The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter lxviii.

Of the Cities of Tiju, Tinju, and Yanju.

When you leave Cayu, you ride another day to the south-east through a constant succession of villages and fields and fine farms until you come to TIJU, which is a city of no great size but abounding in everything. The people are Idolaters (and so forth). There is a great amount of trade, and they have many vessels. And you must know that on your left hand, that is towards the east, and three days’ journey distant, is the Ocean Sea. At every place between the sea and the city salt is made in great quantities. And there is a rich and noble city called TINJU, at which there is produced salt enough to supply the whole province, and I can tell you it brings the Great Kaan an incredible revenue. The people are Idolaters and subject to the Kaan. Let us quit this, however, and go back to Tiju. 1

Again, leaving Tiju, you ride another day towards the south-east, and at the end of your journey you arrive at the very great and noble city of YANJU, which has seven-and-twenty other wealthy cities under its administration; so that this Yanju is, you see, a city of great importance.2 It is the seat of one of the Great Kaan’s Twelve Barons, for it has been chosen to be one of the Twelve Sings. The people are Idolaters and use paper-money, and are subject to the Great Kaan. And Messer Marco Polo himself, of whom this book speaks, did govern this city for three full years, by the order of the Great Kaan.3 The people live by trade and manufactures, for a great amount of harness for knights and men-at-arms is made there. And in this city and its neighbourhood a large number of troops are stationed by the Kaan’s orders.

There is no more to say about it. So now I will tell you about two great provinces of Manzi which lie towards the west. And first of that called Nanghin.

NOTE 1. — Though the text would lead us to look for Tiju on the direct line between Kao-yu and Yang-chau, and like them on the canal bank (indeed one MS., C. of Pauthier, specifies its standing on the same river as the cities already passed, i.e. on the canal), we seem constrained to admit the general opinion that this is TAI-CHAU, a town lying some 25 miles at least to the eastward of the canal, but apparently connected with it by a navigable channel.

Tinju or Chinju (for both the G.T. and Ramusio read Cingui) cannot be identified with certainty. But I should think it likely, from Polo’s “geographical style,” that when he spoke of the sea as three days distant he had this city in view, and that it is probably TUNG-CHAU, near the northern shore of the estuary of the Yang-tzu, which might be fairly described as three days from Tai-chau. Mr. Kingsmill identifies it with I-chin hien, the great port on the Kiang for the export of the Yang-chau salt. This is possible; but I-chin lies west of the canal, and though the form Chinju would really represent I-chin as then named, such a position seems scarcely compatible with the way, vague as it is, in which Tinju or Chinju is introduced. Moreover, we shall see that I-chin is spoken of hereafter. (Kingsmill in N. and Q. Ch. and Japan, I. 53.)

NOTE 2. — Happily, there is no doubt that this is YANG-CHAU, one of the oldest and most famous great cities of China. [Abulfeda (Guyard, II. ii. 122) says that Yang-chau is the capital of the Faghfûr of China, and that he is called Tamghâdj-khan. — H.C.] Some five-and-thirty years after Polo’s departure from China, Friar Odoric found at this city a House of his own Order (Franciscans), and three Nestorian churches. The city also appears in the Catalan Map as Iangio. Yang-chau suffered greatly in the T’aï-P’ing rebellion, but its position is an “obligatory point” for commerce, and it appears to be rapidly recovering its prosperity. It is the headquarters of the salt manufacture, and it is also now noted for a great manufacture of sweetmeats (See Alabaster’s Report, as above, p 6)

Illustration: Yang chau: the three Cities Under the Sung

[Through the kindness of the late Father H. Havret, S J, of Zi ka wei, I am enabled to give two plans from the Chronicles of Yang chau, Yang chau fu ché (ed. 1733); one bears the title “The Three Cities under the Sung,” and the other. “The Great City under the Sung” The three cities are Pao yew cheng, built in 1256, Sin Pao cheng or Kia cheng, built after 1256, and Tacheng, the “Great City,” built in 1175; in 1357, Ta cheng was rebuilt, and in 1557 it was augmented, taking the place of the three cities; from 553 B.C. until the 12th century, Yang-chau had no less than five enclosures; the governor’s yamen stood where a cross is marked in the Great City. Since Yang-chau has been laid in ruins by the T’aï-P’ing insurgents, these plans offer now a new interest. — H.C.]

Illustration: Yang-chau: the Great City under the Sung.

NOTE 3. — What I have rendered “Twelve Sings” is in the G.T. “douze sajes,” and in Pauthier’s text “sieges.” It seems to me a reasonable conclusion that the original word was Sings (see I. 432, supra); anyhow that was the proper term for the thing meant.

In his note on this chapter, Pauthier produces evidence that Yang-chau was the seat of a Lu or circuit1 from 1277, and also of a Sing or Government–General, but only for the first year after the conquest, viz. 1276–1277, and he seems (for his argument is obscure) to make from this the unreasonable deduction that at this period Kúblái placed Marco Polo — who could not be more than twenty-three years of age, and had been but two years in Cathay — in charge either of the general government, or of an important district government in the most important province of the empire.

In a later note M. Pauthier speaks of 1284 as the date at which the Sing of the province of Kiang-ché was transferred from Yang-chau to Hang-chau; this is probably to be taken as a correction of the former citations, and it better justifies Polo’s statement. (Pauthier, pp. 467, 492.)

I do not think that we are to regard Marco as having held at any time the important post of Governor–General of Kiang-ché. The expressions in the G. T. are: “Meser Marc Pol meisme, celui de cui trate ceste livre, seingneurie ceste cité por trois anz.” Pauthier’s MS. A. appears to read: “Et ot seigneurie, Marc Pol, en ceste cité, trois ans.” These expressions probably point to the government of the Lu or circuit of Yang-chau, just as we find in ch. lxxiii. another Christian, Mar Sarghis, mentioned as Governor of Chin-kiang fu for the same term of years, that city being also the head of a Lu. It is remarkable that in Pauthier’s MS. C., which often contains readings of peculiar value, the passage runs (and also in the Bern MS.): “Et si vous dy que ledit Messire Marc Pol, cellui meisme de qui nostre livre parle, sejourna, en ceste cité de Janguy. iii. ans accompliz, par le commandement du Grant Kaan,” in which the nature of his employment is not indicated at all (though séjourna may be an error for seigneura). The impression of his having been Governor–General is mainly due to the Ramusian version, which says distinctly indeed that “M. Marco Polo di commissione del Gran Can n’ ebbe il governo tre anni continui in luogo di un dei detti Baroni,” but it is very probable that this is a gloss of the translator. I should conjecture his rule at Yang-chau to have been between 1282, when we know he was at the capital (vol. i. p. 422), and 1287–1288, when he must have gone on his first expedition to the Indian Seas.

1 The Lu or Circuit was an administrative division under the Mongols, intermediate between the Sing and the Fu, or department. There were 185 lu in all China under Kúblái. (Pauth. 333). [Mr. E.L. Oxenham, Hist. Atlas Chin. Emp., reckons 10 provinces or sheng, 39 fu cities, 316 chau, 88 lu, 12 military governorships. — H.C.]

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