The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter lxxix.

Of the City of Tanpiju and Others.

When you leave Kinsay and travel a day’s journey to the south-east, through a plenteous region, passing a succession of dwellings and charming gardens, you reach the city of TANPIJU, a great, rich, and fine city, under Kinsay. The people are subject to the Kaan, and have paper-money, and are Idolaters, and burn their dead in the way described before. They live by trade and manufactures and handicrafts, and have all necessaries in great plenty and cheapness.1

But there is no more to be said about it, so we proceed, and I will tell you of another city called VUJU at three days’ distance from Tanpiju. The people are Idolaters, &c., and the city is under Kinsay. They live by trade and manufactures.

Travelling through a succession of towns and villages that look like one continuous city, two days further on to the south-east, you find the great and fine city of GHIUJU which is under Kinsay. The people are Idolaters, &c. They have plenty of silk, and live by trade and handicrafts, and have all things necessary in abundance. At this city you find the largest and longest canes that are in all Manzi; they are full four palms in girth and 15 paces in length.2

When you have left Ghiuju you travel four days S.E. through a beautiful country, in which towns and villages are very numerous. There is abundance of game both in beasts and birds; and there are very large and fierce lions. After those four days you come to the great and fine city of CHANSHAN. It is situated upon a hill which divides the River, so that the one portion flows up country and the other down.1 It is still under the government of Kinsay.

I should tell you that in all the country of Manzi they have no sheep, though they have beeves and kine, goats and kids and swine in abundance. The people are Idolaters here, &c.

When you leave Changshan you travel three days through a very fine country with many towns and villages, traders and craftsmen, and abounding in game of all kinds, and arrive at the city of CUJU. The people are Idolaters, &c., and live by trade and manufactures. It is a fine, noble, and rich city, and is the last of the government of Kinsay in this direction.3 The other kingdom which we now enter, called Fuju, is also one of the nine great divisions of Manzi as Kinsay is.

NOTE 1. — The traveller’s route proceeds from Kinsay or Hang-chau southward to the mountains of Fo-kien, ascending the valley of the Ts’ien T’ang, commonly called by Europeans the Green River. The general line, directed as we shall see upon Kien-ning fu in Fo-kien, is clear enough, but some of the details are very obscure, owing partly to vague indications and partly to the excessive uncertainty in the reading of some of the proper names.

No name resembling Tanpiju (G.T., Tanpigui; Pauthier, Tacpiguy, Carpiguy, Capiguy; Ram., Tapinzu) belongs, so far as has yet been shown, to any considerable town in the position indicated.2 Both Pauthier and Mr. Kingsmill identify the place with Shao-hing fu, a large and busy town, compared by Fortune, as regards population, to Shang-hai. Shao-hing is across the broad river, and somewhat further down than Hang-chau: it is out of the traveller’s general direction; and it seems unnatural that he should commence his journey by passing this wide river, and yet not mention it.

For these reasons I formerly rejected Shao-hing, and looked rather to Fu-yang as the representative of Tanpiju. But my opinion is shaken when I find both Mr. Elias and Baron Richthofen decidedly opposed to Fu-yang, and the latter altogether in favour of Shao-hing. “The journey through a plenteous region, passing a succession of dwellings and charming gardens; the epithets ‘great, rich, and fine city’; the ‘trade, manufactures, and handicrafts,’ and the ‘necessaries in great plenty and cheapness,’ appear to apply rather to the populous plain and the large city of ancient fame, than to the small Fu-yang hien . . . shut in by a spur from the hills, which would hardly have allowed it in former days to have been a great city.” (Note by Baron R.) The after route, as elucidated by the same authority, points with even more force to Shao-hing.

