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Ta-ch’in represents the country beyond and comparable to Ch’in.It has also been observed, first by Shiratori and later by others, that the accounts of Ta-ch’in bear a deep resemblance to the Taoist Utopia and are therefore not to be completely understood literally, i.e.On the assumption that Líxuān (that is, Líjiān) was in roughly the same direction, the equation with Hyrcania on the southeastern side of the Caspian Sea fits perfectly. The name Li-jien was almost surely a Chinese transcription of the Greek word “Alexandria” and originally denoted the Alexandria in Egypt.There are two other references to Líxuān in Shĭjì 123, neither of which contradicts this. For detailed reviews of the many theories about the origin and various forms of the name, see CICA: 117, n. We may even perhaps be able to tell how this word came into use in China. C., there arrived at the Chinese capital an embassy from the King of Parthia.Although the term Ch’in referred to the Chinese as early as the second century A.D., the name Ta-ch’in perhaps is best understood as simply a reflection of Ch’in as the western region of China, i.e.These are, quite naturally, territories in the ‘Roman Orient.’ Sometimes, the name is used more specifically: the Weilue gives directions across a ‘Great Sea’ (the Mediterranean) to “that country” (i.e.Da Qin) from Wuzhisan in Haixi, which is undoubtedly Alexandria in Egypt – see notes 11.5, 11.7 and Appendix C.
According to the Hou-Han shu, the Roman Empire was so named precisely because its people and civilization were comparable to those of China.” Yü (1986), p. may originally have been formed as attempts to transcribe foreign names into Chinese. It is just possible that Da Qin represents some similar process though, if this is the case, it is difficult to imagine what name it was originally intended to represent.The Romans moreover had no name for their empire other than orbis terrarum, i.e., “the world,” so that these jugglers would have found it difficult to explain the name of the Roman empire! It seems probable that the ‘Angu’ of the Weilue refers to the ancient trading city of Gerrha, and its port on the Arabian coast of the Persian Gulf.In such a fashion there probably arose the Chinese name Li-jien which, for them, denoted the Roman empire in general.” Dubs (1957), pp. See also Dubs’ detailed discussion of the various forms of this name, ibid., pp. 6.“It is possible that Li-jien originally meant ‘the land of Alexander’, just as An-hsi meant ‘the land of the Arsaces’; and that, having first been applied to the Seleucid kingdom, it was then extended to cover the nations (including Rome) whose rulers regarded themselves as the heirs of Alexander. We are told that to travel by boat from Angu to Haixi [= Egypt] with favourable winds took two months and with slow winds half a year.For the most part, such mythological elements are so strikingly evident that they represent only a minimal problem.”“In the Roman world stories, some based on fact though often much distorted in transmission, others completely fanciful, began to circulate about the Seres, that is, the Silk People. At the same time the Chinese began to hear about a country in the far west which they called Dà Qín, Great Qín, apparently thinking of it as a kind of counter-China at the other end of the world.” Pulleyblank (1999), p.A little later the name Sinae based, like Sanskrit Cīna and our present China, on Qín , the name of the short-lived dynasty that preceded Han and united China in 221 B. 71.“Moreover, as their geographical knowledge of the world grew with time, the Han Chinese even came to the realization that China was not necessarily the only civilized country in the world.