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I may best explain my view of the matter by a geographical analogy. Pre-Columbian maps of the Atlantic showed an Island of Brazil, an Island of Antillia, founded–who knows on what?–whether on the real adventure of a vessel driven in sight of the Azores or Bermudas, or on mere fancy and fogbank. But when discovery really came to be undertaken, men looked for such lands and found them accordingly. And there they are in our geographies, Brazil and the Antilles!

The cut which we give is curious in connection with our traveller’s notice of the portrait-gallery of the Golden Kings. For it is taken from the fragmentary MS. of Rashiduddin’s History in the library of the Royal Asiatic Society, a MS. believed to be one of those executed under the great Vazir’s own supervision, and is presented there as the portrait of the last sovereign of the Dynasty in question, being one of a whole series of similar figures. There can be little doubt, I think, that these were taken from Chinese originals, though, it may be, not very exactly.

NOTE 2.–The history of the Tartar conquerors of China, whether Khitan, Churche, Mongol, or Manchu, has always been the same. For one or two generations the warlike character and manly habits were maintained; and then the intruders, having adopted Chinese manners, ceremonies, literature, and civilization, sank into more than Chinese effeminacy and degradation. We see the custom of employing only female attendants ascribed in a later chapter (lxxvii.) to the Sung Emperors at Kinsay; and the same was the custom of the later Ming emperors, in whose time the imperial palace was said to contain 5000 women. Indeed, the precise custom which this passage describes was in our own day habitually reported of the T’ai-P’ing sovereign during his reign at Nanking: “None but women are allowed in the interior of the Palace, and _he is drawn to the audience-chamber in a gilded sacred dragon-car by the ladies_” (_Blakiston_, p. 42; see also _Wilson’s Ever-Victorious Army_, p. 41.)

[1] [There is no trace of it in Harlez’s French translation from the Manchu of the History of the Kin Empire, 1887.–H.C.]

[2] See also Oppert (p. 157), who cites this story from Visdelou, but does not notice its analogy to Polo’s.



And on this the Golden King was so sorely grieved that he was like to die. And he said to them: “Good, my sons, for God’s sake have pity and compassion upon me. Ye wot well what honourable and kindly entertainment ye have had in my house; and now ye would deliver me into the hands of mine enemy! In sooth, if ye do what ye say, ye will do a very naughty and disloyal deed, and a right villainous.” But they answered only that so it must be, and away they had him to Prester John their Lord.

And when Prester John beheld the King he was right glad, and greeted him with something like a malison.[1] The King answered not a word, as if he wist not what it behoved him to say. So Prester John ordered him to be taken forth straightway, and to be put to look after cattle, but to be well looked after himself also. So they took him and set him to keep cattle. This did Prester John of the grudge he bore the King, to heap contumely on him, and to show what a nothing he was, compared to himself.

And when the King had thus kept cattle for two years, Prester John sent for him, and treated him with honour, and clothed him in rich robes, and said to him: “Now Sir King, art thou satisfied that thou wast in no way a man to stand against me?” “Truly, my good Lord, I know well and always did know that I was in no way a man to stand against thee.” And when he had said this Prester John replied: “I ask no more; but henceforth thou shalt be waited on and honourably treated.” So he caused horses and harness of war to be given him, with a goodly train, and sent him back to his own country. And after that he remained ever friendly to Prester John, and held fast by him.

So now I will say no more of this adventure of the Golden King, but I will proceed with our subject.

[1] “Lui dist que il feust le mal venuz.”



When you leave the castle, and travel about 20 miles westward, you come to a river called CARAMORAN,[NOTE 1] so big that no bridge can be thrown across it; for it is of immense width and depth, and reaches to the Great Ocean that encircles the Universe,–I mean the whole earth. On this river there are many cities and walled towns, and many merchants too therein, for much traffic takes place upon the river, there being a great deal of ginger and a great deal of silk produced in the country.[NOTE 2]

Game birds here are in wonderful abundance, insomuch that you may buy at least three pheasants for a Venice groat of silver. I should say rather for an _asper_, which is worth a little more.[NOTE 3]

[On the lands adjoining this river there grow vast quantities of great canes, some of which are a foot or a foot and a half (in girth), and these the natives employ for many useful purposes.]

After passing the river and travelling two days westward you come to the noble city of CACHANFU, which we have already named. The inhabitants are all Idolaters. And I may as well remind you again that all the people of Cathay are Idolaters. It is a city of great trade and of work in gold-tissues of many sorts, as well as other kinds of industry.

There is nothing else worth mentioning, and so we will proceed and tell you of a noble city which is the capital of a kingdom, and is called Kenjanfu.

NOTE 1.–_Kara-Muren_, or Black River, is one of the names applied by the Mongols to the Hwang Ho, or Yellow River, of the Chinese, and is used by all the mediaeval western writers, e.g. Odoric, John Marignolli, Rashiduddin.

The River, where it skirts Shan-si, is for the most part difficult both of access and of passage, and ill adapted to navigation, owing to the violence of the stream. Whatever there is of navigation is confined to the transport of coal down-stream from Western Shan-si, in large flats. Mr. Elias, who has noted the River’s level by aneroid at two points 920 miles apart, calculated the fall over that distance, which includes the contour of Shan-si, at 4 feet per mile. The best part for navigation is above this, from Ning-hia to Chaghan Kuren (in about 110 deg. E. long.), in which Captain Prjevalski’s observations give a fall of less than 6 inches per mile. (_Richthofen_, _Letter_ VII. 25; _Williamson_, I. 69; _J.R.G.S._ XLIII. p. 115; _Petermann_, 1873, pp. 89-91.)

[On 5th January, 1889, Mr. Rockhill coming to the Yellow River from P’ing-yang, found (_Land of the Lamas_, p. 17) that “the river was between 500 and 600 yards wide, a sluggish, muddy stream, then covered with floating ice about a foot thick…. The Yellow River here is shallow, in the main channel only is it four or five feet deep.” The Rev. C. Holcombe, who crossed in October, says (p. 65): that “it was nowhere more than 6 feet deep, and on returning, three of the boatmen sprang into the water in midstream and waded ashore, carrying a line from the ferry-boat to prevent us from rapidly drifting down with the current. The water was just up to their hips.”–H.C.]

NOTE 2.–It is remarkable that the abundance of silk in Shan-si and Shen-si is so distinctly mentioned in these chapters, whereas now there is next to no silk at all grown in these districts. Is this the result of a change of climate, or only a commercial change? Baron Richthofen, to whom I have referred the question, believes it to be due to the former cause: “No tract in China would appear to have suffered so much by a change of climate as Shen-si and Southern Shan-si.” [See pp. 11-12.]

NOTE 3.–The _asper_ or _akche_ (both meaning “white”) of the Mongols at Tana or Azov I have elsewhere calculated, from Pegolotti’s data (_Cathay_, p. 298), to have contained about 0_s._ 2.8_d._ worth of silver, which is _less_ than the grosso; but the name may have had a loose application to small silver coins in other countries of Asia. Possibly the money intended may have been the 50 _tsien_ note. (See note 1, ch. xxiv. supra.)



And when you leave the city of Cachanfu of which I have spoken, and travel eight days westward, you meet with cities and boroughs abounding in trade and industry, and quantities of beautiful trees, and gardens, and fine plains planted with mulberries, which are the trees on the leaves of which the silkworms do feed.[NOTE 1] The people are all Idolaters. There is also plenty of game of all sorts, both of beasts and birds.

And when you have travelled those eight days’ journey, you come to that great city which I mentioned, called KENJANFU.[NOTE 2] A very great and fine city it is, and the capital of the kingdom of Kenjanfu, which in old times was a noble, rich, and powerful realm, and had many great and wealthy and puissant kings.[NOTE 3] But now the king thereof is a prince called MANGALAI, the son of the Great Kaan, who hath given him this realm, and crowned him king thereof.[NOTE 4] It is a city of great trade and industry. They have great abundance of silk, from which they weave cloths of silk and gold of divers kinds, and they also manufacture all sorts of equipments for an army. They have every necessary of man’s life very cheap. The city lies towards the west; the people are Idolaters; and outside the city is the palace of the Prince Mangalai, crowned king, and son of the Great Kaan, as I told you before.

This is a fine palace and a great, as I will tell you. It stands in a great plain abounding in lakes and streams and springs of water. Round about it is a massive and lofty wall, five miles in compass, well built, and all garnished with battlements. And within this wall is the king’s palace, so great and fine that no one could imagine a finer. There are in it many great and splendid halls, and many chambers, all painted and embellished with work in beaten gold. This Mangalai rules his realm right well with justice and equity, and is much beloved by his people. The troops are quartered round about the palace, and enjoy the sport (that the royal demesne affords).

So now let us quit this kingdom, and I will tell you of a very mountainous province called Cuncun, which you reach by a road right wearisome to travel.

NOTE 1.–[“_Morus alba_ is largely grown in North China for feeding silkworms.” (_Bretschneider, Hist. of Bot. Disc._ I. p. 4.)–H.C.]

NOTE 2.–Having got to sure ground again at Kenjanfu, which is, as we shall explain presently, the city of SI-NGAN FU, capital of Shen-si, let us look back at the geography of the route from P’ing-yang fu. Its difficulties are great.

The traveller carries us two days’ journey from P’ing-yang fu to his castle of the Golden King. This is called in the G. Text and most other MSS. _Caicui_, _Caytui_, or the like, but in Ramusio alone _Thaigin_. He then carries us 20 miles further to the Caramoran; he crosses this river, travels two days further, and reaches the great city Cachanfu; eight days more (or as in Ramusio _seven_) bring him to Si-ngan fu.

There seems scarcely room for doubt that CACHANFU is the HO-CHUNG FU [the ancient capital of Emperor Shun–H.C.] of those days, now called P’U-CHAU FU, close to the great elbow of the Hwang Ho (_Klaproth_). But this city, instead of being _two days west_ of the great river, stands _near_ its _eastern_ bank.

[The Rev. C. Holcombe writes (pp. 64-65): “P’u-chau fu lies on a level with the Yellow River, and on the edge of a large extent of worthless marsh land, full of pools of brackish, and in some places, positively salt water…. The great road does not pass into the town, having succeeded in maintaining its position on the high ground from which the town has _backslided_…. The great road keeping to the bluff, runs on, turning first south, and then a trifle to the east of south, until the road, the bluff, and Shan-si, all end together, making a sudden plunge down a precipice and being lost in the dirty waters of the Yellow River.”–H.C.]

Not maintaining the infallibility of our traveller’s memory, we may conceive confusion here, between the recollections of his journey westward and those of his return; but this does not remove all the difficulties.

The most notable fortress of the Kin sovereigns was that of T’ungkwan, on the right bank of the river, 25 miles below P’u-chau fu, and closing the passage between the river and the mountains, just where the boundaries of Ho-nan, Shan-si, and Shen-si meet. It was constantly the turning-point of the Mongol campaigns against that Dynasty, and held a prominent place in the dying instructions of Chinghiz for the prosecution of the conquest of Cathay. This fortress must have continued famous to Polo’s time–indeed it continues so still, the strategic position being one which nothing short of a geological catastrophe could impair,–but I see no way of reconciling its position with his narrative.

[Illustration: Plan of Ki-chau, after Duhalde.]

The _name_ in Ramusio’s form might be merely that of the Dynasty, viz. _Tai-Kin_= Great Golden. But we have seen that Thaigin is not the only reading. That of the MSS. seems to point rather to some name like _Kaichau_. A hypothesis which has seemed to me to call for least correction in the text is that the castle was at the _Ki-chau_ of the maps, nearly due west of P’ing-yang fu, and just about 20 miles from the Hwang Ho; that the river was crossed in that vicinity, and that the traveller then descended the valley to opposite P’u-chau fu, or possibly embarked and descended the river itself to that point. This last hypothesis would mitigate the apparent disproportion in the times assigned to the different parts of the journey, and would, I think, clear the text of error. But it is only a hypothesis. There is near Kichau one of the easiest crossing places of the River, insomuch that since the Shen-si troubles a large garrison has been kept up at Ki-chau to watch it.[1] And this is the only direction in which two days’ march, at Polo’s rate, would bring him within 20 miles of the Yellow River. Whether there is any historic castle at Ki-chau I know not; the plan of that place in Duhalde, however, has the aspect of a strong position. Baron v. Richthofen is unable to accept this suggestion, and has favoured me with some valuable remarks on this difficult passage, which I slightly abridge:–

“The difficulties are, (1) that for either reading, _Thaigin_ or _Caichu_, a corresponding place can be found; (2) in the position of _Cachanfu_, setting both at naught.

“_Thaigin_. There are two passages of the Yellow River near its great bend. One is at T’ungkwan, where I crossed it; the other, and more convenient, is at the fortress of Taiching-kwan, locally pronounced _Taigin_-kwan. This fortress, or rather fortified camp, is a very well-known place, and to be found on native maps; it is very close to the river, on the left bank, about 6 m. S.W. of P’u-chau fu. The road runs hence to Tung-chau fu and thence to Si-ngan fu. T’aiching-kwan could not possibly (at Polo’s rate) be reached in 2 days from P’ing-yang fu.

