The Travels of Marco Polo/Book 2/Chapter 82
Of the City and Great Haven of Zayton
Now when you quit Fuju and cross the River, you travel for five days south-east through a fine country, meeting with a constant succession of flourishing cities, towns, and villages, rich in every product. You travel by mountains and valleys and plains, and in some places by great forests in which are many of the trees which give Camphor. There is plenty of game on the road, both of bird and beast. The people are all traders and craftsmen, subjects of the Great Kaan, and under the government of Fuju. When you have accomplished those five days' journey you arrive at the very great and noble city of ZAYTON, which is also subject to Fuju.
At this city you must know is the Haven of Zayton, frequented by all the ships of India, which bring thither spicery and all other kinds of costly wares. It is the port also that is frequented by all the merchants of Manzi, for hither is imported the most astonishing quantity of goods and of precious stones and pearls, and from this they are distributed all over Manzi. And I assure you that for one shipload of pepper that goes to Alexandria or elsewhere, destined for Christendom, there come a hundred such, aye and more too, to this haven of Zayton; for it is one of the two greatest havens in the world for commerce.
The Great Kaan derives a very large revenue from the duties paid in this city and haven; for you must know that on all the merchandize imported, including precious stones and pearls, he levies a duty of ten per cent., or in other words takes tithe of everything. Then again the ship's charge for freight on small wares is 30 per cent., on pepper 44 per cent., and on lignaloes, sandalwood, and other bulky goods 40 per cent., so that between freight and the Kaan's duties the merchant has to pay a good half the value of his investment [though on the other half he makes such a profit that he is always glad to come back with a new supply of merchandize]. But you may well believe from what I have said that the Kaan hath a vast revenue from this city.
There is a great abundance here of all provision for every necessity of man's life. [It is a charming country, and the people are very quiet, and fond of an easy life. Many come hither from Upper India to have their bodies painted with the needle in the way we have elsewhere described, there being many adepts at this craft in the city.]
Let me tell you also that in this province there is a town called TYUNJU, where they make vessels of porcelain of all sizes, the finest that can be imagined. They make it nowhere but in that city, and thence it is exported all over the world. Here it is abundant and very cheap, insomuch that for a Venice groat you can buy three dishes so fine that you could not imagine better.
I should tell you that in this city (i.e. of Zayton) they have a peculiar language. [For you must know that throughout all Manzi they employ one speech and one kind of writing only, but yet there are local differences of dialect, as you might say of Genoese, Milanese, Florentines, and Neapolitans, who though they speak different dialects can understand one another.]
And I assure you that the Great Kaan has as large customs and revenues from this kingdom of Chonka as from Kinsay, aye and more too.
We have now spoken of but three out of the nine kingdoms of Manzi, to wit Yanju and Kinsay and Fuju. We could tell you about the other six, but it would be too long a business; so we will say no more about them.And now you have heard all the truth about Cathay and Manzi and many other countries, as has been set down in this Book; the customs of the people and the various objects of commerce, the beasts and birds, the gold and silver and precious stones, and many other matters have been rehearsed to you. But our Book as yet does not contain nearly all that we purpose to put therein. For we have still to tell you all about the people of India and the notable things of that country, which are well worth the describing, for they are marvellous indeed. What we shall tell is all true, and without any lies. And we shall set down all the particulars in writing just as Messer Marco Polo related them. And he well knew the facts, for he remained so long in India, and enquired so diligently into the manners and peculiarities of the nations, that I can assure you there never was a single man before who learned so much and beheld so much as he did.
- The Laurus (or Cinnamomum) Camphora, a large timber tree, grows abundantly in Fo-kien. A description of the manner in which camphor is produced at a very low cost, by sublimation from the chopped twigs, etc., will be found in the Lettres Edifiantes, XXIV. 19 seqq.; and more briefly in Hedde by Rondot, p. 35. Fo-kien alone has been known to send to Canton in one year 4000 piculs (of 133-1/3 lbs. each), but the average is 2500 to 3000 (Ib.).
