The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter lvii.

Concerning the Province of Anin.

Anin is a Province towards the east, the people of which are subject to the Great Kaan, and are Idolaters. They live by cattle and tillage, and have a peculiar language. The women wear on the legs and arms bracelets of gold and silver of great value, and the men wear such as are even yet more costly. They have plenty of horses which they sell in great numbers to the Indians, making a great profit thereby. And they have also vast herds of buffaloes and oxen, having excellent pastures for these. They have likewise all the necessaries of life in abundance.1

Now you must know that between Anin and Caugigu, which we have left behind us, there is a distance of [25] days’ journey;2 and from Caugigu to Bangala, the third province in our rear, is 30 days’ journey. We shall now leave Anin and proceed to another province which is some 8 days’ journey further, always going eastward.

NOTE 1. — Ramusio, the printed text of the Soc. de Géographie, and most editions have Amu; Pauthier reads Aniu and considers the name to represent Tungking or Annam, called also Nan-yué. The latter word he supposes to be converted into Anyué, Aniu. And accordingly he carries the traveller to the capital of Tungking.

Leaving the name for the present, according to the scheme of the route as I shall try to explain it below, I should seek for Amu or Aniu or Anin in the extreme south-east of Yun-nan. A part of this region was for the first time traversed by the officers of the French expedition up the Mekong, who in 1867 visited Sheu-ping, Lin-ngan and the upper valley of the River of Tungking on their way to Yun-nan-fu. To my question whether the description in the text, of Aniu or Anin and its fine pastures, applied to the tract just indicated, Lieut. Garnier replied on the whole favourably (see further on), proceeding: “The population about Sheu-ping is excessively mixt. On market days at that town one sees a gathering of wild people in great number and variety, and whose costumes are highly picturesque, as well as often very rich. There are the Pa-is, who are also found again higher up, the Ho-nhi, the Khato, the Lopé, the Shentseu. These tribes appear to be allied in part to the Laotians, in part to the Kakhyens. . . . The wilder races about Sheuping are remarkably handsome, and you see there types of women exhibiting an extraordinary regularity of feature, and at the same time a complexion surprisingly white. The Chinese look quite an inferior race beside them. . . . I may add that all these tribes, especially the Ho-nhi and the Pa-ï, wear large amounts of silver ornament; great collars of silver round the neck, as well as on the legs and arms.”

Though the whiteness of the people of Anin is not noticed by Polo, the distinctive manner in which he speaks in the next chapter of the dark complexion of the tribes described therein seems to indicate the probable omission of the opposite trait here.

The prominent position assigned in M. Garnier’s remarks to a race called Ho-nhi first suggested to me that the reading of the text might be ANIN instead of Aniu. And as a matter of fact this seems to my eyes to be clearly the reading of the Paris Livre des Merveilles (Pauthier’s MS. B), while the Paris No. 5631 (Pauthier’s A) has Auin, and what may be either Aniu or Anin. Anyn is also found in the Latin Brandenburg MS. of Pipino’s version collated by Andrew Müller, to which, however, we cannot ascribe much weight. But the two words are so nearly identical in mediaeval writing, and so little likely to be discriminated by scribes who had nothing to guide their discrimination, that one need not hesitate to adopt that which is supported by argument. In reference to the suggested identity of Anin and Ho-nhi, M. Garnier writes again: “All that Polo has said regarding the country of Aniu, though not containing anything very characteristic, may apply perfectly to the different indigenous tribes, at present subject to the Chinese, which are dispersed over the country from Talan to Sheuping and Lin-ngan. These tribes bearing the names (given above) relate that they in other days formed an independent state, to which they give the name of Muang Shung. Where this Muang was situated there is no knowing. These tribes have langage par euls, as Marco Polo says, and silver ornaments are worn by them to this day in extraordinary profusion; more, however, by the women than the men. They have plenty of horses, buffaloes and oxen, and of sheep as well. It was the first locality in which the latter were seen. The plateau of Lin-ngan affords pasture-grounds which are exceptionally good for that part of the world.

Illustration: Ho-nhi and other Tribes in the Department of Lin-ngan in S. Yun-nan (supposed to be the Anin country of Marco Polo). (From Garnier’s Work)

“Beyond Lin-ngan we find the Ho-nhi, properly so called, no longer. But ought one to lay much stress on mere names which have undergone so many changes, and of which so many have been borne in succession by all those places and peoples?.. I will content myself with reminding you that the town of Homi-cheu near Lin-ngan in the days of the Yuen bore the name of Ngo-ning.”

Notwithstanding M. Garnier’s caution, I am strongly inclined to believe that ANIN represents either HO-NHI or NGO-NING, if indeed these names be not identical. For on reference to Biot I see that the first syllable of the modern name of the town which M. Garnier writes Homi, is expressed by the same character as the first syllable of NGOning.

[The Wo-nhi are also called Ngo-ni, Kan-ni, Ho-ni, Lou-mi, No-pi, Ko-ni and Wa-heh; they descend from the southern barbarians called Ho-nhi. At the time of the kingdom of Nan–Chao, the Ho-nhi, called In-yuen, tribes were a dependence of the Kiang (Xieng) of Wei-yuen (Prefecture of P’u-erh). They are now to be found in the Yunnanese prefectures of Lin-ngan, King-tung, Chen-yuen, Yuen-kiang and Yun-nan. (See Devéria, p. 135.)— H.C.]

We give one of M. Garnier’s woodcuts representing some of the races in this vicinity. Their dress, as he notices, has, in some cases, a curious resemblance to costumes of Switzerland, or of Brittany, popular at fancy balls.1 Coloured figures of some of these races will be found in the Atlas to Garnier’s work; see especially Plate 35.

NOTE 2. — All the French MSS. and other texts except Ramusio’s read 15. We adopt Ramusio’s reading, 25, for reasons which will appear below.

1 There is a little uncertainty in the adjustment of names and figures of some of these tribes, between the illustrations and the incidental notices in Lieutenant Garnier’s work. But all the figures in the present cut certainly belong to the tract to which we point as Anin; and the two middle figures answer best to what is said of the Ho-nhi.

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