Marco Polo.

The Travels of Marco Polo — Volume 1 online

. (page 70 of 81)
Online LibraryMarco PoloThe Travels of Marco Polo — Volume 1 → online text (page 70 of 81)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


great grief in 1288, in consequence of which he was disgraced. (See
_Cathay_, p. 272.) XII. Temkan (not in Chinese List). Gaubil's Chinese
List omits _Hutulu Temurh_, and introduces a prince called _Gantanpouhoa_
as 4th son.

M. Pauthier lays great stress on Polo's intimate knowledge of the Imperial
affairs (p. 263) because he knew the name of the Hereditary Prince to be
Teimur; this being, he says, the private name which could not be known
until after the owner's death, except by those in the most confidential
intimacy. The public only then discovered that, like the Irishman's dog,
his real name was Turk, though he had always been called Toby! But M.
Pauthier's learning has misled him. At least the secret must have been
very badly kept, for it was known in Teimur's lifetime not only to Marco,
but to Rashiduddin in Persia, and to Hayton in Armenia; to say nothing of
the circumstance that the name _Temur Khaghan_ is also used during that
Emperor's life by Oljaitu Khan of Persia in writing to the King of France
a letter which M. Pauthier himself republished and commented upon. (See
his book, p. 780.)




CHAPTER X.

CONCERNING THE PALACE OF THE GREAT KAAN.


You must know that for three months of the year, to wit December, January,
and February, the Great Kaan resides in the capital city of Cathay, which
is called CAMBALUC, [and which is at the north-eastern extremity of the
country]. In that city stands his great Palace, and now I will tell you
what it is like.

It is enclosed all round by a great wall forming a square, each side of
which is a mile in length; that is to say, the whole compass thereof is
four miles. This you may depend on; it is also very thick, and a good ten
paces in height, whitewashed and loop-holed all round.[NOTE 1] At each
angle of the wall there is a very fine and rich palace in which the
war-harness of the Emperor is kept, such as bows and quivers,[NOTE 2]
saddles and bridles, and bowstrings, and everything needful for an army.
Also midway between every two of these Corner Palaces there is another of
the like; so that taking the whole compass of the enclosure you find eight
vast Palaces stored with the Great Lord's harness of war.[NOTE 3] And you
must understand that each Palace is assigned to only one kind of article;
thus one is stored with bows, a second with saddles, a third with bridles,
and so on in succession right round.[NOTE 4]

The great wall has five gates on its southern face, the middle one being
the great gate which is never opened on any occasion except when the Great
Kaan himself goes forth or enters. Close on either side of this great gate
is a smaller one by which all other people pass; and then towards each
angle is another great gate, also open to people in general; so that on
that side there are five gates in all.[NOTE 5]

Inside of this wall there is a second, enclosing a space that is somewhat
greater in length than in breadth. This enclosure also has eight palaces
corresponding to those of the outer wall, and stored like them with the
Lord's harness of war. This wall also hath five gates on the southern
face, corresponding to those in the outer wall, and hath one gate on each
of the other faces, as the outer wall hath also. In the middle of the
second enclosure is the Lord's Great Palace, and I will tell you what it
is like.[NOTE 6]

You must know that it is the greatest Palace that ever was. [Towards the
north it is in contact with the outer wall, whilst towards the south there
is a vacant space which the Barons and the soldiers are constantly
traversing.[NOTE 7] The Palace itself] hath no upper story, but is all on
the ground floor, only the basement is raised some ten palms above the
surrounding soil [and this elevation is retained by a wall of marble
raised to the level of the pavement, two paces in width and projecting
beyond the base of the Palace so as to form a kind of terrace-walk, by
which people can pass round the building, and which is exposed to view,
whilst on the outer edge of the wall there is a very fine pillared
balustrade; and up to this the people are allowed to come]. The roof is
very lofty, and the walls of the Palace are all covered with gold and
silver. They are also adorned with representations of dragons [sculptured
and gilt], beasts and birds, knights and idols, and sundry other subjects.
And on the ceiling too you see nothing but gold and silver and painting.
[On each of the four sides there is a great marble staircase leading to
the top of the marble wall, and forming the approach to the Palace.]
[NOTE 8]

