JAPAN, n.p. Mr. Giles says: “Our word is from Jeh-pun, the Dutch orthography of the Japanese Ni- pon.” What the Dutch have to do with the matter is hard to see. [“Our word ‘Japan’ and the Japanese Nihon or Nippon, are alike corruptions of Jihpen, the Chinese pronunciation of the characters (meaning) literally ‘sun-origin.’ ” (Chamberlain, Things Japanese, 3rd ed. 221).] A form closely resembling Japán, as we pronounce it, must have prevailed, among foreigners at least, in China as early as the 13th century; for Marco Polo calls it Chipan-gu or Jipan-ku, a name representing the Chinese Zhi-pan-Kwe (‘Sun-origin-Kingdom’), the Kingdom of the Sunrise or Extreme Orient, of which the word Nipon or Niphon, used in Japan, is said to be a dialectic variation. But as there was a distinct gap in Western tradition between the 14th century and the 16th, no doubt we, or rather the Portuguese, acquired the name from the traders at Malacca, in the Malay forms, which Crawfurd gives as Japung and Japang.

1298.—“Chipangu is an Island towards the east in the high seas, 1,500 miles distant from the Continent; and a very great Island it is. The people are white, civilized, and well-favoured. They are Idolaters, and dependent on nobody.…”—Marco Polo, bk. iii. ch. 2.

1505.—“… and not far off they took a ship belonging to the King of Calichut; out of which they have brought me certain jewels of good value; including Mccccc. pearls worth 8,000 ducats; also three astrological instruments of silver, such as are not used by our astrologers, large and well-wrought, which I hold in the highest estimation. They say that the King of Calichut had sent the said ship to an island called Saponin to obtain the said instruments.…”—Letter from the K. of Portugal (Dom Manuel) to the K. of Castille (Ferdinand). Reprint by A. Burnell, 1881, p. 8.

1521.—“In going by this course we passed near two very rich islands; one is in twenty degrees latitude in the antarctic pole, and is called Cipanghu.”—Pigafetta, Magellan’s Voyage, Hak. Soc., 67. Here the name appears to be taken from the chart or Mappe-Monde which was carried on the voyage. Cipanghu appears by that name on the globe of Martin Behaim (1492), but 20 degrees north, not south, of the equator.

1545.—“Now as for us three Portugals, having nothing to sell, we employed our time either in fishing, hunting, or seeing the Temples of these Gentiles, which were very sumptuous and rich, whereinto the Bonzes, who are their priests, received us very courteously, for indeed it is the custom of those of Jappon (do Japão) to be exceeding kind and courteous.”—Pinto (orig. cap. cxxxiv.), in Cogan, E.T. p. 173:

1553.—“After leaving to the eastward the isles of the Lequios (see LEW CHEW) and of the Japons (dos Japoes), and the great province of Meaco, which for its great size we know not whether to call it Island or Continent, the coast of China still runs on, and those parts pass beyond the antipodes of the meridian of Lisbon.”—Barros, I. ix. 1.


“Esta meia escondida, que responde
De longe a China, donde vem buscar-se,
He Japão, onde nasce la prata fina,
Que illustrada seráco‘ a Lei divina.”

Camões, x. 131.

By Burton:

“This Realm, half-shadowed, China’s empery
afar reflecting, whither ships are bound,
is the Japan, whose virgin silver mine
shall shine still sheenier with the Law Divine.”

1727.—“Japon, with the neighbouring Islands under its Dominions, is about the magnitude of Great Britain.”—A. Hamilton, ii. 306; [ed. 1744, ii. 305].

JARGON, JARCOON, ZIRCON, s. The name of a precious stone often mentioned by writers of the 16th century, but respecting the identity of which there seems to be a little obscurity. The English Encyclopaedia, and the Times Reviewer of Emanuel’s book On Precious Stones (1866), identify it with the hyacinth or jacinth; but Lord Stanley of Alderley, in his translation of Barbosa (who mentions the stone several times under the form giagonza and jagonza), on the authority of a practical jeweller identifies it with corundum. This is probably an error. Jagonza looks like a corruption of jacinthus. And Haüy’s Mineralogy identifies jargon and hyacinth under the common name of zircon. Dana’s Mineralogy states that the term hyacinth is applied to these stones, consisting of a silicate of zirconia, “which present bright colours, considerable transparency, and smooth shining surfaces.… The variety from Ceylon, which is colourless, and has a smoky tinge, and is therefore sold for inferior diamonds, is sometimes called jargon” (Syst. of Mineral., 3rd ed., 1850, 379–380; [Encycl. Britt. 9th ed. xxiv. 789 seq.]).

The word probably comes

  By PanEris using Melati.

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