, the military post of Tathung; Klaproth cites a Chinese author of the Mongol era, who describes the Hwang–Ho as passing through the territory of the ancient Chinese city of Thianté; and Pauthier’s own quotation from the Modern Imperial Geography seems to imply that a place in that territory was recently known as Fung-chau-Thianté-Kiun.

In the absence of preciser indications, it is reasonable to suppose that the Plain of Tenduc, with its numerous towns and villages, was the extensive and well-cultivated plain which stretches from the Hwang–Ho, past the city of Kuku–Khotan, or “Blue Town.” This tract abounds in the remains of cities attributed to the Mongol era. And it is not improbable that the city of Tenduc was Kuku–Khotan itself, now called by the Chinese Kwei-hwa Ch’eng, but which was known to them in the Middle Ages as Tsing-chau, and to which we find the Kin Emperor of Northern China sending an envoy in 1210 to demand tribute from Chinghiz. The city is still an important mart and a centre of Lamaitic Buddhism, being the residence of a Khutukhtu, or personage combining the characters of cardinal and voluntarily re-incarnate saint, as well as the site of five great convents and fifteen smaller ones. Gerbillon notes that Kuku Khotan had been a place of great trade and population during the Mongol Dynasty.

[The following evidence shows, I think, that we must look for the city of Tenduc to Tou Ch’eng or Toto Ch’eng, called Togto or Tokto by the Mongols. Mr. Rockhill (Diary, 18) passed through this place, and 5 li south of it, reached on the Yellow River, Ho-k’ou (in Chinese) or Dugus or Dugei (in Mongol). Gerbillon speaks of Toto in his sixth voyage in Tartary. (Du Halde, IV. 345.) Mr. Rockhill adds that he cannot but think that Yule overlooked the existence of Togto when he identified Kwei-hwa Ch’eng with Tenduc. Tou Ch’eng is two days’ march west of Kwei-hwa Ch’eng, “On the loess hill behind this place are the ruins of a large camp, Orch’eng, in all likelihood the site of the old town” (l.c. 18). M. Bonin (J. As. XV. 1900, 589) shares Mr. Rockhill’s opinion. From Kwei-hwa Ch’eng, M. Bonin went by the valley of the Hei Shui River to the Hwang Ho; at the junction of the two rivers stands the village of Ho-k’au (Ho-k’ou) south of the small town To Ch’eng, surmounted by the ruins of the old square Mongol stronghold of Tokto, the walls of which are still in a good state of preservation. —(La Géographie, I. 1901, p. 116.)

On the other hand, it is but fair to state that Palladius (21) says: “The name of Tenduc obviously corresponds to T’ien-te Kiun, a military post, the position of which Chinese geographers identify correctly with that of the modern Kuku-hoton (Ta tsing y t’ung chi, ch. on the Tumots of Kuku-hoton). The T’ien-te Kiun post existed under this name during the K’itan (Liao) and Kin Dynasties up to Khubilai’s time (1267); when under the name of Fung-chow it was left only a district town in the department of Ta-t’ung fu. The Kin kept in T’ien-te Kiun a military chief, Chao-t’ao-shi, whose duty it was to keep an eye on the neighbouring tribes, and to use, if needed, military force against them. The T’ien-te Kiun district was hardly greater in extent than the modern aïmak of Tumot, into which Kuku-hoton was included since the 16th century, i.e. 370 li from north to south, and 400 li from east to west; during the Kin it had a settled population, numbering 22,600 families.”

In a footnote, Palladius refers to the geographical parts of the Liao shi, Kin shi, and Yuen shi, and adds: “M. Polo’s commentators are wrong in suspecting an anachronism in his statement, or trying to find Tenduc elsewhere.”

We find in the North–China Herald (29th April, 1887, p. 474) the following note from the Chinese Times: “There are records that the position of this city [Kwei-hwa Ch’eng] was known to the builder of the Great Wall. From very remote times, it appears to have been a settlement of nomadic tribes. During the last 1000 years it has been alternately possessed by the Mongols and Chinese. About A.D. 1573, Emperor Wan–Li reclaimed it, enclosed a space within walls, and called it Kwei-hwa Ch’êng.”

