The Travels of Marco Polo

The Complete Yule-Cordier Edition

Including the unabridged third edition (1903) of Henry Yule’s annotated translation, as revised by Henri Cordier; together with Cordier’s later volume of notes and addenda (1920)

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Table of Contents

Preface to Third Edition

Preface to Second Edition.

Original Preface.

[Original Dedication.]

Marco Polo and his Book.

Introductory Notices.

  1. Obscurities in the History of His Life and Book. Ramusio’s Statements.

  2. Sketch of the State of the East at the Time of the Journeys of the Polo Family.

  3. The Polo Family. Personal History of the Travellers Down to Their Final Return from the East.

  4. Digression Concerning the Mansion of the Polo Family at Venice.

  5. Digression Concerning the War-Galleys of the Mediterranean States in the Middle Ages.

  6. The Jealousies and Naval Wars of Venice and Genoa. Lamba Doria’s Expedition to the Adriatic; Battle of Curzola; and Imprisonment of Marco Polo by the Genoese.

  7. Rusticiano or Rustichello of Pisa, Marco Polo’s Fellow-Prisoner at Genoa, the Scribe who Wrote Down the Travels.

  8. Notices of Marco Polo’s History, After the Termination of His Imprisonment at Genoa.

  9. Marco Polo’s Book; and the Language in which it was First Written.

  10. Various Types of Text of Marco Polo’s Book.

  11. Some Estimate of the Character of Polo and His Book.

  12. Contemporary Recognition of Polo and His Book.

  13. Nature of Polo’s Influence on Geographical Knowledge.

  14. Explanations Regarding the Basis Adopted for the Present Translation.

The Book of Marco Polo.


  1. How the Two Brothers Polo Set Forth from Constantinople to Traverse the World.
  2. How the Two Brothers Went on Beyond Soldaia.
  3. How the Two Brothers, After Crossing a Desert, Came to the City of Bocara, and Fell in with Certain Envoys There.
  4. How the Two Brothers Took the Envoys’ Counsel, and Went to the Court of the Great Kaan.
  5. How the Two Brothers Arrived at the Court of the Great Kaan.
  6. How the Great Kaan Asked All About the Manners of the Christians, and Particularly About the Pope of Rome.
  7. How the Great Kaan Sent the Two Brothers as His Envoys to the Pope.
  8. How the Great Kaan Gave Them a Tablet of Gold, Bearing His Orders in Their Behalf.
  9. How the Two Brothers Came to the City of Acre.
  10. How the Two Brothers Again Departed from Venice, on Their Way Back to the Great Kaan, and Took with Them Mark, the Son Of Messer Nicolas.
  11. How the Two Brothers Set Out from Acre, and Mark Along with Them.
  12. How the Two Brothers Presented Themselves Before the New Pope.
  13. How Messer Nicolo and Messer Maffeo Polo, Accompanied by Mark, Travelled to the Court of the Great Kaan.
  14. How Messer Nicolo and Messer Maffeo Polo and Marco Presented Themselves Before the Great Kaan.
  15. How the Emperor Sent Mark on an Embassy of His.
  16. How Mark Returned from the Mission Whereon he had Been Sent.
  17. How Messer Nicolo, Messer Maffeo, and Messer Marco, Asked Leave of the Great Kaan to Go Their Way.
  18. How the Two Brothers and Messer Marco Took Leave of the Great Kaan, and Returned to Their Own Country.

Book First.

Account of regions visited or heard of on the journey from the lesser Armenia to the Court of the Great Kaan at Chandu.

Book I.

  1. Here the Book Begins; and First it Speaks of the Lesser Hermenia.
  2. Concerning the Province of Turcomania.
  3. Description of the Greater Hermenia.
  4. Of Georgiania and the Kings Thereof.
  5. Of the Kingdom of Mausul.
  6. Of the Great City of Baudas, and How it was Taken.
  7. How the Calif of Baudas Took Counsel to Slay All the Christians in His Land.
  8. How the Christians Were in Great Dismay Because of what the Calif had Said.
  9. How the One-Eyed Cobler was Desired to Pray for the Christians.
  10. How the Prayer of the One-Eyed Cobler Caused the Mountain to Move.
  11. Of the Noble City of Tauris.
  12. Of the Monastery of St. Barsamo on the Borders of Tauris.
  13. Of the Great Country of Persia; with Some Account of the Three Kings.
  14. What Befell when the Three Kings Returned to Their Own Country.
  15. Of the Eight Kingdoms of Persia, and How They are Named.
  16. Concerning the Great City of Yasdi.
  17. Concerning the Kingdom of Kerman.
  18. Of the City of Camadi and its Ruins; Also Touching the Carauna Robbers.
  19. Of the Descent to the City of Hormos.
  20. Of the Wearisome and Desert Road that has Now to Be Travelled.
  21. Concerning the City of Cobinan and the Things that are Made There.
  22. Of a Certain Desert that Continues for Eight Days’ Journey.
  23. Concerning the Old Man of the Mountain.
  24. How the Old Man Used to Train His Assassins.
  25. How the Old Man Came by His End.
  26. Concerning the City of Sapurgan.
  27. Of the City of Balc.
  28. Of Taican, and the Mountains of Salt. Also of the Province of Casem.
  29. Of the Province of Badashan.
  30. Of the Province of Pashai
  31. Of the Province of Keshimur.
  32. Of the Great River of Badashan.
  33. Of the Kingdom of Cascar.
  34. Of the Great City of Samarcan.
  35. Of the Province of Yarcan.
  36. Of a Province Called Cotan.
  37. Of the Province of Pein.
  38. Of the Province of Charchan.
  39. Of the City of Lop and the Great Desert.
  40. Concerning the Great Province of Tangut.
  41. Of the Province of Camul.
  42. Of the Province of Chingintalas.
  43. Of the Province of Sukchur.
  44. Of the City of Campichu.
  45. Of the City of Etzina.
  46. Of the City of Caracoron.
  47. Of Chinghis, and How he Became the First Kaan of the Tartars.
  48. How Chinghis Mustered His People to March Against Prester John.
  49. How Prester John Marched to Meet Chinghis.
  50. The Battle Between Chinghis Kaan and Prester John.
  51. Of Those who Did Reign After Chinghis Kaan, and of the Customs of the Tartars.
  52. Concerning the Customs of the Tartars.
  53. Concerning the God of the Tartars.
  54. Concerning the Tartar Customs of War.
  55. Concerning the Administering of Justice Among the Tartars.
  56. Sundry Particulars of the Plain Beyond Caracoron.
  57. Of the Kingdom of Erguiul, and Province of Sinju.
  58. Of the Kingdom of Egrigaia.
  59. Concerning the Province of Tenduc, and the Descendants of Prester John.
  60. Concerning the Kaan’s Palace of Chagannor.
  61. Of the City of Chandu, and the Kaan’s Palace There.

Book Second.

(1.) Account of the Great Kaan Cublay; of his palaces and capital; his court, government, and sports.

(2.) Cities and provinces visited by the traveller on one journey westward from the capital to the frontiers of Mien in the direction of India.

(3.) And on another southward from the capital to Fuchu and Zayton.

Part I. — The Kaan, His Court and Capital.
  1. Of Cublay Kaan, the Great Kaan Now Reigning, and of His Great Puissance.
  2. Concerning the Revolt of Nayan, who was Uncle to the Great Kaan Cublay.
  3. How the Great Kaan Marched Against Nayan.
  4. Of the Battle that the Great Kaan Fought with Nayan.
  5. How the Great Kaan Caused Nayan to Be Put to Death.
  6. How the Great Kaan Went Back to the City of Cambaluc.
  7. How the Kaan Rewarded the Valour of His Captains.
  8. Concerning the Person of the Great Kaan.
  9. Concerning the Great Kaan’s Sons.
  10. Concerning the Palace of the Great Kaan.
  11. Concerning the City of Cambaluc.
  12. How the Great Kaan Maintains a Guard of Twelve Thousand Horse, which are Called Keshican.
  13. The Fashion of the Great Kaan’s Table at His High Feasts.
  14. Concerning the Great Feast Held by the Grand Kaan Every Year on His Birthday.
  15. Of the Great Festival which the Kaan Holds on New Year’s Day.
  16. Concerning the Twelve Thousand Barons who Receive Robes of Cloth of Gold from the Emperor on the Great Festivals, Thirteen Changes a-Piece.
  17. How the Great Kaan Enjoineth His People to Supply Him with Game.
  18. Of the Lions and Leopards and Wolves that the Kaan Keeps for the Chase.
  19. Concerning the Two Brothers who have Charge of the Kaan’s Hounds.
  20. How the Emperor Goes on a Hunting Expedition.
  21. Rehearsal of the Way the Year of the Great Kaan is Distributed.
  22. Concerning the City of Cambaluc, and its Great Traffic and Population.
  23. [Concerning the Oppressions of Achmath the Bailo, and the Plot that was Formed Against Him.]
  24. How the Great Kaan Causeth the Bark of Trees, Made into Something Like Paper, to Pass for Money Over All His Country.
  25. Concerning the Twelve Barons who are Set Over All the Affairs of the Great Kaan.
  26. How the Kaan’s Posts and Runners are Sped Through Many Lands and Provinces.
  27. How the Emperor Bestows Help on His People, when They are Afflicted with Dearth or Murrain.
  28. How the Great Kaan Causes Trees to Be Planted by the Highways.
  29. Concerning the Rice-Wine Drunk by the People of Cathay.
  30. Concerning the Black Stones that are Dug in Cathay, and are Burnt for Fuel.
  31. How the Great Kaan Causes Stores of Corn to Be Made, to Help His People Withal in Time of Dearth.
  32. Of the Charity of the Emperor to the Poor.
  33. [Concerning the Astrologers in the City of Cambaluc.]
  34. [Concerning the Religion of the Cathayans; Their Views as to the Soul; and Their Customs.
Part ii. — Journey to the West and South-West of Cathay.
  1. Here Begins the Description of the Interior of Cathay, and First of the River Pulisanghin.
  2. Account of the City of Juju.
  3. The Kingdom of Taianfu.
  4. Concerning the Castle of Caichu.
  5. How Prester John Treated the Golden King His Prisoner.
  6. Concerning the Great River Caramoran and the City of Cachanfu.
  7. Concerning the City of Kenjanfu.
  8. Concerning the Province of Cuncun, which is Right Wearisome to Travel Through.
  9. Concerning the Province of Acbalec Manzi.
  10. Concerning the Province and City of Sindafu.
  11. Concerning the Province of Tebet.
  12. Further Discourse Concerning Tebet.
  13. Concerning the Province of Caindu.
  14. Concerning the Province of Carajan.
  15. Concerning a Further Part of the Province of Carajan.
  16. Concerning the Province of Zardandan.
  17. Wherein is Related How the King of Mien and Bangala Vowed Vengeance Against the Great Kaan.
  18. Of the Battle that was Fought by the Great Kaan’s Host and His Seneschal, Against the King of Mien.
  19. Of the Great Descent that Leads Towards the Kingdom of Mien.
  20. Concerning the City of Mien, and the Two Towers that are Therein, One of Gold and the Other of Silver.
  21. Concerning the Province of Bangala.
  22. Discourses of the Province of Caugigu.
  23. Concerning the Province of Anin.
  24. Concerning the Province of Coloman.
  25. Concerning the Province of Cuiju.
Part iii. — Journey Southward Through Eastern Provinces of Cathay and Manzi.
  1. Concerning the Cities of Cacanfu and of Changlu.
  2. Concerning the City of Chinangli, and that of Tadinfu, and the Rebellion of Litan.
  3. Concerning the Noble City of Sinjumatu.
  4. Concerning the Cities of Linju and Piju.
  5. Concerning the City of Siju, and the Great River Caramoran.
  6. How the Great Kaan Conquered the Province of Manzi.
  7. Concerning the City of Coiganju.
  8. Of the Cities of Paukin and Cayu.
  9. Of the Cities of Tiju, Tinju, and Yanju.
  10. Concerning the City of Nanghin.
  11. Concerning the Very Noble City of Saianfu, and How its Capture was Effected.
  12. Concerning the City of Sinju and the Great River Kian.
  13. Concerning the City of Caiju.
  14. Of the City of Chinghianfu.
  15. Of the City of Chinginju and the Slaughter of Certain Alans There.
  16. Of the Noble City of Suju.
  17. Description of the Great City of Kinsay, which is the Capital of the Whole Country of Manzi.
  18. [Further Particulars Concerning the Great City of Kinsay.]
  19. Treating of the Great Yearly Revenue that the Great Kaan Hath from Kinsay.
  20. Of the City of Tanpiju and Others.
  21. Concerning the Kingdom of Fuju.
  22. Concerning the Greatness of the City of Fuju.
  23. Of the City and Great Haven of Zayton.

Book Third.

Japan, the archipelago, southern india, and the coasts and islands of the indian sea

  1. Of the Merchant Ships of Manzi that Sail Upon the Indian Seas.
  2. Description of the Island of Chipangu, and the Great Kaan’s Despatch of a Host Against it.
  3. What Further Came of the Great Kaan’s Expedition Against Chipangu.
  4. Concerning the Fashion of the Idols.
  5. Of the Great Country Called Chamba.
  6. Concerning the Great Island of Java.
  7. Wherein the Isles of Sondur and Condur are Spoken Of; and the Kingdom of Locac.
  8. Of the Island Called Pentam, and the City Malaiur
  9. Concerning the Island of Java the Less. The Kingdoms of Ferlec and Basma.
  10. The Kingdoms of Samara and Dagroian.
  11. Of the Kingdoms of Lambri and Fansur.
  12. Concerning the Island of Necuveran.
  13. Concerning the Island of Angamanain.
  14. Concerning the Island of Seilan.
  15. The Same Continued. The History of Sagamoni Borcan and the Beginning of Idolatry.
  16. Concerning the Great Province of Maabar, which is Called India the Greater, and is on the Mainland.
  17. Continues to Speak of the Province of Maabar.
  18. Discoursing of the Place where Lieth the Body of St. Thomas the Apostle; and of the Miracles Thereof.
  19. Concerning the Kingdom of Mutfili.
  20. Concerning the Province of Lar whence the Brahmins Come.
  21. Concerning the City of Cail.
  22. Of the Kingdom of Coilum.
  23. Of the Country Called Comari
  24. Concerning the Kingdom of Eli.
  25. Concerning the Kingdom of Melibar.
  26. Concerning the Kingdom of Gozurat.
  27. Concerning the Kingdom of Tana.
  28. Concerning the Kingdom of Cambaet.
  29. Concerning the Kingdom of Semenat.
  30. Concerning the Kingdom of Kesmacoran.
  31. Discourseth of the Two Islands Called Male and Female, and why They are So Called.
  32. Concerning the Island of Scotra.
  33. Concerning the Island of Madeigascar.
  34. Concerning the Island of Zanghibar. A Word on India in General.
  35. Treating of the Great Province of Abash which is Middle India, and is on the Mainland.
  36. Concerning the Province of Aden.
  37. Concerning the City of Esher.
  38. Concerning the City of Dufar.
  39. Concerning the Gulf of Calatu and the City So Called.
  40. Returns to the City of Hormos Whereof We Spoke Formerly.

Book Fourth

Wars among the Tartar Princes and some account of the Northern countries

  1. Concerning Great Turkey.
  2. Of Certain Battles that Were Fought by King Caidu Against the Armies of His Uncle the Great Kaan.
  3. What the Great Kaan Said to the Mischief Done by Kaidu His Nephew.
  4. Of the Exploits of King Caidu’s Valiant Daughter.
  5. How Abaga Sent His Son Argon in Command Against King Caidu.
  6. How Argon After the Battle Heard that His Father was Dead, and Went to Assume the Sovereignty as was His Right.
  7. How Acomat Soldan Set Out with His Host Against His Nephew who was Coming to Claim the Throne that Belonged to Him,
  8. How Argon Took Counsel with His Followers About Attacking His Uncle Acomat Soldan.
  9. How the Barons of Argon Answered His Address.
  10. The Message Sent by Argon to Acomat.
  11. How Acomat Replied to Argon’s Message.
  12. Of the Battle Between Argon and Acomat, and the Captivity of Argon.
  13. How Argon was Delivered from Prison.
  14. How Argon Got the Sovereignty at Last.
  15. How Acomat was Taken Prisoner.
  16. How Acomat was Slain by Order of His Nephew.
  17. How Argon was Recognised as Sovereign.
  18. How Kiacatu Seized the Sovereignty After Argon’s Death.
  19. How Baidu Seized the Sovereignty After the Death of Kiacatu.
  20. Concerning King Conchi who Rules the Far North.
  21. Concerning the Land of Darkness.
  22. Description of Rosia and its People. Province of Lac.
  23. He Begins to Speak of the Straits of Constantinople, but Decides to Leave that Matter.
  24. Concerning the Tartars of the Ponent and Their Lords.
  25. Of the War that Arose Between Alau and Barca, and the Battles that They Fought.
  26. How Barca and His Army Advanced to Meet Alau.
  27. How Alau Addressed His Followers.
  28. Of the Great Battle Between Alau and Barca.
  29. How Totamangu was Lord of the Tartars of the Ponent.
  30. Of the Second Message that Toctai Sent to Nogai, and His Reply.
  31. How Toctai Marched Against Nogai.
  32. How Toctai and Nogai Address Their People, and the Next Day Join Battle.
  33. The Valiant Feats and Victory of King Nogai.
  34. Conclusion.


  1. Geneaology of the House of Chinghiz, to end of Thirteenth Century.
  2. The Polo Families.
  3. Calendar of Documents Relating to Marco Polo and his Family.
  4. Comparative Specimens of Different Recensions of Polo’s Text.
  5. The Preface of Friar Pipino to his Latin Version of Marco Polo. (Circa 1315–1320.)
  6. Note of Mss. of Marco Polo so far as they are known.
  7. Diagram showing Filiation of Chief Mss. and Editions of Marco Polo.
  8. Bibliography of Marco Polo’s Book.
  9. Titles of Works which are cited by abbreviated References in this Book.
  10. Values of certain Moneys, Weights, and Measures, occurring in this Book.
  11. Sundry Supplementary Notes on Special Subjects. —(H.C.)


Notes and Addenda to Sir Henry Yule’s Edition, Containing the Results of Recent Research and Discovery, By Henri Cordier

Introductory Notices.
Book First.
Book Second.

Part I. — The Kaan, His Court and Capital.

Part II. — Journey to the West and South-West of Cathay.

Part III. — Journey Southward Through Eastern Provinces of Cathay and Manzi.

Book Third.
Book Fourth.

Preface to Third Edition

Little did I think, some thirty years ago, when I received a copy of the first edition of this grand work, that I should be one day entrusted with the difficult but glorious task of supervising the third edition. When the first edition of the Book of Ser Marco Polo reached “Far Cathay,” it created quite a stir in the small circle of the learned foreigners, who then resided there, and became a starting-point for many researches, of which the results have been made use of partly in the second edition, and partly in the present. The Archimandrite PALLADIUS and Dr. E. BRETSCHNEIDER, at Peking, ALEX. WYLIE, at Shang-hai — friends of mine who have, alas! passed away, with the exception of the Right Rev. Bishop G. E. MOULE, of Hang-chau, the only survivor of this little group of hard-working scholars — were the first to explore the Chinese sources of information which were to yield a rich harvest into their hands.

When I returned home from China in 1876, I was introduced to Colonel HENRY YULE, at the India Office, by our common friend, Dr. REINHOLD ROST, and from that time we met frequently and kept up a correspondence which terminated only with the life of the great geographer, whose friend I had become. A new edition of the travels of Friar Odoric of Pordenone, our “mutual friend,” in which Yule had taken the greatest interest, was dedicated by me to his memory. I knew that Yule contemplated a third edition of his Marco Polo, and all will regret that time was not allowed to him to complete this labour of love, to see it published. If the duty of bringing out the new edition of Marco Polo has fallen on one who considers himself but an unworthy successor of the first illustrious commentator, it is fair to add that the work could not have been entrusted to a more respectful disciple. Many of our tastes were similar; we had the same desire to seek the truth, the same earnest wish to be exact, perhaps the same sense of humour, and, what is necessary when writing on Marco Polo, certainly the same love for Venice and its history. Not only am I, with the late CHARLES SCHEFER, the founder and the editor of the Recueil de Voyages et de Documents pour servir à l’Histoire de la Géographie depuis le XIII’e jusqu’à la fin du XVI’e siècle, but I am also the successor, at the Ecole des langues Orientales Vivantes, of G. PAUTHIER, whose book on the Venetian Traveller is still valuable, so the mantle of the last two editors fell upon my shoulders.

I therefore, gladly and thankfully, accepted Miss AMY FRANCIS YULE’S kind proposal to undertake the editorship of the third edition of the Book of Ser Marco Polo, and I wish to express here my gratitude to her for the great honour she has thus done me.1

Unfortunately for his successor, Sir Henry Yule, evidently trusting to his own good memory, left but few notes. These are contained in an interleaved copy obligingly placed at my disposal by Miss Yule, but I luckily found assistance from various other quarters. The following works have proved of the greatest assistance to me:— The articles of General HOUTUM-SCHINDLER in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, and the excellent books of Lord CURZON and of Major P. MOLESWORTH SYKES on Persia, M. GRENARD’S account of DUTREUIL DE RHINS’ Mission to Central Asia, BRETSCHNEIDER’S and PALLADIUS’ remarkable papers on Mediaeval Travellers and Geography, and above all, the valuable books of the Hon. W. W. ROCKHILL on Tibet and Rubruck, to which the distinguished diplomatist, traveller, and scholar kindly added a list of notes of the greatest importance to me, for which I offer him my hearty thanks.

My thanks are also due to H.H. Prince ROLAND BONAPARTE, who kindly gave me permission to reproduce some of the plates of his Recueil de Documents de l’Epoque Mongole, to M. LÉOPOLD DELISLE, the learned Principal Librarian of the Bibliothèque Nationale, who gave me the opportunity to study the inventory made after the death of the Doge Marino Faliero, to the Count de SEMALLÉ, formerly French Chargé d’Affaires at Peking, who gave me for reproduction a number of photographs from his valuable personal collection, and last, not least, my old friend Comm. NICOLÒ BAROZZI, who continued to lend me the assistance which he had formerly rendered to Sir Henry Yule at Venice.

Since the last edition was published, more than twenty-five years ago, Persia has been more thoroughly studied; new routes have been explored in Central Asia, Karakorum has been fully described, and Western and South–Western China have been opened up to our knowledge in many directions. The results of these investigations form the main features of this new edition of Marco Polo. I have suppressed hardly any of Sir Henry Yule’s notes and altered but few, doing so only when the light of recent information has proved him to be in error, but I have supplemented them by what, I hope, will be found useful, new information.2

Before I take leave of the kind reader, I wish to thank sincerely Mr. JOHN MURRAY for the courtesy and the care he has displayed while this edition was going through the press.

PARIS, 1st of October, 1902.

1 Miss Yule has written the Memoir of her father and the new Dedication. [Omitted from this edition.]

2 Paragraphs which have been altered are marked thus +; my own additions are placed between brackets [ ]. — H. C.


“Now strike your Sailes yee jolly Mariners,

For we be come into a quiet Rode”. . . .

— THE FAERIE QUEENE, I. xii. 42.]

Preface to Second Edition.

The unexpected amount of favour bestowed on the former edition of this Work has been a great encouragement to the Editor in preparing this second one.

Not a few of the kind friends and correspondents who lent their aid before have continued it to the present revision. The contributions of Mr. A. WYLIE of Shang-hai, whether as regards the amount of labour which they must have cost him, or the value of the result, demand above all others a grateful record here. Nor can I omit to name again with hearty acknowledgment Signor Comm. G. BERCHET of Venice, the Rev. Dr. CALDWELL, Colonel (now Major–General) R. MACLAGAN, R.E., Mr. D. HANBURY, F.R.S., Mr. EDWARD THOMAS, F.R.S. (Corresponding Member of the Institute), and Mr. R. H. MAJOR.

But besides these old names, not a few new ones claim my thanks.

The Baron F. VON RICHTHOFEN, now President of the Geographical Society of Berlin, a traveller who not only has trodden many hundreds of miles in the footsteps of our Marco, but has perhaps travelled over more of the Interior of China than Marco ever did, and who carried to that survey high scientific accomplishments of which the Venetian had not even a rudimentary conception, has spontaneously opened his bountiful stores of new knowledge in my behalf. Mr. NEY ELIAS, who in 1872 traversed and mapped a line of upwards of 2000 miles through the almost unknown tracts of Western Mongolia, from the Gate in the Great Wall at Kalghan to the Russian frontier in the Altai, has done likewise.1 To the Rev. G. MOULE, of the Church Mission at Hang-chau, I owe a mass of interesting matter regarding that once great and splendid city, the KINSAY of our Traveller, which has enabled me, I trust, to effect great improvement both in the Notes and in the Map, which illustrate that subject. And to the Rev. CARSTAIRS DOUGLAS, LL.D., of the English Presbyterian Mission at Amoy, I am scarcely less indebted. The learned Professor BRUUN, of Odessa, whom I never have seen, and have little likelihood of ever seeing in this world, has aided me with zeal and cordiality like that of old friendship. To Mr. ARTHUR BURNELL, Ph.D., of the Madras Civil Service, I am grateful for many valuable notes bearing on these and other geographical studies, and particularly for his generous communication of the drawing and photograph of the ancient Cross at St. Thomas’s Mount, long before any publication of that subject was made on his own account. My brother officer, Major OLIVER ST. JOHN, R.E., has favoured me with a variety of interesting remarks regarding the Persian chapters, and has assisted me with new data, very materially correcting the Itinerary Map in Kerman.

Mr. BLOCHMANN of the Calcutta Madrasa, Sir DOUGLAS FORSYTH, C.B., lately Envoy to Kashgar, M. de MAS LATRIE, the Historian of Cyprus, Mr. ARTHUR GROTE, Mr. EUGENE SCHUYLER of the U.S. Legation at St. Petersburg, Dr. BUSHELL and Mr. W.F. MAYERS, of H.M.‘s Legation at Peking, Mr. G. PHILLIPS of Fuchau, Madame OLGA FEDTCHENKO, the widow of a great traveller too early lost to the world, Colonel KEATINGE, V.C., C.S.I., Major–General KEYES, C.B., Dr. GEORGE BIRDWOOD, Mr. BURGESS, of Bombay, my old and valued friend Colonel W. H. GREATHED, C.B., and the Master of Mediaeval Geography, M. D’AVEZAC himself, with others besides, have kindly lent assistance of one kind or another, several of them spontaneously, and the rest in prompt answer to my requests.

Having always attached much importance to the matter of illustrations,2 I feel greatly indebted to the liberal action of Mr. Murray in enabling me largely to increase their number in this edition. Though many are original, we have also borrowed a good many;3 a proceeding which seems to me entirely unobjectionable when the engravings are truly illustrative of the text, and not hackneyed.

I regret the augmented bulk of the volumes. There has been some excision, but the additions visibly and palpably preponderate. The truth is that since the completion of the first edition, just four years ago, large additions have been made to the stock of our knowledge bearing on the subjects of this Book; and how these additions have continued to come in up to the last moment, may be seen in Appendix L,4 which has had to undergo repeated interpolation after being put in type. KARAKORUM, for a brief space the seat of the widest empire the world has known, has been visited; the ruins of SHANG-TU, the “Xanadu of Cublay Khan,” have been explored; PAMIR and TANGUT have been penetrated from side to side; the famous mountain Road of SHEN-SI has been traversed and described; the mysterious CAINDU has been unveiled; the publication of my lamented friend Lieutenant Garnier’s great work on the French Exploration of Indo–China has provided a mass of illustration of that YUN-NAN for which but the other day Marco Polo was well-nigh the most recent authority. Nay, the last two years have thrown a promise of light even on what seemed the wildest of Marco’s stories, and the bones of a veritable RUC from New Zealand lie on the table of Professor Owen’s Cabinet!

M. VIVIEN de St. MARTIN, during the interval of which we have been speaking, has published a History of Geography. In treating of Marco Polo, he alludes to the first edition of this work, most evidently with no intention of disparagement, but speaks of it as merely a revision of Marsden’s Book. The last thing I should allow myself to do would be to apply to a Geographer, whose works I hold in so much esteem, the disrespectful definition which the adage quoted in my former Preface5 gives of the vir qui docet quod non sapit; but I feel bound to say that on this occasion M. Vivien de St. Martin has permitted himself to pronounce on a matter with which he had not made himself acquainted; for the perusal of the very first lines of the Preface (I will say nothing of the Book) would have shown him that such a notion was utterly unfounded.

In concluding these “forewords” I am probably taking leave of Marco Polo,6 the companion of many pleasant and some laborious hours, whilst I have been contemplating with him (“vôlti a levante”) that Orient in which I also had spent years not a few.

And as the writer lingered over this conclusion, his thoughts wandered back in reverie to those many venerable libraries in which he had formerly made search for mediaeval copies of the Traveller’s story; and it seemed to him as if he sate in a recess of one of these with a manuscript before him which had never till then been examined with any care, and which he found with delight to contain passages that appear in no version of the Book hitherto known. It was written in clear Gothic text, and in the Old French tongue of the early 14th century. Was it possible that he had lighted on the long-lost original of Ramusio’s Version? No; it proved to be different. Instead of the tedious story of the northern wars, which occupies much of our Fourth Book, there were passages occurring in the later history of Ser Marco, some years after his release from the Genoese captivity. They appeared to contain strange anachronisms certainly; but we have often had occasion to remark on puzzles in the chronology of Marco’s story!7 And in some respects they tended to justify our intimated suspicion that he was a man of deeper feelings and wider sympathies than the book of Rusticiano had allowed to appear.8 Perhaps this time the Traveller had found an amanuensis whose faculties had not been stiffened by fifteen years of Malapaga?9 One of the most important passages ran thus:—

“Bien est voirs que, après ce que Messires Marc Pol avoit pris fame et si estoit demouré plusours ans de sa vie a Venysse, il avint que mourut Messires Mafés qui oncles Monseignour Marc estoit: (et mourut ausi ses granz chiens mastins qu’avoit amenei dou Catai,10 et qui avoit non Bayan pour l’amour au bon chievetain Bayan Cent-iex); adonc n’avoit oncques puis Messires Marc nullui, fors son esclave Piere le Tartar, avecques lequel pouvoit penre soulas à s’entretenir de ses voiages et des choses dou Levant. Car la gent de Venysse si avoit de grant piesce moult anuy pris des loncs contes Monseignour Marc; et quand ledit Messires Marc issoit de l’uys sa meson ou Sain Grisostome, souloient li petit marmot es voies dariere-li courir en cryant Messer Marco Miliòn! cont’ a nu un busiòn! que veult dire en François ‘Messires Marcs des millions di-nous un de vos gros mensonges.’ En oultre, la Dame Donate fame anuyouse estoit, et de trop estroit esprit, et plainne de couvoitise.11 Ansi avint que Messires Marc desiroit es voiages rantrer durement.

“Si se partist de Venisse et chevaucha aux parties d’occident. Et demoura mainz jours es contrées de Provence et de France et puys fist passaige aux Ysles de la tremontaingne et s’en retourna par la Magne, si comme vous orrez cy-après. Et fist-il escripre son voiage atout les devisements les contrées; mes de la France n’y parloit mie grantment pour ce que maintes genz la scevent apertement. Et pour ce en lairons atant, et commencerons d’autres choses, assavoir, de BRETAINGNE LA GRANT.”

Cy devyse dou roiaume de Bretaingne la grant.

“Et sachiés que quand l’en se part de Calés, et l’en nage XX ou XXX milles à trop grant mesaise, si treuve l’en une grandisme Ysle qui s’apelle Bretaingne la Grant. Elle est à une grant royne et n’en fait treuage à nulluy. Et ensevelissent lor mors, et ont monnoye de chartres et d’or et d’argent, et ardent pierres noyres, et vivent de marchandises et d’ars, et ont toutes choses de vivre en grant habondance mais non pas à bon marchié. Et c’est une Ysle de trop grant richesce, et li marinier de celle partie dient que c’est li plus riches royaumes qui soit ou monde, et qu’il y a li mieudre marinier dou monde et li mieudre coursier et li mieudre chevalier (ains ne chevauchent mais lonc com François). Ausi ont-il trop bons homes d’armes et vaillans durement (bien que maint n’y ait), et les dames et damoseles bonnes et loialles, et belles com lys souef florant. Et quoi vous en diroie-je? Il y a citez et chasteau assez, et tant de marchéanz et si riches qui font venir tant d’avoir-depoiz et de toute espece de marchandise qu’il n’est hons qui la verité en sceust dire. Font venir d’Ynde et d’autres parties coton a grant planté, et font venir soye de Manzi et de Bangala, et font venir laine des ysles de la Mer Occeane et de toutes parties. Et si labourent maintz bouquerans et touailles et autres draps de coton et de laine et de soye. Encores sachiés que ont vaines d’acier assez, et si en labourent trop soubtivement de tous hernois de chevalier, et de toutes choses besoignables à ost; ce sont espées et glaive et esperon et heaume et haches, et toute espèce d arteillerie et de coutelerie, et en font grant gaaigne et grant marchandise. Et en font si grant habondance que tout li mondes en y puet avoir et à bon marchié”.

Encores cy devise dou dyt roiaume, et de ce qu’en dist Messires Marcs.

“Et sachiés que tient icelle Royne la seigneurie de l’Ynde majeure et de Mutfili et de Bangala, et d’une moitié de Mien. Et moult est saige et noble dame et pourvéans, si que est elle amée de chascun. Et avoit jadis mari; et depuys qu’il mourut bien XIV ans avoit; adonc la royne sa fame l’ama tant que oncques puis ne se voult marier a nullui, pour l’amour le prince son baron, ançois moult maine quoye vie. Et tient son royaume ausi bien ou miex que oncques le tindrent li roy si aioul. Mes ores en ce royaume li roy n’ont guieres pooir, ains la poissance commence a trespasser à la menue gent Et distrent aucun marinier de celes parties à Monseignour Marc que hui-et-le jour li royaumes soit auques abastardi come je vous diroy. Car bien est voirs que ci-arrières estoit ciz pueple de Bretaingne la Grant bonne et granz et loialle gent qui servoit Diex moult volontiers selonc lor usaige; et tuit li labour qu’il labouroient et portoient a vendre estoient honnestement labouré, et dou greigneur vaillance, et chose pardurable; et se vendoient à jouste pris sanz barguignier. En tant que se aucuns labours portoit l’estanpille Bretaingne la Grant c’estoit regardei com pleges de bonne estoffe. Mes orendroit li labours n’est mie tousjourz si bons; et quand l’en achate pour un quintal pesant de toiles de coton, adonc, par trop souvent, si treuve l’en de chascun C pois de coton, bien XXX ou XL pois de plastre de gifs, ou de blanc d’Espaigne, ou de choses semblables. Et se l’en achate de cammeloz ou de tireteinne ou d’autre dras de laine, cist ne durent mie, ains sont plain d’empoise, ou de glu et de balieures.

“Et bien qu’il est voirs que chascuns hons egalement doit de son cors servir son seigneur ou sa commune, pour aler en ost en tens de besoingne; et bien que trestuit li autre royaume d’occident tieingnent ce pour ordenance, ciz pueple de Bretaingne la Grant n’en veult nullement, ains si dient: ‘Veez-là: n’avons nous pas la Manche pour fossé de nostre pourpris, et pourquoy nous penerons-nous pour nous faire homes d’armes, en lessiant nos gaaignes et nos soulaz? Cela lairons aus soudaiers.’ Or li preudhome entre eulx moult scevent bien com tiex paroles sont nyaises; mes si ont paour de lour en dire la verité pour ce que cuident desplaire as bourjois et à la menue gent.

“Or je vous di sanz faille que, quand Messires Marcs Pols sceust ces choses, moult en ot pitié de cestui pueple, et il li vint à remembrance ce que avenu estoit, ou tens Monseignour Nicolas et Monseignour Mafé, à l’ore quand Alau, frère charnel dou Grant Sire Cublay, ala en ost seur Baudas, et print le Calife et sa maistre cité, atout son vaste tresor d’or et d’argent, et l’amère parolle que dist ledit Alau au Calife, com l’a escripte li Maistres Rusticiens ou chief de cestui livre.12

“Car sachiés tout voirement que Messires Marc moult se deleitoit à faire appert combien sont pareilles au font les condicions des diverses regions dou monde, et soloit-il clorre son discours si disant en son language de Venisse: ‘Sto mondo xe fato tondo, com uzoit dire mes oncles Mafés.’

“Ore vous lairons à conter de ceste matière et retournerons à parler de la Loy des genz de Bretaingne la Grant.

Cy devise des diverses créances de la gent Bretaingne la Grant et de ce qu’en cuidoit Messires Marcs.

“Il est voirs que li pueples est Crestiens, mes non pour le plus selonc la foy de l’Apostoille Rommain, ains tiennent le en mautalent assez. Seulement il y en a aucun qui sont féoil du dit Apostoille et encore plus forment que li nostre prudhome de Venisse. Car quand dit li Papes: ‘Telle ou telle chose est noyre,’ toute ladite gent si en jure: ‘Noyre est com poivre.’ Et puis se dira li Papes de la dite chose: ‘Elle est blanche,’ si en jurera toute ladite gent: ‘Il est voirs qu’elle est blanche; blanche est com noifs.’ Et dist Messires Marc Pol: ‘Nous n’avons nullement tant de foy à Venyse, ne li prudhome de Florence non plus, com l’en puet savoir bien apertement dou livre Monseignour Dantès Aldiguiere, que j’ay congneu a Padoe le meisme an que Messires Thibault de Cepoy à Venisse estoit.13 Mes c’est joustement ce que j’ay veu autre foiz près le Grant Bacsi qui est com li Papes des Ydres.’

“Encore y a une autre manière de gent; ce sont de celz qui s’appellent filsoufes;14 et si il disent: ‘S’il y a Diex n’en scavons nul, mes il est voirs qu’il est une certeinne courance des choses laquex court devers le bien.’ Et fist Messires Marcs: ‘Encore la créance des Bacsi qui dysent que n’y a ne Diex Eternel ne Juge des homes, ains il est une certeinne chose laquex s’apelle Kerma.’15

“Une autre foiz avint que disoit un des filsoufes à Monseignour Marc: ‘Diex n’existe mie jeusqu’ores, ainçois il se fait desorendroit.’ Et fist encore Messires Marcs: ‘Veez-là, une autre foiz la créance des ydres, car dient que li seuz Diex est icil hons qui par force de ses vertuz et de son savoir tant pourchace que d’home il se face Diex presentement. Et li Tartar l’appelent Borcan. Tiex Diex Sagamoni Borcan estoit, dou quel parle li livres Maistre Rusticien.’16

“Encore ont une autre manière de filsoufes, et dient-il: ‘Il n’est mie ne Diex ne Kerma ne courance vers le bien, ne Providence, ne Créerres, ne Sauvours, ne sainteté ne pechiés ne conscience de pechié, ne proyère ne response à proyère, il n’est nulle riens fors que trop minime grain ou paillettes qui ont à nom atosmes, et de tiex grains devient chose qui vive, et chose qui vive devient une certeinne creature qui demoure au rivaige de la Mer: et ceste creature devient poissons, et poissons devient lezars, et lezars devient blayriaus, et blayriaus devient gat-maimons, et gat-maimons devient hons sauvaiges qui menjue char d’homes, et hons sauvaiges devient hons crestien.’

“Et dist Messires Marc: ‘Encore une foiz, biaus sires, li Bacsi de Tebet et de Kescemir et li prestre de Seilan, qui si dient que l’arme vivant doie trespasser par tous cez changes de vestemens; si com se treuve escript ou livre Maistre Rusticien que Sagamoni Borcan mourut iiij vint et iiij foiz et tousjourz resuscita, et à chascune foiz d’une diverse manière de beste, et à la derreniere foyz mourut hons et devint diex, selonc ce qu’il dient.’17 Et fist encore Messires Marc: ‘A moy pert-il trop estrange chose se juesques à toutes les créances des ydolastres deust dechéoir ceste grantz et saige nation. Ainsi peuent jouer Misire li filsoufe atout lour propre perte, mes à l’ore quand tiex fantaisies se respanderont es joenes bacheliers et parmy la menue gent, celz averont pour toute Loy manducemus et bibamus, cras enim moriemur; et trop isnellement l’en raccomencera la descente de l’eschiele, et d’home crestien deviendra hons sauvaiges, et d’home sauvaige gat-maimons, et de gat-maimon blayriaus.’ Et fist encores Messires Marc: ‘Maintes contrées et provinces et ysles et citéz je Marc Pol ay veues et de maintes genz de maintes manières ay les condicionz congneues, et je croy bien que il est plus assez dedens l’univers que ce que li nostre prestre n’y songent. Et puet bien estre, biaus sires, que li mondes n’a estés creés à tous poinz com nous creiens, ains d’une sorte encore plus merveillouse. Mes cil n’amenuise nullement nostre pensée de Diex et de sa majesté, ains la fait greingnour. Et contrée n’ay veue ou Dame Diex ne manifeste apertement les granz euvres de sa tout-poissante saigesse; gent n’ay congneue esquiex ne se fait sentir li fardels de pechié, et la besoingne de Phisicien des maladies de l’arme tiex com est nostre Seignours Ihesus Crist, Beni soyt son Non. Pensez doncques à cel qu’a dit uns de ses Apostres: Nolite esse prudentes apud vosmet ipsos; et uns autres: Quoniam multi pseudo-prophetae exierint; et uns autres: Quod benient in nobissimis diebus illusores . . . dicentes, Ubi est promissio? et encores aus parolles que dist li Signours meismes: Vide ergo ne lumen quod in te est tenebrae sint.

Commant Messires Marcs se partist de l’ysle de Bretaingne et de la proyère que fist.

“Et pourquoy vous en feroie-je lonc conte? Si print nef Messires Marcs et se partist en nageant vers la terre ferme. Or Messires Marc Pol moult ama cel roiaume de Bretaingne la grant pour son viex renon et s’ancienne franchise, et pour sa saige et bonne Royne (que Diex gart), et pour les mainz homes de vaillance et bons chaceours et les maintes bonnes et honnestes dames qui y estoient. Et sachiés tout voirement que en estant delez le bort la nef, et en esgardant aus roches blanches que l’en par dariere-li lessoit, Messires Marc prieoit Diex, et disoit-il: ‘Ha Sires Diex ay merci de cestuy vieix et noble royaume; fay-en pardurable forteresse de liberté et de joustice, et garde-le de tout meschief de dedens et de dehors; donne à sa gent droit esprit pour ne pas Diex guerroyer de ses dons, ne de richesce ne de savoir; et conforte-les fermement en ta foy’. . . . ”

A loud Amen seemed to peal from without, and the awakened reader started to his feet. And lo! it was the thunder of the winter-storm crashing among the many-tinted crags of Monte Pellegrino — with the wind raging as it knows how to rage here in sight of the Isles of Aeolus, and the rain dashing on the glass as ruthlessly as it well could have done, if, instead of Aeolic Isles and many-tinted crags, the window had fronted a dearer shore beneath a northern sky, and looked across the grey Firth to the rain-blurred outline of the Lomond Hills.

But I end, saying to Messer Marco’s prayer, Amen.

PALERMO, 31st December, 1874.

1 It would be ingratitude if this Preface contained no acknowledgment of the medals awarded to the writer, mainly for this work, by the Royal Geographical Society, and by the Geographical Society of Italy, the former under the Presidence of Sir Henry Rawlinson, the latter under that of the Commendatore C. Negri. Strongly as I feel the too generous appreciation of these labours implied in such awards, I confess to have been yet more deeply touched and gratified by practical evidence of the approval of the two distinguished Travellers mentioned above; as shown by Baron von Richthofen in his spontaneous proposal to publish a German version of the book under his own immediate supervision (a project in abeyance, owing to circumstances beyond his or my control); by Mr. Ney Elias in the fact of his having carried these ponderous volumes with him on his solitary journey across the Mongolian wilds!

2 I am grateful to Mr. de Khanikoff for his especial recognition of these in a kindly review of the first edition in the Academy.

3 Especially from Lieutenant Garnier’s book, mentioned further on; the only existing source of illustration for many chapters of Polo.

4 [Merged into the notes of the present edition. — H. C.]

5 See page xxix.

6 Writing in Italy, perhaps I ought to write, according to too prevalent modern Italian custom, Polo Marco. I have already seen, and in the work of a writer of reputation, the Alexandrian geographer styled Tolomeo Claudio! and if this preposterous fashion should continue to spread, we shall in time have Tasso Torquato, Jonson Ben, Africa explored by Park Mungo, Asia conquered by Lane Tamer, Copperfield David by Dickens Charles, Homer Englished by Pope Alexander, and the Roman history done into French from the original of Live Tite!

7 Introduction p. 24, and passim in the notes.

8 Ibid., p. 112.

9 See Introduction, pp. 51, 57.

10 See Title of present volumes.

11 Which quite agrees with the story of the document quoted at p. 77 of Introduction.

12 Vol. i. p. 64, and p. 67.

13 I.e. 1306; see Introduction, pp. 68–69.

14 The form which Marco gives to this word was probably a reminiscence of the Oriental corruption failsúf. It recalls to my mind a Hindu who was very fond of the word, and especially of applying it to certain of his fellow-servants. But as he used it, bara failsúf — “great philosopher”— meant exactly the same as the modern slang “Artful Dodger”!

15 See for the explanation of Karma, “the power that controls the universe,” in the doctrine of atheistic Buddhism, Hardy’s Eastern Monachism, p. 5.

16 Vol. ii. p. 316 (see also i. 348).

17 Vol. ii. pp. 318–319.

Original Preface.

The amount of appropriate material, and of acquaintance with the mediaeval geography of some parts of Asia, which was acquired during the compilation of a work of kindred character for the Hakluyt Society,1 could hardly fail to suggest as a fresh labour in the same field the preparation of a new English edition of Marco Polo. Indeed one kindly critic (in the Examiner) laid it upon the writer as a duty to undertake that task.

Though at least one respectable English edition has appeared since Marsden’s,2 the latter has continued to be the standard edition, and maintains not only its reputation but its market value. It is indeed the work of a sagacious, learned, and right-minded man, which can never be spoken of otherwise than with respect. But since Marsden published his quarto (1818) vast stores of new knowledge have become available in elucidation both of the contents of Marco Polo’s book and of its literary history. The works of writers such as Klaproth, Abel Rémusat, D’Avezac, Reinaud, Quatremère, Julien, I. J. Schmidt, Gildemeister, Ritter, Hammer–Purgstall, Erdmann, D’Ohsson, Defrémery, Elliot, Erskine, and many more, which throw light directly or incidentally on Marco Polo, have, for the most part, appeared since then. Nor, as regards the literary history of the book, were any just views possible at a time when what may be called the Fontal MSS. (in French) were unpublished and unexamined.

Besides the works which have thus occasionally or incidentally thrown light upon the Traveller’s book, various editions of the book itself have since Marsden’s time been published in foreign countries, accompanied by comments of more or less value. All have contributed something to the illustration of the book or its history; the last and most learned of the editors, M. Pauthier, has so contributed in large measure. I had occasion some years ago3 to speak freely my opinion of the merits and demerits of M. Pauthier’s work; and to the latter at least I have no desire to recur here.

Another of his critics, a much more accomplished as well as more favourable one,4 seems to intimate the opinion that there would scarcely be room in future for new commentaries. Something of the kind was said of Marsden’s at the time of its publication. I imagine, however, that whilst our libraries endure the Iliad will continue to find new translators, and Marco Polo — though one hopes not so plentifully — new editors.

The justification of the book’s existence must however be looked for, and it is hoped may be found, in the book itself, and not in the Preface. The work claims to be judged as a whole, but it may be allowable, in these days of scanty leisure, to indicate below a few instances of what is believed to be new matter in an edition of Marco Polo; by which however it is by no means intended that all such matter is claimed by the editor as his own.5

From the commencement of the work it was felt that the task was one which no man, though he were far better equipped and much more conveniently situated than the present writer, could satisfactorily accomplish from his own resources, and help was sought on special points wherever it seemed likely to be found. In scarcely any quarter was the application made in vain. Some who have aided most materially are indeed very old and valued friends; but to many others who have done the same the applicant was unknown; and some of these again, with whom the editor began correspondence on this subject as a stranger, he is happy to think that he may now call friends.

To none am I more indebted than to the Comm. GUGLIELMO BERCHET, of Venice, for his ample, accurate, and generous assistance in furnishing me with Venetian documents, and in many other ways. Especial thanks are also due to Dr. WILLIAM LOCKHART, who has supplied the materials for some of the most valuable illustrations; to Lieutenant FRANCIS GARNIER, of the French Navy. the gallant and accomplished leader (after the death of Captain Doudart de la Grée) of the memorable expedition up the Mekong to Yun-nan; to the Rev. Dr. CALDWELL, of the S.P.G. Mission in Tinnevelly, for copious and valuable notes on Southern India; to my friends Colonel ROBERT MACLAGAN, R.E., Sir ARTHUR PHAYRE, and Colonel HENRY MAN, for very valuable notes and other aid; to Professor A. SCHIEFNER, of St. Petersburg, for his courteous communication of very interesting illustrations not otherwise accessible; to Major–General ALEXANDER CUNNINGHAM, of my own corps, for several valuable letters; to my friends Dr. THOMAS OLDHAM, Director of the Geological Survey of India, Mr. DANIEL HANBURY, F.R.S., Mr. EDWARD THOMAS, Mr. JAMES FERGUSSON, F.R.S., Sir BARTLE FRERE, and Dr. HUGH CLEGHORN, for constant interest in the work and readiness to assist its progress; to Mr. A. WYLIE, the learned Agent of the B. and F. Bible Society at Shang-hai, for valuable help; to the Hon. G. P. MARSH, U.S. Minister at the Court of Italy, for untiring kindness in the communication of his ample stores of knowledge, and of books. I have also to express my obligations to Comm. NICOLÒ BAROZZI, Director of the City Museum at Venice, and to Professor A. S. MINOTTO, of the same city; to Professor ARMINIUS VÁMBÉRY, the eminent traveller; to Professor FLÜCKIGER of Bern; to the Rev. H. A. JAESCHKE, of the Moravian Mission in British Tibet; to Colonel LEWIS PELLY, British Resident in the Persian Gulf; to Pandit MANPHUL, C.S.I. (for a most interesting communication on Badakhshan); to my brother officer, Major T. G. MONTGOMERIE, R.E., of the Indian Trigonometrical Survey; to Commendatore NEGRI the indefatigable President of the Italian Geographical Society; to Dr. ZOTENBERG, of the Great Paris Library, and to M. CH. MAUNOIR, Secretary–General of the Société de Géographie; to Professor HENRY GIGLIOI, at Florence; to my old friend Major–General ALBERT FYTCHE, Chief Commissioner of British Burma; to DR. ROST and DR. FORBES-WATSON, of the India Office Library and Museum; to Mr. R. H. MAJOR, and Mr. R. K. DOUGLAS, of the British Museum; to Mr. N. B. DENNYS, of Hong-kong; and to Mr. C. GARDNER, of the Consular Establishment in China. There are not a few others to whom my thanks are equally due; but it is feared that the number of names already mentioned may seem ridiculous, compared with the result, to those who do not appreciate from how many quarters the facts needful for a work which in its course intersects so many fields required to be collected, one by one. I must not, however, omit acknowledgments to the present Earl of DERBY for his courteous permission, when at the head of the Foreign Office, to inspect Mr. Abbott’s valuable unpublished Report upon some of the Interior Provinces of Persia; and to Mr. T. T. COOPER, one of the most adventurous travellers of modern times, for leave to quote some passages from his unpublished diary.

Palermo, 31st December, 1870.

1 Cathay and The Way Thither, being a Collection of Minor Medieval Notices of China. London, 1866. The necessities of the case have required the repetition in the present work of the substance of some notes already printed (but hardly published) in the other.

2 Viz. Mr. Hugh Murray’s. I mean no disrespect to Mr. T. Wright’s edition, but it is, and professes to be, scarcely other than a reproduction of Marsden’s, with abridgment of his notes.

3 In the Quarterly Review for July, 1868.

4 M. Nicolas Khanikoff.

5 In the Preliminary Notices will be found new matter on the Personal and Family History of the Traveller, illustrated by Documents; and a more elaborate attempt than I have seen elsewhere to classify and account for the different texts of the work, and to trace their mutual relation.

As regards geographical elucidations, I may point to the explanation of the name Gheluchelan (i. p. 58), to the discussion of the route from Kerman to Hormuz, and the identification of the sites of Old Hormuz, of Cobinan and Dogana, the establishment of the position and continued existence of Keshm, the note on Pein and Charchan, on Gog and Magog, on the geography of the route from Sindafu to Carajan, on Anin and Coloman, on Mutafili, Cail, and Ely.

As regards historical illustrations, I would cite the notes regarding the Queens Bolgana and Cocachin, on the Karaunahs, etc., on the title of King of Bengal applied to the K. of Burma, and those bearing upon the Malay and Abyssinian chronologies.

In the interpretation of outlandish phrases, I may refer to the notes on Ondanique, Nono, Barguerlac, Argon, Sensin, Keshican, Toscaol, Bularguchi, Gat-paul, etc.

Among miscellaneous elucidations, to the disquisition on the Arbre Sol or Sec in vol. i., and to that on Mediaeval Military Engines in vol. ii.

In a variety of cases it has been necessary to refer to Eastern languages for pertinent elucidations or etymologies. The editor would, however, be sorry to fall under the ban of the mediaeval adage:

Vir qui docet quod non sapit

Definitur Bestia!

and may as well reprint here what was written in the Preface to Cathay:

I am painfully sensible that in regard to many subjects dealt with in the following pages, nothing can make up for the want of genuine Oriental learning. A fair familiarity with Hindustani for many years, and some reminiscences of elementary Persian, have been useful in their degree; but it is probable that they may sometimes also have led me astray, as such slender lights are apt to do.

[Original Dedication.]

Princess of Piedmont,


Marco Polo and his Book.

Introductory Notices.

I. Obscurities in the History of His Life and Book. Ramusio’s Statements.

Doorway of the House of Marco Polo in the Corte Sabbionera, at Venice

Obscurities of Polo’s Book, and personal History.]

1. With all the intrinsic interest of Marco Polo’s Book it may perhaps be doubted if it would have continued to exercise such fascination on many minds through succesive generations were it not for the difficult questions which it suggests. It is a great book of puzzles, whilst our confidence in the man’s veracity is such that we feel certain every puzzle has a solution.

And such difficulties have not attached merely to the identification of places, the interpretation of outlandish terms, or the illustration of obscure customs; for strange entanglements have perplexed also the chief circumstances of the Traveller’s life and authorship. The time of the dictation of his Book and of the execution of his Last Will have been almost the only undisputed epochs in his biography. The year of his birth has been contested, and the date of his death has not been recorded; the critical occasion of his capture by the Genoese, to which we seem to owe the happy fact that he did not go down mute to the tomb of his fathers, has been made the subject of chronological difficulties; there are in the various texts of his story variations hard to account for; the very tongue in which it was written down has furnished a question, solved only in our own age, and in a most unexpected manner.

Ramusio, his earliest biographer. His account of Polo.]

2. The first person who attempted to gather and string the facts of Marco Polo’s personal history was his countryman, the celebrated John Baptist Ramusio. His essay abounds in what we now know to be errors of detail, but, prepared as it was when traditions of the Traveller were still rife in Venice, a genuine thread runs through it which could never have been spun in later days, and its presentation seems to me an essential element in any full discourse upon the subject.

Ramusio’s preface to the Book of Marco Polo, which opens the second volume of his famous Collection of Voyages and Travels, and is addressed to his learned friend Jerome Fracastoro, after referring to some of the most noted geographers of antiquity, proceeds:1 —

“Of all that I have named, Ptolemy, as the latest, possessed the greatest extent of knowledge. Thus, towards the North, his knowledge carries him beyond the Caspian, and he is aware of its being shut in all round like a lake — a fact which was unknown in the days of Strabo and Pliny, though the Romans were already lords of the world. But though his knowledge extends so far, a tract of 15 degrees beyond that sea he can describe only as Terra Incognita; and towards the South he is fain to apply the same character to all beyond the Equinoxial. In these unknown regions, as regards the South, the first to make discoveries have been the Portuguese captains of our own age; but as regards the North and North–East the discoverer was the Magnifico Messer Marco Polo, an honoured nobleman of Venice, nearly 300 years since, as may be read more fully in his own Book. And in truth it makes one marvel to consider the immense extent of the journeys made, first by the Father and Uncle of the said Messer Marco, when they proceeded continually towards the East–North-East, all the way to the Court of the Great Can and the Emperor of the Tartars; and afterwards again by the three of them when, on their return homeward, they traversed the Eastern and Indian Seas. Nor is that all, for one marvels also how the aforesaid gentleman was able to give such an orderly description of all that he had seen; seeing that such an accomplishment was possessed by very few in his day, and he had had a large part of his nurture among those uncultivated Tartars, without any regular training in the art of composition. His Book indeed, owing to the endless errors and inaccuracies that had crept into it, had come for many years to be regarded as fabulous; and the opinion prevailed that the names of cities and provinces contained therein were all fictitious and imaginary, without any ground in fact, or were (I might rather say) mere dreams.

Ramusio vindicates Polo’s Geography.]

3. “Howbeit, during the last hundred years, persons acquainted with Persia have begun to recognise the existence of Cathay. The voyages of the Portuguese also towards the North–East, beyond the Golden Chersonese, have brought to knowledge many cities and provinces of India, and many islands likewise, with those very names which our Author applies to them; and again, on reaching the Land of China, they have ascertained from the people of that region (as we are told by Sign. John de Barros, a Portuguese gentleman, in his Geography) that Canton, one of the chief cities of that kingdom, is in 30–2/3° of latitude, with the coast running N.E. and S.W.; that after a distance of 275 leagues the said coast turns towards the N.W.; and that there are three provinces along the sea-board, Mangi, Zanton, and Quinzai, the last of which is the principal city and the King’s Residence, standing in 46° of latitude. And proceeding yet further the coast attains to 50°.2 Seeing then how many particulars are in our day becoming known of that part of the world concerning which Messer Marco has written, I have deemed it reasonable to publish his book, with the aid of several copies written (as I judge) more than 200 years ago, in a perfectly accurate form, and one vastly more faithful than that in which it has been heretofore read. And thus the world shall not lose the fruit that may be gathered from so much diligence and industry expended upon so honourable a branch of knowledge.”

4. Ramusio, then, after a brief apologetic parallel of the marvels related by Polo with those related by the Ancients and by the modern discoverers in the West, such as Columbus and Cortes, proceeds:—

Ramusio compares Polo with Columbus.]

And often in my own mind, comparing the land explorations of these our Venetian gentlemen with the sea explorations of the aforesaid Signor Don Christopher, I have asked myself which of the two were really the more marvellous. And if patriotic prejudice delude me not, methinks good reason might be adduced for setting the land journey above the sea voyage. Consider only what a height of courage was needed to undertake and carry through so difficult an enterprise, over a route of such desperate length and hardship, whereon it was sometimes necessary to carry food for the supply of man and beast, not for days only but for months together. Columbus, on the other hand, going by sea, readily carried with him all necessary provision; and after a voyage of some 30 or 40 days was conveyed by the wind whither he desired to go, whilst the Venetians again took a whole year’s time to pass all those great deserts and mighty rivers. Indeed that the difficulty of travelling to Cathay was so much greater than that of reaching the New World, and the route so much longer and more perilous, may be gathered from the fact that, since those gentlemen twice made this journey, no one from Europe has dared to repeat it,3 whereas in the very year following the discovery of the Western Indies many ships immediately retraced the voyage thither, and up to the present day continue to do so, habitually and in countless numbers. Indeed those regions are now so well known, and so thronged by commerce, that the traffic between Italy, Spain, and England is not greater.

Recounts a tradition of the travellers’ return to Venice.]

5. Ramusio goes on to explain the light regarding the first part or prologue of Marco Polo’s book that he had derived from a recent piece of luck which had made him partially acquainted with the geography of Abulfeda, and to make a running commentary on the whole of the preliminary narrative until the final return of the travellers to Venice:—

“And when they got thither the same fate befel them as befel Ulysses, who, when he returned, after his twenty years’ wanderings, to his native Ithaca, was recognized by nobody. Thus also those three gentlemen who had been so many years absent from their native city were recognized by none of their kinsfolk, who were under the firm belief that they had all been dead for many a year past, as indeed had been reported. Through the long duration and the hardships of their journeys, and through the many worries and anxieties that they had undergone, they were quite changed in aspect, and had got a certain indescribable smack of the Tartar both in air and accent, having indeed all but forgotten their Venetian tongue. Their clothes too were coarse and shabby, and of a Tartar cut. They proceeded on their arrival to their house in this city in the confine of St. John Chrysostom, where you may see it to this day. The house, which was in those days a very lofty and handsome palazzo, is now known by the name of the Corte del Millioni for a reason that I will tell you presently. Going thither they found it occupied by some of their relatives, and they had the greatest difficulty in making the latter understand who they should be. For these good people, seeing them to be in countenance so unlike what they used to be, and in dress so shabby, flatly refused to believe that they were those very gentlemen of the Ca’ Polo whom they had been looking upon for ever so many years as among the dead.4 So these three gentlemen — this is a story I have often heard when I was a youngster from the illustrious Messer GASPARO MALPIERO, a gentleman of very great age, and a Senator of eminent virtue and integrity, whose house was on the Canal of Santa Marina, exactly at the corner over the mouth of the Rio di S. Giovanni Chrisostomo, and just midway among the buildings of the aforesaid Corte del Millioni, and he said he had heard the story from his own father and grandfather, and from other old men among the neighbours — the three gentlemen, I say, devised a scheme by which they should at once bring about their recognition by their relatives, and secure the honourable notice of the whole city; and this was it:—

“They invited a number of their kindred to an entertainment, which they took care to have prepared with great state and splendour in that house of theirs; and when the hour arrived for sitting down to table they came forth of their chamber all three clothed in crimson satin, fashioned in long robes reaching to the ground such as people in those days wore within doors. And when water for the hands had been served, and the guests were set, they took off those robes and put on others of crimson damask, whilst the first suits were by their orders cut up and divided among the servants. Then after partaking of some of the dishes they went out again and came back in robes of crimson velvet, and when they had again taken their seats, the second suits were divided as before. When dinner was over they did the like with the robes of velvet, after they had put on dresses of the ordinary fashion worn by the rest of the company.5 These proceedings caused much wonder and amazement among the guests. But when the cloth had been drawn, and all the servants had been ordered to retire from the dining hall, Messer Marco, as the youngest of the three, rose from table, and, going into another chamber, brought forth the three shabby dresses of coarse stuff which they had worn when they first arrived. Straightway they took sharp knives and began to rip up some of the seams and welts, and to take out of them jewels of the greatest value in vast quantities, such as rubies, sapphires, carbuncles, diamonds and emeralds, which had all been stitched up in those dresses in so artful a fashion that nobody could have suspected the fact. For when they took leave of the Great Can they had changed all the wealth that he had bestowed upon them into this mass of rubies, emeralds, and other jewels, being well aware of the impossibility of carrying with them so great an amount in gold over a journey of such extreme length and difficulty. Now this exhibition of such a huge treasure of jewels and precious stones, all tumbled out upon the table, threw the guests into fresh amazement, insomuch that they seemed quite bewildered and dumbfounded. And now they recognized that in spite of all former doubts these were in truth those honoured and worthy gentlemen of the Ca’ Polo that they claimed to be; and so all paid them the greatest honour and reverence. And when the story got wind in Venice, straightway the whole city, gentle and simple, flocked to the house to embrace them, and to make much of them, with every conceivable demonstration of affection and respect. On Messer Maffio, who was the eldest, they conferred the honours of an office that was of great dignity in those days; whilst the young men came daily to visit and converse with the ever polite and gracious Messer Marco, and to ask him questions about Cathay and the Great Can, all which he answered with such kindly courtesy that every man felt himself in a manner his debtor. And as it happened that in the story, which he was constantly called on to repeat, of the magnificence of the Great Can, he would speak of his revenues as amounting to ten or fifteen millions of gold; and in like manner, when recounting other instances of great wealth in those parts, would always make use of the term millions, so they gave him the nickname of MESSER MARCO MILLIONI: a thing which I have noted also in the Public Books of this Republic where mention is made of him.6 The Court of his House, too, at S. Giovanni Chrisostomo, has always from that time been popularly known as the Court of the Millioni.

Recounts Marco’s capture by the Genoese.]

6. “Not many months after the arrival of the travellers at Venice, news came that LAMPA DORIA, Captain of the Genoese Fleet, had advanced with 70 galleys to the Island of Curzola, upon which orders were issued by the Prince of the Most Illustrious Signory for the arming of 90 galleys with all the expedition possible, and Messer Marco Polo for his valour was put in charge of one of these. So he with the others, under the command of the Most Illustrious MESSER ANDREA DANDOLO, Procurator of St. Mark’s, as Captain General, a very brave and worthy gentleman, set out in search of the Genoese Fleet. They fought on the September feast of Our Lady, and, as is the common hazard of war, our fleet was beaten, and Polo was made prisoner. For, having pressed on in the vanguard of the attack, and fighting with high and worthy courage in defence of his country and his kindred, he did not receive due support, and being wounded, he was taken, along with Dandolo, and immediately put in irons and sent to Genoa.

“When his rare qualities and marvellous travels became known there, the whole city gathered to see him and to speak with him, and he was no longer entreated as a prisoner but as a dear friend and honoured gentleman. Indeed they showed him such honour and affection that at all hours of the day he was visited by the noblest gentlemen of the city, and was continually receiving presents of every useful kind. Messer Marco finding himself in this position, and witnessing the general eagerness to hear all about Cathay and the Great Can, which indeed compelled him daily to repeat his story till he was weary, was advised to put the matter in writing. So having found means to get a letter written to his father here at Venice, in which he desired the latter to send the notes and memoranda which he had brought home with him, after the receipt of these, and assisted by a Genoese gentleman, who was a great friend of his, and who took great delight in learning about the various regions of the world, and used on that account to spend many hours daily in the prison with him, he wrote this present book (to please him) in the Latin tongue.

“To this day the Genoese for the most part write what they have to write in that language, for there is no possibility of expressing their natural dialect with the pen.7 Thus then it came to pass that the Book was put forth at first by Messer Marco in Latin; but as many copies were taken, and as it was rendered into our vulgar tongue, all Italy became filled with it, so much was this story desired and run after.

Ramusio’s account of Marco’s liberation and marriage.]

7. “The captivity of Messer Marco greatly disturbed the minds of Messer Maffio and his father Messer Nicolo. They had decided, whilst still on their travels, that Marco should marry as soon as they should get to Venice; but now they found themselves in this unlucky pass, with so much wealth and nobody to inherit it. Fearing that Marco’s imprisonment might endure for many years, or, worse still, that he might not live to quit it (for many assured them that numbers of Venetian prisoners had been kept in Genoa a score of years before obtaining liberty); seeing too no prospect of being able to ransom him — a thing which they had attempted often and by various channels — they took counsel together, and came to the conclusion that Messer Nicolo, who, old as he was, was still hale and vigorous, should take to himself a new wife. This he did; and at the end of four years he found himself the father of three sons, Stefano, Maffio, and Giovanni. Not many years after, Messer Marco aforesaid, through the great favour that he had acquired in the eyes of the first gentlemen of Genoa, and indeed of the whole city, was discharged from prison and set free. Returning home he found that his father had in the meantime had those three other sons. Instead of taking this amiss, wise and discreet man that he was, he agreed also to take a wife of his own. He did so accordingly, but he never had any son, only two girls, one called Moreta and the other Fantina.

“When at a later date his father died, like a good and dutiful son he caused to be erected for him a tomb of very honourable kind for those days, being a great sarcophagus cut from the solid stone, which to this day may be seen under the portico before the Church of S. Lorenzo in this city, on the right hand as you enter, with an inscription denoting it to be the tomb of Messer Nicolo Polo of the contrada of S. Gio. Chrisostomo. The arms of his family consist of a Bend with three birds on it, and the colours, according to certain books of old histories in which you see all the coats of the gentlemen of this city emblazoned, are the field azure, the bend argent, and the three birds sable. These last are birds of that kind vulgarly termed Pole,8 or, as the Latins call them, Gracculi.

Ramusio’s account of the Family Polo and its termination.]

8. “As regards the after duration of this noble and worthy family, I find that Messer Andrea Polo of San Felice had three sons, the first of whom was Messer Marco, the second Maffio, the third Nicolo. The two last were those who went to Constantinople first, and afterwards to Cathay, as has been seen. Messer Marco the elder being dead, the wife of Messer Nicolo who had been left at home with child, gave birth to a son, to whom she gave the name of Marco in memory of the deceased, and this is the Author of our Book. Of the brothers who were born from his father’s second marriage, viz. Stephen, John, and Matthew, I do not find that any of them had children, except Matthew. He had five sons and one daughter called Maria; and she, after the death of her brothers without offspring, inherited in 1417 all the property of her father and her brothers. She was honourably married to Messer AZZO TREVISANO of the parish of Santo Stazio in this city, and from her sprung the fortunate and honoured stock of the Illustrious Messer DOMENICO TREVISANO, Procurator of St. Mark’s, and valorous Captain General of the Sea Forces of the Republic, whose virtue and singular good qualities are represented with augmentation in the person of the Most Illustrious Prince Ser MARC’ ANTONIO TREVISANO, his son.9

“Such has been the history of this noble family of the Ca’ Polo, which lasted as we see till the year of our Redemption 1417, in which year died childless Marco Polo, the last of the five sons of Maffeo, and so it came to an end. Such be the chances and changes of human affairs!”

Arms of the Ca’ Polo

1 The Preface is dated Venice, 7th July, 1553. Fracastorius died in the same year, and Ramusio erected a statue of him at Padua. Ramusio himself died in July, 1557.

2 The Geography of De Barros, from which this is quoted, has never been printed. I can find nothing corresponding to this passage in the Decades.

3 A grievous error of Ramusio’s.

4 See the decorated title-page of this volume for an attempt to realise the scene.

5 At first sight this fantastic tradition seems to have little verisimilitude; but when we regard it in the light of genuine Mongol custom, such as is quoted from Rubruquis, at p. 389 of this volume, we shall be disposed to look on the whole story with respect.

6 This curious statement is confirmed by a passage in the records of the Great Council, which, on a late visit to Venice, I was enabled to extract, through an obliging communication from Professor Minotto. (See below, p. 67.)

7 This rather preposterous skit at the Genoese dialect naturally excites a remonstrance from the Abate Spotorno. (Storia Letteraria della Liguria, II. 217.)

8 Jackdaws, I believe, in spite of some doubt from the imbecility of ordinary dictionaries in such matters.

They are under this name made the object of a similitude by Dante (surely a most unhappy one) in reference to the resplendent spirits flitting on the celestial stairs in the sphere of Saturn:—

“E come per lo natural costume

    Le Pole insieme, al cominciar del giorno,

    Si muovono a scaldar le fredde piume:

Poi altre vanno vià senza ritorno,

    Altre rivolgon sè, onde son mosse,

    Ed altre roteando fan soggiorno.”— Parad. XXI. 34.

There is some difference among authorities as to the details of the Polo blazon. According to a MS. concerning the genealogies of Venetian families written by Marco Barbaro in 1566, and of which there is a copy in the Museo Civico, the field is gules, the bend or. And this I have followed in the cut. But a note by S. Stefani of Venice, with which I have been favoured since the cut was made, informs me that a fine 15th-century MS. in his possession gives the field as argent, with no bend, and the three birds sable with beaks gules, disposed thus ***.

Arms of the Polo*

* [This coat of arms is reproduced from the Genealogies of Priuli, Archivio di Stato, Venice. — H. C.]

9 Marco Antonio Trevisano was elected Doge, 4th June, 1553, but died on the 31st of May following. We do not here notice Ramusio’s numerous errors, which will be corrected in the sequel. [See p. 78.]

ii. Sketch of the State of the East at the Time of the Journeys of the Polo Family.

9. The story of the travels of the Polo family opens in 1260.

State of the Levant.]

Christendom had recovered from the alarm into which it had been thrown some 18 years before when the Tartar cataclysm had threatened to engulph it. The Tartars themselves were already becoming an object of curiosity rather than of fear, and soon became an object of hope, as a possible help against the old Mahomedan foe. The frail Latin throne in Constantinople was still standing, but tottering to its fall. The successors of the Crusaders still held the Coast of Syria from Antioch to Jaffa, though a deadlier brood of enemies than they had yet encountered was now coming to maturity in the Dynasty of the Mamelukes, which had one foot firmly planted in Cairo, the other in Damascus. The jealousies of the commercial republics of Italy were daily waxing greater. The position of Genoese trade on the coasts of the Aegean was greatly depressed, through the predominance which Venice had acquired there by her part in the expulsion of the Greek Emperors, and which won for the Doge the lofty style of Lord of Three–Eighths of the Empire of Romania. But Genoa was biding her time for an early revenge, and year by year her naval strength and skill were increasing. Both these republics held possessions and establishments in the ports of Syria, which were often the scene of sanguinary conflicts between their citizens. Alexandria was still largely frequented in the intervals of war as the great emporium of Indian wares, but the facilities afforded by the Mongol conquerors who now held the whole tract from the Persian Gulf to the shores of the Caspian and of the Black Sea, or nearly so, were beginning to give a great advantage to the caravan routes which debouched at the ports of Cilician Armenia in the Mediterranean and at Trebizond on the Euxine. Tana (or Azov) had not as yet become the outlet of a similar traffic; the Venetians had apparently frequented to some extent the coast of the Crimea for local trade, but their rivals appear to have been in great measure excluded from this commerce, and the Genoese establishments which so long flourished on that coast, are first heard of some years after a Greek dynasty was again in possession of Constantinople.1

The various Mongol Sovereignties in Asia and Eastern Europe.]

10. In Asia and Eastern Europe scarcely a dog might bark without Mongol leave, from the borders of Poland and the Gulf of Scanderoon to the Amur and the Yellow Sea. The vast empire which Chinghiz had conquered still owned a nominally supreme head in the Great Kaan,2 but practically it was splitting up into several great monarchies under the descendants of the four sons of Chinghiz, Juji, Chaghatai, Okkodai, and Tuli; and wars on a vast scale were already brewing between them. Hulaku, third son of Tuli, and brother of two Great Kaans, Mangku and Kúblái, had become practically independent as ruler of Persia, Babylonia, Mesopotamia, and Armenia, though he and his sons, and his sons’ sons, continued to stamp the name of the Great Kaan upon their coins, and to use the Chinese seals of state which he bestowed upon them. The Seljukian Sultans of Iconium, whose dominion bore the proud title of Rúm (Rome), were now but the struggling bondsmen of the Ilkhans. The Armenian Hayton in his Cilician Kingdom had pledged a more frank allegiance to the Tartar, the enemy of his Moslem enemies.