- When Marco says Zayton is one of the two greatest commercial ports in the world, I know not if he has another haven in his eye, or is only using an idiom of the age. For in like manner Friar Odoric calls Java "the second best of all Islands that exist"; and Kansan (or Shen-si) the "second best province in the world, and the best populated." But apart from any such idiom, Ibn Batuta pronounces Zayton to be the greatest haven in the world.
Martini relates that when one of the Emperors wanted to make war on Japan, the Province of Fo-kien offered to bridge the interval with their vessels!
ZAYTON, as Martini and Deguignes conjectured, is T'SWAN-CHAU FU, or CHWAN-CHAU FU (written by French scholars Thsiouan-tcheou-fou), often called in our charts, etc., Chinchew, a famous seaport of Fo-kien about 100 miles in a straight line S.W. by S. of Fu-chau, Klaproth supposes that the name by which it was known to the Arabs and other Westerns was corrupted from an old Chinese name of the city, given in the Imperial Geography, viz. TSEU-T'UNG. Zaitun commended itself to Arabian ears, being the Arabic for an olive-tree (whence Jerusalem is called Zaituniyah); but the corruption (if such it be) must be of very old date, as the city appears to have received its present name in the 7th or 8th century.
Abulfeda, whose Geography was terminated in 1321, had heard the real name of Zayton: "Shanju" he calls it, "known in our time as Zaitun"; and again: "Zaitun, i.e. Shanju, is a haven of China, and, according to the accounts of merchants who have travelled to those parts, is a city of mark. It is situated on a marine estuary which ships enter from the China Sea. The estuary extends fifteen miles, and there is a river at the head of it. According to some who have seen the place, the tide flows. It is half a day from the sea, and the channel by which ships come up from the sea is of fresh water. It is smaller in size than Hamath, and has the remains of a wall which was destroyed by the Tartars. The people drink water from the channel, and also from wells."
Friar Odoric (in China, circa 1323-1327, who travelled apparently by land from Chin-kalan, i.e. Canton) says: "Passing through many cities and towns, I came to a certain noble city which is called Zayton, where we Friars Minor have two Houses.... In this city is great plenty of all things that are needful for human subsistence. For example, you can get three pounds and eight ounces of sugar for less than half a groat. The city is twice as great as Bologna, and in it are many monasteries of devotees, idol-worshippers every man of them. In one of those monasteries which I visited there were 3000 monks.... The place is one of the best in the world.... Thence I passed eastward to a certain city called Fuzo.... The city is a mighty fine one, and standeth upon the sea." Andrew of Perugia, another Franciscan, was Bishop of Zayton from 1322, having resided there from 1318. In 1326 he writes a letter home, in which he speaks of the place as "a great city on the shores of the Ocean Sea, which is called in the Persian tongue Cayton (Cayton); and in this city a rich Armenian lady did build a large and fine enough church, which was erected into a cathedral by the Archbishop," and so on. He speaks incidentally of the Genoese merchants frequenting it. John Marignolli, who was there about 1347, calls it "a wondrous fine sea-port, and a city of incredible size, where our Minor Friars have three very fine churches; ... and they have a bath also, and a fondaco which serves as a depot for all the merchants." Ibn Batuta about the same time says: "The first city that I reached after crossing the sea was ZAITUN.... It is a great city, superb indeed; and in it they make damasks of velvet as well as those of satin (Kimkha and Atlas), which are called from the name of the city Zatuniah; they are superior to the stuffs of Khansa and Kharbalik. The harbour of Zaitun is one of the greatest in the world--I am wrong; it is the greatest! I have seen there about an hundred first-class junks together; as for small ones, they were past counting. The harbour is formed by an estuary which runs inland from the sea until it joins the Great River."
