Da Qin 大秦 [Ta Ch’in] = Rome or Roman territory, depending on the context. The use of such a name (literally, ‘Great Qin’ = Great China) for a foreign state probably reflects the common process of mythologizing distant and unfamiliar cultures. Pulleyblank (1999), p. 77 notes that it “…is clearly not a transcription of a foreign word” and that the “…earliest datable occurrence seems to be with reference to Gān Ying’s mission of 97 C.E.”
and asks, “Why would China call Rome ‘the Great China’?” I thought that was an excellent question, and since Hatters did such a good job with Dashi (what the Chinese called the Arabs in the 8th century), I thought I’d bring it here. Anybody know anything?