[Mr. G. Phillips has made a special study of the route from Kinsay to Zaytun in the T’oung Pao, I. p. 218 seq. (The Identity of Marco Polo’s Zaitun with Changchau). He says (p. 222): “Leaving Hangchau by boat for Fuhkien, the first place of importance is Fuyang, at 100 li from Hangchau. This name does not in any way resemble Polo’s Ta Pin Zu, but I think it can be no other.” Mr. Phillips writes (pp. 221–222) that by the route he describes, he “intends to follow the highway which has been used by travellers for centuries, and the greater part of which is by water.” He adds: “I may mention that the boats used on this route can be luxuriously fitted up, and the traveller can go in them all the way from Hangchau to Chinghu, the head of the navigation of the Ts’ien-t’ang River. At this Chinghu, they disembark and hire coolies and chairs to take them and their luggage across the Sien-hia pass to Puching in Fuhkien. This route is described by Fortune in an opposite direction, in his Wanderings in China, vol. ii. p. 139. I am inclined to think that Polo followed this route, as the one given by Yule, by way of Shao-hing and Kin-hua by land, would be unnecessarily tedious for the ladies Polo was escorting, and there was no necessity to take it; more especially as there was a direct water route to the point for which they were making. I further incline to this route, as I can find no city at all fitting in with Yenchau, Ramusio’s Gengiu, along the route given by Yule.”

In my paper on the Catalan Map (Paris, 1895) I gave the following itinerary: Kinsay (Hang-chau), Tanpiju (Shao-hing fu), Vuju (Kin-hwa fu), Ghiuju (K’iu-chau fu), Chan-shan (Sui-chang hien), Cuju (Ch’u-chau), Ke-lin-fu (Kien-ning fu), Unken (Hu-kwan), Fuju (Fu-chau), Zayton (Kayten, Hai-t’au), Zayton (Ts’iuen-chau), Tyunju (Tek-hwa).

Regarding the burning of the dead, Mr. Phillips (T’oung Pao, VI. p. 454) quotes the following passage from a notice by M. Jaubert. “The town of Zaitun is situated half a day’s journey inland from the sea. At the place where the ships anchor, the water is fresh. The people drink this water and also that of the wells. Zaitun is 30 days’ journey from Khanbaligh. The inhabitants of this town burn their dead either with Sandal, or Brazil wood, according to their means; they then throw the ashes into the river.” Mr. Phillips adds: “The custom of burning the dead is a long established one in Fuh–Kien, and does not find much favour among the upper classes. It exists even to this day in the central parts of the province. The time for cremation is generally at the time of the Tsing–Ming. At the commencement of the present dynasty the custom of burning the dead appears to have been pretty general in the Fuchow Prefecture; it was looked upon with disfavour by many, and the gentry petitioned the Authorities that proclamations forbidding it should be issued. It was thought unfilial for children to cremate their parents; and the practice of gathering up the bones of a partially cremated person and thrusting them into a jar, euphoniously called a Golden Jar, but which was really an earthen one, was much commented on, as, if the jar was too small to contain all the bones, they were broken up and put in, and many pieces got thrown aside. In the Changchow neighbourhood, with which we have here most to do, it was a universal custom in 1126 to burn the dead, and was in existence for many centuries after.” (See note, supra, II. p. 134.)

Captain Gill, speaking of the country near the Great Wall, writes (I. p. 61): [“The Chinese] consider mutton very poor food, and the butchers’ shops are always kept by Mongols. In these, however, both beef and mutton can be bought for 3d. or 4d. a lb., while pork, which is considered by the Chinese as the greatest delicacy, sells for double the price.”— H.C.]

NOTE 2. — Che-kiang produces bamboos more abundantly than any province of Eastern China. Dr. Medhurst mentions meeting, on the waters near Hang-chau, with numerous rafts of bamboos, one of which was one-third of a mile in length. (Glance at Int. of China, p. 53.)

NOTE 3. — Assuming Tanpiju to be Shao-hing, the remaining places as far as the Fo-kien Frontier run thus:—

3 days to Vuju (P. Vugui, G.T. Vugui, Vuigui, Ram. Uguiu).
2 “ to Ghiuju (P. Guiguy, G.T. Ghingui, Ghengui, Chengui, Ram. Gengui).
4 “ to Chanshan (P. Ciancian, G.T. Cianscian, Ram. Zengian).
3 “ to Cuju or Chuju (P. Cinguy, G.T. Cugui, Ram. Gieza).