[Mr. Geo. Phillips finds a strong argument in favour of Changchau being Zayton in this passage of Ibn Batuta. He says (Jour. China Br.R.A. Soc. 1888, 28-29): "Changchow in the Middle Ages was the seat of a great silk manufacture, and the production of its looms, such as gauzes, satins and velvets, were said to exceed in beauty those of Soochow and Hangchow. According to the Fuhkien Gazetteer, silk goods under the name of Kinki, and porcelain were, at the end of the Sung Dynasty, ordered to be taken abroad and to be bartered against foreign wares, treasure having been prohibited to leave the country. In this Kinki I think we may recognise the Kimkha of IBN BATUTA. I incline to this fact, as the characters Kinki are pronounced in the Amoy and Changchow dialects Khimkhi and Kimkhia. Anxious to learn if the manufacture of these silk goods still existed in Changchow, I communicated with the Rev. Dr. TALMAGE of Amoy, who, through the Rev. Mr. Ross of the London Mission, gave me the information that Kinki was formerly somewhat extensively manufactured at Changchow, although at present it was only made by one shop in that city. IBN BATUTA tells us that the King of China had sent to the Sultan, five hundred pieces of Kamkha, of which one hundred were made in the city of Zaitun. This form of present appears to have been continued by the Emperors of the Ming Dynasty, for we learn that the Emperor Yunglo gave to the Envoy of the Sultan of Quilon, presents of Kinki and Shalo, that is to say, brocaded silks and gauzes. Since writing the above, I found that Dr. HIRTH suggests that the characters Kinhua, meaning literally gold flower in the sense of silk embroidery, possibly represent the mediaeval Khimka. I incline rather to my own suggestion. In the Pei-wen-yun-fu these characters Kien-ki are frequently met in combination, meaning a silk texture, such as brocade or tapestry. Curtains made of this texture are mentioned in Chinese books, as early as the commencement of the Christian era."--H.C.]
Rashiduddin, in enumerating the Sings or great provincial governments of the empire, has the following: "7th FUCHU.--This is a city of Manzi. The Sing was formerly located at ZAITUN, but afterwards established here, where it still remains. Zaitun is a great shipping-port, and the commandant there is Bohauddin Kandari." Pauthier's Chinese extracts show us that the seat of the Sing was, in 1281, at T'swan-chau, but was then transferred to Fu-chau. In 1282 it was removed back to T'swan-chau, and in 1283 recalled to Fu-chau. That is to say, what the Persian writer tells us of Fuju and Zayton, the Chinese Annalists tell us of Fu-chau and T'swan-chau. Therefore Fuju and Zayton were respectively Fu-chau and T'swan-chau.
[In the Yuen-shi (ch. 94), Shi po, Maritime trade regulations, it "is stated, among other things, that in 1277, a superintendency of foreign trade was established in Ts'uaen-chou. Another superintendency was established for the three ports of K'ing-yuean (the present Ning-po), Shang-hai, and Gan-p'u. These three ports depended on the province of Fu-kien, the capital of which was Ts'uean-chou. Farther on, the ports of Hang-chou and Fu-chou are also mentioned in connection with foreign trade. Chang-chou (in Fu-kien, near Amoy) is only once spoken of there. We meet further the names of Wen-chou and Kuang-chou as seaports for foreign trade in the Mongol time. But Ts'uean-chou in this article on the sea-trade seems to be considered as the most important of the seaports, and it is repeatedly referred to. I have, therefore, no doubt that the port of Zayton of Western mediaeval travellers can only be identified with Ts'uaen-chou, not with Chang-chou.... There are many other reasons found in Chinese works in favour of this view. Gan-p'u of the Yuen-shi is the seaport Ganfu of Marco Polo." (Bretschneider, Med. Res. I. pp. 186-187.)
In his paper on Changchow, the Capital of Fuhkien in Mongol Times, printed in the Jour. China B.R.A. Soc. 1888, pp. 22-30, Mr. Geo. Phillips from Chinese works has shown that the Port of Chang-chau did, in Mongol times, alternate with Chinchew and Fu-chau as the capital of Fuh-kien.--H.C.]
Further, Zayton was, as we see from this chapter, and from the 2nd and 5th of Bk. III., in that age the great focus and harbour of communication with India and the Islands. From Zayton sailed Kublai's ill-fated expedition against Japan. From Zayton Marco Polo seems to have sailed on his return to the West, as did John Marignolli some half century later. At Zayton Ibn Batuta first landed in China, and from it he sailed on his return.
