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'f^ CL^r^Ao n^^otr^l f/.s-fv-^;^ ^^s^**^ 







f;aUt ^7^ . ^h Ctt^U~'fi^,^:^if^ L^ 

Volume XV, Nos. i and 2 







1. Laufer, Berthold, The Diamond, A Study in Chinese 

and Hellenistic Folk-lore i 

2. Laufer, Berthold, The Beginnings of Porcelain in China 77 

Field Museum of Natural History 

Publication 184 

Anthropological Series Vol. XV, No. i 




Berthold Laufer 

Curator of Anthropology 





Introductory 5 

Legend of the Diamond Valley 6 

Indestructibility of the Diamond 21 

Diamond and Lead 26 

The Diamond-Point 28 

Diamond and Gold 35 

The Term "Kun-wu" 38 

Toxicology of the Diamond 40 

Imitation Diamonds 41 

Acquaintance of the Ancients with the Diamond ... 42 

Cut Diamonds 46 

Acquaintance of the Chinese with the Diamond ... 50 

Stones of Nocturnal Luminosity 55 

Phosphorescence of Precious Stones 63 

Index 72 


A Study in Chinese and Hellenistic Folk-Lore 

Introductory. — Of all the wonders and treasures of the Hellenistic- 
Roman Orient, it was the large variety of beautiful precious stones that 
created the most profound and lasting impression on the minds of the 
Chinese. During the time of their early antiquity the ntimber of gems 
known to them was exceedingly limited, and mainly restricted to certain 
untransparent, colored stones fit for carving; while the transparent 
jewel with its qualities of lustre, cut, polished, and set ready for wearing, 
was a matter wholly unknown to them. Only contact with Hellenistic 
civilization and with India opened their eyes to this new world, and 
together with the new commodities a stream of Occidental folk-lore 
poured into the valleys of China. That a chapter from a series of 
discussions devoted to Chinese-Hellenistic relations^ is taken up by a 
detailed study of the history of the diamond, is chiefly because this 
very subject affords a most instructive example of the diffusion of 
classical ideas to the Farthest East. The mind of the Chinese offered 
a complete blank in this respect, being imacquainted with the diamond, 
and was therefore easily susceptible to the reception of foreign notions 
along this line.^ India was the distributing-centre of diamonds to 
western Asia, Hellas and Rome, on the one hand, and to south-eastern 

^ Two other contributions along this line have thus far been published : The 
Story of the Pinna and the Syrian Lamb {Journal of American Folk-Lore, Vol. XXVIII, 
1915, pp. 103-128) and Asbestos and Salamander {T'oung Pao, 1915, pp. 297-371). 

2 Geerts (Les produits de la nature japonaise et chinoise, p. 201) stated in 1878 
that the diamond had not yet been found in China or Japan. Diamonds have been 
discovered in Shan-tung Province only during recent years (compare A. A. Fauvel, 
Les diamants chinois, Comptes-rendus Soc. de Vindustrie minihre, 1899, pp. 271-281; 
Chinese Diamonds, Mines and Minerals, Vol. XXIII, 1902-03, p. 552). The late 
F. H. Chalfant (in the work Shantung, the Sacred Province of China, ed. by 
Forsyth, p. 346) gives this accoimt: "Fifty-five li south-east of I-chou-fu lie the 
diamond fields. The stones are found on the low watershed between two streams, 
distributed through a very shallow soil over a reddish sandstone conglomerate. A 
determined effort was made by the same German company that operated the gold 
mine near I-chou, to develop the diamond field, but the enterprise was not a com- 
mercial success. It is the opinion of the German experts that the stones were 
deposited in their present position by the action of water at the time when, according 
to the theory, there was a connection between the two rivers. It is supposed that 
the source of the supply is somewhere in the mountains of M6ng-yin. Meanwhile, 
diamonds, some of them of very good quality, are constantly picked up at the locality 
described and occasionally at other points." The mines were abandoned by the 


6 The Diamond 

Asia and China on the other hand. Nevertheless the ideas conceived 
by the Chinese regarding the diamond do not coincide with those enter- 
tained in India, but harmonize with those which we find expounded in 
classical literature. This fact is due to the direct importation of dia- 
monds from the Hellenistic Orient to China; but it has been entirely 
unknown heretofore, and this is another reason which will justify this 
investigation now made for the first time. Its significance lies not only 
in the field of Chinese research, but in that of classical archeology as 
well. The copious and reliable accounts of Chinese authors advance our 
knowledge of the subject to a considerable degree beyond the point 
where the classical writers leave us, and elucidate several problems as 
yet unsettled. It will be seen on the pages to follow that the use of 
the diamond-point in the ancient world, doubted or disowned by many 
scholars, now becomes a securely-established fact, and also that the 
acquaintance of the ancients with the true diamond rises from the 
sphere of sceptical speculation into a certain and permanent fact. 
Likewise the much-ventilated question as to whether the ancients 
employed diamond-dust, and cut and polished the diamond, will be 
presented in a new light. 

Legend or the Diamond Valley. — The Liang se kung hi^ one of 
the most curious books of Chinese literature, contains the following 
account: "In the period T'ien-lden (502-520) of the Liang dynasty, 

Germans in 1907, as the diamonds proved to be of little value for gems, while answer- 
ing well for industrial purposes {Engineering and Mining Journal, Vol. LXXXIV, 
1907, p. 1 159). An anonjrmous writer in Mines and Minerals (Vol. XXIII, 1903, 
p. 552) reports as follows on Chinese diamond-digging: "The Chinese procure the 
diamonds by the following method: After the summer rains which, according to 
them, produce diamonds on the surface of the soil, whence the uselessness of digging 
to find them, they walk back and forth over the sand of the torrents. The fragments 
of diamonds, on account of their sharp points and edges, penetrate the rye straw of 
their sabots to the exclusion of other gravel. When they think there is a sufficient 
quantity they make a pile of the sabots and bum them. The ashes are afterwards 
passed through a sieve to separate the diamonds. Those which we saw were small, 
varying from the size of a grain of millet to that of a hemp seed. They are generally 
of a light-yellow color like those of the Cape, though there are some perfectly white. 
When they find them of sufficient size they break them, as they told us, in order to 
make drill points, for, not knowing how to cut them, the Chinese in general do not 
consider them as precious stones. They prefer the jade, the amethyst, the camehan, 
and the agate. Only the rich Chinese of the ports and of Peking have bought cut 
diamonds, imported from India or Europe, to ornament their hats or their rings, 
since the Dutch first brought them into China in the sixteenth century. The 
Shan-tung collectors sell them throughout China, and their trade is of considerable 
importance." The exact date of this modern diamond-digging is not known to me, 
but it seems not to be earlier than the latter part of the nineteenth century. I can 
find no reference to it in Chinese literature. 

1 Or Liang se kung tse ki (see Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, No. 451), that is, 
Memoirs of the Four Worthies or Lords of the Liang Dynasty (502-556), who were 

Legend of the Diamond Valley 7 

Prince Kie of Shu (Sze-ch'uan) paid a visit to the Emperor Wu/ and, 
in the course of conversations which he held with the Emperor's scholars 
on distant lands, told this story: *In the west, arriving at the Mediter- 
ranean,* there is in the sea an island of two hundred square miles (li). 
On this island is a large forest abundant in trees with precious stones, 
and inhabited by over ten thousand families. These men show great 
ability in cleverly working gems,' which are named for the country 
Fu-lin 4^ i^' In a northwesterly direction from the island is a ra- 
vine hollowed out like a bowl, more than a thousand feet deep. They 
throw flesh into this valley. Birds take it up in their beaks, whereupon 
they drop the precious stones. The biggest of these have a weight of 
five catties.' There is a saying that this is the treasiuy of the Devaraja 
of the Rapadhatu ^^f^^.''* 

From several points of view this text is of fundamental importance. 
First of all, it contains the earliest mention in Chinese records of the 
country Fu-lin, antedating our previous knowledge of it by a century. 

Huei-ch'uang, Wan-kie, Wei-t'uan, and Chang-ki; the work was written by Chang 
Yue (667-730), a statesman, poet, and painter of the T'ang period. The text trans- 
lated above is given in T*u shu tsi ch'ing, section on National Economy 321, chapter 
on Precious Commodities (pao huo); it is reprinted in the writer's Optical Lenses 
{T'oung Pao, 1915, p. 204). 

1 He was the first emperor of the Liang dynasty and bore the name Siao Yen; he 
lived from 464 to 549. 

2 Literally, ' ' the Western Sea ' ' (Si hat) . Compare Hirth, The Mystery of Fu-lin 
II {Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXXIII, 1913, p. 195). 

'Literally, "implements or vessels of precious stones" {pao kH), among which 
also antique intaglios are presimiably included. 

*A Sanskrit-Buddhist term meaning "the Celestial King of the Region of 
Forms." Region of Forms is the second of the three Brahmanic worlds {trailokya). 
The detailed discussion of this subject on the part of O. Franke (Chinesische Tem- 
pelinschrift, Abhandl. preuss. Akad., 1907, pp. 47-50) is especially worth reading. 
There are four Celestial or Great Kings guarding the four quarters of the world, 
each posted on a side of the world-mountain Sumeru. The one here in question is 
Kubera or Vaigravaija, the regent of the north and God of Wealth, the ruler of the 
aerial demons, called Yaksha. In earlier Buddhist art he is represented as standing 
on a Yaksha (see the writer's Chinese Clay Figures, pp. 297 et seq.); in later art he 
is figured holding in his right hand a standard and in his left an ichneumon (nakula) 
spitting jewels (compare A. Foucher, Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. Ill, p. 655). 
This animal is known as the inveterate enemy of snakes; and snakes, in Indian beUef, 
are the guardians of precious stones and other treasures. By devouring the snakes, 
the ichneumon (or, to use its Anglo-Indian name, mangoose) appropriates their 
jewels, and has hence developed into the attribute of Kubera. The reference to the 
Indian God of Wealth in the above text is, of course, not an element inherent in the 
story, as it was transmitted from Fu-lin, but an interpolation of the Chinese author 
prompted by a reflection regarding a tradition hailing from India. This Indian story 
has been recorded by him in another passage of the same work, and will be discussed 
farther on (p. 18). 

8 The Diamond 

Professor Hirth, a lifetime student of the complex Fu-lin problem/ 
encountered the first notices of Fu-lin in the Annals of the T'ang 
Dynasty, and an incidental reference to it in the Annals of the Sui 
Dynasty, written between 629 and 636, thus tracing the first appearance 
of the name to the first half of the seventh century. Chavannes* 
called attention to a text written in 607, in which Fu-lin is mentioned, 
with reference to a passage translated by him from the Ts^e fu yuan 
kuei, where the name is written in the same manner as in our text 
above.' The latter distinctly relates to the period T'ien-kien (502-5 20) , 
and, further, is chronologically determined through the mention of 
the Liang Emperor Wu. Accordingly we are here confronted with the 
earliest allusion to the country Fu-lin in the beginning of the sixth 
century. The fact that the well-known Fu-lin discussed by Hirth and 
Chavannes, and no other, is involved in this passage, is evidenced by 
the very contents of the text, which, as will be demonstrated presently, 
harbors a tradition emanating from the Hellenistic Orient. It is notable 
that our text writes the second element of the name ^^ instead of 
^, as the later documents do; it is obvious that a popular inter- 
pretation is intended here, the "forest" (lin) of the jewels being read 
into Fu-lin: as if it were "forest of Fu." This is not the place to 
revive the much-ventilated question of the etjrmology of this name, 
or to take sides with the interpretations proposed by Hirth and Cha- 
vannes;* but brief reference should be made to the recent theory of 
Pelliot,^ according to whom the word Fu-lin is the product of the 
name Rontj prompted by a supposed intermediary form Frdm^ which 
issued from Armenian Hrom or Horom and Pahlavi Hrdm, Pelliot 
thinks also that the name Fu-lin appears in China with certainty 
around 550, and that it is possibly still older, which perfectly har- 
monizes with the result obtained from the above text. 

The story about the capture of the precious stones is almost enig- 
matical in its terse brevity, but it at once becomes intelligible if we 
recognize it as an abridged form of a well-known Western legend. The 
oldest hitherto accessible version of it is contained in the writings of 

1 In his book China and the Roman Orient, and in his studies The Mystery of 
Fu-lin (Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXX, 1909, pp. 1-31; Vol. XXXIII, 1913, 
pp. 195-208). 

* Toung Pao, 1904, p. 38. 

' The same mode of writing occurs in Yu yang tsa tsu and in a poem of the T'ang 
Emperor T'ai-tsung (see P*ei wen yUnfu, Ch. 27, p. 25). 

* The latter has developed the conflicting views of both sides in T*oung Pao, 
1913. P- 798. 

' Journal asiatique (Mars-Avril, 19 14), p. 498. ,_ 

Legend of the Diamond Valley 9 

Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus (circa 315-403).^ In his 
discotirse on the twelve jewels forming the breastplate of the High 
Priest of Jerusalem, the following tale is narrated of the hyacinth. 
The theatre of action is a deep valley in a desert of great Scythia, entirely 
surrounded by rocky mountains rising straight like walls; so that from 
their summits the bottom of the valley is not visible, but only a sullen 
mist like chaos. The men despatched there in search of those stones 
by the kings, who reside in the neighborhood, slay sheep, strip them 
of their skins, and fling them from the rocks into the immense chaos 
of the valley. The stones then adhere to the flesh of the sheep. The 
eagles that loiter on the cliffs above scent the flesh, pounce down upon 
it in the valley, carry the carcasses off to devoiu: them, and thus the 
stones remain on the top of the mountains. The convicts condemned 
to gather the stones go to the spots where the flesh of the sheep has 
been carried away by the eagles, find and take the stones. All these 
stones, whatever the diversity of their color, are of value as precious 
stones, but have this effect: that, when placed over a violent charcoal 
fire, they themselves are but slightly hurt, while the coal is instantly 
extinguished. This stone is reputed to be useful to women in aiding 
parturition; it is said also to dispel phantoms in a similar manner .^ 

1 Epiphanii opera, ed. Dindorf, Vol. IV, p. 190 (Leipzig, 1862). The text in 
question is reproduced also by J. Ruska (Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 15). 

2 The notion that the stones gathered by eagles aid in parturition rests on the 
belief of the ancients that the so-called aetites or "eagle-stone," found in the nests 
of eagles, possesses remarkable properties having this effect. According to Pliny (x, 
3, § 12; and XXXVI, 21, § 151), who distinguishes four varieties, this stone, so to speak, 
has the quality of being pregnant; for when shaken, another stone is heard to rattle 
within, as though it were enclosed in its womb. A male and a female stone are always 
found together; and without them, the eagles would be unable to propagate. Hence 
the young of the eagle are never more than two in number. Philostratus, in his 
Life of ApoUonius from Tyana, notes that the eagles never build their nests without 
first placing there an eagle-stone (F. de M£ly, Lapidaires grecs, p. 27). This stone 
is regarded as ferruginous geodes, a globular mass of clay iron-stone, which some- 
times is hollow, sometimes encloses another stone or a little water. According to 
the Physiologus (xix), the parturition-stone is found in India, whither the female 
vulture repairs to obtain it. From the Physiologus the story passed into the Arabic 
writers (J. Ruska, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 165; Steinbuch des Qazwini, 
pp. 18, 38; L. Leclerc, Traits des simples, Vol. I, pp. 121-123). O. Keller (Tiere 
des classischen Altertums, p. 269) regards the legend of the eagle-stone as Egyptian, 
because it is mentioned by Horapollo (11, 49); but his work Hieroglyphica belongs 
to the fourth century a.d., while even Theophrastus (De lapidibus, 5) speaks of 
parturient stones. It seems more plausible that, as intimated by the Physiologus, 
the story hails from India. The physician Razi, who died in 923 or 932, observes 
(Leclerc, /. c.) that he encountered in some books of India the statement that a 
woman is easily delivered when the stone is placed on her abdomen. Regarding 
similar notions in China compare F. de M£ly, L'alchimie chez les Chinois {Journal 
asiatique, 1895, Sept.-Oct., p. 336) and Lapidaires chinois, p. lxiii. 

lo The Diamond 

The coincidence of this tale with our Chinese text is striking, the 
chief points — the deep valley, the flesh thrown down as bait, the 
birds bringing up the stones with it — being identical. The coincidence 
is the more remarkable, as the subsequent additional features with 
which the legend has been embellished in the West are lacking in the 
Chinese version. For this reason the conclusion is justified that the 
latter, directly traceable to a version of the type of Epiphanius, was 
transmitted straightway to China, as revealed by the very words of 
the Chinese account, from Fu-lin, a part of the Roman Empire. 

In the second oldest Western version we encounter two new ele- 
ments, — Alexander the Great and snakes guarding the stones. The 
oldest Arabic work on mineralogy, wrongly connected with the name of 
Aristotle and composed before the middle of the ninth century, has 
the following under the "diamond:"^ "Nobody but my disciple 
Alexander reached the valley in which diamonds are found. It lies 
in the east along the extreme frontier of Khorasan, and its bottom 
cannot be penetrated by human eyes.* Alexander, after having 
advanced thus far, was prevented from proceeding by a host of snakes. 
In this valley are found snakes which by gazing at a man cause his 
death. He therefore caused mirrors to be made for them; and when 
they thus beheld themselves, they perished, while Alexander's men 
could look at them.' Thereupon Alexander contrived another ruse: 
he had sheep slaughtered, skinned, and flung on the bottom of the 
valley. The diamonds adhered to the flesh. The birds of prey seized 
them and brought part of them up. The soldiers pursued the birds 
and took whatever of their spoils they dropped." This account might 
lead us to suspect that the legend may have formed part of the Romance 
of Alexander, the archetype of which is preserved in the book known as 
that of Pseudo-Callisthenes, and produced at Alexandria in Egypt in 
the second century a.d.* In fact, however, it does not appear there, 
nor in any of the other early Western or Oriental cycles of the Alexander 
legends. The first Alexander legend in which it was incorporated is 

1 J. RusKA, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 150. 

2 Almost identical with the phraseology of Epiphanius: " Ita ut signis desuper, a 
summitatibus montium tanquam de muris aspiciat solum convallis, pervidere non 

3 A reminiscence of the basilisk, that hideous serpent-like monster described by 
Pliny (viii, 33). The mediaeval poets have the basilisk die when it beholds itseH 
in a mirror (F. Lauchert, Geschichte des Physiologus, p. 186). 

* According to current opinion. A. Ausfeld (Der griechische Alexanderroman, 
p. 242, Leipzig, 1907), however, in his fundamental investigation of the Greek 
work, dates the oldest recension of Pseudo-Callisthenes with great probability in the 
second century B.C. 

Legend of the Diamond Valley ii 

the Iskander-ndmeh of the Persian poet Nizami (1141-1203);^ here we 
likewise meet the snakes, and it is now clear that Aristotle's lapidarium 
was the source of Nizami's episode.^ It is well known that in the Arabic 
stories of Sindbad the Sailor, Sindbad, deposited by the Rokh in the 
Diamond Valley, observes how merchants throw down flesh, which is 
carried upward by vultures (also Nizami speaks of vultures) together 
with the diamonds sticking to it; enveloped by this flesh, he is lifted 
in the same manner.^ The gradual growth of the legend from the 
simple form in which Epiphanius had clothed it is interesting to follow. 
In the celebrated Arabic "Book of the Wonders of India,"* written 
about A.D. 960, our legend is told by a traveller who had penetrated into 
the countries of India, and who localized it in Kashmir. He introduces 
a new element, — a fire constantly burning in the valley day and night, 

* J. RusKA, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 14. 

2 Qazwini (1203-83) has the same story somewhat more amplified (J. Ruska, 
Steinbuch aus der Kosmographie des al-Qazwini, p. 35) ; but it is interesting that he 
communicates two versions of it, — one being a close adaptation of Aristotle's 
account, the other staged on Serendib (Ceylon) [where diamonds are not found] and 
not connected with the name of Alexander. It is obvious that the Arabic polyhistor, 
in his notice of the diamond, is reproducing two different sources, — the first being 
introduced by the words "Aristotle says;" the second, by the words "Another 
says." It is clear also that in this anonymous version the snakes are a purely inci- 
dental accessory which was lacking in the original text. "The mines are located in 
the mountains of Serendib, in a valley of great depth, in which there are deadly 
snakes." The snakes, however, are put out of commission in the capture of the 
diamonds, which is due to the action of the vultures; and in order to justify the in- 
troduction of the reptiles, it is added at the end that large stones have to remain in 
the valley, as it cannot be reached for fear of the snakes. This observation is not 
without value for tracing the origin and growth of the legend. It shows that the 
feature of the snakes, however tempting this suggestion of its Indian origin may be 
to a superficial judgment, was not conceived in India, but in the Arabic-Persian 
sphere of the Alexander legends, with the evident object of aggrandizing the exploits 
of the conqueror. Qazwini's duplicity of versions is mirrored by Marco Polo 
(ed. of Yule and Cordier, Vol. II, pp. 360-361), who likewise offers two variants, — 
one with serpents, and another without them. The dependence of Qazwini's story 
on that in Aristotle's lapidarium has already been recognized by E. Rohde (Der 
griechische Roman, p. 193, note, 3d ed., Leipzig, 1914). Ruska is right in his con- 
clusion that the traditions concerning stones are relatively independent, and par- 
ticularly so from the Alexander cycle; many a story in its origin had no connection with 
Alexander, but was subsequently associated with him in the same manner as King 
Solomon became the centre of numerous legendary fabrics. This follows in particu- 
lar from the thorough investigation of A. Ausfeld (Der griechische Alexanderroman) , 
who devoted a lifetime of study to the Greek romance of Alexander, and in whose 
purified text, representing the oldest accessible version, these mineralogical fables 
do not appear. 

3 Compare also Benjamin of Tudela, p. 82 (ed. of GRtJNHUT and Adler, 
Jerusalem, 1903). 

* P. A. VAN der Lith and L. M. Devic, Livre des merveilles de I'lnde, p. 128 
(Leiden, 1883-86); or L. M. Devic, Les merveilles de I'lnde, p. 109 (Paris, 1878). 

12 The Diamond 

summer and winter. The serpents are distributed around the fire; 
sheep's flesh, eagles, and capture of the stones, are the same features as 
previously mentioned, but the dangers of the work are magnified: 
the flesh may be devoured by the flames; the eagle, drawing too near 
the fire, may likewise be biuiit; and the captors may perish from the 
peril of the fire and the serpents.^ 

In the Sung period (960-1278) the story was vaguely known to 
Chou Mi.2 In his work Ts'i tung ye yilj as quoted by Li Shi-ch^n, he 
says that, according to oral accounts, diamonds come from the Western 
Countries {Si yii) and the Uigurs; that the stones stick to the food taken 
by eagles on the summits of high mountains, thus enter their bowels, 
and appear in their droppings, which are searched by men for the 
stones in the desert of Gobi, north of the Yellow River. The honest 
author adds, "I do not know whether it is so or not." Fang I-chi, 
the author of the Wu li siao shi,^ who wrote in the first half of the 
seventeenth century, criticises Chou Mi's story as erroneous and not 

1 An echo of a certain motive of the legend of the Diamond Valley seems to 
reverberate in the Shamir legend of the Semitic peoples. The most interesting form 
of this legend is found in Qazwini (Ruska, Steinbuch aus der Kosmographie, p. 16), 
who calls the stone sdmur and characterizes it as the stone cutting all other stones. 
Solomon endeavors to obtain it that the stones required for the temple might be 
cut noiselessly. Only the eagle knows the place to find it, but the secret must 
be elicited from the bird through a ruse. The eggs are removed from its nest, 
enclosed in a glass bottle, and restored to their place. The returning eagle cannot 
break the glass with its pinions, and seeks for a piece of the stone in question, which 
he throws toward the vessel, breaking it into halves without noise. The eagle replies 
to Solomon's query that the stone is brought from a mountain in the west, termed 
Mount Samar, whither Solomon sends the Djinns, who get a goodly supply for him. 
In this legend the stone sdmilr doubtless is intended for the diamond, and the motive 
of the eagle knowing its whereabouts is the same as in the legend of the Diamond 
Valley. The Talmud has strangely disfigured this story which is very sensibly told 
by QazwInI, and has transformed the stone shamir into a worm of the size of a barley- 
grain, capable of splitting and engraving the hardest objects, so that the shamir 
figures among the fabulous animals of the Talmud (L. Lewysohn, Zoologie des 
Talmud, p. 351). The worm (and simultaneously) diamond shamir has been en- 
trusted to the wood-cock who took it to the summit of an uninhabited mountain; 
this is analogous to the birds or eagles bringing the diamonds up from the snake 
valley, and it is very tempting to assume that the snakes may have given rise to the 
curious Talmudic conception of the diamond as a worm. Lewysohn is of the opinion 
that the word shamir conveys the notion of hardness, and, for example, denotes iron, 
which is harder than stone, and also the diamond. — The Hebrew word shamir 
appears in Jeremiah (xvii, i), Ezekiel (111, 9), and Zechariah (vii, 12), and is supposed 
to refer to the diamond ("adamant stone" in the English Bible); more probably it 
is the emery. In the opinion of some scholars, Greek anipis ("emery") is derived 
from the Hebrew word. For further bibliographical data on the Shamir legend see 
T. Zachariae, Zeitschr. Vereins fiir Volkskunde, Vol. XXIV, 19 14, p. 423. 

2 A celebrated and fertile author, who was bom about 1230, and died before 1320 
(see Pelliot, Toung Pao, 1913, pp. 367, 368). 

' Ch. 8, p. 22 (edition of Ning tsing Vang, 1884). 

Legend of the Diamond Valley 13 

clear. Both authors were evidently not acquainted with the older 
version of the Liang se kung ki. 

A new impetus to the legend was given during the Mongol period in 
the thirteenth century, when it was revived among the Arabs, in China, 
and in Europe. Reference has already been made to Qazwini (i 203-83) , 
who attributes it to the Valley of the Moon among the mountains of 
Serendib (Ceylon) ; and the geographer Edrisi localizes it in the land of 
the Kirkhir (probably Kirghiz) in Upper Asia. The Arabic mineralogist 
Ahmed Tifashi, who died in 1253, even gives two versions, — one refer- 
ring to the hyacinth (in agreement with Epiphanius) of Ceylon, the other 
to the diamonds of India.^ The former is vividly told, and the serpents 
"able to swallow an entire man" have duly been introduced; the latter 
is briefly jotted down, with a reference to the former chapter. 

Ch'ang T6, the Chinese envoy who was sent in 1 259 to Hulagu, King of 
Persia, mentions in his diary, among the wonders of the Western countries, 
the diamond, of which he correctly says that it comes from India. " The 
people take flesh," his story goes, "and throw it into the great valley. 
Then birds come and eat this flesh, after which diamonds are found in 
their excrement." * It is obvious that Ch'ang T6 recorded the legend as 

1 A. Raineri Biscia, Fior di pensieri suUe pietre preziose di Ahmed Teifascite, 
pp. 21, 54 (2d ed., Bologna, 1906). As this work may not be in the hands of every 
reader, the text of the longer version may here be given: ** Narra Ahmed Teifascite, 
a cui il sommo Iddio usi misericordia, che in alcuni anni non piovendo punto in quel 
montuoso territorio de Rahim, ed i suoi torrenti non trasportando per conseguenza 
verun lapillo di giacinto, coloro i quaH bramano nuUadimeno di fame acquisto, 
ricorrono al seguente compenso. Siccome suUa cima del prefato monte trovansi, 
ed annidano molte aquile, stante la total mancanza di abitatori, cosi prendono quelli 
un grosso animale, lo scannano, lo scorticano, e dopo averlo tagliato e diviso in larghi 
pezzi li lasciano alle falde dello stesso monte, e se n'allontanano. Osservando quelle 
aquile siffatti pezzi di carne corrono tosto per rapirli, e li trasportano verso dei loro 
nidi; ma giacch^ cammin facendo sono costrette di posarli qualche volta in terra, 
n'accade perci6 che attacansi a cotesti pezzi di carne diverse pietruzze o lapilli di 
giacinto. In seguito ripigliando le aquile stesse il volo coi rispettivi pezzi di came, 
e venendo tra loro a contesa per rapporto ai medesimi, si 6k la combinazione che 
nella mischia ne cadono alcuni fuori dal predetto monte; lo che veduto dalle persone 
ivi a bella posta concorse vanno subito a raccogliere da tali pezzi tutta quella copia 
di giacinto, che vi h rimasta attaccata. La parte inferiore dell'indicato monte h in- 
gombrata da folti boschi, da larghi e profondi fossi, e burroni, non che da alberi d'alto 
fusto, ove trovansi vari seipenti che inghiottiscono un uomo intero. Per tal cagione 
niuno pu6 salir su quel monte e vedere le maraviglie che in esso contengonsi." 

* Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, Vol. I, p. 152. Bretschneider states 
that the legend is very ancient, but refers only to Sindbad the Sailor from a second- 
hand source, and to Marco Polo. The text of the passage will be found in G. 
ScHLEGEL (Nederlandsch-chineesch Woordenboek, Vol. I, p. 860). Compare Marco 
Polo (ed. of Yule and Cordier, Vol. II, p. 361): "The people go to the nests of 
those white eagles, of which there are many, and in their droppings they find plenty 
of diamonds which the birds have swallowed in devouring the meat that was cast 
into the valleys." 

14 The Diamond 

heard by him in the West, and that his version does not depend upon the 
older one of the Liang se kung kt, which evidently was not known to him. 
This case is interesting, for it shows that the same Western story was 
handed on to the Chinese at different times and from different sources. 

About the same time, Marco Polo chronicled the diamond story ^ 
which he learned in India, and its close agreement in the main points 
with the Arabic authors is amazing. The Venetian was not the first 
European, however, to record it; as pointed out by Yiile, it is one of the 
many stories in the scrap-book of the Byzantine historian Tzetzes.^ 

Nicolo Conti of the fifteenth century relates it of a mountain called 
Albenigaras, fifteen days' journey in a northerly direction from Vija- 
yanagar; and it is told again, apparently after Conti, by Julius Caesar 
Scaliger. As a popular tale it is found not only in Armenia,^ as stated 
by Yule, but also in Russia.^ 

1 Yule and Cordier, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, Vol. II, p. 360. The bewitching 
of the serpents by means of mirrors is wanting. The feature of the eagles feeding upon 
the serpents appears to be a thoroughly Indian notion, absent in the Arabic accounts. 

2 One of the earliest mediaeval sources that contains the story is th# fantastic 
description of India and the country of Prester John, written by Elysaeus in the 
latter part of the twelfth century, and edited by F. Zarncke (Der Priester Johannes 
II, pp. 120-127). This text is as follows: "Quomodo autem carbunculi reperiantur 
audiamus. Ibi est vallis quaedam, in qua carbunculi reperiuntur. NuUus autem 
hominum accedere potest prae pavore griffonum et profunditate vallis. Et cum 
habere volunt lapides, occidunt pecora et accipiunt cadavera, et in nocte accedunt 
ad simmiitatem vallis et deiciunt ea in vallem, et sic inprimuntur lapides in cadavera, 
et acuti sunt. Veniunt autem grifones et assumunt cadavera et educunt ea. Eductis 
ergo cadaveribus perduntur carbimculi, et sic inveniimtur in campis." 

3 Probably due to the fact that it was adopted by the Armenian lapidarium of 
the seventeenth century, translated into Russian by K. P. Patkanov (p. 3). Of 
especial interest is the fact that the snakes are dissociated from the two Armenian 
versions known to us. This is the more curious, as the lapidarium fastens the story 
upon Alexander: consequently some Oriental form of the Romance of Alexander 
must have pre-existed, in which the snakes did not yet figure. For the benefit of 
those who may not have access to Von Haxthausen's Transcaucasia (London, 
1854), the source of the Armenian popular story (p. 360), its text may here follow: 
"In Hindostan there is a deep and rocky valley, in which all kinds of precious stones, 
of incalculable value, lie scattered upon the ground; when the stm shines upon them, 
they glisten like a sea of glowing, many-colored fire. The people see this from the 
summits of the surrounding hills, but no one can enter the valley, partly because there 
is no path to it and they could only be let down the steep rocks, and partly because 
the heat is so great that no one could endure it for a minute. Merchants come 
hither from foreign countries; they take an ox and hew it in pieces, which they fix 
upon long poles, and cast into the valley of gems. Then huge birds of prey hover 
around, descend into the valley, and carry off the pieces of flesh. But the merchants 
observe closely the direction in which the birds fly, and the places where they alight 
to feed, and there they frequently find the most valuable gems." 

<AzBUKOVNiK, Tales of the Russian People (in Russian), Vol. II, p. 161. As 
the story is here told in regard to the hyacinth, it appears to go back directly to the 
account of Epiphanius. 

Legend of the Diamond Valley 15 

Under the Ming (i 368-1 643) the story was repeated by Ts'ao Chao 
in his work Ko ku yao lun, which he published in 1387. His version is as 
follows: "Diamond-sand comes from Tibet {Si-Jan). On the high 
summits of mountains with deep valleys, unapproachable to men, they 
make perches for the eagles, on which they set out food. The birds eat 
the flesh on the mountains and drop their ordure into desert places. 
This is gathered, and the stones are found in it."^ 

As regards the origin of our legend, two distinct opinions have been 
voiced. Yule 2 and Rohde^ point to its great resemblance to what 
Herodotus (III, 1 1 1) tells of the manner in which cinnamon was obtained 
by the Arabs; and a certain amount of affinity between the two cannot 
be denied. Great birds, says Herodotus, make use of cinnamon-sticks 
to build their nests, fastened with mud to high rocks, up which no foot 
of man is able to climb. So the Arabians resort to the artifice of cutting 
up the carcasses of beasts of burden and placing the pieces near the 
nests, whereupon they withdraw to a distance; and the old birds, swoop- 
ing down, seize the flesh and bring it up into their nests. As the pieces 
are large, they break through the nest and fall to the ground, when the 
Arabians return and collect the cinnamon. The interval between 
Herodotus and Epiphanius is too great to be spanned or to allow us to 
link their stories in close historical bonds. There must be many inter- 
mediary links imknown to us. They evidently belong, as two individual 
variations, to the same type of legend, and seem to point to the fact 
that the latter existed in the near Orient for a long time."* The Chinese 
text recorded in the beginning of the sixth century, from which we 
started, furnishes additional testimony to this effect. 

V. Ball^ is inclined to think that the story "appears to be founded 
on the very common practice in India, on the opening of a mine, of 
offering up cattle to propitiate the evil spirits who are supposed to guard 
treasures — these being represented by the serpents in the myth. At 
such sacrifices in India, birds of prey invariably assemble to pick up 

^ Ko chi king yiian, Ch. 33, p. 3 b. 

2 L. c, p. 363. 

' Der griechische Roman, p. 193. 

* Certain elements of the story may be found also in Pliny's (xxxvii, 33) curious 
legend of the stone callaina, which has wrongly been identified with the turquois: 
Some say that these stones are found in Arabia in the nests of the birds called " black- 
heads" (Suntjqui in Arabia inveniri eas dicant in nidis avium, quas melancoryphos 
vocant). Pliny then reports the occurrence of the stones on inaccessible rocks which 
people cannot climb, and mentions the danger connected with the venture of seeking 
them. Capturing them with slings certainly is a different feature, characteristic of 
another cycle of legends. 

^ Translation of Tavemier's Travels in India, Vol. II, p. 461. 

1 6 The Diamond 

what they can, and in that fact we probably have the remainder of the 
foundation of the story. It is probable also that the story by Pliny 
and other early writers, of the diamond being softened by the blood of 
a he-goat, had its origin in such sacrifices."^ This subjective explana- 

1 This tradition, which, as will be seen below, has a curious parallel in China, is 
entirely independent of the Diamond- Valley story, and bears no relation to it. It is 
regrettable that Ball does not betray who the "other early writers" are. Pliny, in 
fact, is the earliest and only ancient writer to have it on record; Augustinus (fifth 
century), Isidorus (who died in 636) and Marbod (1035-1123) have merely reiterated 
it after Pliny, and Pliny's story certainly is not borrowed from India. W. Crooke 
(Things Indian, p. 135) is inclined to think that if Ball's explanation be correct, the 
early diamond-diggers must have been non-Aryans, who did not regard the cow as 
sacred. The ' ' early diamond-diggers ' ' are a bit of exaggeration : in no Indian record 
of very early date does any mention of the diamond occur. Crooke's information 
on this point lacks somewhat the necessary precision. According to him, "diamonds 
were from very early times valued in India. The Puraijas speak of them as divided 
into castes, and Marco Polo describes them as found in the kingdom of MutfiU." 
The Puraija were at the best composed in the first centuries a.d., and more probably 
much later. The knowledge of the diamond, certainly, does not go back in India 
into that unfathomable antiquity, as pretended by some mineralogical and other 
authors (for instance, G. Watt, Dictionary of Economic Products of India, Vol. Ill, 
p. 93). It was wholly unknown in the Vedic period, from which no specific names of 
precious stones are handed down at all. The word ma'fii, which has sometimes been 
taken to mean the diamond (Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index of Names and Sub- 
jects, Vol. II, p. 119), simply denotes a bead used for personal ornamentation and as 
an amulet, and the arbitrary notion that it might refer to the diamond is disproved 
by the fact that it could be strtmg on a thread. The word vajra, which at a subse- 
quent period became an attribute of the diamond, originally served for the designation 
of a club-shaped weapon and of Indra's thunderbolt in particular (Macdonell, 
Vedic Mythology, p. 55). Philological considerations show us that the diamond 
had no place in times of Indian antiquity, for no plain and specific word has been 
appropriated for it in any ancient Indian language. Either, as in the case of vajra, 
a word long familiar with another meaning was transferred to it, or epithets briefly 
indicating some characteristic feature of the stone were created. S. K. Aiyangar 
(Note upon Diamonds in South India, Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, 
Vol. Ill, p. 129, Madras, 1914) calls attention to the fact that the first systematic 
reference to diamonds is made in the Arthagastra of Kautilya (see V. A. Smith, 
Early History of India, 3d ed., pp. 1 51-153). He mentions six kinds of diamonds 
classified according to their mines, and described as differing in lustre and degree of 
hardness. He points out those of regular crystalline form and those of irregular 
shape. The best diamond should be large, heavy, capable of bearing blows, regular 
in shape, able to scratch the surface of metal vessels, refractive and brilliant. Aiyan- 
gar dates the work in question "probably at the commencement of the third century 
B.C." This date, however, is a mooted point (compare L. Finot, Bull, de VEcole fran- 
gaise, Vol. XII, 1912, pp. 1-4), which it would be out of place to discuss here. More 
probably, it is in the early Pali scriptures of Buddhism that we can trace the first 
unmistakable references to the diamond. In the Questions of King Milinda (Milin- 
dapanha, translation of Rhys Davids, p. 128) we read that the diamond ought to 
have three qualities: it should be pure throughout; it cannot be alloyed with another 
substance; and it is mounted together with the most costly gems. The first alludes 
metaphorically to the monk's purity in his means of livelihood; the second, to his 
keeping aloof from the company of the wicked; the third, to his association with men 
of highest excellence, with men who have entered the first or second or third stage of 

Legend of the Diamond Valley 17 

tion is hardly convincing. It presupposes that the legend originated 
in India, but this postulate is not proved. That the later Arabic authors 
and Marco Polo place the locality in India, means nothing. Epiphanius 
lays the plot in Scythia; the Chinese version is laid in Fu-lin, and that 

the Noble Path, with the jewel treasures of the Arhats. The Milindapafiha may 
be dated with a fair degree of certainty: Milinda, who holds conversations with a 
Buddhist sage, is the Greek King Menandros, who ruled approximately between 
125 and 95 B.C. in the north-west of India; and the dialogues attributed to him may 
have been composed in the beginning of our era (M. Winternitz, Geschichte der 
indischen Litteratur, Vol. II, p. 140; V. A. Smith, Early History of India, p. 225). 
It is therefore quite sufficient to believe that the diamond became known in India 
during the Buddhist epoch in the first centuries B.C., say, roughly, from the sixth to 
the fourth century. The precious stones mentioned in Milindapafiha are enumerated 
by L. FiNOT (Lapidaires indiens, p. xix). The earliest descriptions of the diamond 
on the part of the Indians are by Varahamihira (a.d. 505-587; see H. Kern, Ver- 
spreide Geschriften, Vol. II, p. 97) and by Buddhabha^ta, who wrote prior to the 
sixth century a.d. Since the word vajra designates both Indra's thunderbolt 
and the diamond, it is in many cases difficult to decide which of the two is meant 
(A. FoucHER, Etudes sur I'iconographie bouddhique de I'lnde, Vol. II, p. 15, left 
the point undecided, rendering vajrdsana by "silge de diamant ou du foudre"); 
and the same obstacle turns up again in Chinese-Buddhist literature, where the 
term kin-kang as the translation of Sanskrit vajra covers the two notions; so that, 
for instance, Pelliot {Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. II, p. 146) raises the question, 
"Quel est le sens pr6cis de kin-kang}" Whether the title of the Stitra Vajracchedika, 
for instance, is correctly translated by "diamond-cutter," as has been done, is much 
open to doubt. If it should mean "sharply cutting, like a diamond" (Winternitz, 
l. c, p. 249), why could it not mean as well "sharply cutting, like a thunderbolt"? 
The thunderbolt, generally described as metallic, is also sharp; and Indra whets it 
like a knife, or as a bull its horns. Though a Chinese commentator of that work 
observes that, as the diamond excels all other precious gems in brilliance and in- 
destructibility, so also the wisdom of this work transcends and shall outlive all other 
knowledge known to philosophy (W. Gemmell, The Diamond Sutra, p. 47), it is but 
a late afterthought, and proves nothing as to the original Indian concept. The most 
curious misconceptions have arisen about the so-called " Diamond-Seat " ( Vajrdsana), 
This is the name of the throne or seat on which Qakyamuni, the founder of Buddhism, 
reached perfect enlightenment under the sacred fig-tree at Gaya. The Chinese 
pilgrim Huan Tsang, who visited the place during his memorable journey in India, 
remarks that it was made from diamond {Ta T'ang si yii ki, Ch. 8, p. 14, ed. of Shou 
shan ko ts'ung shu; Julien, M^moires sur les contr^es occidentals. Vol. I, p. 460; 
Watters, On Yuan Chwang's Travels, Vol. II, p. 114); but this is incredible, if for 
no other reason, because he proceeds to say that this throne measured over a hundred 
paces in circuit. While this may be solely the outcome of a popular tradition growing 
out of an interpretation of the name, Huan Tsang himself explains well how this 
name arose. It is derived, according to him, from the circumstance that here the 
thousand Buddhas of this eon (kalpa) enter the vajrasamddhi ("diamond ecstasy"), 
the designation for a certain degree of contemplative ecstasy. Moreover, in the 
Biography of Huan Tsang (Julien, Histoire de la vie de Hiouen-Thsang, p. 139) 
it is more explicitly stated that the employment of the word "diamond" in the 
term "Diamond-Seat" signifies that this throne is firm, solid, indestructible, and 
capable of resisting all shocks of the world. In other words, it is used metaphorically ; 
Buddha's own firmness and determination in the long struggle for obtaining enlight- 
enment and salvation, his fortitude in overcoming the hostile forces of Mara, 
the Evil One, being transferred to the seat which he occupied immovably during 

1 8 The Diamond 

of Pseudo-Aristotle in IQiorasan, etc. No ancient Sanskrit or Pali 
version of the story has as yet become known; and the weight of evidence 
is in favor of the Arabs having propagated it farther eastward in the 
ninth and tenth centuries, while it was known in China long before 
that time. The snakes and eagles, of course, could be translated into 
Indian thought as Naga and Garuda;^ but, again, the Indians do not 
tell us of such a tradition in connection with these two mythical crea- 
tures. Even granted that the addition of the snakes in Pseudo-Aristotle 
might be due to a secondary influence or to some latent undercurrent 
of Indian conception which possibly penetrated into Syria, the Indian 
origin of the legend would not be proved, either: for Epiphanius has 
no snakes; and the old Chinese version lacks them too, and has "birds" 
instead of eagles. We remember, however, that the Chinese text 
winds up with an allusion to a Buddhist notion, the Devaraja of the 
Rapadhatu; but neither is this evidence of an Indian provenience of the 
legend, which, as unambiguously stated in the text of Chang Yue, 
hailed from Fu-lin. This additional annotation, certainly not devised 
in Fu-lin, was derived by the author from another tradition, which we 
now propose to examine, and which will shed unexpected light on the 
position held by India in the diffusion of this tale. 

A contribution to the question whether the legend of the Diamond 

that interval. The counterpart of this sacred site may be viewed in China on the 
Island of P*u-t'o, in the so-called "P'an-t'o Rock," which is styled "Diamond Pre- 
cious Stone," on which, according to local legend, the Bodhisatva AvalokiteQvara 
(Kuan-yin) sat enthroned; this Diamond-Seat, however, is nothing but a rocky 
bowlder, the top of which is reached by means of a ladder, where contemplative 
monks may often be seen absorbed by the religious practice of meditation {dhydna; 
compare R. F. Johnston, Buddhist China, p. 313, London, 1913). The Vajrasana 
of Buddha, accordingly, has as much to do with the diamond in its quality of stone 
as, for instance, Dante's diamond throne on which the angel of God is seated (L'angel 
di Dio, sedendo in su la soglia, Che mi sembiava pietra di diamante. — Purgatorio, 
IX, 104-105). Here also it is a metaphor, referring, according to the one, to the 
firmness and constancy of the confessor, or, according to others, to the sjmibol of 
the solid fundament of the Church (Divina Commedia, ed. Scartazzini, p. 371). 
In a text of the Japanese Shin sect, the question is of a "heart strong as the diamond " 
in the sense of a diamond-hard faith (H. Haas, Amida Buddha, p. 122). Also the 
heart of the hardened sinner is compared with the diamond in Buddhist literature 
(H. Wenzel, Nagarjima's Friendly Epistle, p. 24, stanza 83; S. Beal, The Suhril- 
lekha or Friendly Letter, p. 31, stanza 85, London, 1892). The Manicheans used 
the word in a similar manner by way of illustration, when it is said in one of their 
writings that the Messenger of Light is the precious diamond pillar supporting the 
multitude of beings (Chavannes and Pelliot, Trait6 manich6en, p. 90). 

* Marco Polo (/. c.) explains the presence of the serpents in a natural manner: 
"Moreover in those moimtains great serpents are rife to a marvellous degree, besides 
other vermin, and this owing to the great heat. The serpents are also the most 
venomous in existence, insomuch that any one going to that region runs fearful 
peril; for many have been destroyed by these evil reptiles." 

Legend of the Diamond Valley 19 

Valley was known in ancient India is furnished by the same work, Liang 
se kung tse kiy as supplied to us with the Fu-lin version of the legend. 
Here we read this story: "A large junk of Fu-nan (Cambodja) which 
had come from western India arrived (in China) and offered for sale a 
mirror of a peculiar variety of rock-crystal/ one foot and four inches 
across its surface, and forty catties in weight. On the siu-face and in 
the interior it was pure white and transparent, and displayed many- 
colored objects on its obverse. When held against the light and ex- 
amined, its substance was not discernible. On inquiry for the price, it 
was given at a million strings of copper coins. The Emperor ordered 
the ofiScials to raise this siun, but the treasury did not hold enough. 
Those traders said, *This mirror is due to the action of the Devaraja 
of the RQpadhatu.^ On felicitous and joyful occasions he causes the 
trees of the gods^ to pour down a shower of precious stones, and the 
mountains receive them. The mountains conceal and seize the stones, 
so that they are difficult to obtain. The flesh of big animals is cast 
into the mountains; and when the flesh in these hiding-places becomes 
so putrefied that it phosphoresces, it resembles a precious stone. Birds 
carry it off in their beaks, and this is the jewel from which this mirror 
is made.* Nobody in the empire understood this and dared pay that 
price."* This account gives us a clew as to how it happened that the 
Devaraja of the Rapadhatu was linked with the aforesaid legend hail- 
ing from Fu-lin. Both legends are on record in the same book, and 
the author combined the one report with the other. There is no reason 
to wonder that the story of the Fu-nan traders was not comprehended 
in China. We ourselves should be completely at sea, did not the West- 
em legends enlighten the mystery. The story-teller from Fu-nan either 
did not express himself very clearly or was not perfectly understood by 
his interpreter, or the text of the Liang se kung tse ki has come down 
to us in corrupt shape. It is indubitable, however, that the story here 
on record is an echo of the legend of the Diamond Valley. All its essen- 
tial features clearly stand out, — the inaccessible mountains hoarding 
the stones, the casting of flesh on them, and birds securing the stones. 
The narrative is only obscure in omitting to state that the jewels ad- 

* Compare the writer's note on this subject in T'oung Pao, 1915, p. 200. 
' See above, p. 7. 

* This term corresponds to Sanskrit devataru ("tree of the gods"), a designation 
for the five miraculous trees to be foimd in Indra's Heaven, — kalpavr,iksha, pdrijdta, 
mandara, sathtdna, and haricandana (compare Hopkins, Journal Am. Or. Soc, 
Vol. XXX, 1910, pp. 352, 353). 

* T*ai p'ing yii Ian, Ch. 808, p. 6 (the Chinese text will be found in T'oung Pao, 
1915. p. 202). 

20 The Diamond 

here to the flesh which is devoured by the birds, while the puerile inti- 
mation that the putrefaction of the flesh transforms it into stone is 
interpolated. The Fu-nan merchants had come to China from the 
shores of western India, and brought from there the expensive crystal 
mirror. With it came the story, and thus some form of the legend of 
the Diamond Valley must have existed in the western part of India at 
least in the beginning of the sixth century a.d. Certainly it was a 
much fuller and more intelligent version than that presented to us 
through the medium of the Fu-nan seafarers. Be this as it may, also 
India took its place in this tmiversal concert of Asiatic nations; and 
our Chinese text has fortimately preserved the only Indian version 
thus far known, and now first revealed and explained. It is most in- 
teresting that the Indian tradition belongs to the type of the plain 
dramatic version, in which the by-play of the serpents is wanting; so 
is the Garuda; and the only specific Indian traits are the tree of the 
gods and the Devaraja Kubera. Aside from these incidents, which 
are inconclusive in stamping the legend as Indian in its origin, it 
thoroughly tallies with that of Epiphanius. For this and also chrono- 
logical reasons it follows that Fu-lin was the centre from which the 
legend spread simultaneously to India and China. G. Huet^ has re- 
cently given another interesting example of a story originating in 
western Asia, a weak echo of which was carried into India. 

It is therefore my opinion that the legend of the Valley of Diamonds 
or Precious Stones in its two early variations, as represented by Epi- 
phanius and Pseudo-Aristotle, whatever its antecedents and its possible 
associations with earlier stories of the Herodotian type may have been, 
originated in the Hellenistic Orient, and was propagated from this centre 
to China, to India, to the Arabs, and to Persia. The Chinese tradition 
of the Liang se kung tse ki, being an exact parallel to that of Epiphanius 
and approaching it more closely in time than any of the Arabic and 
other versions, being earlier and purer than that of Pseudo-Aristotle, 
presents an important contribution to the question, and shows that 
traditions of Fu-lin flowed into China long before its name was recorded 
in her ofiicial annals. The Chinese and Indian versions bear out still 
another significant point that may enable us to reconstruct the original 
form in which the subject was propagated in the Hellenistic world. It 
is manifest that Epiphanius, while by a lucky chance our earliest source 
on the matter, does not preserve the story in its primeval or pure form; 
he pursues a theological tendency by lining it up in his discourse on the 

* Le conte du "mort reconnaissant " et le livre de Tobie (Revue de Vhistoire des 
religions, Vol. LXXI, 1915, pp. 1-29). 

Indestructibility of the Diamond 21 

stones in the breastplate of the Jewish High Priest, and focuses it on 
the hyacinth, which makes for too narrow a specialization to be credit- 
able to the original. Certainly Epiphanius is not the author of the 
story, but merely its propagandist; it was folk-lore of his time which he 
imbibed and employed for his specific purpose. This point of view is 
upheld by our Chinese text, which records the story as a tradition com- 
ing from the Hellenistic Orient, and which clearly indicates also its 
object. The precious stones of anterior Asia had always wrought an 
unbounded fascination on the minds of the Chinese, and the scope of 
this tradition is to account for the enormous wealth in jewels possessed 
by the country Fu-lin. Here we have a bit of humorous wit, as offered 
by the inhabitants of Fu-lin in explanation of niunerous queries ad- 
dressed to them by foreign traders: it was a story freely circulating in 
Fu-lin, not centring around the hyacinth, but relating to precious stones 
in the widest sense. Such appears to have been the original story, and 
thus it is preserved to us by the Chinese. That Pseudo-Aristotle and 
his successors (except Tif ashi with his relapse into the hyacinth) chose 
the diamond, is easily intelligible, the diamond being always deemed 
the foremost and most valuable of all precious stones.^ 

Indestructibility of the Diamond. — The Taoist adept Ko 
Hung (fotuth centtiry a.d.) has the following notice on the diamond: 
"The kingdom of Fu-nan (Cambodja) produces diamonds {kin kang 
^^^\) which are capable of cutting jade. In their appearance they 
resemble fluor-spar.^ They grow on stones like stalactites,' on the bot- 
tom of the sea to the depth of a thousand feet. Men dive in search for 
the stones, and ascend at the close of a day. The diamond when struck 
by an iron hammer is not damaged; the latter, on the contrary, will be 

1 J. H. Krause, Pyrgoteles, p. 29. The diamond is forestalled in the text of 
Epiphanius by the reference to the incombustible property of the stones. 

» Ts'e shi ying ^^%, thus identified by D. Hanbury, Notes on Chinese Materia 
Medica {Pharmaceutical Journal, 1861, p. no), or Science Papers, p. 218. E. Biot 
identified it with rock-crystal and smoky quartz (Pauthier and Bazin, Chine mod- 
erne, Vol. II, p. 556). 

^ Chung ju shi H^JS, identified by D. Hanbury (/. c), with carbonate 
of lime in stalactitic masses, obtained from caves. The Chinese name, however, 
does not signify, as stated by Hanbury, "hanging- (like a bell) milk-stone," but the 
term chungju refers to the mammiUary protuberances or knobs on the ancient Chinese 
bells (see Hirth, Boas Anniversary Volume, pp. 251, 257). Giles (No. 5691) has 
the name in the form shi chungju, "stone-bell teats, — stalactites." Reduced to a 
powder the stone is used as a tonic. Compare F. Porter Smith, Contributions 
toward the Materia Medica of China, p. 204; Geerts, Produits de la nature japonaise 
et chinoise, p. 342; F. de M]&ly, Lapidaires chinois, pp. 92, 254. Important Chinese 
notes on this mineral are contained in the Yun lin shi p'u of Tu Wan (Ch. c, p. 8), 
Ling-wai taita of 1178 by Chou K'u-fei (Ch. 7, p. 13), and Phi ts'ao kang mu (Ch. 9, 
p. 17 b). 

22 The Diamond 

spoiled. If, however, a blow is dealt at the diamond by means of a 
ram's hom,^ it will at once be dissolved, and break like ice."^ 

The motive, diamonds being fished from the ocean, is an old Indian 
fable. We meet it in the Suppdraka-jdtaka, No. 463 in the famous 
Pali collection of Buddha's birth-stories. According to this legend, 
the diamonds are to be foimd in the Khuramala Sea. The Bodhisatva 
was on board ship, acting as skipper for a party of merchants. He 
reflected that if he told them this was a diamond sea, they would sink 
the ship in their greed by collecting the diamonds. So he told them 
nothing; but having brought the ship to, he got a rope, and lowered a 
net as if to catch fish. With this he brought in a haul of diamonds, and 
stored them in the ship; then he caused the wares of little value to be 
cast overboard.' Of course, the Indian mineralogists knew better than 
that, and even entimerate eight sites where the diamond was found.* 

* According to another reading, "antelope, or chamois horn" {ling yang kio). 
The latter is said to be solid and to occur only in the High-Rock Mountains {Kao shi 
shan) of Annam {Wu li siao shi, Ch. 8, p. 21b; and T*u shu tsi ch'ing, Pien i tien, 
Annam, hui k*ao 6, p. 8 b). 

* Pin ts*ao kang mu, Ch. 10, p. 12. Compare P. Pelliot, Le Fou-nan (Bull, 
de VEcolefrangaise, Vol. Ill, 1903, p. 281). The same notice has been embodied in 
the accoimt of the country of Fu-nan contained in the New Annals of the T'ang 
Dynasty {Tang shu, Ch. 222 b, p. 2; and Pelliot, /. c, p. 274). Fu-nan, of course, 
did not produce diamonds, as said by the T'ang Annals in this passage, but imported 
them from India, as attested by a statement in the same Annals {T'ang shu, Ch. 
221 A, p. lob) to the effect that India trades diamonds with Ta Ts'in (the Roman 
Orient), Fu-nan, and Kiao-chi. As both Indian diamonds and legends concerning 
them were encoimtered by the Chinese in Fu-nan, it was pardonable for them to 
believe that diamonds were a product of that country. Chao Ju-kua (translation of 
HiRTH and Rockhill, p. iii) says that the diamond of India will not melt, though 
exposed to the fire a hundred times. 

' E. B. CowELL, The Jataka, Vol. IV, p. 88. Compare also the Tibetan Dsang- 
lun, Ch. 30 (I. J. Schmidt, Der Weise und der Thor, pp. 227 et seq.) ; and Schiefner, 
Taranatha, p. 43. The Hindu mineralogists entertain also the notion that the 
diamond floats on the water (L. Finot, Lapidaires indiens, p. XLViii) ; and there is 
a fabulous account of a diamond of marine origin in the Tsa pao tsang king (Bunyiu 
Nanjio, Catalogue, No. 1329; Chavannes, Cinq cents contes et apologues, Vol. Ill, 
p. i), translated from Sanskrit into Chinese in a.d. 472. A merchant from southern 
India who had an expert knowledge of pearls traversed several kingdoms, showing 
everywhere a pearl, the specific qualities of which nobody could recognize till he met 
Buddha, who said, "This wishing- jewel {cintdmap,i) originates from the huge fish 
makara, whose body is two hundred and eighty thousand li (Chinese leagues) long. 
The name of this gem is 'hard like the diamond' {kin-kang kien, Chinese rendering 
of Sanskrit vajrasdra, an attribute of the diamond) . It has the property of producing 
at once precious objects, clothing, and food, and securing everything according to 
one's wish. He who obtains this gem cannot be hurt by poison, or be burnt by 
fire." My translation is based on the text, as quoted in Yiian kien lei han (Ch. 364, 
p. 15b), the wording of which to some extent dissents from that translated by 
M. Chavannes (/. c, p. 77). 

* L. Finot, Lapidaires indiens, p. xxv. 

Indestructibility of the Diamond 23 

In the Jataka, the notion of the pearl being bom from the ocean ^ has 
been transferred to the diamond. Q. Curtius Rufus echoes this native 
tradition when, in his description of India, he says that the sea casts upon 
the shores precious stones and pearls, these offscourings of the boiling 
sea being valued at the price which fashion sets on coveted luxuries.* 

The Chinese tradition transmitted from Fu-nan — that iron does 
not break the diamond, but that the latter breaks iron — is reflected in 
the same manner by Pliny, who says that the stones are tested upon 
the anvil, and resist the blows with the result that the iron rebounds, and 
the anvil splits asimder.' This certainly is pure fiction and merely a 
popular illustration of the hardness of the stone.* This notion has 
accordingly migrated, and the Physiologus presents the missing link 
between East and West by asserting that the diamond cannot be 
damaged by iron, fire, or smoke.^ In India we meet the same test, 
inasmuch as a diamond is regarded as genuine if it is struck with other 
stones or iron hammers without bursting.^ The fact that the Arabic 
treatises on mineralogy reiterate the same story need not be discussed 
here; for the account of Ko Hung is far older than these, and proves 
that long before the advent of the Arabs it passed from India to Fu-nan 
and from Fu-nan to China. 

Discussing the phenomena of sympathy and apathy ruling in nature, 
Pliny sets forth that this indomitable power which contemns the two 
most violent agents of natxire, iron and fire,^ is broken by the blood of 

1 Ibid., p. xxxii. A Sanskrit epithet of the pearl is samudraja ("sea-bom"). 

* J. W. McCrindle, Invasion of India by Alexander, p. 187. 

» Incudibus hi deprehendtintur ita respuentes ictus ut ferrum utrimque dissultet, 
incudes ipsae etiam exiliant (xxxvii, 15, § 57). Compare BLthiNER, Technologie, 
Vol. Ill, p. 230. 

* The diamond is hard, but not tough, and can easily be broken with the blow of 
a hammer. It is as brittle as at least the average of crystallized minerals (Far- 
RiNGTON, Gems and Gem Minerals, p. 70). The fabulous notion of the ancients was 
first refuted by Garcia da Orta (or, ab Horto), in his work on the Drugs of India, 
which appeared in Portuguese at Goa in 1563. " It is out of the question," he says, 
"that the diamond resists the hammer; on the contrary, it can be pulverized by means 
of a small hammer, and may easily be poimded in a mortar with an iron pestle, 
the powder being used for the grinding of other diamonds" (compare J. Rusbza, 
Der Diamant in der Medizin, Festschrift Baas, p. 129). In the Italian translation 
of Garcia (p. 182, Venice, 1582) the passage runs thus: "Non h il vero, che il diamante 
resista alia botta del martello, percioche con ogni picciolo martello si riduce in polvere, 
e con grandissima facility si pesta col pistello di ferro; e in questo modo lo pestano 
colore, che con la sua polvere poliscono gli altri diamanti." 

* P. Lauchert, Geschichte des Physiologus, p. 34. 

* R. Garbe, Die indischen Mineralien, p. 82. 

' Pliny, accordingly, was of the opinion that the diamond is able to resist fire, 
and DioscoRiDEs (L. Leclerc, Traits des simples. Vol. Ill, p. 272) acquiesced in 

24 The Diamond 

a ram, which, however, must be fresh and warm. The stone must be 
well steeped in it, and receive repeated blows, and even then will break 
anvils and iron hammers imless they be of excellent temper.^ This 
fantasy has passed into the writings of St. Augustin,^ and, further, 
into our mediaeval poets, who interpreted the ram's blood as the blood 
of Christ, likewise into our lapidaires} 

this belief. Theophrastus (De lapidibus, 19; opera ed. F. Wimmer, p. 343), in a 
passing manner, alludes to the incombustibility of the diamond by ascribing the 
same property to the carbuncle {anthrax) ; the lack of humidity in these stones renders 
them impervious to fire (compare Krause, Pyrgoteles, p. 15 and note 4). Apol- 
LONius Dyscolus, in the first half of the second century a.d. (Rerum naturalium 
scriptores Graeci minores, ed. Keller, Vol. I, p. 50), says that the diamond, when 
exposed to a fire, is not heated. 

^ Siquidem ilia invicta vis, duarum violentissimartun naturae rerum ferri igniujn- 
que contemptrix, hircino rumpitur sanguine, neque aliter quam recenti calidoque 
macerata et sic quoque multis ictibus, tunc etiam praeterquam eximias incudes 
malleosque ferreos frangens {ibid., § 59); also in the same work, xx, procemium: 
sanguine hircino rumpente. 

2 Qui lapis nee ferro nee igni nee alia vi ulla perhibetur praeter hircinum sangui- 
nem vinci (De civitate Dei, xxi, 4). Also Isidorus, Origines, xii, i, 14; and Mar- 
BODUS, De lapidibus pretiosis, i. 

» F. Lauchert, Geschichte des Physiologus, p. 179. L. Pannier (Les Lapidaires 
frangais du moyen &ge, p. 36): 

"Par fer ne par foti n'iert ovr66 
S'el sang del buc chiald n'est tempr66." 
F. Pfeiffer, Buch der Natur von Konrad von Megenberg, p. 433; Albertus 
Magnus, De virtutibus lapidum, p. 135 (Amstelodami, 1669). The origin of the 
Plinian story is hard to explain, as there is no other ancient or Oriental source that 
contains it. C. W. King (Antique Gems, p. 107) thinks it is a jeweller's story, prob- 
ably invented to keep up the mystery of the business. Blumner (Technologic, 
Vol. Ill, p. 231) supposes either that the ancient lapidaries really used ram's blood 
in good faith, without examining whether the diamond could also be broken without 
it, or that they merely pretended such a procedure to the laymen as an alleged artifice 
of their trade. These rationalistic speculations, unsupported by evidence, are 
unsatisfactory. More plausible is the view of E. O. von Lippmann (Abhandlungen 
und Vortrage, Vol. I, p. 83), that the blood of the ram, owing to the sensual lust of 
this animal, was regarded as particularly hot. As is well known, a ram was the 
animal sacred to Bacchus (O. Keller, Antike Tierwelt, Vol. I, p. 305) ; and ram's 
blood was a remedy administered in cases of dysentery (F. de M£ly, Lapidaires 
grecs, p. 92). What merits special attention, however, is that Capricorn as asterisk 
of the zodiac, according to Manilius, belonged to Vesta; and that everything in need 
of fire, like mines, working of metals, even' bakery, was under its influence. More- 
over, in ancient astrology, the twelve signs of the zodiac are associated with twelve 
precious stones, and in this series adamas belongs to Capricorn (see the Hst in F. Boll, 
Stoicheia, No. i, p. 40). The idea of ram's blood acting upon the diamond, therefore, 
seems to be finally traceable to an astrological origin. A curious custom relating to 
ram's horn is reported by Strabo (xvi, 4, § 17). When the Troglodytae of Ethiopia 
bury their dead, some of them bind the corpse from the neck to the legs with twigs 
of the buckthorn [Paliurus; an infusion of this plant, according to Strabo, forms the 
drink of these people in general]. They at once throw stones over the body, at the 
same time laughing and rejoicing, until they have covered its face. Thereupon 

Indestructibility of the Diamond 25 

That our Chinese text above speaks of a rani's horn may be due to 
the fact that this modification was caused by the error of a scribe or 
by some misimderstanding of the Western tradition regarding ram's 
blood. More probably the people of Fu-nan (Cambodja), or even of 
India, are responsible for the alteration, which in this form was then 
picked up by the Chinese. The adequateness of the latter interpreta- 
tion follows from an interesting passage in the book Hiian chung ki of 
the fifth century, quoted by Li Shi-ch^n, which concludes a notice of 
the diamond with the statement that in the coimtries of the West the 
nature of Buddha is metaphorically likened to the diamond, and ram's 
horn to the "impurity of passion" {fan nao ji^ t£). This compound is a 
technical Buddhist term, being a translation of Sanskrit klega-kashdya, 
the third of a series of five kashdya, five impurities or spheres of corrup- 
tion.i Taken individually, these two emblematic figures of speech are 
unobjectionable; but what would it mean, that a ram's horn, symbolic 
of the imptirity of passion, can break the Buddha, who has the nature 
of the diamond? This, from a Buddhistic angle, is unintelligible; the 
opposite would be true. The foundation of this symbolism, plainly, 
cannot be of Buddhistic origin; but the impetus was apparently received 
from a Christian source, and was re-interpreted in India. The matter 

they place over it a ram's horn and go away. In this case the ram's horn doubtless 
figures also as an instrument of extraordinary strength: it overpowers the body and 
soul of the deceased, keeping his spirit down and preventing it from a return to 
the former home, where it might do harm to the survivors. Therefore the mourners 
rejoice in accomplishing their purpose. Ram's heads were extensively employed in 
Greek art (H. Winnefeld, Altgriech. Bronzebecken aus Leontini, Progr. Winckel- 
mannsfest, No. 59, 1899). Ball's opinion that ram's blood is the outcome of Indian 
sacrifices held on the opening of a mine, discussed above on p. 15, is untenable, 
as there is no Indian tradition connecting the diamond with ram's blood. The 
baselessness of this theory is further demonstrated by the fact that the Chinese have 
altered the classical "ram's blood" into a "ram's horn;" and the Chinese account 
hailed from Fu-nan (Cambodja), a country with a strong impact of Indian civiliza- 
tion. The transformation, therefore, seems to have been effected in an Indian 
region. For this reason it is impossible to seek the origin of this idea in India, where 
apparently it was not understood and was changed into a "horn," which appears to 
have been regarded there as stronger than blood. As to the classical idea of heat 
suggested by ram's blood, it is noteworthy, however, that in late Indian art, Agni, 
the God of Fire, is represented as riding on a gray goat, flames of fire streaming round 
about him, his crown also being surrounded by fire (B. Ziegenbalg, Genealogy of 
the South-Indian Gods, p. 191, Madras, 1869). Thus the conception of the ram or 
goat as an animal of fire is brought out, — a fire of such vehemence as to subdue 
the hardest body of nature. 

^ See EiTEL, Handbook of Chinese Buddhism, p. 67; Chavannes, Cinq cents 
contes et apologues. Vol. I, p. 17; and O. Franke, Chin. TempeHnschrift, p. 51. 
F. de Mi;LY (Lapidaires chinois, p. 124) incorrectly understands that "in India the 
nature of Buddha is compared with the diamond ; and his sadness, with the horn of 
the antelope ling." 

26 The Diamond 

will only become intelligible if we substitute "ram's blood 
horn" and interpret "ram's blood" as the blood of the Lamb, the 
Christian Saviour. This symbolic explanation has indeed been attached 
in the West to Pliny's ram's blood subduing the diamond. The idea is 
not found in the Physiologus, which compares the diamond itself with 
Christ (analogous to Buddha as the diamond), but it turns up in the 
mediaeval poets. Frauenlob explains the destruction of the diamond 
through buck's blood as the salvation, saying that the adamas (diamond) 
of the hard curse was broken by the blood of Christ.^ 

Diamond and Lead. — Dioscorides of the first century a.d. observes 
on the diamond, "It is one of the properties of the diamond to break 
the stones against which it is brought into contact and pressed. It 
acts alike on all bodies of the nature of stone, with the exception of lead. 
Lead attacks and subdues it. While it resists fire and iron, it allows 
itself to be broken by lead, and this is the expedient employed to pul- 
verize it."^ 

The oldest Arabic book on stones, sailing under the flag of Aristotle, 
reports in the chapter on the diamond, probably drawing from Dios- 
corides, that it cannot be overpowered by any other stone save lead, 
which is capable of pulverizing it.' 

In a Syriac and Arabic treatise on alchemy of the ninth or tenth 
century, edited and translated by R. Duval, it is said that lead makes 
the diamond suffer; the translator understands this in the sense that 
lead serves for the working of the diamond, adding in a note that one 
worked the diamond and other precious stones, enclosed in sheets of 
lead, by means of ruby or diamond dust.* The action of lead on the 
diamond certainly is imaginary. This idea conveys the impression of 
having received its impetus from the circle of the alchemists. Muham- 
med Ibn Mansur, who wrote a treatise on mineralogy in Persian during 
the thirteenth century, says regarding this point, "On the anvil, the 
diamond is not broken under the hammer, but rather penetrates into 
the anvil. In order to break the diamond, it is placed between lead, 
the latter being struck with a mallet, whereupon the stone is broken. 
Others, instead of using lead, envelop the diamond in resin or 

1 Compare F. Lauchert, Geschichte des Physiologus, p. 179. In the Cathedral 
of Troyes there is a sculpture from the end of the thirteenth century, representing the 
Lamb of God under the unusual form of a ram with large horns and bearing the Cross 
of the Resurrection. A. N. Didron (Christian Iconography, Vol. I, pp. 325, 326) 
styles this work a " most unaccountable anomaly," but the symbolism set forth above 
surely accounts for it. 

' L. Leclerc, Trait6 des simples. Vol. Ill, p. 272. 

• J. RusKA, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 149 (compare p. 76). 

* M. Berthelot, La chimie au moyen Age, Vol. II, pp. 124, 136. 

Diamond and Lead 27 

wax." ^ The Armenian lapidarium of the seventeenth century ^ is most 
explicit on the matter: **The diamond is bruised by means of lead in 
the following manner: lead is hammered out into a foil, on which the 
diamond is put ; and when completely wrapped up with it, it is placed on 
an iron anvil, the lead being struck with an iron hammer. The diamond 
cnmibles into pieces from these blows, but remains in the leaden foil, 
and is not dispersed into various directions, as it is prevented from so 
doing by the ductility of the lead. Released from the latter, the broken 
diamond is fit for work. In want of lead, the diamond is covered with 
wax and wrapped up in twelve layers of paper, whereupon it is smashed 
by hammer-blows. In order to secure it in pure condition and without 
loss, the whole mass is flung into boiling water, causing the wax to melt, 
the paper to float on the surface of the water, and the diamond-splinters 
to sink to the bottom of the vessel. Then it is pounded in a steel mortar 
and is at once ready for industrial purposes. With this pounded 
diamond (diamond-dust) the jewellers polish good and coarse dia- 
monds.' ' The practical object in the use of lead is here clearly indicated ; 
but what appears in this work of recent date as a merely technical 
process was in its origin a superstitious act, as is explained by Tifashi, 
who wrote toward the middle of the thirteenth century. According to 
this author, the diamond, as stated by Pliny, is a golden stone; and in 
the same manner as gold is affected by lead, lead is able to pulverize 
the diamond.' 

This Western idea has likewise migrated into China, and turns up in 
the Tan fang kien yiian^ an alchemical work by Tu Ku-t'ao of the Simg 
period, according to whom lead can reduce the diamond to fragments.* 
This author terms the stone ** metal-hard awl or drill" {kin kang tsuan 
t^^^\Pii); that is, "diamond-point" (kin kang being the usual name 
for the diamond). According to Li Shi-ch^n, the author of the Pin 

1 J. VON Hammer, Fundgruben des Orients, Vol. VI, p. 132 (Wien, 1818); M. 
Clement- MuLLOT, Essai sur la min6ralogie arabe, p. 131 (Journal asiatique, 6th 
series, Vol. XI, 1868). Al-Akfam expresses himself in a similar manner (Wiede- 
mann, Zur Mineralogie im Islam, p. 218). 

'Russian translation of K. P. Patkanov, p. i. 

' A. Raineri Biscia, Fior di pensieri, p. 53 (2d ed., Bologna, 1906). 

* Pin ts^ao kang mu, Ch. 10, p. 12. The author speaks of a certain kind of lead 
styled "lead with purple back" {tse pet yiian ^^|o), in regard to which the Pin 
ts'ao kang mu only says that it is a variety of lead very pure and hard, able to cut 
the diamond (compare Geerts, Les produits de la nature japonaise et chinoise, 
p. 605). Geerts annotates, " Ceci est une de ces absurdit^s que Ton trouve si souvent 
chez les auteurs chinois hlc6t6 de renseignements exacts et utiles." Certainly, the 
Chinese are not responsible for this "absurdity," which comes straight from our 
classical antiquity. 

28 The Diamond 

ts'ao kang mu, this name first occurs in the dictionary Shi mingy while 
the usual mineralogical designation is kin kang ski (''metal-hard stone"). 
Also Pseudo-Aristotle has the diamond ''boring" all kinds of stones and 
pearls, and Qazwinl styles it a "borer." Li Shi-ch^n says that "by 
means of diamond-sand jade can be perforated and porcelain repaired, 
hence the name awl (tsuan).^'^ An interesting analogy to this con- 
ception occurs in the Arabic stories of Sindbad the Sailor, dating in 
the ninth century. Sindbad tells, "Walking along the valley I found 
that its soil was of diamond, the stone wherewith they pierce jewels 
and precious stones and porcelain and onyx, for that it is a hard dense 
stone, whereon neither iron nor steel has effect, neither can we cut off 
aught therefrom nor break it, save by means of the load-stone." We 
shall now discuss one of the most interesting problems bearing on the 
diamond, — the ancient employment of the diamond-point. 

The Diamond-Point. — In the book going under the name of the 
alleged philosopher Lie-tse, which in the text now before us is hardly 
earlier than the Han period, we read the following story i^ "When King 
Mu of the Chou Dynasty (1001-945 B.C.) was on an expedition against 
the Western Jung, the latter presented him with a sword of kun-wu 
"^vlA^X^^ and with fire-proof cloth (asbestos). The sword was one 
foot and eight inches in length, was forged from steel, and had a red 
blade; when handled, it would cut hard stone (jade) as though it were 
merely clayish earth." The object of these notes is to discuss the nature 
of the substance kun-wu. Asbestine stuffs were received by the Chinese 
from the Roman Orient, and likewise the curious tales connected with 
them. If asbestos came from that direction, our first impression in 
the matter is that also the substance kun-wu appears to have been de- 
rived from the same quarter; and this supposition will be proved correct 
by a study of Chinese traditions. 

1 It is interesting that the Chinese, while they worked jade and porcelain, and, 
as will be seen farther below, also pearls, by means of diamond-points, did not know 
the fact that the latter can cut glass, — perhaps merely for the reason that they 
never understood how to make plate-glass. The ancients did not cut glass, either, 
with the diamond, and this practice does not seem to have originated before the 
sixteenth century (compare Beckmann, Beitrage zur Geschichte der Erfindimgen, 
Vol. Ill, p. 543). In recent times, however, the Chinese applied the diamond also 
to glass. Archdeacon Gray, in his interesting book Walks in the City of Canton 
(p. 238, Hongkong, 1875), tells how the glaziers of Canton cut with a diamond the 
designs traced with ink upon the surface of glass globes and readily effect this labor 
by running the diamond along these ink-lines. 

2 Ch. 5, T'ang win, at the end (compare E. Faber, Naturalismus bei den alten 
Chinesen, p. 132; L. Wieger, P^res du syst^me taoiste, p. 149; A. Wylie, Chinese 
Researches, pt. m, p. 142). The work of Lie-tse is first mentioned as a book in eight 
chapters in TsHen Han shu (Ch. 30, p. 12b). 

The Diamond-Point 29 

The kun-wu sword of Lie-tse has repeatedly tried the ingenuity of 
sinologues. Hirth/ who accepted the text at its surface value, re- 
garded this sword as the oldest example in Chinese records of a weapon 
made from iron or steel; and while the passage could not be regarded as 
testimony for the antiquity of the sword-industry in China, it seems to 
him to reflect the legendary views of that epoch and to hint at the fact 
that the forging of swords in the iron-producing regions of the north-west 
of China was originally invested in the hands of the Huns. Thus 
Hirth finally arrived at the conclusion that the kun-wu sword may 
actually mean "sword of the Huns." Faber, the first translator of 
Lie-tse, regarded it as a Damascus blade; and Forke^ accepted this 
view. F. Porter Smith ^ was the first to speak of a kun-wu stone, 
intimating that "extraordinary stories are told of a stone called kun-wu ^ 
large enough to be made into a knife, very brilliant, and able to cut 
gems with ease." He also grouped this stone correctly with the dia- 
mond, but did not cope with the problem involved. 

The Shi chou ki ("Records of Ten Insular Realms"), a fantastic 
description of foreign lands, attributed to the Taoist adept Tung-fang 
So, who was bom in 168 b.c.,^ has the following story: " On the Floating 
Island (Liu chou) which is situated in the Western Ocean is gathered a 
quantity of stones called kun-wu tL *§*J5 • When fused, this stone 
turns into iron, from which are made cutting-instruments brilliant and 
reflecting light like crystal, capable of cutting through objects of hard 
stone (jade) as though they were merely clayish earth." ^ 

Li Shi-ch^n, in his P^n ts'ao kang mu^^ quotes the same story in his 
notice of the diamond, and winds up with the explanation that the 
kun-wu stone is the largest of diamonds. The text of the Shi chou ki, 
as quoted by him, ojffers an important variant. According to his 
reading, kun-wu stones occur in the Floating Sand (Liu-sha) of the 
Western Ocean.'' The latter term, as already shown, in the Chinese 

1 Chinesische Ansichten uber Bronzetrommeln, pp. 20, 21. 

2 Mitteilungen des Seminars, Vol. VII, i, p. 162. This opinion was justly criti- 
cised by the late E. Huber {Bull, de VEcolefrangaise, Vol. IV, p. 1 129). 

' Contributions toward the Materia Medica of China, p. 75. 

* The work is adopted in the Taoist Canon (L. Wieger, Taoisme, Vol. I, No. 593). 
The authorship of Tung-fang So is purely legendary, and the book is doubtless 
centuries later. Exactly the same text is given also in the Lung yii ho t'u (quoted in 
Yiian kien lei han, Ch. 323, p. i; and in the commentary to Shi ki, Ch. 117, p. 2 b), 
a work which appears to have existed in the fourth or fifth century (see Bretschnei- 
DER, Bot. Sin., pt. I, No. 500). 

5 P'ei win yiinfu, Ch. 100 a, p. 16; or Yiian kien lei han, Ch. 26, p. 32 b. 

'Ch. 10, p. 12. 

^ Also the Wu U siao shi (Ch. 8, p. 22) has this reading. 

30 The Diamond 

records relative to the Hellenistic Orient, refers to the Mediterranean; 
and Liu-sha is well known as a geographical term of somewhat vague 
definition, first used in the Annals of the Later Han Dynasty, and said 
to be in the west of Ta Ts'in, the Chinese designation of the Roman 
Orient.^ Liu-sha, in my opinion, is the model of Liu chou, the Floating 
Island being distilled from Floating Sand in favor of the Ten Islands 
mechanically constructed in that fabtdous book. Accordingly, we have 
here a distinct tradition relegating the kun-wu stone to the Anterior 
Orient; and Li Shi-ch^n's identification with the diamond appears 
plausible to a high degree. His opinion is strongly corroborated by 
another text cited by him. This is the Milan chung ki by Kuo* of the 
fifth century, who reports as follows: "The country of Ta Ts'in pro- 
duces diamonds (kin-kang), termed also * jade-cutting swords or knives.' 
The largest reach a length of over a foot, the smallest are of the size of 
a rice or millet grain.' Hard stone can be cut by means of it 
all round, and on examination it turns out that it is the largest of 
diamonds. This is what the Buddhist priests substitute for the tooth 
of Buddha."* Chou Mi, quoted above regarding the legend of the Dia- 

1 HiRTH, China and the Roman Orient, pp. 42, 292. F. de M£ly (Lapidaires 
chinois, p. 124) translates "River Liu sha," and omits the "Western Ocean." The 
term Liu-sha existed in early antiquity and occurs for the first time in the Shu king, 
chap. Yii kung (Legge, Chinese Classics, Vol. Ill, pp. 132, 133, 150), denoting the 
then known farthest west of the country, the desert extending west of the district 
of Tun-huang in Kan-su. It is cited also in the elegy Li sao by Ku Yuan (xiii, 89; 
Legge, Journal R. As. Soc, 1895, pp. 595, 863), in the records of the Buddhist pil- 
grims (Chavannes, Religieux 6minents, p. 12), and in the memoirs of the mediaeval 
travellers (Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, Vol. I, p. 27; Vol. II, p. 144). 
See also Pelliot, Journal asiatique, 1914 (Mai-Juin), p. 505. 

* His personal name is unknown. 

3 Pliny (xxxvii, 15, § 57) speaks of a kind of diamond as large as a grain of 
millet (milii magnitudine) and c^ed cenchros; that is, the Greek word for "millet." 

* F. DE MtLY (Lapidaires^chinois, p. 124) incorrectly understands by this passage 
that the bonzes of India adorn with diamonds the tooth of Buddha. In fact, a dia- 
mond itself was passed ofiE as Buddha's-tooth relic. A specific case to this efiEect is 
on record: "In the period Ch6ng-kuan (627-650) there was a Brahmanic priest 
who asserted that he had obtained a tooth of Buddha which when struck resisted any 
blow with unheard-of strength. Fu Yi heard of it, and said to his son, ' It is not 
a tooth of Buddha; I have heard that the diamond {kin-kang shi) is the strongest of 
all objects, that nothing can resist it, and that only an antelope-horn can break it; 
you may proceed to make the experiment by knocking it, and it will crash and 
break ' " (P'ei win yiinfu, Ch. 100 A, p. 40 b). Fu Yi, who was a resolute opponent 
of Buddhism and was raised to the office of grand historiographer by the foimder of 
the T'ang dynasty (he died in 639; see Memoires concernant les Chinois, Vol. V, 
pp. 122, 159; Legge, Journal Roy. As. Soc, 1893, p. 800), was certainly right. 
Compare H. Dor6, Recherches sur les superstitions en Chine, Vol. VIII, p. 310. 
Also Palladius (Chinese-Russian Dictionary, Vol. II, p. 203 a) is inexact in saying 
that the Buddhists passed off the diamond as Buddha's tooth in China, where the 
diamond was imknown. Regarding Buddha's-tooth relic, besides the various 

The Diamond-Point 31 

mond Valley, states, ^' The workers in jade polish jade by the persevering 
application of river-gravel, and carve it by means of a diamond-point. 
Its shape is like that of the ordure of rodents ;i it is of very black color, 
and is at once like stone and like iron." Chou Mi apparently speaks 
of the impure, black form of the diamond, which is still used by us for 
industrial purposes, the tipping of drills and similar boring-instruments.^ 
These texts render it sufficiently clear that the kun-wu stone of the Shi 
chou ki, which is found in the Hellenistic Orient, is the diamond,^ and 
that the cutting-instnmient made from it is a diamond-point. The 
alleged transmutation of the stone into iron is further elucidated by the 
much-discussed passage of Pliny, "When by a lucky chance the diamond 
happens to be broken, it is triturated into such minute splinters that 
they can hardly be sighted. These are much demanded by gem- 
engravers and are enclosed in iron. There is no hard substance that 
they could not easily cut by means of this instrument." * 

accounts of Huan Tsang, see Fa Hien, Ch. 38 (Legge, Record of Buddhistic King- 
doms, pp. 105-107); Chavannes, M^moire sur les religieux ^minents, p. 55; de 
Groot, Album Kern, p. 134; Yule and Cordier, Book of Ser Marco Polo, Vol. II, 
PP- 319. 329-330, etc. The Pali Chronicle of Ceylon describes a statue of Buddha, 
in which the body and members were made of jewels of diflferent colors; the com- 
mentary adds that the teeth were made of diamonds (W. Geiger, Mahavamsa, 
p. 204). It accordingly was an Indian idea (not an artifice conceived in China) 
that the diamond could be substituted for Buddha's tooth. It is curious that 
Pseudo- Aristotle warns against taking the diamond in the mouth, because it destroys 
the teeth (Ruska, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 150). The poet Su Shi (1036-1101), 
in his work Wulei siang kan chi (Wylie, Notes, p. 165), remarks that antelope- 
horn is able to break Buddha's tooth to pieces; in this case, Buddha's tooth is a 
synonjnne for the diamond, and we have an echo of Ko Hung's legend above referred 
to (p. 21). 

^ Shu shi '^K . incorrectly rendered by F. de M6ly (Lapidaires chinois, p. 124) 
by "arrow-point." The word shi is here not "arrow," but "ordure, dung" (shi in 
the third tone) ; the text of the Wu li siao shi indeed writes shi M. , which is the prop- 
er character; and Ko chi king yiian (Ch. 33, p. 3 b), in quoting the same text of Chou 
Mi, offers the variant shuftn ^^, which has the same meaning. 

' KJiown in the trade as "bort," — defective diamonds or fragments of diamonds 
which are useless as gems. 

3 The reflective and refractive power of the diamond is well illustrated in the 
definition of that book, "brilliant and reflecting light like crystal." The coincidence 
with Pliny's (xxxvii, 15, § 56) description of the Indian adamas is remarkable, 
"which occurs not in gold, but in a substance somewhat cognate to crystal, not 
differing from the latter in its transparent coloration" (Indici non in auro nascentis 
et quadam crystalli cognatione, siquidem et colore tralucido non differt). The 
opinion that diamond, according to its composition, was a glass-like stone of the 
nature of rock-crystal, prevailed in Europe till the end of the eighteenth century, 
when it was refuted by Bergmann in 1777, and experiments demonstrated that the 
diamond is a combustible body (F. von Kobell, Geschichte der Mineralogie, p. 388). 

*Ctun feliciter contigit rumpere, in tam parvas friatur crustas, ut cerni vix 
possint. Expetuntur hae scalptoribus ferroque includuntur, nuUam non duritiam 

32 The Diamond 

Dioscorides of the first century a.d. distinguishes four kinds of 
diamonds, the third of which is called *' ferruginous" because it re- 
sembles iron, but iron is heavier; it is found in Yemen. According to 
him, the adamantine fragments are stuck into iron handles, being thus 
ready to perforate stones, rubies, and pearls.^ The concept of a mysteri- 
ous association of the diamond with iron survived till our middle ages. 
KoNRAD VON Megenberg, in his Book of Nature, written in 1349-50,* 
observes that, according to the treatises on stones, the virtue of the 
diamond is much greater if its foundation be made of iron, in case it is 
to be set in a ring; but the ring should be of gold to be in keeping with the 
dignity of the stone. 

If we now glance back at the text of Lie-tse, from which we started, 
we shall easily recognize that the kun-wu sword mentioned in it is in 
fact only a mask for the diamond-point; for Lie-tse, with reference to 
this sword, avails himself of exactly the same definition as the Shi chou 
kiy expressed in the identical words, — "cutting hard stone (jade) as 
though it were merely clayish earth," — and the jade-cutting knife (tao) 
is uneqtiivocally identified with the diamond in the Huan chung ki. 
The passage in Lie-tse, therefore, rests on a misunderstanding or a too 
liberal interpretation of the word tao 7J , which means a cutting-instru- 
ment in the widest sense, used for carving, chopping, trimming, paring, 
scraping, etc. It may certainly mean a dagger or sword with a single 
edge; and Lie-tse, or whoever fabricated the book inscribed with his 
name, exaggerated it into the double-edged sword kien.^ Then he was 
certainly obliged to permit himself the further change of making this 
sword of tempered steel;* and by prefixing the classifier kin ('metal') to 
the words kun and wu, the masquerade was complete for eluding the 
most perspicacious sinologues.^ Lie-tse's kun-wu sword is a romantic 

ex facili cavantes (xxxvii, 15, § 60). It is not necessary, as proposed by F. de M6ly 
(Lapidaires chinois, p. 257), to make a distinction between kin kang shi ("diamond") 
and kin kang ts'uan ("emery"). It plainly follows from the Chinese texts that the 
latter is the diamond-point (see below, p. 34). 

1 Compare L. Leclerc, Trait6 des simples. Vol. Ill, p. 272. 

2 Ed. of F. Pfeiffer, p. 433. 

' The conception of the diamond as a sword had perhaps been conveyed to 
China from an outside quarter. In the language of the Kirgiz, the word almas, 
designating the "diamond" (from Arabic almas), has also the significance "steel" 
(in the same manner as the Greek adamas, from which the Arabic word is derived), 
and ak almas ("white diamond") is a poetical term for a "sword" (W. Radloff, 
Wdrterbuch der Turk-Dialecte, Vol. I, col. 438). 

* This metamorphosis was possibly somehow connected with the original 
meaning "steel" inherent in the Greek word adamas. 

' The missing link is foimd in another passage of the Shi chou ki, where the same 
event is described as in Lie-tse. It runs as follows : "At the time of King Mu of the 

The Diamond-Point 33 

fiction evolved from the kun-wu diamond-points heard of and imported 
from the Hellenistic Orient. It has nothing to do with the sword 
industry of the Huns or Chinese, as speculated by Hirth; nor is it a 
Damascus blade, as suggested by Faber and Forke. Such books as 
Lie-tse and many others of like calibre cannot be utilized as historical 
sources for archaeological argumentation; their stories must first be 
analyzed, critically dissected, scrutinized, and correlated with other 
texts, Chinese as well as Western, to receive that stamp of valuation 
which is properly due them. It is now clear also why Lie-tse links the 
kun-wu sword with asbestos, inasmuch as the two are products of the 
Hellenistic Orient. The circumstance that both are credited to King 
Mu is a meaningless fable. King Mu was the chosen favorite and 
hero of Taoist legend-makers, to whose name all marvellous objects 
of distant trade were attached (in the same manner as King Solomon 
and Alexander in the West). The introduction of the Western Jung 
on this occasion possibly is emblematic of the intermediary r61e which 
was played by Turkish tribes in the transmission of goods from the 
Anterior Orient and Persia to China.^ 

As regards the history of the diamond, we learn that the Chinese, 
before they became acquainted with the stone as a gem, received the 
first intimation of it in the shape of diamond-points for mechanical 
work, sent from the Hellenistic Orient, — known first (at the time 
of the Han) under the name kun-wu; in the third century (under the 
Tsin), as will be shown below, under the name kin-kang; and later 
on, as kin-kang tsuan. It seems that the Chinese made little or no 

Chou dynasty the Western Hu presented a jade- cutting knife of kun-wu, one foot 
long, capable of cutting jade as though it were merely clayish earth." In this text 
(quoted in P'ei wH yiinfu, Ch. 19, p. 13) the word tao is used, and kun-wu is plainly 
written without the classifiers kin. Here we have the model after which Lie-tse 
worked. The term kun-wu tao, written in the same style as in Shi chou ki, appears 
once more in the biography of the painter Li Kung-lin (Sung shi, Ch. 444, p. 7), who 
died in 1106. The Emperor had obtained a seal of nephrite, which his scholars, 
despite long deliberations, could not decipher till Li Kung-lin diagnosed it as the 
famous seal of Ts'in Shi Huang-ti made by Li Se in the third century B.C. (com- 
pare Chavannes, T*oung Pao, 1904, p. 496). On this occasion the painter said 
that the substance nephrite is hard, but not quite so hard as a diamond-point 
{kun-wu tao). 

1 It is interesting that the diamond appears also in the cycle of Si-wang-mu, the 
legendary motives of which, in my opinion, to a large extent go back to the Hel- 
lenistic Orient. In the Han Wu-ti net chuan (p. 2 b; ed. of Shou shan ko ts*ung shu), 
the goddess appears wearing in her girdle a magic seal of diamond (kin-kang ling si). 
The work in question, carried by an unfounded tradition into the Han period, is a 
production of much later times, but seems to have existed in the second half of the 
sixth century (Pelliot, Bulletin de I'Ecole frangaise, Vol. IX, p. 243; and Journal 
asiatique, 1912, Juillet-Ao{it, p. 149). 

34 The Diamond 

use of the diamond for ornamental purposes, and did not understand 
how to work it.^ 

Not only have the Chinese stories about the diamond-point, but 
there is also proof for the fact that this implement was among them a 
living reality turned to practical use. Li Siin, the author of the Hat 
yao pen ts'ao, — an account of the drugs of southern countries, written 
in the second half of the eighth century ,2 — discusses the genuine pearl 
fotmd in the southern ocean, and observes that it can be perforated 
only by the diamond-point {kin-kang tsuan).^ The poet Yuan Ch^n 
(779-831), his contemporary, says in a stanza, **The diamond-point 
bores jade, the sword of finely tempered steel* severs the floating 

The preceding accounts have conveyed the impression that the 
diamond-points employed by the Chinese were plain implements of the 
shape of an awl tipped with a diamond. A different instnmient is 
described in the Hiian chung ki, a work of the fifth century, which has 
already been quoted from the Pin ts'ao kang mu. In the great cyclo- 
paedia T'ai pHng yii lan^ the passage of this book concerning the dia- 
mond is handed down as follows: "The diamond comes from India and 
the country of Ta Ts'in (the Roman Orient). It is styled also 'jade- 
cutting knife,' as it cuts jade like an iron knife. The largest reach a 

1 The Nan chou i wu chi (Account of Remarkable Objects in the Southern 
Provinces, by Wan Chen of the third century) states that the diamond is a stone, in 
appearance resembling a pearl, hard, sharp, and matchless; and that foreigners are 
fond of setting it in rings, which they wear in order to ward off evil influences and 
poison (T^ai pHng yii Ian, Ch. 813, p. 10). — The Polyglot Dictionary of K'ien-lung 
(Ch. 22, p. 65) discriminates between kin-kang tsuan ("diamond-point") and kin- 
kang shi ("diamond stone"). The former corresponds to Manchu paltari, Tibetan 
p'a-lam, and Mongol ocir alama; the latter, to Manchu palta wehe (wehe, "stone"), 
Tibetan rdo p'a-lam {rdo, "stone"), and Mongol alama cilagu (the latter hkewise 
means "stone"). The Manchu words are artificial formations based on the Tibetan 
word. Mongol alama apparently goes back to Arabic almas (Russian almaz), Uigur 
and other Turkish dialects almas (Osmanli elmas), ultimately traceable to Greek- 
Latin adamas. Al-Akfani writes the word al-mds, the initials of the stem being 
mistaken by him for the native article al (Wiedemann, Zur Mineralogie im Islam, 
p. 218). 

2 Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 45. 

' Ptn ts'ao kang mu, Ch. 46, p. 3b; CMng lei pin ts^ao, Ch. 20, fol. 12 b (edition 
of 1523). Al-Akfani says in the same manner that the pearl is perforated only by 
means of the diamond (E. Wiedemann, Zur Mineralogie im Islam, p. 221). 

* Pin tHe. Julien's opinion that the diamond is understood by this term is erro- 
neous, and was justly antagonized by Mayers {China Review, Vol. IV, 1875, P- i75)« 
Regarding this steel imported into China by Persians and Arabs, see Bretschneider, 
Mediaeval Researches, Vol. I, p. 146; Watters, Essays on the Chinese Language, 
p. 434; HiRTH and Rockhill, Chau Ju-kua, p. 19. 

' Ch. 813, p. 10 (edition of Juan Yuan, 18 12). 

Diamond and Gold 35 

length of over a foot, the smallest are of the size of a rice-grain. In 
order to cut jade, it is necessary to make a large gold ring, which is held 
between the fingers; this ring is inserted into the jade-cutting knife, 
which thus becomes fit for work." This description is not very clear, 
but I am under the impression that an instrument on the order of our 
roller-cutter is understood. 

This investigation may be regarded also as a definite solution of a 
problem of classical archaeology, which for a long time was the subject 
of an extended and heated controversy.^ The Chinese, though receiving 
the diamond-point from the Occident, have preserved to us more copious 
notes and clearer and fuller texts regarding this subject than the classical 
authors; and if hitherto it was possible to cast doubts on Pliny's descrip- 
tion of diamond-splinters (above, p. 31), which have been taken by 
some authors for diamond-dust, this scepticism is no longer justified in 
the light of Chinese information. What Pliny describes is indeed the 
diamond-point, and the accurate descriptions of the Chinese fully bear 
out this fact. 

Diamond and Gold. — The earliest passage of fundamental his- 
torical value in which the diamond is clearly indicated occurs in the 
Tsin kH ku chu -^^^ >£,^ and is handed down to us in two dif- 
ferent versions. One of these runs as follows:^ "In the third year of 
the period Hien-ning (a.d. 277), Tun-huang* presented to the Emperor 
diamonds (kin-kang). Diamonds are the rulers in the midst of gold 
(or preside in the proximity of gold ^'^Y)- They are neither 
washed,^ nor can they be melted. They can cut jade, and come from 
(or are produced in) India." The other version of this text, ascribed to 

* The chief arguments are discussed below on pp. 42-46. 

* The term kH kii chu Mj^i^ designates a peculiar class of historical records deal- 
ing with the acts of prominent persons and sovereigns. The first in existence re- 
lated to the Han Emperor Wu. The well-known Mu Vien-tse chuan (Life of the 
Emperor Mu) agreed in style and make-up with the k'i kii chu which were extant 
tuider the Sui dynasty (see Sui shu,Ch.. 33, p. 7). Under the Tsin quite a number of 
books of this class were written, which are enumerated in the chapter on Sui litera 
ture quoted. Judging from the titles there given, each must have embraced a 
fixed year-period; hence the passage quoted above must have been contained in the 
Tsin Hien-ning k'i kU chu, that is, Annotations on the Conditions of the Period Hien- 
ning (275-280) of the Tsin Dynasty, a work in ten chapters, written by Li Kuei 
$1^. Nineteen other titles of works of this type referring to the Tsin period, 
and apparently all contemporary records, are preserved in the Sui shu and were 
utilized at that time; thus the Tsin k*i kii chu is quoted in the biography of Yu-w6n 
K'ai f jctl. in the Sui Annals. 

» Pat pHng yii Ian, Ch. 813, p. 10. 

* In the north-western comer of Kan-su, near the border of Turkistan. 
^ As is the case with gold-sand. 

36 The Diamond 

the same work, is recorded thusr^ "In the thirteenth year of the reign 
of the Emperor Wu (a.d. 277) there was a man in Tun-huang, who pre- 
sented the Court with diamond jewels {kin-kang pao). These are 
produced in the midst of gold ( -i^^). Their color is like that of 
fluor-spar ,2 and in their appearance they resemble a grain of buck- 
wheat. Though many times fused, they do not melt. They can cut 
jade as though it were merely cla3dsh earth." It is manifest that these 
two texts, from their coincidence chronologically, are but variants 
referring to one and the same event, under the Tsin dynasty (265-419) ; 
and it is likewise apparent that the text as preserved in the T'ai pHng yii 
Ian, the great cyclopaedia published by Li Fang in 983, bears the stamp 
of true originality, while that in the PHen tse lei pien is made up of scraps 
borrowed from the Pao p'u tse of Ko Hung (p. 21) and Lie-tse's notice 
of kun-wu (p. 28).^ From this memorable passage we may gather 
several interesting facts: diamonds were traded in the second part of 
the third century from India by way of Turkistan to Tun-huang for 
further transmission inland into China proper; and the chief charac- 
teristics of the stone were then perfectly grasped by the Chinese, par- 
ticularly its property of cutting other hard stones. The most important 
gain, however, for our specific purpose, is the observation that a bit of 
Plinian folk-lore is mingled with the Chinese account. We are at once 
reminded of Pliny's statement that adamas was the name given to a 
nodosity of gold, sometimes, though but rarely, foimd in the mines in 
company with gold, and that it seemed to occur only in gold."* Pseudo- 

1 PHen tse lei pien, Ch. 71, p. lib. 

* See above, p. 21. 

» A third variant occurs in Yiian Men lei han (Ch. 361, p. i8b), where the term 
"diamond" is, strangely enough, suppressed. This text runs thus: "The Books of 
the Tsin by Wang Yin say that in the third year of the period Hien-ning (a.d. 277), 
according to the KH ku chu, from the district of Tun-huang were brought to the 
Court objects found in gold caves, which originate in gold, are infusible, and can cut 

* Ita appellabatur auri nodus in metallis repertus perquam raro [comes auri] 
nee nisi in auro nasci videbatur (xxxvii, 15, § 55). Also Plato is credited with 
having entertained a similar notion (Krause, Pyrgoteles, p. 10; H. O. Lenz, Mine- 
ralogie der alten Griechen und Romer, p. 16; Blumner, Technologic, Vol. Ill, 
p. 230; and in Pauly's Realenzyklopadie, Vol. IX, col. 322); although others, like 
E. O. VON LiPPMANN (Abhandlungen und VortrSge, Vol. II, p. 39), are not convinced 
that Plato's adamas means the diamond. The note in Bostock and Riley's trans- 
lation of Pliny (Vol. VI, p. 406) — that "this statement cannot apply to the diamond 
as known to us, though occasionally grains of gold have been found in the vicinity of 
the diamond" — is not to the point. On the contrary, it is a well-established fact 
that the diamond does occur in connection with gold; and this experience even led 
to the discovery of diamond-mines in the Ural. Owing to the similarity between the 
Brazilian and Uralic gold and platina sites, Alexander von Humboldt, in 1823, 

Diamond and Gold 37 

Aristotle, in the introduction to his work, philosophizes on the forces of 
nature attracting or avoiding one another. To these belongs gold that 
comes as gold-dust from the mine. When the diamond encounters a 
grain of it, it pounces on the gold, wherever it may be in its mine, till 
the union is accomplished.^ Qazwini speaks of an amicable relationship 
between gold and the diamond, for if the diamond comes near gold, 
it clings to the latter; also it is said that the diamond is found only 
in gold-mines. 2 A commentary to the Shan hai king^ has the following: 
"The diamond which is produced abroad belongs to the class of stones, 
but resembles gold (or metal) and has a brilliant splendor. It can cut 
jade. The foreigners wear it in the belief that it wards off evil influ- 
ences." It is therefore highly probable that the first element (kin) 
in the Chinese compound kin-kang was really intended to convey the 
meaning " gold " (not "metal " in general) , and that the term was framed 
in consequence of that tradition reaching Tun-huang, and ultimately 
traceable to classical antiquity. A further intimation as to the signifi- 
cance of the newly-coined term we receive in the same period, that of the 
Tsin dynasty, when the stone and its nature were perfectly known in 
China. Indeed, it is several times alluded to in the official Annals of 
the Tsin Dynasty (265-419). At that time "a saying was current 
among the people of Liang,* that the principle of the diamond of the 
Western countries is strength, and that for this reason the name kin- 
kang was conferred upon it in Liang." ^ In combining this information 
with the previous text of the Tsin kH kU chu, we arrive at the conclusion 
that the term kin-kang reflects two traditions, — the word kin referring 
to the origin of the diamond in gold, the word kang alluding to its 

expressed the idea that the diamond accompanying these two metals in Brazil should 
be discovered also in the Ural; under the guidance of this prognostic, the first dia- 
monds were really found there in 1829 (Bauer, Edelsteinkunde, 2d ed., p. 292). 
The diamonds of California have been found in association with gold-bearing gravels, 
while washing for gold (Farrington, Gems and Gem Minerals, p. 87). The state- 
ment of Pliny proves that he indeed speaks of the diamond. 

1 J. RusKA, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 129. 

2 RusKA, Steinbuch aus der Kosmographie des al-Qazwini, p. 6. 

3 Quoted in Yiian kien lei han, Ch. 26, p. 46. 

* Liang is the name of one of the nine provinces (chou) into which China was 
anciently divided by the culture-hero and semi-historical Emperor Yii, comprising 
what is at present Sze-ch'uan and parts of Shen-si, Kan-su, and Hu-pei (regarding 
the boundaries of Liang-chou, see particularly Legge, Chinese Classics, Vol. Ill, 
PP- 1 19-120). Liang-chou was one of the nineteen provinces into which China was 
divided under the Tsin dynasty, with Wu-wei (in Kan-su) as capital (compare Piton, 
China Review, Vol. XI, p. 299). 

^ Tsin shu, Ch. 14, p. 16. The Annals of the Tsin Dynasty were compiled by 
Fang Huan-ling (578-648). 

38 The Diamond 

extreme hardness, likewise emphasized by Pliny; kin-kang, accordingly, 
means "the hard stone originating in gold."^ 

In our middle ages we meet the notion of adamantine gold which is 
credited with the same properties as the diamond. In the famous letter, 
purported to have been addressed by Prester John to the Byzantine 
Emperor Manuel, and written about 1165, a floor in the bakery of the 
alleged palace of the Royal Presbyter in India is described as being of 
adamantine gold, the strength of which can be destroyed neither by 
iron, nor fire, nor any other remedy, save buck's blood.^ 

The Term "Kun-wu." — It is difficult to decide the origin of the 
word kun-wu. It would be tempting to regard it as a transcription of 
the Greek or West-Asiatic word denoting the diamond-point; unfor- 
tunately, however, the Greek designation for this implement is not 
known. More probably the Chinese term may be derived from an idiom 
spoken in Central Asia; at any rate, the word itself was employed 
in China before the introduction of diamond-points from the West. In 
a poem of Se-ma Siang-ju, who died in 117 B.C., we meet a precious 
stone named kun-wu jS-3^ » as occurring in Sze-ch'uan, on the nature 
of which the opinions of the commentators dissent.^ The Han shu yin i 
explains it as the name of a mountain which produces excellent gold. 
Shi-tse or Shi Kiao (about 280 B.C.) explains it as "gold" or "metal of 
Kun-wu" tx^%^U^ , which may mean that he takes the latter as 

1 In the study of Chinese texts some precaution is necessary in the handling of the 
term kin kang, which does not always refer to the diamond, but sometimes presents 
a complete sentence with the meaning "gold is hard." Three examples of this kind 
are known to me. One occurs in Nan shi (biography of Chang T'ung; see Pien tse 
lei pien, Ch. 71, p. lib): "Gold is hard, water is soft: this is the difference in their 
natural properties." In Tsin shu (Ch. 95, p. 13 b; biography of Wang Kia) we meet 
the sentence ^|»1^§S.. This, of course, could mean "the diamond is conquered 
by fire," — a sentence which, from the standpoint of our scientific experience, would 
be perfectly correct; from a Chinese viewpoint, however, it would be sheer non- 
sense, the Chinese as well as the ancients entertaining the belief that fire does not 
aJBEect the diamond (p. 23). The passage really signifies, "Gold is hard, yet is 
overcome (melted) by fire." The correctness of this translation is confirmed by a 
passage in a work Yi shi ftng kio (quoted in Pien tse lei pien, I. c.) , where the same say- 
ing occurs in parallelism with two preceding sentences: "Branches of trees fall and 
return to their roots; water flows from the roots and returns to the branches; gold 
is hard, yet is overcome by fire; every one returns to his native place." 

2 Pavimentimi vero est de auro adamantino, fortitudo cuius neque ferro neque 
igne neque aUo medicamine potest confringi sine yrcino [hircino] sanguine (F. 
Zarncke, Der Priester Johannes I, p. 93). Compare the analogous passage in the 
same document, "Infra domum sunt duae magnae molae, optime ad molendum 
dispositae, factae de adamante lapide, quem namque lapidem neque lapis neque 
ignis neque ferrum potest confringere." Both these passages are not contained in 
the original draught of the letter, but are interpolations from manuscripts of the 
thirteenth century. 

^ Shi ki, Ch. 117, p. 2 b. 

The Term "Kun-wu" 39 

the name of the locality whence the ore came. Se-ma Piao (240-305) 
interprets it as a stone ranking next to jade. Then follows in his text 
the story of kun-wu in Liu-sha, quoted from the Lung yii ho Vu, which 
has been discussed above. I do not know whether this is a separate 
editorial comment, or was included in the commentary of Se-ma Piao. 
At all events, the fact is borne out that the word kun-wu in the Shi ki, 
and that referring to the West, are considered by the Chinese as identical, 
and that the mode of writing (with or without the classifier *jade') is 
immaterial.^ We know that in times of old numerous characters were 
written without the classifiers, which were but subsequently added. 
The writing kun-wu in Lie-tse with the classifier * metal' plainly mani- 
fests itself as a secondary move,^ and the simple kun-wu without any 
determinative classifier doubtless represents the primary stage. This 
is shown also by the existence of a character ^^, where the element 
kun is combined with the classifier 'stone.'' If in the Shi ki the word 
kun-wu is linked with the classifier *jade;' and if, further, this term ap- 
pears coupled with nine other designations of stones, the whole series 
of ten being introduced by the words ** following are the stones," — the 
interpretation "gold" is absurd, and that of Se-ma Piao has only a 
chance. It would therefore be possible that kun-wu originally served 
for naming some hard stone indigenous to Sze-ch'uan, and was subse- 
quently transferred to the imported diamond-point. The name for 
the stone may have been inspired by that of the mountain Kun-wu, 
stones being frequently named in China for the mountains or localities 
from which they are derived. On the other hand, there is a text in 
which the name Kun-wu in this connection is conceived as that of a clan 
or family by the addition of the word shi i\ . This is the Chou shu*" 
which relates the tradition that the Western Countries offered fire-proof 
cloth (asbestos), and the Kun-wu Clan presented jade-cutting knives. 
It seems certain that this version has no basis in reality, but presents a 
makeshift to account for the troublesome word kun-wu. How it sprang 
into existence may be explained from the fact that there was in ancient 
times, imder the Hia dynasty, a rebel by the name Kun-wu, mentioned 
in the Shi king and Shi ki; ^ but it is obvious that this family name bears 

1 In Ts'ien Han shu, where the same text is reproduced, kun-wu is written without 
the classifiers. 

* In all likelihood this is merely a device of later editors of Lie-tse's text. There 
are editions in which the plain kun-wu without the classifier is written (see P'ei win 
yiinfu, Ch. 91, p. i6b). 

' P*ei wH yiinfu, Ch. 100 A, p. 25. 

* Regarding this work see Chavannes, M6moires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, 
Vol. V, p. 457. The passage is quoted in Po wu chi, Ch. 2, p. 4 b (Wu-ch'ang edition) . 

^ Legge, Chinese Classics, Vol. Ill, p. 642; Chavannes, /. c, Vol. I, p. 180. 

40 The Diamond 

no relation to the name of the mountain in Sze-ch'uan, the stone hailing 
from it, and the diamond-point coming from the West.^ 

Ko Hung informs us that "the Emperor W^n of the Wei dynasty 
(220-226), who professed to be well informed with regard to every 
object in nature, declared that there were no such things in the world 
as a knife that would cut jade, and fire-proof cloth; which opinion he 
recorded in an essay on the subject. Afterwards it happened that both 
these articles were brought to court within a year; the Emperor was 
surprised, and caused the essay to be destroyed; this course being un- 
avoidable when he found the statements to be without foundation." ^ 
General Liang-ki, who lived at the time of the Emperor Huan (147-167), 
is said to have possessed asbestos and "jade-cutting knives."^ The 
book handed down under the name of K'ung-ts'ting-tse* contains the 
tradition that the Prince of Ts'in obtained from the Western Jung a 
sharp knife capable of cutting jade as though it were wood. The poet 
Kiang Yen (443-504) wrote a poem on a bronze sword, in the preface 
of which he observes that there are also red knives of cast copper capable 
of cutting jade like clayish earth, — apparently a reminiscence of the 
passage of Lie-tse, only the latter 's "iron" is replaced by "copper." 
In the preceding texts the term kun-wu is avoided, and only the phrase 
"jade-cutter" {ko yii tad) has survived. 

Toxicology or the Diamond. — Contrary to his common practice, 
Li Shi-ch6n does not state whether the diamond is poisonous or not. 
As to the curative powers of the stone, he asserts that when set into 
hair-spangles, finger-rings, or girdle-ornaments, it wards off uncanny 
influences, evil, and poisonous vapors.^ On this point the Chinese 
agree with Pliny, according to whom adamas overcomes and neutralizes 

1 Also HiRTH (Chinesische Ansichten uber Bronzetrommeln, p. 20) persuaded 
himself that this proper name is not connected with what he believed to be the 
^* kun-wu sword." It is difficult, however, to credit the theory that the name kun-wu, 
as tentatively proposed by Hirth, could be a transcription on an equal footing with 
Hiung-nu (Huns). Aside from phonetic obstacles, the fact remains that the Chinese 
notices of kun-wu do not point in the direction of the Hims, but refer to Liu-sha in 
Ta Ts'in (the Roman Orient). 

2 A. Wylie, Chinese Researches, pt. in, p. 151. 

' Yiian kien lei han, Ch. 225, p. 2; and Wylie, /. c, p. 143. 

* The son of K'ung Fu, a descendant of Confucius in the ninth degree, who died 
in 210 B.C. (Giles, Biographical Dictionary, p. 401). It is doubtful whether the book 
which we nowadays possess under the title K'ung-ts'ung-tse (incorporated in the 
Han Wei ts'ung shu) is the one which he wrote (compare Chavannes, M^moires 
historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. V, p. 432). The passage referred to is quoted 
in P'ei wtn yiinfu, Ch. 91, p. 21. 

^ The source for this statement doubtless is the Nan chou i wu chi, quoted on 
p. 34, which ascribes this notion to foreigners. 

Imitation Diamonds 41 

poisons, dispels insanity, and drives away groundless apprehensions 
from the mind.^ The coincidence would not be so remarkable were it 
not for the fact that in mediaeval Mohammedanism the theory of dia- 
monds being poisonous had been developed. This idea first looms up 
in Pseudo-Aristotle, who is also the first to stage the snakes in the 
Diamond Valley, and cautions his readers against taking the diamond 
in their mouths, because the saliva of the snakes adheres to it so that it 
deals out death.^ According to al-Beruni, the people of Khorasan and 
Iraq employ the diamond only for purposes of boring and poisoning.^ 
This superstition was carried by the Mohammedans into India, where 
the belief had prevailed that the diamond wards off from its wearer 
the danger of poison.* The people of India now adhere to the super- 
stition that diamond-dust is at once the least painful, the most active, 
and most infallible of all poisons. In our own time, when Mulhar Rao of 
Baroda attempted to poison Col. Phayre, diamond-dust mixed with 
arsenic was used.^ A. Boetius de Boot (1550-1632)^ was the first 
modem mineralogical writer who refuted the old misconception, de- 
monstrating that the diamond has no poisonous properties whatever. 

Imitation Diamonds. — While all the principal motives of the 
lore garnered by the Chinese around the diamond come from classical 
regions, I can discover but a single notion traceable to India. Pliny 
has written a short chapter on the method of testing precious stones,^ 
but he does not tell us how to discriminate between real and counterfeit 
diamonds. According to the Hindu mineralogists, iron, topaz, hya- 
cinth, rock-crystal, cat's-eye, and glass served for the imitation of the 
diamond; and the forgery was disclosed by means of acids, scratching, 

^ Adamas et venena vincit atque inrita facit et lymphationes abigit metusque 
vanos expellit a mente (xxxvii, 15, § 61). 

2 J. RusKA, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 150; and Diamant in der Medizin 
{Festschrift Baas, pp. 121-125); likewise al-Akfani (E. Wiedemann, Zur Mineralogie 
im Islam, p. 219). Qazwini (J. Ruska, Steinbuch aus der Kosmographie des al- 
Kazwinl, p. 35) quotes Ibn Sina as saying that the venomous property imputed by 
Aristotle to the diamond is a hollow pretence, and that Aristotle is ignorant of the 
fact that snake-poison, after flowing out, loses its baleful effect, especially when some 
time has elapsed. This sensible remark does not prevent Qazwini, in copying his 
second anonymous source relating to the diamond, from alleging that "it is an 
extremely mortal poison." 

» E. Wiedemann, Der Islam, Vol. II, p. 352. 

* L. Finot, Lapidaires indiens, p. 10. Varahamihira (a.d. 505-587) states that 
a good diamond dispels foes, danger from thunder-strokes or poison, and promises 
many enjoyments (H. Kern, Verspreide Geschriften, Vol. II, p. 98). 

^ W. Crooke, Things Indian, p. 379. 

^ Gemmarum et lapidum historia, p. 124 (ed. of A. Toll, Lugduni Batavorum, 
1636); compare also J. Ruska, Festschrift Baas, pp. 125-127. 

' XXXVII, 76. 

42 The Diamond 

and the touchstone. The Agastimata is specific on this point by- 
anathematizing forgers and recommending the following recipe: "The 
vile man who fabricates false diamonds will sink into an awful hell, 
charged with a sin equal to murder. When a connoisseur believes that 
he recognizes an artificial diamond, he should test it by means of acids 
or vinegar, or through application of heat: if false, it will lose color; if 
true, it will double its lustre. It may also be washed and brought in 
contact with rice: thus it will at once be reduced to a powder." ^ The 
TsH tung ye yii of Chou Mi, previously quoted, imparts this advice: 
"In order to distinguish genuine from counterfeit diamonds, expose the 
stone to red-heat and steep it in vinegar: if it retains its former appear- 
ance and does not split, it is real. When the diamond-point happens 
to become blimt, it should be heated till it reddens; and on cooling off, 
it will again have a sharp point." ^ The first experiment is identical 
with that proposed in the Sanskrit text. As to the second, we again 
encounter a striking parallel in Pliny: "There is such great difference 
in stones, that some cannot be engraved by means of iron, others may 
be cut only with a blunt graver, all, however, by means of the diamond; 
heating of the graver considerably intensifies the effect."^ 

Acquaintance of the Ancients with the Diamond. — The 
previous notes have been based on the supposition that the stone 
termed adamas by the ancients, and that called kun-wu (or subsequently 
kin-kang) by the Chinese, are identical with what we understand by 
"diamond." This identification, however, has been called into doubt 
by students of classical antiquity as well as by sinologues. It is there- 
fore necessary to scrutinize their arguments. Our investigation has 
clearly brought out two points, — first, that the Chinese notices of the 
diamond-point (kun-wu) agree with Pliny^s account of the same imple- 
ment; and, second, that Chinese traditions regarding the stone kin-kang 
perfectly coincide with those of the ancients and the Arabs concerning 
adamas and almas j the latter word being derived from the former. If, 

1 L. FiNOT, Lapidaires indiens, p. xxx. 

* F. DE Mf LY (Lapidaires chinois, p. 124) has misunderstood this passage by 
referring it to the stone in Heu of the diamond-point. " S'il a des facettes 6mouss6es, 
on le chaufife au rouge, on le laisse refroidir, et ses facettes redeviennent aigues." 
This point of view is untenable. First, the facets of a diamond are neither blunt nor 
sharp; second, a faceted diamond, as will be shown in detail farther on, was always 
unknown to the Chinese, who for the first time noticed cut diamonds in the possession 
of the Macao Portuguese; and, third, the parallelism with Pliny proves my conception 
of the Chinese text to be correct. 

• lam tanta differentia est, ut aliae ferro scalpi non possint, aliae non nisi retuso, 
omnes autem adamante. Plurimum vero in iis terebrarum proficit fervor (xxxvii, 
76, § 200). Compare Krause, Pyrgoteles, p. 231. 

