The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter lxxiii.

Of the City of Chinghianfu.

Chinghianfu is a city of Manzi. The people are Idolaters and subject to the Great Kaan, and have paper-money, and live by handicrafts and trade. They have plenty of silk, from which they make sundry kinds of stuffs of silk and gold. There are great and wealthy merchants in the place; plenty of game is to be had, and of all kinds of victual.

Illustration: West Gate of Chin-kiang fu in 1842.

There are in this city two churches of Nestorian Christians which were established in the year of our Lord 1278; and I will tell you how that happened. You see, in the year just named, the Great Kaan sent a Baron of his whose name was MAR SARGHIS, a Nestorian Christian, to be governor of this city for three years. And during the three years that he abode there he caused these two Christian churches to be built, and since then there they are. But before his time there was no church, neither were there any Christians.1

NOTE 1. — CHIN-KIANG FU retains its name unchanged. It is one which became well known in the war of 1842. On its capture on the 21st July in that year, the heroic Manchu commandant seated himself among his records and then set fire to the building, making it his funeral pyre. The city was totally destroyed in the T’ai-P’ing wars, but is rapidly recovering its position as a place of native commerce.

[Chên-kiang, “a name which may be translated ‘River Guard,’ stands at the point where the Grand Canal is brought to a junction with the waters of the Yang-tzu when the channel of the river proper begins to expand into an extensive tidal estuary.” (Treaty Ports of China, p. 421.) It was declared open to foreign trade by the Treaty of Tien–Tsin 1858. — H.C.]

Mar Sarghis (or Dominus Sergius) appears to have been a common name among Armenian and other Oriental Christians. As Pauthier mentions, this very name is one of the names of Nestorian priests inscribed in Syriac on the celebrated monument of Si-ngan fu.

[In the description of Chin-kiang quoted by the Archimandrite Palladius (see vol. i. p. 187, note 3), a Christian monastery or temple is mentioned: “The temple Ta-hing-kuo-sze stands in Chin-kiang fu, in the quarter called Kia-t’ao h’eang. It was built in the 18th year of Chi-yuen (A.D. 1281) by the Sub-darugachi, Sie-li-ki-sze (Sergius). Liang Siang, the teacher in the Confucian school, wrote a commemorative inscription for him.” From this document we see that “Sie-mi-sze-hien (Samarcand) is distant from China 100,000 li (probably a mistake for 10,000) to the north-west. It is a country where the religion of the Ye-li-k’o-wen dominates. . . . The founder of the religion was called Ma-rh Ye-li-ya. He lived and worked miracles a thousand five hundred years ago. Ma Sie-li-ki-sze (Mar Sergius) is a follower of him.” (Chinese Recorder, VI. p. 108). — H.C.]

From this second mention of three years as a term of government, we may probably gather that this was the usual period for the tenure of such office. (Mid. Kingd., I. 86; Cathay, p. xciii.)

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