All that we find quoted from Chinese records regarding T'swan-chau corresponds to these Western statements regarding Zayton. For centuries T'swan-chau was the seat of the Customs Department of Fo-kien, nor was this finally removed till 1473. In all the historical notices of the arrival of ships and missions from India and the Indian Islands during the reign of Kublai, T'swan-chau, and T'swan-chau almost alone, is the port of debarkation; in the notices of Indian regions in the annals of the same reign it is from T'swan-chau that the distances are estimated; it was from T'swan-chau that the expeditions against Japan and Java were mainly fitted out. (See quotations by Pauthier, pp. 559, 570, 604, 653, 603, 643; Gaubil, 205, 217; Deguignes, III. 169, 175, 180, 187; Chinese Recorder (Foochow), 1870, pp. 45 seqq.)
When the Portuguese, in the 16th century, recovered China to European knowledge, Zayton was no longer the great haven of foreign trade; but yet the old name was not extinct among the mariners of Western Asia. Giovanni d'Empoli, in 1515, writing about China from Cochin, says: "Ships carry spices thither from these parts. Every year there go thither from Sumatra 60,000 cantars of pepper, and 15,000 or 20,000 from Cochin and Malabar, worth 15 to 20 ducats a cantar; besides ginger (?), mace, nutmegs, incense, aloes, velvet, European goldwire, coral, woollens, etc. The Grand Can is the King of China, and he dwells at ZEITON." Giovanni hoped to get to Zeiton before he died.
The port of T'swan-chau is generally called in our modern charts Chinchew. Now Chincheo is the name given by the old Portuguese navigators to the coast of Fo-kien, as well as to the port which they frequented there, and till recently I supposed this to be T'swan-chau. But Mr. Phillips, in his paper alluded to at p. 232, asserted that by Chincheo modern Spaniards and Portuguese designated (not T'swan-chau but) Chang-chau, a great city 60 miles W.S.W. of T'swan-chau, on a river entering Amoy Harbour. On turning, with this hint, to the old maps of the 17th century, I found that their Chincheo is really Chang-chau. But Mr. Phillips also maintains that Chang-chau, or rather its port, a place formerly called Gehkong and now Haiteng, is Zayton. Mr. Phillips does not adduce any precise evidence to show that this place was known as a port in Mongol times, far less that it was known as the most famous haven in the world; nor was I able to attach great weight to the arguments which he adduced. But his thesis, or a modification of it, has been taken up and maintained with more force, as already intimated, by the Rev. Dr. Douglas.
The latter makes a strong point in the magnificent character of Amoy Harbour, which really is one of the grandest havens in the world, and thus answers better to the emphatic language of Polo, and of Ibn Batuta, than the river of T'swan-chau. All the rivers of Fo-kien, as I learn from Dr. Douglas himself, are rapidly silting up; and it is probable that the river of Chinchew presented, in the 13th and 14th centuries, a far more impressive aspect as a commercial basin than it does now. But still it must have been far below Amoy Harbour in magnitude, depth, and accessibility. I have before recognised this, but saw no way to reconcile the proposed deduction with the positive historical facts already stated, which absolutely (to my mind) identify the Zayton of Polo and Rashiduddin with the Chinese city and port of T'swan-chau. Dr. Douglas, however, points out that the whole northern shore of Amoy Harbour, with the Islands of Amoy and Quemoy, are within the Fu or Department of T'swan-chau; and the latter name would, in Chinese parlance, apply equally to the city and to any part of the department. He cites among other analogous cases the Treaty Port Neuchwang (in Liao-tong). That city really lies 20 miles up the Liao River, but the name of Neuchwang is habitually applied by foreigners to Ying-tzu, which is the actual port. Even now much of the trade of T'swan-chau merchants is carried on through Amoy, either by junks touching, or by using the shorter sea-passage to 'An-hai, which was once a port of great trade, and is only 20 miles from T'swan-chau. With such a haven as Amoy Harbour close by, it is improbable that Kublai's vast armaments would have made rendezvous in the comparatively inconvenient port of T'swan-chau. Probably then the two were spoken of as one. In all this I recognise strong likelihood, and nothing inconsistent with recorded facts, or with Polo's concise statements. It is even possible that (as Dr. Douglas thinks) Polo's words intimate a distinction between Zayton the City and Zayton the Ocean Port; but for me Zayton the city, in Polo's chapters, remains still T'swan-chau. Dr. Douglas, however, seems disposed to regard it as Chang-chau.