Acquaintance of the Ancients with the Diamond 43 

accordingly, the adamas of the Greeks and Romans be the diamond, 
the contintdty of Western and Eastern traditions renders it plain that 
the Chinese stone kin-kang must be exactly the same; if, however, 
adamas should denote another stone, the claim for kin-kang as the 
diamond must lose its force. Eminent archaeologists like Lessing, 
Krause, Bliimner, and Babelon, have championed the view that Pliny's 
adamas is our diamond.^ The opposition chiefly came from the camp 
of mineralogists. E. S. Dana^ remarked upon the word adamas^ 
"This name was applied by the ancients to several minerals differing 
much in their physical properties. A few of these are quartz, speciilar 
iron ore, emery, and other substances of rather high degrees of hardness, 
which cannot now be identified. It is doubtful whether Pliny had any 
acquaintance with the real diamond." This rather sweeping statement 
does not testify to a sound interpretation of Pliny's text. A recent 
author asserts,^ "It is more than doubtful if the true diamond was 
known to the ancients. The consensus of the best opinions is that the 
adamas was a variety of conmdum, probably our white sapphire." 
Let us now examine what the foundation of these "best opinions" is. 

The very first sentence with which Pliny opens his discussion of 
adamas is apt to refute these peremptory assertions : " The greatest value 
among the objects of htmian property, not merely among precious 
stones, is due to the adamas, for a long time known only to kings, and 
even to very few of these."* The most highly prized and valued of all 
antique gems, the "joy of opulence,"^ should be quartz, spectilar iron 
ore, emery, and other substances which cannot now be identified! 
The ancients were not so narrow-minded that almost any stone picked 
up anjrwhere in nature could have been regarded as their precious 
stone foremost in the scale of valuation. If the peoples of India like- 
wise regarded the diamond as the first of the jewels, if their treatises on 
mineralogy assign to it the first place,' and if Pliny is familiar with the 

1 Also so eminent an historian of natural sciences as E. O. von Lippmann 
(Abhandlungen und Vortrage, Vol. I, p. 9) grants to Pliny a knowledge of the 

' System of Mineralogy, p. 3, 1850. In the new edition of 1893 this passage has 
been omitted; the first distinct mention of the diamond is ascribed to Manilius (!), 
and Pliny's adamas is allowed to be the diamond in part. 

' D. Osborne, Engraved Gems, p. 271 (New York, 1912). 

* Maximum in rebus humanis, non solum inter gemmas, pretium habet adamas, 
diu non nisi regibus et iis admodum paucis cognitus (xxxvii, 15, § 55; again 78, 
§ 204). 

^ Opum gaudium (Pliny, prooemium of Lib. xx). 

• L. Finot, Lapidaires indiens, p. xxiv. Buddhabha^ta {ibid., p. 6) says, "Owing 
to the great virtue attributed by the sages to the diamond, it must be studied in the 

44 The Diamond 

adantas of India, it is fairly certain that also the adamas is the dia- 
mond; it is, at any rate, infinitely more certain than that the jewel 
first known only to kings should have been quartz, specular iron ore, 
emery, or some other unidentified substance. That emery is not meant 
by Pliny becomes evident from the fact that emery was well known 
to the ancients under the name naxium} The Indian diamond is per- 
fectly well described by Pliny as an hexangular crystal resembling 
two pyramids placed base to base; that is, the octahedral form in 
which the diamond commonly crystallizes.^ Whether the five other 
varieties spoken of by Pliny are real diamonds or not is of no conse- 
quence in this connection; two of these he himself brands as degen- 
erate stones. The name very probably served in this case as a bare 
trademark. Diamonds at that time were scarce, and the demand was 
satisfied by inferior stones. That such were sold under the name of 
"diamond" does not prove that the ancients were not acquainted with 
the true diamond. The diamond of India was known to them,^ and 

first place." P. S. Iyengar (The Diamonds of South India, Quarterly Journal of 
the Mythic Society, Vol. Ill, 1914, p. 118) observes, "Among the Hindu, both ancient 
and modern, the diamond is always regarded as the first of the nine precious gems 

1 BlUmner, Technologie, Vol. Ill, pp. 198, 286. In Greek it is styled afiipu. 
"Emery is the stone employed by the engravers for the cutting of gems" (Dios- 


' This passage has embarrassed some interpreters of Pliny (H. O. Lenz, Mine- 
ralogie der alten Griechen und Romer, p. 163; A. Nies, Zur Mineralogie des Plinius, 
p. 5), because they did not grasp the fact that it is the octahedron which has six 
points or corners (sexangulus) ; and thus such inadequate translations were matured 
as "its highly polished hexangular and hexahedral form" (Bostock and Riley, 
Natural History of Pliny, Vol. VI, p. 406). No body, of course, can simtdtaneously 
be hexangular and hexahedral, the hexahedron being a cube with six sides and four 
points. Pliny's wording is plain and concise, and his description tallies with the 
Sanskrit definition of the diamond as "six-cornered" {shafkona, shafkofi, or sha4dra; 
see R. Garbe [Die indischen Mineralien, p. 80], who had wit enough to see that this 
term hints at the octahedron and correctly answers to the diamond; likewise L. 
FiNOT, Lapidaires indiens, p. xxvii). It is not impossible that the Plinian definition 
is an echo of a tradition hailing, with the diamond, directly from India. 

' The Indian diamond is mentioned also by Ptolemy, according to whom the 
greatest bulk of diamonds was found with the Savara tribe (Pauly, Realenzyklo- 
padie, Vol. I, col. 344), by the Periplus Maris Erythraei (56, ed. Fabricius, p. 98), 
and by Dionysius Periegetes (second century a.d.) in his poem describing the 
habitable earth (Orbis descriptio. Verse 11 19). The diamond is doubtless included 
also among the precious stones cast by the sea upon the shores of India, mentioned 
by CuRTius RuFUS, and among Strabo's precious stones, some of which the Indians 
collect from among the pebbles of the river, and others of which they dig out of the 
earth (McCrindle, Invasion of India by Alexander, pp. 187-188). Alexander's 
expedition made the Greeks familiar with the diamond, hence it is mentioned by 
Theophrastus (De lapidibus, 19), who compares the carbuncle with the adamas. I 
do not agree with the objections raised by some authors against Theophrastus' 

Acquaintance or the Ancients with the Diamond 45 

the Periplus* expressly relates of the exportation from India of diamonds 
and hyacinths. Further, the Annals of the T'ang Dynasty ^ come to 
our aid with the statement that India has diamonds, sandal-wood, and 
saffron, and barters these articles with Ta Ts'in (the Roman Orient), 
Fu-nan, and Kiao-chi. The fact therefore remains, as attested by the 
Chinese, that India shipped diamonds to the West.^ 

There is, moreover, in the chapter of Pliny, positive evidence voicing 
the cause of the diamond. He is familiar with the hardness of the 
stone, which is beyond expression (quippe duritia est inenarrabilis) ; 
and, owing to its indomitable powers, the Greeks bestowed on it the 
name adamas (*' unconquerable")-* He is acquainted, as set forth on 
p. 31, with the technical use of diamond splinters, which cut the very 
hardest substances known. If one of the apocryphal varieties of the 
diamond, styled siderites (from Greek sideros, ''iron"), a stone which 
shines like iron, is reported to differ in its main properties from the true 
diamond, inasmuch as it will break when struck by the hammer, and 
admit of being perforated by other kinds of adamas, this observation 

acquaintance with the diamond. H. Bretzl (Botanische Forschungen des Ale- 
xanderzuges) has well established the fact that he commanded an admirable knowl- 
edge of the vegetation of India; thus he may well have heard also of the Indian 
diamond from his same informants. It is not necessary to assume, however, that he 
knew the diamond from autopsy, as he does not describe it, but mentions it only 
passingly in the single passage referred to; also H. O. Lenz (Mineralogie der alten 
Griechen und Romer, p. 19) holds the same opinion. It is difficult to see that 
Theophrastus could have compared with the carbuncle any other stone than the 

1 Ch. 56 (ed. of Fabricius, p. 98). G. F. Kunz (Curious Lore of Precious Stones, 
p. 72) observes, "The writer is disinclined to believe that the ancients knew the dia- 
mond." The same author, however, believes in the existence of diamonds in ancient 
India; but Rome then coveted all the precious stones of India, and he who accepts 
the Indian diamond as a fact must be consistent in granting it to the ancients, too. 

* T*ang shu, Ch. 221 a, p. 10 b. 

' Indian diamonds were apparently traded also to Ethiopia, for Pliny records 
the opinion of the ancients that the adamas was only to be discovered in the mines 
of Ethiopia between the temple of Mercury and the island of Meroe (veteres eum 
in Aethiopum metallis tantum inveniri existimavere inter delubrum Mercuri et 
insulam Meroe n). Ajasson's comment that the Ethiopia here mentioned is in reality 
India, and that the "Temple of Mercury" means the Brahmaloka, or "Temple of 
Brahma" (it does not mean "temple," but "world" of Brahma) is of course wrong. 
The reference to Meroe, the capital of Ethiopia, at once renders this opinion im- 
possible; besides, Pliny's geographical terminology is always distinct as to the use 
of India and Ethiopia. The tradition of Ethiopic diamonds is confirmed by the 
Greek Romance of Alexander (in, 23), in which Queen Candace in the palace of 
Merog presents Alexander with a crown of diamonds {adamas; see A. Ausfeld, Der 
griechische Alexanderroman, pp. loi, 192). 

* Invictum is given by Pliny himself (prooemium of lib. xx) as if it were a transla- 
tion of the Greek word. The Physiologus says that the stone is called adamas 
because it overpowers everything, but itself cannot be overpowered. 

46 The Diamond 

plainly bears out the fact that Pliny and his contemporaries knew very 
well the properties of the real diamond, and, moreover, that diamond 
affects diamond. In short, due allowance being made for inaccuracies 
of the tradition of the Plinian text and the imperfect state of mineral- 
ogical knowledge of that period, no fair criticism can escape from 
the conclusion that Pliny's adamas is nothing but the diamond. The 
fact that also other stones superficially resembling diamonds were at 
that time taken for or passed off as diamonds, cannot change a jot of 
this conclusion. Such substitutes have been in vogue everywhere and 
at all times, and they are not even spared oiir own age.^ Pliny's con- 
demnation of these as not belonging to the genus (degeneres) and only 
enjoying the authority of the name (nominis tantum auctoritatem 
habent) reveals his discriminative critical faculty and his ability to 
distinguish the real thing from the frame-up. The perpetuity of the 
Plinian observations in regard to the adamas among the Arabs, Persians, 
Armenians, Hindu, and Chinese, who all have focussed on the diamond 
this classical lore inherited by him, throws additional evidence of most 
weighty and substantial character into the balance of the ancients* 
thorough acquaintance with the real diamond. The Arabs, assuredly, 
were not feeble-minded idiots when they coined their word almas from 
the classical adamas for the designation of the diamond, and this test of 
the language persists to the present day. The Arab traders and 
jewellers certainly were sufficiently wide awake to know what a dia- 
mond is, and their Hindu and Chinese colleagues were just as keen in 
recognizing diamonds, long before any science of mineralogy was estab- 
lished in Europe. The world-wide propagation of the same notions, 
the same lore, the same valuation connected with the stone, is iron-hard 
proof for the fact that in the West and East aHke this stone was the 
diamond. This uniformity, coherence, perpetuity, and universality 
of tradition form a still mightier stronghold than the interpretation of 
the Plinian text. For this double reason there can be no doubt also that 
the kin-kang of Chinese tradition is the diamond. 

Cut Diamonds. — Another question is whether the ancients were 
cognizant of the diamond in its rough natural state only, or whether 
they imderstood how to cut and polish it. This problem has caused 

^ There were rock-crystals found in northern Europe in the seventeenth century 
and passed under the name of diamond. Johannes Scheffer (Lappland, p. 416, 
Frankfurt, 1675) tells that the lapidaries sometimes used to polish these crystals 
or diamonds of Lapland and to sell them as good diamonds, even frequently deceive 
experts with them, because they are not inferior in lustre to the Oriental stones. In 
the eighteenth century crystal was still called "false diamond" (J. Kunckell, 
Ars Vitraria, p. 451, Numberg, 1743). 

Cut Diamonds 47 

an endless controversy. Lessing, in his '' Brief e antiquarischen 
Inhalts" (No. 32), which it is still as enjoyable as profitable seriously to 
study, has shown with a great amount of acumen that the ancients 
possessed no knowledge whatever of diamond-dust, and therefore did 
not know how to polish the diamond. This opinion, however, did not 
remain uncontradicted. The opposite view is heralded by Blumner,^ 
who argues, "Despite the lack of positive testimony, we cannot forbear 
assuming that the ancients understood, though possibly imperfectly, 
how to polish the diamond. Since only in this state is the stone capable 
of displaying its marvellous lustre, play of colors, and translucency, its 
extraordinary valuation among the ancients would not be very intel- 
ligible had they known it merely as an uncut gem." This argument is 
rather sentimental and intuitive than well founded. As far as the plain 
facts are concerned, Lessing is right; and, what is even more remarkable, 
has remained right from 1768, the date at which he wrote, up to the 
present. No cut diamond of classical antiquity has as yet come to 
light; and in order to pass audaciously over the body of Pliny, and have 
us believe what he does not say, such a palpable piece of evidence would 
be indispensable. As a matter of fact, neither Pliny nor any other 
ancient writer loses a word about diamond-dust; nor does he mention 
that the diamond can be cut and polished, or that it was so treated; nor 
does he express himself on the adamantine lustre.^ This silence is 
sufficiently ominous to guard ourselves, I should think, against the rash 
asstimption that the ancients might have cut the diamond. Its high 
appreciation is quite conceivable without the application of this process, 
for even the uncut diamond possesses brilliancy and lustre enough to 
allure a human soul. The possibility would remain that the ancients 
may have received worked diamonds, ready made, straight from India.' 

1 Technologic, Vol. Ill, p. 233. 

2BECKMANN (Beitrage zur Geschichte der Erfindungen, Vol. Ill, p. 541) held 
that the ancients employed diamond-dust for the cutting of stones other than the 
diamond, but he denied that they polished the diamond with its own dust. This is 
certainly a contradiction in itself: if the ancients knew the utility of diamond-dust, 
there is no reason why they should not have applied it to the diamond; and if they 
did not facet diamonds, it is very plain that they lacked the knowledge of diamond- 
dust. Bauer (Edelsteinkunde, p. 302, 2d ed.) observes, "In how far the ancients 
imderstood how to polish diamonds, or at least to improve existing crystal surfaces 
by pohshing, is not known with certainty. From the traditions handed down, 
however, it becomes evident that this art was not wholly unknown to the ancients.'' 
The latter statement is without basis. 

' This hypothesis was formulated by H. O. Lenz (Mineralogie der alten Griechen 
und R6mer, pp. 39, 164, Gotha, 1861), who concluded from what the ancients said 
regarding the brilliancy of the stone that diamonds cut and polished in the country of 
their origin were traded to Europe. 

48 The Diamond 

Here, again, it is unfortunate that our knowledge fails us: the ancient 
Indian sources exhibit the same lack of information on the identical 
points as does Pliny. S. K. Aiyangar^ justly points out that in the 
description of the diamond, as given in the Arthagastra (quoted above, 
p. 1 6), "there is nothing to warrant the inference that diamonds were 
artificially cut; but, perhaps, the fact that diamonds were used to bore 
holes in other substances makes it clear that lapidary work was not 
unknown." A very late work on gems, the Agastimata, in an appendix 
of still later date, contains a curious passage in which the cutting of 
diamonds is prohibited: "The stone which is cut with a blade, or 
which is worn out by repeated friction, becomes useless, and its benevo- 
lent virtue disappears; the stone, on the contrary, which is absolutely 
nattiral has all its virtue." L. Finot,^ to whom we owe the edition and 
translation of this work, rightly points out that cutting and polishing are 
clearly understood here; but another passage in the same treatise speaks 
of it as a normal process, without forbidding what precedes the setting 
of diamonds for ornaments, and we regret with Finot that these passages 
cannot be dated. Garcia ab Horto, who wrote in 1563, informs us 
that by the people of India natural diamonds were preferred to the cut 
ones, in opposition to the Portuguese.^ Ta vernier (1605-89) describes 
the diamond-polishing in the Indian mines by means of diamond-dust.'* 
In the face of the Agastimata and Garcia's statements, suspicion is ripe 
that diamond-cutting was introduced into India only by the Portuguese,^ 
and that the employment of uncut stones was the really national fashion 
of India. The passage in the additional chapter of the Agastimata, 
as stated, cannot be dated with certainty, but it seems more probable 
that it falls within the time of the Portuguese era of India than that it 

^ Quarterly Journal of the Mythic Society, Vol. Ill, p. 130. 

' Lapidaires indiens, p. xxx. 

' Si come una vergine si preferisce ad una donna corrotta, cosi il diamante dalla 
natura polito, e acconcio s'ha da preferire k quello, che dall'arte h stato lavorato. 
Al contrario f anno i Portughesi, stimando piti quelli, che sono dall'artificio dell' huomo 
acconci, e lavorati (Italian edition, p. 180). 

* "There are at this mine numerous diamond-cutters, and each has only a steel 
wheel of about the size of our plates. They place but one stone on each wheel, 
and pour water incessantly on the wheel until they have found the 'grain' of the 
stone. The 'grain' being found, they pour on oil and do not spare diamond-dust, 
although it is expensive, in order to make the stone run faster, and they weight it 
much more heavily than we do. . , . The Indians are unable to give the stones so 
lively a polish as we give them in Europe; and this, I believe, is due to the fact that 
their wheel does not run so smoothly as ours" (ed. of V. Ball, Vol. II, pp. 57, 58). 

* Also Bauer (Edelsteinkunde, p. 302, 2d ed.) is of the opinion that the diamond- 
cutting of Europe, which was developed from the end of the middle ages, has not 
remained without influence upon India, and that perhaps the process was introduced 
from Europe into India, or was at least resuscitated there. 

Cut Diamonds 49 

should be much earlier. It is safer to adopt this point of view, as the 
Ratnaparlkshd of Buddhabhatta, who presumably wrote somewhat 
earlier than the sixth century, does not mention the cutting of dia- 
monds,^ nor does the mineralogical treatise of Narahari from the fifteenth 
century.^ At all events, we have as yet no ancient source of Indian 
literature in which the cutting of diamonds is distinctly set forth. The 
discovery of such a passage, or, what is still more preferable, archaeological 
evidence in the shape of ancient cut diamonds, may possibly correct 
our knowledge in the future. For the present it seems best to adhere 
to the view that the polishing of diamonds was foreign to ancient India, 
and a process but recently taught by European instructors. Certainly, 
we should not base our present conclusions on hoped-for future dis- 
coveries, which may even never be made, nor should we shift evidence 
appropriate to the last centuries into times of antiqtiity, nor is there 
reason to persuade ourselves that the knowledge of the diamond on the 
part of the Indians goes back to the period of a boundless antiquity 
(see p. 16). The Chinese contribute nothing to the elucidation of this 
problem; and certain it is that they merely kept the diamonds in the 
condition in which they received them from the Roman Orient, Fu-nan, 
India, and the Arabs, without attempting to improve the appearance 
of the stones. The European tradition that Ludwig van Berquen of 
Brugge in 1476 was the *' inventor" of the process of polishing diamonds 
by means of diamond-dust, is, of course, nothing more than a con- 
ventional story (une fable convenue). As shown by Bauer,' diamonds 
were roughly or superficially polished as early as the middle ages; and 
Berquen improved the process and arranged the facets with stricter 
regiilarity, whereby the color effect was essentially enhanced.* The 
early history of the technique in Europe is not yet exactly ascertained.* 

^ L. FiNOT (/. c, p. xxx), it is true, alludes to a passage of this work where, in his 
opinion, it is apparently the question of diamond-polishing. The text, however, runs 
thus: "The sages must not employ for ornament a diamond with a visible flaw; it 
can serve only for the polishing of gems, and its value is slight." This only means 
that deficient diamonds were used for the working of stones other than the diamond. 

2 R. Garbe, Die indischen Mineralien, pp. 80-83. 

3 L. c, p. 303. 

* The Berquen legend was firmly established in the seventeenth century, under 
the influence of one of his descendants. Robert de Berquen (in his book Les 
merveilles des Indes orientales et occidentales, p. 13, Paris, 1669), after disdainfully 
talking about the rough diamonds obtained from India, soars into this panegyric of 
his ancestor : " Le Ciel doua ce Louis de Berquen qui estoit natif de Bruges, comme un 
autre Bezell^e, de cet esprit singulier ou genie, pour en trouver de luy mesme I'inven- 
tion et en venir heureusement a bout." Then follows the story of the "invention." 

^ H. Sokeland {Zeitschrift fiir Ethnologie, Vol. XXIII, 1891, Verhandlungen, 
p. 621) took up this question again, and thought that definite proof had not been 

$0 The Diamond 

On the other hand, we have two testimonies in witness of the fact 
that, even though a certain crude method of treating diamonds may- 
have lingered in the Orient, the superior European achievements along 
this line were received by Oriental nations as a surprising novelty. The 
Armenian lapidarium of the seventeenth century states,^ "No one 
besides the Franks (Europeans) understands how to polish and to bore 
the diamond. The polished stone of four carats is sold at ten thousand 
otmani. The Franks at Aleppo say that the diamond, though it is the 
king of all precious stones, is of no utility without polishing, because 
in its raw state admixtures will remain, which may often not be notice- 
able in the cut stone." The Chinese made their first acquaintance with 
polished diamonds among the Portuguese of Macao, who, they say, base 
their valuation on this quality.^ 

Acquaintance of the Chinese with the Diamond. — Let us now 
examine the objections which have been raised by sinologues to the 
identification of the term kin-kang with the diamond. F. Porter 
Smith,^ who made rather inexact statements on the subject, in 1871 
contested that kin-kang denotes the real diamond, and treated it under 
the title "corundimi," which arbitrarily he takes for "a kind of adaman- 
tine spar." Conmdum, he states, crystallizes in six-sided prisms, but 
the Chinese siliceous stone is said to be octahedral in form. If this be 
really said by the Chinese, it is evidence that the stone in question is the 
diamond, not conmdum; and the latter, in its main varieties of ruby and 
sapphire, is well known to the Chinese under a munber of terms. Black- 
ish emery, containing iron, it is thought by Smith, is also described 

brought forward for the assertion that the ancients did not employ diamond-dust; 
but he recruited no new facts for the discussion, and merely referred to the old fable 
that the Bishop Marbodus (1035-1123) should have been familiar with diamond- 
dust. Marbodus, however, in his famous treatise De lapidibus pretiosis, most 
obviously speaks only of diamond-splinters (huius fragmentis gemmae sculptuntur 
acutis; in the earliest French translation, d6s piecc^ttes |Ki en esclatent agu^ttes] 
Les altres gemmes sunt talli^es] E gentement aparelli66s. — L. Pannier, Lapidaires 
frangais du moyen ^ge, p. 36), as translated correctly also by King (Antique Gems, 
P- 392); and he does so, not because he was possibly acquainted with them, but be- 
cause he copied this matter, as most of his data, from Pliny. Likewise Konrad von 
Megenberg, in his Book of Nature written 1349-50 (ed. of F. Pfeiffer, p. 433), 
states only that other hard precious stones are graved with pointed diamond-pieces. 
It means little, as insisted upon by S6keland, that A. Hirth and Mariette second the 
cause of the ancients in the use of diamond-dust, as their opinion is not based on any 
text to this efifect (such does not exist), but merely on the impression received from 
certain engraved gems. The conclusion, however, that these could not have been 
worked otherwise than by means of diamond-dust, is unwarranted, and plainly 
contradicted by Pliny's data regarding the treatment of precious stones. 

* Russian translation of Patkanov, p. 4. 

* Wu li siao shi, Ch. 8, p. 22. 

* Contributions toward the Materia Medica of China, pp. 74, 85. 

Acquaintance of the Chinese with the Diamond 51 

under this heading in the Pen ts'ao. We have seen that what is de- 
scribed in this work, owing to the strict conformity with classical tradi- 
tions, refers to nothing but the diamond; and it was the black diamonds 
which were chosen as graving-implements. According to Smith, 
Cambodja, India, Asia Minor, the country of the Hui-k'i (Uigur), and 
other countries of Asia, are said to possess this stone. Cambodja is 
intended for Fu-nan; and the country of the Uigur, as has been shown, 
is merely the theatre of action for the legend of the Diamond Valley in 
the version of Chou Mi (this statement is devoid of any geographical 
value). If the prefecture of Shun-ning in Yiin-nan, as stated by Smith, 
5rields the present supply of corundum used in cutting gems, this is an 
entirely different question. If the name kin-kang is bestowed on 
corundum-points, it is a commercial term, which does not disprove that 
the kin-kang of ancient tradition was the diamond, or prove that it 
was a kind of corundum. The diamond-points formerly imported were 
naturally scarce; and the Chinese, recognizing the high usefulness of 
this implement, were certainly eager to discover a similar material in 
their country, fit to take the place of the imported article.^ This is a 
process which repeated itself in China numerous times: the impetus 
received from abroad acted as a stimulus to domestic research. If such 
a stone was ultimately fotmd, it was termed kin-kang^ not because this 
stone was confounded with the diamond, but for the natural reason that 
it was turned to the same use as the diamond-point; in other words, the 
name in this case does not relate to the stone as a mineralogical species, 
but to the stone in its function as an implement. Consequently it is 
inadmissible to draw any scientific inferences from the modem applica- 
tion of the word kin-kang as to the character of the stone mentioned in 
the earlier records of the Chinese. 

A. J. C. Geerts,2 in his very useful, though occasionally uncritical 
work, charges the Chinese books with the defect of having constantly 
confounded the diamond with corundimi, adamantine spar, pyrope, 

1 This is proved by the Arabs. The Arabic lapidarium of the ninth century, 
attributed by tradition to Aristotle, demonstrates that Chinese emery was known to 
the Arabs: the localities where it is found are the islands of the Chinese Sea, and it 
occurs there as a coarse sand in which are also larger and smaller hard stones (Ruska, 
Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 151). The Arabs certainly did not confound this 
Chinese emery with the diamond, nor did the Chinese. This is demonstrated also 
by Ibn Khordadbeh, who wrote his Book of the Routes and Kingdoms between 844 
and 848, and according to whom diamond and emery, the latter for polishing metal, 
were exported from Ceylon (G. Ferrand, Relations de voyages arabes, persans et 
turks rel. h. I'Extrgme-Orient, Vol. I, p. 31). Diamond and emery, accordingly, 
were distinct matters in the eyes of the Arabs, Ceylonese, and Chinese. 

2 Les produits de la nature japonaise et chinoise, pp. 201-202, 356-358 (Yoko- 
hama, 1878, 1883). 

52 The Diamond 

almandine, zircon, etc. This list is somewhat extended; and whoever 
deems its length insufficient may stretch it ad libitum under screen of 
the "etc." A charge of confusion is an easy means of overcoming a 
difficult subject and setting a valve on serious investigation. It is to 
be apprehended lest in this case the confusion is rather in the mind of 
Geerts than in that of the Chinese, and results from his failure to read 
the Chinese texts with critical eyes. The first conspicuous confusion of 
Geerts is, that on p. 202 he grants Li Shi-ch^n the privilege of indicating 
the true diamond,^ while this license is abrogated on p. 357 : " The place 
of the kin-kang between iron pyrite and aluminous schist is contrary to 
the idea that this author intended to designate under this name the 
diamond." What neither Geerts, nor his predecessor Smith, nor his 
successor de Mely, understood, is the plain fact that Li Shi-ch^n does not 
speak at all of the diamond as a stone, but of the diamond-point as an 
implement. For this reason it is embodied in the chapter on stones, and 
is logically followed by a discussion of stone needles used in acupimcture. 
The term *' kin-kang stone" means to Li Shi-ch^n nothing but the 
diamond-point. The fact that, besides, the diamond was known to 
the Chinese as a precious stone, is evidenced by the text of the Tsin kH 
kU chu (p. 35), where the diamond is spoken of as a precious stone (pao), 
and by the Ko chi king yilan,^ where the stone is designated as a "dia- 
mond jewel" {kin-kang pao) and classed with jade and gems in the 
chapter on precious objects (cMn pao lei).^ It is not necessary to push 
any further this criticism of Geerts, who hazards other eccentric con- 
clusions in this section. The evidence brought together is overwhelm- 
ing in demonstrating that the kin-kang in the texts offered by Li Shi- 
ch^n, and in ancient Chinese tradition generally, is the diamond. This 
uniform interpretation, inspired by an analysis of all traditions in the 
known ancient world, instead of an appeal to confusion with a choice 
of fanciful possibilities, seems to be the best guarantor for the exactness 
of the result. 

1 The text referred to is that of Pao-p'u-tse regarding Fu-nan; but it is Li Shi-ch6n 
who is made responsible for it by Geerts. This uncritical method of Smith, Geerts, 
and de M^ly, who load everything on to the P^n ts^ao or its author Li Shi-ch6n, with- 
out taking the trouble to unravel the various sources quoted by him and to study the 
traditions with historical criticism, is the principal reason for their failure in reaching 
positive results. 

2Ch. 33, p. 3b. 

8 In the great cyclopaedia T"ai pHng yu Ian (Oh. 813) the notes on the diamond 
are arranged in the section on metals, being preceded by those on copper and iron. 
The cyclopaedia T'u shu tsi ch'ing has adopted the scheme of Li Shi-ch6n, placing the 
diamond in the division "stones." It is content to reiterate simply Li Shi-ch^n's 
notes, so that this is one of the poorest chapters of this thesaurus. 

Acquaintance of the Chinese with the Diamond 53 

The solidity and exactness of Chinese tradition is vividly illustrated 
also by another fact. The term kin-kang for the diamond was coined 
by the Chinese as a free adaptation of the Sanskrit word vajra, and, 
like the latter, signifies with them both the mythical weapon of Indra 
and the Indian diamond. We noticed that in the oldest historical 
account of the diamond relative to the year a.d. 277 this precious stone 
is stated as coming from India, but that at the same time traditions of 
classical antiquity are blended with this early narrative. Again, the 
Chinese fully recognized the stone in the diamond-points furnished to 
them in the channel of trade with the Hellenistic Orient, and were 
perfectly aware of the fact that diamonds were utilized in the Roman 
Empire.^ In the most diverse parts of the world, wherever commercial, 
diplomatic, or political enterprise carried them, the Chinese observed 
the diamond, and in every case applied to it correctly the term kin-kang. 
Thus, according to their Annals, the diamond was found among the 
precious stones peculiar to the ctilture of Persia imder the Sassanians.* 

Among the early mentions of diamonds is that of diamond finger- 
rings sent in a.d. 430 as tribute from the kingdom Ho-lo-tan on the 
Island of Java.' In all periods of their history, the Chinese, indeed, 

* The Hiian chung ki of the fifth century expressly states that diamonds come 
from (or are produced in) India and Ta Ts'in {T^ai p'ing yii Ian, Ch. 813, p. 10). 

^Pei shi, Ch. 97, p. 7b; Wei shu, Ch. 102, p. 5b; and Sui shu, Ch. 83, p. 7b. 
DiONYSius Periegetes, who lived at the time of the Emperor Hadrian (i 17-138), 
in his poem Orbis descriptio (Verse 318), says that the diamond is found in the 
proximity of the country of the Agathyrsi residing north of the Istros (Danube); 
and Ammianus Marcellinus (xxii, 8; ed. Nisard, p. 175) states that the diamond 
abounds among this people (Agathyrsi, apud quos adamantis est copia lapidis). 
BLtJMNER (Technologic, Vol. Ill, p. 232; and in Pauly's Realenzyklopadie, Vol. IX, 
col. 323) infers from these data that the diamond-mines recently rediscovered in the 
Ural seem to have been known to the ancients; but this conclusion is not forcible. 
The mines in the Ural began to be opened only from 1829 (the question is not of a 
rediscovery), and there is no evidence that diamonds were found there at any earlier 
time. Aside from this fact, a respectable distance separated the Ural from the 
habitat of the Agathyrsi, who occupied the territory of what is now Siebenburgen. 
Already Herodotus (iv, 104) knew them as men given to luxury and very fond of 
wearing gold ornaments. The interesting point is that the Agathyrsi, as shown by 
JusTi (Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, Vol. II, p. 442), judging from the remains 
of their language, belonged to the Sc5rthian stock of peoples, speaking an Iranian 
language. The notes of Dionysius and Ammianus, therefore, confirm for a Western 
tribe of this extended family what the Chinese report about Iran proper, and it may 
be that the diamond was known to all members of the Iranian group in the first 
centuries of our era. 

' Pelliot (Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. IV, p. 271), who has indicated this 
passage, sees some difficulties in the term kin kang chi huan. While admitting 
that kin-kang is the diamond, he thinks that this translation does not fit the case, 
and proposes to understand the term in the sense of "rings of rock-crystal." I see 
no difficulty in assuming that finger-rings of metal set with a diamond are here in 
question. This passage, indeed, is not the only one to mention diamond rings. In 

54 The Diamond 

were familiar with the diamond. To Chao Ju-kua of the Sung period, 
India was known as a diamond-producing country, though what he re- 
lates about the stone is copied from the text of Pao-p'u-tse, quoted 
above (p. 21).^ 

Judging from Marco Polo's report,^ the best diamonds of India found 
their way to the Court of the Great Khan. 

The Annals of the Ming record embassies from Lu-mi (Rum) in 1548 
and 1554, presenting diamonds among other objects.^ In the Ming 
period eight kinds of precious stones were known from Hormuz, the 
emporium at the entrance of the Persian Gulf; the fifth of these was the 
diamond.* At the same time diamonds were known on Java.^ 

the year a.d. 428 of the Liu Sung dynasty, the King of Kia-p'i-li (Kapila) in India 
sent diamond rings to the Chinese Court (Sung shu, Ch. 97, p. 4). The Nan fang 
i wu chi (Account of Remarkable Products of Southern China, by Fang Ts*ien-li 
of the fifth century or earlier: Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, No. 544) relates 
that foreigners are fond of adorning rings with diamonds and wearing these (T'ai 
pHng yii Ian, Ch. 813, p. 10); and Li Shi-ch6n (above, p. 40) is familiar with diamond 
finger-rings. The Records of Champa {Lin yi ki) relate that the King of Lin-yi 
(Champa), Fan-ming-ta, presented to the Court diamond finger-rings {Tu shu tsi 
ch'Bng, Pien i Hen 96, hui k'ao i, p. lib; jor T'ai pHng yii Ian, I. c). Daggers and 
krisses are set with diamonds in Java, and they are used for inlaying on lance- 
heads (Int. Archivftir Ethnographic, Vol. Ill, 1890, pp. 94-97, loi). The ancients 
already employed the diamond as a ring-stone (BLtJMNER, Technologic, Vol. Ill, 
p. 232). 

1 HiRTH and Rockhill, Chau Ju-kua, p. iii. 

2 Edition of Yule and Cordier, Vol. II, p. 361. 

8 Bretschneider, China Review, Vol. V, p. 177. 

* Si yang ch'ao kung tien lu, Ch. c, p. 7 (ed. of Pie hia chai ts'ung shu), written in 
1520 by Huang Sing-ts6ng (regarding this work see Chinese Clay Figures, p. 165, 
note 3; Mayers, China Review, Vol. Ill, p. 220; and Rockhill, T'oung Pao, 1915, 
p. 76). 

^ Ibid., Ch. A, p. 9. — It is somewhat surprising that the Chinese were not 
acquainted with the diamonds of Borneo; at least in none of their documents touching 
their relations with the island is any mention made of the diamonds found there. 
A good description of the Borneo mines, their sites, working-methods, output, etc., 
is given by M. E. Boutan (Le Diamant, pp. 223-228, with map, Paris, 1886), 
M. Bauer (Edelsteinkunde, 2d ed., pp. 274-281), and in an article of the Encyclo- 
paedic van Nederlandsch-Indie (Vol. I, pp. 445-446). None of these sources, how- 
ever, bears on the question as to when these mines were opened, or when the first 
diamonds were discovered, and whether this was done by natives or Europeans. As 
nearly as I can make out, Borneo diamonds were known in the European market in the 
latter part of the seventeenth century. In a small anonymous book entitled The 
History of Jewels, and of the Principal Riches of the East and West, taken from the 
Relation of Divers of the most Famous Travellers of Our Age (London, 1671, printed 
by T. N. for Hobart Kemp, at the Sign of the Ship in the Upper Walk of the New 
Exchange) I find the following: "Let me therefore tell you, that none has been yet 
able in all the world to discover more than five places, from whence the diamond is 
brought, viz., two rivers and three mines. The first of the two rivers is in the Isle 
Borneo, under the equator, on the east of the Chersonesus of Gold, and is called 
Succadan. The stones fetched from thence are usually clear and of a good water, 

Stones of Nocturnal Luminosity 55 

Stones of Nocturnal Luminosity. — We noticed that the diamond 
and the traditions connected with it reached the Chinese chiefly from 
the Hellenistic Orient. We should therefore be justified in expecting 
also that the historical texts relative to Ta Ts'in and inserted in the 
Chinese annals might contain references to this stone; but in Hirth's 
classical work "China and the Roman Orient," where all these docu- 
ments are carefully assembled and minutely studied, the diamond is 
not even mentioned.^ This, at first sight, is very striking; but it would 
be permissible to think that the diamond is hidden there under a name 
not yet recognized as such. In the first principal account of Ta Ts'in 
embodied in the Annals of the Posterior Han Dynasty,^ we read that 

and almost all bright and brisk, whereof no other reason can be given, but that they 
are found at the bottom of a river amongst sand which is pure, and has no mixture, 
or tincture of other earth, as in other places. These stones are not discovered till 
after the waters which fall like huge torrents from the mountains, are all passed, and 
men have much to do to attain them, since few persons go to traffic in this isle; and 
forasmuch as the inhabitants do fall upon strangers who come ashore, unless it be by 
a particular favor. Besides that, the Queen does rarely permit any to transport 
them; and so soon as ever any one hath found one of them they are obliged to bring 
it to her. Yet for all that they pass up and down, and now and then the Hollanders 
buy them in Batavia. Some few are found there, but the largest do not exceed 
five carats, although in the year 1648, there was one to be sold in Batavia of 22 carats. 
I have made mention of the Queen of Borneo, and not of the King, because that the 
isle is always commanded by a woman, for that people, who will have no prince but 
what is legitimate, would not be otherwise assured of the birth of males, but can not 
doubt of those of the females, who are necessarily of the blood royal on their mother's 
side, she never marrying, yet having always the command." 

1 India's trade in diamonds with Ta Ts'in, already pointed out, is mentioned in 
the chapter on India, inserted in the T'ang Annals (Ch. 221 a, p. 10 b). 

2 Hou Han shu, Ch. 1 18, p. 4 b. Both the night-shining jewel and the moonlight 
pearl are mentioned together also in the Nestorian inscription of Si-ngan fu and in 
the Chinese Manichean treatise (Chavannes and Pelliot, Traits manich^en, p. 68). 
In the latter it is compassion that is likened to the "gem, bright like the moon, which 
is the first among all jewels." The T'ung Hen of Tu Yu (written from 766 to 801) 
ascribes genuine pearls, night-shining and moon-bright gems, to the country of the 
Pigmies north-west of Sogdiana (T'ai p'ing yii Ian, Ch. 796, p. 7 b). In that fabulous 
work Tung ming ki, which seems to go back to the middle of the sixth century (Cha- 
vannes and Pelliot, /. c, p. 145), the Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty is said 
to have obtained in 102 B.C. a white gem ("^3E|^; the word chu means not only 
"pearl, bead," but also "gems generally"), which the Emperor wrapped up in a 
piece of brocade. It was as if it reflected the light of the moon, whence it was styled 
"moon-reflecting gem" {chao yiie chu; see P'ei win yiin fu, Ch. 7A, p. 107). The 
San Ts'in ki, a book of the fifth century, has on record that in the tumulus of the 
Emperor Ts'in Shi pearls shining at night (ye kuang chu) formed a palace of the sun 
and moon, and that moonlight pearls {ming yiie chu) suspended in the grave emitted 
light by day and night {T'u shu tsi ch'ing, chapter on pearls, ki shi, I, p. 3 b). The 
word pH used in the term ye kuang p'i, at first sight, is striking, as it refers to a per- 
forated circular jade disk, such as occurs in ancient China (see Jade, p. 154), but does 
not occur in the Hellenistic Orient. It is therefore probable that the term already 
pre-existed in China, and was merely transferred to a jewel of the Roman Orient 

56 The Diamond 

*'the country contains much gold, silver, and rare precious stones, par- 
ticularly the jewel that shines at night {ye kuang pH ^k^j{_,%. ), or the 
* jewel of noctural luminosity,' and the moonlight pearl (or 'pearl as 

which was reported to the Chinese to shine at night. This holds good also of the 
term ming yiie chu. In T'oung Pao (1913, p. 341) and Chinese Clay Figures (p. 151) 
I pointed out that the two terms are employed as early as the Shi ki of Se-ma Ts'ien. 
The passage occurs in the Biography of Li Se (Ch. 87, p. 2 b), who is ill-famed for 
the extermination of Confucian literature under the Emperor Ts'in Shi, and who died 
in 208 B.C. (Giles, Biographical Dictionary, p. 464). In another passage of the same 
work the two terms "moonlight (or moon-bright) pearl" and "night-shining jade- 
disk" are coupled together, used in a figurative sense (P^itillon, Allusions litt^raires, 
p. 242; LocKHART, Manual of Chinese Quotations, p. 397). A third passage leaves 
no doubt of what Se-ma Ts'ien understood by a moordight pearl. In his chapter 
treating divination from the tortoise-shell (Ch. 128, p. 2 b), he defines the term thus: 
"The moonlight pearl is produced in rivers and in the sea, hidden in the oyster- 
shell, while the water-dragon attacks it. When the sovereign obtains it, he will hold 
in submission for a long time the foreign tribes residing in the four quarters of the 
empire." The moonlight pearl, accordingly, was to Se-ma Ts'ien and his contempo- 
raries a river or marine pearl of fine quality, worthy of a king, a foreign origin of it 
not being necessarily implied. The philosopher Mo Ti or Mo-tse, who seems to have 
lived after Confucius and before M6ng-tse, mentions the night-shining pearl (ye kuang 
chi chu) in an enumeration of prominent treasures; but I am not convinced of the 
authenticity of the text published under his name, which was doubtless fabricated 
by his disciples (compare Grube, Geschichte der chinesischen Litteratur, p. 129), 
and tampered with by subsequent editors. The mention of this pearl in Mo Ti and 
in other alleged early Taoist writers (compare the questionable text of the Shi i ki, 
quoted by de Groot, ReUgious System of China, Vol. I, p. 278) may be a retro- 
spective interpolation as well. Se-ma Ts'ien must be regarded as the only early 
author whose references in this case may be relied upon as authentic and contempo- 
raneous. (The uncritical notes of T. de Lacouperie, Babylonian and Oriental 
Record, Vol. VI, 1893, P- 271, with their fantastic comment, are without value.) It 
seems to me, that, in applying the identical terms to real objects encountered in the 
Hellenistic Orient, the Chinese named these with reference to that passage of Se-ma 
Ts'ien by way of a literary allusion, and that for this reason the word pH, in this 
instance, is not to be accepted literally, as has been done by Chavannes (T'oung 
Pao, 1907, p. 181 : "I'anneau qui brille pendant la nmt"), but that the term ye kuang 
pH represents an undivided unit denoting a precious stone. Further, this is cor- 
roborated by two facts, — first, that the ancients speak of precious stones, not of 
rings or disks brilHant at night; and, second, that Yu Huan (220-265), in his Wei lio, 
has altered the term ye kuang pH into ye kuang chu ("night-shining pearl or gem") 
with regard to Ta Ts'in, evidently guided by a correct feeling that this modification 
would more appropriately conform to the object. Moreover, there are neither in 
Greek nor in Latin any exact equivalents which might have served as models for the 
two Chinese expressions; the Chinese, indeed, possessed the latter before coming into 
contact with the Hellenistic-Roman world; ye kuang ("light of the night") is an 
ancient term to designate the moon, which appears in Huai-nan-tse (Schlegel, 
Uranographie chinoise, p. 610). This point of terminology, however, must be dis- 
tinguished from the matter-of-fact problem. Whatever the origin of the Chinese 
terms may be, from the time of intercourse with Ta Ts'in, they strictly refer to a 
certain group of gems occupying a conspicuous place in the antique world and deeply 
impressing the minds of the Chinese. All subsequent Chinese allusions to such gems, 
even though connected with domestic localities, imply distinct reminiscences of the 
former indelible experience made in the Hellenistic Orient. 

Stones of Nocturnal Luminosity 57 

clear as the moon/ yile ming chu ^ ^h ^^) •" Hirth ^ and Chavannes ^ 
have united a certain number of classical texts, in order to show that 
the notion of precious stones, and especially carbuncles, shining at 
night, was widely propagated in Greek and Roman times; the case, 
however, deserves a more critical examination. It seems to me, first 
of all, that a distinction must be made between ye kuang pH and yiie 
ming chu. These two different terms must needs refer to two diverse 
groups of stones and correspondingly different traditions. It is not 
difficult to identify the latter of the two, if we examine our Pliny. 
This is Pliny's astrion, of which he says, "Of a like white radiance' is 
the stone called astrion, cognate to crystal, and occurring in India and 
on the littoral of Patalene. In its interior, radiating from the centre, 
shines a star with the full brilliancy of the moon. Some accoimt for 
the name by saying that the stone placed opposite to the stars ab- 
sorbs their refulgence and emits it again.''* Pliny's "fulgore pleno 
lunae" appears as the basis for the Chinese term yile ming chu (literally, 
"moon shining pearl") with reference to this precious stone, as found 
in the anterior Orient.'^ Hirth {I. c.) refers us to Herodotus (II, 44), 
who mentions a temple of Hercvdes at Tyre in Phoenicia with two pil- 
lars, — one of piure gold, the other of smaragdos, — shining with great 
brilliancy at night. Hirth takes this smaragdos for "emerald stone;" 
it is certain, however, that the word in this passage does not mean 
"emerald," but denotes a greenish building-stone of a color similar to 
the emerald,^ perhaps, as Blumner^ is inclined to think, green porphyry. 
This passage, accordingly, affords no evidence that the Chinese "stone 

1 China and the Roman Orient, pp. 242-244. 

2 T'oung Pao, 1907, p. 181. 

• With reference to the white stone asteria, dealt with in the preceding chapter. 

• Similiter Candida est quae vocatur astrion, crystallo propinqua, in India nascens 
et in Patalenes litoribus. Huic intus a centre Stella lucet fiilgore pleno lunae. 
Quidam causam nominis reddimt quod astris opposita fulgorem rapiat et regerat 
(xxxvii, 48, § 132). 

5 The much-discussed question as to the stone to be understood by Pliny's 
astrion does not concern us here. The opinion that it is identical with what is now 
called asteria ("star stone") is the most probable one (compare Blumner, Tech- 
nologic, Vol. Ill, p. 234). The most detailed study of the subject, not quoted by 
Krause or Blumner, is that by J. M. GtJxHE, Uber den Astrios-Edelstein des Cajus 
Plinius Secundus (Munchen, 1810). Judging from the recent report of D. B. Ster- 
RETT (Gems and Precious Stones in 1913, p. 704, Washington, 1914), this stone seems 
to become fashionable again in jewelry. Possibly also PHny's selenitis (67, § 181), 
which has within it a figure of the moon and day by day reflects her various phases, 
may be sought in the Chinese "moonlight gem," as already supposed by D'Herbelot 
(Biblioth^que orientale, Vol. IV, p. 398). 

• Krause, Pyrgoteles, p. 37. 

"* Technologic, Vol. Ill, p. 240. 

58 The Diamond 

luminous at night" might be the emerald; nor can it be invoked as a 
contribution to the problem, as the Chinese do not speak of pillars, but 
of a precious stone. Hirth, further, quotes an account from Pliny- 
contained in his notes on the smaragdus. It is difficult to see what 
relation it is supposed to have with the subject under discussion, as 
Pliny does not say a word about these stones shining at night. The 
story runs thus: "They say that on this island above the tomb of a 
petty king, Hermias, near the fisheries, there was the marble statue of 
a lion, with eyes of smaragdi set in, flashing their light into the sea 
with such force that the tunnies were frightened away and fled, till 
the fishermen, long marvelling at this unusual phenomenon, replaced the 
stones by others."^ The plot of Pliny's story is certainly laid in the 
daytime, not during the night; fishes, as is well known, being attracted 
at night by luminous phenomena spreading over the surface of the 
water, and even being caught by the glare of torch-light. At any rate, 
the passage contains nothing about jewels brightening the night. 
Chavannes, more fortunately, points to Lucian (De dea syria), who 
describes a statue of the Syrian goddess in Hierapolis bearing a gem on 
her head called lychnis: "From this stone flashes a great light in the 
night-time, so that the whole temple gleams brightly as by the light of 
myriads of candles, but in the daytime the brightness grows faint; the 
gem has the likeness of a bright fire."^ The name lychnis is connected 
with Greek lychnos ("a portable lamp "). According to Pliny, the stone 
is so called from its lustre being heightened by the light of a lamp, when 
its tints are particularly pleasing.^ Pliny does not say that the lychnis 
shines at night,* but his definition indicates well how this tradition 
arose. Pseudo-Callisthenes (ii, 42) makes Alexander the Great spear 
a fish, in whose bowels was found a white stone so brilliant that every 
one believed it was a lamp. Alexander set it in gold, and used it as a 
lamp at night.^ The origin of this trivial story is perspicuous enough. 

^ Ferunt in ea insula tumulo reguli Hermiae iuxta cetarias marmoreo leoni fuisse 
inditos oculos e smaragdis ita radiantibus etiam in gurgitem, ut territi thynni 
refugerent, diu mirantibus novitatem piscatoribus, donee mutavere oculis gemmas 
(xxxvii, 17, § 66). Compare Krause, Pyrgoteles, p. 38. 

2 H. A. Strong, The Syrian Goddess, p. 72 (London, 19 13). 

' Ex eodem genere ardentium est lychnis appellata a lucernanim adsensu, turn 
praecipuae gratiae (xxxvii, 29, § 103). Dionysius Periegetes compares the lychnis 
with the flame of fire (Krause, /. c, p. 22). Of the various identifications proposed 
for this stone, that of tourmaline has the greatest likelihood, as Pliny refers to its 
magnetic property, inasmuch as, when heated or rubbed between the fingers, it will 
attract chaff and papyrus-fibres. 

* He does not say so, in fact, with regard to any stone. 

' It should be noted, however, that in the oldest accessible form of the Romance 
of Alexander, as critically restored by A. Ausfeld (Der griechische Alexanderroman, 

Stones of Nocturnal Luminosity 59 

It is welded from two elements, — a reflex of the ring of Polycrates^ 
rediscovered in the stomach of a fish, and the tradition underiying the 
Plinian explanation of the lychnis. It is accordingly the lychnis which, 
through exaggeration of a tradition inspired by the name, gave rise to 
a fable of stones luminous at night.^ 

A story of Aelian ^ merits particular attention : Herakleis, a virtuous 
widow of Tarent, nursed a young stork that had broken its leg. The 
grateful bird, a year after its release, dropped a stone into the woman's 
lap. Awakening at night, she noticed that the stone spread light and 
lustre, illuminating the room as though a torch had been brought in. 
The author adds that it was a very precious stone, without further 
determination.'* This story meets with a parallel in a curious anecdote 
of China, told in the Shi i ki, that, when Prince Chao of Yen was once 
seated on a terrace, black birds with white heads flocked there together, 
holding in their beaks perfectly resplendent pearls (tung kuang chu 
(>^^^^^), measuring one foot all round. These pearls were black as 
lacquer, and emitted light in the interior of a house to such a degree 
that even the spirits could not obscure their supernatural essence.^ 
Still more striking in its resemblance to Aelian's story is one in the 
Sou shen ki:^ "The marquis of Sui once encountered a wotmded snake, 
and had it cured by means of drugs. After the lapse of a year [as in 
Aelian] the snake appeared with a luminous gem in its mouth to repay 
his kindness. This gem was an inch in diameter, perfectly white, and 
emitted at night a light of the brightness of the moon, so that the room 
was lighted as by a torch." The gem was styled "gem of the marquis of 

p. 84), this incident is not contained; it is contained in the uncritical edition of 
C. MuUer of 1846. If Ausfeld (p. 242) is right in placing the primeval text of 
Pseudo-Callisthenes in the second century B.C., the episode in question, which 
indubitably is a later interpolation, is not older than the second or third cen- 
tury A.D. 

1 Herodotus, hi, 41-42. — The stone in this signet-ring, according to Herodotus, 
was a smaragdos; according to Pliny (xxxvii, i), a sardonyx (compare Krause, 
Pyrgoteles, p. 135). 

* As a fabulous stone found in the river Hydaspes, the lychnis is mentioned in the 
unauthentic treatise De fluviis, wrongly ascribed to Plutarch (F. de M^ly, Lapidaires 
grecs, p. 29). 

' Hist, animalium, viii, 22. 

* A. Marx, in his interesting study Griechische Marchen von dankbaren Tieren 
(p. 52, Stuttgart, 1889), justly comments that the stone mentioned in this tale is the 
lychnites or lychnis, because, according to Philostratus (Apollonius from Tyana, 
II, 14), this was the stone placed by the storks in their nests in order to guard them 
from snakes, and because the lychnis spreads such marvellous light in the dark and 
possesses many magical virtues (Orphica, 271). 

^ P'ei win yiin fu, Ch. 7A, p. 107. 

^ Tu shu tsi ch'ing, chapter on pearls, ki shi, I, p. i b. 

6o The Diamond 

Sui," "gem of the spiritual snake," or "moonlight pearl." ^ The same 
Chinese work offers another parallel that is still closer to Aelian, inas- 
much as the bird in question is a crane, which would naturally take the 
place of the stork not occurring in China. "K'uai Ts'an niu"sed his 
mother in a most filial manner. There nested on his house a crane, 
which was shot by men practising archery, and in a wretched condition 
returned to Ts'an's place. Ts'an nursed the bird and healed its wound, 
and, the cure being effected, released it. Subsequently it happened 
one night that cranes arrived before the door of his house. Ts'an 
seized a torch, and, on examination, noted that a couple of cranes, male 
and female, had come, carrying in their beaks moon-bright pearls 
(ming yiie chu) to recompense his good deed."^ The coincidences in 
these three Chinese versions and the story of the Greek author, even in 
unimportant details, are so striking, that an historical connection be- 
tween the two is obvious. The dependence of the Chinese upon the 
Greek story is evidenced by the feature of the moon-bright pearls, 
whose actual existence is ascribed by the Chinese to the Hellenistic 

HiRTH has conjectured that the Chinese name "jewel that shines 
at night" possibly is an allusion to the ancient name carbunculusy cor- 
responding to Greek anthrax (the ruby) . Pliny, however, in the chapter 
devoted to this stone, has no report about its shining at night. He 
insists, quite naturally, on its "fire," from which it has received its 
name, carbunculus meaning "a red-hot coal."* The only blade of 
straw to which the above hypothesis might cling may be found in the 
words quoted by Pliny from Archelaus, who affirmed that these stones 
indoors appear purple in color; in the open air, however, flaming.^ 
What I translate by "indoors" means literally, "when the roof over- 
shadows one." This phrase evidently implies no allusion to a dark 
room, but is used in the sense of "in the shadow of a house," in opposi- 
tion to the following open-air inspection of the stones. The only 
ancient text known to me, that mentions a ruby shining at night (and 
styled "color of marine purple"), is a small Greek alchemical work 

1 Compare A. Forke, Lun-h6ng, pt. i, p. 378; and Pf tillon (Allusions litt^raires, 
p. 243), who quotes this story from Huai-nan-tse. 

* L. c, ki shij I, p. 6 b. 

* In a wider sense this typical story belongs to the cycle of the grateful animals, 
a favorite subject of the Greeks in the Alexandrian epoch (compare A. Marx, 
Griechische Marchen von dankbaren Tieren; and F. Susemihl, Geschichte der 
griechischen Litteratur in der Alexandrinerzeit, Vol. I, p. 856). 

* Compare Theophrastus, De lapidibus, 18 (opera ed. Wimmer, p. 343). 

^ Eosdem obumbrante tecto purpureos videri, sub caelo flammeos (xxxvii, 25, 

Stones of Nocturnal Luminosity 6i 

translated by M. Berthelot/ which cannot lay claim to great an- 
tiquity. For the purpose of identification, tourmaline (lychnis) j and 

1 Introduction h I'^tude de la chimie, p. 272 (Paris, 1889). Not only Hirth, 
but also Mayers (Chinese Reader's Manual, p. 25), T. de Lacouperie (Babylonian 
and Oriental Record, Vol. VI, 1893, P- 274), and Chavannes (T'oung Pao, 1907, 
p. 181), without giving reference to any passage, are unanimous in the belief that the 
carbuncle is the chief night-shining jewel of the ancients. It would be interesting to 
learn what alleged passage in an ancient author these scholars had in mind. As far 
as I know, the carbuncle appears as a night-shining stone only in the mineralogical 
writings of the middle ages, for the first time presumably in the fundamental work 
De lapidibus pretiosis of Marbodus (1035-1123), the famous French Bishop of 
Rennes. In the earliest French translation of his book (L. Pannier, Lapidaires 
frangais du moyen ^ge, p. 52) the passage runs thus: 

"Scherbuncles gette de sei rdis. 
Plus ardant piere n'i a mdis: 
De sa clart6 la noit resplent, 
Mais le jiir n'en fera nei6nt." 

In the famous letter, purported to have been addressed by Prester John to the 
Byzantine Emperor Manuel, and written about the year 1 165, we find the carbuncle 
mentioned in three passages (57, 90, 93; F. Zarncke, Der Priester Johannes I, 
pp. 91, 95, 96), in the fanciful and extravagant description of the palace of the Royal 
Presbyter in India: "In extremitatibus vero super culmen palacii sunt duo poma 
aurea, et in unoquoque sunt duo carbunculi, ut aunun splendeat in die et carbimculi 
luceant in nocte. — Longitudo unius cuiusque columpnae est LX cubitorum, gros- 
situdo est, quantimi duo homines suis ulnis circumcingere possimt, et imaquaeque 
in suo cacimiine habet unum carbimculum adeo magnimi, ut est magna amphora, 
quibus illuminatur palatium ut mundus illuminatur a sole. — Nulla fenestra nee 
aliquod foramen est ibi, ne claritas carbunculorum et alionmi lapidum claritate 
serenissimi caeli et solis aliquo modo possit obnubilari." Konrad von Megen- 
berg (1309-78), in his Book of Nature (ed. of F. Pfeiffer, p. 437), extols the 
carbuncle as the noblest of all stones, combining all their virtues. Its color is fiery, 
and it is even more brilliant at night than in the daytime; during the day it is dark, 
but at night it shines so brightly that night almost becomes day. This belief still 
prevailed in the seventeenth century, as may be gleaned from the following interest- 
ing passage of A. Boetius de Boot (Gemmarum et lapidum historia, p. 140, ed. o^ 
A. Toll, Lugdimi Batavorum, 1636): "Magna fama est carbunculi. Is vulgo 
putatur in tenebris carbonis instar lucere; fortassis quia pyropus, seu anthrax appel- 
latus a veteribus fuit. Verum hactenus nemo unquam vere asserere ausus fuit, se 
gemmam noctu lucentem vidisse. Garcias ab Horto proregis Indiae medicus refert 
se allocutum f uisse, qui se vidisse affirmarent. Sed iis fidem non habuit. Ludovicus 
Vartomannus regem Pegae tantae magnitudinis, et splendoris habere scribit, ut qui 
regem in tenebris conspicatus fuerit, eum splendere quasi a Sole illustretur existimet, 
sed nee ille vidit. Si itaque gemmam noctu lucentem natura producat, ea vere 
carbunculus fuerit, atque hoc modo ab aliis gemmis distinguetur, omnesque alias 
dignitate superabit. Multi autumant gemmas in tenebris lucentes, a natura gigni 
non posse; verum falluntur. Nam ut lignis putridis, nicedulis, halecumque squam- 
mis, et animalium oculis, natura lucem dare potest; non video cur gemmis idonea 
suppeditata materia (in tanta rerum creatarum abundantia) tribuere non possit. 
An itaque habeatur, aut non, incertum adhuc est. Doctissimorum tamen vironmi 
omnium sententia huiusmodi gemmae non inveniuntur. Hinc fit quod rubentes, 
et transparentes gemmae omnes; ab iis carbunculi, anthraces, pyropi, et carbones 
nuncupentur. Quia videlicet carbonis instar lucent, ac ignis instar flammeos hinc 
inde radios iaciimt." 

62 The Diamond 

possibly to a certain extent ruby,^ remain, while emerald must be 

In my opinion, the diamond should be added to the series. The 
Chinese, at least in modem times, use the epithet ye kuang (''brilliant 
at night") as a synonjone of the diamond.' This notion apparently 
goes back to an ancient tradition; for the Nan Yue chi ("Description 
of Southern China")* relates that the kingdom of Po-lo-ki ^1^.]^^. 

1 The pilgrim Huan Tsang {Ta Tang si yil ki, Ch. ii, p. 6; ed. of Shou shan ko 
ts^ung shu) narrates that beside the king's palace was the Buddha's-Tooth Shrine, 
brightly decorated with jewels. From its roof rose a signal-post, on the top of 
which was a large ruby (padmardga) , which shed a brilliant light, and could be seen 
shining like a bright star day and night for a great distance (compare Watters, 
On Yuan Chwang's Travels, Vol. II, p. 235; Beal, Buddhist Records, Vol. II, 
p. 248; the translation of Julien, M6moires sur les contr^es occidentals, Vol. II, 
p. 32 — "recouvert d'un enduit brillant comme le diamant" — is incorrect, and 
the whole rendering of the passage is not exact). In view of what is set forth below 
regarding phosphorescence, it should be remarked right here that any natural phe- 
nomenon proceeding from the stone cannot come into question in this case. Moon 
and star light or artificial illumination of the building must be held responsible for 
the ruby being visible at night. Thus the causes leading to the conception of stones 
shining in darkness evidently are different. Also in the case of Lucian's lychnis 
in the temple of Hierapolis, I am not inclined to believe in a natural phenomenon, but 
rather in a miracle produced by priestly artifice, which supplied the source of light from 
a hidden corner, and hypnotized the mtiltitude into the belief that it emanated from 
the stone. With reference to the above passage of Huan Tsang, it should be added 
that CosMAs Indicopleustes (Christian Topography, translated by McCrindle, p. 
365) mentions a gem in the possession of the King of Ceylon (Taprobane), "as large 
as a great pine-cone, fiery red, and when seen flashing from a distance, especially if the 
sun's rays are playing around it, being a matchless sight; "but he does not tell of its 
shining at night. Friar Odoric of Pordenone of the fourteenth century ascribes a 
similar gem to the King of the Nicobars (Yule, Cathay, new ed.. Vol. II, p. 169) : " He 
carrieth also in his hand a certain precious stone called a ruby, a good span in length 
and breadth, so that when he hath this stone in his hand it shows like a flame of fire. 
And this, it is said, is the most noble and valuable gem that existeth at this day in 
the world, and the great emperor of the Tartars of Cathay hath never been able to 
get it into his possession either by force or by money or by any device whatever." 

' Beckmann (Beitrage zur Geschichte der Erfindungen, Vol. Ill, p. 553) tenta- 
tively included among the luminous stones of the ancients also fluor-spar; but, as 
admitted by himself, the phosphorescent property of this mineral was not recognized 
before the seventeenth century. Moreover, whatever may have been said to the 
contrary (Blijmner, Technologie, Vol. Ill, p. 276; and Lenz, /. c, p. 23), it is ex- 
tremely doubtful to me whether the ancients were acquainted with fluor-spar. This 
supposition is not well founded on matter-of-fact evidence, but merely inferred from 
certain properties of the mineral which became known in our own time, and which 
were subsequently read into certain accounts of the ancients. — Other stones to which 
the property of nocturnal luminosity is ascribed are purely fabtilous, as, for instance, 
the "stone attracting other stones," described by Philostratus as sparkling at night 
like fire (F. de M^ly, Lapidaires grecs, pp. 27-28). 

" J. DooLiTTLE, Vocabulary and Handbook of the Chinese Language, Vol. I, p. 132. 

* Written by Sh6n Huai-yuan of the fifth century (Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., 
pt. I, No. 559). The text is cited in T'ai p'ing yii Ian, Ch. 813, p. 10. 

Phosphorescence of Precious Stones 63 

produces diamonds, the lustre of which illuminates the dark night. 
According to Chao Ju-kua,^ the King of Ceylon possessed a gem five 
inches in diameter, which could not be consumed by fire, and at night 
emitted a brilliancy like a torch. As incombustibility was credited to 
the diamond, this jewel shining at night, in all probability, was a 
diamond.^ Another reason why the diamond should be included in 
this class will be discussed in the following section. 

Phosphorescence of Precious Stones. — As this subject of stones 
"limiinous at night'' has heretofore not been properly comprehended 
by sinologues and others, it may not be amiss to add some explanatory 
notes.' As a matter of fact, of course, stones cannot shine at night: 
the lustre of any gem is an optical property, and depends upon the 
effects of light, solar or artificial, which is reflected back to the human 
eye."* The classical and Chinese reports of stones emitting rays of light 
in darkness, accordingly, have nothing to do with optical phenomena, 
or, in particular, with so-called "adamantine lustre." If these stories, 
partially, should refer to a phenomenon of reality, there is but one that 
can come into question, — that of phosphorescence. This is a property 
of some gems, which, after rubbing, heating, exposure to light, or an 
electrical discharge, radiate a light known as phosphorescence; since the 
glow, although often of different colors, resembles that of phosphorus. 
This property is particularly exhibited in the diamond, which, on being 
rubbed with a cloth or across the fibres of a piece of wood, gives out a 
light plainly visible in a dark room. It is, however, not a general 
property of all diamonds, but only efficient in certain stones.^ Though 

1 Chufan chi (ed. Rockhill), Ch. a, p. 10; translation of Hirth and Rockhill, 
p. 73- 

' An indirect testimony for the diamond being counted among the night-shining 
stones in the West may be deduced from the passage in the Physiologus, that the 
diamond is not found in the daytime, but only at night, which may imply, that, in 
order to be found at night, it must then emit light (compare F. Lauchert, Geschichte 
des Physiologus, p. 28; E. Peters, Der griechische Physiologus, p. 96; F. Hommel, 
Aethiopische Ubersetzung des Physiologus, p. 77; K. Ahrens, Buch der Naturgegen- 
stande, p. 82). — D'Herbelot (Biblioth^que orientale. Vol. IV, p. 398) already 
knew that it was a natural property of the diamond to shine in darkness. 

' The subject in general has been dealt with by G. F. Kunz (Curious Lore of 
Precious Stones, pp. 161-175). 

*The Chinese scholar Sung Lien (13 10-81) had a certain idea thereof. In a 
Dissertation on Sun, Moon, and Stars (Ji yiie wu sing lun) he speaks of a "gem like 
the full moon" {yiie man ju chu), whose substance, in principle, has no lustre; but 
it borrows its lustre from the sun, that half of it turned away from the sun being 
constantly dark, and the other half turned toward the sun being constantly bright 
{P'ei win yiinfu, Ch. 7A, p. 109). 

^ Compare Farrington, Gems and Gem Minerals, pp. 34, 70. Among all 
minerals, phosphorescence is best exhibited by fluorite, nearly all specimens of which, 

64 The Diamond 

occurring also in other precious stones, the phosphorescent Hght is most 
brilHant and intensified in the diamond; and for this reason it would 
seem plausible that the diamond should have held the foremost rank 
among the stones luminous at night. 

There remains, however, a grave obstacle in the way of this explana- 
tion, which must not be overlooked; and this is that the ancient authors 
who have written on precious stones are entirely reticent on the subject 
of their phosphorescent quality. It is indeed taught that this phe- 
nomenon was observed for the first time only by the physicist Robert 
Boyle in 1663.^ This, of covirse, does not mean that it was entirely 
unknown before that time, and that it could not have revealed itself to 
a layman by a chance accident. 

M. Berthelot,^ however, has discovered in the collection of Greek 
alchemists a small treatise propounding the processes "of coloring the 
artificial precious stones, emeralds, carbuncles, and hyacinths, after 
the book drawn from the sanctuary of the temple." He believes that 
artificial coloring of stones is said in this text to impart to them the 
property of phosphorescence, and that there is no doubt that the ancients 
made precious stones phosporescent in darkness through the employ- 
ment of superficial tinctures derived from substances such as bile of 
marine animals, the analogous properties of which are known to us. I 
must confess that this conclusion, though emanating from so high 
and respectable an authority, for whom I have a profound admiration, 
is not quite convincing to me. First, it seems open to doubt whether 
the Greek recipe really took the desired effect, as long as this is not 
experimentally established; second, if it did, it does not furnish proof 
that the ancients were acquainted with the phenomenon of the phos- 
phorescence of precious stones, as we understand it, which is a physical 
property inherent in the stone, while in the Greek text the phospho- 
rescence is alleged to result from animal products brought in contact 
with the stone, not from the stone itself. The text published by 
Berthelot, while it may tend to prove that certain ancient alchemists 
knew something about the phosphorescence of certain animal organs, is 
not at all apt to show that the same tendency in precious stones was 
familiar to them; on the contrary, it would be much more likely to have 

when gently heated, will emit a visible light. Its color varies with different varieties, 
and is usually not the same as the natural color of the mineral. The tints exhibited 
are usually greenish, bluish, or purplish. 

1 Bauer, Precious Stones, p. 138. 

2 Sur un proc6d6 antique pour rendre les pierres pr6cieuses et les vitrifications 
phosphorescentes (Annates de chimie et physique, 6th series. Vol. XIV, 1888, 
pp. 429-432); reprinted in his Introduction k I'^tude de la chimie, pp. 271-274 
(Paris, 1889). 

Phosphorescence of Precious Stones 65 

been unknown to them, if that artificial process were ever really applied 
to stones. 

Also from India we receive an intimation as to alleged acquaintance 
with the fact of phosphorescence before Boyle. The learned Hindu 
Praphulla Chandra Ray,^ professor of chemistry at the Presidency 
College, Calcutta, has this to say: "It is sometimes asserted that the 
phosphorescence of diamond was first observed in 1663 by the cele- 
brated Robert Boyle. Bhoja (eleventh century a.d.), however, men- 
tions this property." Fortunately for us, the Sanskrit text of this 
passage is added, which reads, "andhakare ca dlpyate" (translated 
by Ray, "it phosphoresces in the dark"); but these words simply 
mean, "it shines in the dark." It is accordingly not the case of Bhoja 
being familiar with the phosphorescent property of the diamond, but 
the subjective case of Professor Ray, who knows of Boyle's discovery, 
and projects this knowledge into his author. It reflects more credit 
on the well-meant patriotism of the Hindu than on his power of logic. 
His interpretation being conceded, we coiild as well infer from the 
numerous passages of classical and Chinese authors, where precious 
stones luminous in the dark are spoken of, that also Greeks, Romans, 
and Chinese possessed an intimate acquaintance with the phenomenon 
in question.^ But serious science cannot afford to speed its conclusions 
up to this rapid tempo; and if the fact remains that no Greek, Roman, 
Sanskrit, or Chinese text has as yet come to the fore, from which such 
an inference as to conscious knowledge of the phosphorescence of 
precious stones can reasonably and without violence be deducted, it is 
safer to hold judgment in abeyance or to regard the result as negative.' 

1 A History of Hindu Chemistry, Vol. II, p. 40 (2d ed., Calcutta, 1909). 

2 It is noteworthy that neither the Arabic nor the Indian mineralogists have 
accounts of precious stones luminous at night. What the Arabs offer of this sort is 
an entirely different affair. The lapidarium of Pseudo- Aristotle mentions a fabulous 
stone under the name "strange stone," which is found in the dark ocean, has rays 
in its interior, and is visible at night, its veins being brilliant as though they were 
laughing faces (a corrupted reading which originally was "brilliant like a mirror;" 
J. RusKA, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, pp. 20, 167). The "stone bringing sleep" is 
red, and large pieces of it radiate at night a glow of fire, and in the daytime smoke 
emanates from it {ihid., p. 166). 

' In the passage of the Orphica, "the diamond-like crystal, when placed on an 
altar, sent forth a flame without the aid of fire," KuNZ (Curious Lore of Precious 
Stones, p. 163) believes he sees an indication that the phosphorescence of the dia- 
mond had already been noted before the second or third century of our era; but the 
plain text does not bear out this far-fetched interpretation. The Greek author has 
in mind the well-known burning-lenses of crystal, described also by Pliny (see the 
writer's article on'this subject in.T*oung Pao, 1915, pp. 169-228), and compares their 
reflective power with that of the diamond; he says nothing further than that the 
lustre of the diamond vies with that of a crystal lens. There is no allusion to the 
fact that this happens in darkness, and consequently no reference to phosphorescence. 

66 The Diamond 

While direct evidence is lacking, an interesting observation may be 
based on Pliny, which, it seems to me, is conclusive to some degree; and 
this is the curious circumstance that Pliny is familiar with the magnetic 
or electrical property of just those gems which have the best claim to 
being identified with the stones luminous at night of the Chinese, — 
tourmaline and diamond. In regard to the former (lychnis) he states 
that these stones, when heated by the sun or rubbed by the fingers, 
will attract chaff and scraps of pap3mis.^ As to the diamond, he 
remarks that its hostility toward the magnet goes so far, that, when 
placed near it, it will not allow of its attracting iron; or if the magnet 
has already seized the iron, it will itself attract the metal and turn it 
away from the magnet.^ The fact is correct that diamond becomes 
strongly electric on friction, so that it will pick up pieces of paper and 
other light substances, though it is not a conductor of electricity, differ- 
ing in this respect from graphite.^ Whether the diamond, as asserted 
by Pliny, can check the attractive power of the magnet, seems to be a 
controversial point. Garcia ab Horto was the first to antagonize 
Pliny's allegation, on the ground of many experiments made by him.* 
C. W. KiNG^ has the following observation: *'This stone is highly 
electric, attracting light substances when heated by friction, and, as 
we have already noticed,^ has the peculiarity of becoming phospho- 

1 Has sole excalf actas aut attritu digitorum paleas et chartariim fila ad se rapere 
(xxxvn, 29, § 103). 

2 Adamas dissidet cum magnete in tantum, ut iuxta positus ferrum non patiatur 
abstrahi aut, si admotus magnes adprehenderit, rapiat atque auferat (xxxvn, 15, 

' "All gems when rubbed upon cloth become, like glass, positively electrified. 
Gems differ, however, in the length of time during which they will retain an electrical 
charge. Thus tourmaline and topaz remain electric under favorable conditions for 
several hours; but diamond loses its electricity within half an hour" (Farrington, 
Gems and Gem Minerals, pp. 34, 70). The Arabs attribute to the garnet (bijddl) 
the power of attracting wood and straw (J. Ruska, Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 144). 
I do not believe with Ruska that this statement may be caused by confusing the 
garnet with amber. Though VuUers and Steingass, in their Persian Dictionaries, 
assign to the word bijddt or bejdd the meanings "garnet" and "amber," the latter 
interpretation is evidently suggested by the reference to the attractive power. 

* N6 meno d il vero che tolga la virtii alia calamita di tirare il ferro; percioche 
ne ho fatto io molte volte esperienza, e I'ho trovata favola (Italian edition of 1582, 
p. 182). 

^ Antique Gems, p. 71. 

• In the passage referred to (p. 27) King says that "the property of phospho- 
rescence is possessed by no other gem except the diamond, and this only retains it for 
a few minutes after having been exposed to a hot sun and then immediately carried 
into a dark room. This singular quality must often have attracted the notice of 
Orientals on entering their gloomy chambers after exposure to their blazing sun, and 
thus have afforded sufficient foundation to the wonderful tales built upon the simple 

Phosphorescence of Precious Stones 67 

rescent in the dark after long exposure to the sun. The ancients also 
ascribed magnetic powers to the diamond in even a greater degree than 
to the loadstone, so much so that they believed the latter was totally 
deprived of this quality in the presence of the diamond; but this notion 
is quite ungrounded. Their sole idea of magnetism was the property of 
attraction; therefore seeing that the diamond possessed this for light 
objects, the step to ascribing to it a superiority in this as in all other 
respects over the loadstone was an easy one for their lively imagina- 
tions." Ajasson, however, holds that if the diamond is placed in the 
magnetic line or current of the loadstone, it attracts iron equally with 
the loadstone, and consequently neutralizes the attractive power of 
the loadstone in a considerable degree.^ Be this as it may, Pliny, at 
any rate, was well informed on the electrical quality of the diamond; 
and if this experiment in the case of diamond and tourmaline was 
brought about by rubbing the stones, it is not impossible that in this 
manner also a phosphorescence was occasionally produced and ob- 
served. A few such observations may easily have given rise to fabulous 
exaggerations of stones illumining the night. 

Were phosphorescent phenomena known to the Chinese? First 
of all, they were known in that subconscious and elementary form in 
which we find such conceptions in the domain of our own folk-lore. 
The philosopher Huai-nan-tse of the second century B.C. says that old 
huai trees (Sophora japonica) produce fire, and that blood preserved for 
a long time produces a phenomenon called lin ^ ? This word is 
justly assigned the meaning "flitting light" and "will-o'-the-wisp, as 
seen over battle-fields." It is defined in the ancient dictionary Shuo 
wtn as proceeding from the dead bodies of soldiers and the blood of 
cattle and horses, poptdarly styled "fires of the departed souls."* 
The philosopher Wang Ch'ung of the first century a.d. criticised this 
belief of his contemporaries as follows: "When a man has died on a 
battle-field, they say that his blood becomes a will-o'-the-wisp. The 
blood is the vital force of the living. The will-o'-the-wisp seen by 
people while walking at night has no htmian form; it is desultory and 

fact by their luxuriant imaginations." I am somewhat inclined toward the same 
opinion; but we should not lose sight of the fact that the phenomenon itself, as far as 
precious stones are concerned, is not described in any ancient record, while we may 
trust to the future that such will turn up some day in a Greek papyrus. As the 
matter stands at present, we have at the best a theory fotuided on circumstantial 
evidence deduced from the ancients* knowledge of the magnetic property of precious 

1 BosTOCK and Riley, Natural History of PHny, Vol. VI, p. 408. 

2 Quoted under this word in K'ang-hi's Dictionary. 

* The text is cited in Couvreur's Dictionnaire chinois-frangais, p. 496. 

68 The Diamond 

concentrated like a light. Though being the blood of a dead man, it 
does not resemble a human shape in form. How, then, could a man 
whose vital force is gone, still appear with a himian body?" ^ At the 
present day, when the Chinese in a very creditable manner coined a 
nomenclatiire to render our scientific terminology, they chose this 
word lift (ignis fatuus) to express our term " phosphorescence." ^ This 
shows that they have a feeling that this phenomenon underlies the 
popular notions conveyed by their word.^ 

The Po wu chi by Chang Hua (232-300)* has the following interest- 
ing text, which shows also that the Chinese had a certain experience of 
electric phenomena : "On battle-fields the blood of fallen men and horses 
accumulates and is transformed into will-o'-the-wisps. These adhere 
to the soil and to plants like dewdrops, and generally are not visible. 
Wanderers sometimes strike against them, and they cling to their bodies, 
emitting light. On being wiped off, they are scattered around into 
numberless particles, which yield a crepitating soimd, as though beans 
were being roasted. They thrive only in quiet places for any length of 
time, and may soon be extinguished. The people affected by them be- 
come perturbed, as though they were mentally unbalanced, and remain 
for some days in an erratic state of mind. At present when people 
comb their hair, or are engaged in dressing or undressing, sparks may 
be noticed along the line of the comb or the folds of the dress, also 
accompanied by a crepitating sound." ^ 

We noticed above that the phosphorescing of certain organs of 
marine animals was known to Greek alchemists. The counterpart of 
this observation is found in Chinese accoimts of the eyes of whales, 
especially those of female whales, making "moonlight pearls" {ming 

1 A. FoRKE, Lun-h6ng, pt. i, p. 193. 

* It appears from the Ku kin chu of Ts*uei Pao of the fourth century (Ch. b, 
p. 6b; ed. of Han Wei ts'ung shu) that the phosphorescence of the glow-worm or 
firefly was styled also lin and likewise ye kuang ("wild fire," or "fire of the wilder- 

' Giles (No. 6717) assigns this significance also to the word Ian in the compound 
yii Ian ("phosphorescence of fishes") . 

* Compare Notes on Turquois, p. 22. The passage is in Ch. 9, p. 2, of the 
Wu-ch*ang edition. 

^ Also in Japan it was believed that will-o'-the-wisps represent the souls of people 
(hence called hito-dama, "man's soul"), which are floating away over the eaves and 
roof as a transparent globe of impalpable essence (Aston, Shinto, p. 50; M. Revon, 
Le Shintoisme, pp. iii, 302). Interesting information on this subject relative to 
Japan is given by Geerts (Les produits de [la nature japonaise et chinoise, 
pp. 186-187). Compare also some notes of M. W. de Visser (The Dragon in China 
and Japan, pp. 213-214); and the same author's detailed study Fire and Ignes Fatui 
in China and Japan {Mitteilungen des Seminars fiir oriental. Sprachen, Vol. XVII, 
pt. I, 1914, pp. 97-193)- 

Phosphorescence of Precious Stones 69 

yiie cku) ; ^ this was recorded by Ts'uei Pao in the middle of the fourth 
century .2 The fact that this was not mere fancy, but that such whale- 
eye pearls were a product of actual use, is illustrated by the Moho, a 
Tungusian tribe of the Sungari, who sent these in the year 719 as tribute 
to the Chinese Court .^ The fabulous work Shu i ki says that in the 
southern sea there is a pearl which is the pupil from the eye of a whale, 
and in which one may behold his reflection at night, whence it is called 
"brilliancy of the night'* {ye kuang),* Varahamihira (a.d. 505-587), in 
his Brihat-Sariihita (Ch. 81 , § 23) , speaks of a pearl coming from dolphins, 
resembling the eye of a fish, highly purif5dng, and of great worth.* 

Fish-eyes seem to have been enlisted for this purpose in old Japan. 
The Annals of the Sui Dynasty* attribute to Japan a wishing-jewel 
(ju i pao chuy rendering of Sanskrit cintdmani) of dark color, as big as a 
fowl's Qggy and radiating at night, said to be the pupil of a fish-eye.'^ 

Of other substances of animal origin credited by the Chinese with 
the property of nocturnal limiinosity may be mentioned rhinoceros-horn, 
discussed by the writer on a former occasion.^ While at that time I 
referred the earliest conception of this matter to Ko Hung of the fourth 
century and to a work of the T'ang period, I am now in a position to 
trace it to an author of the third century a.d.. Wan Ch^n, who wrote 
the work Nan chou i wu chi ("Account of Remarkable Objects in the 
Southern Provinces").^ This writer assumes the existence of a divine 
or spiritual rhinoceros, whose horn emits a dazzling splendor. The 
interesting point, however, is that it is just an ordinary horn when 
examined in the da3rtime, whereas in the darkness of night the single 
veins of the horn are effulgent like a torch. ^° In regard to exhibiting 
luminous properties at night, instances of the real pearl, which is likewise 

* The same term as that ascribed to the Hellenistic Orient and identified above 
with the astrion of Pliny. 

2 The complete text is given by the writer in Toung Pao, 19 13, p. 341. 
» T'ang shu, Ch. 219, p. 6. 

*P*ei win yiin ju, Ch. 7A, p. 107; or Ch. 22 A, p. 76 b. This attribute again is 
identical with that conferred on the precious stone of the Hellenistic Orient. 

* H. Kern, Verspreide Geschriften, p. 100 ('s-Gravenhage, 1914). 
^ Sui shu, Ch. 81, p. 7. 

J In all probability this jewel was a Buddhist relic brought over to Japan from 
India. Reference has been made above (p. 22) to the Buddhist legend, according 
to which the cintdmaxii originates from the fabiilous fish makara. The Chinese 
author Lu Tien (1042-1102), in his P"i ya, expresses the view that the cintdmaxii is 
the pupil of the eye of a fish {Wu U siao shi, Ch. 7, p. 13). 

» Chinese Clay Figures, pp. 138, 151. 

» Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, Nos. 452, 539; and Sui shu, Ch. 33, p. 10. 

" The passage is quoted in the cyclopaedia T'ai pHng yii Ian (published by Li Fang 
in 983), Ch. 890, p. 3 (edition of Juan Yuan, 1812). 

70 The Diamond 

an animal product, have already been cited (p. 56). A few more cases 
may here be added. In a.d. 86 moonlight pearls as big as fowl's eggs, 
4.8 inches in circtimference, were produced in Yu-chang and Hai-hun.^ 
In the work Kuang chij by Kuo I-kung of the sixth century ,2 are dis- 
tinguished three kinds of pearl-like gems, — the gem mu-nan ^$% 
of yellow color,' the bright gem {ming chu «]3 J^ ), and the large gem 

resplendent at night (ye kuang ta chu 'J^^^^), all an inch in diame- 
ter, or two inches in circumference, the best qualities coming from 
Huang-chi;* these are perfectly round, and when placed on a plane 
do not stop rolling for a whole day.* 

^ Both localities are situated in the prefecture of Nan-ch'ang, Kiang-si Province. 
This notice is given in the Ku kin chu of Ts'uei Pao (fourth century), cited in T'ai 
P'ing yii Ian, Ch. 803, p. 6. 

2 Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, No. 376; and Pelliot, Bidl. de VEcolefrangaise, 
Vol. IV, p. 172. 

3 In another passage of the same work (cited in P'ei win yiinfu, Ch. 7A, p. 107; 
and Pot pHng yii Ian, Ch. 809, p. 4 b) it is said that this gem of yellow hue originates 
in the eastern countries. In this case, the name for the gem is mo-nan ^^, which 
appears to be a phonetic variant of mu-nan. The same form is found in the Ku kin 
chu (Ch. c, p. 5 b; ed. of Han Wei ts'ung shu), where shut :^ nan is given as a syno- 
nyme, and where it is remarked that the stone is yellow and occurs in the coun- 
tries of the Eastern Barbarians. Aside from these indications placing the home of 
the stone vaguely in the East, we have other accounts that attribute it to the 
Hellenistic Orient. The Nan Yiie chi (by ShSn Huai-yuan of the fifth century; 
quoted in P'ei win ytin fu, Ch. 7A, p. 102 b) states that mu-nan are pearls or beads 
of greenish color, produced by the saliva of a bird with golden wings, and that they 
are prized in the country of Ta Ts'in. The Hiian chung ki (T'ai p'ing yii Ian, I. c.) 
likewise informs us that Ta Ts'in is the place of production. The Annals of the T'ang 
Dynasty ascribe mu-nan to Fu-lin (Hirth, China and the Roman Orient, p. 59); 
and Ma Tuan-lin explains them as evolved from the coagulated saliva of a bird {ihid., 
p. 80), — doubtless the echo of a Western tradition. The Shi i ki tells of an auspi- 
cious bird living on the fabulous isle Ying-chou, and spitting manifold pearls when 
singing and moving its wings. An exact description of the stone mu-nan is not on 
record. The Pin ts'ao kang mu lists it among the precious stones of yellow color. 
Yang Sh6n (1488-1559) identifies it with the emerald (written by him tsie-ma-lu 
instead of tsie-mu-lu, see Notes on Turquois, p. 55). Fang I-chi, in his Wu li siao 
shi (Ch. 7, p. 14), proposes to regard it as the yellow yakut of the Arabs. These 
speculations are recent after-thoughts of doubtful value. 

* Regarding the location of this country see Chinese Clay Figures, p. 80. 

• T"u shu tsi ch'ing, chapter on pearls, hui k'ao, I, p. 6 b. The latter statement 
reminds one of Pigafetta's account regarding the two pearls of the King of Brunei 
(west coast of Borneo), as large as hen's eggs, and so perfectly round that if placed 
on a smooth table they cannot be made to stand still (see Hirth and Rockhill, 
Chau Ju-kua, p. 159). — Li Shi-ch6n speaks of "thunder-beads" dropping from the 
jaws of a divine dragon and lighting an entire house at night (see Jade, p. 64). These 
are certainly not on a par with the other "prehistoric" implements enimierated by 
him in the same text, as believed by de Visser (The Dragon, p. 88), but this matter 
has crept in here by way of wrong analogy. These alleged thunder-beads are simply 
a transformation of the snake-pearls of Indian folk-lore. 

Phosphorescence or Precious Stones 71 

Also coral has been credited with the same property. The work 
Si king tsa ki (''Miscellaneous Records of the Western Capital," that is, 
Si-ngan fu) relates: "In the pond Tsi-ts'ui there are coral-trees twelve 
feet high. Each trunk produces three stems, which send forth 426 
branches. These had been presented by Chao T'o, King of Nan Yue 
(Annam), and were styled * beacon-fire trees.' At night they emitted 
a brilliant light as though they wotdd go up in flames."^ 

Whether in each of the instances cited the case rests on real observa- 
tion is difficult to decide. Some accounts may be purely fabulous or 
imaginary, and the luminous property may have freely been transposed 
from one substance to another. Taken all together, however, we cannot 
deny that certain phenomena of phosphorescence might to a certain 
degree have been known to the ancient Chinese in some way or other, 
although the phenomenon itself was not intelligently understood. A 
recent author, Simg Ying-sing, who wrote in 1628 (2d ed., 1637) the 
T*ien kung k'ai wu, a treatise on technology, gives an interesting account 
of the pearl-fishery, and discredits the belief in night-shining pearls. 
He remarks, "The pearls styled 'moonlight and night-shining* in times 
of old are those which, when viewed under the eaves in broad daylight 
on a sunny day, exhibit a fine thread of flashing light; it is uncertain, 
however, that the night-shining pearls are finest, for it is not true that 
there are pearls emitting light at the hour of the dusk or night." There 
is, however, no account on record to show that the Chinese ever tmder- 
stood how to render precious stones phosphorescent; and since this 
experiment is difficult, there is hardly reason to believe that they should 
ever have attempted it. Altogether we have to regard the traditions 
about gems luminous at night, not as the result of scientific effort, but 
as folk-lore connecting the Orient with the Occident, Chinese society 
with the Hellenistic world. 

* T'ai pHng yu Ian, Ch. 807, p. 5; or Tu shu tsi ch'ing, chapter on coral, ki shi, 
p. I (see also Pien i Hen 94, Annam, hui k'ao vi, p. 8 b, where this event is referred to 
the beginning of the Han dynasty). 


Adamantine gold, 38. 

Aelian, 59. 

Aetites, 9. 

Agastimata, 42, 48. 

Agathyrsi, diamond in country of, 53. 

Ajasson, 45, 67. 

Akfani, 27, 34, 41. 

Albertus Magnus, 24. 

Alexander, Romance of, 10, 11, 14, 45, 

Almas, Arabic designation of the dia- 
mond, 32, 34, 42, 46. 

Ammianus, 53. 

Apollonius, on diamond, 24. 

Armenian version of legend of Diamond 
Valley, 14. 

Arthagastra, on diamond, 16, 48. 

Asbestos, 28, 33, 39, 40. 

Astrion, 57. 

Augustinus, 16, 24. 

Ausfeld, A., 10, II, 45, 58. 

Ball, v., 15, 48. 

Bauer, M., 37, 47, 48, 49, 54» 64. 

Beckmann, J., 28, 47, 62. 

Benjamin of Tudela, 11. 

Berquen, L. van, alleged inventor of 

diamond-polishing, 49. 
Berthelot, M., 26, 61, 64. 
al-Beram, 41. 
Biot, E., 21. 
Biscia, A. R., 13, 27. 
Blumner, H., 24, 36, 44, 47, 53, 57, 62. 
Boll, F., 24. 
Boot de, 41, 61. 
Borneo, diamonds of, 54. 
Boutan, M. E., monograph on diamond, 

Boyle, R., 64, 65. 
Buddha, associated with the diamond, 

17, 25 ; diamond passed as his tooth, 30. 

California, diamonds of, 37. 

Callaina, 15. 

Cambodja, see Fu-nan. 

Carbuncle, in the legend of Diamond 
Valley, 14, note 2; 44, 60; luminous at 
night, 61; 64. 

Chalfant, F. H., on diamonds of Shan- 
tung, 5. 

Champa, diamond-rings from, 54. 

Chang Hua, 68. 

Ch'ang Tg, 13. 

Chao Ju-kua, on diamonds of India, 22, 
54; 63. 

Chavannes, E., 8, 18, 22, 25, 30, 31, 33, 
39, 40, 56, 57, 58, 61. 

Chou K'li-fei, 21. 

Chou Mi, 12, 42, 51. 

Cintamaiji, 22, 69. 

Conti, N., 14. 

Coral, luminous at night, 71. 

Cosmas, 62. 

Crooke, W., 16, 41. 

Curtius, 23, 44. 

Cut diamonds, unknown in classical 
antiquity, India, and China, 46-50; 
imported into China from India and 
Europe, 6 note; introduced into 
India and China by Portuguese, 48, 

Dana, E. S., 43. 
Dante, 18. 

Diamond-point, 27, 28-35. 
Diamond-sand, from Tibet, 15; regarded 

as poisonous in India, 41. 
Diamond-Seat, of Buddha, 17, 18. 
Diamond throne, in Dante, 18. 
Diamonds, of Shan-tung, 5; of India, 16, 

44; in Iran, 53; of Java, 54; of Borneo, 

Dionysms Penegetes, 44, 53, 58. 
Dioscorides, 23, 26, 32, 44. 
Duval, R., 26. 

Eagle-stone, 9. 

Edrisi, 13. 

Electric phenomena, known to Chinese, 

Elysaeus, legend of Diamond Valley by, 

14 note 2. 
Emerald, 57, 62, 64, 70. 
Emery, 12, 44, 50; of China, mentioned 

by Arabs, 51. 
Epiphanius, 9, 10, 15, 17, 18, 20, 21. 
Ethiopia, diamonds in, 45. 

Faber, E., 28, 29, 33. 

Fang I-chi, 12, 70. 

Farrington, O. C., 23, 37, 63. 

Fauvel, on Chinese diamonds, 5. 

Ferrand, G., 51. 

Finot, L., 16, 17, 22, 41, 42, 43, 44, 48, 

Fire, does not affect diamond, 23, 38. 
Fish-eyes, employed as pearls, 69. 
Fluor-spar, known to Chinese, 21, 36; 

not known to the ancients, 62. 
Forke, A., 29, 33, 60, 68. 




Foucher, A., 7, 17. 

Franke, O., 7. 25. 

Fu-lin, 7, 8, 19, 70. 

Fu-nan, crystal mirror from, 19; dia- 
monds of, 21; diamonds from India 
imported into, 22, 45. 

Fu Yi, 30. 

Garbe, R., 23, 44, 49. 

Garcia ab Horto, 23, 48, 66. 

Garnet, 66. 

Geerts, 5, 21, 27, 51, 52. 

Geiger, W., 31. 

Girdle-ornaments, set with diamond, 40. 

Glass, not cut with diamond-points by- 
ancient Chinese or by Greeks and 
Romans, 28; used for diamond imi- 
tations in India, 41. 

Gold, associated with the diamond by 
the Chinese in consequence of classi- 
cal tradition, 35-38. 

Greek tales in China, 59, 60. 

Grube, W., 56. 

Guthe, J. M., 57. 

Hair-spangles, set with diamond, 40. 

Hanbury, D., 21. 

Heart, compared with diamond, 18. 

d'Herbelot, 57, 63. 

Herodotus, 15, 53, 57» 59- 

Hirth, F., 7, 8, 21, 29, 30, 33, 40, 55, 57, 

58, 60, 61, 70. 
Horapollo, 9. 

Hormuz, diamonds from, 54. 
Huai-nan-tse, 56, 60, 67. 
Huan Chung ki, 25, 30, 32, 34, 53, 70. 
Huan Tsang, on Diamond-Seat, 17; on 

ruby, 62. 
Huet, G., 20. 
Humboldt, A. von, 36. 
Hyacinth, 9, 14 note 4, 21, 41, 64. 

Ichneumon, 7 note 4. 

Imitation diamonds, 41-42. 

India, history of diamond in, i6-l8; 
legend of Diamond Valley in, 19; 
diamonds from, imported into Roman 
Orient, Fu-nan, and Kiao-chi, 22, 45; 
eight sites where diamond was found, 
22 ; diamonds of, known to Chinese in 
third century, 35, 36; imitation dia- 
monds in, 41 ; dianionds of, known to 
the ancients, 44; diamond-rings from, 
54; astrion of, 57. 

Iran, diamond known in, 53. 

Iron, does not affect diamond, 21, 23; 
diamond turns into, 29; diamond- 
points enclosed in, 31; association of 
diamond with, 32. 

Isidorus, 16. 

Jade, wrought with diamond-points, 28, 

Java, diamond finger-rings from, 53; dag- 
gers and krisses set with diamonds in, 54; 
diamonds from, known to Chinese, 54. 

Keller, O., on eagle-stone, 9; on ram, 24. 

Kern, H., 7, 41, 69. 

Kiang Yen, 40. 

Kin-kang, has double meaning " thimder- 
bolt" and "diamond," 17; with the 
meaning "diamond," 21, 30, 35; ex- 
planation of the term, 37. 

King, C. W., 24, 66. 

Ko Hung, 21, 23, 36, 69. 

Kuang chi, 70. 

Kubera, 7. 

Kim-wu, 28-33; 38-40. 

K'ung-ts'ung-tse, 40. 

Kunz, G. F., 45, 63, 65. 

Kuo I-kung, 70. 

Lacouperie, T. de, 56, 61. 

Lauchert, F., 10, 23, 24, 26, 63. 

Lead, action of, on diamond, 26. 

Leclerc, L., 9, 26, 32. 

Lenz, H. O., 36, 45, 47, 62. 

Lessing, 47. 

Li Kuei, 35. 

Li Shi-ch6n, 12, 25, 27, 28, 29, 40, 52, 70. 

Li Siin, 34. 

Liang se kung tse ki, 6, 14, 19, 20. 

Lie-tse, 28, 32, 36, 39- 

Lin-yi, diamondrrings from, 54. 

Lippmann, E. O. von, 24, 36, 43. 

Liu-sha, 29, 30. 

Load-stone, 28, 67. 

Lucian, 58. 

Lychnis, 58, 59, 66. 

Magnetism, of precious stones, 66-67. 

Makara, 22. 

Manicheans, 18. 

Manilius, 24, 43. 

Mansar, 26. 

Marbodus, 16, 50, 61. 

Marco Polo, 11, 13, 18, 54. 

Marx, A., 59, 60. 

Megenberg, K. von, 32, 50, 61. 

M^ly, F. de, 9, 24, 30, 31, 42, 59, 62. 

Milindapafiha, 16, 17. 

Mo Ti, 56. 

Mu-nan, a gem, 70. 

Nan chou i wu chi, 34, 40, 69. 
Nan Yiie chi, 62, 70. 
Narahari, 49. 
Nizami, II. 

Odoric of Pordenoae, 62. 
Orphica, 59, 65. 
Osborne, D., 43. 

Pannier, L., 24, 50, 61. 
Parturition stone, 9. 



Pearls, perforated with diamond-points, 
34; luminous at night, 55-57» 59-6o, 

Pelliot, P., on Fu-lin, 8; on Chou Mi, 
12; on kin-kang, 17; 18, 22, 30, 33, 

Persia, diamond known in, under Sas- 
sanians, 53. 

Philostratus, 9, 59, 62. 

Phosphorescence, of precious stones, 
63-71; of animal organs, 19, 64, 69, 

Physiologus, 9, 23, 26, 45, 63. 

Pigmies, gems in country of, 55. 

Plato, possibly alluding to the diamond, 

Pliny, on eagle-stone, 9; on callaina, 
15; on testing of diamond, 23; on 
cenchros, 30; on diamond, 31, 36, 40, 
41, 42, 43-46; on astrion, 57; on 
lychnis, 58; on magnetic property of 
lychnis and diamond, 66. 

Po-lo-ki, diamonds from, 62. 

Porcelain, wrought with diamond-points, 

Portuguese, introduced diamond-cut- 
ting into India, 48; of Macao, intro- 
duced the Chinese to cut diamonds, 50. 

Prester John, letter of, 38, 61. 

Ptolemy, on diamonds of India, 44. 

Qazwini, 11, 13, 28, 37, 41. 

Ram's horn, in Chinese opinion, de- 
stroys diamond, 22; corresponds to 
ram's blood of the ancients, 23-26, 38. 

Ratnaparlksha, 49. 

Ray, 65. 

Razi, 9. 

Rings, set with diamonds, 6, 34, 40, 53. 

Rock-crystal, properties of, ascribed 
to diamond, 31; served for imitation 
diamonds in India, 41; passed as dia- 
mond in Europe, 46. 

Rockhill, W. W., 54. 

Rohde, E., 11, 15. 

Ruby, 26, 32, 50, 60, 62. 

Ruska, J., 9, 10, II, 12, 23, 31, 37, 41, 
51. 65. 

Scaliger, J. C, 14. 
Se-ma Piao, 39. 
Se-ma Siang-ju, 38. 
Se-ma Ts'ien, 56. 
Seal, of diamond, 33. 
Shamir, 12 note i. 

Shan-tung, diamonds found in, 5 note 2. 

Shi chou ki, 29, 32. 

Si-wang-mu, 33. 

Sindbad, 11, 28. 

Smaragdos, 57, 58. 

Smith, F. P., 21, 29, 50. 

Sokeland, H., 49, 50. 

Solomon, 12, 33. 

Stalactites, 21. 

Strabo, 24, 44. 

Su Shi, 31. 

Sung Lien, 63. 

Sung Ying-sing, 71. 

Supparaka-jataka, 22. 

Susemihl, P., 60. 

Tavemier, 48. 

Teeth of Buddha's statue, formed by 

diamonds, 31. 
Theophrastus, on parturient stones, 9; 

alludes to diamond, 24, 44; on ruby, 

Tifashi, 13, 27. 
Tourmaline, 58, 61. 
Ts'ao Chao, 15. 
Tsin k'i ku chu, 35. 
Tu Ku-t'ao, 27. 
Tu Wan, 21. 
Tu Yu, 55. 
Tun-huang, 35, 36. 
Tung-fang So, 29. 
Tzetzes, 14. 

Ural, diamonds of, 36, 37, 53. 

Vajra, 16, 53. 
Vajrasana, 17. 
Varahamihira, 17, 41, 69. 
Visser de, 68, 70. 

Wang Ch'ung, 67. 

Watt, G., 16. 

Whale-eyes, employed as pearls, 68, 

Wiedemann, E., 27, 34, 41. 

Will-o'-the-wisp, 67, 68. 

Winnefeld, H., 25. 

Wishing-jewel, 22, 69. 

Wonders of India, Arabic book of, 

Yang Sh6n, 70. 
Yu Huan, 56. 
Yuan Ch6n, 34. 
Yule, H., 15. 

Zachariae, T., 12. 
Zamcke, P., 14, 38, 61. 




Field Museum of Natural History ^ 

Publication 192 
Anthropological Series Vol. XV, No. 2 



' Berthold Laufer 

Curator of Anthropology 

With a Technical Report by H. W. Nichols 
Assistant Curator of Geology 

Twelve Plates and Two Text-Figures ^ 

The Mrs. T. B. Blackstone Expedition 





Introductory 79 

Report on a Technical Investigation of Ancient Chinese 
Pottery, by H. W. Nichols 


II. Analysis of a Green Glaze from a Bowl of Han 

Pottery 92 

Historical Observations and Conclusions 95 

Historical Notes on Kaolin no 

The Introduction of Ceramic Glazes into China, with 

Special Reference to the Murrine Vases . . .120 

The Potter's Wheel 148 

Index 178 


The Beginnings of Porcelain in China 


In February of 19 lo, while in Si-ngan fu, the capital of Shen-si 
Province, the writer received from Mr. Yen, a Chinese scholar and 
antiquarian of note with whom he was on very friendly terms, a curious 
bit of ancient pottery, which at first sight bore all the characteristic 
marks associated with what is known as Han pottery, but which, on 
the other hand, exhibited a body and a glaze radically different from 
that ware (Plate I). Mr. Yen accompanied the object with a written 
message, explaining the circumstances under which it had been found, 
and commenting to some extent on its historical value. Following 
is a literal rendering of his letter: "I once heard dealers say that they 
had seen *Han porcelain' (Han ts'e SIM), but I had no faith in this 
statement. In the winter of the year ting wet T ^ (1907) I secured 
a large vase, and suspected that it might be an object of the Han 
period, but did not dare to be positive about this point. In the spring 
of last year some one brought to light, from a Han grave which he had 
excavated, ancient jade pieces and such-like things, together with 
an enormous iron cooking-stove. On the latter are found, cast in 
high relief, six characters reading, 'Great felicity! May it be service- 
able to the lords! ' (ta ki ch'ang i hou wang :K'^ ^'M.^3c,). On the 
top of this stove was placed a small * porcelain jar.' I lost no time in 
sending out an agent to effect a purchase, but the stove had already 
passed into the hands of a merchant. So I obtained only the 'porce- 
lain jar' in question, the material and style of which proved identical 
with those of the large vase purchased by me years ago. For this 
reason I now felt positive that the question is here of 'Han porcelain.' 
Subsequently I acquired also a jar of the type styled lei §, and big 
and small vases; in all, four. From that time the designation 'Han 
porcelain' began to be established in the world. 

"Written in Ch'ang-ngan by Yen Kan-yuan ^ "H* ^ on the day 
when the flowers sprout forth (W %^ 9), of the second month of 
the second year of the period Siian-t'ung (February 27, 1910)." 

While I had a deep respect for Mr. Yen's learning and extensive 
knowledge of archaeological subjects, I remained sceptic as to the 
identification of his jar with what he styled Han ts'e, and, though recog- 
nizing its intrinsic merit as a piece of evidence filling a lacune in our 


So Beginnings of Porcelain 

knowledge of ancient pottery, I did not allow myself to be carried away 
by the usual wave of enthusiasm over a first discovery (since then 
six years and a half have elapsed), but decided to hold the matter in 
abeyance till a thorough analysis, to be made at home, would permit 
us to base an opinion on facts. Meanwhile opportunities were seized 
at Si-ngan fu to collect as much as possible of this novel pottery. My 
first concern, naturally, was to secure the large iron stove mentioned 
in Mr. Yen's missive. A desire thus expressed spreads in that quaint 
old town like a prairie-fire; and when the sun had risen and set again, 
I was the lucky owner of that precious relic. Indeed, Yen's descrip- 
tion was by no means an exaggeration. In type and style, this cast- 
iron stove (Plate II), partly in decay and the iron core having entirely 
rotted away, exactly corresponds to the well-known Han burial cooking- 
stoves, and it is the finest specimen of ancient cast-iron that I was 
able to find. Being posed on four feet in the form of elephant-heads, 
it is built in the shape of a horse-shoe, and provided with a chimney 
at the rounded end, five cooking-holes, and a projecting platform in 
front of the fire-chamber. On the latter is cast an inscription in six 
raised characters, which read exactly as indicated by Mr. Yen, — a 
formula typical of the Han and earlier ages, and encountered on many 
bronze vessels. The style of these characters is in thorough agreement 
with that of Han writing. The object was discovered in a grave near 
the village Ma-kia-chai ^ ^M, $ ^^ north of the town Hien-yang, 
in Shen-si Province. As previously remarked,^ without laying down 
any hard and fast rules, there is a great deal of probability in assigning 
such cast-iron objects to the period of the Later Han (a.d. 25-220), 
while it is equally justifiable to extend the time of their manufac- 
ture over the entire third century of our era. The iron stove thus 
furnishes a clew to the date of the jug which was found in the same 
grave with it. Needless to say, I left no stone unturned, and kept 
on inquiring and hunting for this so-called Han ts'e ware in and 
around Si-ngan. I succeeded in bringing together only eight more 
pieces (Plates III-X), among these the vessel lei referred to in Yen's 
memorable epistle,^ and a number of larger fragments and small 
shards, which are always precious and encouraging acquisitions to 
the archaeologist, as they are not under suspicion, and offer welcome 
study material. 

* Chinese Clay Figures, p. 216. 

* The pottery vase of this designation is mentioned in the Chou It as holding 
the sacrificial spirits called ch'ang, which were offered to the deity Earth (BiOT, 
Tcheou-li, Vol. I, p. 468). It is the reproduction in clay of an original bronze- 
type, frequent among the bronze vessels of the Chou. 


Introductory 8i 

It will be noticed that these nine bits, in their forms and decorations, 
decidedly agree with the mortuary Han pottery,^ and that, taken 
merely as ceramic types, they represent archaic types of Han art. 
On the other hand, however, apart from their technical composition, 
they have in common some characteristic features which are not 
found in Han pottery. To these belong the curious loop handles, 
obviously imitative of a knotted rope or a basketry handle, and the 
geometric wave patterns. The latter, it will be remembered, occur 
also in the relief bands on many vases of Han pottery, but are of a 
different style, in the manner of realistic waves. There is in our col- 
lection only one unglazed, gray Han pottery vase with a geometric 
wave design approaching that in the above group; but it is a much 
bolder and freer composition, and not so neat and refined as in the 
porcelanous vases. Even in some shapes, the traditional rules of the 
Han may not be quite strictly observed; they may be less stern and 
rigorous, and, while dignified and partially imposing, treated with 
somewhat greater individual freedom. This, however, is rather a 
point of sentiment or impression than a ponderable argument. The 
deviations from the standard Han pottery are insignificant when con- 
trasted with what the two groups have in common. The best tradition 
and spirit of Han art are preserved in these nine productions. 

The comparative scarcity of this ware is notable, and gives food 
for serious reflection. As the writer was able to secure on his last 
expedition for the Field Museum many hundreds of pieces of Han pot- 
tery of all types and descriptions, while several thousand specimens 
have passed through his hands during the last fifteen years, and as he 
could himt up only nine representatives of this novel (porcelanous) 
ware, these numbers may be regarded as the relative (certainly not 
absolute; proportions in which the two classes of pottery are to be found, 
and, we may add, were made in the past. Two inferences may be 
drawn from this phenomenon, — this peculiar ware was the product 
of only a single kiln or of very few kilns; and these kilns did not flourish 
during the Han period, but either at its very close, or even, and more 
probably, toward the middle or end of the third century. This point 
will be more fully discussed hereafter. 

^ In speaking of Han pottery, it should be understood that in this case the term 
"Han" does not refer to the chronologically exact boundaries of a dynastic period, 
but to an archaeological epoch, a certain phase of ancient Chinese art, which is 
not necessarily gauged by the dates 206 B.C. and a.d. 220. There is naturally 
an overlapping at both ends, and we have, at least for the present, no means of 
determining exactly either the beginning or the end of Han art. This much seems 
certain, that the middle and the latter part of the third century a.d. have thor- 
oughly remained under the influence of Han tradition. 

82 Beginnings of Porcelain 

On my return to America, two objects remained to be pursued in 
connection with this new material, — first, to secure the co-operation 
of a competent investigator for a chemical analysis of the body and 
glaze of this pottery; and, second, to search in other museums for 
corresponding specimens. My colleague Mr. Nichols, assistant curator 
of geology in the Field Musetun, volimteered to undertake the technical 
task, and he has carried it out with rare devotion and perseverance. 
His experiments were conducted, and his results were obtained, in 
191 2. From the date of our publication it will be seen that we were 
not in a hurry to bring it to the notice of the world. We allowed it to 
rest and to mature, and discussed the new problems with each other 
and with ceramic experts at frequent intervals. Their friendly interest 
and advice at last encouraged us to make known the results of our 
research, which we trust will be of some utility to students interested 
in the history of Chinese pottery. 

In regard to kindred objects in other collections, I have been able 
to obtain the following information. Mr. Francis Stewart Kershaw 
of the Museimi of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass., who saw the pieces of 
pottery in question in the Field Musetun, mentioned to me that similar 
specimens were in the Boston Museum. On sending him some frag- 
ments from our material for comparison with that under his care, he 
wrote as follows:^ 

"The bits of potsherd are quite large enough to tell me their story, 
and I am very much obliged for them. Except in hardness, they are 
similar to the clay of three of oiu: pieces, being of the same color, texture, 
and apparent constituents. Two of our pieces were bought in China 
by Mr. Okakura, and both were labelled 'Sung' by some Chinese 
(probably a dealer). Okakura called one (12875) which is covered 
with a blackish shaded gray-green glaze, opaque and dull, 'Sung.' 
The second (12865), which is precisely similar in potting, clay, and 
glaze, to your Han porcelanous jars, Okakura called 'T'ang.' Mr. 
Freer, by the way, has a vase like 12865, which he calls 'T'ang.'* The 
third of otu* pieces (121 18) was bought from Mr. C. F. Gammon (for- 
merly a lieutenant in the United States Army), who obtained it in 
Nanking from a cooly, who had unearthed it while digging in a railway 
cutting in Nanking. The jar was partly full of coins, all alike, of the 
denomination *pan Hang' ^ W, issued in 175 B.C. in the reign of the 

1 The letter is published here with Mr. Kershaw's consent. 

'This object was exhibited in the National Museum of Washington in 19 12, 
when a selection from the Freer Collection was temporarily shown. I then had 
occasion to see it. It is not a T'ang production, but of exactly the same type as 
our early porcelanous ware. 

Introductory 83 

Emperor Wen. Mr. Gammon told me that he had bought the jar 
on the spot where it was found. The jar itself, like the others belong- 
ing to us, was welded or coiled up by hand before a summary smooth- 
ing-off on the wheel. It had four loop handles, finger-modelled, at 
the shoulder (two only of these remain), and was glazed in a thin 
running blackish-green, of which the little that still adheres is for the 
most part oxidized to dull brownish-ochre. The clay is softer than 
your shards, and softer, too, than that of 12865 or 12875; but it seems 
to be quite the same in all other respects. It has the same admixture 
of black and occasional white particles in the mass of gray, the same 
unevenly ferruginous surface, and the same occasional thickening of 
that surface. The jar is much less well potted than your pieces and 
ours. Perhaps it is more primitive; that is, it may be an early example 
of the method used so expertly in making your jars and ours. Perhaps, 
on the other hand, it is simply cruder; that is, the potter may have 
used a well-known and well-developed method carelessly in making 
an unimportant vessel. Who knows? I incline toward the latter 

"I dated the jar *Han' because of the evidence of the coins found 
in it. Now, emboldened by your ascription of the date to the porce- 
lanous jars, I shall classify No. 12865 in the Han period or shortly 
after. As regards 12875, because of its different glaze and an obscure 
device impressed on its shoulder, I am not yet sure." 

At my request Mr. Kershaw was good enough to send me for ex- 
amination the pan-liang copper coins, twenty-one all together, found in 
Mr. Gammon's jar. They all proved to be authentic, as particularly 
determined by close comparison with numerous corresponding issues 
in the Chalfant coin collection, and to have been issued under the Han.^ 
The presence of this batch of coins in that vessel is, of course, no abso- 
lute proof warranting us in assigning the vessel to the early Han period, 
as these coins may still have been in circulation long after Han times. 
In 1 90 1 I found in actual circiilation at Si-ngan fu Han copper coins 
with the legend wu chu. A collection of twenty-one Han pan-liang 
coins in a single jar would rather hint at a high appreciation of this 
money, and such is rather more probable in post-Han than in Han 
times. At any rate, the exclusive presence of a single Han issue, 
together with the absence of any later coin, would seem to favor a 
period approaching very closely the age of the Han. 

^ Money with this legend, weighing exactly half an ounce (pan-liang), was 
first issued under the Ts'in (see Chavannes, M^moires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, 
Vol. Ill, pp. 539, 542). 

84 Beginnings of Porcelain 

Several similar pieces have been collected by Mr. Orvar Karlbeck, 
an official of the Tientsin-Piikow Railway, residing at Chu-chou, 
Ngan-hui Province. This gentleman, in the course of several years' 
residence in China, has formed a very interesting collection of ancient 
pottery, that consists of 144 pieces. I did not have occasion to see 
it, but, judging from photographs and descriptions which he has been 
good enough to send\me, he seems to own several bits such as are here 
under consideration. \ 

Mr. R. L. Hobson, the prominent expert in pottery of the British 
Museum, while visiting Chicago in January, 1913, and doing me the 
honor of studying the collections under my care, called my attention 
to two early jars of similar glazes which were found at Black Rock Hill 
in Fu-chou, and are now preserved in the British Museum. They 
are sketched and described by H. F. Holt.^ They are oval-shaped 
jars, with short necks and straight rims, a pair of loop handles (in 
one piece double handles) being stuck on to the shoulders. They are 
described as being made "of a grayish clay resembling almost stone- 
ware, over which a coat of greenish-brown glaze has been coarsely laid; 
a curved line at the bottom sharply defines where the glazing ended." 
The further remark, however, that the glaze is quite decomposed and 
can easily be detached, would rather hint at this glaze being of a char- 
acter different from that on our specimens, which, owing to its chemical 
composition, is not capable of decomposition. The great antiquity 
of these two jars is not doubtful: in shape and style they are true 
descendants of Han pottery. Holt adduces an interesting piece of 
evidence as to their age, — the fact that the grave in which they were 
found was situated within the city- walls; and, as no burial within the 
latter is permitted, they would seem to have been deposited there at a 
time prior to the erection of the wall. He refers to the "Geography 
of the Manchu Dynasty" (Ta TsHng i Vung chi) as containing the 
information that in a.d. 625 Fu-chou was a city of the first class. 

Mr. Hobson was also good enough to read in manuscript Mr. 
Nichols's report, that follows, and to anticipate some of these results 
in his admirable work "Chinese Pottery and Porcelain,"^ which denotes 
decided progress in our knowledge of the entire subject, and is now 
the best general handbook on porcelain. Referring to Mr. Nichols's 
analyses of the body and glaze of this pottery, Mr. Hobson states, 
"The results show that the body is composed of a kaolin-like material 

^ On Chinese Cinerary Urns {Journal British Archceological Association, 
Vol. XXVII, 1871, pp. 343-349. Plate XVII). 
* Vol. I, p. 15 (New York and London, 1915). 

Introductory 85 

(probably a kind of decomposed pegmatite), and is, in fact, an incipient 
porcelain, lacking a sufficient grinding of the material. The glaze is 
composed of the same material softened with powdered limestone and 
colored with iron oxide. . . . The nature of the pottery, in spite 
of its coarse grain and dark color, which is probably due in part to the 
presence of iron in the clay, seems to show that the manufacture of 
porcelain was not far distant." 

The report of Mr. Nichols is of sufficient importance and interest 
to warrant its publication in ftill. It is divided into two parts. Part I 
is devoted to a detailed investigation of the ancient porcelanous ware; 
and, in order to render possible a comparison with the earlier Han 
pottery, analysis of a green glaze from a bowl of Han pottery follows 
in Part II. 


By H. W. Nichols 

For the purpose of analysis, one fragment about two inches long and 
two inches wide, and a number of smaller pieces, were examined. The 
body of the ware, which is from three-sixteenths to one-quarter of an 
inch thick, consists of a gray vitrified porous substance which contains 
a few scattered black specks of minute size and glassy lustre. The body 
is coated on the outside with a very thin opaque red slip, and on the 
inside with a white engobe and a thick transparent greenish-yellow glaze. 

Chemical Characters of the Body. — An analysis of the body from 
which both the inner and outer glaze and engobe coats had been removed, 
but with the black specks included, was made in the Museum laboratory. 

Analysis of Body 

Silica, Si02 71.61 

Alumina, AlaOs 18.67 

Iron oxide, FeO 3 . 57 

Lime, CaO 0.59 

Magnesia, MgO 0.33 

Soda, NasO 4-43 

Potash, KjO 1.37 

When this is compared with other analyses, it must be remembered 
that there are small ferruginous specks scattered through this body, 
so that the iron content shown by the analysis is higher than that of 
the true body substance. 

Table Showing Analysis of Ancient Chinese Pottery 
In comparison with that of modem Chinese and Japanese porcelains 

Silica, SiOa . . 
Alumina, AljO« 
Iron oxide, FeO 
Lime, CaO . 
Magnesia, MgO 
Soda, NajO 
Potash, K,0 


74-53 71.31 


16.09 19.74 


1.03 0.73 


0.06 0.17 


0.25 2.04 


I. 19 O.IO 


4-37 404 

69 70 73 30 69 70.50 
23.60 22.20 19.30 21.30 20.70 
1 . 20 2 3 . 40 o . 80 o . 80 

0.30 0.80 0.60 I. 10 0.50 
0.20 trace trace trace trace 
3.30 3.60 2.50 3-40^6.00 
2.90 2.70 2.30 1.80 

Explanation of Table 

A. — Ancient porcelanous Chinese pottery in question, analysis by H. W. Nichols. 

B. — Modern Japanese porcelains, analyses by H. A. Skger (see his Collected Writings, Vol. II, 
p. 686). 

C. — Modem Chinese porcelains, analyses by A. Salv^tat, contained in the work of S. Julikn, 
Histoire et fabrication de la porcelaine chinoise, p. Lxxxvi (Paris, 1856). 


Technical Investigation of Chinese Pottery 87 

The analysis proves that this body has all the chemical characters 
of a true porcelain. Its resemblance to the analyses of Japanese porce- 
lains made by Seger^ is remarkable. 