Barka, son of Juji, the first ruling prince of the House of Chinghiz to turn Mahomedan, reigned on the steppes of the Volga, where a standing camp, which eventually became a great city under the name of Sarai, had been established by his brother and predecessor Batu.

The House of Chaghatai had settled upon the pastures of the Ili and the valley of the Jaxartes, and ruled the wealthy cities of Sogdiana.

Kaidu, the grandson of Okkodai who had been the successor of Chinghiz in the Kaanship, refused to acknowledge the transfer of the supreme authority to the House of Tuli, and was through the long life of Kúblái a thorn in his side, perpetually keeping his north-western frontier in alarm. His immediate authority was exercised over some part of what we should now call Eastern Turkestan and Southern Central Siberia; whilst his hordes of horsemen, force of character, and close neighbourhood brought the Khans of Chaghatai under his influence, and they generally acted in concert with him.

The chief throne of the Mongol Empire had just been ascended by Kúblái, the most able of its occupants after the Founder. Before the death of his brother and predecessor Mangku, who died in 1259 before an obscure fortress of Western China, it had been intended to remove the seat of government from Kara Korum on the northern verge of the Mongolian Desert to the more populous regions that had been conquered in the further East, and this step, which in the end converted the Mongol Kaan into a Chinese Emperor,3 was carried out by Kúblái.


11. For about three centuries the Northern provinces of China had been detached from native rule, and subject to foreign dynasties; first to the Khitan, a people from the basin of the Sungari River, and supposed (but doubtfully) to have been akin to the Tunguses, whose rule subsisted for 200 years, and originated the name of KHITAI, Khata, or CATHAY, by which for nearly 1000 years China has been known to the nations of Inner Asia, and to those whose acquaintance with it was got by that channel.4 The Khitan, whose dynasty is known in Chinese history as the Liao or “Iron,” had been displaced in 1123 by the Chúrchés or Niu-chen, another race of Eastern Tartary, of the same blood as the modern Manchus, whose Emperors in their brief period of prosperity were known by the Chinese name of Tai-Kin, by the Mongol name of the Altun Kaans, both signifying “Golden.” Already in the lifetime of Chinghiz himself the northern Provinces of China Proper, including their capital, known as Chung-tu or Yen–King, now Peking, had been wrenched from them, and the conquest of the dynasty was completed by Chinghiz’s successor Okkodai in 1234.

Southern China still remained in the hands of the native dynasty of the Sung, who had their capital at the great city now well known as Hang-chau fu. Their dominion was still substantially untouched, but its subjugation was a task to which Kúblái before many years turned his attention, and which became the most prominent event of his reign.

India, and Indo–China.]

12. In India the most powerful sovereign was the Sultan of Delhi, Nassiruddin Mahmud of the Turki House of Iltitmish;5 but, though both Sind and Bengal acknowledged his supremacy, no part of Peninsular India had yet been invaded, and throughout the long period of our Traveller’s residence in the East the Kings of Delhi had their hands too full, owing to the incessant incursions of the Mongols across the Indus, to venture on extensive campaigning in the south. Hence the Dravidian Kingdoms of Southern India were as yet untouched by foreign conquest, and the accumulated gold of ages lay in their temples and treasuries, an easy prey for the coming invader.

In the Indo–Chinese Peninsula and the Eastern Islands a variety of kingdoms and dynasties were expanding and contracting, of which we have at best but dim and shifting glimpses. That they were advanced in wealth and art, far beyond what the present state of those regions would suggest, is attested by vast and magnificent remains of Architecture, nearly all dating, so far as dates can be ascertained, from the 12th to the 14th centuries (that epoch during which an architectural afflatus seems to have descended on the human race), and which are found at intervals over both the Indo–Chinese continent and the Islands, as at Pagán in Burma, at Ayuthia in Siam, at Angkor in Kamboja, at Borobodor and Brambánan in Java. All these remains are deeply marked by Hindu influence, and, at the same time, by strong peculiarities, both generic and individual.

Autograph of Hayton, King of Armenia, circa A.D. 1243.
“ . . . e por so qui cestes lettres soient fermes e establis ci avuns escrit l’escrit de notre main vermoil e sayelé de notre ceau pendant. . . . ”

1 See Heyd, Le Colonie Commerciali degli Italiani, etc., passim.

2 We endeavour to preserve throughout the book the distinction that was made in the age of the Mongol Empire between Khán and Kaán ([Arabic] and [Arabic] as written by Arabic and Persian authors). The former may be rendered Lord, and was applied generally to Tartar chiefs whether sovereign or not; it has since become in Persia, and especially in Afghanistan, a sort of “Esq.,” and in India is now a common affix in the names of (Musulman) Hindustanis of all classes; in Turkey alone it has been reserved for the Sultan. Kaán, again, appears to be a form of Khákán, the [Greek: Chagános] of the Byzantine historians, and was the peculiar title of the supreme sovereign of the Mongols; the Mongol princes of Persia, Chaghatai, etc., were entitled only to the former affix (Khán), though Kaán and Khakán are sometimes applied to them in adulation. Polo always writes Kaan as applied to the Great Khan, and does not, I think, use Khan in any form, styling the subordinate princes by their name only, as Argon, Alau, etc. Ilkhan was a special title assumed by Huláku and his successors in Persia; it is said to be compounded from a word Il, signifying tribe or nation. The relation between Khán and Khakán seems to be probably that the latter signifies “Khán of Kháns” Lord of Lords. Chinghiz, it is said, did not take the higher title; it was first assumed by his son Okkodai. But there are doubts about this. (See Quatremère’s Rashid, pp. 10 seqq. and Pavet de Courteille, Dict. Turk–Oriental.) The tendency of swelling titles is always to degenerate, and when the value of Khan had sunk, a new form, Khán-khánán, was devised at the Court of Delhi, and applied to one of the high officers of state.

[Mr. Rockhill writes (Rubruck, p. 108, note): “The title Khan, though of very great antiquity, was only used by the Turks after A.D. 560, at which time the use of the word Khatun came in use for the wives of the Khan, who himself was termed Ilkhan. The older title of Shan-yü did not, however, completely disappear among them, for Albiruni says that in his time the chief of the Ghuz Turks, or Turkomans, still bore the title of Jenuyeh, which Sir Henry Rawlinson (Proc. R. G. S., v. 15) takes to be the same word as that transcribed Shan-yü by the Chinese (see Ch’ien Han shu, Bk. 94, and Chou shu, Bk. 50, 2). Although the word Khakhan occurs in Menander’s account of the embassy of Zemarchus, the earliest mention I have found of it in a Western writer is in the Chronicon of Albericus Trium Fontium, where (571), under the year 1239, he uses it in the form Cacanus”— Cf. Terrien de Lacouperie, Khan, Khakan, and other Tartar Titles. Lond., Dec. 1888. — H. C.]

3 “China is a sea that salts all the rivers that flow into it.”— P. Parrenin in Lett. Édif. XXIV. 58.

4 E.g. the Russians still call it Khitai. The pair of names, Khitai and Machin, or Cathay and China, is analogous to the other pair, Seres and Sinae. Seres was the name of the great nation in the far East as known by land, Sinae as known by sea; and they were often supposed to be diverse, just as Cathay and China were afterwards.

5 There has been much doubt about the true form of this name. Iltitmish is that sanctioned by Mr. Blochmann (see Proc. As. Soc. Bengal, 1870, p. 181).

iii. The Polo Family. Personal History of the Travellers Down to Their Final Return from the East.

Alleged origin of the Polos.]

13. In days when History and Genealogy were allowed to draw largely on the imagination for the origines of states and families, it was set down by one Venetian Antiquary that among the companions of King Venetus, or of Prince Antenor of Troy, when they settled on the northern shores of the Adriatic, there was one LUCIUS POLUS, who became the progenitor of our Traveller’s Family;1 whilst another deduces it from PAOLO the first Doge2 (Paulus Lucas Anafestus of Heraclea, A.D. 696).

More trustworthy traditions, recorded among the Family Histories of Venice, but still no more it is believed than traditions, represent the Family of Polo as having come from Sebenico in Dalmatia, in the 11th century.3 Before the end of the century they had taken seats in the Great Council of the Republic; for the name of Domenico Polo is said to be subscribed to a grant of 1094, that of Pietro Polo to an act of the time of the Doge Domenico Michiele in 1122, and that of a Domenico Polo to an acquittance granted by the Doge Domenico Morosini and his Council in 1153.4

The ascertained genealogy of the Traveller, however, begins only with his grandfather, who lived in the early part of the 13th century.

Two branches of the Polo Family were then recognized, distinguished by the confini or Parishes in which they lived, as Polo of S. Geremia, and Polo of S. Felice. ANDREA POLO of S. Felice was the father of three sons, MARCO, NICOLO, and MAFFEO. And Nicolo was the Father of our Marco.

Claims to be styled noble.]

14. Till quite recently it had never been precisely ascertained whether the immediate family of our Traveller belonged to the Nobles of Venice properly so called, who had seats in the Great Council and were enrolled in the Libro d’Oro. Ramusio indeed styles our Marco Nobile and Magnifico, and Rusticiano, the actual scribe of the Traveller’s recollections, calls him “sajes et noble citaiens de Venece,” but Ramusio’s accuracy and Rusticiano’s precision were scarcely to be depended on. Very recently, however, since the subject has been discussed with accomplished students of the Venice Archives, proofs have been found establishing Marco’s personal claim to nobility, inasmuch as both in judicial decisions and in official resolutions of the Great Council, he is designated Nobilis Vir, a formula which would never have been used in such documents (I am assured) had he not been technically noble.5

Marco the Elder.]

15. Of the three sons of Andrea Polo of S. Felice, Marco seems to have been the eldest, and Maffeo the youngest.6 They were all engaged in commerce, and apparently in a partnership, which to some extent held good even when the two younger had been many years absent in the Far East.7 Marco seems to have been established for a time at Constantinople,8 and also to have had a house (no doubt of business) at Soldaia, in the Crimea, where his son and daughter, Nicolo and Maroca by name, were living in 1280. This year is the date of the Elder Marco’s Will, executed at Venice, and when he was “weighed down by bodily ailment.” Whether he survived for any length of time we do not know.

Nicolo and Maffeo commence their travels.]

16. Nicolo Polo, the second of the Brothers, had two legitimate sons, MARCO, the Author of our Book, born in 1254,9 and MAFFEO, of whose place in the family we shall have a few words to say presently. The story opens, as we have said, in 1260, when we find the two brothers, Nicolo and Maffeo the Elder, at Constantinople. How long they had been absent from Venice we are not distinctly told. Nicolo had left his wife there behind him; Maffeo apparently was a bachelor. In the year named they started on a trading venture to the Crimea, whence a succession of openings and chances, recounted in the Introductory chapters of Marco’s work, carried them far north along the Volga, and thence first to Bokhara, and then to the Court of the Great Kaan Kúblái in the Far East, on or within the borders of CATHAY. That a great and civilized country so called existed in the extremity of Asia had already been reported in Europe by the Friars Plano Carpini (1246) and William Rubruquis (1253), who had not indeed reached its frontiers, but had met with its people at the Court of the Great Kaan in Mongolia; whilst the latter of the two with characteristic acumen had seen that they were identical with the Seres of classic fame.

Their intercourse with Kúblái Kaan.]

17. Kúblái had never before fallen in with European gentlemen. He was delighted with these Venetians, listened with strong interest to all that they had to tell him of the Latin world, and determined to send them back as his ambassadors to the Pope, accompanied by an officer of his own Court. His letters to the Pope, as the Polos represent them, were mainly to desire the despatch of a large body of educated missionaries to convert his people to Christianity. It is not likely that religious motives influenced Kúblái in this, but he probably desired religious aid in softening and civilizing his rude kinsmen of the Steppes, and judged, from what he saw in the Venetians and heard from them, that Europe could afford such aid of a higher quality than the degenerate Oriental Christians with whom he was familiar, or the Tibetan Lamas on whom his patronage eventually devolved when Rome so deplorably failed to meet his advances.

Their return home, and Marco’s appearance on the scene.]

18. The Brothers arrived at Acre in April,10 1269, and found that no Pope existed, for Clement IV. was dead the year before, and no new election had taken place. So they went home to Venice to see how things stood there after their absence of so many years.

The wife of Nicolo was no longer among the living, but he found his son Marco a fine lad of fifteen.

The best and most authentic MSS. tell us no more than this. But one class of copies, consisting of the Latin version made by our Traveller’s contemporary, Francesco Pipino, and of the numerous editions based indirectly upon it, represents that Nicolo had left Venice when Marco was as yet unborn, and consequently had never seen him till his return from the East in 1269.11

We have mentioned that Nicolo Polo had another legitimate son, by name Maffeo, and him we infer to have been younger than Marco, because he is named last (Marcus et Matheus) in the Testament of their uncle Marco the Elder. We do not know if they were by the same mother. They could not have been so if we are right in supposing Maffeo to have been the younger, and if Pipino’s version of the history be genuine. If however we reject the latter, as I incline to do, no ground remains for supposing that Nicolo went to the East much before we find him there viz., in 1260, and Maffeo may have been born of the same mother during the interval between 1254 and 1260. If on the other hand Pipino’s version be held to, we must suppose that Maffeo (who is named by his uncle in 1280, during his father’s second absence in the East) was born of a marriage contracted during Nicolo’s residence at home after his first journey, a residence which lasted from 1269 to 1271.12

Illustration: The Piazzetta at Venice. (From the Bodleian MS. of Polo.)

Second Journey of the Polo Brothers, accompanied by Marco.]

19. The Papal interregnum was the longest known, at least since the dark ages. Those two years passed, and yet the Cardinals at Viterbo had come to no agreement. The brothers were unwilling to let the Great Kaan think them faithless, and perhaps they hankered after the virgin field of speculation that they had discovered; so they started again for the East, taking young Mark with them. At Acre they took counsel with an eminent churchman, TEDALDO (or Tebaldo) VISCONTI, Archdeacon of Liège, whom the Book represents to have been Legate in Syria, and who in any case was a personage of much gravity and influence. From him they got letters to authenticate the causes of the miscarriage of their mission, and started for the further East. But they were still at the port of Ayas on the Gulf of Scanderoon, which was then becoming one of the chief points of arrival and departure for the inland trade of Asia, when they were overtaken by the news that a Pope was at last elected, and that the choice had fallen upon their friend Archdeacon Tedaldo. They immediately returned to Acre, and at last were able to execute the Kaan’s commission, and to obtain a reply. But instead of the hundred able teachers of science and religion whom Kúblái is said to have asked for, the new Pope, Gregory X., could supply but two Dominicans; and these lost heart and drew back when they had barely taken the first step of the journey.

Judging from certain indications we conceive it probable that the three Venetians, whose second start from Acre took place about November 1271, proceeded by Ayas and Sivas, and then by Mardin, Mosul, and Baghdad, to Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, with the view of going on by sea, but that some obstacle arose which compelled them to abandon this project and turn north again from Hormuz.13 They then traversed successively Kerman and Khorasan, Balkh and Badakhshan, whence they ascended the Panja or upper Oxus to the Plateau of Pamir, a route not known to have been since followed by any European traveller except Benedict Goës, till the spirited expedition of Lieutenant John Wood of the Indian Navy in 1838.14 Crossing the Pamir highlands the travellers descended upon Kashgar, whence they proceeded by Yarkand and Khotan, and the vicinity of Lake Lob, and eventually across the Great Gobi Desert to Tangut, the name then applied by Mongols and Persians to territory at the extreme North-west of China, both within and without the Wall. Skirting the northern frontier of China they at last reached the presence of the Kaan, who was at his usual summer retreat at Kai-ping fu, near the base of the Khingan Mountains, and nearly 100 miles north of the Great Wall at Kalgan. If there be no mistake in the time (three years and a half) ascribed to this journey in all the existing texts, the travellers did not reach the Court till about May of 1275.15

Marco’s employment by Kúblái Kaan; and his journeys.]

20. Kúblái received the Venetians with great cordiality, and took kindly to young Mark, who must have been by this time one-and-twenty. The Joenne Bacheler, as the story calls him, applied himself to the acquisition of the languages and written characters in chief use among the multifarious nationalities included in the Kaan’s Court and administration; and Kúblái after a time, seeing his discretion and ability, began to employ him in the public service. M. Pauthier has found a record in the Chinese Annals of the Mongol Dynasty, which states that in the year 1277, a certain POLO was nominated a second-class commissioner or agent attached to the Privy Council, a passage which we are happy to believe to refer to our young traveller.16

His first mission apparently was that which carried him through the provinces of Shan-si, Shen-si, and Sze-ch’wan, and the wild country on the East of Tibet, to the remote province of Yun-nan, called by the Mongols Karájàng, and which had been partially conquered by an army under Kúblái himself in 1253, before his accession to the throne.17 Mark, during his stay at court, had observed the Kaan’s delight in hearing of strange countries, their marvels, manners, and oddities, and had heard his Majesty’s frank expressions of disgust at the stupidity of his commissioners when they could speak of nothing but the official business on which they had been sent. Profiting by these observations, he took care to store his memory or his note-books with all curious facts that were likely to interest Kúblái, and related them with vivacity on his return to Court. This first journey, which led him through a region which is still very nearly a terra incognita, and in which there existed and still exists, among the deep valleys of the Great Rivers flowing down from Eastern Tibet, and in the rugged mountain ranges bordering Yun-nan and Kwei-chau, a vast Ethnological Garden, as it were, of tribes of various race and in every stage of uncivilisation, afforded him an acquaintance with many strange products and eccentric traits of manners, wherewith to delight the Emperor.

Mark rose rapidly in favour, and often served Kúblái again on distant missions, as well as in domestic administration, but we gather few details as to his employments. At one time we know that he held for three years the government of the great city of Yang-chau, though we need not try to magnify this office, as some commentators have done, into the viceroyalty of one of the great provinces of the Empire; on another occasion we find him with his uncle Maffeo, passing a year at Kan-chau in Tangut; again, it would appear, visiting Kara Korum, the old capital of the Kaans in Mongolia; on another occasion in Champa or Southern Cochin China; and again, or perhaps as a part of the last expedition, on a mission to the Indian Seas, when he appears to have visited several of the southern states of India. We are not informed whether his father and uncle shared in such employments;18 and the story of their services rendered to the Kaan in promoting the capture of the city of Siang-yang, by the construction of powerful engines of attack, is too much perplexed by difficulties of chronology to be cited with confidence. Anyhow they were gathering wealth, and after years of exile they began to dread what might follow old Kúblái’s death, and longed to carry their gear and their own grey heads safe home to the Lagoons. The aged Emperor growled refusal to all their hints, and but for a happy chance we should have lost our mediaeval Herodotus.

Circumstances of the Departure of the Polos from the Kaan’s Court.]

21. Arghún Khan of Persia, Kúblái’s great-nephew, had in 1286 lost his favourite wife the Khatun Bulughán; 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 Kokáchin, 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.19 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.20 Arghún Khan too had been dead even before they quitted China;21 his brother Kaikhátú reigned in his stead; and his son Gházán succeeded to the lady’s hand. We are told by one who knew both the princes well that Arghún was one of the handsomest men of his time, whilst Gházán was, among all his host, one of the most insignificant in appearance. But in other respects the lady’s change was for the better. Gházán 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.

They pass by Persia to Venice. Their relations there.]

22. The princess, whose enjoyment of her royalty was brief, wept as she took leave of the kindly and noble Venetians. They went on to Tabriz, and after a long halt there proceeded homewards, reaching Venice, according to all the texts some time in 1295.22

We have related Ramusio’s interesting tradition, like a bit out of the Arabian Nights, of the reception that the Travellers met with from their relations, and of the means that they took to establish their position with those relations, and with Venetian society.23 Of the relations, Marco the Elder had probably been long dead;24 Maffeo the brother of our Marco was alive, and we hear also of a cousin (consanguineus) Felice Polo, and his wife Fiordelisa, without being able to fix their precise position in the family. We know also that Nicolo, who died before the end of the century, left behind him two illegitimate sons, Stefano and Zannino. It is not unlikely that these were born from some connection entered into during the long residence of the Polos in Cathay, though naturally their presence in the travelling company is not commemorated in Marco’s Prologue.25

1 Zurla, I. 42, quoting a MS. entitled Petrus Ciera S. R. E. Card, de Origine Venetorum et de Civitate Venetiarum. Cicogna says he could not find this MS. as it had been carried to England; and then breaks into a diatribe against foreigners who purchase and carry away such treasures, “not to make a serious study of them, but for mere vain-glory . . . or in order to write books contradicting the very MSS. that they have bought, and with that dishonesty and untruth which are so notorious!” (IV. 227.)

2 Campidoglio Veneto of Cappellari (MS. in St. Mark’s Lib.), quoting “the Venetian Annals of Giulio Faroldi.”

3 The Genealogies of Marco Barbaro specify 1033 as the year of the migration to Venice; on what authority does not appear (MS. copy in Museo Civico at Venice).

4 Cappellari, u.s., and Barbaro. In the same century we find (1125, 1195) indications of Polos at Torcello, and of others (1160) at Equileo, and (1179, 1206) Lido Maggiore; in 1154 a Marco Polo of Rialto. Contemporary with these is a family of Polos (1139, 1183, 1193, 1201) at Chioggia (Documents and Lists of Documents from various Archives at Venice).

5 See Appendix C, Nos. 4, 5, and 16. It was supposed that an autograph of Marco as member of the Great Council had been discovered, but this proves to be a mistake, as will be explained further on (see p. 74, note). In those days the demarcation between Patrician and non-Patrician at Venice, where all classes shared in commerce, all were (generally speaking) of one race, and where there were neither castles, domains, nor trains of horsemen, formed no wide gulf. Still it is interesting to establish the verity of the old tradition of Marco’s technical nobility.

6 Marco’s seniority rests only on the assertion of Ramusio, who also calls Maffeo older than Nicolo. But in Marco the Elder’s Will these two are always (3 times) specified as “Nicolaus et Matheus.”

7 This seems implied in the Elder Marco’s Will (1280): “Item de bonis quae me habere contingunt de fraternâ Compagniâ a suprascriptis Nicolao et Matheo Paulo,” etc.

8 In his Will he terms himself “Ego Marcus Polo quondam de Constantinopoli.”

9 There is no real ground for doubt as to this. All the extant MSS. agree in making Marco fifteen years old when his father returned to Venice in 1269.

10 Baldelli and Lazari say that the Bern MS. specifies 30th April; but this is a mistake.

11 Pipino’s version runs: “Invenit Dominus Nicolaus Paulus uxorem suam esse de functam, quae in recessu suo fuit praegnans. Invenitque filium, Marcum nomine, qui jam annos xv. habebat aetatis, qui post discessum ipsius de Venetiis natus fuerat de uxore sua praefatâ.” To this Ramusio adds the further particular that the mother died in giving birth to Mark.

The interpolation is older even than Pipino’s version, for we find in the rude Latin published by the Société de Géographie “quam cum Venetiis primo recessit praegnantem dimiserat.” But the statement is certainly an interpolation, for it does not exist in any of the older texts; nor have we any good reason for believing that it was an authorised interpolation. I suspect it to have been introduced to harmonise with an erroneous date for the commencement of the travels of the two brothers.

Lazari prints: “Messer Nicolò trovò che la sua donna era morta, e n’era rimasto un fanciullo di dodici anni per nome Marco, che il padre non avea veduto mai, perchè non era ancor nato quando egli partì.” These words have no equivalent in the French Texts, but are taken from one of the Italian MSS. in the Magliabecchian Library, and are I suspect also interpolated. The dodici is pure error (see p. 21 infra).

12 The last view is in substance, I find, suggested by Cicogna (ii. 389).

The matter is of some interest, because in the Will of the younger Maffeo, which is extant, he makes a bequest to his uncle (Avunculus) Jordan Trevisan. This seems an indication that his mother’s name may have been Trevisan. The same Maffeo had a daughter Fiordelisa. And Marco the Elder, in his Will (1280), appoints as his executors, during the absence of his brothers, the same Jordan Trevisan and his own sister-inlaw Fiordelisa (“Jordanum Trivisanum de confinio S. Antonini: et Flordelisam cognatam meam”). Hence I conjecture that this cognata Fiordelisa (Trevisan?) was the wife of the absent Nicolo, and the mother of Maffeo. In that case of course Maffeo and Marco were the sons of different mothers. With reference to the above suggestion of Nicolo’s second marriage in 1269 there is a curious variation in a fragmentary Venetian Polo in the Barberini Library at Rome. It runs, in the passage corresponding to the latter part of ch. ix. of Prologue: “i qual do fratelli steteno do anni in Veniezia aspettando la elletion de nuovo Papa, nel qual tempo Mess. Nicolo si tolse moier et si la lasò graveda.” I believe, however, that it is only a careless misrendering of Pipino’s statement about Marco’s birth.

13 [Major Sykes, in his remarkable book on Persia, ch. xxiii. pp. does not share Sir Henry Yule’s opinion regarding this itinerary, and he writes:

“To return to our travellers, who started on their second great journey in 1271, Sir Henry Yule, in his introduction,[A] makes them travel via Sivas to Mosul and Baghdád, and thence by sea to Hormuz, and this is the itinerary shown on his sketch map. This view I am unwilling to accept for more than one reason. In the first place, if, with Colonel Yule, we suppose that Ser Marco visited Baghdád, is it not unlikely that he should term the River Volga the Tigris,[B] and yet leave the river of Baghdád nameless? It may be urged that Marco believed the legend of the reappearance of the Volga in Kurdistán, but yet, if the text be read with care and the character of the traveller be taken into account, this error is scarcely explicable in any other way, than that he was never there.

“Again, he gives no description of the striking buildings of Baudas, as he terms it, but this is nothing to the inaccuracy of his supposed onward journey. To quote the text, ‘A very great river flows through the city, . . . and merchants descend some eighteen days from Baudas, and then come to a certain city called Kisi,[C] where they enter the Sea of India.’ Surely Marco, had he travelled down the Persian Gulf, would never have given this description of the route, which is so untrue as to point to the conclusion that it was vague information given by some merchant whom he met in the course of his wanderings.

“Finally, apart from the fact that Baghdád, since its fall, was rather off the main caravan route, Marco so evidently travels east from Yezd and thence south to Hormuz, that unless his journey be described backwards, which is highly improbable, it is only possible to arrive at one conclusion, namely, that the Venetians entered Persia near Tabriz, and travelled to Sultania, Kashán, and Yezd. Thence they proceeded to Kermán and Hormuz, where, probably fearing the sea voyage, owing to the manifest unseaworthiness of the ships, which he describes as ‘wretched affairs,’ the Khorasán route was finally adopted. Hormuz, in this case, was not visited again until the return from China, when it seems probable that the same route was retraced to Tabriz, where their charge, the Lady Kokachin, ‘moult bele dame et avenant,’ was married to Gházan Khán, the son of her fiancé Arghun. It remains to add that Sir Henry Yule may have finally accepted this view in part, as in the plate showing Probable View of Marco Polo’s own Geography,[D] the itinerary is not shown as running to Baghdád.”

I may be allowed to answer that when Marco Polo started for the East, Baghdád was not rather off the main caravan route. The fall of Baghdád was not immediately followed by its decay, and we have proof of its prosperity at the beginning of the 14th century. Tauris had not yet the importance it had reached when the Polos visited it on their return journey. We have the will of the Venetian Pietro Viglioni, dated from Tauris, 10th December, 1264 (Archiv. Veneto, xxvi. 161–165), which shows that he was but a pioneer. It was only under Arghún Khan (1284–1291) that Tauris became the great market for foreign, especially Genoese, merchants, as Marco Polo remarks on his return journey; with Gházán and the new city built by that prince, Tauris reached a very high degree of prosperity, and was then really the chief emporium on the route from Europe to Persia and the far East. Sir Henry Yule had not changed his views, and if in the plate showing Probable View of Marco Polo’s own Geography, the itinerary is not shown as running to Baghdád, it is mere neglect on the part of the draughtsman. — H. C.]

[A] Page 19.

[B] Vide Yule, vol. i. p. 5. It is noticeable that John of Pian de Carpine, who travelled 1245 to 1247, names it correctly.

[C] The modern name is Keis, an island lying off Linga.

[D] Vol. i. p. 110 (Introduction).

14 It is stated by Neumann that this most estimable traveller once intended to have devoted a special work to the elucidation of Marco’s chapters on the Oxus Provinces, and it is much to be regretted that this intention was never fulfilled. Pamir has been explored more extensively and deliberately, whilst this book was going through the press, by Colonel Gordon, and other officers, detached from Sir Douglas Forsyth’s Mission. [We have made use of the information given by these officers and by more recent travellers. — H. C.]

15 Half a year earlier, if we suppose the three years and a half to count from Venice rather than Acre. But at that season (November) Kúblái would not have been at Kai-ping fu (otherwise Shang-tu).

16 Pauthier, p. ix., and p. 361.

17 That this was Marco’s first mission is positively stated in the Ramusian edition; and though this may be only an editor’s gloss it seems well-founded. The French texts say only that the Great Kaan, “l’envoia en un message en une terre ou bien avoit vj. mois de chemin.” The traveller’s actual Itinerary affords to Vochan (Yung-ch’ang), on the frontier of Burma, 147 days’ journey, which with halts might well be reckoned six months in round estimate. And we are enabled by various circumstances to fix the date of the Yun-nan journey between 1277 and 1280. The former limit is determined by Polo’s account of the battle with the Burmese, near Vochan, which took place according to the Chinese Annals in 1277. The latter is fixed by his mention of Kúblái’s son, Mangalai, as governing at Kenjanfu (Si-ngan fu), a prince who died in 1280. (See vol. ii. pp. 24, 31, also 64, 80.)

18 Excepting in the doubtful case of Kan-chau, where one reading says that the three Polos were there on business of their own not necessary to mention, and another, that only Maffeo and Marco were there, “en légation.”

19 Persian history seems to fix the arrival of the lady Kokáchin in the North of Persia to the winter of 1293–1294. The voyage to Sumatra occupied three months (vol. i. p. 34); they were five months detained there (ii. 292); and the remainder of the voyage extended to eighteen more (i. 35) — twenty-six months in all.

The data are too slight for unexceptional precision, but the following adjustment will fairly meet the facts. Say that they sailed from Fo-kien in January 1292. In April they would be in Sumatra, and find the S.W. Monsoon too near to admit of their crossing the Bay of Bengal. They remain in port till September (five months), and then proceed, touching (perhaps) at Ceylon, at Kayal, and at several ports   of Western India. In one of these, e.g. Kayal or Tana, they pass the S.W. Monsoon of 1293, and then proceed to the Gulf. They reach Hormuz in the winter, and the camp of the Persian Prince Gházán, the son of Arghún, in March, twenty-six months from their departure.

I have been unable to trace Hammer’s authority (not Wassáf I find), which perhaps gives the precise date of the Lady’s arrival in Persia (see infra, p. 38). From his narrative, however (Gesch. der Ilchane, ii. 20), March 1294 is perhaps too late a date. But the five months’ stoppage in Sumatra must have been in the S.W. Monsoon; and if the arrival in Persia is put earlier, Polo’s numbers can scarcely be held to. Or, the eighteen months mentioned at vol. i. p. 35, must include the five months’ stoppage. We may then suppose that they reached Hormuz about November 1293, and Gházán’s camp a month or two later.

20 The French text which forms the basis of my translation says that, excluding mariners, there were 600 souls, out of whom only 8 survived. The older MS. which I quote as G. T., makes the number 18, a fact that I had overlooked till the sheets were printed off.

21 Died 12th March, 1291.

22 All dates are found so corrupt that even in this one I do not feel absolute confidence. Marco in dictating the book is aware that Gházán had attained the throne of Persia (see vol. i. p. 36, and ii. pp. 50 and 477), an event which did not occur till October, 1295. The date assigned to it, however, by Marco (ii. 477) is 1294, or the year before that assigned to the return home.

The travellers may have stopped some time at Constantinople on their way, or even may have visited the northern shores of the Black Sea; otherwise, indeed, how did Marco acquire his knowledge of that Sea (ii. 486–488) and of events in Kipchak (ii. 496 seqq.)? If 1296 was the date of return, moreover, the six-and-twenty years assigned in the preamble as the period of Marco’s absence (p. 2) would be nearer accuracy. For he left Venice in the spring or summer of 1271.

23 Marco Barbaro, in his account of the Polo family, tells what seems to be the same tradition in a different and more mythical version:—

“From ear to ear the story has past till it reached mine, that when the three Kinsmen arrived at their home they were dressed in the most shabby and sordid manner, insomuch that the wife of one of them gave away to a beggar that came to the door one of those garments of his, all torn, patched, and dirty as it was. The next day he asked his wife for that mantle of his, in order to put away the jewels that were sewn up in it; but she told him she had given it away to a poor man, whom she did not know. Now, the stratagem he employed to recover it was this. He went to the Bridge of Rialto, and stood there turning a wheel, to no apparent purpose, but as if he were a madman, and to all those who crowded round to see what prank was this, and asked him why he did it, he answered: ‘He’ll come if God pleases.’ So after two or three days he recognised his old coat on the back of one of those who came to stare at his mad proceedings, and got it back again. Then, indeed, he was judged to be quite the reverse of a madman! And from those jewels he built in the contrada of S. Giovanni Grisostomo a very fine palace for those days; and the family got among the vulgar the name of the Ca’ Million, because the report was that they had jewels to the value of a million of ducats; and the palace has kept that name to the present day — viz., 1566.” (Genealogies, MS. copy in Museo Civico; quoted also by Baldelli Boni, Vita, p. xxxi.)

24 The Will of the Elder Marco, to which we have several times referred, is dated at Rialto 5th August, 1280.

The testator describes himself as formerly of Constantinople, but now dwelling in the confine of S. Severo.

His brothers Nicolo and Maffeo, if at Venice, are to be his sole trustees and executors, but in case of their continued absence he nominates Jordano Trevisano, and his sister-inlaw Fiordelisa of the confine of S. Severo.

The proper tithe to be paid. All his clothes and furniture to be sold, and from the proceeds his funeral to be defrayed, and the balance to purchase masses for his soul at the discretion of his trustees.

Particulars of money due to him from his partnership with Donato Grasso, now of Justinople (Capo d’Istria), 1200 lire in all. (Fifty-two lire due by said partnership to Angelo di Tumba of S. Severo.)

The above money bequeathed to his son Nicolo, living at Soldachia, or failing him, to his beloved brothers Nicolo and Maffeo. Failing them, to the sons of his said brothers (sic) Marco and Maffeo. Failing them, to be spent for the good of his soul at the discretion of his trustees.

To his son Nicolo he bequeaths a silver-wrought girdle of vermilion silk, two silver spoons, a silver cup without cover (or saucer? sine cembalo), his desk, two pairs of sheets, a velvet quilt, a counterpane, a feather-bed — all on the same conditions as above, and to remain with the trustees till his son returns to Venice.

Meanwhile the trustees are to invest the money at his son’s risk and benefit, but only here in Venice (investiant seu investire, faciant).

From the proceeds to come in from his partnership with his brothers Nicolo and Maffeo, he bequeaths 200 lire to his daughter Maroca.

From same source 100 lire to his natural son Antony.

Has in his desk (capsella) two hyperperae (Byzantine gold coins), and three golden florins, which he bequeaths to the sister-inlaw Fiordelisa.

Gives freedom to all his slaves and handmaidens.

Leaves his house in Soldachia to the Minor Friars of that place, reserving life-occupancy to his son Nicolo and daughter Maroca.

The rest of his goods to his son Nicolo.

25 The terms in which the younger Maffeo mentions these half-brothers in his Will (1300) seem to indicate that they were still young.

iv. Digression Concerning the Mansion of the Polo Family at Venice.

Illustration: Corte del Milione, Venice.

Illustration: Malibran Theatre Venice

Probable period of their establishment at S. Giovanni Grisostomo.]

23. We have seen that Ramusio places the scene of the story recently alluded to at the mansion in the parish of S. Giovanni Grisostomo, the court of which was known in his time as the Corte del Millioni; and indeed he speaks of the Travellers as at once on their arrival resorting to that mansion as their family residence. Ramusio’s details have so often proved erroneous that I should not be surprised if this also should be a mistake. At least we find (so far as I can learn) no previous intimation that the family were connected with that locality. The grandfather Andrea is styled of San Felice. The will of Maffeo Polo the younger, made in 1300, which we shall give hereafter in abstract, appears to be the first document that connects the family with S. Giovanni Grisostomo. It indeed styles the testator’s father “the late Nicolo Paulo of the confine of St. John Chrysostom,” but that only shows what is not disputed, that the Travellers after their return from the East settled in this locality. And the same will appears to indicate a surviving connexion with S. Felice, for the priests and clerks who drew it up and witness it are all of the church of S. Felice, and it is to the parson of S. Felice and his successor that Maffeo bequeaths an annuity to procure their prayers for the souls of his father, his mother, and himself, through after the successor the annuity is to pass on the same condition to the senior priest of S. Giovanni Grisostomo. Marco Polo the Elder is in his will described as of S. Severo, as is also his sister-inlaw Fiordelisa, and the document contains no reference to S. Giovanni. On the whole therefore it seems probable that the Palazzo in the latter parish was purchased by the Travellers after their return from the East.1

Relic of the Casa Polo in the Corte Sabbionera.]

24. The Court which was known in the 16th century as the Corte del Millioni has been generally understood to be that now known as the Corte Sabbionera, and here is still pointed out a relic of Marco Polo’s mansion. [Indeed it is called now (1899) Corte del Milione; see p. 30. — H. C.]

M. Pauthier’s edition is embellished with a good engraving which purports to represent the House of Marco Polo. But he has been misled. His engraving in fact exhibits, at least as the prominent feature, an embellished representation of a small house which exists on the west side of the Sabbionera, and which had at one time perhaps that pointed style of architecture which his engraving shows, though its present decoration is paltry and unreal. But it is on the north side of the Court, and on the foundations now occupied by the Malibran theatre, that Venetian tradition and the investigations of Venetian antiquaries concur in indicating the site of the Casa Polo. At the end of the 16th century a great fire destroyed the Palazzo,2 and under the description of “an old mansion ruined from the foundation” it passed into the hands of one Stefano Vecchia, who sold it in 1678 to Giovanni Carlo Grimani. He built on the site of the ruins a theatre which was in its day one of the largest in Italy, and was called the Theatre of S. Giovanni Grisostomo; afterwards the Teatro Emeronitio. When modernized in our own day the proprietors gave it the name of Malibran, in honour of that famous singer, and this it still bears.3

[In 1881, the year of the Venice International Geographical Congress, a Tablet was put up on the Theatre with the following inscription:—



There is still to be seen on the north side of the Court an arched doorway in Italo–Byzantine style, richly sculptured with scrolls, disks, and symbolical animals, and on the wall above the doorway is a cross similarly ornamented.4 The style and the decorations are those which were usual in Venice in the 13th century. The arch opens into a passage from which a similar doorway at the other end, also retaining some scantier relics of decoration, leads to the entrance of the Malibran Theatre. Over the archway in the Corte Sabbionera the building rises into a kind of tower. This, as well as the sculptured arches and cross, Signor Casoni, who gave a good deal of consideration to the subject, believed to be a relic of the old Polo House. But the tower (which Pauthier’s view does show) is now entirely modernized.5

Illustration: The site of the CA’ POLO. Fig. A. From the Diner Map A. D. 1500. Fig. B. From Map by Ludovico Ughi A.D. 1729 Scale 1 to 2500. Fig. C. From Recent Map. Scale 1 to 1315.

Other remains of Byzantine sculpture, which are probably fragments of the decoration of the same mansion, are found imbedded in the walls of neighbouring houses.6 It is impossible to determine anything further as to the form or extent of the house of the time of the Polos, but some slight idea of its appearance about the year 1500 may be seen in the extract (fig. A) which we give from the famous pictorial map of Venice attributed erroneously to Albert Dürer. The state of the buildings in the last century is shown in (fig. B) an extract from the fine Map of Ughi; and their present condition in one (fig. C) reduced from the Modern Official Map of the Municipality.

[Coming from the Church of S. G. Grisostomo to enter the calle del Teatro on the left and the passage (Sottoportico) leading to the Corte del Milione, one has in front of him a building with a door of the epoch of the Renaissance; it was the office of the provveditori of silk; on the architrave are engraved the words:


and below, above the door, is the Tablet which] in the year 1827 the Abate Zenier caused to be put up with this inscription:—



Illustration: Entrance to the Corte del Milione Venice

Recent corroboration as to the traditional site of the Casa Polo.]

24a. I believe that of late years some doubts have been thrown on the tradition of the site indicated as that of the Casa Polo, though I am not aware of the grounds of such doubts. But a document recently discovered at Venice by Comm. Barozzi, one of a series relating to the testamentary estate of Marco Polo, goes far to confirm the tradition. This is the copy of a technical definition of two pieces of house property adjoining the property of Marco Polo and his brother Stephen, which were sold to Marco Polo by his wife Donata7 in June 1321. Though the definition is not decisive, from the rarity of topographical references and absence of points of the compass, the description of Donata’s tenements as standing on the Rio (presumably that of S. Giovanni Grisostomo) on one side, opening by certain porticoes and stairs on the other to the Court and common alley leading to the Church of S. Giovanni Grisostomo, and abutting in two places on the Ca’ Polo, the property of her husband and Stefano, will apply perfectly to a building occupying the western portion of the area on which now stands the Theatre, and perhaps forming the western side of a Court of which Casa Polo formed the other three sides.8

We know nothing more of Polo till we find him appearing a year or two later in rapid succession as the Captain of a Venetian Galley, as a prisoner of war, and as an author.

1 Marco Barbaro’s story related at p. 25 speaks of the Ca’ Million as built by the travellers.

From a list of parchments existing in the archives of the Casa di Ricovero, or Great Poor House, at Venice, Comm. Berchet obtained the following indication:—

No. 94. Marco Galetti invests Marco Polo S. of Nicolo with the ownership of his possessions (beni) in S. Giovanni Grisostomo; 10 September, 1319; drawn up by the Notary Nicolo, priest of S. Canciano.

This document would perhaps have thrown light on the matter, but unfortunately recent search by several parties has failed to trace it. [The document has been discovered since: see vol. ii., Calendar, No. 6. — H. C.]

2 —“Sua casa che era posta nel confin di S. Giovanni Chrisostomo, che hor fà l’anno s’abbrugiò totalmente, con gran danno di molti.” (Doglioní, Hist. Venetiana, Ven. 1598, pp. 161–162.)

“1596. 7 Nov. Senato (Arsenal . . . ix c. 159 t).

“Essendo conveniente usar qualche ricognizione a quelli della maestranza del-l’Arsenal nostro, che prontamente sono concorsi all’ incendio occorso ultimamente a S. Zuane Grizostomo nelli stabeli detti di CA’ MILION dove per la relazion fatta nell collegio nostro dalli patroni di esso Arsenal hanno nell’ estinguere il foco prestato ogni buon servitio. . . . ”—(Comm. by Cav. Cecchetti through Comm. Berchet.)

3 See a paper by G. C. (the Engineer Giovanni Casoni) in Teatro Emeronitio Almanacco par l’Anno 1835.

4 This Cross is engraved by Mr. Ruskin in vol. ii. of the Stones of Venice: see p. 139, and Pl. xi. Fig. 4.

5 Casoni’s only doubt was whether the Corte del Millioni was what is now the Sabbionera, or the interior area of the theatre. The latter seems most probable.

One Illustration of this volume, p. 1, shows the archway in the Corte Sabbionera, and also the decorations of the soffit.

6 See Ruskin, iii. 320.

7 Comm. Barozzi writes: “Among us, contracts between husband and wife are and were very common, and recognized by law. The wife sells to the husband property not included in dowry, or that she may have inherited, just as any third person might.”

8 See Appendix C, No. 16.

V. Digression Concerning the War-Galleys of the Mediterranean States in the Middle Ages.

Arrangement of the Rowers in Mediaeval Galleys: a separate oar to every man.]

25. And before entering on this new phase of the Traveller’s biography it may not be without interest that we say something regarding the equipment of those galleys which are so prominent in the mediaeval history of the Mediterranean.1

Eschewing that “Serbonian Bog, where armies whole have sunk” of Books and Commentators, the theory of the classification of the Biremes and Triremes of the Ancients, we can at least assert on secure grounds that in mediaeval armament, up to the middle of the 16th century or thereabouts, the characteristic distinction of galleys of different calibres, so far as such differences existed, was based on the number of rowers that sat on one bench pulling each his separate oar, but through one portella or rowlock-port.2 And to the classes of galleys so distinguished the Italians, of the later Middle Age at least, did certainly apply, rightly or wrongly, the classical terms of Bireme, Trireme, and Quinquereme, in the sense of galleys having two men and two oars to a bench, three men and three oars to a bench, and five men and five oars to a bench.3

That this was the mediaeval arrangement is very certain from the details afforded by Marino Sanudo the Elder, confirmed by later writers and by works of art. Previous to 1290, Sanudo tells us, almost all the galleys that went to the Levant had but two oars and men to a bench; but as it had been found that three oars and men to a bench could be employed with great advantage, after that date nearly all galleys adopted this arrangement, which was called ai Terzaruoli.4

Moreover experiments made by the Venetians in 1316 had shown that four rowers to a bench could be employed still more advantageously. And where the galleys could be used on inland waters, and could be made more bulky, Sanudo would even recommend five to a bench, or have gangs of rowers on two decks with either three or four men to the bench on each deck.

Change of System in the 16th century.]

26. This system of grouping the oars, and putting only one man to an oar, continued down to the 16th century, during the first half of which came in the more modern system of using great oars, equally spaced, and requiring from four to seven men each to ply them, in the manner which endured till late in the last century, when galleys became altogether obsolete. Captain Pantero Pantera, the author of a work on Naval Tactics (1616), says he had heard, from veterans who had commanded galleys equipped in the antiquated fashion, that three men to a bench, with separate oars, answered better than three men to one great oar, but four men to one great oar (he says) were certainly more efficient than four men with separate oars. The new-fashioned great oars, he tells us, were styled Remi di Scaloccio, the old grouped oars Remi a Zenzile — terms the etymology of which I cannot explain.5

It may be doubted whether the four-banked and five-banked galleys, of which Marino Sanudo speaks, really then came into practical use. A great five-banked galley on this system, built in 1529 in the Venice Arsenal by Vettor Fausto, was the subject of so much talk and excitement, that it must evidently have been something quite new and unheard of.6 So late as 1567 indeed the King of Spain built at Barcelona a galley of thirty-six benches to the side, and seven men to the bench, with a separate oar to each in the old fashion. But it proved a failure.7

Down to the introduction of the great oars the usual system appears to have been three oars to a bench for the larger galleys, and two oars for lighter ones. The fuste or lighter galleys of the Venetians, even to about the middle of the 16th century, had their oars in pairs from the stern to the mast, and single oars only from the mast forward.8

Some details of the 13th century Galleys.]

27. Returning then to the three-banked and two-banked galleys of the latter part of the 13th century, the number of benches on each side seems to have run from twenty-five to twenty-eight, at least as I interpret Sanudo’s calculations. The 100-oared vessels often mentioned (e.g. by Muntaner, p. 419) were probably two-banked vessels with twenty-five benches to a side.


The galleys were very narrow, only 15–1/2 feet in beam.9 But to give room for the play of the oars and the passage of the fighting-men, &c., this width was largely augmented by an opera-morta, or outrigger deck, projecting much beyond the ship’s sides and supported by timber brackets.10 I do not find it stated how great this projection was in the mediaeval galleys, but in those of the 17th century it was on each side as much as 2/9ths of the true beam. And if it was as great in the 13th-century galleys the total width between the false gunnels would be about 22–1/4 feet.

In the centre line of the deck ran, the whole length of the vessel, a raised gangway called the corsia, for passage clear of the oars.


The benches were arranged as in this diagram. The part of the bench next the gunnel was at right angles to it, but the other two-thirds of the bench were thrown forward obliquely, a, b, c, indicate the position of the three rowers. The shortest oar a was called Terlicchio, the middle one b Posticcio, the long oar c Piamero.11

Illustration: Galley–Fight, from a Mediaeval Fresco at Siena. (See p. 36)

I do not find any information as to how the oars worked on the gunnels. The Siena fresco (see p. 35) appears to show them attached by loops and pins, which is the usual practice in boats of the Mediterranean now. In the cut from D. Tintoretto (p. 37) the groups of oars protrude through regular ports in the bulwarks, but this probably represents the use of a later day. In any case the oars of each bench must have worked in very close proximity. Sanudo states the length of the galleys of his time (1300–1320) as 117 feet. This was doubtless length of keel, for that is specified (“da ruoda a ruoda”) in other Venetian measurements, but the whole oar space could scarcely have been so much, and with twenty-eight benches to a side there could not have been more than 4 feet gunnel-space to each bench. And as one of the objects of the grouping of the oars was to allow room between the benches for the action of cross-bowmen, &c., it is plain that the rowlock space for the three oars must have been very much compressed.12

The rowers were divided into three classes, with graduated pay. The highest class, who pulled the poop or stroke oars, were called Portolati; those at the bow, called Prodieri, formed the second class.13

Some elucidation of the arrangements that we have tried to describe will be found in our cuts. That at p. 35 is from a drawing, by the aid of a very imperfect photograph, of part of one of the frescoes of Spinello Aretini in the Municipal Palace at Siena, representing a victory of the Venetians over the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa’s fleet, commanded by his son Otho, in 1176; but no doubt the galleys, &c., are of the artist’s own age, the middle of the 14th century.14 In this we see plainly the projecting opera-morta, and the rowers sitting two to a bench, each with his oar, for these are two-banked. We can also discern the Latin rudder on the quarter. (See this volume, p. 119.) In a picture in the Uffizj, at Florence, of about the same date, by Pietro Laurato (it is in the corridor near the entrance), may be seen a small figure of a galley with the oars also very distinctly coupled.15 Casoni has engraved, after Cristoforo Canale, a pictorial plan of a Venetian trireme of the 16th century, which shows the arrangement of the oars in triplets very plainly.

The following cut has been sketched from an engraving of a picture by Domenico Tintoretto in the Doge’s palace, representing, I believe, the same action (real or imaginary) as Spinello’s fresco, but with the costume and construction of a later date. It shows, however, very plainly, the projecting opera-morta and the arrangement of the oars in fours, issuing through row-ports in high bulwarks.

Illustration: Part of a Sea Fight, after Dom. Tintoretto

Fighting Arrangements.]

28. Midships in the mediaeval galley a castle was erected, of the width of the ship, and some 20 feet in length; its platform being elevated sufficiently to allow of free passage under it and over the benches. At the bow was the battery, consisting of mangonels (see vol. ii. p. 161 seqq.) and great cross-bows with winding gear,16 whilst there were shot-ports17 for smaller cross-bows along the gunnels in the intervals between the benches. Some of the larger galleys had openings to admit horses at the stern, which were closed and caulked for the voyage, being under water when the vessel was at sea.18

It seems to have been a very usual piece of tactics, in attacking as well as in awaiting attack, to connect a large number of galleys by hawsers, and sometimes also to link the oars together, so as to render it difficult for the enemy to break the line or run aboard. We find this practised by the Genoese on the defensive at the battle of Ayas (infra, p. 43), and it is constantly resorted to by the Catalans in the battles described by Ramon de Muntaner.19

Sanudo says the toil of rowing in the galleys was excessive, almost unendurable. Yet it seems to have been performed by freely-enlisted men, and therefore it was probably less severe than that of the great-oared galleys of more recent times, which it was found impracticable to work by free enlistment, or otherwise than by slaves under the most cruel driving.20 I am not well enough read to say that war-galleys were never rowed by slaves in the Middle Ages, but the only doubtful allusion to such a class that I have met with is in one passage of Muntaner, where he says, describing the Neapolitan and Catalan fleets drawing together for action, that the gangs of the galleys had to toil like “forçats” (p. 313). Indeed, as regards Venice at least, convict rowers are stated to have been first introduced in 1549, previous to which the gangs were of galeotti assoldati.21

Crew of a Galley and Staff of a Fleet.]

29. We have already mentioned that Sanudo requires for his three-banked galley a ship’s company of 250 men. They are distributed as follows:—

Comito or Master 1
Quartermasters 8
Carpenters 2
Caulkers 2
In charge of stores and arms 4
Orderlies 2
Cook 1
Arblasteers 50
Rowers 180
250 22

This does not include the Sopracomito, or Gentleman–Commander, who was expected to be valens homo et probus, a soldier and a gentleman, fit to be consulted on occasion by the captain-general. In the Venetian fleet he was generally a noble.23

The aggregate pay of such a crew, not including the sopracomito, amounted monthly to 60 lire de’ grossi, or 600 florins, equivalent to 280l. at modern gold value; and the cost for a year to nearly 3160l., exclusive of the victualling of the vessel and the pay of the gentleman-commander. The build or purchase of a galley complete is estimated by the same author at 15,000 florins, or 7012l.

We see that war cost a good deal in money even then.

Besides the ship’s own complement Sanudo gives an estimate for the general staff of a fleet of 60 galleys. This consists of a captain-general, two (vice) admirals, and the following:—

6 Probi homines, or gentlemen of character, forming a council to the Captain–General;
4 Commissaries of Stores;
2 Commissaries over the Arms;
3 Physicians;
3 Surgeons;
5 Master Engineers and Carpenters;
15 Master Smiths;
12 Master Fletchers;
5 Cuirass men and Helmet-makers;
15 Oar-makers and Shaft-makers;
10 Stone cutters for stone shot;
10 Master Arblast-makers;
20 Musicians;
20 Orderlies, &c.

Music; and other particulars.]

30. The musicians formed an important part of the equipment. Sanudo says that in going into action every vessel should make the greatest possible display of colours; gonfalons and broad banners should float from stem to stern, and gay pennons all along the bulwarks; whilst it was impossible to have too much of noisy music, of pipes, trumpets, kettle-drums, and what not, to put heart into the crew and strike fear into the enemy.24

So Joinville, in a glorious passage, describes the galley of his kinsman, the Count of Jaffa, at the landing of St. Lewis in Egypt:—

“That galley made the most gallant figure of them all, for it was painted all over, above water and below, with scutcheons of the count’s arms, the field of which was or with a cross patée gules.25 He had a good 300 rowers in his galley, and every man of them had a target blazoned with his arms in beaten gold. And, as they came on, the galley looked to be some flying creature, with such spirit did the rowers spin it along; — or rather, with the rustle of its flags, and the roar of its nacaires and drums and Saracen horns, you might have taken it for a rushing bolt of heaven.”26

The galleys, which were very low in the water,27 could not keep the sea in rough weather, and in winter they never willingly kept the sea at night, however fair the weather might be. Yet Sanudo mentions that he had been with armed galleys to Sluys in Flanders.

I will mention two more particulars before concluding this digression. When captured galleys were towed into port it was stern foremost, and with their colours dragging on the surface of the sea.28 And the custom of saluting at sunset (probably by music) was in vogue on board the galleys of the 13th century.29

We shall now sketch the circumstances that led to the appearance of our Traveller in the command of a war-galley.

1 I regret not to have had access to Jal’s learned memoirs (Archéologie Navale, Paris, 1839) whilst writing this section, nor since, except for a hasty look at his Essay on the difficult subject of the oar arrangements. I see that he rejects so great a number of oars as I deduce from the statements of Sanudo and others, and that he regards a large number of the rowers as supplementary.

2 It seems the more desirable to elucidate this, because writers on mediaeval subjects so accomplished as Buchon and Capmany have (it would seem) entirely misconceived the matter, assuming that all the men on one bench pulled at one oar.

3 See Coronelli, Atlante Veneto, I. 139, 140. Marino Sanudo the Elder, though not using the term trireme, says it was well understood from ancient authors that the Romans employed their rowers three to a bench (p. 59).

4Ad terzarolos” (Secreta Fidelium Crucis, p. 57). The Catalan Worthy, Ramon de Muntaner, indeed constantly denounces the practice of manning all the galleys with terzaruoli, or tersols, as his term is. But his reason is that these thirds-men were taken from the oar when crossbowmen were wanted, to act in that capacity, and as such they were good for nothing; the crossbowmen, he insists, should be men specially enlisted for that service and kept to that. He would have some 10 or 20 per cent, only of the fleet built very light and manned in threes. He does not seem to have contemplated oars three-banked, and crossbowmen besides, as Sanudo does. (See below; and Muntaner, pp. 288, 323, 525, etc.)

In Sanudo we have a glimpse worth noting of the word soldiers advancing towards the modern sense; he expresses a strong preference for soldati (viz. paid soldiers) over crusaders (viz. volunteers), p. 74.

5 L’Armata Navale, Roma, 1616, pp. 150–151.

6 See a work to which I am indebted for a good deal of light and information, the Engineer Giovanni Casoni’s Essay: “Dei Navigli Poliremi usati nella Marina dagli Antichi Veneziani,” in “Esercitazioni dell’ Ateneo Veneto,” vol. ii. p. 338. This great Quinquereme, as it was styled, is stated to have been struck by a fire-arrow, and blown up, in January 1570.

7 Pantera, p. 22.

8 Lazarus Bayfius de Re Navali Veterum, in Gronovii Thesaurus, Ven. 1737, vol. xi. p. 581. This writer also speaks of the Quinquereme mentioned above (p. 577).

9 Marinus Sanutius, p. 65.

10 See the woodcuts opposite and at p. 37; also Pantera, p. 46 (who is here, however, speaking of the great-oared galleys), and Coronelli, i. 140.

11 Casoni, p. 324. He obtains these particulars from a manuscript work of the 16th century by Cristoforo Canale.

12 Signor Casoni (p. 324) expresses his belief that no galley of the 14th century had more than 100 oars. I differ from him with hesitation, and still more as I find M. Jal agrees in this view. I will state the grounds on which I came to a different conclusion. (1) Marino Sanudo assigns 180 rowers for a galley equipped ai Terzaruoli (p. 75). This seemed to imply something near 180 oars, for I do not find any allusion to reliefs being provided. In the French galleys of the 18th century there were no reliefs except in this way, that in long runs without urgency only half the oars were pulled. (See Mém. d’un Protestant condamné aux Galères, etc., Réimprimés, Paris, 1865, p. 447.) If four men to a bench were to be employed, then Sanudo seems to calculate for his smaller galleys 220 men actually rowing (see pp. 75–78). This seems to assume 55 benches, i.e., 28 on one side and 27 on the other, which with 3-banked oars would give 165 rowers. (2) Casoni himself refers to Pietro Martire d’Anghieria’s account of a Great Galley of Venice in which he was sent ambassador to Egypt from the Spanish Court in 1503. The crew amounted to 200, of whom 150 were for working the sails and oars, that being the number of oars in each galley, one man to each oar and three to each bench. Casoni assumes that this vessel must have been much larger than the galleys of the 14th century; but, however that may have been, Sanudo to his galley assigns the larger crew of 250, of whom almost exactly the same proportion (180) were rowers. And in he galeazza described by Pietro Martire the oars were used only as an occasional auxiliary. (See his Legationis Babylonicae Libri Tres, appended to his 3 Decads concerning the New World; Basil. 1533, f. 77 ver.) (3) The galleys of the 18th century, with their great oars 50 feet long pulled by six or seven men each, had 25 benches to the side, and only 4’ 6” (French) gunnel-space to each oar. (See Mém. d’un Protest., p. 434.) I imagine that a smaller space would suffice for the 3 light oars of the mediaeval system, so that this need scarcely be a difficulty in the face of the preceding evidence. Note also the three hundred rowers in Joinville’s description quoted at p. 40. The great galleys of the Malay Sultan of Achin in 1621 had, according to Beaulieu, from 700 to 800 rowers, but I do not know on what system.

13 Marinus Sanutius, p. 78. These titles occur also in the Documenti d’Amore of Fr. Barberino referred to at p. 117 of this volume:—

“Convienti qui manieri

Portolatti e prodieri

E presti galeotti

Aver, e forti e dotti.”

14 Spinello’s works, according to Vasari, extended from 1334 till late in the century. A religious picture of his at Siena is assigned to 1385, so the frescoes may probably be of about the same period. Of the battle represented I can find no record.

15 Engraved in Jal, i. 330; with other mediaeval illustrations of the same points.

16 To these Casoni adds Sifoni for discharging Greek fire; but this he seems to take from the Greek treatise of the Emperor Leo. Though I have introduced Greek fire in the cut at p. 49, I doubt if there is evidence of its use by the Italians in the thirteenth century. Joinville describes it like something strange and new.

In after days the artillery occupied the same position, at the bow of the galley.

Great beams, hung like battering rams, are mentioned by Sanudo, as well as iron crow’s-feet with fire attached, to shoot among the rigging, and jars of quick-lime and soft soap to fling in the eyes of the enemy. The lime is said to have been used by Doria against the Venetians at Curzola (infra, p. 48), and seems to have been a usual provision. Francesco Barberini specifies among the stores for his galley: “Calcina, con lancioni, Pece, pietre, e ronconi” (p. 259.) And Christine de Pisan, in her Faiz du Sage Roy Charles (V. of France), explains also the use of the soap: “Item, on doit avoir pluseurs vaisseaulx legiers à rompre, comme poz plains de chauls ou pouldre, et gecter dedens; et, par ce, seront comme avuglez, au brisier des poz. Item, on doit avoir autres poz de mol savon et gecter es nefzs des adversaires, et quant les vaisseaulx brisent, le savon est glissant, si ne se peuent en piez soustenir et chiéent en l’eaue” (pt. ii. ch. 38).

17 Balislariae, whence no doubt Balistrada and our Balustrade.

Wedgwood’s etymology is far-fetched. And in his new edition (1872), though he has shifted his ground, he has not got nearer the truth.

18 Sanutius, p. 53; Joinville, p. 40; Muntaner, 316, 403.

19 See pp. 270, 288, 324, and especially 346.

20 See the Protestant, cited above, p. 441, et seqq.

21 Venezia e le sue Lagune, ii. 52.

22 Mar. Sanut. p. 75.

23 Mar. Sanut., p. 30.

24 The Catalan Admiral Roger de Loria, advancing at daybreak to attack the Provençal Fleet of Charles of Naples (1283) in the harbour of Malta, “did a thing which should be reckoned to him rather as an act of madness,” says Muntaner, “than of reason. He said, ‘God forbid that I should attack them, all asleep as they are! Let the trumpets and nacaires sound to awaken them, and I will tarry till they be ready for action. No man shall have it to say, if I beat them, that it was by catching them asleep.’” (Munt. p. 287.) It is what Nelson might have done!

The Turkish admiral Sidi ‘Ali, about to engage a Portuguese squadron in the Straits of Hormuz, in 1553, describes the Franks as “dressing their vessels with flags and coming on.” (J. As. ix. 70.)

25 A cross patée, is one with the extremities broadened out into feet as it were.

26 Page 50.

27 The galley at p. 49 is somewhat too high; and I believe it should have had no shrouds.

28 See Muntaner, passim, e.g. 271, 286, 315, 349.

29 Ibid. 346.

vi. The Jealousies and Naval Wars of Venice and Genoa. Lamba Doria’s Expedition to the Adriatic; Battle of Curzola; and Imprisonment of Marco Polo by the Genoese.

Growing jealousies and outbreaks between the Republics.]

31. Jealousies, too characteristic of the Italian communities, were, in the case of the three great trading republics of Venice, Genoa, and Pisa, aggravated by commercial rivalries, whilst, between the two first of those states, and also between the two last, the bitterness of such feelings had been augmenting during the whole course of the 13th century.1

The brilliant part played by Venice in the conquest of Constantinople (1204), and the preponderance she thus acquired on the Greek shores, stimulated her arrogance and the resentment of her rivals. The three states no longer stood on a level as bidders for the shifting favour of the Emperor of the East. By treaty, not only was Venice established as the most important ally of the empire and as mistress of a large fraction of its territory, but all members of nations at war with her were prohibited from entering its limits. Though the Genoese colonies continued to exist, they stood at a great disadvantage, where their rivals were so predominant and enjoyed exemption from duties, to which the Genoese remained subject. Hence jealousies and resentments reached a climax in the Levantine settlements, and this colonial exacerbation reacted on the mother States.

A dispute which broke out at Acre in 1255 came to a head in a war which lasted for years, and was felt all over Syria. It began in a quarrel about a very old church called St. Sabba’s, which stood on the common boundary of the Venetian and Genoese estates in Acre,2 and this flame was blown by other unlucky occurrences. Acre suffered grievously.3 Venice at this time generally kept the upper hand, beating Genoa by land and sea, and driving her from Acre altogether. + Four ancient porphyry figures from St. Sabba’s were sent in triumph to Venice, and with their strange devices still stand at the exterior corner of St. Mark’s, towards the Ducal Palace.4

But no number of defeats could extinguish the spirit of Genoa, and the tables were turned when in her wrath she allied herself with Michael Palaeologus to upset the feeble and tottering Latin Dynasty, and with it the preponderance of Venice on the Bosphorus. The new emperor handed over to his allies the castle of their foes, which they tore down with jubilations, and now it was their turn to send its stones as trophies to Genoa. Mutual hate waxed fiercer than ever; no merchant fleet of either state could go to sea without convoy, and wherever their ships met they fought.5 It was something like the state of things between Spain and England in the days of Drake.

Illustration: Figures from St. Sabba’s, sent to Venice.

The energy and capacity of the Genoese seemed to rise with their success, and both in seamanship and in splendour they began almost to surpass their old rivals. The fall of Acre (1291), and the total expulsion of the Franks from Syria, in great measure barred the southern routes of Indian trade, whilst the predominance of Genoa in the Euxine more or less obstructed the free access of her rival to the northern routes by Trebizond and Tana.

Battle in Bay of Ayas in 1294.]

32. Truces were made and renewed, but the old fire still smouldered. In the spring of 1294 it broke into flame, in consequence of the seizure in the Grecian seas of three Genoese vessels by a Venetian fleet. This led to an action with a Genoese convoy which sought redress. The fight took place off Ayas in the Gulf of Scanderoon,6 and though the Genoese were inferior in strength by one-third they gained a signal victory, capturing all but three of the Venetian galleys, with rich cargoes, including that of Marco Basilio (or Basegio), the commodore.

This victory over their haughty foe was in its completeness evidently a surprise to the Genoese, as well as a source of immense exultation, which is vigorously expressed in a ballad of the day, written in a stirring salt-water rhythm.7 It represents the Venetians, as they enter the bay, in arrogant mirth reviling the Genoese with very unsavoury epithets as having deserted their ships to skulk on shore. They are described as saying:—

“‘Off they’ve slunk! and left us nothing;

We shall get nor prize nor praise;

Nothing save those crazy timbers

    Only fit to make a blaze.’”

So they advance carelessly —

“On they come! But lo their blunder!

    When our lads start up anon,

Breaking out like unchained lions,

    With a roar, ‘Fall on! Fall on!’"8

After relating the battle and the thoroughness of the victory, ending in the conflagration of five-and-twenty captured galleys, the poet concludes by an admonition to the enemy to moderate his pride and curb his arrogant tongue, harping on the obnoxious epithet porci leproxi, which seems to have galled the Genoese.9 He concludes:—

“Nor can I at all remember

    Ever to have heard the story

Of a fight wherein the Victors

    Reaped so rich a meed of glory!”10

The community of Genoa decreed that the victory should be commemorated by the annual presentation of a golden pall to the monastery of St. German’s, the saint on whose feast (28th May) it had been won.11

The startling news was received at Venice with wrath and grief, for the flower of their navy had perished, and all energies were bent at once to raise an overwhelming force.12 The Pope (Boniface VIII.) interfered as arbiter, calling for plenipotentiaries from both sides. But spirits were too much inflamed, and this mediation came to nought.

Further outrages on both sides occurred in 1296. The Genoese residences at Pera were fired, their great alum works on the coast of Anatolia were devastated, and Caffa was stormed and sacked; whilst on the other hand a number of the Venetians at Constantinople were massacred by the Genoese, and Marco Bembo, their Bailo, was flung from a house-top. Amid such events the fire of enmity between the cities waxed hotter and hotter.

Lamba Doria’s Expedition to the Adriatic.]

33. In 1298 the Genoese made elaborate preparations for a great blow at the enemy, and fitted out a powerful fleet which they placed under the command of LAMBA DORIA, a younger brother of Uberto of that illustrious house, under whom he had served fourteen years before in the great rout of the Pisans at Meloria.

The rendezvous of the fleet was in the Gulf of Spezia, as we learn from the same pithy Genoese poet who celebrated Ayas. This time the Genoese were bent on bearding St. Mark’s Lion in his own den; and after touching at Messina they steered straight for the Adriatic:—

“Now, as astern Otranto bears,

    Pull with a will! and, please the Lord,

    Let them who bragged, with fire and sword,

To waste our homesteads, look to theirs!”13

On their entering the gulf a great storm dispersed the fleet The admiral with twenty of his galleys got into port at Antivari on the Albanian coast, and next day was rejoined by fifty-eight more, with which he scoured the Dalmatian shore, plundering all Venetian property. Some sixteen of his galleys were still missing when he reached the island of Curzola, or Scurzola as the more popular name seems to have been, the Black Corcyra of the Ancients — the chief town of which, a rich and flourishing place, the Genoese took and burned.14 Thus they were engaged when word came that the Venetian fleet was in sight.

Venice, on first hearing of the Genoese armament, sent Andrea Dandolo with a large force to join and supersede Maffeo Quirini, who was already cruising with a squadron in the Ionian sea; and, on receiving further information of the strength of the hostile expedition, the Signory hastily equipped thirty-two more galleys in Chioggia and the ports of Dalmatia, and despatched them to join Dandolo, making the whole number under his command up to something like ninety-five. Recent drafts had apparently told heavily upon the Venetian sources of enlistment, and it is stated that many of the complements were made up of rustics swept in haste from the Euganean hills. To this the Genoese poet seems to allude, alleging that the Venetians, in spite of their haughty language, had to go begging for men and money up and down Lombardy. “Did we do like that, think you?” he adds:—

“Beat up for aliens? We indeed?

    When lacked we homeborn Genoese?

    Search all the seas, no salts like these,

For Courage, Seacraft, Wit at need.”15

Of one of the Venetian galleys, probably in the fleet which sailed under Dandolo’s immediate command, went Marco Polo as Sopracomito or Gentleman–Commander.16

The Fleets come in sight of each other at Curzola.]

34. It was on the afternoon of Saturday the 6th September that the Genoese saw the Venetian fleet approaching, but, as sunset was not far off, both sides tacitly agreed to defer the engagement.17

The Genoese would appear to have occupied a position near the eastern end of the Island of Curzola, with the Peninsula of Sabbioncello behind them, and Meleda on their left, whilst the Venetians advanced along the south side of Curzola. (See map on p. 50).

According to Venetian accounts the Genoese were staggered at the sight of the Venetian armaments, and sent more than once to seek terms, offering finally to surrender galleys and munitions of war, if the crews were allowed to depart. This is an improbable story, and that of the Genoese ballad seems more like truth. Doria, it says, held a council of his captains in the evening at which they all voted for attack, whilst the Venetians, with that overweening sense of superiority which at this time is reflected in their own annals as distinctly as in those of their enemies, kept scout-vessels out to watch that the Genoese fleet, which they looked on as already their own, did not steal away in the darkness. A vain imagination, says the poet:—

“Blind error of vainglorious men

    To dream that we should seek to flee

    After those weary leagues of sea

Crossed, but to hunt them in their den!”18

The Venetians defeated, and Marco Polo a prisoner.]

35. The battle began early on Sunday and lasted till the afternoon. The Venetians had the wind in their favour, but the morning sun in their eyes. They made the attack, and with great impetuosity, capturing ten Genoese galleys; but they pressed on too wildly, and some of their vessels ran aground. One of their galleys too, being taken, was cleared of her crew and turned against the Venetians. These incidents caused confusion among the assailants; the Genoese, who had begun to give way, took fresh heart, formed a close column, and advanced boldly through the Venetian line, already in disorder. The sun had begun to decline when there appeared on the Venetian flank the fifteen or sixteen missing galleys of Doria’s fleet, and fell upon it with fresh force. This decided the action. The Genoese gained a complete victory, capturing all but a few of the Venetian galleys, and including the flagship with Dandolo. The Genoese themselves lost heavily, especially in the early part of the action, and Lamba Doria’s eldest son Octavian is said to have fallen on board his father’s vessel.19 The number of prisoners taken was over 7000, and among these was Marco Polo.20

Illustration: Marco Polo’s Galley going into action at Curzola.

“il sembloit que la galie volast, par les nageurs qui la contreingnoient aux avirons, et sembloit que foudre cheist des ciex, au bruit que les pennoncians menoient, et que les nacaues les tabours et les cors sarrazinnois menoient, qui estoient en sa galie”

(Joinville, vide ante, p. 40)

Illustration: Scene of the Battle of Curzola.

The prisoners, even of the highest rank, appear to have been chained. Dandolo, in despair at his defeat, and at the prospect of being carried captive into Genoa, refused food, and ended by dashing his head against a bench.21 A Genoese account asserts that a noble funeral was given him after the arrival of the fleet at Genoa, which took place on the evening of the 16th October.22 It was received with great rejoicing, and the City voted the annual presentation of a pallium of gold brocade to the altar of the Virgin in the Church of St. Matthew, on every 8th of September, the Madonna’s day, on the eve of which the Battle had been won. To the admiral himself a Palace was decreed. It still stands, opposite the Church of St. Matthew, though it has passed from the possession of the Family. On the striped marble façades, both of the Church and of the Palace, inscriptions of that age, in excellent preservation, still commemorate Lamba’s achievement.23 Malik al Mansúr, the Mameluke Sultan of Egypt, as an enemy of Venice, sent a complimentary letter to Doria accompanied by costly presents.24

Illustration: Church of San Matteo, Genoa

The latter died at Savona 17th October, 1323, a few months before the most illustrious of his prisoners, and his bones were laid in a sarcophagus which may still be seen forming the sill of one of the windows of S. Matteo (on the right as you enter). Over this sarcophagus stood the Bust of Lamba till 1797, when the mob of Genoa, in idiotic imitation of the French proceedings of that age, threw it down. All of Lamba’s six sons had fought with him at Meloria. In 1291 one of them, Tedisio, went forth into the Atlantic in company with Ugolino Vivaldi on a voyage of discovery, and never returned. Through Caesar, the youngest, this branch of the Family still survives, bearing the distinctive surname of Lamba–Doria.25

As to the treatment of the prisoners, accounts differ; a thing usual in such cases. The Genoese Poet asserts that the hearts of his countrymen were touched, and that the captives were treated with compassionate courtesy. Navagiero the Venetian, on the other hand, declares that most of them died of hunger.26

Marco Polo in prison dictates his book to Rusticiano of Pisa. Release of Venetian prisoners.]

