The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter lxi.

Concerning the City of Chinangli, and that of Tadinfu, and the Rebellion of Litan.

Chinangli is a city of Cathay as you go south, and it belongs to the Great Kaan; the people are Idolaters, and have paper-money. There runs through the city a great and wide river, on which a large traffic in silk goods and spices and other costly merchandize passes up and down.

When you travel south from Chinangli for five days, you meet everywhere with fine towns and villages, the people of which are all Idolaters, and burn their dead, and are subject to the Great Kaan, and have paper-money, and live by trade and handicrafts, and have all the necessaries of life in great abundance. But there is nothing particular to mention on the way till you come, at the end of those five days, to TADINFU.1

This, you must know, is a very great city, and in old times was the seat of a great kingdom; but the Great Kaan conquered it by force of arms. Nevertheless it is still the noblest city in all those provinces. There are very great merchants here, who trade on a great scale, and the abundance of silk is something marvellous. They have, moreover, most charming gardens abounding with fruit of large size. The city of Tadinfu hath also under its rule eleven imperial cities of great importance, all of which enjoy a large and profitable trade, owing to that immense produce of silk.2

Now, you must know, that in the year of Christ, 1273, the Great Kaan had sent a certain Baron called LIYTAN SANGON,[NOTE 3] with some 80,000 horse, to this province and city, to garrison them. And after the said captain had tarried there a while, he formed a disloyal and traitorous plot, and stirred up the great men of the province to rebel against the Great Kaan. And so they did; for they broke into revolt against their sovereign lord, and refused all obedience to him, and made this Liytan, whom their sovereign had sent thither for their protection, to be the chief of their revolt.

When the Great Kaan heard thereof he straightway despatched two of his Barons, one of whom was called AGUIL and the other MONGOTAY;4 giving them 100,000 horse and a great force of infantry. But the affair was a serious one, for the Barons were met by the rebel Liytan with all those whom he had collected from the province, mustering more than 100,000 horse and a large force of foot. Nevertheless in the battle Liytan and his party were utterly routed, and the two Barons whom the Emperor had sent won the victory. When the news came to the Great Kaan he was right well pleased, and ordered that all the chiefs who had rebelled, or excited others to rebel, should be put to a cruel death, but that those of lower rank should receive a pardon. And so it was done. The two Barons had all the leaders of the enterprise put to a cruel death, and all those of lower rank were pardoned. And thenceforward they conducted themselves with loyalty towards their lord.5

Now having told you all about this affair, let us have done with it, and I will tell you of another place that you come to in going south, which is called SINJU-MATU.

NOTE 1. — There seems to be no solution to the difficulties attaching to the account of these two cities (Chinangli and Tadinfu) except that the two have been confounded, either by a lapse of memory on the traveller’s part or by a misunderstanding on that of Rusticiano.

The position and name of CHINANGLI point, as Pauthier has shown, to T’SI-NAN FU, the chief city of Shan-tung. The second city is called in the G. Text and Pauthier’s MSS. Candinfu, Condinfu, and Cundinfu, names which it has not been found possible to elucidate. But adopting the reading Tadinfu of some of the old printed editions (supported by the Tudinfu of Ramusio and the Tandifu of the Riccardian MS.), Pauthier shows that the city now called Yen-chau bore under the Kin the name of TAI-TING FU, which may fairly thus be recognised. [Under the Sung Dynasty Yen-chau was named T’ai-ning and Lung-k’ing. (Playfair’s Dict. p. 388.)— H.C.]