The silica and alumina both fall within the rather narrow limits 
set by Seger for this ware. The important deviations from the com- 
position of Japanese porcelain are precisely those which characterize 
modem Chinese porcelains. These are: the high content of iron, in 
this instance of little significance; the high alkali content; and the 
excess of potash over soda. An important feature in the composition 
of porcelain and pottery bodies is the silica-alumina ratio. The ware 
presents, in this feature, a decidedly Japanese aspect. The Chinese 
porcelains analyzed by Salvetat generally are higher in alumina, and 
lower in silica, than this specimen and the Japanese bodies. The 
analyses of Chinese porcelain indicate a decidedly variable composition, 
as might be expected from Julien's description of the rather haphazard 
way in which the mixtures are made. In respect to this silica-alumina 
ratio, which sharply distinguishes Oriental from Occidental porcelains, 
the ancient bit of pottery under consideration comes distinctly into the 
Oriental class. , 

The quantity of alkali is essentially the same as in Salvetat 's analyses 
of modem Chinese porcelains. Salvetat's average is 5.59%, while 
this ware contains 5.80%. The quantity of iron in some of Salvetat's 
specimens is essentially as great as that of this specimen. The varia- 
tion among themselves of the analyses of modem Chinese porcelain 
is fully as great as the difference between these and the pottery under 
discussion. As the chemical composition of the ware is that of a good 
porcelain, the reason it failed to make a fine ware must be sought in 
those physical features which are consequent on the handling of the 
materials during manufacture, and not in any qualities inherent in 
the nature of the materials themselves. 

Physical Characters of the Body. — The body is composed of a 
gray vitrified material, with the slightly greasy lustre characteristic of 
some varieties of vitrified ware. Under an ordinary hand magnifying- 
glass, it appears as a kind of solidified froth composed of pores enclosed 
by thin walls of a translucent porcelain-like substance. These pores 
are elongated, so that there is a well-defined laminated structure. 
There are numerous inclusions of a black and glassy iron slag. Each of 
these glassy inclusions siurounds a minute spherical bubble. Through- 
out the body there are angular patches of lighter and darker gray which 
are vestiges of coarse particles in the mixture from which the body 

1 Collected Writings, Vol. II, pp. 687 and 716. 

88 Beginnings of Porcelain 

was burned. In thin fragments the material is somewhat translucent. 
A somewhat thick micro-section transmits light as freely as do many 
rock-sections, although confusion from the overlapping of much fine 
detail does not permit a very profitable study of the section. 

It is not possible to tell from the examination of any well-burned 
vitrified ware whether the mixture from which it is burned is of natural 
or artificial origin. It would not be at all impossible, although per- 
haps a task of some difficulty, to find along the outcrop of some peg- 
matite dike kaolin-like material from which a body identical with this 
might be burned. The Japanese, formerly at any rate, burned their 
wares from a single clay, while the Chinese use a mixture. This ware 
might have been prepared either way. 

The raw material contained iron-bearing minerals in coarse grains 
only. Each grain has left its individual splash of glassy black slag. 
The absence of any marked tone of buff, green, or yellow in the color of 
the mass indicates that there was no important quantity of finely-divided 
ferruginous mineral present. A simple and crude washing would have 
eliminated the iron-bearing minerals. Although the pottery does not 
look at all like porcelain, the only real point of difference, as far as 
the body is concerned, is the porosity of the ware. This porosity seems 
to be due to the use of too coarsely ground material, with not enough 
fine to fill the interspaces. It is a porcelain froth. 

The Outside Red Glaze. — The red glaze on the outside is very 
thin. Its surface is rough and interrupted by nimierous minute black 
blotches, where ferruginous minerals from the body have penetrated. 
The glaze is very uniformly distributed. It has not run during firing, 
nor has it crazed since. It is in as good condition to-day, as on the 
day it was made. It has, as well as may be determined under a power- 
ful magnifying-glass, the structure, or rather lack of structure, of a 
uniform, translucent, vitrified mass. It seems to be a simple slip 
of some good red-burning clay. It is so thin that a sample for analysis 
could .not be obtained. Between the red coating and the body is a 
white engobe coat. This nowhere exceeds one-tenth of a millimetre 
in thickness. It differs from the similar coating under the transparent 
glaze of the inside of the vessel only in its greater thinness and in the 
possession of a slight pinkish color, apparently absorbed from the 
overlying glaze. In places this coat becomes very thin and even 
occasionally disappears. 

The Inside Glaze. — That surface of the fragment examined, 
which corresponds to the inside of the vessel of which it formed a part, 
is covered with a transparent glaze upon a porcelain-iike engobe. 
This engobe coat is thicker than that upon the outside of the vessel. 

Technical Investigation of Chinese Pottery 89 

Its average thickness is one-quarter millimetre, but this thickness is 
very variable. Although it is not pure white in color, it is of a dis- 
tinctly lighter gray than the body; also it differs from the body, in 
that it is compact and free from pores. When examined under a 
hand magnifying-glass, it seems to be very sharply and distinctly sep- 
arated from the body. When examined as a thin section under the 
microscope, the sharp line of demarcation disappears, as well as 
the difference in color. It then seems to be of the same material as the 
body freed from ferruginous particles and from coarse grains, so that 
it has vitrified into a dense non-porous body. The object of such a 
coating as this is twofold: it provides a light-colored background for 
the transparent glaze, whereby its brilliancy is enhanced; and it provides 
an impervious support for the glaze, which otherwise might be absorbed 
into the pores of the body during the firing. The appearance of the 
material, when viewed in the form of a micro-section, suggests that 
this coat is merely the result of floating the finer particles of the mix 
to the surface during the process of forming the vessel. This would 
ordinarily be accomplished by the friction of the hand or of some tool. 
But the coating under the more fusible glaze, where its presence is 
imperative, is much thicker than that under the less fusible glaze, 
where the necessity for it is much less. The way the coarse particles 
of the body project through the red glaze is difficult to understand on 
the theory of a floated surface; and there are no signs of dragging along 
the surface of those coarse particles which lie immediately under the 
surface; also it would be difficult to float so much fine material when the 
deficiency of this matter is such as to leave so many voids in the interior. 
The preponderance of evidence indicates that this material is an engobe 
coat put on possibly by dipping, but more probably by spraying. In 
both its physical and chemical aspect, this coat is a true porcelain. 

The glaze is a greenish-yellow glass, brown in the thicker places. 
It is of variable thickness, as it ran badly during firing. Aside from 
this serious deficiency, it is a remarkably good glaze. It still adheres 
firmly to the body, and there has been no chipping or scaling. The 
crazing takes the form of a fine and uniform network of cracks. 
The brilliancy is very great, and there is no sign of devitrification. The 
attainment of these qualities, especially the continued perfect adhesion, 
which necessitates a very nice adjustment of the coefficients of expan- 
sion of body and glaze, indicates that the potters had already attained 
a high degree of skill. Running of a glaze of this type during firing is 
a condition unusually difficult to contend with. The color almost 
certainly identifies this glaze as a lime-alumina-iron silicate, and this 
is verified by an analysis made in the Museum laboratories. 


Beginnings of Porcelain 

Analysis of the Glaze 

Silica. SiOt 54-17 

Alumina, AljOj 14.16 

Iron oxide, FeO 4 • 36 

Lime, CaO 19. 05 

Magnesia, MgO 2 . 04 

Soda, NajO 5.49 

Potash, KjO 0.00 


This is obviously an alkali-lime-iron-alumina silicate glaze. This 
is so purely a Chinese type, that it is useless to compare it with any but 
Chinese glazes. Even the Japanese glazes differ materially from those 
of the Chinese, being intermediate in character between these and the 
European. Those Chinese porcelain glazes the analyses of which have 
been examined are all white, and hence free or neariy so from iron. 
The influence of iron on a glaze is very great, and extends to nearly all 
its properties. Hence, in modifying a yellow glaze to a white one, 
there is much to do in the way of readjusting the proportions of all the 
elements, besides removing the iron. Therefore the close correspond- 
ence which appeared among the several body analyses will not be found 
to hold between the yellow and the colorless glazes, even if one has been 
derived from the other. 

Comparative Table of Chinese Glazes 


B C 

Silica, SiOj ' 

• . 54.17 

68 64.1 

Alumina, AljOs 

. 14.16 

12 10.2 

Iron oxide, FeO .... 

. . . 438 

traces traces 

Lime, CaO 

. . 19.05 

14 21 

Magnesia, MgO .... 

. . 2.04 

not determined 

Alkali, NazO, K2O . . . 

. . 5.49 

6 5 

Explanation of Table 
A. — Ancient Chinese pottery glaze, analysis by H. W. Nichols. 
B and C. — Modern Chinese porcelain glazes, analyses by A. SALvfexAT {I. c, p. 132). 

The glaze on porcelain is thin, and Salv^tat evidently had difficulty 
in securing enough material for a thorough analysis. The examples 
given in the table are sufficient to show that all these glazes are of the 
same character. 

'/A comparison of the compositions of glaze and body suggests that 
the glaze has been prepared by mixing the material of the body with 
pulverized limestone. A brief calculation of the quantitative relations 
between the several elements of body and glaze confirms this impression 
in such a manner that there can remain no doubt as to the mode of 

Technical Investigation of Chinese Pottery 91 

preparation of the glaze. It must have been made by the addition of 
approximately one part of limestone, or the lime bvimed from it, to 
two parts of the clay from which the body was prepared. It is also 
possible, but not certain, that small quantities of soda and oxide of 
iron were added to rectify minor defects. 

The calculation follows: It is assumed that the limestone is a pure, 
more or less magnesian, limestone, such as would naturally be employed. 
The limestone is taken to be somewhat magnesian, partly from inspec- 
tion of the analyses, and partly because a non-magnesian limestone is 
rather an unusual rock. As such a limestone is practically free from 
silica, the silica of the glaze must come from the clay, and the ratio 
of the silicas in body and glaze will give a measure of the quantity of 
clay used in the mixture. As the body contains 71.61% silica, and the 
glaze 54.17%, it is evident that, ignoring for the present losses in 
burning, 75.66 parts of clay were used per 100 parts of glaze. The 
following table may then be readily calculated: 

Table showing Relations between the Composition of the Glazb and of 
A Mixture of 75.66% of the Pottery Body with 24.34% of Lime 



54- 17 





Silica, Si02 . . . 

. 71.61 

Alumina, AUOs . . 

. 18.67 

Iron oxide, FeO . . 

. 3-57 

Lime, CaO . . . 

• 0.59 

Magnesia, MgO . 

. 0.33 

Soda, NaaO . . . 

. 4.43 

Potash, K2O . . . 

. 1.37 

Carbonic Acid, CO2 . 











— 0.04 

— 0.04 





19 05 














— 1.04 




100.57 76.08 99.27 .... 36.93 

In the column marked "excess" are recorded the differences between 
the actual and computed compositions of the glaze. These differences 
are trifling. The absence of potash from the glaze is in line with the 
known volatilization of potash from the surface of wares subject to 
the kiln fires. 

The slight excess of iron oxide and soda in the mixture is not sur- 
prising, as crude, untreated earths of the kind used are by no means 
uniform in composition, and greater discrepancies than this are to be 
expected in analyses of consecutive batches of such material. Especially 
common is such an interchange of potash and soda as appears in this 
instance. The correspondences between figures and theory are, in 
fact, so close, that it is probable that the material employed was care- 
fully selected by such physical characters as color, texture, etc. 

92 Beginnings of Porcelain 

It is of course possible that the potters had learned to adjust the 
qualities of the glaze by small additions of alkali and iron oxide. Slight 
variations in the quantity of either of these substances greatly influence 
the physical properties of the glaze. 

This table cannot give more than a rough approximation of the 
quantities of the two ingredients of the mixture, as the losses of volatile 
matter in both limestone and clay during burning cannot be computed 
with accuracy. The table suggests that not far from one part of lime- 
stone to two parts of clay were employed. We may safely conclude 
that this glaze was made by adding pulverized limestone, lime, or 
milk of lime to the material from which the body of the pottery 
was made. The modern Chinese glaze for porcelain is made by mixing 
lime with one of the two ingredients of which they make the body. 
This process seems to be peculiar to China. 

Conclusions. — At the time this ware was made, the potters had 
already acquired a high degree of dexterity. Many of the things that 
they accomplished in the fabrication of this pottery required technical 
skill of no mean order. The engobe coat, without which no satisfactory 
glaze could be made upon so porous a ware, was used. The expansion 
of the glaze has been very accurately adjusted to that of the body. 
The glaze is remarkably brilUant for one free from lead. The glaze 
has no large bubbles, nor are small bubbles niunerous enough to cloud 
the ware. On the other hand, they made the glaze too thick, and they 
could not prevent it from running during the firing. 

With potters as skilful as these, the discovery of methods of over- 
coming the porosity of the ware, and thus making it a true porcelain, 
should be only a matter of time. As the engobe coat is porcelain, it 
is quite possible that the knowledge was not lacking even at that time. 
They may not have realized that a dense ware would be worth the 
great expense involved in grinding the materials to the necessary 
fineness by the crude methods then available, and in the control of the 
drying and firing methods to prevent distortion of the ware. 

II. Analysis of a Green Glaze from a Bowl of Han Pottery 

This is a brilliant glassy glaze of a bottle-green color from a Han 
pottery bowl (Cat. No. 1 18578). It is thickly applied over a red 
porous body. 

It is believed that the material selected for analysis correctly 
represents the original unaltered glaze. The glaze with its red backing 
was crushed to fragments of about a millimetre average size, and clear 
unaltered fragments were selected after scrutiny under a powerful 

Technical Investigation of Chinese Pottery 93 

glass. These fragments were freed from the adhering films of red 
earthy matter by use of forceps and a fine file. As finally prepared, 
the glass showed no altered material, nor any but a few unweighable 
traces of earthy matter. 
The analysis gives: 

Silica, SiOs 29.91 

Lead oxide, PbO 65 . 45 

Iron oxide, FeO 0,81 

Copper oxide, CuO 2 . 60 

Lime, CaO 0.94 

Alkalies, NajO, KjO 0.00 

This gives the molecular formula: 

I RO : 1.4 SiOa or nearly 5 RO. 7 SiOj. 
The traces of iron and lime are obviously impurities. 

This is a simple lead siHcate colored by copper, and is utterly unlike 
any glaze of which I have any analysis, the nearest approach to it being 
the alkali-lead silicate which seems to have been an ordinary glaze in 
all countries. The omission of alkali places this glaze in a very differ- 
ent class. It could be easily and simply compounded, as there are but 
three ingredients, — some lead salt (perhaps red lead or white lead), a 
pure white sand, and a small quantity of some copper compound for 

Professor R. T. Stull, Acting Director of the Ceramic Department 
of the University of Illinois, has been good enough to supply the fol- 
lowing additional information on the preceding analysis: 

"I am very much interested in the data you present on the early 
Chinese glaze. I have calculated an approximate empirical formula 
from the analysis, which gives: 

.827 PbO 

.093 CuO 1.408 Si02 
.049 CaO 
.031 FeO 
"This approximates closely the theoretical formula: 
.9 PbO 1 

A glaze can be made by mixing the following materials, which would 
be very similar to the Chinese glaze when first made: 

Red lead 205 

Copper oxide 8 
Potter's flint 90 

^^^^j i.5Si02 = 2R0.3SiO, 

94 Beginnings of Porcelain 

It is quite probable that the Chinese glaze was originally made by 
mixing together three ingredients, — a lead compound, a copper com- 
potmd, and a form of silica. The iron and lime present were probably 
impurities existing in the raw materials used in making the glaze. 
A glaze of this type (which is in reality a glass, since glazes generally 
contain alimiina) fuses at a very low temperature, is very brilliant, 
has a high specific gravity, high index of refraction, and high coefficient 
of expansion; and is easily dissolved by chemical agents (comparatively 
so). Owing to the high coefficient of expansion, the glaze is very 
susceptible to crazing. The glaze cotdd be improved by the addition 
of alumina in the form of clay, which would lower the coefficient of 
expansion, thus reducing crazing, and would make the glaze more 
resistant to the weathering action or to chemical agents. In good 
glaze practice, it is customary to introduce an alkali in some form, 
although good glazes can be produced without the use of alkali. One 
glaze being used for glazing roofing tile has the formula: 

.15 AI2O3 1.6 SiOa, 
.1 CuO 
which is very similar to the Chinese glaze plus AI2O3. A mixture which 
will produce this glaze is: 

Red lead 205 

Copper oxide 8 

Ball clay 39 

Potter's flint 78 
If the Chinese glaze has been disintegrated by long exposure, the 
alkalis would naturally be leached out partially, if not entirely."^ 

* The material for analysis was carefully-picked unaltered fragments [h.w.n.]. 


The preceding report of Mr. Nichols leaves no doubt that the 
pottery in question, as confirmed by Mr. Hobson, is a porcelanous or 
porcelain-like ware, as regards the composition of both body and glaze. 
It is a forerunner of true porcelain; it represents one of the initial or 
primitive stages of development through which porcelain must have 
passed before it could reach that state of perfection for which the 
Chinese product gained fame throughout the world. The history of 
porcelain has been singularly exposed to misrepresentations and mis- 
imderstandings, chiefly for the reason that Chinese accounts of the 
subject are obscure, enigmatic, and, moreover, disappointingly meagre 
and unsatisfactory. In his eminently critical and excellent work, 
Hobson has done a great deal to eradicate many of the old supersti- 
tions. It was obvious that the problem of the origin of porcelain could 
be solved only by archaeological, not by philological, methods; and it 
is due to the investigations of Mr. Nichols that we may now for the 
first time formulate certain opinions regarding the beginnings of porce- 
lain, which are groimded on matter-of-fact observation, and not on 
a more or less arbitrary interpretation of texts. Therefore the question 
may first be discussed from an archaeological viewpoint; and then it 
remains to be seen whether, with the result thus obtained, Chinese 
traditions may not be better and more profitably understood. 

Before attempting to determine the date of the "Han'* porcelanous 
ware, it will be useful to raise the question whether there is now a 
possibility of dating the first manufacture of true porcelain. I shall 
not insist on the evidence deduced by Bushell and Hobson from Chinese 
sources, to the effect that porcelain was made under the T'ang dynasty 
(618-906) as early as the beginning of the seventh century. Refer- 
ence will be made to only one source which has not yet been enlisted 
for the study of the question, and then we may proceed to archaeological 

An incontrovertible proof for the existence of porcelain in the 
seventh century is contained in the memorable accoimt of the Buddhist 
pilgrim I-tsing (635-713), who visited India from 671 to 695. In dis- 
cussing the utensils to be utilized by the monks of India, I-tsing speaks 
also of Indian earthenware vessels, and remarks, "In India, there was 
originally neither porcelain (ts'e ^) nor lacquer. Porcelain, if glazed, 
is no doubt clean. Lacquered articles are sometimes brought to India 


96 Beginnings of Porcelain 

by traders."^ It is evident beyond cavil that I-tsing understands 
the word ts'e in this passage in the sense of porcelain with which he 
was familiar in his native country. He could most assuredly not mean 
to say that pottery was originally unknown in India, for in more than 
one case he himself refers to Indian pottery or earthenware (wa %), 
which could not escape the attention of a keen observer like him. 
He expressly avails himself of the word ts*e in this passage, advisedly 
in contradistinction to the word wa used previously, and connects it 
with another characteristic product through which China then became 
widely known, — lacquer. He does not state explicitly that porcelain, 
in the same manner as lacquer-ware, was then imported from China 
into India; but this fact may be inferred from the statement made in 
the beginning of Chapter VI, that "earthenware and porcelain (wa ts'e 
~Kt ^) are used for the clean jar" (that is, the jar containing the water 
for drinking-purposes) . ^ This passage is sufficient evidence for the 
fact that porcelain was then found in India; and also his statement 
that porcelain did not originally exist in India seems to imply that it 
occurred there at the time of the author's visit. He does not speak 
of porcelain as a new, but as a familiar, production; and he must 
certainly have seen it in China before the year 671, the date of his 
departure for India. Judging from I-tsing's memoirs, porcelain, accord- 
ingly, must have existed in China during the latter half of the seventh 
century. At the same time, it was exported into India; and this 
harmonizes with the observation made in the T'ao shuo, that porcelain 
bowls were widely distributed abroad from the time of the T'ang 
dynasty (618-906).^ 

The testimony of the Arabic merchant Soleyman, who in 851 wrote 
his "Chain of Chronicles," must be regarded as one of the most 
weighty to prove the existence in China of true porcelain in the 
age of the T'ang, during the ninth century. In the translation of 

1 J. Takakusu, a Record of the Buddhist Religion as practised in India by 
I-tsing, p. 36 (Oxford, 1896); Japanese edition of the text, Vol. I, p. 17 a. 

' L.C., p. 27; text, Vol. I, p. 12 a. 

• T'ao shuo, Ch. 5, p. 2 b (edition with movable types, published 1913); S. W. 
BusHELL, Description of Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, p. 104. — According to 
W. Crooke (Natives of Northern India, p. 136, London, 1907), common clay pots, 
owing to their perishable character, are little valued in India, "and caste prejudices 
prevent the use of the finer kinds of pottery. Hence no artistic industry like that 
of china has flourished in India, although kaolin and other suitable kinds of clay are 
in some places abundant." We have a formal judgment on Indian pottery from 
the Buddhist monk Yuan Ying, who in his Yi is'ie king yin i (Ch. 18, p. 7; see p. 115), 
written about a.d. 649, remarks that the state of ciilture is so low in the Western 
Regions that finer pottery cannot be made there, and that only unbumt bricks 
and vessels fired without glaze are turned out. 

Historical Observations and Conclusions 97 

M. Reinaud,^ he reports that "there is in China a very fine clay 

from which are made vases having the transparency of glass bottles; 

water in these vases is visible through them, and yet they are made 
of clay. '^2 

The presence of china in the India of the seventh century, and the 
acquaintance of the Arabs with transparent porcelain in the ninth 
century, based on literary sources, naturally raise the question whether 
this documentary evidence is corroborated by any archaeological facts. 
Such have heretofore been lacking; but an important discovery due to 
the excavations of F. Sarre and E. Herzfeld in the ruins of Samarra, 
the former residence of the Caliphs, is fortunately apt to settle satis- 
factorily this much-disputed question. The report of these remarkable 
finds has recently been published.* According to F. Sarre, who care- 
fully figures and describes these objects, they belong to a period which 
is well determined by the years a.d. 838 and 883. The ceramic speci- 
mens exhtimed in Samarra fall into two classes, — those imported from 
eastern Asia, and those potted locally for home-consumption. Among 
the former we are confronted with a material which in general must be 
designated as stoneware, but which, to use the words of Sarre, partially 
approaches porcelain to such a high degree that it may straightway be 
styled "porcelain.'* In the latter case, the body of the vessels cannot 
be scratched by steel, is almost white, transparent in thin places, the 
shards being dense, and hard like shell. The smooth and brilliant 
glaze is evenly applied, and so closely linked with the body that both 
can but have been fired simultaneously, — characteristic qualities of 
genuine East-Asiatic porcelain. Besides fragments of more or less 
coarse and shallow bowls, whose low rim around the bottom is ground 
off, those of finer ware have also come to light; thus, for instance, a 
fragmentary oval cup decorated with a fish in relief, surrounded by 
wave designs and birds on the wing. Judging from the author's 
description and the very excellent illustrations, there is no room for 

^ Relation des voyages faits par les Arabes et les Persans dans I'lnde et h la 
Chine, Vol. I, p. 34. 

^The report of Soleyman is in full accord with the Chinese notices of T'ang 
pottery. In the beginning of the T'ang dynasty (618), vases of a white clay, with 
thin body of white and brilliant color, were made by a potter of the name T'ao, 
in the village Chung-siu, belonging to King-te-chen; they were styled "imitation 
jade utensils," and sent as tribute to the Court. Similar vessels were turned out 
simultaneously by Ho Chung-ch'u from the village Tung-shan {King te chen t'ao 
lu, Ch. 5, p. I b; JuLiEN, Histoire, pp. 81, 82). It is notable that both potters 
were rural residents, and that their work possessed sufficient quality to earn imperial 

• F. Sarre, Die Kleinfunde von Samarra und ihre Ergebnisse fur das islamische 
Kunstgewerbe des 9. Jahrhunderts {Der Islam, Vol. V, 1914, pp. 180-195, 4 plates). 

98 Beginnings of Porcelain 

doubt that the piece in question is of real, white porcelain, and that it 
affords an example of the hitherto lost porcelain of the T'ang period. 
T'ang porcelain is thus raised into the rank of plain fact. Soleyman's 
testimony proves true. 

The date of this specimen is indubitable, and meets a welcome 
confirmation from two green and white glazed dishes of pottery* secured 
in the same locality. Without having any clew to their provenience, 
the writer, who through his researches in China is somewhat familiar 
with this and similar ware, would not hesitate for a moment to diagnose 
them as Chinese productions of the epoch of the T'ang. Mr. Sarre is 
perfectly correct in calling attention to the fact that pieces of identical 
technique are preserved in the Imperial Treasury of Nara in Japan, 
and that T'ang clay statuettes are formed of the same material. An- 
other discovery of no less importance, for which we are indebted to 
Mr. Sarre 's energy, is a group of celadon-like stoneware, one of which, 
bearing the design of a fish scratched in under the glaze, is reproduced 
in his report. The facts brought out by Mr. Sarre's researches are of 
such far-reaching consequence, that he is entitled to a just claim to our 
lasting gratitude. Above all, he has succeeded in safely establishing 
the fundamental fact that porcelain was made in China under the 
T'ang; and that Chinese porcelain, as well as non-porcelanous pottery, 
was exported in the ninth century into the Empire of the Caliphs. 
These conclusions embolden us and justify us in regarding the word 
ts^e^ whenever it appears in T'ang documents, as conve5dng the notion 
of true porcelain, and in giving full credence to the account of I-tsing, 
that India possessed Chinese porcelain during the seventh century .^ 
Consequently it is at some earlier date that the beginnings of porce- 
lain ™ those initiatory and preparatory steps finally leading up to the 
perfection of the ware — must be sought for. Porcelain has been 
discovered in Turkistan by Sir Aurel Stein.^ 

Our previous knowledge of references to T'ang porcelain was chiefly 
based on the two modem works, the Kingfte chen fao lu (first edition, 
1 815) and the T*ao shuo (1774). It remains to be ascertained, however, 
from the contemporaneous records of the T'ang, whether these extracts 

* On Plate II in the article referred to. 

* As shown by I-tsing, a clear distinction between common pottery and porce- 
lain is made in T'ang literature. This is further evidenced by the frequent occur- 
rence of the compound ts'e wa ^'^ ("porcelain and stoneware"), for instance, in 
the Yu yang tsa tsu (Ch. 11, p. 7 b; ed. of Pai hat) and in the Ta T'ang sin yii •;^^ 
^fg (Ch. 13, p. 9; ed. of T'ang Sung ts'ung shu). 

•Ancient Khotan, Vol. I, pp. 461, 464 (see also Hobson, Chinese Pottery and 
Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 149). It would be desirable that analyses be made and pub- 
lished of Sarre's and Stein's porcelains. 

Historical Observations and Conclusions 99 

are reliable and correctly reproduced. In the geographical chapters 
of the T'ang Annals we find under each locality an enumeration of the 
taxes in kind annually sent to the Court, and the T'ai pHng huan yii ki 
of Yo Shi gives a still more extensive list of the products of the empire 
during that period. The following localities are known as having 
produced porcelain under the T'ang: — 

1. Hing chou ffi ffl (modem Shun-te fu in Chi-li) turned out white 
porcelain vessels Q ^ S {Tang shu, Ch, 39, p. 6; and T'ai pHng huan 
yii ki, Ch. 59, p. 5), which were accepted as taxes. 

2. Ting chou ,^ M in Chi-li (T'ai pHng huan yii ki, Ch. 62, p. 4 b); 
the T'ang Annals do not mention porcelain among its products. 

3. Yu chou ffi ffl (modem Yung-p'ing fu in Chi-li), according to 
T'ai p'ing huan yii ki, Ch. 69, p. 6. 

4. Jao chou tt ^1 in Kiang-si (T*ai pHng huan yii ki, Ch. 107, 


5. Yue chou Wt ffl (modem Shao-hing fu in Che-kiang), according 
to T^ang shu (Ch. 41, p. 4 b) and T'ai pHng huan yii ki (Ch. 96, p. 5). 

6. Ho-nan fu (according to T'ang leu tien, Ch. 3, p. 4 b, ed. of Kuang 
ya shu kii, 1895; and T'ai pHng huan yii ki, Ch. 3, p. 8b). 

As may readily be seen from Julien's translation (pp. 28 and 6), 
only two of these localities (Nos. i and 5) are mentioned in the King 
te chen Vao lu as having produced porcelain under the T'ang (not, how- 
ever, Nos. 2-4) ; while several others are so designated, which cannot be 
verified from coeval documents.^ 

As established by archaeological evidence, porcelain was an accom- 
plished fact under the T'ang (618-906) ; and there is further good reason 
to assume that it existed in the latter part of the sixth century.* It is 
futile, of course, to look for an inventor of porcelain, as has been done 
by E. ZiMMERMANN.^ This invention of an inventor of porcelain is a 
romance, not history. Chinese records know absolutely nothing about 
such an inventor, simply for the reason that he never existed. Porce- 
lain is not an ** invention," that can be attributed to the efforts of an 

1 In the writer's forthcoming second part of Chinese Clay Figures will be found 
a chapter on T'ang pottery. 

*BusHELL, Description of Chinese Pottery, p. xii; Hobson, Chinese Pottery 
and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 147. In 1844, during the negotiations preceding the 
Franco-Chinese Treaty, one of the Chinese envoys, Chao Chang-li, well acquainted 
with the antiquities of his country, assured N. Rondot that the manufacture of 
porcelain could be traced back only as far as the middle of the sixth century (see 
Journal China Branch Roy. As. Sac, Vol. XXXII, 1897-98, p. 73). 

« Orientalisches Archiv, Vol. II, 191 1, pp. 30-34; and Chinesisches Porzellan, 
p. 24. I strictly concur with Hobson (/. c. Vol. I, p. 145) in his criticism of Zim- 
mermann's hypothesis. 

loo Beginnings of Porcelain 

individual; but it was a slow and gradual process of finding, groping, 
and experimenting, the outcome of the tmited exertions of several cen- 
turies and generations. We cleariy observe a rising development of 
porcelain from the T'ang to the Sung, Yuan, and Ming periods, till the 
high perfection of the ware culminates in the K'ang-hi era. It is there- 
fore logical to assume that preceding the age of the Sui (590-617) there 
was a primitive stage of development which ultimately resulted in the 
T'ang porcelain. This primeval porcelanous product was hitherto 
unknown, but, as demonstrated by the researches of Mr. Nichols, its 
existence is now proved in the nine vessels figured on Plates I and III-X, 
with analogous specimens in the Boston Fine Arts Museum, the Freer 
collection, and the British Museum. The tentative attributions 
"T'ang" and "Sung" (p. 82) were based only on isolated cases, and 
ventured as personal impressions; they were not groimded on the fact 
of analytic study. The Han tradition of ceramic forms had completely 
died out under the T'ang and Sung, to give way to more graceful and 
pleasing shapes partially conceived under Iranian and Indian influences. 
As has been shown, the objects in question decidedly breathe the spirit 
of Han art in forms and decorative motives. There is good circumstan- 
tial evidence in the case of the jug on Plate I, discovered in the same 
grave with a Han cast-iron stove, and in that of the pan-liang coins of 
the Boston jar. Nevertheless I am not convinced that we are entitled 
to assign these vessels to the Later Han dynasty within its strict chrono- 
logical boundaries (a.d. 25-220), as the predominant bulk of the kiln- 
products turned out under the Han was common glazed and unglazed 
pottery (wa S).^ Moreover, the new term ts'e ^, applied to porce- 
lanous ware, does not yet occur in the contemporaneous records of the 
Han, at least such an occurrence has not yet been proved (see p. 102); 
and this is the main reason which prompts me to the opinion that the 
pottery in question was manufactured in post-Han times, say, roughly, 
under the earlier Wei (220-264), or toward the middle or in the latter 
part of the third century a.d.^ From a purely philological point of view, 

1 This is the term employed for the burial pottery of the period in the Han 
Annals {Hou Han shu, Ch. 16, p. 3). It is therefore out of the question that the 
new term ts'e, as stated by Hobson (/. c, Vol. I, p. 141, note), should refer to the 
glazed pottery of the Han. Credit must be given also to the Chinese for their 
correct feeling for their own language and their own antiquities: the present-day 
Chinese style the glazed Han pottery liu-li wa (accordingly, with the same term 
as employed in the Han Annals), while the term Han ts'e is applied to the porce- 
lanous ware here described. In this case, Chinese feeling signifies a hundred times 
more than all the hair-splitting and pedantic subtleties of European sinologues. 

' It is curious that this result agrees with the opinion of Palladius (Chinese- 
Russian Dictionary, Vol. II, p. 343), who held that the output of porcelain took 
its beginning from the Tsin dynasty (263-420). 

Historical Observations and Conclusions ioi 

the term Han ts'e, applied to this pottery by Mr. Yen, is not justified. 
From the standpoint of the archaeologist, however, it is perfectly correct; 
for this pottery, as recognized by Mr. Yen with just instinct or intuition, 
combines in itself two characteristic features, — the style of Han art, 
and the technical character of porcelanous ware. It is justifiable to 
regard it as a very early production, or even as one of the earliest, of 
the ware styled ts'e. We might therefore say that porcelain ran through 
its experimental stages for at least three centuries; and it seems to me a 
reasonable conclusion that a development of such a length of time was 
required until mature and highly finished products should ultimately 

' It is possible also to make a plausible guess at the kiln, where the 
nine vessels were produced. As has been pointed out, the jug in Plate I 
was found in a grave near the village Ma-kia-chai, $ It north of the 
town of Hien-yang ^ 81, the ancient capital of the Ts'in, belonging to 
the prefecture of Si-ngan. The "Records of the Potteries of King-te-chen' ' 
inform us that "under the earlier Wei dynasty (220-264) vases were 
turned out at Kuan-chtmg BB ^, corresponding to Hien-yang and 
other places of the prefecture of Si-ngan, and that the output of this 
kiln was intended for the use of the Court, and offered to the Emperor."^ 
Thus it is not impossible that our ware was actually made in the district 
of Hien-yang, or, taking the wider area, in the prefecture of Si-ngan. 
If the passage quoted should really be derived from an ancient text, 
which I am not in a position to prove, it would have another significance, 
in that it would represent the earliest allusion to pottery deemed worthy 
of being sent to the palace. Neither in times of antiqtdty nor under 
the Han do we hear of any tribute pottery. In the famous Tribute 

* King te chen t'ao lu (edition of 1891), Ch. 7, p. i b. Julien (Histoire et fabri- 
cation de la porcelaine chinoise, p. 4), in his translation of these passages, speaks in 
both cases of "porcelain;" but this is not warranted by the Chinese text, which 
avails itself of the general term t'ao ("pottery"); but ts'e belonged to the class of 
t'ao. HoBSON (Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 143) complains of Julien 
and Bushell having been indiscriminate in the use of the term "porcelain" in their 
translations from the Chinese. But how about Legge, who speaks of porcelain 
in the era of the Shi king? In his translation of this work, we read in two passages 
(PP- 346 and 502) of a "porcelain whistle," which is entered even in the index. 
Fortunately this musical instrument of porcelain has escaped the students and 
collectors of Chinese ceramics; otherwise we should probably meet it in one or 
another collection, since the collector usually gets what he wants or solicits. What 
is meant in the passage of the Shi king is the instrument hUan J^, a pipe made of 
baked clay, of the size of a fowl's egg, and perforated by six apertures. Again, we 
read of "porcelain drums" in a translation of De Groot (Religious System of China, 
Vol. VI, p. 977) from a text of the Tu tuan by Ts'ai Yung (133-192), relative to 
conditions of the Chou period. The text has t'u ^« i ^, which means "earthen 

I02 Beginnings of Porcelain 

of Yu (Yii kung)y forming a section of the Shu king, pottery is conspicu- 
ously absent. In pre-Han and Han times it had not yet reached such 
a state of perfection that it would have been brought to the immediate 
attention of the sovereign, or was eligible to take a place in the im- 
perial chambers. It is conceivable that pottery of the class of our 
porcelanous ware was entitled to admission to Court, and answers to 
the tribute ware produced at Kuan-chung. 

The origin of this mysterious and much-discussed term ts^e has been 
referred to the Han period by several European authors, but nobody 
has yet furnished any actual proof that the word really occurs in con- 
temporaneous records of that age. Even Bushell^ merely states, 
"We know that the word ts^e^ which means porcelain in the present 
day, first came into use during the Han dynasty, and Mr. Hippisley 
takes this coining of a new word to designate the productions of that 
age to be a strong argument in favor of the early date. Others, more 
sceptical, before reaching any decision, ask to be shown actual speci- 
mens of translucent body that can be certainly referred to the period." 
Seven years later, Bushell became more confident and positive in his 
assertion of the origin of porcelain under the Han. In his work "Chi- 
nese Art,"^ an assurance to this effect is given in three passages. The 
word and character ts^e^ according to him, is first foimd in books of 
the Han dynasty. Again he asserts that the Chinese attribute the 
invention to the Han dynasty, when a new character ts'e was coined to 
designate, presimiably, a new substance;* and that "still we may 
reasonably accept the conclusion of the best native scholarship that 
porcelain was first made in the Han dynasty, without trying, as Stanislas 
Julien has tried on very insufficient grounds, to fix the precise date of 
its invention." 

The only piece of evidence that has ever been produced to prove 
the existence of the term ts'e under the Han is the citation of this word 
in the glossary Shuo wen. Sceptics will naturally raise the question 

1 Oriental Ceramic Art, p. 20 (New York, 1899). 
* Vol. II, pp. 4, 17, 20. 

•The fact cited by Bushell on this occasion — that "the official memoir on 
'Porcelain Administration' in the topography of Fou-liang says that, according 
to local tradition, the ceramic works at Sin-p'ing (an old name of Fou-liang) were 
founded in the time of the Han dynasty, and had been in constant operation ever 
since" — is not conclusive for a plea on behalf of porcelain at the time of the Han. 
That tradition, if correct, merely goes to show that kilns for the manufacture of 
pottery were established in that locality under the Han, while it implies nothing 
definite as to the specific character of this pottery. The fact that Fou-liang turned 
out porcelain at a later period does not allow of the inference that what was pro- 
duced there in the era of the Han likewise was porcelain. 

Historical Observations and Conclusions 103 

whether the passage was actually contained in the original edition of 
the work (a.d. 100), or whether it has been interpolated in the numerous 
subsequent re-editions.^ The decision of this question may be left to 
a competent sinologue. It means little for my purposes, as long as no 
instances of the word are pointed out in authentic books, which may 
be regarded as contemporaneous documents of the Han period. This 
much may be said, that the definition given in the Shuo wen has not 
been adequately explained. It has been asserted the definition should 
mean that ts'e is ** pottery and nothing more."^ It means, however, 
^^Ts'e belongs to the category of pottery," or "is a kind of pottery." 
In the definitions of the Shuo wen, the word to be explained is defined 
by a more general word denoting the wider category. It cannot there- 
fore be deduced from that gloss that ts'e in ancient times did not refer 
to porcelain, for porcelain certainly is a variety of pottery. In regard 
to the specific character of ts^e^ the definition of the Shuo wen is utterly 
inconclusive. Holding in abeyance the question as to the time when 
the term ts'e sprang into existence, and leaving aside all subtleties, it 
remains for plain common sense to say that a new term refers to a new 
matter, and that ts^e as a new ceramic term must have denoted a novel 
production achieved in the ceramic field. Such was the porcelanous 
ware as here described; and if, from the Sui and T'ang periods onward, 
the word ts^e was applied to true porcelain, it is self-evident that prior 
to that time it was attached to porcelanous ware, the forerunner of 
porcelain. The word ts^e did not plainly describe any pottery, but 
porcelanous pottery specifically. 

It is known that the character ts'e Wi is now employed also in place 
of ts'e ^. From this change of characters F. Hirth^ believed he was 
justified in concluding that the new form, linked with the classifier 
* stone' ^, indicates a substitute of material; while in tl;e older form, 
combined with the classifier 'clay' E, the nature of earthenware should 
be accentuated. This argumentation is unwarranted, and, as will be 
seen, does not answer the facts. Likewise the information given on 
this point in the "Catalogue of Potteries published by the Japan 
Society" (p. 56, New York, 1914) is misleading. Here it is asserted 
that from the fact that the city Ts'e-chou produced porcelain, and that 
the word ts'e in the name of the city is phonetically identical with that 
of the word meaning "stoneware" or "porcelain," a certain confusion in 

1 Neither the Erh ya nor the Kuang ya contains the word; but also this proves 
nothing, as none of the ancient dictionaries is complete, and they surely lack numer- 
ous words which are found in literature. 

2 F. HiRTH, Ancient Chinese Porcelain, p. 130. 
' Ancient Chinese Porcelain, p. 130, note 3. 

I04 Beginnings of Porcelain 

the use of the word has arisen; *'but there is no such confusion in the 
mind of the Chinese scholar; the purist never uses it; and all arguments 
as to the date of the origin of porcelain which have been based on the 
use of this word are valueless." All these statements are erroneous. 
No one has ever based any arguments on the use of this word as to the 
date of porcelain. In fact, the word has no concern whatever with the 
origin of porcelain. The chief facts in the case could already be gleaned 
from Julien's "Histoire" (p. 29). There is, first of all, a city by the 
name Ts'e-chou Wi W, which anciently depended on the prefecture of 
Chang-te in the province of Ho-nan, but which is now assigned to the 
prefecture of Kuang-p'ing in the province of Chi-li. The city had 
formerly various other names. The present name Ts'e 1^ was con- 
ferred on it in the year 590, at the time of the Sui dynasty. Near the 
boundary of the district rose the Loadstone Mountain (Ts'e shan 1ft (Ij) 
producing loadstone (ts*e ski Ift ^), whence the district and town 
received their name.^ At the time of the T'ang dynasty (618-906), 
the district produced nothing but loadstone and magnets made from 
it; it did not produce pottery of any kind.* Only from under the Sung 
(960-1278) did the locality in question embark on the manufacture of 
a kind of white porcelain, the choice specimens of which resembled the 
Ting ware. This particular kind of porcelain, because it originated 
from the locality of Ts'e, was styled "vessels of Ts'e" (Ts'e kH Wi ^). 
The word ts'e in this case, accordingly, denotes nothing but the place 
of provenience. "At present," the author of the "Records of the 
Potteries of Kling-te-chen " adds, "owing to a very common error, 
porcelain vases are generally designated by the term ts'e kH ^S; 
people employing this term are doubtless ignorant of the fact that it 
applies in particular only to the porcelain of the city of Ts'e." The 
fact remains that imder the Manchu dynasty, and at present, porcelain 
is invariably termed 35 and Ift, the latter character being more fre- 
quently employed.' True it is, that K'ang-hi's Dictionary does not 

^ T'ai p^ing kuan yu ki, Ch. 56, p. 10 b. The Pen ts'ao kang mu extols the 
loadstone of this locality as excellent (F. de M6ly, Lapidaires chinois, p. 106), 
and loadstone was supplied from there as tribute to the Court {Ta Ts'ing i t'ung 
chi, Ch. 31, p. 12). 

* The silence of the T*ai p'ing huan yii ki and the T'ang Annals in this respect is 
conclusive, as the localities producing porcelanous ware at that time are expressly 
named (see above, p. 99). Hobson (Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. loi) 
also arrives at the result that there is no information on the subject of Ts'e-chou 
factories earlier than the Sung dynasty, when they enjoyed a high reputation. 

' Even in the T'ang Annals the term ts'e k'i l^i^ appears, although we are not 
in a position to state that it was thus written in the original edition: the district 
Ku-lu ^ ^ in Hing-chou (now prefecture of Shun-te in Chi-li Province) sent porce- 
lain vessels as tribute in the year 742 (T'ang shu, Ch. 39, p. 6); and the fact that 

Historical Observations and Conclusions 105 

credit it with the meaning of "porcelain," but attributes to it only the 
proper significance, "loadstone." This, however, means nothing. 
Chinese standard works, like the great cyclopaedia T'u shu tsi ch'eng 
and others, also the Japanese, employ this character throughout in the 
sense of "porcelain," so that there is no longer the question of confusion. 
On the contrary, it is a perfectly legitimate usage, even sanctioned by 
the English and Chinese Standard Dictionary issued by the Shanghai 
Commercial Press; and for this reason our own dictionaries, like those 
of Palladius, Giles, and Couvreur, are justified in assigning the meaning 
"porcelain" also to the character is'e iS. This was the outcome of a 
natural development of the language, which no alleged purism can sweep. 
The original term "porcelain of Ts'e" was simply amplified into the 
wider notion of porcelain in general, because the word ts'e employed 
in the name of the city bearing that name, and the word ts'e for 
"porcelain," though physically different words, phonetically are ho- 
mophonous.^ This history of the subject clearly shows that Hirth's 
theory is untenable and should be discarded. The new word ts'e 48, 
in the sense of "porcelain," has no organic and historical connection 
whatever with the older word for "porcelain" ts'e ^, but is an independ- 
ent side-issue of purely incidental character. The alleged evolution 
from earthenware to stony material cannot be read from the formation 
of these characters, as they have nothing in common, and move along 
separate lines. This conclusion settles also the general speculation* 
to the effect that the word ts'e in its origin should have meant nothing 
but common earthenware, and that gradual improvement of the ware 
resulted in changes of meaning and writing. We now recognize that 
the genuine character for ts'e ^ has not been subject to any alterations, 
and that it was in the beginning exactly the same as it is at present. It 
is therefore infinitely more probable that this speculation regarding 
substitutes of material resulting in altered significations of the word is 
imaginary in its entire range; that is to say, the newly coined word ts'ey 
from the days of its childhood, denoted not simply "earthenware," 

the question is here of porcelain is confirmed by the King te chen Vao lu (Julien, 
Histoire, p. 28). In other passages of the T'ang Annals we meet the regular mode 
of writing ^:^; for instance, in Ch. 41, p. 4 b, where the porcelain of Hui-ki in 
Yue-chou (the present province of Che-kiang) is mentioned. In the T'ai p'ing 
huan yu ki only the form ^ is employed. "Porcelain" is expressed by Sft i" the 
Liao shi (Ch. 104, p. 2) and Viian shi (Ch. 88, p. 10 b). 

^ The mental process underlying this transformation may be compared with 
the extension of our word "china" to porcelains made in any cotm tries outside 
of China. 

' HiRTH, Ancient Chinese Porcelain, p. 130 (repeated in his Chinesische Studien, 
p. 48). 

io6 Beginnings of Porcelain 

but a higher grade of pottery which shared characteristic features with 
true porcelain. 

Another problem is whether the kind of porcelain maniifactured at 
Ts'e-chou bore any relation to the mineral ts'e. The term ts'e ^, 
as is well known, is the designation of the magnet or loadstone; but, as 
admitted by the Chinese, it denotes also another mineral which is suit- 
able for the making of pottery. This fact is brought out by several 
ancient stone sculptures in the Museum's collection, in the votive 
inscriptions of which it is stated that the material of the sculpture is 
ts'e shi fiS ^ C'ts'e stone"), which, however, as shown by a very super- 
ficial examination, is not loadstone. The "Records of the Potteries 
of King-te-chen" ^ inform us that "the ts*e stone JS^ is made into a 
paste serviceable for pottery vessels, but that this stone is not identical 
with the magnet attracting iron and used for magnetic needles; further, 
it is a peciiliar and distinct kind of stone of white color and of briglit 
and smooth appearance; the vessels made from it are beautiful, but not 
delicate, and differ from porcelain earth; aside from Ts'e-chou, they 
are made in Hu-chou If ^H in Ho-nan Province. It is accordingly not 
magnetic ore which entered into the manufacture of Ts'e porcelain, but 
a mineral of a different nature, as yet undetermined, apparently not 
discovered prior to the age of the Sung, and likewise styled ts'e.^ This 
point is especially mentioned in this connection, because a supposition 
that magnetic ore might have been mixed with porcelain glaze would 
not be entirely without foimdation.^ 

In fact, however, we have no account of loadstone ever having been 
used by the Chinese in the making of pottery; and it is therefore 
impossible to assume any connection between the two words ts^e, — 
the one denoting "loadstone," the other "porcelain." As the written 

* King te chen t'ao lu, Ch. lo, p. 12 b (new edition, 1891). 

2 Palladius (Chinese-Russian Dictionary, Vol. II, p. 343) states under this word, 
"Magnet; suitable for the eyes; employed in the making of bowls and pillows; 

'According to Pliny (Nat. hist., xxxvi, 66, § 192), magnet-stone was added to 
glass during the process of making the latter, because it was credited with the 
property of attracting liquefied glass as well as iron (Mox, ut est ingeniosa soUertia, 
non fuit contenta nitrum miscuisse; coeptus addi et magnes lapis, quoniam in se 
liquorem vitri quoque ut ferrum trahere creditur). The correctness of this report 
has been called into doubt. The Arabic mineralogy ascribed to Aristotle has 
replaced the magnet-stone by the stone magnesia as being added to glass (J. Ruska, 
Steinbuch des Aristoteles, p. 171). In another passage (ibid., p. 129) it is said that 
glass cannot be finished without the stone magnesia; the latter denotes manganese, 
which serves for the refinement of glass fluxes. Whether Pliny is guilty of a con- 
fusion in the case, or whether he really reproduces a tradition current in his time, 
can hardly be decided. 

Historical Observations and Conclusions 107 

symbols are formed by means of different phonetic elements, the greater 
likelihood is that also the two words, although now phonetically identi- 
cal, are traceable to different origins. The history of the word ts'e $S 
can be established without great difficulty. The earliest form in 
which it was written is ts"e ski W> 5 (that is, ''attractive stone"); in 
this manner we find it, for instance, in the Annals of the Former Han 
Dynasty.^ The character fiS, consequently, is a secondary formation 
based on a contraction of the words ts'e and shiy the latter assuming 
the position of classifier, the former that of phonetic element, the 
original significance of which was bound gradually to disappear. The 
word for "porcelain," however, is written with the phonetic element 
ts'e ^, which, as an independent word, has the meaning "second, next 
in order, inferior," etc. It is clear that in composition with the classifier 
'clay' (wa %) it has no word-meaning whatever, but has merely the 
function of a phonetic element. Thus far we are entirely ignorant of 
how this new word may have arisen in the first centuries of otir era. In 
the Sung period the phonetic part seems to have been altered, for the 
dictionary Tsi yUn M M, published by Ting Tu T ^ in the middle of 
the eleventh century, records the two forms ^ and S£ as popula;r or 
common at that time. This manner of writing may have come about 
under the immediate influence of the porcelain of Ts'e-chou, which then 
sprang into existence. 

The preceding remarks on the term ts'e are not intended to encroach 
on the domain of the sinologue. No one feels more keenly than myself 
that a critical and detailed study of this term (not based on the modem 
cyclopaedias, but on the actual source-works) is required, and should 
be taken up some day by a competent sinologue who has a taste for 
researches of this kind. 

The previous discussions on the origin of porcelain were chiefly 
based on haggling about terms, which at times assimied an almost 
Talmudic character. Students entered into the arena with a dogmatic 
definition fixed in their minds, of what porcelain is or should be, and, 
according to their personal standpoint, rejected or accepted this or 
that period at which porcelain should have come into existence. Thus 
we face the amazing spectacle that from 1856, the date of the appear- 
ance of Julien's celebrated book on Chinese porcelain, down to the pres- 
ent time, almost any period of Chinese civilization has been claimed as 
the one responsible for its "invention." From its exalted position in 

^ Ts'ien Han shu, Ch. 30, p. 32 b. By the way, it may be remarked that in 
A.D. 906 the name of the city Ts'e-chou was changed in writing into ^fli , while 
in 916 the old character 1^ was restored {T'ai pHng huan yii ki, Ch. 56, p. 10 b). 

io8 Beginnings of Porcelain 

the Han dynasties proclaimed by Julien, it was relegated to the begin- 
ning of the Sung dynasty (a.d. 960) by E. Grandidier;^ and all this 
glory ended in its final degradation into as late a period as that of the 
Ming. Mr. E. A. Barber, Director of the Pennsylvania Museum in 
Philadelphia, one of the most serious students of pottery in this coun- 
try, gives vent to this growing pessimism in the following observation: 
*'The consensus of opinion among conservative students at the present 
day, after divesting the subject of all sentimental considerations, is that 
true porcelain first appeared during the Ming dynasty, which would 
not carry it back of the fourteenth century. No examples of actual 
porcelain, that can with certainty be referred to an earlier date, are 
known to collectors; and it is reasonable to suppose that had such ware 
been produced before that period, some few pieces at least would have 
survived. Indeed, it is extremely doubtful whether any actual examples 
antedating the fifteenth century can be found." ^ Mr. Barber, however, 
frankly admits that the Chinese themselves have classed all wares which 
possess great hardness and resonancy (which latter is an indication of 
vitrification) with porcelain, and that it is true that a porcelanous glaze 
was used to some extent before the general introduction of semi-trans- 
parent bodies. This concession points out that the subject may be 
viewed from different angles. There is, indeed, a twofold point of view 
possible and permissible, a European-American and a Chinese one. 
HoBSON,^ who possesses a large share of critical ability combined with 
true common sense and sane judgment, has clearly noticed this diver- 
sity. "The quality of translucency which in Europe is regarded as 
distinctive of porcelain is never emphasized in Chinese descriptions," 
he observes, and goes on to determine the difference between the 
Chinese and European definitions of the substance. Now, if this be 
true, every student capable of objective thinking must admit that it 
is a logically perverse procedtire to read "our" definitions of porcelain 
into what is called by the Chinese ts'e, but that for the correct appre- 
ciation of this term the Chinese viewpoint exclusively must be made 
the basis of oiu: investigation. In other words, the point simply is, 
that we must endeavor to understand what notion in the minds or in 
the fancy of the Chinese is conveyed by their term ts'e. If a bit of 
pottery is styled by the Chinese ts'e, yet is not true porcelain in our 
conception of the matter, we are obliged to give the Chinese credit for 
their appellation, and to get at their mode of reasoning. By rejecting 

^ La c6ramique chinoise, p. 16 (Paris, 1894). 

' Hard Paste Porcelain, Part first (Oriental), p. 7 (Philadelphia, 1910). 

' Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 148. 

Historical Observations and Conclusions 109 

this procedure we deprive ourselves of the opportunity of studying and 
grasping the development of this peculiar ware. By arguing that in 
the beginning the term ts'e connoted nothing but ordinary potiery, we 
close our eyes to the real issue, and act like the ostrich; in this manner 
we utterly fail to comprehend the process of evolution of porcelain. 
The early ts'e has now arisen, and is that ware which is the object of 
this article. I further make bold to say that in any ancient text down 
to the T'ang period, where the term ts^e may be encountered, it will 
invariably refer to a porcelain-like pottery which has some relationship 
to genuine porcelain, and that we shall not err in translating it by 
"porcelanous ware," or a similar expression. 


A disquisition on the beginnings of porcelain should take regard 
also of the question as to when and how those elementary materials 
that compose porcelain made their first appearance. Porcelain is a 
variety of pottery the body of which consists essentially of two in- 
gredients of earthen origin, that are fired together. These two sub- 
stances widely occur in nature, and are designated by us with their 
Chinese names, "kaolin" and *' petuntse." The former is a white 
clay, infusible, lending plasticity to the paste, and forming the body 
of the vessel. Geologically it originated through a gradual process 
of decomposition of granite and analogous crystalHne rocks.^ The 
latter is a. hard feldspathic stone, fusible at a high temperature, con- 
stituting the glaze and responsible for its transparency. 

The fact that kaoHn is used in the composition of Chinese porcelain 
has been unduly emphasized, or even exaggerated, by European his- 
torians of porcelain. Kaolin was heralded as a sort of important 
discovery, that led to the revolutionizing of the potter's art; and an 
inquiry into the time when Chinese authors begin to speak of the 
substance was even taken as a test for the beginnings of porcelain 
itself. This is not a correct conception of the matter. Kaolin is 
nothing but a natural clay, not of very unusual occurrence, and, in 
fact, has been utilized by potters outside of China without resulting in 
any porcelain-like product.^ Kaolin itself cannot make porcelain, 
and the presence of kaolin in the composition of a certain vessel does 
not constitute proof of its being porcelain. Kaolin shoidd not be 
confused with the kaolinite of which it is composed. The mineral 

1 See Prestwich, Geology, Chemical, Physical, and Stratigraphical, Vol. I, p. 48. 

2 Thus in India a white earthenware is made from a decaying white granite, 
which is carefully washed, and kneaded into a clay that produces a porous white 
ware. . . . This clay is in composition the same as the kaolin of China, and is very 
abundant in India (H. H. Cole, Indian Art in the South Kensington Museum, 
p. 201). The Singalese potter (in the same manner as his Chinese colleague during 
the T'ang period) uses kaolin as a white paint for decorating pottery (A. K. Cooma- 
RASWAMY, Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, p. 225; see also Watt, Dictionary of the Eco- 
nomic Products of India, Vol. II, p. 364). It is well known that kaolinic deposits 
are found in England, France, Germany, and North America, and are well known 
from many other parts of the world. As to America, compare, for instance, the 
interesting study of A. S. Watts, Mining and Treatment of Feldspar and Kaolin 
in the Southern Appalachian Regions (Bulletin No. 53 of the Department of the 
Interior, Bureau of Mines, Washington, 1913). 


Historical Notes on Kaolin hi 

kaolinite is the basis of kaolin, and theoretically pure kaolin would 
contain nothing but kaolinite ; but kaolinite is also the basis of nearly 
all common clays. In these it is mingled with larger or smaller quan- 
tities of various minerals by which its properties are more or less ob- 
scured. Hence the chemical examination of almost any burned pot- 
tery, even of common bricks and the crudest and cheapest of earthen- 
ware, will disclose the presence of derivatives of kaolinite which might 
be, and as a matter of convenience frequently is, interpreted as due 
to the presence of small quantities of kaolin, instead of larger quantities 
of ordinary clay containing kaolinite. It is quite certain that the 
bodies of many early Han pottery bits contain more or less kaolin or 
kaolinite, 3^et they are not porcelains. The utilization of kaolin for 
potter's work on a large scale is not a "discovery," but rests on experi- 
ence. It was incidentally fotmd, and its emplo5rment was gradually 
extended through a selective progress in the enrolment of materials. 

The distinctive structural character of porcelain is based on the 
combination of three elements, — a porous, opaque skeleton; a trans- 
parent, dense bond permeating the skeleton; and a thin, glassy glaze on 
the outside, which merges imperceptibly with the body. In typical 
porcelains the opaque, porous body is kaolin or aluminous derivatives 
therefrom, which, through their resistance to the effects of heat, sup- 
ply a rigidity that prevents the ware from deforming in the kiln. 
Also its opacity clouds the transparency of the other elements to 
translucency. The kaolin skeleton is permeated and bound together 
by a more fusible glass or enamel-like substance (petuntse), which 
makes the ware strong, impervious, and translucent. The glaze serves 
for the perfection and increased lustre of the surface. Kaolin alone 
makes a ware which is porous, fragile, and opaque. Petuntse alone 
softens in the kiln, and runs together into a lump. 

For the lover of art the salient and distinctive points in porcelain 
are the glaze and its organic combination with the body. The body, 
as a rule, is invisible: it is the glaze that is intended to appeal to the 
spectator and to convey an esthetic impression. 

F. HiRTH^ was the first to caU attention to a statement of the 
Taoist adept T'ao Hung-king (452-536), to the effect that in his time 
"white clay" (pat ngo fi M), or kaolin, was much utilized in painting,^ 

^ Ancient Chinese Porcelain, p. 131. 

2 What this means has not been explained by Hirth, who translated, "much 
used for painting pictures." It cannot be understood, of course, that kaolin was a 
pigment applied in pictorial art to paper or silk. Technically there are but two 
possibilities: kaolin may have been utilized in architectural painting for the decora- 
tion of walls, being applied to a colored background, or it may have been employed 

112 Beginnings of Porcelain 

and was low in price. This passage is found in the Cheng lei pen is*ao, 
a learned pharmacopoeia written by the physician T'ang Shen-wei, 
and first published in 1108. This text allows of the inference that 
porcelain clay was known in the latter part of the fifth or beginning 
of the sixth century; but I should not go so far as to conclude with 
Hirth that T'ao Hung-king "would have surely mentioned the use of 
porcelain earth in the manufacture of chinaware if in his time it had 
been so used on an extensive scale," and that "in the sixth century, 
when he wrote, the use of porcelain earth for pottery purposes was 
unknown." This argument, drawn from the mere silence of a writer, 
is not conclusive: it seems preferable to think, that, judging from the 
trend of his mind and the direction of his studies, the author was not 
at all interested in the subject of pottery. What attracted him were 
not the artifacts of men, but the substances and wonders of nature, 
that might reveal healing-properties for the benefit of his suffering 
fellow-men. Even in speaking of the application of kaolin to pictorial 
subjects or decorative designs, he does not mean to offer a contribution 
to technology, but he incidentally drops this remark by way of defini- 
tion, in order to render himself intelligible to his contemporaries as to 
the matter under discussion; for he says Hterally, "This [that is, the 
white clay here in question] is identical with that now largely utilized 
in painting, and low in price. Customarily it is but seldom admin- 
istered in prescriptions." ^ The subsequent works dealing with pharma- 
cology, while they give some notice to porcelain clay on account of its 

for the ornamentation of a surface in pottery vessels. The latter process is now well 
known to us through numerous specimens of the T'ang period. The Pen ts'ao kang 
mu of Li Shi-chen (section on clays, Ch. 7, p. i) has the reading hua kia yung ^^^ 
(instead of hua yung of the Cheng lei pen ts'ao), which means "used by painters." 

^ Hirth pointed out another text in the Cheng lei pen ts'ao, which, he stated, is 
quoted from the T'ang pen ts'ao, the pharmacopoeia of the T'ang period, compiled 
about the year 650. In the edition of the Cheng lei pen ts'ao before me, issued in 
1523 (Ch. 5, fol. 25), the passage in question, however, is cited from a work styled 
T'ang pen yii (that is, "Remains of the T'ang Herbal "), and introduced by the words, 
"The commentary says." I venture to doubt that this work T'ang pen yil is strictly 
identical with the T'ang pen ts'ao described by Bretschneider (Bot. Sin., pt. i, 
p. 44), especially for the reason that a quite different extract from the T'ang pen is 
quoted in the Cheng lei pen ts'ao shortly before this passage, and that in this work 
quotations from the former are constantly referred to the T'ang pen or T'ang pen chu 
(apparently the annotations of the drawings mentioned by Bretschneider). Be 
this as it may, there is no doubt that the text brought to light by Hirth comes down 
from the T'ang period. This is also the opinion of Li Shi-chen, who, in his Pen ts'ao 
kang mu (Ch. 7, p. 6 b), attributes the term "white porcelain vessels" {pai ts'e k'i) 
to the Pen ts'ao of the T'ang. In the text translated by Hirth occurs a clause which 
he rendered, "During recent generations it has been used to make white porcelain." 
HoBSON (Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 146) has proposed a new transla- 
tion of this passage, which reads, "During recent generations it has been prepared 

Historical Notes on Kaolin 113 

alleged medicinal properties, yet maintain strict reticence in regard 
to porcelain vessels, though these were positively known at the time 
of their publication, for the simple reason that this topic was beyond 
their scope. Neither the Cheng lei pen ts'ao nor the Pen ts'ao kang mu 
discusses porcelain, but both books are content to recommend prescrip- 
tions of kaolin for certain complaints. While Su Kung upholds that 
of Ting-chou, and Li Shi-chen that of Jao-chou (in Kiang-si), as par- 
ticularly efficient, this is merely the outcome of a more speciaHzed 
medical subtlety. 

It would likewise be preposterous to assume that T'ao Hung-king 
is the first author to mention kaolin. On the contrary, he is forestalled 
by at least one predecessor. The work Pie lu,^ which existed prior to 
his time, as quoted in the Pen ts'ao (/. c), states that "white clay {pai 
ngo) originates in the mountains and valleys of the district of Han-tan 
M f P,2 and that it may be gathered at any season." This restriction 
to a single locality certainly does not betoken the scarcity of the mate- 
rial, which is indeed common in many localities: it reflects solely the 
limitations of local experience. Under the Sung we hear from the lips 
of Su Sung that this variety of clay was then ubiquitous, and was 
throughout used by the people for the washing of their clothes.^ This 
view is confirmed by Li Shi-chen, who observes that white clay occurs 
everywhere, and is employed for the baking of white pottery vessels. 
However common the occurrence of kaolin in China may be, the fact 

from white ware." From a grammatical point of view this translation is perfectly- 
correct. It is, however, somewhat difficult to understand why the pharmacists of 
the T'ang period should have extracted kaolin from finished ceramic products, even 
though it was only from fragments of such, if kaolin could so easily be obtained in 
nature; or it is conceivable also that kaolin inherent in pottery was vested with more 
efficient magical and increased healing-power, as it had undergone a transmutation 
in the furnace. We have to know more about the development of alchemy in China 
before we may hope to settle many interesting questions and beliefs connected with 

^ See Chinese Clay Figures, p. 135, note 4. 

2 It comprised what now forms the two prefectures of Kuang-p'ing and Cheng-te, 
in the southern part of Chi-li Province, and in particular referred to Ts'e-chou. In 
ancient times it was the capital of the state of Chao (Chavannes, M6moires his- 
toriques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. II, p. 92). It is an attractive suggestion of Hobson 
(/. c, p. 147), that the kaolinic deposits of Han-tan should have supplied material 
for the Ting-chou potters. 

^ K'ou Tsung-shi, in his Pen ts'ao yen ioiii 16 (Ch. 6, p. ib; ed. of Lu Sin-yuan), 
makes the same observation, adding that the substance was made into square blocks 
sold in the capital under the name "white earth powder" ( pai t'ufen ^ i, ^ )• 
According to the Ling piao lu i (Ch. a, p. 4; ed. of Wu ying tien) by Liu Siin of the 
T'ang period, a white and greasy earth was gathered north of the city of Fu chou 
'g j\\ (in the prefecture of Wu-ch'ang, Hu-pei) and traded over southern China, 
where the women used it as a face-powder. This probably was a kind of pipe-clay. 

114 Beginnings of Porcelain 

remains that this observation is only the result of later periods, and 
that in times of antiquity the knowledge of it was much restricted, and 
attached to but few places. The wondrous book of geographical fables, 
the Shan hat king, mentions it in two passages. One is embodied in 
the chapter on the "Mountains of the West" (Si shan king ffi til fi), 
saying that on the south side of the mountains of Ta-ts'e there is plenty 
of clay.^ The other contains the notice, in the chapter on the ''Moun- 
tains of the Centre" {Chung shan king 4* Uj K), that ''in the midst 
of the mountains of Ts'ung-lung there are many great valleys in which 
there is plenty of white clay; apart from the latter, there are also 
black, dark blue, and yellow clays." ^ Kuo P'o adds that also varie- 
gated clay is said to occur. Whether the two texts are of ancient 
date, I do not venture to decide: they are quoted as early as the Sung 
period by Su Sung (a distinguished scholar, and editor of the materia 
medica T'u king pen ts'ao), in his discussion of kaolin, which he winds 
up by remarking that solely the white clay is medicinally employed. 
Personally I am under the impression that the Shan hai king, in the 
version which is now before us, is not older than the Han period, and 
doubtless contains also many post-Han interpolations. I would cer- 
tainly not base on this work any chronological conclusions as to the 
term pai ngo. 

The Chinese explanation of the term ngo is interesting, because it 
has led to the formation of a new word. The character M is com- 
posed of the classifier zh ('earth') and the phonetic element 56. The 
latter enters also into the formation of the character ^, which like- 
wise has the sound ngo or ngu ('evir). Li Shi-chen^ is therefore led 
to the following speculation: "Since the normal color of earth is yellow, 
white must be considered as an evil color in earth; hence it was called 
ngo [that is, 'evil earth']. Subsequent generations tabooed this word, 
and changed it into pai shan fi # [that is, 'the white good one']." 
The notion of "wicked earth" is elicited by punning, the two words 
M and ^ being homophonous. This jocular interpretation must 
have existed as a popular tradition since ancient times, since the result 
of it, the opposite term pai shan, is said to have occurred in the Pie lu, 
K'ou Tsung-shi, whose Pen ts'ao yen i was published in iii6, styles 
kaolin "white good earth." This was under the Sung, when the 
porcelain industry received a powerful stimulus. The term pai shan 

^::^^^llj^^^^ (Ch. I, p. 27b; of the edition printed in 1855 at 
Shun-k'ing, Sze-ch*uan). The character ^.according to the commentary of Kuo P'o 
(276-324), is to be read ngu (or ngo), explained as "earth of very white color." 

'mi&it\h%^^iz'^^»nmWi^'Mm (ch.2.p. 15b). 

' Pen ts'ao kang mu, Ch. 7, p. i. 

Historical Notes on Kaolin 115 

S ^ is met with as early as the T'ang period (618-906), in the min- 
eralogical glossary Shi yao erh ya ^ M M Si, compiled by Mei Piao 
tS ^ in the period Yuan-ho (807-82 1).^ Here it is given as a synonyme 
of kan Vu "H^zh C 'sweet earth"), on a par with other synonymes for 
this term, which are pai tan S W-j tan tao fir M, and Vu tsing dt M 
("essence of earth"). At an earlier date we find the term shan in the 
Buddhist dictionary Yi tsHe king yin i -^ ■© ft ^ ^,2 compiled by the 
monk Yuan Ying 7C M about a.d. 649, who explains it as shan fw # zb 
C'good earth"), and identifies it with ''white clay" {pai Vu S db) 
and ngo. The most interesting point is, that this author cites the 
Wu p"u pen ts'ao ^^'^^ to the effect that the term pai ngo has a 
synonyme in the form pai shan fl ^¥. According to Bretschneider,^ 
the Wu p'u pen ts'ao was written by Wu P'u under the Wei dynasty in 
the first half of the third centtuy a.d. If the definition, as handed 
down by Yuan Ying, was really contained in this work, we should 
have a formal testimony for the knowledge of kaolin in the third 
century. The case was presumably such, that in the T'ang era, when 
the excellent qualities of kaolin were first recognized, the transforma- 
tion of the word took effect, and ultimately resulted in a new charac- 
ter formed with the word shan S as phonetic element, and the classifiers 
'earth' dh or 'stone' S. The taboo announced by Li Shi-chen cannot 
have taken serious dimensions, for the ceramic authors of the Manchu 
dynasty perpetuated the word ngo^ and abstained from the word shan. 
In a poem of Se-ma Siang-ju, entitled Tse sU fu -J^ & ^ * ochre 
and white clay {che ngo jS M) are spoken of as natural products of 
Sze-ch'uan.^ The attribute "white" is not in the text, which merely 
offers the word ngo; but Chang Yi 36 tS, the author of the dictionary 
Kuang ya ^ Si, who lived in the first part of the third century a.d., 

* Reprinted in the collection Pie hia chai (Ch. A, p. 4). 

" Ch. 17, p. 2 (edition of Nanking). Regarding this work see Julien, Histoire 
de la vie de Hiouen Tsang, p. xxiii; Wylie, Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 211; 
Watters, Essays on the Chinese Language, p. 52; Bunyiu Nanjio, Catalogue of the 
Tripitaka, No. 1605. 

* Bot. Sin., pt. I, p. 40. 

* Shi ki, Ch. 117, p. 2 b. The poet died in 117 B.C. 

' They are Hkewise mentioned as products of that region (Shu) in the Hua yang 
kuo chi (Ch. 3, p. I b, ed. of Han Wei ts'ung shu). Under the year 991 there is 
mentioned in the Sung Annals the pictorial decoration of a palace by means of the 
same two substances. The same term appears in Lie-tse (Wieger, Les p^res du 
syst^me taoiste, p. 104), when King Mu built a palace for a juggler, who had come 
from the farthest west. This chapter of Lie-tse (and probably many others), in 
my opinion, comes down from the Han period; and this conclusion is confirmed 
by the term che ngo which does not occur earlier than that time. The work of 
Lie-tse is first mentioned in the TsHen Han shu (Ch. 30, p. 12 b). 

ii6 Beginnings of Porcelain 

comments on this passage, that ngo has there the meaning of "white 
clay'' {pai ngo), which, he adds, is identical with the term pai shan 
used in the Herbals {pen ts'ao), so that what he means is doubtless 
kaoHn. Also Yen Shi-ku (579-645), annotating the same word in the 
Han Annals, states that '4t is identical with what is now called 'white 
earth' {pai fu).^' It is interesting that these Confucian scholars of 
the third and sixth centuries respectively were acquainted with kaolin, 
thus following suit with their Taoist colleagues; but it appears rather 
doubtful whether the term, as used in the Annals of Se-ma Ts'ien, can 
really be credited with the significance ''kaolin." There is no other 
testimony to this effect (leaving aside the dubious Shan hai king) in 
the Han period; and, be this as it may, the passage in question is not 
conclusive, the substance ngo being mentioned solely as a product of 
nature, without any allusion to human exploitation. In the Glossary 
of the T'ang Annals the term ngo is interpreted as "white earth" 
{pai fu S ±)} 

In the T'ang period, kaolin formed also a desirable article for tribute 
or taxes to the Court, which certainly means that it was employed in 
the manufacture of pottery. The Wu ii ki ^Mt^ ("Records of the 
Land of Wu"), by Lu Kuang-wei 1^ ^ IS, written at the end of the 
ninth century, mentions the mountains of Hang K Uj as hoarding 
white earth that resembles jade and is very resplendent, and that the 
people of Wu, who gathered it, sent as tribute tmder the name pai 

Passing beyond the Han period, we find the word ngo employed in 
times of antiquity, but in a peculiar sense, qmte distinct from the later 
significance "potter's clay." In the early period it was strictly an 
architectural term, and implied a function falling within the province 
of a mason. This ancient significance is acknowledged by the dic- 
tionary Erh ya, which, in its section concerned with the nomenclature 
of bmldings, states that ngo is the designation for a whitewashed wall; 
and the dictionary Shi ming S ^ , by Liu Hi SJ SS of the Posterior 
Han, is still more explicit on this point, as evidenced by the annotation 
that the wall is first raised from mud, and then invested with a coating 
of lime.' The Shuo wen explains the term as "white plaster" {pai Vu 
S f^). The principal office of the word was that of a verb, with the 

^ T*ang shu shi yin, Ch. 5, p. 20. 

' According to the Gazetteer of the Prefecture of Su-chou (Su chou fu chi, 
Ch, 20, p. 15b), kaolin is still dug on the Yang-shan near Su-chou to a depth of a 
hundred feet. 

'^?E;^^liASKf$;^'& (-^A* ^t^f, section 5, p. 8; ed. of Kingsiin Vang 
ts'ung shu or Han wet ts*ung shu). 

Historical Notes on Kaolin 117 

meaning "to plaster or whitewash the floor or the walls of a house.'* 
This is particularly evidenced by the verb yu ^ ("to blacken"), 
its opposite, to which it is closely linked in order to express the per- 
formance of a religious ceremony during the period of mourning. 
The mourner was obliged to dwell in an unplastered earth hut for two 
years. After the sacrifice in the commencement of the third year, the 
ground of his cot was blackened, and the walls were whitened, — a 
rite simply expressed by the compound yu ngo S^ S.^ In the same 
chapter of the "Book of Rites" in which this practice is mentioned, 
the same word ngo occurs in a somewhat different usage. The dwell- 
ing specially erected for the mourner is styled ngo shi M S, a term ex- 
plained as "a hut made of unbumt bricks or earth pise and not plas- 
tered," and used in the Li ki four times. The mourner was compelled 
to divest himself of all comfort, and to relapse into the most primitive 
habitation of early times. The term ngo shi, accordingly, means liter- 
ally "earth house;" and during the archaic period, ngo designated 
"loam, mud, or clay fit for building-purposes." Simultaneously, 
however, it was applied also to chalk or limestone, denoting the process 
of coating a coarse wall with a layer of white. In this sense it is utilized 
also by Chuang-tse in regard to the whitening of one's nose.^ Since 
the word ngo, which is still defined by the Shuo wen as "white plaster," 
originally referred to clay and chalk at the same time, the early Chinese 
do not seem to have clearly discriminated between the two substances. 
The term pai ngo, which adopted the meaning "kaolin" in the post- 
Christian era, is still used to convey the notion of "chalk," while a 
stricter terminology formulates for the latter such compounds as shi 
ngo ^ M ("stone clay"), ngo hui M M ("clay Hme"), or pai Vu fen 
U ±W ("white earth powder ").3 

One point stands out clearly, — that in the archaic period the word 
ngo signified "loam and chalk used in building," and was appropriate 
to the activity of the mason, but that it neither denoted potter's clay 
nor had any relation whatever to the work of the potter. The main 
point to be borne in mind is, that there is no reference to "white clay" 
{pai ngo) in any authentic document of the Han period, — a fact thor- 
oughly corroborated by archaeological evidence. The "white clay," 

1 Li ki, ed. Couvreur, Vol. II, p. 240; translation of Legge, Vol. II, p. 192. 

^Ch. 24, § 5; see the edition of L. Wieger, Taoisme, Vol. II, p. 420. It is 
notable that the stage-fool still appears in China with his nose whitened; and the 
figure of an actor represented by a T'ang clay statuette in the Museum collection 
is thus characterized. 

^ See F, DE M£ly, Lapidaires chinois, p. 99; F. Porter Smith, Contributions 
towards the Materia Medica of China, p. 58. 

ii8 Beginnings of Porcelain 

or "kaolin," makes its first appearance in the Pie lu, an early Taoist 
work of uncertain dat^, and preserved only by way of quotations in 
subsequent pharmaceutical literature. This lacune in our knowledge, 
however, is no matter of great concern for the history of porcelain, 
for that work contains no allusion to pottery. Chang Yi and Kuo P*o 
of the third century appear to have been familiar with kaolin; likewise 
Wu P'u, the author of a materia medica under the Wei (p. 115). The 
medical Hterature of the T'ang period is, and thus far remains, the 
earliest source to convey an allusion to white porcelain produced from 
kaolin. Prior to that time, this substance seems to have found applica- 
tion chiefly in medicine, and as engobe on pottery. It probably played 
a r61e also in alchemical experiments. There is every reason to believe 
that it was the nature-loving and drug-hunting professors of Taoism 
who first experimented with this clay, and this accounts for the fact 
that the subject has found its way into the pages of the Shan hai king. 
What the share of the Taoists was in the initial stages of porcelanous 
ware, or whether a share in it is due to them at all, we have as yet no 
means of ascertaining. That they had a share in it, however, is more 
than probable, since the preparation of clays and glazes is a matter of 
chemistry; that is, in ancient times, of alchemy (see also p. 142). 

It is obvious that no forcible conclusion as to the date of porcelain 
can be deduced from a consideration of the history of kaolin. It is 
notable, however, that it was known at least in the third century a.d. ; 
and this chimes in with my dating of the early kaolinic ware in the 
same period. Once more we see that for the history of porcelain w© 
have to depend on archseological evidence. 

It is unfortunately impossible to outline a similar sketch of the 
history of petuntse, or porcelain stone; but it is not surprising that 
the Chinese have preserved no historical notes regarding this substance. 
It is simply a feldspathic rock, for which no other than the general 
designation "stone" {shi ^) exists. It is a general error to believe 
that the mass itself is styled by the Chinese "petuntse" (properly, 
pai tun-tse S ^ "?), an error chiefly propounded by A. J. C. Geerts.^ 
JuLiEN^ was somewhat astonished at the expression, sa3dng that the 
Chinese authors who wrote on porcelain fail to explain the sense of the 
word tun ^. K'ang-hi's Dictionary does not ascribe to the latter any 
mineralogical significance; in fact, it has none whatever, and is never 
used by Chinese writers on mineralogy. The character in question is 

1 Les produits de la nature japonaise et chinoise, Vol. II, p. 376 (Yokohama, 

' Histoire et fabrication de la porcelaine chinoise, p. 122. 

Historical Notes on Kaolin iig 

merely substituted as an easy and convenient abbreviation for tun 
%, which means, as Giles rightly says, "a square block of stone. "^ 
The term pat tun-tse^ therefore, simply signifies "white briquette," and 
certainly is one of a purely commercial, not mineralogical character: 
it relates to the color and shape of these blocks, as they are traded from 
the places of production to the centres of porcelain manufacture. Our 
mode of applying the term "petuntse" to the material, therefore, 
is wrong. The fact that this rock, which enters into the manufacture 
of porcelain, was roughly known to the Chinese long before the time 
of this specific employment, cannot reasonably be doubted. 

1 In the second edition of his Dictionary, Giles has justly placed the term 
"petuntse" under this character (No. 12205). 


We know at present as a fact that glazed pottery first appeared in 
China during the Han period, and that the process of glazing earthen- 
ware was unknown in pre-Han times. The Han potter's art was 
revolutionized, as we have seen, by the adoption of this new technique, 
which finally resulted, toward the middle or the close of the third cen- 
tury, in the production of a peculiar porcelanous glaze, the forerunner 
of true porcelain. Porcelain being universally considered as a truly 
Chinese invention, the broader question may now be raised. Is the 
invention of glazing, the technical foundation of porcelain, wholly 
due to the genius of the Chinese, or was the impetus received from an 
outside quarter? R. L. Hobson^ has made the following general 
reply to this query: "Though supported by negative evidence only, 
the theory that the Chinese first made use of glaze in the Han period 
is exceedingly plausible. In the scanty references to earlier wares 
in ancient texts no mention of glaze appears, and, indeed, the severe 
simplicity of the older pottery is so emphatically urged that such an 
embellishment as glaze would seem to have been almost undesirable. 
The idea of glazing earthenware, if not evolved before, would now be 
naturally suggested to the Chinese by the pottery of the Western 
peoples with whom they first made contact about the beginning of the 
Han dynasty. Glazes had been used from high antiquity in Egypt; 
they are found in the Persian bricks at Susa and on the Parthian 
coffins, and they must have been commonplace on the pottery of west- 
ern Asia two hundred years before our era." I am of the same opinion, 
that Chinese knowledge of glazing is derived from the West, and 
propose to discuss this problem on the following pages. I hope to 
enlist all the available facts in the case, so as to place our theory on a 
solid historical foundation. 

The course of my investigation is as follows. The home of glass, 
glazed pottery, and faience, was Egypt and the anterior Orient; and 
the reputation of this ware spread to Rome under the name "murrine 
vessels." The latter subject, being still of a controversial nature, is 
of especial importance in this connection, as it shows us the high appre- 
ciation and expansion of glazed ware over the Mediterranean area at 

1 Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 8. 


Introduction of Glazes into China 121 

a period synchronous with the coming into existence of this pottery 
in China. This synchronism is not accidental, but is due to the wide 
fame and diffusion of this novel process in the Far East. It will then 
be set forth from Chinese records how the Chinese became acquainted 
with it in consequence of their contact with the Roman-Hellenistic 
Orient; how the materials required for the technique were propagated 
to India, Cambodja, and China, and in what manner they were turned 
to practical use by the ancient Chinese. 

If I venture to dwell here at some length on the much-disputed 
murrine vases of the ancients, the main reason for this invasion of 
foreign territory is that this subject seems to me to embody an essential 
chapter in the history of the art of glazing, which allows us to grasp 
clearly the significance of its eastward migration. My further line of 
defence rests on various attempts made by older and more recent 
authors to interpret the murrine vases as having been Chinese porce- 
lain; and in further vindication I may point to two sinologues who in 
the first part of the nineteenth century participated in the discussion 
of this problem, — Joseph Hager and Abel-Remusat. The former^ 
endeavored to prove in a hardly convincing manner that the substance 
of which the murrines were made was identical with the jade of the 
Chinese; while the latter ^ combated this opinion, and conclusively 
demonstrated that Chinese nephrite does not at all correspond to 
the description given by Pliny of the miurine vases. The chief argu- 
ment which runs counter to this theory, and which has not been stated 
by Abel-R^musat, is that ancient Chinese jade objects have as yet 
not been traced in any country of classical civilization, and that nothing 
is on record in regard to such a trade, either in Chinese or classical 
documents. Moreover, the provenience of the murrines, as indicated 
by Pliny and the Periplus Maris Erythraei, must not be disregarded: 
they came from Egypt, Persia, and India, and were chiefly productions 
of Persia. In none of these countries have we any evidence as to the 
occurrence of Chinese jade pieces in ancient times.* 

In a study devoted to the beginnings of porcelain in China, in which 
an attempt has been made to determine more exactly the first appear- 
ance of porcelanous ware on Chinese soil, a word may be permitted 

1 Description des medailles chinoises du Cabinet Imperial de France, pp. 150-168 
(Paris, 1805). 

2 Histoire de la ville de IQiotan, tir^e des annales de la Chine et traduite du 
chinois; suivie de recherches sur la substance min^rale appelee par les Chinois 
pierre de lu, et sur le jaspe des anciens, pp. 195-208 (Paris, 1820). 

' More recently the nephrite hypothesis with reference to the murrines has been 
reiterated by A. von Nordenskiold (Umsegelung Asiens und Europas, Vol. II, p. 230). 

122 Beginnings op Porcelain 

with reference to the theory that the murrines might have been porce- 
lain of Chinese origin. This view predominated in Europe for three 
centuries, till it yielded to still more fantastic ideas in modem times. 
Jerome Cardan (Hieron^nnus Cardanus), the Italian mathematician 
(1501-76), is to be regarded as the father of the porcelain theory. 
In his work "De subtilitate rerum" (Niirnberg, 1550, p. 119), he 
made the assertion, "Sunt autem myrrhina ea, quae hodie vocantur 
Porcellanea," and supported it by the explanation that they had 
come to western Asia from China, the country of the Seres, and that 
whatever does not fit in with them in the description of Pliny became 
subsequently altered in the manufacture of these vessels. Julius 
Caesar Scaliger (1484-15 5 8) concurred with him in this opinion, and 
only reproached his predecessor for having advanced his statement in 
too timid a fashion. His son, the great scholar Joseph Justus Scaliger 
(1540-1609), inherited and accepted his father's verdict. Whatever 
we may think of the view of the two Scaliger, it remains interesting, 
as it was at their time that porcelain gradually became known in 
Europe; and this fact may certainly have reacted on the shaping of 
their opinion. 

In the eighteenth and the beginning of the nineteenth century, the 
old opinion that by " the murrines " should be understood porcelain, was 
revived by P. J. Mariette* and by E. H. Roloff,^ the latter a physi- 
cian, whose work is accompanied by notes and additions at the hands 
of Ph. Buttmann. The theory of Cardanus and Scaliger was here 
defended afresh and with circvunstantial detail, and seemingly with 
such success that it maintained its place for some twenty-five years, 
until F. Thiersch^ brought about the victory of the mineralogical 
theory, and replaced the murrines of porcelain by murrines of fluor-spar. 
Roloff and Buttmann based their argtunentation pre-eminently on 
the famous passage of Propertius in which are mentioned "murrine 
cups baked in the kilns of the Parthians" (murreaque in Parthis pocula 
cocta focis), that without any doubt refer to ceramic productions. 
They utterly failed, however, to furnish any exact and logical evidence 
for their proposed identification of murrines with porcelain, which 
was merely a preconceived idea, or nothing more than their personal 
impression in the matter. They argued that this porcelain must 
have come from the land of the Seres, China, where it is exceedingly 

1 Traits des pierres gravies, Vol. I, p. 219 (Paris, 1750). 

2 Wolf's and Buttmann's Museum der Alterthumswissenschaft, Vol. II, pp. 519-572, 

'tJber die Vasa murrina der Alten (Abhandlungen der bayerischen Akademie, 
i835» pp. 443-509). 

Introduction of Glazes into China 123 

ancient, and must accordingly have been exported as early as in 
times of antiquity, and certainly to Persia, whence the murrines were 
imported to Rome. For a brief period it would have seemed as 
though the alleged discovery of Chinese porcelain bottles in Egyp- 
tian tombs might lend support to such an opinion; but for a long 
time we have known that the whole story amounts to a not very 
clever fraud.^ 

When the murrine vases were identified with porcelain, European 
knowledge of the history of porcelain in China was still in its infancy 
and of the vaguest character; and if a subject is obscure or little known, 
speculation is usually rife, and the almost incredible is readily accepted. 
In 1857 Bostock and Riley ^ still commented on the murrines, that 
modem writers differ as to the material of which these vessels were 
composed; that some think that they were of variegated glass, and 
others of onyx, but that the more general opinion is that they were 
Chinese porcelain. The last view has never entirely lost its ground, 
and still counts adherents in this country. In the ''New Standard 
Dictionary," published by Funk and Wagnalls of New York in 1913, 
we read, under the article "murrine vases," "porcelain vases brought 
from the East to Rome." 

The present investigation allows us to settle this problem definitely. 
It is out of the question that the murrine vessels were Chinese porce- 
lain, since at the time when the former were traded from the Orient 
to Rome nothing like porcelain existed on this globe. We have seen 
that ceramic products with porcelanous glaze do not come up in China 
earlier than the latter part of the third century a.d., and that anything 
of the character of true porcelain cannot be pointed out before the 
sixth century. The vasa murrhina, however, are mentioned consider- 
ably earlier than these two dates. They were first brought to Rome 
in 61 B.C. by Pompey, who, after his triumph, dedicated cups of this 
description to Jupiter Capitolinus. Pompey himself had obtained them 
from Mithridates. Augustus appropriated a single murrine vessel 
from the treasure of Queen Cleopatra, which is cited as an instance 
of his moderation.^ In the time posterior to Pompey, the murrines 
became more frequent in Rome, and aroused a passion for them among 
the upper four hundred. Classical Roman literature does not make 

1 Compare S. Julien, Histoire et fabrication de la porcelaine chinoise, 
pp. xi-xxn; F. Hirth, Chinesische Studien, pp. 45-48; N. Rondot, On the Chinese 
Coins and Small Porcelain Bottles found in Egypt {Journal China Branch R. As. 
Soc, Vol. XXXII, 1897-98, pp. 66-78). 

2 The Natural History of Pliny, Vol. VI, p. 392. 

3 Suetonius, Augustus, 71. 

124 Beginnings of Porcelain 

any mention of them; they are foreign to the works of Cicero and Varro, 
as well as to the poems of Horace, Ovid, and Vergil. Propertius (bom 
about 49 B.C.) is the first to make a distinct allusion to them. They 
are further mentioned by other poets, like Statius, Juvenalis, and 
Martialis. Pliny is the only one to give a somewhat more detailed, 
though insufficient, description. The first centuries preceding and 
following our era, accordingly, were the period when the murrines 
formed the fashion of the day in Rome; and porcelain was not then 
made in China. The Chinese records relative to the Roman Orient 
and Persia are reticent as to trade in pottery; and the fact remains 
that in Persia, India, Egypt, Greece, or Rome, has never been dis- 
covered a specimen of Chinese porcelain of such age that could lay 
claim to being regarded as murrine.^ 

In the light of our present knowledge, the porcelain hypothesis 
must be characterized as a failure, and as being doomed to oblivion. 
The efforts of the men, however, who formulated their thoughts along 
this line, have not been entirely futile; for, as it so frequently happens, 
error will ultimately lead us to the knowledge of truth. The champions 
of porcelain murrines were quite correct in the pursuit of one point of 
view, — that the murrines were of pottery, not, as has been asserted, 
of a mineral substance. Their fundamental error lay mainly in the 
rash manner in which they jumped at the conclusion that Chinese 
pottery was involved; while we plainly have to adhere to the fact, 
transmitted to us by the ancients, that the murrine vessels were wrought 
in the Empire of the Parthians, and that, as stated by Propertius, they 
were baked or fired in Parthian furnaces. They were consequently 
products of Iranian pottery; and the peculiar coloration described by 
Pliny obviously hints at a beautiful and elaborate glazing which was 
brought out on those vessels. My thesis, accordingly, is that the 
famed murrines of the ancients were highly-glazed pieces of Oriental, 

^ Even under the Han, the potter's craft, which in that period had without any 
doubt developed into an art, possessed no more than purely local significance, and 
merely catered to the home consumption of the small community for whose benefit 
the produce was turned out. It seems certain that no inland trade in pottery was 
then developed, still less was there an exportation of the article. It is notable 
that Se-ma Ts'ien, in his famous dissertation on the "Balance of Trade" (Shi ki, 
Ch. 30, translated by Chavannes, M6moires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. Ill, 
pp. 538-604), describing the remarkable efforts of the Han in the second century 
B.C. toward a regulation of the factors of wealth and commerce, does not make 
any allusion to potters or pottery as an article of trade. Neither do we meet, in 
the historical documents of the Han bearing on foreign relations, any mention of 
such export-ware. The incidental mention by Se-ma Ts'ien of "a thousand jars 
(kang) filled with pickles and sauces," adverted to also in the T'ao shuo (Bushell, 
Description of Chinese Pottery, p. 93), is without significance. 

Introduction of Glazes into China 125 

that is, Iranian or Persian and Egyptian, pottery. This conclusion 
directly restilts from the documentary evidence which the ancient 
authors have left us. It will be demonstrated at the same time that 
the substance murray of which the murrine vases were made, cannot 
have been a mineral of any sort. 

The Latin word murra (less correctly murrha, myrrha), from which 
the adjectives murreus (murrheus, myrrheus) and murrinus are derived, 
was adopted from the Greek morrion (in Pausanias) and the adjectival 
form murrinosj used in the Periplus.^ The real significance of this 
word is as yet unexplained. Certain it is that it is neither Latin nor 
Greek, but was handed down from the Orient with the objects which 
it served to designate. Roloff was the only one to attempt an ex- 
planation of the peculiar term by inviting attention to a Russian word, 
muravay which denotes "glazed pottery." The defenders of the 
mineralogical hypothesis have naturally rejected this point of view 
without giving reasons why it should not be acceptable.^ Yet this 
opinion is worthy of serious consideration. If it can be proved that 
the murrines were glazed pottery vessels, there is a great deal of prob- 
ability in the conviction that the word murra applies to their most 
striking feature, the glaze. The Russian word pointed out by Roloff 
indeed exists. It is recorded in all good Russian dictionaries. Vladi- 
mir Dal,* the eminent Russian lexicographer, notes it in the forms 
murdva^ muravd, and wwr, with a dialectic variant mUrom (or marom')*' 
used in the Governments of Pskov and Tver, and interprets it as the 
glaze applied to the surface of a pottery vessel. Besides this word, the 
Russian language avails itself of the loan-word glazur (derived from 
German Glasur) and the indigenous word-formation poliva for the 
connotation of the same idea. The words mur and murava, not to 
be foimd in any other Slavic or European language, are not derived 
from any Slavic stem, but, like other Russian culture-words, are bor- 
rowings from an Iranian language. The onomasticon of Ancient 
Iranian is but imperfectly preserved; and the word mur a or murra^ 
which has doubtless existed in that language, has not been handed 
down to us in an Iranian literary monument; although a survival of 
it, in all probability, is preserved in Persian morly miirl, or murU, 

1 The readings morrinos, myrrinus, also occur (see the edition of B. Fabricius, 
pp. 42 and 90) ; but murrinos merits preference. 

2 F. Thiersch, /. c, p. 457. 

' Dictionary of the Living Great-Russian Language, Vol. II, col. 939 (in Russian 

* The accent after m is intended to express the palatalization of the labial nasaJ 
m (soft or mouille m.) 

126 Beginnings of Porcelain 

meaning ''small shells" or "glass beads.'* ^ The conjecture is therefore 
admissible, that Greek morrion (aside from its Greek ending) is an 
Iranian loan-word, and that the Iranian prototype had the significance 
"glass paste, glaze." ^ 

The earliest author to speak of murrine vessels is the poet Propertius 
(born about 49 B.C.), in one of his elegies (IV, 5, 26), in which a pro- 
curess tries to allure an inexperienced lass by promising her all the 
wealth of the Orient, like purple robes, dresses from Cos, urns from 
Thebae in upper Egypt, and mtu-rine goblets baked in Parthian fur- 
naces, — 

Seu quae palmiferae mittunt venalia Thebae 
murreaque in Parthis pocula cocta focis. 

The most biased adherents of the mineralogical hypothesis were obliged 
to concede that mineral vessels coiild not be understood in this pas- 
sage: no one would be likely to say regarding a mineral that it is cooked 
or baked. Nor is it necessary to press the verb coquere into a forced 

^The Persian word mind signifies "enamel" and "glass, glass bead, goblet." 
It is very probably connected with Young-Avestan minav, "necklace, ornament" 
(Bartholomae, Altiranisches Worterbuch, col. 11 86). The Persian morl ("glass 
bead") is found also in the language of the Abdal or Tabarji in northern Syria 
(A. VON Le Coq, Baessler-Archiv, Vol. II, 1912, p. 234). 

^ Also the Russian designation for Chinese porcelain, farfor, is derived from 
Iranian. In the allied Slavic languages we have Ruthenian faifurka, Bulgarian 
farfor and farforiya, Polish farfura (in dialects faifura; farfurka, farforka, and faforka 
with the meaning "vessel, plate of stoneware"). The same word is found in Neo- 
Greek as farfuri {(i>6Lp<i>ovpi) and in the same form in Osmanli (in other Turkish 
dialects, /ar/wr«; W. Radloff, Worterbuch der Tiirk-Dialecte, Vol. IV, col. 1914). 
The Russian lexicographer Dal is unable to account for the Russian word, and 
doubtfully refers it to a Turkish source of origin. E. Berneker (Slavisches etymo- 
logisches Worterbuch, p. 279) proposes to derive the Slavic words from Osmanli 
fag fur, which means "title of the Chinese sovereign; name of a region in China 
which was celebrated for its porcelain; Chinese porcelain; porcelain in general, 
vases made from it." It must be understood, however, that this word is not Turkish 
in origin, but Persian, and was borrowed by the Osmans from the latter language. 
For a long time we have known that fagfur is the Persian term designating the 
Emperor of China (d'Herbelot, Biblioth^que orientale, Vol. Ill, p. 320), and it 
was d'Herbelot who first pointed out that the Turkish name for porcelain, fagfuri, 
was adopted from the Persian title fagfur (see also Yule's Marco Polo, Vol. II, 
p. 148). The older form is pakpur or pakur (in the form Pakurios preserved by 
Procopius, the Byzantine historian of the sixth century, in his De bello persico, i, 5). 
Masadi (translation of A. Sprenger, Vol. I, p. 326) was familiar with the correct 
significance of the term, explaining it as "Son of Heaven." It is accordingly a 
literal rendering of the Chinese title T'ien-tse ("Son of Heaven"), claimed by the 
sovereigns of China since times of old, the ruler receiving his mandate from the 
supreme deity Heaven and governing the world in his name. Persian fag is evolved 
from bagh (corresponding to Sanskrit bhaga), and signifies "God" ("Bagdad" 
signifies "gift of God"); Persian /wr, bur (Sanskrit putra) means "son." Also in 
Persian, fagfuri chlnt and fagfuri relate to Chinese porcelain. 

Introduction of Glazes into China 127 

meaning, so as to conform it with a process to which a mineral could 
be subjected; for, as has been shown by H. Blumner,i it is the verb 
utilized in regard to the burning or baking of bricks and all fictile ware 
in general. 

The fundamental passage in Pliny relative to the murrine vessels 
runs as follows: — 

"The Orient sends the murrine vessels. They are found there in 
several localities which otherwise have no special reputation,^ for 
the most part in places of the Parthian Empire; excellent ones, how- 
ever, in Carmania. The opinion prevails that the humidity* con- 
tained in these vessels is solidified by subterranean heat. In size 
they never exceed the small sideboards (abaci); in thickness, rarely 
the drinking-vessels, which are as large as previously mentioned. 
Their brightness is not very powerful, and it is a lustre rather than 
brilliancy. Highly esteemed, however, is the variety of colors, with 
their spots changing into shades of purple and white; these two tinges, 
again, result in a third hue resplendent, through a sort of color-transi- 
tion, as it were, in a purple or milky red. Some laud profusely in 
them the edges and a certain iridescence of the colors, such as are 
visible in the rainbow. Others are pleased by oily spots: translucency 
or pallor is a defect, and likewise are salt grains and warts, which are 
not projecting, but which, as in the human body, are depressed. Also 
their odor is commendable."'* 

The account of Pliny is vague. One point is conspicuous and quite 
certain, that he had no opinion of his own to offer on the subject. As 
illustrated by the application of such phrases as "putant, sunt qui, 
aliis placent," he simply reiterates second-hand information which he 
had picked up from unnamed sources, most probably from oral accounts 
circulated by traders in the article. Most likely, these stories were 

1 Technologic und Tcrminologie, Vol. II, pp. 19, 44. 
' Or, in little-known localities. 

• There is no reason to take the word umor, as has been done, in the sense of 
"moist substance." 

* Oriens myrrhina mittit. Inveniuntur ibi pluribus locis nee insignibus, maxime 
Parthici regni, praecipua tamen in Carmania. Umorem sub terra putant calore 
densari. Amplitudine nimiquam parvos excedunt abacos, crassitudine raro quanta 
sunt potoria. Splendor est iis sine viribus nitorque verius quam splendor. Sed in 
pretio varietas colorimi subinde circumagentibus se maculis in purpuram can- 
doremque et tertium ex utroque, ignescente veluti per transitum coloris purpura 
aut rubescente lacteo. Sunt qui maxime in iis laudent extremitates et quosdam 
colorum repercussus, quales in caelesti arcu spectantur. lam aliis maculae pingues 
placent — tralucere quicquam aut pallere vitium est — itemque sales verrucaeque 
non eminentes, sed, ut in corpore etiam, plerumque sessiles. Aliqua et in odore 
commendatio est (xxxvii, 8, §§21, 22). 

128 Beginnings of Porcelain 

directly imported from the Orient, together with the ware. This 
assumption is a necessary postulate in the case; and it is evident also 
that Pliny was ignorant of the real nature of the murrines, for he neg- 
lects to state what their actual character was. He fails to give a plain 
and matter-of-fact definition of the material, or to classify it in any 
known category of objects. True it is, he placed his article in his book 
on stones; but this only justifies us in concluding that Pliny regarded 
the murrine vases as possibly of stone, but not that they really were 
of stone. The opponents of the pottery theory forget that pottery 
is composed also of mineral substances, that we ourselves speak of 
stoneware, and that many a piece of stoneware is so hard that it is 
difficult enough to distinguish it from stone. Pliny must have been 
in the same quandary, and therefore did not commit himself to a frank 
utterance. This attitude of restraint is conclusive, and at the outset 
is conducive to two inferences. The substance murra was neither a 
mineral nor pure glass, for both were perfectly familiar to Pliny and 
his contemporaries. Why, if the murra plainly was of a mineral nature, 
should the learned and experienced naturalist not have unequivocally 
avowed this fact? The murra can have been but a most striking and 
novel material, which heretofore had been foreign to the Romans, and 
which, owing to the very novelty of its character, greatly puzzled them. 
Pliny discusses in this chapter the murrine vessels, as they were 
sent to Rome from the Orient, in the shape of manufactured articles. 
In the preceding chapter he dilates on their first introduction and 
their excessive valuation, and tells of renowned individual cups. Natu- 
rally he is now bound to say what these sensational and luxtirious 
objects looked like. He certainly does not intend to describe here the 
substance murra, alleged by some interpreters to have been a species 
of stone. The same interpreters, however, are agreed that in Chapter 7 
the word myrrhina (eadem victoria primum in urbem myrrhina invexit) 
refers to murrine vessels, and not to the mineral of which they are 
alleged to have been made; and it is therefore obvious, also, that in 
the beginning of Chapter 8 the same word, myrrhina, must refer to 
exactly the same murrine vessels. Pliny means to convey the mean- 
ing that the murrine vessels came to Rome from the East. According 
to Thiersch, it was not the vessels, but the mineral, which was im- 
ported; but unfortunately he fails to inform us where and how the 
mineral was wrought. Pliny does not say that the vessels were carved 
in Rome from an imported substance, but he does plainly state that 
they were first brought to the metropolis by Pompey. Thiersch^ 

* L. c, p. 471. 

Introduction of Glazes into China 129 

sets forth the opinion that Pliny opens the description of the *' mineral" 
by speaking of its size and thickness, then passes on to the description 
of the surface, its brightness, its colors and their play, and winds up 
with remarks on the properties of the mass. It would be impossible 
to unite more absurdities in a single sentence. The dimensions, accord- 
ing to Thiersch, are exactly stated by the terms amplitudo and cras- 
situdo; and the murra was a mineral, and, as Thiersch insists, fluor- 
spar. This mineral, consequently, was quarried in regular blocks of 
constantly equal dimensions, — a really astounding feat! Fluor-spar 
or fluorite crystallizes in the isometric system, commonly in simple 
cubes; this fact could not have escaped Pliny, had he ever had an 
opportunity of examining this mineral, which is not at all mentioned 
by him nor by any other ancient writer.^ There is, moreover, no 
evidence that fluor-spar occurs in Persia, where the murrine vessels 
were made. There is no evidence that fluor-spar vessels were ever 
turned out in Persia, and, above all, no such vessels have ever come 
to light among classical antiquities. They did not survive, because 
they never existed, save in the imagination of nineteenth century 
writers.^ But does our Pliny, indeed, speak of any mineral? There 

1 See this volume, p. 62. 

* Thiersch himself is not the originator of this fancy. He attributes (p. 495) 
the germ of the idea to an Enghsh scholar signing himself "A. M." in the Classical 
Journal of 1810 (p. 472), who, after having seen vases carved from fluor-spar of 
Derbyshire in his time, persuaded himself that the murrine cups should have been 
composed of the same material, — an opinion presented without an iota of evidence. 
According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica (Vol. X, p. 578), F. CoRSi, the eminent 
Italian antiquary, held that fluor-spar was the material of the famous murrine 
vases; Corsi, however, followed Thiersch. H. Blumner (Technologie, Vol. Ill, 
p. 276), reviewing the various opinions, observes that this theory has recently been 
strongly contested; he himself believes in the mineral character of the vessels, for 
which weak arguments are given. It is astounding with what high degree of tenacity 
the unfounded opinion of fluor-spar vessels could hold its position in the face of the 
bare fact that no such vessels ever existed in ancient Persia, Egypt, or in classical 
antiquity, and have never come to light. Guhl and Koner (Leben der Griechen 
und Romer, p. 699, 6th ed., 1893) adhere to this explanation, and, while admitting 
that we do not possess vessels which can positively be identified with murrines, 
point to a semi-transparent bowl found in Tyrol in 1837, which should probably be 
one. This supposition, however, conflicts with the fact that the murrines were 
not at all transparent, as shown by a distich of Martial (iv, 86): Nos bibimus vitro; 
tu murra, Pontice: quare! prodat perspicuus ne duo vina calix. In the Century 
Dictionary it is justly remarked under "murra," "The principal objection to this 
theory is that no fragments of fluor-spar vases have been found in Rome or its 
vicinity." M. Bauer (Edelsteinkunde, 2d ed., p. 653) sensibly states that there 
is no positive and sufficient evidence for the allegation that the murrines were of 
fluor-spar; but neither is there any more evidence for his own opinion, that they 
may have been of chalcedony quarried in Ujjain in India. E. Babelon (in Darem- 
berg and SagHo, Dictionnaire des antiquites grecques et romaines, Vol. II, p. 1466) 
says, "Nous ne savons pas siirement ce qu'etait cette matiere precieuse qui servait 

I30 Beginnings of Porcelain 

is no sense in speaking of dimensions with reference to a raw mineral. 
Certainly nobody would compare the size of a mineral with a piece of 
furniture, and its thickness with a drinking-cup. The use of the 
word potoria demonstrates that our author, alluding to the costly 
vessels mentioned in the previous chapter, understands drinking- 
vessels likewise in this passage. 

Any one who has had any experience in reading Chinese texts 
relative to pottery or porcelain will be deeply struck by a certain 
kinship or affinity of terminology that prevails in the latter and in the 
Plinian tradition of murrines. No statement or attribute used in 
this text contradicts the opinion that ceramic stoneware is here in 
question. On the contrary, some words, indeed, are as well chosen 
as though they were directly derived from a ceramist's vocabulary, 
and are well apt to uphold my theory. The effect of the changing 
colors produced by the heavy glaze could not be better described than 
by Pliny's style. Every lover of Chinese pottery who reads this pas- 
sage intelligently will confess that he has many times had this delightful 
experience of observing color changes and transitions, as well as the 
rainbow iridescence which we so greatly admire in the ceramic pro- 
ductions of the Han. Translucency as a defect is intelligible only in 
pottery: it refers to a thin glaze that allows of the transparency of 
the clay body. "Oily spots" {maculae pingues) is a felicitous ceramic 
expression; likewise is "salt grains and warts." ^ 

h. fabriquer les c^lebres vases murrhins. La description quelque peu obscure que 
Pline donne des vases murrhins ... est entremM6e de fables et elle ne s'adapte 
parfaitement bien ni k des coupes d'agate ou de sardonyx, ni a des coupes d'ambre 
ou de pAtes vitreuses, ni enfin a des coupes de jade, comme le pensent quelques 
critiques." Leaving aside the vitreous pastes, this statement is perfectly fair. — 
L. DE Launay (Min^ralogie des Anciens, Vol. I, p. 85) quotes a writer on onyx as 
saying, that, despite the similarity of descriptions, the murrines were not of onyx 
or sardonyx: "Si Tune ou I'autre de ces pierres avait €t€ le murrhinum, les Anciens 
auraient certainement donn6 aux vases murrhiens, le nom de vases d'onyx ou de 
sardonyx, au lieu qu'ils ont distingu6 express6ment les vases m.urrhiens d'avec 
ceux f aits de Tune, ou de I'autre des pierres susdites. " " The onyx has been proposed, 
but our authorities plainly imply that the onyx was a material akin to but yet dis- 
tinct from that here in question" (W. Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman 
Antiquities, Vol. II, p. 182). Other speculations in regard to the murrines were 
advanced, to the effect that they were made of a gum, or formed from shells. Others 
referred to obsidian. Veltheim proposed Chinese soapstone. "No mineral has been 
suggested which answers exactly to Pliny's description,. and at present the problem 
is unsolved" (Smith, /. c), — sufficient reason for assuming that Pliny's description 
does not answer to any mineral. 

1 The sales (this is the only passage in Pliny where sal is used in the plural) 
were presumably identical with what the Chinese ceramists praise in the Ting porce- 
lain of the Sung period, which exhibited vestiges of tears (Julien, Histoire, p. 61); 
those with tear-marks were even considered as genuine (Eitel, China Review, 
Vol. X, p. 311, and Vol. XI, p. 177; Hirth, Ancient Chinese Porcelain, p. 141). 

Introduction of Glazes into China 131 

As regards the pleasant odor which PHny accredits to the murrines, 
this is intelHgible only if the question is of pottery; scented minerals 
or glass are not conceivable. We are informed by Athenseus (XI, 
p. 464 b) that the clay in the ceramic export- ware of Koptos in Egypt 
was blended with aromatics before the process of baking; and Aristotle 
follows him in this account. In the Greek papyri of the second cen- 
tury A.D. are mentioned fragrant vessels {evoidrj /cepdjuta) which were 
possibly turned out in this manner.^ 

In the two chapters following the one in question, Pliny deals with 
crystal: the introductory sentence contains a reference to the mur- 
rines. He adopts the popular notion that crystal is a sort of petrified ice, 
and occurs only in cold regions where the winter snow freezes intensely .* 
A cause opposite to the one producing the miirrines, accordingly, makes 
crystal which assumes form through a process of somewhat vehement 
congelation.^ This observation hints at the previous sentence, "Umor- 
em sub terra putant calore densari." The murrines are a product of 
heat, crystal is that of cold. This remark shows that murrines and 
crystals are not allied, but adverse substances; and this contrast be- 
lieved to prevail between the two may be one of the reasons why they 
formed a favorite compound of speech. 

Passing on to a discussion of amber, our author informs us that 
this natural product takes rank next among articles of luxury, though 
the demand for it is restricted to women, and is held in the same regard 
as precious stones; but whereas no evident reason can be conceived for 
this appreciation of amber, the reason is manifest for the two former 
substances, the crystal vases lending themselves to cold beverages, 
the murrine vases to hot and cold ones alike.* The former notion 

* T. Reil, Beitrage zur Kenntnis des Gewerbes im hellenistischen Agypten, 
p. 41 (Leipzig, 1913). A reddish, odoriferous clay (Portuguese and Spanish bucaro, 
Italian bucchero) was much in use for pottery during the eighteenth century. 

' This does not restrain him from stating immediately that the Orient sends 
crystal, and that none is preferred to that of India. The Buddhist monk Yuan 
Ying (Yi tsHe king yin i, Ch. 22, p. 2; see above, p. 115) was more discriminative on 
this point. Speaking of rock-crystal, and mentioning the theory that it should 
originate from ice a thousand years old, he points out that there is no ice in the 
scorching heat of India, and that accordingly Indian rock-crystal is not a transforma- 
tion of ice, but merely a kind of stone. See also T'oung Pao, 1915, p. 190. 

* Contraria huic causa crystallum facit, gelu vehementiore concreto (xxxvii, 9, 

* Proximum locimi in deliciis, feminarum tamen adhuc tantum, sucina optinent, 
eandemque omnia haec quam gemmae auctoritatem; sane priora ilia aliquis de 
causis, crystallina frigido potu, myrrhina utroque; in sucinis causam ne deliciae 
quidem adhuc excogitare potuerunt (xxxvii, 11, § 30). Compare J. H. Krause, 
Pyrgoteles, p. 90. The passage is somewhat equivocal, owing to the uncertainty 
as to what omnia haec is intended to refer. It may point to the various kinds of 

132 Beginnings of Porcelain 

directly results from the supposed cold nature of crystal; and murra, 
being the outcome of heat, must be well adapted for holding hot drinks, 
or, as the case may be, for cool liquids. The distinction here made 
by Pliny seems to me to add another weight of proof adverse to the 
opinion that the murrines were of stone; it is not probable, at least, 
that any stone cups served for hot beverages, while pottery, and heavily 
glazed pottery in particular, is a material well suited to such a purpose. 
Aside from the main chapter, Pliny devotes a brief sentence to the 
subject (XXXIII, 2, § 5), in his notice on gold, by saying that "from 
the same earth [where gold and silver are mined] we dug up murrine 
and crystal vessels, the very fragility of which is deemed to enhance 
their price" (murrina ex eadem tellure et crystallina effodimus, quibus 
pretium f aceret ipsa f ragilitas) . The passage has materially contributed 
to the notion that murra^ in the same manner as crystal, should 
be a natural substance extracted from under the ground. '"Here," 
F. Thiersch (p. 460) remarks, ^^crystallina evidently does not mean 
crystal bowls and cups, since the latter are not dug out of the soil, 
but crystal masses from which they are made; and for this reason the 
parallelism of the words murrina et crystallina, as well as the application 
of effodere and invenire, compel us to asstmie that murrina is likewise 
used in Pliny with regard to the substance of the vessels, the murra; 
and Pliny means to say that the murra, in the same manner as crystal, 
is found beneath the earth and dug up." This conclusion is artificial, 
and by no means cogent. We all know that not only minerals, but 
also objects manufactured by human hand, are dug up from the soil; 
and there seems no valid objection why Pliny's words coiild not be 
construed to mean that murrine and crystal vases have been turned 
up from the soil as the result of excavations. This was not neces- 
sarily Pliny's own opinion, but it may have been the outcome of a 
story transplanted directly from the Orient; and in part this report 
may well have had a foimdation in fact. The passage may signify 
also that the mineral substances employed in the manufacture of the 
murra were dug up from the soil. It must be directly connected with 
the sentence, "Umorem sub terra putant calore densari," discussed 
above. The pottery vessels were baked in an underground kiln, 

amber, as has been translated above; or to the previously mentioned murrines 
and crystals, with the inclusion of amber. The following priora ilia would seem 
strongly to favor the latter point of view. In that case, Pliny would say that mur- 
rines, crystal, and amber enjoy the same consideration or esteem as precious stones. 
It cannot be read, of course, into this context, that the three materials were classified 
among gemmae, and that for this reason murra was a precious stone; on the con- 
trary, the passage means that this in fact was not the case, and only that the three 
were regarded as of the same value as precious stones. 

Introduction of Glazes into China 133 

where the humidity of the cla3rish substance was solidified by artificial 
heat, and thus they were extracted from the soil (e tellure effodimus) ; 
or the vessels, after being perfectly finished, were intentionally buried 
under ground to produce an oxidation of the glaze, which resulted in 
that well-known iridescence and the rainbow colors accentuated by 
Pliny. Much ado has been made by the adherents of the mineralogical 
hypothesis about the juxtaposition of murrine and crystal vases in the 
relevant passage and in another to be cited presently: this fact has 
been regarded as one of the strongest btilwarks of the mineralogical 
defence, which, however, is piu-ely illusory. The union of the two 
products, previously alluded to, was mainly dictated by commercial 
considerations, since both were received from the Orient: this is the 
opinion of Pliny, and no other motive guided him in the choice of this 
expression. On concluding his chapter devoted to the murrine vases, 
he passes on to the topic of crystal, and notes that "the Orient likewise 
sends us crystal, that of India being preferred, and it originates like- 
wise in Asia."^ The clause "oriens et hanc mittit," owing to the addi- 
tion of the particle "et," forcibly points to the beginning of the pre- 
ceding chapter, "Oriens myrrhina mittit." For the reason that the 
Orient despatched murrine as well as crystal vessels, they were entmier- 
ated and discoursed in close succession and combined in speech into a 
compound of pleasing rhythm. There is no valid reason why we 
should conclude, that, because the names of the two products are 
allied, the mvirrine vases must have been of mineral character .^ Similar 
compounds are found in all languages without giving rise to such 
forced conclusions. We are wont to speak of the tea and porcelain 
of China as the most characteristic products reaching us from that 
country; but no one means to imply that tea must be a substance 
related to porcelain, or that porcelain must be a kind of tea. The 
Chinese couple jade with porcelain to denote objets de vertu worthy of 
the collector, and the substances with which both are concerned are 
as congenial as murrines and crystal. And who will guarantee that 
the crystal vases shipped from the Orient, according to Pliny, were all 
of real rock-crystal? They may have been partially of glass as well.^ 
The price of the murrines was enhanced by their frailty, — again 
an attribute that thoroughly fits pottery, and most assuredly is not 

1 Oriens et hanc mittit, quoniam Indicae nulla praefertur; nascitur et in Asia 
(xxxvn, 9, § 23). 

' We shall meet the same alliance in the Chinese texts relative to the Hellenistic 
Orient, where crystal (including also cut glass) and faience were closely joined in 

' H. BLtJMNER, Technologic, Vol. Ill, p. 250, note 6. 

134 Beginnings of Porcelain 

applicable to agate, fluor-spar, or any other stone with which these 
vessels have thoughtlessly been identified. The murrines were fragile 
and delicate: Pliny adduces several examples testifying to this fact. 
A man of consular rank used to drink from a murrine cup, and, from 
sheer love of it, wore out its edge, resulting in an upward tendency of 
its value. This good man surely did not possess iron teeth to break 
through an agate or on5rx cup. Pliny himself beheld the broken frag- 
ments of a single cup, and tells the story of T. Petronius, who, on the 
verge of death from his hatred of Nero, broke a murrine basin ^ of 
great value. In another passage Pliny observes, ''With all our wealth, 
we even at present poiu: out libations at sacrifices, not from murrine 
or crystalline vessels, but from plain earthenware ladles." ^ This 
sentence occiu-s in the introductory part of a chapter dealing with 
works in pottery; and the contrast intended by the author between 
the rustic, unglazed, indigenous Italic earthenware and the pretentious, 
glazed, imported Oriental pottery is self-evident. The same discrimi- 
nation is insisted on in the further discussion of the subject when Pliny, 
expanding on the exorbitant prices paid for fictiles, laments that Ittxury 
has arrived at such a height of excess as to make earthenware sell at 
higher rates than murrine vessels.^ This comparison cannot be con- 
strued, as has been done by Thiersch,* as favoring the opinion that 
the murrhina were fundamentally different from fictilia, but it is intel- 
ligible only when both were productions of a cognate nature. 

Finally, Pliny enumerates murrines among the most valuable 
products derived from the interior of the earth, on a par with adamas 
(the diamond), smaragdus, and precious stones.^ H. Blumner^ re- 
gards this text as furnishing strong evidence in favor of the murrines 
being stones. In my opinion it is of no consequence. Also the passage 
relating to white glass in imitation of murrines^ is unimportant for 
our purpose; but it proves at least that the real murrines cannot have 
been purely of glass, as has been supposed by some authors. 

1 TniUa myrrhina, explained also as a ladle or scoop. 

' In sacris quidem etiam inter has opes hodie non murrinis crystallinisve, sed 
fictilibus prolibatur simpulis (xxxv, 46, § 158). 

' Eo pervenit luxuria, ut etiam fictilia pluris constent quam murrina (ibid., 
§ 163). 

*L. c, p. 470. 

* Rerum autem ipsarum maximum est pretium in mari nascentium margaritis ; 
extra tellurem crystallis, intra adamanti, smaragdis, gemmis, myrrinis (xxxvii, 78^ 
§ 204). 

• Technologic, Vol. Ill, p. 276. 
' Pliny, xxxvi, 67, § 198. 

