Origin of CathayMedieval Latin Cataya ; from Uighur Khitay, a Mongol people who ruled in Beijing (936-1122)
A medieval name for China popularized by Marco Polo in accounts of his travels. It usually applied only to the area north of the Yangtze River.
Origin of CathayMedieval Latin Cataya, Cathaya, ultimately (via Turkic languages) from Khitan Khitai, the Khitan people (who ruled in northern China and Central Asia in an era of increasing interaction between China, the Muslim world, and Europe).
- The name that was given to northern China by Marco Polo
- by extension, an alternate name for China.
From Portuguese "Catai", from Khitan (契丹, Qìdān), the Chinese name of a Mongolian tribe who ruled Manchuria from 907-1115 CE. Cognate with Spanish Catay and Russian Китай.