The chief arguments urged for this last identity are: (1.) Ibn Batuta's representation of his having embarked at Zayton "on the river," i.e. on the internal navigation system of China, first for Sin-kalan (Canton), and afterwards for Kinsay. This could not, it is urged, be T'swan-chau, the river of which has no communication with the internal navigation, whereas the river at Chang-chau has such communication, constantly made use of in both directions (interrupted only by brief portages); (2.) Martini's mention of the finding various Catholic remains, such as crosses and images of the Virgin, at Chang-chau, in the early part of the 17th century, indicating that city as the probable site of the Franciscan establishments.
[I remember that the argument brought forward by Mr. Phillips in favour of Changchow which most forcibly struck Sir H. Yule, was the finding of various Christian remains at this place, and Mr. Phillips wrote (Jour. China Br.R.A.Soc. 1888, 27-28): "We learn from the history of the Franciscan missions that two churches were built in Zaitun, one in the city and the other in a forest not far from the town. MARTINI makes mention of relics being found in the city of Changchow, and also of a missal which he tried in vain to purchase from its owner, who gave as a reason for not parting with it, that it had been in his family for several generations. According to the history of the Spanish Dominicans in China, ruins of churches were used in rebuilding the city walls, many of the stones having crosses cut on them." Another singular discovery relating to these missions, is one mentioned by Father VITTORIO RICCI, which would seem to point distinctly to the remains of the Franciscan church built by ANDRE DE PEROUSE outside the city of Zaitun: "The heathen of Changchow," says RICCI, "found buried in a neighbouring hill called Saysou another cross of a most beautiful form cut out of a single block of stone, which I had the pleasure of placing in my church in that city. The heathen were alike ignorant of the time when it was made and how it came to be buried there."--H.C.]
Whether the application by foreigners of the term Zayton, may, by some possible change in trade arrangements in the quarter-century after Polo's departure from China, have undergone a transfer, is a question which it would be vain to answer positively without further evidence. But as regards Polo's Zayton, I continue in the belief that this was T'swan-chau and its haven, with the admission that this haven may probably have embraced that great basin called Amoy Harbour, or part of it.
[Besides the two papers I have already mentioned, the late Mr. Phillips has published, since the last edition of Marco Polo, in the T'oung-Pao, VI. and VII.: Two Mediaeval Fuh-kien Trading Ports: Chuean-chow and Chang-chow. He has certainly given many proofs of the importance of Chang-chau at the time of the Mongol Dynasty, and one might well hesitate (I know it was also the feeling of Sir Henry Yule at the end of his life) between this city and T'swan-chau, but the weak point of his controversy is his theory about Fu-chau. However, Mr. George Phillips, who died in 1896, gathered much valuable material, of which we have made use; it is only fair to pay this tribute to the memory of this learned consul.--H.C.]
Martini (circa 1650) describes T'swan-chau as delightfully situated on a promontory between two branches of the estuary which forms the harbour, and these so deep that the largest ships could come up to the walls on either side. A great suburb, Loyang, lay beyond the northern water, connected with the city by the most celebrated bridge in China. Collinson's Chart in some points below the town gives only 1-1/4 fathom for the present depth, but Dr. Douglas tells me he has even now occasionally seen large junks come close to the city.
Chinchew, though now occasionally visited by missionaries and others, is not a Treaty port, and we have not a great deal of information about its modern state. It is the head-quarters of the T'i-tuh, or general commanding the troops in Fo-kien. The walls have a circuit of 7 or 8 miles, but embracing much vacant ground. The chief exports now are tea and sugar, which are largely grown in the vicinity, tobacco, china-ware, nankeens, etc. There are still to be seen (as I learn from Mr. Phillips) the ruins of a fine mosque, said to have been founded by the Arab traders who resorted thither. The English Presbyterian Church Mission has had a chapel in the city for about ten years.