36. Howsoever they may have been treated, here was Marco Polo one of those many thousand prisoners in Genoa; and here, before long, he appears to have made acquaintance with a man of literary propensities, whose destiny had brought him into the like plight, by name RUSTICIANO or RUSTICHELLO of Pisa. It was this person perhaps who persuaded the Traveller to defer no longer the reduction to writing of his notable experiences; but in any case it was he who wrote down those experiences at Marco’s dictation; it is he therefore to whom we owe the preservation of this record, and possibly even that of the Traveller’s very memory. This makes the Genoese imprisonment so important an episode in Polo’s biography.

To Rusticiano we shall presently recur. But let us first bring to a conclusion what may be gathered as to the duration of Polo’s imprisonment.

It does not appear whether Pope Boniface made any new effort for accommodation between the Republics; but other Italian princes did interpose, and Matteo Visconti, Captain–General of Milan, styling himself Vicar–General of the Holy Roman Empire in Lombardy, was accepted as Mediator, along with the community of Milan. Ambassadors from both States presented themselves at that city, and on the 25th May, 1299, they signed the terms of a Peace.

These terms were perfectly honourable to Venice, being absolutely equal and reciprocal; from which one is apt to conclude that the damage to the City of the Sea was rather to her pride than to her power; the success of Genoa, in fact, having been followed up by no systematic attack upon Venetian commerce.27 Among the terms was the mutual release of prisoners on a day to be fixed by Visconti after the completion of all formalities. This day is not recorded, but as the Treaty was ratified by the Doge of Venice on the 1st July, and the latest extant document connected with the formalities appears to be dated 18th July, we may believe that before the end of August Marco Polo was restored to the family mansion in S. Giovanni Grisostomo.

Grounds on which the story of Marco Polo’s capture at Curzola rests.]

37. Something further requires to be said before quitting this event in our Traveller’s life. For we confess that a critical reader may have some justification in asking what evidence there is that Marco Polo ever fought at Curzola, and ever was carried a prisoner to Genoa from that unfortunate action?

A learned Frenchman, whom we shall have to quote freely in the immediately ensuing pages, does not venture to be more precise in reference to the meeting of Polo and Rusticiano than to say of the latter: “In 1298, being in durance in the Prison of Genoa, he there became acquainted with Marco Polo, whom the Genoese had deprived of his liberty from motives equally unknown.”28

To those who have no relish for biographies that round the meagre skeleton of authentic facts with a plump padding of what might have been, this sentence of Paulin Paris is quite refreshing in its stern limitation to positive knowledge. And certainly no contemporary authority has yet been found for the capture of our Traveller at Curzola. Still I think that the fact is beyond reasonable doubt.

Ramusio’s biographical notices certainly contain many errors of detail; and some, such as the many years’ interval which he sets between the Battle of Curzola and Marco’s return, are errors which a very little trouble would have enabled him to eschew. But still it does seem reasonable to believe that the main fact of Marco’s command of a galley at Curzola, and capture there, was derived from a genuine tradition, if not from documents.

Let us then turn to the words which close Rusticiano’s preamble (see post, p. 2):—“Lequel (Messire Marc) puis demorant en le charthre de Jene, fist retraire toutes cestes chouses a Messire Rustacians de Pise que en celle meissme charthre estoit, au tens qu’il avoit 1298 anz que Jezu eut vesqui.” These words are at least thoroughly consistent with Marco’s capture at Curzola, as regards both the position in which they present him, and the year in which he is thus presented.

There is however another piece of evidence, though it is curiously indirect.

The Dominican Friar Jacopo of Acqui was a contemporary of Polo’s, and was the author of a somewhat obscure Chronicle called Imago Mundi.29 Now this Chronicle does contain mention of Marco’s capture in action by the Genoese, but attributes it to a different action from Curzola, and one fought at a time when Polo could not have been present. The passage runs as follows in a manuscript of the Ambrosian Library, according to an extract given by Baldelli Boni:—

“In the year of Christ MCCLXXXXVI, in the time of Pope Boniface VI., of whom we have spoken above, a battle was fought in Arminia, at the place called Layaz, between xv. galleys of Genoese merchants and xxv. of Venetian merchants; and after a great fight the galleys of the Venetians were beaten, and (the crews) all slain or taken; and among them was taken Messer Marco the Venetian, who was in company with those merchants, and who was called Milono, which is as much as to say ‘a thousand thousand pounds,’ for so goes the phrase in Venice. So this Messer Marco Milono the Venetian, with the other Venetian prisoners, is carried off to the prison of Genoa, and there kept for a long time. This Messer Marco was a long time with his father and uncle in Tartary, and he there saw many things, and made much wealth, and also learned many things, for he was a man of ability. And so, being in prison at Genoa, he made a Book concerning the great wonders of the World, i.e., concerning such of them as he had seen. And what he told in the Book was not as much as he had really seen, because of the tongues of detractors, who, being ready to impose their own lies on others, are over hasty to set down as lies what they in their perversity disbelieve, or do not understand. And because there are many great and strange things in that Book, which are reckoned past all credence, he was asked by his friends on his death-bed to correct the Book by removing everything that went beyond the facts. To which his reply was that he had not told one-half of what he had really seen!”30

This statement regarding the capture of Marco at the Battle of Ayas is one which cannot be true, for we know that he did not reach Venice till 1295, travelling from Persia by way of Trebizond and the Bosphorus, whilst the Battle of Ayas of which we have purposely given some detail, was fought in May, 1294. The date MCCLXXXXVI assigned to it in the preceding extract has given rise to some unprofitable discussion. Could that date be accepted, no doubt it would enable us also to accept this, the sole statement from the Traveller’s own age of the circumstances which brought him into a Genoese prison; it would enable us to place that imprisonment within a few months of his return from the East, and to extend its duration to three years, points which would thus accord better with the general tenor of Ramusio’s tradition than the capture of Curzola. But the matter is not open to such a solution. The date of the Battle of Ayas is not more doubtful than that of the Battle of the Nile. It is clearly stated by several independent chroniclers, and is carefully established in the Ballad that we have quoted above.31 We shall see repeatedly in the course of this Book how uncertain are the transcriptions of dates in Roman numerals, and in the present case the LXXXXVI is as certainly a mistake for LXXXXIV as is Boniface VI. in the same quotation a mistake for Boniface VIII.

But though we cannot accept the statement that Polo was taken prisoner at Ayas, in the spring of 1294, we may accept the passage as evidence from a contemporary source that he was taken prisoner in some sea-fight with the Genoese, and thus admit it in corroboration of the Ramusian Tradition of his capture in a sea-fight at Curzola in 1298, which is perfectly consistent with all other facts in our possession.

1 In this part of these notices I am repeatedly indebted to Heyd. (See supra, p. 9.)

2 On or close to the Hill called Monjoie; see the plan from Marino Sanudo at p. 18.

3 “Throughout that year there were not less than 40 machines all at work upon the city of Acre, battering its houses and its towers, and smashing and overthrowing everything within their range. There were at least ten of those engines that shot stones so big and heavy that they weighed a good 1500 lbs. by the weight of Champagne; insomuch that nearly all the towers and forts of Acre were destroyed, and only the religious houses were left. And there were slain in this same war good 20,000 men on the two sides, but chiefly of Genoese and Spaniards.” (Lettre de Jean Pierre Sarrasin, in Michel’s Joinville, p. 308.)

4 The origin of these columns is, however, somewhat uncertain. [See Cicogna, I. p. 379.]

5 In 1262, when a Venetian squadron was taken by the Greek fleet in alliance with the Genoese, the whole of the survivors of the captive crews were blinded by order of Palaeologus. (Roman. ii. 272.)

6 See pp. 16, 41, and Plan of Ayas at beginning of Bk. I.

7 See Archivio Storico Italiano, Appendice, tom. iv.

8 Niente ne resta a prender

    Se no li corpi de li legni:

Preixi som senza difender;

    De bruxar som tute degni!

* * * *

Como li fom aproximai

      Queli si levan lantor

Como leon descaenai

      Tuti criando “Alor! Alor!

This Alor! Alor! (“Up, Boys, and at ’em”), or something similar, appears to have been the usual war-cry of both parties. So a trumpet-like poem of the Troubadour warrior Bertram de Born, whom Dante found in such evil plight below (xxviii. 118 seqq.), in which he sings with extraordinary spirit the joys of war:—

“Le us die que tan no m’a sabor

    Manjars, ni beure, ni dormir,

Cum a quant ang cridar, ALOR!

    D’ambas la partz; et aug agnir

    Cavals voits per l’ombratge. . . . ”

“I tell you a zest far before

    Aught of slumber, or drink, or of food,

I snatch when the shouts of ALOR

    Ring from both sides: and out of the wood

    Comes the neighing of steeds dimly seen. . . . ”

In a galley fight at Tyre in 1258, according to a Latin narrative, the Genoese shout “Ad arma, ad arma! ad ipsos, ad ipsos!” The cry of the Venetians before engaging the Greeks is represented by Martino da Canale, in his old French, as “or à yaus! or à yaus!” that of the Genoese on another occasion as Aur! Aur! and this last is the shout of the Catalans also in Ramon de Muntaner. (Villemain, Litt. du Moyen Age, i. 99; Archiv. Stor. Ital. viii. 364, 506; Pertz, Script. xviii. 239; Muntaner, 269, 287.) Recently in a Sicilian newspaper, narrating an act of gallant and successful reprisal (only too rare) by country folk on a body of the brigands who are such a scourge to parts of the island, I read that the honest men in charging the villains raised a shout of “Ad iddi! Ad iddi!

9 A phrase curiously identical, with a similar sequence, is attributed to an Austrian General at the battle of Skalitz in 1866. (Stoffel’s Letters.)

10 E no me posso aregordar

    Dalcuno romanzo vertadé

Donde oyse uncha cointar

    Alcun triumfo si sobré!

11 Stella in Muratori, xvii. 984.

12 Dandulo, Ibid. xii. 404–405.

13 Or entram con gran vigor,

    En De sperando aver triumpho,

    Queli zerchando inter lo Gorfo

Chi menazeram zercha lor!

And in the next verse note the pure Scotch use of the word bra:—

Sichè da Otranto se partim

    Quella bra compagnia,

    Per assar in Ihavonia,

D’Avosto a vinte nove di.

14 The island of Curzola now counts about 4000 inhabitants; the town half the number. It was probably reckoned a dependency of Venice at this time. The King of Hungary had renounced his claims on the Dalmatian coasts by treaty in 1244. (Romanin, ii. 235.) The gallant defence of the place against the Algerines in 1571 won for Curzola from the Venetian Senate the honourable title in all documents of fedelissima. (Paton’s Adriatic, I. 47.)

15 Ma sé si gran colmo avea

Perchè andava mendigando

Per terra de Lombardia

    Peccunia, gente a sodi?

    Pone mente tu che l’odi

Se noi tegnamo questa via?

No, ma più! ajamo omi nostrar

    Destri, valenti, e avisti,

    Che mai par de lor n’ o visti

In tuti officj de mar.

16 In July 1294, a Council of Thirty decreed that galleys should be equipped by the richest families in proportion to their wealth. Among the families held to equip one galley each, or one galley among two or more, in this list, is the CA’ POLO. But this was before the return of the travellers from the East, and just after the battle of Ayas. (Romanin, ii. 332; this author misdates Ayas, however.) When a levy was required in Venice for any expedition the heads of each contrada divided the male inhabitants, between the ages of twenty and sixty, into groups of twelve each, called duodene. The dice were thrown to decide who should go first on service. He who went received five lire a month from the State, and one lira from each of his colleagues in the duodena. Hence his pay was sixteen lire a month, about 2s. a day in silver value, if these were lire ai grossi, or 1s. 4d. if lire dei piccoli. (See Romanin, ii. 393–394.)

Money on such occasions was frequently raised by what was called an Estimo or Facion, which was a force loan levied on the citizens in proportion to their estimated wealth; and for which they were entitled to interest from the State.

17 Several of the Italian chroniclers, as Ferreto of Vicenza and Navagiero, whom Muratori has followed in his “Annals,” say the battle was fought on the 8th September, the so-called Birthday of the Madonna. But the inscription on the Church of St. Matthew at Genoa, cited further on, says the 7th, and with this agree both Stella and the Genoese poet. For the latter, though not specifying the day of the month, says it was on a Sunday:—

“Lo di de Domenga era

    Passa prima en l’ora bona

    Stormezam fin provo nona

Con bataio forte e fera.”

Now the 7th September, 1298, fell on a Sunday.

18 Ma li pensavam grande error

    Che in fuga se fussem tuti metui

    Che de si lonzi eram vegnui

Per cerchali a casa lor.

19 “Note here that the Genoese generally, commonly, and by nature, are the most covetous of Men, and the Love of Gain spurs them to every Crime. Yet are they deemed also the most valiant Men in the World. Such an one was Lampa, of that very Doria family, a man of an high Courage truly. For when he was engaged in a Sea–Fight against the Venetians, and was standing on the Poop of his Galley, his Son, fighting valiantly at the Forecastle, was shot by an Arrow in the Breast, and fell wounded to the Death; a Mishap whereat his Comrades were sorely shaken, and Fear came upon the whole Ship’s Company. But Lampa, hot with the Spirit of Battle, and more mindful of his Country’s Service and his own Glory than of his Son, ran forward to the spot, loftily rebuked the agitated Crowd, and ordered his Son’s Body to be cast into the Deep, telling them for their Comfort that the Land could never have afforded his Boy a nobler Tomb. And then, renewing the Fight more fiercely than ever, he achieved the Victory.” (Benvenuto of Imola, in Comment. on Dante. in Muratori, Antiq. i. 1146.)

(“Yet like an English General will I die,

        And all the Ocean make my spacious Grave;

Women and Cowards on the Land may lie,

        The Sea’s the Tomb that’s proper for the Brave!”

Annus Mirabilis.)

20 The particulars of the battle are gathered from Ferretus Vicentinus, in Murat. ix. 985 seqq.; And. Dandulo, in xii. 407–408; Navagiero, in xxiii. 1009–1010; and the Genoese Poem as before.

21 Navagiero, u.s. Dandulo says, “after a few days he died of grief”; Ferretus, that he was killed in the action and buried at Curzola.

22 For the funeral, a MS. of Cibo Recco quoted by Jacopo Doria in La Chiesa di San Matteo descritta, etc., Genova, 1860, p. 26. For the date of arrival the poem so often quoted:—

De Oitover, a zoia, a seze di

    Lo nostro ostel, con gran festa

    En nostro porto, a or di sesta

Domine De restitui.”

23 S. Matteo was built by Martin Doria in 1125, but pulled down and rebuilt by the family in a slightly different position in 1278. On this occasion is recorded a remarkable anticipation of the feats of American engineering: “As there was an ancient and very fine picture of Christ upon the apse of the Church, it was thought a great pity that so fine a work should be destroyed. And so they contrived an ingenious method by which the apse bodily was transported without injury, picture and all, for a distance of 25 ells, and firmly set upon the foundations where it now exists.” (Jacopo de Varagine in Muratori, vol. ix. 36.)

The inscription on S. Matteo regarding the battle is as follows:—“Ad Honorem Dei et Beate Virginis Marie Anno MCCLXXXXVIII Die Dominico VII Septembris iste Angelus captus fuit in Gulfo Venetiarum in Civitate Scursole et ibidem fuit prelium Galearum LXXVI Januensium cum Galeis LXXXXVI Veneciarum. Capte fuerunt LXXXIIII per Nobilem Virum Dominum Lambam Aurie Capitaneum et Armiratum tunc Comunis et Populi Janue cum omnibus existentibus in eisdem, de quibus conduxit Janue homines vivos carceratos VII cccc et Galeas XVIII, reliquas LXVI fecit cumburi in dicto Gulfo Veneciarum. Qui obiit Sagone I. MCCCXXIII.” It is not clear to what the Angelus refers.

24 Rampoldi, Ann. Musulm. ix. 217.

25 Jacopo Doria, p. 280.

26 Murat. xxiii. 1010. I learn from a Genoese gentleman, through my friend Professor Henry Giglioli (to whose kindness I owe the transcript of the inscription just given), that a faint tradition exists as to the place of our traveller’s imprisonment. It is alleged to have been a massive building, standing between the Grazie and the Mole, and bearing the name of the Malapaga, which is now a barrack for Doganieri, but continued till comparatively recent times to be used as a civil prison. “It is certain,” says my informant, “that men of fame in arms who had fallen into the power of the Genoese were imprisoned there, and among others is recorded the name of the Corsican Giudice dalla Rocca and Lord of Cinarca, who died there in 1312;” a date so near that of Marco’s imprisonment as to give some interest to the hypothesis, slender as are its grounds. Another Genoese, however, indicates as the scene of Marco’s captivity certain old prisons near the Old Arsenal, in a site still known as the Vico degli Schiavi. (Celesia, Dante in Liguria, 1865, p. 43.) [Was not the place of Polo’s captivity the basement of the Palazzo del Capitan del Popolo, afterwards Palazzo del Comune al Mare, where the Customs (Dogana) had their office, and from the 15th century the Casa or Palazzo di S. Giorgio? — H. C.]

27 The Treaty and some subsidiary documents are printed in the Genoese Liber Jurium, forming a part of the Monumenta Historiae Patriae, published at Turin. (See Lib. Jur. II. 344, seqq.) Muratori in his Annals has followed John Villani (Bk. VIII. ch. 27) in representing the terms as highly unfavourable to Venice. But for this there is no foundation in the documents. And the terms are stated with substantial accuracy in Navagiero. (Murat. Script. xxiii. 1011.)

28 Paulin Paris, Les Manuscrits François de la Bibliothèque du Roi, ii. 355.

29 Though there is no precise information as to the birth or death of this writer, who belonged to a noble family of Lombardy, the Bellingeri, he can be traced with tolerable certainty as in life in 1289, 1320, and 1334. (See the Introduction to his Chronicle in the Turin Monumentà, Scriptores III.)

30 There is another MS. of the Imago Mundi at Turin, which has been printed in the Monumenta. The passage about Polo in that copy differs widely in wording, is much shorter, and contains no date. But it relates his capture as having taken place at Là Glazà, which I think there can be no doubt is also intended for Ayas (sometimes called Giàzza), a place which in fact is called Glaza in three of the MSS. of which various readings are given in the edition of the Société de Géographie (p. 535).

31 “E per meio esse aregordenti

    De si grande scacho mato

Correa mille duxenti

    Zonto ge novanta e quatro.”

The Armenian Prince Hayton or Héthum has put it under 1293. (See Langlois, Mém. sur les Relations de Gênes avec la Petite–Arménie.)

vii. Rusticiano or Rustichello of Pisa, Marco Polo’s Fellow-Prisoner at Genoa, the Scribe who Wrote Down the Travels.

38. We have now to say something of that Rusticiano to whom all who value Polo’s book are so much indebted.

Rusticiano, perhaps a prisoner from Meloria.]

The relations between Genoa and Pisa had long been so hostile that it was only too natural in 1298 to find a Pisan in the gaol of Genoa. An unhappy multitude of such prisoners had been carried thither fourteen years before, and the survivors still lingered there in vastly dwindled numbers. In the summer of 1284 was fought the battle from which Pisa had to date the commencement of her long decay. In July of that year the Pisans, at a time when the Genoese had no fleet in their own immediate waters, had advanced to the very port of Genoa and shot their defiance into the proud city in the form of silver-headed arrows, and stones belted with scarlet.1 They had to pay dearly for this insult. The Genoese, recalling their cruisers, speedily mustered a fleet of eighty-eight galleys, which were placed under the command of another of that illustrious House of Doria, the Scipios of Genoa as they have been called, Uberto, the elder brother of Lamba. Lamba himself with his six sons, and another brother, was in the fleet, whilst the whole number of Dorias who fought in the ensuing action amounted to 250, most of them on board one great galley bearing the name of the family patron, St. Matthew.2

The Pisans, more than one-fourth inferior in strength, came out boldly, and the battle was fought off the Porto Pisano, in fact close in front of Leghorn, where a lighthouse on a remarkable arched basement still marks the islet of MELORIA, whence the battle got its name. The day was the 6th of August, the feast of St. Sixtus, a day memorable in the Pisan Fasti for several great victories. But on this occasion the defeat of Pisa was overwhelming. Forty of their galleys were taken or sunk, and upwards of 9000 prisoners carried to Genoa. In fact so vast a sweep was made of the flower of Pisan manhood that it was a common saying then: “Che vuol veder Pisa, vada a Genova!” Many noble ladies of Pisa went in large companies on foot to Genoa to seek their husbands or kinsmen: “And when they made enquiry of the Keepers of the Prisons, the reply would be, ‘Yesterday there died thirty of them, today there have died forty; all of whom we have cast into the sea; and so it is daily.’"3

Illustration: Seal of the Pisan Prisoners.

A body of prisoners so numerous and important naturally exerted themselves in the cause of peace, and through their efforts, after many months of negotiation, a formal peace was signed (15th April, 1288). But through the influence, as was alleged, of Count Ugolino (Dante’s) who was then in power at Pisa, the peace became abortive; war almost immediately recommenced, and the prisoners had no release.4 And, when the 6000 or 7000 Venetians were thrown into the prisons of Genoa in October 1298, they would find there the scanty surviving remnant of the Pisan Prisoners of Meloria, and would gather from them dismal forebodings of the fate before them.

It is a fair conjecture that to that remnant Rusticiano of Pisa may have belonged.

We have seen Ramusio’s representation of the kindness shown to Marco during his imprisonment by a certain Genoese gentleman who also assisted him to reduce his travels to writing. We may be certain that this Genoese gentleman is only a distorted image of Rusticiano, the Pisan prisoner in the gaol of Genoa, whose name and part in the history of his hero’s book Ramusio so strangely ignores. Yet patriotic Genoese writers in our own times have striven to determine the identity of this their imaginary countryman!5

Rusticiano, a person known from other sources.]

39. Who, then, was Rusticiano, or, as the name actually is read in the oldest type of MS., “Messire Rustacians de Pise”?

Our knowledge of him is but scanty. Still something is known of him besides the few words concluding his preamble to our Traveller’s Book, which you may read at pp. 1–2 of the body of this volume.

In Sir Walter Scott’s “Essay on Romance,” when he speaks of the new mould in which the subjects of the old metrical stories were cast by the school of prose romancers which arose in the 13th century, we find the following words:—

“Whatever fragments or shadows of true history may yet remain hidden under the mass of accumulated fable which had been heaped upon them during successive ages, must undoubtedly be sought in the metrical romances. . . . But those prose authors who wrote under the imaginary names of RUSTICIEN DE PISE, Robert de Borron, and the like, usually seized upon the subject of some old minstrel; and recomposing the whole narrative after their own fashion, with additional character and adventure, totally obliterated in that operation any shades which remained of the original and probably authentic tradition,” &c.6

Evidently, therefore, Sir Walter regarded Rustician of Pisa as a person belonging to the same ghostly company as his own Cleishbothams and Dryasdusts. But in this we see that he was wrong.

In the great Paris Library and elsewhere there are manuscript volumes containing the stories of the Round Table abridged and somewhat clumsily combined from the various Prose Romances of that cycle, such as Sir Tristan, Lancelot, Palamedes, Giron le Courtois, &c., which had been composed, it would seem, by various Anglo–French gentlemen at the court of Henry III., styled, or styling themselves, Gasses le Blunt, Luces du Gast, Robert de Borron, and Hélis de Borron. And these abridgments or recasts are professedly the work of Le Maistre Rusticien de Pise. Several of them were printed at Paris in the end of the 15th and beginning of the 16th centuries as the works of Rusticien de Pise; and as the preambles and the like, especially in the form presented in those printed editions, appear to be due sometimes to the original composers (as Robert and Hélis de Borron) and sometimes to Rusticien de Pise the recaster, there would seem to have been a good deal of confusion made in regard to their respective personalities.

From a preamble to one of those compilations which undoubtedly belongs to Rustician, and which we shall quote at length by and bye, we learn that Master Rustician “translated” (or perhaps transferred?) his compilation from a book belonging to King Edward of England, at the time when that prince went beyond seas to recover the Holy Sepulchre. Now Prince Edward started for the Holy Land in 1270, spent the winter of that year in Sicily, and arrived in Palestine in May 1271. He quitted it again in August, 1272, and passed again by Sicily, where in January, 1273, he heard of his father’s death and his own consequent accession. Paulin Paris supposes that Rustician was attached to the Sicilian Court of Charles of Anjou, and that Edward “may have deposited with that king the Romances of the Round Table, of which all the world was talking, but the manuscripts of which were still very rare, especially those of the work of Helye de Borron7 . . . whether by order, or only with permission of the King of Sicily, our Rustician made haste to read, abridge, and re-arrange the whole, and when Edward returned to Sicily he recovered possession of the book from which the indefatigable Pisan had extracted the contents.”

But this I believe is, in so far as it passes the facts stated in Rustician’s own preamble, pure hypothesis, for nothing is cited that connects Rustician with the King of Sicily. And if there be not some such confusion of personality as we have alluded to, in another of the preambles, which is quoted by Dunlop as an utterance of Rustician’s, that personage would seem to claim to have been a comrade in arms of the two de Borrons. We might, therefore, conjecture that Rustician himself had accompanied Prince Edward to Syria.8

Character of Rustician’s Romance compilations.]

40. Rustician’s literary work appears from the extracts and remarks of Paulin Paris to be that of an industrious simple man, without method or much judgment. “The haste with which he worked is too perceptible; the adventures are told without connection; you find long stories of Tristan followed by adventures of his father Meliadus.” For the latter derangement of historical sequence we find a quaint and ingenuous apology offered in Rustician’s epilogue to Giron le Courtois:—

“Cy fine le Maistre Rusticien de Pise son conte en louant et regraciant le Père le Filz et le Saint Esperit, et ung mesme Dieu, Filz de la Benoiste Vierge Marie, de ce qu’il m’a doné grace, sens, force, et mémoire, temps et lieu, de me mener à fin de si haulte et si noble matière come ceste-cy dont j’ay traicté les faiz et proesses recitez et recordez à mon livre. Et se aucun me demandoit pour quoy j’ay parlé de Tristan avant que de son père le Roy Meliadus, le respons que ma matière n’estoist pas congneue. Car je ne puis pas scavoir tout, ne mettre toutes mes paroles par ordre. Et ainsi fine mon conte. Amen.”9

In a passage of these compilations the Emperor Charlemagne is asked whether in his judgment King Meliadus or his son Tristan were the better man? The Emperor’s answer is: “I should say that the King Meliadus was the better man, and I will tell you why I say so. As far as I can see, everything that Tristan did was done for Love, and his great feats would never have been done but under the constraint of Love, which was his spur and goad. Now that never can be said of King Meliadus! For what deeds he did, he did them not by dint of Love, but by dint of his strong right arm. Purely out of his own goodness he did good, and not by constraint of Love.” “It will be seen,” remarks on this Paulin Paris, “that we are here a long way removed from the ordinary principles of Round Table Romances. And one thing besides will be manifest, viz., that Rusticien de Pise was no Frenchman!”10

The same discretion is shown even more prominently in a passage of one of his compilations, which contains the romances of Arthur, Gyron, and Meliadus (No. 6975 — see last note but one):—

“No doubt,” Rustician says, “other books tell the story of the Queen Ginevra and Lancelot differently from this; and there were certain passages between them of which the Master, in his concern for the honour of both those personages, will say not a word.” Alas, says the French Bibliographer, that the copy of Lancelot, which fell into the hands of poor Francesca of Rimini, was not one of those expurgated by our worthy friend Rustician!11

Identity of the Romance Compiler with Polo’s fellow-prisoner.]

41. A question may still occur to an attentive reader as to the identity of this Romance-compiler Rusticien de Pise with the Messire Rustacians de Pise, of a solitary MS. of Polo’s work (though the oldest and most authentic), a name which appears in other copies as Rusta Pisan, Rasta Pysan, Rustichelus Civis Pisanus, Rustico, Restazio da Pisa, Stazio da Pisa, and who is stated in the preamble to have acted as the Traveller’s scribe at Genoa.

M. Pauthier indeed12 asserts that the French of the MS. Romances of Rusticien de Pise is of the same barbarous character as that of the early French MS. of Polo’s Book to which we have just alluded, and which we shall show to be the nearest presentation of the work as originally dictated by the Traveller. The language of the latter MS. is so peculiar that this would be almost perfect evidence of the identity of the writers, if it were really the fact. A cursory inspection which I have made of two of those MSS. in Paris, and the extracts which I have given and am about to give, do not, however, by any means support M. Pauthier’s view. Nor would that view be consistent with the judgment of so competent an authority as Paulin Paris, implied in his calling Rustician a nom recommandable in old French literature, and his speaking of him as “versed in the secrets of the French Romance Tongue.”13 In fact the difference of language in the two cases would really be a difficulty in the way of identification, if there were room for doubt. This, however, Paulin Paris seems to have excluded finally, by calling attention to the peculiar formula of preamble which is common to the Book of Marco Polo and to one of the Romance compilations of Rusticien de Pise.

The former will be found in English at pp. 1, 2, of our Translation; but we give a part of the original below14 for comparison with the preamble to the Romances of Meliadus, Tristan, and Lancelot, as taken from MS. 6961 (Fr. 340) of the Paris Library:—

Seigneurs Empereurs et Princes, Ducs et Contes et Barons et Chevaliers et Vavasseurs et Bourgeois, et tous les preudommes de cestui monde qui avez talent de vous deliter en rommans, si prenez cestui (livre) et le faites lire de chief en chief, si orrez toutes les grans aventure qui advindrent entre les Chevaliers errans du temps au Roy Uter Pendragon, jusques à le temps au Roy Artus son fils, et des compaignons de la Table Ronde. Et sachiez tout vraiment que cist livres fust translatez du livre Monseigneur Edouart le Roy d’Engleterre en cellui temps qu’il passa oultre la mer au service nostre Seigneur Damedieu pour conquester le Sant Sepulcre, et Maistre Rusticiens de Pise, lequel est ymaginez yci dessus,15 compila ce rommant, car il en translata toutes les merveilleuses nouvelles et aventures qu’il trouva en celle livre et traita tout certainement de toutes les aventures du monde, et si sachiez qu’il traitera plus de Monseigneur Lancelot du Lac, et Mons’r Tristan le fils au Roy Meliadus de Leonnoie que d’autres, porcequ’ilz furent sans faille les meilleurs chevaliers qui à ce temps furent en terre; et li Maistres en dira de ces deux pluseurs choses et pluseurs nouvelles que l’en treuvera escript en tous les autres livres; et porce que le Maistres les trouva escript au Livre d’Engleterre.”

Illustration: Palazzo di S Giorgio Genoa

“Certainly,” Paulin Paris observes, “there is a singular analogy between these two prefaces. And it must be remarked that the formula is not an ordinary one with translators, compilers, or authors of the 13th and 14th centuries. Perhaps you would not find a single other example of it.”16

This seems to place beyond question the identity of the Romance-compiler of Prince Edward’s suite in 1270, and the Prisoner of Genoa in 1298.

Further particulars concerning Rustician.]

42. In Dunlop’s History of Fiction a passage is quoted from the preamble of Meliadus, as set forth in the Paris printed edition of 1528, which gives us to understand that Rusticien de Pise had received as a reward for some of his compositions from King Henry III. the prodigal gift of two chateaux. I gather, however, from passages in the work of Paulin Paris that this must certainly be one of those confusions of persons to which I have referred before, and that the recipient of the chateaux was in reality Helye de Borron, the author of some of the originals which Rustician manipulated.17 This supposed incident in Rustician’s scanty history must therefore be given up.

We call this worthy Rustician or Rusticiano, as the nearest probable representation in Italian form of the Rusticien of the Round–Table MSS. and the Rustacians of the old text of Polo. But it is highly probable that his real name was Rustichello, as is suggested by the form Rustichelus in the early Latin version published by the Société de Géographie. The change of one liquid for another never goes for much in Italy,18 and Rustichello might easily Gallicize himself as Rusticien. In a very long list of Pisan officials during the Middle Ages I find several bearing the name of Rustichello or Rustichelli, but no Rusticiano or Rustigiano.19

Respecting him we have only to add that the peace between Genoa and Venice was speedily followed by a treaty between Genoa and Pisa. On the 31st July, 1299, a truce for twenty-five years was signed between those two Republics. It was a very different matter from that between Genoa and Venice, and contained much that was humiliating and detrimental to Pisa. But it embraced the release of prisoners; and those of Meloria, reduced it is said to less than one tithe of their original number, had their liberty at last. Among the prisoners then released no doubt Rustician was one. But we hear of him no more.

1 B. Marangone, Croniche della C. di Pisa, in Rerum Ital. Script. of Tartini, Florence, 1748, i. 563; Dal Borgo, Dissert. sopra l’Istoria Pisana, ii. 287.

2 The list of the whole number is preserved in the Doria archives, and has been published by Sign. Jacopo D’Oria. Many of the Baptismal names are curious, and show how far sponsors wandered from the Church Calendar. Assan, Alton, Turco, Soldan seem to come of the constant interest in the East. Alaone, a name which remained in the family for several generations, I had thought certainly borrowed from the fierce conqueror of the Khalif (infra, p. 63). But as one Alaone, present at this battle, had a son also there, he must surely have been christened before the fame of Hulaku could have reached Genoa. (See La Chiesa di S. Matteo, pp. 250, seqq.)

In documents of the kingdom of Jerusalem there are names still more anomalous, e.g., Gualterius Baffumeth, Joannes Mahomet. (See Cod. Dipl. del Sac. Milit. Ord. Gerosol. I. 2–3, 62.)

3 Memorial. Potestat. Regiens. in Muratori, viii. 1162.

4 See Fragm. Hist. Pisan. in Muratori, xxiv. 651, seqq.; and Caffaro, id. vi. 588, 594–595. The cut in the text represents a striking memorial of those Pisan Prisoners, which perhaps still survives, but which at any rate existed last century in a collection at Lucca. It is the seal of the prisoners as a body corporate: SIGILLUM UNIVERSITATIS CARCERATORUM PISANORUM JANUE DETENTORUM, and was doubtless used in their negotiations for peace with the Genoese Commissioners. It represents two of the prisoners imploring the Madonna, Patron of the Duomo at Pisa. It is from Manni, Osserv. Stor. sopra Sigilli Antichi, etc., Firenze, 1739, tom. xii. The seal is also engraved in Dal Borgo, op. cit. ii. 316.

5 The Abate Spotorno in his Storia Letteraria della Liguria, II. 219, fixes on a Genoese philosopher called Andalo del Negro, mentioned by Boccaccio.

6 I quote from Galignani’s ed. of Prose Works, v. 712. This has “Rusticien de Puise.” In this view of the fictitious character of the names of Rusticien and the rest, Sir Walter seems to have been following Ritson, as I gather from a quotation in Dunlop’s H. of Fiction. (Liebrecht’s German Version, p. 63.)

7 Giron le Courtois, and the conclusion of Tristan.

8 The passage runs thus as quoted (from the preamble of the Meliadus — I suspect in one of the old printed editions):—

“Aussi Luces du Gau (Gas) translata en langue Françoise une partie de l’Hystoire de Monseigneur Tristan, et moins assez qu’il ne deust. Moult commença bien son livre et si ny mist tout les faicts de Tristan, ains la greigneur partie. Après s’en entremist Messire Gasse le Blond, qui estoit parent au Roy Henry, et divisa l’Hystoire de Lancelot du Lac, et d’autre chose ne parla il mye grandement en son livre. Messire Robert de Borron s’en entremist et Helye de Borron, par la prière du dit Robert de Borron, et pource que compaignons feusmes d’armes longuement, je commencay mon livre,” etc. (Liebrecht’s Dunlop, p. 80.) If this passage be authentic it would set beyond doubt the age of the de Borrons and the other writers of Anglo–French Round Table Romances, who are placed by the Hist. Littéraire de la France, and apparently by Fr. Michel, under Henry II. I have no means of pursuing the matter, and have preferred to follow Paulin Paris, who places them under Henry III. I notice, moreover, that the Hist. Litt. (xv. p. 498) puts not only the de Borrons but Rustician himself under Henry II.; and, as the last view is certainly an error, the first is probably so too.

9 Transc. from MS. 6975 (now Fr. 355) of Paris Library.

10 MSS. François, iii. 60–61.

11 Ibid. 56–59.

12 Introd. pp. lxxxvi.-vii. note.

13 See Jour. As. sér. II. tom. xii. p. 251.

14Seignors Enperaor, & Rois, Dux & Marquois, Cuens, Chevaliers & Bargions [for Borgiois] & toutes gens qe uoles sauoir les deuerses jenerasions des homes, & les deuersités des deuerses region dou monde, si prennés cestui lire & le feites lire & chi trouerés toutes les grandismes meruoilles,” etc.

15 The portrait of Rustician here referred to would have been a precious illustration for our book. But unfortunately it has not been transferred to MS. 6961, nor apparently to any other noticed by Paulin Paris.

16 Jour. As. as above.

17 See Liebrecht’s Dunlop, p. 77; and MSS. François, II. 349, 353.

The alleged gift to Rustician is also put forth by D’Israeli the Elder in his Amenities of Literature, 1841, I. p. 103.

18 E.g. Geronimo, Girolamo; and garofalo, garofano; Cristoforo, Cristovalo; gonfalone, gonfanone, etc.

19 See the List in Archivio Stor. Ital. VI. p. 64, seqq.

viii. Notices of Marco Polo’s History, After the Termination of His Imprisonment at Genoa.

43. A few very disconnected notices are all that can be collected of matter properly biographical in relation to the quarter century during which Marco Polo survived the Genoese captivity.

Death of Marco’s Father before 1300. Will of his brother Maffeo.]

We have seen that he would probably reach Venice in the course of August, 1299. Whether he found his aged father alive is not known; but we know at least that a year later (31st August, 1300) Messer Nicolo was no longer in life.

This we learn from the Will of the younger Maffeo, Marco’s brother, which bears the date just named, and of which we give an abstract below.1 It seems to imply strong regard for the testator’s brother Marco, who is made inheritor of the bulk of the property, failing the possible birth of a son. I have already indicated some conjectural deductions from this document. I may add that the terms of the second clause, as quoted in the note, seem to me to throw considerable doubt on the genealogy which bestows a large family of sons upon this brother Maffeo. If he lived to have such a family it seems improbable that the draft which he thus left in the hands of a notary, to be converted into a Will in the event of his death (a curious example of the validity attaching to all acts of notaries in those days), should never have been superseded, but should actually have been so converted after his death, as the existence of the parchment seems to prove. But for this circumstance we might suppose the Marcolino mentioned in the ensuing paragraph to have been a son of the younger Maffeo.

Messer Maffeo, the uncle, was, we see, alive at this time. We do not know the year of his death. But it is alluded to by Friar Pipino in the Preamble to his Translation of the Book, supposed to have been executed about 1315–1320; and we learn from a document in the Venetian archives (see p. 77) that it must have been previous to 1318, and subsequent to February 1309, the date of his last Will. The Will itself is not known to be extant, but from the reference to it in this document we learn that he left 1000 lire of public debt2 (? imprestitorum) to a certain Marco Polo, called Marcolino. The relationship of this Marco to old Maffeo is not stated, but we may suspect him to have been an illegitimate son. [Marcolino was a son of Nicolo, son of Marco the Elder; see vol. ii., Calendar, No. 6. — H. C.]

Documentary notices of Polo at this time. The sobriquet of Milione.]

44. In 1302 occurs what was at first supposed to be a glimpse of Marco as a citizen, slight and quaint enough; being a resolution on the Books of the Great Council to exempt the respectable Marco Polo from the penalty incurred by him on account of the omission to have his water-pipe duly inspected. But since our Marco’s claims to the designation of Nobilis Vir have been established, there is a doubt whether the providus vir or prud’-homme here spoken of may not have been rather his namesake Marco Polo of Cannareggio or S. Geremia, of whose existence we learn from another entry of the same year.3 It is, however, possible that Marco the Traveller was called to the Great Council after the date of the document in question.

We have seen that the Traveller, and after him his House and his Book, acquired from his contemporaries the surname, or nickname rather, of Il Milione. Different writers have given different explanations of the origin of this name; some, beginning with his contemporary Fra Jacopo d’Acqui, (supra, p. 54), ascribing it to the family’s having brought home a fortune of a million of lire, in fact to their being millionaires. This is the explanation followed by Sansovino, Marco Barbaro, Coronelli, and others.4 More far-fetched is that of Fontanini, who supposes the name to have been given to the Book as containing a great number of stories, like the Cento Novelle or the Thousand and One Nights! But there can be no doubt that Ramusio’s is the true, as it is the natural, explanation; and that the name was bestowed on Marco by the young wits of his native city, because of his frequent use of a word which appears to have been then unusual, in his attempts to convey an idea of the vast wealth and magnificence of the Kaan’s Treasury and Court.5 Ramusio has told us that he had seen Marco styled by this sobriquet in the Books of the Signory; and it is pleasant to be able to confirm this by the next document which we cite. This is an extract from the Books of the Great Council under both April, 1305, condoning the offence of a certain Bonocio of Mestre in smuggling wine, for whose penalty one of the sureties had been the NOBILIS VIR MARCHUS PAULO MILIONI.6

It is alleged that long after our Traveller’s death there was always, in the Venetian Masques, one individual who assumed the character of Marco Milioni, and told Munchausenlike stories to divert the vulgar. Such, if this be true, was the honour of our prophet among the populace of his own country.7

45. A little later we hear of Marco once more, as presenting a copy of his Book to a noble Frenchman in the service of Charles of Valois.

Polo’s relations with Thibault de Cepoy.]

This Prince, brother of Philip the Fair, in 1301 had married Catharine, daughter and heiress of Philip de Courtenay, titular Emperor of Constantinople, and on the strength of this marriage had at a later date set up his own claim to the Empire of the East. To this he was prompted by Pope Clement V., who in the beginning of 1306 wrote to Venice, stimulating that Government to take part in the enterprise. In the same year, Charles and his wife sent as their envoys to Venice, in connection with this matter, a noble knight called THIBAULT DE CEPOY, along with an ecclesiastic of Chartres called Pierre le Riche, and these two succeeded in executing a treaty of alliance with Venice, of which the original, dated 14th December, 1306, exists at Paris. Thibault de Cepoy eventually went on to Greece with a squadron of Venetian Galleys, but accomplished nothing of moment, and returned to his master in 1310.8

Illustration: Miracle of S. Lorenzo

During the stay of Thibault at Venice he seems to have made acquaintance with Marco Polo, and to have received from him a copy of his Book. This is recorded in a curious note which appears on two existing MSS. of Polo’s Book, viz., that of the Paris Library (10,270 or Fr. 5649), and that of Bern, which is substantially identical in its text with the former, and is, as I believe, a copy of it.9 The note runs as follows:—

“Here you have the Book of which My Lord THIEBAULT, Knight and LORD OF CEPOY, (whom may God assoil!) requested a copy from SIRE MARC POL, Burgess and Resident of the City of Venice. And the said Sire Marc Pol, being a very honourable Person, of high character and respect in many countries, because of his desire that what he had witnessed should be known throughout the World, and also for the honour and reverence he bore to the most excellent and puissant Prince my Lord CHARLES, Son of the King of France and COUNT OF VALOIS, gave and presented to the aforesaid Lord of Cepoy the first copy (that was taken) of his said Book after he had made the same. And very pleasing it was to him that his Book should be carried to the noble country of France and there made known by so worthy a gentleman. And from that copy which the said Messire Thibault, Sire de Cepoy above-named, did carry into France, Messire John, who was his eldest son and is the present Sire de Cepoy,10 after his Father’s decease did have a copy made, and that very first copy that was made of the Book after its being carried into France he did present to his very dear and dread Lord Monseigneur de Valois. Thereafter he gave copies of it to such of his friends as asked for them.

“And the copy above-mentioned was presented by the said Sire Marc Pol to the said Lord de Cepoy when the latter went to Venice, on the part of Monseigneur de Valois and of Madame the Empress his wife, as Vicar General for them both in all the Territories of the Empire of Constantinople. And this happened in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ one thousand three hundred and seven, and in the month of August.”

Of the bearings of this memorandum on the literary history of Polo’s Book we shall speak in a following section.

His marriage and his daughters. Marco as a merchant.]

46. When Marco married we have not been able to ascertain, but it was no doubt early in the 14th century, for in 1324, we find that he had two married daughters besides one unmarried. His wife’s Christian name was Donata, but of her family we have as yet found no assurance. I suspect, however, that her name may have been Loredano (vide infra, p. 77).

Under 1311 we find a document which is of considerable interest, because it is the only one yet discovered which exhibits Marco under the aspect of a practical trader. It is the judgment of the Court of Requests upon a suit brought by the NOBLE MARCO POLO of the parish of S. Giovanni Grisostomo against one Paulo Girardo of S. Apollinare. It appears that Marco had entrusted to the latter as a commission agent for sale, on an agreement for half profits, a pound and a half of musk, priced at six lire of grossi (about 22l. 10s. in value of silver) the pound. Girardo had sold half-a-pound at that rate, and the remaining pound which he brought back was deficient of a saggio, or, one-sixth of an ounce, but he had accounted for neither the sale nor the deficiency. Hence Marco sues him for three lire of Grossi, the price of the half-pound sold, and for twenty grossi as the value of the saggio. And the Judges cast the defendant in the amount with costs, and the penalty of imprisonment in the common gaol of Venice if the amounts were not paid within a suitable term.11

Again in May, 1323, probably within a year of his death, Ser Marco appears (perhaps only by attorney), before the Doge and his judicial examiners, to obtain a decision respecting a question touching the rights to certain stairs and porticoes in contact with his own house property, and that obtained from his wife, in S. Giovanni Grisostomo. To this allusion has been already made (supra, p. 31).

Marco Polo’s Last Will and Death.]

47. We catch sight of our Traveller only once more. It is on the 9th of January, 1324; he is labouring with disease, under which he is sinking day by day; and he has sent for Giovanni Giustiniani, Priest of S. Proculo and Notary, to make his Last Will and Testament. It runs thus:—




“In the year from the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ 1323, on the 9th day of the month of January, in the first half of the 7th Indiction,12 at Rialto.

“It is the counsel of Divine Inspiration as well as the judgment of a provident mind that every man should take thought to make a disposition of his property before death become imminent, lest in the end it should remain without any disposition:

“Wherefore I MARCUS PAULO of the parish of St. John Chrysostom, finding myself to grow daily feebler through bodily ailment, but being by the grace of God of a sound mind, and of senses and judgment unimpaired, have sent for JOHN GIUSTINIANI, Priest of S. Proculo and Notary, and have instructed him to draw out in complete form this my Testament:

“Whereby I constitute as my Trustees DONATA my beloved wife, and my dear daughters FANTINA, BELLELA, and MORETA,13 in order that after my decease they may execute the dispositions and bequests which I am about to make herein.

“First of all: I will and direct that the proper Tithe be paid.14 And over and above the said tithe I direct that 2000 lire of Venice denari be distributed as follows:15

“Viz., 20 soldi of Venice grossi to the Monastery of St. Lawrence where I desire to be buried.

“Also 300 lire of Venice denari to my sister-inlaw YSABETA QUIRINO,16 that she owes me.

“Also 40 soldi to each of the Monasteries and Hospitals all the way from Grado to Capo d’Argine.17

“Also I bequeath to the Convent of SS. Giovanni and Paolo, of the Order of Preachers, that which it owes me, and also 10 lire to Friar RENIER, and 5 lire to Friar BENVENUTO the Venetian, of the Order of Preachers, in addition to the amount of his debt to me.

“I also bequeath 5 lire to every Congregation in Rialto, and 4 lire to every Guild or Fraternity of which I am a member.18

“Also I bequeath 20 soldi of Venetian grossi to the Priest Giovanni Giustiniani the Notary, for his trouble about this my Will, and in order that he may pray the Lord in my behalf.

“Also I release PETER the Tartar, my servant, from all bondage, as completely as I pray God to release mine own soul from all sin and guilt. And I also remit him whatever he may have gained by work at his own house; and over and above I bequeath him 100 lire of Venice denari.19

“And the residue of the said 2000 lire free of tithe, I direct to be distributed for the good of my soul, according to the discretion of my trustees.

“Out of my remaining property I bequeath to the aforesaid Donata, my Wife and Trustee, 8 lire of Venetian grossi annually during her life, for her own use, over and above her settlement, and the linen and all the household utensils,20 with 3 beds garnished.

“And all my other property movable and immovable that has not been disposed of [here follow some lines of mere technicality] I specially and expressly bequeath to my aforesaid Daughters Fantina, Bellela, and Moreta, freely and absolutely, to be divided equally among them. And I constitute them my heirs as regards all and sundry my property movable and immovable, and as regards all rights and contingencies tacit and expressed, of whatsoever kind as hereinbefore detailed, that belong to me or may fall to me. Save and except that before division my said daughter Moreta shall receive the same as each of my other daughters hath received for dowry and outfit [here follow many lines of technicalities, ending]

“And if any one shall presume to infringe or violate this Will, may he incur the malediction of God Almighty, and abide bound under the anathema of the 318 Fathers; and farthermore he shall forfeit to my Trustees aforesaid five pounds of gold;21 and so let this my Testament abide in force. The signature of the above named Messer Marco Paulo who gave instructions for this deed.

“* I Peter Grifon, Priest, Witness.

“* I Humfrey Barberi, Witness.

“* I John Giustiniani, Priest of S. Proculo, and Notary, have completed and authenticated (this testament).”22

We do not know, as has been said, how long Marco survived the making of this will, but we know, from a scanty series of documents commencing in June of the following year (1325), that he had then been some time dead.23

Place of Sepulture. Professed Portraits of Polo.]

48. He was buried, no doubt, according to his declared wish, in the Church of S. Lorenzo; and indeed Sansovino bears testimony to the fact in a confused notice of our Traveller.24 But there does not seem to have been any monument to Marco, though the sarcophagus which had been erected to his father Nicolo, by his own filial care, existed till near the end of the 16th century in the porch or corridor leading to the old Church of S. Lorenzo, and bore the inscription: “SEPULTURA DOMINI NICOLAI PAULO DE CONTRATA S. IOANNIS GRISOSTEMI.” The church was renewed from its foundations in 1592, and then, probably, the sarcophagus was cast aside and lost, and with it all certainty as to the position of the tomb.25

Illustration: Pavement in front of San Lorenzo, Venice.

Illustration: S. Lorenzo as it was in the 15th century

There is no portrait of Marco Polo in existence with any claim to authenticity. The quaint figure which we give in the Bibliography, vol. ii. p. 555, extracted from the earliest printed edition of his book, can certainly make no such pretension. The oldest one after this is probably a picture in the collection of Monsignor Badia at Rome, of which I am now able, by the owner’s courtesy, to give a copy. It is set down in the catalogue to Titian, but is probably a work of 1600, or thereabouts, to which the aspect and costume belong. It is inscribed “Marcus Polvs Venetvs Totivs Orbis et Indie Peregrator Primus.” Its history unfortunately cannot be traced, but I believe it came from a collection at Urbino. A marble statue was erected in his honour by a family at Venice in the 17th century, and is still to be seen in the Palazzo Morosini–Gattemburg in the Campo S. Stefano in that city. The medallion portrait on the wall of the Sala dello Scudo in the ducal palace, and which was engraved in Bettom’s “Collection of Portraits of Illustrious Italians,” is a work of imagination painted by Francesco Griselini in 1761.26 From this, however, was taken the medal by Fabris, which was struck in 1847 in honour of the last meeting of the Italian Congresso Scientifico; and from the medal again is copied, I believe, the elegant woodcut which adorns the introduction to M. Pauthier’s edition, though without any information as to its history. A handsome bust, by Augusto Gamba, has lately been placed among the illustrious Venetians in the inner arcade of the Ducal Palace.27 There is also a mosaic portrait of Polo, opposite the similar portrait of Columbus in the Municipio at Genoa.

Further History of the Polo Family.]

49. From the short series of documents recently alluded to,28 we gather all that we know of the remaining history of Marco Polo’s immediate family. We have seen in his will an indication that the two elder daughters, Fantina and Bellela, were married before his death. In 1333 we find the youngest, Moreta, also a married woman, and Bellela deceased. In 1336 we find that their mother Donata had died in the interval. We learn, too, that Fantina’s husband was MARCO BRAGADINO, and Moreta’s, RANUZZO DOLFINO.29 The name of Bellela’s husband does not appear.

Fantina’s husband is probably the Marco Bragadino, son of Pietro, who in 1346 is mentioned to have been sent as Provveditore–Generale to act against the Patriarch of Acquileia.30 And in 1379 we find Donna Fantina herself, presumably in widowhood, assessed as a resident of S. Giovanni Grisostomo, on the Estimo or forced loan for the Genoese war, at 1300 lire, whilst Pietro Bragadino of the same parish — her son as I imagine — is assessed at 1500 lire.31 [See vol. ii., Calendar.]

The documents show a few other incidents which may be briefly noted. In 1326 we have the record of a charge against one Zanino Grioni for insulting Donna Moreta in the Campo of San Vitale; a misdemeanour punished by the Council of Forty with two months’ imprisonment.

Illustration: Mosaic Portrait of Marco Polo at Genoa

Illustration: The Pseudo Marco Polo at Canton

In March, 1328, Marco Polo, called Marcolino, of St. John Chrysostom (see p. 66), represents before the Domini Advocatores of the Republic that certain imprestita that had belonged to the late Maffeo Polo the Elder, had been alienated and transferred in May 1318, by the late Marco Polo of St. John Chrysostom and since his death by his heirs, without regard to the rights of the said Marcolino, to whom the said Messer Maffeo had bequeathed 1000 lire by his will executed on 6th February, 1308 (i.e. 1309). The Advocatores find that the transfer was to that extent unjust and improper, and they order that to the same extent it should be revoked and annulled. Two months later the Lady Donata makes rather an unpleasant figure before the Council of Forty. It would seem that on the claim of Messer Bertuccio Quirino a mandate of sequestration had been issued by the Court of Requests affecting certain articles in the Ca’ Polo; including two bags of money which had been tied and sealed, but left in custody of the Lady Donata. The sum so sealed was about 80 lire of grossi (300l. in silver value), but when opened only 45 lire and 22 grossi (about 170l.) were found therein, and the Lady was accused of abstracting the balance non bono modo. Probably she acted, as ladies sometimes do, on a strong sense of her own rights, and a weak sense of the claims of law. But the Council pronounced against her, ordering restitution, and a fine of 200 lire over and above “ut ceteris transeat in exemplum.32

It will have been seen that there is nothing in the amounts mentioned in Marco’s will to bear out the large reports as to his wealth, though at the same time there is no positive ground for a deduction to the contrary.33

The mention in two of the documents of Agnes Loredano as the sister of the Lady Donata suggests that the latter may have belonged to the Loredano family, but as it does not appear whether Agnes was maid or wife this remains uncertain.34

Respecting the further history of the family there is nothing certain, nor can we give unhesitating faith to Ramusio’s statement that the last male descendant of the Polos of S. Giovanni Grisostomo was Marco, who died Castellano of Verona in 1417 (according to others, 1418, or 1425),35 and that the family property then passed to Maria (or Anna, as she is styled in a MS. statement furnished to me from Venice), who was married in 1401 to Benedetto Cornaro, and again in 1414 to Azzo Trevisan. Her descendant in the fourth generation by the latter was Marc Antonio Trevisano,36 who was chosen Doge in 1553.

Illustration: Arms of the Trevisan family.

The genealogy recorded by Marco Barbaro, as drawn up from documents by Ramusio, makes the Castellano of Verona a grandson of our Marco by a son Maffeo, whom we may safely pronounce not to have existed, and makes Maria the daughter of Maffeo, Marco’s brother — that is to say, makes a lady marry in 1414 and have children, whose father was born in 1271 at the very latest! The genealogy is given in several other ways, but as I have satisfied myself that they all (except perhaps this of Barbaro’s, which we see to be otherwise erroneous) confound together the two distinct families of Polo of S. Geremia and Polo of S. Giov. Grisostomo, I reserve my faith, and abstain from presenting them. Assuming that the Marco or Marcolino Polo, spoken of in the preceding page, was a near relation (as is probable, though perhaps an illegitimate one), he is the only male descendant of old Andrea of San Felice whom we can indicate as having survived Marco himself; and from a study of the links in the professed genealogies I think it not unlikely that both Marco the Castellano of Verona and Maria Trevisan belonged to the branch of S. Geremia.37 [See vol. ii., App. C, p. 510.]

[49. bis. — It is interesting to note some of the reliques left by our traveller.

I. The unfortunate Doge of Venice, Marino Faliero, seems to have possessed many souvenirs of Marco Polo, and among them two manuscripts, one in the handwriting of his celebrated fellow-citizen(?), and one adorned with miniatures. M. Julius von Schlosser has reprinted (Die ältesten Medaillen und die Antike, Bd. XVIII., Jahrb. d. Kunsthist. Samml. d. Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, Vienna, 1897, pp. 42–43) from the Bulletino di arti, industrie e curiosità veneziane, III., 1880–81, p. 101,38 the inventory of the curiosities kept in the “Red Chamber” of Marino Faliero’s palace in the Parish of the SS. Apostles; we give the following abstract of it:—

Anno ab incarnacione domini nostri Jesu Christi 1351° indictione sexta mensis aprilis. Inuentarium rerum qui sunt in camera rubea domi habitationis clarissimi domini MARINI FALETRO de confinio SS. Apostolorum, scriptum per me Johannem, presbiterum, dicte ecclesie.

Item alia capsaleta cum ogiis auri et argenti, inter quos unum anulum con inscriptione que dicit: Ciuble Can Marco Polo, et unum torques cum multis animalibus Tartarorum sculptis, que res donum dedit predictus MARCUS cuidam Faletrorum.

Item 2 capsalete de corio albo cum variis rebus auri et argenti, quas habuit praedictus MARCUS a Barbarorum rege.

Item 1 ensem mirabilem, qui habet 3 enses simul, quem habuit in suis itineribus praedictus MARCUS.

Item 1 tenturam de pannis indicis, quam habuit praedictus MARCUS.

Item de itineribus MARCI praedicti liber in corio albo cum multis figuris.

Item aliud volumen quod vocatur de locis mirabilibus Tartarorum, scriptum manu praedicti MARCI.

II. There is kept at the Louvre, in the very valuable collection of China Ware given by M. Ernest Grandidier, a white porcelain incense-burner said to come from Marco Polo. This incense-burner, which belonged to Baron Davillier, who received it, as a present, from one of the keepers of the Treasury of St. Mark’s at Venice, is an octagonal ting from the Fo-kien province, and of the time of the Sung Dynasty. By the kind permission of M. P. Grandidier, we reproduce it from Pl. II. 6, of the Céramique chinoise, Paris, 1894, published by this learned amateur. — H. C.]

1 1. The Will is made in prospect of his voyage to Crete.

2. He had drafted his will with his own hand, sealed the draft, and made it over to Pietro Pagano, priest of S. Felice and Notary, to draw out a formal testament in faithful accordance therewith in case of the Testator’s death; and that which follows is the substance of the said draft rendered from the vernacular into Latin. (“Ego Matheus Paulo . . . volens ire in Cretam, ne repentinus casus hujus vite fragilis me subreperet intestatum, mea propria manu meum scripsi et condidi testamentum, rogans Petrum Paganum ecclesie Scti. Felicis presbiterum et Notarium, sana mente et integro consilio, ut, secundum ipsius scripturam quam sibi tunc dedi meo sigillo munitam, meum scriberet testamentum, si me de hoc seculo contigeret pertransire; cujus scripture tenor translato vulgari in latinum per omnia talis est.”)

3. Appoints as Trustees Messer Maffeo Polo his uncle, Marco Polo his brother, Messer Nicolo Secreto (or Sagredo) his father-inlaw, and Felix Polo his cousin (consanguineum).

4. Leaves 20 soldi to each of the Monasteries from Grado to Capo d’Argine; and 150 lire to all the congregations of Rialto, on condition that the priests of these maintain an annual service in behalf of the souls of his father, mother, and self.

5. To his daughter Fiordelisa 2000 lire to marry her withal. To be invested in safe mortgages in Venice, and the interest to go to her.

Also leaves her the interest from 1000 lire of his funds in Public Debt (? de meis imprestitis) to provide for her till she marries. After her marriage this 1000 lire and its interest shall go to his male heir if he has one, and failing that to his brother Marco.

6. To his wife Catharine 400 lire and all her clothes as they stand now. To the Lady Maroca 100 lire.

7. To his natural daughter Pasqua 400 lire to marry her withal. Or, if she likes to be a nun, 200 lire shall go to her convent and the other 200 shall purchase securities for her benefit. After her death these shall come to his male heir, or failing that be sold, and the proceeds distributed for the good of the souls of his father, mother, and self.

8. To his natural brothers Stephen and Giovannino he leaves 500 lire. If one dies the whole to go to the other. If both die before marrying, to go to his male heir; failing such, to his brother Marco or his male heir.

9. To his uncle Giordano Trevisano 200 lire. To Marco de Tumba 100. To Fiordelisa, wife of Felix Polo, 100. To Maroca, the daughter of the late Pietro Trevisano, living at Negropont, 100. To Agnes, wife of Pietro Lion, 100; and to Francis, son of the late Pietro Trevisano, in Negropont, 100.

10. To buy Public Debt producing an annual 20 lire ai grossi to be paid yearly to Pietro Pagano, Priest of S. Felice, who shall pray for the souls aforesaid: on death of said Pietro the income to go to Pietro’s cousin Lionardo, Clerk of S. Felice; and after him always to the senior priest of S. Giovanni Grisostomo with the same obligation.

11. Should his wife prove with child and bear a son or sons they shall have his whole property not disposed of. If a daughter, she shall have the same as Fiordelisa.

12. If he have no male heir his Brother Marco shall have the Testator’s share of his Father’s bequest, and 2000 lire besides. Cousin Nicolo shall have 500 lire, and Uncle Maffeo 500.

13. Should Daughter Fiordelisa die unmarried her 2000 lire and interest to go to his male heir, and failing such to Brother Marco and his male heir. But in that case Marco shall pay 500 lire to Cousin Nicolo or his male heir.

14. Should his wife bear him a male heir or heirs, but these should die under age, the whole of his undisposed property shall go to Brother Marco or his male heir. But in that case 500 lire shall be paid to Cousin Nicolo.

15. Should his wife bear a daughter and she die unmarried, her 2000 lire and interest shall go to Brother Marco, with the same stipulation in behalf of Cousin Nicolo.

16. Should the whole amount of his property between cash and goods not amount to 10,000 lire (though he believes he has fully as much), his bequests are to be ratably diminished, except those to his own children which he does not wish diminished. Should any legatee die before receiving the bequest, its amount shall fall to the Testator’s heir male, and failing such, the half to go to Marco or his male heir, and the other half to be distributed for the good of the souls aforesaid.

The witnesses are Lionardo priest of S. Felice, Lionardo clerk of the same, and the Notary Pietro Pagano priest of the same.

2 According to Romanin (I. 321) the lira dei grossi was also called Lira d’imprestidi, and if the lire here are to be so taken, the sum will be 10,000 ducats, the largest amount by far that occurs in any of these Polo documents, unless, indeed, the 1000 lire in § 5 of Maffeo Junior’s Will be the like; but I have some doubt if such lire are intended in either case.

3 “(Resolved) That grace be granted to the respectable MARCO PAULO, relieving him of the penalty he has incurred for neglecting to have his water-pipe examined, seeing that he was ignorant of the order on that subject.” (See Appendix C. No. 3.) The other reference, to M. Polo, of S. Geremia, runs as follows:—

[MCCCII. indic. XV. die VIII. Macii q fiat gra Guillo aurifici q ipe absolvat a pena i qua dicit icurisse p uno spotono sibi iueto veuiedo de Mestre ppe domu Maci Pauli de Canareglo ui descenderat ad bibendu.]

“That grace be granted to William the Goldsmith, relieving him of the penalty which he is stated to have incurred on account of a spontoon (spontono, a loaded bludgeon) found upon him near the house of MARCO PAULO of Cannareggio, where he had landed to drink on his way from Mestre.” (See Cicogna, V. p. 606.)

4 Sansovino, Venezia, Città Nobilissima e Singolare, Descritta, etc., Ven. 1581, f. 236 v.; Barbaro, Alberi; Coronelli, Allante Veneto, I. 19.

5 The word Millio occurs several times in the Chronicle of the Doge Andrea Dandolo, who wrote about 1342; and Milion occurs at least once (besides the application of the term to Polo) in the History of Giovanni Villani; viz. when he speaks of the Treasury of Avignon:— “diciotto milioni di fiorini d’oro ec. che ogni milione è mille migliaja di fiorini d’ oro la valuta.” (xi. 20, § 1; Ducange, and Vocab. Univ. Ital.). But the definition, thought necessary by Villani, in itself points to the use of the word as rare. Domilion occurs in the estimated value of houses at Venice in 1367, recorded in the Cronaca Magna in St. Mark’s Library. (Romanin, III. 385).

6 “Also; that Pardon be granted to Bonocio of Mestre for that 152 lire in which he stood condemned by the Captains of the Posts, on account of wine smuggled by him, in such wise: to wit, that he was to pay the said fine in 4 years by annual instalments of one fourth, to be retrenched from the pay due to him on his journey in the suite of our ambassadors, with assurance that anything then remaining deficient of his instalments should be made good by himself or his securities. And his securities are the Nobles Pietro Morosini and MARCO PAULO MILION.” Under Milion is written in an ancient hand “mortuus.” (See Appendix C, No. 4.)

7 Humboldt tells this (Examen, II. 221), alleging Jacopo d’Acqui as authority; and Libri (H. des Sciences Mathématiques, II. 149), quoting Doglioni, Historia Veneziana. But neither authority bears out the citations. The story seems really to come from Amoretti’s commentary on the Voyage du Cap. L. F. Maldonado, Plaisance, 1812, p. 67. Amoretti quotes as authority Pignoria, Degli Dei Antichi.

An odd revival of this old libel was mentioned to me recently by Mr. George Moffatt. When he was at school it was common among the boys to express incredulity by the phrase: “Oh, what a Marco Polo!”

8 Thibault, according to Ducange, was in 1307 named Grand Master of the Arblasteers of France; and Buchon says his portrait is at Versailles among the Admirals (No. 1170). Ramon de Muntaner fell in with the Seigneur de Cepoy in Greece, and speaks of him as “but a Captain of the Wind, as his Master was King of the Wind.” (See Ducange, H. de l’Empire de Const. sous les Emp. François, Venice ed. 1729, pp. 109, 110; Buchon, Chroniques Etrangères, pp. lv. 467–470.)

9 The note is not found in the Bodleian MS., which is the third known one of this precise type.

10 Messire Jean, the son of Thibault, is mentioned in the accounts of the latter in the Chambre des Comptes at Paris, as having been with his Father in Romania. And in 1344 he commanded a confederate Christian armament sent to check the rising power of the Turks, and beat a great Turkish fleet in the Greek seas. (Heyd. I. 377; Buchon, 468.)

11 The document is given in Appendix C, No. 5. It was found by Comm. Barozzi, the Director of the Museo Civico, when he had most kindly accompanied me to aid in the search for certain other documents in the archives of the Casa di Ricovero, or Poor House of Venice. These archives contain a great mass of testamentary and other documents, which probably have come into that singular depository in connection with bequests to public charities.

The document next mentioned was found in as strange a site, viz., the Casa degli Esposti or Foundling Hospital, which possesses similar muniments. This also I owe to Comm. Barozzi, who had noted it some years before, when commencing an arrangement of the archives of the Institution.

12 The Legal Year at Venice began on the 1st of March. And 1324 was 7th of the Indiction. Hence the date is, according to the modern Calendar, 1324.

13 Marsden says of Moreta and Fantina, the only daughters named by Ramusio, that these may be thought rather familiar terms of endearment than baptismal names. This is a mistake however. Fantina is from one of the parochial saints of Venice, S. Fantino, and the male name was borne by sundry Venetians, among others by a son of Henry Dandolo’s. Moreta is perhaps a variation of Maroca, which seems to have been a family name among the Polos. We find also the male name of Bellela, written Bellello, Bellero, Belletto.

14 The Decima went to the Bishop of Castello (eventually converted into Patriarch of Venice) to divide between himself, the Clergy, the Church, and the Poor. It became a source of much bad feeling, which came to a head after the plague of 1348, when some families had to pay the tenth three times within a very short space. The existing Bishop agreed to a composition, but his successor Paolo Foscari (1367) claimed that on the death of every citizen an exact inventory should be made, and a full tithe levied. The Signory fought hard with the Bishop, but he fled to the Papal Court and refused all concession. After his death in 1376 a composition was made for 5500 ducats yearly. (Romanin, II. 406; III. 161, 165.)

15 There is a difficulty about estimating the value of these sums from the variety of Venice pounds or lire. Thus the Lira dei piccoli was reckoned 3 to the ducat or zecchin, the Lira ai grossi 2 to the ducat, but the Lira dei grossi or Lira d’imprestidi was equal to 10 ducats, or (allowing for higher value of silver then) about 3l. 15s.; a little more than the equivalent of the then Pound sterling. This last money is specified in some of the bequests, as in the 20 soldi (or 1 lira) to St. Lorenzo, and in the annuity of 8 lire to Polo’s wife; but it seems doubtful what money is meant when libra only or libra denariorum venetorum is used. And this doubt is not new. Gallicciolli relates that in 1232 Giacomo Menotto left to the Church of S. Cassiano as an annuity libras denariorum venetorum quatuor. Till 1427 the church received the income as of lire dei piccoli, but on bringing a suit on the subject it was adjudged that lire ai grossi were to be understood. (Delle Mem. Venet. Ant. II. 18.) This story, however, cuts both ways, and does not decide our doubt.

16 The form of the name Ysabeta aptly illustrates the transition that seems so strange from Elizabeth into the Isabel that the Spaniards made of it.

17 I.e. the extent of what was properly called the Dogado, all along the Lagoons from Grado on the extreme east to Capo d’Argine (Cavarzere at the mouth of the Adige) on the extreme west.

18 The word rendered Guilds is “Scholarum.” The crafts at Venice were united in corporations called Fraglie or Scholae, each of which had its statutes, its head called the Gastald, and its place of meeting under the patronage of some saint. These acted as societies of mutual aid, gave dowries to poor girls, caused masses to be celebrated for deceased members, joined in public religious processions, etc., nor could any craft be exercised except by members of such a guild. (Romanin, I. 390.)

19 A few years after Ser Marco’s death (1328) we find the Great Council granting to this Peter the rights of a natural Venetian, as having been a long time at Venice, and well-conducted. (See App. C, Calendar of Documents, No. 13.) This might give some additional colour to M. Pauthier’s supposition that this Peter the Tartar was a faithful servant who had accompanied Messer Marco from the East 30 years before. But yet the supposition is probably unfounded. Slavery and slave-trade were very prevalent at Venice in the Middle Ages, and V. Lazari, a writer who examined a great many records connected therewith, found that by far the greater number of slaves were described as Tartars. There does not seem to be any clear information as to how they were imported, but probably from the factories on the Black Sea, especially Tana after its establishment.

A tax of 5 ducats per head was set on the export of slaves in 1379, and as the revenue so received under the Doge Tommaso Mocenigo (1414–1423) amounted (so says Lazari) to 50,000 ducats, the startling conclusion is that 10,000 slaves yearly were exported! This it is difficult to accept. The slaves were chiefly employed in domestic service, and the records indicate the women to have been about twice as numerous as the men. The highest price recorded is 87 ducats paid for a Russian girl sold in 1429. All the higher prices are for young women; a significant circumstance. With the existence of this system we may safely connect the extraordinary frequence of mention of illegitimate children in Venetian wills and genealogies. (See Lazari, Del Traffico degli Schiavi in Venezia, etc., in Miscellanea di Storia Italiana, I. 463 seqq.) In 1308 the Khan Toktai of Kipchak (see Polo, II. 496), hearing that the Genoese and other Franks were in the habit of carrying off Tartar children to sell, sent a force against Caffa, which was occupied without resistance, the people taking refuge in their ships. The Khan also seized the Genoese property in Sarai. (Heyd. II. 27.)

20Stracium et omne capud massariciorum”; in Scotch phrase “napery and plenishing.” A Venetian statute of 1242 prescribes that a bequest of massariticum shall be held to carry to the legatee all articles of common family use except those of gold and silver plate or jeweller’s work. (See Ducange, sub voce.) Stracci is still used technically in Venice for “household linen.”

21 In the original aureas libras quinque. According to Marino Sanudo the Younger (Vite dei Dogi in Muratori xxii. 521) this should be pounds or lire of aureole, the name of a silver coin struck by and named after the Doge Aurio Mastropietro (1178–1192): “Ancora fu fatta una Moneta d’argento che si chiamava Aureola per la casata del Doge; è quella Moneta che i Notai de Venezia mettevano di pena sotto i loro instrumenti.” But this was a vulgar error. An example of the penalty of 5 pounds of gold is quoted from a decree of 960; and the penalty is sometimes expressed “auri purissimi librae 5.” A coin called the lira d’oro or redonda is alleged to have been in use before the ducat was introduced. (See Gallicciolli, II. 16.) But another authority seems to identify the lira a oro with the lira dei grossi. (See Zanetti, Nuova Racc. delle Monete &c. d’Italia, 1775. I. 308)

22 We give a photographic reduction of the original document. This, and the other two Polo Wills already quoted, had come into the possession of the Noble Filippo Balbi, and were by him presented in our own time to the St. Mark’s Library. They are all on parchment, in writing of that age, and have been officially examined and declared to be originals. They were first published by Cicogna, Iscrizioni Veneziane, III. 489–493. We give Marco’s in the original language, line for line with the facsimile, in Appendix C.

There is no signature, as may be seen, except those of the Witnesses and the Notary. The sole presence of a Notary was held to make a deed valid, and from about the middle of the 13th century in Italy it is common to find no actual signature (even of witnesses) except that of the Notary. The peculiar flourish before the Notary’s name is what is called the Tabellionato, a fanciful distinctive monogram which each Notary adopted. Marco’s Will is unfortunately written in a very cramp hand with many contractions. The other two Wills (of Marco the Elder and Maffeo) are in beautiful and clear Gothic penmanship.

23 We have noticed formerly (pp. 14–15, note) the recent discovery of a document bearing what was supposed to be the autograph signature of our Traveller. The document in question is the Minute of a Resolution of the Great Council, attested by the signatures of three members, of whom the last is MARCUS PAULLO. But the date alone, 11th March, 1324, is sufficient to raise the gravest doubts as to this signature being that of our Marco. And further examination, as I learn from a friend at Venice, has shown that the same name occurs in connection with analogous entries on several subsequent occasions up to the middle of the century. I presume that this Marco Polo is the same that is noticed in our Appendix B, II. as a voter in the elections of the Doges Marino Faliero and Giovanni Gradenigo. I have not been able to ascertain his relation to either branch of the Polo family; but I suspect that he belonged to that of S. Geremia, of which there was certainly a Marco about the middle of the century.