The Hall of the Palace is so large that it could easily dine 6000 people;
and it is quite a marvel to see how many rooms there are besides. The
building is altogether so vast, so rich, and so beautiful, that no man on
earth could design anything superior to it. The outside of the roof also
is all coloured with vermilion and yellow and green and blue and other
hues, which are fixed with a varnish so fine and exquisite that they shine
like crystal, and lend a resplendent lustre to the Palace as seen for a
great way round.[NOTE 9] This roof is made too with such strength and
solidity that it is fit to last for ever.

[On the interior side of the Palace are large buildings with halls and
chambers, where the Emperor's private property is placed, such as his
treasures of gold, silver, gems, pearls, and gold plate, and in which
reside the ladies and concubines. There he occupies himself at his own
convenience, and no one else has access.]

Between the two walls of the enclosure which I have described, there are
fine parks and beautiful trees bearing a variety of fruits. There are
beasts also of sundry kinds, such as white stags and fallow deer, gazelles
and roebucks, and fine squirrels of various sorts, with numbers also of
the animal that gives the musk, and all manner of other beautiful
creatures,[NOTE 10] insomuch that the whole place is full of them, and no
spot remains void except where there is traffic of people going and
coming. [The parks are covered with abundant grass; and the roads through
them being all paved and raised two cubits above the surface, they never
become muddy, nor does the rain lodge on them, but flows off into the
meadows, quickening the soil and producing that abundance of herbage.]

From that corner of the enclosure which is towards the north-west there
extends a fine Lake, containing foison of fish of different kinds which
the Emperor hath caused to be put in there, so that whenever he desires
any he can have them at his pleasure. A river enters this lake and issues
from it, but there is a grating of iron or brass put up so that the fish
cannot escape in that way.[NOTE 11]

Moreover on the north side of the Palace, about a bow-shot off, there is a
hill which has been made by art [from the earth dug out of the lake]; it
is a good hundred paces in height and a mile in compass. This hill is
entirely covered with trees that never lose their leaves, but remain ever
green. And I assure you that wherever a beautiful tree may exist, and the
Emperor gets news of it, he sends for it and has it transported bodily
with all its roots and the earth attached to them, and planted on that
hill of his. No matter how big the tree may be, he gets it carried by his
elephants; and in this way he has got together the most beautiful
collection of trees in all the world. And he has also caused the whole
hill to be covered with the ore of azure,[NOTE 12] which is very green.
And thus not only are the trees all green, but the hill itself is all
green likewise; and there is nothing to be seen on it that is not green;
and hence it is called the GREEN MOUNT; and in good sooth 'tis named
well.[NOTE 13]

On the top of the hill again there is a fine big palace which is all green
inside and out; and thus the hill, and the trees, and the palace form
together a charming spectacle; and it is marvellous to see their
uniformity of colour! Everybody who sees them is delighted. And the Great
Kaan had caused this beautiful prospect to be formed for the comfort and
solace and delectation of his heart.

You must know that beside the Palace (that we have been describing), i.e.
the Great Palace, the Emperor has caused another to be built just like his
own in every respect, and this he hath done for his son when he shall
reign and be Emperor after him.[NOTE 14] Hence it is made just in the same
fashion and of the same size, so that everything can be carried on in the
same manner after his own death. [It stands on the other side of the lake
from the Great Kaan's Palace, and there is a bridge crossing the water
from one to the other.][NOTE 15] The Prince in question holds now a Seal
of Empire, but not with such complete authority as the Great Kaan, who
remains supreme as long as he lives.

Now I am going to tell you of the chief city of Cathay, in which these
Palaces stand; and why it was built, and how.


