The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter xvii.

How the Great Kaan Enjoineth His People to Supply Him with Game.

The three months of December, January, and February, during which the Emperor resides at his Capital City, are assigned for hunting and fowling, to the extent of some 40 days’ journey round the city; and it is ordained that the larger game taken be sent to the Court. To be more particular: of all the larger beasts of the chase, such as boars, roebucks, bucks, stags, lions, bears, etc., the greater part of what is taken has to be sent, and feathered game likewise. The animals are gutted and despatched to the Court on carts. This is done by all the people within 20 or 30 days’ journey, and the quantity so despatched is immense. Those at a greater distance cannot send the game, but they have to send the skins after tanning them, and these are employed in the making of equipments for the Emperor’s army.1

NOTE 1. — So Magaillans: “Game is so abundant, especially at the capital, that every year during the three winter months you see at different places, intended for despatch thither, besides great piles of every sort of wildfowl, rows of four-footed game of a gunshot or two in length: the animals being all frozen and standing on their feet. Among other species you see three sundry kinds of bears . . . and great abundance of other animals, as stags and deer of different sorts, boars, elks, hares, rabbits, squirrels, wild-cats, rats, geese, ducks, very fine jungle-fowl, etc., and all so cheap that I never could have believed it” (pp. 177–178). As this writer mentions wild-cats, we may presume that the “lions” of Polo also were destined to be eaten.

[“Kubilai Khan kept a whole army, 14,000 men, huntsmen, distributed in Peking and other cities in the present province of Chili (Yuen-shi). The Khan used to hunt in the Peking plain from the beginning of spring, until his departure to Shang-tu. There are in the Peking department many low and marshy places, stretching often to a considerable extent and abounding in game. In the biography of Ai-sie (Yuen shi, chap. cxxxiv.), who was a Christian, it is mentioned that Kubilai was hunting also in the department of Pao-ting fu.” (Palladius, p. 45.)— H. C.]

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:59