24 “Under the angiporta (of S. Lorenzo) [see plate] is buried that Marco Polo surnamed Milione, who wrote the Travels in the New World, and who was the first before Christopher Columbus to discover new countries. No faith was put in him because of the extravagant things that he recounted; but in the days of our Fathers Columbus augmented belief in him, by discovering that part of the world which eminent men had heretofore judged to be uninhabited.” (Venezia . . . Descritta, etc., f. 23 v.) Marco Barbaro attests the same inscription in his Genealogies (copy in Museo Civico at Venice).

25 Cicogna, II. 385.

26 Lazari, xxxi.

27 In the first edition I noticed briefly a statement that had reached me from China that, in the Temple at Canton vulgarly called “of the 500 gods,” there is a foreign figure which from the name attached had been supposed to represent Marco Polo! From what I have heard from Mr. Wylie, a very competent authority, this is nonsense. The temple contains 500 figures of Arhans or Buddhist saints, and one of these attracts attention from having a hat like a sailor’s straw hat. Mr. Wylie had not remarked the name. [A model of this figure was exhibited at Venice at the international Geographical Congress, in 1881. I give a reproduction of this figure and of the Temple of 500 Genii (Fa Lum Sze) at Canton, from drawings by Félix Régamey made after photographs sent to me by my late friend, M. Camille Imbault Huart, French Consul at Canton. — H. C.]

28 These documents are noted in Appendix C, Nos. 9–12, 14, 17, 18.

29 I can find no Ranuzzo Dolfino among the Venetian genealogies, but several Reniers. And I suspect Ranuzzo may be a form of the latter name.

30 Cappellari (see p. 77, footnote) under Bragadino.

31 Ibid. and Gallicciolli, II. 146.

32 The lire of the fine are not specified; but probably ai grossi, which would be = 37l. 10s.; not, we hope, dei grossi!

33 Yet, if the family were so wealthy as tradition represents, it is strange that Marco’s brother Maffeo, after receiving a share of his father’s property, should have possessed barely 10,000 lire, probably equivalent to 5000 ducats at most. (See p. 65, supra.)

34 An Agnes Loredano, Abbess of S. Maria delle Vergini, died in 1397. Cicogna, V. 91 and 629.) The interval of 61 years makes it somewhat improbable that it should be the same.

35 In the Museo Civico (No. 2271 of the Cicogna collection) there is a addressed by the Doge Michiel Steno in 1408, “Nobili Viro Marcho Paulo,” nominating him Podestà of Arostica (a Castello of the Vicentino). This is probably the same Marco.

36 The descent runs: (1) Azzo = Maria Polo; (2) Febo, Captain at Padua; (3) Zaccaria, Senator; (4) Domenico, Procurator of St. Mark’s; (5) Marc’ Antonio, Doge (Cappellari, Campidoglio Veneto, MS. St. Mark’s Lib.).

Marc’ Antonio nolebat ducari and after election desired to renounce. His friends persuaded him to retain office, but he lived scarcely a year after. (Cicogna, IV. 566.) [See p. 8.]

37 In Appendix B will be found tabulated all the facts that seem to be positively ascertained as to the Polo genealogies.

In the Venetian archives occurs a procuration executed by the Doge in favour of the Nobilis Vir SER MARCO PAULO that he may present himself before the king of Sicily; under date, Venice 9th November, 1342. And some years later we have in the Sicilian Archives an order by King Lewis of Sicily, directed to the Maestri Procuratori of Messina, which grants to MARCO POLO of Venice, on account of services rendered to the king’s court, the privilege of free import and export at the port of Messina, without payment of customs of goods to the amount annually of 20 ounces. Dated in Catania 13th January, 1346 (1347?).

For the former notice I am indebted to the courtesy of Signor B. Cecchetti of the Venetian Archives, who cites it as “transcribed in the Commemor. IV. p. 5”; for the latter to that of the Abate Carini of the Reale Archivio at Palermo; it is in Archivio della Regia Cancellaria 1343–1357, f. 58.

The mission of this MARCO POLO is mentioned also in a rescript of the Sicilian king Peter II., dated Messina, 14th November, 1340, in reference to certain claims of Venice, about which the said Marco appeared as the Doge’s ambassador. This is printed in F. TESTA, De Vitâ et Rebus Gestis Federici II., Siciliae Regis, Panormi, 1775, pp. 267 seqq. The Sicilian Antiquary Rosario Gregorio identifies the Envoy with our Marco, dead long before. (See Opere scelte del Canon Ros. Gregorio, Palermo, 1845, 3za ediz., p. 352.)

It is possible that this Marco, who from the latter notice seems to have been engaged in mercantile affairs, may have been the Marcolino above mentioned, but it is perhaps on the whole more probable that this nobilis vir is the Marco spoken of in the note at p. 74.

38 La Collezione del Doge Marin Faliero e i Tesori di Marco Polo, pp. 98–103. I have seen this article. — H. C.

ix. Marco Polo’s Book; and the Language in which it was First Written.

Illustration: Porcelain Incense Burner, from the Louvre

General statement of what the Book contains.]

50. The Book itself consists essentially of Two Parts. First, of a Prologue, as it is termed, the only part which is actual personal narrative, and which relates, in a very interesting but far too brief manner, the circumstances which led the two elder Polos to the Kaan’s Court, and those of their second journey with Mark, and of their return to Persia through the Indian Seas. Secondly, of a long series of chapters of very unequal length, descriptive of notable sights and products, of curious manners and remarkable events, relating to the different nations and states of Asia, but, above all, to the Emperor Kúblái, his court, wars, and administration. A series of chapters near the close treats in a verbose and monotonous manner of sundry wars that took place between the various branches of the House of Chinghiz in the latter half of the 13th century. This last series is either omitted or greatly curtailed in all the copies and versions except one; a circumstance perfectly accounted for by the absence of interest as well as value in the bulk of these chapters. Indeed, desirous though I have been to give the Traveller’s work complete, and sharing the dislike that every man who uses books must bear to abridgments, I have felt that it would be sheer waste and dead-weight to print these chapters in full.

Illustration: Temple of 500 Genii at Canton after a Drawing by FELIX REGAMEY

This second and main portion of the Work is in its oldest forms undivided, the chapters running on consecutively to the end.1 In some very early Italian or Venetian version, which Friar Pipino translated into Latin, it was divided into three Books, and this convenient division has generally been adhered to. We have adopted M. Pauthier’s suggestion in making the final series of chapters, chiefly historical, into a Fourth.

Language of the original Work.]

51. As regards the language in which Marco’s Book was first committed to writing, we have seen that Ramusio assumed, somewhat arbitrarily, that it was Latin; Marsden supposed it to have been the Venetian dialect; Baldelli Boni first showed, in his elaborate edition (Florence, 1827), by arguments that have been illustrated and corroborated by learned men since, that it was French.

That the work was originally written in some Italian dialect was a natural presumption, and slight contemporary evidence can be alleged in its favour; for Fra Pipino, in the Latin version of the work, executed whilst Marco still lived, describes his task as a translation de vulgari. And in one MS. copy of the same Friar Pipino’s Chronicle, existing in the library at Modena, he refers to the said version as made “ex vulgari idiomate Lombardico.” But though it may seem improbable that at so early a date a Latin version should have been made at second hand, I believe this to have been the case, and that some internal evidence also is traceable that Pipino translated not from the original but from an Italian version of the original.

The oldest MS. (it is supposed) in any Italian dialect is one in the Magliabecchian Library at Florence, which is known in Italy as L’Ottima, on account of the purity of its Tuscan, and as Della Crusca from its being one of the authorities cited by that body in their Vocabulary.2 It bears on its face the following note in Italian:—

“This Book called the Navigation of Messer Marco Polo, a noble Citizen of Venice, was written in Florence by Michael Ormanni my great grandfather by the Mother’s side, who died in the Year of Grace One Thousand Three Hundred and Nine; and my mother brought it into our Family of Del Riccio, and it belongs to me Pier del Riccio and to my Brother; 1452.”

As far as I can learn, the age which this note implies is considered to be supported by the character of the MS. itself.3 If it be accepted, the latter is a performance going back to within eleven years at most of the first dictation of the Travels. At first sight, therefore, this would rather argue that the original had been written in pure Tuscan. But when Baldelli came to prepare it for the press he found manifest indications of its being a Translation from the French. Some of these he has noted; others have followed up the same line of comparison. We give some detailed examples in a note.4

Old French Text published by the Société de Géographie.]

52. The French Text that we have been quoting, published by the Geographical Society of Paris in 1824, affords on the other hand the strongest corresponding proof that it is an original and not a Translation. Rude as is the language of the manuscript (Fr. 1116, formerly No. 7367, of Paris Library), it is, in the correctness of the proper names, and the intelligible exhibition of the itineraries, much superior to any form of the Work previously published.

The language is very peculiar. We are obliged to call it French, but it is not “Frenche of Paris.” “Its style,” says Paulin Paris, “is about as like that of good French authors of the age, as in our day the natural accent of a German, an Englishman, or an Italian, is like that of a citizen of Paris or Blois.” The author is at war with all the practices of French grammar; subject and object, numbers, moods, and tenses, are in consummate confusion. Even readers of his own day must at times have been fain to guess his meaning. Italian words are constantly introduced, either quite in the crude or rudely Gallicized.5 And words also, we may add, sometimes slip in which appear to be purely Oriental, just as is apt to happen with Anglo–Indians in these days.6 All this is perfectly consistent with the supposition that we have in this MS. a copy at least of the original words as written down by Rusticiano a Tuscan, from the dictation of Marco an Orientalized Venetian, in French, a language foreign to both.

But the character of the language as French is not its only peculiarity. There is in the style, apart from grammar or vocabulary, a rude angularity, a rough dramatism like that of oral narrative; there is a want of proportion in the style of different parts, now over curt, now diffuse and wordy, with at times even a hammering reiteration; a constant recurrence of pet colloquial phrases (in which, however, other literary works of the age partake); a frequent change in the spelling of the same proper names, even when recurring within a few lines, as if caught by ear only; a literal following to and fro of the hesitations of the narrator; a more general use of the third person in speaking of the Traveller, but an occasional lapse into the first. All these characteristics are strikingly indicative of the unrevised product of dictation, and many of them would necessarily disappear either in translation or in a revised copy.

Of changes in representing the same proper name, take as an example that of the Kaan of Persia whom Polo calls Quiacatu (Kaikhátú), but also Acatu, Catu, and the like.

As an example of the literal following of dictation take the following:—

“Let us leave Rosia, and I will tell you about the Great Sea (the Euxine), and what provinces and nations lie round about it, all in detail; and we will begin with Constantinople — First, however, I should tell you about a province, etc. . . . There is nothing more worth mentioning, so I will speak of other subjects — but there is one thing more to tell you about Rosia that I had forgotten. . . . Now then let us speak of the Great Sea as I was about to do. To be sure many merchants and others have been here, but still there are many again who know nothing about it, so it will be well to include it in our Book. We will do so then, and let us begin first with the Strait of Constantinople.

“At the Straits leading into the Great Sea, on the West Side, there is a hill called the Faro. — But since beginning on this matter I have changed my mind, because so many people know all about it, so we will not put it in our description but go on to something else.” (See vol. ii. p. 487 seqq.)

And so on.

As a specimen of tautology and hammering reiteration the following can scarcely be surpassed. The Traveller is speaking of the Chughi, i.e. the Indian Jogis:—

“And there are among them certain devotees, called Chughi; these are longer-lived than the other people, for they live from 150 to 200 years; and yet they are so hale of body that they can go and come wheresoever they please, and do all the service needed for their monastery or their idols, and do it just as well as if they were younger; and that comes of the great abstinence that they practise, in eating little food and only what is wholesome; for they use to eat rice and milk more than anything else. And again I tell you that these Chughi who live such a long time as I have told you, do also eat what I am going to tell you, and you will think it a great matter. For I tell you that they take quicksilver and sulphur, and mix them together, and make a drink of them, and then they drink this, and they say that it adds to their life; and in fact they do live much longer for it; and I tell you that they do this twice every month. And let me tell you that these people use this drink from their infancy in order to live longer, and without fail those who live so long as I have told you use this drink of sulphur and quicksilver.” (See G. T. p. 213.)

Such talk as this does not survive the solvent of translation; and we may be certain that we have here the nearest approach to the Traveller’s reminiscences as they were taken down from his lips in the prison of Genoa.

Conclusive proof that the Old French Text is the source of all the others.]

53. Another circumstance, heretofore I believe unnoticed, is in itself enough to demonstrate the Geographic Text to be the source of all other versions of the Work. It is this.

In reviewing the various classes or types of texts of Polo’s Book, which we shall hereafter attempt to discriminate, there are certain proper names which we find in the different texts to take very different forms, each class adhering in the main to one particular form.

Thus the names of the Mongol ladies introduced at pp. 32 and 36 of this volume, which are in proper Oriental form Bulughán and Kukáchin, appear in the class of MSS. which Pauthier has followed as Bolgara and Cogatra; in the MSS. of Pipino’s version, and those founded on it, including Ramusio, the names appear in the correcter forms Bolgana or Balgana and Cogacin. Now all the forms Bolgana, Balgana, Bolgara, and Cogatra, Cocacin appear in the Geographic Text.

Kaikhátú Kaan appears in the Pauthier MSS. as Chiato, in the Pipinian as Acatu, in the Ramusian as Chiacato. All three forms, Chiato, Achatu, and Quiacatu are found in the Geographic Text.

The city of Koh-banan appears in the Pauthier MSS. as Cabanant, in the Pipinian and Ramusian editions as Cobinam or Cobinan. Both forms are found in the Geographic Text.

The city of the Great Kaan (Khanbalig) is called in the Pauthier MSS. Cambaluc, in the Pipinian and Ramusian less correctly Cambalu. Both forms appear in the Geographic Text.

The aboriginal People on the Burmese Frontier who received from the Western officers of the Mongols the Persian name (translated from that applied by the Chinese) of Zardandán, or Gold–Teeth, appear in the Pauthier MSS. most accurately as Zardandan, but in the Pipinian as Ardandan (still further corrupted in some copies into Arcladam). Now both forms are found in the Geographic Text. Other examples might be given, but these I think may suffice to prove that this Text was the common source of both classes.

In considering the question of the French original too we must remember what has been already said regarding Rusticien de Pise and his other French writings; and we shall find hereafter an express testimony borne in the next generation that Marco’s Book was composed in vulgari Gallico.

Greatly diffused employment of French in that age.]

54. But, after all, the circumstantial evidence that has been adduced from the texts themselves is the most conclusive. We have then every reason to believe both that the work was written in French, and that an existing French Text is a close representation of it as originally committed to paper. And that being so we may cite some circumstances to show that the use of French or quasi-French for the purpose was not a fact of a very unusual or surprising nature. The French language had at that time almost as wide, perhaps relatively a wider, diffusion than it has now. It was still spoken at the Court of England, and still used by many English writers, of whom the authors or translators of the Round Table Romances at Henry III.‘s Court are examples.7 In 1249 Alexander III. King of Scotland, at his coronation spoke in Latin and French; and in 1291 the English Chancellor addressing the Scotch Parliament did so in French. At certain of the Oxford Colleges as late as 1328 it was an order that the students should converse colloquio latino vel saltern gallico.8 Late in the same century Gower had not ceased to use French, composing many poems in it, though apologizing for his want of skill therein:—

“Et si jeo nai de Francois la faconde

* * * * *

Jeo suis Englois; si quier par tiele voie

Estre excusé.”9

Indeed down to nearly 1385, boys in the English grammar-schools were taught to construe their Latin lessons into French.10 St. Francis of Assisi is said by some of his biographers to have had his original name changed to Francesco because of his early mastery of that language as a qualification for commerce. French had been the prevalent tongue of the Crusaders, and was that of the numerous Frank Courts which they established in the East, including Jerusalem and the states of the Syrian coast, Cyprus, Constantinople during the reign of the Courtenays, and the principalities of the Morea. The Catalan soldier and chronicler Ramon de Muntaner tells us that it was commonly said of the Morean chivalry that they spoke as good French as at Paris.11 Quasi–French at least was still spoken half a century later by the numerous Christians settled at Aleppo, as John Marignolli testifies;12 and if we may trust Sir John Maundevile the Soldan of Egypt himself and four of his chief Lords “spak Frensche righte wel!13 Gházán Kaan, the accomplished Mongol Sovereign of Persia, to whom our Traveller conveyed a bride from Cambaluc, is said by the historian Rashiduddin to have known something of the Frank tongue, probably French.14 Nay, if we may trust the author of the Romance of Richard Coeur-deLion, French was in his day the language of still higher spheres!15

Nor was Polo’s case an exceptional one even among writers on the East who were not Frenchmen. Maundevile himself tells us that he put his book first “out of Latyn into Frensche,” and then out of French into English.16 The History of the East which the Armenian Prince and Monk Hayton dictated to Nicolas Faulcon at Poictiers in 1307 was taken down in French. There are many other instances of the employment of French by foreign, and especially by Italian authors of that age. The Latin chronicle of the Benedictine Amato of Monte Cassino was translated into French early in the 13th century by another monk of the same abbey, at the particular desire of the Count of Militrée (or Malta), “Pour ce qu’il set lire et entendre fransoize et s’en delitte.17 Martino da Canale, a countryman and contemporary of Polo’s, during the absence of the latter in the East wrote a Chronicle of Venice in the same language, as a reason for which he alleges its general popularity.18 The like does the most notable example of all, Brunetto Latini, Dante’s master, who wrote in French his encyclopaedic and once highly popular work Li Tresor.19 Other examples might be given, but in fact such illustration is superfluous when we consider that Rusticiano himself was a compiler of French Romances.

But why the language of the Book as we see it in the Geographic Text should be so much more rude, inaccurate, and Italianized than that of Rusticiano’s other writings, is a question to which I can suggest no reply quite satisfactory to myself. Is it possible that we have in it a literal representation of Polo’s own language in dictating the story — a rough draft which it was intended afterwards to reduce to better form, and which was so reduced (after a fashion) in French copies of another type, regarding which we shall have to speak presently?20 And, if this be the true answer, why should Polo have used a French jargon in which to tell his story? Is it possible that his own mother Venetian, such as he had carried to the East with him and brought back again, was so little intelligible to Rusticiano that French of some kind was the handiest medium of communication between the two? I have known an Englishman and a Hollander driven to converse in Malay; Chinese Christians of different provinces are said sometimes to take to English as the readiest means of intercommunication; and the same is said even of Irish-speaking Irishmen from remote parts of the Island.

It is worthy of remark how many notable narratives of the Middle Ages have been dictated instead of being written by their authors, and that in cases where it is impossible to ascribe this to ignorance of writing. The Armenian Hayton, though evidently a well-read man, possibly could not write in Roman characters. But Joinville is an illustrious example. And the narratives of four of the most famous Mediaeval Travellers21 seem to have been drawn from them by a kind of pressure, and committed to paper by other hands. I have elsewhere remarked this as indicating how little diffused was literary ambition or vanity; but it would perhaps be more correct to ascribe it to that intense dislike which is still seen on the shores of the Mediterranean to the use of pen and ink. On certain of those shores at least there is scarcely any inconvenience that the majority of respectable and good-natured people will not tolerate — inconvenience to their neighbours be it understood — rather than put pen to paper for the purpose of preventing it.

1 232 chapters in the oldest French which we quote as the Geographic

Text (or G. T.), 200 in Pauthier’s Text, 183 in the Crusca Italian.

2 The MS. has been printed by Baldelli as above, and again by Bartoli in


3 This is somewhat peculiar. I traced a few lines of it, which with Del

Riccio’s note were given in facsimile in the First Edition.

4 The Crusca is cited from Bartoli’s edition.

French idioms are frequent, as l’uomo for the French on; quattro-vinti instead of ottanta; etc.

We have at p. 35, “Questo piano è molto cavo,” which is nonsense, but is explained by reference to the French (G. T.) “Voz di qu’il est celle plaingne mout chaue” (chaude).

The bread in Kerman is bitter, says the G. T. “por ce que l’eive hi est amer,” because the water there is bitter. The Crusca mistakes the last word and renders (p. 40) “e questi è per lo mare che vi viene.”

Sachiés de voir qe endementiers,” know for a truth that whilst — — by some misunderstanding of the last word becomes (p. 129) “Sappiate di vero sanza mentire.”

Mès de sel font-il monoie”—“They make money of salt,” becomes (p. 168) “ma fannole da loro,” sel being taken for a pronoun, whilst in another place sel is transferred bodily without translation.

Chevoil,” “hair” of the old French, appears in the Tuscan (p. 20) as cavagli, “horses.”—“La Grant Provence Jereraus,” the great general province, appears (p. 68) as a province whose proper name is Ienaraus. In describing Kúblái’s expedition against Mien or Burma, Polo has a story of his calling on the Jugglers at his court to undertake the job, promising them a Captain and other help, “Cheveitain et aide.” This has fairly puzzled the Tuscan, who converts these (p. 186) into two Tartar tribes, “quegli d’ Aide e quegli di Caveità.”

So also we have lievre for hare transferred without change; lait, milk, appearing as laido instead of latte; très, rendered as “three”; bue, “mud,” Italianised as buoi, “oxen,” and so forth. Finally, in various places when Polo is explaining Oriental terms we find in the Tuscan MS. “cioè a dire in Francesco.”

The blunders mentioned are intelligible enough as in a version from the French; but in the description of the Indian pearl-fishery we have a startling one not so easy to account for. The French says, “the divers gather the sea-oysters (hostrige de Mer), and in these the pearls are found.” This appears in the Tuscan in the extraordinary form that the divers catch those fishes called Herrings (Aringhe), and in those Herrings are found the Pearls!

5 As examples of these Italianisms: “Et ont del olio de la lanpe dou sepolchro de Crist”; “L’Angel ven en vision pour mesajes de Deu à un Veschevo qe mout estoient home de sante vite”; “E certes il estoit bien beizongno”; “ne trop caut ne trop fredo”; “la crense” (credenza); “remort” for noise (rumore) “inverno”; “jorno”; “dementiqué” (dimenticato); “enferme” for sickly; “leign” (legno); “devisce” (dovizia); “ammalaide” (ammalato), etc. etc.

Professor Bianconi points out that there are also traces of Venetian dialect, as Pare for père; Mojer for wife; Zabater, cobbler; cazaor, huntsman, etc.

I have not been able to learn to what extent books in this kind of mixed language are extant. I have observed one, a romance in verse called Macaire (Altfranzosische Gedichte aus Venez. Handschriften, von Adolf Mussafia, Wien, 1864), the language of which is not unlike this jargon of Rustician’s, e.g.:—

“‘Dama,’ fait-il, ‘molto me poso merviler

De ves enfant quant le fi batecer

De un signo qe le vi sor la spal’a droiturer

Qe non ait nul se no filz d’inperer.’"—(p. 41)

6 As examples of such Orientalisms: Bonus, “ebony,” and calamanz, “pencases,” seem to represent the Persian abnús and kalamdàn; the dead  are mourned by les mères et les Araines, the Harems; in speaking of the land of the Ismaelites or Assassins, called Mulhete, i.e. the Arabic Muláhidah, “Heretics,” he explains this term as meaning “des Aram” (Harám, “the reprobate”). Speaking of the Viceroys of Chinese Provinces, we are told that they rendered their accounts yearly to the Safators of the Great Kaan. This is certainly an Oriental word. Sir H. Rawlinson has suggested that it stands for dafátir (“registers or public books”), pl. of daftar. This seems probable, and in that case the true reading may have been dafators.

7 Luces du Gast, one of the first of these, introduces himself thus:—

“Je Luces, Chevaliers et Sires du Chastel du Gast, voisins prochain de Salebieres, comme chevaliers amoureus enprens à translater du Latin en François une partie de cette estoire, non mie pour ce que je sache gramment de François, ainz apartient plus ma langue et ma parleure à la manière de l’Engleterre que à celle de France, comme cel qui fu en Engleterre nez, mais tele est ma volentez et mon proposement, que je en langue françoise le translaterai.” (Hist. Litt. de La France, xv. 494.)

8 Hist. Litt. de la France, xv. 500.

9 Ibid. 508.

10 Tyrwhitt’s Essay on Lang., etc., of Chaucer, p. xxii. (Moxon’s Ed. 1852.)

11 Chroniques Etrangères, p. 502.

12Loquuntur linguam quasi Gallicam, scilicet quasi de Cipro.” (See Cathay p. 332.)

13 Page 138.

14 Hammers Ilchan, II. 148.

15 After the capture of Acre, Richard orders 60,000 Saracen prisoners to be executed:—

“They wer brought out off the toun,

Save twenty, he heeld to raunsoun.

They wer led into the place ful evene:

Ther they herden Aungeles off Hevene:

They sayde: ‘SEYNYORS, TUEZ, TUEZ!

‘Spares hem nought! Behedith these!’

Kyng Rychard herde the Aungelys voys,

And thankyd God, and the Holy Croys.”

Weber, II. 144.

Note that, from the rhyme, the Angelic French was apparently pronounced “Too-eese! Too-eese!

16 [Refer to the edition of Mr. George F. Warner, 1889, for the Roxburghe Club, and to my own paper in the T’oung Pao, Vol. II., No. 4, regarding the compilation published under the name of Maundeville. Also App. L. 13 — H. C.]

17 L’Ystoire de li Normand, etc., edited by M. Champollion–Figeac, Paris, 1835, p. v.

18Porce que lengue Frenceise cort parmi le monde, et est la plus delitable à lire et à oir que nule autre, me sui-je entremis de translater l’ancien estoire des Veneciens de Latin en Franceis.” (Archiv. Stor. Ital. viii. 268.)

19Et se aucuns demandoit por quoi cist livres est escriz en Romans,

selonc le langage des Francois, puisque nos somes Ytaliens, je diroie que ce est por. ij. raisons: l’une, car nos somes en France; et l’autre porce que la parleure est plus delitable et plus commune à toutes gens.” (Li Livres dou Tresor, p. 3.)

20 It is, however, not improbable that Rusticiano’s hasty and abbreviated original was extended by a scribe who knew next to nothing of French; otherwise it is hard to account for such forms as perlinage (pelerinage), peseries (espiceries), proque (see vol. ii. p. 370), oisi (G.T. p. 208), thochere (toucher), etc. (See Bianconi, 2nd Mem. pp. 30–32.)

21 Polo, Friar Odoric, Nicolo Conti, Ibn Batuta.

X. Various Types of Text of Marco Polo’s Book.

Four Principal Types of Text. First, that of the Geographic, or oldest French.]

55. In treating of the various Texts of Polo’s Book we must necessarily go into some irksome detail.

Those Texts that have come down to us may be classified under Four principal Types.

I. The First Type is that of the Geographic Text of which we have already said so much. This is found nowhere complete except in the unique MS. of the Paris Library, to which it is stated to have come from the old Library of the French Kings at Blois. But the Italian Crusca, and the old Latin version (No. 3195 of the Paris Library) published with the Geographic Text, are evidently derived entirely from it, though both are considerably abridged. It is also demonstrable that neither of these copies has been translated from the other, for each has passages which the other omits, but that both have been taken, the one as a copy more or less loose, the other as a translation, from an intermediate Italian copy.1 A special difference lies in the fact that the Latin version is divided into three Books, whilst the Crusca has no such division. I shall show in a tabular form the filiation of the texts which these facts seem to demonstrate (see Appendix G).

There are other Italian MSS. of this type, some of which show signs of having been derived independently from the French;2 but I have not been able to examine any of them with the care needful to make specific deductions regarding them.

Second; the remodelled French Text, followed by Pauthier.]

56. II. The next Type is that of the French MSS. on which M. Pauthier’s Text is based, and for which he claims the highest authority, as having had the mature revision and sanction of the Traveller. There are, as far as I know, five MSS. which may be classed together under this type, three in the Great Paris Library, one at Bern, and one in the Bodleian.

The high claims made by Pauthier on behalf of this class of MSS. (on the first three of which his Text is formed) rest mainly upon the kind of certificate which two of them bear regarding the presentation of a copy by Marco Polo to Thibault de Cepoy, which we have already quoted (supra p. 69). This certificate is held by Pauthier to imply that the original of the copies which bear it, and of those having a general correspondence with them, had the special seal of Marco’s revision and approval. To some considerable extent their character is corroborative of such a claim, but they are far from having the perfection which Pauthier attributes to them, and which leads him into many paradoxes.

It is not possible to interpret rigidly the bearing of this so-called certificate, as if no copies had previously been taken of any form of the Book; nor can we allow it to impugn the authenticity of the Geographic Text, which demonstratively represents an older original, and has been (as we have seen) the parent of all other versions, including some very old ones, Italian and Latin, which certainly owe nothing to this revision.

The first idea apparently entertained by d’Avezac and Paulin Paris was that the Geographic Text was itself the copy given to the Sieur de Cepoy, and that the differences in the copies of the class which we describe as Type II. merely resulted from the modifications which would naturally arise in the process of transcription into purer French. But closer examination showed the differences to be too great and too marked to admit of this explanation. These differences consist not only in the conversion of the rude, obscure, and half Italian language of the original into good French of the period. There is also very considerable curtailment, generally of tautology, but also extending often to circumstances of substantial interest; whilst we observe the omission of a few notably erroneous statements or expressions; and a few insertions of small importance. None of the MSS. of this class contain more than a few of the historical chapters which we have formed into Book IV.

The only addition of any magnitude is that chapter which in our translation forms chapter xxi. of Book II. It will be seen that it contains no new facts, but is only a tedious recapitulation of circumstances already stated, though scattered over several chapters. There are a few minor additions. I have not thought it worth while to collect them systematically here, but two or three examples are given in a note.3

There are also one or two corrections of erroneous statements in the G. T. which seem not to be accidental and to indicate some attempt at revision. Thus a notable error in the account of Aden, which seems to conceive of the Red Sea as a river, disappears in Pauthier’s MSS. A and B.4 And we find in these MSS. one or two interesting names preserved which are not found in the older Text.5

But on the other hand this class of MSS. contains many erroneous readings of names, either adopting the worse of two forms occurring in the G. T. or originating blunders of its own.6

M. Pauthier lays great stress on the character of these MSS. as the sole authentic form of the work, from their claim to have been specially revised by Marco Polo. It is evident, however, from what has been said, that this revision can have been only a very careless and superficial one, and must have been done in great measure by deputy, being almost entirely confined to curtailment and to the improvement of the expression, and that it is by no means such as to allow an editor to dispense with a careful study of the Older Text.

The Bern MS. and two others form a sub-class of this Type.]

57. There is another curious circumstance about the MSS. of this type, viz., that they clearly divide into two distinct recensions, of which both have so many peculiarities and errors in common that they must necessarily have been both derived from one modification of the original text, whilst at the same time there are such differences between the two as cannot be set down to the accidents of transcription. Pauthier’s MSS. A and B (Nos. 16 and 15 of the List in App. F) form one of these subdivisions: his C (No. 17 of List), Bern (No. 56), and Oxford (No. 6), the other. Between A and B the differences are only such as seem constantly to have arisen from the whims of transcribers or their dialectic peculiarities. But between A and B on the one side, and C on the other, the differences are much greater. The readings of proper names in C are often superior, sometimes worse; but in the latter half of the work especially it contains a number of substantial passages7 which are to be found in the G. T., but are altogether absent from the MSS. A and B; whilst in one case at least (the history of the Siege of Saianfu, vol. ii. p. 159) it diverges considerably from the G. T. as well as from A and B.8

I gather from the facts that the MS. C represents an older form of the work than A and B. I should judge that the latter had been derived from that older form, but intentionally modified from it. And as it is the MS. C, with its copy at Bern, that alone presents the certificate of derivation from the Book given to the Sieur de Cepoy, there can be no doubt that it is the true representative of that recension.

Third; Friar Pipino’s Latin.]

58. III. The next Type of Text is that found in Friar Pipino’s Latin version. It is the type of which MSS. are by far the most numerous. In it condensation and curtailment are carried a good deal further than in Type II. The work is also divided into three Books. But this division does not seem to have originated with Pipino, as we find it in the ruder and perhaps older Latin version of which we have already spoken under Type I. And we have demonstrated that this ruder Latin is a translation from an Italian copy. It is probable therefore that an Italian version similarly divided was the common source of what we call the Geographic Latin and of Pipino’s more condensed version.9

Pipino’s version appears to have been executed in the later years of Polo’s life.10 But I can see no ground for the idea entertained by Baldelli–Boni and Professor Bianconi that it was executed with Polo’s cognizance and retouched by him.

The Latin of Grynaeus a translation at fifth hand.]

59. The absence of effective publication in the Middle Ages led to a curious complication of translation and retranslation. Thus the Latin version published by Grynaeus in the Novus Orbis (Basle, 1532) is different from Pipino’s, and yet clearly traceable to it as a base. In fact it is a retranslation into Latin from some version (Marsden thinks the printed Portuguese one) of Pipino. It introduces many minor modifications, omitting specific statements of numbers and values, generalizing the names and descriptions of specific animals, exhibiting frequent sciolism and self-sufficiency in modifying statements which the Editor disbelieved.11 It is therefore utterly worthless as a Text, and it is curious that Andreas Müller, who in the 17th century devoted himself to the careful editing of Polo, should have made so unfortunate a choice as to reproduce this fifth-hand Translation. I may add that the French editions published in the middle of the 16th century are translations from Grynaeus. Hence they complete this curious and vicious circle of translation: French — Italian — Pipino’s Latin — Portuguese? — Grynaeus’s Latin — French!12

Fourth; Ramusio’s Italian.]

60. IV. We now come to a Type of Text which deviates largely from any of those hitherto spoken of, and the history and true character of which are involved in a cloud of difficulty. We mean that Italian version prepared for the press by G. B. Ramusio, with most interesting, though, as we have seen, not always accurate preliminary dissertations, and published at Venice two years after his death, in the second volume of the Navigationi e Viaggi.13

The peculiarities of this version are very remarkable. Ramusio seems to imply that he used as one basis at least the Latin of Pipino; and many circumstances, such as the division into Books, the absence of the terminal historical chapters and of those about the Magi, and the form of many proper names, confirm this. But also many additional circumstances and anecdotes are introduced, many of the names assume a new shape, and the whole style is more copious and literary in character than in any other form of the work.

Whilst some of the changes or interpolations seem to carry us further from the truth, others contain facts of Asiatic nature or history, as well as of Polo’s own experiences, which it is extremely difficult to ascribe to any hand but the Traveller’s own. This was the view taken by Baldelli, Klaproth, and Neumann;14 but Hugh Murray, Lazari, and Bartoli regard the changes as interpolations by another hand; and Lazari is rash enough to ascribe the whole to a rifacimento of Ramusio’s own age, asserting it to contain interpolations not merely from Polo’s own contemporary Hayton, but also from travellers of later centuries, such as Conti, Barbosa, and Pigafetta. The grounds for these last assertions have not been cited, nor can I trace them. But I admit to a certain extent indications of modern tampering with the text, especially in cases where proper names seem to have been identified and more modern forms substituted. In days, however, where an Editor’s duties were ill understood, this was natural.

Injudicious tamperings in Ramusio.]

61. Thus we find substituted for the Bastra (or Bascra) of the older texts the more modern and incorrect Balsora, dear to memories of the Arabian Nights; among the provinces of Persia we have Spaan (Ispahan) where older texts read Istanit; for Cormos we have Ormus; for Herminia and Laias, Armenia and Giazza; Coulam for the older Coilum; Socotera for Scotra. With these changes may be classed the chapter-headings, which are undisguisedly modern, and probably Ramusio’s own. In some other cases this editorial spirit has been over-meddlesome and has gone astray. Thus Malabar is substituted wrongly for Maabar in one place, and by a grosser error for Dalivar in another. The age of young Marco, at the time of his father’s first return to Venice, has been arbitrarily altered from 15 to 19, in order to correspond with a date which is itself erroneous. Thus also Polo is made to describe Ormus as on an Island, contrary to the old texts and to the fact; for the city of Hormuz was not transferred to the island, afterwards so famous, till some years after Polo’s return from the East. It is probably also the editor who in the notice of the oil-springs of Caucasus (i. p. 46) has substituted camel-loads for ship-loads, in ignorance that the site of those alluded to was probably Baku on the Caspian.

Other erroneous statements, such as the introduction of window-glass as one of the embellishments of the palace at Cambaluc, are probably due only to accidental misunderstanding.

Genuine statements peculiar to Ramusio.]

62. Of circumstances certainly genuine, which are peculiar to this edition of Polo’s work, and which it is difficult to assign to any one but himself, we may note the specification of the woods east of Yezd as composed of date trees (vol. i pp. 88–89); the unmistakable allusion to the subterranean irrigation channels of Persia (p. 123); the accurate explanation of the term Mulehet applied to the sect of Assassins (pp. 139–142); the mention of the Lake (Sirikul?) on the plateau of Pamer, of the wolves that prey on the wild sheep, and of the piles of wild rams’ horns used as landmarks in the snow (pp. 171–177). To the description of the Tibetan Yak, which is in all the texts, Ramusio’s version alone adds a fact probably not recorded again till the present century, viz., that it is the practice to cross the Yak with the common cow (p. 274). Ramusio alone notices the prevalence of goître at Yarkand, confirmed by recent travellers (i. p. 187); the vermilion seal of the Great Kaan imprinted on the paper-currency, which may be seen in our plate of a Chinese note (p. 426); the variation in Chinese dialects (ii. p. 236); the division of the hulls of junks into water-tight compartments (ii. p. 249); the introduction into China from Egypt of the art of refining sugar (ii. p. 226). Ramusio’s account of the position of the city of Sindafu (Ch’eng-tu fu) encompassed and intersected by many branches of a great river (ii. p. 40), is much more just than that in the old text, which speaks of but one river through the middle of the city. The intelligent notices of the Kaan’s charities as originated by his adoption of “idolatry” or Buddhism; of the astrological superstitions of the Chinese, and of the manners and character of the latter nation, are found in Ramusio alone. To whom but Marco himself, or one of his party, can we refer the brief but vivid picture of the delicious atmosphere and scenery of the Badakhshan plateaux (ip. 158), and of the benefit that Messer Marco’s health derived from a visit to them? In this version alone again we have an account of the oppressions exercised by Kúblái’s Mahomedan Minister Ahmad, telling how the Cathayans rose against him and murdered him, with the addition that Messer Marco was on the spot when all this happened. Now not only is the whole story in substantial accordance with the Chinese Annals, even to the name of the chief conspirator,15 but those annals also tell of the courageous frankness of “Polo, assessor of the Privy Council,” in opening the Kaan’s eyes to the truth.

Many more such examples might be adduced, but these will suffice. It is true that many of the passages peculiar to the Ramusian version, and indeed the whole version, show a freer utterance and more of a literary faculty than we should attribute to Polo, judging from the earlier texts. It is possible, however, that this may be almost, if not entirely, due to the fact that the version is the result of a double translation, and probably of an editorial fusion of several documents; processes in which angularities of expression would be dissolved.16

Hypothesis of the sources of the Ramusian Version.]

63. Though difficulties will certainly remain,17 the most probable explanation of the origin of this text seems to me to be some such hypothesis as the following:— I suppose that Polo in his latter years added with his own hand supplementary notes and reminiscences, marginally or otherwise, to a copy of his book; that these, perhaps in his lifetime, more probably after his death, were digested and translated into Latin;18 and that Ramusio, or some friend of his, in retranslating and fusing them with Pipino’s version for the Navigationi, made those minor modifications in names and other matters which we have already noticed. The mere facts of digestion from memoranda and double translation would account for a good deal of unintentional corruption.

That more than one version was employed in the composition of Ramusio’s edition we have curious proof in at least one passage of the latter. We have pointed out at p. 410 of this volume a curious example of misunderstanding of the old French Text, a passage in which the term Roi des Pelaines, or “King of Furs,” is applied to the Sable, and which in the Crusca has been converted into an imaginary Tartar phrase Leroide pelame, or as Pipino makes it Rondes (another indication that Pipino’s Version and the Crusca passed through a common medium). But Ramusio exhibits both the true reading and the perversion: “E li Tartari la chiamano Regina delle pelli” (there is the true reading), “E gli animali si chiamano Rondes” (and there the perverted one).

We may further remark that Ramusio’s version betrays indications that one of its bases either was in the Venetian dialect, or had passed through that dialect; for a good many of the names appear in Venetian forms, e.g., substituting the z for the sound of ch, j, or soft g, as in Goza, Zorzania, Zagatay, Gonza (for Giogiu), Quenzanfu, Coiganzu, Tapinzu, Zipangu, Ziamba.

Summary in regard to Text of Polo.]

64. To sum up. It is, I think, beyond reasonable dispute that we have, in what we call the Geographic Text, as nearly as may be an exact transcript of the Traveller’s words as originally taken down in the prison of Genoa. We have again in the MSS. of the second type an edition pruned and refined, probably under instructions from Marco Polo, but not with any critical exactness. And lastly, I believe, that we have, imbedded in the Ramusian edition, the supplementary recollections of the Traveller, noted down at a later period of his life, but perplexed by repeated translation, compilation, and editorial mishandling.

And the most important remaining problem in regard to the text of Polo’s work is the discovery of the supplemental manuscript from which Ramusio derived those passages which are found only in his edition. It is possible that it may still exist, but no trace of it in anything like completeness has yet been found; though when my task was all but done I discovered a small part of the Ramusian peculiarities in a MS. at Venice.19

65. Whilst upon this subject of manuscripts of our Author, I will give some particulars regarding a very curious one, containing a version in the Irish language.

Notice of a curious Irish Version of Polo.]

This remarkable document is found in the Book of Lismore, belonging to the Duke of Devonshire. That magnificent book, finely written on vellum of the largest size, was discovered in 1814, enclosed in a wooden box, along with a superb crozier, on opening a closed doorway in the castle of Lismore. It contained Lives of the Saints, the (Romance) History of Charlemagne, the History of the Lombards, histories and tales of Irish wars, etc., etc., and among the other matter this version of Marco Polo. A full account of the Book and its mutilations will be found in O’Curry’s Lectures on the MS. Materials of Ancient Irish History, p. 196 seqq., Dublin, 1861. The Book of Lismore was written about 1460 for Finghin MacCarthy and his wife Catharine Fitzgerald, daughter of Gerald, Eighth Earl of Desmond.

The date of the Translation of Polo is not known, but it may be supposed to have been executed about the above date, probably in the Monastery of Lismore (county of Waterford).

From the extracts that have been translated for me, it is obvious that the version was made, with an astounding freedom certainly, from Friar Francesco Pipino’s Latin.

Both beginning and end are missing. But what remains opens thus; compare it with Friar Pipino’s real prologue as we give it in the Appendix!20

“[Irish uncial text: riguib ocus tassech na cathar sin. bai bratair rigui anaibit san fnses inn cathr intansin. ba eoluc dano ss’ nahilberlaib fransiscus aainm. bhur iarum du ambant na maste ucut ocus cuingst fair inleabor doclod fcula otengaid natartaired cg inteng laitanda].” &c.

—“Kings and chieftains of that city. There was then in the city a princely Friar in the habit of St. Francis, named Franciscus, who was versed in many languages. He was brought to the place where those nobles were, and they requested of him to translate the book from the Tartar (!) into the Latin language. ‘It is an abomination to me,’ said he, ‘to devote my mind or labour to works of Idolatry and Irreligion.’ They entreated him again. ‘It shall be done,’ said he; ‘for though it be an irreligious narrative that is related therein, yet the things are miracles of the True God; and every one who hears this much against the Holy Faith shall pray fervently for their conversion. And he who will not pray shall waste the vigour of his body to convert them.’ I am not in dread of this Book of Marcus, for there is no lie in it. My eyes beheld him bringing the relics of the holy Church with him, and he left [his testimony], whilst tasting of death, that it was true. And Marcus was a devout man. What is there in it, then, but that Franciscus translated this Book of Marcus from the Tartar into Latin; and the years of the Lord at that time were fifteen years, two score, two hundred, and one thousand” (1255).

It then describes Armein Bec (Little Armenia), Armein Mor (Great Armenia), Musul, Taurisius, Persida, Camandi, and so forth. The last chapter is that on Abaschia:—

“ABASCHIA also is an extensive country, under the government of Seven Kings, four of whom worship the true God, and each of them wears a golden cross on the forehead; and they are valiant in battle, having been brought up fighting against the Gentiles of the other three kings, who are Unbelievers and Idolaters. And the kingdom of ADEN; a Soudan rules over them.

“The king of Abaschia once took a notion to make a pilgrimage to the Sepulchre of Jesus. ‘Not at all,’ said his nobles and warriors to him, ‘for we should be afraid lest the infidels through whose territories you would have to pass, should kill you. There is a Holy Bishop with you,’ said they; ‘send him to the Sepulchre of Jesus, and much gold with him’"—

The rest is wanting.

1 In the following citations, the Geographic Text (G. T.) is quoted by page from the printed edition (1824); the Latin published in the same volume (G. L.) also by page; the Crusca, as before, from Bartoli’s edition of 1863. References in parentheses are to the present translation:—

A. Passages showing the G. L. to be a translation from the Italian, and derived from the same Italian text as the Crusca.

(1). G.T. 17 (I. 43). Il hi se laborent le souran tapis dou monde.
Crusca, 17 .. E quivi si fanno i sovrani tappeti del mondo.
G.L. 311 .. Et ibi fiunt soriani et tapeti pulcriores de mundo.
(2). G.T. 23 (I. 69). Et adonc le calif mande par tuit les cristiez . . . que en sa tere estoient.
Crusca, 27 .. Ora mandò lo aliffo per tutti gli Cristiani ch’ erano di lá.
G.L. 316 .. Or misit califus pro Christianis qui erant ultra fluvium (the last words being clearly a misunderstanding of the Italian di là).
(3). G.T. 198 (II. 313). Ont sosimain (sesamum) de coi il font le olio.
Crusca, 253 .. Hanno sosimai onde fanno l’ olio.
G.L. 448 .. Habent turpes manus (taking sosimani for sozze mani “Dirty hands”!).
(4). Crusca, 52 (I. 158). Cacciare e uccellare v’ è lo migliore del mondo.
G.L. 332 .. Et est ibi optimum caciare et ucellare.
(5). G.T. 124 (II. 36). Adonc treuve . . . une Provence qe est encore de le confin dou Mangi.
Crusca, 162–3 .. L’ uomo truova una Provincia ch’ è chiamata ancora delle confine de’ Mangi.
G.L. 396 .. Invenit unam Provinciam quae vocatur Anchota de confinibus Mangi.
(6). G.T. 146 (II. 119.) Les dames portent as jambes et es braces, braciaus d’or et d’arjent de grandisme vailance.
Crusca, 189 .. Le donne portano alle braccia e alle gambe bracciali d’oro e d’ariento di gran valuta.
G.L. 411 .. Dominae eorum portant ad brachia et ad gambas brazalia de auro et de argento magni valoris.

B. Passages showing additionally the errors, or other peculiarities of a translation from a French original, common to the Italian and the Latin.

(7). G.T. 32 (I. 97.) Est celle plaingne mout chaue (chaude).
Crusca, 35 .. Questo piano è molto cavo.
G.L. 322 .. Ista planities est multum cava.
(8). G.T. 36 (I. 110). Avent por ce que l’eive hi est amer.
Crusca, 40 .. E questo è per lo mare che vi viene.
G.L. 324 .. Istud est propter mare quod est ibi.
(9). G.T. 8 (I. 50.) Un roi qi est apelés par tout tens Davit Melic, que veut à dir en fransois Davit Roi.
Crusca, 20.. Uno re il quale si chiama sempre David Melic, ciò è a dire in francesco David Re.
G.L. 312.. Rex qui semper vocatur David Mellic, quod sonat in gallico David Rex.

These passages, and many more that might be quoted, seem to me to demonstrate (1) that the Latin and the Crusca have had a common original, and (2) that this original was an Italian version from the French.

2 Thus the Pucci MS. at Florence, in the passage regarding the Golden King (vol. ii. p. 17) which begins in G. T. “Lequel fist faire jadis un rois qe fu apellés le Roi Dor,” renders “Lo quale fa fare Jaddis uno re,” a mistake which is not in the Crusca nor in the Latin, and seems to imply derivation from the French directly, or by some other channel (Baldelli Boni).

3 In the Prologue (vol. i. p. 34) this class of MSS. alone names the King of England.

In the account of the Battle with Nayan (i. p. 337) this class alone speaks of the two-stringed instruments which the Tartars played whilst awaiting the signal for battle. But the circumstance appears elsewhere in the G. T. (p. 250).

In the chapter on Malabar (vol. ii. p. 390), it is said that the ships which go with cargoes towards Alexandria are not one-tenth of those that go to the further East. This is not in the older French.

In the chapter on Coilun (ii. p. 375), we have a notice of the Columbine ginger so celebrated in the Middle Ages, which is also absent from the older text.

4 See vol. ii. p. 439. It is, however, remarkable that a like mistake is made about the Persian Gulf (see i. 63, 64). Perhaps Polo thought in Persian, in which the word darya means either sea or a large river. The same habit and the ambiguity of the Persian sher led him probably to his confusion of lions and tigers (see i. 397).

5 Such are Pasciai-Dir and Ariora Kesciemur (i. p. 98.)

6 Thus the MSS. of this type have elected the erroneous readings Bolgara, Cogatra, Chiato, Cabanant, etc., instead of the correcter Bolgana, Cocacin, Quiacatu, Cobinan, where the G. T. presents both (supra, p. 86). They read Esanar for the correct Etzina; Chascun for Casvin; Achalet for Acbalec; Sardansu for Sindafu, Kayteu, Kayton, Sarcon for Zaiton or Caiton; Soucat for Locac; Falec for Ferlec, and so on, the worse instead of the better. They make the Mer Occeane into Mer Occident; the wild asses (asnes) of the Kerman Desert into wild geese (oes); the escoillez of Bengal (ii. p. 115) into escoliers; the giraffes of Africa into girofles, or cloves, etc., etc.

7 There are about five-and-thirty such passages altogether.

8 The Bern MS. I have satisfied myself is an actual copy of the Paris MS. C.

The Oxford MS. closely resembles both, but I have not made the comparison minutely enough to say if it is an exact copy of either.

9 The following comparison will also show that these two Latin versions have probably had a common source, such as is here suggested.

At the end of the Prologue the Geographic Text reads simply:—

“Or puis que je voz ai contez tot le fat dou prolegue ensi con voz avés oï, adonc (commencerai) le Livre.”

Whilst the Geographic Latin has:—

Postquam recitavimus et diximus facta et condictiones morum, itinerum et ea quae nobis contigerunt per vias, incipiemus dicere ea quae vidimus. Et primo dicemus de Minore Hermenia.”

And Pipino:—

Narratione facta nostri itineris, nunc ad ea narranda quae vidimus accedamus. Primo autem Armeniam Minorem describemus breviter.”

10 Friar Francesco Pipino of Bologna, a Dominican, is known also as the author of a lengthy chronicle from the time of the Frank Kings down to 1314; of a Latin Translation of the French History of the Conquest of the Holy Land, by Bernard the Treasurer; and of a short Itinerary of a Pilgrimage to Palestine in 1320. Extracts from the Chronicle, and the version of Bernard, are printed in Muratori’s Collection. As Pipino states himself to have executed the translation of Polo by order of his Superiors, it is probable that the task was set him at a general chapter of the order which was held at Bologna in 1315. (See Muratori, IX. 583; and Quétif, Script. Ord. Praed. I. 539). We do not know why Ramusio assigned the translation specifically to 1320, but he may have had grounds.

11 See Bianconi, 1st Mem. 29 seqq.

12 C. Dickens somewhere narrates the history of the equivalents for a sovereign as changed and rechanged at every frontier on a continental tour. The final equivalent received at Dover on his return was some 12 or 13 shillings; a fair parallel to the comparative value of the first and last copies in the circle of translation.

13 The Ramusios were a family of note in literature for several generations. Paolo, the father of Gian Battista, came originally from Rimini to Venice in 1458, and had a great repute as a jurist, besides being a littérateur of some eminence, as was also his younger brother Girolamo. G. B. Ramusio was born at Treviso in 1485, and early entered the public service. In 1533 he became one of the Secretaries of the Council of X. He was especially devoted to geographical studies, and had a school for such studies in his house. He retired eventually from public duties, and lived at Villa Ramusia, near Padua. He died in the latter city, 10th July, 1557, but was buried at Venice in the Church of S. Maria dell’ Orto. There was a portrait of him by Paul Veronese in the Hall of the Great Council, but it perished in the fire of 1577; and that which is now seen in the Sala dello Scudo is, like the companion portrait of Marco Polo, imaginary. Paolo Ramusio, his son, was the author of the well-known History of the Capture of Constantinople. (Cicogna, II. 310 seqq.)

14 The old French texts were unknown in Marsden’s time. Hence this question did not present itself to him.

15 Wangcheu in the Chinese Annals; Vanchu in Ramusio. I assume that Polo’s Vanchu was pronounced as in English; for in Venetian the ch very often has that sound. But I confess that I can adduce no other instance in Ramusio where I suppose it to have this sound, except in the initial sound of Chinchitalas and twice in Choiach (see II. 364).

Professor Bianconi, who has treated the questions connected with the Texts of Polo with honest enthusiasm and laborious detail, will admit nothing genuine in the Ramusian interpolations beyond the preservation of some oral traditions of Polo’s supplementary recollections. But such a theory is out of the question in face of a chapter like that on Ahmad.

16 Old Purchas appears to have greatly relished Ramusio’s comparative lucidity: “I found (says he) this Booke translated by Master Hakluyt out of the Latine (i.e. among Hakluyt’s MS. collections). But where the blind leade the blind both fall: as here the corrupt Latine could not but yeeld a corruption of truth in English. Ramusio, Secretarie to the Decemviri in Venice, found a better Copie and published the same, whence you have the worke in manner new: so renewed, that I have found the Proverbe true, that it is better to pull downe an old house and to build it anew, then to repaire it; as I also should have done, had I knowne that which in the event I found. The Latine is Latten, compared to Ramusio’s Gold. And hee which hath the Latine hath but Marco Polo’s carkasse or not so much, but a few bones, yea, sometimes stones rather then bones; things divers, averse, adverse, perverted in manner, disjoynted in manner, beyond beliefe. I have seene some Authors maymed, but never any so mangled and so mingled, so present and so absent, as this vulgar Latine of Marco Polo; not so like himselfe, as the Three Polo’s were at their returne to Venice, where none knew them. . . . Much are wee beholden to Ramusio, for restoring this Pole and Load-starre of Asia, out of that mirie poole or puddle in which he lay drouned.” (III. p. 65.)

17 Of these difficulties the following are some of the more prominent:—

1. The mention of the death of Kúblái (see note 7, p. 38 of this volume), whilst throughout the book Polo speaks of Kúblái as if still reigning.

2. Mr. Hugh Murray objects that whilst in the old texts Polo appears to look on Kúblái with reverence as a faultless Prince, in the Ramusian we find passages of an opposite tendency, as in the chapter about Ahmad.

3. The same editor points to the manner in which one of the Ramusian additions represents the traveller to have visited the Palace of the Chinese Kings at Kinsay, which he conceives to be inconsistent with Marco’s position as an official of the Mongol Government. (See vol. ii. p. 208.)

If we could conceive the Ramusian additions to have been originally notes written by old Maffeo Polo on his nephew’s book, this hypothesis would remove almost all difficulty.

One passage in Ramusio seems to bear a reference to the date at which these interpolated notes were amalgamated with the original. In the chapter on Samarkand (i. p. 191) the conversion of the Prince Chagatai is said in the old texts to have occurred “not a great while ago” (il ne a encore grament de tens). But in Ramusio the supposed event is fixed at “one hundred and twenty-five years since.” This number could not have been uttered with reference to 1298, the year of the dictation at Genoa, nor to any year of Polo’s own life. Hence it is probable that the original note contained a date or definite term which was altered by the compiler to suit the date of his own compilation, some time in the 14th century.]

18 In the first edition of Ramusio the preface contained the following passage, which is omitted from the succeeding editions; but as even the first edition was issued after Ramusio’s own death, I do not see that any stress can be laid on this:

“A copy of the Book of Marco Polo, as it was originally written in Latin, marvellously old, and perhaps directly copied from the original as it came from M. Marco’s own hand, has been often consulted by me and compared with that which we now publish, having been lent me by a nobleman of this city, belonging to the Ca’ Ghisi.”

19 For a moment I thought I had been lucky enough to light on a part of the missing original of Ramusio in the Barberini Library at Rome. A fragment of a Venetian version in that library (No. 56 in our list of MSS.) bore on the fly-leaf the title “Alcuni primi capi del Libro di S. Marco Polo, copiati dall esemplare manoscritto di PAOLO RANNUSIO.” But it proved to be of no importance. One brief passage of those which have been thought peculiar to Ramusio; viz., the reference to the Martyrdom of St. Blaize at Sebaste (see p. 43 of this volume), is found also in the Geographic Latin.

It was pointed out by Lazari, that another passage (vol. i. p. 60) of those otherwise peculiar to Ramusio, is found in a somewhat abridged Latin version in a MS. which belonged to the late eminent antiquary Emanuel Cicogna. (See List in Appendix F, No. 35.) This fact induced me when at Venice in 1870 to examine the MS. throughout, and, though I could give little time to it, the result was very curious.

I find that this MS. contains, not one only, but at least seven of the passages otherwise peculiar to Ramusio, and must have been one of the elements that went to the formation of his text. Yet of his more important interpolations, such as the chapter on Ahmad’s oppressions and the additional matter on the City of Kinsay, there is no indication. The seven passages alluded to are as follows; the words corresponding to Ramusian peculiarities are in italics, the references are to my own volumes.

1. In the chapter on Georgia:

“Mare quod dicitur Gheluchelan vel ABACU”. . . .

“Est ejus stricta via et dubia. Ab una parte est mare quod dixi de ABACU et ab aliâ nemora invia,” etc. (See I. p. 59, note 8.)

2. “Et ibi optimi austures dicti AVIGI” (I. 50).

3. After the chapter on Mosul is another short chapter, already alluded to:

Prope hanc civitatem (est) alia provincia dicta MUS e MEREDIEN in quâ nascitur magna quantitas bombacis, et hic fiunt bocharini et alia multa, et sunt mercatores homines et artiste.” (See i. p. 60.)

4. In the chapter on Tarcan (for Carcan, i.e. Yarkand):

Et maior pars horum habent unum ex pedibus grossum et habent gosum in gulâ; et est hic fertilis contracta.” (See i. p. 187.)

5. In the Desert of Lop:

Homines trasseuntes appendunt bestiis suis capanullas [i.e. campanellas] ut ipsas senciant et ne deviare possint” (i. p. 197.)

6. “Ciagannor, quod sonat in Latino STAGNUM ALBUM.” (i. p. 296.)

7. “Et in medio hujus viridarii est palacium sive logia, tota super columpnas. Et in summitate cujuslibet columnae est draco magnus circundans totam columpnam, et hic substinet eorum cohoperturam cum ore et pedibus; et est cohopertura tota de cannis hoc modo,” etc. (See i. p. 299.)

20 My valued friend Sir Arthur Phayre made known to me the passage in O’Curry’s Lectures. I then procured the extracts and further particulars from Mr. J. Long, Irish Transcriber and Translator in Dublin, who took them from the Transcript of the Book of Lismore, in the possession of the Royal Irish Academy. [Cf. Anecdota Oxoniensia. Lives of the Saints from the Book of Lismore, edited with a translation . . . by Whitley Stokes, Oxford, 1890. — Marco Polo forms fo. 79 a, 1 — fo. 89 b, 2, of the MS., and is described pp. xxii.-xxiv. of Mr. Whitley Stokes’ Book, who has since published the Text in the Zeit. f. Celtische Philol. (See Bibliography, vol. ii. p. 573.)— H. C.]

xi. Some Estimate of the Character of Polo and His Book.

Grounds of Polo’s preeminence among mediaeval travellers.]

66. That Marco Polo has been so universally recognised as the King of Mediaeval Travellers is due rather to the width of his experience, the vast compass of his journeys, and the romantic nature of his personal history, than to transcendent superiority of character or capacity.

The generation immediately preceding his own has bequeathed to us, in the Report of the Franciscan Friar William de Rubruquis,1 on the Mission with which St. Lewis charged him to the Tartar Courts, the narrative of one great journey, which, in its rich detail, its vivid pictures, its acuteness of observation and strong good sense, seems to me to form a Book of Travels of much higher claims than any one series of Polo’s chapters; a book, indeed, which has never had justice done to it, for it has few superiors in the whole Library of Travel.

Enthusiastic Biographers, beginning with Ramusio, have placed Polo on the same platform with Columbus. But where has our Venetian Traveller left behind him any trace of the genius and lofty enthusiasm, the ardent and justified previsions which mark the great Admiral as one of the lights of the human race?2 It is a juster praise that the spur which his Book eventually gave to geographical studies, and the beacons which it hung out at the Eastern extremities of the Earth helped to guide the aims, though scarcely to kindle the fire, of the greater son of the rival Republic. His work was at least a link in the Providential chain which at last dragged the New World to light.3

His true claims to glory.]

67. Surely Marco’s real, indisputable, and, in their kind, unique claims to glory may suffice! He was the first Traveller to trace a route across the whole longitude of ASIA, naming and describing kingdom after kingdom which he had seen with his own eyes; the Deserts of PERSIA, the flowering plateaux and wild gorges of BADAKHSHAN, the jade-bearing rivers of KHOTAN, the MONGOLIAN Steppes, cradle of the power that had so lately threatened to swallow up Christendom, the new and brilliant Court that had been established at CAMBALUC: The first Traveller to reveal CHINA in all its wealth and vastness, its mighty rivers, its huge cities, its rich manufactures, its swarming population, the inconceivably vast fleets that quickened its seas and its inland waters; to tell us of the nations on its borders with all their eccentricities of manners and worship; of TIBET with its sordid devotees; of BURMA with its golden pagodas and their tinkling crowns; of LAOS, of SIAM, of COCHIN CHINA, of JAPAN, the Eastern Thule, with its rosy pearls and golden-roofed palaces; the first to speak of that Museum of Beauty and Wonder, still so imperfectly ransacked, the INDIAN ARCHIPELAGO, source of those aromatics then so highly prized and whose origin was so dark; of JAVA the Pearl of Islands; of SUMATRA with its many kings, its strange costly products, and its cannibal races; of the naked savages of NICOBAR and ANDAMAN; of CEYLON the Isle of Gems with its Sacred Mountain and its Tomb of Adam; of INDIA THE GREAT, not as a dream-land of Alexandrian fables, but as a country seen and partially explored, with its virtuous Brahmans, its obscene ascetics, its diamonds and the strange tales of their acquisition, its sea-beds of pearl, and its powerful sun; the first in mediaeval times to give any distinct account of the secluded Christian Empire of ABYSSINIA, and the semi-Christian Island of SOCOTRA; to speak, though indeed dimly, of ZANGIBAR with its negroes and its ivory, and of the vast and distant MADAGASCAR, bordering on the Dark Ocean of the South, with its Ruc and other monstrosities; and, in a remotely opposite region, of SIBERIA and the ARCTIC OCEAN, of dog-sledges, white bears, and reindeer-riding Tunguses.

That all this rich catalogue of discoveries should belong to the revelations of one Man and one Book is surely ample ground enough to account for and to justify the Author’s high place in the roll of Fame, and there can be no need to exaggerate his greatness, or to invest him with imaginary attributes.4

His personal attributes seen but dimly.]

68. What manner of man was Ser Marco? It is a question hard to answer. Some critics cry out against personal detail in books of Travel; but as regards him who would not welcome a little more egotism! In his Book impersonality is carried to excess; and we are often driven to discern by indirect and doubtful indications alone, whether he is speaking of a place from personal knowledge or only from hearsay. In truth, though there are delightful exceptions, and nearly every part of the book suggests interesting questions, a desperate meagreness and baldness does extend over considerable tracts of the story. In fact his book reminds us sometimes of his own description of Khorasan:—“On chevauche par beaus plains et belles costieres, là où il a moult beaus herbages et bonne pasture et fruis assez. . . . Et aucune fois y treuve l’en un desert de soixante milles ou de mains, esquels desers ne treuve l’en point d’eaue; mais la convient porter o lui!

Still, some shadowy image of the man may be seen in the Book; a practical man, brave, shrewd, prudent, keen in affairs, and never losing his interest in mercantile details, very fond of the chase, sparing of speech; with a deep wondering respect for Saints, even though they be Pagan Saints, and their asceticism, but a contempt for Patarins and such like, whose consciences would not run in customary grooves, and on his own part a keen appreciation of the World’s pomps and vanities. See, on the one hand, his undisguised admiration of the hard life and long fastings of Sakya Muni; and on the other how enthusiastic he gets in speaking of the great Kaan’s command of the good things of the world, but above all of his matchless opportunities of sport!5


Of humour there are hardly any signs in his Book. His almost solitary joke (I know but one more, and it pertains to the [Greek: ouk anaékonta]) occurs in speaking of the Kaan’s paper-money when he observes that Kúblái might be said to have the true Philosopher’s Stone, for he made his money at pleasure out of the bark of Trees.6 Even the oddest eccentricities of outlandish tribes scarcely seem to disturb his gravity; as when he relates in his brief way of the people called Gold–Teeth on the frontier of Burma, that ludicrous custom which Mr. Tylor has so well illustrated under the name of the Couvade. There is more savour of laughter in the few lines of a Greek Epic, which relate precisely the same custom of a people on the Euxine:—

        —“In the Tibarenian Land

When some good woman bears her lord a babe,

’Tis he is swathed and groaning put to bed;

Whilst she, arising, tends his baths, and serves

Nice possets for her husband in the straw.”7

Absence of scientific notions.]

69. Of scientific notions, such as we find in the unveracious Maundevile, we have no trace in truthful Marco. The former, “lying with a circumstance,” tells us boldly that he was in 33° of South Latitude; the latter is full of wonder that some of the Indian Islands where he had been lay so far to the south that you lost sight of the Pole-star. When it rises again on his horizon he estimates the Latitude by the Pole-star’s being so many cubits high. So the gallant Baber speaks of the sun having mounted spear-high when the onset of battle began at Paniput. Such expressions convey no notion at all to such as have had their ideas sophisticated by angular perceptions of altitude, but similar expressions are common among Orientals,8 and indeed I have heard them from educated Englishmen. In another place Marco states regarding certain islands in the Northern Ocean that they lie so very far to the north that in going thither one actually leaves the Pole-star a trifle behind towards the south; a statement to which we know only one parallel, to wit, in the voyage of that adventurous Dutch skipper who told Master Moxon, King Charles II.‘s Hydrographer, that he had sailed two degrees beyond the Pole!

Map constructed on Polo’s data.]

70. The Book, however, is full of bearings and distances, and I have thought it worth while to construct a map from its indications, in order to get some approximation to Polo’s own idea of the face of that world which he had traversed so extensively. There are three allusions to maps in the course of his work (II. 245, 312, 424).

In his own bearings, at least on land journeys, he usually carries us along a great general traverse line, without much caring about small changes of direction. Thus on the great outward journey from the frontier of Persia to that of China the line runs almost continuously “entre Levant et Grec” or E.N.E. In his journey from Cambaluc or Peking to Mien or Burma, it is always Ponent or W.; and in that from Peking to Zayton in Fo-kien, the port of embarkation for India, it is Sceloc or S.E. The line of bearings in which he deviates most widely from truth is that of the cities on the Arabian Coast from Aden to Hormuz, which he makes to run steadily vers Maistre or N.W., a conception which it has not been very easy to realise on the map.9

Singular omissions of Polo in regard to China; Historical inaccuracies.]

71. In the early part of the Book we are told that Marco acquired several of the languages current in the Mongol Empire, and no less than four written characters. We have discussed what these are likely to have been (i. pp. 28–29), and have given a decided opinion that Chinese was not one of them. Besides intrinsic improbability, and positive indications of Marco’s ignorance of Chinese, in no respect is his book so defective as in regard to Chinese manners and peculiarities. The Great Wall is never mentioned, though we have shown reason for believing that it was in his mind when one passage of his book was dictated.10 The use of Tea, though he travelled through the Tea districts of Fo-kien, is never mentioned;11 the compressed feet of the women and the employment of the fishing cormorant (both mentioned by Friar Odoric, the contemporary of his later years), artificial egg-hatching, printing of books (though the notice of this art seems positively challenged in his account of paper-money), besides a score of remarkable arts and customs which one would have expected to recur to his memory, are never alluded to. Neither does he speak of the great characteristic of the Chinese writing. It is difficult to account for these omissions, especially considering the comparative fulness with which he treats the manners of the Tartars and of the Southern Hindoos; but the impression remains that his associations in China were chiefly with foreigners. Wherever the place he speaks of had a Tartar or Persian name he uses that rather than the Chinese one. Thus Cathay, Cambaluc, Pulisanghin, Tangut, Chagannor, Saianfu, Kenjanfu, Tenduc, Acbalec, Carajan, Zardandan, Zayton, Kemenfu, Brius, Caramoran, Chorcha, Juju, are all Mongol, Turki, or Persian forms, though all have Chinese equivalents.12

In reference to the then recent history of Asia, Marco is often inaccurate, e.g. in his account of the death of Chinghiz, in the list of his successors, and in his statement of the relation ship between notable members of that House.13 But the most perplexing knot in the whole book lies in the interesting account which he gives of the Siege of Sayanfu or Siang-yang, during the subjugation of Southern China by Kúblái. I have entered on this matter in the notes (vol. ii. p. 167), and will only say here that M. Pauthier’s solution of the difficulty is no solution, being absolutely inconsistent with the story as told by Marco himself, and that I see none; though I have so much faith in Marco’s veracity that I am loath to believe that the facts admit of no reconciliation.

Our faint attempt to appreciate some of Marco’s qualities, as gathered from his work, will seem far below the very high estimates that have been pronounced, not only by some who have delighted rather to enlarge upon his frame than to make themselves acquainted with his work,14 but also by persons whose studies and opinions have been worthy of all respect. Our estimate, however, does not abate a jot of our intense interest in his Book and affection for his memory. And we have a strong feeling that, owing partly to his reticence, and partly to the great disadvantages under which the Book was committed to writing, we have in it a singularly imperfect image of the Man.

Was Polo’s Book materially affected by the Scribe Rusticiano?]

72. A question naturally suggests itself, how far Polo’s narrative, at least in its expression, was modified by passing under the pen of a professed littérateur of somewhat humble claims, such as Rusticiano was. The case is not a singular one, and in our own day the ill-judged use of such assistance has been fatal to the reputation of an adventurous Traveller.

We have, however, already expressed our own view that in the Geographic Text we have the nearest possible approach to a photographic impression of Marco’s oral narrative. If there be an exception to this we should seek it in the descriptions of battles, in which we find the narrator to fall constantly into a certain vein of bombastic commonplaces, which look like the stock phrases of a professed romancer, and which indeed have a strong resemblance to the actual phraseology of certain metrical romances.15 Whether this feature be due to Rusticiano I cannot say, but I have not been able to trace anything of the same character in a cursory inspection of some of his romance-compilations. Still one finds it impossible to conceive of our sober and reticent Messer Marco pacing the floor of his Genoese dungeon, and seven times over rolling out this magniloquent bombast, with sufficient deliberation to be overtaken by the pen of the faithful amanuensis!

Marco’s reading embraced the Alexandrian Romances. Examples.]

73. On the other hand, though Marco, who had left home at fifteen years of age, naturally shows very few signs of reading, there are indications that he had read romances, especially those dealing with the fabulous adventures of Alexander.

To these he refers explicitly or tacitly in his notices of the Irongate and of Gog and Magog, in his allusions to the marriage of Alexander with Darius’s daughter, and to the battle between those two heroes, and in his repeated mention of the Arbre Sol or Arbre Sec on the Khorasan frontier.

The key to these allusions is to be found in that Legendary History of Alexander, entirely distinct from the true history of the Macedonian Conqueror, which in great measure took the place of the latter in the imagination of East and West for more than a thousand years. This fabulous history is believed to be of Graeco–Egyptian origin, and in its earliest extant compiled form, in the Greek of the Pseudo–Callisthenes, can be traced back to at least about A.D. 200. From the Greek its marvels spread eastward at an early date; some part at least of their matter was known to Moses of Chorene, in the 5th century;16 they were translated into Armenian, Arabic, Hebrew, and Syriac; and were reproduced in the verses of Firdusi and various other Persian Poets; spreading eventually even to the Indian Archipelago, and finding utterance in Malay and Siamese. At an early date they had been rendered into Latin by Julius Valerius; but this work had probably been lost sight of, and it was in the 10th century that they were re-imported from Byzantium to Italy by the Archpriest Leo, who had gone as Envoy to the Eastern Capital from John Duke of Campania.17 Romantic histories on this foundation, in verse and prose, became diffused in all the languages of Western Europe, from Spain to Scandinavia, rivalling in popularity the romantic cycles of the Round Table or of Charlemagne. Nor did this popularity cease till the 16th century was well advanced.

The heads of most of the Mediaeval Travellers were crammed with these fables as genuine history.18 And by the help of that community of legend on this subject which they found wherever Mahomedan literature had spread, Alexander Magnus was to be traced everywhere in Asia. Friar Odoric found Tana, near Bombay, to be the veritable City of King Porus; John Marignolli’s vainglory led him to imitate King Alexander in setting up a marble column “in the corner of the world over against Paradise,” i.e. somewhere on the coast of Travancore; whilst Sir John Maundevile, with a cheaper ambition, borrowed wonders from the Travels of Alexander to adorn his own. Nay, even in after days, when the Portuguese stumbled with amazement on those vast ruins in Camboja, which have so lately become familiar to us through the works of Mouhot, Thomson, and Garnier, they ascribed them to Alexander.19

Prominent in all these stories is the tale of Alexander’s shutting up a score of impure nations, at the head of which were Gog and Magog, within a barrier of impassable mountains, there to await the latter days; a legend with which the disturbed mind of Europe not unnaturally connected that cataclysm of unheard-of Pagans that seemed about to deluge Christendom in the first half of the 13th century. In these stories also the beautiful Roxana, who becomes the bride of Alexander, is Darius’s daughter, bequeathed to his arms by the dying monarch. Conspicuous among them again is the Legend of the Oracular Trees of the Sun and Moon, which with audible voice foretell the place and manner of Alexander’s death. With this Alexandrian legend some of the later forms of the story had mixed up one of Christian origin about the Dry Tree, L’Arbre Sec. And they had also adopted the Oriental story of the Land of Darkness and the mode of escape from it, which Polo relates at p. 484 of vol. ii.

Injustice long done to Polo. Singular modern instance.]