“_Caichu_. If this reading be adopted Marsden may be right in supposing _Kiai-chau_, locally _Khaidju_, to be meant. This city dominates the important salt marsh, whence Shan-si and Shen-si are supplied with salt. It is 70 or 80 m. from P’ing-yang fu, but _could_ be reached in 2 days. It commands a large and tolerably populous plain, and is quite fit to have been an imperial residence.

“May not the striking fact that there is a place corresponding to either name suggest that one of them was passed by Polo in going, the other in returning? and that, this being the only locality between Ch’eng-tu fu and Chu-chau where there was any deviation between the two journeys, his geographical ideas may have become somewhat confused, as might now happen to any one in like case and not provided with a map? Thus the traveller himself might have put into Ramusio’s text the name of _Thaigin_ instead of _Caichu_. From Kiai-chau he would probably cross the River at T’ungkwan, whilst in returning by way of Taiching-kwan he would pass through P’uchau-fu (or _vice versa_). The question as to Caichu may still be settled, as it must be possible to ascertain where the Kin resided.”[2]

[Mr. Rockhill writes (_Land of the Lamas_, p. 17): “One hundred and twenty _li_ south-south-west of the city is Kiai Chou, with the largest salt works in China.” Richthofen has estimated that about 150,000 tons of salt are produced annually from the marshes around it.–H.C.]

NOTE 3.–The eight days’ journey through richly cultivated plains run up the basin of the Wei River, the most important agricultural region of North-West China, and the core of early Chinese History. The _loess_ is here more than ever predominant, its yellow tinge affecting the whole landscape, and even the atmosphere. Here, according to Baron v. Richthofen, originated the use of the word _hwang_ “yellow,” as the symbol of the Earth, whence the primeval emperors were styled _Hwang-ti_, “Lord of the Earth,” but properly “Lord of the _Loess_.”

[The Rev. C. Holcombe (l.c. p. 66) writes: “From T’ung-kwan to Si-ngan fu, the road runs in a direction nearly due west, through a most lovely section of country, having a range of high hills upon the south, and the Wei River on the north. The road lies through one long orchard, and the walled towns and cities lie thickly along, for the most part at a little distance from the highway.” Mr. Rockhill says (_Land of the Lamas_, pp. 19-20): “The road between T’ung-kwan and Si-ngan fu, a distance of 110 miles, is a fine highway–for China–with a ditch on either side, rows of willow-trees here and there, and substantial stone bridges and culverts over the little streams which cross it. The basin of the Wei ho, in which this part of the province lies, has been for thousands of years one of the granaries of China. It was the colour of its loess-covered soil, called ‘yellow earth’ by the Chinese, that suggested the use of yellow as the colour sacred to imperial majesty. Wheat and sorghum are the principal crops, but we saw also numerous paddy fields where flocks of flamingoes were wading, and fruit-trees grew everywhere.”–H.C.]

[Illustration: Reduced Facsimile of the celebrated Christian Inscription of Singan fu in Chinese and Syrian Characters]

Kenjanfu, or, as Ramusio gives it, Quenzanfu, is SI-NGAN FU, or as it was called in the days of its greatest fame, Chang-ngan, probably the most celebrated city in Chinese history, and the capital of several of the most potent dynasties. It was the metropolis of Shi Hwang-ti of the T’sin Dynasty, properly the first emperor and whose conquests almost intersected those of his contemporary Ptolemy Euergetes. It was, perhaps, the _Thinae_ of Claudius Ptolemy, as it was certainly the Khumdan[3] of the early Mahomedans, and the site of flourishing Christian Churches in the 7th century, as well as of the remarkable monument, the discovery of which a thousand years later disclosed their forgotten existence.[4] _Kingchao-fu_ was the name which the city bore when the Mongol invasions brought China into communication with the west, and Klaproth supposes that this was modified by the Mongols into KENJANFU. Under the latter name it is mentioned by Rashiduddin as the seat of one of the Twelve _Sings_ or great provincial administrations, and we find it still known by this name in Sharifuddin’s history of Timur. The same name is traceable in the _Kansan_ of Odoric, which he calls the second best province in the world, and the best populated Whatever may have been the origin of the name _Kenjanfu_, Baron v. Richthofen was, on the spot, made aware of its conservation in the exact form of the Ramusian Polo. The Roman Catholic missionaries there emphatically denied that Marco could ever have been at Si-ngan fu, or that the city had ever been known by such a name as Kenjan-fu. On this the Baron called in one of the Chinese pupils of the Mission, and asked him directly what had been the name of the city under the Yuen Dynasty. He replied at once with remarkable clearness: “QUEN-ZAN-FU.” Everybody present was struck by the exact correspondence of the Chinaman’s pronunciation of the name with that which the German traveller had adopted from Ritter.

[The vocabulary _Hwei Hwei_ (Mahomedan) of the College of Interpreters at Peking transcribes King chao from the Persian Kin-chang, a name it gives to the Shen-si province. King chao was called Ngan-si fu in 1277. (_Deveria, Epigraphie_, p. 9.) Ken-jan comes from Kin-chang = King-chao = Si-ngan fu.–H.C.]

Martini speaks, apparently from personal knowledge, of the splendour of the city, as regards both its public edifices and its site, sloping gradually up from the banks of the River Wei, so as to exhibit its walls and palaces at one view like the interior of an amphitheatre. West of the city was a sort of Water Park, enclosed by a wall 30 _li_ in circumference, full of lakes, tanks, and canals from the Wei, and within this park were seven fine palaces and a variety of theatres and other places of public diversion. To the south-east of the city was an artificial lake with palaces, gardens, park, etc., originally formed by the Emperor Hiaowu (B.C. 100), and to the south of the city was another considerable lake called _Fan_. This may be the Fanchan Lake, beside which Rashid says that Ananda, the son of Mangalai, built his palace.

The adjoining districts were the seat of a large Musulman population, which in 1861-1862 [and again in 1895 (See _Wellby, Tibet_, ch. XXV.) –H.C.] rose in revolt against the Chinese authority, and for a time was successful in resisting it. The capital itself held out, though invested for two years; the rebels having no artillery. The movement originated at Hwachau, some 60 miles east of Si-ngan fu, now totally destroyed. But the chief seat of the Mahomedans is a place which they call _Salar_, identified with Hochau in Kansuh, about 70 miles south-west of Lanchau-fu, the capital of that province. [Mr. Rockhill (_Land of the Lamas_, p. 40) writes: “Colonel Yule, quoting a Russian work, has it that the word Salar is used to designate Ho-chou, but this is not absolutely accurate. Prjevalsky (_Mongolia_, II. 149) makes the following complicated statement: ‘The Karatangutans outnumber the Mongols in Koko-nor, but their chief habitations are near the sources of the Yellow River, where they are called Salirs; they profess the Mohammedan religion, and have rebelled against China.’ I will only remark here that the Salar have absolutely no connection with the so-called Kara-tangutans, who are Tibetans. In a note by Archimandrite Palladius, in the same work (II. 70), he attempts to show a connection between the Salar and a colony of Mohammedans who settled in Western Kan-Suh in the last century, but the _Ming shih_ (History of the Ming Dynasty) already makes mention of the Salar, remnants of various Turkish tribes (_Hsi-ch’iang_) who had settled in the districts of Ho-chou, Huang-chou, T’ao-chou, and Min-chou, and who were a source of endless trouble to the Empire. (See _Wei Yuen, Sheng-wu-ki_, vii. 35; also _Huang ch’ing shih kung t’u_, v. 7.) The Russian traveller, Potanin, found the Salar living in twenty-four villages, near Hsuen-hua t’ing, on the south bank of the Yellow River. (See _Proc.R.G.S._ ix. 234.) The Annals of the Ming Dynasty (_Ming Shih_, ch. 330) say that An-ting wei, 1500 _li_ south-west of Kan-chou, was in old times known as _Sa-li Wei-wu-ehr_. These Sari Uigurs are mentioned by Du Plan Carpin, as _Sari_ Huiur. Can _Sala_ be the same as _Sari_?”

“Mohammedans,” says Mr. Rockhill (Ibid. p. 39), “here are divided into two sects, known as ‘white-capped Hui-hui,’ and ‘black-capped Hui-hui.’ One of the questions which separate them is the hour at which fast can be broken during the Ramadan. Another point which divides them is that the white-capped burn incense, as do the ordinary Chinese; and the Salar condemn this as Paganish. The usual way by which one finds out to which sect a Mohammedan belongs is by asking him if he burns incense. The black-capped Hui-hui are more frequently called _Salar_, and are much the more devout and fanatical. They live in the vicinity of Ho-chou, in and around Hsuen-hua t’ing, their chief town being known as Salar Pakun or Paken.”

[Illustration: Cross on the Monument at Si-ngan fu (actual size). (From a rubbing.)]

Ho-chou, in Western Kan-Suh, about 320 _li_ (107 miles) from Lan-chau, has a population of about 30,000 nearly entirely Mahomedans with 24 mosques; it is a “hot-bed of rebellion.” _Salar-pa-kun_ means “the eight thousand Salar families,” or “the eight thousands of the Salar.” The eight _kiun_ (Chinese _t’sun_? a village, a commune) constituting the Salar pa-kun are Ka-tzu, the oldest and largest, said to have over 1300 families living in it, Chang-chia, Nemen, Ch’ing-shui, Munta, Tsu-chi, Antasu and Ch’a-chia. Besides these Salar kiun there are five outer (_wai_) kiun: Ts’a-pa, Ngan-ssu-to, Hei-ch’eng, Kan-tu and Kargan, inhabited by a few Salar and a mixed population of Chinese and T’u-ssu: each of these wai-wu kiun has, theoretically, fifteen villages in it. Tradition says that the first Salar who came to China (from Rum or Turkey) arrived in this valley in the third year of Hung-wu of the Ming (1370). (_Rockhill, Land of the Lamas, Journey; Grenard_, II. p. 457)–H.C.] (_Martini; Cathay_, 148, 269; _Petis de la Croix_, III. 218; _Russian paper on the Dungen_, see supra, vol. i. p. 291; _Williamson’s North China_, u.s.; _Richthofen’s Letters_, and MS. Notes.)

NOTE 4.–_Mangalai_, Kublai’s third son, who governed the provinces of Shen-si and Sze-ch’wan, with the title of _Wang_ or king (supra ch. ix. note 2), died in 1280, a circumstance which limits the date of Polo’s journey to the west. It seems unlikely that Marco should have remained ten years ignorant of his death, yet he seems to speak of him as still governing.

[With reference to the translation of the oldest of the Chinese-Mongol inscriptions known hitherto (1283) in the name of Ananda, King of Ngan-si, Professor Deveria (_Notes d’Epigraphie Mongolo-Chinoise_, p. 9) writes: “In 1264, the Emperor Kublai created in this region [Shen si] the department of Ngan-si chau, occupied by ten hordes of Si-fan (foreigners from the west). All this country became in 1272, the apanage of the Imperial Prince Mangala; this prince, third son of Kublai, had been invested with the title of King of Ngan-si, a territory which included King-chao fu (modern Si-ngan fu). His government extended hence over Ho-si (west of the Yellow River), the T’u-po (Tibetans), and Sze-ch’wan. The following year (1273) Mangala received from Kublai a second investiture, this of the Kingdom of Tsin, which added to his domain part of Kan-Suh; he established his royal residence at K’ia-ch’eng (modern Ku-yuan) in the Liu-p’an shan, while King-chao remained the centre of the command he exercised over the Mongol garrisons. In 1277 this prince took part in military operations in the north; he died in 1280 (17th year Che Yuan), leaving his principality of Ngan-si to his eldest son Ananda, and this of Tsin to his second son Ngan-tan Bu-hoa. Kublai, immediately after the death of his son Mangala, suppressed administrative autonomy in Ngan-si.” (_Yuan-shi lei pien_).–H.C.]

[1] I am indebted for this information to Baron Richthofen.

[2] See the small map attached to “Marco Polo’s Itinerary Map, No. IV.,” at end of Vol. I.

[3] [It is supposed to come from _kang_ (king) _dang_.–H.C.]