First as regards Chanshan, which, with the notable circumstances about the waters there, constitutes the key to the route, I extract the following remarks from a note which Mr. Fortune has kindly sent me: “When we get to Chanshan the proof as to the route is very strong. This is undoubtedly my Chang-shan. The town is near the head of the Green River (the Ts’ien T’ang) which flows in a N.E. direction and falls into the Bay of Hang-chau. At Chang-shan the stream is no longer navigable even for small boats. Travellers going west or south-west walk or are carried in sedan-chairs across country in a westerly direction for about 30 miles to a town named Yuh-shan. Here there is a river which flows westward (‘the other half goes down’), taking the traveller rapidly in that direction, and passing en route the towns of Kwansinfu, Hokow or Hokeu, and onward to the Poyang Lake.” From the careful study of Mr. Fortune’s published narrative I had already arrived at the conclusion that this was the correct explanation of the remarkable expressions about the division of the waters, which are closely analogous to those used by the traveller in ch. lxii. of this book when speaking of the watershed of the Great Canal at Sinjumatu. Paraphrased the words might run: “At Chang-shan you reach high ground, which interrupts the continuity of the River; from one side of this ridge it flows up country towards the north, from the other it flows down towards the south.” The expression “The River” will be elucidated in note 4 to ch. lxxxii. below.

This route by the Ts’ien T’ang and the Chang-shan portage, which turns the danger involved in the navigation of the Yang-tzu and the Poyang Lake, was formerly a thoroughfare to the south much followed; though now almost abandoned through one of the indirect results (as Baron Richthofen points out) of steam navigation.

The portage from Chang-shan to Yuh-shan was passed by the English and Dutch embassies in the end of last century, on their journeys from Hang-chau to Canton, and by Mr. Fortune on his way from Ningpo to the Bohea country of Fo-kien. It is probable that Polo on some occasion made the ascent of the Ts’ien T’ang by water, and that this leads him to notice the interruption of the navigation.

[Mr. Phillips writes (T. Pao, I. p. 222): “From Fuyang the next point reached is Tunglu, also another 100 li distant. Polo calls this city Ugim, a name bearing no resemblance to Tunglu, but this name and Ta Pin Zu are so corrupted in all editions that they defy conjecture. One hundred li further up the river from Tunglu, we come to Yenchau, in which I think we have Polo’s Gengiu of Ramusio’s text. Yule’s text calls this city Ghiuju, possibly an error in transcription for Ghinju; Yenchau in ancient Chinese would, according to Williams, be pronounced Ngam, Ngin, and Ngienchau, all of which are sufficiently near Polo’s Gengiu. The next city reached is Lan Ki Hien or Lan Chi Hsien, famous for its hams, dates, and all the good things of this life, according to the Chinese. In this city I recognise Polo’s Zen Gi An of Ramusio. Does its description justify me in my identification? ‘The city of “Zen gi an”,’ says Ramusio, ‘is built upon a hill that stands isolated in the river, which latter, by dividing itself into two branches, appears to embrace it. These streams take opposite directions: one of them pursuing its course to the south-east and the other to the north-west.’ Fortune, in his Wanderings in China (vol. li. p. 139), calls Lan–Khi, Nan–Che-hien, and says: ‘It is built on the banks of the river, and has a picturesque hill behind it.’ Milne, who also visited it, mentions it in his Life in China (p. 258), and says: ‘At the southern end of the suburbs of Lan–Ki the river divides into two branches, the one to the left on south-east leading direct to Kinhua.’ Milne’s description of the place is almost identical with Polo’s, when speaking of the division of the river. There are in Fuchau several Lan–Khi shopkeepers, who deal in hams, dates, etc., and these men tell me the city from the river has the appearance of being built on a hill, but the houses on the hill are chiefly temples. I would divide the name as follows, Zen gi an; the last syllable an most probably represents the modern Hien, meaning District city, which in ancient Chinese was pronounced Han, softened by the Italians into an. Lan–Khi was a Hien in Polo’s day.” — H.C.]

Kin-hwa fu, as Pauthier has observed, bore at this time the name of WU-CHAU, which Polo would certainly write Vugiu. And between Shao-hing and Kin-hwa there exists, as Baron Richthofen has pointed out, a line of depression which affords an easy connection between Shao-hing and Lan-ki hien or Kin-hwa fu. This line is much used by travellers, and forms just 3 short stages. Hence Kin-hwa, a fine city destroyed by the T’ai-P’ings, is satisfactorily identified with Vugiu.