Potanin left Peking on the 13th May, 1884, for Kuku-khoto (or Kwei-hwa-Ch’eng), passing over the triple chain of mountains dividing the Plain of Peking from that on which Kuku-khoto is situate. The southernmost of these three ridges bears the Chinese name of Wu-tai-shan, “the mountain of five sacrificial altars,” after the group of five peaks, the highest of which is 10,000 feet above the sea, a height not exceeded by any mountain in Northern China. At its southern foot lies a valley remarkable for its Buddhist monasteries and shrines, one of which, “Shing-tung-tze,” is entirely made of brass, whence its name.

“Kuku–Khoto is the depôt for the Mongolian trade with China. It contains two hundred tea-shops, five theatres, fifteen temples, and six Mongol monasteries. Among its sights are the Buddhist convent of Utassa, with its five pinnacles and has-reliefs, the convent of Fing-sung-si, and a temple containing a statue erected in honour of the Chinese general, Pai-jin-jung, who avenged an insult offered to the Emperor of China.” (Proc. R. G. S. IX. 1887, p. 233.)— H. C.]

A passage in Rashiduddin does seem to intimate that the Kerait, the tribe of Aung Khan, alias Prester John, did occupy territory close to the borders of Cathay or Northern China; but neither from Chinese nor from other Oriental sources has any illustration yet been produced of the existence of Aung Khan’s descendants as rulers in this territory under the Mongol emperors. There is, however, very positive evidence to that effect supplied by other European travellers, to whom the fables prevalent in the West had made the supposed traces of Prester John a subject of strong interest.

Thus John of Monte Corvino, afterwards Archbishop of Cambaluc or Peking, in his letter of January, 1305, from that city, speaks of Polo’s King George in these terms: “A certain king of this part of the world, by name George, belonging to the sect of the Nestorian Christians, and of the illustrious lineage of that great king who was called Prester John of India, in the first year of my arrival here [circa 1295–1296] attached himself to me, and, after he had been converted by me to the verity of the Catholic faith, took the Lesser Orders, and when I celebrated mass used to attend me wearing his royal robes. Certain others of the Nestorians on this account accused him of apostacy, but he brought over a great part of his people with him to the true Catholic faith, and built a church of royal magnificence in honour of our God, of the Holy Trinity, and of our Lord, the Pope, giving it the name of the Roman Church. This King George, six years ago, departed to the Lord, a true Christian, leaving as his heir a son scarcely out of the cradle, and who is now nine years old. And after King George’s death, his brothers, perfidious followers of the errors of Nestorius, perverted again all those whom he had brought over to the Church, and carried them back to their original schismatical creed. And being all alone, and not able to leave His Majesty the Cham, I could not go to visit the church above-mentioned, which is twenty days’ journey distant. . . . I had been in treaty with the late King George, if he had lived, to translate the whole Latin ritual, that it might be sung throughout the extent of his territory; and whilst he was alive I used to celebrate mass in his church according to the Latin rite.” The distance mentioned, twenty days’ journey from Peking, suits quite well with the position assigned to Tenduc, and no doubt the Roman Church was in the city to which Polo gives that name.

Friar Odoric, travelling from Peking towards Shensi, about 1326–1327, also visits the country of Prester John, and gives to its chief city the name of Tozan, in which perhaps we may trace Tathung. He speaks as if the family still existed in authority.

King George appears again in Marco’s own book (Bk. IV. ch. ii.) as one of Kúblái’s generals against Kaidu, in a battle fought near Karakorúm. (Journ. As. IX. 299 seqq.; D’Ohsson, I. 123; Huc’s Tartary, etc. I. 55 seqq.; Koeppen, II. 381; Erdmann’s Temudschin; Gerbillon in Astley, IV. 670; Cathay, pp. 146 and 199 seqq.)

NOTE 2. — Such a compact is related to have existed reciprocally between the family of Chinghiz and that of the chief of the Kunguráts; but I have not found it alleged of the Kerait family except by Friar Odoric. We find, however, many princesses of this family married into that of Chinghiz. Thus three nieces of Aung Khan became wives respectively of Chinghiz himself and of his sons Juji and Tului; she who was the wife of the latter, Serkukteni Bigi, being the mother of Mangú, Hulaku, and Kúblái. Dukuz Khatun, the Christian wife of Hulaku, was a grand-daughter of Aung Khan.

The name George, of Prester John’s representative, may have been actually Jirjis, Yurji, or some such Oriental form of Georgius. But it is possible that the title was really Gurgán, “Son-inLaw,” a title of honour conferred on those who married into the imperial blood, and that this title may have led to the statements of Marco and Odoric about the nuptial privileges of the family. Gurgán in this sense was one of the titles borne by Timur.1

[The following note by the Archimandrite Palladius (Eluc. 21–23) throws a great light on the relations between the families of Chinghiz Khan and of Prester John.