[4] In the first edition I was able to present a reduced facsimile of a _rubbing_ in my possession from this famous inscription, which I owed to the generosity of Dr. Lockhart. To the Baron von Richthofen I am no less indebted for the more complete rubbing which has afforded the plate now published. A tolerably full account of this inscription is given in _Cathay_, p. xcii. seqq., and p. clxxxi. seqq., but the subject is so interesting that it seems well to introduce here the most important particulars:–

The stone slab, about 7-1/2 feet high by 3 feet wide, and some 10 inches in thickness,[A] which bears this inscription, was accidentally found in 1625 by some workmen who were digging in the Chang-ngan suburb of the city of Singanfu. The cross, which is engraved at p. 30, is incised at the top of the slab, and beneath this are 9 large characters in 3 columns, constituting the heading, which runs: “_Monument commemorating the introduction and propagation of the noble Law of_ Ta T’sin _in the Middle Kingdom;_” _Ta T’sin_ being the term applied in Chinese literature to the Roman Empire, of which the ancient Chinese had much such a shadowy conception as the Romans had, conversely, of the Chinese as _Sinae_ and _Seres_. Then follows the body of the inscription, of great length and beautiful execution, consisting of 1780 characters. Its chief contents are as follows:– 1st. An abstract of Christian doctrine, of a vague and figurative kind; 2nd. An account of the arrival of the missionary OLOPAN (probably a Chinese form of _Rabban_ = Monk),[B] from Ta T’sin in the year equivalent to A.D. 635 bringing sacred books and images, of the _translation of the said books_, of the Imperial approval of the doctrine and permission to teach it publicly. There follows a decree of the Emperor (T’ai Tsung, a very famous prince) issued in 638 in favour of the new doctrine and ordering a church to be built in the Square of Peace and Justice (_I ning Fang_) at the capital. The Emperor’s portrait was to be placed in the church. After this comes a description of Ta T’sin (here apparently implying Syria), and then some account of the fortunes of the Church in China. Kao Tsung (650-683 the devout patron also of the Buddhist traveller and Dr. Hiuen Tsang) continued to favour it. In the end of the century, Buddhism gets the upper hand, but under HIUAN TSUNG (713-755) the Church recovers its prestige, and KIHO, a new missionary, arrives. Under TE TSUNG (780-783) the monument was erected, and this part ends with the eulogy of ISSE, a statesman and benefactor of the Church. 3rd. There follows a recapitulation of the purport in octosyllabic verse.

The Chinese inscription concludes with the date of erection, viz. the second year _Kienchung_ of the Great T’ang Dynasty, the seventh day of the month _Tait su_, the feast of the great _Yaosan_. This corresponds, according to Gaubil, to 4th February, 781, and _Yaosan_ is supposed to stand for _Hosanna_ (i.e. Palm Sunday, but this apparently does not fit, see infra). There are added the name chief of the law, NINGCHU (presumed to be the Chinese name of the Metropolitan), the name of the writer, and the official sanction.

The _Great Hosanna_ was, though ingenious, a misinterpretation of Gaubil’s. Mr. Wylie has sent me a paper of his own (in _Chin. Recorder and Miss. Journal_, July, 1871, p. 45), which makes things perfectly clear. The expression transcribed by Pauthier, _Yao san wen_, and rendered “Hosanna,” appears in a Chinese work, without reference to this inscription, as _Yao san wah_, and is in reality only a Chinese transcript of the Persian word for Sunday, “_Yak shambah_.” Mr. Wylie verified this from the mouth of a Peking Mahomedan. The 4th of February, 781 _was_ Sunday, why _Great_ Sunday? Mr. Wylie suggests, possibly because the first Sunday of the (Chinese) year.

The monument exhibits, in addition to the Chinese text, a series of short inscriptions in the Syriac language, and _Estranghelo_ character, containing the date of erection, viz. 1092 of the Greeks (= A.D. 781), the name of the reigning Patriarch of the Nestorian church MAR HANAN ISHUA (dead in 778, but the fact apparently had not reached China), that of ADAM, Bishop and Pope of Tzinisthan (i.e. China), and those of the clerical staff of the capital which here bears the name, given it by the early Arab Travellers, of _Kumdan_. There follow sixty-seven names of persons in Syriac characters, most of whom are characterised as priests (_Kashisha_), and sixty-one names of persons in Chinese, all priests save one.

[It appears that Adam (_King tsing_), who erected the monument under Te Tsung was, under the same Emperor, with a Buddhist the translator of a Buddhist sutra, the Satparamita from a Hu text. (See a curious paper by Mr. J. Takakusu in the _T’oung Pao_, VII pp. 589-591.)

Mr. Rockhill (_Rubruck_, p. 157, _note_) makes the following remarks. “It is strange, however, that the two famous Uigur Nestorians, Mar Jabalaha and Rabban Cauma, when on their journey from Koshang in Southern Shan hsi to Western Asia in about 1276, while they mention ‘the city of Tangut, or Ning hsia on the Yellow River as an important Nestorian centre’ do not once refer to Hsi anfu or Chang an. Had Chang an been at the time the Nestorian Episcopal see, one would think that these pilgrims would have visited it, or at least referred to it. (_Chabot, Mar Jabalaha_, 21)”–H.C.]

Kircher gives a good many more Syriac names than appear on the rubbing, probably because some of these are on the edge of the slab now built in. We have no room to speak of the controversies raised by this stone. The most able defence of its genuine character, as well as a transcript with translation and commentary, a work of great interest, was published by the late M. Pauthier. The monument exists intact, and has been visited by the Rev. Mr. Williamson, Baron Richthofen, and other recent travellers. [The Rev. Moir Duncan wrote from Shen si regarding the present state of the stone. (_London and China Telegraph_, 5th June, 1893) “Of the covering rebuilt so recently, not a trace remains save the pedestals for the pillars and atoms of the tiling. In answer to a question as to when and how the covering was destroyed, the old priest replied, with a twinkle in his eye as if his conscience pinched, ‘There came a rushing wind and blew it down.’ He could not say when, for he paid no attention to such mundane affairs. More than one outsider however, said it had been deliberately destroyed, because the priests are jealous of the interest manifested in it. The stone has evidently been recently tampered with, several characters are effaced and there are other signs of malicious hands.”–H.C.] Pauthier’s works on the subject are–_De l’Authenticite de l’Inscription Nestorienne_, etc., B. Duprat, 1857, and _l’Inscription Syro Chinoise de Si ngan fou_, etc., Firmin Didot, 1858. (See also _Kircher, China Illustrata_, and article by Mr. Wylie in _J. Am. Or. Soc._, V. 278.) [Father Havret, S.J., of Zi ka wei, near Shang hai, has undertaken to write a large work on this inscription with the title of _La Stele Chretienne de Si ngan fou_, the first part giving the inscription in full size, and the second containing the history of the monument, have been published at Shang-hai in 1895 and 1897; the author died last year (29th September, 1901), and the translation which was to form a third part has not yet appeared. The Rev. Dr. J. Legge has given a translation and the Chinese text of the monument, in 1888.–H.C.]

Stone monuments of character strictly analogous are frequent in the precincts of Buddhist sanctuaries, and probably the idea of this one was taken from the Buddhists. It is reasonably supposed by Pauthier that the monument may have been buried in 845, when the Emperor Wu-Tsung issued an edict, still extant, against the vast multiplication of Buddhist convents, and ordering their destruction. A clause in the edict also orders the _foreign bonzes of Ta-T’sin_ and _Mubupa_ (Christian and _Mobed_ or Magian?) _to return to secular life_.

[A] [M. Grenard, who reproduces (III. p. 152) a good facsimile of the inscription, gives to the slab the following dimensions: high 2m. 36, wide 0m. 86, thick 0m. 25.–H.C.]

[B] [Dr. F. Hirth (_China and the Roman Orient_, p. 323) writes: “O-LO-PEN = Ruben, Rupen?” He adds (_Jour. China Br. R. As. Soc._ XXI. 1886, pp. 214-215): “Initial _r_ is also quite commonly represented by initial _l_. I am in doubt whether the two characters _o-lo_ in the Chinese name for Russia (_O-lo-ssu_) stand for foreign _ru_ or _ro_ alone. This word would bear comparison with a Chinese transcription of the Sanskrit word for silver, _rupya_ which in the _Pen ts ao kang mu_ (ch. 8, p. 9) is given as _o lu pa_. If we can find further analogies, this may help us to read that mysterious word in the Nestorian stone inscription, being the name of the first Christian missionary who carried the cross to China, _O lo pen_, as ‘Ruben’. This was indeed a common name among the Nestorians, for which reason I would give it the preference over Pauthier’s Syriac ‘Alopeno’. But Father Havret (_Stele Chretienne_, Leide, 1897, p. 26) objects to Dr. Hirth that the Chinese character _lo_, to which he gives the sound _ru_, is not to be found as a Sanskrit phonetic element in Chinese characters but that this phonetic element _ru_ is represented by the Chinese characters pronounced _lu_ and therefore, he, Father Havret, adopts Colonel Yule’s opinion as the only one being fully satisfactory.”–H.C.]



On leaving the Palace of Mangalai, you travel westward for three days, finding a succession of cities and boroughs and beautiful plains, inhabited by people who live by trade and industry, and have great plenty of silk. At the end of those three days, you reach the great mountains and valleys which belong to the province of CUNCUN.[NOTE 1] There are towns and villages in the land, and the people live by tilling the earth, and by hunting in the great woods; for the region abounds in forests, wherein are many wild beasts, such as lions, bears, lynxes, bucks and roes, and sundry other kinds, so that many are taken by the people of the country, who make a great profit thereof. So this way we travel over mountains and valleys, finding a succession of towns and villages, and many great hostelries for the entertainment of travellers, interspersed among extensive forests.

NOTE 1.–The region intended must necessarily be some part of the southern district of the province of Shen-si, called HAN-CHUNG, the axis of which is the River Han, closed in by exceedingly mountainous and woody country to north and south, dividing it on the former quarter from the rest of Shen-si, and on the latter from Sze-ch’wan. Polo’s C frequently expresses an _H_, especially the Guttural _H_ of Chinese names, yet _Cuncun_ is not satisfactory as the expression of _Hanchung_.

The country was so ragged that in ancient times travellers from Si-ngan fu had to make a long circuit eastward by the frontier of Ho-nan to reach Han-chung; but, at an early date, a road was made across the mountains for military purposes; so long ago indeed that various eras and constructors are assigned to it. Padre Martini’s authorities ascribed it to a general in the service of Liu Pang, the founder of the first Han Dynasty (B.C. 202), and this date is current in Shan-si, as Baron v. Richthofen tells me. But in Sze-ch’wan the work is asserted to have been executed during the 3rd century, when China was divided into several states, by Liu Pei, of the Han family, who, about A.D. 226, established himself as Emperor [Minor Han] of Western China at Ch’eng-tu fu.[1] This work, with its difficulties and boldness, extending often for great distances on timber corbels inserted in the rock, is vividly described by Martini. Villages and rest-houses were established at convenient distances. It received from the Chinese the name of _Chien-tao_, or the “Pillar Road.” It commenced on the west bank of the Wei, opposite Pao-ki h’ien, 100 miles west of Si-ngan fu, and ended near the town of Paoching-h’ien, some 15 or 20 miles north-west from Han-chung.

We are told that Tului, the son of Chinghiz, when directing his march against Ho-nan in 1231 by this very line from Paoki, had to _make_ a road with great difficulty; but, as we shall see presently, this can only mean that the ancient road had fallen into decay, and had to be repaired. The same route was followed by Okkodai’s son Kutan, in marching to attack the Sung Empire in 1235, and again by Mangku Kaan on his last campaign in 1258. These circumstances show that the road from Paoki was in that age the usual route into Han-chung and Sze-ch’wan; indeed there is no other road in that direction that is more than a mere jungle-track, and we may be certain that this was Polo’s route.

This remarkable road was traversed by Baron v. Richthofen in 1872. To my questions, he replies: “The entire route is a work of tremendous engineering, and all of this was done by Liu Pei, who first ordered the construction. The hardest work consisted in cutting out long portions of the road from solid rock, chiefly where ledges project on the verge of a river, as is frequently the case on the He-lung Kiang…. It had been done so thoroughly from the first, that scarcely any additions had to be made in after days. Another kind of work which generally strikes tourists like Father Martini, or Chinese travellers, is the poling up of the road on the sides of steep cliffs….[2] Extensive cliffs are frequently rounded in this way, and imagination is much struck with the perils of walking on the side of a precipice, with the foaming river below. When the timbers rot, such passages of course become obstructed, and thus the road is said to have been periodically in complete disuse. The repairs, which were chiefly made in the time of the Ming, concerned especially passages of this sort.” Richthofen also notices the abundance of game; but inhabited places appear to be rarer than in Polo’s time. (See _Martini_ in _Blaeu_; _Chine Ancienne_, p. 234; _Ritter_, IV. 520; _D’Ohsson_, II. 22, 80, 328; _Lecomte_, II. 95; _Chin. Rep._ XIX. 225; _Richthofen_, _Letter_ VII. p. 42, and MS. Notes).

[1] The last is also stated by Klaproth. Ritter has overlooked the discrepancy of the dates (B.C. and A.D.) and has supposed Liu Pei and Liu Pang to be the same. The resemblance of the names, and the fact that both princes were founders of Han Dynasties, give ample room for confusion.

[2] See cut from Mr. Cooper’s book at p. 51 below. This so exactly illustrates Baron R.’s description that I may omit the latter.



