, Ptol. 7.3
, &c.), the ancient nation of the Chinese, whose land is first described by Ptolemy (l.c.
) and Marcianus (p. 29, seq.), but in an unsatisfactory manner. Indeed, the whole knowledge of it possessed by the Greeks and Romans rested on the reports of individual merchants who had succeeded in gaining admittance among a people who then, as in modern times, isolated themselves as much as possible from the rest of the world. For the assumption which Deguignes sought to establish, that a political alliance was formed between Rome and China, and that the emperor M. Anielius Antoninus sent a formal embassy thither in the year 166, rests solely on the name of Yan-Tun, which that writer discovered in some ancient Chinese annals, and must therefore be regarded with great suspicion. (See Bohlen, das Alte Indien,
i. p. 71.)
According to the description of Ptolemy, the country of the Sinae extended very far to the S., and was connected with the E. coast of Africa by an unknown land, so that the Indian Ocean formed a large mediterranean sea.
He does not venture to define its eastern boundary, but finishes his account of the known earth with the 180th degree of longitude, without, however, denying that there were tracts of unknown land still farther to the E. But Cosmas Indicopleustes (ap. Montfaucon, N. Coll. Patrum,
ii. p. 337), who calls the country of the Sinae Τζίνιτζα,
was the first who laid down its correct boundary by the ocean on the E. On the N. it was bounded by Serica, and on the S. and W. by India extra Gangem, from which it was divided by the river Aspithra (probably the Bangpa-Kubg
) and the Semanthine mountains. Thus it embraced the southern half of China,
and the eastern part of Further India, as Tongquin, Cochin-China, Camboja,
&c. Ptolemy mentions several large bays and promontories on the coast.
At the extreme NE. of the Indian Ocean, where the land of the Sinae abutted on Further India, was the great gulf (of Siam
), which on the coast of the Sinae was formed by the South Cape (τὸ Νότιον ἄκορον
) (probably Cape Canboja
), and on the side of India by another large promontory (perhaps Cape Romania
). To the S. of South Cape, and between it and the Cape of the Satyrs (Σατύρων ἄκρον
), Ptolemy and Marcianus (p. 30) place another large bay called Theriodes (Θμριώδης κόλπος
); and to the S. of the Cape of Satyrs, again, and between it and the mouth of the river Cottiaris, the Bay of the Sinae (Σινῶν κόλπος
These very vague and incorrect accounts do not permit us to decide with any confidence respecting the places indicated by Ptolemy; but it has been conjectured that the Cape of the Satyrs may have been Cape St. James,
the Theriodes Sinus the bay between it and the mouth of the river Camboja
and the Bay of the Sinae the gulf of Tongquin.
Among the mountains of the country Ptolemy names only the Montes Semanthini (Σημανθινὸν ὄρος
), which formed its NW. boundary. Among the rivers indicated are the Aspithra (Ἄσπιθρα
), rising in the mountains just mentioned, to which we have already alluded; the Ambastus (Ἄμβαστος
), probably the Camboja,
which fell into the Great Bay between the towns of Bramma and Rhabana; the Senos or Sainos (Σένος
) more to the S.; and further still in the same direction the Cottiaris (Κοττίαρις
), which emptied itself into the bay of the Sinae to the N. of the town of Cattigara.
The last may perhaps be the Si Kiang,
which discharges itself at Canton.
Respecting the nation of the Sinae themselves we have no information though Ptolemy mentions several subdivisions of them; as in the N. the Semanthini, on the like named mountains; S. of them the Acadorae, with a town called Acadra, and again to the S. the Aspithrae, on the Aspithra, and having a city of the same name as the river. SE. of the latter, on the Great Bay, and dwelling on the river Ambastus, were the Ambastae. Lastly, in a still more southern district between the bay of Theriodes and that of the Sinae, were the Aethiopes [p. 2.1003]
Ichthyophagi and the Sinae Ichthyophagi. Among the 8 cities mentioned by Ptolemy, namely, Bramma, Rhabana, Cattigara, Acadra, Aspithra, Cocconagra, Sarata, and Thinae or Sinae, the last was undoubtedly the most important, and was regarded by him and others as the capital of the nation.
It has been conjectured to be Thsin,
in the province of Chensi,
or even Nankin
It may be remarked that the Sinae were anciently called Thinae (Θῖναι
); though it is said that this form of their name only arose from the Arabic pronunciation of Sinae. (See Sickler, ii. p. 518; Gesenius, Heb. Lex.
The next town in point of importance was Cattigara, which both Ptolemy and Marcianus regard as the chief place of trade. [CATTIGARA