Introduction of Glazes into China 135 

Hitherto the attempt has been made to extract the realities from 
the ancient traditions, and to interpret them without prejudice. It 
is more difficult to correctly judge the legendary ingredients by which 
they are incrusted, as we are unaware of the lore of the Orient which 
prompted such notions as are echoed in Pliny. An analogous field, 
however, might contribute a little to aid us in understanding some of 
this folk-lore. Nothing cotild better enlighten Pliny's account of 
murrines than a remembrance of the first experience which Europe had 
in regard to the newly-introduced Chinese porcelain. If the ancients 
were deeply impressed and perplexed by the thickly glazed faience of 
the anterior Orient, and may have mistaken it for stone, an interesting 
parallel is offered by the fact that in the inventory of the Duke of 
Anjou (1360-68) is found "une escuelle d'une pierre appel6e pour- 
cellaine," and, in that of Queen Jeanne d'Evreux (1372), **un pot k 
eau de pierre de pourcelaine."^ In these two cases, Chinese porcelain 
(corresponding to that of the Yuan period, 1 260-1367) is styled "a 
stone called porcelain." 

The beliefs of the ancients in an imderground substance from 
which the murrine vessels were made, receive a curious parallel from 
the fantastic notions entertained by early European writers as to 
the composition of Chinese porcelain. Barbosa^ wrote about 1516, 
"They make in this country a great quantity of porcelains of different 
sorts, very fine and good, which form for them a great article of trade 
for all parts, and they make them in this way. They take the shells 
of sea-snails, and egg-shells, and pound them, and with other ingre- 
dients make a paste, which they put underground to refine for the 
space of eighty or a hundred years, and this mass of paste they leave 
as a fortune to their children." In 161 5, Bacon said, "If we had in 
England beds of porcelain such as they have in China, which porcelain 
is a kind^of plaster buried in the earth and by length of time con- 
gealed and glazed into that substance; this were an artificial mine, 
and part of that substance" ... Sir Thomas Browne, in his 
"Vulgar Errors" (1650), asserted, "We are not thoroughly resolved 
concerning Porcellane or China dishes, that according to common 
belief they are made of earth, which lieth in preparation about an 
hundred years underground; for the relations thereof are not only 
divers but contrary; and Authors agree not herein" . . . These 
fables were refuted at the end of the sixteenth and seventeenth cen- 
turies by travellers who had occasion to make observations on the 

1 F. Brinkley, Japan and China, Vol. IX, Keramic Art, p. 371 (London, 1904). 

2 Yule and Burnell, Hobson-Jobson, p. 726. 

136 Beginnings of Porcelain 

spot. Juan Gonzalez de Mendoza,i who wrote in 1585, reiterated 
Barbosa's story, and (in the early English translation) called its valid- 
ity into doubt; for, if it were true, the Chinese, in his opinion, could 
not turn out so great a number of porcelains as is made in that kingdom 
and exported to Portugal, Peru, New Spain, and other parts of the 
world.* J. Neuhof,* who accompanied the embassy of the East India 
Company of the Netherlands to China from 1655 to 1657, scorns the 
"foolish fabulists of whom there are not a few still nowadays who 
made people believe that porcelain is baked from egg-shells pounded 
and kneaded into a paste with the white of an egg^ or from shells and 
snail-shells, after such a paste has been prepared by nature itself in 
the ground for some hundred years." The Jesuit, L. Le Compte,^ 
rectified this error by saying that "it is a mistake to think that there 
is requisite one or two hundred years to the preparing of the matter for 
the porcelain, and that its composition is so very difficult; if that were 
so, it would be neither so common, nor so cheap." These two authors 
were seconded by E. Ysbrants Ides.^ The analogy of the beUefs in the 
origin of murrines and porcelain is striking; and this fancy has doubtless 
taken its root in the Orient, whence crafty dealers propagated it in the 
interest of their business.® 

It woiild be presumptuous on my part to state positively what class 
of Oriental pottery should be understood by the murrines. The decision 
of this question must be reserved for the specialists in this field. Stu- 
dents of ancient ceramics seem to have already had a premonition of 
the identity of murrines with pottery.'' It may be permissible to point, 

1 History of the Great and Mighty Kingdom of China, Vol. I, p. 34 (Hakluyt 
Society, 1853). 

* This refutation of Mendoza, however, is not contained in the Spanish original, 
where it is said only, " Y esto fe a visto, y es mas verosimil que lo que dize cierto 
Duardo Barbosa, que anda en Italiano, que se haze de caracoles de mar, los quales 
se muelen, y los meten debaxo de tierra a afinarse 100 aflos, y otras cosas que agerca 
desto dize. La muy fina, nunca sale del Reyno, por que se gasta en seruicio del 
Rey, y Gouernadores, y es tan linda que parece de finissimo cristal. La mas fina, es 
la que se haze en la Prouincia de Saxij" (I. Gonzalez de Mendoca, Historia de 
las cosas mas notables, ritos y costumbres, del gran Reyno dela China, p. 25, Roma, 
1585). Saxij refers to Kuang-tung. 

' Gesantschaft der Ost-Indischen Gesellschaft, p. 96 (Amsterdam, 1669). 

* Memoirs and Observations made in a Late Journey through the Empire of 
China, English translation, p. 158 (London, 1697). 

' Driejaarige Reize naar China, p. 165 (Amsterdam, 1710). 

* E. Kaempfer (History of Japan, Vol. II, p. 369) alludes to another superstition 
prevalent in his time (end of the seventeenth century), that hvunan bones should 
form an ingredient of China ware. 

' E. Fourdrignier, Les 6tapes de la c^ramique dans I'antiquit^ {Bull, et Mim. 
de la Soc. d'Anthr., 1905, p. 239); he gives his opinion with great reserve, however. 

Introduction of Glazes into China 137 

en passant J to a remarkable find of pottery which offers a fair guaranty 
of being identical with the mnrrine vases. 

F. Petrie's discovery in 1909-10, at the south end of Memphis, of 
kilns for baking glazed pottery, with a large niunber of fragments of 
vessels, felicitously fills a gap in the early history of glazed ware, and 
speaks in favor of the presence on Egyptian soil of murrine vessels, 
and particularly even of Parthian murrine vessels. The date of Petrie's 
finds is calculated at a period between a.d. i and 50, a fragment of a 
lamp of known type permitting this conclusion.^ The principal tints 
of the glazed shards, which are remarkable for their coloring and their 
design, are a deep indigo blue, lighter blues, manganese purple, and 
apple green. The designs are almost entirely Persian, showing little, 
if any, direct Greek influence. Winged bulls, rampant beasts, 
"sacred tree," etc., all occtu*; and the problem arises whether this 
Persian character points to some Oriental revival of the art of making 
glazed pottery. In Diospolis, according to the Periplus,* miurines 
were imitated in glass; and this imitative manufacture presupposes 
the existence there of true pottery murrines which were taken as 
models. The Memphis pottery of Persian style due to Petrie per- 
fectly answers this purpose, as to both its technical properties and 
its chronology. 

Among Greek authors, the murrines are mentioned only by Pau- 
sanias and the Periplus. Pausanias (second century a.d.) recalls 
them merely in a passing manner. In the Arcadica (XVIII, § 5) 
he speaks of ''glass, crystal, murrine vessels, and others made by men 
from stone."' The idea that Pausanias speaks of vessels carved from 
stone is thoroughly excluded; he hints, on the contrary, at vessels 
turned out from products and devices of human labor. "Crystal" 
is probably nothing but cut glass; the union of the terms "crystal" 
and "miura" has already been discussed. "Glass" indeed belongs 
to the same category as "murra;" and the passage of Pausanias is 
sanely interpreted by the rendering, "glass, cut glass, and glazed 
pottery, and other products made by men from stone." 

In the Periplus Maris Erythraei, written approximately about 
A.D. 85,* the murrines are mentioned in three passages. In Chapter VI 

1 Compare O. M. Dalton, Byzantine Art and Archaeology, p. 608. 
' See below, and p. 138. 

*"TaXos yJkv ye Kal KpvcrdWos Kal fiop^ia kclL 6<ra efftlv dv^pcoTTOis ciXXa \idou 

* Compare the writer's Notes on Turquois in the East, p. 2, note. J. Kennedy 
(Journ. Royal As. Soc, 1916, p. 835) is now inclined to date the Periplus at about 
A.D. 70. 

138 Beginnings of Porcelain 

we meet "several kinds of glass and other murrine vases, which are 
made in Diospolis."^ The latter city is regarded as identical with 
Thebse in upper Egypt. Here the substance murra is designated as a 
kind of glass, but it is *' another '^ kind of glass, different from ordinary 
glass. There is no doubt in my mind that it denotes here the vitreous 
paste employed for the glazing of pottery, and this conclusion per- 
fectly agrees with all that we know about the thriving industries of 
ceramics and glass in Egypt of that period.^ 

Chapter XLVIII of the Periplus mentions the trade of Ozene, — 
that is, Ujjayini (Ujjain), — the chief city of Malva, in India, whence 
onyx-like and murrine stones^ are brought to the port Barygaza on 
the west coast. In the following chapter it is stated that these articles, 
among others, are exported from Barygaza. Again, in this case, we 
have not to understand by the murrine material a pure mineral of 
uniform character, but an artificial composition of partially mineral 
origin, tiimed to glazing-purposes, and introduced into commerce in the 
shape of cakes, which, on the surface, appeared to the uninitiated as a 
mineral substance resembling onyx. The Periplus thus opens our eyes 
to the fact that substances for glazing were traded as far as India, and 
this is confirmed both by Indian traditions and by the Chinese annals. 

The Chinese, indeed, were acquainted with the murra of the ancients; 
and Chinese records point in the same manner to the home of the sub- 
stance, — the anterior Orient, styled by them Ta Ts'in (''Great Ts'in"). 
The glassy paste for the production of ceramic glazes was called liu-li 
5K ^ (in the Han Annals ^ fil) or pH-liu-li, derived from Prakrit 
veluriyay Maharashtn verulia (Sanskrit vaidurya).'* The Wei liOj 

^At^tas vakijs irXelova yevrj Kal aWrjs fiovpplvrjs rrjs yivonkvrjs h AioffirdXa 
(ed. of B. Fabricius, p. 42). 

2 Compare T. Reil, Beitrage zur Kenntnis des Gewerbes im hellenistischen 
Agypten, pp. 37-50. The mass is well described by W. M. Flinders Petrie 
(Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt, p. 117): "Quartz rock pebbles were pounded 
into fine chips after many heatings which cracked them. These were mixed with 
lime and potash and some carbonate of copper. The mixture was roasted in pans, 
and the exact shade depended on the degree of roasting. This mass was half fused 
and became pasty; it was then kneaded and toasted gradually, sampling the color 
until the exact tint was reached. A porous mass of frit of uniform color results. 
This was then ground up in water, and made into a blue or green paint, which was 
either used with a flux to glaze objects in a furnace, or was used with gum or white 
of egg as a wet paint for frescoes." 

^ 'Owx^'^Tj Xi^ta Kal fiovpplvr). 

* Palladius (Chinese-Russian Dictionary, Vol. I, p. 367), our foremost authori- 
ty on Chinese lexicography, has given as the principal meaning of liu-li "glaze" 
(Russian glazur). Several writers accept the term liu-li in the too narrow sense of 
"glass" only, and construe a theory that quantities of glass vessels were imported 
at the Han time from the workshops of Syria and Egypt (for instance, S. W. Bushell, 

Introduction of Glazes into China 139 

written in the third centtiry a.d., attributes to Ta Ts'in ten varieties 
of liu-li, — carnation, white, black, green, yellow, blue, purple, azure, 
red, and red-brown.^ This extensive color-scale shows us that not a 
precious stone is involved (and with reference to India pH-liu-li or 
liu-li may well denote a variety of quartz or rock-crystaP), but an 
artificial, man-made product. This is clearly evidenced by other texts, 
in which the peculiar utilization of liu-li in Ta Ts'in is specified. Thus 
we are informed by the Tsin Annals that the people of Ta Ts'in use 
liu-li in the making of walls, and rock-crystal in making the bases of 
pillars. The Kiu T'ang shu reports that eaves, pillars, and window- 
bars of the palaces there are frequently made of rock-crystal and liu-li.^ 
Glazed faience for architectural purposes is doubtless alluded to in 
these two cases; and we face here the same combination of mtirra and 
crystal as we noticed in Pliny .^ It was almost at the same time, or only 
a little later, that the knowledge of glazed ware spread to the West 
and the Far East alike from the same focus. It thus was the knowl- 
edge of the highly-developed ceramic processes of the anterior Orient, 
at their climax in the second century B.C. or earlier, which was trans- 
mitted to China, and gave there the impetus to the production of glazes. 
The conception of liu-li as a precious stone is chiefly upheld in 
Buddhist texts; but in reading these with critical understanding it is 
obvious that something else is hidden behind this alleged stone. The 
Yi tsHe king yin i^ written by Yuan Ying about a.d. 649, states that 

Chinese Art, Vol. II, p. 17). Nothing of the kind, however, is to be found in the 
ancient Chinese texts, which, with reference to the Roman Orient, never mention 
any vessels of liu-li, but merely speak of a substance of that name, without any 
reference to objects made from it. This clearly indicates that no vessels of any 
sort were imported, but only pasty masses of various tinges which could be applied 
to pottery bodies. That liu-li has nothing to do with the production of glass, 
simply results from the fact that only as late as the fifth century a.d. did the Chinese 
learn from foreigners how to make glass. If glazed ware makes its appearance 
under the Han, it is obvious that it bears some relation to the liu-li originating from 
the Roman-Hellenistic Orient. 

1 HiRTH, China and the Roman Orient, p. 73. 

"^ See T'oung Pao, 19 15, p. 198. In the dictionary Kuang ya of the third century 
(Ch. 9, p. 5 b; ed. of Han Wei ts'ung shu) liu-li is classed with quartz {shui tsing 

^ HiRTH, /. c, pp. 44, 51. Hirth translates liu4i by "opaque glass;" but such 
walls and pillars of glass have not yet been discovered. 

* In Egypt, as early as 5500 B.C., glazing was applied on a large scale for the 
lining of rooms. Tiles have been found about a foot long, stoutly made, with 
dovetails on the back, and holes through them edgeways in order to tie them back 
to the wall with copper wire. They are glazed all over with hard blue-green glaze 
(W. M. Flinders Petrie, Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt, p. 108). 

•* Ch. 23, p. 12 b (see above, p. 115). This text has been adopted by the Fan 
yi ming i tsi (Ch. 8, p. 12 b; edition of Nanking). 

I40 Beginnings of Porcelain 

"the name liu-li or pH-Uu-li is derived from that of a mountain, and is 
said to be the precious stone of a distant mountain, which is the Sumeru 
of Buddhist cosmology. This jewel is of green (ff ) color. Altogether, 
all jewels cannot be injured, nor can they be melted and cast by means 
of blaze and smoke. Only the demons and spirits have sufficient 
strength to break them to pieces. There is further a saying that liu-li 
is the shell of the egg of the bird with golden wings.^ The demons and 
spirits obtain it and sell it to mankind." This Chinese text is the 
reproduction of a theme of Indian lore; and the tradition hints at the 
importation into India of a substance from abroad, which could be 
wrought only by demons (that is, foreigners) } The allusion to melting 
shows that it really could be melted; and the comparison with the shell 
of a bird's eggj which hints at a coating, is the best possible poetical 
metaphor for a ceramic glaze. It thus seems to me that the Sanskrit 
term vaidurya and its congeners originally denoted some semi-precious 
quartz-like stone, and were then transferred to the enamel glaze of the 
anterior Orient.^ 

Chinese tradition refers the earliest employment of liu-li to the 
reign of the Emperor Wu (140-86 B.C.) of the Former Han dynasty. 
It is said in the Annals of the Han that this sovereign despatched 
special agents over the sea for the purchase of the substance pH-liu-li} 
It was likewise known at that period that this article figured among the 
products of the country Ki-pin (Kashmir), which opened intercourse 
with China under the same emperor.^ 

It is notable that in the Han period objects were found under ground, 
said to have been made of liu-li , and that we have accounts of objects 
wrought from liu-li by Chinese craftsmen. Since glass was manu- 
factured in China only several centuries later, it cannot come here into 
question; and from the nature of these objects it follows that they 
cannot either have been of rock-crystal or lapis lazuli. In the biog- 
raphy of Hu Tsung iK ^ ^ it is narrated that Hu, during the life 

^ The saliva of this bird was believed to produce the gem mu-nan (see this 
volume, p. 70, note 3). It is the fabulous bird Garuda. 

^ It is a well-known fact that foreign tribes were characterized by the Aryan 
Indians as demons under such names as Nagas, Rakshasas, or Pigacas. 

• It is possible also that the Indian words are derived from a West-Asiatic 

* In the geographical chapter of the TsHen Han shu (Ch. 28 b, p. 17 b). 

^ Ts'ien Han shu, Ch. 96 a, p. 5. S. W. Bushell (Chinese Art, Vol. I, p. 61) 
dates the appearance of glaze in China only from the Later Han dynasty 
(a.d. 25-220). 

' San kuo chi, Wu shu, Ch. 62. See also Yu yang isa tsu, Ch. 11, p. 4 (ed. of 
Pai hai). 

Introduction of Glazes into China 141 

time of Sun K'uan M ^ (a.d. 181-252), while digging the ground, 
found a copper or bronze chest two feet and seven inches long, the 
cover of it being made of liu-li (iS^tf^ESHK-tl-^i^eS:^ 
M S). This bronze vessel evidently was of Chinese make; and the 
only reasonable supposition is that the cover was of glazed ware, the 
whole affair coming down from the Former Han dynasty. Sun Liang 
M ^, who died in a.d. 260, a son of the aforementioned Sun K'uan, 
made a screen of liu-li.^ 

In the Han wu ku shi ^ ^ Sfc ^ (that is, "Old Affairs relating to 
Wu of the Han Dynasty") it is on record that Wu was fond of the 
gods and genii, and erected in their honor sanctuaries the doors of 
which were coated with a white glaze {pai liu-li & ^§ ^) that reflected 
its light afar. The Emperor Ch'eng (32-7 b.c.) built the palace Fu- 
t'ang M, M K for Chao Fei-yen, and had the doors glazed green.* 
In the same manner, liu-li is combined with the names for pottery ves- 
sels: thus we read about ** glazed wine-cups" {liu-li chung Sft^M)* 
and glazed bowls {liu-li wan $5).* The Chinese hardly ever made use 
of glass for practical household purposes. Pottery was always the 
article they preferred. Wine being taken hot, glass was prohibitive 
for wine-cups. The same holds good for tea. Glass beads were the 
only article of practical utility to the Chinese. Those who have 
written on glass in ancient China, merely by consulting Chinese sources, 
seem to have never seen antique glass or collections of Chinese glass. 
When the making of glass became known to the Chinese, they began to 
cut and polish it in its hard state; that is, they treated it in the same 
manner as hard stone, and applied to it the principles of their glyptic 
art. Glass became the domain of the carver, of a rather limited art- 
industrial importance, but it never had any practical bearing upon the 

1 Ku kin chu "jS" '^ ffi (^h. c, p. 5 b; ed. of Han Wei ts'ung shu). A fantastic 
description of this screen is given in the Shi i ki 1*^ 5^ f fi (Ch. 8, p. 6; ed. of Han 
Wei ts'ung shu). There are several other allusions to such screens of liu-li, which 
in my opinion were made of a thin wall of clay coated with a glaze. 

2 T'ai p'ing yii Ian, Ch. 808, p. 4. Several writers have conceived the windows 
and doors of this palace as being made of glass (for instance, A. Forke, Mitt. Sent, 
or. Spr., Vol. I, p. 113); but we do not know that window-glass existed at the same 
time in the Western world. Scanty remains of window-glass have been found only 
in Pompeii and Herculaneum, but no extensive use was ever made of it in the time 
of the Roman empire. In western Asia no window-glass was made, and accordingly 
no export to China could take place. Aside from this point, I would be disinclined 
to believe in the possibility of transporting window-glass from the Orient to China 
at that time. 

» Tsin shu, Ch. 45, p. 8. 

* Yiian kien lei han, Ch. 364, p. 31 b; glazed dishes for eating in Tsin shu {T'ai 
p'ing yii Ian, Ch. 808, p. 4 b). 

142 Beginnings of Porcelain 

life of the people. Certainly, the term liu-li refers also to opaque 
glass, especially from the fifth century onward. If in 519, under the 
Emperor Wu of the Liang dynasty (502-520), Khotan sent to China 
a tribute gift of liu-U pitchers {liu-li ying ®),^ these may be con- 
ceived of as glass as well as of glazed pottery. In other passages the 
exact significance of the term remains doubtful, as in the case of a 
saddle of brilliant white liu-li, which in the dark emitted light at the 
distance of a hundred feet, and which is mentioned in the Si king tsa ki 
® ^ H Ifi 2 among presents sent to the Emperor Wu from India. Here 
we have a fabiilous echo of traditions that were exaggerated by later 

It is a significant fact that the reign of the same Emperor Wu is 
characterized by the sudden rise of alchemy and chemical notions and 
experiments;^ and this novel line of thought is certainly connected with 
the western expansion and the newly-opened trade-routes across 
Central Asia inaugurated by the same sovereign. In the Greek alchemi- 
cal papyri we meet the oldest technical recipes for the fabrication of 
glass and enamels, and technical treatises on glass.'* Aeneas of Gaza, 
a Neo-Platonic philosopher of the fifth centiuy, represents glass directly 
as an alchemical transmutation from a baser to a nobler material by 
observing, "There is nothing incredible about the metamorphosis of 
matter into a superior state. In this manner those versed in the art 
of matter take silver and tin, change their appearance, and transmute 
them into excellent gold. Glass is manufactured from divisible sand 
and dissoluble natron, and thus becomes a novel and brilliant thing. "^ 
We have a few intimations to the effect that liu-li was appreciated also 
by the Chinese alchemists. Tung-fang So obtained multi-colored 
dew and placed it in glazed vessels, which he offered as a gift to the 
Emperor Wu.^ The famous alchemist Li Shao-kiin ^ -^ ^, whose 
life and deeds have been narrated by Se-ma Ts'ien, is said to have 
repaired the brilliant-white liu-li saddle of Wu mentioned afore, when 
this saddle was once broken during an imperial hunting-expedition; 
he availed himself of pieces of bone, which were joined by means of a 
thin, sticky substance, with such good effects, that no damage could be 

* Liang shu, Ch. 54, p. 14 b. 

2 Ch. 2, p. 2 b (ed. of Han Wei ts'ung shu). 

^ See particularly Chavannes, M^moires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. Ill . 
p. 465. 

* M. Berthelot, Introduction a I'etude de la chimie des anciens et du moyen 
age, pp. 200, 202; Les Origines de ralchimie, pp. 123, 125. 

^ M. Berthelot, Origines, p. 75. 
^ T'ai pHng yii Ian, Ch. 808, p. 4 b. 

Introduction of Glazes into China 143 

perceived even in broad daylight.^ When the ancient Chinese litera- 
ture on alchemy shall have become as accessible as the Greek, Arabic, 
and European records of this ancient science, the subject in question 
will doubtless receive further elucidations. 

While liu-li was imported into China from the Hellenistic Orient 
over the established trade-routes across Central Asia, and from Kash- 
mir, another source of supply was represented by Cambodja, which, 
as we know, was in intimate commercial relations with India, and 
received from there the products and merchandise of western Asia. 
In the Calendar or Chronological Tables of the Cotmtry of Wu {Wu It 
i^ M), by Hu Ch'ung lS9 #,2 it is on record that in the fourth year of 
the period Huang-wu M S (a.d. 225), Fu-nan ^ S (Cambodja) and 
other foreign countries sent envoys to China with gifts of liu-li} Ac- 
cording to another version of the same text, this event would have 
taken place in the period Huang-lung ^H (229-231).'* This text 
contains the mention of the first embassy from Fu-nan (Cambodja) 
to China, and allows us to infer that liu-li was found there in the begin- 
ning of the third century and transmitted to China. Another allusion 
to the presence of liu-li in the countries south of China is encountered 
in the Kuang chi K i£, written by Kuo I-kung #15 ^ S under the 
Liang dynasty (502-556), where it is said that liu-li is a product of 
Huang-chi S %^ Se-tiao M M,^ Tsl Ts'in, and Ji-nan S (Annam). 
Finally liu-li was sent also to China from Central India under the 
Liang dynasty (502-556).^ 

Our most important witnesses certainly are the numerous specimens 
of Han mortuary pottery glazed in the most varied shades of green 

^ Pm shu tsi ch'engy under liu-li. 

2 Pelliot, Bull, de VEcolefrangaise, Vol. IV, p. 391. 

' Yiian kien lei han, Ch. 364, p. 31. 

* T'ai pHng yii Ian, Ch. 808, p. 4 b. Compare also Pelliot, Le Fou-nan (Bull, 
de VEcolefrangaise, Vol. Ill, p. 283). The Wu dynasty, one of the Three Kingdoms 
(san kuo), reigned from 222 to 280. 

^ Presumably on the Malay Peninsula (see Chinese Clay Figures, p. 80, note 2). 
Liu-li is also enumerated among the tribute-gifts sent from Huang-chi to the Chinese 
Court (T'ai p'ing huan yii ki, Ch. 176, p. 2 b). Pi-liu-li is mentioned as an article 
of Huang-chi as early as the Han period (TsHen Han shu, Ch. 28 b, p. 17). 

* Probably Java (T'oung Pao, 1915, pp. 351, 373). In the latter passage I 
mentioned a plant mo-ch'u as growing in Se-tiao. M. G. Ferrand, Consul General 
of France in New Orleans, has been good enough to write me that this Chinese tran- 
scription corresponds to Javanese mo jo, the designation of the tree Aegle marmelos, 
and that the emendation of Se-tiao into Ye-tiao is thus assured, and the identification 
of Ye-tiao with Java becomes a definite result. M. Ferrand himself will soon report 
about this ingenious discovery. 

^ Liang shu, Ch. 54, p. 8. 

144 Beginnings of Porcelain 

and brown, and still called by the Chinese ltu4i wa ^SlS.^ The 
fact that the process of glazing itself is not described in the ancient 
texts, as pointed out by Hobson, is not of great concern. In fact, we 
have no ancient description of pottery whatsoever; and no technical 
treatise, if there ever was any, has survived from the Han period. The 
subject of pottery began to interest Chinese scholars only as late as 
the age of the Sung and Yuan; and in the same manner as the old 
writers fail to record the evolution of porcelanous ware, they are reticent 
as to glazing and other ceramic processes. It cannot be strongly 
enough emphasized that our knowledge of the subject should be re- 
constructed on the basis of actual material before our eyes, and not 
on literary sources which are still very incompletely exploited, or on 
philological considerations. It is unreasonable to expect also that 
literary traditions and antiquities of China should blend into a uniform 
and harmonious picture: neither is such the case in the archseology of 
Greece or Italy. We have hundreds and hundreds of Chinese antiqm- 
ties which cannot be traced to any records, but it would be an absurd 
procedure to disregard them simply for this reason. Monuments 
speak their own language, and are entitled to a fair and impartial hearing 
on their own merits. Both monuments and literature have come 
down to us only in fragments; and while it is not necessary that one 
department confirms the other, we must regard ourselves fortunate 
in seeing one supplemented by the other.* 

Owing to their lack of interest in technical matters, the notions of 
Chinese scholars regarding liu-li are the vaguest possible. Mong 

^ A disk labelled pi-liu-li is represented on the Han bas-reliefs among the objects 
of happy augury. No conclusions can be drawn from this design as to objects 
made from liu-li, as the artist took the first element pi in the sense of "disk" or 
"ring," and based his conception on this interpretation. His work represents 
merely an art-motive, not a reality. This subject has been well expounded by 
E. Chavannes (Mission arch^ologique, Vol. I, La sculpture h. I'^poque des Han, 
p. 170). 

" There are several allusions to green-glazed Han pottery in Chinese writings. 
One is extracted by Hobson (Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 199) from 
the Gazetteer of Shen-si Province, and refers to the village Lei-siang in the pre- 
fecture of T'ung-chou, where the inhabitants sometimes dig up castaway wares, 
archaic in shape and style, of green, deep and dark, but brilliant color, some with 
ornaments in raised clay. The Gazetteer of the District of Hua-yang (forming 
with the district of Ch'eng-tu the prefectural city of Ch'eng-tu, the capital of Sze- 
ch'uan) reports (Ch. 41, p. 64), "An ancient pottery censer ("^ ^ ^ j^J) is in 
the Kuang-fa temple (J| ^ ^), outside of the city, twenty /* in easterly direction. 
It is rectangular in shape, posed on four feet, two feet five inches in length, and 
one foot two inches in width. It is provided with lion's ears [relief designs of animal- 
heads], and is green and glossy. According to a tradition it is an object of the Shu 
Han period (221-264)." 

Introduction of Glazes into China 145 

K'ang of the third century, commenting on the Han Annals,^ remarks 
that pH-liu-li is green in color, like jade. Yen Shi-ku (579-645), 
however, rejects this generalization, observing that Mong K'ang's 
definition is too narrow; that the substance is a natural object, varie- 
gated, glossy, and brilliant; that it exceeds any hard stones (^); and 
that its color is unchangeable. "It is the present practice,^' he con- 
tinues, "to prepare it by the use of molten stones, with the addition 
of certain chemicals to the flux. This mass, however, is hollow, brittle, 
and not evenly compact; it is not the genuine article."* This is appar- 
ently an allusion to glass. The notion that pH-liu-U was regarded as a 
product of natural origin was suggested by the meaning "quartz," which 
originally adhered to the Sanskrit term vaidurya, the prototype of the 
word p'i-liu-U; but this does not mean that vitreous bodies were taken 
by the ancient Chinese for precious stones, as has been intimated by 
some authors. The confusion is one of terminology rather than of reali- 
ties. The parallel with the conception of murra as a stone is obvious. 

In the Nan chou i wu chi ^ ffl ^ ^ S, by Wan Chen ?S M of 
the third century, we read as follows:^ "The principal material under- 
l5dng liu-li is stone. In order to make vessels from it, it must be 
worked by means of carbonate of soda.* The latter has the appear- 
ance of yellow ashes, which are found on the shores of the southern 
sea, and are suitable also for the washing of clothes. When applied, 
it does not require straining; but it is thrown into water, and becomes 
slippery like moss-covered stones. Without these ashes, the material 
cannot be dissolved." This is probably a recipe for making a glaze. 
Compare the Chinese notions on using ashes for porcelain glazes and 
obtaining such ashes.'' 

At the Court of the Mongol lynasty, four kilns were established in 
1276 at Ta-tu for the manufacture of plain, white-glazed bricks and 
tiles (# fi SR ^ W KL), with an army of three hundred workmen. The 
so-called Southern Kiln {nan yao ^ S) was erected in 1263, the West- 
em Kiln {si yao ffi S) in 1267, and that of Liu-li ku SR ^ M (north- 
west of Peking) in 1263.® The latter was still operated under the 

^ TsHen Han shu, Ch. 96 A, p. 5. 

2 HoBSON (Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, p. 144) gives only an abridged quo- 
tation of Yen Shi-ku's text, as quoted in the T'ao shuo, which does not bring out 
the author's true meaning. The main point is that Yen Shi-ku regarded p'i-liu-li 
as a natural substance, and looked upon the artifacts of his time as poor substitutes. 

' T*ai p'ing yii Ian, Ch. 808, p. 5. 

* Tse jan hui g ^ Jl^, literally "natural ashes;" used also with reference 
to a kind of earth and feldspath (Geerts, Produits, pp. 404, 416). 

^ JuLiEN, Histoire et fabrication de la porcelaine chinoise, p. 131. 

• Yiian shi, Ch. 90, p. 5. 

146 Beginnings of Porcelain 

Manchu dynasty, furnishing the well-known glazed tiles and bricks 
for the palace, official buildings, and state temples of the metropolis. 
Glazed tiles and bricks, however, were known in China long before the 
time of the Yiian. They certainly existed under the Sung. Chou 
Shan, who in a.d. 1177 accompanied an embassy sent by the Sung 
Emperor from Hang-chou to the Court of the Elin dynasty at Peking, 
reports that the palace of the Kin was covered with tiles, all coated 
with enamels, their colors resplendent in the sunlight.^ Ngou-yang 
Siu (1007-72) speaks of glazed tiles.^ Sir Aurel Stein ^ discovered in 
the ruins of Ch'iao-tse bricks and tiles bearing in beautifiil green glaze 
scroll ornaments in low reliefs, and employed in a Stupa constructed 
during Sung times.^ Glazed tiles were likewise known under the T*ang. 
A certain Ts*ui Yung S S$, who lived in the T'ang era, erected on 
Mount Sung in Ho-nan, in honor of his mother, a memorial temple 
covered with glazed tiles (liu-li chi wa). The famous poet Po Ku-i 
(a.d. 772-846) speaks of a pair of white-glazed {pai liu-li) vases.^ 
Remains from buildings of this period show also the application of 
glazing for architectural purposes. The bricks and tiles of the Han 
and Wei periods, as far as we know them, are all unglazed, but it would 
be premature to assert that glazing was then not applied to them.^ 

The continuity of Chinese tradition is vividly illustrated by the 
fact that the term liu-li, in the same manner as in the Han period, 
denotes glazed potter}^ also at the present time. From the T'ang 
period onward, when porcelain came into vogue as a special class of 
ceramic ware, a division of nomenclature took place, — liu-li remain- 
ing reserved for common pottery, tiles, bricks, and other building- 
material, while a new term was adopted for a porcelain glaze. The 
porcelain enamel was styled yu ift (''oil"), written also M ,?fi,^ and 
'/^f. As far as I know, this term is first applied by Liu Siin of the T'ang 

1 Chavannes, Pei Yuan Lou (T'oung Pao, 1904, p. 189). Green-glazed tiles 
were employed in the palace of the Sung Emperors, according to the Yii t'ang kia 
huo written by Wang Hui in 1360 (Ch. 4, p. 4 b; ed. of Shou Shan ko ts'ung shu), 

* P*ei wen yiinfu, Ch. 51, p. 79 b. 

' Ruins of Desert Cathay, Vol. II, p. 252. 

* Many remains of fine glazed pottery were found by Stein on his third expedi- 
tion in the ruins of Karakhoto (A Third Journey of Exploration in Central Asia, 
p. 39, reprint from Geographical Journal for August and September, 1916). See 
also the same author's Ancient Khotan, Vol. I, pp. 442, 482. 

^ Pw shu tsi ch'eng, xxvii, Ch. 334. 

* For further notes on this subject see Hobson, Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, 
Vol. I, pp. 201 et seq. 

' According to K'ang-hi's Dictionary, this character is first listed in the Tsi 
yun (middle of the eleventh century). 

Introduction of Glazes into China 147 

period, in his Ling piao lu i,^ where the making of earthen cooking- 
kettles in the potteries of Kuang-tung is mentioned: "They were 
fired from clay and then glazed" (^ ^ J^ ± }fi ^). A gloss explains 
>/w as tt. What is meant here is the application of porcelain glazes to 
earthenware. In ceramic literature the term yu refers exclusively to 
porcelain enamels. ^ It is quite certain also that in the present col- 
loquial language glass is exclusively styled p'o-liy never Itu-li, which 
strictly refers to glazed ware. 

While we recognize that the Chinese received the stimulus for 
the production of ceramic glazes from western Asia, it must be empha- 
sized at once that it was no more than a stimulus, and that the Chinese 
were not slavish imitators, but soon applied their own genius to the 
novel idea. The green glaze of the Han pottery, as analyzed by Mr. 
Nichols (p. 93), may have its analogies in the West, and a thorough 
search for corresponding materials would in all probability bring to 
light a Western recipe of the same composition. The first step to 
independence, however, is taken by the production of the porcelanous 
glaze of post-Han times (p. 90), which hardly offers any contempo- 
raneous parallel in the West. From this time onward the Chinese 
have exercised their own actunen in perfecting the process of glazing 
and multiplying the scale of beautiful colors. Flinders Petrie^ has 
offered the ingenious suggestion that glaze in prehistoric Egypt, where 
it is found on quartz bases, was probably invented from finding quartz 
pebbles fluxed by wood ashes in a hot fire; hence glazing on quartz was 
the starting-point, and glazing on artificial wares was a later stage. 
Such observations of natural glazes may have also impressed and 
stimulated the Chinese. The Field Museum owns two earthenware 
crucibles, obtained by the writer in Si-ngan fu (Cat. Nos. 1 19076 
and 1 19077), which by purely natural causes, owing to the infusion of 
molten metals, are colored a sky-blue with red flecks; likewise a melting- 
pot (Cat. No. 1 19347), artificially glazed in the interior and in the upper 
portion of the exterior, while the lower unglazed part has assumed 
natural colors of fiery-red and dark green from the effect of liquid 
metals. It is not impossible that this natural process of glazing in- 
spired the imagination of the potters and gave the incentive for certain 
mottled ceramic glazes. 

* Ch. A, p. 6 (ed. of Wu ying Hen). 

2 JuLiEN, Histoire et fabrication de la porcelaine chinoise, pp. 245, 247. 

' Arts and Crafts of Ancient Egypt, p. 107. 


When the clay is on the wheel the potter 
may shape it as he will, though the clay 
rejoins, * Now you trample on me, one day 
I shall trample on you.' 

Sir Herbert Risley, The People of India. 

Most of the phenomena of Chinese ctdture have hitherto been 
studied in splendid isolation. Sinologues have usually been content to 
gather their information from Chinese sources and to arrange it in 
chronological order, giving a more or less critical digest of the subject 
from the Chinese viewpoint; but the question as to what the phe- 
nomena actually mean is, as a rule, shunned, their interpretation hardly 
attempted. It is certainly impossible to grasp any phenomenon with- 
in a given culture-zone without understanding the parallel phenomena 
in other areas, and without setting them in correlation with their 
concomitant factors. The historical position and development of any 
cultural idea can be determined only by an attempt to unravel its 
causal connection with the nattiral group of related or associated ideas; 
for no phenomenon is isolated or absolute, but conditional upon others, 
relative, and cohesive. Whether this method be styled that of com- 
parative ethnology or archaeology, or that of culture-science, or some- 
thing else, does not matter. It is there, and must be applied if we 
are eager to reach results. How it can be applied I wish to demonstrate 
by discussing on the following pages the nature of a simple instrument, 
— the potter's wheel. Its concatenation with other technical elements 
and with social and religious factors will be pointed out, and may help 
to show the history of pottery in a new light, and in particular to 
determine the relation of ancient Chinese ceramic art to that of the 
West. In a case like this one, the foundation of which reaches back 
into a prehistoric past, a pvirely historical method is of no avail, and 
will lead us nowhere. Thus Hobson^ observes, ''Unfortunately, none 
of the [Chinese] writers can throw any light on the first use of the 
potter's wheel in China. It is true, that, like several other nations, 
the Chinese claim for themselves the invention of that essential im- 
plement, but there is no real evidence to illuminate the question, and 
even if the wheel was independently discovered in China, the priority 

1 Chinese Pottery and Porcelain, Vol. I, p. 2. 

The Potter's Wheel 149 

of invention undoubtedly rests with the Near Eastern nations." This 
indeed is all that from an historical point of view could be stated. 

The making of pottery may well be called a universal phenomenon, 
despite the fact that there are many areas inhabited by peoples not 
acquainted with the art. It is unknown to the natives of Australia, 
New Zealand, and all other island groups of the South Sea populated 
by Poljniesians^ (while it thrives among the Melanesians), to the 
Negrito of the Philippines, to numerous primitive tribes of the Indo- 
Chinese,^ to the inhabitants of the Himalaya (with the exception of 
the Nepalese), and to many nomadic and hunting tribes of Siberia.* 
It is further absent in the extreme southern parts of South Africa and 
South America, also in the whole north-western portion of North 
America. Among the polar peoples, pottery has hardly any impor- 
tance. Of the Eskimo, only the western group in Alaska makes (or 

^ With the exception of Easter Island, where pottery is used for the cooking of 
certain foods (A. Lesson, Les Polyn^siens, Vol. I, p. 457; Vol. II, p. 282). It is 
difficult to accept the oft-repeated statement that the Polynesians do not make 
pottery for want of proper clays in their habitats. There surely is workable clay 
in New Zealand and Hawaii; but whether there is or not, I believe with E. B. Tylor 
(Primitive Culture, Vol. I, p. 57), that, "as the isolated possession of an art goes 
to prove its invention where it is found, so the absence of an art goes to prove that 
it was never present: the onM5 ^ro&a«fit is on the other side." 

'Thus the Lo-lo have never produced pottery (A. F. LEGENDRE,*Far West 
chinois, T'oung Pao, 1909, p. 611). 

' It is particularly lacking among the present-day tribes of the Amur, also 
among the Gilyak and Ainu. Hii K'ang-tsung, who as Chinese ambassador in 
1 125 visited the Kin or Djurchi, observed that the latter made no vessels of clay, 
but only wooden cups and plates coated with a varnish (Chavannes, Voyageurs 
chinois. Journal asiatique, 1898, mai-juin, p. 395). The same observation still 
holds good for all Amur tribes, which during historical times appear never to have 
manufactured pottery. The Japanese traveller Mamiya Rinso, who visited the 
island of Saghalin in 1808, reports that the forms of the clay vessels and porcelains 
of the Gilyak (Smerenkur) resemble Chinese and Japanese ware (P. F. v. Siebold, 
Nippon, 2d ed.. Vol. II, p. 233). The question is here of imported Chinese articles, 
and the observation is of no great consequence. Nevertheless L. v. Schrenck 
(Reisen und Forschungen im Amur-Lande, Vol. Ill, p. 448) has based an elaborate 
speculation on this passage, ascribing the manufacture of crockery and porcelain (!) 
to the Olcha and Gold on the Amur in the first part of the nineteenth century, and 
making the Manchu-Chinese Government responsible for the forcible destruction 
of this industry. This is a fantasy of the worst kind, for which no foundation exists 
in the history of the Amur tribes. What the Chinese colonists manufactured in 
Manchuria was only crude pottery; contrary to what is asserted by L. v. Schrenck, 
porcelain was never made there. The term "porcelain" used in Siebold's transla- 
tion of Mamiya RinsO's account with reference to a kiln in the village Kitsi, on the 
right bank of the Amur, as usual in such cases, rests on a mistranslation. It is of 
greater importance that the Japanese traveller tells us of earthen pots six to seven 
inches in diameter, with loop handles on both sides, made at his time by the Ainu 
of Saghalin. There is indeed reason to believe that the Ainu formerly made a rude 
and primitive kind of pottery. From the lips of an Ainu seventy years old, on the 

I50 Beginnings of Porcelain 

rather made) lamps of clay, which ordinarily are turned out of soap- 
stone, and cooking-pots.^ 

A. Byhan^ is disposed to assume that pottery is of foreign origin 
among the Eskimo. The Chukchi, according to Bogoras,^ have now- 
forgotten this industry, but it never was more than a sporadic phe- 
nomenon among them. The Itelmen of Kamtchatka formerly manu- 
factured clay vessels, chiefly lamps, as shown by finds in ancient pit- 
dwellings.'* F. BoAS^ is inclined to attribute the presence or absence 
of pottery to geographical location rather than to general culttiral 
causes. Economic conditions have a certain bearing on the question. 
The production of clay vessels is dependent upon a sedentary mode 
of life. Pastoral tribes, as a rule, evince no inclination toward the 
industry, and deem utensils of bark, wood, or metal preferable. In 
Tibet, with its twofold population of agricultural and nomadic elements, 
we find the use of pottery only among the stationary settlers, never 
among the roaming shepherds. Even among the former it is an art 
introduced from China, as is evidenced by the few kilns in eastern Tibet 
which are operated by Chinese potters.^ 

The utilization of the potter's wheel is restricted to a well-defined 
geographical area. It occurs only in the Old World, and belongs to 
ancient Egypt, the Mediterranean and West-Asiatic civilizations, Iran, 
India, and China with her dependencies. It is germane to the higher 
stages of culture only, and is conspicuously lacking among all primitive 
tribes. In aboriginal American pottery the wheel was never employed. 

northern Kuriles, Torii has recorded the story of how pots were previously made 
there, chiefly by women (Mitteil. d. Ges. Ostasiens, Vol. IX, 1903, p. 327). As is 
well known, the Ainu of Yezo have preserved no recollection of pottery-manufacture 
(J. Batchelor, The Ainu of Japan, p. 310), and also on Saghalin and the Kuriles 
the industry is now wiped out of existence. The prehistoric pottery found in the 
shell-heaps of Japan likewise must be attributed to the Ainu, who are thus to be 
classed among pottery-making peoples. See also p. 166, note 2. 

^ J. Murdoch, Ethnological Results of the Point Barrow Expedition {Ninth 
Report Bureau of Ethnology , 1892, pp. 91-93). 

2 Polarvolker, p. 69. 

' Mem. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. XI, p. 186. 

* K. VON DiTMAR, Reisen uild Aufenthalt in Kamtschatlq^a, pp. 246-247. As 
early as 1695, the first visitor to Kamtchatka, the Cossack W. Atlasov, reported 
that the inhabitants made wooden and earthen vessels (P. J. von Strahlenberg, 
Nord- und Ostliche Theil von Europa und Asia, p. 435). 

^ The Mind of Primitive Man, p. 183. 

" W. W. RocKHiLL, in a note to his edition of Sarat Chandra Das' Journey to 
Lhasa (p. 88), states that, though he never saw the making of pottery in Tibet, he 
knows that no wheel is used; which is perfectly correct, inasmuch as it is never 
handled by Tibetans. F. Grenard (Le Tibet, p. 286) observes, "Pottery is of 
indigenous manufacture, but the Chinese wheel is utilized." 

The Potter's Wheel 151 

Our foremost authority on this subject, W. H. Holmes/ makes this 
observation: "It is now well established that the wheel or lathe was 
unknown in America, and no substitute for it capable of assisting 
materially in throwing the form or giving symmetry to the outline by 
purely mechanical means had been devised. The hand is the true 
prototype of the wheel as well as of other shaping tools, but the earliest 
artificial revolving device probably consisted of a shallow basket or 
bit of goiurd in which the clay vessel was commenced and by means 
of which it was turned back and forth with one hand as the building 
went on with the other." Of course, if further on (p. 69) Holmes 
styles the basket used as a support in modelling a clay vessel ''an in- 
cipient form of the wheel," this is only a figure of speech, for this device 
bears no relation whatever to the wheel. This remark holds good 
also for ''that simple approximation to a potter's wheel, consisting of 
a stick grasped in the hand by the middle and turned round inside a 
wall of clay formed by the other hand," evolved for North America 
by Squier and Davis,^ and the "natviral primitive potter's wheel," 
consisting of a roundish pebble, ascribed to the New-Caledonians by 
O. T. Mason ^ after J. J. Atkinson. Wherever wheel-turned pottery 
has been found in America on aboriginal sites, it has conclusively been 
proved either that it is of European manufacture, or that the wheel 
was introduced there by the white man. Thus it has been disclosed 
that the wheel-made jars, showing also traces of a brownish glaze, 
which were reported from Florida and other Southern States, and 
occasionally were even recovered from Indian mounds, are of Spanish 
manufacture, having been used in early Colonial times for the shipping 
of olives to America."* The Quichua employ for the making of pottery 
a very simple lathe, which is justly traced to European influence by 
E. NoRDENSKioLD.^ It is worthy of note also that the distribution 
of the wheel over the area mentioned has remained almost stationary 
for millenniums, and that primitive tribes are not susceptible to adopt- 
ing it, even if surrounded by civilized peoples who make use of it. 
The Vedda of Ceylon, for instance, fashion pots by hand,^ while the 
surrounding Singalese avail themselves of the wheel. Nothing of the 

1 Aboriginal Pottery of the Eastern United States, p. 50 {Twentieth Ann. Rep. 
Bureau Am. Ethnology, Washington, 1903). 

2 See J. Lubbock, Prehistoric Times (5th ed.), p. 260. 

* Origins of Invention, p. 161. 

* Holmes, /. c, pp. 129-130. 

** Einige Beitrage zur Kenntnis der siidamerikanischen Tongefasse und ihrer 
Herstellung (Stockholm, 1906). 

^ C. G. Seligmann, The Veddas, p. 324. 

152 Beginnings of Porcelain 

character of a potter's wheel is known among the inhabitants of the 
Andaman group.^ Or, to cite another example, the Negroes of Africa 
have always remained unacquainted with the wheel, though they might 
have learned its use from the ancient Egyptians, or at a later time from 
the Arabs. The sporadic occurrence of the wheel in the Malayan 
Archipelago indicates its introduction from outside. It is found only 
in Padang Lawas on Sumatra and on Java;^ while in all other Malayan 
regions, including the Philippines, pottery has remained in the stage of 
handwork, and is the lot of woman. The Yakut, the most intelligent 
and progressive people of Siberia, never avail themselves of the potter's 
wheel, nor do they know of any process of glazing vessels. Despite 
the fact that they intermarry with the Russians, and that on the 
market of Yakutsk wheel-made Russian crockery is offered for sale, 
they still adhere to their primitive mode of fashioning vessels solely 
by hand, the only implement that is used being a half-round or round 
smooth stone, with which the interior of the pot is shaped and smoothed. 
Instead of securing Russian ware, they prefer to purchase the raw clay 
material (at from five to ten kopeck a pound), and entrust it to a 
skilful woman potter, together with fragments of old broken pots, which 
are pounded and mixed with the fresh clay. According to Saroshevski,' 
to whom we owe a detailed description of the process, also the illus- 
tration of a Yakut potter at work, these products come very near to 
those of the stone age. In their crude technique, they form a curious 
contrast to the excellent iron-forged work and wood-carving for which 
the same people are reputed. 

While ethnologists have clearly recognized that the pottery-making 
of primitive peoples is essentially a woman's avocation, it has not yet 
been sufficiently emphasized that the wheel is a man-made invention, 
and that, aside from the mere technical difference of the hand and 
wheel processes, there is a fundamental sociological contrast between 
the two. Among the Indian tribes of America, the fictile art was 
woman's occupation, and such it is at present. In discussing the 
methods of primitive pottery, O. T. Mason* observes, "It will be noted 
that the feminine gender is used throughout in speaking of aboriginal 
potters. This is because every piece of such ware is the work of woman's 
hands. She quarried the clay, and, like a patient beast of burden, 
bore it home on her back. She washed it and kneaded it, and rolled 

1 E. H. Man, On the Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, p. 154. 
' Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch-Indig, Vol. Ill, pp. 321, 322. 
« The Yakut (in Russian), Vol. I, p. 378. 

* Origins of Invention, p. i66; see also his Woman's Share in Primitive Culture, 
p. 91. 

The Potter's Wheel 153 

it into fillets. These she wound carefully and symmetrically until 
the vessel was built up. She further decorated and btirned it, and 
wore it out in household drudgery. The art at first was woman's." 
As regards Africa, we owe a very able investigation to H. Schurtz,^ 
whose studies of African conditions prompted him to the conclusion 
that pottery everywhere appears to be an invention of woman, who 
was more urgently in need of boiling water in the preparation of vege- 
table food than man in dressing his hunting-spoils. A map constructed 
by Schurtz, and illustrating the distribution of pottery over Africa, 
shows at a glance that the largest territory is occupied by female 
potters; that male potters occur only in Abyssinia, among the Galla 
and Somali in eastern Africa, and this owing to Arabic influence. In 
a few other areas men are engaged in the making of the bowls for their 
cherished tobacco-pipes, while the women produce from clay all domes- 
tic and kitchen utensils; and in a few localities only, men and women 
co-operate in the ceramic industry. In regard to the Khasi in Assam, 
Major GuRDON^ observes, "The women fashion the pots by hand, they 
do not use the potter's wheel." On the Nicobars the men take no 
part in the construction of pots.' All over Melanesia, pottery is made 
exclusively by women. The making of clay vessels is no longer prac- 
tised by the Chukchi, but their old women (not the men) have a vivid 
recollection of the clay kettles which were used in former times.* 

The potter's wheel, however, is the creation of man, and therefore 
is an independent act of invention which was not evolved from any 
contrivance utilized during the period of hand-made ceramic ware. 
The two processes have grown out of two radically distinct spheres of 
human activity. The wheel, so to speak, came from another world. 
It had no point of contact with any tool that existed in the old indus- 
try, but was brought in from an outside quarter as a novel affair, when 

"• Das afrikanische Gewerbe, pp. 13-19. 

2 The Khasis, p. 61. 

' C. B. Kloss, In the Andamans and Nicobars, p. 107. According to E. H. 
Man (On the Aboriginal Inhabitants of the Andaman Islands, p. 154), the manu- 
facture of pots on the Andamans is not confined to any particular class, or to either 
sex, but the better specimens are generally produced by men. Compare the same 
author's Nicobar Pottery (/. Anthr. Institute, Vol. XXIII, 1894, pp. 21-27). Also 
among the Vedda pots are turned out by both men and women (C. G. Seligmann, 
The Veddas, p. 324). 

* W. BoGORAs, in Mem. Am. Mus. Nat. Hist., Vol. XI, p. 186. The industry 
of primitive pottery is fast dying out everywhere under the influence of "civiliza- 
tion" (compare, for instance, M. R. Harrington, Catawba Potters and Their 
Work, in Am. Anthr., Vol. X, 1908, pp. 399-407; and The Last of the Iroquois Pot- 
ters, in N. Y. State Mus. Bull., 1909, pp. 222-227; as to Africa, see O. Baumann, 
Globus, Vol. LXXX, 1901, p. 127). 

154 Beginnings of Porcelain 

man appropriated to himself the work hitherto cultivated by woman. 
The development was one from outside, not from within. All efforts, 
accordingly, which view the subject solely from the technological 
angle, and try to derive the wheel from previous devices of the female 
potter, are futile and misleading,^ It is as erroneous as tracing the 
plough back to the hoe or digging-stick, whereas in fact the two 
are in no historical interrelation, and belong to fundamentally differ- 
ent culture strata and periods, — the hoe to the gardening activity of 
woman, the plough to the agrictdttu-al activity of man. Both in India 
and China, the division of ceramic labor sets apart the thrower or 
wheel-potter, and distinctly separates him from the moulder. The 
potters of India, who work on the wheel, do not intermarry with those 
who use a mould or make images.^ They form a caste by them- 
selves.^ In ancient China, a net discrimination was made between 
wheel-potters {Vao jen M A) and moulders {fang jen M A)."* This 
clear distinction is accentuated also by Chu Yen ;^ ^ in his Treatise 

1 E. J. Banks (Terra-Cotta Vases from Bisraya, Am. Journ. Sem. Langs., 
Vol. XXII, 1905-06, p. 140) has this observation on the making of Babylonian 
pottery: "From the study of Bismya pottery it is evident that a wheel was employed 
at every period, yet all of the vases were not turned. No. 43, a form reconstructed 
from several fragments from the lowest strata of the temple hill, and which therefore 
dates several millenniums before 4500 B.C., has the appearance of having been formed 
by placing the clay upon a flat surface, and while the potter shaped it with one hand, 
he turned the board or flat stone, whatever it was upon which it rested, with the 
other. This was probably the origin of the potter's wheel; it was but a matter 
of time when an arrangement was attached to the board that it might be turned 
with the feet." All this is purely speculative and fantastic, and has no value for 
the real history of the wheel. 

2 A. Baines, Ethnography (Castes and Tribes) of India, p. 65. 

3 The social position of the Indian potter is differently described by various 
authors. H. Compton (Indian Life in Town and Country, p. 65) observes that 
the potter in India is an artist; that he is an hereditary village officer, and receives 
certain very comfortable fees; that his position is respected; that he enjoys the 
privilege of beating the drum at merry-makings, that he shares with the barber 
a useful and lucrative place in the community; and that there is probably no member 
of it who is happier in his lot, and less liable to the vicissitudes of fortune. H. 
RiSLEY (People of India, p. 130) gives us a bit of Indian popular thought regarding 
the potter: "He lives penuriously, and his own domestic crockery consists of broken 
pots. He is a stupid fellow — in a deserted village even a potter is a scribe — 
and his wife is a meddlesome fool, who is depicted as burning herself, like a Hindu 
wife, on the carcase of the Dhobi's donkey." According to G. C. M. Bird wood 
(Ii^dustrial Arts of India, Vol. II, p. 146), the potter is one of the most useful and 
respected members of the community, and in the happy religious organization of 
Hindu village life there is no man happier than the hereditary potter. The truth 
probably lies in the midway between these two extreme appreciations. As to an- 
cient times, compare the Buddhist story of the sage potter, translated by E. Lang 
(Journal asiatique, 191 2, mai-juin, p. 530). 

* E. BiOT, Tcheou-li, Vol. II, pp. 537-539- 

The Potter's Wheel 155 

on Pottery.* He justly observes also that the articles made by the 
wheel-potters were all intended for cooking, with the exception of the 
vessel yii ^, which was designed for measuring; while the output of 
the moulders, who made the ceremonial vessels kuei #1 and tou JB. 
by availing themselves of the plumb-line, was intended for sacrificial 
use. Also here, in like manner as in ancient Rome, India, and Japan, 
the idea may have prevailed that a wheel-made jar is of a less sacred 
character than one made by hand. 

Wherever the potter's wheel is in use, it is manipulated by man, 
never by woman.^ It is man's invention, it is man's sphere of work. 
As implied by its very name, it is directly derived from a chariot-wheel, 
which is likewise due to man's efforts. Such a real cart-wheel with 
four spokes is still operated by the Tamil potters. It is well illustrated 
by E. Thurston,^ and thus described after E. Holder (Fig. i): "The 
potter's implements are few, and his mode of working is very simple. 
The wheel, a clumsily constructed and defective apparatus, is com- 
posed of several thin pliable pieces of wood or bamboo, bent and tied 
together in the form of a wheel about three feet and a half in diameter. 
This is covered over thickly with clay mixed with goat's hair or any 
fibrous substance. The four spokes and the centre on which the vessel 
rests are of wood. The pivot is of hard wood or steel. The support 
for the wheel consists of a rounded mass of clay and goat's hair in 
which is embedded a piece of hard wood or stone, with one or two slight 
depressions for the axle or pivot to move in. The wheel is set into 
motion first by the hand, and then spun rapidly by the aid of a long 
piece of bamboo, one end of which fits into a slight depression in the 
wheel. The defects in the apparatus are, firstly, its size, which re- 
quires the potter to stoop over it in an uneasy attitude; secondly, the 
irregularity of its speed, with a tendency to come to a standstill, and 
to wave or wobble in its motion; and, thirdly, the time and labor ex- 
pended in spinning the wheel afresh every time its speed begins to 

^ T'ao shuo j^ ^, Ch. 2, p. 2 (new edition, 1912). Compare S. W. Bushell, 
Description of Chinese Pottery, p. 33. 

2 Woman working on the potter's wheel is a strictly modern artificial reform 
of our "civilization," which tends to check the "man-made world," with the result 
that it insures woman's industrial enslavement to perfection. Mary White (How 
to make Pottery, p. 28) observes, "Until lately, few women potters have worked on 
the wheel, because the ordinary form of potter's wheel, which was turned with 
one foot, the potter standing on the other, made the work too difficult and laborious 
for a woman to attempt. Now, however, a wheel copied from an old French model 
is in use, which enables the potter to sit while at work." 

' Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Vol. IV, p. 190. Holder's article is 
in Journal of Indian Art, No. 58, being accompanied by excellent illustrations of 
potter's wheels and of potters working at the wheel. 

156 Beginnings of Porcelain 

slacken. Notwithstanding, however, the rudeness of this machine, 
the potters are expert at throwing, and some of their small wares are 
thin and delicate." It shoiild be added, that, as may be seen in the 
illustration (Fig. i), the wheel is but slightly above the ground, and that 
the potter stands bent over the vessel. The apparatus, described by 
E. A. Gait^ for the kilns of Assam, has likewise features in common 
with the cart-wheel. While the centre consists of a solid disk of tama- 
rind or some other hard wood, about thirteen inches in diameter, 
there is an outer rim joined to it by means of four wooden spokes, each 
of these being about six inches in length. The outer rim, about six 
inches wide, is made of split bamboo, bound with cane, and covered 
with a thick plaster of clay mixed with fibres of the sago palm. The 
object of this rim is to increase the weight of the wheel, and thereby 
add to its momentum.^ In Assamese as well as in Bengali, the potter's 
wheel is simply called cak (''wheel," from Sanskrit cakra). 

In the f atapatha Brahmana (XI, 8) the potter's wheel (kauld- 
lacakra; kuldlay "potter;" cakra^ "wheel") is thus alluded to in close 
connection with the cart-wheel: "Verily, even as this cart-wheel, or 
a potter's wheel, would creak if not steadied, so, indeed, were these 
worlds unfirm and unsteadied."^ A similar association of ideas occurs 
in the Chinese philosopher Huai-nan-tse, who died in 122 B.C. He 
compares the activity of Heaven as the creative power with the revolu- 
tions of a wheel by saying, "The wheel of the potter revolves, the 
wheel of the chariot t-ums; when their circle is completed, they repeat 
their revolution."* In the porcelain-factories of King-te-chen, the 
potter's wheel is styled fao cWt M # (that is, "potter's chariot") or 
lun ch*i H -S (that is, "wheeled chariot"). Ordinarily the potter 
speaks simply of his "wheel" (lun-tse 16 •?). An engraving of about 
1540 shows an Italian potter's table in the shape of a regular six- 
spoked wheel.^ Technically speaking, the potter's wheel is nothing 

1 The Manufactureof Pottery in Assam {Journalof Indian Art, Vol.Yll, 1897, p. 6). 

' The Assam potters do not finish their pieces on the wheel, but when taken 
down and sun-dried, they are placed in a hollow mould of wood or earthenware, 
in which they assume their final shape by being beaten with a flat wooden or earthen- 
ware mallet, held in the right hand, against a smooth, oval-shaped stone held by 
the left hand against the inner surface. When the required shape has been given 
the vessel, it is again sun-dried, the surface being then polished with an earthen- 
ware pestle or a rag. 

3 J. Eggeling's translation in Sacred Books of the East, Vol. XLIV, p. 126. The 
exact date of this work is not known, but it is believed that it goes back to the 
sixth century B.C. 

* Chavannes, M^moires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. V, p. 27. 

' Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. V, p. 706. 

The Potter's Wheel 


Fig. I 

Indian Potter's wheel in the Shape of a Cart-wheel 

(Sketch after Holder, Journal of Indian Art) 

158 Beginnings or Porcelain 

but a primitive cart-wheel turning on its axle. The invention pre- 
supposes the existence of the wheel adapted to transportation, and 
in all the great civilizations in which, as stated above, the potter's 
wheel is found, we indeed meet also the wheeled cart. We further 
observe, that, wherever the potter's wheel occurs and the wheeled 
cart does not occur, the former was introduced from a higher culture- 
zone: for instance, in Japan, to which the conception of the cart is 
foreign, and which received the potter's wheel from Korea; or among 
the Tibetans, who have no wheeled vehicles, and in the midst of whom 
the potter's wheel is only handled by Chinese.^ Again, the wheeled 
cart is conspicuously absent in all those culture-areas in which, as has 
been stated, the potter's wheel is unknown. Wherever original con- 
ditions have remained intact and undisturbed by outside currents, 
the two implements either co-exist, or do not exist at all. Of course, 
it must not be understood that the idea of the potter's wheel was con- 
ceived in a haphazard manner, as though a wheel, intentionally or 
incidentally, had been detached from a cart, its novel utilization being 
reasoned out on speculative and technical grounds. Primitive man, 
and man of the prehistoric past, is not a rationalistic or utilitarian 
being, but one endowed with thoughts of highly emotional character, 
and prompted to peculiar associations of ideas that are inspired by 
religious sentiments. Of the theories which have been expounded in 
regard to the primeval origin of the wheel, none as yet is wholly satis- 
factory; but this much is assured, that it was connected with a certain 
form of religious worship, that in its origin the chariot was utilized in 
the cult before it was turned to practical ptirposes of transportation.^ 
The symbolism and worship of the wheel in western Asia, prehistoric 
Eiu-ope and India, is so well known that this matter does not require 
recapitulation. A similar spirit pervades the early references to the 
potter, his work and his wheel. In the Old Testament the potter's 
control over the clay illustrates the sovereignty of God, who made 
man of clay, and formed him according to his will. " O house of Israel, 
cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the Lord. Behold, as the 
clay is in the potter's hand, so are ye in my hand, saith the Lord" 
(Jeremiah XVIII. 1-6). "Shall the thing formed say to him that 
formed it. Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power 

^The wheeled cart is designated in Tibetan shing rta ("wooden horse"), — a 
word-formation which testifies to the fact that the cart is foreign to Tibetan culture. 
In fact, carts are not employed by Tibetans. We only read in ancient records of 
vehicles for the use of kings, presumably introduced from India. 

2E. Hahn, Alter der wirtschaftlichen Kultur, p. 123; and Entstehung der 
Pflugkultur, p. 40. 

The Potter's Wheel 159 

over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour and 
another unto dishonour?" (Romans IX. 20, 21.) In ancient Egypt, 
the god Phtah fashions the egg of the world on a potter's wheel, setting 
it in motion with his feet.^ According to W. Crooke,^ the potter of 
India regards the making of his vessels as a semi-religious art. The 
wheel he worships as a type of the creator of all things; and when he 
fires his kiln, he makes an offering and a prayer. He also makes the 
funeral jar, in which the soul of the dead man for a time takes refuge. 
Hence he is a sort of fimeral priest, and in some parts of the country 
receives regular fees. It was a current notion in ancient China that 
the evolution of Heaven creates the beings in the same manner as the 
potter turns his objects of clay on the wheel. The potter's wheel was a 
S3rmbol of the creative power of nature. In the ancient writers in whose 
works this conception looms up it appears as a purely philosophical 
abstraction; but it is obvious that the latter goes back to a genuine 
mythological idea, which, like everything mythical in China, is lost, — 
the naive conception of the creator as a potter and thrower (as in the 
Old Testament). The potter's wheel was used also as a simile with 
reference to the activity of the sovereign. Yen Shi-ku, in his commen- 
tary on the Han Annals, quotes a saying that *'the holy rulers by virtue 
of their regulations managed the empire in the same manner as a potter 
turns the wheel." It is therefore not impossible that religious specula- 
tions, centring around the cart-wheel and the fashioning of clay vessels 
and figures, might have had a prominent share in associating the wheel 
with the potter's activity, and given the first impetus to "throwing." 
If it can be maintained that the ancient Egyptians were the first to employ 
the potter's wheel, it may well be that the invention is due to the circle 
of the priests. Be this germ idea as it may, the culture-historical posi- 
tion of the potter's wheel is well ascertained. In view of the vast periods 
of human prehistory, it is a comparatively late invention, following in 
time the construction of the wheeled cart, being based on the cart-wheel, 
and made by man (presumably first by priests in illustration of a myth 
for religious worship) during the stage of fully-developed agriculture. 

In the stage of hoe-culture or gardening, the occupation of woman, 
the potter's wheel is absent. Wherever it appears, it is correlated with 
man's activity in agriculture, based on the employment of the ox and 
plough. This feature is illustrated by both ancient China and India. 
The Emperor, or more correctly culture-hero, Shun (alleged 2258-2206 
B.C.), in his youth, before he assumed charge of the administration of 

* E. A. W. Budge, Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. I, p. 500, with colored plate. 

* Things Indian, p. 389. 

i6o Beginnings of Porcelain 

the empire, is said to have practised husbandry, fishing, and making 
pottery jars: he fashioned clay vessels on the bank of the River, and 
all these were without flaw.^ The philosopher Mong-tse explained this 
act by saying that Shun continually tried to learn from others and to 
take example from his fellowmen in the practice of virtue.^ Another 
tradition crops out in the Ki chung Chou shu:^ here the incipient work 
in clay is attributed to the culture-hero Shen-nung, who, as implied 
by his name (''Divine Husbandman"), was regarded as the father of 
agriculture and discoverer of the healing-properties of plants. In 
this ancient lore we meet a close association of agriculture with pottery, 
and an illustration of the fact that husbandman and potter were one 
and the same person during the primeval period. 

Likewise in ancient India the potter's trade was localized in special 
villages, either suburban or ancillary to large cities, or themselves 
forming centres of traffic with surrounding villages.'* Thus it is the 
case at the present day. When the writer, in 1908, passed through 
Calcutta and desired to see a Hindu potter at work, he was obliged 
to drive several miles out of the city into a neighboring village. In 
fact, the potter is a peasant, and attends to his field during the rainy 
season, when he is unable to pursue his craft; he must have dry weather 
to harden his pots before they are fired.^ According to Sir A. Baines,® 
the potter is one of the recognized village staff, and, in return for his 
customary share in the harvest, is bound to furnish the earthenware 
vessels required for domestic use. His caste is associated with the 
donkey, the saddle-animal of the Goddess of Small-Pox; and his donkey, 
when the kiln is not in operation, is employed in carrying grain and 
other produce. In most parts of the country the potters sometimes 
hold land, and in others take service in large households. 

Likewise in ancient China the potter lived in close contact with the 
farmer, and received from him cereals in exchange for his products.^ 

1 Chavannes, M6moires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. I, pp. 72, 74; compare 
BiOT, Tcheou-li, Vol. II, p. 462. See also Shi ki, Ch. 128, p. 5, where the com- 
mentary cites the Shi pen to the effect that Kun-wu (this volume, p. 39) made 

2 Legge, Chinese Classics, Vol. II, p. 206. 
» Chavannes, /. c, Vol. V, p. 457. 

*R. FiCK, Die sociale Gliederung im nordSstlichen Indien, pp. 179, 181. Mrs. 
Rhys Davids, Notes on Early Economic Conditions in Northern India {Journ. 
Roy. As. Soc, 1901, p. 864). 

•* W. Crooke, Natives of Northern India, p. 135. 

•Ethnography (Castes and Tribes), p. 65 (Strassburg, 19 12; Encyclopmdia of 
Indo- Aryan Research). 

'According to Mong-tse, hi, i, § 4 (Legge, Chinese Classics, Vol. II, p. 248). 

The Potter's Wheel i6i 

The farmer was in urgent need of these articles, which were in large 
demand; for "a single potter would not do in a country of ten thousand 
families, and could not supply their wants," and ''with but few potters 
a kingdom cannot subsist."^ 

The potter's particular residence is naturally determined by the 
sites of suitable clay, and his dependence on clay-digging excludes 
him from towns and cities. Thus A. K. Coomaraswamy^ observes, 
''The Singalese potters are found all over the country in every village 
affording the necessary clay, but often aggregated in greater numbers 
in places where an especially good supply of suitable clay is available. 
Thence the potter carries his pots for sale to more remote districts in 
huge pingo loads." The same holds good for China: all kilns are lo- 
cated in the country, and the potters supplying the wants of the villages 
and towns are farmers themselves. 

The modifications brought about in the industry by the application 
of the wheel were fundamental and far-reaching. Technically they led to 
a greater rapidity and hence intensity of the process, but, above all, 
to many new features of form, consigning many others to oblivion. 
Likewise they resulted in a regularity, symmetry, harmony, and grace 
of shape, in a refinement and perfection unattained heretofore. The 
potter's art came in close touch and was set in correlation with other 
man-made industries, particularly with that of the bronze-founder, 
who furnished the potter with new ideas of forms and designs.^ The 
birth of artistic pottery was thus inaugurated. In passing from the 
hands of woman into those of man, the whole industry was imbued 
with a more active and vigorous spirit, and elevated to a higher plane 
by man's creative genius. It overstepped the narrow boundary of 
purely domestic necessity and developed into an organized system of 
carefully-planned and skilfully-directed manufacture on a large scale 
and with a wide scope. The ceramic work turned out by woman 
depended on local conditions, and catered to the narrow circle of the 

1 MoNG-TSE, VI, 2, §§ 3 and 6 {ibid., p. 442). 

2 Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, p. 218. 

^ W. Hough (Man and Metals, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 
Vol. II, 1916, p. 125) justly insists on the intimate connection of clay and metal 
working. The activity of the ancient sovereigns of China is likened not only to 
that of the potter, but also to that of the founder. Potter and founder |^ J§ are 
frequently mentioned together (for instance, by Mong-tse: Legge, Chinese Classics, 
Vol. II, p. 248). The correlation of the mortuary pottery of the Han with corre- 
sponding types in bronze has been shown by me in detail. The same phenomenon 
occurs in the prehistoric ceramic art of central Europe, where imported Roman 
bronze vessels were imitated and reproduced in clay (see particularly A. Voss, 
Nachahmungen von Metallgefassen in der prahistorischen Keramik, Verh. Berl. 
Anthr. Ges., Vol. XXXIII, 1901, pp. 277-284). 

1 62 Beginnings of Porcelain 

home community. The widened horizon of man led him to search for 
clays and other materials in distant localities, and to trade his finished 
product over the established routes of commerce in exchange for other 
goods. It was due to the introduction of the wheel that ceramic 
labor was afforded the opportunity of growing out of a mere communal, 
clannish, or tribal industry into a national and international factor of 
economic value.^ 

In the suburbs and villages around Peking, where pottery is manu- 
factured, two kinds of wheel are in use. The two specimens illustrated 
oA Plates XI and XII were secured near Peking by the writer in 1903, 
and are in the American Museum of Natural History, New York. The 
one is made of a hat-shaped mass of clay, which is hardened by the 
addition of pig's hair and straw. This wheel is employed for turning 
out circiilar vessels of small and mediimi sizes, and may be regarded 
as the common, typical wheel used throughout northern China. The 
other wheel consists of a weighty stone disk made in the great indus- 
trial centre, the town Huai-lu in Shan-si Province. It serves for the 
making of round and heavy vessels of large dimensions.^ A round 
wooden board is placed on the stone disk as support or table on which 
the mass of clay is shaped. The difference between the clay and stone 
wheels, accordingly, is one of degree only, not of type; indeed, they 
represent the same type, and are identical in their mechanical con- 
struction. Both wheels revolve on a wooden vertical axis, the lower 
extremity of which is fixed into a pit, so that the upper surface of the 
disk lies on the same level as the floor of the shed in which the potter 
works. The latter squats on the ground in front of the wheel, and sets 
it in motion by means of a wooden stick, which is inserted in a shallow 
cavity near the periphery of the stone disk. While the disk continues 
to twirl, a lump of clay is thrown upon it and worked by the potter 
with both of his hands: he vigorously presses his thumbs downward, 
shaping the bottom of the jar, then draws them upward, and it seems 
as though by magic the walls of the vessel come running out of his 

1 With reference to the La-T^ne period, these changes are well characterized 
by H. Schmidt in his excellent article Keramik, in the Reallexikon der germanischen 
Altertumskunde, edited by J. Hoops (Vol. Ill, p. 36). 

2 Aside from China, stone wheels seem to occur in India, but only occasionally 
(H. H. Cole, Catalogue of the Objects of Indian Art in the South Kensington 
Museum, p. 201). H. R. C. Dobbs {Journal of Indian Art, No. 57, p. 3) remarks 
that in the north-west provinces of India wheels are made either of clay, or stone, or 
wood, but most commonly of clay. The difference is merely one of durability: 
a clay wheel lasts about five years and can be made in four days without cost to the 
potter; a wooden wheel lasts for about ten years, being made by a local carpenter 
for Rs. 1-8; a stone wheel will last a lifetime, and is usually brought from Mirzapur 
or Indore at an average cost of Rs. 4. 

The Potter's Wheel 163 

fingers. The procedure is exactly identical with the practice of the 
ancients, as described by H. Blumner.^ I never saw a Chinese potter 
spinning the wheel with his left hand and simultaneously forming a 
pot only with his right. He will always swing his wheel first, and then 
use both hands for fashioning the vessel. This point is particularly 
mentioned, because several authors tell us that the potter at the same 
time works the wheel with his left hand and fashions the clay with his 
right. Thus A. Erman^ says, with reference to ancient Egypt, that 
the wheel was turned by the left hand, whilst the right hand shaped 
the vessel. The same is asserted with regard to the potter on Sumatra.' 
If these observations shotild be correct, which may justly be doubted, 
the potters who behave in this manner can hardly be credited with 
common sense. If the wheel is once set spinning, a constant revolution 
of sufficient velocity may very well be maintained for from five to seven 
minutes, which would afford ample time for a skilful workman to turn 
out one or even several vessels by the use of both hands. There 
is no necessity whatever for his left hand to operate the wheel, and 
how the right hand alone could satisfactorily model a pot is difficult to 
see. In China, Japan, and India, at all events, the potter will always 
use both hands in this process; or he has a helpmate to attend to the 

In his description of the porcelain-manufacture at King-te-chen, 
P^re d'Entrecolles has alluded to the employment of the wheel, 
without, however, going deeper into the subject."* In the King te chen 
fao luy^ the wheel is described as a round wooden board, with a mech- 
anism below, that effects a speedy revolution. The potter is seated 
over the wheel (literally, "he sits on the chariot" tt^S^$_b), 
pushing it with a small bamboo stick, and moulding the clay with both 
of his hands. The illustrations reproduced by Jiilien after the first 
edition of 181 5 (Plates V and VP) show the potter squatting at the end 
of two low benches, steadying his feet on the latter; but the mode of 
turning the wheel is represented in a different manner from the descrip- 
tion in the text. In one illustration the potter avails himself of an 
assistant, who bends over a bench, and sets the wheel in motion with 
his left hand. In the other, the helpmate turns the wheel with his 

* Technologic, Vol. II, p. 39. 
' Life in Ancient Egypt, p. 457. 

' Encyclopaedic van Ncderlandsch-Indie, Vol. Ill, p. 321. 

*DuHalde, Description of the Empire of China, Vol. I, p. 342; or S. W. 
BusHELL, Description of Chinese Pottery, pp. 190-191. 

^ Ch. I, p. 18 b (new edition of 1891); compare Juhen, Histoire, p. 146. 
" Those of the new edition are different, and much coarser in execution. 

i64 Beginnings of Porcelain 

right unshod foot, while supporting himself by means of a rope sus- 
pended from the branch of a tree. The wheel itself is a cog-wheel, the 
projecting teeth being of a rectangular shape.^ The foot of the turner 
fits exactly into the space left by two teeth. This arrangement is 
identical with that of the small lead cylinders fixed around a Roman 
wheel of baked clay found near Arezzo in 1840, and the pegs attached 
to the circumference of other wheels discovered in the vicinity of 

The devices depicted in this Chinese book are obviously those of 
central and southern China. This is confirmed by an observation of 
E. S. Morse, who had occasion to see and to sketch a potter at work 
near Canton, and who points out the same rope contrivance. **The 
wheel rests on the ground, and the potter squats beside the wheel. A 
helper stands near by, steadying himself with a rope that hangs down 
from a frame above; holding on to this and resting on one foot, he kicks 
the wheel around with the other foot. The potter first puts sand on 
the wheel, so that the clay adheres slightly. He does not separate the 
pot from the wheel by means of a string, as is usual with most potters 
the world over, but lifts it from the wheel, the separation being easy 
on account of the sand previously applied. The pot is somewhat de- 
formed by this act, but is straightened afterwards with a spatula 
and the hand, as was the practice of a Hindu potter whom I saw at 

Besides the plain wheel, as considered heretofore, another type oc- 
curs in China, — a wheel with double disks. In this case, there are two 
horizontal, parallel disks or wheels connected by a vertical spindle. 
The lower one, being of considerably smaller diameter, is operated by 
the feet of the workman, and accordingly turns the upper one, which 
is reserved as the potter's table. A similar device is described by 
Jesus Sirach in the third century b.c* The same principle is brought 
out in a potter's wheel found by Fabroni in 1779 at Cincelli or Centtmi 
Cellas, in the neighborhood of Arezzo, in Italy. It is composed of two 
disks or tables, both placed horizontally, of unequal diameter, having 
a certain distance between them, and their centre traversed by a 
vertical pin, which revolves. The wheel discovered was part of one 

1 It is doubtless on this illustration that E. Zimmermann's (Chinesisches Porzel- 
lan, Vol. I, p. 179) description of the potter's wheel is based; but I do not believe 
that this type is common, at least I never saw it in any of the kilns which I had 
occasion to visit. 

2 H. Blumner, Technologie, Vol. II, p. 39. 

' E. S. Morse, Glimpses of China and Chinese Homes, p. 199. 
* Blumner, /. c, p. 38, note 3. 

The Potter's Wheel 165 

of the disks, made of terra cotta, about three inches thick and eleven 
feet in diameter, with a groove all round the border.^ 

A double wooden wheel is occasionally employed by the potters in the 
north-west provinces of India and Oudh, but, curiously enough, the upper 
disk is the smaller one. It is about ten inches in diameter, and on it 
the clay is worked. The lower disk, two feet apart from the upper one, 
measures two feet across. The whole apparatus is placed in a pit about 
three feet deep, the smaller disk being on a level with the surface of the 
ground. The axle turns on a stone slab at the bottom of the pit, and is 
kept upright by a crossbeam with a perforation in the middle, through 
which it runs. The potter is seated on the edge of the pit, and turns 
the wheel by pressing the lower disk with his right foot. The motion of 
this wheel is more even and continuous than that of the single wheel, 
and is employed for the finer kinds of pottery at Rampur and Mirut.' 

The double wheel is used also in Java, where it is called prebot. It 
is composed of two wooden disks, one placed above the other, the upper 
one, of somewhat larger size, being revolved on the lower one. The 
upper one is styled ''female board" {uncher wedok)^ the lower one "male 
board" {uncher lanang). The upper wheel, on which is placed a flat 
board for the clay to be moulded, is set in motion by means of the foot.^ 

F. Brinkley* describes the contrivance of a double wheel in the 
hands of the potters at Arita in Hizen. It consists of a driving and 
a working wheel, fixed about twelve to fifteen inches apart on a hollow 
wooden prism. On the lower side of the driving-wheel is a porcelain 
cup that rests on a vertical wooden pivot projecting from a round block 
of wood over which the system is placed. The pivot is planted in a 
hole of such depth that the rim of the driving-wheel is slightly raised 
above the surface of the ground. Beside this hole the modeller sits, 
and, while turning the system with his foot, moulds: a mass of material 
placed on the working- wheel. His only tools are a piece of wet cloth 
to smooth and moisten the vessel, a small knife to shape sharp edges, 
a few pieces of stick to take measurements, and a fine cord to sever the 
finished vase from its base of superfluous matter. 

Sir Ernest Satow,^ describing the work of the potters of Tsuboya, 
observes that these use wheels of three different sizes. The smallest 

^ S. Birch, History of Ancient Pottery, p. 556. 

^ H. R. C. DoBBS, Pottery and Glass Industries of the North-West Provinces 
and Oudh {Journal of Indian Art, No. 57, p. 4). 

' Encyclopaedie van Nederlandsch-Indie, Vol. Ill, p. 322. 

^ Japan, Vol. VIII, p. 68. 

•^Korean Potters in Satsuma (Transactions As. Soc. of Japan, Vol. VI, 1878, 
p. 196). 

i66 Beginnings of Porcelain 

is formed by two wooden disks about three inches thick, the upper one 
being fifteen inches, the lower eighteen inches, in diameter, connected 
by four perpendicular bars somewhat over seven inches long. It is 
poised on the top of a spindle planted in a hole of sufficient depth, which 
passes through a hole in the lower disk, and enters a socket in the under 
side of the upper disk; and the potter, sitting on the edge of the hole, 
turns the wheel round with his left foot. The largest wheel is about 
twice the size of the smallest in every way. This description fits very 
well the illustration of a potter's wheel in the T'u shu tsi ch'eng (see 
Fig. 2), except that the two wheels are here connected by two vertical 
bars, and that the whole apparatus is above ground, so that the potter 
is obliged to stand. 

Although the real study of Korean pottery remains to be made,* 
the general development of the art in its main features can be clearly 
traced. We may distinguish four principal periods, — first, a prehis- 
toric or neolithic period prior to the cultural contact of Korea with 
China, during which primitive vessels without the application of the 
wheel were turned out, that represent a uniform group with the pre- 
historic pottery found in the Amur region, Manchuria, Saghalin, and 
Japan; 2 second, the period of the Silla kingdom (57-924) heralded by 
the introduction of Chinese culture, in the wake of which the forms of 
the ancient Chinese sacrificial vessels as well as dishes for every-day 
use and the potter's wheel made their appearance; third, the Korai 
period (925-1392), centring aroimd Song-do, where glazed pottery, also 
porcelain, was produced according to models and traditions of Chinese 
Sung ware; and, fourth, the modem period after 1392. Here we are 
concerned only with the second or the first historic period, which is 
characterized by the novel feature of the wheel and by new and elegant 
shapes based on Chinese prototypes. We have authentic records in 

1 Compare in particular A. Billequin, Notes sur la porcelaine de Cor^e (T'oung 
Pao, Vol. VII, 1896, pp. 39-46); E. S. Morse, Catalogue of the Morse Collection 
of Japanese Pottery, pp. 25-31, and the study of P. L. Jouy, quoted below; J. 
Platt, Ancient Korean Tomb Wares {Burlington Mag., Vol. XX, No. 106, 1912, 
pp. 222-230, 2 plates); Petrucci, Korean Pottery {ibid., 1912, p. 82, 2 plates), 
and letter of J. Platt [ibid., 1913, p. 298); A. Fischer, Oriental. Archiv, Vol. 1, 191 1, 
pp. 154-157, plate XXXIV). 

2 As to the Amur region, a great quantity of pottery fragments was dug up by 
G. Fowke in 1898 (compare his report Exploration of the Lower Amur Valley, 
Am. Anthr., Vol. VIII, 1906, pp. 276-297); this collection is in the American Museum 
of Natural History, New York. The Japanese archaeologist ToRii found similar 
material in eastern Mongolia and Manchuria (Journ. of the College of Science, 
TokyQ, Vol. XXXVI, No. 4, pp. 49 et seq., and No. 8 of the same volume, 
PP- 9> 30-41. 62-64, 71, and plates XIV-XVIII, XXIII). Neolithic Korean pot- 
tery is described by ShOzaburi Yagi {Journ. Anthr. Soc. of Tokyo, Vol. XXX, 1915, 
p. 178). 

The Potter's Wheel 


Fig. 2 
Chinese Double-Wheel Potter's Lathe 
(Sketch after T"u shu tsi ch'eng) 

i68 Beginnings of Porcelain 

regard to the adoption of the latter on the part of the Koreans;^ and 
as the greater part of the pottery of this period is turned on the wheel, ^ 
while that of the preceding ages was fashioned only by hand, it is safe 
to assume that the introduction of the wheel is due to Chinese 

P. L. JouY writes on the Korean potter's wheel as follows: "The 
Korean potter's wheel consists of a circular table from two to three 
feet in diameter and four to six inches thick, made of heavy wood so 
as to aid in giving impetus to it when revolving. In general appearance 
it is not very unlike a modeller's table. This arrangement is sunken 
into a depression in the ground, and revolves easily by means of small 
wheels working on a track underneath, the table being pivoted in the 
centre. The wheel is operated directly by the foot, without the aid 
of a treadle of any kind. The potter sits squatting in front of the 
wheel, his bench or seat on a level with it, and space being left between 
his seat and the wheel to facilitate his movements. With his left 
foot underneath him, he extends his right foot, and strikes the side of 
the wheel with the bare sole of the foot, causing it to revolve.'" 

A Japanese tradition credits the celebrated Korean monk GyOgi 
fir S (a.d. 670-749) * with the invention of the potter's wheel. W. G. 
AsTON,^ W. GowLAND,® and F. Brinkley^ have rejected this legend 
as unfounded by pointing out that the wheel was known in Japan 

* Hou Han shu, Ch. 1 15, and the writer's Chinese Pottery, p. 127. The Wo-tsii 
in Korea interred in the graves pottery vessels filled with rice. In this respect 
the Chinese account is of interest, that all the Eastern barbarous tribes, Tung I 
^ ^ availed themselves of dishes and platters {tsu tou ^ _3,) for eating and 
drinking, with the sole exception of the Yi-lou or Su-shen ( T^ai p'ing huan yii ki, 
Ch. 175, p. 4 b). See also Kiu T'ang shu, Ch. 199 a, p. i. 

« P. L. JouY, The Collection of Korean Mortuary Pottery {Report of the U. S. 
National Museum, 1887-88, pp. 589-596, particularly p. 591). 

• Science, Vol. XII, 1888, p. 144. Mrs. Bishop (Korea and Her Neighbours, 
Vol. I, p. 93) says, "The potters pursue their trade in open sheds, digging up the 
clay close by. The stock-in-trade is a pit in which an uncouth potter's wheel 
revolves, the base of which is turned by the feet of a man who sits on the edge of 
the hole. A wooden spatula, a mason's wooden trowel, a curved stick, and a piece 
of rough rag, are the tools, efficient for the purpose." A Korean drawing showing 
a potter at work is reproduced in Int. Archiv. f. Ethnogr., Vol. IV, 1891, plate III, 
fig. 6. 

* His life is briefly summed up by E. Papinot, Dictionnaire de geographic et 
d'histoire du Japon, p. 152. J. J. Rein (Industries of Japan, p. 457) states only 
that GyOgi was the first to introduce the wheel into Japan, which may well be the 
original tradition, and that this event took place in a.d. 724. 

^ Nihongi, Vol. I, p. 121. 

• The Dolmen and Burial Mounds in Japan, p. 494. 
' Japan, Vol. VIII: Keramic Art, p. 9. 

The Potter's Wheel 169 

long before his time.^ Of course, GyOgi is not the "inventor" of 
the wheel, any more than Anacharsis the Scythian, or Hyperbius of 
Corinth, or Talus, the nephew of Daedalus. Nevertheless it may be 
that Gyogi, who, being a craftsman, was doubtless instrumental in 
the advancement of the ceramic industry in Japan, brought the speci- 
men of a wheel along on his mission; and, if nothing else, this tradition 
would at least point to an introduction of the wheel from Korea. This 
is the natural coiu-se of events that we should expect, for the prehistoric 
pottery of Japan was solely made by hand.^ The early historic pottery 
found in the dolmens is wheel-shaped; but whether, with Gowland, it 
is to be dated in the beginning of our era, is a debatable point. E. S. 
Morse* has offered another kind of convincing testimony for the 
fact that the early Japanese potter modelled by hand: the ancient 
practice is still continued in its prehistoric form in various parts of the 
empire, where many potters use only the hand in making bowls, dishes, 
or teapots. The vessels employed as offerings at Shinto shrines are 
usually made without the wheel, and are unglazed, — a phenomenon 
that we likewise meet in ancient Rome and in ancient India. 

According to Morse, the typical form of the potter's wheel in Japan 
consists of a wooden disk fifteen to eighteen inches in diameter, and 
three inches thick. This is fastened to a hollow axis fourteen or more 
inches in length. A spindle with pointed end is planted firmly in the 
ground; and on this the wheel is placed, the spindle passing up through 
the hollow axis, and a porcelain saucer or cup being inserted in the 
wheel to lessen friction as it rests on the spindle. The wheel itself 
is on a level with the floor; and the potter, sitting in the usual Japanese 
position, bends over the wheel, which he revolves by inserting a slender 
stick in a shallow hole or depression near the periphery of the wheel. 
With a few vigorous motions of his arm the wheel is set in rapid motion; 
then, with his elbows braced against his knees, the whole body at rest, 
he has the steadiest command of the clay he is to turn. As the wheel 
slackens in motion, he again sets it twirling.* 

* I am unable, however, to admit Aston's statement that the text of the Nihongi 
to which he refers contains evidence of this fact. This evidence is negative or inconclu- 
sive, as the text in question speaks only of hand-made (ta-kujiri) small jars, which, ac- 
cording to Aston, should lead to the conclusion that "this was exceptional," and 
that fashioning on the wheel was the common practice of the time. In a.d. 588 the 
first potters came to Japan from the Korean state Pektsi (Aston, /. c, p. 117). 

* E. S. Morse, Shell Mounds of Omori, p. 9; Iijima and Sasaki, Okadaira 
Shell Mound at Hitachi, pp. 2-5; N. G. Munro, Prehistoric Japan, p. 167. 

* Catalogue of the Morse Collection of Japanese Pottery, p. 6. 

* Illustrations of the implements used by the Japanese brick-layer and potter 
may be seen in Siebold, Nippon, Vol. VI, plate IV. 

I70 Beginnings of Porcelain 

The wheel is termed rokuro K@ (Chinese lu-lu)y which properly 
means a ptdley, windlass, capstan, then further a turning-lathe. The 
Japanese double wheel has been pointed out (above on p. 165). 

If it is correct that the potter's art came to Burma from China rather 
than from India, and that glazing was acquired there from the Chinese 
either directly or through the medium of the Shan,^ it is probable also 
that the wheel reached Burma from the same centre. In the town of 
Bassein the double wheel is in use.^ In like manner it is probable that 
also the Annamese, who learned the entire process of porcelain-manu- 
facture from their conquerors, the Chinese, adopted the wheel from 
the latter.^ The invasion of the outskirts of Tibet through Chinese 
potters working on the wheel has already been mentioned. They 
use a plain wooden wheel sunk into the ground, and work it with 
the foot. China, consequently, was the centre from which the art of 
wheel-made pottery radiated to all other countries of the East, in 
accordance with the diffusion of Chinese culture among the same 

The great antiquity of the wheel in China cannot reasonably be 
doubted. As has been stated, it is alluded to in early writers of the 
pre-Christian era, and appears to have played a part in mythological 
conceptions. It is designated by a plain root-word, kiln % or ^, 
which means also "even, level, harmonious." It ^as the instrument 
by means of which clay vessels were evenly balanced; it was a sort of 
"harmonizer." A description of the ancient wheel has apparently 
not come down to us. A commentator of Se-ma Ts'ien's Annals notes 
that it was seven feet high and provided with a plimib-line for adjusting 
the vessels.* From Biot's translation of the Chou li^it would seem as 
if the wheel were mentioned in that work, for we read, ''Tout vase 
d'usage ordinaire doit ^tre conforme au tour. . . Le tour est haut 
de quatre pieds. En carr^, il a quatre dixitoes de pied." A potter's 
wheel of course is round, and everybody will be struck by the anomaly 
that the wheel should be four-tenths of a foot square. In fact, the text 
does not speak of a wheel, but of an instrument manipulated by the 
moulders. The passage runs thus: ^^BMMBKJ^m-t. 

1 Gazetteer of Upper Burma and the Shan States, Part I, Vol. II, pp. 399, 403. 
In support of this deduction, the fact is cited, that, in proportion to the population, 
there are more potters' villages in the Shan states than in Burma, and that in many 
places, notably in Papun, the potters are emigrant Shan. 

^ L. c, p. 400. 

' A. DE PouvouRViLLE, L'Art indo-chinois, p. 238. 

* P'ei wen yiin fu, Ch. 51, p. 77. 

^ Vol. II, p. 539. 

The Potter's Wheel 171 

The word po, as far as I know, occurs only in this text as a potter's 
term. The commentator Ch'en Yung-chi W^ 1^ explains it as "sliced 
meat" {9 1^), saying that the potter's products like the 
latter, that is, as thin and smooth; and that the object of rendering a 
vessel equally thick and smooth is attained by the application of the 
instrument po, which accordingly may have been a lathe. Cheng Ngo 
SB If, another commentator of the Chou It, remarks that it was of wood 
and placed on the side of the potter's wheel {kiin ^), but his further 
description is not very lucid. At all events, the instrument in question 
was not, as conceived by Biot, a potter's wheel, which in fact is not 
mentioned in the text of the Chou It. 

Almost all the round jars and vases of the Han period have been 
shaped on the wheel; and these ancient potters exercised considerable 
skill in its use.^ The profession of the throwers is emphasized in the 
ritual of the Chou dynasty {Chou It) , and distinguished from that of the 
moulders. Moreover, we now have well-authenticated specimens of 
pottery of that period, which likewise exhibit the marks of the wheel. 
A truly neolithic, primitive, hand-made pottery, such as we have from 
Japan and Korea, has now also been traced in Chinese soil, particularly 
in southern Manchuria, Liao-tung, and Shen-si. I am inclined to 
date the use of the wheel in China back to a very remote age. The 
chief reason which prompts me to this conclusion is, that ancient Chinese 
records contain no traditions to the effect that pottery was ever the 
office of woman; on the contrary, they associate the industry exclu- 
sively with the activity of man, and these potters were agriculturists. 
The only ancient industry characterized as a female occupation is that 
of the rearing of silkworms and weaving. The "invention" of pottery, 
however, is ascribed to the mythical emperors Huang-ti, Shen-nung, 
and Shim; and throughout Chinese history we hear only of male potters. 
In fact, as we observe also at the present time, woman has no share 
whatever in this business. The potter's wheel, therefore, cannot be 
simply regarded as borrowed by the Chinese from the West in historical 
times, but it belongs to those primary elements of culture which the 
Chinese have in common with certain ancient forms of Western civiliza- 
tion. In our present state of knowledge, it is futile to endeavor to 
explain the how and why of this interrelation. There can be no doubt, 
however, that the ancient Chinese wheel has sprung from the same 

1 This is also the opinion of so prominent an expert in pottery as J. Brinck- 
MANN, the late director of the Hamburg Museum fiir Kunst und Gewerbe, who has 
written an excellent, though brief, article on Han pottery, especially with reference 
to its technique {Jahrbuch der Hamburgischen Wissensch. Anstalten, Vol. XXVII, 
1909, pp. 96-102). 

172 Beginnings of Porcelain 

source as that found in the West. Both are identical as to mechanical 
construction, even in minor points, and as to effect. 

A comparatively great antiquity of the potter's wheel may be 
assumed also for India. Allusion has been made to the early mention 
of it in the Qatapatha Brahmana (p. 157). The jar employed for the 
ritual, as described by Katyayana,^ was solely formed by hand after 
the fashion of coiled pottery. This does not prove that the wheel 
was not in use at that time, for jars serving religious purposes were 
made by hand likewise in Rome and Japan, even after the intro- 
duction of the wheel. The case merely goes to show that hand- 
made ware preceded the wheel-made fabric also in ancient India, 
and that the concept of a fundamental difference between the two 
was maintained, the hand-made product being reserved for religious 

The potter's wheel is twice mentioned in the Jataka.^ In one story 
it is told how a Bodhisatva went to the king's potter and became his 
apprentice. One day, after he had filled the house with potter's clay, 
he asked if he should make some vessels; and when the potter answered, 
"Yes, do so," he placed a lump of clay on the wheel and turned it. 
When once it was turned, it went on swiftly till mid-day. After mould- 
ing all manners of vessels, great and small, he began making one espe- 
cially for Pabhavati with various figures on it. The potter's work is 
a favorite simile in Buddhist scriptures.^ 

In this respect the following story is of particular interest: "In 
the town of Revata, in the north-west of India, there lived a master- 
potter, who prided himself on his dexterity. He was waiting for the 
objects which he manufactured to dry on the wheel, and only at this 
moment he withdrew them. Knowing that the time of his conversion 
had arrived, Bhagavat (Buddha) transformed himself into a master- 
potter, and, chatting with the other potter, asked him why he did not 
withdraw from the wheel the plates and utensils. The potter replied 
that he would do so, when they were perfectly dry. The Buddha 
transformed into a man said, 'Also I withdraw them, when they are 
perfectly dry. You and I follow the same procedure. I, however, 
have a special method. I withdraw the objects only after they are 
completely baked on the wheel.' The master-potter retorted, 'You 

^A. HiLLEBRANDT, Ritual-Lit., Vedische Opfer, p. 8; L. D. Barnett, An- 
tiquities of India, p. 176. 

* Nos. 531 and 546 (Cowell and Rouse, The Jataka, Vol. V, p. 151; Vol. VI, 
p. 188). 

*For instance, Dighanikaya, II, 86 (R. O. Franke's translation, p. 79); T. 
Suzuki, Agvaghosha's Discourse on the Awakening of Faith, pp. 74, 75. 

The Potter's Wheel 173 

are more skilful than I am/ The Buddha transformed into a man 
said, ^Not only do I produce on the wheel objects completely baked, 
but also I can produce objects formed with the seven precious sub- 
stances.' The master-potter's eyes were opened: he immediately 
received faith, and was converted. Thereupon Bhagavat, who had 
transformed himself temporarily into a potter, reassumed his proper 
body. He expounded the supernatural and subtle law, so that the 
potter's family was initiated into the four cardinal truths." ^ 

In southern India, wheel-made pottery came into general use 
during the iron age.^ 

The cart-wheel in the hands of the Indian potter has been referred 
to. This, however, is an exceptional local type, while commonly the 
wheel is a plain wooden disk. G. C. M. Bird wood ^ describes it as a 
horizontal fiy-wheel, two or three feet in diameter, loaded heavily with 
clay around the rim, and put in motion by the hand; and, once set spin- 
ning, it revolves for five or seven minutes with a perfectly steady and 
true motion. The clay to be moulded is heaped on the centre of the 
wheel, and the potter squats down on the ground before it. The Tamil 
potters (Kusavans) are divided into two classes, northern and southern; 
the former using a wheel of earthenware, the latter one made of wood.* 
Their badge, recorded at Conjiveram, is a potter's wheel.^ The Singalese 
wheel (pdruva) is a circular board, about two feet and a half in diameter, 
mounted on a stone pivot, which fits into a larger stone socket em- 
bedded in the ground; the horizontal surface of the wheel itself standing 
not more than six inches above the ground. The wheel is turned by a 
boy, who squats on the ground opposite the potter, and keeps it going 
with his hands.® 

Ceramic art is very ancient in Iran, being alluded to in two pass, 
ages of the Avesta.^ In the latter, mention is made of brick-layer's 

1 J. Przyluski, Le Nord-ouest de I'lnde dans le Vinaya des Mola-Sarvastivadin 
et les textes apparent^s (Journal asiatique, 1914, nov.-dec, pp. 513, 514). 

* R. B. FooTE, Gov. Museum, Madras, Cat. of the Prehistoric Antiquities, 
p. III. In regard to South-Indian pottery compare also R. B. Foote, The Foote 
Collection of Indian Prehistoric and Protohistoric Antiquities (Madras, 19 14; 
new ed., 19 16); and A. Rea, Cat. of the Prehistoric Antiquities from Adichanallur 
and Perumbair (Madras, 1915). F. W. v. Bissing {Sitzher. Bayer. Akad., 191 1, 
p. 16) seems to overvalue the antiquity of the potter's wheel in southern India; it 
is certainly out of the question that it should be older there than in Egypt. 

^ The Industrial Arts of India, Vol. II, p. 144. 

* E. Thurston, Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Vol. IV, p. 1 13. 

* Ibid., p. 197. 

"A. K. CooMARASWAMY, Mediaeval Sinhalese Art, p. 219. 
' Videvdat, ii, 32; vm, 84. 

174 Beginnings of Porcelain 

or potter's kilns.^ As a rule, the kiln is the natural consequence 
of the wheel; but it woiild be premature to conclude from this 
general observation that for this reason the wheel was known to 
the Avestans. It is not specifically mentioned in their sacred books; 
but that it was unknown cannot be deduced, either, from this 

The question of the antiquity of the potter's wheel in Babylonia 
seems not to be settled. Perrot and Chipiez^ remark that the inven- 
tion of the potter's wheel and firing-oven must have taken place 
at a very remote period both in Egypt and Chaldaea; that the oldest 
vases found in the country, those taken from tombs at Warka and 
Mugheir, have been burnt in the oven; that some, however, do 
not seem to have been thrown on the wheel. All that Handcock^ 
states regarding the wheel is a reference to the article of Banks, 
whose theory of the origin of the wheel has already been charac- 
terized as unfounded (p. 154). In Palestine the wheel became general 
from the sixteenth century B.C. Likewise the Israelites were familiar 
with it, and turned almost all their vessels on the wheel.'* As has been 
mentioned, it is alluded to in several passages of the Old and New 

In the graves of the Siberian bronze age has been found pottery of 
inferior workmanship, made by hand, of a coarse and badly baked 
clay. That from the graves of the iron age appears to be wheel-shaped, 
and abounds in artistic shapes.® Its historical position is not yet ex- 
actly ascertained, but it appears to bear some relation to Scythian and 
Iranian cultures. 

In ancient Egypt the wheel was known at the earHest epoch of his- 
tory the sculptures of which have been preserved.^ It is depicted on 
the monuments, being of simple construction and turned with the hand. 

1 See also W. Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur, p. 390; and A. V. W. Jackson, 
From Constantinople to the Home of Omar Khayyam, p. 234. The Avestan 
word for the kiln, tanura (Middle and New Persian tanur) is regarded as a loan 
from Semitic taniir. 

2 History of Art in Chaldaia and Assyria, Vol. II, p. 298. 
' Mesopotamian Archaeology, p. 334. 

*F. ViGOUROUX, Dictionnaire de la Bible, Vol. V, pp. 573-574; S. Birch, 
Ancient Pottery, p. 107. A photograph from Damascus of a potter at the wheel 
is reproduced in the National Geogr. Mag., 191 1, p. 67. 

^ Regarding the use of the wheel in Asia Minor, see W. Belck, Z. /. Ethnologic, 
Vol. XXXIII, 1901, p. 493. 

^ W. Radloff, Aus Sibirien, Vol. II, pp. 89, 90, 129. 

' J. G. Wilkinson, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, Vol. II, 
pp. 190-192 (new ed., by S. Birch), or 2d ed.. Vol. Ill, p. 163. 

The Potter's Wheel 175 

It is plausible that the invention spread from Egypt or Crete to Greece, 
and from there to Italy.^ 

The gradual dissemination of the wheel over Europe is vividly 
illustrated by the fact that in every culture-area there we encounter 
a primitive epoch of pottery-making, which shows no trace of the 
wheel, but a rude hand-made process. Such is found in the earliest 
stages of Hissarlik, the Homeric Troy, in Italy, central and north- 
ern Europe, and in the British Isles. During the second settlement 
of pre-Mycen«an Hissarlik (presumably before 2000 B.C.) we observe 
the beginning of the use of the wheel and the covered furnace. Through- 
out the Mycensean period, pottery was turned on the wheel. The 
Swiss lake-dwellers, though capable potters, were unacquainted with 
the wheel. Likewise it was unknown in the British Isles during the 
bronze period.^ In the north of Europe, the potter's wheel appears at 
a late date in the La-Tene period. Thus the assumption gains ground 
that Egypt was the centre from which the wheel gradually spread to 
southern, and ultimately to central and northern, Europe. 

In two areas of the Old World, accordingly, we can clearly observe 
a diffusion of the wheel from one point, — from China to her depen- 
dencies Korea, Japan, Annam, and Burma; and from Egypt to Europe. 
India was perhaps another focus, as far as Sumatra and Java are con- 
cerned. A direct transmission of the device from Egypt to India is 
conceivable, though it is of course impossible to furnish the exact proof. 
It is inconceivable, however, that the wheels of India and China shoiild 
be independent from those of the West. Not only is there a perfect 
coincidence between their constructions and manipulations, but also 
the culture-associations by which the wheel is surrounded here and 
there are strikingly identical. The social setting of the wheel and the 
concomitant culture-elements have been characterized above. The 
wheeled cart, the highly-developed system of agriculture, bronze cast- 
ing, and the affiliation of pottery with the latter, are features peculiar 
to the same area, and absent in other culture-zones. Consequently 
the presence of the wheel in the East and West alike cannot be attributed 
to an accident, but it appears as an organic constituent and ancient 

^ Regarding details, see H. Blumner, Technologie, Vol. II, pp. 36-40; O. 
ScHRADER, Reallexikon, p. 868; etc. H. B. Walters (Cat. of the Greek and Etrus- 
can Vases in the British Museum, Vol. II, p. 228) describes the medallion of a 
kylix on which a potter, nude and beardless, is seated before a wheel; on it is a 
kylix of archaic shape, the handle of which he is moulding. The question as to 
whether the wheel was employed in Crete at an earlier date than in Egypt, or vice 
versa, must be left to the decision of specialists in this field. 

'^ J. Evans, Ancient Bronze Implements of Great Britain, p. 487; British Mu- 
seum Guide to the Antiquities of the Bronze Age, p. 43. 

176 Beginnings of Porcelain 

heritage in the life of the Mediterranean and great Asiatic civilizations. 
This well-defined geographical distribution, and the absence of the 
wheel in all other parts of the globe, speak well in favor of a monistic 
origin of the device. 

The chief results of the present investigation may be summarized 
as follows. The industry of ancient Chinese pottery, in its principal 
technical and social features, has exactly the same fovmdation as the 
corresponding industry of western Asia, Egypt, and India. This 
phenomenon is only one of a complex of others with which it is in 
organic cohesion; that is, the entire economic foundation of ancient 
Chinese civilization has a common basis with that of the West.^ It is 
a reasonable conclusion that identity of apparatus and technical 
processes must have yielded similar results. Comparative study of 
forms, however, is futile for the present, as long as we do not have the 
very earliest prehistoric ceramic productions of China, Central Asia, 
Iran, and India. This much is evident, that only by co-ordination can 
the real problem to be pursued be solved, and that isolation or detach- 
ment of each particular field will 5rield no result that is worth while. 
The incentive for the process of glazing pottery was received by the 
Chinese directly from the West, owing to their contact with the Hel- 
lenistic world in comparatively late historical times. The knowledge 
of glazing rendered the manufacture of a porcelanous ware possible; 
yet in this achievement the creative genius of the Chinese was not 
guided by outside influence, but relied on its own powerful resources. 
Nothing of the character of porcelain was known under the Han 
(206 B.c.-A.D. 220). The murrine vases of the ancients were not 
porcelain, and in fact bear no relation to China. They may have been 
instrumental, however, in bringing to the notice of the Chinese the 
beauty and effect of ceramic glazes; hence the manufacture of glazed 
ware springs up in the age of the Han, more particularly under the 
reign of the Emperor Wu (140-87 B.C.). It is admissible to place the 
first subconscious gropings with ware of more or less porcelanous char- 
acter in the closing days of the Later Han dynasty; and under the Wei, 
in the middle or latter part of the third century, we see these tentative 
experiments ultimately crowned with success. Continued till the end 
of the sixth century and the beginning of the seventh through a long 
line of experiences and improvements, they gradually resulted in the 

* The details are somewhat more developed in the writer's popular article 
Some Fundamental Ideas of Chinese Culture {Journal of Race Development, Vol. V, 
1914, pp. 160-174). 

The Potter^s Wheel 177 

production of a true white porcelain. Porcelain is not an invention, 
and there is no inventor of it. It is not in a category by itself, but is 
only a variety of pottery; its diversity from common pottery is one of 
degree, not of principle. 

Finally, the question may be raised as to why Chinese records on all 
these points are so sparse and unsatisfactory. The same observation 
holds good for bronze, iron, wood-carving, basketry, and other ancient 
industries and crafts. The occupation with such themes on the part 
of Chinese scholars begins as late as the age of the Sung. The ancient 
professional annalists and chroniclers were not interested in the doings 
and thoughts of the broad masses of the people. If they recorded with 
some degree of exactness the invention of rag-paper in a.d. 105, it was 
for the reason that paper had a direct bearing on the life and work of 
the scholar. The plain farmer-potter of old led a secluded existence, 
far removed from the seats of scholarship. The average type of Con- 
fucian scholar never took an interest in technical questions, or else 
looked down upon these without a gleam of understanding. Our hopes 
for further elucidations of the problems connected with the history of 
pottery in China must be placed in archasology, not in sinology, which 
certainly reflects not on the sinologue, but on the character of the 
scanty source-material that has fallen to our lot. 


Abel-Remusat, 121. 

Aeneas of Gaza, 142. 

Africa, pottery of, 152, 153. 

Ainu, pottery of, 149, 150. 

Alaska, pottery of, 149. 

Alchemy, 113 note i, 118, 142-143. 

Amber, 131. 

America, potter's wheel absent, in, 151; 
pottery, occupation of woman, in, 152. 

Amur tribes, pottery of, 149, 166. 

Analyses, of body of porcelanous Han 
pottery, 86; of Chinese and Japanese 
glazes, 90; of Chinese and Japanese 
porcelains, 86; of glaze of porcelanous 
Han pottery, 90; of green glaze of Han 
pottery, 93. 

Andaman, unacquainted with potter's 
wheel, 152, 153. 

Aristotle, 131. 

Assam, kilns of, 156. 

Aston, W. G., 168, 169. 

Athenaeus, 131. 

Atkinson, J. J., 151. 

Atlasov, W., 150. 

Augustus, 123. 

Australia, pottery unknown in, 149. 

Avesta, pottery mentioned in, 173. 

Babelon, E., 129. 

Bacon, 135. 

Baines, A., 154, 160. 

Banks, E. J., 154. 

Barber, E. A., 108. 

Barbosa, 135. 

Bartholomae, 126. 

Batchelor, J., 150. 

Bauer, M., 129, 

Baumann, O., 153. 

Belck, W., 174. 

Bemeker, E., 126. 

Berthelot, M., 142. 

Billequin, A., 166. 

Biot, E., 80, 154, 160, 170, 171. 

Birch, S., 165. 

Bird wood, G. C. M., 154. 

Bishop, Mrs., 168. 

Bissing, F. W. v., 173. 

Bliimner, H., 127, 129, 133, 134, 164, 

Boas, F., 150. 
Bogoras, V., 150, 153. 
Bostock and Riley, 123. 
Boston Fine Arts Museum, porcelanous 

ware in, 82, 100. 
Bretschneider, E., 112, 115. 

Brinckmann, J., 171. 

Brinkley, F., 165, 168. 

Bronze, connection of with pottery, 

Bronze-founder, influence of on potter. 

Browne, Th., 135. 
Bucaro, 131 note i. 
Budge, E. A. W., 159. 
Burma, pottery of, 170. 
Bushell, S. W., 95, 96, loi, 102, 124, 138, 

140, 155, 163. 
Buttmann, Ph., 122. 
Byhan, A., 150. 

Cambodja, liu-li of, 143. 

Cardan, J., 122. 

Catapatha Brahmana, 156. 

Chang Yi, 115, 118. 

Chao Chang-li, 99. 

Chavannes, E., 83, 113, 124, 142, 144, 

146, 149, 156, 160. 
Che ngo, 115. 

Cheng lei pen ts'ao, 112, 113. 
Cheng Ngo, 171. 
Ch'en Yung-chi, 171. 
Chou H, 80, 154, 170, 171. 
Chou Shan, 146. 
Chu Yen, 154. 
Chuang-tse, 117. 
Chukchi, pottery of, 150, 153. 
Cole, H. H., no, 162. 
Compton, H., 154. 
Cooking-stove, of iron, 79, 80. 
Coomaraswamy, A. K., no, 161, 173. 
Corsi, F., 129. 

Court, pottery destined for the, loi. 
Couvreur, S., 105, 117. 
Crooke, W., 96, 159, 160. 
Crucibles with natural glaze, 146. 

Dal, v., 125, 126. 

Dalton, O. M., 137. 

Ditmar, K. v., 150. 

Dobbs, H. R. C, 162, 165. 

Double wheel, used by potters of China, 

164; in Java, 165; in Japan, 165; in 

Burma, 170. 

Easter Island, pottery of, 149. 
Eggeling, J., 156. 
d'Entrecolles, 163. 
Erman, A., 163. 
Eskimo, pottery of, 149-150. 
Evans, J., 175. 




Fabricius, B., 125, 138. 
Fagfur, 126. 
Fan yi ming i tsi, 139. 
Farfor, Russian designation for porce- 
lain, 126. 
Ferrand, G., 143. 
Fick, R., 160. 
Fischer, A., 166. 
Fluor-spar, 122- 
Foote.R.B., 173. 
Forke, A., 141. 
Fourdrignier, E., 136. 
Fowke, G., 166. 
Franke, R. O., 172. 
Freer, C., 82, 100. 
Fu-chou, cinerary urns from, 84. 
Fu-nan, 143. 

Gait, E. A., 156. 

Gammon, C. F., 82, 83. 

Geerts, A. J. C., n8, 145. 

Geiger, W., 174. 

Gilyak, pottery of, 149. 

Glass, 138 note 4, 142, 147. 

Glazes, introduction of into China, 

Glazing, ancient Chinese recipe for, 135. 
Gowland, W., 168. 
Grandidier, E., 108. 
Grenard, F., 150. 
Gurdon, Major, 153. 
de Groot, loi. 

Hager, J., 121. 

Hahn, E., 158. 

du Halde, 163. 

Han art, definition of, 81. 

Han pottery , 79-8 1 , 92 , 1 43-1 44, 1 7 1 ; men- 
tioned in Chinese records, 144 note 2. 

Han-tan, kaolin of, 113. 

Han ts'e, porcelanous ware of the Han 
period or of Han style, 79, 10 1. 

Han wu ku shi, 141. 

Handcock, 174. 

Hang mountains, 116. 

Harrington, M. R., 153. 

d'Herbelot, 126. 

Herzfeld, E., 97. 

Hillebrandt, A., 172. 

Hing chou, porcelain of, 99. 

Hippisley, 102. 

Hirth, F., 103, 105, in, 113, 123, 130, 139 

Ho-nan, porcelain of, 99. 

Hobson, R. L., 84, 95, 98, 99, loi, 104, 
108, 112, 120, 144, 145, 146, 148. 

Holder, E., 155. 

Holmes, W. H., 151. 

Holt, H. F., 84. 

Hou Han shu, 100, 168. 

Hough, W., 161. 

Hu Ch'ung, 143. 

Hu Tsung, 140. 

Hu-chou, pottery of, 106. 

Hu K'ang-tsung, 149. 

Hua yang hien chi, 144. 

Hua yang kuo chi, 115. 

Huai-lu, manufacture of stone disks in, 

Huai-nan-tse, 156. 
Huang-chi, 143. 

I-tsing, 95, 96. 

Ides, E. Y., 136. 

India, liu-li of, 140, 143; porcelain in, 

95-;96; potter's wheel of, 156-157; 

social position of potters in, 154. 
Iran, pottery in, 173-174. 

Jackson, A. V. W., 174. 

Jade, not to be understood by murrines, 

Jao chou, kaolin of, 1 13; porcelain of, 99. 
Japan, double wheel of, 165; potter's 

wheel of, 158, 169-170; prehistoric 

pottery of, 150. 
Japan Society, Catalogue of Potteries 

published by, 103. 
Jataka, potter's wheel in the, 172. 
Java, double wheel of, 165; potter's 

wheel of, 152. 
Jeremiah, 158. 
Jouy, P. L., 168. 
Julien, S., 86, 87, 97, 99, loi, 102, 104, 

107, 108, 115, 118, 123, 145, 147, 163. 
Juvenalis, 124. 

Kaempfer, E., 136. 

Kamtchatka, pottery of, 150. 

Kaolin, notes on, 110-119. 

Karakhoto, pottery of, 146 note 4. 

Karlbeck, O., 84. 

Katyayana, 172. 

Kennedy, J., 137. 

Kershaw, F. S., 82, 83. 

Khasi, pottery of, 153. 

Ki chung Chou shu, 160. 

Kin, palace of, 146. 

King te chen t'ao lu, 97, 98, loi, 105, 

106, 163. 
Kitsi, kiln of, 149. 
Kiu T'ang shu, 168. 
Kloss, C. B., 153. 
Koptos, scented pottery of, 131. 
Korea, pottery of, 166-167. 
K'ou Tsung-shi, 113, 114. 
Krause, J. H., 131. 
Ku kin chu, 141. 
Kuan-chung, kilns of, loi, 102. 
Kuang chi, 143. 
Kuang ya, 115. 
Kuo I-kung, 143. 
Kuo P'o, 114, 118. 
Kuriles, pottery of, 150. 

Lang, E., 154. 

Le Compte, L., 136. 



Le Coq, A. v., 126. 

Lei, type of jar, 79, 80. 

Legendre, A. F., 149. 

Legge, J., loi, 117, 160, 161. 

Lesson, A., 149. 

Li ki, 117. 

Li Shao-kun, 142. 

Li Shi-chen, 112, 113, 114, 115. 

Liang shu, 142, 143. 

Liao shi, 105. 

Lie-tse, 115 note 5. 

Ling piao lu i, 113, 147. 

Liu Hi, 116. 

Liu-li, 138-147. 

Liu-li ku, kiln of, 145. 

Liu Sun, 113, 146. 

Lui-li wa, 100. 

Lo-lo, unacquainted with pottery, 149. 

Loadstone, 104, 106. 

Lu Kuang-wei, 116. 

Lubbock, J., 151. 

Malayans, potter's wheel of, 152. 

Man, E. H., 152, 153. 

Mariette, P. J., 122. 

Martialis, 124, 129. 

Mason, O. T., 151. 

MasQdi, 126. 

Mei Piao, 115. 

Melanesia, pottery of, 149, 153. 

M^ly, F. de, 104, 117. 

de Mendoza, 136. 

Mineralogy, Chinese work on, 115. 

Mo-ch'u,=» Javanese mojo, 143 note 6. 

Mong K'ang, 144, 145. 

Mong-tse, 160, 161. 

Mongol dynasty, glazed pottery of, 145. 

Morse, E. S., 164, 166, 169. 

Mu-nan, 140. 

Munro, N. G., 169. 

Murdoch, J., 150. 

Murra, 125, 128, 138, 145. 

Murrine vases, 120-138. 

Nan chou i wu chi, 145. 

Nanjio, Bunyiu, 115. 

Negrito, unacquainted with pottery, 149. 

Negroes, unacquainted with potter's 

wheel, 152. 
Neuhof, J., 136. 

New Zealand, pottery unknown in, 149. 
Nichols, H. W., technical report of, 86-94. 
Nicobar, pottery of, 153. 
Nihongi, 168. 
Nordenskiold, A. v., 121. 
Nordenskiold, E., 151. 