“T’ien-te Kiun was bounded on the north by the Yn-shan Mountains, in and beyond which was settled the Sha-t’o Tu-K’iu tribe, i.e. Tu-K’iu of the sandy desert. The K’itans, when they conquered the northern borders of China, brought also under their rule the dispersed family of these Tu-K’iu. With the accession of the Kin, a Wang Ku [Ongot] family made its appearance as the ruling family of those tribes; it issued from those Sha-t’o Tu-K’iu, who once reigned in the north of China as the How T’ang Dynasty (923–936 A.D.). It split into two branches, the Wang–Ku of the Yn-shan, and the Wang–Ku of the Lin-t’ao (west of Kan-su). The Kin removed the latter branch to Liao-tung (in Manchuria). The Yn-shan Wang–Ku guarded the northern borders of China belonging to the Kin, and watched their herds. When the Kin, as a protection against the inroads of the tribes of the desert, erected a rampart, or new wall, from the boundary of the Tángut Kingdom down to Manchuria, they intrusted the defence of the principal places of the Yn-shan portion of the wall to the Wang–Ku, and transferred there also the Liao-tung Wang–Ku. At the time Chingiz Khan became powerful, the chief of the Wang–Ku of the Yn-shan was Alahush; and at the head of the Liao-tung Wang–Ku stood Pa-sao-ma-ie-li. Alahush proved a traitor to the Kin, and passed over to Chinghiz Khan; for this he was murdered by the malcontents of his family, perhaps by Pa-sao-ma-ie-li, who remained true to the Kin. Later on, Chingiz Khan married one of his daughters to the son of Alahush, by name Po-yao-ho, who, however, had no children by her. He had three sons by a concubine, the eldest of whom, Kiun-pu-hwa, was married to Kuyuk Khan’s daughter. Kiun-pu-hwa’s son, Ko-li-ki-sze, had two wives, both of imperial blood. During a campaign against Haidu, he was made prisoner in 1298, and murdered. His title and dignities passed over in A.D. 1310 to his son Chuan. Nothing is known of Alahush’s later descendants; they probably became entirely Chinese, like their relatives of the Liao-tung branch.

“The Wang–Ku princes were thus de jure the sons-inlaw of the Mongol Khans, and they had, moreover, the hereditary title of Kao-t’ang princes (Kao-t’ang wang); it is very possible that they had their residence in ancient T’ien-te Kiun (although no mention is made of it in history), just as at present the Tumot princes reside in Kuku-hoton.

“The consonance of the names of Wang–Khan and Wang–Ku (Ung–Khan and Ongu) led to the confusion regarding the tribes and persons, which at Marco Polo’s time seems to have been general among the Europeans in China; Marco Polo and Johannes de Monte Corvino transfer the title of Prester John from Wang–Khan, already perished at that time, to the distinguished family of Wang–Ku. Their Georgius is undoubtedly Ko-li-ki-sze, Alahush’s great-grandson. That his name is a Christian one is confirmed by other testimonies; thus in the Asu (Azes) regiment of the Khan’s guards was Ko-li-ki-sze, aliàs Kow-r-ki (d. 1311), and his son Ti-mi-ti-r. There is no doubt that one of them was Georgius, and the other Demetrius. Further, in the description of Chin–Kiang in the time of the Yuen, mention is made of Ko-li-ki-sze Ye-li-ko-wen, i.e. Ko-li-ki-sze, the Christian, and of his son Lu-ho (Luke).

“Ko-li-ki-sze of Wang-ku is much praised in history for his valour and his love for Confucian doctrine; he had in consequence of a special favour of the Khan two Mongol princesses for wives at the same time (which is rather difficult to conciliate with his being a Christian). The time of his death is correctly indicated in a letter of Joannes de M. Corvino of the year 1305: ante sex annos migravit ad Dominum. He left a young son Chu-an, who probably is the Joannes of the letter of Ioannes (Giovani) de M. Corvino, so called propter nomen meum, says the missionary. In another Wang-ku branch, Si-li-ki-sze reminds one also of the Christian name Sergius.”— H. C.]

NOTE 3. —“The Lapis Armenus, or Azure, . . . is produced in the district of Tayton-fu (i.e. Tathung), belonging to Shansi.” (Du Halde in Astley, IV. 309; see also Martini, p. 36.)

