The Travels of Marco Polo/Book 2/Chapter 80

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Concerning the Kingdom of Fuju[edit]

On leaving Cuju, which is the last city of the kingdom of Kinsay, you enter the kingdom of FUJU, and travel six days in a south-easterly direction through a country of mountains and valleys, in which are a number of towns and villages with great plenty of victuals and abundance of game. Lions, great and strong, are also very numerous. The country produces ginger and galingale in immense quantities, insomuch that for a Venice groat you may buy fourscore pounds of good fine-flavoured ginger. They have also a kind of fruit resembling saffron, and which serves the purpose of saffron just as well.[1]

And you must know the people eat all manner of unclean things, even the flesh of a man, provided he has not died a natural death. So they look out for the bodies of those that have been put to death and eat their flesh, which they consider excellent.[2]

Those who go to war in those parts do as I am going to tell you. They shave the hair off the forehead and cause it to be painted in blue like the blade of a glaive. They all go afoot except the chief; they carry spears and swords, and are the most savage people in the world, for they go about constantly killing people, whose blood they drink, and then devour the bodies.[3]

Now I will quit this and speak of other matters. You must know then that after going three days out of the six that I told you of you come to the city of KELINFU, a very great and noble city, belonging to the Great Kaan. This city hath three stone bridges which are among the finest and best in the world. They are a mile long and some nine paces in width, and they are all decorated with rich marble columns. Indeed they are such fine and marvellous works that to build any one of them must have cost a treasure.[4]

The people live by trade and manufactures, and have great store of silk [which they weave into various stuffs], and of ginger and galingale. [5] [They also make much cotton cloth of dyed thread, which is sent all over Manzi.] Their women are particularly beautiful. And there is a strange thing there which I needs must tell you. You must know they have a kind of fowls which have no feathers, but hair only, like a cat's fur. [6] They are black all over; they lay eggs just like our fowls, and are very good to eat.

In the other three days of the six that I have mentioned above[7], you continue to meet with many towns and villages, with traders, and goods for sale, and craftsmen. The people have much silk, and are Idolaters, and subject to the Great Kaan. There is plenty of game of all kinds, and there are great and fierce lions which attack travellers. In the last of those three days' journey, when you have gone 15 miles you find a city called UNKEN, where there is an immense quantity of sugar made. From this city the Great Kaan gets all the sugar for the use of his Court, a quantity worth a great amount of money. [And before this city came under the Great Kaan these people knew not how to make fine sugar; they only used to boil and skim the juice, which when cold left a black paste. But after they came under the Great Kaan some men of Babylonia who happened to be at the Court proceeded to this city and taught the people to refine the sugar with the ashes of certain trees.[8]]

There is no more to say of the place, so now we shall speak of the splendour of Fuju. When you have gone 15 miles from the city of Unken, you come to this noble city which is the capital of the kingdom. So we will now tell you what we know of it.











  1. 1.0 1.1 The vague description does not suggest the root turmeric with which Marsden and Pauthier identify this "fruit like saffron." It is probably one of the species of Gardenia, the fruits of which are used by the Chinese for their colouring properties. Their splendid yellow colour "is due to a body named crocine which appears to be identical with the polychroite of saffron." (Hanbury's Notes on Chinese Mat. Medica, pp. 21-22.) For this identification, I am indebted to Dr. Flueckiger of Bern. ["Colonel Yule concludes that the fruit of a Gardenia, which yields a yellow colour, is meant. But Polo's vague description might just as well agree with the Bastard Saffron, Carthamus tinctorius, a plant introduced into China from Western Asia in the 2nd century B.C., and since then much cultivated in that country." (Bretschneider, Hist. of Bot. Disc. I. p. 4.)--H.C.]

    "Adonc entre l'en en roiaume de Fugin, et ici comance. Et ala siz jornee por montangnes e por bales...."]