NOTE 1. - [According to the _Ch'ue keng lu_, translated by Bretschneider,
25, "the wall surrounding the palace ... is constructed of bricks, and is
35 _ch'i_ in height. The construction was begun in A.D. 1271, on the 17th
of the 8th month, between three and five o'clock in the afternoon, and
finished next year on the 15th of the 3rd month." - H. C.]

NOTE 2. - _Tarcasci_ (G. T.) This word is worthy of note as the proper form
of what has become in modern French _carquois_. The former is a transcript
of the Persian _Tarkash_; the latter appears to be merely a corruption of
it, arising perhaps clerically from the constant confusion of _c_ and _t_
in MSS. (See _Defrémery_, quoted by Pauthier, _in loco._) [Old French
_tarquais_ (13th century), Hatzfeldt and Darmesteter's _Dict._ gives;
"Coivres orent ceinz et tarchais." (WACE, _Rou_, III., 7698; 12th
century).]

NOTE 3. - ["It seems to me [Dr. Bretschneider] that Polo took the towers,
mentioned by the Chinese author, in the angles of the galleries and of the
Kung-ch'eng for palaces; for further on he states, that 'over each gate
[of Cambaluc] there is a great and handsome palace.' I have little doubt
that over the gates of Cambaluc, stood lofty buildings similar to those
over the gates of modern Peking. These tower-like buildings are called
_lou_ by the Chinese. It may be very likely, that at the time of Marco
Polo, the war harness of the Khan was stored in these towers of the palace
wall. The author of the _Ch'ue keng lu_, who wrote more than fifty years
later, assigns to it another place." (_Bretschneider, Peking_, 32.)
- H.C.]

[Illustration: IDEAL PLAN of the ANCIENT PALACES of the MONGOL EMPERORS AT
KHANBALIGH according to Dr. Bretschneider]

NOTE 4. - The stores are now outside the walls of the "Prohibited City,"
corresponding to Polo's Palace-Wall, but within the walls of the "Imperial
City." (_Middle Kingdom_, I. 61.) See the cut at p. 376.

NOTE 5. - The two gates near the corners apparently do not exist in the
Palace now. "On the south side there are three gates to the Palace, both
in the inner and the outer walls. The middle one is absolutely reserved
for the entrance or exit of the Emperor; all other people pass in and out
by the gate to the right or left of it." (_Trigautius_, Bk. I. ch. vii.)
This custom is not in China peculiar to Royalty. In private houses it is
usual to have three doors leading from the court to the guestrooms, and
there is a great exercise of politeness in reference to these; the guest
after much pressing is prevailed on to enter the middle door, whilst the
host enters by the side. (See _Deguignes, Voyages_, I. 262.) [See also _H.
Cordier's Hist. des Relat. de la Chine_, III. ch. x. _Audience
Impériale_.]

["It seems Polo took the three gateways in the middle gate (_Ta-ming men_)
for three gates, and thus speaks of five gates instead of three in the
southern wall." (_Bretschneider, Peking_, 27, note.) - H. C.]

NOTE 6. - Ramusio's version here diverges from the old MSS. It makes the
inner enclosure a mile square; and the second (the city of Taidu) six
miles square, as here, but adds, at a mile interval, a third of eight
miles square. Now it is remarkable that Mr. A. Wylie, in a letter dated
4th December 1873, speaking of a recent visit to Peking, says: "I found
from various inquiries that there are several remains of a very much
larger city wall, inclosing the present city; but time would not allow me
to follow up the traces."