74. We have seen in the most probable interpretation of the nickname Milioni that Polo’s popular reputation in his lifetime was of a questionable kind; and a contemporary chronicler, already quoted, has told us how on his death-bed the Traveller was begged by anxious friends to retract his extraordinary stories.20 A little later one who copied the Book “per passare tempo e malinconia” says frankly that he puts no faith in it.21 Sir Thomas Brown is content “to carry a wary eye” in reading “Paulus Venetus”; but others of our countrymen in the last century express strong doubts whether he ever was in Tartary or China.22 Marden’s edition might well have extinguished the last sparks of scepticism.23 Hammer meant praise in calling Polo “der Vater orientalischer Hodogetik,” in spite of the uncouthness of the eulogy. But another grave German writer, ten years after Marsden’s publication, put forth in a serious book that the whole story was a clumsy imposture!24

1 M. d’Avezac has refuted the common supposition that this admirable traveller was a native of Brabant.

The form Rubruquis of the name of the traveller William de Rubruk has been habitually used in this book, perhaps without sufficient consideration, but it is the most familiar in England, from its use by Hakluyt and Purchas. The former, who first published the narrative, professedly printed from an imperfect MS. belonging to the Lord Lumley, which does not seem to be now known. But all the MSS. collated by Messrs. Francisque–Michel and Wright, in preparing their edition of the Traveller, call him simply Willelmus de Rubruc or Rubruk.

Some old authors, apparently without the slightest ground, having called him Risbroucke and the like, it came to be assumed that he was a native of Ruysbroeck, a place in South Brabant.

But there is a place still called Rubrouck in French Flanders. This is a commune containing about 1500 inhabitants, belonging to the Canton of Cassel and arrondissement of Hazebrouck, in the Department du Nord. And we may take for granted, till facts are alleged against it, that this was the place from which the envoy of St. Lewis drew his origin. Many documents of the Middle Ages, referring expressly to this place Rubrouck, exist in the Library of St. Omer, and a detailed notice of them has been published by M. Edm. Coussemaker, of Lille. Several of these documents refer to persons bearing the same name as the Traveller, e.g., in 1190, Thierry de Rubrouc; in 1202 and 1221, Gauthier du Rubrouc; in 1250, Jean du Rubrouc; and in 1258, Woutermann de Rubrouc. It is reasonable to suppose that Friar William was of the same stock. See Bulletin de la Soc. de Géographie, 2nd vol. for 1868, pp. 569–570, in which there are some remarks on the subject by M. d’Avezac; and I am indebted to the kind courtesy of that eminent geographer himself for the indication of this reference and the main facts, as I had lost a note of my own on the subject.

It seems a somewhat complex question whether a native even of French Flanders at that time should be necessarily claimable as a Frenchman;* but no doubt on this point is alluded to by M. d’Avezac, so he probably had good ground for that assumption. [See also Yule’s article in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Rockhill’s Rubruck, Int., p. xxxv. — H. C.]

That cross-grained Orientalist, I. J. Schmidt, on several occasions speaks contemptuously of this veracious and delightful traveller, whose evidence goes in the teeth of some of his crotchets. But I am glad to find that Professor Peschel takes a view similar to that expressed in the text: “The narrative of Ruysbroek [Rubruquis], almost immaculate in its freedom from fabulous insertions, may be indicated on account of its truth to nature as the greatest geographical masterpiece of the Middle Ages.” (Gesch. der Erdkunde, 1865, p. 151.)

[* The County of Flanders was at this time in large part a fief of the French Crown. (See Natalis de Wailly, notes to Joinville, p. 576.) But that would not much affect the question either one way or the other.]

2 High as Marco’s name deserves to be set, his place is not beside the writer of such burning words as these addressed to Ferdinand and Isabella: “From the most tender age I went to sea, and to this day I have continued to do so. Whosoever devotes himself to this craft must desire to know the secrets of Nature here below. For 40 years now have I thus been engaged, and wherever man has sailed hitherto on the face of the sea, thither have I sailed also. I have been in constant relation with men of learning, whether ecclesiastic or secular, Latins and Greeks, Jews and Moors, and men of many a sect besides. To accomplish this my longing (to know the Secrets of the World) I found the Lord favourable to my purposes; it is He who hath given me the needful disposition and understanding. He bestowed upon me abundantly the knowledge of seamanship: and of Astronomy He gave me enough to work withal, and so with Geometry and Arithmetic. . . . In the days of my youth I studied works of all kinds, history, chronicles, philosophy, and other arts, and to apprehend these the Lord opened my understanding. Under His manifest guidance I navigated hence to the Indies; for it was the Lord who gave me the will to accomplish that task, and it was in the ardour of that will that I came before your Highnesses. All those who heard of my project scouted and derided it; all the acquirements I have mentioned stood me in no stead; and if in your Highnesses, and in you alone, Faith and Constancy endured, to Whom are due the Lights that have enlightened you as well as me, but to the Holy Spirit?” (Quoted in Humboldt’s Examen Critique, I. 17, 18.)

3 Libri, however, speaks too strongly when he says: “The finest of all the results due to the influence of Marco Polo is that of having stirred Columbus to the discovery of the New World. Columbus, jealous of Polo’s laurels, spent his life in preparing means to get to that Zipangu of which the Venetian traveller had told such great things; his desire was to reach China by sailing westward, and in his way he fell in with America.” (H. des Sciences Mathém. etc. II. 150.)

The fact seems to be that Columbus knew of Polo’s revelations only at second hand, from the letters of the Florentine Paolo Toscanelli and the like; and I cannot find that he ever refers to Polo by name. [How deep was the interest taken by Colombus in Marco Polo’s travels is shown by the numerous marginal notes of the Admiral in the printed copy of the latin version of Pipino kept at the Bib. Colombina at Seville. See Appendix H. p. 558. — H. C.] Though to the day of his death he was full of imaginations about Zipangu and the land of the Great Kaan as being in immediate proximity to his discoveries, these were but accidents of his great theory. It was the intense conviction he had acquired of the absolute smallness of the Earth, of the vast extension of Asia eastward, and of the consequent narrowness of the Western Ocean, on which his life’s project was based. This conviction he seems to have derived chiefly from the works of Cardinal Pierre d’Ailly. But the latter borrowed his collected arguments from Roger Bacon, who has stated them, erroneous as they are, very forcibly in his Opus Majus (p. 137), as Humboldt has noticed in his Examen (vol. i. p. 64). The Spanish historian Mariana makes a strange jumble of the alleged guides of Columbus, saying that some ascribed his convictions to “the information given by one Marco Polo, a Florentine Physician!” (“como otros dizen, por aviso que le dio un cierto Marco Polo, Medico Florentin;” Hist. de España, lib. xxvi. cap 3). Toscanelli is called by Columbus Maestro Paulo, which seems to have led to this mistake; see Sign. G. Uzielli, in Boll. della Soc. Geog. Ital. IX. p. 119, [Also by the same: Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli iniziatore della scoperta d’ America, Florence, 1892; Toscanelli, No. 1; Toscanelli, Vol. V. of the Raccolta Colombiana, 1894. — H. C.]

4 “C’est diminuer l’expression d’un éloge que de l’exagérer.” (Humboldt, Examen, III. 13.)

5 See vol. ii. p. 318, and vol. i. p. 404.

6 Vol. i. p. 423.

7 Vol. ii. p. 85, and Apollonius Rhodius, Argonaut. II. 1012.

8 Chinese Observers record the length of Comets’ tails by cubits!

9 The map, perhaps, gives too favourable an idea of Marco’s geographical conceptions. For in such a construction much has to be supplied for which there are no data, and that is apt to take mould from modern knowledge. Just as in the book illustrations of ninety years ago we find that Princesses of Abyssinia, damsels of Otaheite, and Beauties of Mary Stuart’s Court have all somehow a savour of the high waists, low foreheads, and tight garments of 1810.

We are told that Prince Pedro of Portugal in 1426 received from the Signory of Venice a map which was supposed to be either an original or a copy of one by Marco Polo’s own hand. (Majors P. Henry, p. 62.) There is no evidence to justify any absolute expression of disbelief; and if any map-maker with the spirit of the author of the Carta Catalana then dwelt in Venice, Polo certainly could not have gone to his grave uncatechised. But I should suspect the map to have been a copy of the old one that existed in the Sala dello Scudo of the Ducal Palace.

The maps now to be seen painted on the walls of that Hall, and on which Polo’s route is marked, are not of any great interest. But in the middle of the 15th century there was an old Descriptio Orbis sive Mappamundus in the Hall, and when the apartment was renewed in 1459 a decree of the Senate ordered that such a map should be repainted on the new walls. This also perished by a fire in 1483. On the motion of Ramusio, in the next century, four new maps were painted. These had become dingy and ragged, when, in 1762, the Doge Marco Foscarini caused them to be renewed by the painter Francesco Grisellini. He professed to have adhered closely to the old maps, but he certainly did not, as Morelli testifies. Eastern Asia looks as if based on a work of Ramusio’s age, but Western Asia is of undoubtedly modern character. (See Operetti di Iacopo Morelli, Ven. 1820, I. 299.)

10 “Humboldt confirms the opinion I have more than once expressed that too much must not be inferred from the silence of authors. He adduces three important and perfectly undeniable matters of fact, as to which no evidence is to be found where it would be most anticipated: In the archives of Barcelona no trace of the triumphal entry of Columbus into that city; in Marco Polo no allusion to the Chinese Wall; in the archives of Portugal nothing about the voyages of Amerigo Vespucci in the service of that crown.” (Varnhagen v. Ense, quoted by Hayward, Essays, 2nd Ser. I. 36.) See regarding the Chinese Wall the remarks referred to above, at p. 292 of this volume.

11 [It is a strange fact that Polo never mentions the use of Tea in China, although he travelled through the Tea districts in Fu Kien, and tea was then as generally drunk by the Chinese as it is now. It is mentioned more than four centuries earlier by the Mohammedan merchant Soleyman, who visited China about the middle of the 9th century. He states (Reinaud, Relation des Voyages faits par les Arabes et les Persans dans l’Inde et à la Chine, 1845, I. 40): “The people of China are accustomed to use as a beverage an infusion of a plant, which they call sakh, and the leaves of which are aromatic and of a bitter taste. It is considered very wholesome. This plant (the leaves) is sold in all the cities of the empire.” (Bretschneider, Hist. Bot. Disc.I. p. 5.)— H. C.]

12 It is probable that Persian, which had long been the language of Turanian courts, was also the common tongue of foreigners at that of the Mongols. Pulisanghin and Zardandán, in the preceding list, are pure Persian. So are several of the Oriental phrases noted at p. 84. See also notes on Ondanique and Vernique at pp. 93 and 384 of this volume, on Tacuin at p. 448, and a note at p. 93 supra. The narratives of Odoric, and others of the early travellers to Cathay, afford corroborative examples. Lord Stanley of Alderley, in one of his contributions to the Hakluyt Series, has given evidence from experience that Chinese Mahomedans still preserve the knowledge of numerous Persian words.

13 Compare these errors with like errors of Herodotus, e.g., regarding the conspiracy of the False Smerdis. (See Rawlinson’s Introduction, p. 55.) There is a curious parallel between the two also in the supposed occasional use of Oriental state records, as in Herodotus’s accounts of the revenues of the satrapies, and of the army of Xerxes, and in Marco Polo’s account of Kinsay, and of the Kaan’s revenues. (Vol. ii pp. 185, 216.)

14 An example is seen in the voluminous Annali Musulmani of G. B. Rampoldi, Milan, 1825. This writer speaks of the Travels of Marco Polo with his brother and uncle; declares that he visited Tipango (sic), Java, Ceylon, and the Maldives, collected all the geographical notions of his age, traversed the two peninsulas of the Indies, examined the islands of Socotra, Madagascar, Sofala, and traversed with philosophic eye the regions of Zanguebar, Abyssinia, Nubia, and Egypt! and so forth (ix. 174). And whilst Malte–Brun bestows on Marco the sounding and ridiculous title of “the Humboldt of the 13th century,” he shows little real acquaintance with his Book. (See his Précis, ed. of 1836, I. 551 seqq.)

15 See for example vol. i. p. 338, and note 4 at p. 341; also vol. ii. p. 103. The descriptions in the style referred to recur in all seven times; but most of them (which are in Book IV.) have been omitted in this translation.

16 [On the subject of Moses of Chorene and his works, I must refer to the clever researches of the late Auguste Carrière, Professor of Armenian at the École des Langues Orientales. — H. C.]

17 Zacher, Forschungen zur Critik, &c., der Alexandersage, Halle, 1867, p. 108.

18 Even so sagacious a man as Roger Bacon quotes the fabulous letter of Alexander to Aristotle as authentic. (Opus Majus, p. 137.)

19 J. As. sér. VI. tom. xviii. p. 352.

20 See passage from Jacopo d’Acqui, supra, p. 54.

21 It is the transcriber of one of the Florence MSS. who appends this terminal note, worthy of Mrs. Nickleby:—

“Here ends the Book of Messer M. P. of Venice, written with mine own hand by me Amalio Bonaguisi when Podestà of Cierreto Guidi, to get rid of time and ennui. The contents seem to me incredible things, not lies so much as miracles; and it may be all very true what he says, but I don’t believe it; though to be sure throughout the world very different things are found in different countries. But these things, it has seemed to me in copying, are entertaining enough, but not things to believe or put any faith in; that at least is my opinion. And I finished copying this at Cierreto aforesaid, 12th November, A.D. 1392.”

22 Vulgar Errors, Bk. I. ch. viii.; Astley’s Voyages, IV. 583.

23 A few years before Marsden’s publication, the Historical branch of the R. S. of Science at Göttingen appears to have put forth as the subject of a prize Essay the Geography of the Travels of Carpini, Rubruquis, and especially of Marco Polo. (See L. of M. Polo, by Zurla, in Collezione di Vite e Ritratti d’Illustri Italiani. Pad. 1816.)

24 See Städtewesen des Mittelalters, by K. D. Hüllmann, Bonn, 1829, vol. iv.

After speaking of the Missions of Pope Innocent IV. and St. Lewis, this author sketches the Travels of the Polos, and then proceeds:—

“Such are the clumsily compiled contents of this ecclesiastical fiction (Kirchengeschichtlichen Dichtung) disguised as a Book of Travels, a thing devised generally in the spirit of the age, but specially in the interests of the Clergy and of Trade. . . . This compiler’s aim was analogous to that of the inventor of the Song of Roland, to kindle enthusiasm for the conversion of the Mongols, and so to facilitate commerce through their dominions. . . . Assuredly the Poli never got further than Great Bucharia, which was then reached by many Italian Travellers. What they have related of the regions of the Mongol Empire lying further east consists merely of recollections of the bazaar and travel-talk of traders from those countries; whilst the notices of India, Persia, Arabia, and Ethiopia, are borrowed from Arabic Works. The compiler no doubt carries his audacity in fiction a long way, when he makes his hero Marcus assert that he had been seventeen years in Kúblái’s service,” etc. etc. (pp. 360–362).

In the French edition of Malcolm’s History of Persia (II. 141), Marco is styled “prêtre Venetien”! I do not know whether this is due to Sir John or to the translator.

[Polo is also called “a Venetian Priest,” in a note, vol. i., p. 409, of the original edition of London, 1815, 2 vols., 4to. — H. C.]

xii. Contemporary Recognition of Polo and His Book.

How far was there diffusion of his Book in his own day?]

75. But we must return for a little to Polo’s own times. Ramusio states, as we have seen, that immediately after the first commission of Polo’s narrative to writing (in Latin as he imagined), many copies of it were made, it was translated into the vulgar tongue, and in a few months all Italy was full of it.

The few facts that we can collect do not justify this view of the rapid and diffused renown of the Traveller and his Book. The number of MSS. of the latter dating from the 14th century is no doubt considerable, but a large proportion of these are of Pipino’s condensed Latin Translation, which was not put forth, if we can trust Ramusio, till 1320, and certainly not much earlier. The whole number of MSS. in various languages that we have been able to register, amounts to about eighty. I find it difficult to obtain statistical data as to the comparative number of copies of different works existing in manuscript. With Dante’s great Poem, of which there are reckoned close upon 500 MSS.,1 comparison would be inappropriate. But of the Travels of Friar Odoric, a poor work indeed beside Marco Polo’s, I reckoned thirty-nine MSS., and could now add at least three more to the list. [I described seventy-three in my edition of Odoric. — H. C.] Also I find that of the nearly contemporary work of Brunetto Latini, the Tresor, a sort of condensed Encyclopaedia of knowledge, but a work which one would scarcely have expected to approach the popularity of Polo’s Book, the Editor enumerates some fifty MSS. And from the great frequency with which one encounters in Catalogues both MSS. and early printed editions of Sir John Maundevile, I should suppose that the lying wonders of our English Knight had a far greater popularity and more extensive diffusion than the veracious and more sober marvels of Polo.2 To Southern Italy Polo’s popularity certainly does not seem at any time to have extended. I cannot learn that any MS. of his Book exists in any Library of the late Kingdom of Naples or in Sicily.3

Dante, who lived for twenty-three years after Marco’s work was written, and who touches so many things in the seen and unseen Worlds, never alludes to Polo, nor I think to anything that can be connected with his Book. I believe that no mention of Cathay occurs in the Divina Commedia. That distant region is indeed mentioned more than once in the poems of a humbler contemporary, Francesco da Barberino, but there is nothing in his allusions besides this name to suggest any knowledge of Polo’s work.4

Neither can I discover any trace of Polo or his work in that of his contemporary and countryman, Marino Sanudo the Elder, though this worthy is well acquainted with the somewhat later work of Hayton, and many of the subjects which he touches in his own book would seem to challenge a reference to Marco’s labours.

Contemporary references to Polo.]

76. Of contemporary or nearly contemporary references to our Traveller by name, the following are all that I can produce, and none of them are new.

First there is the notice regarding his presentation of his book to Thibault de Cepoy, of which we need say no more (supra, p. 68).

Next there is the Preface to Friar Pipino’s Translation, which we give at length in the Appendix (E) to these notices. The phraseology of this appears to imply that Marco was still alive, and this agrees with the date assigned to the work by Ramusio. Pipino was also the author of a Chronicle, of which a part was printed by Muratori, and this contains chapters on the Tartar wars, the destruction of the Old Man of the Mountain, etc., derived from Polo. A passage not printed by Muratori has been extracted by Prof. Bianconi from a MS. of this Chronicle in the Modena Library, and runs as follows:—

“The matters which follow, concerning the magnificence of the Tartar Emperors, whom in their language they call Cham as we have said, are related by Marcus Paulus the Venetian in a certain Book of his which has been translated by me into Latin out of the Lombardic Vernacular. Having gained the notice of the Emperor himself and become attached to his service, he passed nearly 27 years in the Tartar countries.”5

Again we have that mention of Marco by Friar Jacopo d’Acqui, which we have quoted in connection with his capture by the Genoese, at p. 54.6 And the Florentine historian GIOVANNI VILLANI,7 when alluding to the Tartars, says:—

“Let him who would make full acquaintance with their history examine the book of Friar Hayton, Lord of Colcos in Armenia, which he made at the instance of Pope Clement V., and also the Book called Milione which was made by Messer Marco Polo of Venice, who tells much about their power and dominion, having spent a long time among them. And so let us quit the Tartars and return to our subject, the History of Florence.”8

Further contemporary references.]

77. Lastly, we learn from a curious passage in a medical work by PIETRO OF ABANO, a celebrated physician and philosopher, and a man of Polo’s own generation, that he was personally acquainted with the Traveller. In a discussion on the old notion of the non-habitability of the Equatorial regions, which Pietro controverts, he says:9

Illustration: Star at the Antarctic as sketched by Marco Polo10.

“In the country of the ZINGHI there is seen a star as big as a sack. I know a man who has seen it, and he told me it had a faint light like a piece of a cloud, and is always in the south.11 I have been told of this and other matters by MARCO the Venetian, the most extensive traveller and the most diligent inquirer whom I have ever known. He saw this same star under the Antarctic; he described it as having a great tail, and drew a figure of it thus. He also told me that he saw the Antarctic Pole at an altitude above the earth apparently equal to the length of a soldier’s lance, whilst the Arctic Pole was as much below the horizon. ’Tis from that place, he says, that they export to us camphor, lign-aloes, and brazil. He says the heat there is intense, and the habitations few. And these things he witnessed in a certain island at which he arrived by Sea. He tells me also that there are (wild?) men there, and also certain very great rams that have very coarse and stiff wool just like the bristles of our pigs.”12

In addition to these five I know no other contemporary references to Polo, nor indeed any other within the 14th century, though such there must surely be, excepting in a Chronicle written after the middle of that century by JOHN of YPRES, Abbot of St. Bertin, otherwise known as Friar John the Long, and himself a person of very high merit in the history of Travel, as a precursor of the Ramusios, Hakluyts and Purchases, for he collected together and translated (when needful) into French all of the most valuable works of Eastern Travel and Geography produced in the age immediately preceding his own.13 In his Chronicle the Abbot speaks at some length of the adventures of the Polo Family, concluding with a passage to which we have already had occasion to refer:

“And so Messers Nicolaus and Maffeus, with certain Tartars, were sent a second time to these parts; but Marcus Pauli was retained by the Emperor and employed in his military service, abiding with him for a space of 27 years. And the Cham, on account of his ability despatched him upon affairs of his to various parts of Tartary and India and the Islands, on which journeys he beheld many of the marvels of those regions. And concerning these he afterwards composed a book in the French vernacular, which said Book of Marvels, with others of the same kind, we do possess.” (Thesaur. Nov. Anecdot. III. 747.)

Curious borrowings from Polo in the Romance of Bauduin de Sebourc.]

78. There is, however, a notable work which is ascribed to a rather early date in the 14th century, and which, though it contains no reference to Polo by name, shows a thorough acquaintance with his book, and borrows themes largely from it This is the poetical Romance of Bauduin de Sebourc, an exceedingly clever and vivacious production, partaking largely of that bantering, half-mocking spirit which is, I believe, characteristic of many of the later mediaeval French Romances.14 Bauduin is a knight who, after a very wild and loose youth, goes through an extraordinary series of adventures, displaying great faith and courage, and eventually becomes King of Jerusalem. I will cite some of the traits evidently derived from our Traveller, which I have met with in a short examination of this curious work.

Bauduin, embarked on a dromond in the Indian Sea, is wrecked in the territory of Baudas, and near a city called Falise, which stands on the River of Baudas. The people of this city were an unbelieving race.

“Il ne créoient Dieu, Mahon, né Tervogant,

Ydole, cruchéfis, déable, né tirant.” P. 300.

Their only belief was this, that when a man died a great fire should be made beside his tomb, in which should be burned all his clothes, arms, and necessary furniture, whilst his horse and servant should be put to death, and then the dead man would have the benefit of all these useful properties in the other world.15 Moreover, if it was the king that died —

“Sé li rois de la terre i aloit trespassant,

* * * * *

Si fasoit-on tuer,.viij. jour en un tenant,

Tout chiaus c’on encontroit par la chité passant,

Pour tenir compaingnie leur ségnor soffisant.

Telle estoit le créanche ou païs dont je cant!”16 P. 301.

Baudin arrives when the king has been dead three days, and through dread of this custom all the people of the city are shut up in their houses. He enters an inn, and helps himself to a vast repast, having been fasting for three days. He is then seized and carried before the king, Polibans by name. We might have quoted this prince at p. 87 as an instance of the diffusion of the French tongue:

“Polibans sot Fransois, car on le doctrina:

j. renoiés de Franche. vij. ans i demora,

Qui li aprist Fransois, si que bel en parla.” P. 309.

Bauduin exclaims against their barbarous belief, and declares the Christian doctrine to the king, who acknowledges good points in it, but concludes:

“Vassaus, dist Polibans, à le chière hardie,

Jà ne crerrai vou Dieux, à nul jour de ma vie;

Né vostre Loy ne vaut une pomme pourie!” P. 311.

Bauduin proposes to prove his Faith by fighting the prince, himself unarmed, the latter with all his arms. The prince agrees, but is rather dismayed at Bauduin’s confidence, and desires his followers, in case of his own death, to burn with him horses, armour, etc., asking at the same time which of them would consent to burn along with him, in order to be his companions in the other world:

“Là en i ot. ij’e. dont cascuns s’escria:

Nous morons volentiers, quant vo corps mort sara!”17 P. 313.

Bauduin’s prayer for help is miraculously granted; Polibans is beaten, and converted by a vision. He tells Bauduin that in his neighbourhood, beyond Baudas —

       “ou. v. liewes, ou. vi.

Ché un felles prinches, orgoellieus et despis;

De la Rouge–Montaingne est Prinches et Marchis.

Or vous dirai comment il a ses gens nouris:

    Je vous di que chius Roys a fait un Paradis

Tant noble et gratieus, et plain de tels déliis,

* * * * *

Car en che Paradis est un riex establis,

Qui se partist en trois, en che noble pourpris:

En l’un coert li clarés, d’espises bien garnis;

Et en l’autre li miés, qui les a resouffis;

Et li vins di pieument i queurt par droit avis —

* * * * *

Il n’i vente, né gèle. Che liés est de samis,

De riches dras de soie, bien ouvrés à devis.

Et aveukes tout che que je chi vous devis,

I a. ij’e puchelles qui moult ont cler les vis,

Carolans et tresquans, menans gales et ris.

Et si est li dieuesse, dame et suppellatis,

Qui doctrine les autres et en fais et en dis,

Celle est la fille au Roy c’on dist des Haus–Assis.”18

Pp. 319–320.

This Lady Ivorine, the Old Man’s daughter, is described among other points as having —

“Les iex vairs com faucons, nobles et agentis.”19 P. 320.

The King of the Mountain collects all the young male children of the country, and has them brought up for nine or ten years:

“Dedens un lieu oscur: là les met-on toudis

Aveukes males bestes; kiens, et cas, et soris,

Culoères, et lisaerdes, escorpions petis.

Là endroit ne peut nuls avoir joie, né ris.” Pp. 320–321.

And after this dreary life they are shown the Paradise, and told that such shall be their portion if they do their Lord’s behest.

“S’il disoit à son homme: ‘Va-t-ent droit à Paris;

Si me fier d’un coutel le Roy de Saint Denis,

Jamais n’aresteroit, né par nuit né par dis,

S’aroit tué le Roy, voïant tous ches marchis;

Et déuist estre à fources traïnés et mal mis.’” P. 321.

Bauduin determines to see this Paradise and the lovely Ivorine. The road led by Baudas:

“Or avoit à che tamps, sé l’istoire ne ment,

En le chit de Baudas Kristiens jusqu’ à cent;

Qui manonent illoec par tréu d’argent,

Que cascuns cristiens au Roy–Calife rent.

    Li pères du Calife, qui régna longement,

Ama les Crestiens, et Dieu primièrement:

* * * * *

Et lor fist establir. j. monstier noble et gent,

Où Crestien faisoient faire lor sacrement.

Une mout noble pière lor donna proprement,

Où on avoit posé Mahon moult longement.”20 P. 322.

The story is, in fact, that which Marco relates of Samarkand.21 The Caliph dies. His son hates the Christians. His people complain of the toleration of the Christians and their minister; but he says his father had pledged him not to interfere, and he dared not forswear himself. If, without doing so, he could do them an ill turn, he would gladly. The people then suggest their claim to the stone:

“Or leur donna vos pères, dont che fu mesprisons.

Ceste pierre, biaus Sire, Crestiens demandons:

Il ne le porront rendre, pour vrai le vous disons,

Si li monstiers n’est mis et par pièches et par mons;

Et s’il estoit desfais, jamais ne le larons

Refaire chi-endroit. Ensément averons

Faites et acomplies nostres ententions.” P. 324.

The Caliph accordingly sends for Maistre Thumas, the Priest of the Christians, and tells him the stone must be given up:

“Il a. c. ans ut plus c’on i mist à solas

Mahon, le nostre Dieu: dont che n’est mie estas

Que li vous monstiers soit fais de nostre harnas!” P. 324.

Master Thomas, in great trouble, collects his flock, mounts the pulpit, and announces the calamity. Bauduin and his convert Polibans then arrive. Bauduin recommends confession, fasting, and prayer. They follow his advice, and on the third day the miracle occurs:

“L’escripture le dist, qui nous achertéfie

Que le pierre Mahon, qui ou mur fut fiquie,

Sali hors du piler, coi que nul vous en die,

Droit enmi le monstier, c’onques ne fut brisie.

Et demoura li traus, dont le pière ert widie,

Sans pière est sans quailliel, à cascune partie;

Chou deseure soustient, par divine maistrie,

Tout en air proprement, n’el tenés a falie.

    Encore le voit-on en ichelle partie:

Qui croire ne m’en voelt, si voist; car je l’en prie!” P. 327.

The Caliph comes to see, and declares it to be the Devil’s doing. Seeing Polibans, who is his cousin, he hails him, but Polibans draws back, avowing his Christian faith. The Caliph in a rage has him off to prison. Bauduin becomes very ill, and has to sell his horse and arms. His disease is so offensive that he is thrust out of his hostel, and in his wretchedness sitting on a stone he still avows his faith, and confesses that even then he has not received his deserts. He goes to beg in the Christian quarter, and no one gives to him; but still his faith and love to God hold out:

“Ensément Bauduins chelle rue cherqua,

Tant qu’à.j. chavetier Bauduins s’arresta,

Qui chavates cousoit; son pain en garigna:

Jones fu et plaisans, apertement ouvra.

Bauduins le regarde, c’onques mot ne parla.” P. 334.

The cobler is charitable, gives him bread, shoes, and a grey coat that was a foot too short. He then asks Bauduin if he will not learn his trade; but that is too much for the knightly stomach:

“Et Bauduins respont, li preus et li membrus:

J’ameroie trop miex que je fuisse pendus!” P. 335.

The Caliph now in his Council expresses his vexation about the miracle, and says he does not know how to disprove the faith of the Christians. A very sage old Saracen who knew Hebrew, and Latin, and some thirty languages, makes a suggestion, which is, in fact, that about the moving of the Mountain, as related by Marco Polo.22 Master Thomas is sent for again, and told that they must transport the high mountain of Thir to the valley of Joaquin, which lies to the westward. He goes away in new despair and causes his clerk to sonner le clocke for his people. Whilst they are weeping and wailing in the church, a voice is heard desiring them to seek a certain holy man who is at the good cobler’s, and to do him honour. God at his prayer will do a miracle. They go in procession to Bauduin, who thinks they are mocking him. They treat him as a saint, and strive to touch his old coat. At last he consents to pray along with the whole congregation.

The Caliph is in his palace with his princes, taking his ease at a window. Suddenly he starts up exclaiming:

“‘Seignour, par Mahoumet que j’aoure et tieng chier,

Le Mont de Thir enportent le déable d’enfeir!’

Li Califes s’écrie: ‘Seignour, franc palasin,

Voïés le Mont de Thir qui ch’est mis au chemin!

Vés-le-là tout en air, par mon Dieu Apolin;

Jà bientost le verrons ens ou val Joaquin!’” P. 345.

The Caliph is converted, releases Polibans, and is baptised, taking the name of Bauduin, to whom he expresses his fear of the Viex de la Montagne with his Hauts–Assis, telling anew the story of the Assassin’s Paradise, and so enlarges on the beauty of Ivorine that Bauduin is smitten, and his love heals his malady. Toleration is not learned however:

“Bauduins, li Califes, fist baptisier sa gent,

Et qui ne voilt Dieu crore, li teste on li pourfent!” P. 350.

The Caliph gives up his kingdom to Bauduin, proposing to follow him to the Wars of Syria. And Bauduin presents the Kingdom to the Cobler.

Bauduin, the Caliph, and Prince Polibans then proceed to visit the Mountain of the Old Man. The Caliph professes to him that they want help against Godfrey of Bouillon. The Viex says he does not give a bouton for Godfrey; he will send one of his Hauts–Assis straight to his tent, and give him a great knife of steel between fie et poumon!

After dinner they go out and witness the feat of devotion which we have quoted elsewhere.23 They then see the Paradise and the lovely Ivorine, with whose beauty Bauduin is struck dumb. The lady had never smiled before; now she declares that he for whom she had long waited was come. Bauduin exclaims:

“‘Madame, fu-jou chou qui sui le vous soubgis?’

Quant la puchelle l’ot, lors li geta. j. ris;

Et li dist: ‘Bauduins, vous estes mes amis!’” Pp. 362–363.

The Old One is vexed, but speaks pleasantly to his daughter, who replies with frightfully bad language, and declares herself to be a Christian. The father calls out to the Caliph to kill her. The Caliph pulls out a big knife and gives him a blow that nearly cuts him in two. The amiable Ivorine says she will go with Bauduin:

“‘Sé mes pères est mors, n’en donne. j. paresis!’” P. 364.

We need not follow the story further, as I did not trace beyond this point any distinct derivation from our Traveller, with the exception of that allusion to the incombustible covering of the napkin of St. Veronica, which I have quoted at p. 216 of this volume. But including this, here are at least seven different themes borrowed from Marco Polo’s book, on which to be sure his poetical contemporary plays the most extraordinary variations.

Chaucer and Marco Polo.]

[78 bis. — In the third volume of The Complete Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, Oxford, 1894, the Rev. Walter W. Skeat gives (pp. 372 seqq.) an Account of the Sources of the Canterbury Tales. Regarding The Squieres Tales, he says that one of his sources was the Travels of Marco; Mr. Keighley in his Tales and Popular Fictions, published in 1834, at p. 76, distinctly derives Chaucer’s Tale from the travels of Marco Polo. (Skeat, l. c., p. 463, note.) I cannot quote all the arguments given by the Rev. W. W. Skeat to support his theory, pp. 463–477.

Regarding the opinion of Professor Skeat of Chaucer’s indebtedness to Marco Polo, cf. Marco Polo and the Squire’s Tale, by Professor John Matthews Manly, vol. xi. of the Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 1896, pp. 349–362. Mr. Manly says (p. 360): “It seems clear, upon reviewing the whole problem, that if Chaucer used Marco Polo’s narrative, he either carelessly or intentionally confused all the features of the setting that could possibly be confused, and retained not a single really characteristic trait of any person, place or event. It is only by twisting everything that any part of Chaucer’s story can be brought into relation with any part of Polo’s. To do this might be allowable, if any rational explanation could be given for Chaucer’s supposed treatment of his ‘author,’ or if there were any scarcity of sources from which Chaucer might have obtained as much information about Tartary as he seems really to have possessed; but such an explanation would be difficult to devise, and there is no such scarcity. Any one of half a dozen accessible accounts could be distorted into almost if not quite as great resemblance to the Squire’s Tale as Marco Polo’s can.”

Mr. A. W. Pollard, in his edition of The Squire’s Tale (Lond., 1899) writes: “A very able paper, by Prof. J. M. Manly, demonstrates the needlessness of Prof. Skeat’s theory, which has introduced fresh complications into an already complicated story. My own belief is that, though we may illustrate the Squire’s Tale from these old accounts of Tartary, and especially from Marco Polo, because he has been so well edited by Colonel Yule, there is very little probability that Chaucer consulted any of them. It is much more likely that he found these details where he found more important parts of his story, i.e. in some lost romance. But if we must suppose that he provided his own local colour, we have no right to pin him down to using Marco Polo to the exclusion of other accessible authorities.” Mr. Pollard adds in a note (p. xiii.): “There are some features in these narratives, e.g. the account of the gorgeous dresses worn at the Kaan’s feast, which Chaucer with his love of colour could hardly have helped reproducing if he had known them.”— H. C.]

1 See Ferrazzi, Manuele Dantesca, Bassano, 1865, p. 729.

2 In Quaritch’s catalogue for Nov. 1870 there is only one old edition of Polo; there are nine of Maundevile. In 1839 there were nineteen MSS. of the latter author catalogued in the British Museum Library. There are now only six of Marco Polo. At least twenty-five editions of Maundevile and only five of Polo were printed in the 15th century.

3 I have made personal enquiry at the National Libraries of Naples and Palermo, at the Communal Library in the latter city, and at the Benedictine Libraries of Monte Cassino, Monreale, S. Martino, and Catania.

In the 15th century, when Polo’s book had become more generally diffused we find three copies of it in the Catalogue of the Library of Charles VI. of France, made at the Louvre in 1423, by order of the Duke of Bedford.

The estimates of value are curious. They are in sols parisis, which we shall not estimate very wrongly at a shilling each:—

“No. 295. Item. Marcus Paulus; en ung cahier escript de lettre formée en françois, à deux coulombes. Commt. ou ii’e fo. ‘deux frères prescheurs,’ et ou derrenier ‘que sa arrières.’ X. s. p.

“No. 334. Item. Marcus Paulus. Couvert de drap d’or, bien escript & enluminé, de lettre de forme en françois, à deux coulombes. Commt. ou ii’e fol.; ‘il fut Roys,’ & ou derrenier ‘propremen,’ à deux fermouers de laton. XV. s. p.

“No. 336. Item. Marcus Paulus; non enluminé, escript en françois, de lettre de forme. Commt. ou ii’e fo. ‘vocata moult grant,’ & ou derrenier ‘ilec dist il.’ Couvert de cuir blanc, à deux fermouers de laton. XII. s. p.

(Inventaire de la Bibliothèque du Roi Charles VI., etc. Paris, Société des Bibliophiles, 1867.)

4 See Del Reggimento e de’ Costumi delle donne di Messer Francesco da Barberino, Roma, 1815, pp. 166 and 271. The latter passage runs thus, on Slavery:—

“E fu indutta prima da Noé,

E fu cagion lo vin, perchè si egge:

Ch’ egli è un paese, dove

Son molti servi in parte di Cathay:

Che per questa cagione

Hanno a nimico il vino,

E non ne beon, nè voglion vedere.”

The author was born the year before Dante (1264), and though he lived to 1348 it is probable that the poems in question were written in his earlier years. Cathay was no doubt known by dim repute long before the final return of the Polos, both through the original journey of Nicolo and Maffeo, and by information gathered by the Missionary Friars. Indeed, in 1278 Pope Nicolas III., in consequence of information said to have come from Abaka Khan of Persia, that Kúblái was a baptised Christian, sent a party of Franciscans with a long letter to the Kaan Quobley, as he is termed. They never seem to have reached their destination. And in 1289 Nicolas IV. entrusted a similar mission to Friar John of Monte Corvino, which eventually led to very tangible results. Neither of the Papal letters, however, mentions Cathay. (See Mosheim, App. pp. 76 and 94.)

5 See Muratori, IX. 583, seqq.; Bianconi, Mem. I. p. 37.

6 This Friar makes a strange hotch-potch of what he had read, e.g.:

“The Tartars, when they came out of the mountains, made them a king, viz., the son of Prester John, who is thus vulgarly termed Vetulus de la Montagna!” (Mon. Hist. Patr. Script. III. 1557.)

7 G. Villani died in the great plague of 1348. But his book was begun soon after Marco’s was written, for he states that it was the sight of the memorials of greatness which he witnessed at Rome, during the Jubilee of 1300, that put it into his head to write the history of the rising glories of Florence, and that he began the work after his return home. (Bk. VIII. ch. 36.)

8 Book V. ch. 29.

9 Petri Aponensis Medici ac Philosophi Celeberrimi, Conciliator, Venice, 1521, fol. 97. Peter was born in 1250 at Abano, near Padua, and was Professor of Medicine at the University in the latter city. He twice fell into the claws of the Unholy Office, and only escaped them by death in 1316.

10 [It is curious that this figure is almost exactly that which among oriental carpets is called a “cloud.” I have heard the term so applied by Vincent Robinson. It often appears in old Persian carpets, and also in Chinese designs. Mr. Purdon Clarke tells me it is called nebula in heraldry; it is also called in Chinese by a term signifying cloud; in Persian, by a term which he called silen-i-khitai, but of this I can make nothing. — MS. Note by Yule.]

11 The great Magellanic cloud? In the account of Vincent Yanez Pinzon’s Voyage to the S.W. in 1499 as given in Ramusio (III. 15) after Pietro Martire d’Anghieria, it is said:—“Taking the astrolabe in hand, and ascertaining the Antarctic Pole, they did not see any star like our Pole Star; but they related that they saw another manner of stars very different from ours, and which they could not clearly discern because of a certain dimness which diffused itself about those stars, and obstructed the view of them.” Also the Kachh mariners told Lieutenant Leech that midway to Zanzibar there was a town (?) called Marethee, where the North Pole Star sinks below the horizon, and they steer by a fixed cloud in the heavens. (Bombay Govt. Selections, No. XV. N.S. p. 215.)

The great Magellan cloud is mentioned by an old Arab writer as a white blotch at the foot of Canopus, visible in the Tehama along the Red Sea, but not in Nejd or ‘Irák. Humboldt, in quoting this, calculates that in A.D. 1000 the Great Magellan would have been visible at Aden some degrees above the horizon. (Examen, V. 235.)

12 This passage contains points that are omitted in Polo’s book, besides the drawing implied to be from Marco’s own hand! The island is of course Sumatra. The animal is perhaps the peculiar Sumatran wild-goat, figured by Marsden, the hair of which on the back is “coarse and strong, almost like bristles.” (Sumatra, p. 115.)

13 A splendid example of Abbot John’s Collection is the Livre des Merveilles of the Great French Library (No. 18 in our App. F.). This contains Polo, Odoric, William of Boldensel, the Book of the Estate of the Great Kaan by the Archbishop of Soltania, Maundevile, Hayton, and Ricold of Montecroce, of which all but Polo and Maundevile are French versions by this excellent Long John. A list of the Polo miniatures is given in App. F. of this Edition, p. 527.

It is a question for which there is sufficient ground, whether the Persian Historians Rashiduddin and Wassáf, one or other or both, did not derive certain information that appears in their histories, from Marco Polo personally, he having spent many months in Persia, and at the Court of Tabriz, when either or both may have been there. Such passages as that about the Cotton-trees of Guzerat (vol. ii. p. 393, and note), those about the horse trade with Maabar (id. p. 340, and note), about the brother-kings of that country (id. p. 331), about the naked savages of Necuveram (id. p. 306), about the wild people of Sumatra calling themselves subjects of the Great Kaan (id. pp. 285, 292, 293, 299), have so strong a resemblance to parallel passages in one or both of the above historians, as given in the first and third volumes of Elliot, that the probability, at least, of the Persian writers having derived their information from Polo might be fairly maintained.

14 Li Romans de Bauduin de Sebourc III’e Roy de Jhérusalem; Poème du XIV’e Siècle; Valenciennes, 1841. 2 vols. 8vo. I was indebted to two references of M. Pauthier’s for knowledge of the existence of this work. He cites the legends of the Mountain, and of the Stone of the Saracens from an abstract, but does not seem to have consulted the work itself, nor to have been aware of the extent of its borrowings from Marco Polo. M. Génin, from whose account Pauthier quotes, ascribes the poem to an early date after the death of Philip the Fair (1314). See Pauthier, pp. 57, 58, and 140.

15 See Polo, vol. i. p. 204, and vol. ii. p. 191.

16 See Polo, vol. i. p. 246.

17 See Polo, vol. ii. p. 339.

18 See Polo, vol. i. p. 140. Hashishi has got altered into Haus Assis.

19 See vol. i. p. 358, note.

20 See vol. i. p. 189, note 2.

21 Vol. i. pp. 183–186.

22 Vol. i. pp. 68 seqq. The virtuous cobler is not left out, but is made to play second fiddle to the hero Bauduin

23 Vol. i. p. 144.

xiii. Nature of Polo’s Influence on Geographical Knowledge.

Tardy operation, and causes thereof.]

79. Marco Polo contributed such a vast amount of new facts to the knowledge of the Earth’s surface, that one might have expected his book to have had a sudden effect upon the Science of Geography: but no such result occurred speedily, nor was its beneficial effect of any long duration.

No doubt several causes contributed to the slowness of its action upon the notions of Cosmographers, of which the unreal character attributed to the Book, as a collection of romantic marvels rather than of geographical and historical facts, may have been one, as Santarem urges. But the essential causes were no doubt the imperfect nature of publication before the invention of the press; the traditional character which clogged geography as well as all other branches of knowledge in the Middle Ages; and the entire absence of scientific principle in what passed for geography, so that there was no organ competent to the assimilation of a large mass of new knowledge.

Of the action of the first cause no examples can be more striking than we find in the false conception of the Caspian as a gulf of the Ocean, entertained by Strabo, and the opposite error in regard to the Indian Sea held by Ptolemy, who regards it as an enclosed basin, when we contrast these with the correct ideas on both subjects possessed by Herodotus. The later Geographers no doubt knew his statements, but did not appreciate them, probably from not possessing the evidence on which they were based.

General characteristics of Mediaeval Cosmography.]

80. As regards the second cause alleged, we may say that down nearly to the middle of the 15th century cosmographers, as a rule, made scarcely any attempt to reform their maps by any elaborate search for new matter, or by lights that might be collected from recent travellers. Their world was in its outline that handed down by the traditions of their craft, as sanctioned by some Father of the Church, such as Orosius or Isidore, as sprinkled with a combination of classical and mediaeval legend; Solinus being the great authority for the former. Almost universally the earth’s surface is represented as filling the greater part of a circular disk, rounded by the ocean; a fashion that already existed in the time of Aristotle and was ridiculed by him.1 No dogma of false geography was more persistent or more pernicious than this. Jerusalem occupies the central point, because it was found written in the Prophet Ezekiel: “Haec dicit Dominus Deus: Ista est Jerusalem, in medio gentium posui eam, et in circuitu ejus terras;"2 a declaration supposed to be corroborated by the Psalmist’s expression, regarded as prophetic of the death of Our Lord: “Deus autem, Rex noster, ante secula operatus est salutem in medio Terrae” (Ps. lxxiii. 12).3 The Terrestrial Paradise was represented as occupying the extreme East, because it was found in Genesis that the Lord planted a garden east ward in Eden.4 Gog and Magog were set in the far north or north-east, because it was said again in Ezekiel: “Ecce Ego super te Gog Principem capitis Mosoch et Thubal . . . et ascendere te faciam de lateribus Aquilonis,” whilst probably the topography of those mysterious nationalities was completed by a girdle of mountains out of the Alexandrian Fables. The loose and scanty nomenclature was mainly borrowed from Pliny or Mela through such Fathers as we have named; whilst vacant spaces were occupied by Amazons, Arimaspians, and the realm of Prester John. A favourite representation of the inhabited earth was this [Symbol]; a great O enclosing a T, which thus divides the circle in three parts; the greater or half-circle being Asia, the two quarter circles Europe and Africa.5 These Maps were known to St. Augustine.6

Roger Bacon as a geographer.]

81. Even Ptolemy seems to have been almost unknown; and indeed had his Geography been studied it might, with all its errors, have tended to some greater endeavours after accuracy. Roger Bacon, whilst lamenting the exceeding deficiency of geographical knowledge in the Latin world, and purposing to essay an exacter distribution of countries, says he will not attempt to do so by latitude and longitude, for that is a system of which the Latins have learned nothing. He himself, whilst still somewhat burdened by the authoritative dicta of “saints and sages” of past times, ventures at least to criticise some of the latter, such as Pliny and Ptolemy, and declares his intention to have recourse to the information of those who have travelled most extensively over the Earth’s surface. And judging from the good use he makes, in his description of the northern parts of the world, of the Travels of Rubruquis, whom he had known and questioned, besides diligently studying his narrative,7 we might have expected much in Geography from this great man, had similar materials been available to him for other parts of the earth. He did attempt a map with mathematical determination of places, but it has not been preserved.8

It may be said with general truth that the world-maps current up to the end of the 13th century had more analogy to the mythical cosmography of the Hindus than to any thing properly geographical. Both, no doubt, were originally based in the main on real features. In the Hindu cosmography these genuine features are symmetrised as in a kaleidoscope; in the European cartography they are squeezed together in a manner that one can only compare to a pig in brawn. Here and there some feature strangely compressed and distorted is just recognisable. A splendid example of this kind of map is that famous one at Hereford, executed about A.D. 1275, of which a facsimile has lately been published, accompanied by a highly meritorious illustrative Essay.9

82. Among the Arabs many able men, from the early days of Islám, took an interest in Geography, and devoted labour to geographical compilations, in which they often made use of their own observations, of the itineraries of travellers, and of other fresh knowledge. But somehow or other their maps were always far behind their books. Though they appear to have had an early translation of Ptolemy, and elaborate Tables of Latitudes and Longitudes form a prominent feature in many of their geographical treatises, there appears to be no Arabic map in existence, laid down with meridians and parallels; whilst all of their best known maps are on the old system of the circular disk. This apparent incapacity for map-making appears to have acted as a heavy drag and bar upon progress in Geography among the Arabs, notwithstanding its early promise among them, and in spite of the application to its furtherance of the great intellects of some (such as Abu Rihán al-Biruni), and of the indefatigable spirit of travel and omnivorous curiosity of others (such as Mas’údi).

Marino Sanudo the Elder.]

83. Some distinct trace of acquaintance with the Arabian Geography is to be found in the World–Map of Marino Sanudo the Elder, constructed between 1300 and 1320; and this may be regarded as an exceptionally favourable specimen of the cosmography in vogue, for the author was a diligent investigator and compiler, who evidently took a considerable interest in geographical questions, and had a strong enjoyment and appreciation of a map.10 Nor is the map in question without some result of these characteristics. His representation of Europe, Northern Africa, Syria, Asia Minor, Arabia and its two gulfs, is a fair approximation to general facts; his collected knowledge has enabled him to locate, with more or less of general truth, Georgia, the Iron Gates, Cathay, the Plain of Moghan, Euphrates and Tigris, Persia, Bagdad, Kais, Aden (though on the wrong side of the Red Sea), Abyssinia (Habesh), Zangibar (Zinz), Jidda (Zede), etc. But after all the traditional forms are too strong for him. Jerusalem is still the centre of the disk of the habitable earth, so that the distance is as great from Syria to Gades in the extreme West, as from Syria to the India Interior of Prester John which terminates the extreme East. And Africa beyond the Arabian Gulf is carried, according to the Arabian modification of Ptolemy’s misconception, far to the eastward until it almost meets the prominent shores of India.

The Catalan Map of 1375, the most complete mediaeval embodiment of Polo’s Geography.]

84. The first genuine mediaeval attempt at a geographical construction that I know of, absolutely free from the traditional idola, is the Map of the known World from the Portulano Mediceo (in the Laurentian Library), of which an extract is engraved in the atlas of Baldelli–Boni’s Polo. I need not describe it, however, because I cannot satisfy myself that it makes much use of Polo’s contributions, and its facts have been embodied in a more ambitious work of the next generation, the celebrated Catalan Map of 1375 in the great Library of Paris. This also, but on a larger scale and in a more comprehensive manner, is an honest endeavour to represent the known world on the basis of collected facts, casting aside all theories pseudo-scientific or pseudo-theological; and a very remarkable work it is. In this map it seems to me Marco Polo’s influence, I will not say on geography, but on map-making, is seen to the greatest advantage. His Book is the basis of the Map as regards Central and Further Asia, and partially as regards India. His names are often sadly perverted, and it is not always easy to understand the view that the compiler took of his itineraries. Still we have Cathay admirably placed in the true position of China, as a great Empire filling the south-east of Asia. The Eastern Peninsula of India is indeed absent altogether, but the Peninsula of Hither India is for the first time in the History of Geography represented with a fair approximation to its correct form and position,11 and Sumatra also (Java) is not badly placed. Carajan, Vocian, Mien, and Bangala, are located with a happy conception of their relation to Cathay and to India. Many details in India foreign to Polo’s book,12 and some in Cathay (as well as in Turkestan and Siberia, which have been entirely derived from other sources) have been embodied in the Map. But the study of his Book has, I conceive, been essentially the basis of those great portions which I have specified, and the additional matter has not been in mass sufficient to perplex the compiler. Hence we really see in this Map something like the idea of Asia that the Traveller himself would have presented, had he bequeathed a Map to us.

[Some years ago, I made a special study of the Far East in the Catalan Map. (L’Extrême-Orient dans l’Atlas catalan de Charles V., Paris, 1895), and I have come to the conclusion that the cartographer’s knowledge of Eastern Asia is drawn almost entirely from Marco Polo. We give a reproduction of part of the Catalan Map. — H. C.]

Confusions in Cartography of the 16th century, from the endeavour to combine new and old information.]

85. In the following age we find more frequent indications that Polo’s book was diffused and read. And now that the spirit of discovery began to stir, it was apparently regarded in a juster light as a Book of Facts, and not as a mere Romman du Grant Kaan.13 But in fact this age produced new supplies of crude information in greater abundance than the knowledge of geographers was prepared to digest or co-ordinate, and the consequence is that the magnificent Work of Fra Mauro (1459), though the result of immense labour in the collection of facts and the endeavour to combine them, really gives a considerably less accurate idea of Asia than that which the Catalan Map had afforded.14

And when at a still later date the great burst of discovery eastward and westward took effect, the results of all attempts to combine the new knowledge with the old was most unhappy. The first and crudest forms of such combinations attempted to realise the ideas of Columbus regarding the identity of his discoveries with the regions of the Great Kaan’s dominion;15 but even after AMERICA had vindicated its independent position on the surface of the globe, and the new knowledge of the Portuguese had introduced CHINA where the Catalan Map of the 14th century had presented CATHAY, the latter country, with the whole of Polo’s nomenclature, was shoved away to the north, forming a separate system.16 Henceforward the influence of Polo’s work on maps was simply injurious; and when to his nomenclature was added a sprinkling of Ptolemy’s, as was usual throughout the 16th century, the result was a most extraordinary hotch-potch, conveying no approximation to any consistent representation of facts.

Thus, in a map of 1522,17 running the eye along the north of Europe and Asia from West to East, we find the following succession of names: Groenlandia, or Greenland, as a great peninsula overlapping that of Norvegia and Suecia; Livonia, Plescovia and Moscovia, Tartaria bounded on the South by Scithia extra Imaum, and on the East, by the Rivers Ochardes and Bautisis (out of Ptolemy), which are made to flow into the Arctic Sea. South of these are Aureacithis and Asmirea (Ptolemy’s Auxacitis and Asmiraea), and Serica Regio. Then following the northern coast Balor Regio,18 Judei Clausi, i.e. the Ten Tribes who are constantly associated or confounded with the Shut-up Nations of Gog and Magog. These impinge upon the River Polisacus, flowing into the Northern Ocean in Lat. 75°, but which is in fact no other than Polo’s Pulisanghin!19 Immediately south of this is Tholomon Provincia (Polo’s again), and on the coast Tangut, Cathaya, the Rivers Caramoran and Oman (a misreading of Polo’s Quian), Quinsay and Mangi.

Gradual disappearance of Polo’s nomenclature.]

86. The Maps of Mercator (1587) and Magini (1597) are similar in character, but more elaborate, introducing China as a separate system. Such indeed also is Blaeu’s Map (1663) excepting that Ptolemy’s contributions are reduced to one or two.

In Sanson’s Map (1659) the data of Polo and the mediaeval Travellers are more cautiously handled, but a new element of confusion is introduced in the form of numerous features derived from Edrisi.

It is scarcely worth while to follow the matter further. With the increase of knowledge of Northern Asia from the Russian side, and that of China from the Maps of Martini, followed by the surveys of the Jesuits, and with the real science brought to bear on Asiatic Geography by such men as De l’Isle and D’Anville, mere traditional nomenclature gradually disappeared. And the task which the study of Polo has provided for the geographers of later days has been chiefly that of determining the true localities that his book describes under obsolete or corrupted names.

[My late illustrious friend, Baron A. E. Nordenskiöld, who has devoted much time and labour to the study of Marco Polo (see his Periplus, Stockholm, 1897), and published a facsimile edition of one of the French MSS. kept in the Stockholm Royal Library (see vol. ii. Bibliography, p. 570), has given to The Geographical Journal for April, 1899, pp. 396–406, a paper on The Influence of the “Travels of Marco Polo” on Jacobo Gastaldi’s Maps of Asia. He writes (p. 398) that as far as he knows, none “of the many learned men who have devoted their attention to the discoveries of Marco Polo, have been able to refer to any maps in which all or almost all those places mentioned by Marco Polo are given. All friends of the history of geography will therefore be glad to hear that such an atlas from the middle of the sixteenth century really does exist, viz. Gastaldi’s ‘Prima, seconda e terza parte dell Asia.’” All the names of places in Ramusio’s Marco Polo are introduced in the maps of Asia of Jacobo Gastaldi (1561). Cf. Periplus, liv., lv., and lvi.

I may refer to what both Yule and myself say supra of the Catalan Map. — H. C.]

Alleged introduction of Block-printed Books into Europe by Marco Polo.]

87. Before concluding, it may be desirable to say a few words on the subject of important knowledge other than geographical, which various persons have supposed that Marco Polo must have introduced from Eastern Asia to Europe.

Respecting the mariner’s compass and gunpowder I shall say nothing, as no one now, I believe, imagines Marco to have had anything to do with their introduction. But from a highly respectable source in recent years we have seen the introduction of Block-printing into Europe connected with the name of our Traveller. The circumstances are stated as follows:20

“In the beginning of the 15th century a man named Pamphilo Castaldi, of Feltre . . . was employed by the Seignory or Government of the Republic, to engross deeds and public edicts of various kinds . . . the initial letters at the commencement of the writing being usually ornamented with red ink, or illuminated in gold and colours

“According to Sansovino, certain stamps or types had been invented some time previously by Pietro di Natali, Bishop of Aquiloea.21 These were made at Murano of glass, and were used to stamp or print the outline of the large initial letters of public documents, which were afterwards filled up by hand. . . . Pamphilo Castaldi improved on these glass types, by having others made of wood or metal, and having seen several Chinese books which the famous traveller Marco Polo had brought from China, and of which the entire text was printed with wooden blocks, he caused moveable wooden types to be made, each type containing a single letter; and with these he printed several broadsides and single leaves, at Venice, in the year 1426. Some of these single sheets are said to be preserved among the archives at Feltre. . . .

“The tradition continues that John Faust, of Mayence . . . became acquainted with Castaldi, and passed some time with him, at his Scriptorium, . . . at Feltre;”

and in short developed from the knowledge so acquired the great invention of printing. Mr. Curzon goes on to say that Panfilo Castaldi was born in 1398, and died in 1490, and that he gives the story as he found it in an article written by Dr. Jacopo Facen, of Feltre, in a (Venetian?) newspaper called Il Gondoliere, No. 103, of 27th December, 1843.

In a later paper Mr. Curzon thus recurs to the subject:22

“Though none of the early block-books have dates affixed to them, many of them are with reason supposed to be more ancient than any books printed with moveable types. Their resemblance to Chinese block-books is so exact, that they would almost seem to be copied from the books commonly used in China. The impressions are taken off on one side of the paper only, and in binding, both the Chinese, and ancient German, or Dutch block-books, the blank sides of the pages are placed opposite each other, and sometimes pasted together. . . . The impressions are not taken off with printer’s ink, but with a brown paint or colour, of a much thinner description, more in the nature of Indian ink, as we call it, which is used in printing Chinese books. Altogether the German and Oriental block-books are so precisely alike, in almost every respect, that . . . we must suppose that the process of printing then must have been copied from ancient Chinese specimens, brought from that country by some early travellers, whose names have not been handed down to our times.”

The writer then refers to the tradition about Guttemberg (so it is stated on this occasion, not Faust) having learned Castaldi’s art, etc., mentioning a circumstance which he supposes to indicate that Guttemberg had relations with Venice; and appears to assent to the probability of the story of the art having been founded on specimens brought home by Marco Polo.

This story was in recent years diligently propagated in Northern Italy, and resulted in the erection at Feltre of a public statue of Panfilo Castaldi, bearing this inscription (besides others of like tenor):—

To Panfilo Castaldi the illustrious Inventor of Movable Printing Types, Italy renders this Tribute of Honour, too long deferred.

In the first edition of this book I devoted a special note to the exposure of the worthlessness of the evidence for this story.23 This note was, with the present Essay, translated and published at Venice by Comm. Berchet, but this challenge to the supporters of the patriotic romance, so far as I have heard, brought none of them into the lists in its defence.

But since Castaldi has got his statue from the printers of Lombardy, would it not be mere equity that the mariners of Spain should set up a statue at Huelva to the Pilot Alonzo Sanchez of that port, who, according to Spanish historians, after discovering the New World, died in the house of Columbus at Terceira, and left the crafty Genoese to appropriate his journals, and rob him of his fame?

Seriously; if anybody in Feltre cares for the real reputation of his native city, let him do his best to have that preposterous and discreditable fiction removed from the base of the statue. If Castaldi has deserved a statue on other and truer grounds let him stand; if not, let him be burnt into honest lime! I imagine that the original story that attracted Mr. Curzon was more jeu d’esprit than anything else; but that the author, finding what a stone he had set rolling, did not venture to retract.

Frequent opportunities for such introduction in the age following Polo’s.]

88. Mr. Curzon’s own observations, which I have italicised about the resemblance of the two systems are, however, very striking, and seem clearly to indicate the derivation of the art from China. But I should suppose that in the tradition, if there ever was any genuine tradition of the kind at Feltre (a circumstance worthy of all doubt), the name of Marco Polo was introduced merely because it was so prominent a name in Eastern Travel. The fact has been generally overlooked and forgotten24 that, for many years in the course of the 14th century, not only were missionaries of the Roman Church and Houses of the Franciscan Order established in the chief cities of China, but a regular trade was carried on overland between Italy and China, by way of Tana (or Azov), Astracan, Otrar and Kamul, insomuch that instructions for the Italian merchant following that route form the two first chapters in the Mercantile Handbook of Balducci Pegolotti (circa 1340).25 Many a traveller besides Marco Polo might therefore have brought home the block-books. And this is the less to be ascribed to him because he so curiously omits to speak of the art of printing, when his subject seems absolutely to challenge its description.

1 “They draw nowadays the map of the world in a laughable manner, for they draw the inhabited earth as a circle; but this is impossible, both from what we see and from reason.” (Meteorolog. Lib. II. cap. 5.) Cf. Herodotus, iv. 36.

2 In Dante’s Cosmography, Jerusalem is the centre of our [Greek: oikouménae], whilst the Mount of Purgatory occupies the middle of the Antipodal hemisphere:—

“Come ciò sia, se’l vuoi poter pensare,

    Dentro raccolto immagina Sion

    Con questo monte in su la terra stare,

Sì, ch’ ambodue hann’ un solo orrizon

    E diversi emisperi”. . . .

        — Purg. IV. 67.

3 The belief, with this latter ground of it, is alluded to in curious verses by Jacopo Alighieri, Dante’s son:—

E molti gran Profeti

Filosofi e Poeti

Fanno il colco dell’ Emme

Dov’ è Gerusalemme;

Se le loro scritture

Hanno vere figure:

E per la Santa fede

Cristiana ancor si vede

Che’ l’ suo principio Cristo

Nel suo mezzo conquisto

Per cui prese morte

E vi pose la sorte.”

(Rime Antiche Toscane, III. 9.)

Though the general meaning of the second couplet is obvious, the expression il colco dell’ Emme, “the couch of the M,” is puzzling. The best solution that occurs to me is this: In looking at the world map of Marino Sanudo, noticed on p. 133, as engraved by Bongars in the Gesta Dei per Francos, you find geometrical lines laid down, connecting the N.E., N.W., S.E., and S.W. points, and thus forming a square inscribed in the circular disk of the Earth, with its diagonals passing through the Central Zion. The eye easily discerns in these a great M inscribed in the circle, with its middle angular point at Jerusalem. Gervasius of Tilbury (with some confusion in his mind between tropic and equinoxial, like that which Pliny makes in speaking of the Indian Mons Malleus) says that “some are of opinion that the Centre is in the place where the Lord spoke to the woman of Samaria at the well, for there, at the summer solstice, the noonday sun descends perpendicularly into the water of the well, casting no shadow; a thing which the philosophers say occurs at Syene”! (Otia Imperialia, by Liebrecht, p. 1.)

4 This circumstance does not, however, show in the Vulgate.

5 “Veggiamo in prima in general la terra

Come risiede e come il mar la serra.

Un T dentro ad un O mostra il disegno

    Come in tre parti fu diviso il Mondo,

    E la superiore è il maggior regno

    Che quasi piglia la metà del tondo.

ASIA chiamata: il gambo ritto è segno

Che parte il terzo nome dal secondo

AFFRICA dico da EUROPA: il mare

Mediterran tra esse in mezzo appare.”

        — La Sfera, di F. Leonardo di Stagio Dati, Lib. iii. st. 11.

6 De Civ. Dei, xvi. 17, quoted by Peschel, 92.

7 Opus Majus, Venice ed. pp. 142, seqq.

8 Peschel, p. 195. This had escaped me.

9 By the Rev. W. L. Bevan, M.A., and the Rev. H. W. Phillott, M.A. In Asia, they point out, the only name showing any recognition of modern knowledge is Samarcand.

10 His work, Liber Secretorum Fidelium Crucis, intended to stimulate a new Crusade, has three capital maps, besides that of the World, one of which, translated, but otherwise in facsimile, is given at p. 18 of this volume. But besides these maps, he gives, in a tabular form of parallel columns, the reigning sovereigns in Europe and Asia connected with his historical retrospect, just on the plan presented in Sir Harris Nicolas’s Chronology of History.

11 I do not see that al-Birúni deserves the credit in this respect assigned to him by Professor Peschel, so far as one can judge from the data given by Sprenger (Peschel, p. 128; Post und Reise–Routen, 81–82.)

12 For example, Delli, which Polo does not name; Diogil (Deogír); on the Coromandel coast Setemelti, which I take to be a clerical error for Sette–Templi, the Seven Pagodas; round the Gulf of Cambay we have Cambetum (Kambayat), Cocintaya (Kokan–Tana, see vol. ii. p. 396), Goga, Baroche, Neruala (Anharwala), and to the north Moltan. Below Multan are Hocibelch and Bargelidoa, two puzzles. The former is, I think, Uch-baligh, showing that part of the information was from Perso–Mongol sources.

13 I see it stated by competent authority that Romman is often applied to any prose composition in a Romance language.

In or about 1426, Prince Pedro of Portugal, the elder brother of the illustrious Prince Henry, being on a visit to Venice, was presented by the Signory with a copy of Marco Polo’s book, together with a map already alluded to. (Major’s P. Henry, pp. 61, 62.)

14 This is partly due also to Fra Mauro’s reversion to the fancy of the circular disk limiting the inhabited portion of the earth.

15 An early graphic instance of this is Ruysch’s famous map (1508). The following extract of a work printed as late as 1533 is an example of the like confusion in verbal description: “The Territories which are beyond the limits of Ptolemy’s Tables have not yet been described on certain authority. Behind the Sinae and the Seres, and beyond 180° of East Longitude, many countries were discovered by one [quendam] Marco Polo a Venetian and others, and the sea-coasts of those countries have now recently again been explored by Columbus the Genoese and Amerigo Vespucci in navigating the Western Ocean. . . . To this part (of Asia) belong the territory called that of the Bachalaos [or Codfish, Newfoundland], Florida, the Desert of Lop, Tangut, Cathay, the realm of Mexico (wherein is the vast city of Temistitan, built in the middle of a great lake, but which the older travellers styled QUINSAY), besides Paria, Uraba, and the countries of the Canibals.” (Joannis Schoneri Carolostadtii Opusculum Geogr., quoted by Humboldt, Examen, V. 171, 172.)

16 In Robert Parke’s Dedication of his Translation of Mendoza’s, London, 1st of January, 1589, he identifies China and Japan with the regions of which Paulus Venetus and Sir John Mandeuill “wrote long agoe.” — MS. Note by Yule.

17Totius Europae et Asiae Tabula Geographica, Auctore Thoma D. Aucupario. Edita Argentorati, MDXXII.” Copied in Witsen.

18 This strange association of Balor (i.e., Bolor, that name of so many odd vicissitudes, see pp. 178–179 infra) with the shut-up Israelites must be traced to a passage which Athanasius Kircher quotes from R. Abraham Pizol (qu. Peritsol?): “Regnum, inquit, Belor magnum et excelsum nimis, juxta omnes illos qui scripserunt Historicos. Sunt in eo Judaei plurimi inclusi, et illud in latere Orientali et Boreali,” etc. (China Illustrata, p. 49.)

19 Vol. ii. p. 1.

20 A short Account of Libraries of Italy, by the Hon. R. Curzon (the late Lord de la Zouche); in Bibliog. and Hist. Miscellanies; Philobiblon Society, vol. i, 1854, pp. 6. seqq.

21 P. del Natali was Bishop of Equilio, a city of the Venetian Lagoons, in the latter part of the 14th century. (See Ughelli, Italia Sacra, X. 87.) There is no ground whatever for connecting him with these inventions. The story of the glass types appears to rest entirely and solely on one obscure passage of Sansovino, who says that under the Doge Marco Corner (1365–1367): “certe Natale Veneto lasciò un libro della materie delle forme da giustar intorno alle lettere, ed il modo di formarle di vetro.” There is absolutely nothing more. Some kind of stencilling seems indicated.

22 History of Printing in China and Europe, in Philobiblon, vol. vi. p. 23.

23 See Appendix L. in First Edition.

24 Ramusio himself appears to have been entirely unconscious of it, vide supra, p. 3

25 This subject has been fully treated in Cathay and the Way Thither.

xiv. Explanations Regarding the Basis Adopted for the Present Translation.

89. It remains to say a few words regarding the basis adopted for our English version of the Traveller’s record.

Text followed by Marsden and by Pauthier.]

Ramusio’s recension was that which Marsden selected for translation. But at the date of his most meritorious publication nothing was known of the real literary history of Polo’s Book, and no one was aware of the peculiar value and originality of the French manuscript texts, nor had Marsden seen any of them. A translation from one of those texts is a translation at first hand; a translation from Ramusio’s Italian is, as far as I can judge, the translation of a translated compilation from two or more translations, and therefore, whatever be the merits of its matter, inevitably carries us far away from the spirit and style of the original narrator. M. Pauthier, I think, did well in adopting for the text of his edition the MSS. which I have classed as of the second Type, the more as there had hitherto been no publication from those texts. But editing a text in the original language, and translating, are tasks substantially different in their demands.

Eclectic formation of the English Text of this Translation.]

90. It will be clear from what has been said in the preceding pages that I should not regard as a fair or full representation of Polo’s Work, a version on which the Geographic Text did not exercise a material influence. But to adopt that Text, with all its awkwardnesses and tautologies, as the absolute subject of translation, would have been a mistake. What I have done has been, in the first instance, to translate from Pauthier’s Text. The process of abridgment in this text, however it came about, has been on the whole judiciously executed, getting rid of the intolerable prolixities of manner which belong to many parts of the Original Dictation, but as a general rule preserving the matter. Having translated this — not always from the Text adopted by Pauthier himself, but with the exercise of my own judgment on the various readings which that Editor lays before us — I then compared the translation with the Geographic Text, and transferred from the latter not only all items of real substance that had been omitted, but also all expressions of special interest and character, and occasionally a greater fulness of phraseology where condensation in Pauthier’s text seemed to have been carried too far. And finally I introduced between brackets everything peculiar to Ramusio’s version that seemed to me to have a just claim to be reckoned authentic, and that could be so introduced without harshness or mutilation. Many passages from the same source which were of interest in themselves, but failed to meet one or other of these conditions, have been given in the notes.1

Mode of rendering proper names.]

91. As regards the reading of proper names and foreign words, in which there is so much variation in the different MSS. and editions, I have done my best to select what seemed to be the true reading from the G. T. and Pauthier’s three MSS., only in some rare instances transgressing this limit.

Where the MSS. in the repetition of a name afforded a choice of forms, I have selected that which came nearest the real name when known. Thus the G. T. affords Baldasciain, Badascian, Badasciam, Badausiam, Balasian. I adopt BADASCIAN, or in English spelling BADASHAN, because it is closest to the real name Badakhshan. Another place appears as COBINAN, Cabanat, Cobian. I adopt the first because it is the truest expression of the real name Koh-benán. In chapters 23, 24 of Book I., we have in the G. T. Asisim, Asciscin, Asescin, and in Pauthier’s MSS. Hasisins, Harsisins, etc. I adopt ASCISCIN, or in English spelling ASHISHIN, for the same reason as before. So with Creman, Crerman, Crermain, QUERMAN, Anglicè KERMAN; Cormos, HORMOS, and many more.2

In two or three cases I have adopted a reading which I cannot show literatim in any authority, but because such a form appears to be the just resultant from the variety of readings which are presented; as in surveying one takes the mean of a number of observations when no one can claim an absolute preference.

Polo’s proper names, even in the French Texts, are in the main formed on an Italian fashion of spelling.3 I see no object in preserving such spelling in an English book, so after selecting the best reading of the name I express it in English spelling, printing Badashan, Pashai, Kerman, instead of Badascian, Pasciai, Querman, and so on.

And when a little trouble has been taken to ascertain the true form and force of Polo’s spelling of Oriental names and technical expressions, it will be found that they are in the main as accurate as Italian lips and orthography will admit, and not justly liable either to those disparaging epithets4 or to those exegetical distortions which have been too often applied to them. Thus, for example, Cocacin, Ghel or Ghelan, Tonocain, Cobinan, Ondanique, Barguerlac, Argon, Sensin, Quescican, Toscaol, Bularguci, Zardandan, Anin, Caugigu, Coloman, Gauenispola, Mutfili, Avarian, Choiach, are not, it will be seen, the ignorant blunderings which the interpretations affixed by some commentators would imply them to be, but are, on the contrary, all but perfectly accurate utterances of the names and words intended.

The -tchéou (of French writers), -choo, -chow, or -chau5 of English writers, which so frequently forms the terminal part in the names of Chinese cities, is almost invariably rendered by Polo as -giu. This has frequently in the MSS., and constantly in the printed editions, been converted into -gui, and thence into -guy. This is on the whole the most constant canon of Polo’s geographical orthography, and holds in Caagiu (Ho-chau), Singiu (Sining-chau), Cui-giu (Kwei-chau), Sin-giu (T’sining-chau), Pi-giu (Pei-chau), Coigangiu (Hwaingan-chau), Si-giu (Si-chau), Ti-giu (Tai-chau), Tin-giu (Tung-chau), Yan-giu (Yang-chau), Sin-giu (Chin-chau), Cai-giu (Kwa-chau), Chinghi-giu (Chang-chau), Su-giu (Su-chau), Vu-giu (Wu-chau), and perhaps a few more. In one or two instances only (as Sinda-ciu, Caiciu) he has -ciu instead of -giu.

The chapter-headings I have generally taken from Pauthier’s Text, but they are no essential part of the original work, and they have been slightly modified or enlarged where it seemed desirable.

* * * * *

    “Behold! I see the Haven nigh at Hand,

    To which I meane my wearie Course to bend;

    Vere the maine Shete, and beare up with the Land,

    The which afore is fayrly to be kend,

    And seemeth safe from Storms that may offend.

* * * * *

    There eke my Feeble Barke a while may stay,

Till mery Wynd and Weather call her thence away.”

        — THE FAERIE QUEENE, I. xii. 1.