After you have travelled those 20 days through the mountains of CUNCUN that I have mentioned, then you come to a province called ACBALEC MANZI, which is all level country, with plenty of towns and villages, and belongs to the Great Kaan. The people are Idolaters, and live by trade and industry. I may tell you that in this province, there grows such a great quantity of ginger, that it is carried all over the region of Cathay, and it affords a maintenance to all the people of the province, who get great gain thereby. They have also wheat and rice, and other kinds of corn, in great plenty and cheapness; in fact the country abounds in all useful products. The capital city is called ACBALEC MANZI [which signifies “the White City of the Manzi Frontier”].[NOTE 1]

This plain extends for two days’ journey, throughout which it is as fine as I have told you, with towns and villages as numerous. After those two days, you again come to great mountains and valleys, and extensive forests, and you continue to travel westward through this kind of country for 20 days, finding however numerous towns and villages. The people are Idolaters, and live by agriculture, by cattle-keeping, and by the chase, for there is much game. And among other kinds, there are the animals that produce the musk, in great numbers.[NOTE 2]

NOTE 1.–Though the termini of the route, described in these two chapters, are undoubtedly Si-ngan fu and Ch’eng-tu fu, there are serious difficulties attending the determination of the line actually followed.

The time according to all the MSS., so far as I know, except those of one type, is as follows:

In the plain of Kenjanfu . . . . . 3 days. In the mountains of Cuncun . . . . 20 ” In the plain of Acbalec . . . . . 2 “
In mountains again . . . . . . 20 ” —
45 days.

[From Si-ngan fu to Ch’eng-tu (Sze-ch’wan), the Chinese reckon 2300 _li_ (766 miles). (Cf. _Rockhill, Land of the Lamas_, p. 23.) Mr. G.F. Eaton, writing from Han-chung (_Jour. China Br.R.A.S._ xxviii. p. 29) reckons: “From Si-ngan Fu S.W. to Ch’eng-tu, via K’i-shan, Fung-sien, Mien, Kwang-yuan and Chao-hwa, about 30 days, in chairs.” He says (p. 24): “From Ch’eng-tu via Si-ngan to Peking the road does not touch Han-chung, but 20 _li_ west of the city strikes north to Pao-ch’eng. The road from Han-chung to Ch’eng-tu made by Ts’in Shi Hwang-ti to secure his conquest of Sze-ch’wan, crosses the Ta-pa-shan.”–H.C.]

It seems to me almost impossible to doubt that the Plain of Acbalec represents some part of the river-valley of the Han, interposed between the two ranges of mountains called by Richthofen _T’sing-Ling-Shan_ and _Ta-pa-Shan_. But the time, as just stated, is extravagant for anything like a direct journey between the two termini.

The distance from Si-ngan fu to Pao-ki is 450 _li_, which could be done in 3 days, but at Polo’s rate would probably require 5. The distance by the mountain road from Pao-ki to the Plain of Han-chung, could never have occupied 20 days. It is really a 6 or 7 days’ march.

But Pauthier’s MS. C (and its double, the Bern MS.) has viii. marches instead of xx., through the mountains of Cuncun. This reduces the time between Kenjanfu and the Plain to 11 days, which is just about a proper allowance for the whole journey, though not accurately distributed. Two days, though ample, would not be excessive for the journey across the Plain of Han-chung, especially if the traveller visited that city. And “20 days from Han-chung, to Ch’eng-tu fu would correspond with Marco Polo’s rate of travel.” (_Richthofen_).

So far then, provided we admit the reading of the MS. C, there is no ground for hesitating to adopt the usual route between the two cities, via Han-chung.

But the key to the exact route is evidently the position of Acbalec Manzi, and on this there is no satisfactory light.

For the name of the province, Pauthier’s text has _Acbalec Manzi_, for the name of the city _Acmalec_ simply. The G.T. has in the former case _Acbalec Mangi_, in the latter “Acmelic Mangi _qe vaut dire_ le une _de le confine dou Mangi_.” This is followed literally by the Geographic Latin, which has “_Acbalec Mangi et est dictum in lingua nostra_ unus _ex confinibus Mangi_.” So also the Crusca; whilst Ramusio has “_Achbaluch Mangi, che vuol dire_ Citta Bianca de’ confini di Mangi.” It is clear that Ramusio alone has here preserved the genuine reading.

Klaproth identified Acbalec conjecturally with the town of _Pe-ma-ching_, or “White-Horse-Town,” a place now extinct, but which stood like Mien and Han-chung on the extensive and populous Plain that here borders the Han.

It seems so likely that the latter part of the name _Pe_-MACHING (“_White_ Maching”) might have been confounded by foreigners with _Machin_ and _Manzi_ (which in Persian parlance were identical), that I should be disposed to overlook the difficulty that we have no evidence produced to show that Pemaching was a place of any consequence.

It is possible, however, that the name _Acbalec_ may have been given by the Tartars without any reference to Chinese etymologies. We have already twice met with the name or its equivalent (_Acbaluc_ in ch. xxxvii. of this Book, and _Chaghan Balghasun_ in note 3 to Book I. ch. lx.), whilst Strahlenberg tells us that the Tartars call all great residences of princes by this name (Amst. ed. 1757, I. p. 7). It may be that Han-chung itself was so named by the Tartars; though its only claim that I can find is, that it was the first residence of the Han Dynasty. Han-chung fu stands in a beautiful plain, which forms a very striking object to the traveller who is leaving the T’sing-ling mountains. Just before entering the plains, the Helung Kiang passes through one of its wildest gorges, a mere crevice between vertical walls several hundred feet high. The road winds to the top of one of the cliffs in zigzags cut in the solid rock. From the temple of Kitau Kwan, which stands at the top of the cliff, there is a magnificent view of the Plain, and no traveller would omit this, the most notable feature between the valley of the Wei and Ch’eng-tu-fu. It is, moreover, the only piece of level ground, of any extent, that is passed through between those two regions, whichever road or track be taken. (_Richthofen_, MS. Notes.)

[In the _China Review_ (xiv. p. 358) Mr. E.H. Parker, has an article on _Acbalec Manzi_, but does not throw any new light on the subject.–H.C.]

NOTE 2.–Polo’s journey now continues through the lofty mountainous region in the north of Sze-ch’wan.

The dividing range Ta-pa-shan is less in height than the T’sing-ling range, but with gorges still more abrupt and deep; and it would be an entire barrier to communication but for the care with which the road, here also, has been formed. But this road, from Han-chung to Ch’eng-tu fu, is still older than that to the north, having been constructed, it is said, in the 3rd century B.C. [See supra.] Before that time Sze-ch’wan was a closed country, the only access from the north being the circuitous route down the Han and up the Yang-tz’u. (Ibid.)

[Mr. G.G. Brown writes (_Jour. China Br. R. As. Soc._ xxviii. p. 53): “Crossing the Ta-pa-shan from the valley of the Upper Han in Shen-si we enter the province of Sze-ch’wan, and are now in a country as distinct as possible from that that has been left. The climate which in the north was at times almost Arctic, is now pluvial, and except on the summits of the mountains no snow is to be seen. The people are ethnologically different…. More even than the change of climate the geological aspect is markedly different. The loess, which in Shen-si has settled like a pall over the country, is here absent, and red sandstone rocks, filling the valleys between the high-bounding and intermediate ridges of palaeozoic formation, take its place. Sze-ch’wan is evidently a region of rivers flowing in deeply eroded valleys, and as these find but one exit, the deep gorges of Kwei-fu, their disposition takes the form of the innervations of a leaf springing from a solitary stalk. The country between the branching valleys is eminently hilly; the rivers flow with rapid currents in well-defined valleys, and are for the most part navigable for boats, or in their upper reaches for lumber-rafts…. The horse-cart, which in the north and north-west of China is the principal means of conveyance, has never succeeded in gaining an entrance into Sze-ch’wan with its steep ascents and rapid unfordable streams; and is here represented for passenger traffic by the sedan-chair, and for the carriage of goods, with the exception of a limited number of wheel-barrows, by the backs of men or animals, unless where the friendly water-courses afford the cheapest and readiest means of intercourse.”–H.C.]

Martini notes the musk-deer in northern Sze-ch’wan.



When you have travelled those 20 days westward through the mountains, as I have told you, then you arrive at a plain belonging to a province called Sindafu, which still is on the confines of Manzi, and the capital city of which is (also) called SINDAFU. This city was in former days a rich and noble one, and the Kings who reigned there were very great and wealthy. It is a good twenty miles in compass, but it is divided in the way that I shall tell you.

You see the King of this Province, in the days of old, when he found himself drawing near to death, leaving three sons behind him, commanded that the city should be divided into three parts, and that each of his three sons should have one. So each of these three parts is separately walled about, though all three are surrounded by the common wall of the city. Each of the three sons was King, having his own part of the city, and his own share of the kingdom, and each of them in fact was a great and wealthy King. But the Great Kaan conquered the kingdom of these three Kings, and stripped them of their inheritance.[NOTE 1]

Through the midst of this great city runs a large river, in which they catch a great quantity of fish. It is a good half mile wide, and very deep withal, and so long that it reaches all the way to the Ocean Sea,–a very long way, equal to 80 or 100 days’ journey. And the name of the River is KIAN-SUY. The multitude of vessels that navigate this river is so vast, that no one who should read or hear the tale would believe it. The quantities of merchandize also which merchants carry up and down this river are past all belief. In fact, it is so big, that it seems to be a Sea rather than a River![NOTE 2]

Let us now speak of a great Bridge which crosses this River within the city. This bridge is of stone; it is seven paces in width and half a mile in length (the river being that much in width as I told you); and all along its length on either side there are columns of marble to bear the roof, for the bridge is roofed over from end to end with timber, and that all richly painted. And on this bridge there are houses in which a great deal of trade and industry is carried on. But these houses are all of wood merely, and they are put up in the morning and taken down in the evening. Also there stands upon the bridge the Great Kaan’s _Comercque_, that is to say, his custom-house, where his toll and tax are levied.[NOTE 3] And I can tell you that the dues taken on this bridge bring to the Lord a thousand pieces of fine gold every day and more. The people are all Idolaters.[NOTE 4]

When you leave this city you travel for five days across a country of plains and valleys, finding plenty of villages and hamlets, and the people of which live by husbandry. There are numbers of wild beasts, lions, and bears, and such like.

I should have mentioned that the people of Sindu itself live by manufactures, for they make fine sendals and other stuffs.[NOTE 5]

After travelling those five days’ march, you reach a province called Tebet, which has been sadly laid waste; we will now say something of it.

NOTE 1.–We are on firm ground again, for SINDAFU is certainly CH’ENG-TU FU, the capital of Sze-ch’wan. Probably the name used by Polo was _Sindu-fu_, as we find _Sindu_ in the G.T. near the end of the chapter. But the same city is, I observe, called _Thindafu_ by one of the Nepalese embassies, whose itineraries Mr. Hodgson has given in the _J.A.S.B._ XXV. 488.

The modern French missions have a bishop in Ch’eng-tu fu, and the city has been visited of late years by Mr. T.T. Cooper, by Mr. A. Wylie, by Baron v. Richthofen, [Captain Gill, Mr. Baber, Mr. Hosie, and several other travellers]. Mr. Wylie has kindly favoured me with the following note:–“My notice all goes to corroborate Marco Polo. The covered bridge with the stalls is still there, the only difference being the absence of the toll-house. I did not see any traces of a tripartite division of the city, nor did I make any enquiries on the subject during the 3 or 4 days I spent there, as it was not an object with me at the time to verify Polo’s account. The city is indeed divided, but the division dates more than a thousand years back. It is something like this, I should say [see diagram]”.[1]

| |
|—| |—| |
| B | | C | A |
|___| |___| |
| |

A. The Great City.
B. The Little City.
C. The Imperial City.]

“The Imperial City (_Hwang Ching_) was the residence of the monarch Lew Pe (i.e. Liu Pei of p. 32) during the short period of the ‘Three Kingdoms’ (3rd century), and some relics of the ancient edifice still remain. I was much interested in looking over it. It is now occupied by the Public Examination Hall and its dependencies.”

I suspect Marco’s story of the Three Kings arose from a misunderstanding about this historical period of the _San-Kwe_ or Three Kingdoms (A.D. 222-264). And this tripartite division of the city may have been merely that which we see to exist at present.

[Mr. Baber, leaving Ch’eng-tu, 26th July, 1877, writes (_Travels_, p. 28): “We took ship outside the East Gate on a rapid narrow stream, apparently the city moat, which soon joins the main river, a little below the An-shun Bridge, an antiquated wooden structure some 90 yards long. This is in all probability the bridge mentioned by Marco Polo. The too flattering description he gives of it leads one to suppose that the present handsome stone bridges of the province were unbuilt at the time of his journey.” Baber is here mistaken.

Captain Gill writes (l.c. II. p. 9): “As Mr. Wylie in recent days had said that Polo’s covered bridge was still in its place, we went one day on an expedition in search of it. Polo, however, speaks of a bridge full half a mile long, whilst the longest now is but 90 yards. On our way we passed over a fine nine-arched stone bridge, called the Chin-Yen-Ch’iao. Near the covered bridge there is a very pretty view down the river.”–H.C.]

Baron Richthofen observes that Ch’eng-tu is among the largest of Chinese cities, and is of all the finest and most refined. The population is called 800,000. The walls form a square of about 3 miles to the side, and there are suburbs besides. The streets are broad and straight, laid out at right angles, with a pavement of square flags very perfectly laid, slightly convex and drained at each side. The numerous commemorative arches are sculptured with skill; there is much display of artistic taste; and the people are remarkably civil to foreigners. This characterizes the whole province; and an air of wealth and refinement prevails even in the rural districts. The plain round Ch’eng-tu fu is about 90 miles in length (S.E. to N.W.), by 40 miles in width, with a copious irrigation and great fertility, so that in wealth and population it stands almost unrivalled. (_Letter_ VII. pp. 48-66.)