Zayton, we have seen from Ibn Batuta's report, was famed for rich satins called Zaituniah. I have suggested in another work (Cathay, p. 486) that this may be the origin of our word Satin, through the Zettani of mediaeval Italian (or Aceytuni of mediaeval Spanish). And I am more strongly disposed to support this, seeing that Francisque-Michel, in considering the origin of Satin, hesitates between Satalin from Satalia in Asia Minor and Soudanin from the Soudan or Sultan; neither half so probable as Zaituni. I may add that in a French list of charges of 1352 we find the intermediate form Zatony. Satin in the modern form occurs in Chaucer:--
"In Surrie whilom dwelt a compagnie
Of chapmen rich, and therto sad and trewe,
That wide where senten their spicerie,
Clothes of gold, and satins riche of hewe."
--Man of Lawe's Tale, st. 6.
[Hatzfeld (Dict.) derives satin from the Italian setino; and setino from SETA, pig's hair, and gives the following example: "Deux aunes et un quartier de satin vremeil," in Caffiaux, Abattis de maisons a Gommegnies, p. 17, 14th century. The Portuguese have setim. But I willingly accept Sir Henry Yule's suggestion that the origin of the word is Zayton; cf. zeitun [Arabic] olive.
"The King [of Bijanagar] ... was clothed in a robe of zaitun satin." (Elliot, IV. p. 113, who adds in a note zaitun: Olive-coloured?) And again (Ibid. p. 120): "Before the throne there was placed a cushion of zaituni satin, round which three rows of the most exquisite pearls were sewn."--H.C.]
(Recherches, etc., II. 229 seqq.; Martini, circa p. 110; Klaproth, Mem. II. 209-210; Cathay, cxciii. 268, 223, 355, 486; Empoli in Append. vol. iii. 87 to Archivio Storico Italiano; Douet d'Arcq. p. 342; Galv., Discoveries of the World, Hak. Soc. p. 129; Marsden, 1st ed. p. 372; Appendix to Trade Report of Amoy, for 1868 and 1900. [Heyd, Com. Levant, II. 701-702.])
- We have referred in a former note (ch. lxxvii. note 7) to an apparent change in regard to the Chinese consumption of pepper, which is now said to be trifling. We shall see in the first chapter of Bk. III. that Polo estimates the tonnage of Chinese junks by the number of baskets of pepper they carried, and we have seen in last note the large estimate by Giov. d'Empoli of the quantity that went to China in 1515. Galvano also, speaking of the adventure of Fernao Perez d'Andrade to China in 1517, says that he took in at Pacem a cargo of pepper, "as being the chief article of trade that is valued in China." And it is evident from what Marsden says in his History of Sumatra, that in the last century some tangible quantity was still sent to China. The export from the Company's plantations in Sumatra averaged 1200 tons, of which the greater part came to Europe, the rest went to China.
[Couto says also: "Os portos principaes do Reyno da Sunda sao Banta, Ache, Xacatara, por outro nome Caravao, aos quaes vam todos os annos mui perto de vinte sommas, que sao embarcacoes do Chincheo, huma das Provincias maritimas da China, a carregar de pimenta, porque da este Reyno todos es annos oito mil bares della, que sao trinta mil quintaes." (Decada IV. Liv. III. Cap. I. 167.)]
- These tattooing artists were probably employed mainly by mariners frequenting the port. We do not know if the Malays practised tattooing before their conversion to Islam. But most Indo-Chinese races tattoo, and the Japanese still "have the greater part of the body and limbs scrolled over with bright-blue dragons, and lions, and tigers, and figures of men and women tattooed into their skins with the most artistic and elaborate ornamentation." (Alcock, I. 191.) Probably the Arab sailors also indulged in the same kind of decoration. It is common among the Arab women now, and Della Valle speaks of it as in his time so much in vogue among both sexes through Egypt, Arabia, and Babylonia, that he had not been able to escape. (I. 395.)
