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Gerrha admirably fits the statements in the Weilue that Angu is, “on the frontier of Anxi (Parthia)” and is in close communication with Zesan [= Azania].”“There was more about Gerrha [in the Greek and Roman writers] than about any other place in Arabia, but even so it was not more than could be committed to a small piece of paper.
Oddly enough, in Arrian’s description of Alexander’s preparation for a campaign against Arabia, including the coastal explorations of 323 B. But Eratosthenes, writing about a hundred years after Alexander, tells of the merchants of Gerrha carrying their spices and incense overland to Mesopotamia. the Gerrhaei have become the richest of all tribes, and possess a great quantity of wrought articles in gold and silver, such as couches, tripods, basins, drinking vessels; to which we must add the costly magnificence of their houses; for the doors, walls, and roof are variegated with inlaid ivory, gold, silver, and precious stones.” The historian Polybius about the same time tells of a campaign of the Seleucid king, Antiochus III, who took a fleet along the Arabian coast in 205 B.
This is rather similar to the situation today when it is commonly said that one is “entering China,” when one enters territory inhabited by other people, but controlled by the Chinese, such as Tibet, or Chinese Turkestan (Sinjiang).
Similarly, ‘Mexico’ may be used to refer to either the city or the country.
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.
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.
It is reminiscent of the rather similar names for Ferghana – Dayuan = ‘Great Yuan,’ and for Bactria – Daxia = ‘Great Xia’? 199-200 says:“For Hirth and the initial interpreters of the HHS and WL accounts, the country designated as Ta-ch’in (“Greater Ch’in”) was to be identified with the Roman East.
It was a convenient coincidence that one of the largest cities of the West also bore this man’s name; but, pace Dubs, it seems most unlikely that Roman soldiers would ever have described themselves as ‘Alexandrians’.” Sitwell (1984), p. In Section 16 of the text it says that that, from Zesan, “can take half a year to cross the water, but with fast winds it takes a month” (to reach Lüfen, which is only a short distance by land and “across the sea” by a very long bridge from Haixi or Egypt).
So, it is reasonable to deduce that Zesan was approximately half way between Angu to Egypt, and the northern part of Azania fits this description remarkably well.
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.