Okakura, 82. 

Pai ngo, 111-114, 116. 
Pai shan, 11 4-1 15. 
Pai tun-tse, 118. 
Palladius, 100, 105, 106, 138. 

Pan-liang coins, 82, 83, 100. 

Papinot, E., 168. 

Parthians, kilns of, 122, 124, 126. 

Pausanias, 125, 137. 

Pelliot, P., 143. 

Pen ts'ao kang mu, 104, 112, 113, 114. 

Pen ts'ao yen i, 113, 114. 

Periplus 121, 137, 138. 

Perrot and Chipiez, 174. 

Petrie, W. M. F., 137, 138, 139, 147. 

Petrucci, 166. 

Petuntse, no, in, 11 8-1 19. 

Pie lu, 113, 114, 118. 

Piatt, J., 166. 

Pliny, 106, 121, 124, 127, 131, 132, 134. 

Po Ku-i, 146. 

Polar peoples, pottery of, 149-150. 

Polynesians, unacquainted with pottery, 

Pompey, 123. 
Porcelain, in India, 95-96; no inventor 

of, 99; of Ts'e-chou, 104, 106. 
Porcelanous Han pottery, analysis of 

body of, 86; analysis of glaze of, 90; 

chemical character of body of, 86; 

mode of preparation of glaze of, 91; 

physical character of body of, 87. 
Potter's wheel, see wheel. 
Pouvourville, A. de, 170. 
Prestwich, no. 
Propertius, 122, 124, 126. 
Przyluski, J., 173. 

Quichua, pottery-making of, 151. 

RadlofI, W., 126, 174. 

Rea, A., 173. 

Reil, T., 131. 

Rein, J. J., 168. 

Reinaud, M., 97. 

Rhys Davids, 160. 

RinsO, Mamiya, 149. 

Risley, Sir Herbert, 148, 154. 

Rock-crystal, theories on the origin of, 

131; vessels of, 132, 133, 137. 
RockhiU, W. W., 150. 
Roloflf, E. H., 122, 125. 
Romans, 159. 
Rondot, N., 99, 123. 

Saddle, of liu-li, 142. 
Saghalin, pottery of, 149. 
Salv^tat, A., 86, 87, 90. 
Samarra, excavations in, 97-98. 
San kuo chi, 140. 
Saroshevski, 152. 
Sarre, F., 97, 98. 
Satow, Sir Ernest, 165. 
Scaliger, J. C, 122. 
Scaliger, J. J., 122. 
Scented pottery, 131. 
Schmidt, H., 162. 
Schrenck, L. v., 149. 



Schurlz, H., 153. 

Seger, H. A., 86, 87. 

Seligmann, C. G., 151, 153. 

Se-ma Siang-ju, 115. 

Se-ma Ts'ien, 116, 124, 142. 

Se-tiao, 143. 

Shan hai king, 114, 116, 118. 

Shen-nung, 160. 

Shi i ki, 141. 

Shi ki, 115, 124. 

Shi king, alleged porcelain whistle in, loi. 

Shi ming, 116. 

Shi yao erh ya, 115. 

Shu king, pottery not mentioned in, 102. 

Shun, mythical originator of pottery, 

Shuo wen, definition of the term ts'e in, 

102-103; definition of the term ngo in, 

Si king tsa ki, 142. 

Siberia, pottery of tribes of, 149, 174. 
Siebold, P. F. v., 149, 169. 
Singalese, potter's wheel of, 151; potters 

of, 161. 
Smith, F. P., 117. 
Smith, W., 130. 
Soleyman, 96, 97, 
Sprenger, A., 126. 
Squier and Davis, 161. 
Stage-fool, 117 note 2. 
Statius, 124. 
Stein, Sir Aurel, 98, 146. 
Strahlenberg, P. J. v., 150. 
Stull, R. T., 93. 
Su chou fu chi, 116. 
Su Kimg, 113. 
Su-shen, 168 note i. 
Su Sung, 113, 114. 
Suetonius, 123. 

Sumatra, potter's wheel of, 152. 
Suzuki, T., 172. 

Ta T'ang sin yu, 98. 

Ta-ts'e, mountains of, 114. 

Ta Ts'in, 138, 139, 143. 

Ta Ts'ing i t'ung chi, 84, 104. 

T'ai p'ing huan yii ki, 99, 104, 107, 143, 

T'ai p'ing yii Ian, 141, 142, 143, 145. 

Takakusu, J., 96. 

T'ang leu tien, 99. 

T'ang pen ts'ao, 112. 

T'ang pen yii, 112. 

T'ang period, porcelain of, 99. 

T'ang Shen-wei, 112. 

T'ang shu, 99, 104, 105. 

T'ang shu shi yin, 116. 

T 'ao Hung-king, 1 1 1 - 1 1 3 . 

T'ao shuo, 96, 98, 124, 145, 155. 

Taoists, share of in the initial produc- 
tion of porcelain, 118. 

Thiersch, F., 122, 125, 128, 129, 132, 

Thurston, E., 155, 173. 

Tibet, pottery of, 150. 

Ting chou, porcelain of, 99; kaolin of, 

Ting Tu, 107. 
Torii, 150, 166. 
Ts'ai Yung, loi. 
Tse jan hui, 145. 
Ts'e, does not refer to common glazed 

Han pottery, 100; discussion of the 

term, 102-109. 
Ts'e-chou, city of, 104, 107 note. 
Tse su fu, 115. 
Tsi yiin, 107, 146. 
Tsin shu, 141. 
Ts'ien Han shu, 107, 115, 140, 143, 

Ts'ui Yung, 146. 
Ts'ung-lung, mountains of, 1 14. 
T'u king pen ts'ao, 114. 
T'u shu tsi ch'eng, 105. 
Tung-fang So, 142. 
Turkistan, porcelain in, 98. 
Tu tuan, loi. 
Tylor, E. B., 149. 

Vedda, pottery of, 151, 
Vigouroux, F., 174. 
Voss, A., 161. 


Walters, H. B., 175. 

Wan Chen, 145. 

Wang Hui, 146. 

Watt, G., no. 

Watts, A. S., no. 

Watters, T., ns. 

Wave patterns, 81. 

Wei lio, 138. 

Wheel, potter's, 148-176; absent in 
America, 150-151; associated with 
the stage of agriculture, 159-161; 
geographical distribution of, 150; in 
Egypt, 159, 163, 174; in Old Testa- 
ment, 158; in Palestine, 174; influence 
of on progress of ceramics, 1 61-162; 
invention of man, 152-155; of ancient 
Europe, 175; of Babylonia, 154, 174; 
of China, 162-164, 171, 175; of India, 
155-157, 172; static in its distribution, 
151; technical connection with cart- 
wheel, 156-158. 

Wheel-potters and moulders, distinct 
professions in ancient China and 
India, 154. 

White, M., 155. 

Wieger, L., 115, 117. 

Wilkinson, J. G., 174. 

Window-glass, 141. 

Wo-tsii, burial customs of, 168 note i. 

Wu, Emperor, 140, 142. 

Wu li, 143. 

Wu P'u, n5, 118. 

Wu p'u pen ts'ao, 115. 

Index 183 

Wu ti ki, 116. Yu yang tsa tsu, 98, 140. 

Wylie, A., 115. Yuan kien lei han, 143. 

Yuan Ying, 96, 115, 131, 139. 

Yakut, pottery of, 152. Yu chou, porcelain of, 99. 

Yang-shan, 116. Yu t'ang kia huo, 146. 

Yellow, color of earth, 114. Yuan shi, 105, 145. 

Yen Kan-yiian, 79, 80, loi. Yiie chou, porcelain, of, 99. 

Yen Shi-ku, 116, 145, 159. Yule, H., 126, 135. 
Yi ts'ie king yin i, 96, 115, 131, 139. 

Yu ngo, 117. Zimmermann, E., 99, 164. 




Han Porcelanous Pottery (see p. 79). 
Small jug. The yellowish-green, vitrified porcelanous glaze covers only the 
medial portion of the body, inclusive of the two ears or loop handles. The exterior 
of the neck and the base are unglazed. In the base, nail-marks are left. The 
bottom is flat and without a rim. The clay appears to contain iron ore. Found 
on top of a cast-iron stove (Plate II), in a grave near the village Ma-kia-chai, 5 li 
north of the town Hien-yang, Shen-si Province. 

Middle or end of the third century a.d 
Height, 16.7 cm. Cat. No. 118718. 




aoo ftoti 9irr .v?t 'Q 335 ;(' • 


Cast-Iron Stove (see p. 80). 
Side and front views. 
In type and style it exactly corresponds to the Han pottery burial cooking- 
stoves. Posed on four feet in the form of elephant-heads, it is built in the shape 
of a horse-shoe, and provided with a chimney, five cooking-holes, and a projecting 
platform in front of the fire-chamber. On the latter is cast an inscription consisting 
of six raised characters in Han style of writing, reading ta ki ch'ang i hou wang 
("Great felicity! May it be serviceable to the lords!"); see p. 79. The iron core 
is entirely decomposed, so that for exhibition purposes the object had to be braced 
on wooden supports. Found in a grave near the village Ma-kia-chai, 5 li north 
of the town Hien-yang, Shen-si Province. Inserted here as collateral evidence in 
determining the provenience and date of the pottery jug illustrated in Plate I. 
End of Han period (a.d. 220), or, generally, third century a.d. 
Height, 35 cm; length, 71.5 cm; width, 40.5 cm. Cat. No. 120985. 



Cast-Iron stove. 


Han Porcelanous Pottery. 

Small jug. The interior of the neck is glazed in its upper part. Only the 

upper portion of the body is coated with a thick, lustrous, porcelanous glaze of 

greenish-yellow tinge, interspersed with small white dots, the glaze running down 

in streaks over the lower unglazed part. This is the best-glazed piece in the lot. 

Two rounded ears or loop handles are attached to the shoulders. 

Middle or latter part of third century a.d. 

Height, 20.1 cm. Cat. No. 1 18723. 




Plate IV. 

Han Porcelanous Pottery. 
Large globular vase of harmonious proportions, decorated with two opposite 
animal (tiger) -heads in flat relief, holding dead rings, of the same style as in com- 
mon Han pottery. In the middle between these heads, but somewhat higher, and 
opposite each other, are two semi-circular loop handles stuck on to the body of 
the vessel, obviously for the passage of a cord, by means of which the vase was 
held and carried. Each handle is bordered by two knotted bands moulded sep- 
arately in high relief. This feature, — that is, the combination of loop handles with 
tiger-heads, — to my knowledge, does not occur in ordinary Han pottery. The 
slip appears to have been lost in part of the neck. The glaze exhibits various 
tinges of light green, mingled with the deep brown of the slip, and interspersed 
with black spots, the brown approaching that of maple-leaves in the autumn. 
The red-brown slip covers one side of the neck and almost the entire base; in the 
middle portion the porcelanous glaze appears to be laid over this slip. Three 
bands, each consisting of three concentric grooves, in the same manner as in Han 
pottery, are laid around the body. The bottom is flat, and has along the rim 
a broad grayish ring of irregular form and depth. The walls of the vessel are un- 
usually thick, and its :weight is almost six pounds. 

Third century a.d. 
Height, 354 cm. Cat. No. 1 18720. 



Han Porcelanous Vase. 


Han Porcelanous Pottery. 
Small jar, now unglazed, but originally glazed in its middle portion; when 
found, covered all over with masses of earth, the glaze having been destroyed by 
chemical influences under ground, and a white engobe being left in its place. A 
wave-band, each consisting of five lines, presumably done by means of a roller, 
runs around the upper rim and the neck. A double knot in low relief is stamped 
above the loop handles, which terminate in a flat ring filled with incised, radiating 
lines, apparently the reproduction in clay of a metal ring. The bottom is raised 
on a rim, about i cm high. 

Third century a.d. 
Height, 21.2 cm. Cat. No. 1 187 17. 



Han Porcelanous Jar. 


Han Porcelanous Pottery. 
Globular vase, slightly asymmetrical, a narrow medial zone reaching from the 
neck down to the shoulders being well coated with a uniform, lustrous, yellowish- 
green porcelanous glaze; the neck and base showing a glossy brown sUp. Its inte- 
rior is glazed over a space of 6 cm. Decorated with three incised wave-bands, 
bordered by deep grooves, the lower one under the glaze. The almost semi-circular 
loop handles exhibit a leaf or fish-bone design. 

Third century A.D. 
Height, 25.2 cm. Cat. No. 11 8721. 




Plate VI I. 

Han Porcelanous Pottery. 

Large globular vase, in its medial portion and inside of the neck coated with a 
thin, but evenly distributed porcelanous glaze. Wave-band along upper rim, and 
a broader wave-band of bolder design around the neck. The loop handles show 
a fish-bone design incised under the glaze. Flat bottom without rim. Of almost 
perfect workmanship. 

Third century a.d. 
Height, 34.8 cm. Cat. No. 1 18722. 





Han Porcelanous Pottery. 
Large vase with asymmetrical neck, apparently turned out by an unskilled 
potter. A large piece is broken out of the neck (found in this condition) on the 
side of the vase not shown in the illustration. The glaze, covering only the middle 
portion, is thick and unevenly appHed, in some instances forming small warts or 
globules. Decorated with two wave-bands. Loop handles with fish-bone design. 
The bottom is raised on a rim i cm high. 

Third century a.d. 
Height, 27.2 cm. Cat. No. 1 18724. 




Han Porcelanous Pottery. 
Large ovoid vase of good proportions, of light-reddish clay, glazed in the medial 
portion and in the interior of the neck, exterior of neck and base being coated with 
a brown slip. Two wave-bands. Loop-handles with leaf design of raised lines. 

Third century a.d. 
Height, 35.6 cm. Cat. No. 11 87 19. 



Han Porcelanous Vase. 


Han Porcelanous Pottery. 
Jar of the type lei @. The bottom inside is glazed. The exterior is glazed 
as far down as the middle of the body; the base is coated with a brown-red slip. 
The handles are glazed only in their upper portions. A wave-band is run over 
the shoulders under the glaze, passing below the loop handles. The latter are 
wrought into the appearance of an elaborate animal-head of similar style, that 
i s moulded in relief on the body of the vessel. 

Third century a.d. 
Height, 25.9 cm. Cat. No. 1 18864. 





Chinese Potter's Wheel (see p. 162). 

From kiln near Peking. Table of clay, 52 cm in diameter on the top, 60 cm 
across the opening below. 

In the collections of the American Museum of Natural History, New York. 
Secured by the writer in 1903. 

Height, 1.24 m. Cat. No ^. 




Chinese Potter's Wheel of Clay. 

cm od >! 


' i i - ; \VJ : • ■'■' Vi. 



Chinese Potter's Wheel (see p. 162). 
From kiln near Peking. The table is formed by a heavy stone disk 60 cm 
in diameter and 9 cm thick. On top of it is placed a small wooden table, 35 cm in 
diameter. The main shaft is of wood and 87 cm high; the two wooden side-supports 
are 37 cm in length. 

In the collections of the American Museum of Natural History, New York. 
Secured by the writer in 1903. 

Cat. No. — 7o_. 


Chinese Potter's Wheel of Stone. 




Volume XV, No. 3 


Field Museum of Natural History ^.• 

Publication 201 
Anthropological Series Vol. XV, No. 3 


Chinese Contributions to the History of Civilization 
in Ancient Iran 

With Special Reference to the History of 
Cultivated Plants and Products 


Berthold Laufer 

Curator of Anthropology 

The Blackstone Expedition 




Introduction 185 

Sino-Iranica 208 

Alfalfa 208 

The Grape-Vine 220 

The Pistachio 246 

The Walnut 254 

The Pomegranate 276 

Sesame and Flax 288 

The Coriander 297 

The Cucumber 300 

Chive, Onion, and Shallot 302 

Garden Pea and Broad Bean . ^ 305 

Saffron and Turmeric 309 

Safflower 324 

Jasmine 329 

Henna 334 

The Balsam-Poplar 339 

Manna 343 

asafoetida 353 

Galbanum 363 

Oak-Galls 367 

Indigo 370 

Rice 372 

Pepper . 374 

Sugar 376 

Myrobalan 378 

The **Gold Peach" 379 

FU-TSE 379 

Brassica 380 

Cummin 383 

The Date-Palm 385 

The Spinach 392 

Sugar Beet and Lettuce 399 

Ricinus 403 

The Almond 405 

The Fig 410 

The Olive 415 


iv Contents 


Cassia Pods and Carob 420 

Narcissus 427 

The Balm of Gilead 429 

Note on the Language of Fu-lin 435 

The Water-Melon 438 

Fenugreek 446 


The Carrot 451 

Aromatics 455 

Spikenard, p. 455. — Storax, p. 456. — Myrrh, p. 460. — Putchuck, p. 462. — Styrax 
benjoin, p. 464. 

The Malayan Po-se and Its Products 468 

Alum, p. 474. — Lac, p. 475. — Camphor, p. 478. — Aloes, p. 480. — Amomum, p. 481. — 
P, o-lo-te, p. 482.— Psoralea, p. 483.— Ebony, p. 485. 

Persian Textiles 488 

Brocades, p. 488. — Rugs, p. 492. — Yue no, p. 493. — ^Woolen §tuffs, p. 496. — Asbestos, 
p. 498. 

Iranian Minerals, Metals, and Precious Stones . . .• 503 

Borax, p. 503. — Sal Ammoniac, p. 503. — Litharge, p. 508. — Gold, p. 509. — Oxides 
of Copper, p. 510. — Colored Salt, p. 511. — Zinc, p. 511. — Steel, p. 515. — 
Se-se, p. 516. — Emerald, p. 518. — Turquois, p. 519. — Lapis Lazuli, p. 520. — 
Diamond, p. 521. — Amber, p. 521. — Coral, p. 523. — Bezoar, p. 525. 

Titles o^ the Sasanian Government 529 

Irano-Sinica 535 

The Square Bamboo, p. 535. — Silk, p. 537. — Peach and Apricot, p. 539. — Cinnamon, 
541. — Zedoary, p. 544. — Ginger, p. 545. — Mamiran, p. 546. — Rhubarb, p. 547. — 

Jalsola, p. 551. — Emblic Myrobalan, p. 551. — Althaea, p. 651. — Rose of China, 
_). 551. — Mango, p. 552. — Sandal, p. 552. — Birch, p. 552. — Tea, p. 553. — Onyx, 
p. 554. — Tootnague, p. 555. — Saltpetre, p. 555. — Kaolin, p. 556.— Smilax pseudo- 

china, p. 656. — Rag-paper, p. 557. — Paper Money, p. 559. — Chinese Loan-Words 
in Persian, p. 564. — The Chinese in the Alexander Romance, p. 570. 

Appendix I Iranian Elements in Mongol 572 

Appendix II Chinese Elements in Turki 577 

Appendix III The Indian Elements in the Persian Pharma- 
cology of Abu Mansur Muwaffaq . . . 580 

Appendix IV The Basil 586 

Appendix V Additional Notes on Loan-Words in Tibetan 591 

General Index 599 

Botanical Index 617 

Index of Words 621 



By Berthold Laufer 


If we knew as much about the culture of ancient Iran as about 
ancient Egypt or Babylonia, or even as much as about India or China, 
our notions of cultural developments in Asia wotdd probably be widely 
different from what they are at present. The few literary remains left 
to us in the Old-Persian inscriptions and in the Avesta are insufficient 
to retrace an adequate picture of Iranian life and civilization; and, 
although the records of the classical authors add a few touches here 
and there to this fragment, any attempts at reconstruction, even 
combined with these sources, will remain imsatisfactory. During the 
last decade or so, thanks to a benign dispensation of fate, the Iranian 
horizon has considerably widened: important discoveries made in 
Chinese Turkistan have revealed an abundant literature in two hitherto 
unknown Iranian languages, — the Sogdian and the so-called Eastern 
Iranian.! We now know that Iranian peoples once covered an immense 
territory, extending all over Chinese Turkistan, migrating into China, 
coming in contact with Chinese, and exerting a profound influence on 
nations of other stock, notably Turks and Chinese. The Iranians were 
the great mediators between the West and the East, conveying the 
heritage of Hellenistic ideas to central and eastern Asia and trans- 
mitting valuable plants and goods of China to the Mediterranean area. 
Their activity is of world-historical significance, but without the 
records of the Chinese we should be unable to grasp the situation 
thoroughly. The Chinese were positive utilitarians and always inter- 
ested in matters of reality: they have bequeathed to us a great amount 
of useful information on Iranian plants, products, animals, minerals, 
customs, and institutions, which is bound to be of great service to 

The following pages represent Chinese contributions to the history 
of civilization in Iran, which aptly fill a lacune in ovir knowledge of 
Iranian tradition. Chinese records dealing with the history of Iranian 
peoples also contain numerous transcriptions of ancient Iranian words, 

^ Cf., for instance, P. Pelliot, Influences iraniennes en Asie centrale et en 
Extreme-Orient (Paris, 191 1). 


1 86 Sino-Iranica 

part of which have tested the ingenuity of several sinologues and 
historians; but few of these Sino-Iranian terms have been dealt with 
accurately and adequately. While a system for the study of Sino- 
Sanskrit has been successfully established, Sino-Iranian has been 
woefully neglected. The honor of having been the first to apply the 
laws of the phonology of Old Chinese to the study of Sino-Iranica is 
due to Robert Gauthiot.^ It is to the memory of this great Iranian 
scholar that I wish to dedicate this voltime, as a tribute of homage not only 
to the scholar, but no less to the man and hero who gave his life for 
France.^ Gauthiot was a superior man, a kiun-tse ^ ■J' in the sense of 
Confucius, and every line he has written breathes the mind of a thinker 
and a genius. I had long cherished the thought and the hope that I 
might have the privilege of discussing with him the problems treated 
on these pages, which would have considerably gained from his sagacity 
and wide experience — #^A;^^®Tl5lfl;S. 

Iranian geographical and tribal names have hitherto been identified 
on historical grounds, some correctly, others inexactly, but an attempt 
to restore the Chinese transcriptions to their correct Iranian prototypes 
has hardly been made. A great amount of hard work remains to be 
done in this field.^ In my opinion, it must be our foremost object first 
to record the Chinese transcriptions as exactly as possible in their 
ancient phonetic garb, according to the method so successfully inaugu- 
rated and applied by P. Pelliot and H. Maspero, and then to proceed 
from this secure basis to the reconstruction of the Iranian model. 
The accurate restoration of the Chinese form in accordance with 

^Cf. his Quelques termes techniques bouddhiques et manich^ens, Journal 
asiatique, 191 1, II, pp. 49-67 (particularly pp. 59 et seq.), and his contributions to 
Chavannes and Pelliot, Traits manich^en, pp. 27, 42, 58, 132. 

2 Gauthiot died on September 11, 1 916, at the age of forty, from the effects of a 
wound received as captain of infantry while gallantly leading his company to a 
grand attack, during the first offensive of Artois in the spring of 1915. Cf. the 
obituary notice by A. Meillet in Bull, de la Sod St e de Linguistique, No. 65, 
pp. 127-132. 

^ I hope to take up this subject in another place, and so give only a few examples 
here. Ta-ho §wi ^ -^ ;JC is the Ta-ho River on which Su-li, the capital of Persia, 
was situated {Sui Su, Ch. 83, p. 7 b). Hirth (China and the Roman Orient, pp. 198, 
313; also Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXXIII, 1913, p. 197), by means of a Cantonese 
Tat-hot, has arrived at the identification with the Tigris, adding an Armenian 
Deklath and Pliny's Diglito. Chinese to, however, corresponds neither to ancient 
ti nor de, but only to *tat, dat, dad, dar, d'ar, while ho ^ represents *hat, kat, kad, 
kar, kal. We accordingly have *Dar-kat, or, on the probable assumption that a 
metathesis has taken place, *Dak-rat. Hence, as to the identification with the Tigris, 
the vocalism of the first syllable brings difficulties: it is i both in Old Persian and in 
Babylonian. Old Persian Tigram (with an alteration due to popular etymology, cf . 
Avestan tiyriS, Persian fir, "arrow") is borrowed from Babylonian Di-ik-lat (that 

Introduction 187 

rigid phonetic principles is the essential point, and means much more 
than any haphazardly made guesses at identification. Thus Mu-lu 
;fC ^, name of a city on the eastern frontier of An-si (Parthia),^ has 
been identified with Mourn (Muru, Merw) of the Avesta.^ Whether 
this is historically correct, I do not wish to discuss here; from an his- 
torical viewpoint the identification may be correct, but from a phonetic 
viewpoint it is not acceptable, for Mu-lu corresponds to ancient *Muk- 
luk, Mug-ruk, Bug-luk, Bug-rug, to be restored perhaps to *Bux-rux.^ 
The scarcity of Hnguistic material on the Iranian side has imposed 
certain restrictions: names for Iranian plants, one of the chief subjects 
of this study, have been handed down to us to a very moderate extent, 
so that in many cases no identification can be attempted. I hope, 
however, that Iranian scholars will appreciate the philological con- 
tributions of the Chinese to Iranian and particularly Middle-Persian 
lexicography, for in almost every instance it is possible to restore with 
a very high degree of certainty the primeval Iranian forms from which 
the Chinese transcriptions were accurately made. The Chinese scholars 
had developed a rational method and a fixed system in reproducing 
words of foreign languages, in the study of which, as is well known, 
they took a profound interest; and from day to day, as our experience 
widens, we have occasion to admire the soundness, solidity, and con- 
sistency of this system. The same laws of transcription worked out 
for Sanskrit, Malayan, Turkish, Mongol, and Tibetan, hold good also 
for Iranian. I have only to ask Iranian scholars to have confidence in 
our method, which has successfully stood many tests. I am convinced 
that this plea is unnecessary for the savants of France, who are the 

is, Dik-lat, Dik-rat), which has passed into Greek T^Tpi/j and TLypit and Elamite 
Ti-ig-ra (A. Meillet, Grammaire du vieux perse, p. 72). It will thus be seen that 
the Chinese transcription *Dak-rat corresponds to Babylonian Dik-rat, save the 
vowel of the first element, which cannot yet be explained, but which will surely be 
traced some day to an Iranian dialect. — The T'ai pHn hwan yii ki (Ch. 185, p. 19) 
gives four geographical names of Persia, which have not yet been indicated. The 
first of these is the name of a city in the form ^ ^ J3 Ho-p*o-kie, *Hat(r, 1)- 
bwa-g'iat. The first two elements *Har-bwa correspond to Old Persian Haraiva 
(Babylonian Hariva), Avestan Haraeva, Pahlavi *Harew, Armenian Hrew, — the 
modern Herat. The third element appears to contain a word with the meaning 
"city." The same character is used in jg (j{ JS!| Kie-li-pie, *G'iat-li-b'iet, name of a 
pass in the north-eastern part of Persia; here *g'iat, *g'iar, seems to represwit 
Sogdian yr, *7ara ("mountain"). Fan-tou S or |^ ^ (Ts'ien Han §u, Ch. 96 a), 
anciently *Pan-tav, *Par-tav, corresponds exactly to Old Persian Par^ava, Middle 
Persian Par^u. 

* Hou Han Su, Ch. 116, p. 8 b. 

^ HiRTH, China and the Roman Orient, p. 143. 

' Cf. also the observation of E. H. Parker (Imp. and As. Quarterly Review, 
1903* P- I54)» who noticed the phonetic difficulty in the proposed identification. 

1 88 Sino-Iranica 

most advanced and most competent representatives of the sinological 
field in all its varied and extensive branches, as well as in other domains 
of Oriental research. It would have been very tempting to simimarize 
in a special chapter the Chinese method of transcribing Iranian and to 
discuss the phonology of Iranian in the light of Chinese contributions. 
Such an effort, however, appears to me premature at this moment: 
our knowledge of Sino-Iranian is in its infancy, and plenty of fresh 
evidence will come forward sooner or later from Turkistan manuscripts. 
There is no doubt that many hundreds of new Iranian terms of various 
dialects will be revived, and will considerably enrich our now scanty 
knowledge of the Iranian onomasticon and phonology. In view of the 
character of this publication, it was necessary to resort to a phonetic 
transcription of both ancient and modem Chinese on the same basis, 
as is now customary in all Oriental languages. The backwardness of 
Chinese research is illustrated by the fact that we slavishly adhere to 
a clumsy and antiquated system of romanization in which two and 
even three letters are wasted for the expression of a single soimd. My 
system of transliteration will be easily grasped from the following com- 
parative table. 










£ (while j serves to indicate the palatal 


S sonant, written also d£). 

Other slight deviations from the old style, for instance, in the 
vowels, are self-explanatory. For the sake of the numerous compara- 
tive series including a large number of diverse Oriental languages it 
has been my aim to standardize the transcription as far as possible, 
with the exception of Sanskrit, for which the commonly adopted method 
remains. The letter x in Oriental words is never intended for the 
combination ks, but for the spirant surd, sometimes written kh. In 
proper names where we are generally accustomed to kh, I have allowed 
the latter to pass, perhaps also in other cases. I do not believe in super- 
consistency in purely technical matters. 

The linguistic phenomena, important as they may be, form merely 
a side-issue of this investigation. My main task is to trace the history 
of all objects of material culture, pre-eminently cultivated plants, 
drugs, products, minerals, metals, precious stones, and textiles, in their 
migration from Persia to China (Sino-Iranica), and others transmitted 
from China to Persia (Irano-Sinica). There are other groups of Sino- 
Iranica not included in this publication, particularly the animal world, 

Introduction 189 

games, and musical instruments.^ The manuscript dealing with the 
fauna of Iran is ready, but will appear in another article the object of 
which is to treat all foreign animals known to the Chinese according 
to geographical areas and from the viewpoint of zoogeography in 
ancient and modem times. My notes on the games (particularly polo) 
and musical instnmients of Persia adopted by the Chinese, as well as 
a study of Sino-Iranian geographical and tribal names, must likewise 
be reserved for another occasion. I hope that the chapter on the titles 
of the Sasanian government will be welcome, as those preserved in the 
Chinese Annals have been identified here for the first time. New 
results are also offered in the notice of Persian textiles. 

As to Iranian plants of which the Chinese have preserved notices, 
we must distinguish the following groups: (i) cultivated plants actually 
disseminated from Iranian to Chinese soil, (2) cultivated and wild 
plants of Iran merely noticed and described by Chinese authors, (3) drugs 
and aromatics of vegetable origin imported from Iran to China. The 
material, as far as possible, is arranged from this point of view and in 
chronological order. The single items are ntmibered. Apart from the 
five appendices, a hundred and thirty-five subjects are treated. At 
the outset it should be clearly imderstood that it is by no means the 
intention of these studies to convey the impression that the Chinese 
owe a portion of their material culture to Persia. Stress is laid on the 
point that the Chinese furnish us with immensely useful material for 
elaborating a history of cultivated plants. The foundation of Chinese 
civilization with its immense resources is no more affected by these 
introductions than that of Europe, which received numerous plants 
from the Orient and more recently from America. The Chinese merit 
our admiration for their far-sighted economic policy in making so 
many useful foreign plants tributary to themselves and amalgamating 
them with their soimd system of agriculture. The Chinese were think- 
ing, sensible, and broad-minded people, and never declined to accept 
gratefully whatever good things foreigners had to offer. In plant- 
economy they are the foremost masters of the world, and China presents 
a unique spectacle in that all useful plants of the universe are cultivated 
there. Naturally, these cultivations were adopted and absorbed by a 
gradual process: it took the Chinese many centuries to become familiar 
with the flora of their own country, and the long series of their herbals 
(Pen ts'ao) shows us well how their knowledge of species increased 
from the T'ang to the present time, each of these works stating the 

^ Iranian influences on China in the matter of warfare, armor, and tactics have 
been discussed in Chinese Clay Figures, Part I. 

iQo Sino-Iranica 

number of additional species as compared with its predecessor. The 
introduction of foreign plants begins from the latter part of the second 
century B.C., and it was two plants of Iranian origin, the alfalfa and 
the grape-vine, which were the first exotic guests in the land of Han. 
These were followed by a long line of other Iranian and Central-Asiatic 
plants, and this great movement continued down to the fourteenth 
century in the Yuan period. The introduction of American species in 
the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries denotes the last phase in 
this economic development, which I hope to set forth in a special 
monograph. Aside from Iran, it was Indo-China, the Malayan region, 
and India which contributed a large quota to Chinese cultivations. 
It is essential to realize that the great Iranian plant-movement extends 
over a period of a millennium and a half; for a learned legend has been 
spread broadcast that most of these plants were acclimatized during 
the Han period, and even simultaneously by a single man, the well- 
known general, Cafi K'ien. It is one of my objects to destroy this 
myth. Can K*ien, as a matter of fact, brought to China solely two 
plants, — alfalfa and the grape-vine. No other plant is attributed to him 
in the contemporaneous annals. Only late and untrustworthy (chiefly 
Taoist) authors credit him also with the introduction of other Iranian 
plants. As time advanced, he was made the centre of legendary fabrica- 
tion, and almost any plant hailing from Central Asia and of doubtful 
or obscure history was passed off under his name: thus he was ulti- 
mately canonized as the great plant-introducer. Such types will 
spring up everywhere under similar conditions. A detailed discussion 
of this point will be found under the heading of each plant which by 
dint of mere fantasy or misunderstanding has been connected with 
Can K'ien by Chinese or European writers. In the case of the spinach 
I have furnished proof that this vegetable cannot have been culti- 
vated in Persia before the sixth century a.d., so that Can K'ien could 
not have had any knowledge of it. All the alleged Cafi-K'ien plants 
were introduced into China from the third or fourth century a.d. down 
to the T'ang period inclusively (618-906). The erroneous reconstruction 
alluded to above was chiefly championed by Bretschneider and Hirth; 
and A. de Candolle, the father of the science of historical botany, who, 
as far as China is concerned, depended exclusively on Bretschneider, 
fell victim to the same error. 

F. V. RiCHTHOFEN,' reproducing the long list of Bretschneider^s 
Can-K'ien plants, observes, "It cannot be assumed that Can K'ien 
himself brought along all these plants and seeds, for he had to travel 

1 China, Vol. I, p. 459. 

Introduction 191 

with caution, and for a year was kept prisoner by the Hiun-nu.'* When 
he adds, however, ''but the relations which he had started brought the 
cultivated plants to China in the course of the next years," he goes on 
guessing or speculating. 

In his recent study of Can K'ien, Hirth^ admits that of cultivated 
plants only the vine and alfalfa are mentioned in the Si ki} He is 
unforttmate, however, in the attempt to safeguard his former position 
on this question when he continues to argue that "nevertheless, the one 
hero who must be looked upon as the pioneer of all that came from 
the West was Chang K'ien.'* This is at best a personal view, but an 
unhistorical and uncritical attitude. Nothing allows us to read more 
from our sources than they contain. The TsH min yao §u, to which 
Hirth takes refuge, can prove nothing whatever in favor of his 
theory that the pomegranate, sesame, garUc,^ and coriander were 
introduced by Can K'ien. The work in question was written at least 
half a millennium after his death, most probably in the sixth century 
A.D., and does not fall back on traditions coeval with the Han and 
now lost, but merely resorts to popular traditions evolved long after 
the Han period. In no authentic document of the Han is any allusion 
made to any of these plants. Moreover, there is no dependence on 
the TsH min yao Su in the form in which we have this book at present. 
Bretschneider* said wisely and advisedly, "The original work was in 
ninety-two sections. A part of it was lost a long time ago, and much 
additional matter by later authors is found in the edition now cur- 
rent, which is in ten chapters. . . . According to an author of the 
twelfth century, quoted in the Wen hien Vun k'ao, the edition then 
extant was already provided with the interpolated notes; and accord- 
ing to Li Tao, also an author of the Sung, these notes had been added 
by Sun Kufi of the Sung dynasty."^ What such a work would be 
able to teach us on actual conditions of the Han era, I for my part 
am unable to see. 

1 Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXXVII, 1917, p. 92. The new translation of this 
chapter of the Si ki denotes a great advance, and is an admirable piece of work. It 
should be read by every one as an introduction to this volume. It is only on points 
of interpretation that in some cases I am compelled to dissent from Hirth 's opinions. 

^ This seems to be the direct outcome of a conversation I had with the author 
during the Christmas week of 19 16, when I pointed out this fact to him and remarked 
that the alleged attributions to Can K'ien of other plants are merely the outcome of 
later traditions. 

' This is a double error (see below, p. 302). 

* Bot. Sin., pt. I, p, 77. 

^ Cf. also Pelliot {Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. IX, p. 434), who remarks, 
"Ce vieil et pr^cieux ouvrage nous est parvenu en assez mauvais 6tat." 

192 Sino-Iranica 

It has been my endeavor to correlate the Chinese data first of all 
with what we know from Iranian sources, and further with classical, 
Semitic, and Indian traditions. Unfortunately we have only fragments 
of Iranian literature. Chapter xxvii of the Bundahisn^ contains a 
disquisition on plants, which is characteristic of the treatment of this 
subject in ancient Persia. As it is not only interesting from this point 
of view, but also contains a great deal of material to which reference 
will be made in the investigations to follow, an extract taken from 
E. W. West's translation^ may be welcome. 

"These are as many genera of plants as exist: trees and shrubs, 
fruit-trees, com, flowers, aromatic herbs, salads, spices, grass, wild 
plants, medicinal plants, gtim plants, and all producing oil, dyes, and 
clothing. I will mention them also a second time: all whose fruit is 
not welcome as food of men, and are perennial, as the cypress, the 
plane, the white poplar, the box, and others of this genus, they call 
trees and shrubs {ddr va diraxt). The produce of everything welcome 
as food of men, that is perennial, as the date, the myrtle, the lote-plum 
{kundTy a thorny tree, allied to the jujube, which bears a small plum- 
like fruit), the grape, the quince, the apple, the citron, the pomegranate, 
the peach, the fig, the walnut, the almond, and others in this genus, 
they call fruit (mivak). Whatever requires labor with the spade, and 
is perennial, they call a shrub (diraxt). Whatever requires that they 
take its crop through labor, and its root withers away, such as wheat, 
barley, grain, various kinds of pulse, vetches, and others of this genus, 
they call com (jurddk). Every plant with fragrant leaves, which is 
cultivated by the hand-labor of men, and is perennial, they call an 
aromatic herb (siparam). Whatever sweet-scented blossom arises at 
various seasons through the hand-labor of men, or has a perennial root 
and blossoms in its season with new shoots and sweet-scented blossoms, 
as the rose, the narcissus, the jasmine, the dog-rose (nestarun)^ the 
tulip, the colocynth {kavastlk)y the pandanus {kedi), the camhay the 
ox-eye (/im), the crocus, the swallow-wort (zarda), the violet, the 
kdrda, and others of this genus, they call a flower (gul). Everything 
whose sweet-scented fruit, or sweet-scented blossom, arises in its sea- 
son, without the hand-labor of men, they call a wild plant (vahdr or 
nihdl). Whatever is welcome as food of cattle and beasts of burden 
they call grass (giydh). Whatever enters into cakes (pes-pdrakthd) 
they call spices (dvzdrihd). Whatever is welcome in eating of bread, 
as torn shoots of the coriander, water-cress (kaklj), the leek, and 

1 Cf. E. W. West, Pahlavi Literature, p. 98 (in Grundriss iran. Phil., Vol. II). 

2 Pahlavi Texts, pt. I, p. 100 (Sacred Books of the East, Vol V). 

Introduction 193 

others of this genus, they call salad (terak or tdrak, Persian tarah). 
Whatever is like spinning cotton, and others of this genus, they call 
clothing plants (jdmak). Whatever lentil (macag) is greasy, as sesame, 
duMdUj hemp, vandak (perhaps for zeto, 'olive,' as Anquetil supposes, 
and Justi assimies), and others of this genus, they call an oil-seed 
(rdkano). Whatever one can dye clothing with, as saffron, sapan-wood, 
zacava, vaha, and others of this genus, they call a dye-plant (rag). 
Whatever root, or gum (tuf), or wood is scented, as frankincense 
(Pazand kendri for Pahlavi kundur), vardst (Persian barghast)^ kust, 
sandalwood, cardamom (PSLzand kdkur a j Persian qaqulak, 'cardamoms, 
or kdkul, kdkul, 'marjoram'), camphor, orange-scented mint, and 
others of this genus, they call a scent (bod). Whatever stickiness 
comes out from plants they call gtimmy (vadak). The timber 
which proceeds from the trees, when it is either dry or wet, they 
call wood (clbd). Every one of all these plants which is so, they call 
medicinal (ddruk). 

"The principal fruits are of thirty kinds, and there are ten species 
the inside and outside of which are fit to eat, as the fig, the apple, the 
quince, the citron, the grape, the mulberry, the pear, and others of this 
kind. There are ten the outside of which is fit to eat, but not the 
inside, as the date, the peach, the white apricot, and others of this kind; 
those the inside of which is fit to eat, but not the outside, are the walnut, 
the almond, the pomegranate, the coco-nut,^ the filbert {funduk), the 
chestnut {^ahbalut), the pistachio nut, the vargdn^ and whatever else 
of this description are very remarkable. 

"This, too, it says, that every single flower is appropriate to an 
angel {ame^ospend)^ as the white jasmine (saman) is for Vohuman, the 
myrtle and jasmine (ydsmtn) are Auharmazd's own, the mouse-ear 
(or sweet marjoram) is Asavahist's own, the basil-royal is Satviro's 
own, the musk flower is Spendarmad's, the lily is Horvadad's, the 
^amba is Amerodad's, Dm-pavan-Ataro has the orange-scented mint 
(vddrang-bdd)j Ataro has the marigold (ddargun), the water-lily is 
Avan's, the white marv is XurSed's, the ranges (prohahly rand, 'laurel') 
is Mah's, the violet is Tir's, the meren is Gos's, the kdrda is Din-pavan- 
Mitro's, all violets are Mitro's, the red chrysanthemimi (xer) is SrOs's, 
the dog-rose (nestran) is Rasna's, the cockscomb is Fravardin's, the 
sisebar is Vahram's, the yellow chrysanthemum is Ram's, the orange- 

^ Pazand andrsar is a misreading of Pahlavi andrgll (Persian ndrgtl), from 
Sanskrit ndrikela. 

^ These are the thirty archangels and angels whose names are applied to the 
thirty days of the Parsi month, in the order in which they are mentioned here, except 
that Auharmazd is the first day, and Vohuman is the second. 

194 Sino-Iranica 

scented mint is Vad's, the trigonella is Din-pavan-Din^s, the hundred- 
petalled rose is Din's, all kinds of wild flowers (vahdr) are Ard's, Agtad 
has all the white Hom, the bread-baker's basil is Asman's, Zamyad has 
the crocus, Maraspend has the flower of Ardasir, Aniran has this 
Horn of the angel HOm, of three kinds." 

From this extract it becomes evident that the ancient Persians paid 
attention to their flora, and, being fond of systematizing, possessed a 
classification of their plants; but any of their botanical literature, if 
it ever existed, is lost. 

The most important of the Persian works on pharmacology is the 
Kitah-ulahniyat 'an haqdHq-uladviyat or "Book of the Foundations of 
the True Properties of the Remedies," written about a.d. 970 by the 
physician Abu Mansur Muvaffaq bin 'All alharavi, who during one 
of his journeys visited also India. He wrote for Mansar Ibn Nuh II 
of the house of the Samanides, who reigned from 961 to 976 or 977. 
This is not only the earliest Persian work on the subject, but the 
oldest extant production in prose of New-Persian literature. The 
text has been edited by R. Seligmann from a unique manuscript 
of Vienna dated a.d. 1055, the oldest extant Persian manuscript.^ 
There is a translation by a Persian physician, Abdul-Chalig 
AcHUNDOW from Baku.^ The translation in general seems good, and 
is provided with an elaborate commentary, but in view of the im- 
portance of the work a new critical edition would be desirable. 
The sources from which Abu MansOr derived his materials should 
be carefully sifted: we should like to know in detail what he 
owes to the Arabs, the Syrians, and the Indians, and what is due 
to his own observations. Altogether Arabic influence is pre-eminent. 
Cf. Appendix III. 

A good many Chinese plant-names introduced from Iran have the 
word Hu iSB prefixed to them. Hu is one of those general Chinese desig- 
nations without specific ethnic value for certain groups of foreign 
tribes. Under the Han it appears mainly to refer to Turkish tribes; 
thus the Hiufi-nu are termed Hu in the Si ki. From the fourth century 
onward it relates to Central Asia and more particularly to peoples of 

* Codex Vindobonensis sive Medici Abu Mansur Muwaffak Bin All Heratensis 
liber Fundamentorum Pharamacologiae Pars I Prolegomena et textum continens 
(Vienna, 1859). 

* Die pharmakologischen Grundsatze des A. M. Muwaffak, in R. Kobert's 
Historische Studien aus dem Pharmakologischen Institute der Universitat Dorpat, 
1873. Quoted as "Achundow, Abu Mansur." The author's name is properly 
'Abdu'l-Khaliq, son of the Akhund or schoohnaster. Cf. E. G. Browne, Literary 
History of Persia, pp. 11, 478. 

Introduction 195 

Iranian extraction.* Bretschneider^ annotated, "If the character 
hu occurs in the name of a plant, it can be assumed that the plant is 
of foreign origin and especially from western Asia, for by Hu Sen the 
ancient Chinese denoted the peoples of western Asia." This is but 
partially correct. The attribute hu is by no means a safe criterion in 
stamping a plant as foreign, neither does hu in the names of plants 
which really are of foreign origin apply to West-Asiatic or Iranian 
plants exclusively. 

1. The word hu appears in a nvtmber of names of indigenous and 
partially wild plants without any apparent connection with the tribal 
designation Hu or without allusion to their provenience from the Hu. 
In the Li SaOj the famous elegies by K*u Yuan of the fourth century 
B.C., a plant is mentioned under the name hu §en fi9 M, said to be a 
fragrant grass from which long cords were made. This plant is not 

2. The acid variety of yu ffl {Citrus grandis) is styled hu kan 
jffl "H*,* apparently an ironical nickname, which may mean "sweet like 
the Hu." The tree itself is a native of China. 

3. The term hu hien SB ^ occurs only in the T*u kin pen ts'ao of 
Su Sun of the eleventh century as a variety of hien {Amarantus), which 
is indigenous to China. It is not stated that this variety came from 
abroad, nor is it known what it really was. 

4. Hu mien man 4B M ^ is a variety of Rehmannia^^ a native 
of China and Japan. The name possibly means "the man with the face 
of a Hu."® C'en Ts'afi-k4 of the T'ang says in regard to this plant that 
it grows in Lifi-nan (Kwan-tufi) , and is like ti hwah ^ "M {Rehmannia 

5. The plant known as ku-sui-pu ^ ^^ {Poly podium fortunei) 
is indigenous to China, and, according to C*en Ts'afi-k'i, was called 

* "Le terme est bien en principe, vers I'an 800, une designation des Iraniene et 
en particulier des Sogdiens" (Chavannes and Pelliot, Traite manich^en, p. 231). 
This in general is certainly true, but we have well authenticated instances, traceable 
to the fourth century at least, of specifically Iranian plants the names of which are 
combined with the element Hu, that can but apply to Iranians. 

* Chinese Recorder, 1871, p. 221. 

* Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. II, No. 420; and Li sao ts*ao mu su (Ch. 2, 
p. 16 b, ed. of Ci pu isu lai ts^un ^u) by Wu Zen-kie ^^j^oi the Sung period. 
See also T'ai pHn yu Ian, Ch. 994, p. 6 b. 

* Bretschneider, op. cit., No. 236; W. T. Swingle in Plantae Wilsonianae, 
Vol. 11, p. 130. 

* Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 372. 

* Cf. analogous plant-names like our Jews-mallow, Jews-thorn, Jews-ear, Jews- 

196 Sino-Iranica 

by the people of Kiafi-si iW S S hu-sun-kiaiif a purely local name 
which does not hint at any relation to the Hu. 

6. Another botanical name in which the word hu appears without 
reference to the Hu is Vui-hu-ken ^ iSB tB, unidentified, a wild plant 
diffused all over China, and first mentioned by C'en Ts'ari-k'i as grow- 
ing in the river-valleys of Kiafi-nan.^ 

7-8. The same remark holds good for ts"e-hu lE (^) tR^ (Bupleurum 
falcatum), a wild plant of all northern provinces and already described 
in the Pie lu, and for tsHen-hu tif AB^ {Angelica decursiva), growing in 
damp soil in central and northern China. 

9. Su-hu-lan l§ SB ffll is an unidentified plant, first and solely men- 
tioned by C'en Ts'afi-k'i,* the seeds of which, resembling those of 
Pimpinella anisum, are eatable and medicinally employed. It grows 
in Annam. One might be tempted to take the term as hu-lan of Su 
(Se-5'wan), but ^u-hu-lan may be the transcription of a foreign word. 

10. The ma-k'in S ff or niu ^ kHn {Viola pinnata), a wild violet, 
is termed hu kHn 4B ]^ in the Tun U il ife by Cefi Tsiao % tl (i 108-62) 
and in the T'w kin pen ts'ao of Su Sufi.** No explanation as to the mean- 
ing of this hu is on record. 

11. The hu-man {wan) iM S is a poisonous plant, identified with 
Celsemium elegans.^ It is mentioned in the Pei hu lu^ with the synonyme 
ye-ko Jp ®,* the vegetable yuii ^ {Ipomoea aquatica) being regarded as 
an antidote for poisoning by hu-man. C'en Ts'afi-k'i is cited as au- 
thority for this statement. The Lin piao lu i* writes the name ^ J5, 
and defines it as a poisonous grass; hu-man grass is the common col- 
loquial name. The same work further says, "When one has eaten of 
this plant by mistake, one should use a broth made from sheep's blood 
which will neutralize the poison. According to some, this plant grows 
as a creeper. Its leaves are like those of the Ian hiah BS #, bright and 
thick. Its poison largely penetrates into the leaves, and is not employed 

* Pen ts'ao kari tnu, Ch. 16, p. 7 b. 

* Op. cit., Ch. 13, p. 6 b. 

* Op. cit., Ch. 13, p. 7 b. 

* Op. cit., Ch. 26, p. 22 b. 

• Op. cit., Ch. 26, ^. 21 \ Ciwu mifi U Vu k*ao, Ch. 14, p. 76. 

• Cf. C. Ford, China Review, Vol. XV, 1887, pp. 215-220. Stuart (Chinese 
Materia Medica, p. 220) says that the plant is unidentified, nevertheless he describes 
it on p. 185. 

^ Ch. 2, p. 18 b (ed. of Lu Sin-y^an). 

• According to Matsumura (Shokubutsu mei-i, No. 2689), Rhus toxicodendron 
(Japanese tsuta-uruH). 

• Ch. B, p. 2 (ed. of Wu yi* Hen), 

Introduction 197 

as a drug. Even if an antidote is taken, this poison will cause death 
within a half day. The goats feeding on the sprouts of this plant will 
fatten and grow." Fan C'efi-ta ?E ^ ::^ (1126-93), in his Kwet hat 
yii hen U^ mentions this plant under the name hu-man fen M C'hu-man 
creeper"), sa3ang that it is a poisonous herb, which, rubbed and soaked 
in water, will result in instantaneous death as soon as this liquid enters 
the mouth. The plant is indigenous to southern China, and no reason 
is given for the word hu being prefixed to it. 

12. Hu fui-tse iS ^ ? (literally, ''chin of the Hu") is the name 
of an evergreen tree or shrub indigenous throughout China, even to 
Annam. The name is not explained, and there are no data in Chinese 
records to indicate that it was introduced from abroad.^ It is men- 
tioned by C'en Ts'afi-k'i as a tree growing in P*ifi-lin ^ #, and it is 
said to be alluded to in the chapter Wu kin U 35l U iS of the Sun ^u. 
The synonyme kHo'r-su S^^ ("sparrow-curd," because the birds 
are fond of the fruit) first appears in the Pao U lun of Lei Hiao of the 
fifth century. The people of Yue call the plant p'u-fui-tse W^^; 
the southerners, lu-tu-tse ft ?P ■?', which according to Liu Tsi 20 ^ 
of the Ming, in his Fei sue /w H S Sl^, is a word from the speech of 
the Man. The people of Wu term the tree pan-han-^'un ^ ^ ^, 
because its fruit ripens at an early date. The people of Siafi M style 
it hwan-p"o-nai S^i^ ("yellow woman's breast"), because the 
fruit resembles a nipple. 

13. In hu-lu JS8 or ^ ft (Lagenaria vulgaris) the first character is 
a substitute for IS hu. The gourd is a native of China. 

14. Hui-hui tou HI S (Hterally, "Mohammedan bean") is a 
plant everywhere growing wild in the fields.' The same remark holds 
good for hu tou S9 A, a kind of bean which is roasted or made into 
flour, according to the Pen ts*ao H i, a weed growing in rice-fields. Wu 
K'i-ts'iin, author of the Ci wu min H Vu k"ao, says, "What is now hu tou, 
grows wild, and is not the hu tou of ancient times."* 

15. Yen hu su Mt^M denotes tubers of Corydalis ambigua: they 
are little, hard, brown tubers, of somewhat flattened spherical form, 
averaging half an inch in diameter. The plant is a native of Siberia, 

^ Ed. of Ci pu tsu cai ts'un Su, p. 30. 

* Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 161) is mistaken in saying that several 
names of this plant are "possibly transliterations of Turkic or Mongol names." 
There are no such names on record. The tree is identified with Elosagnus longipes 
or pungens. 

* Ci wu min H Vu k'ao, Ch. 2, p. 11 b. _It is first mentioned in the Kiu hwan 
pen ts'ao, being also called na-ho-tou 3P ^ ^ 

* See, further, below, p. 305. 

193 Sino-Iranica 

Kamchatka, and the Amur region, and flowers upon the melting of the 
snow in early spring.^ According to the Pen ts'ao kan mu^^ the plant 
is first mentioned by C'en Ts'an-k'i of the T'ang period as growing in 
the country Hi ^, and came from Nan-tun ^ % (in Korea). Li §i-6en 
annotates that by Hi the north-eastern barbarians should be under- 
stood. Wan Hao-ku S SF !&, a physician of the thirteenth century, 
remarks that the name of the plant was originally hilan ^ hu-sUy but 
that on account of a taboo (to avoid the name of the Emperor Cen-tsun 
of the Sung) it was altered into yen-husu; but this explanation cannot 
be correct, as the latter designation is already ascribed to C'en Ts'afi-k'i 
of the T*ang. It is not known whether hu in this case would allude to 
the provenience of the plant from Korea. In the following example, 
however, the allusion to Korea is clear. 

The mint, W ^ po-ho, *bak-xa (Mentha arvensis or aquatica)j occurs 
in China both spontaneously and in the cultivated state. The plant 
is regarded as indigenous by the Chinese, but also a foreign variety is 
known as hu pa-ho (*bwat-xa) IS ^ ft.* C'en §i-lian ffi ± fi., in his 
St sin pen ts*ao Jttt^^^, published in the tenth century, introduced 
the term wu ^ pa-ho, "mint of Wu" (that is, Su-Sou, where the best 
mint was cultivated), in distinction from hu pa-ho, "mint of the Hu." 
Su Sun, in his T*u kin pen ts'ao, written at the end of the eleventh 
century, affirms that this foreign mint is similar to the native species, 
the only difference being that it is somewhat sweeter in taste; it grows 
on the border of Kian-su and Ce-kian, where the people make it 
into tea; commonly it is styled Sin-lo MM. po-ho, "mint of Sinra" 
(in Korea). Thus this variety may have been introduced under the 
Sung from Korea, and it is to this country that the term hu may refer. 

Li Si-5en relates that Sun Se-miao ^ JS S, in his TsHen kin fan 
^ ^ j^,* writes the word H # fan-ho, but that this is erroneously due 
to a dialectic pronunciation. This means, in other words, that the first 
character fan is merely a variant of ^,^ and, like the latter, had the 
phonetic equivalent *bwat, bat.* 

* Hanbury, Science Papers, p. 256. 
2 Ch. 13, p. 13. 

' The word po-ho is Chinese, not foreign. The Persian word for "peppermint" 
is pudene, pudina, budenk (Kurd punk) ; in Hindi it is pudUnd or pudinekd, derived 
from the Persian. In Tibetan (Ladakh) it is p'o-lo-lin; in the Tibetan written lan- 
guage, byi-rug-pa, hence Mongol jirukba; in Manchu it is /or jo. 

* See below,, p. 306. 

^ As Sun Se-miao lived in the seventh century, when the Korean mint was not 
yet introduced, his term fan-ho could, of course, not be construed to mean "foreign 

* In T*oung Pao (1915, p. 18) Pelliot has endeavored to show that the char- 

Introduction 199 

In the following example there is no positive evidence as to the 
significance of hu. Hu wan iz ^^ "SB EE ffi ^ C* envoy of the king of the 
Hu") is a synonyme of tu hwo M JS {Peucedanum decursivum)} As 
the same plant is also styled kHan tsHn ^ W, kHaii hwoy and hu kHan 
H ie^%^^, the term K'ian (*Giafi) alluding to Tibetan tribes, it 
may be inferred that the king of the Hu likewise hints at Tibetans. 
In general, however, the term Hu does not include Tibetans, and the 
present case is not conclusive in showing that it does. In the chapter 
on the walnut it will be seen that there are two introduced varieties, — 
an Iranian {hu Vao) and a Tibetan one (k'ian Vao). 

In hu ts'ai {Brassica rapa) the element hu, according to Chinese 
tradition, relates to Mongolia, while it is very likely that the vegetable 
itself was merely introduced there from Iran.^ 

In other instances, plants have some relation to the Hu; but what 
this relation is, or what group of tribes should be understood by Hu, 
is not revealed. 

There is a plant, termed hu hwan lien M H ^, the hwan-lien {Coptis 
teeta) of the Hu, because, as Li Si-5en says, its physical characteristics, 
taste, virtue, and employment are similar to those of hwan-lien. It 
has been identified with Barkhausia repens. As evidenced by the 

acter fan, on the authority of K'aii-hi, could never have had the pronunciation po 
nor a final consonant, and that, accordingly, in the tribal name T'u-fan (Tibet) the 
character fan, as had previously been assumed, could not transcribe the Tibetan 
word bod. True it is that under the character in question K'an-hi has nothing to 
say about po, but ^ is merely a graphic variant of if, with which it is phonetically 
identical. Now under this character, K'an-hi indicates plainly that, according to the 
Tsi yiin and Cen yiin, fan in geographical names is to be read p'o (anciently *bwa) 
^ (fan-ts'ie ^ jft), and that, according to the dictionary 5i wen, the same char- 
acter was pronounced p*o (*bwa) §|, p'u J^. and p'a»l|(cf. also Schlegel, Secret of 
the Chinese Method, pp. 21-22). In the ancient transcription S or j|f 5fiG fan-tou, 
*par-tav, reproduction of Old Persian Parl?ava (see above, p. 1 87) ,fan corresponds very 
well to par or 6ar; and if it could interchange with the phonetic^ pa, *bwat, bwar, it is 
perfectly clear that, contrary to Pelliot's theory, there were at least dialectic cases, 
where ^ was possessed of a final consonant, being sounded bwat or bwar. Con- 
sequently it could have very well served for the reproduction of Tibetan bod. From 
another phonetic viewpoint the above case is of interest: we have *bak-xa and 
*bwat-xa as ancient names for the mint, which goes to show that the final con- 
sonants of the first element were vacillating or varied in different dialects (cf . T'oung 
Pao, 1916, pp. 110-114). 

' Tun U (above, p. 196), Ch. 75, p. 12 b. 

* See below, p. 381. In the term hu yen ("swallow of the Hu"), A« appears to 
refer to Mongolia, as shown by the Manchu translation monggo tibin and the TurkI 
equivalent qalmaq qarlogac (Mongol xatun xariyatsai, Tibetan gyi-gyi k'ug-rta; cf. 
Ross, Polyglot List of Birds, No. 267). The bird occurs not only in Mongolia, but 
also in Ce-kian Province, China (see Kwei ki sanfu ^m # ^ H ® St, Ch. 2, p. 8; 
ed. of Si yin hiian ts'un Su). 

200 Sino-Iranica 

attribute Hu, it may be of foreign origin, its foreign name being 91 M 
H W ko-hu-lu-tse (*kat-wu-lou-dzak). Unfortunately it is not indicated 
at what time this transcription was adopted, nor does Li Si- Sen state 
the source from which he derived it. The only T'ang author who 
mentions the plant, Su Kun, does not give this foreign name. At all 
events, it does not convey the impression of representing a T'ang 
transcription; on the contrary, it bears the ear-marks of a transcription 
made under the Yuan. Su Kun observes, "Hu hwan-lien is produced 
in the country Po-se and grows on dry land near the sea-shore. Its 
sprouts are like those of the hia-ku ts^ao Kte ^ {Brunella vulgaris). 
The root resembles a bird's bill; and the cross-section, the eyes of the 
mainah. The best is gathered in the first decade of the eighth month." 
Su Sufi of the Sung period remarks that the plant now occurs in Nan-hai 
(Kwafi-tun), as well as in TsHn-lufi ^ Bl (Sen-si and Kan-su). This 
seems to be all the information on record.^ It is not known to me that 
Barkhausia grows in Persia; at least, Schlimmer, in his extensive dic- 
tionary of Persian plants, does not note it. 

Sou-ti Wi^ is mentioned by C*en Ts*afi-k*i as a plant (not yet 
identified) with seeds of sweet and warm flavor and not poisonous, and 
growing in Si-fan (Western Barbarians or Tibet) and in northern China 
^b d:, resembling kwai hian ^ ^ (Pimpinella anisum). The Hu make 
the seeds into a soup and eat them.^ In this case the term Hu may be 
equated with Si-fan, but among the Chinese naturalists the latter term 
is somewhat loosely used, and does not necessarily designate Tibet.' 

Hiun-kHun ^ H {Conioselinum univittatum) is an imibelliferous 
plant, which is a native of China. As early as the third centvu-y a.d. 
it is stated in the Wu H pen ts'ao^ that some varieties of this plant grow 
among the Hu; and Li Si-6en annotates that the varieties from the Hu 
and Zufi are excellent, and are hence styled hu kHun M^.^ It is stated 
that this genus is found in mountain districts in Central Eiirope, 
Siberia, and north-western America.^ 

1 What Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 65) says regarding this plant is 
very inexact. He arbitrarily identifies the term Hu with the Kukunor, and wrongly 
ascribes Su Kun's statement to T'ao Hun-kin. Such an assertion as, "the drug is 
now said to be produced in Nan-hai, and also in Sen-si and Kan-su," is misleading, 
as this "now" comes from an author of the Sung period, and does not necessarily 
hold good for the present time. 

2 Pen ts'ao kan mu, Ch. 26, p. 22 b. — 
^ Cf. below, p. 344. 

^Cf. Beginnings of Porcelain, p. 115. 

^ He also imparts a Sanskrit name from the Suvamaprabhasa-sutra in the form 
M ^ ^^se-mo-kHe, *3a-mak-gia. The genus is not contained in Watt's Dictionary. 
^ Treasury of Botany, Vol. I, p. 322. 

Introduction 201 

In hu tsiao ("pepper") the attribute hu distinctly refers to India.^ 
Another example in which hu alludes to India is presented by the 
term hu kan kian 68 ^ K ("dried ginger of the Hu"), which is a 
synonyme of THen-iu % ^ kan kian ("dried ginger of India"), "pro- 
duced in the country of the Brahmans."^ 

In the term hufen S9 1^ (a cosmetic or facial powder of white lead), 
the element hu bears no relation to the Hu, although it is mentioned 
as a product of KuCa' and subsequently as one of the city of Ili (Yi-li- 
pa-li).* In fact, there is no Chinese tradition to the effect that this 
substance ever came from the Hu.^ F. P. Smith* observed with refer- 
ence to this subject, "The word hu does not denote that the substance 
was formerly obtained from some foreign source, but is the result of a 
mistaken character." This evidently refers to the definition of the 
dictionary Si min P? ^ by Liu Hi of the Han, who explains this hu 
by IS hu ("gruel, congee"), which is mixed with grease to be rubbed 
into the face. The process of making this powder from lead is a thor- 
oughly Chinese affair. 

In the term hu yen tR S ("salt of the Hu") the word Hu refers to 
barbarous, chiefly Tibetan, tribes bordering on China in the west; for 
there are also the synonymes lun 1&, yen and kHan ^ yen, the former 
already occurring in the Pie lu. Su Kun of the seventh century equalizes 
the terms lun yen and hu yen, and gives fu-ten ^ ^ yen as the word 
used in Sa-^ou ^ ^. Ta Min 'J<. ^, who wrote in a.d. 970, says that this 
is the salt consumed by the Tibetans (Si-fan), and hence receives the 
designation ^un or k'ian yen. Other texts, however, seem to make a 
distinction between hu yen and }^un yen: thus it is said in the biography 
of Li Hiao-po $ # f & in the Wei 3u, "The salt of the Hu cures pain 
of the eye, the salt of the Zufi heals ulcers." 

The preceding examples are sufficient to illustrate the fact that 
the element hu in botanical terms demands caution, and that each case 
must be judged on its own merits. No hard and fast rule, as deduced 
by Bretschneider, can be laid down: the mere addition of hu proves 
neither that a plant is foreign, nor that it is West-Asiatic or Iranian. 
There are native plants equipped with this attribute, and there are 
foreign plants thus characterized, which hail from Korea, India, or 

^ See below, p. 374. 

* Cen lei pen ts*ao, Ch. 6, p. 67 b. 

' Cou Su, Ch. 50, p. 5; Sui Su, Ch. 83, p. 5 b. 

* Ta Min i t'uA U, Ch. 89, p. 22; Kwan yu ki, Ch. 24, p. 6 b. 

* Pen ts'ao kari mu, Ch. 8, p. 6; Geerts (Produits, pp. 596-601), whose transla- 
tion "poudre des pays barbares" is out of place. 

* Contributions towards the Materia Medica of China, p. 231. 

202 Sino-Iranica 

some vaguely defined region of Central Asia. The fact, however, re- 
mains that there are a nimiber of introduced, cultivated Hu plants 
coming from Iranian lands, but in each and every case it has been my 
endeavor to furnish proof for the fact that these actually represent 
Iranian cultivations. With the sole exception of the walnut, the his- 
tory of which may tolerably well be traced, the records of these Hu 
plants are rather vague, and for none of them is there any specific 
account of the introduction. It is for botanical rather than historical 
reasons that the fact of the introduction becomes evident. It is this 
hazy character of the traditions which renders it impossible to connect 
these plants in any way with Can K'ien. Moreover, it cannot be 
proved with certainty that any names of plants or products formed 
with the element hu existed under the Han. The sole exception would 
be hu ts^aiy^ but its occurrence in the T*un su wen of the Han is not 
certain either; and this hu, according to Chinese tradition, refers to 
Mongolia, not to Iran. Another merely seeming exception is presented 
by hu fun-let,^ but this is a wild, not a cultivated tree; and hu, in this 
case, has a geographical rather than an ethnographical significance. In 
the wooden documents discovered in Turkistan we have one good, 
datable instance of a Hu product; and this is hu Vie ("iron of the Hu" 
and implements made of such iron). These tablets belong to the Tsin 
period (a.d. 265-419),* while in no wooden document of the Han has 
any compound with Hu as yet been traced. Again, all available evi- 
dence goes to show that these Hu plants were not introduced earlier 
than the Tsin dynasty, or, generally speaking, duting what is known 
as the Leu C'ao or six minor dynasties, covering the time from the 
downfall of the Han to the rise of the T'ang dynasty. It is noteworthy 
that of none of these plants is an Iranian name on record. 

The element hu, in a few cases, serves also the purpose of a tran- 
scription: thus probably in the name of the coriander, hu-swi* and 
quite evidently in the name of the fenugreek, hu4u-pa} 

Imported fruits and products have been named by many nations 
for the countrie^from which they hailed or from the people by whom 
they were first brought. The Greeks had their "Persian apple" (jirfKov 
UepcTLKdv, "peach"), their "Medic apple" (/x^Xov MrjSiKdv, "citron"), 
their "Medic grass" (MijSui} ir6a, "alfalfa"), and their "Armenian 

1 Below, p. 381. 

* Below, p. 339. 

* Chavannes, Documents chinois d^couverts par Aurel Stein, pp. 168, 169. 

* Below, p. 298. 

* Below, p. 446. It thus occurs also in geographical names, as in Hu-6'a-la 
(Guzerat); see Hirth and Rockhill, Chao Ju-kua, p. 92. 

Introduction 203 

apple'* (fjLrjXov 'Apfi€viaK6Vf "apricot")- Rabelais (1483-1553)^ has 
already made the following just observation on this point, " Les autres 
[plantes] ont retenu le nom des regions des quelles furent ailleurs 
transport^es, comme pommes medices, ce sont pommes de Medie, en 
laquelle furent premierement trouvees; pommes puniques, ce sont 
grenades, apport^es de Punicie, c'est Carthage. Ligusticunty c'est 
Hvesche, apport^e de Ligurie, c'est la couste de Genes: rhabarbe, du 
fleuve Barbare nomm^ Rha, comme atteste Ammianus: santonique, 
fenu grec; castanes, persiques, sabine; stoechas, de mes isles Hieres, 
antiquement dites Stoechades; spica celtica et autres." The Tibetans, 
as I have shown,^ form many names of plants and products with Bal 
(Nepal), Mon (Himalayan Region), rGya (China), and Li (Khotan). 

In the same manner we have numerous botanical terms preceded 
by "American, Indian, Turkish, Turkey, Guinea," etc. 

Aside from the general term Hu, the Chinese characterize Iranian 
plants also by the attribute Po-se (Parsa, Persia): thus Pose tsao 
("Persian jujube") serves for the designation of the date. The term 
Po-se requires great caution, as it denotes two different countries, Persia 
and a certain Malayan region. This duplicity of the name caused 
grave confusion among both Chinese and European scholars, so that 
I was compelled to devote to this problem a special chapter in which 
all available sources relative to the Malayan Po-se and its products 
are discussed. Another tribal name that quite frequently occurs in 
connection with Iranian plant-names is Si-2ufi B 3ft ("the Western 
Zun"). These tribes appear as early as the epoch of the Si kin and 
Su kirif and seem to be people of Hiufi-nu descent. In post-Christian 
times Si-2un developed into a generic term without ethnic significance, 
and vaguely hints at Central-Asiatic regions. Combined with botanical 
names, it appears to be synonymous with Hu.* It is a matter of course 
that all these geographical and tribal allusions in plant-names have 
merely a relative, not an absolute value; that is, if the Chinese, for 
instance, designate a plant as Persian (Po-se) or Hu, this signifies that 
from their viewpoint the plant under notice hailed from Iran, or in 
some way was associated with the activity of Iranian nations, but it 
does not mean that the plant itself or its cultivation is peculiar or due 
to Iranians. This may be the case or not, yet this point remains to be 
determined by a special investigation in each particular instance. 
While the Chinese, as will be seen, are better informed on the history 

* Le Gargantua et le Pantagruel, Livre III, chap. L. 

* Toung Pao, 1916, pp. 409, 448, 456. 

^ For examples of its occurrence consult Index. 

204 Sino-Iranica 

of important plants than any other people of Asia (and I should even 
venture to add, of Europe), the exact and critical history of a plant- 
cultivation can be written only by heeding all data and consulting all 
sources that can be gathered from every quarter. The evidence accruing 
from the Semites, from Egypt, Greece, and Rome, from the Arabs, 
India, Camboja, Annam, Malayans, Japan, etc., must be equally 
requisitioned. Only by such co-ordination may an authentic result be 
hoped for. 

The reader desirous of information on the scientific literatiire 
of the Chinese utilized in this publication may be referred to Bret- 
schneider's "Botanicon Sinicum" (part I).^ It is regrettable that no 
Pen ts'ao (Herbal) of the T'ang period has as yet come to light, and 
that for these works we have to depend on the extracts given in later 
books. The loss of the Hu pen ts'ao (''Materia Medica of the Hu") 
and the C'u hu kwo fan ("Prescriptions from the Hu Countries") is 
especially deplorable. I have directly consulted the Cen lei pen ts'ao, 
written by T'afi Sen-wei in 1108 (editions printed in 1521 and 1587), 
the Pen ts'ao yen i by K'ou Tsufi-§i of 11 16 in the edition of Lu Sin- 
yuan, and the well-known and inexhaustible Pen ts'ao kan mu by Li 
Si-6en, completed in 1578. With all its errors and inexact quotations, 
this remains a monumental work of great erudition and much solid 
information. Of Japanese Pen ts'ao (Honzo) I have used the Yamato 
hon&d, written by Kaibara Ekken in 1709, and the Honzo komoku keimo 
by Ono Ranzan. Wherever possible, I have resorted to the original 
source-books. Of botanical works, the Kwan k'ilnfan p'u, the Hwa p"u^ 
the Ci wu min H Vu k'ao, and several Japanese works, have been utilized. 
The Yu yan tsa tsu has yielded a good many contributions to the plants 
of Po-se and Fu-lin; several Fu-lin botanical names hitherto unexplained 
I have been able to identify with their Aramaic equivalents. Although 
these do not fall within the subject of Sino-Iranica, but Sino-Semitica, 
it is justifiable to treat them in this connection, as the Fu-lin names 
are given side by side with the Po-se names. Needless to say, I have 
carefully read all accounts of Persia and the Iranian nations of Central 
Asia contained in the Chinese Annals, and the material to be found 
there constitutes the basis and backbone of this investigation.^ 

There is a class of literature which has not yet been enlisted for the 

1 We are in need, however, of a far more complete and critical history of the 
scientific literature of the Chinese. 

2 The non-sinological reader may consult to advantage E. H. Parker, Chinese 
Knowledge of Early Persia (Imp. and Asiatic Quarterly Review, Vol. XV, 1903, 
pp. 144-169) for the general contents of the documents relating to Persia. Most 
names of plants and other products have been omitted in Parker's article. 

Introduction 205 

study of cultivated plants, and this is the early literature on medicine. 
Prominent are the books of the physician Can Cun-kin §S W S or 
Can Ki §1 tS, who is supposed to have lived under the Later Han at 
the end of the second century a.d. A goodly ntimber of cultivated plants 
is mentioned in his book Kin kwei yii han yao lio fan lun ^ R ^ ® 
Ic S ZS" li or abbreviated Kin kwei yao lio} This is a very interesting 
hand-book of dietetics giving detailed rules as to the avoidance of 
certain foods at certain times or in certain combinations, poisonous 
effects of articles of diet, and prescriptions to counteract this poison. 
Neither this nor any other medical writer gives descriptions of plants 
or notes regarding their introduction; they are simply enumerated in 
the text of the prescriptions. But it is readily seen that, if such a work 
can be exactly dated, it has a chronological value in determining whether 
a given plant was known at that period. Thus Can Ej mentions, of 
plants that interest us in this investigation, the walnut, the pome- 
granate, the coriander, and Allium scorodoprasum (hu swan). Unfortu- 
nately, however, we do not know that we possess his work in its 
original shape, and Chinese scholars admit that it has suffered from inter- 
polations which it is no longer possible to unravel. The data of such 
a work must be utilized with care whenever points of chronology are 
emphasized. It was rather tempting to add to the original prescrip- 
tions of Can Ki, and there is no doubt that the subsequent editions 
have blended primeval text with later comments. The earliest com- 
mentary is by Wan Su-ho 3£ -^ Si of the Tsin. Now, if we note that 
the plants in question are otherwise not mentioned tinder the Han, but 
in other books are recorded only several centuries later, we can hardly 
refrain from entertaining serious doubts as to Can Ki's acquaintance 
with them. A critical bibliographical study of early Chinese medical 
literature is an earnest desiderattun. 

A. DE Candolle's monumental work on the "Origin of Cultivated 
Plants" is still the only comprehensive book on this subject that we 
have. It was a masterpiece for his time, and still merits being made 
the basis and starting-point for any investigation of this kind. De Can- 
doUe possessed a really critical and historical spirit, which cannot be 
said of other botanists who tried to follow him on the path of his- 
torical research; and the history of many cultivated plants has been 
outlined by him perfectly well and exactly. Of many others, our con- 
ceptions are now somewhat different. Above all, it must be said that 

* Reprinted in the Yii tswan i tsun kin kien of 1739 (Wylie, Notes on Chinese 
Literature, p. loi). A good edition of this and the other works of the same author on 
the basis of a Sung edition is contained in the medical Ts'uii-§u, the / t'ui^ le'h mo 
ts'iian Su, published by the Ce-kiafi gu ku. 

2o6 Sino-Iranica 

since his days Oriental studies have made such rapid strides, that his 
notes with regard to India, China, and Japan, are thoroughly out of 
date. As to China, he possessed no other information than the super- 
ficial remarks of Bretschneider in his ** Study and Value of Chinese 
Botanical Works," ^ which teem with mistmderstandings and errors.' 
De CandoUe's conclusions as to things Chinese are no longer acceptable. 
The same holds good for India and probably also for Egypt and western 
Asia. In point of method, de CandoUe has set a dangerous precedent 
to botanists in whose writings this effect is still visible, and this is 
his over-valuation of purely linguistic data. The existence of a native 
name for a plant is apt to prove little or nothing for the history of 
the plant, which must be based on doctmientary and botanical evi- 
dence. Names, as is well known, in many cases are misleading or 
deceptive; they constitute a welcome accessory in the chain of evidence, 
but they cannot be relied upon exclusively. It is a different case, of 
course, if the Chinese offer us plant-names which can be proved to be 
of Iranian origin. If on several occasions I feel obliged to uphold 
V. Hehn against his botanical critic A. Engler, such pleas must not 
be construed to mean that I am an unconditional admirer of Hehn; 
on the contrary, I am wide awake to his weak points and the short- 
comings of his method, but wherever in my estimation he is right, it 
is my duty to say that he is right. A book to which I owe much in- 
formation is Charles Joret's "Les Plantes dans Tantiquit^ et au 
moyen dge" (2 vols., Paris, 1897, 1904), which contains a sober and 
clear account of the plants of ancient Iran.* 

A work to which I am greatly indebted is " Terminologie m^dico- 
pharmaceutique et anthropologique frangaise-persane, " by J. L. 
ScHLiMMER, Hthographed at Teheran, 1874.* This comprehensive work 
of over 600 pages folio embodies the lifelong labors of an instructor at 
the Pol5rtechnic College of Persia, and treats in alphabetical order of 
animal and vegetable products, drugs, minerals, mineral waters, native 

* Published in the Chinese Recorder for 1870 and 1871. 

* They represent the fruit of a first hasty and superficial reading of the Pen 
ts*ao kari mu without the application of any criticism. In Chinese literature we can 
reach a conclusion only by consulting and sifting all documents bearing on a problem. 
Bretschneider's Botanicon Sinicum, much quoted by sinologues and looked upon as 
a sort of gospel by those who are unable to control his data, has now a merely relative 
value, and is uncritical and unsatisfactory both from a botanical and a sinological 
viewpoint; it is simply a translation of the botanical section of the Pen ts'ao kan mu 
without criticism and with many errors, the most interesting plants being omitted. 

* Joret died in Paris on December 26, 1914, at the age of eighty-five years 
(cf. obituary notice by H. Cordier, La GSographie, 1914, p. 239). 

* Quoted "ScHLiMMER, Terminologie." I wish to express my obligation to the 
Surgeon General's Library in Washington for the loan of this now very rare book. 

Introduction 207 

therapeutics and diseases, with a wealth of solid information that has 
hardly ever been utilized by our science. 

It is hoped that these researches will chiefly appeal to botanists 
and to students of hiiman civiHzation; but, as it can hardly be expected 
that the individual botanist will be equally interested in the history 
of every plant here presented, each subject is treated as a unit and 
as an independent essay, so that any one, according to his inclination 
and choice, may approach any chapter he desires. Repetitions have 
therefore not been shunned, and cross-references are liberally inter- 
spersed; it should be borne in mind, however, that my object is not 
to outline merely the history of this or that plant, but what I wish to 
present is a synthetic and comprehensive picture of a great and unique 
plant-migration in the sense of a cultural movement, and simultane- 
ously an attempt to determine the Iranian stratum in the structure of 
Chinese civilization. It is not easy to combine botanical, oriental, 
philological, and historical knowledge, but no pains have been spared 
to render justice to both the botanical and the historical side of each 
problem. All data have been sifted critically, whether they come 
from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Persian, Arabic, or classical sources, 
and in no instance have I depended on a second-hand or dogmatic 
statement. The various criticisms of A. de CandoUe, A. Engler, E. 
Bretschneider, and other eminent authorities, arise from the critical 
attitude toward the subject, and merely aim at the furtherance of the 

I wish to express my thanks to Dr. Tanaka TyOzaburO in the 
Bureau of Plant Industry of the Department of Agriculture, Washing- 
ton, for having kindly prepared a translation of the notices on the 
grape-vine and the walnut from Japanese sources, which are appended 
to the chapters on the history of these plants. The manuscript of this 
publication was completed in April, 191 8. 

The generosity of Mrs. T. B. Blackstone and Mr. Charles R. 
Crane in contributing a fund toward the printing of this volume is 
gratefully acknowledged. 


1. The earliest extant literary allusion to alfalfa^ {Medicago saliva) 
is made in 424 B.C. in the Eqtdtes ("The Knights") of Aristophanes, 
who says (V, 606) : 

"Hcr^toj' hk Tovs irayovpovs &vtI wotas fiTjdLKrjs. 
"The horses ate the crabs of Corinth as a substitute for the Medic*! 

The term "Medike " is derived from the name of the country Media, 
In his description of Media, Strabo^ states that the plant constituting 
the chief food of the horses is called by the Greeks "Medike" from its 
growing in Media in great abundance. He also mentions as a product 
of Media silphton, from which is obtained the Medic juice.' Pliny* 
intimates that "Medica" is by nature foreign to Greece, and that it 
was first introduced there from Media in consequence of the Persian 
wars tinder King Darius. Dioscorides*^ describes the plant without 
referring to a locality, and adds that it is used as forage by the cattle- 
breeders. In Italy, the plant was disseminated from the middle of the 
second century B.C. to the middle of the first century a.d.,** — almost 
coeval with its propagation to China. The Assyriologists claim that 
aspasti or aspastu, the Iranian designation of alfalfa, is mentioned in 
a Babylonian text of ca. 700 b.c.;^ and it would not be impossible that 
its favorite fodder followed the horse at the time of its introduction 
from Iran into Mesopotamia. A. de Candolle' states that Medicago 

* I use this term (not lucerne) in accordance with the practice of the U. S. 
Department of Agriculture; it is also the term generally used and understood by the 
people of the United States. The word is of Arabic origin, and was adopted by the 
Spaniards, who introduced it with the plant into Mexico and South America in the 
sixteenth century. In 1854 it was taken to San Francisco from Chile (J. M. West- 
gate, Alfalfa, p. 5, Washington, 1908). 

2X1. xm, 7. 

■ Theophrastus (Hist, plant., VIII. vii, 7) mentions alfalfa but casually by 
saying that it is destroyed by the dung and urine of sheep. Regarding silphion 
see p. 355. 

* xm, 43. 

* Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, 8th ed., p. 412. 

' Schrader in Hehn, p. 416; C. Joret (Plantes dans Tantiquit^, Vol. II, p. 68) 
states after J. Hal6vy that aspasti figures in the list drawn up by the gardener of the 
Babylonian king Mardukbalidin (Merodach-Baladan), a contemporary of Ezechias 
King of Juda. 

* Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 103. 


Alfalfa 209 

sativa has been found wild, with every appearance of an indigenous 
plant, in several provinces of Anatolia, to the south of the Caucasus, 
in several parts of Persia, in Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and in Kashmir.^ 
Hence the Greeks, he concludes, may have introduced the plant from 
Asia Minor as well as from India, which extended from the north of 
Persia. This theory seems to me inadmissible and superfluous, for 
the Greeks allude solely to Media in this connection, not to India. 
Moreover, the cultivation of the plant is not ancient in India, but is 
of recent date, and hardly plays any r61e in Indian agriculture and 

In ancient Iran, alfalfa was a highly important crop closely associated 
with the breeding of superior races of horses. Pahlavi aspast or aspist 
New Persian aspust, uspust, aspist, ispist, or isfist (Pustu or Afghan spastu, 
^peHa), is traceable to an Avestan or Old-Iranian *aspo-asti (from the 
root ad, 'Ho eat"), and literally means "horse-fodder."^ This word has 
penetrated into Syriac in the form aspestd or pespestd (the latter in the 
Geoponica). Khosrau I (a.d. 531-578) of the Sasanian dynasty included 
alfalfa in his new organization of the land-tax:^ the tax laid on alfalfa 
was seven times as high as that on wheat and barley, which gives an 
idea of the high valuation of that forage-plant. It was also employed 
in the pharmacopoeia, being dealt with by Abu Mansur in his book 
on pharmacology.^ The seeds are still used medicinally.^ The Arabs 
derived from the Persians the word isfist, Arabicized into fisfisa; Arabic 
designations being ratha and qatt, the former for the plant in its nattiral 
state, the latter for the dried plant. ^ 

The mere fact that the Greeks received Medicago ^rom the Persians, 
and christened it "Medic grass," by no means signifies or proves at the 
outset that Medicago represents a genuinely Iranian cultivation. It is 
well known how fallacious such names are: the Greeks also had the 
peach under the name "Persian apple," and the apricot as "Armenian 
apple;" yet peach and apricot are not originally Persian or Armenian, 
but Chinese cultivations: Iranians and Armenians in this case merely 

^ As to Kashmir, it will be seen, we receive a confirmation from an ancient 
Chinese document. See also G. Watt, Dictionary of the Economic Products of 
India, Vol. V, pp. 199-203. 

^ Neldeke, ZDMG, Vol. XXXII, 1878, p. 408. Regarding some analogous 
plant-names, see R. v. Stackelberg, ibid., Vol. LIV, 1900, pp. 108, 109. 

' Noldeke, Tabari, p. 244. 

* AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 73 (cf. above, p. 194). 

^ ScHLiMMER, Terminologie, p. 365. Ife gives yondle as the Persian name, which, 
however, is of Turkish origin (from yont, "horse"). In Asia Minor there is a place 
Yon jali (" rich in alfalfa ") . 

^ Leclerc, Traits des simples, Vol. Ill, p. 35. 

2IO Sino-Iranica 

acted as mediators between the far east and the Mediterranean. How- 
ever, the case of alfalfa presents a different problem. The Chinese, who 
cultivate alfalfa to a great extent, do not claim it as an element of 
their agriculture, but have a circumstantial tradition as to when and 
how it was received by them from Iranian quarters in the second 
century B.C. As any antiquity for this plant is lacking in India or any 
other Asiatic country, the verdict as to the centre of its primeval culti- 
vation is decidedly in favor of Iran. The contribution which the Chinese 
have to make to the history of Medicago is of fundamental importance 
and sheds new light on the whole subject: in fact, the history of no 
cultivated plant is so well authenticated and so solidly founded. 

In the inscription of Persepolis, King Darius says, "This land Persia 
which Auramazda has bestowed on me, being beautiful, populous, and 
abimdant in horses — according to the will of Auramazda and my own. 
King Darius — it does not tremble before any enemy." I have alluded 
in the introduction to the results of General Cafi K'ien's memorable 
expedition to Central Asia. The desire to possess the fine Iranian 
thoroughbreds, more massively built than the small Mongolian horse, 
and distinguished by their noble proportions and slendemess of feet 
as well as by the development of chest, neck, and croup, was one of 
the strongest motives for the Emperor Wu (140--87 B.C.) to maintain 
regular missions to Iranian countries, which led to a regular caravan 
trade with Fergana and Parthia. Even more than ten such missions 
were dispatched in the course of a year, the minimum being five or six. 
At first, this superior breed of horse was obtained from the Wu-sim, 
but then it was found by Can K*ien that the breed of Fergana was far 
superior. These horses were called "blood-sweating" (han-hiie ff jiL),^ 
and were believed to be the offspring of a heavenly horse (Vien ma 
5? ^). The favorite fodder of this noble breed consisted in Medicago 
sativa; and it was a sound conclusion of General Can K'ien, who was a 
practical man and possessed of good judgment in economic matters, 
that, if these much-coveted horses were to continue to thrive on Chinese 
soil, their staple food had to go along with them. Thus he obtained 
the seeds of alfalfa in Fergana,^ and presented them in 126 B.C. to his 
imperial master, who had wide tracts of land near his palaces covered 

^ This name doubtless represents the echo of some Iranian mythical concept, 
but I have not yet succeeded in tracing it in Iranian mythology. 

* In Fergana as well as in the remainder of Russian Turkistan Medicago sativa 
is still propagated on an immense scale, and represents the only forage-plant of that 
country, without which any economy would be impossible, for pasture-land and hay 
are lacking. Alfalfa yields four or five harvests there a year, and is used for the feed- 
ing of cattle either in the fresh or dry state. In the mountains it is cultivated up to 
an elevation of five thousand feet; wild or as an escape from cultivation it reaches 

Alfalfa 211 

with this novel plant, and enjoyed the possession of large ntimbers of 
celestial horses.^ From the palaces this fodder-plant soon spread to 
the people, and was rapidly diffused throughout northern China. 
According to Yen §i-ku (a.d. 579-645), this was already an accom- 
plished fact during the Han period. As an officinal plant, alfalfa appears 
in the early work Pie lu} The TsH min yao §u of the sixth century 
A.D. gives rules for its cultivation; and T'ao Hun-kifi (a.d. 451-536) 
remarks that *'it is grown in gardens at C*afi-nan (the ancient capital 
in Sen-si), and is much valued by the northerners, while the people 
of Kiafi-nan do not indiilge in it much, as it is devoid of flavor. Abroad 
there is another mu-su plant for healing eye-diseases, but different 
from this species."' 

Can K'ien was sent out by the Emperor Wu to search for the 
Yue-6i and to close an alliance with them against the Turkish Hiun-nu. 
The Yue-(H, in my opinion, were an Indo-Etu-opean people, speaking a 
North-Iranian language related to Scythian, Sogdian, YagnObi, and 
Ossetic. In the course of his mission, Can K*ien visited Fergana, Sog- 
diana, and Bactria, all strongholds of an Iranian population. The 
"West" for the first time revealed by him to his astounded country- 
men was Iranian civilization, and the products which he brought back 
were thoroughly and typically Iranian. The two cultivated plants 
(and only these two) introduced by him into his fatherland hailed 
from Fergana: Ferganian was an Iranian language; and the words for 
the alfalfa and grape, mu-su and p^u-Vao, were noted by Can K'ien 
in Fergana and transmitted to China along with the new cxiltivations. 
These words were Ferganian; that is, Iranian.* Can K'ien himself was 

an altitude up to nine thousand feet. Cf. S. Korzinski, Vegetation of Turkistan 
(in Russian), p. 51. Russian Turkistan produces the largest supply of alfalfa-seed 
for export (E. Brown, Bull. Dep. of Agriculture, No. 138, 1914). 
^Siki, Ch. 123. 

* Cf. Chinese Clay Figures, p. 135. 

* Cen lei pen ts*ao, Ch. 27, p. 23. It is not known what this foreign species is. 

* Hirth's theory {Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXXVII, 1917, p. 149), that the 
element yiian of Ta-yuan (Fergana) might represent a "fair linguistic equivalent" of 
Yavan (Yavana, the Indian name of the Greeks), had already been advanced by J. 
Edkins (Journal China Branch Roy. As. Soc, Vol. XVIII, 1884, p. 5). To me it 
seems eccentric, and I regret being unable to accept it. In the T'ang period we have 
from Huan TsaA a reproduction of the name Yavana in the form @ ^ ^ 
Yen-mo-na, *Yam-mwa-na (Pelliot, Btdl. de VEcole frangaise, Vol. IV, p. 278). 
For the Han period we should expect, after the analogy of H ^ Ye-tiao, *Yap 
(Dzap)-div (Yavadvlpa, Java), a transcription ^ Jf Ye-na, *Yap-na, for Yavana. 
The term ^ ^ Yu-yue, * Yu-vat (var) , does not represent a transcription of Yavana, 
as supposed by Chavannes (M6moires historiques de Se-ma Ts'ien, Vol. IV, 1901, 
PP* 558-559), but is intended to transcribe the name Yuan (*Yuvar, Yijar), 
still employed by the Cam and other peoples of Indo-China as a designation of 

212 Sino-Iranica 

very well aware of the fact that the speech of the people of Fergana was 
Iranian, for he stated in his report, that, although there were different 
dialects in the tract of land stretching from Fergana westward as far 
as Parthia (An-si), yet their resemblance was so great that the people 
could make themselves intelligible to each other.^ This is a plain 
allusion to the differentiation and at the same time the unity of Iranian 
speech;* and if the Ferganians were able to understand the Parthians, 
I do not see in what other language than Iranian they could have 
conversed. Certainly they did not speak Greek or Turkish, as some 
prejudiced theorists are inclined to imagine. 

The word brought back by Can K'ien for the designation of alfalfa, 
and still used everywhere in China for this plant, was mu-su @ ©, 
consisting of two plain phonetic elements,' anciently *muk-suk (Japa- 
nese moku-Suku), subsequently written W ^ with the addition of the 
classifier No. 140. I recently had occasion to indicate an ancient Tibetan 
transcription of the Chinese word in the form hug-sug,^ and this appears 
to come very near to the Iranian prototype to be restored, which was 
*buksuk or *buxsux, perhaps *buxstik. The only sensible explanation 
ever given of this word, which unfortimately escaped the sinologues, 
was advanced by W. Tomaschek,*^ who tentatively compared it with 
Gilaki (a Caspian dialect) huso ("alfalfa")* This would be satisfactory 
if it cotild be demonstrated that this hiiso is evolved from *bux-sox or 
the like. Further progress in our knowledge of Iranian dialectology 

Annam and the Annamese (cf. Cam Yuan or Yuon, Bahnar, Juon, Khmer Yuon, 
Stien Ju6n). This native name, however, was adapted to or assimilated with Sanskrit 
Yavana; for in the Sanskrit inscriptions of Campa, particularly in one of the reign 
of Jaya-Rudravarman dated a.d. 1092, Annam is styled Yavana (A. Bergaigne, 
L'Ancien royaume de Campa, p. 61 of the reprint from Journal asiatique, 1888). 
In the Old- Javanese poem Nagarakrtagama, completed in a.d. 1365, Yavana 
occurs twice as a name for Annam (H. Kern, Bijdragen tot de taal- land- en volkenkunde, 
Vol.LXXII, 1916, p. 399). Kern says that the question as to how the name of the 
Greeks was applied to Annam has not been raised or answered by any one; he over- 
looked the contribution of Bergaigne, who discussed the problem. 

* Strabo (XV. 11, 8) observes, "The name of Ariana is extended so as to include 
some part of Persia, Media, and the north of Bactria and Sogdiana; for these peoples 
speak nearly the same language." 

* Emphasized by R. Gauthiot in his posthumous work Trois M6moires sur 
I'unit^ linguistique des parlers iraniens (reprinted from the Memoires de la Societi 
de Linguistique de Paris, Vol. XX, 1916). 

' The two characters are thus indeed written without the classifiers in the Han 
Annals. The writings tS^ ^ *muk-suk of Kwo P'o and 7[c J!l *niuk-swok of Lo 
Yuan, author of the Er ya i (simply inspired by attempts at reading certain mean- 
ings into the characters), have the same phonetic value. In Annamese it is muk-tuk. 

* Toung Poo, 1916, p. 500, No. 206. 

» Pamir-Dialekte (Sitzber. Wiener Akad., i88o, p. 792). 

Alfalfa 213 

will no doubt supply the correct form of this word. We have to be 
mindful of the fact that the speech of those East-Iranian tribes, the 
advance-guard of Iran proper, with whom the Chinese first came in 
contact, has never be^n committed to writing, and is practically lost 
to us. Only secluded dialects may still harbor remnants of that lost 
treasure. We have to be the more grateful to the Chinese for having 
rescued for us a few words of that extinct language, and to place *buksuJk 
or *buxsux on record as the ancient Ferganian appellation of Medicago 
saliva. The first element of this word may survive in Sariqoli (a Pamir 
dialect) wux ("grass"). In Waxi, another Pamir idiom, alfalfa is 
styled wujerk; and grass, wUL "Horse" is ya^ in Waxi, and vurj in 

Bretschneider^ was content to say that mu-su is not Chinese, 
but most probably a foreign name. Waiters, in his treatment of 
foreign words in Chinese, has dodged this term. T. W. Kingsmill' 
is responsible for the hypothesis that mu-su "may have some connec- 
tion with the MrjSiKri ^oravrj of Strabo." This is adopted by the Chinese 
Dictionary of Giles.* This Greek designation had certainly not pene- 
trated to Fergana, nor did the Iranian Ferganians use a Greek name 
for a plant indigenous to their country. It is also impossible to see 
what the phonetic coincidence between *muk-suk or *buk-suk and 
medike is supposed to be. 

The least acceptable explanation of mu-su is that recently pro- 
pounded by HiRTH,^ who identifies it with a Turkish bur(^akf which is 
Osmanli, and refers to the pea.^ Now, it is universally known that a 
language like Osmanli was not in existence in the second century B.C., 
but is a comparatively modem form of Turkish speech; and how Cafi 
K'ien should have picked up an Osmanli or any other Turkish word for 
a typically Iranian plant in Fergana, where there were no Turks at that 
time, is unintelligible. Nor is the alleged identification phonetically 
correct: Chinese mu, *muk, *buk, cannot represent buTj nor can su, 

1 Cf. R. B. Shaw, On the Ghalchah Languages (Journal As. Soc. Bengal, 1876, 
pp. 221, 231). According to Tomaschek {op. cit., p. 763), this word is evolved from 
*bharaka, Ossetic hairdg ("good foal"). 

^ Bot. Sin., pt. Ill, p. 404. 

' Journal China Branch Roy. As. Soc, Vol. XIV, 1879, p. 19. 

* No. 8081, wrongly printed McStKi^. The word fioT&vrj is not connected with 
the name of the plant, but in the text of Strabo is separated from lArjSiK^v by eleven 
words. Mr]8LK-n is to be explained as scil. wSa, "Medic grass or fodder." 

'^ Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXXVII, 1917, p. 145. 

• Kara hurtak means the "black pea" and denotes the vetch. 

214 Sino-Iranica 

*suk, stand for ^ak.^ The entire speculation is deplorable, and we are 
even expected "to allow for a change the word may have undergone 
from the original meaning within the last two thousand years"; but 
there is no trace of evidence that the Osmanli word has existed that 
length of time, neither can it be reasonably admitted that the signifi- 
cance of a word can change from "pea" to "alfalfa." The universal 
term in Central Asia for alfalfa is bida/^ or bedUy^ Djagatai bida. This 
word means simply "fodder, clover, hay."* According to Tomaschek,^ 
this word is of Iranian origin (Persian beda). It is found also in Sariqoli, 
a Pamir dialect.^ This would indicate very well that the Persians 
(and it could hardly be expected otherwise) disseminated the alfalfa 
to Tiirkistan. 

According to Vambery,^ alfalfa appears to have been indigenous 
among the Tiu-ks from all times; this opinion, however, is only based 
on Hnguistic evidence, which is not convincing: a genuine Turkish 
name exists in Djagatai jonu^ka (read yonucka) and Osmanli yondza^ 
(add Kasak-Kirgiz yonur^ka)^ which simply means "green fodder, 
clover." Now, these dialects represent such recent forms of Turkish 
speech, that so far-reaching a conclusion cannot be based on them. 
As far as I know, in the older Turkish languages no word for alfalfa 
has as yet been found. 

A Sanskrit M M- iJ M sai-pi-li-kHe^ *sak-bi-lik-kya, for the designa- 
tion of mu-sUf is indicated by Li Si-£en,® who states that this is the 
word for mu-su used in the Kin kwan min kin ^ jfc TO S (Suvar- 
iiaprabhasa-sutra). This is somewhat surprising, in view of the fact 
that there is no Sanskrit word for this plant known to us;^° and there 
can be no doubt that the latter was introduced into India from Iran 
in comparatively recent times. Bretschneider's suggestion,^^ that in 

1 Final k in transcriptions never answers to a final r, but only to ^, g, or x (cf. 
also Pelliot, T'oung Pao, 1912, p. 476). 

* A. Stein, Khotan, Vol. I, p. 130. 

* Le Coq, Sprichw6rter und Lieder aus Turfan, p. 85. 

* I. KuNOS, Sulejman Efendi's Cagataj-Osman. Worterbuch, p. 26. 
^ Pamir- Dialekte, p. 792. 

« R. B. Shaw, Journal As. Soc. Bengal, 1876, p. 231. 
^ Primitive Cultur des turko-tatarischen Volkes, p. 220. 

* The et3rmology given of this word by Vdmb6ry is fantastic and unacceptable. 

* Pen ts*ao kafi mu, Ch. 27, p. 3 b. Mu-su is classified by him under ts'ai 

'0 This was already remarked by A. de Candolle (Origin of Cultivated Plants, 
p. 104). Also Watt gives only modem Indian vernacular names, three of which, 
spastu, sebist, and beda, are of Iranian origin. 

" Bot. Sin., pt. Ill, p. 404. 

Alfalfa 215 

Kabul the TrifoUum giganteum is called stbarga, and Medicago sativa 
is styled rUka^ is unsatisfactory. The word stbarga means *' trefoil" 
(si J *' three;'' 6arga = Persian barak, varak, "leaf"), and is Iranian, not 
Sanskrit; the corresponding Sanskrit word is tripatra or triparna- The 
word riSka is Afghan; that is, likewise Iranian.^ Considering the fact 
that nothing is known about the plant in question in early Indian 
sources, it is highly improbable that it should figure in a Buddhist 
Sutra of the type of the Suvarnaprabhasa; and I think that Li Si-(5en 
is mistaken as to the meaning of the word, which he says he encountered 

The above transcription occurs also in the Fan yi min yi tsi 
(section 27) and answers to Sanskrit qaka-vfika, the word qdka denoting 
any eatable herb or vegetable, and vrika (or baka) referring to a certain 
plant not yet identified (cf. the analogous formation qaka-bilvaj ** egg- 
plant")* It is not known what herb is to be understood by gdka-vfika, 
and the Chinese translation mu-su may be merely a makeshift, though 
it is not impossible that the Sanskrit compound refers to some species 
of Medicago. We must not lose sight of the fact that the equations 
established in the Chinese-Sanskrit dictionaries are for the greater part 
merely bookish or lexicographical, and do not relate to plant introduc- 
tions. The Buddhist translators were merely anxious to find a suitable 
equivalent for an Indian term. This process is radically different from 
the plant-names introduced together with the plants from Iranian, 
Indian, or Southeast-Asiatic regions: here we face living realities, 
there we have to do with literary productions. Two other examples 
may suffice. The Fan yi min yi tsi (section 24) offers a Sanskrit botani- 
cal name in the form ^ ® ?& ien-Vou-kia, anciently *tsin(tin)-du-k'ie, 
answering to Sanskrit tinduka (Diospyros embryopteris) j a dense ever- 
green small tree common throughout India and Burma. The Chinese 
gloss explains the Indian word by H ffi, which is the well-known Dio- 
spyros kaki of China and Japan, not, however, found in ancient India; it 
was but recently introduced into the Botanical Garden of Calcutta by 
Col. Kyd, and the Chinese gardeners employed there call it (^in ("Chi- 
nese").* In this case it signifies only the Diospyros embryopteris of 
India. Under the heading kan-sun hian (see p. 455), which denotes the 
spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi), Li Si-6en gives a Sanskrit term 
^ Sll^ k'u-mi-(^'e, *ku-mi-Si, likewise taken from the Suvaniapra- 
bhasaslitra; this corresponds to Sanskrit kunci or kuncika, which applies 
to three different plants, — i. Abrus precatoriuSj 2. Nigella indica, 

* There are, further, in Afghan sebist (connected with Persian supust) and 

* W. Roxburgh, Flora Indica, p. 412. 

2i6 Sino-Iranica 

3. Trigonella foenum graecum. In this case the compromise is a failure, 
or the identification of kunci with kan-sun even results from an error; 
the Sanskrit term for the spikenard is gandhamdmsl. 

We must not draw inferences from mere Sanskrit names, either, as to 
the origin of Chinese plants, unless there is more substantial evidence. 
Thus Stuart^ remarks under U ^ (Prunus domestica) that the Sanskrit 
equivalent S IS M ku-lin-kia indicates that this plum may have been 
introduced from India or Persia. Prunus domestica, however, is a native 
of China, mentioned in the Si kin, Li ki, and in Mon-tse. The Sino- 
Indian word is given in the Fan yi min yi tsi (section 24) with the trans- 
lation li. The only corresponding Sanskrit word is kulingd, which 
denotes a kind of gall. The question is merely of explaining a Sanskrit 
term to the Chinese, but this has no botanical or historical value for the 
Chinese species. 

Thus the records of the Chinese felicitously supplement the meagre 
notices of alfalfa on the part of the ancients, and lend its history 
the proper perspective: we recognize the why and how of the world- 
wide propagation of this useful economic plant. ^ Aside from Fergana, 
the Chinese of the Han period discovered mu-su also in Ki-pin (Kash- 
mir),' and this fact is of some importance in regard to the early geo- 
graphical distribution of the species; for in Kashmir, as well as in 
Afghanistan and Baluchistan, it is probably spontaneous.'* 

Mu-su gardens are mentioned under the Emperor Wu (a.d. 265-290) 
of the Tsin dynasty, and the post-horses of the T'ang dynasty were fed 
with alfalfa.^ 

The fact that alfalfa was used as an article of human food under 
the T'ang we note from the story of Sie Lin-6i SP ^ ;^, preceptor at 
the Court of the Emperor Yuan Tsufi (a.d. 713-755), who wrote a 
versified complaint of the too meagre food allotted to him, in which 
alfalfas with long stems were the chief ingredient.^ The good teacher, 
of course, was not familiar with the highly nutritive food-values of 
the plant. 

1 Chinese Materia Medica, p. 358. 

2 It is singular that A. de Candolle, in his Origin of Cultivated Plants, while he 
has conscientiously reproduced from Bretschneider all his plants wrongly ascribed 
to Can K'ien, doss not make any reference to China in speaking of Medicago 
(pp. 102-104). In fact, its history has never before been outlined correctly. 

' TsHen Han Su, Ch. 96 A. 

* A. DE Candolle, op. ciL, p. 103 ; G. T. Vigne, Travels in Kashmir, Vol. II, p. 455. 
^ S. Matsuda ^03 ^ ^, On Medicago sativa and the Species of Medicago 

in China {Botanical Magazine ^fi © ^ IS |S, Tokyo, Vol. XXI, 1907, p. 243). 
This is a very interesting and valuable study written in Japanese. 

• Cf. C. P^TiLLON, Allusions litt^raires, p. 350. 

Alfalfa 217 

According to the Su i ki ^ M 12, written by Zen Fan ffi BS in 
the beginning of the sixth century, "the mu-su (alfalfa) gardens of 
Cafi K'ien are situated in what is now Lo-yafi; mu-su was originally 
a vegetable in the land of the Hu, and K'ien was the first to obtain it 
in the Western Countries." A work, Kiu ^V ^i* ft M 12/ says that east 
of the capital there were mu-su gardens, in which there were three 
pestles driven by water-power. 

The Si kin tsa kiM^M 12^ states, "In the Lo-yu gardens ^M'M 
(in the capital C'afi-nan) there are rose-bushes ©C ?6 IS" {Rosa rugosa)^ 
which grow spontaneously. At^the foot of these, there is abundance 
of mu-su, called also kwaifun fe 1^ ('embracing the wind'), sometimes 
kwanfun jfc ®. ('brilHant wind').^ The people of Mou-lifi M B^* style 
the plant lien-U ts'ao 3L ^ ^ ('herb with connected branches')."^ 

The Lo yan kHe Ian ki ?& S flP ^ ^, a record of the Buddhist 
monasteries in the capital Lo-yafi, written by Yan Hiian-Ci i^ ^ ^ in 
A.D. 547 or shortly afterwards, says that "Huan-wu ^ ffi is situated 
north-east of the Ta-hia Gate :fe X P? ; now it is called Kwafi-fufi 
Garden it%*Wij producing mu-su J* Kwah-fun, as shown by the Si kin 
tsa ki, is a synonyme of mu-su. 

K'ou Tsufi-§i, in his Pen ts^ao yen i,^ written in a.d. 1116, notes that 
alfalfa is abundant in Sen-si, being used for feeding cattle and horses, 
and is also consumed by the population, but it should not be eaten in 
large quantity. Under the Mongols, the cultivation of alfalfa was 
much encouraged, especially in order to avert the danger of famines/ 
and gardens were maintained to raise alfalfa for the feeding of horses.* 
According to Li §i-Cen (latter part of the sixteenth century),* it was in 
his time a common, wild plant in the fields everywhere, but was culti- 
vated in §en-si and Kan-su. He apparently means, however, Medicago 
denticulata, which is a wild species and a native of China. Forbes 

^ T'ai pHn yii Ian, Ch. 824, p. 9. 

^ That is, Miscellaneous Records of the Western Capital (C'an-nan in Sen-si), 
written by Wu Kun ^ ;^ of the sixth century a.d. 

^ The explanation given for these names is thus: the wind constantly whistles 
in these gardens, and the sunlight lends brilliancy to the flowers. 

■* Ancient name for the present district of Hin-p'in ^ ^ in the prefecture of 
Si-nan, §en-si. 

•^ Pat p'iA yu Ian, Ch. 996, p. 4 b. 

^ Ch. 19, p. 3 (ed. of Lu Sin-yuan). 

' Yiian H, Ch. 93, P- 5 b. 

^ Ibid., Ch. 91, p. 6 h. 

^ Pen ts'ao kafi tnu, Ch. 28, p. 3 b. 

2i8 Sino-Iranica 

and Hemsley^ give as Chinese species Medicago denticulata, falcatay^ 
and lupulina (the black Medick or nonsuch), M. /w^w/ma ''apparently 
common, and from the most distant parts," and say with reference to 
Medicago sativa that it is ctdtivated in northern China, and also occurs 
in a wild state, though it is probably not indigenous. This "wild" 
Medicago sativa may be an escape from cultivation. It is an interesting 
point that those wild species are named ye mu-su ("wild alfalfa"), 
which goes to show that these were observed by the Chinese only after 
the introduction of the imported cultivated species.^ Wu K'i-tsun* 
has figured two ye mu-su, following his illustration of the mu-su, — one 
being Medicago lupulina, the other M. denticulata. 

The Japanese call the plant uma-goyaH ("horse-nourishing").^ 
Matsumura^ enimierates four species: M. sativa: murasaki ("purple") 
umagoyaU;"^ M. denticulata: umagoyaH; M, lupulina: kometsubu- 
umagoyaH; and M. minima: ko-umagoyaH. 

In the Tibetan dialect of Ladakh, alfalfa is known as ol. This word 
refers to the Medicago sativa indigenous to Kashmir or possibly intro- 
duced there from Iran. In Tibet proper the plant is unknown. In 
Armenia occur Medicago sativa, M. falcata, M, agrestis, and M, 

Under the title "Notice sur la plante mou-sou ou luzeme chinoise 
par C. de Skattschkoff, suivie d'une autre notice sur la mtoe plante 
traduite du chinois par G. Pauthier," a brief article of i6 pages appeared 
in Paris, 1864, as a reprint from the Revue de V Orient.^ Skattschkoff, 
who had spent seven years in Peking, subsequently became Russian 
constd in Dsungaria, and he commimicates valuable information on the 
agriculture of Medicago in that region. He states that seeds of this 

^ Journal Linnean Soc, Vol. XXIII, p. 154. 

* Attempts are being made to introduce and to cultivate this species in the 
United States (cf. Oakley and Garver, Medicago Falcata, U. S. Department of 
Agriculture, Bull. No. 428, 1917). 

' We shall renew this experience in the case of the grape-vine and the walnut. 

* Ci wu min H t'u k*ao, Ch. 3, pp. 58, 59. 

^ In the same manner, Manchu morxo is formed from morin ("horse") and 
orxo ("grass"). 

* Shoku butsu-mei-i, Nos. 183-184. 

^ The flower of this species is purple-colored. 

* A. B^GUiNOT and P. N. Diratzsuyan, Contributo alia flora dell' Armenia, 
p. 57. 

* The work of Pauthier is limited to a translation of the notice on the plant in 
the Ci wu min H Vu k'ao. The name Yu-lou nufi frequently occurring in this work 
does not refer to a treatise on agriculture, as conceived by Pauthier, but is the literary 
style of Wu K'i-tsun, author of that work. 

Alfalfa 219 

plant were for the first time sent from China to Russia in 1840, and 
that he himself has been active for six years in propagating it in Russia, 
Livonia, Esthonia, and Finland. This is not to be doubted, but the 
point I venture to question is that the plant should not have been 
known in Russia prior to 1840. Not only do we find in the Russian 
language the words medunka (from Greek medike) and the European 
Vutserna (lucerne) for the designation of Medicago sativa, but also 
krasni (*'red") burkun, lecuxay lugovoi v'azel {^'Coronilla of the 
meadows"); the word burkun, burundHk, referring to Medicago falcata 
(called also yUmorki), burunUk to M. lupulina. It is hard to realize 
that all these terms should have sprung up since 1840, and that the 
Russians should not have received information about this useftd plant 
from European, Iranian, or Turkish peoples. A. de Candolle^ ob- 
serves, "In the south of Russia, a locality mentioned by some authors, 
it is perhaps the result of cultivation as well as in the south of Europe." 
Judging from the report of N. E. Hansen,* it appears that three species 
of Medicago {M, falcata, M. platycarpa, and M. ruthenica) are indigenous 
to Siberia. 

The efforts of our Department of Agriculture to promote and to 
improve the cultivation of alfalfa in this country are well known; for 
this purpose also seeds from China have been introduced. Argentine 
chiefly owes to alfalfa a great amount of its cattle-breeding.^ 

^ Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 103. 

* The Wild Alfalfas and Clovers of Siberia, pp. 11-15 (Bureau of Plant Industry, 
Bull. No. 150, Washington, 1909). 

' Cf. I. B. LoRENZETTi, La Alfafa en la Argentina (Buenos Aires, 1913, 360 p.)« 


2. The grape-vine (Vitis mnijera) belongs to the ancient cultivated 
plants of western Asia and Egypt. It is not one of the most ancient 
ctiltivations, for cereals and many kinds of pulse are surely far earlier, 
but it is old enough to have its beginnings lost in the dawn of history. 
Viticulture represents such a complexity of ideas, of a uniform and 
persistent character throughout the ancient world, that it can have 
been disseminated but from a single centre. Opinions as to the loca- 
tion of this focus are of course divided, and our present knowledge of 
the subject does not permit us to go beyond more or less probable 
theories. Certain it is that the primeval home of vine-growing is to 
be sought in the Orient, and that it was propagated thence to Hellas 
and Italy, while the Romans (according to others, the Greeks) trans- 
planted the vine to Gaul and the banks of the Rhine.^ For botanical 
reasons, A. de Candolle^ was inclined to regard the region south of 
the Caucasus as ''the central and perhaps the most ancient home of 
the species." In view of the Biblical tradition of Noah planting the 
grape-vine near the Ararat,^ it is a rather attractive hypothesis to con- 
ceive of Armenia as the country from which the knowledge of the 
grape took its starting-point.* However, we must not lose sight of the 
fact that both vine and wine were known in Egypt for at least three or 
four millenniums B.C.,* and were likewise famiHar in Mesopotamia at 
a very early date. This is not the place for a discussion of O. Schrader's 
theory* that the name and cultivation of the vine are due to Indo- 
Europeans of anterior Asia; the word for "wine" may well be of Indo- 
European or, more specifically, Armenian origin, but this does not 

* Cf. the excellent study of G. Curtel, La Vigne et le vin chez les Romains 
(Paris, 1903). See also A. Stummer, Zur Urgeschichte der Rebe und des Weinbaues 
{Mitt. Anthr. Ges. Wien, 191 1, pp. 283-296). 

* Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 192. 
' Genesis, ix, 20. 

* Cf. R. Billiard, La Vigne dans Tantiquit^, p. 31 (Lyon, 1913). This is a well 
illustrated and artistic volume of 560 pages and one of the best monographs on the 
subject. As the French are masters in the art of viticulture, so they have also pro- 
duced the best literature on the science of vine and wine. Of botanical works, 
J.-M. GuiLLON, Etude g6n6rale de la vigne (Paris, 1905), may be recommended. 

* V. LoRET, Flore pharaonique, p. 99. 

* In Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, pp. 91-95. 


The Grape-Vine 221 

prove that the origin of viticulture itself is traceable to Indo-Europeans. 
The Semitic origin seems to me to be more probable. The Chinese 
received the grape- vine in late historical times from Fergana, an Iranian 
country, as a cultivation entirely unknown in previous epochs; and 
it is therefore sufficient for our purpose to emphasize the fact that 
vine-culture in its entire range was at that time firmly established in 
Western Asia, inclusive of Iran. 

The first knowledge of the cultivated vine {Vitis vinijera) and of wine 
produced from its grapes was likewise obtained by the Chinese through 
the memorable mission of General Can K'ien, when in 128 B.C. he 
travelled through Fergana and Sogdiana on his way to the Yue-Si 
and spent a year in Bactria. As to the people of Fergana (Ta-yuan) , 
he reported, "They have wine made of grapes." The same fact he 
learned regarding the Parthians (An-si). It is further stg,ted in the 
same chapter of the Si ki that the wealthy among the people of Fergana 
stored grape-wine in large quantity up to ten thousand gallons (^, a 
dry measure) for a long time, keeping it for several decades without 
risk of deterioration; they were fond of drinking wine in the same 
manner as their horses relished alfalfa. The Chinese envoys took the 
seeds of both plants along to their cotmtry, and the Son of Heaven was 
the first to plant alfalfa and the vine in fertile soil; and when envoys 
from abroad arrived at the Court, they beheld extensive cultivations of 
these plants not far from the imperial palace. The introduction of the vine 
is as well authenticated as that of alfalfa. The main point to be noted 
is that the grape, in like manner as alfalfa, and the art of making wine, 
were encountered by the Chinese strictly among peoples of Aryan 
descent, principally of the Iranian family, not, however, among any 
Turkish tribes. 

According to the Han Annals, the kingdom Li-3ri ^ -^, which 
depended on Sogdiana, produced grapes; and, as the water of that 
country is excellent, its wine had a particular reputation.^ 

K'afi (Sogdiana) is credited with grapes in the Annals of the Tsin 
Dynasty.^ Also grape- wine was abundant there, and the rich kept up to 
a thousand gallons of it.'* The Sogdians relished wine, and were fond of 
songs and dances. ** Likewise in Si (Tashkend) it was a favorite bever- 

^This is also the conclusion of J. Hoops (Waldbaiime und Kulturpflanzen, 
p. 561). 

^ Hou Han Su, Ch. 118, p. 6 (cf. Chavannes, Toung Pao, 1907, p. 195). 

' Tsin Su, Ch. 97, p. 6 b {ibid., p. 6: grape-wine in Ta-yuan or Fergana). 

* Sui Su, Ch. 83, p. 4 b. 

^TafiSu, Ch. 221 b, p. i. 


age.^ When the Sogdian K'ari Yen-tien in the first part of the seventh 
century a.d. established a Sogdian colony south of the Lob Nor, he 
founded four new cities, one of which was called ''Grape City'* (P'u- 
t*ao c*en) ; for the vine was planted in the midst of the town.^ 

The Iranian Ta Yue-($i or Indo-Scythians must also have been in 
possession of the vine, as we are informed by a curious text in the 
Kin lou tse ^ ft ?,^ written by the Emperor Yuan jt (a.d. 552-555) 
of the Liang dynasty. "The people in the country of the Great Yue-6i 
are clever in making wine from grapes, flowers, and leaves. Sometimes 
they also use roots and vegetable juice, which they cause to ferment.* 
These flowers resemble those of the clove-tree {tin-hian T ?, Caryo- 
phyllus aromaticus)y but are green or bright-blue. At the time of 
spring and simimer, the stamens of the flowers are carried away and 
scattered around by the wind like the feathers of the bird Iwan St. 
In the eighth month, when the storm blows over the leaves, they are 
so much damaged and torn that they resemble silk rags: hence people 
speak of a grape-storm {p'u-Vao fun) , or also call it 'leaves-tearing storm* 
(lie ye fun ^ MM.) J' 

Finally we know also that the Aryan people of Ku6a, renowned 
for their musical ability, songs, and dances, were admirers of grape- 
wine, some families even storing in their houses up to a thousand hu 
f^ of the beverage. This item appears to have been contained in the 
report of General Lu Kwan S :^, who set out for the conquest of Ku6a 
in A.D. 384.^ 

In the same manner as the Chinese discovered alfalfa in Ki-pin 
(Kashmir), they encountered there also the vine.® Further, they found 
it in the countries Tsiu-mo M. M^ and Nan-tou H ^. 

* T'ai p'iA hwan yii ki, Ch. 186, p. 7 b; also in Yen-k'i (Kara§ar): Cou Su, 
Ch. 50, p. 4 b. 

* Pelliot, Journal asiatique, 191 6, I, p. 122. ^ Ch. 5, p. 23. 

* Strabo (XL xiii, 11) states that the inhabitants of the mountainous region 
of northern Media made a wine from some kind of roots. 

