Kököchin

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Chinese characters for Kököchin.

Kököchin, also Kökechin, Kokachin or Cocacin (Ch: 阔阔真), was a 13th-century Mongol princess from the Yuan dynasty in China, belonging to the Mongol tribe of the Bayaut (Ch: 伯牙吾). In 1291, she was betrothed to the Ilkhanate khan Arghun by the Mongol Great Khan Kublai. This followed a request by Arghun to his grand-uncle Kublai, following the loss of his favourite wife Bolgana ("Zibeline"): Arghun asked Kublai Khan to send him a relative of his dead wife, and Kublai chose the 17-year-old Kökötchin ("Blue, or Celestial, Dame").

Arghun Khan of Persia, Kublai's great-nephew, had in 1286 lost his favourite wife the Khatun Bulughan; and, mourning her sorely, took steps to fulfil her dying injunction that her place should be filled only by a lady of her own kin, the Mongol Tribe of Bayaut. Ambassadors were despatched to the Court of Kaan-baligh to seek such a bride. The message was courteously received, and the choice fell on the lady Kokachin, a

maiden of 17, "_moult bele dame et avenant_." The overland road from Peking to Tabriz was not only of portentous length for such a tender charge, but was imperilled by war, so the envoys desired to return by sea. Tartars in general were strangers to all navigation; and the envoys, much taken with the Venetians, and eager to profit by their experience, especially as Marco had just then returned from his Indian mission, begged the Kaan as a favour to send the three _Firinghis_ in their company. He consented with reluctance, but, having done so, fitted the party out nobly for the voyage, charging the Polos with friendly messages for the potentates of Europe, including the King of England. They appear to have sailed from the port of Zayton (as the Westerns called T'swan-chau or Chin-cheu in Fo-kien) in the beginning of 1292. It was an ill-starred voyage, involving long detentions on the coast of Sumatra, and in the South of India, to which, however, we are indebted for some of the best chapters in the book; and two years or upwards passed before they arrived at their destination in Persia. The three hardy Venetians survived all perils, and so did the lady, who had come to look on them with filial regard; but two of the three envoys, and a vast proportion of the suite, had perished by the way. Arghun Khan too had been dead even before they quitted China; his brother Kaikhatu reigned in his stead; and his son Ghazan succeeded to the lady's hand. We are told by one who knew both the princes well that Arghun was one of the handsomest men of his time, whilst Ghazan was, among all his host, one of the most insignificant in appearance. But in other respects the lady's change was for the better. Ghazan had some of the highest qualities of a soldier, a legislator and a king, adorned by many and varied accomplishments; though his reign was too short for the full development of his fame.

The Travels of Marco Polo[1]

Kublai, from his capital of Khanbaliq (the Khan's city, modern day Beijing) entrusted Marco Polo with his last duty, to escort princess Kökechin to Arghun. The party travelled by sea, departing from the southern port city of Quanzhou in the spring of 1291. There were 14 big ships in all, and each had 4 masts and 12 sails. They set out from Quanzhou, sailing to Sumatra, and then to Persia, via Sri Lanka and India (where his visits included Mylapore, Madurai and Alleppey, which he nicknamed Venice of the East). They arrived around 1293.

Arghun had died in the meantime however, and Kökötchin married Arghun's son Ghazan. She became his principal wife.

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