The journey from Vugui to Ghiuju is said to be through a succession of towns and villages, looking like a continuous city. Fortune, whose journey occurred before the T’ai-P’ing devastations, speaks of the approach to Kiu-chau as a vast and beautiful garden. And Mr. Milne’s map of this route shows an incomparable density of towns in the Ts’ien T’ang valley from Yen-chau up to Kiu-chau. Ghiuju then will be KIU-CHAU. But between Kiu-chau and Chang-shan it is impossible to make four days: barely possible to make two. My map (Itineraries, No. VI.), based on D’Anville and Fortune, makes the direct distance 24 miles; Milne’s map barely 18; whilst from his book we deduce the distance travelled by water to be about 30. On the whole, it seems probable that there is a mistake in the figure here.

Illustration: Marco Polo’s route from Kinsai to ZAITUN, illustrating Mr. G. Phillips’ theory.

From the head of the great Che-kiang valley I find two roads across the mountains into Fo-kien described.

One leads from Kiang-shan (not Chang-shan) by a town called Ching-hu, and then, nearly due south, across the mountains to Pu-ch’eng in Upper Fo-kien. This is specified by Martini (p. 113): it seems to have been followed by the Dutch Envoy, Van Hoorn, in 1665 (see Astley, III. 463), and it was travelled by Fortune on his return from the Bohea country to Ningpo. (II. 247, 271.)

The other route follows the portage spoken of above from Chang-shan to Yuh-shan, and descends the river on that side to Hokeu, whence it strikes south-east across the mountains to Tsung-ngan-hien in Fo-kien. This route was followed by Fortune on his way to the Bohea country.

Both from Pu-ch’eng on the former route, and from near Tsung-ngan on the latter, the waters are navigable down to Kien-ning fu and so to Fu-chau.

Mr. Fortune judges the first to have been Polo’s route. There does not, however, seem to be on this route any place that can be identified with his Cuju or Chuju. Ching-hu seems to be insignificant, and the name has no resemblance. On the other route followed by Mr. Fortune himself from that side we have Kwansin fu, Hokeu, Yen-shan, and (last town passed on that side) Chuchu. The latter, as to both name and position, is quite satisfactory, but it is described as a small poor town. Hokeu would be represented in Polo’s spelling as Caghiu or Cughiu. It is now a place of great population and importance as the entrepôt of the Black Tea Trade, but, like many important commercial cities in the interior, not being even a hien it has no place either in Duhalde or in Biot, and I cannot learn its age.

It is no objection to this line that Polo speaks of Cuju or Chuju as the last city of the government of Kinsay, whilst the towns just named are in Kiang-si. For Kiang–Ché, the province of Kinsay, then included the eastern part of Kiang-si. (See Cathay, p. 270.)

[Mr. Phillips writes (T. Pao, I. 223–224): “Eighty-five li beyond Lan-ki hien is Lung-yin, a place not mentioned by Polo, and another ninety-five li still further on is Chüchau or Keuchau, which is, I think, the Gie-za of Ramusio, and the Cuju of Yule’s version. Polo describes it as the last city of the government of Kinsai (Che-kiang) in this direction. It is the last Prefectural city, but ninety li beyond Chü-chau, on the road to Pu-chêng, is Kiang-shan, a district city which is the last one in this direction. Twenty li from Kiang-shan is Ching-hu, the head of the navigation of the T’sien-T’ang river. Here one hires chairs and coolies for the journey over the Sien-hia Pass to Pu-chêng, a distance of 215 li. From Pu-cheng, Fu-chau can be reached by water in 4 or 5 days. The distance is 780 li.”— H.C.]

1Est sus un mont que parte le Flum, gue le une moitié ala en sus e l’autre moitié en jus” (G.T.).

2 One of the Hien, forming the special districts of Hang–Chau itself, now called Tsien-tang, was formerly called Tang-wei-tang. But it embraces the eastern part of the district, and can, I think, have nothing to do with Tanpiju. (See Biot, p. 257, and Chin. Repos. for February, 1842, p. 109.)

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