1 This “eclectic formation of the English text,” as I have called it for brevity in the marginal rubric, has been disapproved by Mr. de Khanikoff, a critic worthy of high respect. But I must repeat that the duties of a translator, and of the Editor of an original text, at least where the various recensions bear so peculiar a relation to each other as in this case, are essentially different; and that, on reconsidering the matter after an interval of four or five years, the plan which I have adopted, whatever be the faults of execution, still commends itself to me as the only appropriate one.

Let Mr. de Khanikoff consider what course he would adopt if he were about to publish Marco Polo in Russian. I feel certain that with whatever theory he might set out, before his task should be concluded he would have arrived practically at the same system that I have adopted.

2 In Polo’s diction C frequently represents H., e.g., Cormos = Hormuz; Camadi probably = Hamadi; Caagiu probably = Hochau; Cacianfu = Hochangfu, and so on. This is perhaps attributable to Rusticiano’s Tuscan ear. A true Pisan will absolutely contort his features in the intensity of his efforts to aspirate sufficiently the letter C. Filippo Villani, speaking of the famous Aguto (Sir J. Hawkwood), says his name in English was Kauchouvole. (Murat. Script. xiv. 746.)

3 In the Venetian dialect ch and j are often sounded as in English, not as in Italian. Some traces of such pronunciation I think there are, as in Coja, Carajan, and in the Chinese name Vanchu (occurring only in Ramusio, supra, p. 99). But the scribe of the original work being a Tuscan, the spelling is in the main Tuscan. The sound of the Qu is, however, French, as in Quescican, Quinsai, except perhaps in the case of Quenianfu, for a reason given in vol. ii. p. 29.

4 For example, that enthusiastic student of mediaeval Geography, Joachim Lelewel, speaks of Polo’s “gibberish” (le baragouinage du Venitien) with special reference to such names as Zayton and Kinsay, whilst we now know that these names were in universal use by all foreigners in China, and no more deserve to be called gibberish than Bocca–Tigris, Leghorn, Ratisbon, or Buda.

5 I am quite sensible of the diffidence with which any outsider should touch any question of Chinese language or orthography. A Chinese scholar and missionary (Mr. Moule) objects to my spelling chau, whilst he, I see, uses chow. I imagine we mean the same sound, according to the spelling which I try to use throughout the book. Dr. C. Douglas, another missionary scholar, writes chau.

Marco Polo’s Itineraries, No. I. (Prologue; Book I. Chapters 1–36; and Book IV.)

Sketch showing chief Monarchies of Asia in latter part of 13TH Century

The Book of Marco Polo.


Great Princes, Emperors, and Kings, Dukes and Marquises, Counts, Knights, and Burgesses! and People of all degrees who desire to get knowledge of the various races of mankind and of the diversities of the sundry regions of the World, take this Book and cause it to be read to you. For ye shall find therein all kinds of wonderful things, and the divers histories of the Great Hermenia, and of Persia, and of the Land of the Tartars, and of India, and of many another country of which our Book doth speak, particularly and in regular succession, according to the description of Messer Marco Polo, a wise and noble citizen of Venice, as he saw them with his own eyes. Some things indeed there be therein which he beheld not; but these he heard from men of credit and veracity. And we shall set down things seen as seen, and things heard as heard only, so that no jot of falsehood may mar the truth of our Book, and that all who shall read it or hear it read may put full faith in the truth of all its contents.

For let me tell you that since our Lord God did mould with his hands our first Father Adam, even until this day, never hath there been Christian, or Pagan, or Tartar, or Indian, or any man of any nation, who in his own person hath had so much knowledge and experience of the divers parts of the World and its Wonders as hath had this Messer Marco! And for that reason he bethought himself that it would be a very great pity did he not cause to be put in writing all the great marvels that he had seen, or on sure information heard of, so that other people who had not these advantages might, by his Book, get such knowledge. And I may tell you that in acquiring this knowledge he spent in those various parts of the World good six-and-twenty years. Now, being thereafter an inmate of the Prison at Genoa, he caused Messer Rusticiano of Pisa, who was in the said Prison likewise, to reduce the whole to writing; and this befell in the year 1298 from the birth of Jesus.

Chapter I.

How the Two Brothers Polo Set Forth from Constantinople to Traverse the World.

It came to pass in the year of Christ 1260, when Baldwin was reigning at Constantinople,1 that Messer Nicolas Polo, the father of my lord Mark, and Messer Maffeo Polo, the brother of Messer Nicolas, were at the said city of CONSTANTINOPLE, whither they had gone from Venice with their merchants’ wares. Now these two Brethren, men singularly noble, wise, and provident, took counsel together to cross the GREATER SEA on a venture of trade; so they laid in a store of jewels and set forth from Constantinople, crossing the Sea to SOLDAIA.2

NOTE 1. — Baldwin II (de Courtenay), the last Latin Emperor of Constantinople, reigned from 1237 to 1261, when he was expelled by Michael Palaeologus.

The date in the text is, as we see, that of the Brothers’ voyage across the Black Sea. It stands 1250 in all the chief texts. But the figure is certainly wrong. We shall see that, when the Brothers return to Venice in 1269, they find Mark, who, according to Ramusio’s version, was born after their departure, a lad of fifteen. Hence, if we rely on Ramusio, they must have left Venice about 1253–54. And we shall see also that they reached the Volga in 1261. Hence their start from Constantinople may well have occurred in 1260, and this I have adopted as the most probable correction. Where they spent the interval between 1254 (if they really left Venice so early) and 1260, nowhere appears. But as their brother, Mark the Elder, in his Will styles himself “whilom of Constantinople,” their headquarters were probably there.

Illustration: Castle of Soldaia or Sudak

NOTE 2. — In the Middle Ages the Euxine was frequently called Mare Magnum or Majus. Thus Chaucer:—

“In the GRETE SEE,

At many a noble Armee hadde he be.”

The term Black Sea (Mare Maurum v. Nigrum) was, however, in use, and Abulfeda says it was general in his day. That name has been alleged to appear as early as the 10th century, in the form [Greek: Skoteinae], “The Dark Sea”; but an examination of the passage cited, from Constantine Porphyrogenitus, shows that it refers rather to the Baltic, whilst that author elsewhere calls the Euxine simply Pontus. (Reinaud’s Abulf. I. 38, Const. Porph. De Adm. Imp. c. 31, c. 42.)

+ Sodaya, Soldaia, or Soldachia, called by Orientals Súdak, stands on the S.E. coast of the Crimea, west of Kaffa. It had belonged to the Greek Empire, and had a considerable Greek population. After the Frank conquest of 1204 it apparently fell to Trebizond. It was taken by the Mongols in 1223 for the first time, and a second time in 1239, and during that century was the great port of intercourse with what is now Russia. At an uncertain date, but about the middle of the century, the Venetians established a factory there, which in 1287 became the seat of a consul. In 1323 we find Pope John XXII. complaining to Uzbek Khan of Sarai that the Christians had been ejected from Soldaia and their churches turned into mosques. Ibn Batuta, who alludes to this strife, counts Sudak as one of the four great ports of the World. The Genoese got Soldaia in 1365 and built strong defences, still to be seen. Kaffa, with a good anchorage, in the 14th century, and later on Tana, took the place of Soldaia as chief emporium in South Russia. Some of the Arab Geographers call the Sea of Azov the Sea of Sudak.

The Elder Marco Polo in his Will (1280) bequeaths to the Franciscan Friars of the place a house of his in Soldachia, reserving life occupation to his own son and daughter, then residing in it. Probably this establishment already existed when the two Brothers went thither. (Elie de Laprimaudare, passim; Gold. Horde, 87; Mosheim, App. 148; Ibn Bat. I. 28, II. 414; Cathay, 231–33; Heyd, II. passim.)

Chapter ii.

How the Two Brothers Went on Beyond Soldaia.

Having stayed a while at Soldaia, they considered the matter, and thought it well to extend their journey further. So they set forth from Soldaia and travelled till they came to the Court of a certain Tartar Prince, BARCA KAAN by name, whose residences were at SARA1 and at BOLGARA [and who was esteemed one of the most liberal and courteous Princes that ever was among the Tartars.]2 This Barca was delighted at the arrival of the Two Brothers, and treated them with great honour; so they presented to him the whole of the jewels that they had brought with them. The Prince was highly pleased with these, and accepted the offering most graciously, causing the Brothers to receive at least twice its value.

Illustration: Map to illustrate the Geographical Position of the CITY of SARAI

Illustration: Part of the Remains of the CITY of SARAI near TZAREV North of the AKHTUBA Branch of the VOLGA

After they had spent a twelvemonth at the court of this Prince there broke out a great war between Barca and Aláu, the Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, and great hosts were mustered on either side.3

But in the end Barca, the Lord of the Tartars of the Ponent, was defeated, though on both sides there was great slaughter. And by reason of this war no one could travel without peril of being taken; thus it was at least on the road by which the Brothers had come, though there was no obstacle to their travelling forward. So the Brothers, finding they could not retrace their steps, determined to go forward. Quitting Bolgara, therefore, they proceeded to a city called UCACA, which was at the extremity of the kingdom of the Lord of the Ponent;4 and thence departing again, and passing the great River Tigris, they travelled across a Desert which extended for seventeen days’ journey, and wherein they found neither town nor village, falling in only with the tents of Tartars occupied with their cattle at pasture.5

NOTE 1. — + Barka Khan, third son of Jújí, the first-born of Chinghiz, ruled the Ulús of Juji and Empire of Kipchak (Southern Russia) from 1257 to 1265. He was the first Musulman sovereign of his race. His chief residence was at SARAI (Sara of the text), a city founded by his brother and predecessor Bátú, on the banks of the Akhtuba branch of the Volga. In the next century Ibn Batuta describes Sarai as a very handsome and populous city, so large that it made half a day’s journey to ride through it. The inhabitants were Mongols, Aás (or Alans), Kipchaks, Circassians, Russians, and Greeks, besides the foreign Moslem merchants, who had a walled quarter. Another Mahomedan traveller of the same century says the city itself was not walled, but, “The Khan’s Palace was a great edifice surmounted by a golden crescent weighing two kantars of Egypt, and encompassed by a wall flanked with towers,” etc. Pope John XXII., on the 26th February 1322, defined the limits of the new Bishopric of Kaffa, which were Sarai to the east and Varna to the west.

Sarai became the seat of both a Latin and a Russian metropolitan, and of more than one Franciscan convent. It was destroyed by Timur on his second invasion of Kipchak (1395–6), and extinguished by the Russians a century later. It is the scene of Chaucer’s half-told tale of Cambuscan:—

“At Sarra, in the Londe of Tartarie,

There dwelt a King that werried Russie.”

[“Mesalek-al-absar (285, 287), says Sarai, meaning ‘the Palace,’ was founded by Bereké, brother of Batu. It stood in a salty plain, and was without walls, though the palace had walls flanked by towers. The town was large, had markets, madrasas — and baths. It is usually identified with Selitrennoyé Gorodok, about 70 miles above Astrakhan.” (Rockhill, Rubruck, p. 260, note.)— H. C.]

Several sites exhibiting extensive ruins near the banks of the Akhtuba have been identified with Sarai; two in particular. One of these is not far from the great elbow of the Volga at Tzaritzyn: the other much lower down, at Selitrennoyé Gorodok or Saltpetre–Town, not far above Astrakhan.

The upper site exhibits by far the most extensive traces of former population, and is declared unhesitatingly to be the sole site of Sarai by M. Gregorieff, who carried on excavations among the remains for four years, though with what precise results I have not been able to learn. The most dense part of the remains, consisting of mounds and earth-works, traces of walls, buildings, cisterns, dams, and innumerable canals, extends for about 7–1/2 miles in the vicinity of the town of Tzarev, but a tract of 66 miles in length and 300 miles in circuit, commencing from near the head of the Akhtuba, presents remains of like character, though of less density, marking the ground occupied by the villages which encircled the capital. About 2–1/2 miles to the N.W. of Tzarev a vast mass of such remains, surrounded by the traces of a brick rampart, points out the presumable position of the Imperial Palace.

M. Gregorieff appears to admit no alternative. Yet it seems certain that the indications of Abulfeda, Pegolotti, and others, with regard to the position of the capital in the early part of the 14th century, are not consistent with a site so far from the Caspian. Moreover, F. H. Müller states that the site near Tzarev is known to the Tartars as the “Sarai of Janibek Khan” (1341–1357). Now it is worthy of note that in the coinage of Janibek we repeatedly find as the place of mintage, New Sarai. Arabsháh in his History of Timur states that 63 years had elapsed from the foundation to the destruction of Sarai. But it must have been at least 140 years since the foundation of Batu’s city. Is it not possible, therefore, that both the sites which we have mentioned were successively occupied by the Mongol capital; that the original Sarai of Batu was at Selitrennoyé Gorodok, and that the New Sarai of Janibek was established by him, or by his father Uzbeg in his latter days, on the upper Akhtuba? Pegolotti having carried his merchant from Tana (Azov) to Gittarchan (Astrakhan), takes him one day by river to Sara, and from Sara to Saracanco, also by river, eight days more. (Cathay, p. 287.) In the work quoted I have taken Saracanco for Saraichik, on the Yaik. But it was possibly the Upper or New Sarai on the Akhtuba. Ibn Batuta, marching on the frozen river, reached Sarai in three days from Astrakhan. This could not have been at Tzarev, 200 miles off.

In corroboration (quantum valeat) of my suggestion that there must have been two Sarais near the Volga, Professor Bruun of Odessa points to the fact that Fra Mauro’s map presents two cities of Sarai on the Akhtuba; only the Sarai of Janibeg is with him no longer New Sarai, but Great Sarai.

The use of the latter name suggests the possibility that in the Saracanco of Pegolotti the latter half of the name may be the Mongol Kúnk “Great.” (See Pavet de Courteille, p. 439.)

Professor Bruun also draws attention to the impossibility of Ibn Batuta’s travelling from Astrakhan to Tzarev in three days, an argument which had already occurred to me and been inserted above.

[The Empire of Kipchak founded after the Mongol Conquest of 1224, included also parts of Siberia and Khwarizm; it survived nominally until 1502. — H. C.]

(Four Years of Archaeological Researches among the Ruins of Sarai [in Russian] by M. Gregorieff [who appears to have also published a pamphlet specially on the site, but this has not been available]; Historisch-geographische Darstellung des Stromsystems der Wolga, von Ferd. Heinr. Müller, Berlin, 1839, 568–577; Ibn. Bat. II. 447; Not. et Extraits, XIII. i. 286; Pallas, Voyages; Cathay, 231, etc.; Erdmann, Numi Asiatici, pp. 362 seqq.; Arabs. I. p. 381.)

NOTE 2. — BOLGHAR, our author’s Bolgara, was the capital of the region sometimes called Great Bulgaria, by Abulfeda Inner Bulgaria, and stood a few miles from the left bank of the Volga, in latitude about 54° 54’, and 90 miles below Kazan. The old Arab writers regarded it as nearly the limit of the habitable world, and told wonders of the cold, the brief summer nights, and the fossil ivory that was found in its vicinity. This was exported, and with peltry, wax, honey, hazel-nuts, and Russia leather, formed the staple articles of trade. The last item derived from Bolghar the name which it still bears all over Asia. (See Bk. II. ch. xvi., and Note.) Bolghar seems to have been the northern limit of Arab travel, and was visited by the curious (by Ibn Batuta among others) in order to witness the phenomena of the short summer night, as tourists now visit Hammerfest to witness its entire absence.

Russian chroniclers speak of an earlier capital of the Bulgarian kingdom, Brakhimof, near the mouth of the Kama, destroyed by Andrew, Grand Duke of Rostof and Susdal, about 1160; and this may have been the city referred to in the earlier Arabic accounts. The fullest of these is by Ibn Fozlán, who accompanied an embassy from the Court of Baghdad to Bolghar, in A.D. 921. The King and people had about this time been converted to Islam, having previously, as it would seem, professed Christianity. Nevertheless, a Mahomedan writer of the 14th century says the people had then long renounced Islam for the worship of the Cross. (Not. et Extr. XIII. i. 270.)

Illustration: Ruins of Bolghar.

Bolghar was first captured by the Mongols in 1225. It seems to have perished early in the 15th century, after which Kazan practically took its place. Its position is still marked by a village called Bolgari, where ruins of Mahomedan character remain, and where coins and inscriptions have been found. Coins of the Kings of Bolghar, struck in the 10th century, have been described by Fraehn, as well as coins of the Mongol period struck at Bolghar. Its latest known coin is of A.H. 818 (A.D. 1415–16). A history of Bolghar was written in the first half of the 12th century by Yakub Ibn Noman, Kadhi of the city, but this is not known to be extant.

Fraehn shows ground for believing the people to have been a mixture of Fins, Slavs, and Turks. Nicephorus Gregoras supposes that they took their name from the great river on which they dwelt ([Greek: Boúlga]).

[“The ruins [of Bolghar],” says Bretschneider, in his Mediaeval Researches, published in 1888, vol. ii. p. 82, “still exist, and have been the subject of learned investigation by several Russian scholars. These remains are found on the spot where now the village Uspenskoye, called also Bolgarskoye (Bolgari), stands, in the district of Spask, province of Kazan. This village is about 4 English miles distant from the Volga, east of it, and 83 miles from Kazan.” Part of the Bulgars removed to the Balkans; others remained in their native country on the shores of the Azov Sea, and were subjugated by the Khazars. At the beginning of the 9th century, they marched northwards to the Volga and the Kama, and established the kingdom of Great Bulgaria. Their chief city, Bolghar, was on the bank of the Volga, but the river runs now to the west; as the Kama also underwent a change in its course, it is possible that formerly Bolghar was built at the junction of the two rivers. (Cf. Reclus, Europe russe, p. 761.) The Bulgars were converted to Islam in 922. Their country was first invaded by the Mongols under Subutai in 1223; this General conquered it in 1236, the capital was destroyed the following year, and the country annexed to the kingdom of Kipchak. Bolghar was again destroyed in 1391 by Tamerlan. In 1438, Ulugh Mohammed, cousin of Toka Timur, younger son of Juji, transformed this country into the khanate of Kazan, which survived till 1552. It had probably been the capital of the Golden Horde before Sarai.

With reference to the early Christianity of the Bulgarians, to which Yule refers in his note, the Laurentian Chronicle (A.D. 1229), quoted by Shpilevsky, adduces evidence to show that in the Great City, i.e. Bulgar, there were Russian Christians and a Christian cemetery, and the death of a Bulgarian Christian martyr is related in the same chronicle as well as in the Nikon, Tver, and Tatischef annals in which his name is given. (Cf. Shpilevsky, Anc. towns and other Bulgaro–Tartar monuments, Kazan, 1877, p. 158 seq.; Rockhill’s Rubruck, Hakl. Soc. p. 121, note.) — H. C.]

The severe and lasting winter is spoken of by Ibn Folzán and other old writers in terms that seem to point to a modern mitigation of climate. It is remarkable, too, that Ibn Fozlán speaks of the aurora as of very frequent occurrence, which is not now the case in that latitude. We may suspect this frequency to have been connected with the greater cold indicated, and perhaps with a different position of the magnetic pole. Ibn Fozlán’s account of the aurora is very striking:—“Shortly before sunset the horizon became all very ruddy, and at the same time I heard sounds in the upper air, with a dull rustling. I looked up and beheld sweeping over me a fire-red cloud, from which these sounds issued, and in it movements, as it were, of men and horses; the men grasping bows, lances, and swords. This I saw, or thought I saw. Then there appeared a white cloud of like aspect; in it also I beheld armed horsemen, and these rushed against the former as one squadron of horse charges another. We were so terrified at this that we turned with humble prayer to the Almighty, whereupon the natives about us wondered and broke into loud laughter. We, however, continued to gaze, seeing how one cloud charged the other, remained confused with it a while, and then sundered again. These movements lasted deep into the night, and then all vanished.”

(Fraehn, Ueber die Wolga Bulgaren, Petersb. 1832; Gold. Horde, 8, 9, 423–424; Not. et Extr. II. 541; Ibn Bat. II. 398; Büschings Mag. V. 492; Erdmann, Numi Asiat. I. 315–318, 333–334, 520–535; Niceph. Gregoras, II. 2, 2.)

NOTE 3. — ALAU is Polo’s representation of the name of Hulákú, brother of the Great Kaans Mangu and Kublai and founder of the Mongol dynasty in Persia. In the Mongol pronunciation guttural and palatal consonants are apt to be elided, hence this spelling. The same name is written by Pope Alexander IV., in addressing the Khan, Olao, by Pachymeres and Gregoras [Greek: Chalaù] and [Greek: Chalaon], by Hayton Haolon, by Ibn Batuta Huláún, as well as in a letter of Hulaku’s own, as given by Makrizi.

The war in question is related in Rashíduddín’s history, and by Polo himself towards the end of the work. It began in the summer of 1262, and ended about eight months later. Hence the Polos must have reached Barka’s Court in 1261.

Marco always applies to the Mongol Khans of Persia the title of “Lords of the East” (Levant), and to the Khans of Kipchak that of “Lords of the West” (Ponent). We use the term Levant still with a similar specific application, and in another form Anatolia. I think it best to preserve the terms Levant and Ponent when used in this way.

[Robert Parke in his translation out of Spanish of Mendoza, The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China . . . London, printed by I. Wolfe for Edward White, 1588, uses the word Ponent: “You shall understande that this mightie kingdome is the Orientalest part of all Asia, and his next neighbour towards the Ponent is the kingdome of Quachinchina . . . (p. 2).”— H. C.]

NOTE 4. — UCACA or UKEK was a town on the right bank of the Volga, nearly equidistant between Sarai and Bolghar, and about six miles south of the modern Saratov, where a village called Uwek still exists. Ukek is not mentioned before the Mongol domination, and is supposed to have been of Mongol foundation, as the name Ukek is said in Mongol to signify a dam of hurdles. The city is mentioned by Abulfeda as marking the extremity of “the empire of the Barka Tartars,” and Ibn Batuta speaks of it as “one day distant from the hills of the Russians.” Polo therefore means that it was the frontier of the Ponent towards Russia. Ukek was the site of a Franciscan convent in the 14th century; it is mentioned several times in the campaigns of Timur, and was destroyed by his army. It is not mentioned under the form Ukek after this, but appears as Uwek and Uwesh in Russian documents of the 16th century. Perhaps this was always the Slavonic form, for it already is written Uguech (= Uwek) in Wadding’s 14th century catalogue of convents. Anthony Jenkinson, in Hakluyt, gives an observation of its latitude, as Oweke (51° 40’), and Christopher Burrough, in the same collection, gives a description of it as Oueak, and the latitude as 51° 30’ (some 7’ too much). In his time (1579) there were the remains of a “very faire stone castle” and city, with old tombs exhibiting sculptures and inscriptions. All these have long vanished. Burrough was told by the Russians that the town “was swallowed into the earth by the justice of God, for the wickednesse of the people that inhabited the same.” Lepechin in 1769 found nothing remaining but part of an earthen rampart and some underground vaults of larger bricks, which the people dug out for use. He speaks of coins and other relics as frequent, and the like have been found more recently. Coins with Mongol–Arab inscriptions, struck at Ukek by Tuktugai Khan in 1306, have been described by Fraehn and Erdmann.

(Fraehn, Ueber die ehemalige Mong. Stadt Ukek, etc., Petersb. 1835; Gold. Horde; Ibn Bat. II. 414; Abulfeda, in Büsching, V. 365; Ann. Minorum, sub anno 1400; Pétis de la Croix, II. 355, 383, 388; Hakluyt, ed. 1809, I. 375 and 472; Lepechin, Tagebuch der Reise, etc., I. 235–237; Rockhill, Rubruck, 120–121, note 2.)

NOTE 5. — The great River Tigeri or Tigris is the Volga, as Pauthier rightly shows. It receives the same name from the Monk Pascal of Vittoria in 1338. (Cathay, p. 234.) Perhaps this arose out of some legend that the Tigris was a reappearance of the same river. The ecclesiastical historian, Nicephorus Callistus, appears to imply that the Tigris coming from Paradise flows under the Caspian to emerge in Kurdistan. (See IX. 19.)

The “17 days” applies to one stretch of desert. The whole journey from Ukek Bokhara would take some 60 days at least. Ibn Batuta is 58 days from Sarai to Bokhara, and of the last section he says, “we entered the desert which extends between Khwarizm and Bokhara, and which has an extent of 18 days’ journey.” (III. 19.)

Chapter iii.

How the Two Brothers, After Crossing a Desert, Came to the City of Bocara, and Fell in with Certain Envoys There.

After they had passed the desert, they arrived at a very great and noble city called BOCARA, the territory of which belonged to a king whose name was Barac, and is also called Bocara. The city is the best in all Persia.1 And when they had got thither, they found they could neither proceed further forward nor yet turn back again; wherefore they abode in that city of Bocara for three years. And whilst they were sojourning in that city, there came from Alau, Lord of the Levant, Envoys on their way to the Court of the Great Kaan, the Lord of all the Tartars in the world. And when the Envoys beheld the Two Brothers they were amazed, for they had never before seen Latins in that part of the world. And they said to the Brothers: “Gentlemen, if ye will take our counsel, ye will find great honour and profit shall come thereof.” So they replied that they would be right glad to learn how. “In truth,” said the Envoys, “the Great Kaan hath never seen any Latins, and he hath a great desire so to do. Wherefore, if ye will keep us company to his Court, ye may depend upon it that he will be right glad to see you, and will treat you with great honour and liberality; whilst in our company ye shall travel with perfect security, and need fear to be molested by nobody.”2

NOTE 1. — Hayton also calls Bokhara a city of Persia, and I see Vámbéry says that, up till the conquest by Chinghiz, Bokhara, Samarkand, Balkh, etc., were considered to belong to Persia. (Travels, p. 377.) The first Mongolian governor of Bokhara was Buka Bosha.

King Barac is Borrak Khan, great-grandson of Chagatai, and sovereign of the Ulús of Chagatai, from 1264 to 1270. The Polos, no doubt, reached Bokhara before 1264, but Borrak must have been sovereign some time before they left it.

NOTE 2. — The language of the envoys seems rather to imply that they were the Great Kaan’s own people returning from the Court of Hulaku. And Rashid mentions that Sartak, the Kaan’s ambassador to Hulaku, returned from Persia in the year that the latter prince died. It may have been his party that the Venetians joined, for the year almost certainly was the same, viz. 1265. If so, another of the party was Bayan, afterwards the greatest of Kublai’s captains, and much celebrated in the sequel of this book. (See Erdmann’s Temudschin, p. 214.)

Marsden justly notes that Marco habitually speaks of Latins, never of Franks. Yet I suspect his own mental expression was Farangi.

Chapter iv.

How the Two Brothers Took the Envoys’ Counsel, and Went to the Court of the Great Kaan.

So when the Two Brothers had made their arrangements, they set out on their travels, in company with the Envoys, and journeyed for a whole year, going northward and north-eastward, before they reached the Court of that Prince. And on their journey they saw many marvels of divers and sundry kinds, but of these we shall say nothing at present, because Messer Mark, who has likewise seen them all, will give you a full account of them in the Book which follows.

Chapter V.

How the Two Brothers Arrived at the Court of the Great Kaan.

When the Two Brothers got to the Great Kaan, he received them with great honour and hospitality, and showed much pleasure at their visit, asking them a great number of questions. First, he asked about the emperors, how they maintained their dignity, and administered justice in their dominions; and how they went forth to battle, and so forth. And then he asked the like questions about the kings and princes and other potentates.

Chapter vi.

How the Great Kaan Asked All About the Manners of the Christians, and Particularly About the Pope of Rome.

And then he inquired about the Pope and the Church, and about all that is done at Rome, and all the customs of the Latins. And the Two Brothers told him the truth in all its particulars, with order and good sense, like sensible men as they were; and this they were able to do as they knew the Tartar language well.1

NOTE 1. — The word generally used for Pope in the original is Apostoille (Apostolicus), the usual French expression of that age.

It is remarkable that for the most part the text edited by Pauthier has the correcter Oriental form Tatar, instead of the usual Tartar. Tattar is the word used by Yvo of Narbonne, in the curious letter given by Matthew Paris under 1243.

We are often told that Tartar is a vulgar European error. It is in any case a very old one; nor does it seem to be of European origin, but rather Armenian;1 though the suggestion of Tartarus may have given it readier currency in Europe. Russian writers, or rather writers who have been in Russia, sometimes try to force on us a specific limitation of the word Tartar to a certain class of Oriental Turkish race, to whom the Russians appropriate the name. But there is no just ground for this. Tátár is used by Oriental writers of Polo’s age exactly as Tartar was then, and is still, used in Western Europe, as a generic title for the Turanian hosts who followed Chinghiz and his successors. But I believe the name in this sense was unknown to Western Asia before the time of Chinghiz. And General Cunningham must overlook this when he connects the Tátaríya coins, mentioned by Arab geographers of the 9th century, with “the Scythic or Tátár princes who ruled in Kabul” in the beginning of our era. Tartars on the Indian frontier in those centuries are surely to be classed with the Frenchmen whom Brennus led to Rome, or the Scotchmen who fought against Agricola.

1 See J. As. sér. V. tom. xi. p. 203.

Chapter vii.

How the Great Kaan Sent the Two Brothers as His Envoys to the Pope.

When that Prince, whose name was CUBLAY KAAN, Lord of the Tartars all over the earth, and of all the kingdoms and provinces and territories of that vast quarter of the world, had heard all that the Brothers had to tell him about the ways of the Latins, he was greatly pleased, and he took it into his head that he would send them on an Embassy to the Pope. So he urgently desired them to undertake this mission along with one of his Barons; and they replied that they would gladly execute all his commands as those of their Sovereign Lord. Then the Prince sent to summon to his presence one of his Barons whose name was COGATAL, and desired him to get ready, for it was proposed to send him to the Pope along with the Two Brothers. The Baron replied that he would execute the Lord’s commands to the best of his ability.

After this the Prince caused letters from himself to the Pope to be indited in the Tartar tongue,1 and committed them to the Two Brothers and to that Baron of his own, and charged them with what he wished them to say to the Pope. Now the contents of the letter were to this purport: He begged that the Pope would send as many as an hundred persons of our Christian faith; intelligent men, acquainted with the Seven Arts,2 well qualified to enter into controversy, and able clearly to prove by force of argument to idolaters and other kinds of folk, that the Law of Christ was best, and that all other religions were false and naught; and that if they would prove this, he and all under him would become Christians and the Church’s liegemen. Finally he charged his Envoys to bring back to him some Oil of the Lamp which burns on the Sepulchre of our Lord at Jerusalem.3

NOTE 1. — + The appearance of the Great Kaan’s letter may be illustrated by two letters on so-called Corean paper preserved in the French archives; one from Arghún Khan of Persia (1289), brought by Buscarel, and the other from his son Oljaitu (May, 1305), to Philip the Fair. These are both in the Mongol language, and according to Abel Rémusat and other authorities, in the Uighúr character, the parent of the present Mongol writing. Facsimiles of the letters are given in Rémusat’s paper on intercourse with Mongol Princes, in Mém. de l’ Acad. des Inscript. vols. vii. and viii., reproductions in J. B. Chabot’s Hist. de Mar Jabalaha III., Paris, 1895, and preferably in Prince Roland Bonaparte’s beautiful Documents Mongols, Pl. XIV., and we give samples of the two in vol. ii.1

NOTE 2. —“The Seven Arts,” from a date reaching back nearly to classical times, and down through the Middle Ages, expressed the whole circle of a liberal education, and it is to these Seven Arts that the degrees in arts were understood to apply. They were divided into the Trivium of Rhetoric, Logic, and Grammar, and the Quadrivium of Arithmetic, Astronomy, Music, and Geometry. The 38th epistle of Seneca was in many MSS. (according to Lipsius) entitled “L. Annaei Senecae Liber de Septem Artibus liberalibus.” I do not find, however, that Seneca there mentions categorically more than five, viz., Grammar, Geometry, Music, Astronomy, and Arithmetic. In the 5th century we find the Seven Arts to form the successive subjects of the last seven books of the work of Martianus Capella, much used in the schools during the early Middle Ages. The Seven Arts will be found enumerated in the verses of Tzetzes (Chil. XI. 525), and allusions to them in the mediaeval romances are endless. Thus, in one of the “Gestes d’Alexandre,” a chapter is headed “Comment Aristotle aprent à Alixandre les Sept Arts.” In the tale of the Seven Wise Masters, Diocletian selects that number of tutors for his son, each to instruct him in one of the Seven Arts. In the romance of Erec and Eneide we have a dress on which the fairies had portrayed the Seven Arts (Franc. Michel, Recherches, etc. II. 82); in the Roman de Mahommet the young impostor is master of all the seven. There is one mediaeval poem called the Marriage of the Seven Arts, and another called the Battle of the Seven Arts. (See also Dante, Convito, Trat. II. c. 14; Not. et Ex. V., 491 seqq.)

NOTE 3. — The Chinghizide Princes were eminently liberal — or indifferent — in religion; and even after they became Mahomedan, which, however, the Eastern branch never did, they were rarely and only by brief fits persecutors. Hence there was scarcely one of the non-Mahomedan Khans of whose conversion to Christianity there were not stories spread. The first rumours of Chinghiz in the West were as of a Christian conqueror; tales may be found of the Christianity of Chagatai, Hulaku, Abaka, Arghun, Baidu, Ghazan, Sartak, Kuyuk, Mangu, Kublai, and one or two of the latter’s successors in China, all probably false, with one or two doubtful exceptions.

1 See plates with ch. xvii. of Bk. IV. See also the Uighúr character in the second Païza, Bk. II. ch. vii.

Illustration: The Great Kaan delivering a Golden Tablet to the Brothers. From a miniature of the 14th century.

Chapter viii.

How the Great Kaan Gave Them a Tablet of Gold, Bearing His Orders in Their Behalf.

When the Prince had charged them with all his commission, he caused to be given them a Tablet of Gold, on which was inscribed that the three Ambassadors should be supplied with everything needful in all the countries through which they should pass — with horses, with escorts, and, in short, with whatever they should require. And when they had made all needful preparations, the three Ambassadors took their leave of the Emperor and set out.

When they had travelled I know not how many days, the Tartar Baron fell sick, so that he could not ride, and being very ill, and unable to proceed further, he halted at a certain city. So the Two Brothers judged it best that they should leave him behind and proceed to carry out their commission; and, as he was well content that they should do so, they continued their journey. And I can assure you, that whithersoever they went they were honourably provided with whatever they stood in need of, or chose to command. And this was owing to that Tablet of Authority from the Lord which they carried with them.1

So they travelled on and on until they arrived at Layas in Hermenia, a journey which occupied them, I assure you, for three years.2 It took them so long because they could not always proceed, being stopped sometimes by snow, or by heavy rains falling, or by great torrents which they found in an impassable state.

Illustration: Castle of Ayas.

NOTE 1. — On these Tablets, see a note under Bk. II. ch. vii.

NOTE 2. — AYAS, called also Ayacio, Aiazzo, Giazza, Glaza, La Jazza, and Layas, occupied the site of ancient Aegae, and was the chief port of Cilician Armenia, on the Gulf of Scanderoon. Aegae had been in the 5th century a place of trade with the West, and the seat of a bishopric, as we learn from the romantic but incomplete story of Mary, the noble slave-girl, told by Gibbon (ch. 33). As Ayas it became in the latter part of the 13th century one of the chief places for the shipment of Asiatic wares arriving through Tabriz, and was much frequented by the vessels of the Italian Republics. The Venetians had a Bailo resident there.

Ayas is the Leyes of Chaucer’s Knight —

(“At LEYES was he and at Satalie”)—

and the Layas of Froissart. (Bk. III. ch. xxii.) The Gulf of Layas is described in the xix. Canto of Ariosto, where Mafisa and Astolfo find on its shores a country of barbarous Amazons:—

“Fatto è ‘l porto a sembranza d’ una luna,” etc.

Marino Sanuto says of it: “Laiacio has a haven, and a shoal in front of it that we might rather call a reef, and to this shoal the hawsers of vessels are moored whilst the anchors are laid out towards the land.” (II. IV. ch. xxvi.)

The present Ayas is a wretched village of some 15 huts, occupied by about 600 Turkmans, and standing inside the ruined walls of the castle. This castle, which is still in good condition, was built by the Armenian kings, and restored by Sultan Suleiman; it was constructed from the remains of the ancient city; fragments of old columns are embedded in its walls of cut stone. It formerly communicated by a causeway with an advanced work on an island before the harbour. The ruins of the city occupy a large space. (Langlois, V. en Cilicie, pp. 429–31; see also Beaufort’s Karamania, near the end.) A plan of Ayas will be found at the beginning of Bk. I. — H. Y. and H. C.

Chapter ix.

How the Two Brothers Came to the City of Acre.


They departed from Layas and came to ACRE, arriving there in the month of April, in the year of Christ 1269, and then they learned that the Pope was dead. And when they found that the Pope was dead (his name was Pope * *), 1 they went to a certain wise Churchman who was Legate for the whole kingdom of Egypt, and a man of great authority, by name THEOBALD OF PIACENZA, and told him of the mission on which they were come. When the Legate heard their story, he was greatly surprised, and deemed the thing to be of great honour and advantage for the whole of Christendom. So his answer to the two Ambassador Brothers was this: “Gentlemen, ye see that the Pope is dead; wherefore ye must needs have patience until a new Pope be made, and then shall ye be able to execute your charge.” Seeing well enough that what the Legate said was just, they observed: “But while the Pope is a-making, we may as well go to Venice and visit our households.” So they departed from Acre and went to Negropont, and from Negropont they continued their voyage to Venice.2 On their arrival there, Messer Nicolas found that his wife was dead, and that she had left behind her a son of fifteen years of age, whose name was MARCO; and ’tis of him that this Book tells.3 The Two Brothers abode at Venice a couple of years, tarrying until a Pope should be made.

NOTE 1. — The deceased Pope’s name is omitted both in the Geog. Text and in Pauthier’s, clearly because neither Rusticiano nor Polo remembered it. It is supplied correctly in the Crusca Italian as Clement, and in Ramusio as Clement IV.

It is not clear that Theobald, though generally adopted, is the ecclesiastic’s proper name. It appears in different MSS. as Teald (G. T.), Ceabo for Teabo (Pauthier), Odoaldo (Crusca), and in the Riccardian as Thebaldus de Vice-comitibus de Placentia, which corresponds to Ramusio’s version. Most of the ecclesiastical chroniclers call him Tedaldus, some Thealdus. Tedaldo is a real name, occurring in Boccaccio. (Day iii. Novel 7.)

NOTE 2. — After the expulsion of the Venetians from Constantinople, Negropont was the centre of their influence in Romania. On the final return of the travellers they again take Negropont on their way. [It was one of the ports on the route from Venice to Constantinople, Tana, Trebizond. — H. C.]

NOTE 3. — The edition of the Soc. de Géographie makes Mark’s age twelve, but I have verified from inspection the fact noticed by Pauthier that the manuscript has distinctly xv. like all the other old texts. In Ramusio it is nineteen, but this is doubtless an arbitrary correction to suit the mistaken date (1250) assigned for the departure of the father from Constantinople.

There is nothing in the old French texts to justify the usual statement that Marco was born after the departure of his father from Venice. All that the G. T. says is: “Meser Nicolau treuve que sa fame estoit morte, et les remès un filz de xv. anz que avoit à nom Marc,” and Pauthier’s text is to the same effect. Ramusio, indeed, has: “M. Nicolò trovò, che sua moglie era morta, la quale nella sua partita haveva partorito un figliuolo,” and the other versions that are based on Pipino’s seem all to have like statements.

Chapter X.

How the Two Brothers Again Departed from Venice, on Their Way Back to the Great Kaan, and Took with Them Mark, the Son Of Messer Nicolas.

When the Two Brothers had tarried as long as I have told you, and saw that never a Pope was made, they said that their return to the Great Kaan must be put off no longer. So they set out from Venice, taking Mark along with them, and went straight back to Acre, where they found the Legate of whom we have spoken. They had a good deal of discourse with him concerning the matter, and asked his permission to go to JERUSALEM to get some Oil from the Lamp on the Sepulchre, to carry with them to the Great Kaan, as he had enjoined.1 The Legate giving them leave, they went from Acre to Jerusalem and got some of the Oil, and then returned to Acre, and went to the Legate and said to him: “As we see no sign of a Pope’s being made, we desire to return to the Great Kaan; for we have already tarried long, and there has been more than enough delay.” To which the Legate replied: “Since ’tis your wish to go back, I am well content.” Wherefore he caused letters to be written for delivery to the Great Kaan, bearing testimony that the Two Brothers had come in all good faith to accomplish his charge, but that as there was no Pope they had been unable to do so.

NOTE 1. — In a Pilgrimage of date apparently earlier than this, the Pilgrim says of the Sepulchre: “The Lamp which had been placed by His head (when He lay there) still burns on the same spot day and night. We took a blessing from it (i.e. apparently took some of the oil as a beneficent memorial), and replaced it.” (Itinerarium Antonini Placentini in Bollandists, May, vol. ii. p. xx.)

[“Five great oil lamps,” says Daniel, the Russian Hégoumène, 1106–1107 (Itinéraires russes en Orient, trad. pour la Soc. de l’Orient Latin, par Mme. B. de Khitrowo, Geneva, 1889, p. 13), “burning continually night and day, are hung in the Sepulchre of Our Lord.”— H. C.]

Chapter xi.

How the Two Brothers Set Out from Acre, and Mark Along with Them.

When the Two Brothers had received the Legate’s letters, they set forth from Acre to return to the Grand Kaan, and got as far as Layas. But shortly after their arrival there they had news that the Legate aforesaid was chosen Pope, taking the name of Pope Gregory of Piacenza; news which the Two Brothers were very glad indeed to hear. And presently there reached them at Layas a message from the Legate, now the Pope, desiring them, on the part of the Apostolic See, not to proceed further on their journey, but to return to him incontinently. And what shall I tell you? The King of Hermenia caused a galley to be got ready for the Two Ambassador Brothers, and despatched them to the Pope at Acre.1

Illustration: Portrait of Pope Gregory X.

NOTE 1. — The death of Pope Clement IV. occurred on St Andrew’s Day (29th November), 1268; the election of Tedaldo or Tebaldo of Piacenza, a member of the Visconti family, and Archdeacon of Liège, did not take place till 1st September, 1271, owing to the factions among the cardinals. And it is said that some of them, anxious only to get away, voted for Theobald in full belief that he was dead. The conclave, in its inability to agree, had named a committee of six with full powers which the same day elected Theobald, on the recommendation of the Cardinal Bishop of Portus (John de Toleto, said, in spite of his name, to have been an Englishman). This facetious dignitary had suggested that the roof should be taken off the Palace at Viterbo where they sat, to allow the divine influences to descend more freely on their counsels (quia nequeunt ad nos per tot tecta ingredi). According to some, these doggerel verses, current on the occasion, were extemporised by Cardinal John in the pious exuberance of his glee:—

“Papatûs munus tulit Archidiaconus unus

Quem Patrem Patrum fecit discordia Fratrum.”

The Archdeacon, a man of great weight of character, in consequence of differences with his Bishop (of Liège), who was a disorderly liver, had gone to the Holy Land, and during his stay there he contracted great intimacy with Prince Edward of England (Edward I.). Some authors, e.g. John Villani (VIII. 39), say that he was Legate in Syria; others, as Rainaldus, deny this; but Polo’s statement, and the authority which the Archdeacon took on himself in writing to the Kaan, seem to show that he had some such position.

He took the name of Gregory X., and before his departure from Acre, preached a moving sermon on the text, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,” etc. Prince Edward fitted him out for his voyage.

Gregory reigned barely four years, dying at Arezzo 10th January, 1276. His character stood high to the last, and some of the Northern Martyrologies enrolled him among the saints, but there has never been canonisation by Rome. The people of Arezzo used to celebrate his anniversary with torch-light gatherings at his tomb, and plenty of miracles were alleged to have occurred there. The tomb still stands in the Duomo at Arezzo, a handsome work by Margaritone, an artist in all branches, who was the Pope’s contemporary. There is an engraving of it in Gonnelli, Mon. Sepolc. di Toscana.

(Fra Pipino in Muratori, IX. 700; Rainaldi Annal. III. 252 seqq.; Wadding, sub. an. 1217: Bollandists, 10th January; Palatii, Gesta Pontif. Roman. vol. iii., and Fasti Cardinalium, I. 463, etc.)

Chapter xii.

How the Two Brothers Presented Themselves Before the New Pope.

And when they had been thus honourably conducted to Acre they proceeded to the presence of the Pope, and paid their respects to him with humble reverence. He received them with great honour and satisfaction, and gave them his blessing. He then appointed two Friars of the Order of Preachers to accompany them to the Great Kaan, and to do whatever might be required of them. These were unquestionably as learned Churchmen as were to be found in the Province at that day — one being called Friar Nicolas of Vicenza, and the other Friar William of Tripoli.1 He delivered to them also proper credentials, and letters in reply to the Great Kaan’s messages [and gave them authority to ordain priests and bishops, and to bestow every kind of absolution, as if given by himself in proper person; sending by them also many fine vessels of crystal as presents to the Great Kaan].2 So when they had got all that was needful, they took leave of the Pope, receiving his benediction; and the four set out together from Acre, and went to Layas, accompanied always by Messer Nicolas’s son Marco.

Now, about the time that they reached Layas, Bendocquedar, the Soldan of Babylon, invaded Hermenia with a great host of Saracens, and ravaged the country, so that our Envoys ran a great peril of being taken or slain. 3 And when the Preaching Friars saw this they were greatly frightened, and said that go they never would. So they made over to Messer Nicolas and Messer Maffeo all their credentials and documents, and took their leave, departing in company with the Master of the Temple.4

NOTE 1. — Friar William, of Tripoli, of the Dominican convent at Acre, appears to have served there as early as 1250. [He was born circa 1220, at Tripoli, in Syria, whence his name. — H. C.] He is known as the author of a book, De Statu Saracenorum post Ludovici Regis de Syriâ reditum, dedicated to Theoldus, Archdeacon of Liège (i.e. Pope Gregory). Of this some extracts are printed in Duchesne’s Hist. Francorum Scriptores. There are two MSS. of it, with different titles, in the Paris Library, and a French version in that of Berne. A MS. in Cambridge Univ. Library, which contains among other things a copy of Pipino’s Polo, has also the work of Friar William:—“Willelmus Tripolitanus, Aconensis Conventus, de Egressu Machometi et Saracenorum, atque progressu eorumdem, de Statu Saracenorum,” etc. It is imperfect; it is addressed THEOBALDO Ecclesiarcho digno Sancte Terre Peregrino Sancto. And from a cursory inspection I imagine that the Tract appended to one of the Polo MSS. in the British Museum (Addl. MSS., No. 19,952) is the same work or part of it. To the same author is ascribed a tract called Clades Damiatae. (Duchesne, V. 432; D’Avezac in Rec. de Voyages, IV. 406; Quétif, Script. Ord. Praed. I. 264–5; Catal. of MSS. in Camb. Univ. Library, I. 22.)

NOTE 2. — I presume that the powers, stated in this passage from Ramusio to have been conferred on the Friars, are exaggerated. In letters of authority granted in like cases by Pope Gregory’s successors, Nicolas III. (in 1278) and Boniface VIII. (in 1299), the missionary friars to remote regions are empowered to absolve from excommunication and release from vows, to settle matrimonial questions, to found churches and appoint idoneos rectores, to authorise Oriental clergy who should publicly submit to the Apostolic See to enjoy the privilegium clericale, whilst in the absence of bishops those among the missionaries who were priests might consecrate cemeteries, altars, palls, etc., admit to the Order of Acolytes, but nothing beyond. (See Mosheim, Hist. Tartar. Eccles. App. Nos. 23 and 42.)

NOTE 3. — The statement here about Bundúkdár’s invasion of Cilician Armenia is a difficulty. He had invaded it in 1266, and his second devastating invasion, during which he burnt both Layas and Sis, the king’s residence, took place in 1275, a point on which Marino Sanuto is at one with the Oriental Historians. Now we know from Rainaldus that Pope Gregory left Acre in November or December, 1271, and the text appears to imply that our travellers left Acre before him. The utmost corroboration that I can find lies in the following facts stated by Makrizi:—

On the 13th Safar, A.H. 670 (20th September 1271), Bundúkdár arrived unexpectedly at Damascus, and after a brief raid against the Ismaelians he returned to that city. In the middle of Rabi I. (about 20–25 October) the Tartars made an incursion in northern Syria, and the troops of Aleppo retired towards Hamah. There was great alarm at Damascus; the Sultan sent orders to Cairo for reinforcements, and these arrived at Damascus on the 9th November. The Sultan then advanced on Aleppo, sending corps likewise towards Marash (which was within the Armenian frontier) and Harran. At the latter place the Tartars were attacked and those in the town slaughtered; the rest retreated. The Sultan was back at Damascus, and off on a different expedition, by 7th December. Hence, if the travellers arrived at Ayas towards the latter part of November they would probably find alarm existing at the advance of Bundúkdár, though matters did not turn out so serious as they imply.

“Babylon,” of which Bundúkdár is here styled Sultan, means Cairo, commonly so styled (Bambellonia d’Egitto) in that age. Babylon of Egypt is mentioned by Diodorus quoting Ctesias, by Strabo, and by Ptolemy; it was the station of a Roman Legion in the days of Augustus, and still survives in the name of Babul, close to old Cairo.

Malik Dáhir Ruknuddín Bíbars Bundúkdári, a native of Kipchak, was originally sold at Damascus for 800 dirhems (about 18l.), and returned by his purchaser because of a blemish. He was then bought by the Amir Aláuddín Aidekín Bundúkdár (“The Arblasteer”) whose surname he afterwards adopted. He became the fourth of the Mameluke Sultans, and reigned from 1259 to 1276. The two great objects of his life were the repression of the Tartars and the expulsion of the Christians from Syria, so that his reign was one of constant war and enormous activity. William of Tripoli, in the work above mentioned, says: “Bondogar, as a soldier, was not inferior to Julius Caesar, nor in malignity to Nero.” He admits, however, that the Sultan was sober, chaste, just to his own people, and even kind to his Christian subjects; whilst Makrizi calls him one of the best princes that ever reigned over Musulmans. Yet if we take Bibars as painted by this admiring historian and by other Arabic documents, the second of Friar William’s comparisons is justified, for he seems almost a devil in malignity as well as in activity. More than once he played tennis at Damascus and Cairo within the same week. A strange sample of the man is the letter which he wrote to Boemond, Prince of Antioch and Tripoli, to announce to him the capture of the former city. After an ironically polite address to Boemond as having by the loss of his great city had his title changed from Princeship (Al–Brensíyah) to Countship (Al–Komasíyah), and describing his own devastations round Tripoli, he comes to the attack of Antioch: “We carried the place, sword in hand, at the 4th hour of Saturday, the 4th day of Ramadhán, . . . Hadst thou but seen thy Knights trodden under the hoofs of the horses! thy palaces invaded by plunderers and ransacked for booty! thy treasures weighed out by the hundredweight! thy ladies (Dámátaka, ‘tes DAMES’) bought and sold with thine own gear, at four for a dinár! hadst thou but seen thy churches demolished, thy crosses sawn in sunder, thy garbled Gospels hawked about before the sun, the tombs of thy nobles cast to the ground; thy foe the Moslem treading thy Holy of the Holies; the monk, the priest, the deacon slaughtered on the Altar; the rich given up to misery; princes of royal blood reduced to slavery! Couldst thou but have seen the flames devouring thy halls; thy dead cast into the fires temporal with the fires eternal hard at hand; the churches of Paul and of Cosmas rocking and going down — then wouldst thou have said, ‘Would God that I were dust!’ . . . As not a man hath escaped to tell thee the tale, I TELL IT THEE!”

A little later, when a mission went to treat with Boemond, Bibars himself accompanied it in disguise, to have a look at the defences of Tripoli. In drawing out the terms, the Envoys styled Boemond Count, not Prince, as in the letter just quoted. He lost patience at their persistence, and made a movement which alarmed them. Bibars nudged the Envoy Mohiuddin (who tells the story) with his foot to give up the point, and the treaty was made. On their way back the Sultan laughed heartily at their narrow escape, “sending to the devil all the counts and princes on the face of the earth.”

(Quatremère’s Makrizi, II. 92–101, and 190 seqq.; J. As. sér. I. tom. xi. p. 89; D’Ohsson, III. 459–474; Marino Sanuto in Bongars, 224–226, etc.)

NOTE 4. — The ruling Master of the Temple was Thomas Berard (1256–1273), but there is little detail about the Order in the East at this time. They had, however, considerable possessions and great influence in Cilician Armenia, and how much they were mixed up in its affairs is shown by a circumstance related by Makrizi. In 1285, when Sultan Mansúr, the successor of Bundúkdár, was besieging the Castle of Markab, there arrived in Camp the Commander of the Temple (Kamandúr-ul Dewet) of the Country of Armenia, charged to negotiate on the part of the King of Sis (i.e. of Lesser Armenia, Leon III. 1268–1289, successor of Hayton I. 1224–1268), and bringing presents from him and from the Master of the Temple, Berard’s successor, William de Beaujeu (1273–1291). (III. 201.)— H. Y. and H. C.

Chapter xiii.

How Messer Nicolo and Messer Maffeo Polo, Accompanied by Mark, Travelled to the Court of the Great Kaan.

So the Two Brothers, and Mark along with them, proceeded on their way, and journeying on, summer and winter, came at length to the Great Kaan, who was then at a certain rich and great city, called KEMENFU.1 As to what they met with on the road, whether in going or coming, we shall give no particulars at present, because we are going to tell you all those details in regular order in the after part of this Book. Their journey back to the Kaan occupied a good three years and a half, owing to the bad weather and severe cold that they encountered. And let me tell you in good sooth that when the Great Kaan heard that Messers Nicolo and Maffeo Polo were on their way back, he sent people a journey of full 40 days to meet them; and on this journey, as on their former one, they were honourably entertained upon the road, and supplied with all that they required.

NOTE 1. — The French texts read Clemeinfu, Ramusio Clemenfu. The Pucci MS. guides us to the correct reading, having Chemensu (Kemensu) for Chemenfu. KAIPINGFU, meaning something like “City of Peace,” and called by Rashiduddin Kaiminfu (whereby we see that Polo as usual adopted the Persian form of the name), was a city founded in 1256, four years before Kublai’s accession, some distance to the north of the Chinese wall. It became Kublai’s favourite summer residence, and was styled from 1264 Shangtu or “Upper Court.” (See infra, Bk. I. ch. lxi.) It was known to the Mongols, apparently by a combination of the two names, as Shangdu Keibung. It appears in D’Anville’s map under the name of Djao–Naiman Sumé. Dr. Bushell, who visited Shangtu in 1872, makes it 1103 li (367 miles) by road distance viâ Kalgan from Peking. The busy town of Dolonnúr lies 26 miles S.E. of it, and according to Kiepert’s Asia that place is about 180 miles in a direct line north of Peking.

(See Klaproth in J. As. XI. 365; Gaubil, p. 115; Cathay, p. 260; J. R. G. S. vol. xiiii.)

Chapter xiv.

How Messer Nicolo and Messer Maffeo Polo and Marco Presented Themselves Before the Great Kaan.

And what shall I tell you? when the Two Brothers and Mark had arrived at that great city, they went to the Imperial Palace, and there they found the Sovereign attended by a great company of Barons. So they bent the knee before him, and paid their respects to him, with all possible reverence [prostrating themselves on the ground]. Then the Lord bade them stand up, and treated them with great honour, showing great pleasure at their coming, and asked many questions as to their welfare, and how they had sped. They replied that they had in verity sped well, seeing that they found the Kaan well and safe. Then they presented the credentials and letters which they had received from the Pope, which pleased him right well; and after that they produced the Oil from the Sepulchre, and at that also he was very glad, for he set great store thereby. And next, spying Mark, who was then a young gallant,1 he asked who was that in their company? “Sire,” said his father, Messer Nicolo, “’tis my son and your liegeman.”2 “Welcome is he too,” quoth the Emperor. And why should I make a long story? There was great rejoicing at the Court because of their arrival; and they met with attention and honour from everybody.

So there they abode at the Court with the other Barons.

NOTE 1. —“Joenne Bacheler.”

NOTE 2. —“Sire, il est mon filz et vostre homme.” The last word in the sense which gives us the word homage. Thus in the miracle play of Theophilus (13th century), the Devil says to Theophilus:—

“Or joing

Tes mains, et si devien mes hom.

Theoph. Vez ci que je vous faz hommage.”

So infra (Bk. I. ch. xlvii.) Aung Khan is made to say of Chinghiz: “Il est mon homes et mon serf.” (See also Bk. II. ch. iv. note.) St. Lewis said of the peace he had made with Henry III.: “Il m’est mout grant honneur en la paix que je foiz au Roy d’Angleterre pour ce qu’il est mon home, ce que n’estoit pas devant.” And Joinville says with regard to the king, “Je ne voz faire point de serement, car je n’estoie pas son home” (being a vassal of Champagne). A famous Saturday Reviewer quotes the term applied to a lady: “Eddeva puella homo Stigandi Archiepiscopi.” (Théâtre Français au Moyen Age, p. 145; Joinville, pp. 21, 37; S. R., 6th September, 1873, p. 305.)

Chapter xv.

How the Emperor Sent Mark on an Embassy of His.

Now it came to pass that Marco, the son of Messer Nicolo, sped wondrously in learning the customs of the Tartars, as well as their language, their manner of writing, and their practice of war; in fact he came in brief space to know several languages, and four sundry written characters. And he was discreet and prudent in every way, insomuch that the Emperor held him in great esteem.1 And so when he discerned Mark to have so much sense, and to conduct himself so well and beseemingly, he sent him on an ambassage of his, to a country which was a good six months’ journey distant.2 The young gallant executed his commission well and with discretion. Now he had taken note on several occasions that when the Prince’s ambassadors returned from different parts of the world, they were able to tell him about nothing except the business on which they had gone, and that the Prince in consequence held them for no better than fools and dolts, and would say: “I had far liever hearken about the strange things, and the manners of the different countries you have seen, than merely be told of the business you went upon;"— for he took great delight in hearing of the affairs of strange countries. Mark therefore, as he went and returned, took great pains to learn about all kinds of different matters in the countries which he visited, in order to be able to tell about them to the Great Kaan.3

NOTE 1. — The word Emperor stands here for Seigneur.

What the four characters acquired by Marco were is open to discussion.

The Chronicle of the Mongol Emperors rendered by Gaubil mentions, as characters used in their Empire, the Uíghúr, the Persian and Arabic, that of the Lamas (Tibetan), that of the Niuché, introduced by the Kin Dynasty, the Khitán, and the Báshpah character, a syllabic alphabet arranged, on the basis of the Tibetan and Sanskrit letters chiefly, by a learned chief Lama so-called, under the orders of Kublai, and established by edict in 1269 as the official character. Coins bearing this character, and dating from 1308 to 1354, are extant. The forms of the Niuché and Khitán were devised in imitation of Chinese writing, but are supposed to be syllabic. Of the Khitán but one inscription was known, and no key. “The Khitan had two national scripts, the ‘small characters’ (hsiao tzu) and the ‘large characters’ (ta tzu).” S. W. Bushell, Insc. in the Juchen and Allied Scripts, Cong. des Orientalistes, Paris, 1897. — Die Sprache und Schrift der Juchen von Dr. W. Grube, Leipzig, 1896, from a polyglot MS. dictionary, discovered by Dr. F. Hirth and now kept in the Royal Library, Berlin. — H. Y. and H. C.

Chinghiz and his first successors used the Uíghúr, and sometimes the Chinese character. Of the Uíghúr character we give a specimen in Bk. IV. It is of Syriac origin, undoubtedly introduced into Eastern Turkestan by the early Nestorian missions, probably in the 8th or 9th century. The oldest known example of this character so applied, the Kudatku Bilik, a didactic poem in Uíghúr (a branch of Oriental Turkish), dating from A.D. 1069, was published by Prof. Vámbéry in 1870. A new edition of the Kudatku Bilik was published at St. Petersburg, in 1891, by Dr. W. Radloff. Vámbéry had a pleasing illustration of the origin of the Uíghúr character, when he received a visit at Pesth from certain Nestorians of Urumia on a begging tour. On being shown the original MS. of the Kudatku Bilik, they read the character easily, whilst much to their astonishment they could not understand a word of what was written. This Uíghúr is the basis of the modern Mongol and Manchu characters. (Cf. E. Bretschneider, Mediaeval Researches, I. pp. 236, 263.)— H. Y. and H. C.

Illustration: Hexaglot Inscription on the East side of the Kiu Yong Kwan

Illustration: Hexaglot Inscription on the West side of the Kiu Yong Kwan

[At the village of Keuyung Kwan, 40 miles north of Peking, in the sub-prefecture of Ch’ang Ping, in the Chih-li province, the road from Peking to Kalgan runs beyond the pass of Nankau, under an archway, a view of which will be found at the end of this volume, on which were engraved, in 1345, two large inscriptions in six different languages: Sanskrit, Tibetan, Mongol, Báshpah, Uíghúr, Chinese, and a language unknown till recently. Mr. Wylie’s kindness enabled Sir Henry Yule to present a specimen of this. (A much better facsimile of these inscriptions than Wylie’s having since been published by Prince Roland Bonaparte in his valuable Recueil des Documents de l’Époque Mongole, this latter is, by permission, here reproduced.) The Chinese and Mongol inscriptions have been translated by M. Ed. Chavannes; the Tibetan by M. Sylvain Lévi (Jour. Asiat., Sept.-Oct. 1894, pp. 354–373); the Uíghúr, by Prof. W. Radloff (Ibid. Nov.-Dec. 1894, pp. 546, 550); the Mongol by Prof. G. Huth. (Ibid. Mars–Avril 1895, pp. 351–360.) The sixth language was supposed by A. Wylie (J. R. A. S. vol. xvii. p. 331, and N.S., vol. v. p. 14) to be Neuchih, Niuché, Niuchen or Juchen. M. Devéria has shown that the inscription is written in Si Hia, or the language of Tangut, and gave a facsimile of a stone stèle (pei) in this language kept in the great Monastery of the Clouds (Ta Yun Ssu) at Liangchau in Kansuh, together with a translation of the Chinese text, engraved on the reverse side of the slab. M. Devéria thinks that this writing was borrowed by the Kings of Tangut from the one derived in 920 by the Khitans from the Chinese. (Stèle Si–Hia de Leang-tcheou . . . J. As., 1898; L’éctriture du royaumes de Si–Hia ou Tangout, par M. Devéria . . . Ext. des Mém . . . présentés à l’Ac. des. Ins. et B. Let. 1’ère Sér. XI., 1898.) Dr. S. W. Bushell in two papers (Inscriptions in the Juchen and Allied Scripts, Actes du XI. Congrés Orientalistes, Paris, 1897, 2nd. sect., pp. 11, 35, and the Hsi Hsia Dynasty of Tangut, their Money and their peculiar Script, J. China Br. R. A. S., xxx. N.S. No. 2, pp. 142, 160) has also made a special study of the same subject. The Si Hia writing was adopted by Yuan Ho in 1036, on which occasion he changed the title of his reign to Ta Ch’ing, i.e. “Great Good Fortune.” Unfortunately, both the late M. Devéria and Dr. S. W. Bushell have deciphered but few of the Si Hia characters. — H. C.]

The orders of the Great Kaan are stated to have been published habitually in six languages, viz., Mongol, Uíghúr, Arabic, Persian, Tangutan (Si–Hia), and Chinese. — H. Y. and H. C.

Gházán Khan of Persia is said to have understood Mongol, Arabic, Persian, something of Kashmiri, of Tibetan, of Chinese, and a little of the Frank tongue (probably French).

The annals of the Ming Dynasty, which succeeded the Mongols in China, mention the establishment in the 11th moon of the 5th year Yong-lo (1407) of the Sse yi kwan, a linguistic office for diplomatic purposes. The languages to be studied were Niuché, Mongol, Tibetan, Sanskrit, Bokharan (Persian?) Uíghúr, Burmese, and Siamese. To these were added by the Manchu Dynasty two languages called Papeh and Pehyih, both dialects of the S.W. frontier. (See infra, Bk. II. ch. lvi.-lvii., and notes.) Since 1382, however, official interpreters had to translate Mongol texts; they were selected among the Academicians, and their service (which was independent of the Sse yi kwan when this was created) was under the control of the Han-lin-yuen. There may have been similar institutions under the Yuen, but we have no proof of it. At all events, such an office could not then be called Sse yi kwan (Sse yi, Barbarians from four sides); Niuché (Niuchen) was taught in Yong-lo’s office, but not Manchu. The Sse yi kwan must not be confounded with the Hui t’ong kwan, the office for the reception of tributary envoys, to which it was annexed in 1748. (Gaubil, p. 148; Gold. Horde, 184; Ilchan. II. 147; Lockhart in J. R. G. S. XXXVI. 152; Koeppen, II. 99; G. Devéria, Hist. du Collége des Interprétes de Peking in Mélanges Charles de Harlez, pp. 94–102; MS. Note of Prof. A. Vissière; The Tangut Script in the Nan-K’ou Pass, by Dr. S. W. Bushell, China Review, xxiv. II. pp. 65–68.)— H. Y. and H. C.

Pauthier supposes Mark’s four acquisitions to have been Báshpah-Mongol, Arabic, Uighúr, and Chinese. I entirely reject the Chinese. Sir H. Yule adds: “We shall see no reason to believe that he knew either language or character” [Chinese]. The blunders Polo made in saying that the name of the city, Suju, signifies in our tongue “Earth” and Kinsay “Heaven” show he did not know the Chinese characters, but we read in Bk. II. ch. lxviii.: “And Messer Marco Polo himself, of whom this Book speaks, did govern this city (Yanju) for three full years, by the order of the Great Kaan.” It seems to me [H. C.] hardly possible that Marco could have for three years been governor of so important and so Chinese a city as Yangchau, in the heart of the Empire, without acquiring a knowledge of the spoken language. — H. C. The other three languages seem highly probable. The fourth may have been Tibetan. But it is more likely that he counted separately two varieties of the same character (e.g. of the Arabic and Persian) as two “lettres de leur escriptures”— H. Y. and H. C.

NOTE 2. —[Ramusio here adds: “Ad und città, detta Carazan,” which, as we shall see, refers to the Yun-nan Province.]— H. C.

NOTE 3. — From the context no doubt Marco’s employments were honourable and confidential; but Commissioner would perhaps better express them than Ambassador in the modern sense. The word Ilchi, which was probably in his mind, was applied to a large variety of classes employed on the commissions of Government, as we may see from a passage of Rashiduddin in D’Ohsson, which says that “there were always to be found in every city from one to two hundred Ilchis, who forced the citizens to furnish them with free quarters,” etc., III. 404. (See also 485.)

Chapter xvi.

How Mark Returned from the Mission Whereon he had Been Sent.

When Mark returned from his ambassage he presented himself before the Emperor, and after making his report of the business with which he was charged, and its successful accomplishment, he went on to give an account in a pleasant and intelligent manner of all the novelties and strange things that he had seen and heard; insomuch that the Emperor and all such as heard his story were surprised, and said: “If this young man live, he will assuredly come to be a person of great worth and ability.” And so from that time forward he was always entitled MESSER MARCO POLO, and thus we shall style him henceforth in this Book of ours, as is but right.

Thereafter Messer Marco abode in the Kaan’s employment some seventeen years, continually going and coming, hither and thither, on the missions that were entrusted to him by the Lord [and sometimes, with the permission and authority of the Great Kaan, on his own private affairs.] And, as he knew all the sovereign’s ways, like a sensible man he always took much pains to gather knowledge of anything that would be likely to interest him, and then on his return to Court he would relate everything in regular order, and thus the Emperor came to hold him in great love and favour. And for this reason also he would employ him the oftener on the most weighty and most distant of his missions. These Messer Marco ever carried out with discretion and success, God be thanked. So the Emperor became ever more partial to him, and treated him with the greater distinction, and kept him so close to his person that some of the Barons waxed very envious thereat. And thus it came about that Messer Marco Polo had knowledge of, or had actually visited, a greater number of the different countries of the World than any other man; the more that he was always giving his mind to get knowledge, and to spy out and enquire into everything in order to have matter to relate to the Lord.

Chapter xvii.

How Messer Nicolo, Messer Maffeo, and Messer Marco, Asked Leave of the Great Kaan to Go Their Way.

When the Two Brothers and Mark had abode with the Lord all that time that you have been told [having meanwhile acquired great wealth in jewels and gold], they began among themselves to have thoughts about returning to their own country; and indeed it was time. [For, to say nothing of the length and infinite perils of the way, when they considered the Kaan’s great age, they doubted whether, in the event of his death before their departure, they would ever be able to get home.1] They applied to him several times for leave to go, presenting their request with great respect, but he had such a partiality for them, and liked so much to have them about him, that nothing on earth would persuade him to let them go.

Now it came to pass in those days that the Queen BOLGANA, wife of ARGON, Lord of the Levant, departed this life. And in her Will she had desired that no Lady should take her place, or succeed her as Argon’s wife, except one of her own family [which existed in Cathay]. Argon therefore despatched three of his Barons, by name respectively OULATAY, APUSCA, and COJA, as ambassadors to the Great Kaan, attended by a very gallant company, in order to bring back as his bride a lady of the family of Queen Bolgana, his late wife.2

When these three Barons had reached the Court of the Great Kaan, they delivered their message, explaining wherefore they were come. The Kaan received them with all honour and hospitality, and then sent for a lady whose name was COCACHIN, who was of the family of the deceased Queen Bolgana. She was a maiden of 17, a very beautiful and charming person, and on her arrival at Court she was presented to the three Barons as the Lady chosen in compliance with their demand. They declared that the Lady pleased them well.3

Meanwhile Messer Marco chanced to return from India, whither he had gone as the Lord’s ambassador, and made his report of all the different things that he had seen in his travels, and of the sundry seas over which he had voyaged. And the three Barons, having seen that Messer Nicolo, Messer Maffeo, and Messer Marco were not only Latins, but men of marvellous good sense withal, took thought among themselves to get the three to travel with them, their intention being to return to their country by sea, on account of the great fatigue of that long land journey for a lady. And the ambassadors were the more desirous to have their company, as being aware that those three had great knowledge and experience of the Indian Sea and the countries by which they would have to pass, and especially Messer Marco. So they went to the Great Kaan, and begged as a favour that he would send the three Latins with them, as it was their desire to return home by sea.

The Lord, having that great regard that I have mentioned for those three Latins, was very loath to do so [and his countenance showed great dissatisfaction]. But at last he did give them permission to depart, enjoining them to accompany the three Barons and the Lady.

NOTE 1. — Pegolotti, in his chapters on mercantile ventures to Cathay, refers to the dangers to which foreigners were always liable on the death of the reigning sovereign. (See Cathay, p. 292.)

NOTE 2. — Several ladies of the name of BULUGHAN (“Zibellina”) have a place in Mongol–Persian history. The one here indicated, a lady of great beauty and ability, was known as the Great Khátún (or Lady) Bulughan, and was (according to strange Mongol custom) the wife successively of Abáka and of his son ARGHUN, the Argon of the text, Mongol sovereign of Persia. She died on the banks of the Kur in Georgia, 7th April, 1286. She belonged to the Mongol tribe of Bayaut, and was the daughter of Hulákú‘s Chief Secretary Gúgah. (Ilchan. I. 374 et passim; Erdmann’s Temudschin, p. 216.)

The names of the Envoys, ULADAI, APUSHKA, and KOJA, are all names met with in Mongol history. And Rashiduddin speaks of an Apushka of the Mongol Tribe of Urnaut, who on some occasion was sent as Envoy to the Great Kaan from Persia — possibly the very person. (See Erdmann, 205.)

Of the Lady Cocachin we shall speak below.

NOTE 3. — Ramusio here has the following passage, genuine no doubt: “So everything being ready, with a great escort to do honour to the bride of King Argon, the Ambassadors took leave and set forth. But after travelling eight months by the same way that they had come, they found the roads closed, in consequence of wars lately broken out among certain Tartar Princes; so being unable to proceed, they were compelled to return to the Court of the Great Kaan.”

Chapter xviii.

How the Two Brothers and Messer Marco Took Leave of the Great Kaan, and Returned to Their Own Country.

And when the Prince saw that the Two Brothers and Messer Marco were ready to set forth, he called them all three to his presence, and gave them two golden Tablets of Authority, which should secure them liberty of passage through all his dominions, and by means of which, whithersoever they should go, all necessaries would be provided for them, and for all their company, and whatever they might choose to order.1 He charged them also with messages to the King of France, the King of England,2 the King of Spain, and the other kings of Christendom. He then caused thirteen ships to be equipt, each of which had four masts, and often spread twelve sails.3 And I could easily give you all particulars about these, but as it would be so long an affair I will not enter upon this now, but hereafter, when time and place are suitable. [Among the said ships were at least four or five that carried crews of 250 or 260 men.]

And when the ships had been equipt, the Three Barons and the Lady, and the Two Brothers and Messer Marco, took leave of the Great Kaan, and went on board their ships with a great company of people, and with all necessaries provided for two years by the Emperor. They put forth to sea, and after sailing for some three months they arrived at a certain Island towards the South, which is called JAVA,4 and in which there are many wonderful things which we shall tell you all about by-and-bye. Quitting this Island they continued to navigate the Sea of India for eighteen months more before they arrived whither they were bound, meeting on their way also with many marvels, of which we shall tell hereafter.

And when they got thither they found that Argon was dead, so the Lady was delivered to CASAN, his son.

But I should have told you that it is a fact that, when they embarked, they were in number some 600 persons, without counting the mariners; but nearly all died by the way, so that only eight survived.5

The sovereignty when they arrived was held by KIACATU, so they commended the Lady to him, and executed all their commission. And when the Two Brothers and Messer Marco had executed their charge in full, and done all that the Great Kaan had enjoined on them in regard to the Lady, they took their leave and set out upon their journey.6 And before their departure, Kiacatu gave them four golden tablets of authority, two of which bore gerfalcons, one bore lions, whilst the fourth was plain, and having on them inscriptions which directed that the three Ambassadors should receive honour and service all through the land as if rendered to the Prince in person, and that horses and all provisions, and everything necessary, should be supplied to them. And so they found in fact; for throughout the country they received ample and excellent supplies of everything needful; and many a time indeed, as I may tell you, they were furnished with 200 horsemen, more or less, to escort them on their way in safety. And this was all the more needful because Kiacatu was not the legitimate Lord, and therefore the people had less scruple to do mischief than if they had had a lawful prince.7

Another thing too must be mentioned, which does credit to those three Ambassadors, and shows for what great personages they were held. The Great Kaan regarded them with such trust and affection, that he had confided to their charge the Queen Cocachin, as well as the daughter of the King of Manzi,8 to conduct to Argon the Lord of all the Levant. And those two great ladies who were thus entrusted to them they watched over and guarded as if they had been daughters of their own, until they had transferred them to the hands of their Lord; whilst the ladies, young and fair as they were, looked on each of those three as a father, and obeyed them accordingly. Indeed, both Casan, who is now the reigning prince, and the Queen Cocachin his wife, have such a regard for the Envoys that there is nothing they would not do for them. And when the three Ambassadors took leave of that Lady to return to their own country, she wept for sorrow at the parting.