[Illustration: PLAN OF CHENG-TU.

Eglises ou Etablissements francais des “Missions etrangeres” Reproduction d’une carte chinoise]

[Mr. Baber (_Travels_, p. 26) gives the following information regarding the population of Ch’eng-tu: “The census of 1877 returned the number of families at about 70,000, and the total population at 330,000–190,000 being males and 140,000 females; but probably the extensive suburb was not included in the enumeration. Perhaps 350,000 would be a fair total estimate.” It is the seat of the Viceroy of the Sze-ch’wan province. Mr. Hosie says (_Three Years in Western China_, p. 86): “It is without exception the finest city I have seen in China; Peking and Canton will not bear comparison with it.” Captain Gill writes (_River of Golden Sand_, II. p. 4): “The city of Ch’eng-Tu is still a rich and noble one, somewhat irregular in shape, and surrounded by a strong wall, in a perfect state of repair. In this there are eight bastions, four being pierced by gates.”

“It is one of the largest of Chinese cities, having a circuit of about 12 miles.” (_Baber_, p. 26.) “It is now three and a half miles long by about two and a half miles broad, the longest side lying about east-south-east, and west-north-west, so that its compass in the present day is about 12 miles.” (_Captain Gill_, II. p. 4.)–H.C.]

NOTE 2.–Ramusio is more particular: “Through the city flow many great rivers, which come down from distant mountains, and run winding about through many parts of the city. These rivers vary in width from half a mile to 200 paces, and are very deep. Across them are built many bridges of stone,” etc. “And after passing the city these rivers unite and form one immense river called Kian,” etc. Here we have the Great River or KIANG, Kian (Quian) as in Ramusio, or KIANG-SHUI, “Waters of the Kiang,” as in the text. So Pauthier explains. [Mr. Baber remarks at Ch’eng-tu (_Travels_, p. 28): “When all allowance is made for the diminution of the river, one cannot help surmising that Marco Polo must have felt reluctant to call it the _Chiang-Sui_ or ‘Yangtzu waterway.’ He was, however, correct enough, as usual, for the Chinese consider it to be the main upper stream of the Yangtzu.”–H.C.] Though our Geographies give the specific names of Wen and Min to the great branch which flows by Ch’eng-tu fu, and treat the Tibetan branch which flows through northern Yunnan under the name of Kin Sha or “Golden Sand,” as the main river, the Chinese seem always to have regarded the former as the true Kiang; as may be seen in Ritter (IV. 650) and Martini. The latter describes the city as quite insulated by the ramifications of the river, from which channels and canals pass all about it, adorned with many quays and bridges of stone.

The numerous channels in reuniting form two rivers, one the Min, and the other the To-Kiang, which also joins the Yangtzu at Lu-chau.

[In his _Introductory Essay to Captain Gill’s River of Golden Sand_, Colonel Yule (p. 37) writes: “Captain Gill has pointed out that, of the many branches of the river which ramify through the plain of Ch’eng-tu, no one now passes through the city at all corresponding in magnitude to that which Marco Polo describes, about 1283, as running through the midst of Sin-da-fu, ‘a good half-mile wide, and very deep withal.’ The largest branch adjoining the city now runs on the south side, but does not exceed a hundred yards in width; and though it is crossed by a covered bridge with huxters’ booths, more or less in the style described by Polo, it necessarily falls far short of his great bridge of half a mile in length. Captain Gill suggests that a change may have taken place in the last five (this should be _six_) centuries, owing to the deepening of the river-bed at its exit from the plain, and consequent draining of the latter. But I should think it more probable that the ramification of channels round Ch’eng-tu, which is so conspicuous even on a small general map of China, like that which accompanies this work, is in great part due to art; that the mass of the river has been drawn off to irrigate the plain; and that thus the wide river, which in the 13th century may have passed through the city, no unworthy representative of the mighty Kiang, has long since ceased, on that scale, to flow. And I have pointed out briefly that the fact, which Baron Richthofen attests, of an actual bifurcation of waters on a large scale taking place in the plain of Ch’eng-tu–one arm ‘branching east to form the To’ (as in the terse indication of the Yue-Kung)–viz. the To Kiang or Chung-Kiang flowing south-east to join the great river at Lu-chau, whilst another flows south to Sue-chau or Swi-fu, does render change in the distribution of the waters about the city highly credible.”] [See _Irrigation of the Ch’eng-tu Plain_, by _Joshua Vale_, China Inland Mission in _Jour. China Br.R.A.S.Soc._ XXXIII. 1899-1900, pp. 22-36.–H.C.]

[Above Kwan Hsien, near Ch’eng-tu, there is a fine suspension bridge, mentioned by Marcel Monnier (_Itineraires_, p. 43), from whom I borrow the cut reproduced on this page. This bridge is also spoken of by Captain Gill (l.c. I. p. 335): “Six ropes, one above the other, are stretched very tightly, and connected by vertical battens of wood laced in and out. Another similar set of ropes is at the other side of the roadway, which is laid across these, and follows the curve of the ropes. There are three or four spans with stone piers.”–H.C.]

[Illustration: Bridge near Kwan-hsien (Ch’eng-tu).]

NOTE 3.–(G.T.) “_Hi est le_ couiereque _dou Grant Sire, ce est cilz qe recevent la rente dou Seignor_.” Pauthier has _couvert_. Both are, I doubt not, misreadings or misunderstandings of _comereque_ or _comerc_. This word, founded on the Latin _commercium_, was widely spread over the East with the meaning of _customs-duty_ or _custom-house_. In Low Greek it appeared as [Greek: kommerkion] and [Greek: koumerkion], now [Greek: komerki]; in Arabic and Turkish as [Arabic] and [Turkish] (_kumruk_ and _gyumruk_), still in use; in Romance dialects as _comerchio, comerho, comergio_, etc.

NOTE 4.–The word in Pauthier’s text which I have rendered _pieces_ of gold is _pois_, probably equivalent to _saggi_ or _miskals_.[2] The G.T. has “is well worth 1000 _bezants_ of gold,” no doubt meaning _daily_, though not saying so. Ramusio has “100 bezants daily.” The term Bezant may be taken as synonymous with _Dinar_, and the statement in the text would make the daily receipt of custom upwards of 500_l._, that in Ramusio upwards of 50_l._ only.

NOTE 5.–I have recast this passage, which has got muddled, probably in the original dictation, for it runs in the G. text: “Et de ceste cite se part l’en et chevauche cinq jornee por plain et por valee, et treve-l’en castiaus et casaus assez. Les homes vivent dou profit qu’il traient de la terre. Il hi a bestes sauvajes assez, lions et orses et autres bestes. _Il vivent d’ars: car il hi se laborent des biaus sendal et autres dras. Il sunt de Sindu meisme.”_ I take it that in speaking of Ch’eng-tu fu, Marco has forgotten to fill up his usual formula as to the occupation of the inhabitants; he is reminded of this when he speaks of the occupation of the peasantry on the way to Tibet, and reverts to the citizens in the words which I have quoted in Italics. We see here _Sindu_ applied to the city, suggesting _Sindu-fu_ for the reading at the beginning of the chapter.

Silk is a large item in the produce and trade of Sze-ch’wan; and through extensive quarters of Ch’eng-tu fu, in every house, the spinning, dying, weaving, and embroidering of silk give occupation to the people. And though a good deal is exported, much is consumed in the province, for the people are very much given to costly apparel. Thus silk goods are very conspicuous in the shops of the capital. (_Richthofen_.)

[1] My lamented friend Lieutenant F. Garnier had kindly undertaken to send me a plan of Ch’eng-tu fu from the place itself, but, as is well known, he fell on a daring enterprise elsewhere. [We hope that the plan from a Chinese map we give from _M. Marcel Monnier’s Itineraires_ will replace the promised one.

It will be seen that Ch’eng-tu is divided into three cities: the Great City containing both the Imperial and Tartar cities.–H.C.

[2] I find the same expression applied to the miskal or dinar in a MS. letter written by Giovanni dell’ Affaitado, Venetian Agent at Lisbon in 1503, communicated to me by Signor Berchet. The King of Melinda was to pay to Portugal a tribute of 1500 _pesi d’oro_, “che un peso val un ducato e un quarto.”



After those five days’ march that I spoke of, you enter a province which has been sorely ravaged; and this was done in the wars of Mongu Kaan. There are indeed towns and villages and hamlets, but all harried and destroyed.[NOTE 1]

In this region you find quantities of canes, full three palms in girth and fifteen paces in length, with some three palms’ interval between the joints. And let me tell you that merchants and other travellers through that country are wont at nightfall to gather these canes and make fires of them; for as they burn they make such loud reports that the lions and bears and other wild beasts are greatly frightened, and make off as fast as possible; in fact nothing will induce them to come nigh a fire of that sort. So you see the travellers make those fires to protect themselves and their cattle from the wild beasts which have so greatly multiplied since the devastation of the country. And ’tis this great multiplication of the wild beasts that prevents the country from being reoccupied. In fact but for the help of these canes, which make such a noise in burning that the beasts are terrified and kept at a distance, no one would be able even to travel through the land.

I will tell you how it is that the canes make such a noise. The people cut the green canes, of which there are vast numbers, and set fire to a heap of them at once. After they have been awhile burning they burst asunder, and this makes such a loud report that you might hear it ten miles off. In fact, any one unused to this noise, who should hear it unexpectedly, might easily go into a swound or die of fright. But those who are used to it care nothing about it. Hence those who are not used to it stuff their ears well with cotton, and wrap up their heads and faces with all the clothes they can muster; and so they get along until they have become used to the sound. ‘Tis just the same with horses. Those which are unused to these noises are so alarmed by them that they break away from their halters and heel-ropes, and many a man has lost his beasts in this way. So those who would avoid losing their horses take care to tie all four legs and peg the ropes down strongly, and to wrap the heads and eyes and ears of the animals closely, and so they save them. But horses also, when they have heard the noise several times, cease to mind it. I tell you the truth, however, when I say that the first time you hear it nothing can be more alarming. And yet, in spite of all, the lions and bears and other wild beasts will sometimes come and do much mischief; for their numbers are great in those tracts.[NOTE 2]

You ride for 20 days without finding any inhabited spot, so that travellers are obliged to carry all their provisions with them, and are constantly falling in with those wild beasts which are so numerous and so dangerous. After that you come at length to a tract where there are towns and villages in considerable numbers.[NOTE 3] The people of those towns have a strange custom in regard to marriage which I will now relate.

No man of that country would on any consideration take to wife a girl who was a maid; for they say a wife is nothing worth unless she has been used to consort with men. And their custom is this, that when travellers come that way, the old women of the place get ready, and take their unmarried daughters or other girls related to them, and go to the strangers who are passing, and make over the young women to whomsoever will accept them; and the travellers take them accordingly and do their pleasure; after which the girls are restored to the old women who brought them, for they are not allowed to follow the strangers away from their home. In this manner people travelling that way, when they reach a village or hamlet or other inhabited place, shall find perhaps 20 or 30 girls at their disposal. And if the travellers lodge with those people they shall have as many young women as they could wish coming to court them! You must know too that the traveller is expected to give the girl who has been with him a ring or some other trifle, something in fact that she can show as a lover’s token when she comes to be married. And it is for this in truth and for this alone that they follow that custom; for every girl is expected to obtain at least 20 such tokens in the way I have described before she can be married. And those who have most tokens, and so can show they have been most run after, are in the highest esteem, and most sought in marriage, because they say the charms of such an one are greatest.[NOTE 4] But after marriage these people hold their wives very dear, and would consider it a great villainy for a man to meddle with another’s wife; and thus though the wives have before marriage acted as you have heard, they are kept with great care from light conduct afterwards.

Now I have related to you this marriage custom as a good story to tell, and to show what a fine country that is for young fellows to go to!

The people are Idolaters and an evil generation, holding it no sin to rob and maltreat: in fact, they are the greatest brigands on earth. They live by the chase, as well as on their cattle and the fruits of the earth.

I should tell you also that in this country there are many of the animals that produce musk, which are called in the Tartar language _Gudderi_. Those rascals have great numbers of large and fine dogs, which are of great service in catching the musk-beasts, and so they procure great abundance of musk. They have none of the Great Kaan’s paper money, but use salt instead of money. They are very poorly clad, for their clothes are only of the skins of beasts, and of canvas, and of buckram.[NOTE 5] They have a language of their own, and they are called Tebet. And this country of TEBET forms a very great province, of which I will give you a brief account.