- The divergence in Ramusio's version is here very notable: "The
River which enters the Port of Zayton is great and wide, running with great velocity, and is a branch of that which flows by the city of Kinsay. And at the place where it quits the main channel is the city of Tingui, of which all that is to be said is that there they make porcelain basins and dishes. The manner of making porcelain was thus related to him. They excavate a certain kind of earth, as it were from a mine, and this they heap into great piles, and then leave it undisturbed and exposed to wind, rain, and sun for 30 or 40 years. In this space of time the earth becomes sufficiently refined for the manufacture of porcelain; they then colour it at their discretion, and bake it in a furnace. Those who excavate the clay do so always therefore for their sons and grandsons. The articles are so cheap in that city that you get 8 bowls for a Venice groat."
Ibn Batuta speaks of porcelain as manufactured at Zayton; indeed he says positively (and wrongly): "Porcelain is made nowhere in China except in the cities of Zaitun and Sinkalan" (Canton). A good deal of China ware in modern times is made in Fo-kien and Canton provinces, and it is still an article of export from T'swan-chau and Amoy; but it is only of a very ordinary kind. Pakwiha, between Amoy and Chang-chau, is mentioned in the Chinese Commercial Guide (p. 114) as now the place where the coarse blue ware, so largely exported to India, etc., is largely manufactured; and Phillips mentions Tung-'an (about half-way between T'swan-chau and Chang-chau) as a great seat of this manufacture.
Looking, however, to the Ramusian interpolations, which do not indicate a locality necessarily near Zayton, or even in Fo-kien, it is possible that Murray is right in supposing the place intended in these to be really King-te chen in Kiang-si, the great seat of the manufacture of genuine porcelain, or rather its chief mart JAU-CHAU FU on the P'o-yang Lake.
The geographical indication of this city of porcelain, as at the place where a branch of the River of Kinsay flows off towards Zayton, points to a notion prevalent in the Middle Ages as to the interdivergence of rivers in general, and especially of Chinese rivers. This notion will be found well embodied in the Catalan Map, and something like it in the maps of the Chinese themselves; it is a ruling idea with Ibn Batuta, who, as we have seen (in note 2), speaks of the River of Zayton as connected in the interior with "the Great River," and who travels by this waterway accordingly from Zayton to Kinsay, taking no notice of the mountains of Fo-kien. So also (supra, p. 175) Rashiduddin had been led to suppose that the Great Canal extended to Zayton. With apparently the same idea of one Great River of China with many ramifications, Abulfeda places most of the great cities of China upon "The River." The "Great River of China," with its branches to Kinsay, is alluded to in a like spirit by Wassaf (supra, p. 213). Polo has already indicated the same idea (p. 219).
Assuming this as the notion involved in the passage from Ramusio, the position of Jau-chau might be fairly described as that of Tingui is therein, standing as it does on the P'o-yang Lake, from which there is such a ramification of internal navigation, e.g. to Kinsay or Hang-chau fu directly by Kwansin, the Chang-shan portage already referred to (supra, p. 222), and the Ts'ien T'ang (and this is the Kinsay River line to which I imagine Polo here to refer), or circuitously by the Yang-tzu and Great Canal; to Canton by the portage of the Meiling Pass; and to the cities of Fo-kien either by the Kwansin River or by Kian-chan fu, further south, with a portage in each case across the Fo-kien mountains. None of our maps give any idea of the extent of internal navigation in China. (See Klaproth, Mem. vol. iii.)
The story of the life-long period during which the porcelain clay was exposed to temper long held its ground, and probably was only dispelled by the publication of the details of the King-te chen manufacture by Pere d'Entrecolles in the Lettres Edifiantes.
- The meagre statement in the French texts shows merely that Polo had heard of the Fo-kien dialect. The addition from Ramusio shows further that he was aware of the unity of the written character throughout China, but gives no indication of knowledge of its peculiar principles, nor of the extent of difference in the spoken dialects. Even different districts of Fo-kien, according to Martini, use dialects so different that they understand each other with difficulty (108).