It was not, however, Yen-chau, but T’si-nan fu, which was “the noblest city in all those provinces,” and had been “in old times the seat of a kingdom,” as well as recently the scene of the episode of Litan’s rebellion. T’si-nan fu lies in a direct line 86 miles south of T’sang-chau (Changlu), near the banks of the Ta-t’singho, a large river which communicates with the great canal near T’si-ning chau, and which was, no doubt, of greater importance in Polo’s time than in the last six centuries. For up nearly to the origin of the Mongol power it appears to have been one of the main discharges of the Hwang–Ho. The recent changes in that river have again brought its main stream into the same channel, and the “New Yellow River” passes three or four miles to the north of the city. T’si-nan fu has frequently of late been visited by European travellers, who report it as still a place of importance, with much life and bustle, numerous book-shops, several fine temples, two mosques, and all the furniture of a provincial capital. It has also a Roman Catholic Cathedral of Gothic architecture. (Williamson, I. 102.)

[Tsi-nan “is a populous and rich city; and by means of the river (Ta Tsing ho, Great Clear River) carries on an extensive commerce. The soil is fertile, and produces grain and fruits in abundance. Silk of an excellent quality is manufactured, and commands a high price. The lakes and rivers are well stored with fish.” (Chin. Rep. XI. p. 562.)— H.C.]

NOTE 2. — The Chinese Annals, more than 2000 years B.C., speak of silk as an article of tribute from Shan-tung; and evidently it was one of the provinces most noted in the Middle Ages for that article. Compare the quotation in note on next chapter from Friar Odoric. Yet the older modern accounts speak only of the wild silk of Shan-tung. Mr. Williamson, however, points out that there is an extensive produce from the genuine mulberry silkworm, and anticipates a very important trade in Shan-tung silk. Silk fabrics are also largely produced, and some of extraordinary quality. (Williamson, I. 112, 131.)

The expressions of Padre Martini, in speaking of the wild silk of Shan-tung, strongly remind one of the talk of the ancients about the origin of silk, and suggest the possibility that this may not have been mere groundless fancy: “Non in globum aut ovum ductum, sed in longissimum filum paulatim ex ore emissum, albi coloris, quae arbustis dumisque, adhaerentia, atque a vento huc illucque agitata colliguntur,” etc. Compare this with Pliny’s “Seres lanitia silvarum nobiles, perfusam aqua depectentes frondium caniciem,” or Claudian’s “Stamine, quod molli tondent de stipite Seres, Frondea lanigerae carpentes vellera silvae; Et longum tenues tractus producit in aurum.”

NOTE 3. — The title Sangon is, as Pauthier points out, the Chinese Tsiang-kiun, a “general of division”, [or better “Military Governor”. — H.C.] John Bell calls an officer, bearing the same title, “Merin Sanguin” I suspect T’siang-kiun is the Jang–Jang of Baber.

NOTE 4. — AGUL was the name of a distant cousin of Kúblái, who was the father of Nayan (supra, ch. ii. and Genealogy of the House of Chinghiz in Appendix A). MANGKUTAI, under Kúblái, held the command of the third Hazara (Thousand) of the right wing, in which he had succeeded his father Jedi Noyan. lie was greatly distinguished in the invasion of South China under Bayan. (Erdmann’s Temudschin, pp. 220, 455; Gaubil, p. 160.)

NOTE 5. — LITAN, a Chinese of high military position and reputation under the Mongols, in the early part of Kúblái’s reign, commanded the troops in Shan-tung and the conquered parts of Kiang-nan. In the beginning of 1262 he carried out a design that he had entertained since Kúblái’s accession, declared for the Sung Emperor, to whom he gave up several important places, put detached Mongol garrisons to the sword, and fortified T’si-nan and T’sing-chau. Kúblái despatched Prince Apiché and the General Ssetienché against him. Litan, after some partial success, was beaten and driven into T’si-nan, which the Mongols immediately invested. After a blockade of four months, the garrison was reduced to extremities. Litan, in despair, put his women to death and threw himself into a lake adjoining the city; but he was taken out alive and executed. T’sing-chau then surrendered. (Gaubil, 139–140; De Mailla, IX. 298 seqq.; D’Ohsson, II. 381.)

Pauthier gives greater detail from the Chinese Annals, which confirm the amnesty granted to all but the chiefs of the rebellion.

The date in the text is wrong or corrupt, as is generally the case.

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