  2. 2.0 2.1 See vol. i. p. 312.
  3. 3.0 3.1 These particulars as to a race of painted or tattooed caterans accused of cannibalism apparently apply to some aboriginal tribe which still maintained its ground in the mountains between Fo-kien and Che-kiang or Kiang-si. Davis, alluding to the Upper part of the Province of Canton, says: "The Chinese History speaks of the aborigines of this wild region under the name of Man (Barbarians), who within a comparatively recent period were subdued and incorporated into the Middle Nation. Many persons have remarked a decidedly Malay cast in the features of the natives of this province; and it is highly probable that the Canton and Fo-kien people were originally the same race as the tribes which still remain unreclaimed on the east side of Formosa." (Supply. Vol. p. 260.) Indeed Martini tells us that even in the 17th century this very range of mountains, farther to the south, in the Ting-chau department of Fo-kien, contained a race of uncivilised people, who were enabled by the inaccessible character of the country to maintain their independence of the Chinese Government (p. 114; see also Semedo, p. 19).

    ["Colonel Yule's 'pariah caste' of Shao-ling, who, he says, rebelled against either the Sung or the Yuean, are evidently the tomin of Ningpo and zikas of Wenchow. Colonel Yule's 'some aboriginal tribe between Fo-kien and Che-kiang' are probably the zikas of Wenchow and the siapo of Fu-kien described by recent travellers. The zikas are locally called dogs' heads, which illustrates Colonel Yule's allophylian theories." (Parker, China Review, XIV. p. 359.) Cf. A Visit to the "Dog-Headed Barbarians" or Hill People, near Fu-chow, by Rev. F. Ohlinger, Chinese Recorder, July, 1886, pp. 265-268.--H.C.]

  4. 4.0 4.1 Padre Martini long ago pointed out that this Quelinfu is KIEN-NING FU, on the upper part of the Min River, an important city of Fo-kien. In the Fo-kien dialect he notices that l is often substituted for n, a well-known instance of which is Liampoo, the name applied by F.M. Pinto and the old Portuguese to Ningpo.

    [Mr. Phillips writes (T. Pao, I. p. 224): "From Pucheng to Kien-Ning-Foo the distance is 290 li, all down stream. I consider this to have been the route followed by Polo. His calling Kien-Ning-Foo, Que-lin-fu, is quite correct, as far as the Ling is concerned, the people of the city and of the whole southern province pronounce Ning, Ling. The Ramusian version gives very full particulars regarding the manufactures of Kien-Ning-Foo, which are not found in the other texts; for example, silk is said in this version to be woven into various stuffs, and further: 'They also make much cotton cloth of dyed thread which is sent all over Manzi.' All this is quite true. Much silk was formerly and is still woven in Kien-Ning, and the manufacture of cotton cloth with dyed threads is very common. Such stuff is called Hung Lu Kin 'red and green cloth.' Cotton cloth, made with dyed thread, is also very common in our day in many other cities in Fuh-Kien."--H.C.]

    In Ramusio the bridges are only "each more than 100 paces long and 8 paces wide." In Pauthier's text each is a mile long, and 20 feet wide. I translate from the G.T.

    Martini describes one beautiful bridge at Kien-ning fu: the piers of cut stone, the superstructure of timber, roofed in and lined with houses on each side (pp. 112-113). If this was over the Min it would seem not to survive. A recent journal says: "The river is crossed by a bridge of boats, the remains of a stone bridge being visible just above water." (Chinese Recorder (Foochow), August, 1870, p. 65.)

  5. 5.0 5.1 Galanga or Galangal is an aromatic root belonging to a class of drugs once much more used than now. It exists of two kinds: 1. Great or Java Galangal, the root of the Alpinia Galanga. This is rarely imported and hardly used in Europe in modern times, but is still found in the Indian bazaars. 2. Lesser or China Galangal is imported into London from Canton, and is still sold by druggists in England. Its botanical origin is unknown. It is produced in Shan-si, Fo-kien, and Kwang-tung, and is called by the Chinese Liang Kiang or "Mild Ginger."