Pauthier's text (which I have corrected by the G. T.), after describing
the _outer inclosure_ to be a _mile every way_, says that the inner
inclosure lay at _an interval of a mile within it!_

[Dr. Bretschneider observes "that in the ancient Chinese works, three
concentric inclosures are mentioned in connection with the palace. The
innermost inclosed the _Ta-nei_, the middle inclosure, called
_Kung-ch'eng_ or _Huang-ch'eng_, answering to the wall surrounding the
present prohibited city, and was about 6 _li_ in circuit. Besides this
there was an outer wall (a rampart apparently) 20 _li_ in circuit,
answering to the wall of the present imperial city (which now has 18 _li_
in circuit)." The _Huang-ch'eng_ of the Yuen was measured by imperial
order, and found to be 7 _li_ in circuit; the wall of the Mongol palace was
6 _li_ in circuit, according to the _Ch'ue keng lu_. (_Bretschneider,
Peking_, 24.) - Marco Polo's mile could be approximately estimated = 2.77
Chinese _li_. (Ibid. 24, note.) The common Chinese _li_ = 360 _pu_, or 180
chang, or 1800 _ch'i_ (feet); 1 _li_ = 1894 English feet or 575 mètres; at
least according to the old Venice measures quoted in _Yule's Marco Polo_,
II., one pace = 5 feet. Besides the common _li_, the Chinese have another
_li_, used for measuring fields, which has only 240 _pu_ or 1200 _ch'i_.
This is the _li_ spoken of in the _Ch'ue keng lu_. (Ibid. 13, note.) - H.
C.]

NOTE 7. - ["Near the southern face of the wall are barracks for the Life
Guards." (_Ch'ue keng lu_, translated by Bretschneider, 25.) - H. C.]

NOTE 8. - This description of palace (see opposite cut), an elevated
basement of masonry with a superstructure of timber (in general carved and
gilded), is still found in Burma, Siam, and Java, as well as in China. If
we had any trace of the palaces of the ancient Asokas and Vikramadityas of
India, we should probably find that they were of the same character. It
seems to be one of those things that belonged to some ancient Panasiatic
fashion, as the palaces of Nineveh were of a somewhat similar construction.
In the Audience Halls of the Moguls at Delhi and Agra we can trace the
ancient form, though the superstructure has there become an arcade of
marble instead of a pavilion on timber columns.

[Illustration: Palace at Khan-baligh. (From the _Livre des Merveilles_.)]

["The _Ta-ming tien_ (Hall of great brightness) is without doubt what
Marco Polo calls 'the Lord's Great Palace.'... He states, that it 'hath no
upper story'; and indeed, the palace buildings which the Chinese call
_tien_ are always of one story. Polo speaks also of a 'very fine pillared
balustrade' (the _chu lang_, pillared verandah, of the Chinese author).
Marco Polo states that the basement of the great palace 'is raised some
ten palms above the surrounding soil.' We find in the _Ku kung i lu_: 'The
basement of the Ta-ming tien is raised about 10 _ch'i_ above the soil.'
There can also be no doubt that the Ta-ming tien stood at about the same
place where now the _T'ai-ho tien_, the principal hall of the palace, is
situated." (_Bretschneider, Peking_, 28, note.)

[Illustration: Winter Palace at Peking.]

The _Ch'ue keng lu_, translated by Bretschneider, 25, contains long
articles devoted to the description of the palace of the Mongols and the
adjacent palace grounds. They are too long to be reproduced here. - H. C.]

NOTE 9. - "As all that one sees of these palaces is varnished in those
colours, when you catch a distant view of them at sunrise, as I have done
many a time, you would think them all made of, or at least covered with,
pure gold enamelled in azure and green, so that the spectacle is at once
majestic and charming." (_Magaillans_, p. 353.)

NOTE 10. - [This is the _Ling yu_ or "Divine Park," to the east of the
_Wan-sui shan_, "in which rare birds and beasts are kept. Before the
Emperor goes to Shang-tu, the officers are accustomed to be entertained at
this place." (_Ch'ue keng lu_, quoted by Bretschneider, 36.) - H. C.]