* Other sources fix the date in the year 382 (see Sylvain L£vi, Le "Tokharien 
B," langue de Koutcha, Journal asiatique, 1913, II, p. 333). The above fact is 
derived from the Hou lian /« ^ ^ ifj^, quoted in the Tai p'in yii Ian (Ch. 972, p. 3) ; 
see also T'an Su, Ch. 221 a, p. 8. We owe to S. L^vi the proof that the people of 
Ku5a belong to the Indo-European family, and that their language is identical with 
what was hitherto known from the manuscripts discovered in Turkistan as 
Tokharian B. 

* TsHen Han Su, Ch. 96 A, p. 5. Kashmir was still famed for its grapes in the 
days of the Emperor Akbar (H. Blochmann, Ain I Akbari, Vol. I, p. 65), but at 
present viticulture is on the decline there (Watt, Commerical Products of India, 
pp. 1 1 12, 1 1 14). 

^ Regarding this name, see Chavannes, Les Pays d'occident d'aprds le Wei 
lio {Toung Pao, 1905, p. 536). 

The Grape-Vine 223 

In the T'ang period the Chinese learned also that the people of 
Fu-lin (Sjoia) relished grape-wine/ and that the country of the Arabs 
(Ta-si) produced grapes, the largest of the size of fowl's eggs.^ In 
other texts such grapes are also ascribed to Persia.^ At that epoch, 
Turkistan had fallen into the hands of Turkish tribes, who absorbed 
the culture of their Iranian predecessors; and it became known to the 
Chinese that the Uigur had vine and wine. 

Viticulture was in a high state of development in ancient Iran. 
Strabo^ attributes to Margiana (in the present province of Khorasan) 
vines whose stock it would require two men with outstretched arms to 
clasp, and clusters of grapes two cubits long. Aria, he continues, is 
described as similarly fertile, the wine being still richer, and keeping 
perfectly for three generations in unpitched casks. Bactriana, which 
adjoins Aria, abounds in the same productions, except the olive. 

The ancient Persians were great lovers of wine. The best vintage- 
wines were served at the royal table.^ The couch of Darius was over- 
shadowed by a golden vine, presented by Pythius, a Lydian.^ The 
inscription of Persepolis informs us that fifty congius^ of sweet wine 
and five thousand congius of ordinary wine were daily delivered to the 
royal house.^ The office of cup-bearer in the palace was one of im- 
portance.' The younger Cyrus, when he had wine of a peculiarly fine 
flavor, was in the habit of sending half -emptied flagons of it to some 
of his friends, with a message to this effect: "For some time Cyrus has 
not found a pleasanter wine than this one; and he therefore sends some 
to you, begging you to drink it to-day with those whom you love 

Strabo" relates that the produce of Carmania is like that of Persia, 
and that among other productions there is the vine. "The Carmanian 

* HiRTH, China and the Roman Orient, pp. 58, 63. 

* T'ai pHn hwan yu ki, Ch. 186, p. 15 b. 

' For instance, Pen ts*ao yen i, Ch. 18, p. i (ed. of Lu Sin-yuan). 

* II. I, 14, and XI. X, 2. 

^ Esther, i, 7 ("And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, the vessels being 
diverse one from another, and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of 
the king"). 

* Herodotus, vii, 27; Athenaeus, xii, 514 f. According to G. W. Elderkin 
{Am. Journal of Archaeology, Vol. XXI, 1917, p. 407), the ultimate source of this 
motive would be Assyrian. 

^ A measure of capacity equal to about six pints. 
® JoRET, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, p. 95. 

* Xenophon, Cyropasdia, I. in, 8-^. 
^^ Xenophon, Anabasis, I. ix, 25. 
"XV. II, 14. 

224 Sino-Iranica 

vine, as we call it, often bears bunches of grapes of two cubits in size, 
the seeds being very numerous and very large; probably the plant 
grows in its native soil with great luxuriance." The kings of Persia were 
not content, however, with wines of native growth; but when Syria 
was united with their empire, the Chalybonian wine of Syria became 
their privileged beverage.^ This wine, according to Posidonius, was 
made in Damascus, Syria, from vines planted there by the Persians.^ 

Herodotus^ informs us that the Persians are very fond of wine and 
consume it in large quantities. It is also their custom to discuss im- 
portant affairs in a state of intoxication; and on the following morning 
their decisions are put before them by the master of the house where 
the deliberations have been held. If they approve of the decision in the 
state of sobriety, they act accordingly; if not, they set it aside. When 
sober at their first deliberation, they always reconsider the matter under 
the influence of wine. In a similar manner, Strabo'* says that their 
consultations on the most important affairs are carried on while drink- 
ing, and that they consider the resolutions made at that time more to 
be depended upon than those made when sober. In the Sahnameh, 
the Persian epic, deliberations a^e held during drinking-bouts, but 
decision is postponed till the following day.^ Cambyses was ill reputed 
for his propensity for wine.® Deploring the degeneracy of the Persians, 
Xenophon^ remarks, "They continue eating and drinking till those 
who sit up latest go to retire. It was a rule among them not to bring 
large cups to their banquets, evidently thinking that abstinence from 
drinking to excess would less impair their bodies and minds. The 
custom of not bringing such vessels still continues; but they drink so 
excessively that instead of bringing in, they are themselves carried out, 
as they are no longer able to walk upright." Procopius, the great 
Byzantine historian of the sixth century,^ says that of all men the 
Massagetae (an Iranian tribe) are the most intemperate drinkers. So 

1 Strabo, XV. m, 22. 

2 Athenaeus, i. 

' I. 133. 

* XV. HI, 20. 

^ F. Spiegel, Eranische Altertumskunde, Vol. Ill, p. 672. Cf . what John Fryer 
(New Account of East India and Persia being Nine Years' Travels 1672-81, Vol. II, 
p. 210, ed. of Hakluyt Society) says of the modem Persians: "It is incredible to see 
what quantities they drink at a merry-meeting, and how unconcerned the next day 
they appear, and brisk about their business, and will quaflE you thus a whole week 

* Herodotus, in, 34. 

' Cyropaedia, VIII. viii, 9-10. 

* Historikon, III. xii, 8. 

The Grape-Vine 225 

were also the Sacae, who ,^ maddened with wine, were defeated by 
Cyrus.^ In the same passage, Strabo speaks of a Bacchanalian festival 
of the Persians, in which men and women, dressed in Scythian style, 
passed day and night in drinking and wanton play. On the other 
hand, it must not be forgotten that such judgments passed by one 
nation on another are usually colored or exaggerated, and must be 
accepted only at a liberal discount; also temperance was preached in 
ancient Persia, and intemperance was severely pimished.^ With all 
the evils of over-indulgence in wine and the social dangers of alcohol, 
the historian, whose duty it is to represent and to interpret phe- 
nomena as they are, must not lose sight of the fact that wine con- 
stitutes a factor of economic, social, and cultural value. It has largely 
contributed to refine and to intensify social customs and to heighten 
sociability, as well as to promote poetry, music, and dancing. It has 
developed into an element of human civilization, which must not 
be underrated. Temperance literature is a fine thing, but who would 
miss the odes of Anakreon, Horace, or Hafiz? 

The word for the grape, brought back by Cafi K'ien and still current 
in China and Japan {hudo), is^Wi (ancient phonetic spelling of the 
Han Annals, subsequently -ffi ^Yp"u-fao, *bu-daw, "grape, vine". Since 
Cafi K'ien made the acquaintance of the grape in Ta-yiian (Fergana) 
and took its seeds along from there to China, it is certain that he also 
learned the word in Fergana; hence we are compelled to assimie that 
*bu-daw is Ferganian, and corresponds to an Iranian ^budawa or 
*bu5awa, formed with a suffix wa or awa^ from a stem huda, which in 
my opinion may be connected with New Persian hada ("wine") and 
Old Persian ^aTiaKt) C ' wine-vessel ")= Middle Persian hatak^ New 
Persian hddye} The Sino- Iranian word might also be conceived as a 
dialectic form of Avestan madav ("wine from berries"). 

It is well known that attempts have been made to derive the Chinese 
word from Greek ^brpvs ("a bunch of grapes"). Tomaschek^ was 
the first to offer this suggestion; T. Kingsmill* followed in 1879, and 

1 Strabo, XI. viii, 5. 

* Cf. Jackson, in Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, Vol. II, p. 679. 

' The graphic development is the same as in the case^of mu-su (see above, p. 212). 

* Cf . Horn, Neupersische Etymologie, No. 155. The Chinese are fond of etymol- 
ogizing, and Li Si-6en explains the word p'u-Vao thus: "When people drink (p'u 
SS) it, they become intoxicated {t'ao ^)." The joke is not so bad, but it is 
no more than a joke. 

^ Sogdiana, Sitzungsber. Wiener Akad., 1877, p. 133. 

® Journal China Branch Roy. As. Soc, Vol. XIV, pp. 5, 19. 

226 Sino-Iranica 

HiRTH^ endorsed Kingsmill. No one gave a real demonstration of the 
case. Tomaschek argued that the dissemination of the vine in Central 
Asia is connected with Macedonian-Greek rule and Hellenic influence. 
This is decidedly wrong, for the vine grows spontaneously in all north- 
em Iranian regions; and its cultivation in Iran is traceable to a great 
antiquity, and is certainly older there than in Greece. The Greeks 
received vine and wine from western Asia.^ Greek jSorpus, in all likeli- 
hood, is a Semitic loan-word.^ It is highly improbable that the people 
of Fergana would have employed a Greek word for the designation of 
a plant which had been cultivated in their dominion for ages, nor is 
there any evidence for the silent admission that Greek was ever known 
or spoken in Fergana at the time of Can K'ien's travels. The influence 
of Greek in the Iranian domain is extremely slight: nothing Greek has 
as yet beeg found in any ancient manuscripts from Turkistan. In 
my opinion, there is no connection between p'u-fao and ^oTpvsy nor 
between the latter and Iranian *budawa. 

It is well known that several species of wild vine occur in China, in 
the Amtir region, and Japan.** The ancient work Pie lu is credited with 
the observation that the vine {p'u-Vad) grows in Ltin-si (Kan-su) , Wu-yuan 
3[ W> (north of the Ordos), and in Tun-hwafi (in Kan-su).^ Li Si-6en 
therefore argues that in view of this fact the vine must of old have existed 
in Lim-si in pre-Han times, but had not yet advanced into Sen-si. It 
is inconceivable how Bretschneider^ can say that the introduction of 
the grape by Cafi KHen is inconsistent with the notice of the grape in 
the earliest Chinese materia medica. There is, in fact, nothing alarming 
about it: the two are different plants; wild vines are natives of northern 

* Fremde Einflusse in der chin. Kunst, p. 28; and Journal Am. Or. Soc, 
Vol. XXXVII, 1917, p. 146. Hirth's arguments are based on unproved premises. The 
grape-design on the so-called grape mirrors has nothing to do with Greek or Bactrian 
art, but comes from Iranian-Sasanian art. No grape mirrors were turned out under the 
Han, they originated in the so-called Leu-6'ao period from the fourth to the seventh 
century. The attribution "Han" simply rests on the puerile assumption made in 
the Po ku Vu lu that, because Can K'ien introduced the grape, the artistic designs 
of grapes must also have come along with the same movement. 

* Only a "sinologue" could assert that the grape was "originally introduced 
from Greece, vid Bactria, about 130 B.C." (Giles, Chinese Dictionary, No. 9497). 

* Muss-Arnolt, Transactions Am. Phil. Assoc, Vol. XXIII, 1892, p. 142. 
The variants in spelling fiSarpvxos, fi&rpvxos, plainly indicate the status of a loan- 
word. In Dioscorides (in, 120) it denotes an altogether difiEerent plant, — Chen- 
opodium hotrys. 

* The Lo-lo of Yun-nan know a wild grape by the name ko-p'i-ma, with large, 
black, oblong berries (P. Vial, Dictionnaire frangais-lolo, p. 276). The grape is 
ze-mU'Se-ma in N)d Lo-lo, sa-lu-zo or sa-So-zo in Ahi Lo-lo. 

•^ Pen ts'ao kan mu, Ch. 33, p. 3. 

* Bet. Sin., pt. Ill, p. 438. 

The Grape-Vine 227 

China, but have never resulted in a cultivation; the cultivated species 
(Vitis mntfera) was introduced from Iran, and never had any relation 
to the Chinese wild species (Vitis bryoniaefolia) , In a modern work, 
Mun ts'Uan tsa yen ^ ;^ H K,^ which gives an intelligent discussion 
of this question, the conclusion is reached that the species from Fergana 
is certainly different from that indigenous to China. The only singular 
point is that the Pie lu employs the Ferganian word p'u-Vao with refer- 
ence to the native species; but this is not an anachronism, for the Pie lu 
was written in post-Christian times, centuries after Can K'ien; and it 
is most probable that it was only the introduced species which gave the 
impetus to the discovery of the wild species, so that the latter received 
the same name.^ 

Another wild vine is styled yin-yii ® ^ {Vitis bryoniaefolia or 
V. labrusca)y which appears in the writings of T'ao Hun-kin (a.d. 
451-536) and in the T'an pen ts^ao of Su Kufi, but this designation has 
reference only to a wild vine of middle and northern China. Yen Si-ku 
(a.d. 579-645), in his K^an miu ien suJ^iWlE fS,^ ironically remarks 
that regarding the yin-yil as a grape is like comparing the ^i ^ (Poncirus 
trifoliata) of northern China with an orange (kU tS) ; that the yin-yii^ 
although a kind of p'u-Vao^ is widely different from the latter; and that 
the yin-yii of Kiafi-nan differs again from the yin-yU of northern China. 
Hirth's theory,* that this word might represent a transcription of 
New Persian angur, is inadmissible. We have no right to regard Chinese 
words as of foreign origin, unless these are expressly so indicated by the 
Chinese philologists who never fail to call attention to such borrowing. 
If this is not the case, specific and convincing reasons must be adduced 
for the assumption that the word in question cannot be Chinese. There 
is no tradition whatever that wotild make yin-yii an Iranian or a foreign 
word. The opposite demonstration lacks any sound basis: New Persian, 
which starts its career from the end of the tenth century, could not come 
into question here, but at the best Middle Persian, and angur is a 
strictly New-Persian type. A word like angur would have been dis- 
sected by the Chinese into an+gut (gur)y but not into an-\-uk; more- 
over, it is erroneous to suppose that final k can transcribe final r;^ 
in Iranian transcriptions, Chinese final k corresponds to Iranian k, 
g, or the spirant x. It is further inconceivable that the Chinese might 

1 T'u Su tsi Veil, xx, Ch. 113. 

' Compare the analogous case of the walnut. 

« Ch. 8, p. 8 b (ed. of Uu pet ts'un $u). 

* Fremde Einflusse in der chinesischen Kunst, p. 17. 

^ Compare above, p. 214. 

228 Sino-Iranica 

have applied a Persian word designating the cultivated grape to a 
wild vine which is a native of their country, and which particularly 
grows in the two Kiafi provinces of eastern China. The Gazetteer of 
Su-5ou^ says expressly that the name for the wild grape, iaw p'u-Vao, 
in the Kiafi provinces, is yin-yii. Accordingly it may be an ancient 
term of the language of Wu. The Pen ts'ao kan mu^ has treated yin-yii 
as a separate item, and Li Si-Sen annotates that the meaning of the 
term is unexplained. It seems to me that for the time being we have 
to acquiesce in this verdict. Yen-yii ^ ^ and yin-h 51 "S" are added 
by him as synonymes, after the Mao ^i ^ W and the Kwan ya, while 
ye p'u-fao ("wild grape") is the common colloquial term (also Ven 
min or mu lun ^ ^ ;^ fil). It is interesting to note that the earliest 
notices of this plant come only from Su Kufi and C'en Ts'afi-k'i of the 
T'ang dynasty. In other words, it was noted by the Chinese naturalists 
more than seven centuries later than the introduction of the ctdtivated 
grape, — sufficient evidence for the fact that the two are not in any way 

It must not be imagined that with Cafi K'ien's deed the introduction 
of the vine into China was an accomplished fact; but introductions of 
seeds were subsequently repeated, and new varieties were still imported 
from Turkistan by K'afi-hi. There are so many varieties of the grape 
in China, that it is hardly credible that all these should have at once 
been brought over by a single man. It is related in the Han Annals 
that Li Kwafi-li ^^M, being General of Er-si ^ M (*Ni-§'i), after 
the subjugation of Ta-yuan, obtained grapes which he took along to 

Three varieties of grape are indicated in the Kwan U,^ written 
before a.d. 527, — yellow, black, and white. The same varieties are 
enumerated in the Yu yan tsa tsUy while Li Si-6en speaks of four varie- 
ties, — a round one, called ts^ao lun <^u ^ M ^ ("vegetable dragon- 
pearls"); a long one, ma ^u p*u-Vao {see below); a white one, called 
"crystal grapes" (Swi tsin p*u-fao); and a black one, called "purple 
grapes" (tse ^ p'u-Vao)^ — and assigns to Se-c'wan a green (^) grape, 
to Yiin-nan grapes of the size of a jujube.* Su Sun of the Sung mentions 
a variety of seedless grapes. 

* Su toufu U, Ch. 20, p. 7 b. 
2 Ch. 33, p. 4. 

' Pat pHn yii Ian, Ch. 972, p. 3. 

* T'an Ts'ui ^S ^ , in his valuable description of Yun-nan {Tien hat yii 
hen H, published in 1799, Ch. 10, p. 2, ed. of Wen yin lou yii ti ts*un Su), states that the 
grapes of southern Yun-nan are excellent, but that they cannot be dried or sent to dis- 
tant places. 

The Grape- Vine 229 

In Han-5ou yellow and bright white grapes were styled ^u-tse 3^ ^ 
("beads, pearls"); another kind, styled "rock-crystal" {^wi-tsiii), ex- 
celled in sweetness; those of purple and agate color ripened at a little 
later date.^ 

To Turkistan a special variety is attributed under the name so-so 
S 9 grape, as large as wu-wei-tse S BS ^ ("five flavors," Schizandra 
chinensis) and without kernels Si ^. A lengthy dissertation on this 
fruit is inserted in the Pen ts'ao kan mu H i} The essential points are 
the following. It is produced in Turf an and traded to Peking; in appear- 
ance it is like a pepper-corn, and represents a distinct variety of grape. 
Its color is purple. According to the Wu tsa tsu 2 M S, written in 
1 6 10, when eaten by infants, it is capable of neutralizing the poison of 
small-pox. The name so-so is not the reproduction of a foreign word, 
but simply means "small." This is expressly stated in the Pen kin fun 
yilan ^ ffi ^ ^, which says that the so-so grapes resemble ordinary 
grapes, but are smaller and finer, and hence are so called (IfD 9 SH 
^ ^). The Pi ^'en ¥ M of Yii-wen Tifi ^ :^ ^ annotates, however, 
that so-so is an error for sa-so (S^, without giving reasons for this 
opinion. Sa-so was the name of a palace of the Han emperors, and this 
substitution is surely fantastic. Whether so-so really is a vine-grape 
seems doubtful. It is said that so-so are planted everywhere in China 
to be dried and marketed, being called in Kian-nan/aw p*u-Vao ("foreign 

The Emperor K'an-hi (1662-17 2 2), who knew very well that grapes 
had come to China from the west, tells that he caused three new varie- 
ties to be introduced into his country from Hami and adjoining terri- 
tories, — one red or greenish, and long like mare-nipples; one not very 
large, but of agreeable taste and aroma; and another not larger than a 
pea, the most delicate, aromatic, and sweetest kind. These three varie- 
ties of grape degenerate in the southern provinces, where they lose 
their aroma. They persist fairly well in the north, provided they are 
planted in a dry and stony soil. "I would proctire for my subjects," 
the Emperor concludes, "a novel kind of fruit or grain, rather than 
build a hundred porcelain kilns."* 

Tturkistan is well known to the Chinese as producing many varieties 

1 M liafi /« ^ IK H, by WuiTse-mu ^^ g ift of the Sung (Ch. 18, p. 5 b; 
ed. of Ci pu tsu £ai ts'un Su). 

' Ch. 7, p. 69. This valuable supplement to the Pen ts*ao kafi mu was first 
published in 1650 (reprinted 1765 and appended to several modern editions of the 
Pen ts'ao) by Cao Hio-min ffi ^ ^ {hao §u-hien S W) of Hafi-6ou. 

3 Mun ts'iian tsa yenM^^B, cited in T'u su tsi Veh, XX, Ch. 130. 

* M^moires concemant les Chinois, Vol. IV, 1779, pp. 471-472. 

9$o Sino-Iranica 

of grape. According to the Hut kHah ?i H S ("Records of Turkis- 
tan")» written in 1772 by the two Manchu officers Fusambd and Surde, 
"there are purple, white, blue, and black varieties; further, round and 
long, large and small, sour and sweet ones. There is a green and seed- 
less variety, comparable to a soy-bean, but somewhat larger, and of 
very sweet and agreeable flavor [then the so-so is mentioned]. Another 
kind is black and more than an inch long; another is white and large. 
All varieties ripen in the seventh or eighth month, when they are 
dried and can be transported to distant places." According to the 
Wu tsa tsUy previously quoted, Turkistan has a seedless variety of 
grape, called tu yen % M. p'u-Vao ("hare-eye grape"). 

A. v. Le Coq^ mentions under the name sozuq saivi a cylindrical, 
whitish-yellow grape, the best from Toyoq and Bulayiq, red ones of 
the same shape from Manas and ShichO. Sir Aurel Stein* says that 
throughout Chinese Ttu*kistan the vines are trained along low fences, 
ranged in parallel rows, and that the dried grapes and ciurants of 
Ujat find their way as far as the markets of Aksu, Kashgar, and Turfan. 

Every one who has resided in Peking knows that it is possible to 
obtain there during the summer seemingly fresh grapes, preserved from 
the crop of the previous autumn, and that the Chinese have a method of 
preserving them. The late F. H. King,' whose studies of the agriculture 
of China belong to the very best we have, observed regarding this 
point, "These old people have acquired the skill and practice of storing 
and preserving such perishable fruits as pears and grapes so as to 
enable them to keep them on the market almost continuously. Pears 
were very common in the latter part of Jtme, and Consul-General 
Williams informed me that grapes are regularly carried into July. In 
talking with my interpreter as to the methods employed, I could only 
learn that the growers depend simply upon dry earth cellars which can 
be maintained at a very uniform temperature, the separate fruits being 
wrapped in paper. No foreigner with whom we talked knew their 
methods." This method is described in the Ts'i min yao iw, an ancient 
work on husbandry, probably from the beginning of the sixth century,* 
although teeming with interpolations. A large pit is dug in a room of 
the farmhouse for storing the grapes, and holes are bored in the walls 
near the surface of the ground and stuffed with branches. Some of 
these holes are filled with mud to secure proper support for the room. 

* SprichwOrter und Lieder aus Turfan, p. 92. 
■ Sand-Buried Ruins of Khotan, p. 228. 

•Fanners of Forty Centuries, p. 343 (Madison, Wis., 191 1). 

* See Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. I, p. 77; Hirth, T*oung Pao, 1895, p. 436; 
Pelliot, Bulletin de VEcoleJranQaise, Vol. IX, p. 434. 

The Grape- Vine 231 

The pit in which the grapes are stored is covered with loam, and thus 
an even temperature is secured throughout the winter.^ 

The Jestiit missionaries of the eighteenth century praise the raisins 
of Hoai-lai-hien' on account of their size: "Nous parlous d'apr^s le 
t^moignage de nos yeux: les grains de ces grappes de raisins sont gros 
comme des prunes damas- violet, et la grappe longue et grande k propor- 
tion. Le climat peut y faire; mais si les livres disent vrai, cela vient 
originairement de ce qu'on a ent6 des vignes sur des jujubiers; et 
r^paisseur de la peau de ces raisins nous le ferait croire."' 

Raisins are first mentioned as being abundant in Yun-nan in the 
YUn-nan ki* ("Memoirs regarding Yiin-nan"), a work written in the 
beginning of the ninth century. Li Si-5en remarks that raisins are made 
by the people of the West as well as in T'ai-yuan and P'in-yafi in §an-si 
Province, whence they are traded to all parts of China. Hami in 
Turkistan sends large quantities of raisins to Peking.^ In certain parts 
of northern China the Turkish word ki§mi§ for a small kind of raisin 
is known. It is obtained from a green, seedless variety, said to originate 
from Bokhara, whence it was long ago transplanted to Yarkand. 
After the subjugation of Turkistan under K*ien-lun, it was brought to 
Jehol, and is still cultivated there.'' 

Although the Chinese eagerly seized the grape at the fijst oppor- 
tunity offered to them, they were slow in accepting the Iranian custom 
of making and drinking wine.^ The Arabic merchant Soleiman (or 
whoever may be responsible for this account), writing in a.d. 851, 
reports that "the wine taken by the Chinese is made from rice; they 
do not make wine from grapes, nor is it brought to them from abroad; 

* A similar contrivance for the storage of oranges is described in the M^moires 
concernant les Chinois, Vol. IV, p. 489. 

* I presume that Hwai (or Hwo)-lu hien in the prefecture of CeA-tiA, Ci-li 
Province, is meant. 

* M^moires concernant les Chinois, Vol. Ill, 1778, p. 498. 

* T'ai pHn yu Ian, Ch. 972, p. 3. 

* An article on Hami raisins is inserted in the M^moires concernant les Chinois 
(Vol. V, 1780, pp. 481-486). The introduction to this article is rather strange, an 
effort being made to prove that grapes have been known in China since times of 
earliest antiquity; this is due to a confusion of the wild and the cultivated vine. 
In Vol. II, p. 423, of the same collection, it is correctly stated that vine and wine be- 
came known under the reign of the Emperor Wu. 

' Cf. O. Franke, Beschreibung des Jehol-Gebietes, p. 76. 

^ The statement that CaA K'ien taught his countrymen the art of making wine, 
as asserted by Giles (Biographical Dictionary, p. 12) and L. Wieger (Textes 
historiques, p. 499), is erroneous. There is nothing to this effect in the Si ki or in 
the Han Annals. 

232 Sino-Iranica 

they do not know it, accordingly, and make no use of it."^ This doubt- 
less was correct for southern China, where the information of the 
Arabic navigators was gathered. The grape, however, is chiefly to be 
foimd in northern China,^ and at the time of Soleiman the manu- 
facture of grape-wine was known in the north. The principal document 
bearing on this subject is extant in the history of the T'ang dynasty. 

In A.D. 647 a peculiar variety of grapes, styled ma l^u p'u fao ^ 
^ ® ^ C' mare-nipple grapes") were sent to the Emperor T'ai Tsun 
:^ ^ by the (Turkish) cotmtry of the Yabgu MM, It was a bunch 
of grapes two feet long, of purple color.^ On the same occasion it is 
stated, "Wine is used in the Western Countries, and under the 
former dynasties it was sometimes sent as tribute, but only after 
the destruction of Kao-6'afi M M (Turf an), when 'mare-nipple grapes* 
cultivated in orchards were received, also the method of making wine 
was simultaneously introduced into China (a.d. 640). T'ai Tsun 
experienced both its injurious and beneficial effects. Grape-wine, when 
ready, shines in all colors, is fragrant, very fiery, and tastes like the 
finest oil. The Emperor bestowed it on his officials, and then for the 
first time they had a taste of it in the capital."* 

These former tributes of wine are alluded to in a verse of the poet 
Li Po o| the eighth centiu-y, "The Hu people annually ofi&ered grape- 
wine."^ Si Wan Mu, according to the Han Wu ti net (^wan of the 
third century or later, is said to have presented grape-wine to the Han 
Emperor Wu, which certainly is an unhistorical and retrospective 

A certain Can Hun-mao 3M ^ j^, a native of Tun-hwan in Kan-su, 
is said to have devoted to grape-wine a poem of distinct quality.® 
The locality Tun-hwan is of significance, for it was situated on the 

^ M. Reinaud, Relation des voyages faits par les Arabes et les Persans dans 
rinde et ^ la Chine, Vol. I, p. 23. 

^ In the south, I am under the impression it is rather isolated. It occurs, for 
instance, in San-se ^ou Jh ^ jj] in the prefecture of T'ai-p'in, Kwan-si Province, 
in three varieties, — ^green, purple, and crystal, — together with an uneatable wild 
grape (SaA se cou U, Ch. 14, p. 8, ed. published in 1835). "Grapes in the neighbor- 
hood of Canton are often unsuccessful, the alternations of dry heat and rain being 
too much in excess, while occasional typhoons tear the vines to pieces" (J. F. Davis, 
China, Vol. II, p. 305). They occur in places of Fu-kien and in the Chusan Archi- 
pelago (cf. Tu Su tsi Veil, VI, Ch. 1041). 

3 Tan hut yao, Ch. 200, p. 14; also Fun H wen kien ki l^j ]^ ^ S IS, Ch. 7, 
p. I b (ed. of Kifu ts'un Su), by Fun Yen i^ iK of the T'ang. 

4 Ibid., p. 15. 

^ Pen ts'ao yen i, Ch. 18, p. i. 

^ This is quoted from the TsHen liafi /w "Stf ^ ^. a work of the Tsin dynasty, 
in the Si leu kwo Vun tsHu (T'ai pHfi yii Ian, Ch. 972, p. i b). 

The Grape-Vine 233 

road to Ttirkistan, and was the centre from which Iranian ideas radiated 
into China. 

The curious point is that the Chinese, while they received the grape 
in the era of the Han from an Iranian nation, and observed the habit 
of wine-drinking among Iranians at large, acquired the art of wine- 
making as late as the T'ang from a Turkish tribe of Turkistan. The 
Turks of the Han period knew nothing of grapes or wine, quite natu- 
rally, as they were then restricted to what is now Mongolia, where soil 
and climatic conditions exclude this plant. Vine-growing, as a matter 
of course, is compatible solely with a sedentary mode of life; and only 
after settling in Turkistan, where they usurped the heritage of their 
Iranian predecessors,^ did the Turks become acquainted with grape 
and wine as a gift of Iranians. The Turkish word for the grape, Uigur 
oziim (other dialects Uzum), proves nothing along the line of historical 
facts, as speculated by VAmbery.^ It is even doubtful whether the word 
in question originally had the meaning *^ grape '^; on the contrary, it 
merely seems to have signified any berry, as it still refers to the berries 
and seeds of various plants. The Turks were simply epigones and 
usurpers, and added nothing new to the business of vine-culture. 

In accordance with the introduction of the manufacture of grape- 
wine into China, we find this product duly noted in the Pen ts*ao of 
the T'ang,'^ published about the middle of the seventh century; further, 
in the Si liao pen ts'ao by Mori Sen Si I5fe (second half of the seventh 
century), and in the Pen ts*ao H i by C'en Ts'an-k'i 1^ IK ^, who wrote 
in the K'ai-yuan period (713-741). The T'aw pen ts*ao also refers to 
the manufacture of vinegar from grapes.* The Pen ts*ao yen t, pub- 
lished in 1 1 16, likewise enumerates grape-wine among the numerous 
brands of alcoholic beverages. 

The Lian se kun tse ki by Can Yue (667-730)^ contains an anecdote 
to the effect that Kao-^'an offered to the Court frozen wine made from 
dried raisins, on which Mr. Kie made this comment: "The taste of 
grapes with thin shells is excellent, while grapes with thick shells are 
bitter of taste. They are congealed in the Valley of Eight Winds 
(I^a fun ku A R ^). This wine does not spoil in the course of years."^ 

1 This was an accomplished fact by the end of the fourth century a.d. 

* Primitive Cultur des turko-tatarischen Volkes, p. 218. 

3 Cefi lei pen t$*ao, Ch. 23, p. 7, 

< Ibid., Ch. 26, p. I b. 

^ See The Diamond, this volume, p. 6. 

^ Pen ts*ao kan mu, Ch. 25, p. 14 b. A different version of this story is quoted 
in the T'ai pHA yii Ian (Ch. 845, p. 6 b). 


234 Sino-Iranica 

A recipe for making grape-wine is contained in the Pel San tsiu kin 
^fc tfj S S/ a work on the different kinds of wine, written early in the 
twelfth century by Cu Yi-5un ;9c S ^, known as Ta-yin Wen ::^ IS ^. 
Sotir rice is placed in an earthen vessel and steamed. Five ounces of 
apricot-kemels (after removing the shells) and two catties of grapes 
(after being washed and dried, and seeds and shells removed) are put 
together in a bowl of thin clay (i?a p^en 5^ fi),* pounded, and strained. 
Three pecks of a cooked broth are poured over the rice, which is placed 
on a table, leaven being added to it. This mass, I suppose, is used to 
cause the grape-juice to ferment, but the description is too abrupt and 
by no means clear. So much seems certain that the question is of a 
rather crude process of fermentation, but not of distillation (see below). 

Su T'ifi # S, who lived under the Emperor Li Tsufi (1224-63) of 
the Southern Simg, went as ambassador to the Court of the Mongol 
Emperor Ogotai (1229-45). His memoranda, which represent the 
earliest account we possess of Mongol customs and manners, were 
edited by P'efi Ta-ya ^ ::^ SI of the Sung under the title Hei Ta H lio 
1^ S^ BS (''Outline of the Affairs of the Black Tatars"), and pub- 
lished in 1908 by Li Wen-t'ien and Hu Se in the Wen yin lou yii ti ts'un 
Su} Su T'ifi informs us that grape-wine put in glass bottles and sent 
as tribute from Mohammedan countries figured at the headquarters 
of the Mongol Khan; one bottle contained about ten small cups, and 
the color of the beverage resembled the juice of the Diospyros kaki 
[known in this country as Japanese persimmons] of southern China. 
It was accordingly a kind of claret. The Chinese envoy was told that 
excessive indulgence in it might result in intoxication. 

1 Ch. c, p. 19 b (ed. of Ci pu tsu lai ts^wh Su). The work is noted by Wylie 
(Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 150). 

* Literally, "sand-pot." This is a kind of thin pottery (colloquially called $a 
kwo ^ ^) peculiar to China, and turned out at Hwai-lu (Ci-li), P'in-tin 6ou and 
Lu-nan (San-si), and Yao-6ou (Sen-si). Made of clay and sand with an admixture 
of coal-dust, so that its appearance presents a glossy black, it is extremely light 
and fragile; but, on account of their thin walls, water may be heated in these pots 
with a very small quantity of fuel. They are a money and time saving device, and 
hence in great demand among the poor, who depend upon straw and dried grass for 
their kitchen fire. With careful handling, such pots and pans may endure a long 
time. The proverb runs, "The sand-pot will last a generation if you do not hit it"; 
and there is another popular saying, "You may pound garlic in a sand-pan, but you 
can do so but once" (A. H. Smith, Proverbs and Common Sayings from the Chinese, 
p. 204). Specimens of this ware from Yao-6ou may be seen in the Field Museum, 
others from Hwai-lu are in the American Museum of New York (likewise collected 
by the writer). The above text of the Sung period is the first thus ,far found by me 
which contains an allusion to this pottery. 

' This important work has not yet attracted the attention of our science. I hope 
to be able to publish a complete translation of it in the future. 

The Grape-Vine 235 

In his interesting notice "Le Nom turc du vin dans Odoric de 
Pordenone,"^ P. Pelliot has called attention to the word bor as a 
Turkish designation of grape-wine, adding also that this word occurs 
in a Mongol letter found in Turf an and dated 1398.^ I can furnish 
additional proof for the fact that bor is an old Mongol word in the 
sense of wine, although, of course, it may have been borrowed from 
Turkish. In the Mongol version of the epic romance of Geser or Gesar 
Khan we find an enumeration of eight names of liquor, all supposed 
to be magically distilled from araki ("arrack, brandy")* These are: 
aradsa (araja), xoradsa or xuradsa, Hradsa^ boradsaf iakpa, tikpa, 
marba, mirba} These terms have never been studied, and, with the 
exception of the first and third, are not even listed in Kovalevski's and 
Golstuntki's Mongol Dictionaries. The four last words are characterized 
as Tibetan by the Tibetan suffix pa or ba. Marwa (corresponding in 
meaning to Tibetan ^'aw) is well known as a word generally used 
throughout Sikkim and other Himalayan regions for an alcoholic 
beverage.* As to tikpa^ it seems to be formed after the model of Tibetan 
tig-c'an, the liquor for settling (tig) the marriage-affair, presented by the 
future bridegroom to the parents of his intended.^ 

The terms aradsay xoradsa or xuradsa, Hradsa, and boradsa, are all 
provided with the same ending. The first is given by Kovalevski* 
with the meaning "very strong koumiss, spirit of wine." A parallel is 
offered by Manchu in ar(^an ("a liquor prepared from milk"), while 
Manchu arjan denotes any alcoholic drink. The term xoradsa or xuradsa 
may be derived from Mongol xuru-t {-t being suffix of the plural), 
corresponding to Manchu kuru, which designates "a kind of cheese 
made from fermented mare's milk, or cheese prepared from cow's or 
mare's milk with the addition of sugar and sometimes pressed into 
forms." The word Hradsa has been adopted by Schmidt and Kovalevski 
in their respective dictionaries as "wine distilled for the fourth time" 
or "esprit de vin quadruple;" but these explanations are simply based 
on the above passage of Geser, in which one drink is supposed to be 

» Toung Pao, 1914, pp. 448-453. 

* Ramstedt's tentative rendering of this word by "beaver" is a double error: 
first, the beaver does not occur in Mongolia and is unknown to the Mongols, its 
easternmost boundary is formed by the Yenisei; second, bor as an animal-name 
means "an otter cub," and otter and beaver are entirely distinct creatures. 

' Text, ed. I. J. Schmidt, p. 65; translation, p. 99. Schmidt transcribes arasa, 
chorasa, etc., but the palatal sibilant is preferable. 

* Cf. H. H. RisLEY, Gazetteer of Sikkim, p. 75, where also the preparation is 

* Jaschke, Tibetan Dictionary, p. 364. 

* Dictionnaire mongol, p. 143. 

236 Sino-Iranica 

distilled from the other. This process, of course, is purely fantastic, 
and described as a magical feat; there is no reality underlying it. 

The word boradsa, in my opinion, is derived from the Turkish word 
bor discussed by Pelliot; there is no Mongol word from which it could 
be explained. In this connection, the early Chinese accoimt given 
above of foreign grape-wine among the Mongols gains a renewed 
significance. Naturally it was a rare article in Mongolia, and for this 
reason we hear but little about it. Likewise in Tibet grape- wine is 
scarcely used, being restricted to religious offerings in the temples.^ 

The text of the Geser Romance referred to is also important from 
another point of view. It contains the loan-word arikij from Arabic 
'araq, which appears in eastern Asia as late as the Mongol epoch 
(below, p. 237). Consequently our work has experienced the influence 
of this period, which is visible also in other instances.^ The foundation 
of the present recension, first printed at Peking in 17 16, is indeed trace- 
able to the thirteenth and fotuteenth centuries; many legends and 
motives, of course, are of a much older date. 

Marco Polo relates in regard to T'ai-yuan fu, called by him Taianfu, 
the capital of §an-si Province, "There grow here many excellent vines, 
supplying a great plenty of wine; and in all Cathay this is the only place 
where wine is produced. It is carried hence all over the country."' 
Marco Polo is upheld by contemporary Chinese writers. Grape-wine 
is mentioned in the Statutes of the Yuan Djmasty.'* The Yin ^an ^en 
yao 'K ^ IE 3c, written in 133 1 (in 3 chapters) by Ho Se-hwi ^P M W, 
contains this account:^ ** There are nimierous brands of wine: that 
coming from Qara-Khoja (Ha-la-hwo "^^l !KY is very strong, that 
coming from Tibet ranks next. Also the wines from P'ifi-yan and T'ai- 

1 Cf. Toung Pao, 1914, p. 412. 

2 Cf. ibid., 1908, p. 436. 

8 Yule and Cordier, The Book of Ser Marco Polo, Vol. II, p. 13. Klaproth 
(cf. Yule's notes, ibid., p. 16) was quite right in saying that the wine of that locality- 
was celebrated in the days of the T'ang dynasty, and used to be sent in tribute to the 
emperors. Under the Mongols the use of this wine spread greatly. The founder of 
the Ming accepted the offering of wine from T'ai-yuan in 1373, but prohibited its 
being presented again. This fact is contained in the Ming Annals (cf. L. Wieger, 
Textes historiques, p. 201 1). 

* Yuan Hen Ian j^ JSj^ i^, Ch. 22, p. 65 (ed. 1908). 

^ Pen ts'ao kan mu, Ch. 25,! p. 14 b. Regarding that work, cf. the Imperial 
Catalogue, Ch. 116, p. 27 b. 

• Regarding this name and its history see Pelliot, Journal asiatique, 19 12, I, 
p. 582. Qara-Khoja was celebrated for its abundance of grapes (Bretschneider, 
Mediaeval Researches, Vol. I, p. 65). J. Dudgeon (The Beverages of the Chinese, 
p. 27), misreading the name Ha-so-hwo, took it for the designation of a sort of wine. 
Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 459) mistakes it for a transliteration of "hoi- 

The Grape- Vine 237 

yuan (in San-si) take the second rank. According to some statements, 
grapes, when stored for a long time, will develop into wine through a 
natural process. This wine is fragrant, sweet, and exceedingly strong: 
this is the genuine grape-wine."^ The Ts^ao mu tse '-^ ;^ ?, written 
in 1378 by Ye Tse-k'i ^ -f "S*, contains the following information: 
''Under the Yuan dynasty grape- wine was manufactured in Ki-nifi 
M ^ and other circuits ^ of San-si Province. In the eighth month 
they went to the T'ai-hafi Mountain ::fe fif Uj^ in order to test the 
genuine and adulterated brands: the genuine kind when water is 
poured on it, will float; the adulterated sort, when thus treated, will 
freeze.^ In wine which has long been stored, there is a certain portion 
which even in extreme cold will never freeze, while all the remainder is 
frozen: this is the spirit and fluid secretion of wine.* If this is drunk, 
the essence will penetrate into a man's arm-pits M , and he will die. 
Wine kept for two or three years develops great poison.'' 

The first author who offers a coherent notice and intelligent discus- 
sion of the subject of grape-wine is Li Si-6en at the end of the sixteenth 
century.^ He is well acquainted with the fact that this kind of wine was 
anciently made only in the Western Countries, and that the method of 
manufacturing it was but introduced under the T'ang after the sub- 
jugation of Kao-C'afi. He discriminates between two types of grape- 
wine, — the fermented K J^ #, of excellent taste, made from grape- 
juice with the addition of leaven in the same fashion as the ordinary 
native rice-wine (or, if no juice is available, dried raisins may be used), 
and the distilled ^M. In the latter method "ten catties of grapes are 
taken with an equal quantity of great leaven (distillers' grains) and 
subjected to a process of fermentation. The whole is then placed in an 
earthen kettle and steamed. The drops are received in a vessel, and 
this liquid is of red color, and very pleasing." There is one question, 
however, left open by Li §i-6en. In a preceding notice on distillation 
^M he states that this is not an ancient method, but was practised 
only from the Yuan period; he then describes it in its application to rice- 
lands," or maybe "alcohol." The latter word has never penetrated into China in 
any form. Chinese a-la-ki does not represent the word "alcohol," as conceived by 
some authors, for instance, J. Macgowan (Journal China Branch Roy. As. Soc, 
Vol. VII, 1873, p. 237); see the following note. 

1 This work is also the first that contains the word a-la-ki fSf JJ ^, from 
Arabic 'araq (see T'oung Pao, 1916, p. 483). 

^ A range of mountains separating §an-si from Ci-li and Ho-nan. 

' This is probably a fantasy. We can make nothing of it, as it is not stated how 
the adulterated wine was made. 

* This possibly is the earliest Chinese allusion to alcohol. 

•* Pen ts*ao kart mu, Ch. 25, p. 14 b. 

238 Sino-Iranica 

wine in the same manner as for grape- wine. Certain it is that distillation 
is a Western invention, and was unknown to the ancient Chinese.* 
Li §i-6en fails to inform us as to the time when the distillation of grape- 
wine came into existence. If this process had become known in China 
under the T'ang in connection ,with grape-wine, it would be strange if 
the Chinese did not then apply it to their native spirits, but should have 
waited for another foreign impulse until the Mongol period. On the 
other hand, if the method due to the Uigiu- under the T'ang merely 
applied to fermented grape-wine, we may justly wonder that the Chinese 
had to learn such a simple affair from the Uigur, while centuries eariier 
they must have had occasion to observe this process among many 
Iranian peoples. It wotild therefore be of great interest to seize upon 
a docimient that would tell us more in detail what this method of 
manufacture was, to which the T'ang history obviously attaches so 
great importance. It is not very likely that distillation was involved; 
for it is now generally conceded that the Arabs possessed no knowledge 
of alcohol, and that distillation is not mentioned in any relevant litera- 
ture of the Arabs and Persians from the tenth to the thirteenth cen- 
tury.* The statement of Li Si-6en, that distillation was first practised 
under the Mongols, is historically logical and in keeping with our 
present knowledge of the subject. It is hence reasonable to hold (at 
least for the present) also that distilled grape-wine was not made 
earlier in China than in the epoch of the Yiian. Mon Sen of the T'ang 
says advisedly that grapes can be fermented into wine, and the recipe 
of the Sung does not allude to distillation. 

In the eighteenth century European wine also reached China. A 
chest of grape-wine figures among the presents made to the Emperor 
K'an-hi on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday in 171 5 by the Jesuits 
Bernard KiHan Stumpf, Joseph Suarez, Joachim Bouvet, and Domini- 
cus Parrenin.' 

P. OsBECK,* the pupil of Linn^, has the following notice on the 
importation of European wine into China: "The Chinese wine, which 
our East India traders call Mandarin wine, is squeezed out of a fruit 
which is here called PausioJ^ and reckoned the same with our grapes. 

1 Cf. Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. II, p. 155; J. Dudgeon, The Beverages of 
the Chinese, pp. 19-20; Edkins, China Review, Vol. VI, p. 211. The process of 
distillation is described by H. B. Gruppy, Samshu-Brewing in North China {Journal 
China Branch Roy. As. Soc, Vol. XVIII, 1884, pp. 163-164). 

^ E. O. V. LiPPMANN, Abhandlungen, Vol. II, pp. 206-209; cf. also my remarks 
in American Anthropologist, 1917, p. 75. 

» Cf. Wan Sou Sen tien S # ffi :ft' Ch. 56, p. 12. 

* A Voyage to China and the East Indies, Vol. I, p. 315 (London, 1771). 

* Apparently a bad or misprinted reproduction of p'u-t'ao. 

The Grape-Vine 239 

This wine was so disagreeable to us, that none of us would drink it. 
The East India ships never fail taking wine to China, where they often 
sell it to considerable advantage. The Xeres (sherry) wine, for which 
at Cadiz we paid thirteen piastres an anchor, we sold here at thirty- 
three piastres an anchor. But in this case you stand a chance of having 
your tons split by the heat diiring the voyage. I have since been told, 
that in 1754, the price of wine was so much lowered at Canton, that 
our people could with difficulty reimburse themselves. The Spaniards 
send wines to Manilla and Macao, whence the Chinese fetch a con- 
siderable quantity, especially for the court of Peking. The wine of 
Xeres is more agreeable here than any other sort, on account of its 
strength, and because it is not liable to change by heat. The Chinese 
are very temperate in regard to wine, and many dare not empty a single 
glass, at least not at once. Some, however, have learned from foreigners 
to exceed the limits of temperance, especially when they drink with 
them at free cost." 

Grape-wine is attributed by the Chinese to the Arabs.* The 
Arabs cultivated the vine and made wine in the pre-Islamic epoch. 
Good information on this subject is given by G. Jacob .^ 

Theophrastus^ states that in India only the mountain-country has 
the vine and the olive. Apparently he hints at a wild vine, as does also 
Strabo,^ who says after Aristobulus that in the country of Musicanus 
(Sindh) there grows spontaneously grain resembling wheat, and a vine 
producing wine, whereas other authors affirm that there is no wine in 
India. Again, he states^ that on the moimtain Meron near the city 
Nysa, founded by Bacchus, there grows a vine which does not ripen 
its fruit; for, in consequence of excessive rains, the grapes drop before 
arriving at maturity. They say also that the Sydracae or Oxydracae 
are descendants of Bacchus, because the vine grows in their country. 
The element -dracae (drakai) is probably connected with Sanskrit 
drdk^d ("grape"). These data of the ancients are vague, and do not 
prove at all that the grape-vine has been cultivated in India from time 
immemorial, as inferred by Joret.® Geographically they only refer to 
the regions bordering on Iran. The ancient Chinese knew only of grapes 
in Kashmir (above, p. 222). The Wei ^u' states that grapes were ex- 

^ HiRTH, Chao Ju-kua, pp. 115, 121. 

^ Altarabisches Beduinenleben, 2d ed., pp. 96-109. 

' Hist, plant., IV. IV, 11. 

* XV, 22. 

•XV. 1,8. 

« Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, p. 280. 

' Ch. 102, p. 8. 

240 Sino-Iranica 

ported from Pa-lai S S (*Bwat-lai) in southern India. Huan Tsafi^ 
enumerates grapes together with pears, crab-apples, peaches, and 
apricots,^ as the fruits which, from Kashmir on, are planted here and 
there in India. The grape, accordingly, was by no means common in 
India in his time (seventh century). 

The grape is not mentioned in Vedic literature, and Sanskrit drdk$d 
I regard with Spiegel' as a loan-word. Viticulture never was extensive 
or of any importance in Indian agriculture. Prior to the Moham- 
medan conquest, we have little precise knowledge of the cultivation of 
the vine, which was much fostered by Akbar. In modem times it is 
only in Kashmir that it has been received with some measure of 

Huan Tsafi* states that there are several brands of alcoholic and 
non-alcoholic beverages in India, differing according to the castes. 
The Ksatriya indulge in grape and sugar-cane wine. The Vaigya take 
rich wines fermented with yeast. The Buddhists and Brahmans partake 
of a syrup of grapes or sugar-cane, which does not share the nattire 
of any wine.^ In Jataka No. 183, grape-juice {muddikdpdnam) of in- 
toxicating properties is mentioned. 

Huan Yin* gives three Sanskrit words for various kinds of wine: — 

(i) %^ su-lo, *su5-la, Sanskrit surdj explained as rice-wine 

1 Ta T'an si yii ki, Ch. 2, p. 8. 

^ Not almond-tree, as erroneously translated by Julien (M6moires, Vol. I, 
p. 92). Regarding peach and apricot, see below, p. 539. 

' Arische Periode, p. 41. 

* Ta rail si yii ki, Ch. 2, p. 8 b. 

^ S. Julien (M^moires, Vol. I, p. 93) translates wrongly, "qui different tout h 
fait du vin distill^." Distilled wine was then unknown both to the Chinese and in 
India, and the term is not in the text. "Distillation of wines" is surely not spoken 
of in the Cukraniti, as conceived by B. K. Sarkar (The Sukraniti, p. 157; and Hindu 
Sociology, p. 166). 

8 Yi ts'ie kifi yin i, Ch. 24, p. 8 b. 

' This definition is of some importance, for in Boehtlingk's Sanskrit Dictionary 
the word is explained as meaning "a kind of beer in ancient times, subsequently, 
however, in most cases brandy," which is certainly wrong. Thus also O. Schrader's 
speculation (Sprachvergleichung, Vol. II, p, 256), connecting Finno-Ugrian sara, 
sur, etc. ("beer") with this word, necessarily falls to the ground, Macdonell and 
Keith (Vedic Index, Vol. II, p. 458) admit that "the exact nature of surd is not 
certain, it may have been a strong spirit prepared from fermented grains and plants, 
as Eggehng holds, or, as Whitney thought, a kind of beer or ale." It follows also 
from Jataka No. 512 that surd was prepared from rice. In Cosmas' Christian 
Topography (p. 362, ed. of Hakluyt Society) we have ^oyxoaoOpa ("coconut- 
wine"); here sura means "wine," while the first element may be connected with 
Arabic ranej or ranj ("coco-nut"). 

The Grape-Vine 241 

(2) ^MM nti-li-ye, *mei-li(ri)-ya, answering to Sanskrit maireya, 
explained as a wine mixed from roots, stems, flowers, and leaves.^ 

(3) ^ K mo-fo, *mwa5-do, Sanskrit madhUy explained as "grape- 
wine" (p'u-Vao tsiu). The latter word, as is well known, is connected 
with Avestan maba (Middle Persian maij New Persian mei)^ Greek 
ixeQvy Latin temetum. Knowledge of grape-wine was conveyed to India 
from the West, as we see from the Periplus and Tamil poems alluding 
to the importation of Yavana (Greek) wines.^ In the Raghuvara^a 
(iv, 65), madhu doubtless refers to grape-wine; for King Raghu van- 
quished the Yavana, and his soldiers relieve their fatigue by enjoying 
madhu in the vine regions of the Yavana country. 

According to W. Ainslie,' the French at Pondicherry, in spite of the 
great heat of the Camatic, are particularly successful in cultivating 
grapes; but no wine is made in India, nor is the fruit dried into raisins \ 
as in Europe and Persia. The Arabians and Persians, particularly the 
latter, though they are forbidden wine by the Koran, bestow much 
pains on the cultivation of tjie grape, and suppose that the different 
kinds possess distinguishing medicinal qualities. Wine is brought to 
India from Persia, where, according to Tavernier (1605-89), three 
sorts are made: that of Yezd, being very delicate; the Ispahan produce, 
being not so good; and the Shiraz, being the best, rich, sweet, and 
generous, and being obtained from the small grapes called ki^mi^, 
which are sent for ^ale to Hindustan when dried into raisins."* There 
are two brands of Shiraz wine, a red and a white, both of which are 
excellent, and find a ready market in India. Not less than four thou- 
sand tuns of Shiraz wine is said to be annually sent from Persia to 
different parts of the world. ^ The greatest quantity is produced in the 
district of Korbal, near the village of Bend Emir.® In regard to Assam, 

1 Compare above (p. 222) theiwine of the Yue-c$i. According to Boehtlingk, 
maireya is an intoxicating drink prepared from sugar and other substances. 

* V. A. Smith, Eariy History of India, p. 444 (3d ed.). 
' Materia Indica, Vol. I, p. 157. 

* Compare above, p. 231. 

^ * ' Wines too , of every clime and hue, 

Around their liquid lustre threw; 
Amber RosoUi, — the bright dew 
From vineyards of the Green-Sea gushing; 
And Shiraz wine, that richly ran 
As if that jewel, large and rare, 
The ruby, for which Kublai-Khan 
Offer'd a city's wealth, was blushing 
Melted within the goblets there!" 

Thomas Moore, Lalla Rookh. 
® AiNSLEE, /.c, p. 473. 

t^2 Sino-Iranica 

Ta VERNIER* states that there are quantities of vines and good grapes, 
but no wine, the grapes being merely dried to distil spirits from. Wild 
vine grows in upper Siam and on the Malay Peninsula, and is said to 
furnish a rather good wine.* 

A wine-yielding plant of Central Asia is described in the Ku kin l^u 
•& -^ Sfe' by Ts'ui Pao -S 19 of the fourth century, as follows: "The 
tsiu-pei-fen S W ("wine-cup creeper") has its habitat in the West- 
em Regions (Si-yu). The creeper is as large as an arm; its leaves are 
like those of the ko ^ (Pachyrhizus thunhergianuSj a wild-growing 
creeper); flowers and fruits resemble those of the wu-Vun {Sterculia 
platanifolia) f and are hard; wine can be pressed out of them. The 
fruits are as large as a finger and in taste somewhat similar to the tou-k'ou 
s, ^ {Alpinia glohosum) ; their fragrance is fine, and they help to digest 
wine. In order to secure wine, the natives get beneath the creepers, 
pluck the flowers, press the wine out, eat the fruit for digestion, and 
become intoxicated. The people of those coimtries esteem this wine, 
but it is not sent to China. Can K'ien obtained it when he left Ta-yiian 
(Fergana). This affair is contained in the Can KHen <i'u kwan U 36 31 
Hi IB iS ('Memoirs of Can K'ien's Journey')-"* This account is re- 
stricted to the Ku kin ^w, and is not confirmed by any other book. Li 
Si-6en's work is the only Pen ts'ao which has adopted this text in an 
abridged form.* Accordingly the plant itself has never been introduced 
into China; and this fact is sufficient to discard the possibility of an 
introduction by Can K'ien. If he had done so, the plant would have 
been disseminated over China and mentioned in the various early 
Pen ts'ao; it wotild have been traced and identified by our botanists. 
Possibly the plant spoken of is a wild vine, possibly another genus. 
The description, though by no means clear in detail, is too specific to 
be regarded as a mystification. 

The history of the grape-vine in China has a decidedly method- 
ological value. We know exactly the date of the introduction and 

* Travels in India, Vol. II, p. 282. 

' DiLOCK Prinz von Siam, Landwirtschaft in Siam, p. 167. 

* Ch. c, p. 2 b. The text has been adopted by the 5w po wu li (Ch. 5, p. 2 b) 
and in a much abbreviated form by the Yu yah tsa tsu (Ch. 18, p. 6 b). It is not in 
the Pen ts'ao kah mu, but in the Pen ts*ao kah mu H i (Ch. 8, p. 27). 

* HiRTH (Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXXVII, 1917, p. 91) states that this 
work is mentioned in the catalogue of the library of the Sui dynasty, but not in the 
later dynastic catalogues. We do not know when and by whom this alleged book 
was written; it may have been an historical romance. Surely it was not produced 
by Cafi K'ien himself. 

• See also Tu Su isi I'eA, XX, Ch. 112, where no other text on the subject is 

The Grape- Vine 243 

the circumstances which accompanied this important event. We have 
likewise ascertained that the art of making grape-wine was not learned 
by the Chinese before a.d. 640. There are in China several species of 
wild vine which bear no relation to the imported ctdtivated species. 
Were we left without the records of the Chinese, a botanist of the 
type of Engler would correlate the cultivated with the wild forms and 
asstire us that the Chinese are original and independent viticulturists. 
In fact, he has stated^ that Vitis thunbergii, a wild vine occurring in 
Japan, Korea, and China, seems to have a share in the development of 
Japanese varieties of vine, and that Vitis filifolia of North China seems 
to have influenced Chinese and Japanese vines. Nothing of the kind 
can be inferred from Chinese records, or has ever been established by 
direct observation. The fact of the introduction of the cultivated grape 
into China is wholly unknown to Engler. The botanical notes appended 
by him to Hehn's history of the grape* have nothing whatever to do 
with the history of the cultivated species, but refer exclusively to wild 
forms. It is not botany, but historical research, that is able to solve the 
problems connected with the history of our cultivated plants. 

Dr. T. Tanaka of the Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Department 
of Agriculttu-e, Washington, has been good enough to contribute the 
following notes on the history of the grape-vine in Japan: — 

"The early history of the cultivation of the grape-vine (Vitis 
vinifera) in Japan is very obscure. Most of the early Japanese medical 
and botanical works refer to btuid % 4^ (Chinese p'u-fao) as ebi, the 
name occurring in the Kojiki (compiled in a.d. 712, iSrst printed in 
1644) as yebikadzurGy^ which is identified by J. Matsumura* as Vitis 
vinifera. It seems quite incomprehensible that the grape-vine, which 
is now found only in cultivated fonii, should have occurred during the 
mythological period as early as 660 B.C. The Honzd-wamyo ^ ^ 
^H ^ (compiled during the period 897-930, first printed 1796) mentions 
o-ehi-kadzura as vine-grape, distinguishing it from ordinary ebi-kadzura, 
but the former is no longer in common use in distinction from the latter. 
The ebi-dzuru which should correctly be termed inu-ebi (false ebi 
plant), as suggested by Ono Ranzan,** is widely applied in Japan for 
S^ (Chinese yin-yU), and is usually identified as Vitis thunbergii , 

* Eriauterungen zu den Nutzpflanzen der gemassigten Zonen, p. 30. 

* Kulturpflanzen, pp. 85-91. 

* B. H. Chamberlain, Ko-ji-ki, p. xxxiv. 

* Botanical Magazine, Tokyo, Vol. VII, 1893, p. 139. 

* Honzd kOmoku keimO, ed. 1847, Ch. 29, p. 3. 

244 Sino-Iranica 

but is an entirely different plant, with small, deeply-lobed leaves, 
copiously villose beneath. Ehi-kadzura is mentioned again in the 
Wamyo-ruiju^o ^ ^ M ^ 1^ (compiled during the period 923-931, 
first edited in 161 7), which gives htcdo as the fruit of Hkwatsu or Vitis 
coignetiae^j as growing wild in northern Japan. 

"These three plants are apparently mixed up in early Japanese 
literature, as pointed out by Arai Kimiyo^i.^ Describing budo as a food 
plant, the HoYi6d ^okukan # ^ "^ ^^ mentions that the fruit was not 
greatly appreciated in ancient times; for this reason no mention was 
made of it in the Imperial chronicles, nor has any appropriate Japanese 
term been coined to designate the vine-grape proper. 

"In the principal vine-grape district of Japan, Yamana§i-ken 
(previously called Kai Province), were found a few old records, an 
account of which is given in Viscount Y. Fukuba's excellent discourse 
on Pomology.* An article on the same subject was published by J. 
Dautremer.^ This relates to a tradition regarding the accidental dis- 
covery by a villager, Amenomiya Kageyu (not two persons), of the vine- 
grape in 1 1 86 (Dautremer erroneously makes it 1195) at the mountain 
of Kamiiwasaki Ji ;§ !•*&, not far from Kofu ? /ff . Its cultivation must 
have followed soon afterward, for in 1197 a few choice fruits were 
presented to the Sogun Yoritomo (1147-99). At the time of Takeda 
Harunobu (1521-73) a sword was presented to the Amenomiya family 
as a reward for excellent fruits which they presented to the Lord. 
Viscoimt Fukuba saw the original document relative to the official 
presentation of the sword, and bearing the date 1549.* The descendants 
of this historical grape-vine are still thriving in the same locality around 
the original grove, widely recognized among horticulturists as a true 
Vitis vinifera. According to a later publication of Fukuba,^ there is 
but one variety of it. Several introductions of Vitis vinifera took place 
in the early Meiji period (beginning 1868) from Europe and America. 

"The following species of Vitis are mentioned in Umemura's work 
Ino^okukwai-no-^okubutsu-H t^ 'fe t^ ;^ fli ^ 1$^ as being edible: 

1 Matsumura, Shokubutsu Mei-i, p. 380. 

2 Toga ^ SH (completed in 17 19), ed. 1906, p. 272. 

3 ch. 4, p. 50 (ed. of 1698). 

* Kwaju engei-ron ^W ^M W, privately published in 1892. 
^ Situation de la vigne dans I'empire du Japon, Transactions Asiatic Society of 
Japan, Vol. XIV, 1886, pp. 176-185. 
^ Fukuba, op. ciL, pp. 461-462. 

^ Kwaju saibaijenSo :^ M ^ ^ :lr ♦, Vol. IV, 1896, pp. 1 19-120. 
^ Vol. 4, 1906. 

The Grape-Vine 245 

" Yama-budO (Vitis coignetiae) : fruit eaten raw and used for wine; 
leaves substituted for tobacco. 

"Ebi-dzuru (V. thunhergii): fruit eaten raw, leaves cleaned and 
cooked; worm inside the cane baked and eaten by children as remedy 
for convulsions. 

" Sankaku-dzuru {V.flexuosa): fruit eaten raw. 

"Ama-dzuru \{V. saccharijera): fruit eaten raw; children are very 
fond of eating the leaves, as they contain sugar." 


3. Pistacia is a genus of trees or shrubs of the family AnacardicKeae, 
containing some six species, natives of Iran and western Asia, and also 
transplanted to the Mediterranean region. At least three species 
{Pistacia vera, P. terehinihus, and P. acuminata) are natives of Persia, 
and from ancient times have occupied a prominent place in the life of the 
Iranians. Pistachio-nuts are still exported in large quantities from 
Afghanistan to India, where they form a common article of food among 
the well-to-do classes. The species found in Afghanistan and Baluchis- 
tan do not cross the Indian frontier.^ The pistachio (Pistacia vera) in 
particular is indigenous to ancient Sogdiana and Khorasan,* and still 
is a tree of great importance in Russian Turkistan.^ 

When Alexander crossed the mountains into Bactriana, the road 
was bare of vegetation save a few trees of the bushy terminthus or 
terebinthus.* On the basis of the information furnished by Alexander's 
scientific staff, the tree is mentioned by Theophrastus^ as growing in 
the country of the Bactrians; the nuts resembling almonds in size 
and shape, but surpassing them in taste and sweetness, wherefore the 
people of the country use them in preference to almonds. Nicandrus 
of Colpphon* (third century B.C.), who calls the fruit Pkttclklov or <f>LTTaK(,oVy 
a word derived from an Iranian language (see below), says that it grows 
in the valley of the Xoaspes in Susiana. Posidonius, Dioscorides, Pliny, 
and Galenus know it also in Syria. Vitellius introduced the tree into 
Italy; and Flaccus Pompeius, who served with him, introduced it at 
the same time into Spain.^ 

The youths of the Persians were taught to endure heat, cold, and 
rain; to cross torrents and to keep their armor and clothes dry; to 
pasture animals, to watch all night in the open air, and to subsist on 
wild fruit, as terebinths {Pistacia terebinthus) , acorns, and wild pears.* 

1 Watt, Dictionary of the Economic Products of India, Vol. VI, p. 268. 

* JORET, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, pp. 47, 76. 

' S. KoRziNSKi, Vegetation of Turkistan (in Russian), pp. 20, 21. 

* Strabo, XV. 11, 10. 

5 Hist, plant., IV. iv, 7. 
» Theriaka, 890. 

^ Pliny, XV, 22, §91. A. de Candolle (Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 316) 
traces Pistacia vera only to Syria, without mentioning its occurrence in Persia. 
8 Strabo, XV. in, 18. 


The Pistachio 347 

The Persians appeared to the ancients as terebinth-eaters, and this 
title seems to have developed into a sort of nickname: when Astyages, 
King of the Medians, seated on his throne, looked on the defeat of his 
men through the army of C5mis, he exclaimed, "Woe, how brave are 
these terebinth-eating Persians!"^ According to Polyaenus,* terebinth- 
oil was among the articles to be furnished daily for the table of the 
Persian kings. In the Bundahisn, the pistachio-nut is mentioned to- 
gether with other fruits the inside of which is fit to eat, but not the 
outside.' "The fniits of the country are dates, pistachios, and apples 
of Paradise, with other of the like not found in our cold climate."* 

Twan C*efi-§i ^ J^ ^, in his Yu yan tsa tsu M ^ M &, written 
about A.D. 860 and containing a great amount of useful information 
on the plants of Persia and Fu-lin, has the following: — 

"The hazel-nut (Corylus heterophylld) of the Hu (Iranians), styled 
a-yiie M M , grows in the countries of the West.^ According to the 
statement of the barbarians, a-yiie is identical with the hazel-nuts 
of the Hu. In the first year the tree bears hazel-nuts, in the second 
year it bears a-yiie. ^^^ 

C'en Ts'afi-k'i ^ ^ H, who in the K*ai-yuan period (a.d. 713-741) 
wrote the Materia Medica Pen ts*ao H i ^ ^ JS" jft, states that "the 
fruits of the plant a-yue-hun M M W are warm and acrid of flavor, 
non-poisonous, cure catarrh of the bowels, remove cold feeling, and 
make people stout and robust, that they grow in the western countries, 
the barbarians saying that they are identical with the hazel-nut of the 
Hu JB ^ ?. During the first year the tree bears hazel-nuts, in the 
second year it bears a-yue-hun" 

Li Sun ^ ^, in his Hat yao pen ts*ao M^^^ (second half of the 
eighth century), states, "According to the Nan ^ou ki S IW 12 by 
Su Piao # ^,^ the Nameless Tree {wu mih mu ft^ ^ ;^C) grows in the 
mountainous valleys of Lin-nan (Kwan-tufi) . Its fruits resemble in appear- 
ance the hazel-nut, and are styled Nameless Fruits {wu min tse il ^ 

1 Nicolaus of Damaskus (first century B.C.), cited by Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, 
p. 424. 

' Strategica, IV. iii, 32. 

' These fruits are walnut, almond, pomegranate, coconut, filbert, and chestnut. 
See West, Pahlavi Texts, Vol. I, p. 103. 

* Marco Polo, Yule's edition. Vol. I, p. 97. 

' The editions of the Yu yan tsa tsu write |S M, "in the gardens of the West"; 
but the T'u su tsi I' en (section botany, Ch. 311) and Ci wu min H t'u k'ao, in repro- 
ducing this text, offer the reading 5 B » which seems to me preferable. 

« Yu yan tsa isujl^^, Ch. 10, p. 3 b (ed. of Tsin tat pi Su). 

' This work is quoted in the Ts*i min yao $u, written by Kia Se-niu under the 
Hou Wei dynasty (a.d. 386-534). 

248 Sino-Iranica 

■?). Persians 1&M ^ designate them a-yiie-hun fruits.*'* For the same 
period we have the testimony of the Arabic merchant Soleiman, who 
wrote in a.d. 851, to the effect that pistachios grow in China.^ 

As shown by the two forms, a-yiie of the Yu yah tsa tsu and a-yiie-hun 
of the Pen ts'ao H i and Hai yao pen ts'ao, the fuller form must repre- 
sent a compound consisting of the elements a-yile and hun. In order to 
understand the transcription a-yiie, consideration of the following facts 
is necessary. 

The Old-Iraniaji word for the walnut has not been handed down to 
us, but there is good evidence to prompt the conclusion that it must 
have been of the type *agoza or *afig5za. On the one hand, we have 
Armenian engoiz, Ossetic dngoza or angUz, and Hebrew egoz;^ on the 
other hand, we meet in Yidgha, a Hindu-Kush language, the form 
ogUzOy as compared with New Persian kdz and goz.^ The signification 
of this word is "nut" in general, and "walnut" in particular. Further, 
there is in Sanskrit the Iranian loan-word dkhota, aksdta, or ak^dda, 
which must have been borrowed at an early date, as, in the last-named 
form, the word occurs twice in the Bower Manuscript.^ It has survived 
in Hindustani as axrot or dkrot. The actual existence of an East- 
Iranian form with the ancient initial a- is guaranteed by the Chinese 
transcription a-yiie; for a-yiie M ^ answers to an ancient *a-fiwie5 
(nw'e5) or *a-gwie5, a-gwu5;® and this, in my opinion, is intended to 
represent the Iranian word for "nut" with initial a-, mentioned above; 
that is, *arigwiz, afigwOz, agOz. 

Chinese hun M answers to an ancient *7wun or wun. In regard 
to this Iranian word, the following information may be helpful. E. 

1 If it is correct that the transcription a-yiie-hun was already contained in the 
Nan iou ki (which it is impossible to prove, as we do not possess the text of this 
work), the transcription must have been based on an original prototype of early 
Sasanian times or on an early Middle-Persian form. This, in fact, is confirmed by 
the very character of the Sino-Iranian word, which has preserved the initial a-, 
while this one became lost in New Persian. It may hence be inferred that Li Sun's 
information is correct, and that the transcription a-yiie-hun may really have been 
contained in the Nan £ou ki, and would accordingly be pre-T'an. 

2 M. Reinaud, Relation des voyages faits par les Arabes et les Persans dans 
rinde et k la Chine, Vol. I, p. 22. 

* Whether Georgian nigozi and the local name N£7ouf a of Ptolemy (W. 
ToMASCHEK, Pamirdialekte, Sitzber. Wiener Akad., 1880, p. 790) belong here, I do 
not feel certain. Cf . Hubschmann, Armenische Grammatik, p. 393. 

* In regard to the elision of initial a in New Persian, see Hubschmann, Persische 
Studien, p. 120. ' 

5 Hoernle's edition, pp. 32, 90, 121. 

^ Regarding the phonetic value of ^ , see the detailed study of Pelliot (Bull, 
de VEcole frangaise, Vol. V, p. 443) and the writer's Language of the Yiie-chi or 

The Pistachio 249 

Kaempfer* speaks of Terehinthus or Pistacea syhestris in Persia thus: 
*'Ea Pistaceae hortensi, quam Theophrastus Therebinthtim Indicam 
vocat, turn magnitudine, turn totius ac partium figur^ persimilis est, 
nisi quod flosculos ferat fragrantiores, nuces vero praeparvas, insipidas; 
unde a descriptione botanica abstinemus. Copiosa crescit in recessibus 
montium brumalis genii, petrosis ac desertis, circa Schamachiam Mediae, 
Schirasum Persidis, in Luristano et Larensi territoriis. Mihi nullibi 
conspecta est copiosior quam in petroso monte circa Majin, pagum 
celebrem, un^ diaeta dissitum Sjirasd: in quo mihi duplicis varietatis 
indicarunt arborem; unam vulgariorem, quae generis sui retineat 
appellationem Diracht [diraxt, 'tree'] Ben seu Wen; alteram rariorem, 
in specie Kasudaan [kasu-dan], vel, ut rustici pronunciant, Kasuddn 
dictam, quae a priori fructuiun rubedine differat." Roediger and Pott^ 
have added to this ben or wen sl Middle-Persian form ven ("wild pista- 
chio"). In the Persian Dictionary edited by Steingass (p. 200) this 
word is given as ban or wan (also banak), with the translation *' Persian 
turpentine seed."^ Vullers* writes it ban. Schlimmer^ transcribes 
this word beneh. He identifies the tree with Pistacia acuminata and 
observes, "C'est I'arbre qui foumit en Perse un produit assez semblable 
a la tr^mentine, mais plut6t mou que liquide, vu qu'on I'obtient par 
des d^coupures, dont le produit se rassemble durant les grandes chaleurs 
dans un creux fait en terre glaise au pied de I'arbre, de fagon k ce que la 
mati^re s^cr^t^e perd une grande partie de son huile essentielle avant 
d'etre enlev^e. Le m^me produit, obtenu k Kerman dans un outre, 
fix6 k I'arbre et enlev^ aussit6t plein, ^tait k peu pres aussi liquide que 
la tdr^benthine de Venise. ... La Pistacia acuminata est sauvage au 
Kordesthan persan et, d'apr^s Buhse, aussi k Reshm, Damghan et 
Dereghum (province de Yezd) ; Haussknecht la vit aussi k Kuh Kiluye 
et dans le Luristan." 

The same word we meet also in Kurd dariben, dar-i-ben (''the tree 
6^w"), and in all probability in Greek repk^ivdos, older forms rkpiiivOos 
and TpkfiiOos.^ Finally Watt^ gives a Balu^i word ban^ wan, wana, gwa, 

^ Amoenitatum exoticarum fasciculi V, p. 413 (Lemgoviae, 17 12). 

^ Zeitschr. Kunde d. MorgenL, Vol. V, 1844, p. 64. 

^ This notion is also expressed by bandslb (cf. hindst, "turpentine"). 

^ Lexicon persico-latinum, Vol. I, p. 184. 

^ Terminologie, p. 465. 

*The Greek ending, therefore, is -^os, not -vdos, as stated by Schrader (in 
Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, 8th ed., p. 221); n adheres to the stem: tere-hin-Bos. 

^ Commercial Products of India, p. 902 ; and Dictionary of the Economic 
Products of India, Vol. VI, p. 271. 

250 Sino-Iranica 

gwaw, gwana, for Pistacia mutica (or P. terehinthus, var. ntutica); this 
form comes nearest to the Chinese transcription. 

While a compound *agoz-van(vun), that is, "nut of pistachio," as 
far as I know, has not yet been traced in Iranian directly, its existence 
follows from the Chinese record of the term. An analogy to this com- 
pound is presented by Kurd kizvan, kezvdn, kazu-vaUj kasu-van ("pista- 
chio" or "terebinthus-tree").^ 

The Honzo komoku keimo (Ch. 25, fol. 24), written by Ono Ranzan 
/J^ 1^ BB Ul, first published in 1804, revised in 1847 by IguSi Bosi # 
n ^ ;^, his grandson, mentions the same plant M M W-^j which 
reads in Japanese agetsu-konU, He gives also in Kana the names 
fusvdasiu or Jusiidasu? He states, "The plant is not known in Japan 
to grow wild. It used to come from foreign countries, but not so at 
present. A book called Zokyohi furoku M^^ &Wi ^ mentions this 
plant, stating that agetsu-konH is the fruit of the tree c*a mu fiffl yfC 
(in Japanese sakuboku) .'^^ 

*A. Jaba, Dictionnaire kurde-francais, p. 333. Cf. above the kasu-ddn of 

* These terms are also given by the eminent Japanese botanist Matsumura 
in his Shokubutsu mei-i (No. 2386), accompanied by the identification Pistacia 

* This tradition is indeed traceable to an ancient Chinese record, which will be 
found in the Cen lei pen ts'ao of 1108 (Ch. 12, p. 55, ed. of 1583). Here the question 
is of the bark of the san or ta tree flt >fC S, mentioned as early as the sixth century 
in the Kwan U ^ '^ oi Kwo Yi-kun as growing in wild country of Kwan-nan 
Sf ^ (the present province of Kwan-tun and part of Kwan-si), and described in a 
commentary of the Er ya as resembling the mulberry-tree. This, of course, is a wild 
tree indigenous to a certain region of southern China, but, as far as I know, not yet 
identified, presumably as the ancient name is now obsolete. The Nan tou ki by 
Su Piao (see above) says that the fruits of this tree are styled wu min tse ^ "^ ^ 
0' nameless fruits"); hence the conclusion is offered by T'an §en-wei, author of the 
Can lei pen ts'ao, that this is the tree termed a-yue-hun by the Persians (that is, a cul- 
tivated Pistacia). This inference is obviously erroneous, as the latter was introduced 
from Persia into China either under the T'ang or a few centuries earlier, while the 
san or Va tree pre-existed spontaneously in the Chinese flora. The only basis for this 
hazardous identification is given by the attribute "nameless." A solution of this 
problem is possible if we remember the fact that there is a wild Pistacia, Pistacia 
chinensis, indigenous to China, and if we identify with it the tree san or c'a; then it 
is conceivable that the wild and the imported, cultivated species were correlated 
and combined under the same popular term wu min. Matsumura (op. cit., No. 
2382) calls P. chinensis in Japanese orenju, adding the characters ^ ^^. The word 
lien refers in China to Melia azedarach. The modern Chinese equivalent for P. 
chinensis is not known to me. The peculiar beauty of this tree, and the great age to 
which it lives, have attracted the attention of the indefatigable workers of our 
Department of Agriculture, who have already distributed thousands of young trees to 
parks throughout the country (see Yearbook of the U. S. Department of Agriculture 
1916, p. 140, Washington, 191 7). In the English and Chinese Standard Dictionary, 
the word "pistachio" is rendered by /« fl|, which, however, denotes a quite dif- 

The Pistachio 251 

G. A. Stuart* has identified a-yile hun-tse^ with Pistacia vera, and 
this is confirmed by Matsumura. 

The Japanese name fusudasiu or fusttdasu is doubtless connected 
with Persian pista, from Old Iranian *pistaka, Middle Persian *pistak,' 
from which is derived Greek ^laraKiov, <f)LTTaKL0Vf TncTTOLKiov or ipLaTanov, 
Latin psittacium, and our pistacia or pistachio. It is not known to me, 
however, to what date the Japanese word goes back, or through what 
channels it was received. In all likelihood it is of modem origin, the 
introduction into Japan being due to Europeans. 

In Chinese literature, the Persian word appears in the Geography 
of the Ming Dynasty,* in the transcription [ki-] pi-se-tan [M] ^ ^ Si, 
stated to be a product of Samarkand, the leaves of the tree resembling 
those of the iaw S'a \U ^ (Camellia oleijera), and its fruit that of the 
yin hin ^ ■^ (Salisburia adiantifolia) . 

The Persian word, further, occurs in the new edition of the Kwan yii 
kiy entitled Tsen tin kwan yil ki ^ tJ ^ ^ t^. The original, the Kwan 
yii kiy was written by Lu Yin-yafi ^M^,^ and published during the 
Wan-li period in 1600. The revised and enlarged edition was prepared 
by Ts*ai Fan-pin ^ ^ ffi (hao Kiu-hia :^ M) in 1686; a reprint of 
this text was issued in 1744 by the publishing-house Se-mei fan H ^. 
Both this edition and the original are before me. The latter® mentions 
only three products under the heading "Samarkand"; namely, coral, 
amber, and ornamented cloth {hwa ^ui pu'^^ ^). The new edition, 
however, has fifteen additional items, the first of these being [ki-] 
pi-se-Van, written as above,^ stated to be a tree growing in the region 
of Samarkand. *'The leaves of the tree," it is said, "resemble those 
of the ^an c'a (Camelia oleifera) ; the fruits have the appearance of the 
nut-like seeds of the yin kin {Salisburia adiantifolia), but are smaller." 
The word pi-se-Van doubtless represents the transcription of Persian 

ferent plant, — Torreya nucifera. A revival on the part of the Chinese, of the good, 
old terms of their own language, would be very desirable, not only in this case, but 
likewise in many others. 

* Chinese Materia Medica, p. 334. 

' Wrongly transcribed by him o-yueh-chiin-tzu. 

* These reconstructions logically result from the phonetic history of Iranian, 
and are necessitated by the existence of the Greek loan-word. Cf., further, Byzantine 
pustux and fustox, Comanian pistac, and the forms given below (p, 252). Persian 
pista is identified with Pistacia vera by Schlimmer (Terminologie, p. 465). 

* Ta Min i Vun ci, Ch. 89, p. 23. 

^ Wylie, Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 59. 

« Ch. 24, p. 6 b. 

^ The addition of ki surely rests on an error (Schott also reads pi-se-t^an, which 
he presumably found in his text; see the following note). 

252 Sino-Iranica 

pistdn ("a place abounding with pistachio-nuts")-* Again, the Persian 
word in the transcription pi-se-ta i^ M # appears in the Pen is'ao 
kan mu H i^ by Cao Hio-min, who states that the habitat of the plant 
is in the land of the Mohammedans, and refers to the work Yin ^an 
^en yao^ of 133 1, ascribed by him to Hu-pi-lie M> i^* S^l; that is, the 
Emperor Kubilai of the Yuan dynasty. We know, however, that this 
book was written in 133 1 by Ho Se-hwi/ Not having access to this, 
I am unable to state whether it contains a reference to pi-se-tay nor do 
I know whether the text of Cao Hio-min, as printed in the second 
edition of 1765, was thus contained in the first edition of his work, which 
was published in 1650. It would not be impossible that the tran- 
scription pi-se-ta, accurately corresponding to Persian pista, was 
made in the Mongol period; for it bears the ear-marks of the Yuan style 
of transcription. 

The Persian word pista (also pasta) has been widely disseminated: 
we find it in Kurd fystiq, Armenian fesdux and fstoiil, Arabic fistaq or 
Justaq, Osmanli fistiq,^ and Russian fistaika. 

In the Yuan period the Chinese also made the acquaintance of 
mastic, the resinous product of Pistacia lentiscus} It is mentioned in 
the Yin ^an ien yao, written in 133 1, under its Arabic name mastaki, 
in the transcription ^ i@» ^ "n" ma-se-ta-kiJ Li Si-Sen knew only the 
medical properties of the product, but confessed his ignorance regarding 
the nature of the plant; hence he placed his notice of it as an appendix 
to ctimmin {U-lo), The Wu tsa ^5m- 5 H S, written in 1610, says that 
mastaki is produced in Turkistan and resembles the tsiao W- {Zanth- 
oxylunty the fruit jdelding a pepper-like condiment) ; its odor is very 
strong; it takes the place there qf a condiment like pepper, and is 
beneficial to digestion. ^ The Persian word for "mastic" is kundurak 
(from kunduTy "incense"), besides the Arabic loan-word mastaki or 

1 As already recognized by W. Schott (Topographie der Producte des chinesi- 
schen Reiches, Ahh. Berl.Akad,, 1842, p. 371), who made use only of the new edition. 

2 Ch. 8, p. 19; ed. of 1765 (see above, p. 229). 
' Cf. above, p. 236. 

* Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 213. 

^ Hence Pegoletti's fistuchi (Yule, Cathay, new ed. by Cordier, Vol. Ill, 
p. 167). 

* Greek ax'^vos (Herodotus, iv, 177). 

^ The Arabic word itself is derived from Greek naarlxv (from fiaar&^eiv, "to 
chew"), because the resin was used as a masticatory. Hence also Armenian maz- 
tak'e. Spanish almdciga is derived from the Arabic, as indicated by the Arabic 
article al, while the Spanish form mdsticis is based on Latin mastix. 

^ Quoted in the Pen ts'ao kan mu H i, Ch. 6, p. 12 b. The digestive property 
is already emphasized by Dioscorides (i, 90). 

The Pistachio 253 

mdstakl} The Persianized form is masdax; in Kurd it is mstekki. "On 
these mountains the Mastich Tree brings forth plenty of that gum, of 
which the country people make good profit. ... As for the Mastick 
Trees, they bore red berries, and if wounded would spew out the liquid 
resin from the branches; they are not very tall, of the bigness of oiir 
Bully Trees: Whether they bring forth a cod or not, this season "would 
not inform me, nor can I say it agrees in all respects with the Lentisk 
Tree of Clusius."^ The resin (mastic) occurs in small, irregular, yellowish 
tears, brittle, and of a vitreous fracture, but soft and ductile when 
chewed. It is used as a masticatory by people of high rank in India to 
preserve the teeth and sweeten the breath, and also in the preparation 
r of a perfimie.^ It is still known in India as the "gum mastic of Rum."* 
The case of the pistachio (and there are several others) is interesting 
in showing that the Chinese closely followed the development of Iranian 
speech, and in course of time replaced the Middle-Persian terms by the 
corresponding New-Persian words. 

1 AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, pp. 137, 267. 

2 John Fryer, New Account of East India and Persia, Vol. II, p. 202 (Hakluyt 
Soc, 1912). 

' Watt, Commercial Products of India, p. 902. 

* D. C. Phillott, Journal As. Soc. Bengal, Vol. VI, 1910, p. 81. 


4. The Buddhist dictionary Fan yi min yi tsi MM ^^^y 
compiled by Fa Yiin *S S/ contains a Chinese-Sanskrit name for the 
walnut {hu Vao SB Wi, Juglans regia) in the transcription po-lo-H 
S 'Si iSp, which, as far as I know, has not yet been identified with its 
Sanskrit equivalent.^ According to the laws established for the Buddhist 
transcriptions, this formation is to be restored to Sanskrit pdrast, 
which I regard as the feminine form of the adjective pdrasa, meaning 
"Persian" (derived from Parsa, "Persia"). The walnut, accordingly, 
as expressed by this term, was regarded in India as a tree or fruit sus- 
pected of Persian provenience. The designation pdrast for the walnut 
is not recorded in Boehtlingk^s Sanskrit Dictionary, which, by the way, 
contains many other lacunes. The common Sanskrit word for "walnut" 
is dkhota, ak^dta^ aksosaj^ which for a long time has been regarded as 
a loan-word received from Iranian."* 

Pliny has invoked the Greek names bestowed on this fruit as testi- 
mony for the fact that it was originally introduced from Persia, the 

^Ch. 24, p. 27 (edition of Nanking). — Bunyiu Nanjio (Catalogue of the 
Buddhist Tripitaka, No. 1640) sets the date of the work at 1151. Wylie (Notes on 
Chinese Literature, p. 210) and Bretschneider (Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 94) say that it 
was completed in 1143. According to S. Julien (M^thode, p. 13), it was compiled 
from 1 143 to 1 157. 

* Bretschneider (Study and Value of Chinese Botanical Works, Chinese 
Recorder, Vol. Ill, 1871, p. 222) has given the name after the Pen ts^aokan mu, but 
has left it without explanation. 

' The last-named form occurs twice in the Bower Manuscript (Hoernle's 
edition, pp. 32, 90, 121). In Hindustani we have axrot or dkrot. 

* F. Spiegel, Arische Periode, p. 40. The fact that the ancient Iranian name for 
the walnut is still unknown does not allow us to explain the Sanskrit word satisfac- 
torily. Its relation to Hebrew egoz, and Persian koz, goz (see below), is perspicuous. 
Among the Hindu-Kush languages, we meet in Yidgha the word oghuzoh (J. Biddulph, 
Tribes of the Hindoo Koosh, Appendices, p. clxvii), which appears as a missing 
link between Sanskrit on the one hand and the Semitic- Armenian forms on the other 
hand: hence we may conjecture that the ancient Iranian word was something like 
*agoza, angoza; and this supposition is fully confirmed by the Chinese transcription 
a-yiie (above, p. 248). Large walnuts of India are mentioned by the traveller C'an 
Te toward the middle of the thirteenth century (Bretschneider, Mediaeval 
Researches, Vol. I, p. 146). The walnuts of the province of Kusistan in Persia, which 
are much esteemed, are sent in great quantities to India (W. Ainslie, Materia 
Indica, Vol. I, p. 464). 


The Walnut 255 

best kinds being styled in Greek Persicum and hasilicon,^ and these being 
the actual names by which they first became known in Italy .^ Pliny 
himself employs the name nuces iuglandes. Although Juglans regia is 
indigenous to the Mediterranean region, the Greeks seem to have 
received better varieties from anterior Asia, hence Greek names like 
Kapva TrepcTLKa or Kapva aiviainKa. 

In fact, Juglans regia grows spontaneously in northern Persia and 
in Baluchistan; it has been found in the valleys of the Pskem and 
Ablatun at altitudes varying from 1000 to 1500 m. Another species 
{Juglans pterocarpa, ^'Juglans with winged fruits") is met in the prov- 
inces of Ghilan and Mazanderan and in the vicinity of Astrabad.* 
A. Engler® states that the walnut occurs wild also in eastern Afghanis- 
tan at altitudes of from 2200 to 2800 m. Ibn Haukal extols the walnuts 
of Arrajan, Muqaddasi those of Kirman, and Istaxri those of the 
province of Jiruft.^ 

In Fergana, Russian Turkistan, the walnut is cultivated in gardens; 
but the nuts offered for sale are usually derived from wild-growing trees 
which form complete forests in the mountains.^ According to A. Stein,' 
walnuts abound at Khotan. The same explorer found them at Yiil-arik 
and neighboring villages.® 

^ That is, "Persian nut" and "nut of the king," respectively, the king being 
the Basileus of Persia. These two designations are also given by Dioscorides (i, 178). 

2 Et has e Perside regibus translatas indicio sunt Graeca nomina: optimum 
quippe genus earum Persicum atque basilicon vocant, et haec fuere prima nomina 
(Nat. hist., XV, 22, § 87). 

' J. Hoops, Waldbaume und Kulturpflanzen, p. 553. The Romans transplanted 
the walnut into Gallia and Germania during the first centuries of our era. Numerous 
walnuts have been brought to light from the wells of the Saalburg, testifying to 
the favor in which they were held by the Romans. The cultivation of the tree is 
commended in Charles the Great's Capitulare de villis and Garden Inventories. 
Its planting in Gaul is shown by the late Latin term nux gallica, Old French nois 
gauge, which survives in our "walnut" (German walnuss, Danish valnod. Old Norse 
valhnot, Anglo-Saxon wealh-hnutu) ; walk, wal, was the Germanic designation of the 
Celts (derived from the Celtic tribe Volcae), subsequently transferred to the Romanic 
peoples of France and Italy. 

* C. JORET, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, p. 44. Joret (p. 92) states that the 
Persians cultivated nut-trees and consumed the nuts, both fresh and dried. The 
walnut is twice mentioned in the Bandahi§n among the fruits serving as food, and 
among fruits the inside of which is fit to eat, but not the outside (West, Pahlavi 
Texts, Vol. I, pp. loi, 103; cf. also p. 275). 

^ Erlauterungen zu den Nutzpflanzen der gemassigten Zonen, p. 22. 

* P. ScHWARZ, Iran im Mittelalter, pp. 114, 218, 241. 

' S. KoRziNSKi, Sketches of the Flora of Turkistan, in Russian {Memoirs Imp. 
Russ. Ac, 8th ser.. Vol. IV, No. 4, pp. 39, 53). 
' Ancient Khotan, Vol. I, p. 131. 

* Ruins of Desert Cathay, Vol. I, p. 152. 

2s6 Sino-Iranica 

The New-Persian name for the walnut is kdz and goz.^ According 
to HuBSCHMANN, this word comes from Armenian.^ The Armenian word 
is engoiz; in the same category belongs Hebrew egoz,^ Ossetic dngoza, 
Yidghal oyuza, Kurd egviz, Gruzinian nigozi} The Persian word we 
meet as a loan in Turkish koz and xoz} 

The earliest designation in Chinese for the cultivated walnut is hu 
fao fiB ^ ("peach of the Hu'^ Hu being a general term for peoples of 
Central Asia, particularly Iranians). As is set forth in the Introduction, 
the term hu i^ prefixed to a large number of names of cultivated plants 
introduced from abroad. The later substitution hu or ho fao W. Wi 
signifies ''peach containing a kernel," or "seed-peach," so called because, 
while resembling a peach when in the husk, only the kernel is eaten.® 
In view of the wide dissemination of the Persian word, the question 
might be raised whether it would not be justifiable to recognize it also 
in the Chinese term hu Vao ftS ^, although, of course, in the first line it 
means "peach of the Hu (Iranians)." There are a number of cases 
on record where Chinese designations of foreign products may simulta- 
neously convey a meaning and represent phonetic transcriptions. 
When we consider that the word hu SB was formerly possessed of an 
initial guttural sonant, being sounded *gu (7U) or *go,^ the possibility 
that this word might have been chosen in imitation of, or with especial 
regard to, an Iranian form of the type goz, cannot be denied: the two- 
fold thought that this was the "peach styled go" and the "peach of the 
Go or Hu peoples" may have been present simultaneously in the minds 
of those who formed the novel term; but this is merely an hypothesis, 
which cannot actually be proved, and to which no great importance is 
to be attached. 

^ Arabic joz; Middle Persian joz, 70;. Kurd ^;mz {guwiz), from govz, goz (Socin, 
Grundr. iran. Phil., Vol. I, pt. 2, p. 268). Sariqoli ghauz (Shaw, Journal As. Soc. 
Bengal, 1876, p. 267). Pu§tu ughz, waghz. Another Persian designation for "walnut" 
is girdu or girdgdn. 

^ Grundr. iran. Phil., Vol. I, pt. 2, p. 8; Armen. Gram., p. 393. 

' Canticle vi, 10. Of. Syriac gauzd. 

* W. Miller, Sprache der Osseten, p. 10; Hubschmann, Arm. Gram., p. 393. 

^ Radloff, WSrterbuch der Turk-Dialecte, Vol. II, col. 628, 1710. In Osmanli 

® The term ho t'ao is of recent date. It occurs neither under the T'ang nor 
under the Sung. It is employed in the Kwo su ^^, a work on garden-fruits by 
Wan §i-mou EE Ifr S, who died in 1591, and in the Pen ts'ao kan mu. The latter 
remarks that the word ho 1^ is sounded in the north like hu JB . and that the sub- 
stitution thus took place, citing a work Min wu H ^ ^ '^ as the first to apply 
this term. 

^ Compare Japanese go-ma fi3 ^ and go-fun fR ^. 

The Walnut 257 

There is a tradition to the effect that the walnut was introduced 
into China by General Can K'ien.^ This attribution of the walnut to 
Can K'ien, however, is a purely retrospective thought, which is not 
contained in the contemporaneous documents of the Han Annals. There 
are, in fact, as we have seen, only two ctdtivated plants which can 
directly be credited to the mission of Can K'ien to the west, — the 
grape and the alfalfa. All others are ascribed to him in subsequent 
books. Bretschneider, in his long enimieration of Cafi-K'ien plants,^ 
has been somewhat uncritical in adopting the statements of such a 
recent work as the Pen ts^ao kan mu without even taking pains to ex- 
amine the sources there referred to. This subject requires a renewed 
critical investigation for each particular plant. As regards the walnut, 
Bretschneider was exposed to singular errors, which should be rectified, 
as they have passed into and still prominently figure in classical botani- 
cal and historical books of our time. According to Bretschneider, the 
walnut was brought from K'iang-hu ^ fiS, and "K'iang" was at the 
time of the Han dynasty the name for Tibet. There is, of course, no 
such geographical name as "K'iafi-hu"; but we have here the two 
ethnical terms, **K4an'* and "Hu," joined into a compound. More- 
over, the K'iafi (anciently *Gian) of the Han period, while they may 
be regarded as the forefathers of the subsequent Tibetan tribes, did 
not inhabit the country which we now designate as Tibet; and the term 
'*Hu" as a rule does not include Tibetans. What is said in this respect 
in the Pen ts'ao kan mu^ is vague enough: it is a single sentence culled 
from the T'w kin pen ts*ao @ 8 ^ ^ of Su Sufi JS S (latter part of 
the eleventh century) of the Sung period, which reads, "The original 
habitat of this fruit was in the countries of the K'iafi and the Hu" 
(itbl^^liJ^fiB). Any conclusion like an introduction of the walnut 
from '* Tibet "cannot be based on this statement. 

Bretschneider's first victim was the father of the science of historical 
and geographical botany, A. de Candolle,^ who stated, referring to 
him as his authority, ''Chinese authors say that the walnut was 
introduced among them from Tibet, imder the Han dynasty, by Chang- 

^ The first to reveal this tradition from the Pen ts*ao ka'h mu was W. Schott 
{Ahh. Berl. Akad., 1842, p. 270). 

^ Chinese Recorder, 1871, pp. 221-223; and Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 25. Likewise 
Hirth, T'oung Pao, Vol. VI, 1895, p. 439. Also Giles (Biographical Dictionary, p. 12) 
connects the walnut with Can K'ien. 

3 Ch. 30, p. 16. 

* Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 427. 

258 Sino-Iranica 

kien, about the year 140-150 B.C."' In Hehn's "Kulturpflanzen"^ 
we still read in a postscript from the hand of the botanist A. Engler, 
"Whether the walnut occurs wild in North China may be doubted, as 
according to Bretschneider it is said to have been imported there from 
Tibet." As will be seen below, a wild-growing species of Juglans is 
indeed indigenous to North China. As to the alleged feat of Can K'ien, 
the above-mentioned Su Sun, who lived during the Sung period in the 
latter part of the eleventh century, represents the source of this purely 
traditional opinion recorded by Bretschneider. Su Sun, after the above 
statement, continues, "At the time of the Han, when Can K'ien was 
sent on his mission into the Western Regions, he first obtained the 
seeds of this fruit, which was then planted in Ts'in (Kan-su) ; at a later 
date it gradually spread to the eastern parts of our country; hence it 
was named hu fao.'^^ Su Sufi's information is principally based on the 
Pen ts*ao of the Kia-yu period (1056-64) S Sft 1® ^ ^ ^; this work 
was preceded by the Pen ts'ao of the K'ai-pao period (968-976) IB Jf 
# ^; and in the latter we meet the assertion that Can K'ien should 
have brought the walnut along from the Western Regions, but cautiously 
preceded by an on dit (^).'* The oldest text to which I am able to trace 
this tradition is the Po wu ^t' IS % y£ of Cafi Hwa 36 ^ (a.d. 232-300).^ 
The spurious character of this work is well known. The passage, at any 
rate, existed, and was accepted in the Sung period, for it is reproduced 
in the T^ai pHn yii lan.^ We even find it quoted in the Buddhist dic- 
tionary Yi tsHe kin yin i -^ SO S "a ^,^ compiled by Yuan Yin JC Jffi 
about A.D. 649, so that this tradition must have been credited in the 

* Besides Bretschneider 's article in the Chinese Recorder, de Candolle refers to 
a letter of his of Aug. 23, 1881, which shows that Bretschneider had not changed 
his view during that decade. Needless to add, that Can K'ien never was in Tibet, 
and that Tibet as a political unit did not exist in his time. Two distinct traditions 
are welded together in Bretschneider's statement. 

2 Eighth edition (191 1), p. 400. 

* Cen lei pen ts'ao, Ch. 23, p. 45 (edition of 152 1). G. A. Stuart (Chinese 
Materia Medica, p. 223) regards the "Tangut country about the Kukunor" as the 
locality of the tree pointed out in the Pen ts'ao. 

* The text of the K'ai-pao pen ts'ao is not reproduced in the Pen ts'ao kari mu> 
but will be found in the Ci wu min H t'u k'ao, Ch. 17, p. 33. T'an §en-wei ^ ^ US[» 
in his Cen lei pen ts'ao (Ch. 23, p. 44 b), has reproduced the same text in his own 

'5g^^ffi«5t7!r(orig)#JS||^a (Ch. 6, p. 4, of the Wu-d'an 

•Ch. 97i,p. 8. 

' Ch. 6, p. 8 b (ed. of Nanking). In this text the pomegranate and grape are 
added to the walnut. In the same form, the text of the Po wu U is cited in the modern 
editions of the Ts'i min yao Su (Ch. 10, p. 4). 

The Walnut 259 

beginning of the T'ang dynasty. It is not impossible, however, that 
this text was actually written by Can Hwa himself, or at least that the 
tradition underlying it was formed during the fourth century; for, as 
will be seen, it is at that time that the walnut is first placed on record. 
Surely this legend is not older than that period, and this means that 
it sprang into existence five centuries after Cafi K'ien's Hfetime. It 
should be called to mind that the Po wu ci entertains rather fantastic 
notions of this hero, and permits him to cross the Western Sea and even 
to reach Ta Ts'in.^ It is, moreover, the Po wu ci which also credits to 
Can K'ien the introduction of the pomegranate and of ta or hu swan 
:^ (i^ ) ^ or hu^ (Allium scorodoprasum) } Neither is this tradition 
contained in the texts of the Han period. The notion that Can K'ien 
really introduced the walnut in the second century B.C. must be posi- 
tively rejected as being merely based on a retrospective and tmauthentic 

The question now arises. Is there any truth in Su Sufi's allegation 
that the walnut was originally produced in the country of the K'iafi? 
Or, in other words, are we entitled to assume the co-existence of two 
Chinese traditions, — first, that the walnut was introduced into China 
from the regions of the Hu (Iranians) ; and, second, that another intro- 
duction took place from the land of the K'iafi, the forefathers of the 
Tibetans?* There is indeed an ancient text of the Tsin period from the 
first part of the fourth century, one of the earliest datable references 
to the walnut, in which its origin from the K'ian is formally admitted. 
This text is preserved in the T'ai pHn yii Ian as follows: — 

"The mother of Liu T'ao t'J S,^ in her reply to the letter of Yu 
R , princess of the country of Wu ^ @, said, *In the period Hien-ho 
^ ?P (a.d. 326-335, of the Tsin dynasty) I escaped from the rebellion 

1 Ch. I, p. 3 b. 
^ See below, p. 302. 

' The Can-K'ien legend is also known in Korea {Korea Review, Vol. II, 1902, 
p. 393). 

* The term kHan Vao ^ ^ for the walnut is given, for instance, in the Hwa 
kin 1^ M . "Mirror of Flowers" (Ch. 3, p. 49), written by C'en Hao-tse ^ '}% 
J^ in 1688. He gives as synonyme also wan swi tse'^ ^ •? ("fruits of ten thousand 
years"). The term kHan t^ao is cited also in the P'ei wen lai kwan k'iin fan p'u 
(Ch. 58, p. 24; regarding this work cf. Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 70), and in 
the P'an San £i ISL \U ^ (Ch.15, p. 2 b; published in 1755 by order of K'ien-lun). 

^ The T'u Su tsi Ven and Kwan k'iin fan p'u (Ch. 58, p. 25) write this name Niu 
i8|. The Ko U kin yiian (Ch. 76, p. 5), which ascribes this text to the Tsin Su, gives 
it as Sl. The ran Sun pai k'un leu tHe >^ ^ S ?L 7^ if iS (Ch. 99, p. 12) has, "The 
mother of Liu T'ao of the Tsin dynasty said, in reply to a state document, 'walnuts 
were originally grown in the country of the Western K'ian.' " 

26o Sino-Iranica 

of Su Tsun M ^^ into the Lin-nan mountains ^ ^ tlj . The country 
of Wu sent a messenger with provisions, stating in the accompanying 
letter: 'These fruits are walnuts ffl ^ and fei-^an MM.^ The latter 
come from southern China. The walnuts were originally grown abroad 
among the Western K'iafi (fi9^^^®^^S). Their exterior is hard, 
while the interior is soft and sweet. Owing to their durabiHty I wish to 
present them to you as a gift.' "^ It is worthy of note, that, while the 
walnut is said in this text to hail from the Western K'ian, the term 
hu Vao (not kHan Vao) is employed; so that we may infer that the intro- 
duction of the fruit from the Hu preceded in time the introduction 
from the K'ian. It is manifest also that in this narrative the walnut 
appears as a novelty. 

The Tibetan name of the walnut in general corresponds to a type 
tar-ka, as pronounced in Central Tibetan, written star-ka, star-ga, 
and dar-sga} The last-named spelling is given in the Polyglot Dic- 
tionary of K'ien-lun,^ also in Jaschke's Tibetan Dictionary. The element 
ka or ga is not the well-known siiffix used in connection with nouns,^ 
but is an independent base with the meaning "walnut," as evidenced 
by Kanauri ka (''walnut")-'^ The various modes of writing lead to a 
restitution *iJar, dar^ d'ar (with aspirate sonant). This word is found 
also in an Iranian dialect of the Pamir: in Waxi the walnut is called 

1 He died in a.d. 328. His biography is in the Tsin Su, Ch. 100, p. 9. See also 
L. WiEGER, Textes historiques, p. 1086. 

2 Literally, "flying stalk of grain." Bretschneider and Stuart do not mention 
this plant. Dr. T. Tanaka, assistant in the Bureau of Plant Industry, Department 
of Agriculture, Washington, tells me that fei-iafi is a synonyme of the fingered citrus 
(/« lou kan ^ ^ tB"» Citrus chirocarpus). He found this statement in the Honzo 
komoku keimo (Ch. 26, p. 18, ed. 1847) by Ono Ranzan, who on his part quotes the 
run ya S SS by Fan I-6i. 

3 The rat p'in yii Ian reads R J>Jl ^W^i>X^M- The T'an Sun pat k'ufi 
leu Vie and the Tu S'u tsi len, however, have S'lH'fe'R^i^^^' "their 
substance resembles the ancient sages, and I wish to present them," — apparently a 
corruption of the text. 

^ W. W. RocKHiLL (Diary of a Journey through Mongolia and Tibet, p. 340) 
gives taga as pronunciation in eastern Tibet. J. D. Hooker (Himalayan journals, 
p. 237) offers taga-Un (Hn, "tree") as Bhutia name. 

5 Ch. 28, p. 55. 

^ ScHiEFNER, Milanges asiatiques, Vol. I, pp. 380-382. 

' Given both by T. R. Joshi (Grammar and Dictionary of the Kanawari Lan- 
guage, p. 80) and T. G. Bailey (Kanauri-English Vocabulary, Journal Royal As. 
Soc, 191 1, p. 332). Bailey adds to the word also the botanical term Juglans regia. 
The same author, further, gives a word ge as meaning "kernel of walnut; edible part 
of Pinus gerardiana"; while Joshi (p. 67) explains the same word as the "wild 
chestnut." Thus it seems that ge, ka, originally referred to an indigenous wild-grow- 
ing fruit, and subsequently was transferred to the cultivated walnut. 

The Walnut 261 

tar.^ This apparently is a loan-word received from the Tibetan, for in 
Sariqoli and other Pamir dialects we find the Iranian word gkoz? 
Tarka is a genuine Tibetan word relating to the indigenous walnut, 
wild and cultivated, of Tibetan regions. In view of this state of affairs, 
it is certainly possible that the Chinese, in the beginning of the fourth 
century or somewhat earlier, received walnuts and their seeds also 
from Tibetan tribes, which resulted in the name KHan Vao. The 
Lepcha of Sikkim are acquainted with the walnut, for which they have 
an indigenous term, kdl-pdty and one of their villages is even called 
''Walnut-Tree Foundation" (K61-ban).^ 

G. Watt* informs us that the walnut-tree occurs wild and cultivated 
in the temperate Himalaya and Western Tibet, from Kashmir and 
Nubra eastwards. W. Roxburgh^ says about Juglans regta, "A native 
of the mountainous countries immediately to the north and north-east 
of Hindustan, on the plains of Bengal it grows pretty well, but is not 
fruitful there." Another species of the same genus, /. plerococca Roxb., 
is indigenous in the vast forests which cover the hills to the north and 
east of the province of Silhet, the bark being employed for tanning, while 
J. regia is enlisted among the oil-yielding products.^ J. D. Hooker^ 
is authority for the information that the walnut occurs wild in Sikkim, 
and is cultivated in Bhatan, where also Captain Turner^ found it 
growing in abundance. Kirkpatrick' met it in Nepal. In Burma it 
grows in the Ava Hills. In the Shan states east of Ava grows another 
species of Juglans^ with smaller, almost globose, quite smooth nuts, 
but nothing is known about the tree itself. ^*^ 

The Tibetans certainly cultivate the walnut and appreciate it 

^ R. B. Shaw, On the Ghalchah Languages {Journal As. Soc. Bengal, 1876, 
p. 267), writes the word tor. A. Hujler (The Languages Spoken in the Western 
Pamir, p. 36, Copenhagen, 1912) writes tar, explaining the letter a as a "dark deep a, 
as in the French pas.'^ 

2 W. ToMASCHEK (Pamirdialekte, p. 790) has expressed the opinion that WaxJ 
tor, as he writes, is hardly related to Tibetan star-ga; this is not correct. 

3 G. Mainwaring, Dictionary of the Lepcha Language, p. 30. 

* Dictionary of the Economic Products of India, Vol. IV, p. 550. 

*» Flora Indica, p. 670. 

® N. G. MuKERji, Handbook of Indian Agriculture, p. 233. 

' Himalayan Journals, p. 235; also Risley, Gazetteer of Sikkim, p. 92 (compare 
Darwin, Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Vol. I, p. 445). 

^ Account of an Embassy to the Court of the Teshoo Lama, p. 273. Also Eden 
and Pemberton (Pohtical Missions to Bootan, p. 198, Calcutta, 1895) mention 
the walnut in Bhatan. 

® Account of Nepaul, p. 81. 

'° S. KuRZ, Forest Flora of British Burma, Vol. II, p. 490 (Calcutta, 1877). 

262 Sino-Iranica 

much. The tree is found everywhere in eastern Tibet where horti- 
culture is possible, and among the Tibetan tribes settled on the soil 
of Se-6'wan Province. W. W. Rockhill^ even mentions that in the 
Ba-t'afi region barley and walnuts are used in lieu of subsidiary coinage. 
Lieut.-Col. Waddell^ makes two references to cultivated walnut-trees 
in Central Tibet. The Chinese authors mention "Tibetan walnuts** 
as products of the Lhasa district.* 

While the Can-K'ien tradition is devoid of historical value, and 
must be discarded as an historical fact, yet it is interesting from a 
psychological point of view; for it shows at least that, at the time when 
this fiction sprang into existence, the Chinese were under the impression 
that the walnut was not an indigenous tree, but imported from abroad. 
An autochthonous plant could not have been made the object of such a 
legend. A direct reference to the introduction of the cultivated walnut 
with an exact date is not extant in Chinese records, but the fact of such 
an introduction cannot reasonably be called into doubt. It is supported 
not only by the terms hu Vao and kHah Vao (** peach of the Hu," "peach 
of the K'iafi"), but also by the circumstantial evidence that in times 
of antiquity, and even under the Han, no mention is made of the 
walnut. True it is, it is mentioned in the Kin kwei yao Ho of the second 
century; but, as stated, this may be an interpolation."* Of all the data 
relating to this fruit, there is only one that may have a faint chance to 
be referred to the Han period, but even this possibility is very slight. 
In the Si kin tsa ki M ^ M1^^ it is said that in the gardens of the 
San-Hn Park _h # ^ of the Han emperors there were walnuts which 
had come from the Western Regions or Central Asia. The Si kin tsa ki, 
however, is the work of Wu Kun i^ %, who lived in the sixth century 
a.d.,* and cannot be regarded as a pure source for tracing the culture 
of the Han. It is not difficult to see how this tradition arose. When the 
Safi-lin Park was established, the high dignitaries of the empire were 
called upon to contribute famed fruits and extraordinary trees of distant 
lands. We know that after the conquest of Nan-yue in iii B.C. the 
Emperor Wu ordered southern products, like oranges, areca-nuts, 

^ Diary of a Journey through Mongolia and Tibet, p. 347. 
2 Lhasa and its Mysteries, pp. 307, 315. See also N. V. KtNER, Description of 
Tibet (in Russian), Vol. I, pt. 2, p. 137. 

* RocKHiLL, Journal Royal As. Soc, 1891, p. 273. 

* Above, p. 205. Can Ki says or is made to say, "Walnuts must not be eaten in 
large quantity, for they rouse mucus and cause man to drink" (Ch. c, p. 27). 

'^ Ch. I, p. 6 (ed. of Han Wei ts'un Su). 

* Wylie, Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 189; and Chavannes, T'oung Poo, 
1906, p. 102. 

The Walnut 263 

lun nafiy li-U, etc., to be broug:ht to the capital C'afi-nan, and to be 
planted in the Fu-li Palace ^M*M, founded in commemoration of the 
conquest of Nan-yiie, whereupon many gardeners lost their lives when 
the crops of the li-(^i proved a failure.* Several of his palaces were named 
for the fruits cultivated around them: thus there were a Grape-Palace 
and a Pear-Palace. Hence the thought that in this exposition of foreign 
fruits the walnut should not be wanting, easily impressed itself on the 
mind of a subsequent writer. Wu Kun may also have had knowledge 
of the Can-K'ien tradition of the Po wu U^ and thus believed himself 
consistent in ascribing walnuts to the Han palaces. Despite his ana- 
chronism, it is interesting to note Wu Kun*s opinion that the walnut 
came from Central Asia or Turkistan. 

It is not probable that the walnut was generally known in China 
earlier than the fourth century a.d., under the Eastern Tsin ^ S 
dynasty (265-419).^ In the Tsin kun ko min S ^ M ^, a description 
of the palaces of the Tsin emperors, written during that dynasty,^ it is 
stated that there were eighty-four walnut-trees in the Hwa-lin Park 

^ The palace Fu-li was named for the li-li ^ ^ (see Sanfu hwan /'m H U 3t 
g , Ch. 3, p. 9 b, ed. of Han Wei ts'un Su). 

* Bretschneider (Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 39) asserts that Juglans regia figures 
among the plants mentioned passingly in the Nan fan ts'ao mu Iwan by Ki Han 
^ -^j a minister of state under the Emperor Hui ]§ of the Tsin dynasty 
(a.d. 290-306) . He does not give any particulars. There are only two allusions to the 
walnut, that I am able to trace in this work: in the description of the coco-nut, 
the taste of this fruit is Ukened to that of the walnut; and the flavor of the "stone 
chestnut" {H-li ^ ^, Aleurites triloba) is compared with that of the same fruit. 
We know at present that the book in question contains interpolations of later date 
(see L. AuROUSSEAU, Bull, de I'Ecolefrangaise, Vol. XIV, 1914, p. 10); but to these 
the incidental mention of the walnut does not necessarily belong, as Ki Han lived 
under the Tsin. It is likewise of interest that the walnut is not dealt with as a special 
item in the Ts'i min yao Su, a work on husbandry and economic botany, written by 
Kia Se-niu J ^ ^S of the Hou Wei dynasty (a.d, 386-534) ; see the enumeration 
of plants described in this book in Bretschneider {op. cit., p. 78). In this case, the 
omission does not mean that the tree was unknown to the author, but it means only 
that it had then not attained any large economic importance. It had reached the 
palace-gardens, but not the people. In fact, Kia Se-niu, at least in one passage 
(Ch. 10, p. 48 b, ed. 1896), incidentally mentions the walnut in a quotation from the 
Kiao lou ki ^ j^ |S by Liu Hin-k'i ^\ffkM, where it is said, "The white yuan 
tree j^ i^^^ [evidently = |^] is ten feet high, its fruits being sweeter and finer 
than walnuts S9 ^•" As the Kiao tou ki is a work relating to the products of 
Annam, it is curious, of course, that it should allude to the cultivated walnut, which 
is almost absent in southern China and Annam; thus it is possible that this clause 
may be an interpolation, but possibly it is not. The fact that the same work like- 
wise contains the tradition connecting the walnut with Can K*ien has been pointed 
out above. The tree pai yuan is mentioned again in the Pen ts'ao kan mu U i (Ch. 8, 
p. 23), where elaborate rules for the medicinal employment of the fruit are given. 

* Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 202, No. 945. 

264 Sino-Iranica 

IS # S.^ Another allusion to the walnut relative to the period Hien-ho 
(a.d. 326-335) has been noted above (p. 259). There is, further, a refer- 
ence to the fruit in the history of Su S , when, after the death of Li Hiufi 
^ ^ in A.D. 334, Han Pao ^ 15 from Fu-fufi ft R in Sen-si 
was appointed Grand Tutor {Vaiju :iv fj) of his son Li K'i ^ SB, and 
asked the latter to grant him seeds for the planting of walnut-trees, 
which, on account of his advanced age, he was anxious to have in his 

Dtuing the third or foiuth century, the Chinese knew also that 
walnuts grew in the Hellenistic Orient. "In Ta Ts'in there are jujubes, 
jasmine, and walnuts," it is stated in the Wu H wai kwo (^i ^^ ^ 
@ jS (''Memoirs of Foreign Countries at the time of the Wu").^ 

The Kwah U ^ jS by Kwo Yi-kun #15 ^ 1^* contains the following 
account: *'The walnuts of C'en-ts'an 1^ ^^ have a thin shell and a 
large kernel; those of Yin-p'in ^ ^^ are large, but their shells are brittle, 
and, when quickly pinched, will break. "^ 

Coming to the T'ang period, we encounter a description of the 
walnut in the Yu yan tsa ^5W S IS§ H S., written about a.d. 860,^ from 
which the fact may be gleaned that the fruit was then much cultivated 

^ T^ai p'in yii Ian, l.c, 

2 This story is contained in the Kwari wu hin ^t ^ 3l fi^ |fi (according to 
Bretschneider, a work of the Sung literature). As the text is embodied in the 
T'ai pHn yii Ian, it must have been extant prior to A.D. 983, the date of Li Fan's 

' Presumably identical with the Wu H wai kwo twan noted by Pelliot {Bull, de 
VEcole frangaise, Vol. IV, p. 270) as containing information secured by the mission 
of K'an T'ai in the first part of the third century a.d. Cf. also Journal asiaiique, 
191 8, II, p. 24. The Min U ascribes walnuts to Ormuz (Bretschneider, Notices 
of the Mediaeval Geography, p. 294). 

* This work is anterior to the year a.d. 527, as it is cited in the ^wi kin lu of 
Li Tao-yuan, who died in that year. Kwo Yi-kun is supposed to have lived under 
the Tsin (a.d. 265-419). Cf. Pelliot, Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. IV, p. 412. 

* Now the district of Pao-ki in the prefecture of Fun-sian, Sen-si Province. 

* At the time of the Han period, Yin-p'in was the name for the present prefec- 
ture of Lun-nan f| ^ in the province of Se-6'wan. There was also a locality of the 
same name in the prefecture of Kiai in the province of Kan-su, inhabited by the Ti, 
a Tibetan tribe (Chavannes, Toung Pao, 1905, p. 525). 

^ T^ai p'in yii Ian, I. c; Ko ci kin yiian, Ch. 76, p. 5; Ci wu min H Vu k'ao, I. c. 
This text is cited also by Su Sun in his T'u kin pen ts'ao. The earliest quotation 
that I can trace of it occurs in the Pei hu lu, written by Twan Kun-lu about a.d. 
875 (Ch. 3, p. 4 b, ed. of Lu Sin-yuan), where, however, only the last clause in regard 
to the walnuts of Yin-p'in is given (see below, p. 268). 

^ Pelliot, T'oung Pao, 191 2, p. 375. The text is in the T'u su tsi e'en and 
Ci wu min H t'u k'ao (I. c.). I cannot trace it in the edition of the Yu yan tsa tsu in 
the Tsin tai pi Su or Pai hai. 

The Walnut 265 

in the northern part of China {At:& ^ M '^), — a statement repeated 
in the K'ai-pao pen ts'ao. The Yu yan tsa tsu, which is well informed 
on the cultivated plants of Western and Central Asia, does not contain 
the tradition relating to Can K'ien, but, on the other hand, does not 
speak of the tree as a novel introduction, nor does it explain its name. 
It begins by saying that "the kernel of the walnut is styled 'toad' 
ha-mo iSS."i 

Mon Sen 3l I5fe, who in the second half of the seventh century wrote 
the Si liao pen ts'aOf^ warns people from excessive indulgence in walnuts 
as being injurious to health.^ The T'ai pHn hwan yUki :k,^%^Wii 
by Yo Si Ife i& (published during the period T'ai-p'ifi, a.d. 976-981), 
mentions the walnut as being cultivated in the prefecture of Fun-sian 
M*^ in Sen-si Province, and in Kiafi ^ou ^ ^*N in San-si Province.* 

According to the Pen ts'ao kan mUy the term hu fao first appears in 
the Pen ts'ao of the K'ai-pao period (968-976) of the Sung dynasty, 
written by Ma Ci ^ iS; that is to say, the plant or its fruit was then 
officially sanctioned and received into the pharmacopoeia for the first 
time. We have seen that it was certainly known prior to that date. 
K'ou Tsun-§i M^M,m his Pen ts*ao yen i^^^M of 1116,^ has a 
notice on the medicinal application of the fruit. 

