I’m reading (finally—I bought it 15 years ago!) Janet Abu-Lughod’s Before European Hegemony: The World System A.D. 1250-1350, and she mentions that in the 8th century the Chinese called the Arabs Ta-shih (or Dashi in pinyin). Anybody know the etymology?
While I’m at it, I’ll just complain about the absurd mix of toponyms in this passage:
This is understandable because, according to [Pegolotti's] itinerary, it will take 25 days by ox-wagon to go from Tana to Astrakhan, another 20 days by camel to reach Organci, another 35-40 days by camel-wagon to reach Otrar, 45 days by pack-ass to Armalec, another 70 days with asses to reach Camexu on the Chinese frontier, 45 more days to the river that leads to Cassai (Kinsai or Hangchow), and then finally 30 days overland to Peking (Khanbalik).
To be consistent, the names should be Tana (Azov), Gintarchan (Astrakhan), Organci (Urgench), Oltrarre (Otrar), Armalec (?Kulja), Camexu (Ganchau), and Garnalec (Khanbalik, modern Peking). (Cassai is OK as is.) What a mess!