NOTE 1.–The mountains that bound the splendid plain of Ch’eng-tu fu on the west rise rapidly to a height of 12,000 feet and upwards. Just at the skirt of this mountain region, where the great road to Lhasa enters it, lies the large and bustling city of Yachaufu, forming the key of the hill country, and the great entrepot of trade between Sze-ch’wan on the one side, and Tibet and Western Yunnan on the other. The present political boundary between China Proper and Tibet is to the west of Bathang and the Kin-sha Kiang, but till the beginning of last century it lay much further east, near _Ta-t’sien-lu_, or, as the Tibetans appear to call it, _Tartsedo_ or _Tachindo_, which a Chinese Itinerary given by Ritter makes to be 920 _li_, or 11 marches from Ch’eng-tu fu. In Marco’s time we must suppose that Tibet was considered to extend several marches further east still, or to the vicinity of Yachau.[1] Mr. Cooper’s Journal describes the country entered _on the 5th march_ from Ch’eng-tu as very mountainous, many of the neighbouring peaks being capped with snow. And he describes the people as speaking a language mixed with Tibetan for some distance before reaching Ta-t’sien-lu. Baron Richthofen also who, as we shall see, has thrown an entirely new light upon this part of Marco’s itinerary, was exactly five days in travelling through a rich and populous country, from Ch’eng-tu to Yachau. [Captain Gill left Ch’eng-tu on the 10th July, 1877, and reached Ya-chau on the 14th, a distance of 75 miles.–H. C] (_Ritter_, IV. 190 seqq.; _Cooper_, pp. 164-173; _Richthofen_ in _Verhandl. Ges. f. Erdk. zu Berlin_, 1874, p. 35.)

Tibet was always reckoned as a part of the Empire of the Mongol Kaans in the period of their greatness, but it is not very clear how it came under subjection to them. No conquest of Tibet by their armies appears to be related by either the Mahomedan or the Chinese historians. Yet it is alluded to by Plano Carpini, who ascribes the achievement to an unnamed son of Chinghiz, and narrated by Sanang Setzen, who says that the King of Tibet submitted without fighting when Chinghiz invaded his country in the year of the Panther (1206). During the reign of Mangku Kaan, indeed, Uriangkadai, an eminent Mongol general [son of Subudai] who had accompanied Prince Kublai in 1253 against Yunnan, did in the following year direct his arms against the Tibetans. But this campaign, that no doubt to which the text alludes as “the wars of Mangu Kaan,” appears to have occupied only a part of one season, and was certainly confined to the parts of Tibet on the frontiers of Yunnan and Sze-ch’wan. [“In the _Yuen-shi_, Tibet is mentioned under different names. Sometimes the Chinese history of the Mongols uses the ancient name _T’u-fan_. In the Annals, _s.a._ 1251, we read: ‘Mangu Khan entrusted _Ho-li-dan_ with the command of the troops against _T’u-fan_.” _Sub anno_ 1254 it is stated that Kublai (who at that time was still the heir-apparent), after subduing the tribes of Yun-nan, entered _T’u-fan_, when _So-ho-to_, the ruler of the country, surrendered. Again, _s.a._ 1275: ‘The prince _Al-lu-chi_ (seventh son of Kublai) led an expedition to _T’u-fan_.’ In chap, ccii., biography of _Ba-sz’-ba_, the Lama priest who invented Kublai’s official alphabet, it is stated that this Lama was a native of _Sa-sz’-kia_ in T’u-fan. (_Bretschneider, Med Res._ II. p. 23.)–H.C.] Koeppen seems to consider it certain that there was no actual conquest of Tibet, and that Kublai extended his authority over it only by diplomacy and the politic handling of the spiritual potentates who had for several generations in Tibet been the real rulers of the country. It is certain that Chinese history attributes the organisation of civil administration in Tibet to Kublai. Mati Dhwaja, a young and able member of the family which held the hereditary primacy of the Satya [Sakya] convent, and occupied the most influential position in Tibet, was formerly recognised by the Emperor as the head of the Lamaite Church and as the tributary Ruler of Tibet. He is the same person that we have already (vol. i. p. 28) mentioned as the Passepa or Bashpah Lama, the inventor of Kublai’s official alphabet. (_Carpini_, 658, 709; _D’Avezac_, 564; _S. Setzen_, 89; _D’Ohsson_, II. 317; _Koeppen_, II. 96; _Amyot_, XIV. 128.)

With the caution that Marco’s Travels in Tibet were limited to the same mountainous country on the frontier of Sze-ch’wan, we defer further geographical comment till he brings us to Yunnan.

NOTE 2.–Marco exaggerates a little about the bamboos; but before gunpowder became familiar, no sharp explosive sounds of this kind were known to ordinary experience, and exaggeration was natural. I have been close to a bamboo jungle on fire. There was a great deal of noise comparable to musketry; but the bamboos were not of the large kind here spoken of. The Hon. Robert Lindsay, describing his elephant-catching in Silhet, says: “At night each man lights a fire at his post, and furnishes himself with a dozen joints of the large bamboo, one of which he occasionally throws into the fire, and the air it contains being rarefied by the heat, it explodes with a report as loud as a musket.” (_Lives of the Lindsays_, III. 191.)

[Dr. Bretschneider (_Hist. of Bot. Disc._ I. p. 3) says: “In corroboration of Polo’s statement regarding the explosions produced when burning bamboos, I may adduce Sir Joseph Hooker’s Himalayan Journals (edition of 1891, p. 100), where in speaking of the fires in the jungles, he says: ‘Their triumph is in reaching a great bamboo clump, when the noise of the flames drowns that of the torrents, and as the great stem-joints burst, from the expansion of the confined air, the report is as that of a salvo from a park of artillery.'”–H. C]

[Illustration: Mountaineers on the Borders of Sze ch’wan and Yun-nan.]

Richthofen remarks that nowhere in China does the bamboo attain such a size as in this region. Bamboos of three palms in girth (28 to 30 inches) exist, but are not ordinary, I should suppose, even in Sze-ch’wan. In 1855 I took some pains to procure in Pegu a specimen of the largest attainable bamboo. It was 10 inches in diameter.

NOTE 3.–M. Gabriel Durand, a missionary priest, thus describes his journey in 1861 to Kiangka, via Ta-t’sien-lu, a line of country partly coincident with that which Polo is traversing: “Every day we made a journey of nine or ten leagues, and halted for the night in a _Kung-kuan_. These are posts dotted at intervals of about ten leagues along the road to Hlassa, and usually guarded by three soldiers, though the more important posts have twenty. With the exception of some Tibetan houses, few and far between, these are the only habitations to be seen on this silent and deserted road…. Lytang was the first collection of houses that we had seen in ten days’ march.” (_Ann. de la Propag. de la Foi_, XXXV. 352 seqq.)

NOTE 4.–Such practices are ascribed to many nations. Martini quotes something similar from a Chinese author about tribes in Yunnan; and Garnier says such loose practices are still ascribed to the Sifan near the southern elbow of the Kin-sha Kiang. Even of the Mongols themselves and kindred races, Pallas asserts that the young women regard a number of intrigues rather as a credit and recommendation than otherwise. Japanese ideas seem to be not very different. In old times Aelian gives much the same account of the Lydian women. Herodotus’s Gindanes of Lybia afford a perfect parallel, “whose women wear on their legs anklets of leather. Each lover that a woman has gives her one; and she who can show most is the best esteemed, as she appears to have been loved by the greatest number of men.” (_Martini Garnier_, I. 520; _Pall. Samml._ II. 235; _Ael. Var. Hist._ III. 1; _Rawl. Herod._ Bk. IV. ch. clxxvi.)

[“Among some uncivilised peoples, women having many gallants are esteemed better than virgins, and are more anxiously desired in marriage. This is, for instance, stated to be the case with the Indians of Quito, the Laplanders in Regnard’s days, and the Hill Tribes of North Aracan. But in each of these cases we are expressly told that want of chastity is considered a merit in the bride, because it is held to be the best testimony to the value of her attractions.” (_Westermarck, Human Marriage_, p. 81.)–H.C.]

Mr. Cooper’s Journal, when on the banks of the Kin-sha Kiang, west of Bathang, affords a startling illustration of the persistence of manners in this region: “At 12h. 30m. we arrived at a road-side house, near which was a grove of walnut-trees; here we alighted, when to my surprise I was surrounded by a group of young girls and two elderly women, who invited me to partake of a repast spread under the trees…. I thought I had stumbled on a pic-nic party, of which the Tibetans are so fond. Having finished, I lighted my pipe and threw myself on the grass in a state of castle-building. I had not lain thus many seconds when the maidens brought a young girl about 15 years old, tall and very fair, placed her on the grass beside me, and forming a ring round us, commenced to sing and dance. The little maid beside me, however, was bathed in tears. All this, I must confess, a little puzzled me, when Philip (the Chinese servant) with a long face, came to my aid, saying, ‘_Well, Sir, this is a bad business … they are marrying you._’ Good heavens! how startled I was.” For the honourable conclusion of this Anglo-Tibetan idyll I must refer to Mr. Cooper’s Journal. (See the now published _Travels_, ch. x.)

NOTE 5.–All this is clearly meant to apply only to the rude people towards the Chinese frontier; nor would the Chinese (says Richthofen) at this day think the description at all exaggerated, as applied to the Lolo who occupy the mountains to the south of Yachaufu. The members of the group at p. 47, from Lieutenant Garnier’s book, are there termed Man-tzu; but the context shows them to be of the race of these Lolos. (See below, pp. 60, 61.) The passage about the musk animal, both in Pauthier and in the G.T., ascribes the word _Gudderi_ to the language “of that people,” i.e. of the Tibetans. The Geog. Latin, however, has “_lingua Tartarica_,” and this is the fact. Klaproth informs us that _Guderi_ is the Mongol word. And it will be found (_Kuderi_) in Kovalevski’s Dictionary, No. 2594. Musk is still the most valuable article that goes from Ta-t’sien-lu to China. Much is smuggled, and single travellers will come all the way from Canton or Si-ngan fu to take back a small load of it. (_Richthofen_.)

[1] Indeed Richthofen says that the boundary lay a few (German) miles west of Yachau. I see that Martini’s map puts it (in the 17th century) 10 German geographical miles, or about 46 statute miles, west of that city.



This province, called Tebet, is of very great extent. The people, as I have told you, have a language of their own, and they are Idolaters, and they border on Manzi and sundry other regions. Moreover, they are very great thieves.

The country is, in fact, so great that it embraces eight kingdoms, and a vast number of cities and villages.[NOTE 1] It contains in several quarters rivers and lakes, in which gold-dust is found in great abundance. [NOTE 2] Cinnamon also grows there in great plenty. Coral is in great demand in this country and fetches a high price, for they delight to hang it round the necks of their women and of their idols.[NOTE 3] They have also in this country plenty of fine woollens and other stuffs, and many kinds of spices are produced there which are never seen in our country.

Among this people, too, you find the best enchanters and astrologers that exist in all that quarter of the world; they perform such extraordinary marvels and sorceries by diabolic art, that it astounds one to see or even hear of them. So I will relate none of them in this book of ours; people would be amazed if they heard them, but it would serve no good purpose. [NOTE 4]

These people of Tebet are an ill-conditioned race. They have mastiff dogs as bigs as donkeys, which are capital at seizing wild beasts [and in particular the wild oxen which are called _Beyamini_, very great and fierce animals] They have also sundry other kinds of sporting dogs, and excellent lanner falcons [and sakers], swift in flight and well-trained, which are got in the mountains of the country.[NOTE 5]

Now I have told you in brief all that is to be said about Tebet, and so we will leave it, and tell you about another province that is called Caindu.

[Illustration: Village of Eastern Tibet on Szechwan Frontier (From Cooper)]

As regards Tebet, however, you should understand that it is subject to the Great Kaan. So, likewise, all the other kingdoms, regions, and provinces which are described in this book are subject to the Great Kaan, nay, even those other kingdoms, regions, and provinces of which I had occasion to speak at the beginning of the book as belonging to the son of Argon, the Lord of the Levant, are also subject to the Emperor; for the former holds his dominion of the Kaan, and is his liegeman and kinsman of the blood Imperial. So you must know that from this province forward all the provinces mentioned in our book are subject to the Great Kaan; and even if this be not specially mentioned, you must understand that it is so.

[Illustration: Roads in Eastern Tibet. (Gorge of the Lan t’sang Kiang, from Cooper.)]

Now let us have done with this matter, and I will tell you about the Province of Caindu.

NOTE 1.–Here Marco at least shows that he knew Tibet to be much more extensive than the small part of it that he had seen. But beyond this his information amounts to little.

NOTE 2.–“_Or de paliolle_” “_Oro di pagliuola_” (_pagliuola_, “a spangle”) must have been the technical phrase for what we call gold-dust, and the French now call _or en paillettes_, a phrase used by a French missionary in speaking of this very region. (_Ann. de la Foi_, XXXVII. 427.) Yet the only example of this use of the word cited in the _Voc. Ital. Universale_ is from this passage of the Crusca MS.; and Pipino seems not to have understood it, translating “_aurum quod dicitur_ Deplaglola”; whilst Zurla says erroneously that _pajola_ is an old Italian word for _gold_. Pegolotti uses _argento in pagliuola_ (p. 219). A Barcelona tariff of 1271 sets so much on every mark of _Pallola_. And the old Portuguese navigators seem always to have used the same expression for the gold-dust of Africa, _ouro de pajola_. (See Major’s Prince Henry, pp. 111, 112, 116; _Capmany Memorias_, etc., II. App. p. 73; also “_Aurum_ de Pajola,” in Usodimare of Genoa, see _Graberg, Annali_, II. 290, quoted by Peschel, p. 178.)