It is possible also to trace in general the route which the walnut has 
taken in its migration into China. It entered from Turkistan into 
Kan-su Province, as stated by Su Sun (see above, p. 258), and gradually 
spread first into Sen-si, and thence into the eastern provinces, but always 
remained restricted to the northern part of the country. Su Sun ex- 
pressly says that walnuts do not occur in the south, but only in the 
north, being plentiful in Sen-si and Lo-yah (Ho-nan Province), while 
those grown in K'ai-furi (Pien Cou?1^ ffl) were not of good quality. In the 
south only a wild-growing variety was known, which is discussed 
below. Wan Si-mou 3E ifr ^, a native of Kiafi-su, who died in 1591, 
states in his Kwo 5W :^ BS, a treatise on garden-fruits, that "the walnut 
is a northern fruit {pei kwo At 1^), and thrives in mountains; that it 
is but rarely planted in the south, yet can be cultivated there. "^ Almost 

^ This definition is ascribed to the Ts'ao mu tse^ ^^ in the Ko ci kin yuan 
(Ch. 76, p. 5); that work was written by Ye Tse-k'i ^ ^ -^ in 1378 (Wylie, 
Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 168). 

"^ Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 45. 

^ T'an Sun pai k'un leu Vie, Ch. 99, p. 12. 

* Tai p'in hwan yu ki, Ch. 30, p. 4; Ch. 47, p. 4 (ed. of Kin-lift Su kil, 1882). 
^ Ch. 18, p. 6 b (ed. of Lu Sin-yuan). 

* Also J. DE LouREiRO (Flora cochinchinensis, p. 702) states that the habitat of 
Juglans regia is only in the northern provinces of China. 

266 Sino-Iranica 

all the district and prefectural gazetteers of §en-si Province enumerate 
the walnut in the lists of products. The ** Gazetteer of San-tufi"* 
mentions walnuts for the prefectures of Ts'i-nan, Yen-Sou, and Ts'in- 
^ou, the last-named being the best. The Gazetteer of the District of 
Tun-fio ^ M^ in the prefecture of Tai-nan in San-tun reports an 
abundance of walnuts in the river-valleys. An allusion to oil-production 
from walnuts is found in the ** Gazetteer of Lu-nan," where it is said, 
"Of all the fruits growing in abundance, there is none comparable to 
the walnut. What is left on the markets is sufficient to supply the needs 
for lamp-oil."^ Also under the heading "oil," walnut-oil is mentioned 
as a product of this district.^ 

Juglans regia, in its cultivated state, has been traced by our botanists 
in San-tun, Kiafi-su, Hu-pei, Yun-nan, and Se-6'wan.^ Wilson nowhere 
saw trees that could be declared spontaneous, and considers it highly 
improbable that Juglans regia is indigenous to China. His opinion is 
certainly upheld by the results of historical research. 

A wild species {Juglans mandshurica or caihayensis Dode) occurs 
in Manchuria and the Amur region, Ci-li, Hu-pei, Se-S'wan, and Yun- 
nan.^ This species is a characteristic tree of the Amur and Usuri val- 
leys.^ It is known to the Golde imder the name koioa or ko^oa^ to the 
Managir as koriOy to the Gilyak as tiv-alys. The Golde word is of 
ancient date, for we meet it in the ancient language of the JurSi, Ju($en, 
or Niiici in the form xu^u^ and in Manchu as xdsixa. The great antiquity 
of this word is pointed out by the allied Mongol word xusiga. The 
whole series originally applies to the wild and indigenous species, 

» San tufi Vuft U, Ch. 9, p. 15. 
« Ch. 2, p. 32 (1829). 

» Quotation from Lu-nan ci %% ^ jS. in the San Sou tsuA U ffi ^H |S iS 
(General Gazetteer of San-5ou), 1744, Ch. 8, p. 3. 

* Ihid., Ch. 8, p. 9. Oil was fonnerly obtained from walnuts in France both 
for use at table and for varnishing and burning in lamps, also as a medicine sup- 
posed to possess vermifuge properties (Ainslie, Materia Indica, Vol. I, p. 464). 

^ See particularly C. S. Sargent, Plantae Wilsonianae, Vol. Ill, pp. 184-185 
(1916). J. Anderson (Report on the Expedition to Western Yunan, p. 93, Calcutta, 
1 871) mentions walnuts as product of Yiin-nan. According to the Tien hat yii heU 
ti (Ch. ID, p. I b; above, p. 228), the best walnuts with thin shells grow on the Yan-pi 
or Yan-p'ei River 8| '/^ fll of Yun-nan. 

* Forbes and Hemsley, Journal of the Linnean Society, Botany, Vol. XXVI, 
p. 493; Sargent, op. cit., pp. 185 et seq. J. de Loureiro (Flora cochinchinensis, 
p. 702), writing in 1788, has a species Juglans catnirium (Annamese dedu lai) "habitat 
agrestis cultaque in Cochinchina;" and a Juglans catappa (Annamese cdy mo cua) 
''habitat in sylvis Cochinchinae montanis." 

^ Grum-Grzimailo, Description of the Amur Province (in Russian), p. 313. 

* W. Grube, Schrift und Sprache der Ju6en, p. 93. 

The Walnut 267 

Juglans mandshurtca, Manchu xosixa designates the tree, while its 
fruit is called xdwalama or xdwalame usixa {-ixa being a frequent ter- 
mination in the names of plants and fniits). The cultivated walnut is 
styled mase} One of the earliest explorers of the Amur territory, the 
Cossack chieftain Poyarkov, who reached the Amur in 1644, reported 
that walnuts and hazel-nuts were cviltivated by the Daur or Dahur on 
the Dseya and Amur.^ 

The same species is known to the aboriginal tribes of Yun-nan. 
The VdL-yi and San style its fruit twai-^ the Nyi Lo-lo, se-mi-ma; the Ahi 
Lo-lo, sa-nti. The Cufi-kia of Kwei-cou call it dsao; the Ya-c'io Miao, 
(^i or U; the Hwa Miao, klaeo; while other Miao tribes have the Chinese 
loan-word he-dao.^ 

The wild walnut has not remained unknown to the Chinese, and it 
is curious that it is designated iaw hu Vao \U tH^, the term ^an ("moun- 
tain") referring to wild-growing plants. The "wild Iranian peach" 
is a sort of linguistic anomaly. It is demonstrated by this term that 
the wild indigenous species was discovered and named by the Chinese 
only in times posterior to the introduction of the cultivated variety; and 
that the latter, being introduced from abroad, was not derived from the 
wild-growing species. The case is identical with that of the wild alfalfas 
and vines. C'en Hao-tse, who wrote a treatise on flowers in 1688,^ 
determines the difference between the cultivated and wild varieties 
thus: the former has a thin shell, abundant meat, and is easy to break;' 
the latter has a thick and hard shell, which must be cracked with a 
hammer, and occurs in Yen and Ts'i (Ci-li and San-tufi). This observa- 

* K'ien-luh's Polyglot Dictionary, Ch. 28, p. 55. 

* L. V. ScHRENCK, Reisen und Forschungen im Amur-Lande, Vol. Ill, p. 160. 
« F. W. K. MtJLLER, T'oung Pao, Vol. Ill, 1892, p. 26. 

* S. R. Clarke, Tribes in South-West China, p. 312. 

* Hwa kin, Ch. 3, p. 49 b. 

* According to the Ci wu min H Vu k*ao (Ch. 31, p. 3 b), the walnuts with thin 
shells grow only in the prefecture of Yun-p*in ;^ ^ in Ci-li, being styled lu SaA 
ho Vao S 9 ^ -^ I^ C'an-li, which belongs to this prefecture, these nuts have 
been observed by F. N. Meyer (Agricultural Explorations in the Orchards of China, 
p. 51), who states, "Some trees produce small hard-shelled nuts of poor flavor, while 
others bear fine large nuts, with a really fine flavor, and having shells so thin that 
they can be cracked with the fingers like peanuts. Between these extremes one finds 
many gradations in hardness of shell, size, and flavor." "In England the walnut 
presents considerable differences, in the shape of the fruit, in the thickness of the 
husk, and in the thinness of the shell; this latter quality has given rise to a variety 
called the thin-shelled, which is valuable, but suffers from the attacks of titmice" 
(Darwin, Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Vol. I, p. 445). 
A variety of walnut with thin shells grows on the Greek Island Paros (T. v. Held- 
reich, Nutzpflanzen Griechenlands, p. 59). 

268 Sino-Iranica 

tion is quite to the point; the shell of the walnut gradually became more 
refined under the influence of cultivation. 

The earliest texts alluding to the wild walnut are not older than 
the T'ang period. The Pei hu lu A\j ^ ^, written by Twan Kufi-lu 
S ^ ^ about A.D. 875,^ contains the following text concerning a wild 
walnut growing in the mountains of southern China: — 

"The wild walnut has a thick shell and a flat bottom jS ^. In 
appearance it resembles the areca-nut. As to size, it is as large as a 
bundle of betel-leaves.^ As to taste, it comes near the walnuts of 
Yin-p'ifi' and Lo-3ai, but is different from these, inasmuch as it has a 
fragrance like apricot extract. This fragrance, however, does not last 
long, but will soon vanish. The Kwan ii says that the walnuts of Yin- 
p*in have brittle shells, and that, when qmckly pinched, the back of 
the kernel will break. Liu Si-lufi W tt ^, in his Sie lo yu yiian M M 
M ^, remarks, with reference to the term hu Vao, that the Hu take to 
flight like rams,* and that walnuts therefore are prophets of auspicious 
omens. Cen K'ien 9B S^ says that the wild walnut has no glumelle; 
it can be made into a seal by grinding off the nut for this ptirpose. 
Judging from these data, it may be stated that this is not the walnut 
occurring in the mountains of the south."* 

The Lin piao lui^^^^, by Liu Sun 9] t& of the T'ang period,^ 
who lived imder the reign of the Emperor Cao Tsufi (a.d. 889-904), 
contains the following information on a wild walnut: — 

"The slanting or glandular walnut {pHen ho Vao iS S ^) is pro- 
duced in the coimtry Can-pi fi ♦.^ Its kernel cannot be eaten. The 

1 Cf . Pelliot, Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. IX, p. 223. 

* Fu-liu, usually written ^ S, is first mentioned in the Wu lu ti It ci ^^j^ 
S iS by Can Pu 56 ® of the third or beginning of the fourth century (see Ts'i 
min yao Su, Ch, 10, p. 32). It refers to Piper hetle (Bretschneider, Chinese Recorder, 
Vol. Ill, 1 87 1, p. 264; C. Imbault-Huart, Le b^tel, T'oung Pao, Vol. V, 1894, 
p. 313). The Chinese name is a transcription corresponding to Old Annamese 
bldu; Mi^son, Uy-ld, and Hung plu; Khmer m-luw, Stien m-lu, Bahnar bo-lou, Kha, 
b-lu ("betel"). 

' See above, p. 264. 

* A jocular interpretation by punning Vao ^ upon Vao ^ (both in the same 

*» Author of the lost Hu pen ts*ao '^ :^^ (BRETSCHNEroER, Bot. Sin., pt. i, 
p. 45). He appears to have been the first who drew attention to the wild walnut. 
His work is repeatedly quoted in the Pei hu lu. 

* Pei hu lu, Ch. 3, p. 4 b (ed. of Lu Sin-yuan). 
^ Ch. B, p. 5 (ed. of Wu yin tien). 

® The two characters are wrongly inverted in the text of the work. In the text 
of the Pei hu lu that follows, the name of this country is given in the form Can-pel 
(^ 1^. From the mention of the Malayan Po-se in the same text, it follows that 

The Walnut 269 

Hu S9 people gather these nuts in abundance, and send them to the 
Chinese officials, designating them as curiosities ^^. As to their 
shape, they are thin and pointed; the head is slanting like a sparrow's 
beak. If broken and eaten, the kernel has a bitter taste resembling that 
of the pine-seeds of Sin-ra ft ^ ^ -^.^ Being hot by nature, they are 
employed as medicine, and do not differ from the kernels of northern 

The Pei hu lu^ likewise mentions the same variety of glandular wal- 
nut ip'ten ho-Vao) as growing in the country Can-pei fi $>, shaped 
like the crescent of the moon, gathered and eaten by the Po-se,^ having 
a very fine fragrance, stronger than the peach-kernels of China, but of 
the same effect in the healing of disease. 

The species here described may be identical with Juglans catha- 
yenstSj called the Chinese butternut, usually a bush, but in moist 
woods forming a tree from twelve to fifteen metres tall; but I do not 
know that this plant occurs in any Malayan region. With reference to 
Can-pi, however, it may be identical with the fruit of Canarium com- 
mune (family Burseraceae) , called in Malayan kanari, in Javanese kenari. 
J. Crawfurd,* who was not yet able to identify this tree, offers the 
following remarks: *'0f all the productions of the Archipelago the one 
which 3delds the finest edible oil is the kanari. This is a large handsome 
tree, which yields a nut of an oblong shape nearly of the size of a walnut. 
The kernel is as delicate as that of a filbert, and abounds in oil. This 

Can-pi is a Malayan territory probably to be located on Sumatra. For this reason 
I am inclined to think that Can-pi t^ ^ is identical with Can-pei yj ^ ; that is, 
Jambi, the capital of eastern Sumatra (Hirth and Rockhill, Chau Ju-kua, pp. 65, 
66; see further Groeneveldt, Notes on the Malay Archipelago, pp. 188, 196; and 
Gerini, Researches on Ptolemy's Geography, p. 565; Lin wai tai ta, Ch. 2, p. 12). 
From a phonetic point of view, however, the transcription ^ ^, made in the 
T'ang period, represents the ancient sounds *5an-pit, and would presuppose an 
original of the form *c$ambit, Sambir, or jambir, whereas ^ is without a final con- 
sonant. The country Can-pei is first mentioned under the year a.d. 852 {-j^ pf* sixth 
year), when Wu-sie-ho ^ 3B S ^.nd six men from there came to the Chinese Court 
with a tribute of local products {T*ai p'in hwan yti ki, Ch. 177, p. 15 b). A second 
embassy is on record in 871 (Pelliot, Bull, de lEcole frangaise, Vol. IV, p. 347). 

* Pinus koraiensis Sieb. et Zucc. (J. Matsumura, Shokubutsu mei-i, pp. 266-267, 
ed. 1915), in Japanese 6dsen-matsu ("Korean pine"); see also Stuart, Chinese 
Materia Medica, p. 333. Sin-ra (Japanese §in-ra, Siraki) is the name of the ancient 
kingdom of Silla, in the northern part of Korea. 

^ Ch. 3, p. 5 (ed. of Lu Sin-yuan). 

' S ®f certainly is here not Persia, for the Pei hu lu deals with the products 
of Kwah-tuh, Annam, and the countries south of China (Pelliot, Bull, de I'Ecole 
frangaise, Vol. IX, p. 223). See below, p. 468. The Pei hu lu has presumably served 
as the source for the text of the Lin piao lu i, quoted above. 

* History of the Indian Archipelago, Vol. I, p. 383. 

«7o Sino-Iranica 

is one of the most useful trees of the countries where it grows. The 
nuts are either smoked and dried for use, or the oil is expressed from 
them in their recent state. The oil is used for all culinary purposes, 
and is more palatable and finer than that of the coconut. The kernels, 
mixed up with a little sago meal, are made into cakes and eaten as 
bread. The kanari is a native of the same country with the sago tree, 
and is not found to the westward. In Celebes and Java it has been 
introduced in modem times through the mediiun of traffic." 

The Yu yan tsa isu^ speaks of a man hu Vao S ffl ^ as "growing 
in the kingdom of Nan-Cao S S in Yun-nan; it is as large as a flat 
conch, and has two shells of equal size; its taste is like that of the 
cultivated walnut. It is styled also 'creeper in the land of the Man' 
{Man iun Ven-tse If 't'JK^)." It will be remembered that Twan 
C'en-si, the author of this work, describes also the cultivated walnut 
(p. 264). 

The T^ai pHn yu Ian contains another text attributed to the Lin 
piao lu i relating to a wild walnut, which, however, is not extant in the 
edition of this work pubHshed in the collection Wu yin lien in 1775. 
This text is as follows: "The large walnut has a thick and firm shell. 
It is larger than that of the areca-nut.^ It has much meat, but little 
glumelle. It does not resemble the nuts found in northern China. It 
must be broken with an axe or hammer. The shell, when evenly 
smoothed over the bottom, is occasionally made into a seal, for the 
crooked structiire of the shell {ko P5) resembles the seal characters."' 

In the Lin wai iai ta^^iK ^,^ written by Cou K'u-fei JS i # 
in 1 178, mention is made, among the plants of southern China and 
Tonking, of a "stone walnut (H hu Vao S iS8 ft), which is like stone, 
has hardly any meat, and tastes like the walnut of the north." Again, 
a wild species is involved here. I have not found the term H hu Vao in 
any other author. 

The various names employed by the T'ang writers for the wild 

* Ch. 19, p. 9 b (ed. of Tsin tai pi Su); or Ch. 19, p. 9 a (ed. of Pai hat). 

* This sentence, as well as the first, agrees with the definition given by the Pei 
hu lu with reference to a wild walnut (above, p. 268). 

* T*ai p'in yu Ian, Ch. 971, p. 8 b. The same text is cited by the Pen ts*ao kan 
mu and the Ko ti kin yiian (Ch. 76, p. 5 b), which offer the reading ian hu Vao jlj 
S3 % ("wild walnut") instead of "large walnut." The Kwan k'iinfan p'u (Ch. 58, 
p. 26) also has arranged this text under the general heading "wild walnut." The 
Pen ts'ao kan mu opens it with the sentence, "In the southern regions there is a wild 
walnut." The restriction to South China follows also from the text as given in the 
T*ai pHn yH Ian. 

* Ch. 8, p. 10 b (ed. of Ci pu tsu Iai ts*uA Su). 

The Walnut 271 

varieties (pHen hu Vao, §an hu Vao, man hu Vao^ ia hu Vao)y combined 
with the fact that two authors describe both the varieties p'ten and 
iaw, raise the question whether this nomenclature does not refer to 
different plants, and whether, aside from the wild walnut, other nuts 
may not also be included in this group. In this respect it is of interest 
to note that the hickory, recently discovered in Ce-kian by F. N. 
Meyer, and determined by Sargent^ under the name Carya cathayensis, 
is said by Meyer to be called shan-gho-to in the colloquial language; 
and this evidently is identical with our San hu Vao, This certainly does 
not mean that this term refers exclusively to the hickory, but only 
that locally the hickory falls also within the category of §an hu Vao, 
The distribution of the hickory over China is not yet known, and the 
descriptions we have of iaw hu Vao do not refer to Ce-kian. 

In the P'aw !^an U ^ Ui ^, a description of the P'an mountains,* 
the term San ho Vao is given as a synonyme for the bark of Catalpa 
bungei (tsHu pH ^ S), which is gathered on this mountain for 
medicinal purposes, — presumably because the structure of this bark 
bears some superficial resemblance to that of a walnut. Wild walnuts, 
further, are mentioned as growing on Mount Si fu 2ufi ® 35 ^ Uj , 
forming part of the Ma-ku Mountains Mfe te ^J situated in Fu-^ou 
HSk #1 in the prefecture of Kien-6'an M, ^ My Kian-si Provinoe.' 

While the cultivated walnut was known in China during the fourth 
century under the Tsin dynasty, the wild species indigenous to south- 
em China was brought to the attention of scholars only several cen- 
turies later, toward the close of the T'ang period. This case fiutiishes 
an excellent object-lesson, in that it reveals the fallacies to which 
botanists and others are only too frequently subject in drawing con- 
clusions from mere botanical evidence as to cultivated plants. The 
favorite argtmientation is, that if, in a certain region, a wild and a 
corresponding cultivated species co-exist, the cultivated species is simply 
supposed to have been derived from the wild congener. This is a de- 
ceptive conclusion. The walnut (as well as the vine) of China offers a 

* Plantae Wilsonianae, Vol. Ill, p. 187. 

* Ch. 15, p. 2 b, of the edition published in 1755 by order of K'ien-lun. The 
P'an San is situated three or four days' journey east of Peking, in the province of 
Ci-li, the summit being crowned by an interesting Buddhist temple, and there being 
an imperial travelling-station at its foot. It was visited by me in September, 1901. 
F. N. Meyer (Agricultural Explorations in the Orchards of China, p. 52) says that 
in the Pangshan district east of Peking one may still find a few specimens of the real 
wild walnut growing in ravines among large bowlders in the mountains. 

* Ma-ku San U (Ch. 3, p. 6 b), written by members of the family Hwan g, and 
published in 1866 by the Tun t'ien iu wu J|^ ^ ^ g. These mountains contain 
thirty-six caves dedicated to the Taoist goddess Ma-ku. 

272 Sino-Iranica 

specific case apt to teach just the opposite: a wild walnut (probably in 
several species) is indigenous to China, nevertheless the species culti- 
vated in this area did not spring from domestic material, but from 
seeds imported from Iranian and Tibetan regions of Central Asia. 
The botanical dogma has been hurled against many deductions of 
Hehn: botanists proclaimed that vine, fig, laurel, and myrtle have been 
indigenous to Greece and Italy in a wild state since time immemorial; 
likewise pomegranate, cypress, and plantain on the Aegean Islands 
and in Greece; hence it was inferred that also the cultivations of these 
plants must have been indigenous, and could not have been introduced 
from the Orient, as insisted on by Hehn. This is nothing but a sophism: 
the botanists still owe us the proof that the cultivated species were 
really derived from indigenous stock. A species may indeed be indige- 
nous to a certain locality; and yet, as brought about by historical 
inter-relations of the peoples, the same or a similar species in the 
cultivated state may have been introduced from an outside quarter. 
It is only by painstaking historical research that the history of culti- 
vated plants can be exactly determined. Engler (above, p. 258) doubts 
the occurrence of the wild walnut in China, because a cultivated species 
was introduced there from Tibet ! It is plain now where such logic will 
lead us. Wilson deserves a place of honor among botanists, for, after 
close study of the subject in China, he recognized that "it is highly 
improbable that Juglans regia is indigenous to China." 

With reference to the walnut, conditions are the same in China as 
in the Mediterranean region: there also Juglans regia grows spontane- 
ously; still better, ctiltivated varieties reached the Greeks from Persia; 
the Greeks handed these on to the Romans; the Romans transplanted 
them to GalHa and Germania. Juglans regia occupies an extensive 
natural area throughout the temperate zone, stretching from the 
Mediterranean through Iran and the Himalaya as far as southern China 
and the Chinese maritime provinces. Despite this natural distribution, 
the fact remains that Iran has been the home and the centre of the 
best-cultivated varieties, and has transmitted these to Greece, to India, 
to Central Asia, and to China. 

Dr. T. Tanaka has been good enough to furnish the following infor- 
mation, extracted from Japanese literature, in regard to the walnut. 

"Translation of the notice on ko-to {kurumi), * walnut,' from a 
Japanese herbal Yamato honzo >^ fP # ^, by Kaibara Ekken ^ JH 
^^ (Ch. 10, p. 23), published in 1709. 

"Kurumi SB ^ (koto). There are three sorts of walnut. The first 
is called oni-gurumi ^ SfJ tffe (* devil walnut')- It is round in shape, 

The Walnut 273 

and has a thick, hard skin (shell), difficult to break; it has very little 
meat. In the Honzd (Pen ts'ao, usually referring to the Pen ts^ao kan 
mu) it is called Uj fi9 ^ (yama-gurumij ^an hu Vao). It is customary 
to open the shell by first baking it a little while in a bed of charcoal, 
and suddenly plunging it in water to cool off; then it is taken out of the 
fire, the shell is struck at the joint so that it is crushed, and the meat can 
be easily removed. The second variety is called kime-gurumi $S ^ 
/^ ^ ('demoiselle walnut'), and has a thin shell which is somewhat 
flat in form; it is very easily broken when struck with an iron hammer 
at the joint. It has plenty of meat, is rich in oil, and has a better taste 
than the one mentioned before. The names 'devil' and 'demoiselle' 
are derived from the appearance of the nuts, the one being rough and 
ugly, while the other is beautiful. 

"The third variety, which is believed to have come from Korea, 
has a thin shell, easily cracked, with very Httle meat, but of the best 
quaHty. Mori Sen :£ I5fe (author of the ^i liao pen ts'ao ^ ^ # ^, 
second half of the seventh century) says, 'The walnut, when eaten, 
increases the appetite, stimtdates the blood-circulation, and makes one 
appear glossy and elegant. It may be considered as a good medicine of 
high merit.' For further details refer to the prescriptions of the Pen 

"Translation of the notice on walnut from the Honzd komoku keimd 
(Ch. 25, pp. 26-27) by Ono Ranzan; revised edition by Iguci Bo§i 
of 1847 (first edition 1804). 

^%ot5j kurimi (walnut, Juglans regia L., var. sinensis Cas., ex Matsu- 
MURA, Shokubutsu Mei-i, ed. 1915, Vol. I, p. 189). 

"Japanese names: td-kurimi ('Chinese walnut'); ^dsen-kurimi 
(' Korean walnut ') . 

"Chinese synonymes: kaku-kwa (Jibutsu imei); ^insd kyoho (ibid.); 
inpei Unkwa {ibid.); kokaku (Jibutsu kon^u); ken^a {ibid.); to^HH 
{Kunmo jikwai) . 

"Names for kernels: kama {Rdya taisui-hen), 

"Other names for iaw hu Vao: sankakutd {Hokuto-roku); banzai-H 
{Jonan HoH); ^U {Kummo jikwai). 

"The real walnut originated in Korea, and is not commonly planted 
in Japan. 

"The leaves are larger than those of onigurumi (giant walnut, 
Juglans sieboldiana Maxim., ex Matsumura, I.e.). The shells are also 
larger, measuring more than i sun (1.193 inches) in length, and having 
more striations on the surface. The kernels are also larger, and have 
more folds. 

"The variety commonly planted in our country is onigurumi j the 

274 Sino-Iranica 

abbreviated name of which is kurumi; local names are ogurumi (Prov- 
ince of Kaga), okkoromi (eastern provinces), and so on. This giant wal- 
nut grows to a large tree. Its leaves are much like those of the lacquer- 
tree {Rhus vernificera DC.) and a little larger; they have finely serrated 
margins. Its new leaves come out in the spring. It flowers in the 

"The flower-clusters resemble chestnut-catkins, but are much 
larger, ranging in length from six to seven sun; they are yellowish white 
and pendulous. A single flower is very small, like that of a chestnut. 
The fruit is peach-shaped and green, but turns black when ripe. The 
shells are very hard and thick, and can be opened by being put on the 
fire for a little while; then insert a knife in the slit or fissure between the 
shells, which thus break. The kernels are good for human food, and 
are also used for feeding little birds. 

"One species called hime-gurumi ('demoiselle walnut,* Juglans 
cordijormis Maxim., ex Matsimiura, /.c), or me-gurumi ('female wal- 
nut,* from the province of Kaga), has thin shells with fewer furrows, and 
the kernels can easily be taken out. Under the heading §ukai {U-kie, 
explanatory information in the Pen ts*ao), this kind of walnut is de- 
scribed as 'a walnut produced in Cin§o (C'en-ts*ari, a place in Fufi- 
sian fu. Sen-si, China) with thin shells and many surfaces,* so we call 
it Unso-gurumi ((^'en-ts'an hu-Vao)} This variety is considered the 
best of all yama-gurumi {^an hu VaOy wild walnuts), because no other 
variety has such saddle-shaped kernels entirely removable from the 

"A species called karasu-gurumi ('crow walnut') is a product of the 
province of E6igo; it has a shell that opens by itself when ripe, and 
looks like a crow's bill when opened, whence it is called 'crow walnut.* 

"Another variety from 0§io-mura village of the Aidzu district is 
called gonroku-gurumi ('Gonroku's walnut'); it has a very small shell 
capable of being used as ojime ('string-fastener of a pouch*). This 
name is taken from the personal name of a man called Anazawa Gon- 
roku, in whose garden this variety originated. It is said that the same 
kind has been found in the province of Kai. 

"A variety found at No§iro, province of U§a (Uzen and Ugo), 
is much larger in size, and has thinner shells, easily crushed by hand, 
so that the kernels may be taken out without using any tools. The 
name of this variety is therefore teuU-gurumi ('hand-crushed walnut*).** 

The most interesting point in these Japanese notes is presented by 

* Compare above, p. 264. 

The Walnut 275 

the tradition tracing the cultivated walnut of Japan to Korea. The 
Koreans again have a tradition that walnuts reached them from China 
about fifteen hundred years ago in the days of the Silla Kingdom.* 
The Korean names for the fruit are derived from the Chinese: ho do 
being the equivalent of hu Vao, kan do corresponding to k*ian Vao, 
and ha do to ho Vao. The Geography of the Ming Dynasty states that 
walnuts are a product of Korea.* 

* Korea Review, Vol. II, 1902, p. 394. 

* Ta Min i t'un £i, Ch. 89 p. 4 b. 


5. A. DE Candolle^ sums up the result of his painstaking investi- 
gation of the diffusion of the pomegranate {Punica granatum, the sole 
genus with two species only within the family Punicaceae) as follows: 
"To conclude, botanical, historical, and philological data agree in show- 
ing that the modem species is a native of Persia and some adjacent 
countries. Its cultivation began in prehistoric time, and its early 
extension, first toward the west and afterwards into China, has caused 
its naturalization in cases which may give rise to errors as to its true 
origin, for they are frequent, ancient, and enduring." In fact, the 
pomegranate occurs spontaneously in Iran on stony ground, more 
particularly in the mountains of Persian Kurdistan, Baluchistan, and 
Afghanistan. I am in full accord with A. de CandoUe's opinion, which, 
as will be seen, is signally corroborated by the investigation that fol- 
lows, and am not in the least disturbed by A. Engler's view^ that the 
pomegranate occurs wild in Greece and on the islands of the 
Grecian Archipelago, and that, accordingly, it is indigenous in anterior 
Asia and part of the Balkan Peninsula, while its propagation in Italy 
and Spain presumably followed its cultivation in historical times. First, 
as stated also by G. Buschan,^ these alleged wild trees of Greece are 
not spontaneous, but have reverted from cultivation to a wild state."* 
Second, be this as it may, all ancient Greek accounts concerning the 
pomegranate relate exclusively to the cultivated, in no case to the 
wild species; and it is a grattiitous speculation of O. Schrader,^ who 
follows suit with Engler, that the Greek word pod was originally 
applied to the indigenous wild species, and subsequently transferred 
to the cultivated one. As will be shown hereafter, the Greek term is a 
loan-word. The naturalization of the fruit in the Mediterranean basin 
is, as A. DE Candolle justly terms it, an extension of the origi ^al 

1 Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 240. 

2 In Hehn's Kiilturpflanzen, p. 246 (8th ed.). 

' Vorgeschichtliche Botanik, p. 159. 

^ I am unable, however, to share Buschan's view that the wild specimens of Iran 
and north-western India also belong to this class; that area is too extensive to 
allow of so narrow an interpretation. In this case, Buschan is prejudiced in order 
to establish his own hypothesis of an indigenous origin of the tree in Arabia (see 

^ In Hehn's Kulturpflanzen, p. 247. 


The Pomegranate 277 

area; and Hehn is quite right in dating its cultivation on the part of 
the Greeks to a time after the Homeric epoch, and deriving it from Asia 

G. BuscHAN^ holds that Europe is out of the question as to the 
indigenous occurrence of the pomegranate, and with regard to Punica 
protopumca, discovered by Balfour on the Island of Socotra, proposes 
Arabia felix as the home of the tree; but he fails to explain the diffusion 
of the tree from this alleged centre. He opposes Loret's conclusions 
with reference to Egypt, where he believes that the tree was naturalized 
from the time of the Eighteenth Dynasty; but he overlooks the prin- 
cipal point made by Loret, namely, that the Egyptian name is a Semitic 
loan-word.^ Buschan's theory conflicts with all historical facts, and 
has not been accepted by any one. 

The pomegranate-tree is supposed to be mentioned in the Avesta 
imder the name habdnaepata,^ the wood serving as fuel, and the juice 
being employed in sacrificial libations; but this interpretation is solely 
given by the present Parsi of India and Yezd, and is not certain. The 
fruit, however, is mentioned in Pahlavi literature (above, p. 193). 

There are nttmerous allusions to the pomegranate of Persia on 
the part of Mohammedan authors and European travellers, and it 
would be of little avail to cite all these testimonies on a subject which 
is perfectly well known. Suffice it to refer to the Pars Ndmah^ and to 
give the following extract from A. Olearius:** — 

"Pomegranate-trees, almond-trees, and fig-trees grow there with- 
out any ordering or cultivation, especially in the Province of Kilan, 
where you have whole forests of them. The wild pomegranates, which 
you find almost every where, especially at Karabag, are sharp or sowrith. 

^ Vorgeschichtliche Botanik, p. 159. 

^ This fact was simultaneously and independently found by an American 
Egyptologist, Ch. E. Moldenke (tJber die in altagyptischen Texten erwahnten 
Baume, p. 115, doctor dissertation of Strassburg, Leipzig, 1887); so that Loret 
(Flore pharaonique, p. 76) said, "Moldenke est arrive presque en mdme temps que 
moi, et par des moyens diff^rents, ce qui donne une enti^re certitude h. notre d6- 
couverte commune, k la d6termination du nom ^gyptien de la grenade." See also 
C. Joret, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. I, p. 117. Buschan's book appeared in 1895; 
nevertheless he used Loret's work in the first edition of 1887, instead of the second 
of 1892, which is thoroughly revised and enlarged. 

' For instance, Yasna, 62, 9; 68, i. Cf. also A. V. W. Jackson, Persia Past 
and Present, p. 369. 

* G. Le Strange, Description of the Province of Pars in Persia, p. 38 (London, 
1912). See also d'Herbelot, Biblioth^que orientale, Vol. Ill, p. 188; and F. Spiegel, 
Eranische Altertimiskunde, Vol. I, p. 252. 

* Voyages of the Ambassadors to the Great Duke of Muscovy, and the King 
of Persia (1633-39), P- 232 (London, 1669). 

278 Sino-Iranica 

They take out of them the seed, which they call Nardan, wherewith 
they drive a great trade, and the Persians make use of it in their 
sawces, whereto it gives a colour, and a picquant tast, having been 
steep'd in water, and strain'd through a cloath. Sometimes they boyl 
the juyce of these Pomegranates, and keep it to give a colour to the 
rice, which they serve up at their entertainments, and it gives it withall 
a tast which is not unpleasant. . . . The best pomegranates grow in 
Jescht, and at Caswin, but the biggest, in Karabag." 

Mirza Haidar mentions a kind of pomegranate peculiar to Baluris- 
tan (Kafiristan), sweet, ptire, and full-flavored, its seeds being white 
and very transparent.^ 

"Grapes, melons, apples, and pomegranates, all fruits, indeed, are 
good in Samarkand."^ The pomegranates of Khojand were renowned 
for their excellence.^ The Emperor Jahangir mentions in his Memoirs 
the sweet pomegranates of Yazd and the subacid ones of Farrah, and 
says of the former that they are celebrated all over the world.* J. 
Crawfurd^ remarks, "The only good pomegranates which, indeed, 
I have ever met with are those brought into upper India by the cara- 
vans from eastern Persia." 

The Yu yan tsa tsu^ states that the pomegranates of Egypt ^Sf SI 
(Wu-se-li, *Mwir-si-li, Mirsir)^ in the country of the Arabs (T^-si, 
*Ta-d2ik) weigh up to five and six catties. 

Also in regard to the pomegranate we meet the tradition that its 
introduction into China is due to General Can K'ien. In the same 
manner as in the case of the walnut, this notion looms up only in 
post-Han authors. It is first recorded by Lu Ki 1^ S9, who lived under 
the Western Tsin dynasty (a.d. 265-313), in his work Yii ti yiin iw 
JR ^ S #. This text has been handed down in the TsH min yao iw 
of Kia Se-niu of the sixth century.^ There it is said that Can K'ien, 
while an envoy of the Han in foreign countries for eighteen years, 
obtained Vu-lin W ^, this term being identical with nan-H-Uu $ ^ 
tS. This tradition is repeated in the Po wu ci^ of Can Hwa and in the 

1 Elias and Ross, Tarikh-i-Rashidi, p. 386. 

* A. S. Beveridge, Memoirs of Babur, p. 77. 

» Ihid., p. 8. They are also extolled by Ye-lu C'u-ts'ai (Bretschneider, Mediae- 
val Researches, Vol. I, p. 19). 

* H. M. Elliot, History of India as told by Its Own Historians, Vol. VI, p. 348 . 

* History of the Indian Archipelago, Vol. I, p. 433. 

* ^ ^ Ch. ID, p. 4 b (ed. of Tsin tax pi lu). 

^ Old Persian Mudraya, Hebrew Mizraim, Syriac Mezroye. 

* Ch. 4, p. 14 b (new ed., 1896). 

* See above, p. 258. 

The Pomegranate 379 

Tu i U M M A^, written by Li Yu ^ t (or Li Yuan X) of the T'ang 
dynasty. Another formal testimony certifying to the acceptance of 
this creed at that period comes from Fun Yen t^" ffi of the T'ang in 
his Fun H wen kien H ^4" S ffi Mi 12 ,^ who states that Can K'ien 
obtained in the Western Countries the seeds of H-Uu ^ 1® and alfalfa 
(mU'Su)j and that at present these are to be found -everywhere in 
China. Under the Sung this tradition is repeated by Kao C'efi ^ ^.^ 
C'en Hao-tse, in his Hwa kin,^ pubhshed in 1688, states it as a cold- 
blooded fact that the seeds of the pomegranate came from the country 
Nan-si or An-si (Parthia), and that Can K*ien brought them back. 
There is nothing to this effect in Can K'ien's biography, nor is the 
pomegranate mentioned in the Annals of the Han.* The exact time of 
its introduction cannot be ascertained, but the tree is on record no earlier 
than the third and fourth centuries a.d.^ ^ 

Li Si-6en ascribes the term nan-H-liu to the Pie lu ^9 ^, but he 
cites no text from this ancient work, so that the case is not clear.* 
The earliest author whom he quotes regarding the subject is T'ao 
Hufi-kin (a.d. 452-536), who says, "The pomegranate, particularly as 
regards its blossoms, is charming, hence the people plant the tree in 
large numbers. It is also esteemed, because it comes from abroad. 
There are two varieties, the sweet and the sour one, only the root of 
the latter being used by physicians." According to the TsH min yao iw, 
Ko Hun M ^ oi the fourth century, in his Pao p*u tse tS ^^h ?, speaks 
of the occurrence of bitter liu ^ IS on stony mountains. These, indeed, 

1 Ch. 7, p. I b (ed. of Ki fu ts'uri Su), 

' Si wu ki yiian ^ ^ ffi J^ (ed. of Si yin hiian ts'un Su), Ch. 10, p. 34 b. 

' Ch. 3, p. 37, edition of 1783; see above, p. 259. 

* The Can-K'ien legend is repeated without criticism by Bretschneider 
(Bot. Sin., pt. I, p. 25; pt. 3, No. 280), so that A. de Candolle (Origin of Cultivated 
Plants, p. 238) was led to the erroneous statement that the pomegranate was intro- 
duced into China from Samarkand by Can K'ien, a century and a half before the 
Christian era. The same is asserted by F. P. Smith (Contributions towards the 
Materia Medica of China, p. 176), G. A. Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 361), 
and HiRTH {T'oung Pao, Vol. VI, 1895, p. 439). 

'^ It is mentioned in the Kin kwei yao Ho (Ch. c, p. 27) of the second century a.d., 
"Pomegranates must not be eaten in large quantity, for they injure man's lungs." 
As stated (p. 205), this may be an interpolation in the original text. 

• The Pie lu is not quoted to this effect in the Cen lei pen ts*ao (Ch. 22, p. 39), 
but the Ci wu min U Vu k'ao (Ch. 15, p. 102; and 32, p. 36 b) gives two different 
extracts from this work relating to our fruit. In one, its real or alleged medical prop- 
erties are expounded; in the other, different varieties are enumerated, while not a 
word is said about foreign origin. I am convinced that in this form these two texts 
were not contained in the Pie lu. The question is of no consequence, as the work 
itself is lost, and cannot be dated exactly. All that can be said with certainty is that 
it existed prior to the time of T'ao Hun-kin. 

28o Sino-Iranica 

are the particular places where the pomegranate thrives. Su Sun of 
the Sung period states that the pomegranate was originally grown in 
the Western Countries (Si yiiM ^), and that it now occurs everywhere; 
but neither he nor any other author makes a positive statement as to 
the time and exact place of origin. The Yao sin lun^ Pen ts'ao H ij 
and Pen ts'ao yen i^ give merely a botanical notice, but nothing of his- 
torical interest. 

The pomegranate (H-liu) is mentioned in the "Poem on the Capital 
of Wu" ^ ?P ® by Tso Se & ^^ who lived in the third centtuy under 
the Wu dynasty (a.d. 222-280). P'an Yo M S, a poet of the fourth 
century a.d., says, ''Pomegranates are the most singular trees of the 
empire and famous fruits of the Nine Provinces.^ A thousand seed- 
cases are enclosed by the same membrane, and what looks Hke a single 
seed in fact is ten." 

The Tsin Lun nan kH ku ^u S H ^ ^ S Sfe ("Annotations on 
the Conditions of the period Lufi-nan [a.d. 397-402] of the Tsin Dy- 
nasty") contains the following note:^ "The pomegranates (nan H 
liu) of the district Lin-yuan Wt Hii in Wu-lin ^ W.^ are as large as cups; 
they are not sour to the taste. Each branch bears six fruits." 

Lu Hui l^iH of the Tsin dynasty, in his Ye ^un ki H^ 4* Ifi,^ states 
that in the park of §i Hu ^ ^ there were pomegranates with seeds as 
large as cups, and they were not sour. Si Hu or Si Ki-lufi ^ ^ tl ruled 
from a.d. 335 to 349, under the appellation T'ai Tsu :;^ jffi. of the Hou 
Cao dynasty, as "regent celestial king" {kii-^e tHen wan), and shifted 
the capital to Ye ^, the present district of Lin-($afi ^ S, in the pre- 
fecture of Cafi-te ^ ^ in Ho-nan.^ 

The pomegranate is mentioned in the Ku kin ^w "& '^ 1&J written 
by Ts'ui Pao SI3 during the middle of the fourth century, with 
reference to the pumelo W (Citrus grandis), the fruit of which is com- 
pared in shape with the pomegranate. The TsH min yao iw (I.e.) gives 
rules for the planting of pomegranates. 

1 Ch. 18, p. 7 (ed. of Lu Sin-jman); the other texts see in Cen lei pen ts'ao, I. c. 

^ ^ ffl , the ancient division of China under the Emperor Yu. 

' T'ai pHn yii Ian, Ch. 970, p. 4 b. Regarding the department of records styled 
k'i ku 6u, see The Diamond, p. 35. In the Yiian kien lei han (Ch. 402, p. 2) the 
same text is credited to the SuA Su. 

* In Hu-nan Province. 

^ Ed. of Wu yin Hen, p. 12. 

'Regarding his history, see L. Wieger, Textes historiques, pp. 1095-1100. 
Bretschneider's (Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 211) note, that, besides the Ye lun ki of Lu 
Hui, there is^another work of the same name by Si Hu, is erroneous; Si Hu is simply 
the "hero" of the Ye tun ki. 

' Ch. c, p. I (ed. of Han Wei ts'uti Su or Kifu ts*ufi Su). Cf. also below, p. 283. 

The Pomegranate 281 

The Annals of the Liu Sung Dynasty, a.d. 420-477 {Sun^u), contain 
the following account: ''At the close of the period Yiian-kia JC M 
(a.d. 424-453), when T'ai Wu (a.d. 424-452) ::;fc ^ of the Wei dynasty 
conquered the city Ku WL^,^ he issued orders to search for sugar- 
cane and pomegranates {nan U liu). Can C'ari 5M ^ said that pome- 
granates (H-liu) come from Ye." This is the same locality as mentioned 

The Sian kwo ki X S %^ reports that in the district of Lufi-kafi 
tl 1^ ^^ there are good pomegranates {U liu). These various examples 
illustrate that in the beginning the tree was considered as peculiar to 
certain locaHties, and that accordingly a gradual dissemination must 
have taken place. Apparently no ancient Chinese author is informed 
as to the locality from which the tree originally came, nor as to the how 
and when of the transplantation. 

The Kwan U M JS, written by Kwo Yi-kufi IP ft # prior to a.d. 
527, as quoted in the TsH min yao ^u, discriminates between two varie- 
ties of pomegranate (nan U liu), a sweet and a sour one, in the same 
manner as T'ao Him-kifi.* This distinction is already made by Theo- 
phrastus.^ As stated above, there was also a bitter variety.^ 

It is likewise a fact of great interest that we have an isolated instance 
of the occurrence of a pomegranate-tree that reverted to the wild state. 
The La ^an ki /S \\\ W contains this notice: "On the summit of the 
Hiafi-lu fufi # ffl ^ (' Censer-Top ') there is a huge rock on which 
several people can sit. There grows a wild pomegranate (iaw H-liu 
llj ^ IS) drooping from the rock. In the third month it produces blos- 
soms. In color these resemble the [cultivated] pomegranate, but they 

^ Modem Cen-tin fu in Ci-li Province. 

2 Thus in Tai pHn yii Ian, Ch. 970, p. 5 b; the Ts^i min yao lu (Ch. 4, p. 14) 
ascribes the same text to the Kin k'ou ki '^ P |E- 

' At present the district which fonns the prefectural city of §un-te in Ci-H 

* Above, p. 279. . 

^ Historia plantanim, II. 11, 7. 

^ Pliny (XIII, 113) distinguishes five varieties, — dulcia, acria, mixta, acida, 

^ T'ai p'in yii Ian, Ch. 970, p. 5. The Lu Mountain is situated in Kian-si Prov- 
ince, twenty-five li south of Kiu-kian. A work under the title Lii San ki was written 
by C'en Liri-ku |^ ^ :^ in the eleventh century (Wylie, Notes on Chinese Liter- 
ature, p. 55) ; but, as the T'ai pHn yii Ian was published in a.d. 983, the question here 
must be of an older work of the same title. In fact, there is a Lii San ki by Kin §i 
;^ ^ of the Hou Cou dynasty; and the Yiian kien lei han (Ch. 402, p. 2) ascribes 
the same text to the Cou Kin $i Lii san ki. The John Crerar Library of Chicago 
(No. 156) possesses a Lii san siao ti in 24 chapters, written by Ts'ai Yin ^ '^ and 
published in 1824. 

282 Sino-Iranica 

are smaller and pale red. When they open, they display a purple calyx 
of bright and attractive hues." A poem of Li Te-yii ^ ^ ^ (787-849) 
opens with the words, "In front of the hut where I live there is a wild 

Fa Hien S ffl, the celebrated Buddhist traveller, tells in his Fu kwo 
ki ^ 12 (''Memoirs of Buddhist Kingdoms"), written about a.d. 
420, that, while travelling on the upper Indus, the flora differed from 
that of the land of Han, excepting only the bamboo, pomegranate, and 
sugar-cane.* This passage shows that Fa Hien was familiar with that 
tree in China. Huan Tsari observed in the seventh century that pome- 
granates were grown ever3rwhere in India.' Soleiman (or whoever may 
be the author of this text), writing in a.d. 851, emphasizes the abun- 
dance of the fruit in India.* Ibn Batuta says that the pomegranates of 
India bear fruit twice a year, and emphasizes their fertility on the 
Maldive Islands.*^ Seedless pomegranates came to the household of the 
Emperor Akbar from Kabul.* 

The pomegranate occurred in Fu-nan (Camboja), according to the 
Nan TsH iw or History of the Southern Ts*i (a.d. 479-501), compiled 
by Siao Tse-hien in the beginning of the sixth century.^ It is mentioned 
again by Cou Ta-kwanof the Yuan dynasty, in his book on the "Customs 
of Camboja."* In Hafi-Sou, large and white pomegranates were styled 
yU liu ^ tS ("jade" liu)^ while the red ones were regarded as inferior or 
of second quality." 

The following ancient terms for the pomegranate, accordingly, are 
on record: — 

(i) '^ # fu-lifiy *du-lim. Aside from the Po wu U^ this tenri is 
used by the Emperor Yuan of the Liang dynasty in a eulogy of the 
fruit. ^° HiRTH^^ identified this word with an alleged Indian darim; and, 
according to him. Can K'ien must have brought the Indian name to 

^ Li wei kun pie tsi, Ch. 2, p. 8 {Ki fu ts'un Su, Vao 10). 

* Cf. J. Legge, a Record of Buddhistic Kingdoms, p. 24. 

' Ta T'an si yii ki, Ch. 2, p. 8 b (S. Beal, Buddhist Records of the Western 
World, Vol. I, p. 88). 

* M. Reinaud, Relation des voyages, Vol. I, p. 57. 

^ Defr6mery and Sanguinetti, Voyages d'Ibn Batoutah, Vol. Ill, p. 129. 

« H. Blochmann, Ain I Akbari, Vol, I, p. 65. 

^ Pelliot, Le Fou-nan, Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. Ill, p. 262. 

' Pelliot, ibid., Vol. II, p. 168. 

» Mon Han /« ^ ^ H by Wu Tse-mu :^ g t$C of the Sung (Ch. 18, p. 5 b; 
ed. of Ci pu tsu lai ts^un Su). 

^^ Yiian kien lei han, Ch. 402, p. 3 b. Further, in the lost Hu pen ts*ao, as follows 
from a quotation in a note to the Pei hu lu (Ch. 3, p. 12). 

" Toung Paoy Vol. VI, 1895, p. 439. 

The Pomegranate 283 

China. How this would have been possible, is not explained by him. 
The Sanskrit term for the pomegranate (and this is evidently what 
Hirth hinted at) is dddima or ddlima, also dddimva^ which has passed 
into Malayan as dellma} It is obvious that the Chinese transcription 
bears some relation to this word; but it is equally obvious that the 
Chinese form cannot be fully explained from it, as it leads only to 
*du-lim, not, however, to dalim. There are two possibilities: the Chinese 
transcription might be based either on an Indian vernacular or 
Apabhrarhga form of a type like *dulim, *dudim,^ or on a word of the 
same form belonging to some Iranian dialect. The difficulty of the 
problem is enhanced by the fact that no ancient Iranian word for the 
fruit is known to us.' It appears certain, however, that no Sanskrit 
word is intended in the Chinese transcription, otherwise we should 
meet the latter in the Sanskrit-Chinese glossaries. The fact remains 
that these, above all the Fan yi min yi tsi, do not contain the word 
Vu-lin; and, as far as I know, Chinese Buddhist literature offers no 
allusion to the pomegranate. Nor do the Chinese say, as is usually 
stated by them in such cases, that the word is of Sanskrit origin; the 
only positive information given is that it came along with General 
Cafi K'ien, which is to say that the Chinese were under the im- 
pression that it hailed from some of the Iranian regions visited by him. 
*Dulim, dulima, or *durim, durima, accordingly, must have been a 
designation of the pomegranate in some Iranian language. 

(2) ^9- ^ tan-lioy *dan-zak, dan-yak, dan-n'iak. This word appears 
in the Ku kin iu^ and in the Yu yan tsa tsu} Apparently it represents a 
transcription, but it is not stated from which language it is derived. In 
my estimation, the foundation is an Iranian word still unknown to us, 
but congeners of which we glean from Persian ddnak C* small grain"), 

* J. Crawfurd (History of the Indian Archipelago, Vol. I, p. 433) derives this 
word from the Malayan numeral five, with reference to the five cells into which the 
fruit is divided. This, of course, is a mere popular etymology. There is no doubt 
that the fruit was introduced into the Archipelago from India; it occurs there only 
cultivated, and is of inferior quality. On the Philippines it was only introduced 
by the Spaniards (A. de Morga, Philippine Islands, p. 275, ed. of Hakluyt Society). 

* The vernacular forms known to me have the vowel a; for instance, Hindustani 
darim, Bengali idlim, dalim or ddrim; Newari, dhd(}e. The modern Indo-Aryan 
languages have also adopted the Persian word andr. 

* In my opinion, the Sanskrit word is an Iranian loan-word, as is also Sanskrit 
karaka, given as a synonyme for the pomegranate in the Amarako§a. The earliest 
mention of dddima occurs in the Bower Manuscript; the word is absent in Vedic 

* At least it is thus stated in cyclopaedias; but the editions of the work, as 
reprinted in the Han Wei ts*un Su and Kifu ts'un Su, do not contain this term. 

* Ch. 18, p. 3 b (ed. of Pai hat). 

284 Sino-Iranica 

ddna ("grain, berry, stone of a fruit, seed of grain or fruit"), ddngu 
("kind of grain"), Sina danu ("pomegranate");' Sanskrit dhanika, 
dhanydka, or dhamyaka ("coriander"; properly "grains"). The no- 
tion conveyed by this series is the same as that underlying Latin 
granatuntf from granum ("grain"); cf. Anglo-Saxon cornceppel and 
English pomegranate ("apple made up of grains"). 

(3) $ ^ t§ nan H liu or ^ f§ H liu. This transcription is generally 
taken in the sense "the plant liu of the countries Nan and Si, or of the 
country Nan- si." This view is expressed in the Po wu U, which, as 
stated, also refers to the Cafi-K'ien legend, and to the term t'u-Un, 
and continues that this was the seed of the liu of the countries Nan 
and Si; hence, on the return of Cafi K'ien to China, the name nan-H-liu 
was adopted.^ Bretschneider intimates that Nan and Si were little 
realms dependent on K'an at the time of the Han. Under the T'ang, 
the name Nan referred to Bukhara, and Si to Taskend; but it is hardly 
credible that these two geographical names (one does not see for what 
reason) should have been combined into one, in order to designate 
the place of provenience of the pomegranate. It is preferable to assume 
that ^ ^ nan H, *an-sek, an-sak, ar-sak, represents a single name 
and answers to Arsak, the name of the Parthian dynasty, being on a 
par with $ S nan-si, *Ar-sik, and 3c ® nan-si, *Ar-sai. In fact, 
^ ^ is the best possible of these transcriptions. We should expect, 
of course, to receive from the Chinese a specific and interesting story as 
to how and when this curious name, which is unique in their botanical 
nomenclature, was transmitted;^ but nothing of the kind appears to 
be on record, or the record, if it existed, seems to have been lost. It 
is manifest that also the plant-name liu (*riu, r'u) presents the tran- 
scription of an Iranian word, and that the name in its entirety was 
adopted by the Chinese from an Iranian community outside of Parthia, 
which had received the tree or shrub from a Parthian region, and there- 
fore styled it "Parthian pomegranate." It is not likely that the tree 
was transplanted to China directly from Parthia; we have to assume 
rather that the transplantation was a gradual process, in which the 

1 W. Leitner, Races and Languages of Dardistan, p. 17. 

^ It is not correct, as asserted by Bretschneider {Chinese Recorder, 1871, 
p. 222), to say that this definition emanates from Li Si-^en, who, in fact, quotes 
only the Po wu U, and presents no definition of his own except that the word liu 
means S/*« ("goitre"); this, of course, is not to be taken seriously. In Jehol, a 
variety of pomegranate is styled hai '^ liu (O. Franke, Beschreibung des Jehol- 
Gebietes, p. 75); this means literally, ''liu from the sea," and signifies as much as 
"foreign liu.'* 

^Cf. nan-si hiafi 3c <& § ("Parthian incense") as designation for styrax 
benzoin (p. 464). 

The Pomegranate 285 

Iranian colonies outside of Iran proper, those of Sogdiana and Turkis- 
tan, played a prominent part. We know the Sogdian word for the 
pomegranate, which is written nW^kh, and the reading of which has 
been reconstructed by R. Gauthiot^ in the form *narak(a), developed 
from *anar-aka. This we meet again in Persian andr, which was adopted 
in the same form by the Mongols, while the Uigur had it as nara. At 
all events, however, it becomes necessary to restore, on the basis of the 
Chinese transcription, an ancient *riu, *ru, of some Iranian dialect. 
This lost Iranian word, in my opinion, presents also the foundation of 
Greek p6a or pota, — the origin of which has been hitherto unexplained or 
incorrectly explained,^ — and the Semitic names, Hebrew rimmon, 
Arabic rummdnj Amharic rumdnj Syriac rumdno^ Aramaic rummdna, 
from which Egyptian arhmdni or anhmdnt (Coptic erman or herman) 
is derived.^ 

(4) ^^S !^o-Uuj *zak (yak, n'iak)-liu (riu). This hybrid compound, 
formed of elements contained in 2 and 3, is found in the dictionary 
Kwan ya M S8, written by Can Yi 51 ti about a.d. 265.* It is also 
employed by the poet P'an Yo of the fourth century, mentioned above.** 
Eventually also this transcription might ultimately be traced to an 
Iranian prototype. Japanese zakuro is based on this Chinese form.* 

While the direct historical evidence is lacking, the Chinese names of 
the tree point clearly to Iranian languages. Moreover, the tree itself 
is looked upon by the Chinese as a foreign product, and its first intro- 
duction into China appears to have taken place in the latter part of 
the third century a.d. 

In my opinion, the pomegranate-tree was transplanted to India, 

1 Essai sur le vocalisme du sogdien, p. 49. Of. also Armenian nrneni for the 
tree and nurn for the fruit. 

^The etymologies of the Greek word enumerated by Schrader (in Hehn, 
Kulturpflanzen, p. 247) are so inane and far-fetched that they do not merit dis- 
cussion. It is not necessary, of course, to hold that an immediate transmission of 
the Persian word took place, but we must look to a gradual propagation and to 
missing links by way of Asia Minor. According to W. Muss-Arnolt {Transactions 
Am. Phil. Assoc, Vol. XXIII, 1892, p. no), the Cyprian form f!>v8La forbids all 
connection with the Hebrew. It is not proved, however, that this dialectic word 
has any connection with ^6a; it may very well be an independent local development. 

' V. LoRET, Flore pharaonique, p. 76. Portuguese roma, romeira, from the 
Arabic; Anglo-Saxon read-cBppel. 

* This is the date given by Watters (Essays on the Chinese Language, p. 38). 
Bretschneider (Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 164) fixes the date at about 227-240. 

^ T'an lei han, Ch. 183, p. 9. 

" Written also f§ !§. E. Kaempfer (Amoenitates exoticae, p. 800) already 
mentions this term as dsjakurjo, vulgo sakuro, with the remark, "Rara est hoc 
coelo et fructu ingrato." 

286 Sino-Iranica 

likewise from Iranian regions, presumably in the first centuries of 
our era. The tree is not mentioned in Vedic, Pali, or early Sanskrit 
literature; and the word ddlima, dddima, etc., is traceable to Iranian 
*dulim(a), which we have to reconstruct on the basis of the Chinese 
transcription. The Tibetans appear to have received the tree from 
Nepal, as shown by their ancient term hal-poi seu-sin {"seu tree of 
Nepal ")'^ From India the fruit spread to the Malayan Archipelago 
and Camboja. Both Cam daltm and Khmer tatim^ are based on the 
Sanskrit word. The variety of pomegranate in the kingdom of Nan-6ao 
in Yiin-nan, with a skin as thin as paper, indicated in the Yu yah tsa 
tsu,^ may also have come from India. J. Anderson* mentions pome- 
granates as products of Yiin-nan. 

Pomegranate-wine was known throughout the anterior Orient at 
an early date. It is pointed out under the name dsis in Cant. VIII, 2 
(Vulgata: mustum) and in the Egyptian texts under the name kdeh-it} 
Dioscorides* speaks of pomegranate-wine (potrris olvos). Ye-lu C'u- 
ts*ai, in his Siyulu (account of his journey to Persia^ 1219-24), speak- 
ing of the pomegranates of Khojand, which are **as large as two fists 
and of a sour-sweet taste," says that the juice of three or five fruits is 
pressed out into a vessel and makes an excellent beverage.^ In the 
country Tun-sun ©S (Tenasserim) there is a wine-tree resembling 
the pomegranate; the juice of its flowers is gathered and placed in jars, 
whereupon after several d^ys it turns into good wine.* The inhabitants 
of Hai-nan made use of pomegranate-flowers in fermenting their wine.* 
I have not found any references to pomegranate-wine prepared by the 
Chinese, nor is it known to me that they actually make such wine. 

It is known that the pomegranate, because of its exuberant seeds, 
is regarded in China as an emblem alluding to numerous progeny; it 
has become an anti-race-suicide symbol. The oldest intimation of this 
symbolism looms up in the Pel H ^b ife, where it is told that two pome- 
granates were presented to King Nan-te 3^ ^ of Ts'i ^ on the occasion 

• This matter has been discussed by me in T'oung Pao, 1916, pp. 408-410. In 
Lo-lo we have sa-hu-se in the A-hi dialect and se-bu-se in Nyi. Sa or se means "grain " 
(corresponding to Tibetan sa in sa-bon, "seed"). The last element se signifies 
"tree." The fruit is se-bu-ma (ma, "fruit"). 

■ Aymonier and Cabaton, Dictionnaire ^am-fran^ais, p. 220. 

• Ch. 18, p. 3 b. 

• Report on the Expedition to Western Yunan, p. 93 (Calcutta, 1871). 

• V. LoRET, Flore pharaonique, pp. 77, 78. 

• V, 34. 

' Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, Vol. I, p. 19. 

• Lian Su, Ch. 54, p. 3. 

• HiRTH, Chau Ju-kua, p. 177. 

The Pomegranate 287 

of his marriage to the daughter of Li Tsu-§ou $ IB Jft. The latter 
explained that the pomegranate encloses many seeds, and implies the 
wish for many sons and grandsons. Thus the fruit is still a favorite 
marriage gift or plays a role in the marriage feast.^ The same is the 
case in modem Greece. Among the Arabs, the bride, when dismounting 
before the tent of the bridegroom, receives a pomegranate, which she 
smashes on the threshold, and then flings the seeds into the interior of 
the tent.* The Arabs would have a man like the pomegranate, — bitter- 
sweet, mild and affectionate with his friends in security, but tempered 
with a just anger if the time call him to be a defender in his own or in 
his neighbor's cause.' 

* See, for instance, H. DoRf , Recherches sur les superstitions en Chine, pt. i 
Vol. II, p. 479. 

2 A. MusiL, Arabia Petraea, Vol. Ill, p. 191. 

^ C. M. Doughty, Travels in Arabia Deserta, Vol. I, p. 564. 


6. In A. DE Candolle's book^ we read, "Chinese works seem to 
show that sesame was not introduced into China before the Christian 
era. The first certain mention of it occurs in a book of the fifth or sixth 
century, entitled TsH min yao iw. Before this there is confusion between 
the name of this plant and that of flax, of which the seed also yields an 
oil, and which is not very ancient in China." Bretschneider is cited as 
the source for this information. It was first stated by the latter that, 
according to the Pen ts^ao, hu ma ffl M {Sesamum orientale) was brought 
by Can K'ien from Ta-yuan.^ In his ''Botanicon Sinicum"^ he asserts 
positively that hu ma, or foreign hemp, is a plant introduced from west- 
em Asia in the second century b.c.^ The same dogma is propounded 
by Stuart.^ 

All that there is to this theory amounts to this. T'ao Hufi-ldn 
(a.d. 451-536) is credited in the Pen ts^ao kan mu^ with the statement 
that ^'huma JK M ('hemp of the Hu') originally grew in Ta-yuan 
(Fergana) ^ ^i<,Mj and that it hence received the name hu ma 
('Iranian hemp')." He makes no reference to Cafi K'ien or to the time 
when the introduction must have taken place; and to every one 
familiar with Chinese records the passage must evoke suspicion through 
its lack of precision and chronological and other circumstantial evi- 
dence. The records regarding Ta-yiian do not mention hu ma, nor 
does this term ever occtir in the Annals. Now, T'ao Hufi-kifi was a 
Taoist adept, a drug-hunter and alchemist, an immortality fiend; he 
never crossed the boundaries of his country, and certainly had no 
special information concerning Ta-yuan. He simply drew on his 
imagination by arguing, that, because mu-su (alfalfa) and grape sprang 

^ Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 420. 

2 Chinese Recorder, 1871, p. 222; adopted by Hirth, T*oung Pao, Vol. VI, 1895, 
p. 439, and maintained again in Journal Am. Or. Soc, 191 7, p. 92. 

3 Pt. II, p. 206. 

* Ibid., p. 204, he says, however, that the Pen ts'ao does not speak of flax, and 
that its introduction must be of more recent date. This conflicts with his statement 

^ Chinese Materia Medica, p. 404. 

^ Ch. 22, p. I. Likewise in the eariier CeH lei pen ts'ao, Ch. 24, p. i b. 

^ This tradition is reproduced without any reference in the Pen ts'ao yen i of 
1 1 16 (Ch. 20, p. I, ed. of Lu Sin-yiian). 


Sesame and Flax 289 

from Ta-yuan (that is, a Hu country), hu ma also, being a Hu plant, 
must likewise have emanated from that quarter. Such vagaries 
cannot be accepted as history. All that can be inferred from the passage 
in question is that T'ao Hufi-kifi may have been familiar with hu ma. 
Li Si-6en, quoting the Mon kH pi Van ^ ^ * ie by Sen Kwa ft W 
of the eleventh century, says, *'In times of old there was in China only 
'great hemp' ta ma i<,M {Cannabis sativa) growing in abundance. 
The envoy of the Han, Can K'ien, was the first to obtain the seeds of 
oil-hemp Yt^ M""" from Ta-yuan; hence the name hu ma in distinction 
from the Chinese species ta maJ* The Can-K'ien tradition is further 
voiced in the T'ww Si of Cefi Tsiao (1108-62) of the Sung.^ The T'ai 
pHn yil lan,^ published in a.d. 983, quotes a Pen ts'ao kin of unknown 
date as saying that Cafi K'ien obtained from abroad hu ma and hu tou.^ 
This legend, accordingly, appears to have arisen under the Sung (a.d. 
960-1278); that is, over a millennium after Can K'ien's lifetime. And 
then there are thinking scholars who would make us accept such stuff 
as the real history of the Han dynasty! 

In the T'ang period this legend was wholly unknown: the T'an Pen 
ts'ao does not allude to any introduction of hu ma, nor does this work 
speak of Can K'ien in this connection. 

A serious book like the T'u kin pen ts*ao of Su Sun, which for the 
first time has also introduced the name yu ma ("oil hemp"), says only 
that the plant originally grew in the territory of the Hu, that in appear- 
ance it is like hemp, and that hence it receives the name hu ma. 

Unfortunately it is only too true that the Chinese confound Sesamum 
indicum (family Pedaliaceae) and Linum usitatissimum (family Linaceae) 
in the single term hu ma (''Iranian hemp"); the only apparent reason 
for this is the fact that the seeds of both plants yield an oil which is put 
to the same medicinal use. The two are totally different plants, nor 
do they have any relation to hemp. Philologically, the case is somewhat 
analogous to that of hu tou (p. 305). It is most probable that the two 
are but naturalized in China and introduced from Iranian regions, for 
both plants are typically ancient West-Asiatic cultivations. The alleged 
wild sesame of China^ is doubtless an escape from cultivation. 

^ This is the author wrongly called "Ch'en Ts'ung-chung " by Bretschneider 
(Bot. Sin., pt. II, p. 377). Ts'un-2un ^ 4* is his hao. 
^ A synonyme of hu ma. 
3 Ch. 75, p. 33. 
*Ch. 84i,p. 6 b. 
* See below, p. 305. 
" Forbes and Hemsley, Journal Linnean Soc, Vol. XXVI, p. 236. 

290 Sino-Iranica 

Herodotus^ emphasizes that the only oil used by the Babylonians 
is made from sesame. Sesame is also mentioned among their products 
by the Babylonian priest Berosus (fotirth century B.C.).* 

AeHus Gallus, a member of the Equestrian order, carried the Roman 
arms into Arabia, and brought back from his expedition the report that 
the Nomades (nomads) live on milk and the flesh of wild animals, and 
that the other peoples, like the Indians, express a wine from palms and 
oil from sesame.^ According to Pliny, sesame comes from India, where 
they make an oil from it, the color of the seeds being white.* Both the 
seeds and the oil were largely employed in Roman pharmacology.^ 
Megasthenes* mentions the cultivation of sesame in India. It likewise 
occurs in the Atharva Veda and in the Institutes of Manu (Sanskrit 
tila)7 A. DE Candolle's view^ that it was introduced into India from 
the Sunda Isles in prehistoric times, is untenable. This theory is based 
on a purely linguistic argument: ''Rumphius gives three names for 
the sesame in these islands, very different one from the other, and from 
the Sanskrit word, which supports the theory of a more ancient existence 
in the archipelago than on the continent." This alleged evidence proves 
nothing whatever for the history of the plant, but is merely a fact of 
language.* There can now be no doubt that from a botanical viewpoint 
the home of the genus is in tropical Africa, where twelve species occur, 
while there are only two in India. ^'^ 

In the Fan yi min yi tsij^^ a Sanskrit synonytne of "sesame" is given as 
PSJ S @ ^ ftp a-Vi-mu-to-kHe, *a-di-muk-ta-g'a, i.e., Sanskrit adhi- 
muktakay which is identified with kii-hn (see below) and hu-nta. An 
old gloss explains the term as "the foreign flower of pious thoughtf ill- 
ness" (iaw se i hwa S iS ^ ^), an example of which is the lighting of 
a lamp fed with the oil of three flowers (sandal, soma, and campaka 
[Michelia champaca]) and the placing of this lamp on the altar of the 

' I, 193- 

^ MuLLER, Fragmenta historiae graecae, Vol. II, p. 496. Regarding Egypt, 
see V. LoRET, Flore pharaonique, p. 57. 

• Pliny, VI, 28, §161. 

• Sesama ab Indis venit. Ex ea et oleum faciunt; colos eius candidus (xviii, 
22, §96). 

" Pliny, xxii, 64, §132. 

« Strabo, XV. i, 13. 

' JORET, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, p. 269. 

^ Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 422. 

• The Malayan languages possess a common name for Sesamum indicum: 
Javanese and Malayan lena, Batak lona, Cam lono or land; IGimer lono. 

'° A. Engler, Pflanzenfamilien, Vol. IV, pt. 3 b, p. 262. 
" Ch. 8, p. 6 (see above, p. 254). 

Sesame and Flax 291 

Triratna.^ From the application of adhimuktaka it becomes self-evident 
also that sesame-oil must be included in this series. The frequent 
mention of this oil for sacred lamps is familiar to all readers of the 
Buddhist Jataka. The above Sanskrit-Chinese Dictionary adds the 
following comment: *'This plant is in appearance like the 'great hemp* 
(Cannabis sativa). It has red flowers and green leaves. Its seeds can 
be made into oil; also they yield an aromatic. According to the Tsui% 
kin yin nie lun ^ M 51 ^ ffe, sesame (ku-^en) is originally charcoal, 
and, while for a long time buried in the soil, will change into sesame. 
In the western countries (India) it is customary in anointing the body 
with fragrant oil to use first aromatic flowers and then to take sesame- 
seeds. These are gathered and soaked till thoroughly bright; afterwards 
they proceed to press the oil out of the sesame, which henceforth be- 
comes fragrant." 

Of greater importance for our purpose is the antiquity of sesame in 
Iran. According to Herodotus^, it was cultivated by the Chorasmians, 
Hyrcanians, Parthians, Sarangians, and Thamanaeans. In Persia 
sesame-oil was known at least from the time of the first Achaemenides.* 
G. Watt* even looks to Persia and Central Asia as the home of the 
species; he suggests that it was probably first cultivated somewhere 
between the Euphrates valley and Bttkhara south to Afghanistan and 
upper India, and was very likely diffused into India proper and the 
Archipelago, before it found its way to Egypt and Europe. 

Sesamum indicum (var. subindivisum Dl.) is cultivated in Russian 
Turkistan and occupies there the first place among the oil-producing 
plants. It thrives in the warmest parts of the valley of Fergana, and 
does not go beyond an elevation of two thousand five hundred feet. 
It is chiefly cultivated in the districts of Namanga and Andijan, though 
not in large quantity.^ Its Persian name is kunjut. 

While there is no doubt that this species was introduced into China 
from Iranian regions, the time as to when this introduction took place 
remains obscure. First, there is no historical and dependable record 
of this event; second, the confusion brought about by the Chinese in 
treating this subject is almost hopeless. Take the earliest notice of 
hu ma cited by the Pen ts'ao and occurring in the Pie lu: "Hu ma is 
also called ku-hn E 0. It grows on the rivers and in the marshes of 

^ Cf . EiTEL, Handbook of Chinese Buddhism, p. 4. 
»m, 117. 

' JoRET, Op. cit., Vol. II, p. 71. Sesame is mentioned in Pahlavi literature 
(above, p. 193). 

* Gingelly or Sesame Oil, p. 11 (Handbooks of Commercial Products, No. 21). 

• S. K0R21NSK1, Vegetation of Turkistan (in Russian), p. 50. 

292 Sino-Iranica 

San-tafi Jb M (south-eastern portion of San-si), and is gathered in the 
autumn. What is called tsHn Ian ff ^ are the sprouts of the ku-hn. 
They grow in the river-valleys of Cun-3ruan 4* i^ (Ho-nan)." Nothing 
is said here about a foreign introduction or a ctdtivation; on the con- 
trary, the question evidently is of an indigenous wild swamp-plant, 
possibly Mulgedium sihiriacum} Both Sesamum and Linum are thor- 
oughly out of the question, for they grow in dry loam, and sesame espe- 
cially in sandy soil. Thus suspicion is ripe that the terms hu ma and 
ku-hn originally applied to an autochthonous plant of San-si and 
Ho-nan, and that hu ma in this case moves on the same line as the term 
hu hn in the Li sao (p. 195). This suspicion is increased by the fact 
that hu ma occurs in a passage ascribed to Hwai-nan-tse, who died in 
122 B.C., and cited in the T^ai pHn yii Ian?' Moreover, the Wu H (or 
p^u) pen ts'ao, written in the first half of the third century by Wu P'u 
^ ^, in describing hu ma, alludes to the mythical Emperor Sen-nun 
and to Lei kun S ^, a sage employed by the Emperor Hwafi in his 
efforts to perfect the art of heaHng. 

The meaning of kii-hn is "the great superior one." The later authors 
regard the term as a variety of Sesamum, but give varying definitions 
of it: thus, T*ao Hun-kin states that the kind with a square stem is 
called kil-hn (possibly Mulgedium), that with a round stem hu ma, 
Su Kufi of the T'ang says that the plant with capsules {kio ^ ) of eight 
ridges or angles {pa len A IS) is called ku-hn; that with quadrangular 
capsules, hu ma. The latter definition would refer to Sesamum indicum, 
the capsule of which is oblong quadrangiilar, two-valved and two-celled, 
each cell containing numerous oily seeds. 

Mori §en :£ B5fc, in his Si liao pen Vsao (written in the second half 
of the seventh century), observes that "the plants cultivated in fertile 
soil produce octangular capsules, while those planted in mountainous 
fields have the capsules quadrangular, the distinction arising from the 
difference of soil conditions, whereas the virtues of the two varieties are 
identical. Again, Lei Hiao W $^ of the fifth century asserts that 
kU-hn is genuine, when it has seven ridges or angles, a red color, and 
a sour taste, but that it is erroneous to style hu ma the octangular 
capsules with two pointed ends, black in color, and furnishing a black oil. 
There is no doubt that in these varying descriptions entirely different 
plants are visualized. Kao C'efi of the Sung, in his Si wu ki yUan^ 

^ Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 269. This identification, however, is 

2 Ch. 989, p. 6 b. 

' Ch. 10, p. 29 b (see above, p. 279). 

Sesame and Flax 293 

admits that it is unknown what the hu ma spoken of in the Pen-ts*ao 
literature really is. 

I have also prepared a translation of Li §i-Sen's text on the subject, 
which Bretschneider refrained from translating; but, as there are several 
difficult botanical points which I am unable to elucidate, I prefer to 
leave this subject to a competent botanist. In substance Li Si-6en 
understands by hu ma the sesame, as follows from his use of the modipm 
term ci ma fla M. He says that there are two crops, an early and a late 
one,^ with black, white, or red seeds; but how he can state that the 
stems are all square is unintelligible. The criticism of the statements 
of his predecessors occupies much space, but I do not see that it enlight- 
ens us much. The best way out of this difficulty seems to me Stuart's 
suggestion that the Chinese account confoimds Sesamum, Linum, 
and Mulgedium. The Japanese naturalist Ono Ranzan* is of the same 
opinion. He says that there is no variety of sesame with red seed, as 
asserted by Li Si-^en (save that the black seeds of sesame are reddish 
in the immature stage), and infers that this is a species of Linum which 
always produces red seeds exclusively. Ono also states that there is a 
close correlation between the color of the seeds and the angles of the 
capsules: a white variety will always produce two or four-angled cap- 
sules, while hexangular and octangular capsules invariably contain only 
black seeds. Whether or in how far this is correct I do not know. The 
confusion of Sesamum and Linum arose from the common name hu ma, 
but unfortunately proves that the Chinese botanists, or rather pharma- 
cists, were bookworms to a much higher degree than observers; for it 
is almost beyond comprehension how such radically distinct plants 
can be confounded by any one who has even once seen them. In view 
of this disconsolate situation, the historian can only beg to be excused. 

7. It is a point of great ctilture-historical interest that the Chinese 
have never utilized the flax-fibre in the manufacture of textiles, but 
that hemp has always occupied this place from the time of their 
earliest antiquity.^ This is one of the points of fundamental diversity 
between East-Asiatic and Mediterranean civilizations, — there hemp, 
and here flax, as material for clothing. There are, further, two important 
facts to be considered in this connection, — first, that the Aryans 

^ In S. Couling's Encyclopaedia Sinica (p. 504) it is stated that in China there is 
only one crop, but late and early varieties exist. 

^ Honzo komoku keimo, Ch. 18, p. 2. 

' In a subsequent study on the plants and agriculture of the Indo-Chinese, I 
hope to demonstrate that the Indo-Chinese nations, especially the Chinese and 
Tibetans, possess a common designation for "hemp," and that hemp has been 
cultivated by them in a prehistoric age. There also the history of hemp will be 

294 Sino-Iranica 

(Iranians and Indo-Aryans) possess an identical word for "hemp" (Avestan 
bangha, Sanskrit hhanga), while the European languages have a distinct 
designation, which is presumably a loan-word pointing to Finno-Ugrian 
and Turkish; and, second, that there is a common Old-Turkish word 
for ^'hemp" of the type kdndir, which stands in some relation to the 
Finno-Ugrian appellations.^ It is most likely that the Scythians brought 
hemp from Asia to Europe.^ On the other hand, it is well known what 
vital importance flax and linen claimed in the life of the Egyptians 
and the classical peoples.' Flax is the typically European, hemp the 
typically Asiatic textile. Surely Linum usitatissimum was known in 
ancient Iran and India. It was and is still wild in the districts included 
between the Persian Gulf, the Caspian Sea, and the Black Sea.* It 
was probably introduced into India from Iran, but neither in India nor 
in Iran was the fibre ever used for garments: the plant was only culti- 
vated as a source of linseed and linseed-oil.^ Only a relatively modem 
utilization of flax-fibres for weaving is known from a single locality in 
Persia, — Kazirtin, in the province of Fars. This account dates from the 
beginning of the fourteenth century, and the detailed description 
given of the process testifies to its novelty and exceptional character." 
This exception confirms the rule. The naturalization of Linum in China, 
of cotu-se, is far earlier than the fourteenth century. As regards the 
utilization of Linum^ the Chinese fall in line with Iranians and Indo- 
Aryans; and it is from Iranians that they received the plant. The 
case is a clear index of the fact that the Chinese never were in direct 
contact with the Mediterranean culture-area, and that even such culti- 
vated plants of this area as reached them were not transmitted from 
there directly, but solely through the medium of Iranians. The case 
is further apt to illustrate how superficial, from the viewpoint of tech- 
nical culture, the influence of the Greeks on the Orient must have 
been since Alexander's campaign, as an industry like flax-weaving 
was not promoted by them, although the material was offered there 
by nature. 

For botanical reasons it is possible that Linum usitatissimum was 
introduced into China from Fergana. There it is still cultivated, and 
only for the exclusive purpose of obtaining oil from the seeds.' As has 

* Z. GoMBOCZ, Bulgarisch-turkische Lehnworter, p. 92. 

^ Cf. for the present, A. de Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 148. 
3 Pliny, XIX, 1-3; H. BLtiMNER, Technologie, Vol. I, 2d ed., p. 191. 

* A. DE Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 130. 

' See the interesting discussion of Watt, Commercial Products of India, p. 721. 
« G. Le Strange, Description of the Province of Pars in Persia, p. 55. 
^ S. KoRziNSKi, Vegetation of Turkistan (in Russian), p. 51. 

Sesame and Flax 295 

been pointed out, the plant is indigenous also in northern Persia, and 
must have been cultivated there from ancient times, although we have 
no information on this point from either native docimients or Greek 

Bretschneider^ says that "flax was unknown to the ancient 
Chinese; it is nowadays cultivated in the mountains of northern China 
(probably also in other parts) and in southern Mongolia, but only for 
the oil of its seeds, not for its fibres; the Chinese call it hu ma ('foreign 
hemp'); the Pen ts'ao does not speak of it; its introduction must be of 
more recent date." This is erroneous. The Pen ts'ao includes this 
species under the ambiguous term hu ma; and, although the date of the 
introduction cannot be ascertained, the event seems to have taken 
place in the first centuries of our era. 

At present, the designation hu ma appears to refer solely to flax. 
A. Henry' states under this heading, "This is flax (Linum usitatis- 
simum), which is cultivated in San-si, Mongolia, and the mountainous 
parts of Hu-pei and Se-5'wan. In the last two provinces, from personal 
observation, flax would seem to be entirely cultivated for the seeds, 
which are a common article in Chinese drug-shops, and are used locally 
for their oil, utiUzed for cooking and lighting piuposes." In another 
paper,* the same author states that Linum usitatissimum is called at 
Yi-^'afi, Se-6'wan, ian H ma Ul Ba^ IS ("mountain sap-hemp"), and 
that it is cultivated in the mountains of the Patufi district, not for the 
fibre, but for the oil which the seed yields. 

Chinese hu ma has passed into Mongol as xuma (khuma) with the 
meaning "sesame,"* and into Japanese as goma, used only in the sense 
of Sesamum indicum,^ while Linum usitatissimum is in Japanese ama 
or iUnen-ama} 

Yao Mifi-hwi JSfe ^ t?, in his book on Mongolia {Mon-ku U)^ 
mentions hu ma among the products of that country. There are several 
wild-growing species of Linum in northern China and Japan, — ya ma 

^ JORET, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, p. 69. 

* Bot. Sin., pt. II, p. 204. 

' Chinese Jute, p. 6 (publication of the Chinese Maritime Customs, Shanghai, 

* Chinese Names of Plants, p. 239 {Journal China Branch Royal As. Soc, 
Vol. XXII, 1887). 

' The popular writing ^, according to the Pen ts*ao kan mu, is incorrect. 

• KovALEVSKi, Dictionnaire mongol, p. 934. 
' Matsumura, No. 2924. 

» Ibid., No. 1839. 

• Ch. 3, p. 41 (Shanghai, 1907). 

296 Sino-Iranica 

35 M (Japanese nume-goma or aka-goma), Linum perenne, and Japanese 
matsuha-ninjin or matsuba-nadeHko, Linum possarioides } Forbes and 
Hemsley,^ moreover, enumerate Linum nutans for Kan-su, and L. 
stelleroides for Ci-li, San-tun, Manchuria, and the Korean Archipelago. 
In northern China, Linum sativum (San-si hu ma \UM i^i M) is 
cultivated for the oil of its seeds. ^ 

1 Matsumura, Nos. 1837, 1838; Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 242. 

^ Journal Linnean Soc, Vol. XXIII, p. 95. 

' This species is figured and described in the Ci wu miA Si Vu k'ao. 


8. The Po wu Uj faithftil to its tendencies regarding other Iranian 
plants, generously permits General Can K*ien to have also brought back 
from his journey the coriander, ku swi ffl 3? (Coriandrum sativum).^ 
Li Si-($en, and likewise K'an-hi's Dictionary, repeat this statement 
without reference to the Po wu U-^ and of course the credulous com- 
munity of the Changkienides has religiously sworn to this dogma.^ 
Needless to say that nothing of the kind is contained in the General's 
biography or in the Han Annals.^ The first indubitable mention of the 
plant is not earlier than the beginning of the sixth century a.d.; that 
is, about six centimes after the General's death, and this makes some 
difference to the historian/ The first Pen ts*ao giving the name hu-swi 
is the Si liao pen ts'aOj written by Mon Sen in the seventh century, 
followed by the Pen ts*ao H i of C'en Ts'afi-k'i in the first half of the 
eighth century. None of these authors makes any observation on 
foreign introduction. In the literature on agriculture, the cultivation 
of the coriander is first described in the TsH min yao Su of the sixth 
century, where, however, nothing is said about the origin of the plant 
from abroad. 

An interesting reference to the plant occurs in the Buddhist dic- 
tionary Yi tsHe kin yin i (I.e.), where several variations for writing 

1 This passage is not a modem interpolation, but is of ancient date, as it is cited 
in the Yi tsHe kifi yin i, Ch. 24, p. 2 (regarding this work, see above, p. 258). Whether 
it was contained in the original edition of the Po wu £i, remains doubtful. 

2 Under ^ ("garlic") K'a^-hi cites the dictionary T'afi. ytin, published by Sun 
Mien in a.d. 750, as saying that the coriander is due to CaA K'ien. 

2 Bretschneider, Chinese Recorder, 1871, p. 221, where the term hu-swi is 
wrongly identified with parsley, and Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 25; Hirth, T'oung Pao, 
Vol. VI, 1895, p. 439. 

* The coriander is mentioned in several passages of the Kin kwei yao Ho by 
the physician Caft Cun-kin of the second century a.d.; but, as stated above (p. 205), 
there is no guaranty that these passages belonged to the original edition of the 
work. "To eat pork together with raw coriander rots away the navel" (Ch. c, 
p. 23 b). "In the fourth and eighth months do not eat coriander, for it injures the 
intellect " (ibid., p. 28). " Coriander eaten for a long time makes man very forgetful; 
a patient must not eat coriander or hwaH-hwa ts'ai 3f ffi 3S {Lampsanq 
apogonoides)," ibid., p. 29. 

^An incidental reference to hu swi is made in the Pen ts'ao kaft mu in 
the description of the plant Man er (see Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. II, 
No. 438), and ascribed to Lu Ki, who lived in the latter part of the third century 
A.D. In my opinion, this reading is merely due to a misprint, as there is preserved no 
description of the hu-swi by Lu Ki. 


298 Sino-Iranica 

the character swi are given, also the synonjnnes Man ts*ai # ^ 
("fragrant vegetable") and hian sun ^ W-* In Kiafi-nan the plant 
was styled hu swi fiS ^, also hu ki ® ^, the pronunciation of the 
latter character being explained by JfiS kH, *gi. The coriander belongs 
to the five vegetables of strong odor (p. 303) forbidden to the geomancers 
and Taoist monks.^ 

I have searched in vain for any notes on the plant that might 
elucidate its history or introduction; but such do not seem to exist, 
not even in the various Pen ts*ao. As regards the Annals, I found only 
a single mention in the Wu Tai H,^ where the coriander is enumerated 
ajtnong the plants cultivated by the Uigur. In tracing its foreign origin, 
we are thrown back solely on the linguistic evidence. 

The coriander was known in Iran: it is mentioned in the Bundahign.* 
Its medical properties are discussed in detail by Abu Mansur in his 
Persian pharmacopoeia.^ Schlimmer® observes, "Se cultive presque 
partout en Perse comme plante potag^re; les indigenes le croient 
antiaphrodisiaque et plus sp^cialement an^antissant les Erections." It 
occurs also in Fergana.^ It was highly appreciated by the Arabs in their 
pharmacopoeia, as shown by the long extract devoted to it by Ibn 
al-Baitar.^ In India it is cultivated during the cold season. The San- 
skrit names which have been given on p. 284, mean simply "grain," 
and are merely attributes,^ not proper designations of the plant, for 
which in fact there is no genuine Sanskrit word. As will be seen below, 
Sanskrit kustumburu is of Iranian origin; and there is no doubt in my 
mind that the plant came to India from Iran, in the same manner as 
it appears to have spread from Iran to China. 

fiS ^ or ^ hu-swi, *ko(go)-swi (su), appears to be the transcription 
of an Iranian form *koswi, koswi, goswi. Cf. Middle Persian go^niz; 

^ Two dictionaries, the Tse yiian ^ ^ and Yiln Ho §i Ji§, are quoted in this 
text, but their date is not known to me. As stated in the Pen ts' ao si i and $i wu ki yiian 
(Ch. ID, p. 30 ; above, p. 279) , the change from hu swi to Man swi was dictated by a taboo 
imposed by Si Lo ^ Jft (a.d. 273-333), who was himself a Hu (cf. below, 
p. 300) ; but we have no contemporaneous account to this effect, and the attempt 
at explanation is surely retrospective. 

* Pen ts'ao kan mu, Ch. 26, p. 6 b; and Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 28. 
» Ch. 74, p. 4. 

* Above, p. 192. 

^ AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 112. 

* Terminologie, p. 156. 

^ S. KoRziNSKi, Vegetation of Turkistan (in Russian), p. 51. 

* L. Leclerc, Traits des simples. Vol. Ill, pp. 170-174. 

•Such are also the synon3rmes sUk^tnapatra, ttk^t^apatra, tlk^f^aphala ("with 
leaves or fruits of sharp taste"). 

The Cortander 299 

New Persian kUnlz, ku^nlz, and gUnlz^ also ^untz-^ Kurd ksnis or kiSniS; 
Turkish ki§ni§; Russian kiinets; Aramaic kusbarta and kusbar (Hebrew 
gad, Punic yol8f are unconnected), Arabic kozbera or kosher et; Sanskrit 
kustumhuru and kustumharl; Middle and Modem Greek KovcrSapas* 
and KLffvvrjT^i. 

According to the Hut kHan ci, the coriander is called in Turkistan 
(that is, in Turki) yun-ma-su ^iSf^M. 

It is commonly said that the coriander is indigenous to the Mediter- 
ranean and Caucasian regions (others say southern Europe, the Levant, 
etc.), but it is shown by the preceding notes that Iran should be included 
in this definition. I do not mean to say, however, that Iran is the ex- 
clusive and original home of the plant. Its antiquity in Egypt and in 
Palestine cannot be called into doubt. It has been traced in tombs of 
the twenty-second dynasty (960-800 B.C.), ^ and Pliny* states that the 
Egyptian coriander is the best. In Iran the cultivation seems to have 
been developed to a high degree; and the Iranian product was propa- 
gated in all directions, — in China, India, anterior Asia, and Russia. 

The Tibetan name for the coriander, usu, may be connected with 
or derived from Chinese hu-sui. L. A. Waddell^ saw the plant culti- 
vated in a valley near Lhasa. It is also cultivated in Siam.® 

Coriander was well known in Britain prior to the Norman Con- 
quest, and was often employed in ancient Welsh and English medicine 
and cookery.^ Its Anglo-Saxon name is cellendrej coliandre, going back 
to Greek koridndron, koriannon. 

* Another Persian word is bughunj. According to Steingass (Persian Diction- 
ary), tdlkt or tdlgi denotes a "wild coriander." 

* The second element of the Arabic, Sanskrit, and Greek words seems to bear 
some relation to Coptic herUu, beresu (V. Loret, Flore pharaonique, p. 72). In 
Greece, coriander is still cultivated, but only sparsely, near Theben, Corinth, and 
Cyparissia (Th. v. Heldreich, Nutzpflanzen Griechenlands, p. 41). 

' V. Loret, op. cit., p. 72; F. Woenig, Pflanzen im alten Aegypten, p. 225. 

* XX, 20, §82. 

' Lhasa, p. 316. 

* Pallegoix, Description du royaume thai. Vol. I, p. 126. 
' Fl^ckiger and Hanbury, Pharmacographia, p. 329. 


9. Another dogma of the Changkienomaniacs is that the renowned 
General should have also blessed his countrymen with the introduction 
of the cucumber {Cucumis sativus), styled hu kwa ftS JR ("Iranian 
melon") or hwan kwa ^ JK. ("yellow melon ").^ The sole document 
on which this opinion is based is presented by the recent work of Li 
Si-6en,* who hazards this bold statement without reference to any older 
authority. Indeed, such an earlier soiirce does not exist: this bit of 
history is concocted ad hoc, and merely suggested by the name hu kwa. 
Any plants formed with the attribute hu were ultimately palmed off on 
the old General as the easiest way out of a difficult problem, and as a 
comfortable means of saving further thought. 

Li §i-6en falls back upon two texts only of the T'ang period, — the 
Pen ts*ao H i, which states that the people of the north, in order to avoid 
the name of Si Lo ^ ft (a.d. 273-333), who was of Hu descent, tabooed 
the term hu kwa, and replaced it by hwan kwa;^ and the Si i lu Jq'J&IS^ 
by Tu Pao tt K, who refers this taboo to the year 608 (fourth year 
of the period Ta-ye of the Sui dynasty).* If this information be correct, 
we gain a chronological clew as to the terminus a quo: the cucumber 
appears to have been in China prior to the sixth century a.d. Its culti- 
vation is alluded to in the TsH min yao iw from the beginning of the 
sixth century, provided this is not an interpolation of later times.^ 

According to Engler," the home of the cucumber would most prob- 

1 Bretschneider, Chinese Recorder, 1871, p. 21 (accordingly adopted by 
DE Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 266); Stuart, Chdnese Materia 
Medica, p. 135. In Japanese, the cucumber is ki-uri. 

* Pen ts^ao kafi mu, Ch. 28, p. 5 b. 

' A number of other plant-names was hit by this taboo (cf . above, p. 298) : thus 
the plant lo-lo jS WJ {Ocimum basilicum), which bears the same character as Si Lo's 
personal name, as already indicated in the Ts'i min yao Su (see also 5* wu ki ytian, 
Ch. 10, p. 30 b; Ci wu min H t'u k*ao, Ch. 5, p. 34; and Pen ts*ao kaH mu, Ch. 26, 
p. 22 b). He is said to have also changed the name of the myrobalan ho-li-lo (below, 
p. 378) into ho'tse ^ ^. There is room for doubt, however, whether any of these 
plants existed in the China of his time; the taboo explanations may be makeshifts 
of later periods. 

* This is the Ta ye H i lu (Records relative to the Ta-ye period, 605-618), 
mentioned by Bretschneider (Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 195). The Pen ts'ao kafi mu 
(Ch. 22, p. i) quotes the same work again on the taboo of the term hu ma (p. 288), 
which in 608 was changed into kiao ma ■^^. 

^ Cf. Ci wu mifi H Vu k'ao, Ch. 5, p. 43. 

* In Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, p. 323. 


The Cucumber 301 

ably be in India; and Watt^ observes, "There seems to be no doubt 
that one at least of the original homes of the cucimiber was in North 
India, and its ctiltivation can be traced to the most ancient classic times 
of Asia." De Candolle^ traces the home of the plant to northwestern 
India. I am not yet convinced of the correctness of this theory, as the 
historical evidence in favor of India, as usual in such cases, is weak;^ 
and the cultivation of the cuciunber in Egypt and among the Semites 
is doubtless of ancient date.^ At any rate, this Cucurhitacea belongs to 
the Egypto-West-Asiatic ct4ture-sphere, and is not indigenous to 
China. There is, however, no trace of evidence for the gratuitous 
speculation that its introduction is due to General Can K'ien. The 
theory that it was transmitted from Iranian territory is probable, but 
there is thus far no historical document to support it. The only trace 
of evidence thereof appears from the attribute Hu. 

Abu Mansur mentions the cucumber under the name qittdy adding 
the Arabic-Persian xiydr and kawanda in the language of Khorasan.^ 
The word xiydr has been adopted into Osmanli and into Hindustani in 
the form xlrd. Persian xdwuS or xdwa3 denotes a cucumber kept for 
seed; it means literally "ox-eye" (gdv-aS; Avestan a^iy Middle Persian 
a^y Sanskrit ak^ij "eye"), corresponding to Sanskrit gavdksi ("a kind 
of cuctunber"). A Pahlavi word for "cucumber" is vdiraUy which 
developed ijito New Persian badratiy bdlan, or varan (Afghan bddran).^ 

1 Commercial Products of India, p. 439. In Sanskrit the cucumber is trapu^a, 

2 Op. cit., p. 265. 

' Such a positive assertion as that of de Candolle, that the cucumber was 
cultivated in India for at least three thousand years, cannot be accepted by any 
serious historian. 

* V. LoRET, Flore pharaonique, p. 75; C. Joret, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, 
Vol. I, p. 61. 

^ AcHUNDOW, Abu] Mansur, p. 106. 

•This series is said to mean also "citron." The proper Persian word for the 
latter fruit is turunj (Afghan turanj, Bala6i trunj). The origin of this word, as far 
as I know, has not yet been correctly explained, not even by HtJBSCHMANN (Armen . 
Gram., p. 266). Vullers (Lexicon persico-latinum. Vol. I, p. 439) tentatively 
suggests derivation from Sanskrit suranga, which is surely impossible. The real 
source is presented by Sanskrit mdtulunga ("citron," Citrus medico). 


lo. Although a number of alliaceous plants are indigenous to China,* 
there is one species, the chive {Allium scorodoprasum; French rocambole) ^ 
to which, as already indicated by its name hu swan Wim or hu ^ 
("garlic of the Hu, Iranian garlic"), a foreign origin is ascribed by the 
Chinese. Again, the worn-out tradition that also this introduction 
is due to Can K'ien, is of late origin, and is first met with in the 
spurious work Po wu H, and then in the dictionary T*an yiln of the middle 
of the eighth century.^ Even Li Si-6en^ says no more than that *' people 
of the Han dynasty obtained the hu swan from Central Asia." It seems 
difficult, however, to eradicate a long-established prejudice or an error 
even from the minds of scholars. In 191 5 I endeavored to rectify it, 
especially with reference to the wrong opinion expressed by Hirth in 
1895, that garlic in general must have been introduced into China 
for the first time by Can K'ien. Nevertheless the same misconception 
is repeated by him in 191 7,* while a glance at the Botanicon Sinicum** 
would have convinced him that at least four species of Allium are of 
a prehistoric antiquity in China. The first mention of this Central- 
Asiatic or Iranian species of Allium is made by T'ao Hun-kin 
(a.d. 45 1-536) , provided the statement attributed to him in the Cen lei pen 
ts^ao and Pen ts'ao kan mu really emanates from him.^ When the new 
i4//iww was introduced, the necessity was felt of distinguishing it from the 
old, indigenous Allium sativum^ that was designated by the plain root- 
word swan. The former, accordingly, was characterized as ta swan 
i<.m ("laxge Allium''); the latter, as stao /h swan ("small Allium''). 
This distinction is said to have first been recorded by T'ao Hun-kiri. 
Also the Ku kin (^u is credited with the mention of hu swan; this, how- 
ever, is not the older Ku kin ^u by Ts'ui Pao of the fourth century, but, 
as expressly stated in the Pen ts*ao, the later re-edition by Fu Hou 

1 Cf. Toung Pao, 1915, pp. 96-99. 

* Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. Ill, No. 244. 
' Pen ts'ao kafi mu, Ch. 26, p. 6 b. 

* Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXXVII, p. 92. 

* Pt. II, Nos. 1-4, 63, 357-360, and III, Nos. 240-243. 

* The Kin kwei yao Ho (Ch. c, p. 24 b) of the second century a.d. mentions hu 
Twan, but this in all probability is a later interpolation (above, p. 205). 


Chive, Onion, and Shallot 303 

'K 1!^ of the tenth century. However, this text is now inserted in the 
older Ku kin cu^ ^ which teems with interpolations. 

Ta swan is mentioned also as the first among the five vegetables of 
strong odor tabooed for the Buddhist clergy, the so-called wu hun 
3i! $.* This series occurs in the Brahmajala-sutra, translated in 
A.D. 406 by Ktmiarajiva.^ If the term ta swan was contained in the 
original edition of this work, we should have good evidence for carry- 
ing the date of the chive into the Eastern Tsin dynasty (a.d. 317-419). 

11. There is another cultivated species of Allium (probably A, 
fistulosum) derived from the West. This is first mentioned by Sun Se- 
miao M iS ^,* in his TsHen kin H W^ ^ "^ ia (written in the begin- 
ning of the seventh century), under the name hu ts'un M My because 
the root of this plant resembles the hu swan ® M. It was usually styled 
swan-ts"un m M or hu 'Si ts'un (the latter designation in the K'ai pao 
pen ts'ao of the Sung). In the Yin ^an ien yao (p. 236), written in 133 1 
under the Yiian, it is called hui-hui ts'un 0^ ("Mohammedan 
onion 'O.*^ This does not mean, however, that it was only introduced 
by Mohammedans; but this is simply one of the many favorite alter- 
ations of ancient names, as they were in vogue during the Mongol 
epoch. This Allium was cultivated in Se-6'wan under the T'ang, as 
stated by Mori Sen :£ iJfe in his Si liao pen ts^aOy written in the second 
half of the seventh century. Particulars in regard to the introduction 
are not on record. 

12. There is a third species of Allium ^ which reached China under 
the T'ang, and which, on excellent evidence, may be attributed to 
Persia. In a.d. 647 the Emperor T'ai Tsuri solicited from all his tribu- 
tary nations their choicest vegetable products,® and their response to 
the imperial call secured a number of vegetables hitherto unknown in 
China. One of these is described as follows: "Hun-Vi onion W^M 
resembles in appearance the onion {ts*un, Allium fistulosum) y but is 
whiter and more bitter. On account of its smell, it serves as a remedy. 

1 Ch. c, p. 3 b. 

* This subject is treated in the Pen ts'ao kan mu (Ch. 26, p. 6 b) under the 
article swan, and summed up by Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 28). See, 
further, De Groot, Le Code du MahaySna en Chine, p. 42, where the five plant- 
names are unfortunately translated wrongly {hin-k'ii, "asafoetida" [seep. 361], is 
given an alleged literal translation as "le lys d'eau montant"!), and Chavaknes 
and Pelliot, Traits manich^en, pp. 233-235. 

' BuNYiu Nanjio, Catalogue of the Buddhist Tripitaka, No. 1087. 

* Cf. below, p. 306. 

^ Pen ts*ao kan mu, Ch. 26, p. 5. 

* We shall come back to this important event in dealing with the history of the 

304 Sino-Iranica 

In its appearance it is like lan-lin-tun SB ^ ^,^ but greener. When 
dried and powdered, it tastes like cinnamon and pepper. The root is 
capable of relieving colds."^ The Fun H wen kien ki^ adds that hun-Vi 
came from the Western Countries {Si yu) . 

Hun-Vi is a transcription answering to ancient *gwun-de, and 
corresponds to Middle Persian gandena, New Persian ganddnd, Hindi 
gawdawa, Bengali gww<iwa (Sanskrit mleccha-kanda, ''bulb of the bar- 
barians"), possibly the shallot {Allium ascalonicum; French ichalotte, 
cihoule) or A. porrum, which occurs in western Asia and Persia, but not 
in China.^ 

Among the vegetables of India, Huan Tsan^ mentions 5C fiS hun-Vo 
(*hun-da) ts^ai. Julien left this term untranslated; Beal did not know, 
either, what to make of it, and added in parentheses kandu with an 
interrogation-mark. Watters^ explained it as *'kunda (properly the 
olibanum-tree)." This is absurd, as the question is of a vegetable ctilti- 
vated for food, while the olibanum is a wild tree offering no food. More- 
over, hun cannot answer to kun; and the Sanskrit word is not kunda, 
but kundu or kunduru. The mode of writing, huUy possibly is intended 
to allude to a species of Allium. Huan Tsafi certainly transcribed a 
Sanskrit word, but a Sanskrit plant-name of the form hunda or gunda 
is not known. Perhaps his prototype is related to the Iranian word 
previously discussed. 

1 The parallel text in the Ts'efu yilan kwei (Ch. 970, p. 12) writes only lin-tufi. 
This plant is unidentified. 

2 Tafi hut yao, Ch. 100, p. 3 b; and Ch. 200, p. 14 b. 
' Ch. 7, p. I b (above, p. 232). 

*A. DE Candolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants, pp. 68-71; Leclerc, Trait6 
des simples. Vol. Ill, pp. 69-71; Achundow, Abu Mansur, pp. 113, 258. Other 
Persian names are tdrd and kawar. They correspond to Greek Trp&aov, Turkish 
prdsa, Arabic kurdt. The question as to whether the species ascalonicum or porrum 
should be understood by the Persian term gdnddnd, I have to leave in suspense and 
to refer to the decision of competent botanists. Schlimmer (Terminologie, p. 21) 
identifies Persian gdnddnd with Allium porrum; while, according to him, A. ascalon- 
icum should be musir in Persian. Vullers (Lexicon persico-latinum. Vol. II, p. 1036) 
translates the word by "porrum." On the other hand, Stuart (Chinese Materia 
Medica, p. 25), following F. P. Smith, has labelled Chinese hiai ^, an Allium 
anciently indigenous to China, as A. ascalonicum. If this be correct, the Chinese 
would certainly have recognized the identity of the foreign hun-tH with hiai, provided 
both should represent the same species, ascalonicum. Maybe also the two were 
identical species, but differentiated by cultivation. 

5 Ta Taft si yu ki, Ch. 2, p. 8 b. 

« On Yuan Chwang's Travels, Vol. I, p. 178. 


13. Among the many species of pulse cultivated by the Chinese, 
there are at least two to which a foreign origin must be assigned. Both 
are comprised under the generic term hu tou M -9. ("bean of the Hu," 
or "Iranian bean")> but each has also its specific nomenclature. It 
is generally known that, on account of the bewildering number of species 
and variations and the great antiquity of their cultivation, the history 
of beans is fraught with graver difficulties than that of any other group 
of plants. 

The common or garden pea (Pisum sativum) is usually styled wan 
tou 16 5. (Japanese Hro-endo), more rarely tsHn siao tou W /h S 
("green small pulse"), tsHn pan tou^^ 3^ ("green streaked pulse"), 
and ma lei iS M . A term ^ 3^ pi tou, *pit (pir) tou, is regarded as 
characteristic of the T'ang period; while such names as hu tou, Sun Su 
^M ("pulse of the 2ufi"V and hui-hu tou HI tl S ("pulse of the 
Uigur;" in the Yin ^an ien yao of the Mongol period changed also into 
hui-hui tou © HI J2., "Mohammedan pulse") are apt to bespeak the 
foreign origin of the plant. ^ Any doctmient alluding to the event of the 
introduction, however, does not appear to exist in Chinese records. 
The term hu tou occurs in the present editions of the Ku kin ^u,^ hu-^a 
^ & being given as its synonyme, and described as "resembling the 
li tou H A, but larger, the fruit of the size of a child's fist and eatable." 
The term li tou is doubtfully identified with Mucuna capitata;^ but the 
species of the Ku kin <^u defies exact identification; and, as is well known, 
this book, in its present form, is very far from being able to claim abso- 
lute credence or authenticity. Also the Kwan ci, written prior to 
A.D. 527, contains the term hu tou;^ but this name, unfortunately, is ambig- 
uous. Li §i-Cen acquiesces in the general statement that the pea has 
come from the Hu and ^ufi or from the Western Hu (Iranians) ; he cites, 
however, a few texts, which, if they be authentic, would permit us to 

^This term is ambiguous, for originally it applies to the soy-bean {Glycine 
hispida), which is indigenous to China. 

' Cf. Pen ts'ao kafi mu, Ch. 24, p. 7; and Kwafi k'iln fan p*u, Ch. 4, p. 11. The 
list of the names for the pea given by Bretschneider {Chinese Recorder, 1871, 
p. 223) is rather incomplete. 

' Ch. B, p. I b. 

* Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 269. The word li is also written ^. 

' T'ai pHn yU Ian, Ch. 841, p. 6 b. 


3o6 Sino-Iranica 

fix approximately the date as to when the pea became known to the 
Chinese. Thus he quotes the TsHen kin fan ^ ^ ^ of. the Taoist 
adept Sun Se-miao dS i^ ^/ of the beginning of the seventh century, as 
mentioning the term hu ton with the synonymes tsHn siao tou and ma-lei. 
The Ye Sun ki^ of the fourth century a.d. is credited with the statement 
that, when Si Hu tabooed the word hu ffl, the term hu tou was altered 
into kwo tou 19 H. ("bean of the country," "national bean"). Accord- 
ing to Li Si-5en, these passages allude to the pea, for anciently the 
term hu tou was in general use instead of wan tou. He further refers to 
the T^an H H i6 as sajdng that the pi tou comes from the Westei^ 
2ufi and the land of the Uigur, and to the dictionary Kwan ya by Can 
Yi (third century a.d.) as containing the terms pi toUy wan tou^ and liu 
tou S S. It wotild be difficult to vouchsafe for the fact that these 
were really embodied in the editio princeps of that work; yet it would 
not be impossible, after all, that, like the walnut and the pomegranate, 
so also the pea made its appearance on Chinese soil during the fourth 
century a.d. There can be no doubt of the fact that it was cultivated in 
Chiina under the T'ang, and even under the Sui (a.d. 590-617). In the 
account of Liu-kiu (Formosa) it is stated that the soil of the island is 
advantageous for the cultivation of hu tou} Wu K'i-tsun* contradicts 
Li Si-6en's opinion, stating that the terms hu tou and wan tou apply to 
different species. 

None of the Chinese names can be regarded as the transcription of 
an Iranian word. Pulse played a predominant part in the nutrition of 
Iranian peoples. The country Si (Tashkend) had all sorts of pulse.^ 
Abu Mansur discusses the pea under the Persian name xulldr and the 
Arabic julhan.^ Other Persian words for the pea are nujOd and gergeru 
or xereghan? 

A wild plant indigenous to China is likewise styled hu tou. It is 
first disclosed by C'en Ts'afi-k'i of the T'ang period, in his Pen ts*ao H i, 
as growing wild everywhere in rice-fields, its sprouts resembling the 
bean. In the Ci wu min H Vu k'ao^ we meet illustrations of two wild 

1 Regarding this author, see Wylie, Notes on Chinese Literature, pp. 97, 99; 
Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 43; L. Wieger, Taoisme, le canon, pp. 142, 143, 
182; Pelliot, Bull, de VEcole frariQaise, Vol. IX, pp. 435-438. 

* See above, p. 280. 
»5Mi^t/, Ch. 81, p. 5 b. 

^ Ci wu mift H Vu k*ao, Ch. 2, p. 150. 
' T'ai pHfi hwan yii ki, Ch. 186, p. 7 b. 

• AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, pp. 41, 223. 

' The latter is given by Schlimmer (Tenninologie, p. 464). 
"Ch. 2, pp. 11, 15. 

Garden Pea and Broad Bean 307 

plants. One is termed hut-hui tou ("Mohammedan bean"), first men- 
tioned in the Kiu hwah pen ts'ao of the fourteenth century, called also 
na-ho tou M "^ 3., the bean being roasted and eaten. The other, 
named hu tou^ is identified with the wild hu tou of C'en Ts'ari-k'i; and 
Wu K'i-tsun, author of the Ci wu min H Vu k'aOj adds the remark, 
*'What is now called hu tou grows wild, and is not the hu tou [that is, 
the pep] of ancient times." 

14. On the other hand, the term hu tou tJ] JB. refers also to Faba 
sativa (F. vulgaris ^ the vetch or common bean), according to Bret- 
SCHNEIDER,^ "onc of the ctdtivated plants introduced from western 
Asia into China, in the second century B.C., by the famous general 
Chang K'ien." This is an anachronism and a wild statement, which he 
has not even supported by any Chinese text.^ The history of the species 
in China is lost, or was never recorded. The supposition that it was 
introduced from Iran is probable. It is mentioned under the name 
pag (gdvirs) in the Bundahisn as the chief of small-seeded grains.' 
Abu Mansur has it under the Persian name bdqild or bdqld.* Its culti- 
vation in Egypt is of ancient date.^ 

15. Ts'an tou S5 (''silkworm bean,'* so called because in its 
shape it resembles an old silkworm), Japanese 5orama we, the kidney- 
bean or horse-bean {Vtciafaba), is also erroneously counted by Bret- 
SCHNEIDER* among the Can-K'ien plants, without any evidence being 
produced. It is likewise called hu tou i^'^, but no historical documents 
touching on the introduction of this species are on record. It is not 
mentioned in T'ang or Sung literature, and seems to have been intro- 
duced not earlier than the Yuan period (i 260-1367). It is spoken of 
in the Nun ^m >^ # ("Book on Agriculture") of Wan Cen BE M of 
that period, and in the Kiu hwan pen ts*ao i5C ^ i ^- of the early 

1 Bot. Sin., pt. II, No. 29. 

• The only text to this effect that I know of is the Pen ts*ao kin, quoted in the 
T'ai p'ifi yii Ian (Ch. 841, p. 6 b), which ascribes to Can K'ien the introduction of 
sesame and hu tou; but which species is meant {Pisum sativum, Faba sativa, or 
Viciafaba) cannot be guessed. The work in question certainly is not the Pen ts'ao 
kifi of Sen-nun, but it must have existed prior to A.D. 983, the date of the publication 
of the Vai p'in yii Ian. 

* West, Pahlavi Texts, Vol. I, p. 90. 

* AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 20. 

' V. LoRET, Flore pharaonique, p. 94. 

• Chinese Recorder, 1 871, p. 221 (thus again reiterated by de Candolle, Origin 
of Cultivated Plants, p. 318). The Kwan k'iin fan p"u (Ch. 4, p. 12 b) refers the 
above text from the T'ai p'in yii Ian to this species, but also to the pea. This con- 
fusion is hopeless. 

3o8 Sino-Iranica 

Ming/ which states that "now it occurs everyivhere." Li §i-($en says 
that it is ciiltivated in southern China and to a larger extent in Se- 
^'wan. Wan Si-mou ^ ffi: S, who died in 1591, in his Hio pu tsa ^u 
^ H S BR, a work on hortictdture in one chapter,^ mentions an espe- 
cially large and excellent variety of this bean from Yun-nan. This is 
also referred to in the old edition of the Gazetteer of Yiin-nan Province 
(Kiu Yiin-nan Vun U) and in the Gazetteer of the Prefecture of Mufi- 
hwa in Yun-nan, where the synonyme nan ton M S ("southern bean") 
is added, as the flower turns its face toward the south. The New-Persian 
name of the plant is hdgeld} 

1 Ci wu mift H Vu k'ao, Ch. 2, p. 142. Bretschneider (Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 52) 
has recognized Vicia faba among the illustrations of this work. 

^ Cf. the Imperial Catalogue, Ch. 116, p. 37 b. 

' SCHLIMMER, Terminologie,p.562. Arabic bdqild. Finally, the Fan yi miti yi tsi 
(section 27) offers a Sanskrit term ^ ftl wu-kia, *mwut-g'a, translated by hu tou 
and explained as "a green bean." The corresponding Sanskrit word is mudga 
(Phaseolus mungo), which the Tibetans have rendered as mon sran rdeu, the term 
Mon alluding to the origin from northern India or Himalayan regions {MSm. Soc. 
finno-ougrienne, Vol. XI, p. 96). The Persians have borrowed the Indian word in the 
form mung, which is based on the Indian vernacular tnuiiga or tnungu (as in Singha- 
lese; Pali mugga). Phaseolus mungo is peculiar to India, and is mentioned in Vedic 
literature (Macdonell and Keith, Vedic Index, Vol. II, p. 166). 


1 6. Saffron is prepared from the deep orange-colored stigmas, 
with a portion of the style, of the flowers of Crocus sativus (family 
Irideae). The dried stigmas are nearly 3 cm long, dark red, and aro- 
matic, about twenty thousand of them making a pound, or a grain 
containing the stigmas and styles of nine flowers. It is a small plant 
with a fleshy bulb-like corm and grassy leaves with a beautiful purple 
flower blossoming in the autumn. As a dye, condiment, perfume, and 
medicine, saffron has always been highly prized, and has played an 
important part in the history of commerce. It has been cultivated in 
western Asia from remote ages, so much so that it is unknown in a 
wild state. It was always an expensive article, restricted mostly to the 
use of kings and the upper classes, and therefore subject to adulteration 
and substitutes.^ In India it is adulterated with saffiower (Carthamus 
tinctorius), which yields a coloring-agent of the same deep-orange color, 
and in Oriental records these products are frequently confused. Still 
greater confusion prevails between Crocus and Curcuma (a genus of 
Zingiheraceae) , plants with perennial root-stocks, the dried tubers of 
which yield the turmeric of commerce, largely used in the composition 
of curry-powder and as a yellow dye. It appears also that the flowers 
of Memecylon tinctorium were substituted for saffron as early as the 
seventh century. The matter as a subject of historical research is there- 
fore somewhat complex. 

Orientalists have added to the confusion of Orientals, chiefly being 
led astray by the application of our botanical term Curcuma, which is 
derived from an Oriental word originally relating to Crocus, but also 
confounded by the Arabs with our Curcuma. It cannot be too strongly 
emphasized that Sanskrit kunkuma strictly denotes Crocus sativus, 
but never our Curcuma or turmeric (which is Sanskrit haridra),^ and 

1 Pliny already knew that there is nothing so much adulterated as saffron 
(adulteratur nihil aeque. — xxi, 17, §31). E. Wiedemann (Sitzber. Phys.-med. 
Soz. ErL, 1914, pp. 182, 197) has dealt with the adulteration of saffron from Arabic 
sources. According to Watt (Commercial Products of India, p. 430), it is too 
expensive to be extensively employed in India, but is in request at princely marriages, 
and for the caste markings of the wealthy. 

* This is not superfluous to add, in view of the wrong definition of kunkuma 
given by Eitel (Handbook of Chinese Buddhism, p. 80). Sanskrit kavera ("saffron") 
and kdverl ("turmeric") do not present a confusion of names, as the two words 
are derived from the name of the trading-place Kavera, Chaveris of Ptolemy and 
Caber of Cosmas (see MacCrindle, Christian Topography of Cosmas, p. 367). 


3IO Sino-Iranica 

that our genus Curcuma has nothing whatever to do with Crocus or 

As regards Chinese knowledge of saffron, we must distinguish two 
long periods, — first, from the third centtiry to the T'ang dynasty 
inclusive, in which the Chinese received some information about the 
plant and its product, and occasionally tribute-gifts of it; and, second, 
the Mongol period (i 260-1367), when saffron as a product was actually 
imported into China by Mohammedan peoples and commonly used. 
This second period is here considered first. 

Of no foreign product are the notions of the Chinese vaguer than 
of saffron. This is chiefly accounted for by the fact that Crocus sativus 
was hardly ever transplanted into their country,^ and that, although 
the early Buddhist travellers to India caught a glimpse of the plant 
in Kashmir, their knowledge of it always remained rather imperfect. 
First of all, they confounded saffron with saffiower (Carthamus tinctori- 
us)f as the products of both plants were colloquially styled "red 
flower" {hun hwa fil^). Li Si-cen^ annotates, "The foreign {fan H) 
or Tibetan red flower [saffron] comes from Tibet (Si-fan) , the places of 
the Mohammedans, and from Arabia (T'ien-fafi %^). It is the 
hun-lan [Carthamus] of those localities. At the time of the Yuan 
(i 260-1367) it was used as an ingredient in food-stuffs. According to 
the Po wu ci of Can Hwa, Can K'ien obtained the seeds of the hun-lan 
[Carthamus] in the Western Countries (Siyu), which is the same species 
as that in question [saffron], although, of course, there is some difference 
caused by the different climatic conditions. ' ' It is hence erroneous to state, 
as asserted by F. P. Smith,^ that "the story of Can K'ien is repeated for 
the saffron as well as for the saffiower;" and it is due to the utmost con- 
fusion that Stuart^ writes, "According to the Pen-ts'ao, Crocus was 
brought from Arabia by Can K'ien at the same time that he brought the 
saffiower and other Western plants and drugs." Can K'ien in Arabia! 
The Po wu ci speaks merely of saffiower (Carthamus), not of saffron 
(Crocus), — two absolutely distinct plants, which even belong to different 
families; and there is no Chinese text whatever that would link the 
saffron with Cafi K'ien. In fact, the Chinese have nothing to say re- 

1 It is curious that the Armenian historian Moses of Khorene, who wrote about 
the middle of the fifth century, attributes to China musk, saffron, and cotton (Yule, 
Cathay, Vol. I, p. 93). Cotton was then not manufactured in China; hkewise is 
saffron cultivation out of the question for the China of that period. 

2 Pen ts*ao kan mu, Ch. 15, p. 14 b. 

' Contributions towards the Materia Medica of China, p. 189. 
* Chinese Materia Medica, p. 131. 