NOTE 4. — This is a highly interesting passage, but difficult, from being corrupt in the G. Text, and over-curt in Pauthier’s MSS. In the former it runs as follows: “Hil hi a une jenerasion de jens que sunt appellés Argon, qe vaut à dire en françois Guasmul, ce est à dire qu’il sunt né del deus generasions de la lengnée des celz Argon Tenduc et des celz reduc et des celz que aorent Maomet. Il sunt biaus homes plus que le autre dou païs et plus sajes et plus mercaant.” Pauthier’s text runs thus: “Il ont une generation de gens, ces Crestiens qui ont la Seigneurie, qui s’appellent Argon, qui vaut a dire Gasmul; et sont plus beaux hommes que les autres mescreans et plus sages. Et pour ce ont il la seigneurie et sont bons marchans.” And Ramusio: “Vi è anche una sorte di gente che si chiamano Argon, per che sono nati di due generazioni, cioè da quella di Tenduc che adorano gl’ idoli, e da quella che osservano la legge di Macometto. E questi sono i piu belli uomini che si trovino in quel paese e più savi, e più accorti nella mercanzia.

In the first quotation the definition of the Argon as sprung de la lengnée, etc., is not intelligible as it stands, but seems to be a corruption of the same definition that has been rendered by Ramusio, viz. that the Argon were half-castes between the race of the Tenduc Buddhists and that of the Mahomedan settlers. These two texts do not assert that the Argon were Christians. Pauthier’s text at first sight seems to assert this, and to identify them with the Christian rulers of the province. But I doubt if it means more than that the Christian rulers have under them a people called Argon, etc. The passage has been read with a bias, owing to an erroneous interpretation of the word Argon in the teeth of Polo’s explanation of it.

Klaproth, I believe, first suggested that Argon represents the term Arkhaiún, which is found repeatedly applied to Oriental Christians, or their clergy, in the histories of the Mongol era.2 No quite satisfactory explanation has been given of the origin of that term. It is barely possible that it may be connected with that which Polo uses here; but he tells us as plainly as possible that he means by the term, not a Christian, but a half-breed.

And in this sense the word is still extant in Tibet, probably also in Eastern Turkestan, precisely in Marco’s form, ARGON. It is applied in Ladak, as General Cunningham tells us, specifically to the mixt race produced by the marriages of Kashmirian immigrants with Bot (Tibetan) women. And it was apparently to an analogous cross between Caucasians and Turanians that the term was applied in Tenduc. Moorcroft also speaks of this class in Ladak, calling them Argands. Mr. Shaw styles them “a set of ruffians called Argoons, half-bred between Toorkistan fathers and Ladak mothers. . . . They possess all the evil qualities of both races, without any of their virtues.” And the author of the Dabistan, speaking of the Tibetan Lamas, says: “Their king, if his mother be not of royal blood, is by them called Arghún, and not considered their true king.” [See p. 291, my reference to Wellby’s Tibet. — H. C.] Cunningham says the word is probably Turki, [Arabic], Arghún, “Fair,” “not white,” as he writes to me, “but ruddy or pink, and therefore ‘fair.’ Arghún is both Turki and Mogholi, and is applied to all fair children, both male and female, as Arghun Beg, Arghuna Khatun,” etc.3 We find an Arghún tribe named in Timur’s Institutes, which probably derived its descent from such half-breeds. And though the Arghún Dynasty of Kandahar and Sind claimed their descent and name from Arghún Khan of Persia, this may have had no other foundation.

There are some curious analogies between these Argons of whom Marco speaks and those Mahomedans of Northern China and Chinese Turkestan lately revolted against Chinese authority, who are called Tungani, or as the Russians write it Dungen, a word signifying, according to Professor Vámbéry, in Turki, “a convert.”4 These Tungani are said by one account to trace their origin to a large body of Uighúrs, who were transferred to the vicinity of the Great Wall during the rule of the Thang Dynasty (7th to 10th century). Another tradition derives their origin from Samarkand. And it is remarkable that Rashiduddin speaks of a town to the west or north-west of Peking, “most of the inhabitants of which are natives of Samarkand, and have planted a number of gardens in the Samarkand style.”5 The former tradition goes on to say that marriages were encouraged between the Western settlers and the Chinese women. In after days these people followed the example of their kindred in becoming Mahomedans, but they still retained the practice of marrying Chinese wives, though bringing up their children in Islam. The Tungani are stated to be known in Central Asia for their commercial integrity; and they were generally selected by the Chinese for police functionaries. They are passionate and ready to use the knife; but are distinguished from both Manchus and Chinese by their strength of body and intelligent countenances. Their special feature is their predilection for mercantile speculations.