    ["According to the Chinese authors the province of Sze-ch'wan and Han-chung (Southern Shen-si) were in ancient times famed for their Ginger. Ginger is still exported in large quantities from Han k'ou. It is known also to be grown largely in the southern provinces.--Galingale is the Lesser or Chinese Galanga of commerce, Alpinia officinarum Hance." (Bretschneider, Hist. of Bot. Disc. I. p. 2. See Heyd, Com. Levant, II. 616-618.)--H.C.]

    Galangal was much used as a spice in the Middle Ages. In a syrup for a capon, temp. Rich. II., we find ground-ginger, cloves, cinnamon and galingale. "Galingale" appears also as a growth in old English gardens, but this is believed to have been Cyperus Longus, the tubers of which were substituted for the real article under the name of English Galingale.

    The name appears to be a modification of the Arabic Kulijan, Pers. Kholinjan, and these from the Sanskrit Kulanjana. (Mr. Hanbury; China Comm.-Guide, 120; Eng. Cycl.; Garcia, f. 63; Wright, p. 352.)

  6. 6.0 6.1 The cat in question is no doubt the fleecy Persian. These fowls,--but white,--are mentioned by Odoric at Fu-chau; and Mr. G. Phillips in a MS. note says that they are still abundant in Fo-kien, where he has often seen them; all that he saw or heard of were white. The Chinese call them "velvet-hair fowls." I believe they are well known to poultry-fanciers in Europe. [Gallus Lanatus, Temm. See note, p. 286, of my edition of Odoric.--H.C.]
  7. 7.0 7.1 The times assigned in this chapter as we have given them, after the G. Text, appear very short; but I have followed that text because it is perfectly consistent and clear. Starting from the last city of Kinsay government, the traveller goes six days south-east; three out of those six days bring him to Kelinfu; he goes on the other three days and at the 15th mile of the 3rd day reaches Unken; 15 miles further bring him to Fuju. This is interesting as showing that Polo reckoned his day at 30 miles.

    In Pauthier's text again we find: "Sachiez que quand on est ale six journees, apres ces trois que je vous ay dit," not having mentioned trois at all "on treuve la cite de Quelifu." And on leaving Quelinfu: "Sachiez que es autres trois journees oultre et plus xv. milles treuve l'en une cite qui a nom Vuguen." This seems to mean from Cugui to Kelinfu six days, and thence to Vuguen (or Unken) three and a half days more. But evidently there has been bungling in the transcript, for the es autre trois journees belongs to the same conception of the distance as that in the G.T. Pauthier's text does not say how far it is from Unken to Fuju. Ramusio makes six days to Kelinfu, three days more to Unguem, and then 15 miles more to Fuju (which he has erroneously as Cugiu here, though previously given right, Fugiu).

    The latter scheme looks probable certainly, but the times in the G.T. are quite admissible, if we suppose that water conveyance was adopted where possible.

    For assuming that Cugiu was Fortune's Chuchu at the western base of the Bohea mountains (see note 3, ch. lxxix.), and that the traveller reached Tsun-ngan-hien, in two marches, I see that from Tsin-tsun, near Tsun-ngan-hien, Fortune says he could have reached Fu-chau in four days by boat. Again Martini, speaking of the skill with which the Fo-kien boatmen navigate the rocky rapids of the upper waters, says that even from Pu-ch'eng the descent to the capital could be made in three days. So the thing is quite possible, and the G. Text may be quite correct. (See Fortune, II. 171-183 and 210; Mart. 110.) A party which recently made the journey seem to have been six days from Hokeu to the Wu-e-shan and then five and a half days by water (but in stormy weather) to Fu-chau. (Chinese Recorder, as above.)

