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Yuan Administrative Units in Marco Polo’s Description of the World

Stephen G. Haw

Pages 467 - 494

A number of questions relating to Marco Polo’s description of China are discussed. “Ghinghintalas” is identified with a high degree of probability; new evidence is adduced relating to the river “Brius”; and it is suggested that the toponym previously identified with Changzhou may really refer to a different town. The former identification of “Cuncun” with Hanzhong, which has been questioned recently, is reaffirmed. Marco’s concept of “Tangut” is shown to be broader than has sometimes been believed. It is pointed out that most of the cities and towns in China mentioned by Marco were the seats of government of routes (lu), only a minority being of lower status: superior prefectures (fu), prefectures (zhou) and counties (xian). Very few indeed were below the rank of county, all of these being notable for particular reasons. Overall, it is clear that, as might be expected of an eye-witness, Marco records the most important places that he visited, but also comments on places of lesser status when there was reason to do so.


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