Looking to the many common features of the two accounts — the origin as a half-breed between Mahomedans of Western extraction and Northern Chinese, the position in the vicinity of the Great Wall, the superior physique, intelligence, and special capacity for trade, it seems highly probable that the Tungani of our day are the descendants of Marco’s Argons. Otherwise we may at least point to these analogies as a notable instance of like results produced by like circumstances on the same scene; in fact, of history repeating itself. (See The Dungens, by Mr. H. K. Heins, in the Russian Military Journal for August, 1866, and Western China, in the Ed. Review for April, 1868;6 Cathay, p. 261.)

[Palladius (pp. 23–24) says that “it is impossible to admit that Polo had meant to designate by this name the Christians, who were called by the Mongols Erkeun [Ye li ke un]. He was well acquainted with the Christians in China, and of course could not ignore the name under which they were generally known to such a degree as to see in it a designation of a cross-race of Mahommetans and heathens.” From the Yuen ch’ao pi shi and the Yuen shi, Palladius gives some examples which refer to Mahommedans.

Professor Devéria (Notes d’Épig. 49) says that the word [Greek: Árchon] was used by the Mongol Government as a designation for the members of the Christian clergy at large; the word is used between 1252 and 1315 to speak of Christian priests by the historians of the Yuen Dynasty; it is not used before nor is it to be found in the Si-ngan-fu inscription (l.c. 82). Mr. E. H. Parker (China Review, xxiv. p. 157) supplies a few omissions in Devéria’s paper; we note among others: “Ninth moon of 1329. Buddhist services ordered to be held by the Uighúr priests, and by the Christians [Ye li ke un].”

Captain Wellby writes (Unknown Tibet, p. 32): “We impressed into our service six other muleteers, four of them being Argoons, who are really half-castes, arising from the merchants of Turkestan making short marriages with the Ladakhi women.”— H. C.]

Our author gives the odd word Guasmul as the French equivalent of Argon. M. Pauthier has first, of Polo’s editors, given the true explanation from Ducange. The word appears to have been in use in the Levant among the Franks as a name for the half-breeds sprung from their own unions with Greek women. It occurs three times in the history of George Pachymeres. Thus he says (Mich. Pal. III. 9), that the Emperor Michael “depended upon the Gasmuls, or mixt breeds ([Greek: symmíktoi]), which is the sense of this word of the Italian tongue, for these were born of Greeks and Italians, and sent them to man his ships; for the race in question inherited at once the military wariness and quick wit of the Greeks, and the dash and pertinacity of the Latins.” Again (IV. 26) he speaks of these “Gasmuls, whom a Greek would call [Greek: digeneis], men sprung from Greek mothers and Italian fathers.” Nicephorus Gregoras also relates how Michael Palaeologus, to oppose the projects of Baldwin for the recovery of his fortunes, manned 60 galleys, chiefly with the tribe of Gasmuls ([Greek: génos tou Gasmoulikou]), to whom he assigns the same characteristics as Pachymeres. (IV. v. 5, also VI. iii. 3, and XIV. x. 2.) One MS. of Nicetas Choniates also, in his annals of Manuel Comnenus (see Paris ed. p. 425), speaks of “the light troops whom we call Basmuls.” Thus it would seem that, as in the analogous case of the Turcopuli, sprung from Turk fathers and Greek mothers, their name had come to be applied technically to a class of troops. According to Buchon, the laws of the Venetians in Candia mention, as different races in that island, the Vasmulo, Latino, Blaco, and Griego.

Ducange, in one of his notes on Joinville, says: “During the time that the French possessed Constantinople, they gave the name of Gas-moules to those who were born of French fathers and Greek mothers; or more probably Gaste-moules, by way of derision, as if such children by those irregular marriages . . . had in some sort debased the wombs of their mothers!” I have little doubt (pace tanti viri) that the word is in a Gallicized form the same with the surviving Italian Guazzabúglio, a hotch-potch, or mish-mash. In Davanzati’s Tacitus, the words “Colluviem illam nationum” (Annal. II. 55) are rendered “quello guazzabuglio di nazioni,” in which case we come very close to the meaning assigned to Guasmul. The Italians are somewhat behind in matters of etymology, and I can get no light from them on the history of this word. (See Buchon, Chroniques Etrangères, p. xv.; Ducange, Gloss. Graecitatis, and his note on Joinville, in Bohn’s Chron. of the Crusades, 466.)