  8. 8.0 8.1 Pauthier supposes Unken, or Vuguen as he reads it, to be Hukwan, one of the hiens under the immediate administration of Fu-chau city. This cannot be, according to the lucid reading of the G.T., making Unken 15 miles from the chief city. The only place which the maps show about that position is Min-ts'ing hien. And the Dutch mission of 1664-1665 names this as "Binkin, by some called Min-sing." (Astley, III. 461.)

    [Mr. Phillips writes (T. Pao, I. 224-225): "Going downstream from Kien-Ning, we arrive first at Yen-Ping on the Min Main River. Eighty-seven li further down is the mouth of the Yiu-Ki River, up which stream, at a distance of eighty li, is Yiu-Ki city, where travellers disembark for the land journey to Yung-chun and Chinchew. This route is the highway from the town of Yiu-Ki to the seaport of Chinchew. This I consider to have been Polo's route, and Ramusio's Unguen I believe to be Yung-chun, locally known as Eng-chun or Ung-chun, a name greatly resembling Polo's Unguen. I look upon this mere resemblance of name as of small moment in comparison with the weighty and important statement, that 'this place is remarkable for a great manufacture of sugar.' Going south from the Min River towards Chin-chew, this is the first district in which sugar-cane is seen growing in any quantity. Between Kien-Ning-Foo and Fuchau I do not know of any place remarkable for the great manufacture of sugar. Pauthier makes How-Kuan do service for Unken or Unguen, but this is inadmissible, as there is no such place as How-Kuan; it is simply one of the divisions of the city of Fuchau, which is divided into two districts, viz. the Min-Hien and the How-Kuan-Hien. A small quantity of sugar-cane is, I admit, grown in the How-Kuan division of Fuchau-foo, but it is not extensively made into sugar. The cane grown there is usually cut into short pieces for chewing and hawked about the streets for sale. The nearest point to Foochow where sugar is made in any great quantity is Yung-Foo, a place quite out of Polo's route. The great sugar manufacturing districts of Fuh-Kien are Hing-hwa, Yung-chun, Chinchew, and Chang-chau."--H. C]

    The Babylonia of the passage from Ramusio is Cairo,--Babylon of Egypt, the sugar of which was very famous in the Middle Ages. Zucchero di Bambellonia is repeatedly named in Pegolotti's Handbook (210, 311, 362, etc.).

    The passage as it stands represents the Chinese as not knowing even how to get sugar in the granular form: but perhaps the fact was that they did not know how to refine it. Local Chinese histories acknowledge that the people of Fo-kien did not know how to make fine sugar, till, in the time of the Mongols, certain men from the West taught the art. It is a curious illustration of the passage that in India coarse sugar is commonly called Chini, "the produce of China," and sugar candy or fine sugar Misri, the produce of Cairo (Babylonia) or Egypt. Nevertheless, fine Misri has long been exported from Fo-kien to India, and down to 1862 went direct from Amoy. It is now, Mr. Phillips states, sent to India by steamers via Hong-Kong. I see it stated, in a late Report by Mr. Consul Medhurst, that the sugar at this day commonly sold and consumed throughout China is excessively coarse and repulsive in appearance. (See Academy, February, 1874, p. 229.) [We note from the Returns of Trade for 1900, of the Chinese Customs, p. 467, that during that year 1900, the following quantities of sugar were exported from Amoy: Brown, 89,116 piculs, value 204,969 Hk. taels; white, 3,708 piculs, 20,024 Hk. taels; candy, 53,504 piculs, 304,970 Hk. taels.--H.C.]

    [Dr. Bretschneider (Hist. of Bot. Disc. I. p. 2) remarks that "the sugar cane although not indigenous in China, was known to the Chinese in the 2nd century B.C. It is largely cultivated in the Southern provinces."--H.C.]

    The fierce lions are, as usual, tigers. These are numerous in this province, and tradition points to the diversion of many roads, owing to their being infested by tigers. Tiger cubs are often offered for sale in Amoy.