NOTE 11. - "On the west side, where the space is amplest, there is a lake
very full of fish. It is in the form of a fiddle, and is an Italian mile
and a quarter in length. It is crossed at the narrowest part, which
corresponds to gates in the walls, by a handsome bridge, the extremities
of which are adorned by two triumphal arches of three openings each....
The lake is surrounded by palaces and pleasure houses, built partly in the
water and partly on shore, and charming boats are provided on it for the
use of the Emperor when he chooses to go a-fishing or to take an airing."
(Ibid. 282-283.) The marble bridge, as it now exists, consists of nine
arches, and is 600 feet long. (_Rennie's Peking_, II. 57.)

Ramusio specifies another lake in the _city_, fed by the same stream
before it enters the palace, and used by the public for watering cattle.

["The lake which Marco Polo saw is the same as the _T'ai-yi ch'i_ of our
days. It has, however, changed a little in its form. This lake and also
its name _T'ai-yi ch'i_ date from the twelfth century, at which time an
Emperor of the Kin first gave orders to collect together the water of some
springs in the hills, where now the summer palaces stand, and to conduct
it to a place north of his capital, where pleasure gardens were laid out.
The river which enters the lake and issues from it exists still, under its
ancient name _Kin-shui_." (_Bretschneider, Peking_, 34.) - H. C.]

NOTE 12. - The expression here is in the Geog. Text, "_Roze de l'açur_,"
and in Pauthier's "_de rose et de l'asur_." _Rose Minerale_, in the
terminology of the alchemists, was a red powder produced in the
sublimation of gold and mercury, but I can find no elucidation of the term
Rose of Azure. The Crusca Italian has in the same place _Terra dello
Azzurro_. Having ventured to refer the question to the high authority of
Mr. C. W. King, he expresses the opinion that _Roze_ here stands for
_Roche_, and that probably the term _Roche de l'azur_ may have been used
loosely for _blue-stone_, i.e. carbonate of copper, which would assume a
green colour through moisture. He adds: "Nero, according to Pliny,
actually used _chrysocolla_, the siliceous carbonate of copper, in powder,
for strewing the circus, to give the course the colour of his favourite
faction, the _prasine_ (or green). There may be some analogy between this
device and that of Kúblái Khan." This parallel is a very happy one.

[Illustration: Mei Shan]

NOTE 13. - Friar Odoric gives a description, short, but closely agreeing in
substance with that in the Text, of the Palace, the Park, the Lake, and
the Green Mount.

A green mount, answering to the description, and about 160 feet in height,
stands immediately in rear of the palace buildings. It is called by the
Chinese _King-Shan_, "Court Mountain," _Wan-su-Shan_, "Ten Thousand Year
Mount," and _Mei-Shan_, "Coal Mount," the last from the material of which
it is traditionally said to be composed (as a provision of fuel in case of
siege).[1] Whether this is Kúblái's Green Mount does not seem to be quite
certain. Dr. Lockhart tells me that, according to the information he
collected when living at Peking, it is not so, but was formed by the Ming
Emperors from the excavation of the existing lake on the site which the
Mongol Palace had occupied. There is another mount, he adds, adjoining the
east shore of the lake, which must be of older date even than Kúblái, for
a Dagoba standing on it is ascribed to the _Kin_.

[The "Green Mount" was an island called _K'iung-hua_ at the time of the
Kin; in 1271 it received the name of _Wan-sui shan_; it is about 100 feet
in height, and is the only hill mentioned by Chinese writers of the Mongol
time who refer to the palace grounds. It is not the present _King-shan_,
north of the palace, called also _Wan-sui-shan_ under the Ming, and now
the _Mei-shan_, of more recent formation. "I have no doubt," says
Bretschneider (_Peking_, l.c. 35), "that Marco Polo's handsome palace on
the top of the Green Mount is the same as the _Kuang-han tien_" of the
_Ch'ue keng lu_. It was a hall in which there was a jar of black jade, big
enough to hold more than 30 piculs of wine; this jade had white veins, and
in accordance with these veins, fish and animals have been carved on the
jar. (Ibid. 35.) "The _Ku kung i lu_, in describing the _Wan-sui-shan_,
praises the beautiful shady green of the vegetation there." (Ibid. 37.)
- H. C.]