What more shall I say? Having left Kiacatu they travelled day by day till they came to Trebizond, and thence to Constantinople, from Constantinople to Negropont, and from Negropont to Venice. And this was in the year 1295 of Christ’s Incarnation.

And now that I have rehearsed all the Prologue as you have heard, we shall begin the Book of the Description of the Divers Things that Messer Marco met with in his Travels.

NOTE 1. — On these plates or tablets, which have already been spoken of, a note will be found further on. (Bk. II. ch. vii.) Plano Carpini says of the Mongol practice in reference to royal messengers: “Nuncios, quoscunque et quotcunque, et ubicunque transmittit, oportet quod dent eis sine morâ equos subductitios et expensas” (669).

NOTE 2. — The mention of the King of England appears for the first time in Pauthier’s text. Probably we shall never know if the communication reached him. But we have the record of several embassies in preceding and subsequent years from the Mongol Khans of Persia to the Kings of England; all with the view of obtaining co-operation in attack on the Egyptian Sultan. Such messages came from Ábáka in 1277; from Arghún in 1289 and 1291; from Gházán in 1302; from Oljaitu in 1307. (See Rémusat in Mém. de l’Acad. VII.)

Illustration: Ancient Chinese War Vessel.

NOTE 3. — Ramusio has “nine sails.” Marsden thinks even this lower number an error of Ramusio’s, as “it is well known that Chinese vessels do not carry any kind of topsail.” This is, however, a mistake, for they do sometimes carry a small topsail of cotton cloth (and formerly, it would seem from Lecomte, even a topgallant sail at times), though only in quiet weather. And the evidence as to the number of sails carried by the great Chinese junks of the Middle Ages, which evidently made a great impression on Western foreigners, is irresistible. Friar Jordanus, who saw them in Malabar, says: “With a fair wind they carry ten sails;” Ibn Batuta: “One of these great junks carries from three sails to twelve;” Joseph, the Indian, speaking of those that traded to India in the 15th century: “They were very great, and had sometimes twelve sails, with innumerable rowers.” (Lecomte, I. 389; Fr. Jordanus, Hak. Soc., p. 55; Ibn Batuta, IV. 91; Novus Orbis, p. 148.) A fuller account of these vessels is given at the beginning of Bk. III.

NOTE 4. — I.e. in this case Sumatra, as will appear hereafter. “It is quite possible for a fleet of fourteen junks which required to keep together to take three months at the present time to accomplish a similar voyage. A Chinese trader, who has come annually to Singapore in junks for many years, tells us that he has had as long a passage as sixty days, although the average is eighteen or twenty days.” (Logan in J. Ind. Archip. II. 609.)

NOTE 5. — Ramusio’s version here varies widely, and looks more probable: “From the day that they embarked until their arrival there died of mariners and others on board 600 persons; and of the three ambassadors only one survived, whose name was Goza (Coja); but of the ladies and damsels died but one.”

It is worth noting that in the case of an embassy sent to Cathay a few years later by Gházán Khan, on the return by this same route to Persia, the chief of the two Persian ambassadors, and the Great Khan’s envoy, who was in company, both died by the way. Their voyage, too, seems to have been nearly as long as Polo’s; for they were seven years absent from Persia, and of these only four in China. (See Wassáf in Elliot, III. 47.)

NOTE 6. — Ramusio’s version states that on learning Arghún’s death (which they probably did on landing at Hormuz), they sent word of their arrival to Kiacatu, who directed them to conduct the lady to Casan, who was then in the region of the Arbre Sec (the Province of Khorasan) guarding the frontier passes with 60,000 men, and that they did so, and then turned back to Kiacatu (probably at Tabriz), and stayed at his Court nine months. Even the Geog. Text seems to imply that they had become personally known to Casan, and I have no doubt that Ramusio’s statement is an authentic expansion of the original narrative by Marco himself, or on his authority.

Arghún Khan died 10th March, 1291. He was succeeded (23rd July) by his brother Kaikhátú (Quiacatu of Polo), who was put to death 24th March, 1295.

We learn from Hammer’s History of the Ilkhans that when Gházán, the son of Arghún (Casan of Polo), who had the government of the Khorasan frontier, was on his return to his post from Tabriz, where his uncle Kaikhatu had refused to see him, “he met at Abher the ambassador whom he had sent to the Great Khan to obtain in marriage a relative of the Great Lady Bulghán. This envoy brought with him the Lady KÚKÁCHIN (our author’s Cocachin), with presents from the Emperor, and the marriage was celebrated with due festivity.” Abher lies a little west of Kazvín.

Hammer is not, I find, here copying from Wassáf, and I have not been able to procure a thorough search of the work of Rashiduddin, which probably was his authority. As well as the date can be made out from the History of the Ilkhans, Gházán must have met his bride towards the end of 1293, or quite the beginning of 1294. Rashiduddin in another place mentions the fair lady from Cathay; “The ordu (or establishment) of Tukiti Khatun was given to KUKACHI KHATUN, who had been brought from the Kaan’s Court, and who was a kinswoman of the late chief Queen Bulghán. Kúkáchi, the wife of the Padshah of Islam, Gházán Khan, died in the month of Shaban, 695,” i.e. in June, 1296, so that the poor girl did not long survive her promotion. (See Hammer’s Ilch. II. 20, and 8, and I. 273; and Quatremère’s Rashiduddin, p. 97.) Kukachin was the name also of the wife of Chingkim, Kublai’s favourite son; but she was of the Kungurát tribe. (Deguignes, IV. 179.)

NOTE 7. — Here Ramusio’s text says: “During this journey Messers Nicolo, Maffeo, and Marco heard the news that the Great Khan had departed this life; and this caused them to give up all hope of returning to those parts.”

NOTE 8. — This Princess of Manzi, or Southern China, is mentioned only in the Geog. Text and in the Crusca, which is based thereon. I find no notice of her among the wives of Gházán or otherwise.

On the fall of the capital of the Sung Dynasty — the Kinsay of Polo — in 1276, the Princesses of that Imperial family were sent to Peking, and were graciously treated by Kublai’s favourite Queen, the Lady Jamui. This young lady was, no doubt, one of those captive princesses who had been brought up at the Court of Khánbálik. (See De Mailla, IX. 376, and infra Bk. II. ch. lxv., note 6.)

Book First.

Account of regions visited or heard of on the journey from the lesser Armenia to the Court of the Great Kaan at Chandu.

Illustration: Aias, the LAIAS of POLO, from an Admiralty Chart

Illustration: Position of Diláwar, the supposed Site of POLO’S DILAVAR

Book I.

Chapter I.

Here the Book Begins; and First it Speaks of the Lesser Hermenia.

There are two Hermenias, the Greater and the Less. The Lesser Hermenia is governed by a certain King, who maintains a just rule in his dominions, but is himself subject to the Tartar.1 The country contains numerous towns and villages,2 and has everything in plenty; moreover, it is a great country for sport in the chase of all manner of beasts and birds. It is, however, by no means a healthy region, but grievously the reverse.3 In days of old the nobles there were valiant men, and did doughty deeds of arms; but nowadays they are poor creatures, and good at nought, unless it be at boozing; they are great at that. Howbeit, they have a city upon the sea, which is called LAYAS, at which there is a great trade. For you must know that all the spicery, and the cloths of silk and gold, and the other valuable wares that come from the interior, are brought to that city. And the merchants of Venice and Genoa, and other countries, come thither to sell their goods, and to buy what they lack. And whatsoever persons would travel to the interior (of the East), merchants or others, they take their way by this city of Layas.4

Having now told you about the Lesser Hermenia, we shall next tell you about Turcomania.

NOTE 1. — The Petite Hermenie of the Middle Ages was quite distinct from the Armenia Minor of the ancient geographers, which name the latter applied to the western portion of Armenia, west of the Euphrates, and immediately north of Cappadocia.

But when the old Armenian monarchy was broken up (1079–80), Rupen, a kinsman of the Bagratid Kings, with many of his countrymen, took refuge in the Taurus. His first descendants ruled as barons; a title adopted apparently from the Crusaders, but still preserved in Armenia. Leon, the great-great-grandson of Rupen, was consecrated King under the supremacy of the Pope and the Western Empire in 1198. The kingdom was at its zenith under Hetum or Hayton I., husband of Leon’s daughter Isabel (1224–1269); he was, however, prudent enough to make an early submission to the Mongols, and remained ever staunch to them, which brought his territory constantly under the flail of Egypt. It included at one time all Cilicia, with many cities of Syria and the ancient Armenia Minor, of Isauria and Cappadocia. The male line of Rupen becoming extinct in 1342, the kingdom passed to John de Lusignan, of the royal house of Cyprus, and in 1375 it was put an end to by the Sultan of Egypt. Leon VI., the ex-king, into whose mouth Froissart puts some extraordinary geography, had a pension of 1000l. a year granted him by our Richard II., and died at Paris in 1398.

Illustration: Coin of King Hetum and his Queen Isabel.

The chief remaining vestige of this little monarchy is the continued existence of a Catholicos of part of the Armenian Church at Sis, which was the royal residence. Some Armenian communities still remain both in hills and plains; and the former, the more independent and industrious, still speak a corrupt Armenian.

Polo’s contemporary, Marino Sanuto, compares the kingdom of the Pope’s faithful Armenians to one between the teeth of four fierce beasts, the Lion Tartar, the Panther Soldan, the Turkish Wolf, the Corsair Serpent.

(Dulaurier, in J. As. sér. V. tom. xvii.; St. Martin, Arm.; Mar. San. p. 32; Froissart, Bk. II. ch. xxii. seqq.; Langlois, V. en Cilicie, 1861, p. 19.)

NOTE 2. —“Maintes villes et maint chasteaux” This is a constantly recurring phrase, and I have generally translated it as here, believing chasteaux (castelli) to be used in the frequent old Italian sense of a walled village or small walled town, or like the Eastern Kala’ applied in Khorasan “to everything — town, village, or private residence — surrounded by a wall of earth.” (Ferrier, p. 292; see also A. Conolly, I. p. 211.) Martini, in his Atlas Sinensis, uses “Urbes, oppida, castella,” to indicate the three classes of Chinese administrative cities.

NOTE 3. —“Enferme durement.” So Marino Sanuto objects to Lesser Armenia as a place of debarkation for a crusade “quia terra est infirma” Langlois, speaking of the Cilician plain: “In this region once so fair, now covered with swamps and brambles, fever decimates a population which is yearly diminishing, has nothing to oppose to the scourge but incurable apathy, and will end by disappearing altogether,” etc. (Voyage, p. 65.) Cilician Armenia retains its reputation for sport, and is much frequented by our naval officers for that object. Ayas is noted for the extraordinary abundance of turtles.

NOTE 4. — The phrase twice used in this passage for the Interior is Fra terre, an Italianism (Fra terra, or, as it stands in the Geog. Latin, “infra terram Orientis”), which, however, Murray and Pauthier have read as an allusion to the Euphrates, an error based apparently on a marginal gloss in the published edition of the Soc. de Géographie. It is true that the province of Comagene under the Greek Empire got the name of Euphratesia, or in Arabic Furátiýah, but that was not in question here. The great trade of Ayas was with Tabriz, viâ Sivas, Erzingan, and Erzrum, as we see in Pegolotti. Elsewhere, too, in Polo we find the phrase fra terre used, where Euphrates could possibly have no concern, as in relation to India and Oman. (See Bk. III. chs. xxix. and xxxviii., and notes in each case.)

With regard to the phrase spicery here and elsewhere, it should be noted that the Italian spezerie included a vast deal more than ginger and other things “hot i’ the mouth.” In one of Pegolotti’s lists of spezerie we find drugs, dye-stuffs, metals, wax, cotton, etc.

Chapter ii.

Concerning the Province of Turcomania.

In Turcomania there are three classes of people. First, there are the Turcomans; these are worshippers of Mahommet, a rude people with an uncouth language of their own.1 They dwell among mountains and downs where they find good pasture, for their occupation is cattle-keeping. Excellent horses, known as Turquans, are reared in their country, and also very valuable mules. The other two classes are the Armenians and the Greeks, who live mixt with the former in the towns and villages, occupying themselves with trade and handicrafts. They weave the finest and handsomest carpets in the world, and also a great quantity of fine and rich silks of cramoisy and other colours, and plenty of other stuffs. Their chief cities are CONIA, SAVAST [where the glorious Messer Saint Blaise suffered martyrdom], and CASARIA, besides many other towns and bishops’ sees, of which we shall not speak at present, for it would be too long a matter. These people are subject to the Tartar of the Levant as their Suzerain.2 We will now leave this province, and speak of the Greater Armenia.

NOTE 1. — Ricold of Montecroce, a contemporary of Polo, calls the Turkmans homines bestiales. In our day Ainsworth notes of a Turkman village: “The dogs were very ferocious; . . . the people only a little better.” (J. R. G. S. X. 292.) The ill report of the people of this region did not begin with the Turkmans, for the Emperor Constantine Porphyrog. quotes a Greek proverb to the disparagement of the three kappas, Cappadocia, Crete, and Cilicia. (In Bandurit I. 6.)

NOTE 2. — In Turcomania Marco perhaps embraces a great part of Asia Minor, but he especially means the territory of the decaying Seljukian monarchy, usually then called by Asiatics Rúm, as the Ottoman Empire is now, and the capital of which was Iconium, KUNIYAH, the Conia of the text, and Coyne of Joinville. Ibn Batuta calls the whole country Turkey (Al–Turkiýah), and the people Turkmán; exactly likewise does Ricold (Thurchia and Thurchimanni). Hayton’s account of the various classes of inhabitants is quite the same in substance as Polo’s. [The Turkmans emigrated from Turkestan to Asia Minor before the arrival of the Seljukid Turks. “Their villages,” says Cuinet, Turquie d’Asie, II. p. 767, “are distinguished by the peculiarity of the houses being built of sun-baked bricks, whereas it is the general habit in the country to build them of earth or a kind of plaster, called djès”— H. C.] The migratory and pastoral Turkmans still exist in this region, but the Kurds of like habits have taken their place to a large extent. The fine carpets and silk fabrics appear to be no longer produced here, any more than the excellent horses of which Polo speaks, which must have been the remains of the famous old breed of Cappadocia. [It appears, however (Vital Cuinet’s Turquie d’Asie, I. p. 224), that fine carpets are still manufactured at Koniah, also a kind of striped cotton cloth, called Aladja. — H. C.]

A grant of privileges to the Genoese by Leon II., King of Lesser Armenia, dated 23rd December, 1288, alludes to the export of horses and mules, etc., from Ayas, and specifies the duties upon them. The horses now of repute in Asia as Turkman come from the east of the Caspian. And Asia Minor generally, once the mother of so many breeds of high repute, is now poorer in horses than any province of the Ottoman empire.

(Pereg. Quat. p. 114; I.B. II. 255 seqq.; Hayton, ch. xiii.; Liber Jurium Reip. Januensis, II. 184; Tchihatcheff, As. Min., 2’de partie, 631.)

[The Seljukian Sultanate of Iconium or Rúm, was founded at the expense of the Byzantines by Suleiman (1074–1081); the last three sovereigns of the dynasty contemporaneous with Marco Polo are Ghiath ed-din Kaïkhosru III. (1267–1283), Ghiath ed-din Mas’ud II. (1283–1294), Ala ed-din Kaïkobad III. (1294–1308), when this kingdom was destroyed by the Mongols of Persia. Privileges had been granted to Venice by Ghiath ed-din Kaïkhosru I. (+ 1211), and his sons Izz ed-din Kaikaua (1211–1220), and Ala ed-din Kaïkobad I. (1220–1237); the diploma of 1220 is unfortunately the only one of the three known to be preserved. (Cf. Heyd, I. p. 302.)— H. C.]

Though the authors quoted above seem to make no distinction between Turks and Turkmans, that which we still understand does appear to have been made in the 12th century: “That there may be some distinction, at least in name, between those who made themselves a king, and thus achieved such glory, and those who still abide in their primitive barbarism and adhere to their old way of life, the former are nowadays termed Turks, the latter by their old name of Turkomans.” (William of Tyre, i. 7.)

Casaria is KAISARÍYA, the ancient Caesareia of Cappadocia, close to the foot of the great Mount Argaeus. Savast is the Armenian form (Sevasd) of Sebaste, the modern SIVAS. The three cities, Iconium, Caesareia, and Sebaste, were metropolitan sees under the Catholicos of Sis.

[The ruins of Sebaste are situated at about 6 miles to the east of modern Sivas, near the village of Gavraz, on the Kizil Irmak. In the 11th century, the King of Armenia, Senecherim, made his capital of Sebaste. It belonged after to the Seljukid Turks, and was conquered in 1397 by Bayezid Ilderim with Tokat, Castambol and Sinope. (Cf. Vital Cuinet.)

One of the oldest churches in Sivas is St. George (Sourp-Kévork), occupied by the Greeks, but claimed by the Armenians; it is situated near the centre of the town, in what is called the “Black Earth,” the spot where Timur is said to have massacred the garrison. A few steps north of St. George is the Church of St. Blasius, occupied by the Roman Catholic Armenians. The tomb of St. Blasius, however, is shown in another part of the town, near the citadel mount, and the ruins of a very beautiful Seljukian Medresseh. (From a MS. Note by Sir H. Yule. The information had been supplied by the American Missionaries to General Sir C. Wilson, and forwarded by him to Sir H. Yule.)

It must be remembered that at the time of the Seljuk Turks, there were four Medressehs at Sivas, and a university as famous as that of Amassia. Children to the number of 1000, each a bearer of a copy of the Koran, were crushed to death under the feet of the horses of Timur, and buried in the “Black Earth”; the garrison of 4000 soldiers were buried alive.

St. Blasius, Bishop of Sebaste, was martyred in 316 by order of Agricola, Governor of Cappadocia and Lesser Armenia, during the reign of Licinius. His feast is celebrated by the Latin Church on the 3rd of February, and by the Greek Church on the 11th of February. He is the patron of the Republic of Ragusa in Dalmatia, and in France of wool-carders.

At the village of Hullukluk, near Sivas, was born in 1676 Mekhitar, founder of the well-known Armenian Order, which has convents at Venice, Vienna, and Trieste. — H. C.]

Chapter iii.

Description of the Greater Hermenia.

This is a great country. It begins at a city called ARZINGA, at which they weave the best buckrams in the world. It possesses also the best baths from natural springs that are anywhere to be found.1 The people of the country are Armenians, and are subject to the Tartar. There are many towns and villages in the country, but the noblest of their cities is Arzinga, which is the See of an Archbishop, and then ARZIRON and ARZIZI.2

The country is indeed a passing great one, and in the summer it is frequented by the whole host of the Tartars of the Levant, because it then furnishes them with such excellent pasture for their cattle. But in winter the cold is past all bounds, so in that season they quit this country and go to a warmer region, where they find other good pastures. [At a castle called PAIPURTH, that you pass in going from Trebizond to Tauris, there is a very good silver mine.3]

And you must know that it is in this country of Armenia that the Ark of Noah exists on the top of a certain great mountain [on the summit of which snow is so constant that no one can ascend;4 for the snow never melts, and is constantly added to by new falls. Below, however, the snow does melt, and runs down, producing such rich and abundant herbage that in summer cattle are sent to pasture from a long way round about, and it never fails them. The melting snow also causes a great amount of mud on the mountain].

The country is bounded on the south by a kingdom called Mosul, the people of which are Jacobite and Nestorian Christians, of whom I shall have more to tell you presently. On the north it is bounded by the Land of the Georgians, of whom also I shall speak. On the confines towards Georgiania there is a fountain from which oil springs in great abundance, insomuch that a hundred shiploads might be taken from it at one time. This oil is not good to use with food, but ’tis good to burn, and is also used to anoint camels that have the mange. People come from vast distances to fetch it, for in all the countries round about they have no other oil.5

Now, having done with Great Armenia, we will tell you of Georgiania.

NOTE 1. —[Erzinjan, Erzinga, or Eriza, in the vilayet of Erzrum, was rebuilt in 1784, after having been destroyed by an earthquake. “Arzendjan,” says Ibn Batuta, II. p. 294, “is in possession of well-established markets; there are manufactured fine stuffs, which are called after its name.” It was at Erzinjan that was fought in 1244 the great battle, which placed the Seljuk Turks under the dependency of the Mongol Khans. — H. C.] I do not find mention of its hot springs by modern travellers, but Lazari says Armenians assured him of their existence. There are plenty of others in Polo’s route through the country, as at Ilija, close to Erzrum, and at Hássan Kalá.

The Buckrams of Arzinga are mentioned both by Pegolotti (circa 1340) and by Giov. d’Uzzano (1442). But what were they?

Buckram in the modern sense is a coarse open texture of cotton or hemp, loaded with gum, and used to stiffen certain articles of dress. But this was certainly not the mediaeval sense. Nor is it easy to bring the mediaeval uses of the term under a single explanation. Indeed Mr. Marsh suggests that probably two different words have coalesced. Fr.-Michel says that Bouqueran was at first applied to a light cotton stuff of the nature of muslin, and afterwards to linen, but I do not see that he makes out this history of the application. Douet d’Arcq, in his Comptes de l’Argenterie, etc., explains the word simply in the modern sense, but there seems nothing in his text to bear this out.

A quotation in Raynouard’s Romance Dictionary has “Vestirs de polpra e de bisso que est bocaran,” where Raynouard renders bisso as lin; a quotation in Ducange also makes Buckram the equivalent of Bissus; and Michel quotes from an inventory of 1365, “unam culcitram pinctam (qu. punctam?) albam factam de bisso aliter boquerant.”

Mr. Marsh again produces quotations, in which the word is used as a proverbial example of whiteness, and inclines to think that it was a bleached cloth with a lustrous surface.

It certainly was not necessarily linen. Giovanni Villani, in a passage which is curious in more ways than one, tells how the citizens of Florence established races for their troops, and, among other prizes, was one which consisted of a Bucherame di bambagine (of cotton). Polo, near the end of the Book (Bk. III. ch. xxxiv.), speaking of Abyssinia, says, according to Pauthier’s text: “Et si y fait on moult beaux bouquerans et autres draps de coton.” The G. T. is, indeed, more ambiguous: “Il hi se font maint biaus dras banbacin e bocaran” (cotton and buckram). When, however, he uses the same expression with reference to the delicate stuffs woven on the coast of Telingana, there can be no doubt that a cotton texture is meant, and apparently a fine muslin. (See Bk. III. ch. xviii.) Buckram is generally named as an article of price, chier bouquerant, rice boquerans, etc, but not always, for Polo in one passage (Bk. II. ch. xlv.) seems to speak of it as the clothing of the poor people of Eastern Tibet.

Plano Carpini says the tunics of the Tartars were either of buckram (bukeranum), of purpura (a texture, perhaps velvet), or of baudekin, a cloth of gold (pp. 614–615). When the envoys of the Old Man of the Mountain tried to bully St. Lewis, one had a case of daggers to be offered in defiance, another a bouqueran for a winding sheet (Joinville, p. 136.)

In accounts of materials for the use of Anne Boleyn in the time of her prosperity, bokeram frequently appears for “lyning and taynting” (?) gowns, lining sleeves, cloaks, a bed, etc., but it can scarcely have been for mere stiffening, as the colour of the buckram is generally specified as the same as that of the dress.

A number of passages seem to point to a quilted material. Boccaccio (Day viii. Novel 10) speaks of a quilt (coltre) of the whitest buckram of Cyprus, and Uzzano enters buckram quilts (coltre di Bucherame) in a list of Linajuoli, or linen-draperies. Both his handbook and Pegolotti’s state repeatedly that buckrams were sold by the piece or the half-score pieces — never by measure. In one of Michel’s quotations (from Baudouin de Sebourc) we have:

“Gaufer li fist premiers armer d’un auqueton

Qui fu de bougherant et plaine de bon coton.”

Mr. Hewitt would appear to take the view that Buckram meant a quilted material; for, quoting from a roll of purchases made for the Court of Edward I., an entry for Ten Buckrams to make sleeves of, he remarks, “The sleeves appear to have been of pourpointerie,” i.e. quilting. (Ancient Armour, I. 240.)

This signification would embrace a large number of passages in which the term is used, though certainly not all. It would account for the mode or sale by the piece, and frequent use of the expression a buckram, for its habitual application to coltre or counterpanes, its use in the auqueton of Baudouin, and in the jackets of Falstaff’s “men in buckram,” as well as its employment in the frocks of the Mongols and Tibetans. The winter chapkan, or long tunic, of Upper India, a form of dress which, I believe, correctly represents that of the Mongol hosts, and is probably derived from them, is almost universally of quilted cotton.1 This signification would also facilitate the transfer of meaning to the substance now called buckram, for that is used as a kind of quilting.

The derivation of the word is very uncertain. Reiske says it is Arabic, Abu–Kairám, “Pannus cum intextis figuris”; Wedgwood, attaching the modern meaning, that it is from It., bucherare, to pierce full of holes, which might be if bucherare could be used in the sense of puntare, or the French piquer; Marsh connects it with the bucking of linen; and D’Avezac thinks it was a stuff that took its name from Bokhara. If the name be local, as so many names of stuffs are, the French form rather suggests Bulgaria. [Heyd, II. 703, says that Buckram (Bucherame) was principally manufactured at Erzinjan (Armenia), Mush, and Mardin (Kurdistan), Ispahan (Persia), and in India, etc. It was shipped to the west at Constantinople, Satalia, Acre, and Famagusta; the name is derived from Bokhara. — H. C.]

(Della Decima, III. 18, 149, 65, 74, 212, etc.; IV. 4, 5, 6, 212; Reiske’s Notes to Const. Porphyrogen. II.; D’Avezac, p. 524; Vocab. Univ. Ital.; Franc.-Michel, Recherches, etc. II. 29 seqq.; Philobiblon Soc. Miscell. VI.; Marsh’s Wedgwood’s Etym. Dict. sub voce.)

Illustration: Castle of Baiburt.

NOTE 2. — Arziron is ERZRUM, which, even in Tournefort’s time, the Franks called Erzeron (III. 126); [it was named Garine, then Theodosiopolis, in honour of Theodosius the Great; the present name was given by the Seljukid Turks, and it means “Roman Country”; it was taken by Chinghiz Khan and Timur, but neither kept it long. Odorico (Cathay, I. p. 46), speaking of this city, says it “is mighty cold.” (See also on the low temperature of the place, Tournefort, Voyage du Levant, II. pp. 258–259.) Arzizi, ARJISH, in the vilayet of Van, was destroyed in the middle of the 19th century; it was situated on the road from Van to Erzrum. Arjish Kalá was one of the ancient capitals of the Kingdom of Armenia; it was conquered by Toghrul I., who made it his residence. (Cf. Vital Cuinet, Turquie d’Asie, II. p. 710). — H. C.]

Arjish is the ancient Arsissa, which gave the Lake Van one of its names. It is now little more than a decayed castle, with a village inside.

Notices of Kuniyah, Kaisariya, Sivas, Arzan-ar-Rumi, Arzangan, and Arjish, will be found in Polo’s contemporary Abulfeda. (See Büsching, IV. 303–311.)

NOTE 3. — Paipurth, or Baiburt, on the high road between Trebizond and Erzrum, was, according to Neumann, an Armenian fortress in the first century, and, according to Ritter, the castle Baiberdon was fortified by Justinian. It stands on a peninsular hill, encircled by the windings of the R. Charok. [According to Ramusio’s version Baiburt was the third relay from Trebizund to Tauris, and travellers on their way from one of these cities to the other passed under this stronghold. — H. C.] The Russians, in retiring from it in 1829, blew up the greater part of the defences. The nearest silver mines of which we find modern notice, are those of Gumish–Khánah (“Silverhouse”), about 35 miles N.W. of Baiburt; they are more correctly mines of lead rich in silver, and were once largely worked. But the Masálak-al-absár (14th century), besides these, speaks of two others in the same province, one of which was near Bajert. This Quatremère reasonably would read Babert or Baiburt. (Not. et Extraits, XIII. i. 337; Texier, Arménie, I. 59.)

NOTE 4. — Josephus alludes to the belief that Noah’s Ark still existed, and that pieces of the pitch were used as amulets. (Ant. I. 3. 6.)

Ararat (16,953 feet) was ascended, first by Prof. Parrot, September 1829; by Spasski Aotonomoff, August 1834; by Behrens, 1835; by Abich, 1845; by Seymour in 1848; by Khodzko, Khanikoff, and others, for trigonometrical and other scientific purposes, in August 1850. It is characteristic of the account from which I take these notes (Longrimoff, in Bull. Soc. Géog. Paris, sér. IV. tom. i. p. 54), that whilst the writer’s countrymen, Spasski and Behrens, were “moved by a noble curiosity,” the Englishman is only admitted to have “gratified a tourist’s whim”!

NOTE 5. — Though Mr. Khanikoff points out that springs of naphtha are abundant in the vicinity of Tiflis, the mention of ship-loads (in Ramusio indeed altered, but probably by the Editor, to camel-loads), and the vast quantities spoken of, point to the naphtha-wells of the Baku Peninsula on the Caspian. Ricold speaks of their supplying the whole country as far as Baghdad, and Barbaro alludes to the practice of anointing camels with the oil. The quantity collected from the springs about Baku was in 1819 estimated at 241,000 poods (nearly 4000 tons), the greater part of which went to Persia. (Pereg. Quat. p. 122; Ramusio, II. 109; El. de Laprim. 276; V. du Chev. Gamba, I. 298.)

[The phenomenal rise in the production of the Baku oil-fields between 1890–1900, may be seen at a glance from the Official Statistics where the total output for 1900 is given as 601,000,000 poods, about 9,500,000 tons. (Cf. Petroleum, No. 42, vol. ii. p. 13.)]

1 Polo’s contemporary, the Indian Poet Amír Khusrú, puts in the mouth of his king Kaikobád a contemptuous gibe at the Mongols with their cotton-quilted dresses. (Elliot, III. p. 526.)

Chapter iv.

Of Georgiania and the Kings Thereof.

In GEORGIANIA there is a King called David Melic, which is as much as to say “David King”; he is subject to the Tartar.1 In old times all the kings were born with the figure of an eagle upon the right shoulder. The people are very handsome, capital archers, and most valiant soldiers. They are Christians of the Greek Rite, and have a fashion of wearing their hair cropped, like Churchmen.2

This is the country beyond which Alexander could not pass when he wished to penetrate to the region of the Ponent, because that the defile was so narrow and perilous, the sea lying on the one hand, and on the other lofty mountains impassable to horsemen. The strait extends like this for four leagues, and a handful of people might hold it against all the world. Alexander caused a very strong tower to be built there, to prevent the people beyond from passing to attack him, and this got the name of the IRON GATE. This is the place that the Book of Alexander speaks of, when it tells us how he shut up the Tartars between two mountains; not that they were really Tartars, however, for there were no Tartars in those days, but they consisted of a race of people called COMANIANS and many besides.3

Illustration: Mediaeval Georgian Fortress, from a drawing dated 1634. “La provence est tonte plene de grant montagne et d’estroit pas et de fort”

[In this province all the forests are of box-wood.4] There are numerous towns and villages, and silk is produced in great abundance. They also weave cloths of gold, and all kinds of very fine silk stuffs. The country produces the best goshawks in the world [which are called Avigi].5 It has indeed no lack of anything, and the people live by trade and handicrafts. ’Tis a very mountainous region, and full of strait defiles and of fortresses, insomuch that the Tartars have never been able to subdue it out and out.

There is in this country a certain Convent of Nuns called St. Leonard’s, about which I have to tell you a very wonderful circumstance. Near the church in question there is a great lake at the foot of a mountain, and in this lake are found no fish, great or small, throughout the year till Lent come. On the first day of Lent they find in it the finest fish in the world, and great store too thereof; and these continue to be found till Easter Eve. After that they are found no more till Lent come round again; and so ’tis every year. ’Tis really a passing great miracle!6

That sea whereof I spoke as coming so near the mountains is called the Sea of GHEL or GHELAN, and extends about 700 miles.7 It is twelve days’ journey distant from any other sea, and into it flows the great River Euphrates and many others, whilst it is surrounded by mountains. Of late the merchants of Genoa have begun to navigate this sea, carrying ships across and launching them thereon. It is from the country on this sea also that the silk called Ghellé is brought.8 [The said sea produces quantities of fish, especially sturgeon, at the river-mouths salmon, and other big kinds of fish.]9

NOTE 1. — Ramusio has: “One part of the said province is subject to the Tartar, and the other part, owing to its fortresses, remains subject to the King David.” We give an illustration of one of these mediaeval Georgian fortresses, from a curious collection of MS. notices and drawings of Georgian subjects in the Municipal Library at Palermo, executed by a certain P. Cristoforo di Castelli of that city, who was a Theatine missionary in Georgia, in the first half of the 17th century.

The G. T. says the King was always called David. The Georgian Kings of the family of Bagratidae claimed descent from King David through a prince Shampath, said to have been sent north by Nebuchadnezzar; a descent which was usually asserted in their public documents. Timur in his Institutes mentions a suit of armour given him by the King of Georgia as forged by the hand of the Psalmist King. David is a very frequent name in their royal lists. [The dynasty of the Bagratidae, which was founded in 786 by Ashod, and lasted until the annexation of Georgia by Russia on the 18th January, 1801, had nine reigning princes named David. During the second half of the 12th century the princes were: Dawith (David) IV. Narin (1247–1259), Dawith V. (1243–1272), Dimitri II. Thawdadebuli (1272–1289), Wakhtang II. (1289–1292), Dawith VI. (1292–1308). — H. C.] There were two princes of that name, David, who shared Georgia between them under the decision of the Great Kaan in 1246, and one of them, who survived to 1269, is probably meant here. The name of David was borne by the last titular King of Georgia, who ceded his rights to Russia in 1801. It is probable, however, as Marsden has suggested, that the statement about the King always being called David arose in part out of some confusion with the title of Dadian, which, according to Chardin (and also to P. di Castelli), was always assumed by the Princes of Mingrelia, or Colchis as the latter calls it. Chardin refers this title to the Persian Dád, “equity.” To a portrait of “Alexander, King of Iberia,” or Georgia Proper, Castelli attaches the following inscription, giving apparently his official style: “With the sceptre of David, Crowned by Heaven, First King of the Orient and of the World, King of Israel,” adding, “They say that he has on his shoulder a small mark of a cross, ‘Factus est principatus super humerum ejus,’ and they add that he has all his ribs in one piece, and not divided.” In another place he notes that when attending the King in illness his curiosity moved him strongly to ask if these things were true, but he thought better of it! (Khanikoff; Jour. As. IX. 370, XI. 291, etc.; Tim. Instit. p. 143; Castelli MSS.)

[A descendant of these Princes was in St. Petersburg about 1870. He wore the Russian uniform, and bore the title of Prince Bagration–Mukransky.]

NOTE 2. — This fashion of tonsure is mentioned by Barbaro and Chardin. The latter speaks strongly of the beauty of both sexes, as does Della Valle, and most modern travellers concur.

NOTE 3. — This refers to the Pass of Derbend, apparently the Sarmatic Gates of Ptolemy, and Claustra Caspiorum of Tacitus, known to the Arab geographers as the “Gate of Gates” (Báb-ul-abwáb), but which is still called in Turkish Demír-Kápi, or the Iron Gate, and to the ancient Wall that runs from the Castle of Derbend along the ridges of Caucasus, called in the East Sadd-i-Iskandar, the Rampart of Alexander. Bayer thinks the wall was probably built originally by one of the Antiochi, and renewed by the Sassanian Kobad or his son Naoshirwan. It is ascribed to the latter by Abulfeda; and according to Klaproth’s extracts from the Derbend Námah, Naoshirwan completed the fortress of Derbend in A.D. 542, whilst he and his father together had erected 360 towers upon the Caucasian Wall which extended to the Gate of the Alans (i.e. the Pass of Dariel). Mas’údi says that the wall extended for 40 parasangs over the steepest summits and deepest gorges. The Russians must have gained some knowledge as to the actual existence and extent of the remains of this great work, but I have not been able to meet with any modern information of a very precise kind. According to a quotation from Reinegg’s Kaukasus (I. 120, a work which I have not been able to consult), the remains of defences can be traced for many miles, and are in some places as much as 120 feet high. M. Moynet indeed, in the Tour du Monde (I. 122), states that he traced the wall to a distance of 27 versts (18 miles) from Derbend, but unfortunately, instead of describing remains of such high interest from his own observation, he cites a description written by Alex. Dumas, which he says is quite accurate.

[“To the west of Narin–Kaleh, a fortress which from the top of a promontory rises above the city, the wall, strengthened from distance to distance by large towers, follows the ridge of the mountains, descends into the ravines, and ascends the slopes to take root on some remote peak. If the natives were to be believed, this wall, which, however, no longer has any strategetical importance, had formerly its towers bristling upon the Caucasus chain from one sea to another; at least, this rampart did protect all the plains at the foot of the eastern Caucasus, since vestiges were found up to 30 kilometres from Derbend.” (Reclus, Asie russe, p. 160.) It has belonged to Russia since 1813. The first European traveller who mentions it is Benjamin of Tudela.

Bretschneider (II. p. 117) observes: “Yule complains that he was not able to find any modern information regarding the famous Caucasian Wall which begins at Derbend. I may therefore observe that interesting details on the subject are found in Legkobytov’s Survey of the Russian Dominions beyond the Caucasus (in Russian), 1836, vol. iv. pp. 158–161, and in Dubois de Montpéreux’s Voyage autour du Caucase, 1840, vol. iv. pp. 291–298, from which I shall give here an abstract.”

(He then proceeds to give an abstract, of which the following is a part:)

“The famous Dagh bary (mountain wall) now begins at the village of Djelgan 4 versts south-west of Derbend, but we know that as late as the beginning of the last century it could be traced down to the southern gate of the city. This ancient wall then stretches westward to the high mountains of Tabasseran (it seems the Tabarestan of Mas’údi). . . . Dubois de Montpéreux enumerates the following sites of remains of the wall:— In the famous defile of Dariel, north-east of Kazbek. In the valley of the Assai river, near Wapila, about 35 versts north-east of Dariel. In the valley of the Kizil river, about 15 versts north-west of Kazbek. Farther west, in the valley of the Fiag or Pog river, between Lacz and Khilak. From this place farther west about 25 versts, in the valley of the Arredon river, in the district of Valaghir. Finally, the westernmost section of the Caucasian Wall has been preserved, which was evidently intended to shut up the maritime defile of Gagry, on the Black Sea.”— H. C.]

There is another wall claiming the title of Sadd-i-Iskandar at the S.E. angle of the Caspian. This has been particularly spoken of by Vámbéry, who followed its traces from S.W. to N.E. for upwards of 40 miles. (See his Travels in C. Asia, 54 seqq., and Julius Braun in the Ausland, No. 22, of 1869.)

Yule (II. pp. 537–538) says, “To the same friendly correspondent [Professor Braun] I owe the following additional particulars on this interesting subject, extracted from Eichwald, Periplus des Kasp. M. I. 128.

“‘At the point on the mountain, at the extremity of the fortress (of Derbend), where the double wall terminates, there begins a single wall constructed in the same style, only this no longer runs in a straight line, but accommodates itself to the contour of the hill, turning now to the north and now to the south. At first it is quite destroyed, and showed the most scanty vestiges, a few small heaps of stones or traces of towers, but all extending in a general bearing from east to west. . . . It is not till you get 4 versts from Derbend, in traversing the mountains, that you come upon a continuous wall. Thenceforward you can follow it over the successive ridges . . . and through several villages chiefly occupied by the Tartar hill-people. The wall . . . makes many windings, and every 3/4 verst it exhibits substantial towers like those of the city-wall, crested with loop-holes. Some of these are still in tolerably good condition; others have fallen, and with the wall itself have left but slight vestiges.’

“Eichwald altogether followed it up about 18 versts (12 miles) not venturing to proceed further. In later days this cannot have been difficult, but my kind correspondent had not been able to lay his hand on information.

Illustration: View of Derbend

“Alexandre ne poit paser quand il vost aler au Ponent . . . car de l’un les est la mer, et de l’autre est gran montagne que ne se poent cavaucher. La vre est mout estroit entre la montagne et la mer.”

“A letter from Mr. Eugene Schuyler communicates some notes regarding inscriptions that have been found at and near Derbend, embracing Cufic of A.D. 465, Pehlvi, and even Cuneiform. Alluding to the fact that the other Iron-gate, south of Shahrsabz, was called also Kalugah, or Kohlugah he adds: ‘I don’t know what that means, nor do I know if the Russian Kaluga, south-west of Moscow, has anything to do with it, but I am told there is a Russian popular song, of which two lines run:

‘“Ah Derbend, Derbend Kaluga,

Derbend my little Treasure!”’

“I may observe that I have seen it lately pointed out that Koluga is a Mongol word signifying a barrier; and I see that Timkowski (I. 288) gives the same explanation of Kalgan, the name applied by Mongols and Russians to the gate in the Great Wall, called Chang-kia-Kau by the Chinese, leading to Kiakhta.”

The story alluded to by Polo is found in the mediaeval romances of Alexander, and in the Pseudo–Callisthenes on which they are founded. The hero chases a number of impure cannibal nations within a mountain barrier, and prays that they may be shut up therein. The mountains draw together within a few cubits, and Alexander then builds up the gorge and closes it with gates of brass or iron. There were in all twenty-two nations with their kings, and the names of the nations were Goth, Magoth, Anugi, Eges, Exenach, etc. Godfrey of Viterbo speaks of them in his rhyming verses:—

    “Finibus Indorum species fuit una virorum;

Goth erat atque Magoth dictum cognomen eorum

* * * * *

Narrat Esias, Isidorus et Apocalypsis,

Tangit et in titulis Magna Sibylla suis.

Patribus ipsorum tumulus fuit venter eorum,” etc.

Among the questions that the Jews are said to have put, in order to test Mahommed’s prophetic character, was one series: “Who are Gog and Magog? Where do they dwell? What sort of rampart did Zu’lkarnain build between them and men?” And in the Koran we find (ch. xviii. The Cavern): “They will question thee, O Mahommed, regarding Zu’lkarnain. Reply: I will tell you his history”— and then follows the story of the erection of the Rampart of Yájúj and Májúj. In ch. xxi. again there is an allusion to their expected issue at the latter day. This last expectation was one of very old date. Thus the Cosmography of Aethicus, a work long believed (though erroneously) to have been abridged by St. Jerome, and therefore to be as old at least as the 4th century, says that the Turks of the race of Gog and Magog, a polluted nation, eating human flesh and feeding on all abominations, never washing, and never using wine, salt, nor wheat, shall come forth in the Day of Antichrist from where they lie shut up behind the Caspian Gates, and make horrid devastation. No wonder that the irruption of the Tartars into Europe, heard of at first with almost as much astonishment as such an event would produce now, was connected with this prophetic legend!1 The Emperor Frederic II., writing to Henry III. of England, says of the Tartars: “’Tis said they are descended from the Ten Tribes who abandoned the Law of Moses, and worshipped the Golden Calf. They are the people whom Alexander Magnus shut up in the Caspian Mountains.”

[See the chapter Gog et Magog dans le roman en alexandrins, in Paul Meyer’s Alexandre le Grand dans la Littérature française. Paris, 1886, II. pp. 386–389. — H. C.]:

“Gos et Margos i vienent de la tiere des Turs

Et. cccc. m. hommes amenerent u plus,

Il en jurent la mer dont sire est Neptunus

Et le porte d’infier que garde Cerberus

Que l’orguel d’Alixandre torneront a reüs

Por çou les enclot puis es estres desus.

Dusc’ al tans Antecrist n’en istera mais nus.”

According to some chroniclers, the Emperor Heraclius had already let loose the Shut-up Nations to aid him against the Persians, but it brought him no good, for he was beaten in spite of their aid, and died of grief.

The theory that the Tartars were Gog and Magog led to the Rampart of Alexander being confounded with the Wall of China (see infra, Bk. I. ch. lix.), or being relegated to the extreme N.E. of Asia, as we find it in the Carta Catalana.

These legends are referred to by Rabbi Benjamin, Hayton, Rubruquis, Ricold, Matthew Paris, and many more. Josephus indeed speaks of the Pass which Alexander fortified with gates of steel. But his saying that the King of Hyrcania was Lord of this Pass points to the Hyrcanian Gates of Northern Persia, or perhaps to the Wall of Gomushtapah, described by Vámbéry.

Ricold of Montecroce allows two arguments to connect the Tartars with the Jews who were shut up by Alexander; one that the Tartars hated the very name of Alexander, and could not bear to hear it; the other, that their manner of writing was very like the Chaldean, meaning apparently the Syriac (anté, p. 29). But he points out that they had no resemblance to Jews, and no knowledge of the law.

Edrisi relates how the Khalif Wathek sent one Salem the Dragoman to explore the Rampart of Gog and Magog. His route lay by Tiflis, the Alan country, and that of the Bashkirds, to the far north or north-east, and back by Samarkand. But the report of what he saw is pure fable.

In 1857, Dr. Bellew seems to have found the ancient belief in the legend still held by Afghan gentlemen at Kandahar.

At Gelath in Imeretia there still exists one valve of a large iron gate, traditionally said to be the relic of a pair brought as a trophy from Derbend by David, King of Georgia, called the Restorer (1089–1130). M. Brosset, however, has shown it to be the gate of Ganja, carried off in 1139.

(Bayer in Comment. Petropol. I. 401 seqq.; Pseudo–Callisth. by Müller, p. 138; Gott. Viterb. in Pistorii Nidani Script. Germ. II. 228; Alexandriade, pp. 310–311; Pereg. IV. p. 118; Acad. des Insc. Divers Savans, II. 483; Edrisi, II. 416–420, etc.)

NOTE 4. — The box-wood of the Abkhasian forests was so abundant, and formed so important an article of Genoese trade, as to give the name of Chao de Bux (Cavo di Bussi) to the bay of Bambor, N.W. of Sukum Kala’, where the traffic was carried on. (See Elie de Laprim. 243.) Abulfeda also speaks of the Forest of Box (Shará’ ul-buks) on the shores of the Black Sea, from which box-wood was exported to all parts of the world; but his indication of the exact locality is confused. (Reinaud’s Abulf. I. 289.)

At the present time “Boxwood abounds on the southern coast of the Caspian, and large quantities are exported from near Resht to England and Russia. It is sent up the Volga to Tsaritzin, from thence by rail to the Don, and down that river to the Black Sea, from whence it is shipped to England.” (MS. Note, H. Y.)

[Cf. V. Helm’s Cultivated Plants, edited by J. S. Stallybrass, Lond., 1891, The Box Tree, pp. 176–179. — H. C.]

NOTE 5. — Jerome Cardan notices that “the best and biggest goshawks come from Armenia,” a term often including Georgia and Caucasus. The name of the bird is perhaps the same as ’Afçi, “Falco montanus.” (See Casiri, I. 320.) Major St. John tells me that the Terlán, or goshawk, much used in Persia, is still generally brought from Caucasus. (Cardan, de Rer. Varietate, VII. 35.)

NOTE 6. — A letter of Warren Hastings, written shortly before his death, and after reading Marsden’s Marco Polo, tells how a fish-breeder of Banbury warned him against putting pike into his fish-pond, saying, “If you should leave them where they are till Shrove Tuesday they will be sure to spawn, and then you will never get any other fish to breed in it.” (Romance of Travel, I. 255.) Edward Webbe in his Travels (1590, reprinted 1868) tells us that in the “Land of Siria there is a River having great store of fish like unto Salmon-trouts, but no Jew can catch them, though either Christian and Turk shall catch them in abundance with great ease.” The circumstance of fish being got only for a limited time in spring is noticed with reference to Lake Van both by Tavernier and Mr. Brant.

But the exact legend here reported is related (as M. Pauthier has already noticed) by Wilibrand of Oldenburg of a stream under the Castle of Adamodana, belonging to the Hospitallers, near Naversa (the ancient Anazarbus), in Cilicia under Taurus. And Khanikoff was told the same story of a lake in the district of Akhaltziké in Western Georgia, in regard to which he explains the substance of the phenomenon as a result of the rise of the lake’s level by the melting of the snows, which often coincides with Lent. I may add that Moorcroft was told respecting a sacred pond near Sir-i-Chashma, on the road from Kabul to Bamian, that the fish in the pond were not allowed to be touched, but that they were accustomed to desert it for the rivulet that ran through the valley regularly every year on the day of the vernal equinox, and it was then lawful to catch them.

Like circumstances would produce the same effect in a variety of lakes, and I have not been able to identify the convent of St. Leonard’s. Indeed Leonard (Sant Lienard, G. T.) seems no likely name for an Armenian Saint; and the patroness of the convent (as she is of many others in that country) was perhaps Saint Nina, an eminent personage in the Armenian Church, whose tomb is still a place of pilgrimage; or possibly St. Helena, for I see that the Russian maps show a place called Elenovka on the shores of Lake Sevan, N.E. of Erivan. Ramusio’s text, moreover, says that the lake was four days in compass, and this description will apply, I believe, to none but the lake just named. This is, according to Monteith, 47 miles in length and 21 miles in breadth, and as far as I can make out he travelled round it in three very long marches. Convents and churches on its shores are numerous, and a very ancient one occupies an island on the lake. The lake is noted for its fish, especially magnificent trout.

(Tavern. Bk. III. ch. iii.; J. R. G. S. X. 897; Pereg. Quat. p. 179; Khanikoff, 15; Moorcroft, II. 382; J. R. G. S. III. 40 seqq.)

Ramusio has: “In this province there is a fine city called TIFLIS, and round about it are many castles and walled villages. It is inhabited by Christians, Armenians, Georgians, and some Saracens and Jews, but not many.”

NOTE 7. — The name assigned by Marco to the Caspian, “Mer de Gheluchelan” or “Ghelachelan,” has puzzled commentators. I have no doubt that the interpretation adopted above is the correct one. I suppose that Marco said that the sea was called “La Mer de Ghel ou (de) Ghelan,” a name taken from the districts of the ancient Gelae on its south-western shores, called indifferently Gíl or Gílán, just as many other regions of Asia have like duplicate titles (singular and plural), arising, I suppose, from the change of a gentile into a local name. Such are Lár, Lárán, Khutl, Khutlán, etc., a class to which Badakhshán, Wakhán, Shaghnán, Mungán, Chág-hanián, possibly Bámián, and many others have formerly belonged, as the adjectives in some cases surviving, Badakhshi, Shaghni, Wákhi, etc., show2 The change exemplified in the induration of these gentile plurals into local singulars is everywhere traced in the passage from earlier to later geography. The old Indian geographical lists, such as are preserved in the Puránas, and in Pliny’s extracts from Megasthenes, are, in the main, lists of peoples, not of provinces, and even where the real name seems to be local a gentile form is often given. So also Tochari and Sogdi are replaced by Tokháristán and Sughd; the Veneti and Taurini by Venice and Turin; the Remi and the Parisii, by Rheims and Paris; East–Saxons and South–Saxons by Essex and Sussex; not to mention the countless -ings that mark the tribal settlement of the Saxons in Britain.

Abulfeda, speaking of this territory, uses exactly Polo’s phrase, saying that the districts in question are properly called Kíl-o-Kílán, but by the Arabs Jíl-o-Jílán. Teixeira gives the Persian name of the sea as Darya Ghiláni. (See Abulf. in Büsching, v. 329.)

[The province of Gíl (Gílán), which is situated between the mountains and the Caspian Sea, and between the provinces of Azerbaíján and Mazandéran (H. C.)], gave name to the silk for which it was and is still famous, mentioned as Ghelle (Gílí) at the end of this chapter. This Seta Ghella is mentioned also by Pegolotti (pp. 212, 238, 301), and by Uzzano, with an odd transposition, as Seta Leggi, along with Seta Masandroni, i.e. from the adjoining province of Mazanderán (p. 192). May not the Spanish Geliz, “a silk-dealer,” which seems to have been a puzzle to etymologists, be connected with this? (See Dosy and Engelmann, 2nd ed. p. 275.) [Prof. F. de Filippi (Viaggo in Persia nel 1862, . . . Milan, 1865, 8vo) speaks of the silk industry of Ghílán (pp. 295–296) as the principal product of the entire province. — H. C]

The dimensions assigned to the Caspian in the text would be very correct if length were meant, but the Geog. Text with the same figure specifies circuit (zire). Ramusio again has “a circuit of 2800 miles.” Possibly the original reading was 2700; but this would be in excess.

NOTE 8. — The Caspian is termed by Vincent of Beauvais Mare Seruanicum, the Sea of Shirwan, another of its numerous Oriental names, rendered by Marino Sanuto as Mare Salvanicum. (III. xi. ch. ix.) But it was generally known to the Franks in the Middle Ages as the SEA OF BACU. Thus Berni:—

“Fuor del deserto la diritta strada

Lungo il Mar di Bacu miglior pareva.”

        (Orl. Innam. xvii. 60.)

And in the Sfera of Lionardo Dati (circa 1390):—

“Da Tramontana di quest’ Asia Grande

Tartari son sotto la fredda Zona,

Gente bestial di bestie e vivande,

Fin dove l’Onda di Baccù risuona,” etc. (p. 10.)

This name is introduced in Ramusio, but probably by interpolation, as well as the correction of the statement regarding Euphrates, which is perhaps a branch of the notion alluded to in Prologue, ch. ii. note 5. In a later chapter Marco calls it the Sea of Sarai, a title also given in the Carta Catalana. [Odorico calls it Sea of Bacuc (Cathay) and Sea of Bascon (Cordier). The latter name is a corruption of Abeskun, a small town and island in the S.E. corner of the Caspian Sea, not far from Ashurada. — H. C.]

We have little information as to the Genoese navigation of the Caspian, but the great number of names exhibited along its shores in the map just named (1375) shows how familiar such navigation had become by that date. See also Cathay, p. 50, where an account is given of a remarkable enterprise by Genoese buccaneers on the Caspian about that time. Mas’údi relates an earlier history of how about the beginning of the 9th century a fleet of 500 Russian vessels came out of the Volga, and ravaged all the populous southern and western shores of the Caspian. The unhappy population was struck with astonishment and horror at this unlooked-for visitation from a sea that had hitherto been only frequented by peaceful traders or fishermen. (II. 18–24.)

NOTE 9. —[The enormous quantity of fish found in the Caspian Sea is ascribed to the mass of vegetable food to be found in the shallower waters of the North and the mouth of the Volga. According to Reclus, the Caspian fisheries bring in fish to the annual value of between three and four millions sterling. — H. C.]

1 See Letter of Frederic to the Roman Senate, of 20th June, 1241, in Bréholles. Mahommedan writers, contemporary with the Mongol invasions, regarded these as a manifest sign of the approaching end of the world. (See Elliot’s Historians, II. p. 265.)

2 When the first edition was published, I was not aware of remarks to like effect regarding names of this character by Sir H. Rawlinson in the J. R. As. Soc. vol. xi. pp. 64 and 103.

Chapter V.

Of the Kingdom of Mausul.

On the frontier of Armenia towards the south-east is the kingdom of MAUSUL. It is a very great kingdom, and inhabited1 by several different kinds of people whom we shall now describe.

First there is a kind of people called ARABI, and these worship Mahommet. Then there is another description of people who are NESTORIAN and JACOBITE Christians. These have a Patriarch, whom they call the JATOLIC, and this Patriarch creates Archbishops, and Abbots, and Prelates of all other degrees, and sends them into every quarter, as to India, to Baudas, or to Cathay, just as the Pope of Rome does in the Latin countries. For you must know that though there is a very great number of Christians in those countries, they are all Jacobites and Nestorians; Christians indeed, but not in the fashion enjoined by the Pope of Rome, for they come short in several points of the Faith.2

All the cloths of gold and silk that are called Mosolins are made in this country; and those great Merchants called Mosolins, who carry for sale such quantities of spicery and pearls and cloths of silk and gold, are also from this kingdom.3

There is yet another race of people who inhabit the mountains in that quarter, and are called CURDS. Some of them are Christians, and some of them are Saracens; but they are an evil generation, whose delight it is to plunder merchants.[NOTE 4]

[Near this province is another called MUS and MERDIN, producing an immense quantity of cotton, from which they make a great deal of buckram5 and other cloth. The people are craftsmen and traders, and all are subject to the Tartar King.]

NOTE 1. — Polo could scarcely have been justified in calling MOSUL a very great kingdom. This is a bad habit of his, as we shall have to notice again. Badruddin Lúlú, the last Atabeg of Mosul of the race of Zenghi had at the age of 96 taken sides with Hulaku, and stood high in his favour. His son Malik Sálih, having revolted, surrendered to the Mongols in 1261 on promise of life; which promise they kept in Mongol fashion by torturing him to death. Since then the kingdom had ceased to exist as such. Coins of Badruddín remain with the name and titles of Mangku Kaan on their reverse, and some of his and of other atabegs exhibit curious imitations of Greek art. (Quat. Rash. p. 389 Jour. As. IV. VI. 141.). — H. Y. and H. C. [Mosul was pillaged by Timur at the end of the 14th century; during the 15th it fell into the hands of the Turkomans, and during the 16th, of Ismail, Shah of Persia. — H. C.]

[The population of Mosul is today 61,000 inhabitants —(48,000 Musulmans, 10,000 Christians belonging to various churches, and 3000 Jews). — H. C.]

Illustration: Coin of Badruddín of Mausul.

NOTE 2. — The Nestorian Church was at this time and in the preceding centuries diffused over Asia to an extent of which little conception is generally entertained, having a chain of Bishops and Metropolitans from Jerusalem to Peking. The Church derived its name from Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who was deposed by the Council of Ephesus in 431. The chief “point of the Faith” wherein it came short, was (at least in its most tangible form) the doctrine that in Our Lord there were two Persons, one of the Divine Word, the other of the Man Jesus; the former dwelling in the latter as in a Temple, or uniting with the latter “as fire with iron.” Nestorin, the term used by Polo, is almost a literal transcript of the Arab form Nastúri. A notice of the Metropolitan sees, with a map, will be found in Cathay, p. ccxliv.

Játhalík, written in our text (from G. T.) Jatolic, by Fr. Burchard and Ricold Jaselic, stands for [Greek: Katholikós]. No doubt it was originally Gáthalík, but altered in pronunciation by the Arabs. The term was applied by Nestorians to their Patriarch; among the Jacobites to the Mafrián or Metropolitan. The Nestorian Patriarch at this time resided at Baghdad. (Assemani, vol. iii. pt. 2; Per. Quat. 91, 127.)

The Jacobites, or Jacobins, as they are called by writers of that age (Ar. Ya’úbkiy), received their name from Jacob Baradaeus or James Zanzale, Bishop of Edessa (so called, Mas’údi says, because he was a maker of barda’at or saddle-cloths), who gave a great impulse to their doctrine in the 6th century. [At some time between the years 541 and 578, he separated from the Church and became a follower of the doctrine of Eutyches. — H. C.] The Jacobites then formed an independent Church, which at one time spread over the East at least as far as Sístán, where they had a see under the Sassanian Kings. Their distinguishing tenet was Monophysitism, viz., that Our Lord had but one Nature, the Divine. It was in fact a rebound from Nestorian doctrine, but, as might be expected in such a case, there was a vast number of shades of opinion among both bodies. The chief locality of the Jacobites was in the districts of Mosul, Tekrit, and Jazírah, and their Patriarch was at this time settled at the Monastery of St. Matthew, near Mosul, but afterwards, and to the present day, at or near Mardin. [They have at present two patriarchates: the Monastery of Zapharan near Baghdad and Etchmiadzin. — H. C.] The Armenian, Coptic, Abyssinian, and Malabar Churches all hold some shade of the Jacobite doctrine, though the first two at least have Patriarchs apart.

(Assemani, vol. ii.; Le Quien, II. 1596; Mas’údi, II. 329–330; Per. Quat. 124–129.)

NOTE 3. — We see here that mosolin or muslin had a very different meaning from what it has now. A quotation from Ives by Marsden shows it to have been applied in the middle of last century to a strong cotton cloth made at Mosul. Dozy says the Arabs use Mauçili in the sense of muslin, and refers to passages in ‘The Arabian Nights.’ [Bretschneider (Med. Res. II. p. 122) observes “that in the narrative of Ch’ang Ch’un’s travels to the west in 1221, it is stated that in Samarkand the men of the lower classes and the priests wrap their heads about with a piece of white mo-sze. There can be no doubt that mo-sze here denotes ‘muslin,’ and the Chinese author seems to understand by this term the same material which we are now used to call muslin.”— H. C.] I have found no elucidation of Polo’s application of mosolini to a class of merchants. But, in a letter of Pope Innocent IV. (1244) to the Dominicans in Palestine, we find classed as different bodies of Oriental Christians, “Jacobitae, Nestoritae, Georgiani, Graeci, Armeni, Maronitae, et Mosolini.” (Le Quien, III. 1342.)

NOTE 4. —“The Curds,” says Ricold, “exceed in malignant ferocity all the barbarous nations that I have seen. . . . They are called Curti, not because they are curt in stature, but from the Persian word for Wolves. . . . They have three principal vices, viz., Murder, Robbery, and Treachery.” Some say they have not mended since, but his etymology is doubtful. Kúrt is Turkish for a wolf, not Persian, which is Gurg; but the name (Karduchi, Kordiaei, etc.) is older, I imagine, than the Turkish language in that part of Asia. Quatremère refers it to the Persian gurd, “strong, valiant, hero.” As regards the statement that some of the Kurds were Christians, Mas’údi states that the Jacobites and certain other Christians in the territory of Mosul and Mount Judi were reckoned among the Kurds. (Not. et Ext. XIII. i. 304.) [The Kurds of Mosul are in part nomadic and are called Kotcheres, but the greater number are sedentary and cultivate cereals, cotton, tobacco, and fruits. (Cuinet.) Old Kurdistan had Shehrizor (Kerkuk, in the sanjak of that name) as its capital. — H. C.]

NOTE 5. — Ramusio here, as in all passages where other texts have Bucherami and the like, puts Boccassini, a word which has become obsolete in its turn. I see both Bochayrani and Bochasini coupled, in a Genoese fiscal statute of 1339, quoted by Pardessus. (Lois Maritimes, IV. 456.)

MUSH and MARDIN are in very different regions, but as their actual interval is only about 120 miles, they may have been under one provincial government. Mush is essentially Armenian, and, though the seat of a Pashalik, is now a wretched place. Mardin, on the verge of the Mesopotamian Plain, rises in terraces on a lofty hill, and there, says Hammer, “Sunnis and Shias, Catholic and Schismatic Armenians, Jacobites, Nestorians, Chaldaeans, Sun-, Fire-, Calf-, and Devil-worshippers dwell one over the head of the other.” (Ilchan. I. 191.)

Chapter vi.

Of the Great City of Baudas, and How it was Taken.

Baudas is a great city, which used to be the seat of the Calif of all the Saracens in the world, just as Rome is the seat of the Pope of all the Christians.1 A very great river flows through the city, and by this you can descend to the Sea of India. There is a great traffic of merchants with their goods this way; they descend some eighteen days from Baudas, and then come to a certain city called KISI, where they enter the Sea of India.2 There is also on the river, as you go from Baudas to Kisi, a great city called BASTRA, surrounded by woods, in which grow the best dates in the world.3

In Baudas they weave many different kinds of silk stuffs and gold brocades, such as nasich, and nac, and cramoisy, and many another beautiful tissue richly wrought with figures of beasts and birds. It is the noblest and greatest city in all those regions.4

Now it came to pass on a day in the year of Christ 1255, that the Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, whose name was Alaü, brother to the Great Kaan now reigning, gathered a mighty host and came up against Baudas and took it by storm.5 It was a great enterprise! for in Baudas there were more than 100,000 horse, besides foot soldiers. And when Alaü had taken the place he found therein a tower of the Califs, which was full of gold and silver and other treasure; in fact the greatest accumulation of treasure in one spot that ever was known.6 When he beheld that great heap of treasure he was astonished, and, summoning the Calif to his presence, he said to him: “Calif, tell me now why thou hast gathered such a huge treasure? What didst thou mean to do therewith? Knewest thou not that I was thine enemy, and that I was coming against thee with so great an host to cast thee forth of thine heritage? Wherefore didst thou not take of thy gear and employ it in paying knights and soldiers to defend thee and thy city?”

The Calif wist not what to answer, and said never a word. So the Prince continued, “Now then, Calif, since I see what a love thou hast borne thy treasure, I will e’en give it thee to eat!” So he shut the Calif up in the Treasure Tower, and bade that neither meat nor drink should be given him, saying, “Now, Calif, eat of thy treasure as much as thou wilt, since thou art so fond of it; for never shalt thou have aught else to eat!”

So the Calif lingered in the tower four days, and then died like a dog. Truly his treasure would have been of more service to him had he bestowed it upon men who would have defended his kingdom and his people, rather than let himself be taken and deposed and put to death as he was.7 Howbeit, since that time, there has been never another Calif, either at Baudas or anywhere else.8

Now I will tell you of a great miracle that befell at Baudas, wrought by God on behalf of the Christians.

NOTE 1. — This form of the Mediaeval Frank name of BAGHDAD, Baudas [the Chinese traveller, Ch’ang Te, Si Shi Ki, XIII. cent., says, “the kingdom of Bao-da,” H. C.], is curiously like that used by the Chinese historians, Paota (Pauthier; Gaubil), and both are probably due to the Mongol habit of slurring gutturals. (See Prologue, ch. ii. note 3.) [Baghdad was taken on the 5th of February, 1258, and the Khalif surrendered to Hulaku on the 10th of February. — H. C.]

NOTE 2. — Polo is here either speaking without personal knowledge, or is so brief as to convey an erroneous impression that the Tigris flows to Kisi, whereas three-fourths of the length of the Persian Gulf intervene between the river mouth and Kisi. The latter is the island and city of KISH or KAIS, about 200 miles from the mouth of the Gulf, and for a long time one of the chief ports of trade with India and the East. The island, the Cataea of Arrian, now called Ghes or Kenn, is singular among the islands of the Gulf as being wooded and well supplied with fresh water. The ruins of a city [called Harira, according to Lord Curzon,] exist on the north side. According to Wassáf, the island derived its name from one Kais, the son of a poor widow of Síráf (then a great port of Indian trade on the northern shore of the Gulf), who on a voyage to India, about the 10th century, made a fortune precisely as Dick Whittington did. The proceeds of the cat were invested in an establishment on this island. Modern attempts to nationalise Whittington may surely be given up! It is one of the tales which, like Tell’s shot, the dog Gellert, and many others, are common to many regions. (Hammer’s Ilch. I. 239; Ouseley’s Travels, I. 170; Notes and Queries, 2nd s. XI. 372.)

Mr. Badger, in a postscript to his translation of the History of Omán (Hak. Soc. 1871), maintains that Kish or Kais was at this time a city on the mainland, and identical from Síráf. He refers to Ibn Batuta (II. 244), who certainly does speak of visiting “the city of Kais, called also Síráf.” And Polo, neither here nor in Bk. III. ch. xl., speaks of Kisi as an island. I am inclined, however, to think that this was from not having visited it. Ibn Batuta says nothing of Síráf as a seat of trade; but the historian Wassáf, who had been in the service of Jamáluddín al-Thaibi, the Lord of Kais, in speaking of the export of horses thence to India, calls it “the Island of Kais.” (Elliot, III. 34.) Compare allusions to this horse trade in ch. xv. and in Bk. III. ch. xvii. Wassáf was precisely a contemporary of Polo.

NOTE 3. — The name is Bascra in the MSS., but this is almost certainly the common error of c for t. BASRA is still noted for its vast date-groves. “The whole country from the confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris to the sea, a distance of 30 leagues, is covered with these trees.” (Tav. Bk. II. ch. iii.)

NOTE 4. — From Baudas, or Baldac, i.e. Baghdad, certain of these rich silk and gold brocades were called Baldachini, or in English Baudekins. From their use in the state canopies and umbrellas of Italian dignitaries, the word Baldacchino has come to mean a canopy, even when architectural. [Baldekino, baldacchino, was at first entirely made of silk, but afterwards silk was mixed (sericum mixtum) with cotton or thread. When Hulaku conquered Baghdad part of the tribute was to be paid with that kind of stuff. Later on, says Heyd (II. p. 697), it was also manufactured in the province of Ahwaz, at Damas and at Cyprus; it was carried as far as France and England. Among the articles sent from Baghdad to Okkodai Khan, mentioned in the Yüan ch’ao pi shi (made in the 14th century), quoted by Bretschneider (Med. Res. II. p. 124), we note: Nakhut (a kind of gold brocade), Nachidut (a silk stuff interwoven with gold), Dardas (a stuff embroidered in gold). Bretschneider (p. 125) adds: “With respect to nakhut and nachidut, I may observe that these words represent the Mongol plural form of nakh and nachetti. . . . I may finally mention that in the Yüan shi, ch. lxxviii. (on official dresses), a stuff, na-shi-shi, is repeatedly named, and the term is explained there by kin kin (gold brocade).”— H. C.] The stuffs called Nasich and Nac are again mentioned by our traveller below (ch. lix.). We only know that they were of silk and gold, as he implies here, and as Ibn Batuta tells us, who mentions Nakh several times and Nasíj once. The latter is also mentioned by Rubruquis (Nasic) as a present made to him at the Kaan’s court. And Pegolotti speaks of both nacchi and nacchetti of silk and gold, the latter apparently answering to Nasich. Nac, Nacques, Nachiz, Nacíz, Nasís, appear in accounts and inventories of the 14th century, French and English. (See Dictionnaire des Tissus, II. 199, and Douet d’ Arcq, Comptes de l’Argenterie des Rois de France, etc., 334.) We find no mention of Nakh or Nasíj among the stuffs detailed in the Aín Akbari, so they must have been obsolete in the 16th century. [Cf. Heyd, Com. du Levant, II. p. 698; Nacco, nachetto, comes from the Arabic nakh (nekh); nassit (nasith) from the Arabic nécidj. — H. C.] Quermesis or Cramoisy derived its name from the Kermes insect (Ar. Kirmiz) found on Quercus coccifera, now supplanted by cochineal. The stuff so called is believed to have been originally a crimson velvet, but apparently, like the mediaeval Purpura, if not identical with it, it came to indicate a tissue rather than a colour. Thus Fr.-Michel quotes velvet of vermeil cramoisy, of violet, and of blue cramoisy, and pourpres of a variety of colours, though he says he has never met with pourpre blanche. I may, however, point to Plano Carpini (p. 755), who describes the courtiers at Karakorum as clad in white purpura.

The London prices of Chermisi and Baldacchini in the early part of the 15th century will be found in Uzzano’s work, but they are hard to elucidate.

Babylon, of which Baghdad was the representative, was famous for its variegated textures in very early days. We do not know the nature of the goodly Babylonish garment which tempted Achan in Jericho, but Josephus speaks of the affluence of rich stuffs carried in the triumph of Titus, “gorgeous with life-like designs from the Babylonian loom,” and he also describes the memorable Veil of the Temple as a [Greek: péplos Babylónios] of varied colours marvellously wrought. Pliny says King Attalus invented the intertexture of cloth with gold; but the weaving of damasks of a variety of colours was perfected at Babylon, and thence they were called Babylonian.

The brocades wrought with figures of animals in gold, of which Marco speaks, are still a spécialité at Benares, where they are known by the name of Shikárgáh or hunting-grounds, which is nearly a translation of the name Thard-wahsh “beast-hunts,” by which they were known to the mediaeval Saracens. (See Q. Makrizi, IV. 69–70.) Plautus speaks of such patterns in carpets, the produce of Alexandria —“Alexandrina belluata conchyliata tapetia.” Athenaeus speaks of Persian carpets of like description at an extravagant entertainment given by Antiochus Epiphanes; and the same author cites a banquet given in Persia by Alexander, at which there figured costly curtains embroidered with animals. In the 4th century Asterius, Bishop of Amasia in Pontus, rebukes the Christians who indulge in such attire: “You find upon them lions, panthers, bears, huntsmen, woods, and rocks; whilst the more devout display Christ and His disciples, with the stories of His miracles,” etc. And Sidonius alludes to upholstery of like character:

“Peregrina det supellex

* * *

Ubi torvus, et per artem

Resupina flexus ora,

It equo reditque telo

Simulacra bestiarum

Fugiens fugansque Parthus.” (Epist. ix. 13.)

A modern Kashmír example of such work is shown under ch. xvii.

(D’Avezac, p. 524; Pegolotti, in Cathay, 295, 306; I. B. II. 309, 388, 422; III. 81; Della Decima, IV. 125–126; Fr.-Michel, Recherches, etc., II. 10–16, 204–206; Joseph. Bell. Jud. VII. 5, 5, and V. 5, 4; Pliny, VIII. 74 (or 48); Plautus, Pseudolus, I. 2; Yonge’s Athenaeus, V. 26 and XII. 54; Mongez in Mém. Acad. IV. 275–276.)

NOTE 5. —[Bretschneider (Med. Res. I. p. 114) says: “Hulagu left Karakorum, the residence of his brother, on the 2nd May, 1253, and returned to his ordo, in order to organize his army. On the 19th October of the same year, all being ready, he started for the west.” He arrived at Samarkand in September, 1255. For this chapter and the following of Polo, see: Hulagu’s Expedition to Western Asia, after the Mohammedan Authors, pp. 112–122, and the Translation of the Si Shi Ki (Ch’ang Te), pp. 122–156, in Bretschneider’s Mediaeval Researches, I. — H. C.]

NOTE 6. —[“Hulagu proceeded to the lake of Ormia (Urmia), when he ordered a castle to be built on the island of Tala, in the middle of the lake, for the purpose of depositing here the immense treasures captured at Baghdad. A great part of the booty, however, had been sent to Mangu Khan.” (Hulagu’s Exp., Bretschneider, Med. Res. I. p. 120.) Ch’ang Te says (Si Shi Ki, p. 139): “The palace of the Ha-li-fa was built of fragrant and precious woods. The walls of it were constructed of black and white jade. It is impossible to imagine the quantity of gold and precious stones found there.”— H. C.]

NOTE 7. —

“I said to the Kalif: ‘Thou art old,

Thou hast no need of so much gold.

Thou shouldst not have heaped and hidden it here,

Till the breath of Battle was hot and near,

But have sown through the land these useless hoards

To spring into shining blades of swords,

And keep thine honour sweet and clear.

* * * * *

Then into his dungeon I locked the drone,

And left him to feed there all alone

In the honey-cells of his golden hive:

Never a prayer, nor a cry, nor a groan

Was heard from those massive walls of stone,

Nor again was the Kalif seen alive.’

