The Travels of Marco Polo, by Marco Polo

Chapter xxi.

Rehearsal of the Way the Year of the Great Kaan is Distributed.

On arriving at his capital of Cambaluc,1 he stays in his palace there three days and no more; during which time he has great court entertainments and rejoicings, and makes merry with his wives. He then quits his palace at Cambaluc, and proceeds to that city which he has built, as I told you before, and which is called Chandu, where he has that grand park and palace of cane, and where he keeps his gerfalcons in mew. There he spends the summer, to escape the heat, for the situation is a very cool one. After stopping there from the beginning of May to the 28th of August, he takes his departure (that is the time when they sprinkle the white mares’ milk as I told you), and returns to his capital Cambaluc. There he stops, as I have told you also, the month of September, to keep his Birthday Feast, and also throughout October, November, December, January, and February, in which last month he keeps the grand feast of the New Year, which they call the White Feast, as you have heard already with all particulars. He then sets out on his march towards the Ocean Sea, hunting and hawking, and continues out from the beginning of March to the middle of May; and then comes back for three days only to the capital, during which he makes merry with his wives, and holds a great court and grand entertainments. In truth, ’tis something astonishing, the magnificence displayed by the Emperor in those three days; and then he starts off again as you know.

Thus his whole year is distributed in the following manner: six months at his chief palace in the royal city of Cambaluc, to wit, September, October, November, December, January, February;

Then on the great hunting expedition towards the sea, March, April, May;

Then back to his palace at Cambaluc for three days;

Then off to the city of Chandu which he has built, and where the Cane Palace is, where he stays June, July, August;

Then back again to his capital city of Cambaluc.

So thus the whole year is spent; six months at the capital, three months in hunting, and three months at the Cane Palace to avoid the heat. And in this way he passes his time with the greatest enjoyment; not to mention occasional journeys in this or that direction at his own pleasure.

NOTE 1. — This chapter, with its wearisome and whimsical reiteration, reminding one of a game of forfeits, is peculiar to that class of MSS. which claims to represent the copy given to Thibault de Cepoy by Marco Polo.

Dr. Bushell has kindly sent me a notice of a Chinese document (his translation of which he had unfortunately mislaid), containing a minute contemporary account of the annual migration of the Mongol Court to Shangtu. Having traversed the Kiu Yung Kwan (or Nankau) Pass, where stands the great Mongol archway represented at the end of this volume, they left what is now the Kalgan post-road at Tumuyi, making straight for Chaghan-nor (supra, p. 304), and thence to Shangtu. The return journey in autumn followed the same route as far as Chaghan-nor, where some days were spent in fowling on the lakes, and thence by Siuen-hwa fu (“Sindachu,” supra, p. 295) and the present post-road to Cambaluc.

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