NOTE 3.–The cinnamon must have been the coarser cassia produced in the lower parts of this region (See note to next chapter.) We have already (Book I. ch. xxxi.) quoted Tavernier’s testimony to the rage for coral among the Tibetans and kindred peoples. Mr. Cooper notices the eager demand for coral at Bathang: (See also _Desgodins, La Mission du Thibet_, 310.)

NOTE 4.–See supra, Bk. I. ch. lxi. note 11.

NOTE 5.–The big Tibetan mastiffs are now well known. Mr. Cooper, at Ta-t’sien lu, notes that the people of Tibetan race “keep very large dogs, as large as Newfoundlands.” And he mentions a pack of dogs of another breed, tan and black, “fine animals of the size of setters.” The missionary M. Durand also, in a letter from the region in question, says, speaking of a large leopard: “Our brave watch-dogs had several times beaten him off gallantly, and one of them had even in single combat with him received a blow of the paw which had laid his skull open.” (_Ann. de la Prop de la Foi_, XXXVII. 314.) On the title-page of vol. i. we have introduced one of these big Tibetan dogs as brought home by the Polos to Venice.

The “wild oxen called _Beyamini_” are probably some such species as the Gaur. _Beyamini_ I suspect to be no Oriental word, but to stand for _Buemini_, i.e. Bohemian, a name which may have been given by the Venetians to either the bison or urus. Polo’s contemporary, Brunetto Latini, seems to speak of one of these as still existing in his day in Germany: “Autre buef naissent en Alemaigne qui ont grans cors, et sont bons por sommier et por vin porter.” (Paris ed., p. 228; see also _Lubbock, Pre-historic Times_, 296-7.)

[Mr. Baber (_Travels_, pp. 39, 40) writes: “A special interest attaches to the wild oxen, since they are unknown in any other part of China Proper. From a Lolo chief and his followers, most enthusiastic hunters, I afterwards learnt that the cattle are met with in herds of from seven to twenty head in the recesses of the Wilderness, which may be defined as the region between the T’ung River and Yachou, but that in general they are rarely seen…. I was lucky enough to obtain a pair of horns and part of the hide of one of these redoubtable animals, which seem to show that they are a kind of bison.” Sir H. Yule remarks in a footnote (Ibid. p. 40): “It is not possible to say from what is stated here what the species is, but probably it is a _gavoeus_, of which Jerdan describes three species. (See _Mammals of India_, pp. 301-307.) Mr. Hodgson describes the Gaur (_Gavoeus gaurus_ of Jerdan) of the forests below Nepaul as fierce and revengeful.”–H.C.]



CAINDU is a province lying towards the west,[NOTE 1] and there is only one king in it. The people are Idolaters, subject to the Great Kaan, and they have plenty of towns and villages. [The chief city is also called Caindu, and stands at the upper end of the province.] There is a lake here,[1] in which are found pearls [which are white but not round]. But the Great Kaan will not allow them to be fished, for if people were to take as many as they could find there, the supply would be so vast that pearls would lose their value, and come to be worth nothing. Only when it is his pleasure they take from the lake so many as he may desire; but any one attempting to take them on his own account would be incontinently put to death.

There is also a mountain in this country wherein they find a kind of stone called turquoise, in great abundance; and it is a very beautiful stone. These also the Emperor does not allow to be extracted without his special order.[NOTE 2]

I must tell you of a custom that they have in this country regarding their women. No man considers himself wronged if a foreigner, or any other man, dishonour his wife, or daughter, or sister, or any woman of his family, but on the contrary he deems such intercourse a piece of good fortune. And they say that it brings the favour of their gods and idols, and great increase of temporal prosperity. For this reason they bestow their wives on foreigners and other people as I will tell you.

When they fall in with any stranger in want of a lodging they are all eager to take him in. And as soon as he has taken up his quarters the master of the house goes forth, telling him to consider everything at his disposal, and after saying so he proceeds to his vineyards or his fields, and comes back no more till the stranger has departed. The latter abides in the caitiffs house, be it three days or be it four, enjoying himself with the fellow’s wife or daughter or sister, or whatsoever woman of the family it best likes him; and as long as he abides there he leaves his hat or some other token hanging at the door, to let the master of the house know that he is still there. As long as the wretched fellow sees that token, he must not go in. And such is the custom over all that province. [NOTE 3]

The money matters of the people are conducted in this way. They have gold in rods which they weigh, and they reckon its value by its weight in _saggi_, but they have no coined money. Their small change again is made in this way. They have salt which they boil and set in a mould [flat below and round above],[NOTE 4] and every piece from the mould weighs about half a pound. Now, 80 moulds of this salt are worth one _saggio_ of fine gold, which is a weight so called. So this salt serves them for small change.[NOTE 5]

[Illustration: The Valley of the Kin-Sha Kiang, near the lower end of Caindu, i.e. Kienchang. (From Garnier.)

“Et quant l’en est ales ceste dix jornee adonc treuve-l’en un grant fluv qe est apele Brius, auquel se fenist la provence de Cheindu.”]

The musk animals are very abundant in that country, and thus of musk also they have great store. They have likewise plenty of fish which they catch in the lake in which the pearls are produced. Wild animals, such as lions, bears, wolves, stags, bucks and roes, exist in great numbers; and there are also vast quantities of fowl of every kind. Wine of the vine they have none, but they make a wine of wheat and rice and sundry good spices, and very good drink it is.[NOTE 6] There grows also in this country a quantity of clove. The tree that bears it is a small one, with leaves like laurel but longer and narrower, and with a small white flower like the clove.[NOTE 7] They have also ginger and cinnamon in great plenty, besides other spices which never reach our countries, so we need say nothing about them.

Now we may leave this province, as we have told you all about it. But let me tell you first of this same country of Caindu that you ride through it ten days, constantly meeting with towns and villages, with people of the same description that I have mentioned. After riding those ten days you come to a river called Brius, which terminates the province of Caindu. In this river is found much gold-dust, and there is also much cinnamon on its banks. It flows to the Ocean Sea.

There is no more to be said about this river, so I will now tell you about another province called Carajan, as you shall hear in what follows.

NOTE 1.–Ramusio’s version here enlarges: “Don’t suppose from my saying _towards the west_ that these countries really lie in what we call the _west_, but only that we have been travelling from regions in the east-north-east _towards_ the west, and hence we speak of the countries we come to as lying towards the west.”

NOTE 2.–Chinese authorities quoted by Ritter mention _mother-o’-pearl_ as a product of Lithang, and speak of turquoises as found in Djaya to the west of Bathang. (_Ritter_, IV. 235-236.) Neither of these places is, however, within the tract which we believe to be Caindu. Amyot states that pearls are found in a certain river of Yun-nan. (See _Trans.R.A.Soc._ II. 91.)

NOTE 3.–This alleged practice, like that mentioned in the last chapter but one, is ascribed to a variety of people in different parts of the world. Both, indeed, have a curious double parallel in the story of two remote districts of the Himalaya which was told to Bernier by an old Kashmiri. (See Amst. ed. II. 304-305.) Polo has told nearly the same story already of the people of Kamul. (Bk. I. ch. xli.) It is related by Strabo of the Massagetae; by Eusebius of the Geli and the Bactrians; by Elphinstone of the Hazaras; by Mendoza of the Ladrone Islanders; by other authors of the Nairs of Malabar, and of some of the aborigines of the Canary Islands. (_Caubul_, I. 209; _Mendoza_, II. 254; _Mueller’s Strabo_, p. 439; _Euseb. Praep. Evan._ vi. 10; _Major’s Pr. Henry_, p. 213.)

NOTE 4.–Ramusio has here: “as big as a twopenny loaf,” and adds, “on the money so made the Prince’s mark is printed; and no one is allowed to make it except the royal officers…. And merchants take this currency and go to those tribes that dwell among the mountains of those parts in the wildest and most unfrequented quarters; and there they get a _saggio_ of gold for 60, or 50, or 40 pieces of this salt money, in proportion as the natives are more barbarous and more remote from towns and civilised folk. For in such positions they cannot dispose at pleasure of their gold and other things, such as musk and the like, for want of purchasers; and so they give them cheap…. And the merchants travel also about the mountains and districts of Tebet, disposing of this salt money in like manner to their own great gain. For those people, besides buying necessaries from the merchants, want this salt to use in their food; whilst in the towns only broken fragments are used in food, the whole cakes being kept to use as money.” This exchange of salt cakes for gold forms a curious parallel to the like exchange in the heart of Africa, narrated by Cosmas in the 6th century, and by Aloisio Cadamosto in the 15th. (See _Cathay_, pp. clxx-clxxi.) Ritter also calls attention to an analogous account in Alvarez’s description of Ethiopia. “The salt,” Alvarez says, “is current as money, not only in the kingdom of Prester John, but also in those of the Moors and the pagans, and the people here say that it passes right on to Manicongo upon the Western Sea. This salt is dug from the mountain, it is said, in squared blocks…. At the place where they are dug, 100 or 120 such pieces pass for a drachm of gold … equal to 3/4 of a ducat of gold. When they arrive at a certain fair … one day from the salt mine, these go 5 or 6 pieces fewer to the drachm. And so, from fair to fair, fewer and fewer, so that when they arrive at the capital there will be only 6 or 7 pieces to the drachm.” (_Ramusio_, I. 207.) Lieutenant Bower, in his account of Major Sladen’s mission, says that at Momein the salt, which was a government monopoly, was “made up in rolls of one and two viss” (a Rangoon viss is 3 lbs. 5 oz. 5-1/2 drs.), “and stamped” (p. 120).

[At Hsia-Kuan, near Ta-li, Captain Gill remarked to a friend (II. p. 312) “that the salt, instead of being in the usual great flat cakes about two or two and a half feet in diameter, was made in cylinders eight inches in diameter and nine inches high. ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘they make them here in a sort of loaves,’ unconsciously using almost the words of old Polo, who said the salt in Yun-Nan was in pieces ‘as big as a twopenny loaf.'” (See also p. 334.)–H.C.]

M. Desgodins, a missionary in this part of Tibet, gives some curious details of the way in which the civilised traders still prey upon the simple hill-folks of that quarter; exactly as the Hindu Banyas prey upon the simple forest-tribes of India. He states one case in which the account for a pig had with interest run up to 2127 bushels of corn! (_Ann. de la Prop de la Foi_, XXXVI. 320.)

Gold is said still to be very plentiful in the mountains called Gulan Sigong, to the N.W. of Yun-nan, adjoining the great eastern branch of the Irawadi, and the Chinese traders go there to barter for it. (See _J.A.S.B._ VI. 272.)

NOTE 5.–Salt is still an object highly coveted by the wild Lolos already alluded to, and to steal it is a chief aim of their constant raids on Chinese villages. (_Richthofen_ in _Verhandlungen_, etc., u.s. p. 36.) On the continued existence of the use of salt currency in regions of the same frontier, I have been favoured with the following note by M. Francis Garnier, the distinguished leader of the expedition of the great Kamboja River in its latter part: “Salt currency has a very wide diffusion from Muang Yong [in the Burman-Shan country, about lat. 21 deg. 43′] to Sheu-pin [in Yun-nan, about lat. 23 deg. 43′]. In the Shan markets, especially within the limits named, all purchases are made with salt. At Sse-mao and Pou-erl [_Esmok_ and _Puer_ of some of our maps], silver, weighed and cut in small pieces, is in our day tending to drive out the custom, but in former days it must have been universal in the tract of which I am speaking. The salt itself, prime necessity as it is, has there to be extracted by condensation from saline springs of great depth, a very difficult affair. The operation consumes enormous quantities of fuel, and to this is partly due the denudation of the country”. Marco’s somewhat rude description of the process, ‘_Il prennent la sel e la font cuire, et puis la gitent en forme_,’ points to the manufacture spoken of in this note. The cut which we give from M. Garnier’s work illustrates the process, but the cakes are vastly greater than Marco’s. Instead of a half pound they weigh a _preul_, i.e. 133-1/3 lbs. In Sze-ch’wan the brine wells are bored to a depth of 700 to 1000 feet, and the brine is drawn up in bamboo tubes by a gin. In Yun-nan the wells are much less deep, and a succession of hand pumps is used to raise the brine.

[Illustration: Salt pans in Yun-nan (From Garnier.)

“Il prennent la sel e la font cuire, et puis la gitent en forme.”]