NOTE 5. — It has often been cast in Marco’s teeth that he makes no mention of the Great Wall of China, and that is true; whilst the apologies made for the omission have always seemed to me unsatisfactory. [I find in Sir G. Staunton’s account of Macartney’s Embassy (II. p. 185) this most amusing explanation of the reason why Marco Polo did not mention the wall: “A copy of Marco Polo’s route to China, taken from the Doge’s Library at Venice, is sufficient to decide this question. By this route it appears that, in fact, that traveller did not pass through Tartary to Pekin, but that after having followed the usual track of the caravans, as far to the eastward from Europe as Samarcand and Cashgar, he bent his course to the south-east across the River Ganges to Bengal (!), and, keeping to the southward of the Thibet mountains, reached the Chinese province of Shensee, and through the adjoining province of Shansee to the capital, without interfering with the line of the Great Wall.”— H. C.] We shall see presently that the Great Wall is spoken of by Marco’s contemporaries Rashiduddin and Abulfeda. Yet I think, if we read “between the lines,” we shall see reason to believe that the Wall was in Polo’s mind at this point of the dictation, whatever may have been his motive for withholding distincter notice of it.7 I cannot conceive why he should say: “Here is what we call the country of Gog and Magog,” except as intimating “Here we are beside the GREAT WALL known as the Rampart of Gog and Magog,” and being there he tries to find a reason why those names should have been applied to it. Why they were really applied to it we have already seen. (Supra, ch. iv. note 3.) Abulfeda says: “The Ocean turns northward along the east of China, and then expands in the same direction till it passes China, and comes opposite to the Rampart of Yájúj and Májúj;” whilst the same geographer’s definition of the boundaries of China exhibits that country as bounded on the west by the Indo–Chinese wildernesses; on the south, by the seas; on the east, by the Eastern Ocean; on the north, by the land of Yájúj and Májúj, and other countries unknown. Ibn Batuta, with less accurate geography in his head than Abulfeda, maugre his travels, asks about the Rampart of Gog and Magog (Sadd Yájúj wa Majúj) when he is at Sin Kalán, i.e. Canton, and, as might be expected, gets little satisfaction.

Illustration: The Rampart of Gog and Magog

Apart from this interesting point Marsden seems to be right in the general bearing of his explanation of the passage, and I conceive that the two classes of people whom Marco tries to identify with Gog and Magog do substantially represent the two genera or species, TURKS and MONGOLS, or, according to another nomenclature used by Rashiduddin, the White and Black Tartars. To the latter class belonged Chinghiz and his MONGOLS proper, with a number of other tribes detailed by Rashiduddin, and these I take to be in a general way the MUNGUL of our text. The Ung on the other hand, are the UNG-kut, the latter form being presumably only the Mongol plural of UNG. The Ung-kút were a Turk tribe who were vassals of the Kin Emperors of Cathay, and were intrusted with the defence of the Wall of China, or an important portion of it, which was called by the Mongols Ungu, a name which some connect with that of the tribe. [See note pp. 288–9.] Erdmann indeed asserts that the wall by which the Ung-kut dwelt was not the Great Wall, but some other. There are traces of other great ramparts in the steppes north of the present wall. But Erdmann’s arguments seem to me weak in the extreme.

[Mr. Rockhill (Rubruck, p. 112) writes: “The earliest mention I have found of the name Mongol in Oriental works occurs in the Chinese annals of the After T’ang period (A.D. 923–934), where it occurs in the form Meng-ku. In the annals of the Liao Dynasty (A.D. 916–1125) it is found under the form Meng-ku-li. The first occurrence of the name in the Tung chien kang mu is, however, in the 6th year Shao-hsing of Kao-tsung of the Sung (A.D. 1136). It is just possible that we may trace the word back a little earlier than the After T’ang period, and that the Meng-wa (or ngo as this character may have been pronounced at the time), a branch of the Shih-wei, a Tungusic or Kitan people living around Lake Keule, to the east of the Baikal, and along the Kerulun, which empties into it, during the 7th and subsequent centuries, and referred to in the T’ang shu (Bk. 219), is the same as the later Meng-ku. Though I have been unable to find, as stated by Howorth (History, i. pt. I. 28), that the name Meng-ku occurs in the T’ang shu, his conclusion that the northern Shih-wei of that time constituted the Mongol nation proper is very likely correct. . . . I. J. Schmidt (Ssanang Setzen, 380) derives the name Mongol from mong, meaning ‘brave, daring, bold,’ while Rashiduddin says it means ‘simple, weak’ (d’Ohsson, i. 22). The Chinese characters used to transcribe the name mean ‘dull, stupid,’ and ‘old, ancient,’ but they are used purely phonetically. . . . The Mongols of the present day are commonly called by the Chinese Ta-tzu, but this name is resented by the Mongols as opprobrious, though it is but an abbreviated form of the name Ta-ta-tzu, in which, according to Rubruck, they once gloried.”— H. C.]