[Mendoza already said: "It is an admirable thing to consider how that in that kingdome they doo speake manie languages, the one differing from the other: yet generallie in writing they doo understand one the other, and in speaking not." (Parke's Transl. p. 93.)]
Professor Kidd, speaking of his instructors in the Mandarin and Fo-kien dialects respectively, says: "The teachers in both cases read the same books, composed in the same style, and attached precisely the same ideas to the written symbols, but could not understand each other in conversation." Moreover, besides these sounds attaching to the Chinese characters when read in the dialect of Fo-kien, thus discrepant from the sounds used in reading the same characters in the Mandarin dialect, yet another class of sounds is used to express the same ideas in the Fo-kien dialect when it is used colloquially and without reference to written symbols! (Kidd's China, etc., pp. 21-23.)
The term Fokien dialect in the preceding passage is ambiguous, as will be seen from the following remarks, which have been derived from the Preface and Appendices to the Rev. Dr. Douglas's Dictionary of the Spoken Language of Amoy, and which throw a distinct light on the subject of this note:-- "The vernacular or spoken language of Amoy is not a mere colloquial dialect or patois, it is a distinct language--one of the many and widely differing spoken languages which divide among them the soil of China. For these spoken languages are not dialects of one language, but cognate languages, bearing to each other a relation similar to that between Hebrew, Arabic, and Syriac, or between English, Dutch, German, and Danish. The so-called written language is indeed uniform throughout the whole country, but that is rather a notation than a language. And this written language, as read aloud from books, is not spoken in any place whatever, under any form of pronunciation. The most learned men never employ it as a means of ordinary oral communication even among themselves. It is, in fact, a dead language, related to the various spoken languages of China, somewhat as Latin is to the languages of Southern Europe.
"Again: Dialects, properly speaking, of the Amoy vernacular language are found (e.g.) in the neighbouring districts of Changchew, Chinchew, and Tungan, and the language with its subordinate dialects is believed to be spoken by 8 or 10 millions of people. Of the other languages of China the most nearly related to the Amoy is the vernacular of Chau-chau-fu, often called 'the Swatow dialect,' from the only treaty-port in that region. The ancestors of the people speaking it emigrated many years ago from Fuh-kien, and are still distinguished there by the appellation Hok-lo, i.e. people from Hok-kien (or Fuh-kien). This language differs from the Amoy, much as Dutch differs from German, or Portuguese from Spanish.
"In the Island of Hai-nan (Hai-lam), again (setting aside the central aborigines), a language is spoken which differs from Amoy more than that of Swatow, but is more nearly related to these two than to any other of the languages of China.
"In Fuh-chau fu we have another language which is largely spoken in the centre and north of Fuh-kien. This has many points of resemblance to the Amoy, but is quite unintelligible to the Amoy people, with the exception of an occasional word or phrase.
"Hing-hwa fu (Heng-hoa), between Fuh-chau and Chinchew, has also a language of its own, though containing only two Hien districts. It is alleged to be unintelligible both at Amoy and at Fuhchau.
"To the other languages of China that of Amoy is less closely related; yet all evidently spring from one common stock. But that common stock is not the modern Mandarin dialect, but the ancient form of the Chinese language as spoken some 3000 years ago. The so-called Mandarin, far from being the original form, is usually more changed than any. It is in the ancient form of the language (naturally) that the relation of Chinese to other languages can best be traced; and as the Amoy vernacular, which very generally retains the final consonants in their original shape, has been one of the chief sources from which the ancient form of Chinese has been recovered, the study of that vernacular is of considerable importance."
- This is inconsistent with his former statements as to the supreme wealth of Kinsay. But with Marco the subject in hand is always pro magnifico.
Ramusio says that the Traveller will now "begin to speak of the territories, cities, and provinces of the Greater, Lesser, and Middle India, in which regions he was when in the service of the Great Kaan, being sent thither on divers matters of business. And then again when he returned to the same quarter with the queen of King Argon, and with his father and uncle, on his way back to his native land. So he will relate the strange things that he saw in those Indies, not omitting others which he heard related by persons of reputation and worthy of credit, and things that were pointed out to him on the maps of manners of the Indies aforesaid."