[Mr. Hosie has a chapter (_Three Years in W. China_, VII.) to which he has given the title of _Through Caindu to Carajan_, regarding salt he writes (p. 121). “The brine wells from which the salt is derived be at Pai yen ching, 14 miles to the south west of the city [of Yen yuan] … [they] are only two in number, and comparatively shallow, being only 50 feet in depth. Bamboo tubes, ropes and buffaloes are here dispensed with, and small wooden tubs, with bamboos fixed to their sides as handles for raising, are considered sufficient. At one of the wells a staging was erected half way down, and from it the tubs of brine were passed up to the workmen above. Passing from the wells to the evaporating sheds, we found a series of mud furnaces with round holes at the top, into which cone shaped pans, manufactured from iron obtained in the neighbourhood, and varying in height from one to two and a half feet, were loosely fitted. When a pan has been sufficiently heated, a ladleful of the brine is poured into it, and, bubbling up to the surface, it sinks, leaving a saline deposit on the inside of the pan. This process is repeated until a layer, some four inches thick, and corresponding to the shape of the pan, is formed, when the salt is removed as a hollow cone ready for market. Care must be taken to keep the bottom of the pan moist; otherwise, the salt cone would crack, and be rendered unfit for the rough carriage which it experiences on the backs of pack animals. A soft coal, which is found just under the surface of the yellow-soiled hills seven miles to the west of Pai-yen-ching, is the fuel used in the furnaces. The total daily output of salt at these wells does not exceed two tons a day, and the cost at the wells, including the Government tax, amounts to about three half-pence a pound. The area of supply, owing to the country being sparsely populated, is greater than the output would lead one to expect.”–H.C.]

NOTE 6.–The spiced wine of Kien-ch’ang (see note to next chapter) has even now a high repute. (_Richthofen_.)

NOTE 7.–M. Pauthier will have it that Marco was here the discoverer of Assam tea. Assam is, indeed, far out of our range, but his notice of this plant, with the laurel-like leaf and white flower, was brought strongly to my recollection in reading Mr. Cooper’s repeated notices, almost in this region, of the _large-leaved tea-tree, with its white flowers_; and, again, of “the hills covered with _tea-oil_ trees, all white with flowers.” Still, one does not clearly see why Polo should give tea-trees the name of cloves.

Failing explanation of this, I should suppose that the cloves of which the text speaks were _cassia-buds_, an article once more prominent in commerce (as indeed were all similar aromatics) than now, but still tolerably well known. I was at once supplied with them at a _drogheria_, in the city where I write (Palermo), on asking for _Fiori di Canella_, the name under which they are mentioned repeatedly by Pegolotti and Uzzano, in the 14th and 15th centuries. Friar Jordanus, in speaking of the cinnamon (or cassia) of Malabar, says, “it is the bark of a large tree which has fruit and _flowers like cloves_” (p. 28). The cassia-buds have indeed a general resemblance to cloves, but they are shorter, lighter in colour, and not angular. The cinnamon, mentioned in the next lines as abundantly produced in the same region, was no doubt one of the inferior sorts, called cassia-bark.

Williams says: “Cassia grows in all the southern provinces of China, especially Kwang-si and Yun-nan, also in Annam, Japan, and the Isles of the Archipelago. The wood, bark, buds, seeds, twigs, pods, leaves, oil, are all objects of commerce….. The buds (_kwei-tz’_) are the fleshy ovaries of the seeds; they are pressed at one end, so that they bear some resemblance to cloves in shape.” Upwards of 500 _piculs_ (about 30 tons), valued at 30 dollars each, are annually exported to Europe and India. (_Chin. Commercial Guide_, 113-114).

The only doubt as regards this explanation will probably be whether the cassia would be found at such a height as we may suppose to be that of the country in question above the sea-level. I know that cassia bark is gathered in the Kasia Hills of Eastern Bengal up to a height of about 4000 feet above the sea, and at least the valleys of “Caindu” are probably not too elevated for this product. Indeed, that of the Kin-sha or _Brius_, near where I suppose Polo to cross it, is only 2600 feet. Positive evidence I cannot adduce. No cassia or cinnamon was met with by M. Garnier’s party where they intersected this region.

But in this 2nd edition I am able to state on the authority of Baron Richthofen that cassia is produced in the whole length of the valley of Kien-ch’ang (which is, as we shall see in the notes on next chapter, Caindu), though in no other part of Sze-ch’wan nor in Northern Yun-nan.

[Captain Gill (_River of Golden Sand_, II. p. 263) writes: “There were chestnut trees..; and the Kwei-Hua, a tree ‘with leaves like the laurel, and with a small white flower, like the clove,’ having a delicious, though rather a luscious smell. This was the Cassia, and I can find no words more suitable to describe it than those of Polo which I have just used.”–H. C]

_Ethnology_.–The Chinese at Ch’eng-tu fu, according to Richthofen, classify the aborigines of the Sze-ch’wan frontier as _Man-tzu, Lolo, Si-fan_, and _Tibetan_. Of these the Si-fan are furthest north, and extend far into Tibet. The Man-tzu (properly so called) are regarded as the remnant of the ancient occupants of Sze-ch’wan, and now dwell in the mountains about the parallel 30 deg., and along the Lhasa road, Ta-t’sien lu being about the centre of their tract. The Lolo are the wildest and most independent, occupying the mountains on the left of the Kin-sha Kiang where it runs northwards (see above p. 48, and below p. 69) and also to some extent on its right. The Tibetan tribes lie to the west of the Man-tzu, and to the west of Kien-ch’ang. (See next chapter.)

Towards the Lan-ts’ang Kiang is the quasi-Tibetan tribe called by the Chinese _Mossos_, by the Tibetans _Guions_, and between the Lan-ts’ang and the Lu-Kiang or Salwen are the _Lissus_, wild hill-robbers and great musk hunters, like those described by Polo at p. 45. Garnier, who gives these latter particulars, mentions that near the confluence of the Yalung and Kin-sha Kiang there are tribes called _Pa-i_, as there are in the south of Yun-nan, and, like the latter, of distinctly Shan or Laotian character. He also speaks of _Si-fan_ tribes in the vicinity of Li-kiang fu, and coming south of the Kin-sha Kiang even to the east of Ta-li. Of these are told such loose tales as Polo tells of _Tebet_ and _Caindu_.

[In the _Topography of the Yun-nan Province_ (edition of 1836) there is a catalogue of 141 classes of aborigines, each with a separate name and illustration, without any attempt to arrive at a broader classification. Mr. Bourne has been led to the conviction that exclusive of the Tibetans (including Si-fan and Ku-tsung), there are but three great non-Chinese races in Southern China: the Lolo, the Shan, and the Miao-tzu. (_Report, China_, No. 1, 1888, p. 87.) This classification is adopted by Dr. Deblenne. (_Mission Lyonnaise_.)

_Man-tzu, Man_, is a general name for “barbarian” (see my note in _Odoric de Pordenone_, p. 248 seqq.); it is applied as well to the Lolo as to the Si-fan.

Mr. Parker remarks (_China Review_, XX. p. 345) that the epithet of _Man-tzu_, or “barbarians,” dates from the time when the Shans, Annamese, Miao-tzu, etc., occupied nearly all South China, for it is essentially to the Indo-Chinese that the term Man-tzu belongs.

Mr. Hosie writes (_Three years in W. China_, 122): “At the time when Marco Polo passed through Caindu, this country was in the possession of the Si-fans…. At the present day, they occupy the country to the west, and are known under the generic name of Man-tzu.”

“It has already been remarked that _Si-fan_, convertible with _Man-tzu_, is a loose Chinese expression of no ethnological value, meaning nothing more than Western barbarians; but in a more restricted sense it is used to designate a people (or peoples) which inhabits the valley of the Yalung and the upper T’ung, with contiguous valleys and ranges, from about the twenty-seventh parallel to the borders of Koko-nor. This people is sub-divided into eighteen tribes.” (_Baber_, p. 81.)

Si-fan or Pa-tsiu is the name by which the Chinese call the Tibetan tribes which occupy part of Western China. (_Deveria_, p. 167.)

Dr. Bretschneider writes (_Med. Res._ II. p. 24): “The north-eastern part of Tibet was sometimes designated by the Chinese name Si-fan, and Hyacinth [Bitchurin] is of opinion that in ancient times this name was even applied to the whole of Tibet. _Si-fan_ means, ‘Western Barbarians.’ The biographer of Hiuen-Tsang reports that when this traveller, in 629, visited Liang-chau (in the province of Kan-Suh), this city was the entrepot for merchants from _Si-fan_ and the countries east of the Ts’ung-ling mountains. In the history of the Hia and Tangut Empire (in the _Sung-shi_) we read, _s.a._ 1003, that the founder of this Empire invaded _Si-fan_ and then proceeded to _Si-liang_ (Liang-chau). The _Yuen-shi_ reports, _s.a._ 1268: ‘The (Mongol) Emperor ordered _Meng-gu-dai_ to invade _Si-fan_ with 6000 men.’ The name Si-fan appears also in ch. ccii., biography of _Dan-ba_.” It is stated in the _Ming-shi_, “that the name _Si-fan_ is applied to the territory situated beyond the frontiers of the Chinese provinces of Shen-si (then including the eastern part of present Kan-Suh) and Sze-ch’wan, and inhabited by various tribes of Tangut race, anciently known in Chinese history under the name of _Si Kiang_…. The _Kuang yu ki_ notices that _Si-fan_ comprises the territory of the south-west of Shen-si, west of Sze-ch’wan and north-west of Yun-nan…. The tribute presented by the Si-fan tribes to the Emperor used to be carried to the court at Peking by way of Ya-chau in Sze-ch’wan.” (_Bretschneider_, 203.) The Tangutans of Prjevalsky, north-east of Tibet, in the country of Ku-ku nor, correspond to the Si-fan.

“The Ta-tu River may be looked upon as the southern limit of the region inhabited by Sifan tribes, and the northern boundary of the Lolo country which stretches southwards to the Yang-tzu and east from the valley of Kien-ch’ang towards the right bank of the Min.” (_Hosie_, p. 102.)

[Illustration: Black Lolo.]

To Mr. E.C. Baber we owe the most valuable information regarding the Lolo people:

“‘Lolo’ is itself a word of insult, of unknown Chinese origin, which should not be used in their presence, although they excuse it and will even sometimes employ it in the case of ignorant strangers. In the report of Governor-General Lo Ping-chang, above quoted, they are called ‘I,’ the term applied by Chinese to Europeans. They themselves have no objection to being styled ‘I-chia’ (I families), but that word is not their native name. Near Ma-pien they call themselves ‘Lo-su’; in the neighbourhood of Lui-po T’ing their name is ‘No-su’ or ‘Ngo-su’ (possibly a mere variant of ‘Lo-su’); near Hui-li-chou the term is ‘Le-su’–the syllable Le being pronounced as in French. The subject tribes on the T’ung River, near Mount Wa, also name themselves ‘Ngo-su.’ I have found the latter people speak very disrespectfully of the Le-su, which argues an internal distinction; but there can be no doubt that they are the same race, and speak the same language, though with minor differences of dialect.” (_Baber, Travels_, 66-67.)

“With very rare exceptions the male Lolo, rich or poor, free or subject, may be instantly known by his _horn_. All his hair is gathered into a knot over his forehead and there twisted up in a cotton cloth so as to resemble the horn of a unicorn. The horn with its wrapper is sometimes a good nine inches long. They consider this _coiffure_ sacred, so at least I was told, and even those who wear a short pig-tail for convenience in entering Chinese territory still conserve the indigenous horn, concealed for the occasion under the folds of the Sze-ch’wan turban.” (_Baber_, p. 61.) See these horns on figures, Bk. II. ch. lviii.

[Illustration: White Lolo.]

“The principal clothing of a Lolo is his mantle, a capacious sleeveless garment of grey or black felt gathered round his neck by a string, and reaching nearly to his heels. In the case of the better classes the mantle is of fine felt–in great request among the Chinese–and has a fringe of cotton-web round its lower border. For journeys on horseback they have a similar cloak differing only in being slit half-way up the back; a wide lappet covering the opening lies easily along the loins and croup of the horse. The colour of the felt is originally grey, but becomes brown-black or black, in process of time. It is said that the insects which haunt humanity never infest these gabardines. The Lolo generally gathers this garment closely round his shoulders and crosses his arms inside. His legs, clothed in trousers of Chinese cotton, are swathed in felt bandages bound on with strings, and he has not yet been super-civilised into the use of foot-gear. In summer a cotton cloak is often substituted for the felt mantle. The hat, serving equally for an umbrella, is woven of bamboo, in a low conical shape, and is covered with felt. Crouching in his felt mantle under this roof of felt the hardy Lolo is impervious to wind or rain.” (_Baber, Travels_, 61-62.)

“The word, ‘Black-bone,’ is generally used by the Chinese as a name for the independent Lolos, but in the mouth of a Lolo it seems to mean a ‘freeman’ or ‘noble,’ in which sense it is not a whit more absurd than the ‘blue-blood,’ of Europeans. The ‘White-bones,’ an inferior class, but still Lolo by birth, are, so far as I could understand, the vassals and retainers of the patricians–the people, in fact. A third class consists of Wa-tzu, or slaves, who are all captive Chinese. It does not appear whether the servile class is sub-divided, but, at any rate, the slaves born in Lolodom are treated with more consideration than those who have been captured in slave-hunts.” (_Baber, Travels_, 67.)

According to the French missionary, Paul Vial (_Les Lolos_, Shang-hai, 1898) the Lolos say that they come from the country situated between Tibet and Burma. The proper manner to address a Lolo in Chinese is