Vincent of Beauvais has got from some of his authorities a conception of the distinction of the Tartars into two races, to which, however, he assigns no names: “Sunt autem duo genera Tartarorum, diversa quidem habentia idiomata, sed unicam legem ac ritum, sicut Franci et Theutonici.” But the result of his effort to find a realisation of Gog and Magog is that he makes Guyuk Kaan into Gog, and Mangu Kaan into Magog. Even the intelligent Friar Ricold says of the Tartars: “They say themselves that they are descended from Gog and Magog: and on this account they are called Mogoli, as if from a corruption of Magogoli.” (Abulfeda in Büsching, IV. 140, 274–275; I. B. IV. 274; Golden Horde, 34, 68; Erdmann, 241–242, 257–258; Timk. I. 259, 263, 268; Vinc. Bellov. Spec. Hist. XXIX. 73, XXXI. 32–34; Pereg. Quat. 118; Not. et Ext. II. 536.)

NOTE 6. — The towns and villages were probably those immediately north of the Great Wall, between 112° and 115° East longitude, of which many remains exist, ascribed to the time of the Yuen or Mongol Dynasty. This tract, between the Great Wall and the volcanic plateau of Mongolia, is extensively colonised by Chinese, and has resumed the flourishing aspect that Polo describes. It is known now as the Ku-wei, or extramural region.

[After Kalgan, Captain Younghusband, on the 12th April, 1886, “passed through the [outer] Great Wall . . . entering what Marco Polo calls the land of Gog and Magog. For the next two days I passed through a hilly country inhabited by Chinese, though it really belongs to Mongolia; but on the 14th I emerged on to the real steppes, which are the characteristic features of Mongolia Proper.” (Proc. R. G. S. X., 1888, p. 490.)— H. C.]

Of the cloths called nakh and nasij we have spoken before (supra ch. vi. note 4). These stuffs, or some such as these, were, I believe, what the mediaeval writers called Tartary cloth, not because they were made in Tartary, but because they were brought from China and its borders through the Tartar dominions; as we find that for like reason they were sometimes called stuffs of Russia. Dante alludes to the supposed skill of Turks and Tartars in weaving gorgeous stuffs, and Boccaccio, commenting thereon, says that Tartarian cloths are so skilfully woven that no painter with his brush could equal them. Maundevile often speaks of cloths of Tartary (e.g. pp. 175, 247). So also Chaucer:

“On every trumpe hanging a broad banere Of fine Tartarium.”

Again, in the French inventory of the Garde–Meuble of 1353 we find two pieces of Tartary, one green and the other red, priced at 15 crowns each. (Flower and Leaf, 211; Dante, Inf. XVII. 17, and Longfellow, p. 159; Douet d’Arcq, p. 328; Fr.-Michel, Rech. I. 315, II. 166 seqq.)

NOTE 7. — SINDACHU (Sindacui, Suidatui, etc., of the MSS.) is SIUEN-HWA-FU, called under the Kin Dynasty Siuen-te-chau, more than once besieged and taken by Chinghiz. It is said to have been a summer residence of the later Mongol Emperors, and fine parks full of grand trees remain on the western side. It is still a large town and the capital of a Fu, about 25 miles south of the Gate on the Great Wall at Chang Kia Kau, which the Mongols and Russians call Kalgan. There is still a manufacture of felt and woollen articles here.

[Mr. Rockhill writes to me that this place is noted for the manufacture of buckskins. — H. C.]

Ydifu has not been identified. But Baron Richthofen saw old mines north-east of Kalgan, which used to yield argentiferous galena; and Pumpelly heard of silver-mines near Yuchau, in the same department.

[In the Yuen-shi it is “stated that there were gold and silver mines in the districts of Siuen-te-chow and Yuchow, as well as in the Kiming shan Mountains. These mines were worked by the Government itself up to 1323, when they were transferred to private enterprise. Marco Polo’s Ydifu is probably a copyist’s error, and stands instead of Yuchow.” (Palladius, 24, 25.)— H. C.]