["Near the eastern end of the bridge (_Kin-ao yü-tung_ which crosses the
lake) the visitor sees a circular wall, which is called _yüan ch'eng_
(round wall). It is about 350 paces in circuit. Within it is an imperial
building _Ch'eng-kuang tien_, dating from the Mongol time. From this
circular enclosure, another long and beautifully executed marble bridge
leads northwards, to a charming hill, covered with shady trees, and capped
by a magnificent white _suburga_." (_Bretschneider_, p. 22.) - H. C.]

In a plate attached to next chapter, I have drawn, on a small scale, the
existing cities of Peking, as compared with the Mongol and Chinese cities
in the time of Kúblái. The plan of the latter has been constructed (1)
from existing traces, as exhibited in the Russian Survey republished by
our War Office; (2) from information kindly afforded by Dr. Lockhart; and
(3) from Polo's description and a few slight notices by Gaubil and others.
It will be seen, even on the small scale of these plans, that the general
arrangement of the palace, the park, the lakes (including that in the
city, which appears in Ramusio's version), the bridge, the mount, etc., in
the existing Peking, very closely correspond with Polo's indications; and
I think the strong probability is that the Ming really built on the old
traces, and that the lake, mount, etc., as they now stand, are
substantially those of the Great Mongol, though Chinese policy or
patriotism may have spread the belief that the foreign traces were
obliterated. Indeed, if that belief were true, the Mongol Palace must have
been very much out of the axis of the City of Kúblái, which is in the
highest degree improbable. The _Bulletin de la Soc. de Geographie_ for
September 1873, contains a paper on Peking by the physician to the French
Embassy there. Whatever may be the worth of the meteorological and
hygienic details in that paper, I am bound to say that the historical and
topographical part is so inaccurate as to be of no value.

NOTE 14. - For son, read grandson. But the G. T. actually names the
Emperor's son Chingkim, whose death our traveller has himself already
mentioned.

[Illustration: Yuan ch'eng]

NOTE 15. - ["Marco Polo's bridge, crossing the lake from one side to the
other, must be identified with the wooden bridge mentioned in the _Ch'ue
keng lu_. The present marble bridge spanning the lake was only built in
1392." "A marble bridge connects this island (an islet with the hall _I-
t'ien tien_) with the _Wan-sui shan_. Another bridge, made of wood, 120
_ch'i_ long and 22 broad, leads eastward to the wall of the Imperial
Palace. A third bridge, a wooden draw-bridge 470 _ch'i_ long, stretches to
the west over the lake to its western border, where the palace _Hing-sheng
kung_ [built in 1308] stands." (_Bretschneider_, _Peking_, 36.) - H. C.]


[1] Some years ago, in Calcutta, I learned that a large store of charcoal
existed under the soil of Fort William, deposited there, I believe, in
the early days of that fortress.

["The _Jihia_ says that the name of _Mei shan_ (Coal hill) was given
to it from the stock of coal buried at its foot, as a provision in
case of siege." (_Bretschneider, Peking_, 38.) - H. C.]




CHAPTER XI.

CONCERNING THE CITY OF CAMBALUC.


Now there was on that spot in old times a great and noble city called
CAMBALUC, which is as much as to say in our tongue "The city of the
Emperor."[NOTE 1] But the Great Kaan was informed by his Astrologers that
this city would prove rebellious, and raise great disorders against his
imperial authority. So he caused the present city to be built close beside
the old one, with only a river between them.[NOTE 2] And he caused the
people of the old city to be removed to the new town that he had founded;



Online LibraryMarco PoloThe Travels of Marco Polo — Volume 1 → online text (page 70 of 81)