Saffron and Turmeric 311 

garding the introduction or cultivation of saffron.^ The confusion of 
Li Si-Cen is simply due to an association of the two plants known as 
"red flower." Safflower is thus designated in the TsH min yao iw, 
further by Li Cufi ^ 4* of the T'ang and in the Sun H, where the yen-U 
red flower is stated to have been sent as tribute by the prefecture of 
Hin-yuan ^ TU in Sen-si.^ 

The fact that Li Si-6en in the above passage was thinking of 
saffron becomes evident from two foreign words added to his nomen- 
clature of the product: namely, V§ ^ ^ ki-fu-lan and }S S IP sa-fa- 
tsi. The first character in the former transcription is a misprint for ^^ 
tsa (*tsap, dzap); the last character in the latter form must be emen- 
dated into JW lan,^ Tsa-fu-lan and sa-fa-lan (Japanese safuran, Siamese 
faran), as was recognized long ago, represent transcriptions of 
Arabic za'ferdn or za'fardn, which, on its part, has resulted in our "saf- 

1 Bretschneider {Chinese Recorder, 1871, p. 222) asserts that saffron is not 
cultivated in Peking, but that it is known that it is extensively cultivated in other 
parts of China. I know nothing about this, and have never seen or heard of any 
saffron cultivation in China, nor is any Chinese account to that effect known to me. 
Crocus sativus is not listed in the great work of F. B. Forbes and W. B. Hemsley 
(An Enumeration of All the Plants known from China Proper, comprising Vols. 
23, 26, and 36 of the Journal of the Linnean Society), the most comprehensive syste- 
matic botany of China. Engler (in Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, p. 270) says that Crocus 
is cultivated in China. Watt (Dictionary, Vol. II, p. 593) speaks of Chinese saffron 
imported into India. It is of especial interest that Marco Polo did not find saffron 
in China, but he reports that in the province of Fu-kien they have "a kind of fruit, 
resembling saffron, and which serves the purpose of saffron just as well" (Yule, 
Marco Polo, Vol. II, p. 225). It may be, as suggested by Yule after Fluckiger, that 
this is Gardenia florida, the fruits of which are indeed used in China for dyeing-pur- 
poses, producing a beautiful yellow color. On the other hand, the Pen ts'ao kan mu 
U i (Ch. 4, p. 14 b) contains the description of a "native saffron" {Vu hun hwa jt 
^ ;{£, in opposition to the "Tibetan red flower" or genuine saffron) after the Con- 
tinued Gazetteer of Fu-kien ^ ^ S J^. as follows: "As regards the native 
Saffron, the largest specimens are seven or eight feet high. The leaves are like those 
of the pH-p'a ^ |C {Eriobotrya japonica), but smaller and without hair. In the 
autumn it produces a white flower like a grain of maize (su-mi ^ 7^, Zea mays). 
It grows in Fu-dou and Nan-nen-($ou ^ S ^H [now Yan-kian ^ fC in Kwan-tun] 
in the mountain wilderness. That of Fu-6ou makes a fine creeper, resembling the 
fu-yun (Hibiscus mutabilis), green above and white below, the root being like that of 
the ko 1^ {Pachyrhizus thunbergianus). It is employed in the pharmacopoeia, being 
finely chopped for this purpose and soaked overnight in water in which rice has been 
scoured; then it is soaked for another night in pure water and pounded: thus it is 
ready for prescriptions." This species has not been identified, but may well be 
Marco Polo's pseudo-saffron of Fu-kien. 

2 ru Su tsi t'en, XX, Ch. 158. 

' Cf. Watters, Essays on the Chinese Language, p. 348. This transcription, 
however, does not prove, as intimated by Watters, that "this product was first 
imported into China from Persia direct or at least obtained immediately from 
Persian traders." The word zafardn is an Arabic loan-word in Persian, and may 
have been brought to China by Arabic traders as well. 

312 Sino-Iranica 

fron."^ It is borne out by the very form of these transcriptions that 
they cannot be older than the Mongol period when the final consonants 
had disappeared. Under the T'ang we should have *dzap-fu-lam and 
*sat-fap-lan. This conclusion agrees with Li Si-5en's testimony that 
saffron was mixed with food at the time of the Yiian, — an Indo-Persian 
custom. Indeed, it seems as if not imtil then was it imported and used 
in China; at least, we have no earlier document to this effect. 

Saffron is not cultivated in Tibet. There is no Crocus tihetan us, as 
tentatively introduced by Perrot and Hurrier^ on the basis of the 
Chinese term ''Tibetan red flower." This only means that saffron is 
exported from Tibet to China, chiefly to Peking; but Tibet does not 
produce any saffron, and imports it solely from Kashmir. Stuart' 
says that '^Ts'an hun hwa S^ tCffi ('Red flower from Tsafi,' that is. 
Central Tibet) is given by some foreign writers as another name for 
saffron, but this has not been found mentioned by any Chinese writer." 
In fact, that term is given in the Pen ts'ao kan mu H i^ and the Ct wu 
min H fu k'ao of 1848,^ where it is said to come from Tibet (Si-tsan) 
and to be the equivalent of the Fan hun hwa of the Pen ts^ao kan mu, 
Ts^an hwa is still a colloquial name for saffron in Peking; it is also called 
simply hun hwa ("red flower").^ By Tibetans in Peking I heard it 
designated gur-kum, ^a-ka-ma, and dri-hzan ("of good fragrance"). 
Saffron is looked upon by the Chinese as the most valuable drug sent 
by Tibet, ts^an hian ("Tibetan incense") ranking next. 

Li Si-cen^ holds that there are two yii-kin M ^, — the yii-kin aromatic, 
the flowers of which only are used; and the yii-kin the root of which is 
employed. The former is the saffron {Crocus sativus) ; the latter, a 
Curcuma. As will be seen, however, there are at least three yii-kin. 

Of the genus Curcuma, there are several species in China and 
Indo-China, — C. leucorrhiza {yii-kin), C. longa {kian hwan ^ or S K, 

^ The Arabs first brought saffron to Spain; and from Arabic za^fardn are derived 
Spanish azafran, Portuguese agafrao or azafrao, Indo-Portuguese safrao, ItaHan 
zafferano, French safran, Rumanian sofrdn. The same Arabic root {'asfur, "yellow") 
has supplied also those Romance words that correspond to our safflow, safflower 
{Carthamus tinctorius), like Spanish azafranillo, alazor, Portuguese agafroa, Italian 
asforo, French safran; Old Armenian zavhran, New Armenian zafran; Russian 
safran; Uigur sakparan. 

2 Mat. m6d. et pharmacop^e sino-annamites, p. 94. 

3 Chinese Materia Medica, p. 132. 
* Ch. 4, p. 14 b. 

5 Ch. 4, p. 35 b. 

^ It should be borne in mind that this name is merely a modem colloquialism, 
but huH hwa, when occurring in ancient texts, is not "saffron," but "safflower" 
{Carthamus tinctorius) ; see below, p. 324. 

' Pen ts^ao kafi mu, Ch. 14, p. 18. 

Saffron and Turmeric 313 

"ginger-yellow")) ^- pcilltda, C. petiolata, C. zedoaria. Which partictdar 
species was anciently known in China, is difficult to decide; but it 
appears that at least one species was utilized in times of antiquity. 
Curcuma longa and C. leucorrkiza are described not earlier than theT'ang 
period, and the probability is that either they were introduced from the 
West; or, if on good botanical evidence it can be demonstrated that 
these species are autochthonous,^ we are compelled to assume that 
superior cultivated varieties were imported in the T'ang era. In regard 
to yii-kin {C. leucorrkiza), Su Kufi of the seventh century observes 
that it grows in Su (Se-c'wan) and Si-2un, and that the Hu call it 
^ ^ ma-^u, *mo-dzut (dzut),^ while he states with reference to kian- 
hwan {C. longa) that the Zufi ^ A call it ^ iw, *dzut (dzut, dzur) ; 
he also insists on the close resemblance of the two species. Likewise 
C'en Ts'afi-k'i, who wrote in the first part of the eighth century, states 
concerning ktan-hwan that the kind coming from the Western Bar- 
barians (Si Fan) is similar to yU-kin and ^u yao ^ ^.^ Su Sun of the 
Sung remarks that yii-kin now occurs in all districts of Kwafi-tufi and 
Kwafi-si, but does not equal that of Se-S'wan, where it had previously 
existed. K'ou Tsuri-§i ^ states that yii-kin is not aromatic, and that in 
his time it was used for the dyeing of woman's clothes. Li Si-(5en re- 
minds us of the fact that yU-kin was a product of the Hellenistic Orient 
(Ta Ts'in) : this is stated in the Wei lie of the third century,^ and the 
Lian ^u^ enumerates yU-kin among the articles traded from Ta Ts'in 
to western India.^ 

The preceding observations, in connection with the foreign names 

1 According to Loureiro (Flora Cochin-Chinensis, p. 9), Curcuma longa 
grows wild in Indo-China. 

^ This foreign name has not been pointed out by Bretschneider or Stuart or 
any previous author. 

^ This term is referred (whether correctly, I do not know) to Kcsmpferia 
pundurata (Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 227). Another name for this 
plant is ^ ^ ^ p'un-no Su (not mou), *bun-na. Now, Ta Min states that the 
Curcuma growing on Hai-nan is ^ ^ ^ p'un-no Su, while that growing in Kian-nan 
is kian-hwan {Curcuma longa). Kcempferia belongs to the same order as Curcuma, 
— Scitamineae. According to Ma Ci of the Sung, this plant grows in Si-zun and in 
all districts of Kwafi-nan; it is poisonous, and the people of the West first test it 
on sheep: if these refuse to eat it, it is discarded. Chinese p^un-no, *bun-na, looks like 
a transcription of Tibetan bon-na, which, however, applies to aconite. 

* Pen ts'ao yen i, Ch. 10, p. 3. 

^ San kwo ci, Ch. 30, p. 13. 

« Ch. 78, p. 7. 

^ The question whether in this case Curcuma or^ Crocus is meant, cannot be 
decided; both products were known in western Asia. C'en Ts'an-k'i holds that the 
yii-kin of Ta Ts'in was safflower (see below). 

314 Sino-Iranica 

^u and ma-$u, are sufficient to raise serious doubts of the indigenous 
character of Curcuma; and for my part, I am strongly inclined to believe 
that at least two species of this genus were first introduced into Se-c'wan 
by way of Central Asia. This certainly would not exclude the possi- 
bility that other species of this genus, or even other varieties of the 
imported species, pre-existed in China long before that time; and this 
is even probable, in view of the fact that a fragrant plant yil #, which 
was mixed with sacrificial wine, is mentioned in the ancient Cou H, 
the State Ceremonial of the Cou Dynasty, and in the Li ki. The com- 
mentators, with a few exceptions, agree on the point that this ancient 
yil was a yU-kin; that is, a Curcuma} 

In India, Curcuma longa is extensively cultivated all over the coun- 
try, and probably so from ancient times. The plant (Sanskrit haridrd) 
is already Hsted in the Bower Manuscript. From India the rhizome is 
exported to Tibet, where it is known as yun-ha or skyer-pa, the latter 
name originally applying to the barberry, the wood and root of which, 
like Curcuma, yield a yellow dye. 

Ibn al-Baitar understands by kurkum the genus Curcuma, not Cro- 
cus, as is obvious from his definition that it is the great species of the 
tinctorial roots. These roots come from India, being styled hard in 
Persian; this is derived from Sanskrit haridrd (Curcuma longa). Ibn 
Hassan, however, observes that the people of Basra bestow' on hard 
the name kurkum, which is the designation of saffron, and to which it 
is assimilated; but then he goes on to confound saffron with the root of 
wars, which is a Memecylon (see below). ^ Turmeric is called in Persian 
zird-cUhe or darzard (''yellow wood"). According to Garcia da Orta, 
it was much exported from India to Arabia and Persia; and there was 
unanimous opinion that it did not grow in Persia, Arabia, or Turkey, 
but that all comes from India. ^ 

The name yU-kin, or with the addition hiaii (''aromatic"),^ is fre- 
quently referred in ancient documents to two different plants of Indian 
and Iranian countries, — Memecylon tinctorium and Crocus sativus, the 

1 Cf. Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. II, No. 408. 

2 Leclerc, Traits des simples, Vol. Ill, p. 167. 
' C. Markham, Colloquies, p. 163. 

* As a matter of principle, the term yii-kin Man strictly refers to saffron. It is 
this term which Bretschneider (Bot. Sin., pt. II, No. 408) was unable to identify, 
and of which Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 140) was compelled to admit, 
"The plant is not yet identified, but is probably not Curcuma^ The latter remark 
is to the point. The descriptions we have of yu-kin\hian, and which are given below, 
exclude any idea of a Curcuma. The modern Japanese botanists apply the term yii-kin 
Man (Japanese ukkonko) to Tulipa gesneriana, a flower of Japan (Matsumura, 
No. 3193)- 

Saffron and Turmeric 315 

latter possibly confounded again with Curcuma} It is curious that 
in the entire Pen-ts'ao literature the fact has been overlooked that under 
the same name there is also preserved the ancient description of a tree. 
This fact has escaped all European writers, with the sole exception of 
Palladius. In his admirable Chinese-Russian Dictionary^ he gives 
the following explanation of the term yii-kin: "Designation of a tree 
in Ki-pin; yellow blossoms, which are gathered, and when they begin 
to \\dther, are pressed, the sap being mixed with other odorous sub- 
stances; it is found likewise in Ta Ts'in, the blossoms being like those 
of saffron, and is utilized in the coloration of wine." 

A description of this tree yii-kin is given in the Buddhist dictionary 
Yi tsHe kin yin i^ of a.d. 649 as follows: "This is the name of a tree, 
the habitat of which is in the country Ki-pin M ^ (Kashmir). Its 
flowers are of yellow color. The trees are planted from the flowers. 
One waits till they are faded; the sap is then pressed out of them and 
mixed with other substances. It serves as an aromatic. The grains 
of the flowers also are odoriferous, and are likewise employed as aro- 

I am inclined to identify this tree with Memecylon tinctorium, M. 
edule, or M, capitellatum (Melastomaceae) , a very common, small tree 
or large shrub in the east and south of India, Ceylon, Tenasserim, and 
the Andamans. The leaves are employed in southern India for dyeing 
a "delicate yellow lake." The flowers produce an evanescent yellow.* 
In restricting the habitat of the tree to Kashmir, Hiian Yin is doubtless 
influenced by the notion that saffron (yii-kin) was an exclusive product 
of Kashmir (see below). 

The same tree is described by Abu Mansur under the name wars 
as a saffron-like plant of yellow color and fragrant, and employed by 
Arabic women for dyeing garments.^ The ancients were not acquainted 

^ A third identification has been given by Bretschneider (Chinese Recorder, 
1 87 1, p. 222), who thought that probably the sumbul (Sumbulus moschatus) is meant. 
This is a mistaken botanical name, but he evidently had in mind the so-called musk- 
root of Euryangium or Ferula sumbul, of musk-like odor and acrid taste. The only 
basis for this identification might be sought in the fact that one of the synonymes 
given for yii-kin hian in the Pen ts'ao is ts'ao Se Man !^ ^ § ("vegetable musk"); 
this name itself, however, is not explained. Saffron, of course, has no musk odor; 
and the term ts^ao se hian surely does not relate to saffron, but is smuggled in here 
by mistake. The Tien hai yii hen ci (Ch. 3, p. i b, see above, p. 228) also equates ^'m- 
kin hian with ts'ao Se hian, adding that the root is like ginger and colors wine yel- 
low. This would decidedly hint at a Curcuma. 

^ Vol. II, p. 202. 

^ Ch. 24, p. 8 (cf. Beginnings of Porcelain, p. 115; and above, p. 258). 

* Watt, Dictionary of the Economic Products of India, Vol. V, p. 227. 

* AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 145. 

3i6 Sino-Iranica 

with this dye. Abu Hanifa has a long discourse on it.^ Ibn Hassan 
knew the root of wars^ and confounded it with saffron.^ Ibn al-Baitar 
offers a lengthy notice of it.^ Two species are distinguished, — one from 
Ethiopia, black, and of inferior quaHty; and another from India, of a 
brilliant red, yielding a dye of a pure yellow. A variety called hdrida 
dyes red. It is cultivated in Yemen. Also the association with Cur- 
cuma and Crocus is indicated. Isak Ibn Amran remarks, ''It is said 
that wars represents roots of Curcuma, which come from China and 
Yemen"; and Ibn Massa el-Basri says, "It is a substance of a brilliant 
red which resembles pounded saffron." This explains why the Chinese 
included it in the term yii-kin. Leclerc also has identified the wars 
of the Arabs with Memecylon tinctorium, and adds, "L'ouars n'est pas 
le produit exclusif de I'Arabie. On le rencontre abondamment dans 
ITnde, notamment aux environs de Pondichery qui en a envoye en 
Europe, aux demi^res expositions. II s'appelle kana dans le pays."^ 
The Yamato honzo speaks of yii-kin as a dye-stuff coming from Siam; 
this seems to be also Memecylon. 

The fact that the Chinese included the product of Memecylon in 
the term yii-kin appears to indicate that this cheap coloring-matter 
was substituted in trade for the precious saffron. 

While the Chinese writers on botany and pharmacology have over- 
looked yii-kin as the name of a tree, they have clearly recognized that 
the term principally serves for the designation of the saffron, the product 
of the Crocus sativus. This fact is well borne out by the descriptions 
and names of the plant, as well as by other evidence. 

The account given of Central India in the Annals of the Liang 
Dynasty^ expressly states that yii-kin is produced solely in Kashmir 
(Ea-pin), that its flower is perfectly yellow and fine, resembling the 
flower fu-yun {Hibiscus mutahilis) . Kashmir was always the classical 
land famed for the cultivation of saffron, which was (and is) thence 
exported to India, Tibet, Mongolia, and China. In Kashmir, U^diyana, 

1 AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 272. 

2 Leclerc, Trait6 des simples, Vol. Ill, p. 167. 

* Ihid.f p. 409. 

* Arabic wars has also been identified with Flemingia congesta (Watt, Diction- 
ary, Vol. Ill, p. 400) and Mallotus philippinensis (ibid., Vol. V, p. 114). The whole 
subject is much confused, particularly by Fluckiger and Hanbury (Pharma- 
cographia, p. 573; cf. also G. Jacob, Beduinenleben, p. 15, and Arab. Geographen, 
p. 166), but this is not the place to discuss it. The Chinese description of the yii-kin 
tree does not correspond to any of these plants. 

^ Lian Su, Ch. 54, p. 7 b. This work was compiled by Yao Se-lien in the first 
half of the seventh century from documents of the Liang dynasty, which ruled from 

A.D. 502 to 556. 

Saffron and Turmeric 317 

and Jaguda (Zabulistan) it was observed by the famous pilgrim Hiian 
Tsafi in the seventh century.^ The Buddhist traveller Yi Tsifi (671-695) 
attributes it to northern India.^ 

The earliest description of the plant is preserved in the Nan cou i 
wu ci, written by Wan Cen in the third century a.d.,' who says, ''The 
habitat of yil-kin is in the country Ki-pin (Kashmir), where it is culti- 
vated by men, first of all, for the purpose of being offered to the Buddha. 
After a few days the flower fades away, and then it is utilized on 
account of its color, which is uniformly yellow. It resembles the fu-yun 
(Hibiscus) and a young lotus {Nelumbium speciosum), and can render 
wine aromatic." This characteristic is fairly correct, and unequivocally 
applies to the Crocus, which indeed has the appearance of a liliaceous 
plant, and therefore belongs to the family Irideae and to the order 
Liliiflorae. The observation in regard to the short duration of the 
flowers is to the point."* 

In A.D. 647 the country Kia-p'i flW ^Jt in India offered to the Court 
yu-kin Man, which is described on this occasion as follows: "Its leaves 
are like those of the mai-men-tun ^ PI ^ (Ophiopogon spicatus). It 
blooms in the ninth month. In appearance it is similar to fu-yun 
(Hibiscus mutabilis). It is purple-blue ^ @ in color. Its odor may be 
perceived at a distance of several tens of paces. It flowers, but 
does not bear fruit. In order to propagate it, the root must be 

^S. JuLiEN, M^moires sur les contr6es occidentales, Vol. I, pp. 40, 131; Vol. 
II, p. 187 (story of the Saffron-Stapa, ibid., Vol. I, p. 474; or S. Beal, Buddhist 
Records, Vol. II, p. 125); W. W. Rockhill, Life of the Buddha, p. 169; S. L^vi, 
Journal asiatique, 1915, I, pp. 83-85. 

2 Takakusu's translation, p. 128; he adds erroneously, "species of Curcuma,** 

' Pen ts'ao kan mu, Ch. 14, p. 22. 

* Compare Pliny's (xxi, 17, §34) description of Crocus: "Floret vergiliarum 
occasu paucis diebus folioque florem expellit. Viret bruma et colligitur; siccatur 
umbra, melius etiam hiberna." 

^ T'an hui yao, Ch. 200, pp. 14 a-b. This text was adopted by the Pen ts*ao 
kan mu (Ch. 14, p. 22), which quotes it from the T'ang Annals. Li Si-cen comments 
that this description agrees with that of the Nan cou i wu ci, except in the colors of 
the flower, which may be explained by assuming that there are several varieties; in 
this he is quite correct. The flower, indeed, occurs in a great variation of colors, — 
purple, yellow, white, and others. W. Woodville (Medical Botany, Vol. IV, p. 763) 
gives the following description of Crocus: "The root is bulbous, perennial: the flower 
appears after the leaves, rising very little above the ground upon a slender succulent 
tube: the leaves rise higher than the flower, are linear, simple, radical, of a rich 
green colour, with a white line running in the centre, and all at the base inclosed 
along with the tube of the flower in a membranous sheath. The flower is large, of a 
bluish purple, or lilac colour: the corolla consists of six petals, which are nearly 
elliptical, equal, and turned inwards at the edges. The filaments are three, short, 
tapering, and support long erect yellow antherae. The germen is roundish, from 

3i8 Sino-Iranica 

The last clause means that the plant i^ propagated from 
bulbs. There is a much earlier tribute-gift of saffron on record. In 
A.D. 519, King Jayavarman of Fu-nan (Camboja) offered saffron with 
storax and other aromatics to the Chinese Court.^ Accordingly we have 
to assume that in the sixth century saffron was traded from India to 
Camboja. In fact we know from the T'ang Annals that India, in her 
trade with Camboja and the anterior Orient, exported to these coun- 
tries diamonds, sandal-wood, and saffron.^ The T'ang Annals, further, 
mention saffron as a product of India, Kashmir, Uddiyana, Jaguda, 
and Baltistan.^ In a.d. 719 the king of Nan (Bukhara) presented 
thirty pounds of saffron to the Chinese Emperor.^ 

Li Si-cen has added to his notice of yil-kin Man a Sanskrit name 
^ ffi ^ c'a-ku-mo, *dza-gu-ma, which he reveals from the Suvar- 
^aprabhasa-sutra.^ This term is likewise given, with the translation 
yil-kifiy in the Chinese-Sanskrit Dictionary Fan yi min yi tsi.^ This name 
has been discussed by me and identified with Sanskrit jaguda through 
the meditim of a vernacular form *jaguma, the ending -ma corresponding 
to that of Tibetan ^a-ka-maJ 

A singular position is taken by C'en Ts'an-k'i, who reports, " Yil-kin 
aromatic grows in the country Ta Ts'in. It flowers in the second or 
third month, and has the appearance of the hun-lan (saffiower. Car- 
thamus tinctorius) ,^ In the fourth or fifth month the flowers are gathered 
and make an aromatic." This, of course, cannot refer to the saffron 
which blooms in September or October. C'en Ts'afi-k'i has created 
confusion, and has led astray Li Si-&n, who wrongly enumerates hun- 
lan hwa among the synonymes of yU-kin hian. 

The inhabitants of Ku-lin (Quilon) 1^ & rubbed their bodies with 

which issues a slender style, terminated by three long convoluted stigmata, of a 
deep yellow colour. The capsule is roundish, three-lobed, three-celled, three-valved, 
and contains several round seeds. It flowers in September and October." 

^ According to the Lian H; cf . Pelliot, Bull, de VEcolefrangaise, Vol. Ill, p. 270. 

2 T'an Su, Ch. 221 A, p. 10 b. 

3 Kiu Tan Su, Ch. 221 B, p. 6; 198, pp. 8 b, 9; T'an H, Ch. 221 a, p. 10 b; cf. 
Chavannes (Documents sur les Tou-kiue occidentaux, pp. 128, 150, 160, 166), 
whose identification with Curcuma longa is not correct. 

* Chavannes, ihid., p. 203. 

5 The passage in which Li §i-5en cites this term demonstrates clearly that he 
discriminated well between Crocus and Curcuma; for he adds that "6'a-ku-mo is 
the aromatic of the yii-kin flower (Crocus), but that, while it is identical in name 
with the yii-kin root (Curcuma) utilized at the present time, the two plants are 

« Ch. 8, p. ID b. 

7 Toung Pao, 191 6, p. 458. 

8 See below, p. 324. 

Saffron and Turmeric 319 

yii-ktn after every bath, with the intention of making it resemble the 
**gold body" of a Buddha.^ Certainly they did not smear their bodies 
with *' turmeric,"^ which is used only as a dye-sttiif, but with saffron. 
Annamese mothers rub the bodies of their infants with saffron-powder 
as a tonic to their skin/ 

The Ain-i Akbari, written 1597 in Persian by Abul Fazl 'Allami 
(1551-1602), gives detailed information on the saffron cultivation in 
Kashmir/ from which the following extract may be quoted: *'In the 
village of Pampur, one of the dependencies of Vihi (in Kashmir), there 
are fields of saffron to the extent of ten or twelve thousand btghas, sl 
sight that would enchant the most fastidious. At the close of the 
month of March and during all April, which is the season of cultivation, 
the land is plowed up and rendered soft, and each portion is prepared 
with the spade for planting, and the saffron bulbs are hard in the ground. 
In a month's time they sprout, and at the close of September, it is at 
its full growth, shooting up somewhat over a span. The stalk is white, 
and when it has sprouted to the height of a finger, one bud after another 
begins to flower till there are eight flowers. It has six lilac-tinted petals. 
Usually among six filaments, three are yellow and three ruddy. The 
last three yield the saffron. [There are three stamens and three stigmas 
in each flower, the latter yielding the saffron.] When the flowers are 
past, leaves appear upon the stalk. Once planted it will flower for six 
years in succession. The first year, the yield is small : in the second as 
thirty to ten. In the third year it reaches its highest point, and the 
bulbs are dug up. If left in the same soil, they gradually deteriorate, 
but if taken up, they may be profitably transplanted." 

The Emperor Jahangir was deeply impressed by the saffron planta- 
tions of Kashmir, and left the following notes in his Memoirs:^ — 

"As the saffron was in blossom, his Majesty left the city to go to 
Pampur, which is the only place in Kashmir where it flourishes. Every 
parterre, every field, was, as far as the eye could reach, covered with 
flowers. The stem inclines toward the ground. The flower has five 
petals of a violet color, and three stigmas producing saffron are found 
within it, and that is the purest saffron. In an ordinary year, 400 

* Lin wai tai ta, Ch. 2, p. 13. 
2 HiRTH, Chau Ju-kua, p. 91. 

' Perrot and Hurrier, Mat. m^d. et pharmacop^e sino-annamites, p. 94. 
Cf. also Marco Polo's observation (Yule's edition, Vol. II, p. 286) that the faces 
of stuffed monkeys on Java are daubed with saffron, in order to give them a manlike 

* Translation of H. Blochmann, Vol. I, p. 84; Vol. II, p. 357. 

^ H. M. Elliot, History of India as told by Its Own Historians, Vol. VI, p. 375 

320 Sino-Iranica 


maunds, or 3200 Khurasani maunds, are produced. Half belongs to 

the Government, half to the cidtivators, and a sir sells for ten rupees; 

but the price sometimes varies a little. It is the estabhshed custom to 

weigh the flowers, and give them to the manufacturers, who take them 

home and extract the saffron from them, and upon giving the extract, 

which amoimts to about one-fourth weight of the flower, to the public 

officers, they receive in return an equal weight of salt, in lieu of money 


The ancient Chinese attribute saffron not only to Kashmir, but also 
to Sasanian Persia. The Cou ^u^ enimierates yii-kin among the products 
of Po-se (Persia) ; so does the Sui ^u? In fact. Crocus occurs in Persia 
spontaneously, and its ciiltivation must date from an early period. 
Aeschylus alludes to the saffron-yellow footgear of King Darius.^ 
Saffron is mentioned in Pahlavi literature (above, p. 193). The plant is 
well attested for Derbend, Ispahan, and Transoxania in the tenth 
century by Istaxri and Edrisi.^ Yaqut mentions saffron as the principal 
production of Rud-Derawer in the province Jebal, the ancient Media, 
whence it was largely exported.^ Abu Mansur describes it under the 
Arabic name zafardn.^ The Armenian consiuners esteem most highly 
the saffron of Khorasan, which, however, is marketed in such small 
quantities that the Persians themselves must fill the demand with 
exportations from the Caucasus.^ According to Schlimmer,^ part of 
the Persian saffron comes from Baku in Russia, another part is culti- 
vated in Persia in the district of Kain, but in quantity insufficient to 
fill the demand. In two places, — ^Rudzabar (identical with the above 
Rud-Derawer), a mountainous tract near Hamadan, and Mount 
Derbend, where saffron cultivation had been indicated by previous 
writers, — he was unable to find a trace of it. 

It is most probable that it was from Persia that the saffron-plant 
was propagated to Kashmir. A reminiscence of this event is preserved 
in the Sanskrit term vdhltka, a synon3mie of "saffron," which means 
"originating from the Pahlava."^ The Buddhists have a legend to the 

1 Ch. 50, p. 6. 

2 Ch. 83, p. 7 b; also Wei Su, Ch. 102, p. 5 b. 
^ Hehn, Kulturpflanzen, p. 264. 

* A. Jaubert, Geographic, pp. 168, 192. 

^ B. DE Meynard, Dictionnaire g^ogr. de la Perse, p. 267. See also G. Fer- 
RAND, Textes relatifs k rExtrSme-Orient, Vol. II, pp. 618, 622. 

" AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 76. 

^E. Seidel, Mechithar, p. 151. Chardin (Voyages en Perse, Vol. II, p. 14) 
even says that the saffron of Persia is the best of the world. 

8 Terminologie, p. 165. 

^ Cf. T'oung Pao, 1916, p. 459. 

Saffron and Turmeric 321 

effect that Madhyantika, the first apostle of Buddha's word in Kashmir, 
planted the saffron there.^ If nothing else, this shows at least that the 
plant was regarded as an introduction. The share of the Persians in the 
distribution of the product is vividly demonstrated by the Tibetan 
word for "saffron," ^wr-^ww, gwr-^wm,gwr-gwm, which is directly traceable 
to Persian kurkum or karkam, but not to Sanskrit kunkuma.^ The 
Tibetans carried the word to Mongolia, and it is still heard among the 
Kalmuk on the Wolga. By some, the Persian word (Pahlavi kulkem) 
is traced to Semitic, Assyrian karkuma^ Hebrew karkom, Arabic kurkum; 
while others regard the Semitic origin as doubtfiil.^ It is beyond the 
scope of this notice to deal with the history of saffron in the west and 
Europe, on which so much has been written."* 

From the preceding investigation it follows that the word yii-kin 
W ^, owing to its multiplicity of meaning, offers some difficulty to 
the translator of Chinese texts. The general rule may be laid down that 
yU-kin, whenever it hints at a plant or product of China, denotes a 
species of Curcuma, but that, when used with reference to India, Indo- 
China, and Iran, the greater probability is in favor of Crocus. The term 
yii-kin Man ("yii-kin aromatic"), with reference to foreign countries, 
almost invariably appears to refer to the latter plant, which indeed 
served as an aromatic; while the same term, as will be seen below, with 
reference to China, again denotes Curcuma. The question may now be 
raised. What is the origin of the word yii-kin? And what was its original 
meaning? In 1886 Hirth^ identified yU-kin with Persian karkam 
("saffron"), and restated this opinion in 1911,^ by falling back on an 
ancient pronunciation *hat-kam. Phonetically this is not very con- 
vincing, as the Chinese would h9,rdly have employed an initial h for 

1 ScHiEFNER, Taranatha, p. 13; cf. also J. Przyluski, Journal asiatique, 19 14 

n, p. 537. 

2 T'oung Pao, 191 6, p. 474. Cf. also Sogdian kurkumba and Tokharian kurkama. 

3 Horn, Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, Vol. I, pt. 2, p. 6. Besides kurkum, 
there are Persian kakbdn and kaji^a, which denote "saffron in the flower." Old 
Armenian k'rk'um is regarded as a loan from Syriac kurkemd (Hubschmann, Armen. 
Gram., p. 320). 

* In regard to saffron among the Arabs, see Leclerc, Trait6 des simples, 
Vol. II, pp. 208-210. In general cf. J. Beckmann, Beytrage zur Geschichte der 
Erfindungen, 1784, Vol. II, pp. 79-91 (also in English translation); Fluckiger and 
Hanbury, Pharmacographia, pp. 663-669; A. de Candolle, Geographic botanique, 
p. 857, and Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 166; Hehn, Kulturpflanzen (8th ed.), 
pp. 264-270; Watt, Dictionary, Vol. II, p. 592; W. Heyd, Histoire du commerce du 
levant. Vol. II, p. 668, etc. 

•^ Journal China Branch Roy. As. Soc, Vol. XXI, p. 221. 

" Chau Ju-kua, p. 91. 

322 Sino-Iranica 

the reproduction of a foreign k; but the character yu in transcriptions 
usually answers to *ut, ud. The whole theory, however, is exposed to 
much graver objections. The Chinese themselves do ^ot admit that 
yii-kin represents a foreign word; nowhere do they say that yii-kin is 
Persian, Sanskrit, or anything of the sort; on the contrary, they regard 
it as an element of their own language. Moreover, if yii-kin should 
originally designate the saffron, how, then, did it happen that this alleged 
Persian word was transferred to the genus Curcumaj some species of 
which are even indigenous to China, and which, at any rate, has been 
acclimated there for a long period? The case, indeed, is not simple, and 
requires closer study. Let us see what the Chinese have to say con- 
cerning the word yii-kin. Pelliot^ has already clearly, though briefly, 
outlined the general situation by calling attention to the fact that as 
early as the beginning of the second centtny, yii-kin is mentioned in 
the dictionary Swo wen as the name of an odoriferous plant, offered as 
tribute by the people of Yii, the present Yu-lin in Kwafi-si Province; 
hence he inferred that the sense of the word should be "gold of Yii,'' 
in allusion to the yellow color of the product. We read in the Swi kin 
H ^M. W as follows: "The district Kwei-lin ft » ffl^ of the Ts'in 
dynasty had its name changed into the Yu-lin district ^ # ^ in the 
sixth year of the period Yiian-tifi (iii B.C.) of the Emperor Wu of the 
Han dynasty. Wan Mafi made it into the Yu-p'ifi district M ^. Yin 
Sao M W [second century a.d.], in his work Ti li fun su ki MMM> 
f&ifi, says, 'The Cou li speaks of the yii ^en^K ('officials in charge of 
the plant :vw')> who have charge of the jars serving for libations; when- 
ever libations are necessary for sacrifices or for the reception of guests, 
they attend to the blending of the plant yii with the odoriferous wine 
^'aw, pour it into the sacred vases, and arrange them in their place. '^ 
Yii is a fragrant plant. Flowers of manifold plants are boiled and mixed 
with wine fermented by means of black millet as an offering to the 
spirits: this is regarded by some as what is now called yii-kin hian 
IP ^ # (Curcuma) ; while others contend that it was brought as 
tribute by the people of Yii, thus connecting the name of the plant 
with that of the clan and district of Yu.'* The latter is the explanation 

1 Bull, de VEcolefrangaise, Vol. Ill, p. 270. 

2 This work is a commentary to the Swi kin, a canonical book on water-courses, 
supposed to have been written by San K'in under the Later Han dynasty, but it 
was elaborated rather in the third century. The commentary is due to Li Tao-yuan 
of the Hou Wei period, who died in a.d. 527 (his biography is in Wei su, Ch. 89; 
Pet si, Ch. 27). Regarding the various editions of the work, see Pelliot, Bull, de 
VEcole frangaise, Vol. VI, p. 364, note 4. 

» Cf. BiOT, Le Tcheou-li, Vol. I, p. 465. 

Saffron and Turmeric 323 

favored by the Swo wen} Both explanations are reasonable, but only- 
one of the two can be correct.^ My own opinion is this: yu is an ancient 
Chinese name for an indigenous Chinese aromatic plant; whether 
Curcuma or another genus, can no longer be decided with certainty.' 
The term yii-kin means literally ^'gold of the yu plant," "gold" re- 
ferring to the yellow rhizome,^ yii to the total plant-character; the con- 
crete significance, accordingly, is ":vw-rhizome" or ^'yii-root.^' I do not 
believe, however, that yii-kin is derived from the district or clan of Yii; 
for this is impossible to assume, since yii as the name of a plant existed 
prior to the name of that district. This is clearly evidenced by the 
text of the Swi kin cu: for it was only in iii B.C. that the name Yii-lin 
("Grove of the Yii Plant") came into existence, being then substituted 
for the earlier Kwei-lin ("Grove of Cinnamomum cassia' '). It is the 
plant, consequently, which lent its name to the district, not the dis- 
trict which named the plant. As in so many cases, the Chinese con- 
found cause and effect. The reason why the name of this district was 
altered into Yu-lin is now also obvious. It must have been renowned 
under the Han for the wealth of its yii-kin plants, which was less con- 
spicuous under the Ts'in, when the cassia predominated there. At 
any rate, yii-kin is a perfectly authentic and legitimate constituent 
of the Chinese language, and not a foreign word. It denotes an indig- 
enous Curcuma; while under the T'ang, as we have seen, additional 
species of this genus may have been introduced from abroad. The word 
yii-kin then underwent a psychological treatment similar to yen-U: 
as yen-U, "safflower," was transformed to any cosmetic or rouge, so yii-kin 
"turmeric," was grafted on a'ny dyes producing similar tinges of yellow. 
Thus it was applied to the saffron of Kashmir and Persia. 

^ The early edition of this work did not contain the form yii-kin, but merely the 
plain, ancient yii. Solely the Fan yi min yi tsi (Ch. 8, p. 10 b) attributes ( I believe, 
erroneously) the term yii-kin to the Bwo wen. 

2 Li Si-cen says that the district Yu-lin of the Han period comprises the territory 
of the present cou j\\ of Sun ^^, Liu 1^, Yun | , and Pin ^ of Kwan-si and Kwei- 
2ou, and that, according to the Ta Min i t'un ci, only the district of Lo-c'en ^ ^ 
in Liu-cou fu (Kwan-si) produces yii-kin hian, which is that here spoken of (that is, 
Crocus), while in fact Curcuma must be understood. 

' There is also the opinion that the ancient yii must be a plant similar "to Ian 
SB, an orchidaceous plant (see the PH ya of Lu Tien and the T'un £i of Cen Tsiao). 

* Pallegoix (Description du royaume Thai ou Siam, Vol. I, p. 126) says, "Le 
curcuma est une racine bulbeuse et charnue, d'un beau jaune d'or." 


17. A. DE Candolle,! while maintaining that the ctdtivation of 
safflower^ (Carthamus tinctorius) is of ancient date both in Egypt and 
India, asserts on Bretschneider's authority that the Chinese received it 
only in the second century B.C., when Can K'ien brought it back from 
Bactriana. The same myth is repeated by Stuart.^ The biography 
of the general and the Han Annals contain nothing to this effect. Only 
the Po wu ci enumerates hwan Ian S M in its series of Cafi-K'ien plants, 
adding that it can be used as a cosmetic {yen-U S^ ~^)} The Ku kin 
cu, while admitting the introduction of the plant from the West, makes 
no reference to the General. The TsH min yao ^u discusses the method 
of cultivating the flower, but is silent as to its introduction. The fact 
of this introduction cannot be doubted, but it is hardly older than the 
third or fourth century a.d. under the Tsin dynasty. The introduction 
of safflower drew the attention of the Chinese to an indigenous wild 
plant (Basella rubra) which yielded a similar dye and cosmetic, and 
both plants and their products were combined or confounded under 
the common name yen-U. 

Basella rubra, a climbing plant of the family Basellaceae, is largely 
cultivated in China (as well as in India) on account of its berries, which 
contain a red juice used as a rouge by women and as a purple dye for 
making seal-impressions. This dye was the prerogative of the highest 

1 Origin of Cultivated Plants, p. 164. 

2 Regarding the history of this word, see Yule, Hobson-Jobson, p. 779. 

' Chinese Materia Medica, p. 94. It is likewise an erroneous statement of Stuart 
that Tibet was regarded by the Chinese as the natural habitat of this plant. This is 
due to a confusion with the term Si-ts"an hurt hwa ("red flower of Tibet "), which refers 
to the saffron, and is so called because in modern times safiEron is imported into 
China from Kashmir by way of Tibet (see p. 312). Neither Carthamus nor safifron is 
grown in the latter country. 

* Some editions of the Po wu ci add, "At present it has also been planted in 
the land of Wei ^ (China)," which might convey the impression that it had only 
been introduced during the third century a.d., the lifetime of Can Hwa, author of 
that work. In the commentary to the Pet hu lu (Ch. 3, p. 12), the Po wu U is quoted 
as saying, "The safflower {hun hwa ^ !^, 'red flower') has its habitat in Persia, 
Su-le (Kashgar), and Ho-lu }Sf jj§^. Now that of Lian-han ^ 9| is of prime quaHty, 
a tribute of twenty thousand catties being annually sent to the Bureau of Weaving 
and Dyeing." The term hun hwa in the written language does not refer to "saffron," 
but to "safflower." Java produced the latter (Javanese kasumba), not saffron, as 
translated by Hirth (Chau Ju-kua, p. 78). The Can-K'ien story is repeated in the 
Hwa kin of 1688 (Ch. 5, p. 24 b). 


Safflower 325 

boards of the capital, the prefects of Sun-t'ien and Mukden, and all 
provincial governors.^ Under the name lo k'wei ^ # it is mentioned 
by T'ao Hun-kin (a.d. 451-536), who refers to its cultivation, to the 
emplo3mient of the leaves as a condiment, and to the use of the berries 
as a cosmetic.^ This probably came into use after the introduction of 
safflower. The Ku kin In^ written by Ts'ui Pao in the middle of the 
fourth century, states, "The leaves of yen-U ^ ^ resemble those of 
the thistle (H SS) and the p'u-kun W S" (Taraxacum officinalis). Its 
habitat is in the Western Countries ® ^, where the natives avail them- 
selves of the plant for dyeing, and designate it yen-U iS ^, while the 
Chinese call it hun-lan (fil M 'red indigo,' Carthamus tinctorius); 
and the powder obtained from it, and used for painting the face, is 
styled yen-ci fen #. [At present, because people value a deep-red 
color ^, they speak of the yen-H flower which dyes; the yen-ci flower, 
however, is not the dye-plant yen-U, but has its own name, hun-lan 
(Carthamus tinctorius). Of old, the color intermediate between ^'i # 
and white is termed hun HSl, and this is what is now styled hun-lan.]'^ ^ 
It would follow from this text that Basella was at an early date con- 
founded with Carthamus y but that originally the term yen-U related to 
Carthamus only. 

The Pei hu lu ^ contains the following information in regard to the 
yen-U flower: "There is a wild flower growing abundantly in the 
rugged mountains of Twan-6ou JS W.^ Its leaves resemble those of the 
Ian ^ (Indigofera) ; its flowers, those of the liao M (Polygonum, prob- 
ably P. tinctorium). The blossoms It, when pulled out, are from two 
to three inches long, and yield a green-white pigment. It blooms in 
the first month. The natives gather the bursting seeds while still in 
their shells, in order to sell them. They are utilized in the preparation 
of a cosmetic ^ ^ ^, and particularly also for dyeing pongee and 
other silks. Its red is not inferior to that of the Ian flower. Si Ts'o-S'i 

^P. HoANG, M61anges sur radministration, pp. 80-81. 

2 Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. II, No. 148; pt. Ill, No. 258. 

^ Ch. c, p. 5 (ed. of Han Wei ts'un ^m). In regard to the historicity of this work, 
the critical remarks of the Imperial Catalogue (cf . Wylie, Notes on Chinese Litera- 
ture, p. 159) must be kept in mind. Cf. also above, p. 242. 

^ The passage enclosed in brackets, though now incorporated in the text of the 
Ku kin cUy is without any doubt later commentatorial wisdom. This is formally 
corroborated by the Pei hu lu (Ch. 3, p. 12), which omits all this in quoting the 
relevant text of the Ku kin lu. 

^ Ch. 3, p. II (see above, p. 268). 

« Name of the prefecture of Cao-k'ifi j^ ^ in Kwan-tun Province. This 
wild flower is Basella rubra. 

326 Sino-Iranica 

^ S "®, in his Yu sie H cun iw ^ Ht f# ^f* #, says,i 'These are huh- 
Ian (Carthamus) :^ did you know these previously, Sir, or not? The 
people of the north gather these flowers, and dye materials a red-yellow 
by rubbing their surface with it. The fresh blossoms are made into a 
cosmetic.^ Women, when dressing, use this pigment, it being the fashion 
to apply only a piece the size of a small bean. When distributed evenly, 
the paint is pleasing, as long as it is fresh. In my youth I observed this 
cosmetic again and again; and to-day I have for the first time beheld 
the hun-lan flower. Afterwards I shall raise its seeds for your benefit, 
Sir. The Hiufi-nu styled a wife yen-ci 19 K,^ a word just as pleasing as 
yen-(^i M S ('cosmetic ') . The characters 19 and M have the same sound 
yen; the character ft has the sound ^ ci. I expect you knew this 
before. Sir, or you may read it up in the Han Annals.' Cefi K'ien SB S ^ 
says that a cosmetic may be prepared from pomegranate flowers." ® 

The curious word yen-ci has stirred the imagination of Chinese 
scholars. It is not only correlated with the Hiufi-nu word yen-ci, as 
was first proposed by Si Ts'o-S'i, but is also connected with § Yen-6i 
mountain. Lo Yiian, in his Er ya i, remarks that the Hiufi-nu had a 
Yen-6i mountain, and goes on to cite a song from the Si ho kiu H H W 
K ♦j^ which says, "If we lose our K*i-lien mountain S^ ^ ill ,^ we cause 
our herds to diminish in number; if we lose our Yen-ci mountain, we 
cause our women to go without paint." ^ The Pei pien pei tui At jS 
lira S, a work of the Sung period, states, "The yen-U ^ ^^ of the Yen-6i 
mountain S 5 tU is the yen-U # Sa of the present time. This moun- 

1 This author is stated to have lived under the Tsin dynasty (a.d. 265-419) 
in the T'u iu tsi t'en, XX, Ch. 158, where this passage is quoted; but his book is 
there entitled Yii yen wan su ^ ^^^. The same passage is inserted in the 
Er ya i of Lo Yiian ^ M of the twelfth century, where the title is identical with 
that given above. 

* In the text of the T'u su: "At the foot of the mountain there are hun Ian" 
' Carthamus was already employed for the same purposes in ancient Egypt. 

* This is the Hiun-nu word for a royal consort, handed down in the Han Annals 
{TsHen Han Su, Ch. 94 A, p. 5). See my Language of the Yiie-chi, p. 10. 

5 Author of the lost Hu pen ts'ao (above, p. 268). 

^ Then follow a valueless anecdote anent a princess of the T'ang dynasty pre- 
paring a cosmetic, and the passage of the Ku kin cu given above. 

' Mentioned in the T'ang literature, but seems to date from an earlier period 
(Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. i, p. 190). 

8 A mountain-range south-west of Kan 6ou in Kan-su (Si ki, Ch. 123, p. 4). 
The word kH-lien belongs to the language of the Hiun-nu and means "heaven." 
In my opinion, it is related to Manchu kulun, which has the same meaning. The 
interpretations given by Watters (Essays, p. 362) and Shiratori (Sprache der 
Hiung-nu, p. 8) are not correct. 

' The same text is quoted in the commentary to the Pei hu lu (Ch. 3, p. 11 b). 

Safflower 327 

tain produces hun-lan (Carthamus) which yields yen-ct (^cosmetic')." 
All this, of course, is pure fantasy inspired by the homophony of the two 
words yen-ci (''cosmetic") and Hiufi-nu yen-ct ("royal consort"). 
Another et5miology propounded by Fu Hou t^ ^ in his Cun hwa ku 
kin ^u 't'^'fi'^ii (tenth century) is no more fortunate: he explains 
that yen-^i is produced in the country Yen #, and is hence styled B 3a 
yen-ci (''sap of Yen"). Yen was one of the small feudal states at the 
time of the Cou dynasty. This is likewise a philological afterthought, 
for there is no ancient historical record to the effect that the state of 
Yen should have produced (exclusively or pre-eminently) Basella or 
Carthamus. It is perfectly certain that yen-ci is not Chinese, but the 
transcription of a foreign word: this appears clearly from the ancient 
form # 5, which yields no meaning whatever; 5, as is well known, 
being a favorite character in the rendering of foreign words. This is 
further corroborated by the vacillating modes of writing the word, 
to which Li Si-6en adds J^ M/ while he rejects as erroneous K tt 
and flS ^, and justly so. Unfortunately we are not informed as to the 
country or language from which the word was adopted: the Ku kin 
(^u avails itself only of the vague term Si fan ("Western Countries"), 
where Carthamus was called yen-ci; but in no language known to me is 
there any such name for the designation of this plant or its product. 
The Sanskrit name for safflower is kusumbha; and if the plant had come 
from India, Chinese writers would certainly not have failed to express 
this clearly. The supposition therefore remains that it was introduced 
from some Iranian region, and that yen-B represents a word from an 
old Iranian dialect now extinct, or an Iranian word somehow still 
unknown. The New-Persian name for the plant is gdwdUla; in Arabic 
it is qurtum} 

Li §i-6en distinguishes four kinds of yen-U: (i) From Carthamus 
tinctorius, the juice of the flowers of which is made into a rouge (the 
information is chiefly drawn from the Ku kin ^u, as cited above).' 
(2) From Basella rubra, as described in the Pei hu lu. (3) From the 
^an-liu Ui ^§ flower [unidentified, perhaps a wild pomegranate: above, 
p. 281], described in the Hu pen ts'ao. (4) From the tree producing 
gum lac (tse-kun W ^^\^),^ this product being styled 49 # BS huyen-U 
(''foreign cosmetic") and described in the Nan hai yao p'uM'M^W 
of Li Siin ^ ^^/ "At present," Li Si-cen continues, "the southerners 

* Formed with the classifier 155, "red." 
2 AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 105. 

' See below, p. 476. 

* He lived in the second half of the eighth century. 

328 Sino-Iranica 

make abundant use of tse-kun cosmetic, which is commonly called 
t^e-kun. In general, all these substances may be used as remedies in 
blood diseases.^ Also the juice from the seeds of lo k'wei ^ ^ {Basella 
rubra) may be taken, and, mixed evenly with powder, may be applied 
to the face. Also this is styled hu yen-ci.^' Now it becomes clear why 
Basella rubra, a plant indigenous to China, is termed hu yen-U in the 
T^un li of Cefi Tsiao and by Ma Ci of the tenth century: this name 
originally referred to the cosmetic furnished by Butea Jrondosa or other 
trees on which the lac-insect lives, ^ — trees growing in Indo-China, the 
Archipelago, and India. This product, accordingly, was foreign, and 
hence styled "foreign cosmetic" or "cosmetic of the barbarians" 
Qiu yen-U). Since Basella was used in the same manner, that name 
was ultimately transferred also to the cosmetic furnished by this 
indigenous plant. 

What is not stated by Li Si-6en is that yen-U is also used with 
reference to Mirabilis jalapa, because from the flowers of this plant is 
derived a red coloring-matter often substituted for carthamine.^ It 
is obvious that the term yen-U has no botanical value, and for many 
centuries has simply had the meaning "cosmetic." 

Fan C'en-ta (1126-93), in his Kwei hai yU hen ^^* mentions o, yen-U 
ffii 8h tree, strong and fine, with a color like yen-U (that is, red) , good 
for making arrowheads, and growing in Yuri cou, also in the caves of 
this department, and in the districts of Kwei-lin, in Kwafi-si Province. 
A. Henry ^ gives for Yi-6'an in Se-6 Van a plant-name yen-U ma i® Ha 
M ("cosmetic hemp"), identified with Patrinia villosa, 

1 On account of the red color of the berries. 

2 See p. 478. 

' Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 264; Matsumura, No. 2040; Perrot and 
HuRRiER, Mati^re m^dicale et pharmacop6e sino-annamites, p. 116, where lo-k'wei 
is erroneously given as Chinese name of the plant. 

* Ed. of Ci pu tsu (5ai ts'un Su, p. 28 b. 

5 Chinese Names of Plants, p. 239 (Journal China Branch Roy. As. Soc, 
Vol. XXII, 1887). 


1 8. The Nan fan ts*ao mu cwan "^ ^^S' ^ /fc tK, the oldest Chinese 
work devoted to the botany of southern China, attributed to Ki Han 
^ -^j a minister of the Emperor Hwei M (a.d. 290-309), contains 
the following notice:^ — 

"The ye-si-min ^ ^ S flower and the mo-li 5^ M flower {Jas- 
minum officinale, family Oleaceae) were brought over from western 
countries by Hu people SB A, and have been planted in Kwan-tun 
(Nan hai S W). The southerners are fond of their fragrant odor, and 
therefore cultivate them . . . The mo-li flower resembles the white 
variety of tsHan-mi ^ ^ {Cnidium monnieri), and its odor exceeds that 
of the ye-si-minJ^ 

In another passage of the same work^ it is stated that the U-kia 
}b ¥ flower {Lawsonia alha),^ ye-si-min, and mo-li were introduced by 
Hu people from the cotmtry Ta TsHn; that is, the Hellenistic Orient. 

The plant ye-si-min has been identified with Jasminum officinale; 
the plant mo-li, with Jasminum samhac. Both species are now cultivated 
in China on account of the fragrancy of the flowers and the oil that 
they yield/ 

The passage of the Nan fan ts^ao mu ^wan, first disclosed by Bret- 
SCHNEIDER,^ has givcu rise to various misunderstandings. Hirth® 
remarked, "This foreign name, which is now common to all Emropean 
languages, is said to be derived from Arabic-Persian jdsamln [read 
ydsmln], and the occurrence of the word in a Chinese record written 
about A.D. 300 shows that it must have been in early use." Waiters^ 
regarded ydsmln as "one of the earliest Arabian words to be found in 
Chinese literature." It seems never to have occurred to these authors 

» Ch. A, p. 2 (ed. of Han Wei ts'wh, Su), 

2 Ch. B, p. 3. 

' See below, p. 334. 

* The sambac is a favored flower of the Chinese. In Peking there are special 
gardeners who cultivate it exclusively. Every day in summer, the flower-buds are 
gathered before sunrise (without branches or leaves) and sold for the purpose of 
perfuming tea and snuff, and to adorn the head-dress of Chinese ladies. Jasminum 
officinale is not cultivated in Peking (Bretschneider, Chinese Recorder, Vol. Ill, 
1871, p. 225). 

5 Chinese Recorder, Vol. Ill, p. 225. 
^ China and the Roman Orient, p. 270. 
' Essays on the Chinese Language, p. 354. 


330 Sino-Iranica 

that at this early date we know nothing about an Arabic or Persian 
language; and this rapprochement is wrong, even in view of the Chinese 
work itself, which distinctly says that both ye-si-min and mo-li were 
introduced from Ta Ts'in, the Hellenistic Orient. Pelliot^ observes 
that the authenticity of the Chinese book has never been called into 
doubt, but expresses surprise at the fact that jasmine figures there 
under its Arabic name. But Arabic is surely excluded from the languages 
of Ta Ts'in. Moreover, thanks to the researches of L. Aurousseau,^ 
we now know that the Nan fan ts^ao mu cwan is impaired by inter- 
polations. The passage in question may therefore be a later addition, 
and, at all events, cannot be enlisted to prove that prior to the year 300 
there were people from western Asia in Canton.^ Still less is it credible 
that, as asserted in the Chinese work, the Nan yUe kin ki^M^iS 12 
ascribed to Lu Kia 1^ M, who lived in the third and second centiuies 
B.C., should have alluded to the two species of Jasminum} In fact, 
this author is made to say only that in the territory of Nan Yue the 
five cereals have no taste and the flowers have no odor, and merely 
that these flowers are particularly fragrant. Their names are not given, 
and it is Ki Han who refers them to ye-si-min and mo-li. It is out of 
the question that at the time of Lu Kia these two foreign plants should 
have been introduced over the maritime route into southern China; 
Lu Kia, if he has written this passage, may have as well had two other 
flowers in mind. 

The fact must not be overlooked, either, that the alleged introduction 
from Ta Ts'in is not contained in the historical texts relative to that 
country, nor is it confirmed by any other coeval or subsequent source. 

The Pei hu lu ^ mentions the flower under the names ye-si-mi ^ ^ 5? 
and white mo-li 6 ^ ^0 ffi as having been transplanted to China by 
Persians, like the pH-H-^a or gold-coin flower.^ The Yu yan tsa tsu 
has furnished a brief description of the plant, ^ stating that its habitat 
is in Fu-lin and in Po-se (Persia). The Pen ts'ao kan mu, Kwan k'iin 
fan p'u,^ and Hwa kin^ state that the habitat of jasmine (mo-li) was 

1 Bull, de VEcolefrangaise, Vol. II, p. 146. 

2 See above, p. 263. 

» HiRTH, Chau Ju-kua, p. 6, note i. 

* This point is discussed neither by Bretschneider nor by Hirth, who do not 
at all mention this reference. 

5 Ch. 3, p. 16 (see above, p. 268). 

6 See below, p. 335. 

7 Translated by Hirth, Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXX, 1910, p. 22. 

8 Ch. 22, p. 8 b. 

9 Ch. 4, p. 9. 

Jasmine 331 

originally in Persia, and that it was thence transplanted into Kwan- 
tun. The first-named work adds that it is now (sixteenth century) 
cultivated in Yun-nan and Kwafi-tun, but that it cannot stand cold, 
and is unsuited to the climate of China. The Tan kHen tsun lu j^^ 
H of Yafi Sen ^ til (1488-1559) is cited to the effect that "the name 
nai ^ used in the north of China is identical with what is termed in the 
Tsin Annals # # tsan nai hwa ® ('hair-pin') ^ ffi.^ As regards this 
flower, it entered China a long time ago." 

Accordingly we meet in Chinese records the following names for 
jasmine :^ — 

(i) ^ ^ S ye-si-miiij * ya-sit(si5)-min, = Pahlavi ydsmm. 
New Persian ydsamln, ydsmln, ydsmun, Arabic yasmin^ or ^ S S 
ye-si-mij *ya-sit-mit (in Yu yan tsa tsu)=Mid61e Persian *yasmir (?).^ 
Judging from this philological evidence, the statement of the Yu yan 
tsa tsu, and Li Si-2en's opinion that the original habitat of the plant was 
in Persia, it seems preferable to think that it was really introduced from 
that country into China. The data of the Nan fan ts'ao mu ^wan are 
open to grave suspicion; but he who is ready to accept them is com- 
pelled to argue, that, on the one hand, the Persian term was extant in 
western Asia at least in the third century a.d., and that, on the other 
hand, the Indian word mallikd (see No. 2) had reached Ta Ts'in about 
the same time. Either suggestion wotild be possible, but is not con- 
firmed by any West-Asiatic sources.^ The evidence presented by the 
Chinese work is isolated; and its authority is not weighty enough, the 
relation of the modem text to the original issue of about a.d. 300 is 
too obscure, to derive from it such a far-reaching conclusion. The 
Persian- Arabic word has become the property of the entire world: all 
European languages have adopted it, and the Arabs diffused it along 
the east coast of Africa (Swahili yasmini, Madagasy dzasimini), 

(2) "MM or y^^\ mo-li,^ *mwat(mwal)-li=ma//^ transcription of 

^ This is the night-blooming jasmine (Nyctanthes arbor tristis), the musk-flower 
of India (Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 287). 

2 There are numerous varieties of Jasminum, — about 49 to 70 in India, about 
39 in the Archipelago, and about 15 in China and Japan. 

3 From the Persian loan-word in Armenian, yasmik, Hubschmann (Armen. 
Gram., p. 198) justly infers a Pahlavi *yasmlk, beside ydsmln. Thus also *yasmlt 
or *yasmlr may have existed in Pahlavi. 

* It is noteworthy also that neither Dioscorides nor Galenus was acquainted 
with jasmine. 

* For the expression of the element li are used various other characters which 
may be seen in the Kwan k'iin fan p'u (Ch. 22, p. 8 b); they are of no importance 
for the phonetic side of the case. 

332 Sino-Iranica 

Sanskrit mallika {Jasminum sambac), Tibetan mal-li-ka, Siamese ma-U,^ 
Khmer maly or mlihy Cam molih. Malayan melati is derived from 
Sanskrit mdlatl, which refers to Jasminum grandiflorum. Mongol 
melirge is independent. Hirth's identification with Syriac molo^ must 
be rejected. 

(3) ft ^ san-mo, *san-mwat (Ftilden mwak) . This word is given 
in the Nan fan ts'ao mu ^wan^ as a synonyme of Lawsonia alba, furnish- 
ing the henna; but a confusion has here arisen, for the transcription 
does not answer to any foreign name of Lawsonia^ but apparently cor- 
responds to Arabic zanbaq (" jasmine ")> from which the botanical term 
sambac is derived. It is out of the question that this word was known 
to Ki Han: it is clearly an interpolation in his text. 

(4) M^ man hwa {'^man flower") occurs in Buddhist literature, 
and is apparently an abridgment of Sanskrit sumand (Jasminum grandi- 
florum) , which has been adopted into Persian as suman or saman. 

Jasminum officinale occurs in Kashmir, Kabtil, Afghanistan, and 
Persia; in the latter country also in the wild state. 

Jasmine is discussed in Pahlavi literature (above, p. 192) and in the 
Persian pharmacopoeia of Abu Mansur.^ C'an Te noticed the flower 
in the region of Samarkand.^ It grows abundantly in the province of 
Pars in Persia.^ 

Oil of jasmine is a famous product among Arabs and Persians, being 
styled in Arabic duhn az-zanbaq. Its manufactiire is briefly described in 
Ibn al-Baitar's compilation/ According to Istaxri, there is in the 
province of Darabejird in Persia an oil of jasmine that is to be found 
nowhere else. Sabur and Siraz were renowned for the same product.^ 

The oil of jasmine manufactured in the West is mentioned in the 
Yu yan tsa tsu as a tonic. It was imported into China during the Sung 
period, as we learn from the Wei lio W §/ written by Kao Se-sun 
M mMf who lived toward the end of the twelfth and in the beginning 
of the thirteenth century. Here it is stated, "The ye-si-min flower is 
a flower of the western countries, snow-white in color. The Hu 58 
(Iranians or foreigners) bring it to Kiao-6ou and Canton, and every one 

^Pallegoix, Description du royaume Thai, Vol. I, p. 147. 

^Journal Am. Or. Soc, Vol. XXX, 1910, p. 23. 

' Ch. B, p. 3. See below, p. 334. 

*AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 147. 

5 Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, Vol. I, p. 131. 

8 G. Le Strange, Description of the Province of Pars, p. 51. 

7 L. Leclerc, Traits des simples. Vol. II, p. iii. 

8 P. Schwarz, Iran, pp. 52, 94, 97, 165. 

9 Ch. 9, p. 9. 

Jasmine 333 

is fond of its fragrance and plants this flower. According to the Kwan 
cou Vu kin R #1 @S ('Gazetteer of Kwan-tun Province'), oil of 
jasmine is imported on ships; for the Hu gather the flowers to press 
from them oil, which is beneficial for leprosy M %} When this fatty- 
substance is rubbed on the palm-of the hand, the odor penetrates through 
the back of the hand.'* 

1 According to the Arabs, it is useful as a preventive of paralysis and epilepsy 
(Leclerc, /. c). 


19. It is well known that the leaves of Lawsonia alba or L. inermis, 
grown all Over southern China, are extensively used by women and 
children as a finger-nail dye, and are therefore styled ci kia hwa Jh ^ 
ffi ("finger-nail flower").^ This flower is mentioned in the Sanfu hwan 
fu,^ of unknown authorship and date, as having been transplanted 
from Nan Yiie (South China) into the Fu-li Palace at the time of the 
Han Emperor Wu (140-87 e.g.). This is doubtless an anachronism or 
a subsequent interpolation in the text of that book. The earliest datable 
reference to this plant is again contained in the Nan fan ts'ao mu cwan by 
Ki Han,^ by whom it is described as a tree from five to six feet in height, 
with tender and weak branches and leaves like those of the young elm- 
tree tfe (Ulmus campestris) , the flowers being snow-white like ye-si-min 
and mo-li, but different in odor. As stated above (p. 329), this work goes 
on to say that these three plants were introduced by Hu people from 
Ta TsHn, and cultivated in Kwafi-tufi.'* The question arises again 
whether this passage was embodied in the original edition. It is some- 
what suspicious, chiefly for the reason that Ki Han adds the synonyme 
san-mo, which, as we have seen, in fact relates to jasmine. 

The Pei hu lu,^ written about a.d. 875 by Twan Kufi-lu, contains 
the following text under the heading H kia hwa: "The finger-nail flower 
is fine and white and of intense fragrance. The barbarians # A now 
plant it. Its name has not yet been explained. There are, further, the 
jasmine and the white mo-li. All these were transplanted to China by 
the Persians (Po-se). This is likewise the case with the pH-H-^a Bit/' 
lS^ (or 'gold coin') flower {Inula chinensis). Originally it was only 
produced abroad, but in the second year of the period Ta-t'ufi i<, M 
(a.d. 536 of the Liang dynasty) it came to China for the first time 
(fe ^ 't*zh)." In the Yu yan tsa tsu,^ written about fifteen years 
earlier, we read, "The gold-coin flower ^ ® ffi, it is said, was originally 
produced abroad. In the second year of the period Ta-t'ufi of the 

1 Cf. Notes and Queries on China and Japan, Vol. I, 1867, pp. 40-41. Stuart, 
Chinese Materia Medica, p. 232. 

2 Ch. 3, p. 9 b (see above, p. 263). 

3 Ch. B, p. 3 (ed. of Han Wei ts'un Su). 

* Cf. also HiRTH, China and the Roman Orient, p. 268. 

5 Ch. 3, p. 16 (see above, p. 268). 

6 Ch. 19, p. 10 b. 


Henna 335 

Liang (a.d. 536) it came to China. At the time of the Liang dynasty, 
people of Kin c^ou M ^'H used to gamble in their houses at backgammon 
with gold coins. When the supply of coins was exhausted, they resorted 
to gold-coin flowers. Hence Yii Hufi ft §A said, 'He who obtains flowers 
makes money.' " The same work likewise contains the following note:^ 
*^PH-H-SaWkP ^ is a synonyme for the gold-coin flower,^ which was 
originally produced abroad, and came to China in the first year of 
the period Ta-t'ufi of the Liang (a.d. 535)." The gold-coin flower vis- 
ualized by Twan Kufi-lu and Twan C 'en-si assuredly cannot be Inula 
chinensis, which is a common, wild plant in northern China, and which 
is already mentioned in the Pie lu and by T'ao Hun-kin.^ It is patent 
that this flower introduced under the Liang must have been a different 
species. The only method of solving the problem would be to determine 
the prototype of pH-H-^a, which is apparently the transcription of a 
foreign word. It is not stated to which language it belongs; but, judging 
from appearances, it is Sanskrit, and should be traceable to a form 
like *visisa (or *vi5esa). Such a Sanskrit plant-name is not to be 
found, however. Possibly the word is not Sanskrit.* 

The Pet hu lu, accordingly, conceives the finger-nail flower as an 
introduction due to the Persians, but does not allude to its product, 
the henna. I fail to find any allusion to henna in other books of the 
T'ang period. I am under the impression that the use of this cosmetic 
did not come into existence in China before the Sung epoch, and that 
the practice was then introduced (or possibly only re-introduced) by 
Mohammedans, and was at first restricted to these. It is known that 
also the leaves of Impatiens halsamina {fun sien M* \^) mixed with alimi 
are now used as a finger-nail dye, being therefore styled Ian Ukia ts*ao 
^ J0 ¥ ^ ("plant dyeing finger-nails"),^ — a term first appearing 
in the Kiu hwan pen ts'ao, published early in the Ming period. The 
earliest source that mentions the practice is the Kwei sin tsa H ^ ^ 

1 Ch. 19, p. 10 a. 

2 The addition of 4* before kin in the edition of Pai hai surely rests on an error. 

' Cf. also Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. Ill, p. 158. 

* The new Chinese Botanical Dictionary (p. 913) identifies the gold-coin 
flower with Inula hritannica. In Buddhist lexicography it is identified with 
Sanskrit jdti {Jasminum grandifiorum; cf. Eitel, Handbook, p. 52). The same 
word means also "kind, class"; so does likewise vige^a, Q,n6. the compound ja/*'- 
vige^a denotes the specific characters of a plant (Hoernle, Bower Manuscript, 
p. 273). It is therefore possible that this term was taken by the Buddhists in 
the sense of "species of Jasminum,*' and that finally vige^a was retained as the 
name of the flower. 

^ Stuart, Chinese Materia Medica, p. 215; Pen ts'ao kan mu, Ch. 17 b, p. 12 b. 

336 Sino-Iranica 

H M^ by Cou Mi )9 ^ (1230-1320), who makes the following ob- 
servation: "As regards the red variety of the fun sien flower (Impatiens 
balsamina), the leaves are used, being pounded in a mortar and mixed 
with a little alimi.^ The finger-nails must first be thoroughly cleaned, 
and then this paste is applied to them. During the night a piece of 
silk is wrapped around them, and the dyeing takes effect. This process 
is repeated three or five times. The color resembles that of the yen-H 
(Basella ruhrum). Even by washing it does not come off, and keeps 
for fully ten days. At present many Mohammedan women are fond 
of using this cosmetic for dyeing their hands, and also apply it to cats 
and dogs for their amusement." The Pen ts'ao kan mu quotes only the 
last clause of this text. From what Cou Mi says, it does not appear 
that the custom was of ancient date; on the contrary, it does not seem 
to be older than the Sung period. 

None of the early Pen ts'ao makes mention of Lawsonia. It first 
appears in the Pen ts'ao kan mu. All that Li Si-6en is able to note 
amounts to this: that there are two varieties, a yellow and a white one, 
which bloom during the summer months; that its odor resembles that 
of must PfC ^ {Osmanthus fragrans) ; and that it can be used for dyeing 
the finger-nails, being superior in this respect to the fun sien flower 
{Impatiens halsamina). Cefi Kan-5ufi SB M 't', an author of the Sung 
period, mentions the plant under the name i Man hwa M # ffi ("flower 
of peculiar fragrance"). 

It has generally been believed hitherto that the use of henna and 
the introduction of Lawsonia into China are of ancient date; but, in 
fact, the evidence is extremely weak. In my opinion, as far as the em- 
ployment of henna is concerned, we have to go down as far as the 
Sung period. It is noteworthy also that no foreign name of ancient date, 
either for the plant or its product, is on record. F. P. Smith and Stuart 
parade the term M ^ hai-na (Arabic hinna) without giving a reference. 
The very form of this transcription shows that it is of recent date: in 
fact, it occiurs as late as the sixteenth centtiry in the Pen ts'ao kan mu,^ 
then in the K'unfan p'u of 1630^ and the Nun cen is'iian iw J^ ^ ^ ♦, 
published in 1619 by Sii Kwan-k'i # jfc ^A, the friend and supp6rter 
of the Jesuits. It also occurs in the Hwa kin of 1688.^ 

It is well known what extensive use of henna (Arabic hinna, hence 

' S ft -h, P- 17 (ed. of Pai hat). 

2 In this manner the dye is also prepared at present. 

3 Ch. 17 B, p. 12 b. 

* Kwan k'iin fan p*u, Ch. 26, p. 4 b. The passages of the first edition are 
especially indicated. 
5 Ch. 5, p. 23 b. 

Henna 337 

Malayan inei) has been made in the west from ancient times. The 
Egyptians stained their hands red with the leaves of the plant ^ (Egyp- 
tian puqer, Coptic kuper or khuper, Hebrew kopherj Greek Kvwpos). All 
Mohammedan peoples have adopted this custom; and they even dye 
their hair with henna, also the manes, tails, and hoofs of horses.^ The 
species of western Asia is identical with that of China, which is sponta- 
neous also in Baluchistan and in southern Persia.^ Ancient Persia 
played a prominent r61e as mediator in the propagation of the plant/ 
"They [the Persians] have also a custom of painting their hands, and, 
above all, their nails, with a red color, inclining to yellowish or orange, 
much near the color that our tanners nails are of. There are those 
who also paint their feet. This is so necessary an ornament in their 
married women, that this kind of paint is brought up, and distributed 
among those that are invited to their wedding dinners. They there- 
with paint also the bodies of such as dye maids, that when they appear 
before the Angels Examinants, they may be found more neat and 
handsome. This color is made of the herb, which they call Chinne, 
which hath leaves like those of liquorice, or rather those of myrtle. It 
grows in the Province of Erak, and it is dry'd, and beaten, small as 
flower, and there is put thereto a little of the juyce of sour pomegranate, 
or citron, or sometimes only fair water; and therewith they color their 
hands. And if they would have them to be of a darker color, they rub 
them afterwards with wall-nut leaves. This color will not be got off in 
fifteen days, though they wash their hands several times a day."^ It 

^ V. LoRET, Flore pharaonique, p. 80; Woenig, Pflanzen im alten Aegypten, 
P- 349. 

2 L. Leclerc, Traits des simples, Vol. I, p. 469; G. Jacob, Studien in arabischen 
Geographen, p. 172; A. v. Kremer, Culturgeschichte des Orients unter den Chalifen, 
Vol. II, p. 325. 

' C. JoRET, Plantes dans Tantiquit^, Vol. II, p. 47. 

^ ScHWEiNFURTH, Z. Ethfiologie, Vol. XXIII, 1 891, p. 658. 

^ A. Olearius, Voyages of the Ambassadors to the Great Duke of Muscovy 
and the King of Persia (1633-39), P- 234 (London, 1669). I add the very exact 
description of the process given by Schlimmer (Terminologie, p. 343): "C'est avec 
la poudre fine des feuilles siches de cette plante, largement cultiv^e dans le midi 
de la Perse, que les indigenes se colorent les cheveux, la barbe et les ongles en rouge- 
orange. La poudre, formic en p&te avec de I'eau plus ou moins chaude, est appliqu6e 
sur les cheveux et les ongles et y reste pendant une ou deux heures, ayant soin de la 
tenir constamment humide en emp^chant I'^vaporation de son eau; apr^s quoi la 
partie est lav^e soigneusement; I'eflet de I'application du henna est de donner une 
couleur rouge-orange aux cheveux et aux ongles. Pour transformer cette couleur 
rougedtre en noir luisant, on enduit pendant deux ou trois autres heures les cheveux 
ou la barbe d'une seconde pite form6e de feuilles pulv6ris6es finement d'une esp^ce 
d'indigof ^re, cultiv^e sur une large ^chelle dans la province de Kerman. Ces mani- 
pulations se pratiquent d'ordinaire au bain persan, oil la chaleur humide diminue 

338 Sino-Iranica 

seems more likely that the plant was transmitted to China from Persia 
than from western Asia, but the accounts of the Chinese in this case are 
too vague and deficient to enable us to reach a positive conclusion. 

In India, Lawsonia alba is said to be wild on the Coromandel coast. 
It is now cultivated throughout India. The use of henna as a cosmetic 
is universal among Mohammedan women, and to a greater or lesser 
extent among Hindu also; but that it dates "from very ancient times," 
as stated by Watt,^ seems doubtful to me. There is no ancient Sanskrit 
term for the plant or the cosmetic (mendht or mendhikd is Neo-Sanskrit), 
and it would be more probable that its use is due to Mohammedan 
influence. Joret^ holds that the tree, although it is perhaps indigenous, 
may have been planted only since the Mohammedan invasion.^ 

Francois Pyrard, who travelled from 1601 to 16 10, reports the 
henna-furnishing plant on the Maldives, where it is styled innapa 
{=hmd-fai, "henna-leaf"). "The leaves are bruised," he remarks, 
"and rubbed on their hands and feet to make them red, which they 
esteem a great beauty. This color does not yield to any washing, nor 
until the nails grow, or a fresh skin comes over the flesh, and then (that 
is, at the end of five or six months) they rub them again."* 

singuli^rement la dur^e de reparation." While the Persians dye the whole of their 
hands as far as the wrist, also the soles of their feet, the Turks more commonly 
only tinge the nails; both use it for the hair. 

^ Commercial Products of India, p. 707. 

2 Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, p. 273. 

' Cf. also D. Hooper, Oil of Lawsonia alba, Journal As. Soc. Bengal, Vol. IV, 
1908, p. 35- 

4 Voyage of F. Pyrard, ed. by A. Gray, Vol. II, p. 361 (Hakluyt Society). The 
first edition of this work appeared in Paris, 161 1. 


20. Under the term hu fun (Japanese koto) 68 M C't'ung tree of 
the Hu, Iranian Paulownia imperialis-/^ that is, Populus balsamifera), 
the Annals of the Former Han Dynasty mention a wild-growing tree 
as characteristic of the flora of the Lob-nor region; for it is said to be 
plentiful in the kingdom of San-san & #.^ It is self-evident from the 
nomenclature that this was a species new to the Chinese, who discovered 
it in their advance through Turkistan in the second century B.C., but 
that the genus was somewhat famiUar to them. The commentator 
Mon K'ah states on this occasion that the hu fun tree resembles the 
mulberry {Morus alha)^ but has numerous crooked branches. A more 
elaborate annotation is furnished by Yen Si-ku (a.d. 579-645), who 
comments, "The hu fun tree resembles the fun fli {Paulownia im- 
perialis), but not the mulberry; hence the name hu fun is bestowed 
upon it. This tree is punctured by insects, whereupon flows down a 
juice, that is commonly termed hu fun lei S9 1^ M {^hu-fun tears'), 
because it is said to resemble human tears.^ When this substance 
penetrates earth or stone, it coagulates into a solid mass, somewhat on 
the order of rock salt, called wu-fun kien ^Mtk ('natron of the wu-fun 
tree,' Sterculia platanifolia) , It serves for soldering metal, and is now 
used by all workmen."^ 

The T^un tien M :ft, written by Tu Yu tt fS between the years 
766 and 801, says that "the country Lou ^^ among the Si Zufi M ^ 
produces an abundance of tamarisks ^W (Tamarix chinensis), hu fun, 
and pai ts'ao & W- ('white herb or grass '),^ the latter being eaten by 

1 TsHen Han Su, Ch. 96 A, p. 3 b. Cf. A. Wylie, Journal Anthropological In- 
stitute, Vol. X, 1 88 1, p. 25. 

2 Pliny (xii, 18, § 33) speaks of a thorny shrub in Ariana on the borders of India, 
valuable for its tears, resembling the myrrh, but difficult of access on account of the 
adhering thorns (Contermina Indis gens Ariana appellatur, cui spina lacrima pretiosa 
murrae simili, difficili accessu propter aculeos adnexos). It is not known what plant 
is to be understood by the Plinian text; but the analogy of the "tears" with the 
above Chinese term is noteworthy. 

' This text has been adopted by the T'ai pHn hwan yii ki (Ch. 181, p. 4) in 
describing the products of Lou-Ian. 

* Abbreviated for Lou-Ian ^ ^, the original name of the kingdom of §an-§an. 

^This is repeated from the Han Annals, which add also rushes. The "white 
grass" is explained by Yen §i-ku as "resembling the grass yu ^ (Setaria viridis) , but 
finer and without awns; when dried, it assumes a white color, and serves as fodder 
for cattle and horses." 


340 Sino-Iranica 

cattle and horses. The hu fun looks as if it were corroded by insects. 
A resin flows down and comes out of this tree, which is popularly called 
*hu-Vun tears'. It can be used for soldering gold (or metal) and silver. 
In the colloqmal language, they say also lu # instead of lei, which is 

The Tan pen ts'ao^ is credited with this statement: '^Hu fun lei 
is an important remedy for the teeth. At present this word is the name of 
a place west of Aksu. The tree is full of small holes. One can travel 
for several days and see nothing but hu fun trees in the forests. The 
leaves resemble those of the fun (Paulownia), The resin which is like 
glue flows out of the roots." 

The Lin piao lu i^ states positively that hu fun lei is produced in 
Persia, being the sap of the hu fun tree, and adds that there are also 
"stone tears," H lei ^ M, which are collected from stones. 

Su Kuri, the reviser of the Pen ts'ao of the T'ang, makes this ob- 
servation:^ "Hw fun lei is produced in the plains and marshes as well 
as in the mountains and valleys lying to the west of Su-Sou M #1. 
In its shape it resembles yellow vitriol {hwan fan ® S),^ but is far 
more solid. The worm-eaten trees are styled hu fun trees. When their 
sap filters into earth and stones, it forms a soil-made product like 
natron. This tree is high and large, its bark and leaves resembling those 
of the white poplar and the green fun W fl?. It belongs to the family 
of mulberries, and is hence called hu fun tree. Its wood is good for 
making implements." 

Han Pao-sefi ^ 'fiS #, who edited the Su pen ts'ao S ^ ^ about 
the middle of the tenth century, states, "The tree occtu"s west of Liafi- 
&>u 2^ ^1 (in Kan-su). In the beginning it resembles a willow; when 
it has grown, it resembles a mulberry and the fun. Its sap sinks into 
the soil, and is similar to earth and stone. It is used as a dye like the 
ginger-stone {kian H 3K^).^ It is extremely salty and bitter. It is 
dissolved by the application of water, and then becomes like altim 
shale or saltpetre. It is collected during the winter months." 

Ta Mifi i^ 09, who wrote a Pen ts'ao about a.d. 970, says with 
reference to this tree, "There are two kinds, — a tree-sap which is not 
employed in the pharmacopoeia, and a stone-sap collected on the 

^ Cf. CeA lei pen ts*ao, Ch. 13, p. 33. 
2 As quoted in the Ci wu min U t'u k'ao, Ch. 35, p. 8 b. 
2 Ch. B, p. 7 a (see above, p. 268). 
^ Cen lei pen ts'ao, I.e. 
^ F. DE M£ly, Lapidaire chinois, p. 149. 

^ A variety of stalactite (see F. de M]6ly, Lapidaire chinois, p. 94; Geerts, 
Produits, p. 343; Cen lei pen ts'ao, Ch. 5, p. 32). 

The Balsam-Poplar 341 

surface of stones; this one only is utilized as a medicine. It resembles 
in appearance small pieces of stone, and those colored like loess take 
the first place. The latter are employed as a remedy for toothache." 
Su Sun, in his T^u kin pen ts'aOj remarks that it then occurred among 
the Western Barbarians (Si Fan), and was traded by merchants. He 
adds that it was seldom used in the recipes of former times, but that 
it is now utilized for toothache and regarded as an important remedy in 

Li Si-6en^ refers to the chapter on the Western Countries {Si yu 
huan) in the Han Annals, stating that the tree was plentiful in the 
country Ku-si ^ W (Turf an). No such statement is made in the 
Annals of the Han with regard to this country, but, as we have seen, 
only with reference to San-san.^ He then gives a brief r^stmi^ of the 
matter, setting down the two varieties of "tree-tears" and "stone- 

The Ming Geography mentions hu fun lei as a product of Hami. 
The Kwan yu ki^ notices it as a product of the Chikin Mongols between 
Su-6ou and Sa-^ou. The Si yil wen kien lUy^ written in 1777, states in 
regard to this tree that it is only good as fuel on account of its crooked 
growth: hence the natives of Tiurkistan merely call it odon or otun, 
which means "wood, fuel" in Turkish.^ The tree itself is termed in 
Turki tograk. 

The Hui k*ian U^ likewise describes the hu fun tree of Hami, saying 
that the Mohammedans use its wood as fuel, but that some with 
ornamental designs is carved into cases for writing-brushes and into 

Bretschneider^ has identified this tree with Populus euphratica, 
the wood of which is used as fuel in Turkistan. It is not known, however, 
that this tree produces a resin, such as is described by the Chinese. 
Moreover, this species is distributed through northern China ;^ while 
all Chinese records, both ancient and modem, speak of the hu fun 

^ Pen ts*ao kafi mu, Ch. 34, p. 22. 

2 There is a passage in the ^wi kin £u where the hu Vwh is mentioned, and may 
be referred to Ku-§i (Chavannes, T'oung Pao, 1905, p. 569). 

3 Above, p. 251. 

* Ch. 7, p. 9 (Wylie, Notes on Chinese Literature, p. 64). 

5 This passage has already been translated correctly by W. Schott (Abh. Berl. 
Ak., 1842, p. 370). It was not quite comprehended by Bretschneider (Mediaeval 
Researches, Vol. II, p. 179), who writes, "The characters hu Vung here are intended 
to render a foreign word which means 'fuel'." 

^ Above, p. 230. 

^ Mediaeval Researches, Vol. II, p. 179. 

8 Forbes and Hemsley, Journal Linnean Society, Vol. XXVI, p. 536. 

342 Sino-Iranica 

exclusively as a tree pectiliar to Turkistan and Persia. The correct 
identification of the tree is Populus balsamifera, var. genuina Wesm.^ 
The easternmost boundary of this tree is presented by the hills of 
Kumbum east of the KukunOr, which geographically is part of Central 
Asia. The same species occurs also in Siberia and North America; it 
is called Hard by the French of Canada. It is met with, farther, wild 
and cultivated, in the inner ranges of the north-western Himalaya, 
from Kunawar, altitude 8000 to 13000 feet, westwards. In western 
Tibet it is found up to 14000 feet.^ The buds contain a balsam-resin 
which is considered antiscorbutic and diuretic, and was formerly im- 
ported into Europe under the name haume facot and tacamahaca ^ com- 
munis (or vulgaris). Watt says that he can find no account of this 
exudation being utilized in India. It appears from the Chinese records 
that the tree must have been known to the Iranians of Central Asia 
and Persia, and we shall not fail in asstuning that these were also the 
discoverers of the medical properties of the balsam. It is quite credible 
that it was efficacious in alleviating pain caused by carious teeth, as it 
would form an air-tight coating around them. 

1 Matsumura, Shokubutsu mei-i, No. 2518. 

' G. Watt, Dictionary of the Economic Products of India, Vol. VI, p. 325. 

» The tacamahaca (a word of American-Indian origin) was first described 
by NicoLOSo de Monardes (Dos libros el uno que trata de todas las cosas que traen 
de nuestras Indias Occidentales, Sevilla, 1569) : " Assi mismo traen de nueva Espana 
otro genero de Goma, o resina, que llaman los Indios Tacamahaca. Y este mismo 
nombre dieron nuestros Espanoles. Es resina sacada por incision de un Arbol 
grande como Alamo, que es muy oloroso, echa el fruto Colorado como simiente de 
P eonia. Desta Resina o goma, usan mucho los Indios en sus enf ermedades, mayor- 
mente en hinchazones, en qualquiera parte del cuerpo que se engendran, por que las 
ressuelue madura, y deshaze marauillosamente," etc. A copy of this very scarce work 
is in the Edward E. Ayer collection of the Newberry Library, Chicago; likewise 
the continuation Segunda parte del libro, de las cosas que se traen de nuestras 
Indias Occidentales (Sevilla, 1571). 


21. The word "manna," of Semitic origin (Hebrew man, Arabic 
mann), has been transmitted to us through the medium of Greek fidwa 
in the translation of the Septuaginta and the New Testament. Manna 
is a saccharine product discharged from the bark or leaves of a ntimber 
of plants under certain conditions, either through the puncttu-e of insects 
or by making incisions in the trunk and branches. Thus there are 
mannas of various nature and origin. The best-known manna is the 
exudation of Fraxinus ornus (or Ornus europaea), the so-called manna- 
ash, occurring in the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor.^ The chief 
constituent of manna is manna-sugar or mannite, which occiirs in 
many other plants besides Fraxinus, 

The Annals of the Sui Dynasty ascribe to the region of Kao-6'an 
M M (Turf an) a plant, styled yan ts'e # M ("sheep-thorn"), the upper 
part of which produces honey of very excellent taste.^ 

C'en Ts'an-k'i, who wrote in the first part of the eighth century, 
states that in the sand of Kiao-ho ^ W (Yarkhoto) there is a plant 
with hair on its top, and that in this hair honey is produced; it is styled 
by the Hu (Iranians) loft ( = ^) H kHe-p'o-lo, *k'it(k'ir)-bwu5-la.3 
The first element apparently corresponds to Persian xdr ("thorn") or 
the dialectic form ydr;^ the second, to Persian hurra or hura ("lamb"),^ 
so that the Chinese term yan ts'e presents itself as a literal rendering 
of the Persian (or rather a Middle-Persian or Sogdian) expression. 
In New Persian the term xar-i-^utur ("camel-thorn") is used, and, 
according to Aitchison, also xar-i-huzi ("goat's thorn").® 

It is noteworthy that the Chinese have preserved a Middle-Persian 
word for "manna," which has not yet been traced in an Iranian source. 
The plant {Hedysarum alhagi), widely diffused over all the arid lowlands 

^ Cf . the excellent investigation of D. Hanbury, Science Papers, pp. 355-368. 

2 Sui Su, Ch. 83, p. 3 b. The same text is also found in the Wei Su and Pet H; 
in the Tai pHn hwan yii ki (Ch. 180, p. 11 b) it is placed among the products of 
Ku-§i Jl pSp in Turf an. 

' Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 258) erroneously writes the first char- 
acter jjiq . He has not been able to identify the plant in question. 

* P. Horn, Grundriss der iranischen Philologie, Vol. I, pt. 2, p. 70. 

^ In dialects of northern Persia also varre, varra, and werk (J. de Morgan, 
Mission en Perse, Vol. V, p. 208). 

« Cf. D. Hooper, Journal As. Soc. Bengal, Vol. V, 1909, p. 33. 


344 Sino-Iranica 

of Persia, furnishes manna only in certain districts. Wherever it fails 
to yield this product, it serves as pasture to the camels (hence its name 
"thorn of camels"), and, according to the express assiirance of Schlim- 
MER,i also to the sheep and goats. "Les indigenes des contr^es de la 
Perse, oii se fait la r^colte de teren-djebin, me disent que les pasteurs 
sont obliges par les institutions communales de s'^loigner avec leurs 
troupeaux des plaines oti la plante mannif^re abonde, parce que les 
moutons et ch^vres ne manqueraient de faire avorter la r^colte." In 
regard to a related species (Hedysarum semenowi), S. Korzinski^ 
states that it is particularly relished by the sheep which fatten on it. 

The Lian se kun tse H ^ ^ -f Ifi^ is cited in the Pen ts'ao kan mu 
as follows: "In Kao-6'afi there is manna {^s^e mi Jll 3f). Mr. Kie i^ 
^ says. In the town Nan-p'in ffi ^^ isfe the plant yan ts'e is devoid of 
leaves, its honey is white in color and sweet of taste. The leaves of the 
plant yan ts'e in Salt City (Yen S'en S Wd) are large, its honey is dark 
# in color, and its taste is indifferent. Kao-6'afi is the same as Kiao-ho, 
and is situated in the land of the Western Barbarians (Si Fan S ^) f 
at present it forms a large department (ta Sou ::fe ffl)." 

Wan Yen-te, who was sent on a mission to Turf an in a.d. 981, 
mentions the plant and its sweet manna in his narrative.^ 

Cou K'u-fei, who wrote the Lin wai tai ta in 11 78, describes the 
"genuine manna (sweet dew) " M "tt* S of Mosul ("^ M M Wu-se-li) 
as follows:^ "This country has a number of famous mountains. When 
the auttunn-dew falls, it hardens under the influence of the sun-rays 
into a substance of tjbe appearance of sugar and hoar-frost, which is 
gathered and consumed. It has purif )dng, cooling, sweet, and nutritious 
qualities, and is known as genuine manna. "^ 

Wan Ta-yiian te ::^ l^, in his Tao i U lio ^ ^ iS S of 1349,^ has 

1 Tenninologie, p. 357. 

2 Vegetation of Turkistan (in Russian), p. 77. 

3 The work of Can Yue (a.d. 667-730) ; see The Diamond, this volume, p. 6. 

* Other texts write ^ hu. 

5 This term, which in general denotes Tibet, but certainly cannot refer to Tibet 
in this connection, has evidently misled Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 258) 
into saying that the substance is spoken of as coming from Tangut. 

« Cf. W. ScHOTT, Zur Uigurenfrage II, p. 47 {Ahh. Berl. Akad., 1875). 

^ Ch. 3, p. 3 b (ed. of Ci pu tsu tai ts'un Su). Regarding the term kan lu, which 
also translates Sanskrit amrjta, see Chavannes and Pelliot, Traits manich^en, 
p. 155. 

8 The same text with a few insignificant changes has been copied by Cao Zu-kwa 
(Hirth's translation, p. 140). 

' Regarding this work, cf. Pelliot, Bull, de VEcole frangaise, Vol. IV, p. 255. 

Manna 345 

the following note regarding manna {kan lu) in Ma-k'o-se-li : ^ "Every 
year during the eighth and ninth months it rains manna, when the 
people make a pool to collect it. At sunrise it will condense like water- 
drops, and then it is dried. Its flavor is like that of crystallized sugar. 
They also store it in jars, mixing it with hot water, and this beverage 
serves as a remedy for malaria. There is an old saying that this is the 
country of the Amritaraja-tathagata "H* ^ i ^ ^."^ 

Li Si-($en, after quoting the texts of C'en Ts'afi-k'i, the Pei H, etc.,^ 
arrives at the conclusion that these data refer to the same honey-bearing 
plant, but that it is unknown what plant is to be understood by the 
term yah ts*e. 

The Turki name for this plant is yantaq^ and the sweet resin accumu- 
lating on it is styled yantaq Sdkdri C^yantaq sugar ").^ 

The modem Persian name for the manna is tdr-dngubin (Arabic 
terenjobtn; hence Spanish tereniahin) ; and the plant which exudates the 
sweet substance, as stated, is styled xar-i-Sutur ("camel-thorn")- The 
manna suddenly appears toward the close of the summer during the 
night, and must be gathered during the early hours of the morning. It 
is eaten in its natural state, or is utilized for sjrup (Ure) in Central Asia 
or in the sugar-factories of Meshed and Yezd in Persia.^ The Persian 
word became known to the Chinese from Samarkand in the tran- 
scription ta-lah-ku-pin ^ W "fe X.^ The product is described under 
the title kan lu '^ % ("sweet dew") as being derived from a small 
plant, one to two feet high, growing densely, the leaves being fine like 
those of an Indigofera (Ian), The autumn dew hardens on the siirface 
of the stems, and this product has a taste like sugar. It is gathered and 
boiled into sweetmeats. Under the same name, kan-lu, the Kwan yu ki'' 
describes a small plant of Samarkand, on the leaves of which accumu- 
lates in the autumn a dew as sweet in taste as honey, the leaves resem- 

1 Unidentified. It can hardly be identified with Mosul, as intimated by 


2 RocKHiLL, T'oung Pao, 1915, p. 622. This Buddhist term has crept in here 
owing to the fact that ^o« lu ("sweet dew") serves as rendering of Sanskrit amr,ita 
("the nectar of the gods") and as designation for manna. 

2 Also the Yu yafi tsa tsu, but this passage refers to India and to a different 
plant, and is therefore treated below in its proper setting. 

^ A. V. Le Coq, Sprichworter und Lieder aus Turfan, p. 99. If the supposition 
of B. MuNKACSi (Keleti szemle, Vol. XI, 1910, p. 353) be correct, that Hungarian 
gyanta (gydnta, jdnta, gyenta, "resin") and gyantdr ("varnish") may be Turkish 
loan-words, the above Turki name would refer to the resinous character of the plant. 

5 VAmb^ry, Skizzen aus Mittelasien, p. 189. 

« Ta Min i t'un U, Ch. 89, p. 23. 

^ Ch. 24, p. 26, of the edition printed in 1744; this passage is not contained in 
the original edition of 1600 (cf. above, p. 251, regarding the various editions). 

346 Sino-Iranica 

bling those of an Indigof era (Ian) ; and in the same work^ this plant is 
referred to Qara--Khoja iK ffl under the name yan ts'e. Also the Ming 
Annals^ contain the same reference. The plant in question has been 
identified by D. H anbury with the camel-thorn (Alhagi camelorum), 
a small spiny plant of the family Leguminosae, growing in Iran and 

In the fourteenth century, Odoric of Pordenone found near the 
city Huz in Persia manna of better quality and in greater abundance 
than in any part of the world.^ The Persian-Arabic manna was made 
known in Europe during the sixteenth century by the traveller and 
naturalist Pierre Belon du Mons (1518-64),^ who has this account: 
*'Les Caloieres auoy^t de la Mane liquide recueillie en leurs montagnes, 
qu'ils appellent Tereniahin, a la difference de la dure: Car ce que les 
autheurs Arabes ont appell^ Tereniabin, est gard^e en pots de terra 
comme miel, et la portent vendre au Caire: qui est ce qu' Hippocrates 
nomma miel de Cedre, et les autres Grecs ont nomm^ Ros6e du mont 
Liban: qui est differente k la Manne blanche seiche. Celle que nous 
auons en France, apport^e de Brianson, recueillie dessus les Meleses k 
la sommjt^ des plus hautes montagnes, est dure, differente k la susdicte. 
Parquoy estant la Manne de deux sortes. Ion en trouve au Caire de 
Tvne et de I'autre es boutiques des marchands, expos^e en vente. 
L'vne est appellee Manne, et est dure: I'autre Tereniabin, et est liquide: 
et pource qu'en auons fait plus long discours au liure des arbres tousiours 
verds, n'en dirons autre chose en ce lieu." The Briangon manna men- 
tioned by Belon is collected from the larch-trees {Pinus larix) of south- 
ern France.^ Garcia da Orta^ described several kinds of manna, one 
brought to Ormuz from the country of the Uzbeg under the name 
xir quest or xircast, * 'which means the milk of a tree called quest j for xir 
[read ^tr] is milk in the Persian language, so that it is the dew that falls 

1 Ch. 24, p. 6, of the original edition; and Ch. 24, p. 30 b, of the edition of 1744. 

2 Ch. 329 (cf. Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, Vol. II, p. 192). 

' The plant is said to occur also in India (Sanskrit vigdladd and gdndhdrl; that 
is, from Gandhara), Arabia, and Egypt, but, curiously, in those countries does not 
produce a sugar-like secretion. Consequently it cannot be claimed as the plant 
which furnished the manna to the Israelites in the desert (see the Dictionnaire de 
la Bible by F. Vigouroux, Vol. I, col. 367). The manna of northern India became 
known to the Chinese in recent times (see Lu Van kun H kH ^ ^ ^ ^ ff^, p. 44, 
in TsHA lao fan ts'un ^«). 

* Yule, Cathay, new ed.. Vol. II, p. 109; Cordier's edition of Odoric, p. 59. 
5 Les Observations de plusieurs singularitez, pp. 228-229 (Anvers, 1555). 
« FLtJCKiGER and Hanbury, Pharmacographia, p. 416. 
7 C. Markham, Colloquies, p. 280. 

Manna 347 

from these trees, or the gum that exudes from them.^ The Portuguese 
corrupted the word to siracost.'* The other kind he calls tiriam-jahim 
or trumgihim (Persian tdr-dngubin). "They say that it is found among 
the thistles and in small pieces, somewhat of a red color. It is said that 
they are obtained by shaking the thistles with a stick, and that they are 
larger than a coriander-seed when dried, the color, as I said, between 
red and vermilion. The vulgar hold that it is a fruit, but I believe 
that it is a gtrni or resin. They think this is more wholesome than the 
kind we have, and it is much used in Persia and Ormuz." ''Another 
kind comes in large pieces mixed with leaves. This is like that of Cala- 
bria, and is worth more money, coming by way of Bagora, a city of 
renown in Persia. Another kind is sometimes seen in Goa, liquid in 
leather bottles, which is like coagulated white honey. They sent this 
to me from Ormuz, for it corrupts quickly in our land, but the glass 
flasks preserve it. I do not know anything more about this medicine." 
John Fryer^ speaks of the mellifluous dew a-nights turned into manna, 
which is white and granulated, and not inferior to the Calabrian. 
According to G. Watt,^ shirkhist is the name for the white granular 
masses found in Persia on the shrub Cotoneaster nummularia; white 
taranjahin { = tdr-dngubin) is obtained from the camel-thorn (Alhagi 
camelorum and A. maurorum), growing in Persia, and consisting of a 
peculiar sugar called melezitose and cane-sugar. The former is chiefly 
brought from Herat, and is obtained also from Atraphaxts spinosa 
(Polygonaceae) .* 

It is thus demonstrated also from a philological and historical point 
of view that the yan ts*e and kHe-p'o4o of the Chinese represent the 
species Alhagi camelorum. 

Another Persian name for manna is xo^kenjuinn, which means "dry 
honey." An Arabic tradition explains it as a dew that falls on trees in 
the mountains of Persia; while another Arabic author says, "It is dry 
honey brought from the mountains of Persia. It has a detestable odor. 
It is warm and dry, warmer and dryer than honey. Its properties in 
general are more energetic than those of honey." ^ This product, called 

^ Garcia's etymology is only partially correct. The Persian word is Hr-xeU, 
which means "goat's milk." Hence Armenian HrixiM, HrxeM, SiraxuSg, or Uraxui 
(cf. E. Seidel, Mechithar, p. 210). 

2 New Account of East India and Persia, Vol. II, p. 201. 

» Agricultural Ledger, 1900, No. 17, p. 188. 

* See Fluckiger and Hanbury, op. cit., p. 415. According to Schlimmer 
(Terminologie, p. 357), this manna comes from Herat, Khorasan, and the district 

^ L. Leclerc, Traits des simples, Vol. II, p. 32. 


348 Sino-Iranica 

in India guzangabin, is collected from the tamarisk {Tamarix gallica, 
var. mannifera Ehrenb.) in the valleys of the Peninsula of Sinai and 
also in Persia.^ In the latter country, the above name is likewise applied 
to a manna obtained from Astragalus florulentus and A. adscendens 
in the mountain-districts of Chahar-Mahal and Faraidan, and especially 
about the town of Khonsar, south-west of Ispahan. The best sorts of 
this manna, which are termed gaz-alefi or gaz-khonsar (from the prov- 
ince Khonsar), are obtained in August by shaking it from the branches, 
the little drops finally sticking together and forming a dirty, grayish- 
white, tough mass. According to Schlimmer,^ the shrub on which this 
manna is formed is common everywhere, without yielding, however, 
the slightest trace of manna, which is solely obtained in the small 
province Khonsar or Khunsar. The cause for this phenomenon is 
sought in the existence there of the Coccus mannifer and in the absence 
of this insect in other parts of the country. Several Persian physicians 
of Ispahan, and some European authors, have attributed to the puncture 
of this insect the production of manna in Khonsar; and Schlimmer 
recommends transporting and acclimatizing the insect to those regions 
where Tamarix grows spontaneously. 

It has been stated that the earliest allusion to tamarisk-manna is 
to be found in Herodotus,^ who says in regard to the men of the city 
Callatebus in Asia Minor that they make honey out of wheat and the 
fruit of the tamarisk. The case, however, is different; Herodotus does 
not allude to the exudation of the tree. 

Stuart^ states that tamarisk-manna is called ^^en ^u ^% ?L. The 
tamarisk belongs to the flora of China, three species of it being known.^ 
The Chinese, as far as I know, make no reference to a manna from any 
of these species; and the term pointed out by Stuart merely refers to 
the sap in the interior of the tree, which, according to the Pen ts^ao, is 
used in the Materia Medica. Cefi Tsiao SB 1^ of the Sung period, in 
his T^un U S S,^ simply defines I' en lu as "the sap in the wood or 
trunk of the tamarisk."^ 

^ See particularly D. Hooper, Tamarisk Manna, Journal As. Soc. Bengal, 
Vol. V, 1909, pp. 31-36. 
2 Terminologie, p. 359. 
^ VII, 31. 
* Chinese Materia Medica, p. 259. 

5 Bretschneider, Bot. Sin., pt. II, No. 527; Pen ts'ao kan mu, Ch. 35 b, p. 9. 

6 Ch. 76, p. 12. 

^ The Turkl name for the tamarisk is yulgun. In Persian it is styled gaz or 
gazm (Kurd gazo or gezu), the fruit gazmdzak or gazmdzu {gaz basrah, the manna of 
the tree); further, balangmuU, balangmusk, or balanjmusk, and Arabic-Persian 

Manna 349 

There is, further, an oak-manna collected from Quercus vallonea 
Kotschy and Q. persica. These trees are visited in the month of August 
by immense numbers of a small white Coccus, from the puncture of 
which a saccharine fluid exudes, and solidifies in little grains. The people 
go out before sunrise, and shake the grains of manna from the branches 
on to linen cloths spread out beneath the trees. The exudation is also 
collected by dipping into vessels of hot water the small branches on 
which it is formed, and evaporating the saccharine solution to a syrupy 
consistence, which in this state is used for sweetening food, or is mixed 
with flour to form a sort of cake.^ 

Aside from the afore-mentioned mannas, Schlimmer^ describes two 
other varieties which I have not found in any other author. One he 
calls in Persian Hker eighal ("sugar eighaV'), sa3dng that it is produced 
by the puncture of a worm in the plant. This worm he has himself 
found in fresh specimens. This manna is brought to Teheran by the 
farmers of the Elburs, Lawistan, and Dimawend, but the plant occurs 
also in the environment of Teheran and other places. Although this 
manna almost lacks sweetness, it is a remarkable pectoral and alleviates 
obstinate coughs. The other is the manna of Apocynum syriacum, 
known in Persia as Hker al-oh and imported from Yemen and Hedjaz. 
According to the Persian phamiacologists, it is the product of a 
nocturnal exudation solidified during the day, similar to small 
pieces of salt, either white, or gray, and even black. It is likewise 
employed medicinally. 

Manna belonged to the food-products of the ancient Iranians, and 
has figured in their kitchen from olden times. When the great king so- 
journed in Media, he received daily for his table a hundred baskets full 
of manna, each weighing ten mines. It was utilized like honey for 
the sweetening of beverages.^ I am inclined to think that the Iranians 
diffused this practice over Central Asia. 

The Yu yan tsa tsu has a reference to manna of India, as follows: 
"In northern India there is a honey-plant growing in the form of a 
creeper with large leaves, without withering yn. the autumn and winter. 
While it receives hoar-frost and dew, it forms the honey." According 
to G. Watt,^ some thirteen or fourteen plants in India are known to 

1 Fluckiger and Hanbury, Pharmacographia, p. 416; Hanbury, Science 
Papers, p. 287; Schlimmer (Terminologie, p. 358) attributes the oak-manna to the 
mountains of Kurdistan in Persia. 

2 Terminologie, p. 359. 

3 C. Joret, Plantes dans I'antiquit^, Vol. II, p. 93. Regarding manna in Persia, 
see also E. Seidel, Mechithar, p. 163. 

* Commercial Products of India, p. 929. 

350 Sino-Iranica 

yield, under the parasitic influence of insects or otherwise, a sweet fluid 
called "manna." This is regularly collected and, like honey, enters more 
largely than sugar into the pharmaceutical preparations of the Hindu. 

The silicious concretion of crystalline form, found in the culms or 
joints of an Indian bamboo (Bambusa arundinacea) and known as 
tabashir, is styled in India also ^* bamboo manna," — decidedly a 
misnomer. On the other hand, a real manna has sometimes been 
discovered on the nodes of certain species of bamboo in India.^ The 
subject of tabashir has nothing to do with manna, nor with Sino-Iranian 
relations; but, as the early history of this substance has not yet been 
correctly expounded, the following brief notes may not be unwelcome.^ 
Specimens of tabashir, procured by me in China in 1902, are in the 
American Museum of Natural History in New York.^ 

We now know that tabashir is due to an ancient discovery made in 
India, and that at an early date it was traded to China and Egypt. 
In recent years the very name has been traced in the form tahasis 
(ra/Sao-is) in a Greek pap5niis, where it is said that the porous stone is 
brought down [to Alexandria] from [upper] Egypt: the articles of 
Indian commerce were shipped across the Red Sea to the Egyptian 
ports, and then freighted on the Nile downward to the Delta."* The 
Indian origin of the article is evidenced, above all, by the fact that the 
Greek term tahasis (of the same phonetic appearance as Persian tahdHr) 
is connected with Sanskrit tavak-k^ird (or tvak-k^lrd; kslrd, "vegetable 
juice"), and permits us to reconstruct a Prakrit form tahaUra; for the 
Greek importers or exporters naturally did not derive the word from 
Sanskrit, but from a vernacular idiom spoken somewhere on the west 
coast of India. Or, we have to assume that the Greeks received the 
word from the Persians, and the Persians from an Indian Prakrit.^ 

The Chinese, in like manner, at first imported the article from India, 
calling it "yellow of India" {THen-^u hwan %^M). It is first men- 
tioned under this designation as a product of India in the Materia 
Medica published in the period K'ai-pao (a.d. 968-976), the K'ai pao 

1 See G. Watt, Agricultural Ledger, 1900, No. 17, pp. 185-189. 

2 The latest writer on the subject, G. P. Kunz (The Magic of Jewels and Charms, 
pp. 233-235, Philadelphia, 1915), has given only a few historical notes of mediaeval 

3 Cat. No. 70, 13834. This is incidentally mentioned here, as Dr. Kunz states 
that very little of the material has reached the United States. 

* H. DiELS, Antike Technik, p. 123. 

5 The Persian tahaUr is first described by Abu Mansur (Achundow, p. 95), 
and is still eaten as a delicacy by Persian women {ibid., p. 247). In Armenian it is 

Tabashir 351 

pen ts*ao; but at the same time we are informed that it was then obtained 
from all bamboos of China,^ and that the Chinese, according to their 
habit, adulterated the product with scorched bones, the arrowroot 
from Pachyrhizus angulatus, and other stuff .^ The Pen ts'ao yen i of 
1116^ explains the substance as a natural production in bamboo, yellow 
like loess. The name was soon changed into ** bamboo-yellow" {cu 
hwan It S) or ''bamboo-grease" (cukao).^ It is noticeable that the 
Chinese do not classify tabashir among stones, but conceive it as a 
production of bamboo, while the Hindu regard it as a kind of pearl. 

The earliest Arabic author who has described the substance is 
Abu Dulaf, who lived at the Court of the Samanides of Bokhara, and 
travelled in Central Asia about a.d. 940. He says that the product 
comes from MandUrapatan in northwestern India (Abulfeda and 
others state that Tana on the island of Salsette, twenty miles from 
Bombay, was the chief place of production), and is exported from there 
into all countries of the world. It is produced by rushes, which, when they 
are dry and agitated by the wind, rub against one another; this motion 
develops heat and sets them afire. The blaze sometimes spreads over 
a surface of fifty parasangs, or even more. Tabashir is the product of 
these rushes.^ Other Arabic authors cited by Ibn al-Baitar derive the 
substance from the Indian sugarcane, and let it come from all coasts 
of India; they dwell at length on its medicinal properties.^ Garcia 
DA Orta (1563), who was familiar with the drug, also mentions the 
burning of the canes, and states it as certain that the reason they set 
fire to them is to reach the heart; but sometimes they do not follow 
tihis practice, as appears from many specimens which are untouched 
by fire. He justly says that the Arabic name {tahaHr, in his Portuguese 
spelling tdbaxir) is derived from the Persian, and means "milk or juice, 
or moisture." The ordinary price for the product in Persia and Arabia 
was its weight in silver. The canes, lofty and large like ash-trees, 

1 The Cen lei pen ts*ao (Ch. 13, p. 48) cites the same text from a work Lin hat 
^» ES fS U, apparently an other work than the Lin hai i wu U mentioned by Bret- 
SCHNEiDER (Bot. Sin., pt. I, p. 169). 

' The following assertion by Stuart (Chinese Materia Medica, p. 64)is erroneous: 
"The Chinese did not probably derive the substance originally from India, but it is 
possible that the knowledge of its medicinal uses were derived from that country, 
where it has been held in high esteem from very early times." The knowledge of 
this product and the product itself first reached the Chinese from India, and nat- 
urally induced them to search for it in their own bamboos. 

» Ch. 14, p. 4 b (ed. of Lu Sin-yuan). 

* Pen is'ao kan mu, Ch. 37, p. 9. 

' G. Ferrand, Textes relatifs h. TExtrSme-Orient, p. 225. 

8 L. Leclerc, Traits des simples, Vol. II, pp. 399-401. 

352 Sino-Iranica 

according to his statement, generate between the knots great humidity, 
like starch when it is much coagulated. The Indian carpenters, who 
work at these canes, find thick juice or pith, which they put on the lum- 
bar region or reins, and in case of a headache on the forehead; it is used 
by Indian physicians against over-heating, external or internal, and 
for fevers and dysentery.^ The most interesting of all accounts remains 
that of Odoric or Pordenone (died in 133 1), who, though he does not 
name the product and may partially confound it with bezoar, alludes 
to certain stones found in canes of Borneo, "which be such that if any 
man wear one of them upon his person he can never be hiu-t or wounded 
by iron in any shape, and so for the most part the men of that country 
do wear such stones upon them."^ 

J. A. DE Mandelslo^ gives the following notice of tabashir: "It 
is certain that on the coast of Malabar, Coromandel, Bisnagar, and 
near to Malacca, this sort of cane (called by the Javians mambu [bam- 
boo] ) produces a drug called sacar mambuSj that is, sugar of mambu. 
The Arabians, the Persians, and the Moores call it tabaxir, which in 
their language signifies a white frozen liquor. These canes are as big 
as the body of a poplar, having straight branches, and leaves something 
longer than the olive-tree. They are divided into divers knots, wherein 
there is a certain white matter like starch, for which the Persians and 
Arabians give the weight in silver, for the use they make of it in physick, 
against burning feavers, and bloudy fluxes, but especially upon the first 
approaches of any disease." 

1 C. Markham, Colloquies of Garcia da Orta, pp. 409-414. A list of Sanskrit 
synonymes for tabashir is given by R. Schmidt (ZDMG, Vol. LXV, 191 1, p. 745). 

2 Yule, Cathay, new ed. by Cordier, Vol. II, p. 161. 

3 Voyages and Travels, p. 120 (London, 1669). 


22. The riddles of asafoetida begin with the very name: there is no 
adequate explanation of our word asa or assa. The new Oxford English 
Dictionary ventures to derive it from Persian dzd or aza. This word, 
however, means nothing but "mastic," a product entirely different 
from what we understand by asafoetida (p. 2 5 2) . In no Oriental language 
is there a word of the type asa or aza with reference to this product, so 
it could not have been handed on to Europe by an Oriental nation. 
Kaempfer, who in 1687 studied the plant in Laristan, and was fairly 
familiar with Persian, said that he was ignorant of the origin of the 
European name.^ Littr:^, the renowned author of the Dictionnaire 
frangais, admits that the origin of asa is unknown, and wisely abstains 
from any theory.^ The supposition has been advanced that asa was 
developed from the laser or laserpitium of Pliny (xix, 5), the latter 
having thus been mutilated by the druggists of the middle ages. 
This etymology, first given by Garcia da Orta,^ has been indorsed 
by E. BoRSZczow,^ a Polish botanist, to whom we owe an excellent 
investigation of the asa-fumishing plants. Although this explanation 
remains as yet unsatisfactory, as the alleged development from laser 
to asa is merely inferred, but cannot actually be proved from mediaeval 
documents,^ it is better, at any rate, than the derivation from the 

Asafoetida is a vegetable product consisting of resin, gum, and 
essential oil in varying proportions, the resin generally amounting 
to more than one-half, derived from different umbelliferous plants, as 
Ferula narthex, alliacea^ fostida, persica^ and scorodosma (or Scorodosma 

1 Amoenitates exoticae, p. 539. 

2 The suggestion has also been made thdt asa may be derived from Greek 
asi (?) ("disgust") or from Persian anguza ("asafoetida"); thus at least it is said by 
F. Stuhlmann (Beitrage zur Kulturgeschichte Ostafrikas, p. 609). Neither is con- 
vincing. The former moves on the same high level as Li §i-Sen's explanation of 
a-wei ("The barbarians call out a, expressing by this exclamation their horror at 
the abominable odor of this resin"). 

' C. Markham, Colloquies, p. 41. John Parkinson (Theatrum botanictim, 
p. 1569, London, 1640) says, "There is none of the ancient Authours either Greeke, 
Latine, or Arabian, that hath made any mention of Asa, either dulcis or fcetida, 
but was first depraved by the Druggists and Apothecaries in forraigne parts, that in 
stead of Laser said Asa, from whence ever since the name of Asa hath continued." 

* MSmoires de I'Acad. de St. Petersbourg, Vol. Ill, No. 8, i860, p. 4. 

^ DuCange does not even list the word "asafoetida." 


354 Sino-Iranica 

fcetidum)} It is generally used in India as a condiment, being espe- 
cially eaten with pulse and rice. Wherever the plant grows, the fresh 
leaves are cooked and eaten as a green vegetable, especially by the 
natives of Bukhara, who also consider as a delicacy the white under part 
of the stem when roasted and flavored with salt and butter. In the 
pharmacopoeia it is used as a stimulant and antispasmodic. 

Abu Mansur, the Persian Li Si-5en of the tenth century, discrimi- 
nates between two varieties of asafoetida (Persian anguydn, Arabic 
anjuddn), a white and a black one, adding that there is a third kind 
called by the Romans sesalius. It renders food easily digestible, strength- 
ens the stomach, and alleviates pain of the joints in hands and feet. 
Rubbed into the skin, it dispels swellings, especially if the milky juice 
of the plant is employed. The root macerated in vinegar strengthens 
and purifies the stomach, promotes digestion, and acts as an appetizer.^ 

The Ferula and Scorodosma furnishing asafoetida are typically 
Iranian plants. According to Abu Hanifa,- asa grows in the sandy plains 
extending between Bost and the country Kikan in northern Persia. 
Abu Mansur designates the leaves of the variety from Sarachs near 
Merw as the best. AcQording to Istaxri, asa was abundantly produced 
in the desert between the provinces Seistan and Makran; according to 
Edrisi, in the environment of Kaleh Bust in Afghanistan. Kaempfer 
observed the harvest of the plant in Laristan in 1687, and gives the 
following notice on its occiirrence :^ ^'Patria eius sola est Persia, non 
Media, Libya, Syria aut Cyrenaica regio. In Persia plantam hodie 
alimt saltem duorum locorum tractus, videlicet campi montesque circa 
Heraat, emporium provinciae Chorasaan, et jugum montium in 
provincia Laar, quod a flumine Cuur adusque urbem Congo secundum 
Persici sinus tractum extenditur, duobus, alibi tribus pluribusve para- 
sangis a litore." Herat is a renowned place of production, presumably 
the exclusive centre of production at the present day, whence the 
product is shipped to India. 

The exact geographical distribution has been well outlined by E. 
BoRSZczow.'' Aside from Persia proper, Scorodosma occurs also on the 
Oxus, on the Aral Sea, and in an isolated spot on the east coast of the 
Caspian Sea. Judging from Chinese accounts, plants yielding asa 
appear to have occurred also near Khotan (see below). Turf an, and 

1 The genus Ferula contains about sixty species. 

2 AcHUNDOW, Abu Mansur, p. 8. 

' Leclerc, Traits des simples, Vol. I, p. 142. 
* Amoenitates exoticae, p. 291. 

5 Femlaceen der aralo-caspischen Wuste {Memoir es de I'Acad. de St. Piters- 
hourg. Vol. Ill, No. 8, i860, p. 16). 


Shahrokia.^ We do not know, however, what species here come into 

Cao Zu-kwa states that the home of asafoetida is in Mu-ku-lan 
;}C ffi- BB, in the country of the Ta-si (Ta-d2ik, Arabs).^ Mu-ku-lan is 
identical with MekrSn, the Gedrosia of the ancients, the Maka of 
the Old-Persian inscriptions. Alexander the Great crossed Gedrosia 
on his campaign to India, and we should expect that his scientific staff, 
which has left us so many valuable contributions to the flora of Iran 
and north-western India, might have also observed the plant furnishing 
asafoetida; in the floristic descriptions of the Alexander literature, how- 
ever, nothing can be found that could be interpreted as referring to 
this species. H. Bretzl^ has made a forcible attempt to identify a 
plant briefly described by Theophrastus,^ with Scorodosma Jcetidum; 
and A. Hort,'^ in his new edition and translation of Theophrastus, has 
followed him. The text runs thus: "There is another shrub [in Aria] 
as large as a cabbage, whose leaf is like that of the bay in size and 
shape. And if any animal should eat this, it is certain to die of it. 
Wherefore, wherever there were horses, they kept them under control " 
[that is, in Alexander's army]. This in no way fits the properties of 
Ferula or Scorodosma^ which is non-poisonous, and does not hurt any 
animal. It is supposed also that the laser pittum or silphion and laser 
of PHny^ should, at least partially, relate to asafoetida; this, however, 
is rejected by some authors, and appears to me rather doubtful. Garcia 
DA Orta^ has already denied any connection between that plant of the 
ancients and asa. L. Leclerc^ has discussed at length this much-dis- 
puted question. 

The first European author who made an exact report of asafoetida 

1 Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, Vol. II, pp. 193, 254. The inter- 
pretation of lu-wei ("rushes") as asafoetida in the Si yu ki {ibid., Vol. I, p. 85) seems 
to me a forced and erroneous interpretation. 

2 HiRTH and Rockhi