1 Mr. Ney Elias favours me with a curious but tantalising communication on this subject: “An old man called on me at Kwei-hwa Ch’eng (Tenduc), who said he was neither Chinaman, Mongol, nor Mahomedan, and lived on ground a short distance to the north of the city, especially allotted to his ancestors by the Emperor, and where there now exist several families of the same origin. He then mentioned the connection of his family with that of the Emperor, but in what way I am not clear, and said that he ought to be, or had been, a prince. Other people coming in, he was interrupted and went away. . . . He was not with me more than ten minutes, and the incident is a specimen of the difficulty in obtaining interesting information, except by mere chance. . . . The idea that struck me was, that he was perhaps a descendant of King George of Tenduc; for I had your M. P. before me, and had been inquiring as much as I dared about subjects it suggested. . . . At Kwei-hwa Ch’eng I was very closely spied, and my servant was frequently told to warn me against asking too many questions.”

I should mention that Oppert, in his very interesting monograph, Der Presbyter Johannes, refuses to recognise the Kerait chief at all in that character, and supposes Polo’s King George to be the representative of a prince of the Liao (supra, p. 205), who, as we learn from De Mailla’s History, after the defeat of the Kin, in which he had assisted Chinghiz, settled in Liaotung, and received from the conqueror the title of King of the Liao. This seems to me geographically and otherwise quite inadmissible.

2 The term Arkaiun, or Arkaun, in this sense, occurs in the Armenian History of Stephen Orpelian, quoted by St. Martin. The author of the Tárikh Jahán Kushai, cited by D’Ohsson, says that Christians were called by the Mongols Arkáún. When Hulaku invested Baghdad we are told that he sent a letter to the Judges, Shaikhs, Doctors and Arkauns, promising to spare such as should act peaceably. And in the subsequent sack we hear that no houses were spared except those of a few Arkauns and foreigners. In Rashiduddin’s account of the Council of State at Peking, we are told that the four Fanchan, or Ministers of the Second Class, were taken from the four nations of Tájiks, Cathayans, Uighúrs, and Arkaun. Sabadin Arkaun was the name of one of the Envoys sent by Arghun Khan of Persia to the Pope in 1288. Traces of the name appear also in Chinese documents of the Mongol era, as denoting some religious body. Some of these have been quoted by Mr. Wylie; but I have seen no notice taken of a very curious extract given by Visdelou. This states that Kúblái in 1289 established a Board of nineteen chief officers to have surveillance of the affairs of the Religion of the Cross, of the Marha, the Siliepan, and the Yelikhawen. This Board was raised to a higher rank in 1315: and at that time 72 minor courts presiding over the religion of the Yelikhawen existed under its supervision. Here we evidently have the word Arkhaiun in a Chinese form; and we may hazard the suggestion that Marha, Siliepan and Yelikhawen meant respectively the Armenian, Syrian, or Jacobite, and Nestorian Churches. (St. Martin, Mém. II. 133, 143, 279; D’Ohsson, II. 264; Ilchan, I. 150, 152; Cathay, 264; Acad. VII. 359; Wylie in J. As. V. xix. 406. Suppt. to D’Herbelot, 142.)

3 The word is not in Zenker or Pavet de Courteille.

4 Mr. Shaw writes Toongânee. The first mention of this name that I know of is in Izzat Ullah’s Journal. (Vide J. R. A. S. VII. 310.) The people are there said to have got the name from having first settled in Tungan. Tung-gan is in the same page the name given to the strong city of T’ung Kwan on the Hwang-ho. (See Bk. II. ch. xli. note 1.) A variety of etymologies have been given, but Vámbéry’s seems the most probable.

5 Probably no man could now say what this means. But the following note from Mr. Ney Elias is very interesting in its suggestion of analogy: “In my report to the Geographical Society I have noticed the peculiar Western appearance of Kwei-hwa-ch’eng, and the little gardens of creepers and flowers in pots which are displayed round the porches in the court-yards of the better class of houses, and which I have seen in no other part of China. My attention was especially drawn to these by your quotation from Rashiduddin.”

6 A translation of Heins’ was kindly lent me by the author of this article, the lamented Mr. J. W. S. Wyllie.

7 I owe the suggestion of this to a remark in Oppert’s Presbyter Johannes, p. 77.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/p/polo/marco/travels/book1.59.html

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 16:24