    This is the story, strange and true,

That the great Captain Alau

Told to his brother, the Tartar Khan,

When he rode that day into Cambalu.

By the road that leadeth to Ispahan.” (Longfellow.)1

The story of the death of Mosta’sim Billah, the last of the Abbaside Khalifs, is told in much the same way by Hayton, Ricold, Pachymeres, and Joinville. The memory of the last glorious old man must have failed him, when he says the facts were related by some merchants who came to King Lewis, when before Saiette (or Sidon), viz. in 1253, for the capture of Baghdad occurred five years later. Mar. Sanuto says melted gold was poured down the Khalif’s throat — a transfer, no doubt, from the old story of Crassus and the Parthians. Contemporary Armenian historians assert that Hulaku slew him with his own hand.

All that Rashiduddin says is: “The evening of Wednesday, the 14th of Safar, 656 (20th February, 1258), the Khalif was put to death in the village of Wakf, with his eldest son and five eunuchs who had never quitted him.” Later writers say that he was wrapt in a carpet and trodden to death by horses.

[Cf. The Story of the Death of the last Abbaside Caliph, from the Vatican MS. of Ibn-al-Furat, by G. le Strange (Jour. R. As. Soc., April, 1900, pp. 293–300). This is the story of the death of the Khalif told by Ibn-al-Furat (born in Cairo, 1335 A.D.):

“Then Hulagu gave command, and the Caliph was left a-hungering, until his case was that of very great hunger, so that he called asking that somewhat might be given him to eat. And the accursed Hulagu sent for a dish with gold therein, and a dish with silver therein, and a dish with gems, and ordered these all to be set before the Caliph al Musta’sim, saying to him, ‘Eat these.’ But the Caliph made answer, ‘These be not fit for eating.’ Then said Hulagu: ‘Since thou didst so well know that these be not fit for eating, why didst thou make a store thereof? With part thereof thou mightest have sent gifts to propitiate us, and with part thou shouldst have raised an army to serve thee and defend thyself against us! And Hulagu commanded them to take forth the Caliph and his son to a place without the camp, and they were here bound and put into two great sacks, being afterwards trampled under foot till they both died — the mercy of Allah be upon them.”— H. C.]

The foundation of the story, so widely received among the Christians, is to be found also in the narrative of Nikbi (and Mirkhond), which is cited by D’Obsson. When the Khalif surrendered, Hulaku put before him a plateful of gold, and told him to eat it. “But one does not eat gold,” said the prisoner. “Why, then,” replied the Tartar, “did you hoard it, instead of expending it in keeping up an army? Why did you not meet me at the Oxus?” The Khalif could only say, “Such was God’s will!” “And that which has befallen you was also God’s will,” said Hulaku.

Wassáf’s narrative is interesting:—“Two days after his capture the Khalif was at his morning prayer, and began with the verse (Koran, III. 25), ‘Say God is the Possessor of Dominion! It shall be given to whom He will; it shall be taken from whom He will: whom He will He raiseth to honour; whom He will He casteth to the ground.’ Having finished the regular office he continued still in prayer with tears and importunity. Bystanders reported to the Ilkhan the deep humiliation of the Khalif’s prayers, and the text which seemed to have so striking an application to those two princes. Regarding what followed there are different stories. Some say that the Ilkhan ordered food to be withheld from the Khalif, and that when he asked for food the former bade a dish of gold be placed before him, etc. Eventually, after taking counsel with his chiefs, the Padishah ordered the execution of the Khalif. It was represented that the blood-drinking sword ought not to be stained with the gore of Mosta’sim. He was therefore rolled in a carpet, just as carpets are usually rolled up, insomuch that his limbs were crushed.”

The avarice of the Khalif was proverbial. When the Mongol army was investing Miafarakain, the chief, Malik Kamál, told his people that everything he had should be at the service of those in need: “Thank God, I am not like Mosta’sim, a worshipper of silver and gold!”

(Hayton in Ram. ch. xxvi.; Per. Quat. 121; Pachym. Mic. Palaeol. II. 24; Joinville, p. 182; Sanuto, p. 238; J. As. sér. V. tom. xi. 490, and xvi. 291; D’Ohsson, III. 243; Hammer’s Wassáf, 75–76; Quat. Rashid. 305.)

NOTE 8. — Nevertheless Froissart brings the Khalif to life again one hundred and twenty years later, as “Le Galifre de Baudas.” (Bk. III. ch. xxiv.)

1 Not that Alaü (pace Mr. Longfellow) ever did see Cambalu.

Chapter vii.

How the Calif of Baudas Took Counsel to Slay All the Christians in His Land.

I will tell you then this great marvel that occurred between Baudas and Mausul.

It was in the year of Christ1 . . . that there was a Calif at Baudas who bore a great hatred to Christians, and was taken up day and night with the thought how he might either bring those that were in his kingdom over to his own faith, or might procure them all to be slain. And he used daily to take counsel about this with the devotees and priests of his faith,2 for they all bore the Christians like malice. And, indeed, it is a fact, that the whole body of Saracens throughout the world are always most malignantly disposed towards the whole body of Christians.

Now it happened that the Calif, with those shrewd priests of his, got hold of that passage in our Gospel which says, that if a Christian had faith as a grain of mustard seed, and should bid a mountain be removed, it would be removed. And such indeed is the truth. But when they had got hold of this text they were delighted, for it seemed to them the very thing whereby either to force all the Christians to change their faith, or to bring destruction upon them all. The Calif therefore called together all the Christians in his territories, who were extremely numerous. And when they had come before him, he showed them the Gospel, and made them read the text which I have mentioned. And when they had read it he asked them if that was the truth? The Christians answered that it assuredly was so. “Well,” said the Calif, “since you say that it is the truth, I will give you a choice. Among such a number of you there must needs surely be this small amount of faith; so you must either move that mountain there,”— and he pointed to a mountain in the neighbourhood —“or you shall die an ill death; unless you choose to eschew death by all becoming Saracens and adopting our Holy Law. To this end I give you a respite of ten days; if the thing be not done by that time, ye shall die or become Saracens.” And when he had said this he dismissed them, to consider what was to be done in this strait wherein they were.

NOTE 1. — The date in the G. Text and Pauthier is 1275, which of course cannot have been intended. Ramusio has 1225.

[The Khalifs in 1225 were Abu’l Abbas Ahmed VII. en-Nassir lidini ‘llah (1180–1225) and Abu Nasr Mohammed IX. ed-Dhahir bi-emri ‘llah (1225–1226). — H. C.]

NOTE 2. —“Cum sez regisles et cum sez casses.” (G. T.) I suppose the former expression to be a form of Regules, which is used in Polo’s book for persons of a religious rule or order, whether Christian or Pagan. The latter word (casses) I take to be the Arabic Kashísh, properly a Christian Presbyter, but frequently applied by old travellers, and habitually by the Portuguese (caxiz, caxix), to Mahomedan Divines. (See Cathay, p. 568.) It may, however, be Kází.

Pauthier’s text has simply “à ses prestres de la Loi.”

Chapter viii.

How the Christians Were in Great Dismay Because of what the Calif had Said.

The Christians on hearing what the Calif had said were in great dismay, but they lifted all their hopes to God, their Creator, that He would help them in this their strait. All the wisest of the Christians took counsel together, and among them were a number of bishops and priests, but they had no resource except to turn to Him from whom all good things do come, beseeching Him to protect them from the cruel hands of the Calif.

So they were all gathered together in prayer, both men and women, for eight days and eight nights. And whilst they were thus engaged in prayer it was revealed in a vision by a Holy Angel of Heaven to a certain Bishop who was a very good Christian, that he should desire a certain Christian Cobler,1 who had but one eye, to pray to God; and that God in His goodness would grant such prayer because of the Cobler’s holy life.

Now I must tell you what manner of man this Cobler was. He was one who led a life of great uprightness and chastity, and who fasted and kept from all sin, and went daily to church to hear Mass, and gave daily a portion of his gains to God. And the way how he came to have but one eye was this. It happened one day that a certain woman came to him to have a pair of shoes made, and she showed him her foot that he might take her measure. Now she had a very beautiful foot and leg; and the Cobler in taking her measure was conscious of sinful thoughts. And he had often heard it said in the Holy Evangel, that if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, rather than sin. So, as soon as the woman had departed, he took the awl that he used in stitching, and drove it into his eye and destroyed it. And this is the way he came to lose his eye. So you can judge what a holy, just, and righteous man he was.

NOTE 1. — Here the G. T. uses a strange word: “Or te vais a tel cralantur.” It does not occur again, being replaced by chabitier (savetier). It has an Oriental look, but I can make no satisfactory suggestion as to what the word meant.

Chapter ix.

How the One-Eyed Cobler was Desired to Pray for the Christians.

Now when this vision had visited the Bishop several times, he related the whole matter to the Christians, and they agreed with one consent to call the Cobler before them. And when he had come they told him it was their wish that he should pray, and that God had promised to accomplish the matter by his means. On hearing their request he made many excuses, declaring that he was not at all so good a man as they represented. But they persisted in their request with so much sweetness, that at last he said he would not tarry, but do what they desired.

Chapter X.

How the Prayer of the One-Eyed Cobler Caused the Mountain to Move.

And when the appointed day was come, all the Christians got up early, men and women, small and great, more than 100,000 persons, and went to church, and heard the Holy Mass. And after Mass had been sung, they all went forth together in a great procession to the plain in front of the mountain, carrying the precious cross before them, loudly singing and greatly weeping as they went. And when they arrived at the spot, there they found the Calif with all his Saracen host armed to slay them if they would not change their faith; for the Saracens believed not in the least that God would grant such favour to the Christians. These latter stood indeed in great fear and doubt, but nevertheless they rested their hope on their God Jesus Christ.

So the Cobler received the Bishop’s benison, and then threw himself on his knees before the Holy Cross, and stretched out his hands towards Heaven, and made this prayer: “Blessed LORD GOD ALMIGHTY, I pray Thee by Thy goodness that Thou wilt grant this grace unto Thy people, insomuch that they perish not, nor Thy faith be cast down, nor abused nor flouted. Not that I am in the least worthy to prefer such request unto Thee; but for Thy great power and mercy I beseech Thee to hear this prayer from me Thy servant full of sin.”

And when he had ended this his prayer to God the Sovereign Father and Giver of all grace, and whilst the Calif and all the Saracens, and other people there, were looking on, the mountain rose out of its place and moved to the spot which the Calif had pointed out! And when the Calif and all his Saracens beheld, they stood amazed at the wonderful miracle that God had wrought for the Christians, insomuch that a great number of the Saracens became Christians. And even the Calif caused himself to be baptised in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen, and became a Christian, but in secret. Howbeit, when he died they found a little cross hung round his neck; and therefore the Saracens would not bury him with the other Califs, but put him in a place apart. The Christians exulted greatly at this most holy miracle, and returned to their homes full of joy, giving thanks to their Creator for that which He had done.1

And now you have heard in what wise took place this great miracle. And marvel not that the Saracens hate the Christians; for the accursed law that Mahommet gave them commands them to do all the mischief in their power to all other descriptions of people, and especially to Christians; to strip such of their goods, and do them all manner of evil, because they belong not to their law. See then what an evil law and what naughty commandments they have! But in such fashion the Saracens act, throughout the world.

Now I have told you something of Baudas. I could easily indeed have told you first of the affairs and the customs of the people there. But it would be too long a business, looking to the great and strange things that I have got to tell you, as you will find detailed in this Book.

So now I will tell you of the noble city of Tauris.

NOTE 1. — We may remember that at a date only three years before Marco related this story (viz. in 1295), the cottage of Loreto is asserted to have changed its locality for the third and last time by moving to the site which it now occupies.

Some of the old Latin copies place the scene at Tauris. And I observe that a missionary of the 16th century does the same. The mountain, he says, is between Tauris and Nakhshiwan, and is called Manhuc. (Gravina, Christianita nell’ Armenia, etc., Roma, 1605, p. 91.)

The moving of a mountain is one of the miracles ascribed to Gregory Thaumaturgus. Such stories are rife among the Mahomedans themselves. “I know,” says Khanikoff, “at least half a score of mountains which the Musulmans allege to have come from the vicinity of Mecca.”

Ramusio’s text adds here: “All the Nestorian and Jacobite Christians from that time forward have maintained a solemn celebration of the day on which the miracle occurred, keeping a fast also on the eve thereof.”

F. Göring, a writer who contributes three articles on Marco Polo to the Neue Züricher-Zeitung, 5th, 6th, 8th April, 1878, says: “I heard related in Egypt a report which Marco Polo had transmitted to Baghdad. I will give it here in connection with another which I also came across in Egypt.

“‘Many years ago there reigned in Babylon, on the Nile, a haughty Khalif who vexed the Christians with taxes and corvées. He was confirmed in his hate of the Christians by the Khakam Chacham Bashi or Chief Rabbi of the Jews, who one day said to him: “The Christians allege in their books that it shall not hurt them to drink or eat any deadly thing. So I have prepared a potion that one of them shall taste at my hand: if he does not die on the spot then call me no more Chacham Bashi!” The Khalif immediately sent for His Holiness the Patriarch of Babylon, and ordered him to drink up the potion. The Patriarch just blew a little over the cup and then emptied it at a draught, and took no harm. His Holiness then on his side demanded that the Chacham Bashi should quaff a cup to the health of the Khalif, which he (the Patriarch) should first taste, and this the Khalif found only fair and right. But hardly had the Chacham Bashi put the cup to his lips than he fell down and expired.’ Still the Musulmans and Jews thirsted for Christian blood. It happened at that time that a mass of the hill Mokattani became loose and threatened to come down upon Babylon. This was laid to the door of the Christians, and they were ordered to stop it. The Patriarch in great distress has a vision that tells him summon the saintly cobbler (of whom the same story is told as here)— the cobbler bids the rock to stand still and it does so to this day. ‘These two stories may still be heard in Cairo’— from whom is not said. The hill that threatened to fall on the Egyptian Babylon is called in Turkish Dur Dagh, ‘Stay, or halt-hill.’ (L.c. April, 1878”)— MS. Note, H. Y.

Chapter xi.

Of the Noble City of Tauris.

Tauris is a great and noble city, situated in a great province called YRAC, in which are many other towns and villages. But as Tauris is the most noble I will tell you about it.1

The men of Tauris get their living by trade and handi crafts, for they weave many kinds of beautiful and valuable stuffs of silk and gold. The city has such a good position that merchandize is brought thither from India, Baudas, CREMESOR,[NOTE 2] and many other regions; and that attracts many Latin merchants, especially Genoese, to buy goods and transact other business there; the more as it is also a great market for precious stones. It is a city in fact where merchants make large profits.3

The people of the place are themselves poor creatures; and are a great medley of different classes. There are Armenians, Nestorians, Jacobites, Georgians, Persians, and finally the natives of the city themselves, who are worshippers of Mahommet. These last are a very evil generation; they are known as TAURIZI.4 The city is all girt round with charming gardens, full of many varieties of large and excellent fruits.5

Now we will quit Tauris, and speak of the great country of Persia. [From Tauris to Persia is a journey of twelve days.]

NOTE 1. — Abulfeda notices that TABRÍZ was vulgarly pronounced Tauriz, and this appears to have been adopted by the Franks. In Pegolotti the name is always Torissi.

Tabriz is often reckoned to belong to Armenia, as by Hayton. Properly it is the chief city of Azerbaiján, which never was included in ‘IRAK. But it may be observed that Ibn Batuta generally calls the Mongol Ilkhan of Persia Sáhib or Malik ul-‘Irák, and as Tabriz was the capital of that sovereign, we can account for the mistake, whilst admitting it to be one. [The destruction of Baghdad by Hulaku made Tabriz the great commercial and political city of Asia, and diverted the route of Indian products from the Mediterranean to the Euxine. It was the route to the Persian Gulf by Kashan, Yezd, and Kermán, to the Mediterranean by Lajazzo, and later on by Aleppo — and to the Euxine by Trebizond. The destruction of the Kingdom of Armenia closed to Europeans the route of Tauris. — H. C.]

NOTE 2. — Cremesor, as Baldelli points out, is GARMSIR, meaning a hot region, a term which in Persia has acquired several specific applications, and especially indicates the coast-country on the N.E. side of the Persian Gulf, including Hormuz and the ports in that quarter.

NOTE 3. —[Of the Italians established at Tabriz, the first whose name is mentioned is the Venetian Pietro Viglioni (Vioni); his will, dated 10th December, 1264, is still in existence. (Archiv. Venet. XXVI. pp. 161–165; Heyd, French Ed., II. p. 110.)— H. C.] At a later date (1341) the Genoese had a factory at Tabriz headed by a consul with a council of twenty four merchants, and in 1320 there is evidence of a Venetian settlement there. (Elie de la Prim, 161; Heyd, II. 82.)

Rashiduddin says of Tabriz that there were gathered there under the eyes of the Padishah of Islam “philosophers, astronomers, scholars, historians, of all religions, of all sects; people of Cathay, of Machin, of India, of Kashmir, of Tibet, of the Uighúr and other Turkish nations, Arabs and Franks.” Ibn Batuta, “I traversed the bazaar of the jewellers, and my eyes were dazzled by the varieties of precious stones which I beheld. Handsome slaves, superbly dressed, and girdled with silk, offered their gems for sale to the Tartar ladies, who bought great numbers. [Odoric (ed. Cordier) speaks also of the great trade of Tabriz.] Tabriz maintained a large population and prosperity down to the 17th century, as may be seen in Chardin. It is now greatly fallen, though still a place of importance.” (Quat. Rash., p. 39; I. B. II. 130.)

Illustration: Ghazan Khan’s Mosque at Tabriz. —(From Fergusson.)

NOTE 4. — In Pauthier’s text this is Touzi, a mere clerical error, I doubt not for Torizi, in accordance with the G. Text (“le peuple de la cité que sunt apelés Tauriz”), with the Latin, and with Ramusio. All that he means to say is that the people are called Tabrizís. Not recondite information, but ’tis his way. Just so he tells us in ch[illegible]u that the people of Hermenia are called Hermins, and elsewhere that the people of Tebet are called Tebet. So Hayton thinks it not inappropriate to say that the people of Catay are called Cataini, that the people of Corasmia are called Corasmins, and that the people of the cities of Persia are called Persians.

NOTE 5. — Hamd Allah Mastaufi, the Geographer, not long after Polo’s time, gives an account of Tabriz, quoted in Barbier de Meynard’s Dict. de la Perse, p. 132. This also notices the extensive gardens round the city, the great abundance and cheapness of fruits, the vanity, insolence, and faithlessness of the Tabrízis, etc. (p. 132 seqq.) Our cut shows a relic of the Mongol Dynasty at Tabriz.

Chapter xii.

Of the Monastery of St. Barsamo on the Borders of Tauris.

On the borders of (the territory of) Tauris there is a monastery called after Saint Barsamo, a most devout Saint. There is an Abbot, with many Monks, who wear a habit like that of the Carmelites, and these to avoid idleness are continually knitting woollen girdles. These they place upon the altar of St. Barsamo during the service, and when they go begging about the province (like the Brethren of the Holy Spirit) they present them to their friends and to the gentlefolks, for they are excellent things to remove bodily pain; wherefore every one is devoutly eager to possess them.1

NOTE 1. — Barsauma (“The Son of Fasting”) was a native of Samosata, and an Archimandrite of the Asiatic Church. He opposed the Nestorians, but became himself still more obnoxious to the orthodox as a spreader of the Monophysite Heresy. He was condemned by the Council of Chalcedon (451), and died in 458. He is a Saint of fame in the Jacobite and Armenian Churches, and several monasteries were dedicated to him; but by far the most celebrated, and doubtless that meant here, was near Malatia. It must have been famous even among the Mahomedans, for it has an article in Bákúi’s Geog. Dictionary. (Dír-Barsúma, see N. et Ext. II. 515.) This monastery possessed relics of Barsauma and of St. Peter, and was sometimes the residence of the Jacobite Patriarch and the meeting-place of the Synods.

A more marvellous story than Marco’s is related of this monastery by Vincent of Beauvais: “There is in that kingdom (Armenia) a place called St. Brassamus, at which there is a monastery for 300 monks. And ’tis said that if ever an enemy attacks it, the defences of the monastery move of themselves, and shoot back the shot against the besieger.”

(Assemani in vol. ii. passim; Tournefort, III. 260; Vin. Bell. Spec. Historiale, Lib. XXX. c. cxlii.; see also Mar. Sanut. III. xi. c. 16.)

Chapter xiii.

Of the Great Country of Persia; with Some Account of the Three Kings.

Persia is a great country, which was in old times very illustrious and powerful; but now the Tartars have wasted and destroyed it.

In Persia is the city of SABA, from which the Three Magi set out when they went to worship Jesus Christ; and in this city they are buried, in three very large and beautiful monuments, side by side. And above them there is a square building, carefully kept. The bodies are still entire, with the hair and beard remaining. One of these was called Jaspar, the second Melchior, and the third Balthasar. Messer Marco Polo asked a great many questions of the people of that city as to those Three Magi, but never one could he find that knew aught of the matter, except that these were three kings who were buried there in days of old. However, at a place three days’ journey distant he heard of what I am going to tell you. He found a village there which goes by the name of CALA ATAPERISTAN,1 which is as much as to say, “The Castle of the Fire-worshippers.” And the name is rightly applied, for the people there do worship fire, and I will tell you why.

They relate that in old times three kings of that country went away to worship a Prophet that was born, and they carried with them three manner of offerings, Gold, and Frankincense, and Myrrh; in order to ascertain whether that Prophet were God, or an earthly King, or a Physician. For, said they, if he take the Gold, then he is an earthly King; if he take the Incense he is God; if he take the Myrrh he is a Physician.

So it came to pass when they had come to the place where the Child was born, the youngest of the Three Kings went in first, and found the Child apparently just of his own age; so he went forth again marvelling greatly. The middle one entered next, and like the first he found the Child seemingly of his own age; so he also went forth again and marvelled greatly. Lastly, the eldest went in, and as it had befallen the other two, so it befell him. And he went forth very pensive. And when the three had rejoined one another, each told what he had seen; and then they all marvelled the more. So they agreed to go in all three together, and on doing so they beheld the Child with the appearance of its actual age, to wit, some thirteen days.2 Then they adored, and presented their Gold and Incense and Myrrh. And the Child took all the three offerings, and then gave them a small closed box; whereupon the Kings departed to return into their own land.

NOTE 1. — Kala’ Atishparastán, meaning as in the text. (Marsden.)

NOTE 2. — According to the Collectanea ascribed to Bede, Melchior was a hoary old man; Balthazar in his prime, with a beard; Gaspar young and beardless. (Inchofer, Tres Magi Evangelici, Romae, 1639.)

Chapter xiv.

What Befell when the Three Kings Returned to Their Own Country.

And when they had ridden many days they said they would see what the Child had given them. So they opened the little box, and inside it they found a stone. On seeing this they began to wonder what this might be that the Child had given them, and what was the import thereof. Now the signification was this: when they presented their offerings, the Child had accepted all three, and when they saw that they had said within themselves that He was the True God, and the True King, and the True Physician.1 And what the gift of the stone implied was that this Faith which had begun in them should abide firm as a rock. For He well knew what was in their thoughts. Howbeit, they had no understanding at all of this signification of the gift of the stone; so they cast it into a well. Then straightway a fire from Heaven descended into that well wherein the stone had been cast.

And when the Three Kings beheld this marvel they were sore amazed, and it greatly repented them that they had cast away the stone; for well they then perceived that it had a great and holy meaning. So they took of that fire, and carried it into their own country, and placed it in a rich and beautiful church. And there the people keep it continually burning, and worship it as a god, and all the sacrifices they offer are kindled with that fire. And if ever the fire becomes extinct they go to other cities round about where the same faith is held, and obtain of that fire from them, and carry it to the church. And this is the reason why the people of this country worship fire. They will often go ten days’ journey to get of that fire.2

Such then was the story told by the people of that Castle to Messer Marco Polo; they declared to him for a truth that such was their history, and that one of the three kings was of the city called SABA, and the second of AVA, and the third of that very Castle where they still worship fire, with the people of all the country round about.3

Having related this story, I will now tell you of the different provinces of Persia, and their peculiarities.

NOTE 1. —“Mire.” This was in old French the popular word for a Leech; the politer word was Physicien. (N. et E. V. 505.)

Chrysostom says that the Gold, Myrrh, and Frankincense were mystic gifts indicating King, Man, God; and this interpretation was the usual one. Thus Prudentius:—

“Regem, Deumque adnunciant

Thesaurus et fragrans odor

Thuris Sabaei, at myrrheus

Pulvis sepulchrum praedocet.” (Hymnus Epiphanius.)

And the Paris Liturgy:—

“Offert Aurum Caritas,

Et Myrrham Austeritas,

    Et Thus Desiderium.

Auro Rex agnoscitur,

Homo Myrrha, colitur

    Thure Deus gentium.”

And in the “Hymns, Ancient and Modern”:—

“Sacred gifts of mystic meaning:

Incense doth their God disclose,

Gold the King of Kings proclaimeth,

    Myrrh His sepulchre foreshows.”

NOTE 2. —“Feruntque (Magi), si justum est credi, etiam ignem caelitus iapsum apud se sempiternis foculis custodire, cujus portionem exiguam, ut faustam praeisse quondam Asiaticis Regibus dicunt.” (Ammian. Marcell. XXIII. 6.)

NOTE 3. — Saba or Sava still exists as SÁVAH, about 50 miles S.W. of Tehrân. It is described by Mr. Consul Abbott, who visited it in 1849, as the most ruinous town he had ever seen, and as containing about 1000 families. The people retain a tradition, mentioned by Hamd Allah Mastaufi, that the city stood on the shores of a Lake which dried up miraculously at the birth of Mahomed. Sávah is said to have possessed one of the greatest Libraries in the East, until its destruction by the Mongols on their first invasion of Persia. Both Sávah and Ávah (or Ábah) are mentioned by Abulfeda as cities of Jibal. We are told that the two cities were always at loggerheads, the former being Sunni and the latter Shiya. [We read in the Travels of Thévenot, a most intelligent traveller, “qu’il n’a rien érit de l’ancienne ville de Sava qu’il trouva sur son chemin, et où il a marqué lui-même que son esprit de curiosité l’abandonna.” (Voyages, éd. 1727, vol. v. p. 343. He died a few days after at Miana, in Armenia, 28th November, 1667). (MS. Note. — H. Y.)]

As regards the position of AVAH, Abbott says that a village still stands upon the site, about 16 miles S.S.E. of Sávah. He did not visit it, but took a bearing to it. He was told there was a mound there on which formerly stood a Gueber Castle. At Sávah he could find no trace of Marco Polo’s legend. Chardin, in whose time Sávah was not quite so far gone to decay, heard of an alleged tomb of Samuel, at 4 leagues from the city. This is alluded to by Hamd Allah.

Keith Johnston and Kiepert put Ávah some 60 miles W.N.W. of Sávah, on the road between Kazvin and Hamadan. There seems to be some great mistake here.

Friar Odoric puts the locality of the Magi at Kashan, though one of the versions of Ramusio and the Palatine MS. (see Cordier’s Odoric, pp. xcv. and 41 of his Itinerary), perhaps corrected in this, puts it at Saba — H. Y. and H. C.

We have no means of fixing the Kala’ Atishparastán. It is probable, however, that the story was picked up on the homeward journey, and as it seems to be implied that this castle was reached three days after leaving Sávah, I should look for it between Sávah and Abher. Ruins to which the name Kila’-i-Gabr, “Gueber Castle,” attaches are common in Persia.

As regards the Legend itself, which shows such a curious mixture of Christian and Parsi elements, it is related some 350 years earlier by Mas’údi: “In the Province of Fars they tell you of a Well called the Well of Fire, near which there was a temple built. When the Messiah was born the King Koresh sent three messengers to him, the first of whom carried a bag of Incense, the second a bag of Myrrh, and the third a bag of Gold. They set out under the guidance of the Star which the king had described to them, arrived in Syria, and found the Messiah with Mary His Mother. This story of the three messengers is related by the Christians with sundry exaggerations; it is also found in the Gospel. Thus they say that the Star appeared to Koresh at the moment of Christ’s birth; that it went on when the messengers went on, and stopped when they stopped. More ample particulars will be found in our Historical Annals, where we have given the versions of this legend as current among the Guebers and among the Christians. It will be seen that Mary gave the king’s messengers a round loaf, and this, after different adventures, they hid under a rock in the province of Fars. The loaf disappeared underground, and there they dug a well, on which they beheld two columns of fire to start up flaming at the surface; in short, all the details of the legend will be found in our Annals.” The Editors say that Mas’údi had carried the story to Fars by mistaking Shíz in Azerbaiján (the Atropatenian Ecbatana of Sir H. Rawlinson) for Shiraz. A rudiment of the same legend is contained in the Arabic Gospel of the Infancy. This says that Mary gave the Magi one of the bands in which the Child was swathed. On their return they cast this into their sacred fire; though wrapt in the flame it remained unhurt.

We may add that there was a Christian tradition that the Star descended into a well between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Gregory of Tours also relates that in a certain well, at Bethlehem, from which Mary had drawn water, the Star was sometimes seen, by devout pilgrims who looked carefully for it, to pass from one side to the other. But only such as merited the boon could see it.

(See Abbott in J. R. G. S. XXV. 4–6; Assemani, III. pt. 2, 750; Chardin, II. 407; N. et Ext. II. 465; Dict. de la Perse, 2, 56, 298; Cathay, p. 51; Mas’udi, IV. 80; Greg. Turon. Libri Miraculorum, Paris, 1858, I. 8.)

Several of the fancies that legend has attached to the brief story of the Magi in St. Matthew, such as the royal dignity of the persons; their location, now in Arabia, now (as here) at Saba in Persia, and again (as in Hayton and the Catalan Map) in Tarsia or Eastern Turkestan; the notion that one of them was a Negro, and so on, probably grew out of the arbitrary application of passages in the Old Testament, such as: “Venient legati ex Aegypto: AETHIOPIA praevenit manus ejus Deo” (Ps. lxviii. 31). This produced the Negro who usually is painted as one of the Three. “Reges THARSIS et Insulae munera offerent: Reges ARABUM et SABA dona adducent” (lxxii. 10). This made the Three into Kings, and fixed them in Tarsia, Arabia, and Sava. “Mundatio Camelorum operiet te, dromedarii Madian et EPHA: omnes de SABA venient aurum et thus deferentes et laudem Domino annunciantes” (Is. lx. 6). Here were Ava and Sava coupled, as well as the gold and frankincense.

One form of the old Church Legend was that the Three were buried at Sessania Adrumetorum (Hadhramaut) in Arabia, whence the Empress Helena had the bodies conveyed to Constantinople, [and later to Milan in the time of the Emperor Manuel Comnenus. After the fall of Milan (1162), Frederic Barbarossa gave them to Archbishop Rainald of Dassel (1159–1167), who carried them to Cologne (23rd July, 1164). — H. C.]

The names given by Polo, Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, have been accepted from an old date by the Roman Church; but an abundant variety of other names has been assigned to them. Hyde quotes a Syriac writer who calls them Aruphon, Hurmon, and Tachshesh, but says that some call them Gudphorbus, Artachshasht, and Labudo; whilst in Persian they were termed Amad, Zad–Amad, Drust–Amad, i.e. Venit, Cito Venit, Sincerus Venit. Some called them in Greek, Apellius, Amerus, and Damascus, and in Hebrew, Magaloth, Galgalath, and Saracia, but otherwise Ator, Sator, and Petatoros! The Armenian Church used the same names as the Roman, but in Chaldee they were Kaghba, Badadilma, Badada Kharida. (Hyde, Rel. Vet. Pers. 382–383; Inchofer, ut supra; J. As. sér. VI. IX. 160.)

[Just before going to press we have read Major Sykes’ new book on Persia. Major Sykes (ch. xxiii.) does not believe that Marco visited Baghdád, and he thinks that the Venetians entered Persia near Tabriz, and travelled to Sultania, Kashán, and Yezd. Thence they proceeded to Kerman and Hormuz. We shall discuss this question in the Introduction. — H. C.]

Chapter xv.

Of the Eight Kingdoms of Persia, and How They are Named.

Now you must know that Persia is a very great country, and contains eight kingdoms. I will tell you the names of them all.

The first kingdom is that at the beginning of Persia, and it is called CASVIN; the second is further to the south, and is called CURDISTAN; the third is LOR; the fourth [SUOLSTAN]; the fifth ISTANIT; the sixth SERAZY; the seventh SONCARA; the eighth TUNOCAIN, which is at the further extremity of Persia. All these kingdoms lie in a southerly direction except one, to wit, Tunocain; that lies towards the east, and borders on the (country of the) Arbre Sol.1

In this country of Persia there is a great supply of fine horses; and people take them to India for sale, for they are horses of great price, a single one being worth as much of their money as is equal to 200 livres Tournois; some will be more, some less, according to the quality.2 Here also are the finest asses in the world, one of them being worth full 30 marks of silver, for they are very large and fast, and acquire a capital amble. Dealers carry their horses to Kisi and Curmosa, two cities on the shores of the Sea of India, and there they meet with merchants who take the horses on to India for sale.

In this country there are many cruel and murderous people, so that no day passes but there is some homicide among them. Were it not for the Government, which is that of the Tartars of the Levant, they would do great mischief to merchants; and indeed, maugre the Government, they often succeed in doing such mischief. Unless merchants be well armed they run the risk of being murdered, or at least robbed of everything; and it sometimes happens that a whole party perishes in this way when not on their guard. The people are all Saracens, i.e. followers of the Law of Mahommet.3

In the cities there are traders and artizans who live by their labour and crafts, weaving cloths of gold, and silk stuffs of sundry kinds. They have plenty of cotton produced in the country; and abundance of wheat, barley, millet, panick, and wine, with fruits of all kinds.

[Some one may say, “But the Saracens don’t drink wine, which is prohibited by their law.” The answer is that they gloss their text in this way, that if the wine be boiled, so that a part is dissipated and the rest becomes sweet, they may drink without breach of the commandment; for it is then no longer called wine, the name being changed with the change of flavour.4]

NOTE 1. — The following appear to be Polo’s Eight Kingdoms:—

I. KAZVÍN; then a flourishing city, though I know not why he calls it a kingdom. Persian ‘Irák, or the northern portion thereof, seems intended. Previous to Hulaku’s invasion Kazvín seems to have been in the hands of the Ismailites or Assassins.

II. KURDISTAN. I do not understand the difficulties of Marsden, followed by Lazari and Pauthier, which lead them to put forth that Kurdistan is not Kurdistan but something else. The boundaries of Kurdistan according to Hamd Allah were Arabian ‘Irak, Khuzistán, Persian ‘Irak, Azerbaijan and Diarbekr. (Dict. de la P. 480.) [Cf. Curzon, Persia pass. — H. C.] Persian Kurdistan, in modern as in mediaeval times, extends south beyond Kermanshah to the immediate border of Polo’s next kingdom, viz.:

III. LÚR or Lúristán. [On Lúristán, see Curzon, Persia, II. pp. 273–303, with the pedigree of the Ruling Family of the Feili Lurs (Pusht-i-Kuh), p. 278. — H. C.] This was divided into two principalities, Great Lúr and Little Lúr, distinctions still existing. The former was ruled by a Dynasty called the Faslúyah Atabegs, which endured from about 1155 to 1424, [when it was destroyed by the Timurids; it was a Kurd Dynasty, founded by Emad ed-din Abu Thaher (1160–1228), and the last prince of which was Ghiyas ed-din (1424). In 1258 the general Kitubuka (Hulagu’s Exp. to Persia, Bretschneider, Med. Res. I. p. 121) is reported to have reduced the country of Lúr or Lúristán and its Atabeg Teghele. — H. C.]. Their territory lay in the mountainous district immediately west of Ispahan, and extended to the River of Dizfúl, which parted it from Little Lúr. The stronghold of the Atabegs was the extraordinary hill fort of Mungasht, and they had a residence also at Aidhej or Mal–Amir in the mountains south of Shushan, where Ibn Batuta visited the reigning Prince in 1327. Sir H. Rawlinson has described Mungasht, and Mr. Layard and Baron de Bode have visited other parts, but the country is still very imperfectly known. Little Lúristán lay west of the R. Dizfúl, extending nearly to the Plain of Babylonia. Its Dynasty, called Kurshid, [was founded in 1184 by the Kurd Shodja ed-din Khurshid, and existed till Shah–Werdy lost his throne in 1593. — H. C.].

The Lúrs are akin to the Kurds, and speak a Kurd dialect, as do all those Ilyáts, or nomads of Persia, who are not of Turkish race. They were noted in the Middle Ages for their agility and their dexterity in thieving. The tribes of Little Lúr “do not affect the slightest veneration for Mahomed or the Koran; their only general object of worship is their great Saint Baba Buzurg,” and particular disciples regard with reverence little short of adoration holy men looked on as living representatives of the Divinity. (Ilchan. I. 70 seqq.; Rawlinson in J. R. G. S. IX.; Layard in Do. XVI. 75, 94; Ld. Strangford in J. R. A. S. XX. 64; N. et E. XIII. i. 330, I. B. II. 31; D’Ohsson, IV. 171–172.)

IV. SHÚLISTÁN, best represented by Ramusio’s Suolstan, whilst the old French texts have Cielstan (i.e. Shelstán); the name applied to the country of the Shúls, or Shauls, a people who long occupied a part of Lúristán, but were expelled by the Lúrs in the 12th century, and settled in the country between Shíráz and Khuzistán (now that of the Mamaseni, whom Colonel Pelly’s information identifies with the Shúls), their central points being Naobanján and the fortress called Kala’ Safed or “White Castle.” Ibn Batuta, going from Shiraz to Kazerun, encamped the first day in the country of the Shúls, “a Persian desert tribe which includes some pious persons.” (Q. R. p. 385; N. et E. XIII. i. 332–333; Ilch. I. 71; J. R. G. S. XIII. Map; I. B. II. 88.) [“Adjoining the Kuhgelus on the East are the tents of the Mamasenni (qy. Mohammed Huseini) Lúrs, occupying the country still known as Shúlistán, and extending as far east and south-east as Fars and the Plain of Kazerun. This tribe prides itself on its origin, claiming to have come from Seistán, and to be directly descended from Rustam, whose name is still borne by one of the Mamasenni clans.” (Curzon, Persia, II. p. 318.)— H. C.]

V. ISPAHAN? The name is in Ramusio Spaan, showing at least that he or some one before him had made this identification. The unusual combination ff, i.e. sf, in manuscript would be so like the frequent one ft, i.e. st, that the change from Isfan to Istan would be easy. But why Istanit?

VI. SHÍRÁZ [(Shir = milk, or Shir = lion)— H. C.] representing the province of Fars or Persia Proper, of which it has been for ages the chief city. [It was founded after the Arab conquest in 694 A.D., by Mohammed, son of Yusuf Kekfi. (Curzon, Persia, II. pp. 93–110.)— H. C.] The last Dynasty that had reigned in Fars was that of the Salghur Atabegs, founded about the middle of the 12th century. Under Abubakr (1226–1260) this kingdom attained considerable power, embracing Fars, Kermán, the islands of the Gulf and its Arabian shores; and Shíráz then flourished in arts and literature; Abubakr was the patron of Saadi. From about 1262, though a Salghurian princess, married to a son of Hulaku, had the nominal title of Atabeg, the province of Fars was under Mongol administration. (Ilch. passim.)

VII. SHAWÁNKÁRA or Shabánkára. The G. T. has Soucara, but the Crusca gives the true reading Soncara. It is the country of the Shawánkárs, a people coupled with the Shúls and Lúrs in mediaeval Persian history, and like them of Kurd affinities. Their princes, of a family Faslúyah, are spoken of as influential before the Mahomedan conquest, but the name of the people comes prominently forward only during the Mongol era of Persian history. [Shabánkára was taken in 1056 from the Buyid Dynasty, who ruled from the 10th century over a great part of Persia, by Fazl ibn Hassan (Fazluïeh-Hasunïeh). Under the last sovereign, Ardeshir, Shabánkára was taken in 1355 by the Modhafferians, who reigned in Irak, Fars, and Kermán, one of the Dynasties established at the expense of the Mongol Ilkhans after the death of Abu Saïd (1335), and were themselves subjugated by Timur in 1392. — H. C.] Their country lay to the south of the great salt lake east of Shíráz, and included Niriz and Darábjird, Fassa, Forg, and Tárum. Their capital was I/g or I/j, called also Irej, about 20 miles north-west of Daráb, with a great mountain fortress; it was taken by Hulaku in 1259. The son of the prince was continued in nominal authority, with Mongol administrators. In consequence of a rebellion in 1311 the Dynasty seems to have been extinguished. A descendant attempted to revive their authority about the middle of the same century. The latest historical mention of the name that I have found is in Abdurrazzák’s History of Shah Rukh, under the year H. 807 (1404). (See Jour. As. 3d. s. vol. ii. 355.) But a note by Colonel Pelly informs me that the name Shabánkára is still applied (1) to the district round the towns of Runiz and Gauristan near Bandar Abbas; (2) to a village near Maiman, in the old country of the tribe; (3) to a tribe and district of Dashtistan, 38 farsakhs west of Shíráz.

With reference to the form in the text, Soncara, I may notice that in two passages of the Masálak-ul-Absár, translated by Quatremère, the name occurs as Shankárah. (Q. R. pp. 380, 440 seqq.; N. et E. XIII.; Ilch. I. 71 and passim; Ouseley’s Travels, II. 158 seqq.)

VIII. TÚN-O-KÂIN, the eastern Kuhistán or Hill country of Persia, of which Tún and Káin are chief cities. The practice of indicating a locality by combining two names in this way is common in the East. Elsewhere in this book we find Ariora–Keshemur and Kes-macoran (Kij–Makrán). Upper Sind is often called in India by the Sepoys Rori–Bakkar, from two adjoining places on the Indus; whilst in former days, Lower Sind was often called Diul–Sind. Karra-Mánikpúr, Uch–Multán, Kunduz–Baghlán are other examples.

The exact expression Tún-o-Káin for the province here in question is used by Baber, and evidently also by some of Hammer’s authorities. (Baber, pp. 201, 204; see Ilch. II. 190; I. 95, 104, and Hist. de l’Ordre des Assassins, p. 245.)

[We learn from (Sir) C. Macgregor’s (1875) Journey through Khorasan (I. p. 127) that the same territory including Gháín or Kaïn is now called by the analogous name of Tabas-o-Tún. Tún and Kaïn (Gháín) are both described in their modern state, by Macgregor. (Ibid. pp. 147 and 161.)— H. C.]

Note that the identification of Suolstan is due to Quatremère (see N. et E. XIII. i. circa p. 332); that of Soncara to Defréméry (J. As. sér. IV. tom. xi. p. 441); and that of Tunocain to Malte–Brun. (N. Ann. des V. xviii. p. 261.) I may add that the Lúrs, the Shúls, and the Shabánkáras are the subjects of three successive sections in the Masálak-al-Absár of Shihábuddin Dimishki, a work which reflects much of Polo’s geography. (See N. et E. XIII. i. 330–333; Curzon, Persia, II. pp. 248 and 251.)

NOTE 2. — The horses exported to India, of which we shall hear more hereafter, were probably the same class of “Gulf Arabs” that are now carried thither. But the Turkman horses of Persia are also very valuable, especially for endurance. Kinneir speaks of one accomplishing 900 miles in eleven days, and Ferrier states a still more extraordinary feat from his own knowledge. In that case one of those horses went from Tehran to Tabriz, returned, and went again to Tabriz, within twelve days, including two days’ rest. The total distance is about 1100 miles.

The livre tournois at this period was equivalent to a little over 18 francs of modern French silver. But in bringing the value to our modern gold standard we must add one-third, as the ratio of silver to gold was then 1:12 instead of 1:16. Hence the equivalent in gold of the livre tournois is very little less than 1l. sterling, and the price of the horse would be about 193l.1

Mr. Wright quotes an ordinance of Philip III. of France (1270–1285) fixing the maximum price that might be given for a palfrey at 60 livres tournois, and for a squire’s roncin at 20 livres. Joinville, however, speaks of a couple of horses presented to St. Lewis in 1254 by the Abbot of Cluny, which he says would at the time of his writing (1309) have been worth 500 livres (the pair, it would seem). Hence it may be concluded in a general way that the ordinary price of imported horses in India approached that of the highest class of horses in Europe. (Hist. of Dom. Manners, p. 317; Joinville, p. 205.)

About 1850 a very fair Arab could be purchased in Bombay for 60l., or even less; but prices are much higher now.

With regard to the donkeys, according to Tavernier, the fine ones used by merchants in Persia were imported from Arabia. The mark of silver was equivalent to about 44s. of our silver money, and allowing as before for the lower relative value of gold, 30 marks would be equivalent to 88l. sterling.

Kisi or Kish we have already heard of. Curmosa is Hormuz, of which we shall hear more. With a Pisan, as Rusticiano was, the sound of c is purely and strongly aspirate. Giovanni d’Empoli, in the beginning of the 16th century, another Tuscan, also calls it Cormus. (See Archiv. Stor. Ital. Append. III. 81.)

NOTE 3. — The character of the nomad and semi-nomad tribes of Persia in those days — Kurds, Lúrs, Shúls, Karaunahs, etc. — probably deserved all that Polo says, and it is not changed now. Take as an example Rawlinson’s account of the Bakhtyáris of Luristán: “I believe them to be individually brave, but of a cruel and savage character; they pursue their blood feuds with the most inveterate and exterminating spirit. . . . It is proverbial in Persia that the Bakhtiyaris have been compelled to forego altogether the reading of the Fatihah or prayer for the dead, for otherwise they would have no other occupation. They are also most dextrous and notorious thieves.” (J. R. G. S. IX. 105.)

NOTE 4. — The Persians have always been lax in regard to the abstinence from wine.

According to Athenaeus, Aristotle, in his Treatise on Drinking (a work lost, I imagine, to posterity), says, “If the wine be moderately boiled it is less apt to intoxicate.” In the preparation of some of the sweet wines of the Levant, such as that of Cyprus, the must is boiled, but I believe this is not the case generally in the East. Baber notices it as a peculiarity among the Kafirs of the Hindu Kush. Tavernier, however, says that at Shíráz, besides the wine for which that city was so celebrated, a good deal of boiled wine was manufactured, and used among the poor and by travellers. No doubt what is meant is the sweet liquor or syrup called Dúsháb, which Della Valle says is just the Italian Mostocotto, but better, clearer, and not so mawkish (I. 689). (Yonge’s Athen. X. 34; Baber, p. 145; Tavernier, Bk. V. ch. xxi.)

1 The Encyc. Britann., article “Money,” gives the livre tournois of this period as 18.17 francs. A French paper in Notes and Queries (4th S. IV. 485) gives it under St. Lewis and Philip III. as equivalent to 18.24 fr., and under Philip IV. to 17.95. And lastly, experiment at the British Museum, made by the kind intervention of my friend, Mr. E. Thomas, F.R.S., gave the weights of the sols of St. Lewis (1226–1270) and Philip IV. (1285–1314) respectively as 63 grains and 61–1/2 grains of remarkably pure silver. These trials would give the livres (20 sols) as equivalent to 18.14 fr. and 17.70 fr. respectively.

Chapter xvi.

Concerning the Great City of Yasdi.

Yasdi also is properly in Persia; it is a good and noble city, and has a great amount of trade. They weave there quantities of a certain silk tissue known as Yasdi, which merchants carry into many quarters to dispose of. The people are worshippers of Mahommet.1

When you leave this city to travel further, you ride for seven days over great plains, finding harbour to receive you at three places only. There are many fine woods [producing dates] upon the way, such as one can easily ride through; and in them there is great sport to be had in hunting and hawking, there being partridges and quails and abundance of other game, so that the merchants who pass that way have plenty of diversion. There are also wild asses, handsome creatures. At the end of those seven marches over the plain you come to a fine kingdom which is called Kerman.2

NOTE 1. — YEZD, an ancient city, supposed by D’Anville to be the Isatichae of Ptolemy, is not called by Marco a kingdom, though having a better title to the distinction than some which he classes as such. The atabegs of Yezd dated from the middle of the 11th century, and their Dynasty was permitted by the Mongols to continue till the end of the 13th, when it was extinguished by Ghazan, and the administration made over to the Mongol Diwan.

Yezd, in preMahomedan times, was a great sanctuary of the Gueber worship, though now it is a seat of fanatical Mahomedanism. It is, however, one of the few places where the old religion lingers. In 1859 there were reckoned 850 families of Guebers in Yezd and fifteen adjoining villages, but they diminish rapidly.

[Heyd (Com. du Levant, II. p. 109) says the inhabitants of Yezd wove the finest silk of Taberistan. — H. C.] The silk manufactures still continue, and, with other weaving, employ a large part of the population. The Yazdi, which Polo mentions, finds a place in the Persian dictionaries, and is spoken of by D’Herbelot as Kumásh-i-Yezdi, “Yezd stuff.” [“He [Nadir Shah] bestowed upon the ambassador [Hakeem Ataleek, the prime minister of Abulfiez Khan, King of Bokhara] a donation of a thousand mohurs of Hindostan, twenty-five pieces of Yezdy brocade, a rich dress, and a horse with silver harness. . . . ” (Memoirs of Khojah Abdulkurreem, a Cashmerian of distinction . . . transl. from the original Persian, by Francis Gladwin . . . Calcutta, 1788, 8vo, p. 36.)— H. C.]

Yezd is still a place of important trade, and carries on a thriving commerce with India by Bandar Abbási. A visitor in the end of 1865 says: “The external trade appears to be very considerable, and the merchants of Yezd are reputed to be amongst the most enterprising and respectable of their class in Persia. Some of their agents have lately gone, not only to Bombay, but to the Mauritius, Java, and China.”

(Ilch. I. 67–68; Khanikoff, Mém. p. 202; Report by Major R. M. Smith, R.E.)

Friar Odoric, who visited Yezd, calls it the third best city of the Persian Emperor, and says (Cathay, I. p. 52): “There is very great store of victuals and all other good things that you can mention; but especially is found there great plenty of figs; and raisins also, green as grass and very small, are found there in richer profusion than in any other part of the world.” [He also gives from the smaller version of Ramusio’s an awful description of the Sea of Sand, one day distant from Yezd. (Cf. Tavernier, 1679, I. p. 116.)— H. C.]

NOTE 2. — I believe Della Valle correctly generalises when he says of Persian travelling that “you always travel in a plain, but you always have mountains on either hand” (I. 462). [Compare Macgregor, I. 254: “I really cannot describe the road. Every road in Persia as yet seems to me to be exactly alike, so . . . my readers will take it for granted that the road went over a waste, with barren rugged hills in the distance, or near; no water, no houses, no people passed.”— H. C.] The distance from Yezd to Kermán is, according to Khanikoff’s survey, 314 kilomètres, or about 195 miles. Ramusio makes the time eight days, which is probably the better reading, giving a little over 24 miles a day. Westergaard in 1844, and Khanikoff in 1859, took ten days; Colonel Goldsmid and Major Smith in 1865 twelve. [“The distance from Yezd to Kermán by the present high road, 229 miles, is by caravans, generally made in nine stages; persons travelling with all comforts do it in twelve stages; travellers whose time is of some value do it easily in seven days.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. pp. 490–491.)— H. C.]

Khanikoff observes on this chapter: “This notice of woods easy to ride through, covering the plain of Yezd, is very curious. Now you find it a plain of great extent indeed from N.W. to S.E., but narrow and arid; indeed I saw in it only thirteen inhabited spots, counting two caravanserais. Water for the inhabitants is brought from a great distance by subterraneous conduits, a practice which may have tended to desiccate the soil, for every trace of wood has completely disappeared.”

Abbott travelled from Yezd to Kermán in 1849, by a road through Báfk, east of the usual road, which Khanikoff followed, and parallel to it; and it is worthy of note that he found circumstances more accordant with Marco’s description. Before getting to Báfk he says of the plain that it “extends to a great distance north and south, and is probably 20 miles in breadth;” whilst Báfk “is remarkable for its groves of date-trees, in the midst of which it stands, and which occupy a considerable space.” Further on he speaks of “wild tufts and bushes growing abundantly,” and then of “thickets of the Ghez tree.” He heard of the wild asses, but did not see any. In his report to the Foreign Office, alluding to Marco Polo’s account, he says: “It is still true that wild asses and other game are found in the wooded spots on the road.” The ass is the Asinus Onager, the Gor Khar of Persia, or Kulan of the Tartars. (Khan. Mém. p. 200; Id. sur Marco Polo, p. 21; J. R. G. S. XXV. 20–29; Mr. Abbott’s MS. Report in Foreign office.) [The difficulty has now been explained by General Houtum–Schindler in a valuable paper published in the Jour. Roy. As. Soc. N.S. XIII., October, 1881, p. 490. He says: “Marco Polo travelled from Yazd to Kermán viâ Báfk. His description of the road, seven days over great plains, harbour at three places only, is perfectly exact. The fine woods, producing dates, are at Báfk itself. (The place is generally called Báft.) Partridges and quails still abound; wild asses I saw several on the western road, and I was told that there were a great many on the Báfk road. Travellers and caravans now always go by the eastern road viâ Anár and Bahrámábád. Before the Sefavíehs (i.e. before A.D. 1500) the Anár road was hardly, if ever, used; travellers always took the Báfk road. The country from Yazd to Anár, 97 miles, seems to have been totally uninhabited before the Sefavíehs. Anár, as late as A.D. 1340, is mentioned as the frontier place of Kermán to the north, on the confines of the Yazd desert. When Sháh Abbás had caravanserais built at three places between Yazd and Anár (Zein ud-dín, Kermán-sháhán, and Shamsh), the eastern road began to be neglected.” (Cf. Major Sykes’ Persia, ch. xxiii.)— H. C.]

Chapter xvii.

Concerning the Kingdom of Kerman.

Kerman is a kingdom which is also properly in Persia, and formerly it had a hereditary prince. Since the Tartars conquered the country the rule is no longer hereditary, but the Tartar sends to administer whatever lord he pleases.1 In this kingdom are produced the stones called turquoises in great abundance; they are found in the mountains, where they are extracted from the rocks.2 There are also plenty of veins of steel and Ondanique.3 The people are very skilful in making harness of war; their saddles, bridles, spurs, swords, bows, quivers, and arms of every kind, are very well made indeed according to the fashion of those parts. The ladies of the country and their daughters also produce exquisite needlework in the embroidery of silk stuffs in different colours, with figures of beasts and birds, trees and flowers, and a variety of other patterns. They work hangings for the use of noblemen so deftly that they are marvels to see, as well as cushions, pillows quilts, and all sorts of things.4

In the mountains of Kerman are found the best falcons in the world. They are inferior in size to the Peregrine, red on the breast, under the neck, and between the thighs; their flight so swift that no bird can escape them.5

On quitting the city you ride on for seven days, always finding towns, villages, and handsome dwelling-houses, so that it is very pleasant travelling; and there is excellent sport also to be had by the way in hunting and hawking. When you have ridden those seven days over a plain country, you come to a great mountain; and when you have got to the top of the pass you find a great descent which occupies some two days to go down. All along you find a variety and abundance of fruits; and in former days there were plenty of inhabited places on the road, but now there are none; and you meet with only a few people looking after their cattle at pasture. From the city of Kerman to this descent the cold in winter is so great that you can scarcely abide it, even with a great quantity of clothing.6

NOTE 1. — Kermán is mentioned by Ptolemy, and also by Ammianus amongst the cities of the country so called (Carmania): “inter quas nitet Carmana omnium mater.” (XXIII. 6.)

M. Pauthier’s supposition that Sirján was in Polo’s time the capital, is incorrect. (See N. et E. XIV. 208, 290.) Our Author’s Kermán is the city still so called; and its proper name would seem to have been Kuwáshír. (See Reinaud, Mém. sur l’Inde, 171; also Sprenger P. and R. R. 77.) According to Khanikoff it is 5535 feet above the sea.

Kermán, on the fall of the Beni Búya Dynasty, in the middle of the 11th century, came into the hands of a branch of the Seljukian Turks, who retained it till the conquests of the Kings of Khwarizm, which just preceded the Mongol invasion. In 1226 the Amir Borák, a Kara Khitaian, who was governor on behalf of Jaláluddin of Khwarizm, became independent under the title of Kutlugh Sultan. [He died in 1234.] The Mongols allowed this family to retain the immediate authority, and at the time when Polo returned from China the representative of the house was a lady known as the Pádishah Khátún [who reigned from 1291], the wife successively of the Ilkhans Abaka and Kaikhatu; an ambitious, clever, and masterful woman, who put her own brother Siyurgutmish to death as a rival, and was herself, after the decease of Kaikhatu, put to death by her brother’s widow and daughter 1294. The Dynasty continued, nominally at least, to the reign of the Ilkhan Khodabanda (1304–13), when it was extinguished. [See Major Sykes’ Persia, chaps, v. and xxiii.]

Kermán was a Nestorian see, under the Metropolitan of Fars. (Ilch. passim; Weil, III. 454; Lequien, II. 1256.)

[“There is some confusion with regard to the names of Kermán both as a town and as a province or kingdom. We have the names Kermán, Kuwáshír, Bardshír. I should say the original name of the whole country was Kermán, the ancient Karamania. A province of this was called Kúreh-i-Ardeshír, which, being contracted, became Kuwáshír, and is spoken of as the province in which Ardeshír Bábekán, the first Sassanian monarch, resided. A part of Kúreh-i-Ardeshír was called Bardshír, or Bard-i-Ardeshír, now occasionally Bardsír, and the present city of Kermán was situated at its north-eastern corner. This town, during the Middle Ages, was called Bardshír. On a coin of Qara Arslán Beg, King of Kermán, of A.H. 462, Mr. Stanley Lane Poole reads Yazdashír instead of Bardshír. Of Al Idrísí‘s Yazdashír I see no mention in histories; Bardshír was the capital and the place where most of the coins were struck. Yazdashír, if such a place existed, can only have been a place of small importance. It is, perhaps, a clerical error for Bardshír; without diacritical points, both words are written alike. Later, the name of the city became Kermán, the name Bardshír reverting to the district lying south-west of it, with its principal place Mashíz. In a similar manner Mashíz was often, and is so now, called Bardshír. Another old town sometimes confused with Bardshír was Sírján or Shírján, once more important than Bardshír; it is spoken of as the capital of Kermán, of Bardshír, and of Sardsír. Its name now exists only as that of a district, with principal place S’aídábád. The history of Kermán, ‘Agd-ul-‘Olá, plainly says Bardshír is the capital of Kermán, and from the description of Bardshír there is no doubt of its having been the present town Kermán. It is strange that Marco Polo does not give the name of the city. In Assemanni’s Bibliotheca Orientalis Kuwáshír and Bardashír are mentioned as separate cities, the latter being probably the old Mashíz, which as early as A.H. 582 (A.D. 1186) is spoken of in the History of Kermán as an important town. The Nestorian bishop of the province Kermán, who stood under the Metropolitan of Fars, resided at Hormúz.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. pp. 491–492.)

There does not seem any doubt as to the identity of Bardashir with the present city of Kermán. (See The Cities of Kirman in the time of Hamd–Allah Mustawfi and Marco Polo, by Guy le Strange, Jour. R. As. Soc. April, 1901, pp. 281, 290.) Hamd–Allah is the author of the Cosmography known as the Nuzhat-al-Kulub or “Heart’s Delight.” (Cf. Major Sykes’ Persia, chap. xvi., and the Geographical Journal for February, 1902, p. 166.)— H. C.]

NOTE 2. — A MS. treatise on precious stones cited by Ouseley mentions Shebavek in Kermán as the site of a Turquoise mine. This is probably Shahr-i-Babek, about 100 miles west of the city of Kermán, and not far from Párez, where Abbott tells us there is a mine of these stones, now abandoned. Goebel, one of Khanikoff’s party, found a deposit of turquoises at Taft, near Yezd. (Ouseley’s Travels, I. 211; J. R. G. S. XXVI. 63–65; Khan. Mém. 203.)

[“The province Kermán is still rich in turquoises. The mines of Páríz or Párez are at Chemen-i-mó-aspán, 16 miles from Páríz on the road to Bahrámábád (principal place of Rafsinján), and opposite the village or garden called Gód-i-Ahmer. These mines were worked up to a few years ago; the turquoises were of a pale blue. Other turquoises are found in the present Bardshír plain, and not far from Mashíz, on the slopes of the Chehel tan mountain, opposite a hill called the Bear Hill (tal-i-Khers). The Shehr-i-Bábek turquoise mines are at the small village Kárík, a mile from Medvár-i-Bálá, 10 miles north of Shehr-i-Bábek. They have two shafts, one of which has lately been closed by an earthquake, and were worked up to about twenty years ago. At another place, 12 miles from Shehr-i-Bábek, are seven old shafts now not worked for a long period. The stones of these mines are also of a very pale blue, and have no great value.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. 1881, p. 491.)

The finest turquoises came from Khorasan; the mines were near Maaden, about 48 miles to the north of Nishapür. (Heyd, Com. du Levant, II. p. 653; Ritter, Erdk. pp. 325–330.)

It is noticeable that Polo does not mention indigo at Kermán. — H. C.]

NOTE 3. — Edrisi says that excellent iron was produced in the “cold mountains” N.W. of Jiruft, i.e. somewhere south of the capital; and Jihán Numá, or Great Turkish Geography, that the steel mines of Niriz, on the borders of Kermán, were famous. These are also spoken of by Teixeira. Major St. John enables me to indicate their position, in the hills east of Niriz. (Edrisi, vol. i. p. 430; Hammer, Mém. lur la Perse, p. 275; Teixeira, Relaciones, p. 378; and see Map of Itineraries, No. II.)

[“Marco Polo’s steel mines are probably the Parpa iron mines on the road from Kermán to Shíráz, called even today M’aden-i-fúlád (steel mine); they are not worked now. Old Kermán weapons, daggers, swords, old stirrups, etc., made of steel, are really beautiful, and justify Marco Polo’s praise of them” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. p. 491)— H. C.]

Ondanique of the Geog. Text, Andaine of Pauthier’s, Andanicum of the Latin, is an expression on which no light has been thrown since Ramusio’s time. The latter often asked the Persian merchants who visited Venice, and they all agreed in stating that it was a sort of steel of such surpassing value and excellence, that in the days of yore a man who possessed a mirror, or sword, of Andanic regarded it as he would some precious jewel. This seems to me excellent evidence, and to give the true clue to the meaning of Ondanique. I have retained the latter form because it points most distinctly to what I believe to be the real word, viz. Hundwáníy, “Indian Steel.”1 (See Johnson’s Pers. Dict. and De Sacy’s Chrestomathie Arabe, II. 148.) In the Vocabulista Arabico, of about A.D. 1200 (Florence, 1871, p. 211), Hunduwán is explained by Ensis. Vüllers explains Hundwán as “anything peculiar to India, especially swords,” and quotes from Firdúsi, “Khanjar-i-Hundwán,” a hanger of Indian steel.

The like expression appears in the quotation from Edrisi below as Hindiah, and found its way into Spanish in the shapes of Alhinde, Alfinde, Alinde, first with the meaning of steel, then assuming, that of steel mirror, and finally that of metallic foil of a glass mirror. (See Dozy and Engelmann, 2d ed. pp. 144–145.) Hint or Al-hint is used in Berber also for steel. (See J. R. A. S. IX. 255.)

The sword-blades of India had a great fame over the East, and Indian steel, according to esteemed authorities, continued to be imported into Persia till days quite recent. Its fame goes back to very old times. Ctesias mentions two wonderful swords of such material that he got from the king of Persia and his mother. It is perhaps the ferrum candidum of which the Malli and Oxydracae sent a 100 talents weight as a present to Alexander.2 Indian Iron and Steel ([Greek: sídaeros Indikòs kaì stómoma]) are mentioned in the Periplus as imports into the Abyssinian ports. Ferrum Indicum appears (at least according to one reading) among the Oriental species subject to duty in the Law of Marcus Aurelius and Commodus on that matter. Salmasius notes that among surviving Greek chemical treatises there was one [Greek: perì baphaes Indikou sidaérou], “On the Tempering of Indian Steel.” Edrisi says on this subject: “The Hindus excel in the manufacture of iron, and in the preparation of those ingredients along with which it is fused to obtain that kind of soft Iron which is usually styled Indian Steel (HINDIAH).3 They also have workshops wherein are forged the most famous sabres in the world. . . . It is impossible to find anything to surpass the edge that you get from Indian Steel (al-hadíd al-Hindí).”

Allusions to the famous sword-blades of India would seem to be frequent in Arabic literature. Several will be found in Hamása’s collection of ancient Arabic poems translated by Freytag. The old commentator on one of these passages says: “Ut optimos gladios significet . . . Indicos esse dixit,” and here the word used in the original is Hundwániyah. In Manger’s version of Arabshah’s Life of Timur are several allusions of the same kind; one, a quotation from Antar, recalls the ferrum candidum of Curtius:

“Albi (gladii) Indici meo in sanguine abluuntur.”

In the histories, even of the Mahomedan conquest of India, the Hindu infidels are sent to Jihannam with “the well-watered blade of the Hindi sword”; or the sword is personified as “a Hindu of good family.” Coming down to later days, Chardin says of the steel of Persia: “They combine it with Indian steel, which is more tractable . . . and is much more esteemed.” Dupré, at the beginning of this century, tells us: “I used to believe . . . that the steel for the famous Persian sabres came from certain mines in Khorasan. But according to all the information I have obtained, I can assert that no mine of steel exists in that province. What is used for these blades comes in the shape of disks from Lahore.” Pottinger names steel among the imports into Kermán from India. Elphinstone the Accurate, in his Caubul, confirms Dupré: “Indian Steel [in Afghanistan] is most prized for the material; but the best swords are made in Persia and in Syria;” and in his History of India, he repeats: “The steel of India was in request with the ancients; it is celebrated in the oldest Persian poem, and is still the material of the scimitars of Khorasan and Damascus.”4

Klaproth, in his Asia Polyglotta, gives Andun as the Ossetish and Andan as the Wotiak, for Steel. Possibly these are essentially the same with Hundwáníy and Alhinde, pointing to India as the original source of supply. [In the Sikandar Nama, e Bará (or “Book of Alexander the Great,” written A.D. 1200, by Abu Muhammad bin Yusuf bin Mu, Ayyid-i-Nizamu-‘d-Din), translated by Captain H. Wilberforce Clarke (Lond., 1881, large 8vo), steel is frequently mentioned: Canto xix. 257, p. 202; xx. 12, p. 211; xlv. 38, p. 567; lviii. 32, pp. 695, 42, pp. 697, 62, 66, pp. 699; lix. 28, p. 703. — H. C.]

Avicenna, in his fifth book De Animâ, according to Roger Bacon, distinguishes three very different species of iron: “1st. Iron which is good for striking or bearing heavy strokes, and for being forged by hammer and fire, but not for cutting-tools. Of this hammers and anvils are made, and this is what we commonly call Iron simply. 2nd. That which is purer, has more heat in it, and is better adapted to take an edge and to form cutting-tools, but is not so malleable, viz. Steel. And the 3rd is that which is called ANDENA. This is less known among the Latin nations. Its special character is that like silver it is malleable and ductile under a very low degree of heat. In other properties it is intermediate between iron and steel.” (Fr. R. Baconis Opera Inedita, 1859, pp. 382–383.) The same passage, apparently, of Avicenna is quoted by Vincent of Beauvais, but with considerable differences. (See Speculum Naturale, VII. ch. lii. lx., and Specul. Doctrinale, XV. ch. lxiii.) The latter author writes Alidena, and I have not been able to refer to Avicenna, so that I am doubtful whether his Andena is the same term with the Andaine of Pauthier and our Ondanique.

The popular view, at least in the Middle Ages, seems to have regarded Steel as a distinct natural species, the product of a necessarily different ore, from iron; and some such view is, I suspect, still common in the East. An old Indian officer told me of the reply of a native friend to whom he had tried to explain the conversion of iron into steel —“What! You would have me believe that if I put an ass into the furnace it will come forth a horse.” And Indian Steel again seems to have been regarded as a distinct natural species from ordinary steel. It is in fact made by a peculiar but simple process, by which the iron is converted directly into cast-steel, without passing through any intermediate stage analogous to that of blister-steel. When specimens were first examined in England, chemists concluded that the steel was made direct from the ore. The Ondanique of Marco no doubt was a fine steel resembling the Indian article. (Müller’s Ctesias, p. 80; Curtius, IX. 24; Müller’s Geog. Gr. Min. I. 262; Digest. Novum, Lugd. 1551, Lib. XXXIX. Tit. 4; Salmas. Ex. Plinian. II. 763; Edrisi, I. 65–66; J. R. S. A. A. 387 seqq.; Hamasae Carmina, I. 526; Elliot, II. 209, 394; Reynolds’s Utbi, p. 216.)

Illustration: Texture, with Animals, etc., from a Cashmere Scarf in the Indian Museum.

“De deverses maineres laborés à bestes et ausiaus mout richement.”

NOTE 4. — Paulus Jovius in the 16th century says, I know not on what authority, that Kermán was then celebrated for the fine temper of its steel in scimitars and lance-points. These were eagerly bought at high prices by the Turks, and their quality was such that one blow of a Kermán sabre would cleave an European helmet without turning the edge. And I see that the phrase, “Kermání blade” is used in poetry by Marco’s contemporary Amír Khusrú of Delhi. (P. Jov. Hist. of his own Time, Bk. XIV.; Elliot, III. 537.)

There is, or was in Pottinger’s time, still a great manufacture of matchlocks at Kerman; but rose-water, shawls, and carpets are the staples of the place now. Polo says nothing that points to shawl-making, but it would seem from Edrisi that some such manufacture already existed in the adjoining district of Bamm. It is possible that the “hangings” spoken of by Polo may refer to the carpets. I have seen a genuine Kermán carpet in the house of my friend, Sir Bartle Frere. It is of very short pile, very even and dense; the design, a combination of vases, birds, and floral tracery, closely resembling the illuminated frontispiece of some Persian MSS.

The shawls are inferior to those of Kashmir in exquisite softness, but scarcely in delicacy of texture and beauty of design. In 1850, their highest quality did not exceed 30 tomans (14l.) in price. About 2200 looms were employed on the fabric. A good deal of Kermán wool called Kurk, goes viâ Bandar Abbási and Karáchi to Amritsar, where it is mixed with the genuine Tibetan wool in the shawl manufacture. Several of the articles named in the text, including pardahs (“cortines”) are woven in shawl-fabric. I scarcely think, however, that Marco would have confounded woven shawl with needle embroidery. And Mr. Khanikoff states that the silk embroidery, of which Marco speaks, is still performed with great skill and beauty at Kermán. Our cut illustrates the textures figured with animals, already noticed at p. 66.

The Guebers were numerous here at the end of last century, but they are rapidly disappearing now. The Musulman of Kermán is, according to Khanikoff, an epicurean gentleman, and even in regard to wine, which is strong and plentiful, his divines are liberal. “In other parts of Persia you find the scribblings on the walls of Serais to consist of philosophical axioms, texts from the Koran, or abuse of local authorities. From Kermán to Yezd you find only rhymes in praise of fair ladies or good wine.”

(Pottinger’s Travels; Khanik. Mém. 186 seqq., and Notice, p. 21; Major Smith’s Report; Abbott’s MS. Report in F. O.; Notes by Major O. St. John, R.E.)

NOTE 5. — Parez is famous for its falcons still, and so are the districts of Aktúr and Sirján. Both Mr. Abbott and Major Smith were entertained with hawking by Persian hosts in this neighbourhood. The late Sir O. St. John identifies the bird described as the Sháhín (Falco Peregrinator), one variety of which, the Fársi, is abundant in the higher mountains of S. Persia. It is now little used in that region, the Terlán or goshawk being most valued, but a few are caught and sent for sale to the Arabs of Oman. (J. R. G. S. XXV. 50, 63, and Major St. John’s Notes.)

[“The fine falcons, ‘with red breasts and swift of flight,’ come from Páríz. They are, however, very scarce, two or three only being caught every year. A well-trained Páríz falcon costs from 30 to 50 tomans (12l. to 20l.), as much as a good horse.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. p. 491.) Major Sykes, Persia, ch. xxiii., writes: “Marco Polo was evidently a keen sportsman, and his description of the Sháhin, as it is termed, cannot be improved upon.” Major Sykes has a list given him by a Khán of seven hawks of the province, all black and white, except the Sháhin, which has yellow eyes, and is the third in the order of size. — H. C.]

NOTE 6. — We defer geographical remarks till the traveller reaches Hormuz.

1 A learned friend objects to Johnson’s Hundwáníy = “Indian Steel,” as too absolute; some word for steel being wanted. Even if it be so, I observe that in three places where Polo uses Ondanique (here, ch. xxi., and ch. xlii.), the phrase is always “steel and ondanique.” This looks as if his mental expression were Púlád-i-Hundwáni, rendered by an idiom like Virgil’s pocula et aurum.

2 Kenrick suggests that the “bright iron” mentioned by Ezekiel among the wares of Tyre (ch. xxvii. 19) can hardly have been anything else than Indian Steel, because named with cassia and calamus.

3 Literally rendered by Mr. Redhouse: “The Indians do well the combining of mixtures of the chemicals with which they (smelt and) cast the soft iron, and it becomes Indian (steel), being referred to India (in this expression).”

4 In Richardson’s Pers. Dict., by Johnson, we have a word Rohan, Rohina (and other forms). “The finest Indian steel, of which the most excellent swords are made; also the swords made of that steel.”

Chapter xviii.

Of the City of Camadi and its Ruins; Also Touching the Carauna Robbers.

After you have ridden down hill those two days, you find yourself in a vast plain, and at the beginning thereof there is a city called CAMADI, which formerly was a great and noble place, but now is of little consequence, for the Tartars in their incursions have several times ravaged it. The plain whereof I speak is a very hot region; and the province that we now enter is called REOBARLES.

The fruits of the country are dates, pistachioes, and apples of Paradise, with others of the like not found in our cold climate. [There are vast numbers of turtledoves, attracted by the abundance of fruits, but the Saracens never take them, for they hold them in abomination.] And on this plain there is a kind of bird called francolin, but different from the francolin of other countries, for their colour is a mixture of black and white, and the feet and beak are vermilion colour.[NOTE 1]

The beasts also are peculiar; and first I will tell you of their oxen. These are very large, and all over white as snow; the hair is very short and smooth, which is owing to the heat of the country. The horns are short and thick, not sharp in the point; and between the shoulders they have a round hump some two palms high. There are no handsomer creatures in the world. And when they have to be loaded, they kneel like the camel; once the load is adjusted, they rise. Their load is a heavy one, for they are very strong animals. Then there are sheep here as big as asses; and their tails are so large and fat, that one tail shall weigh some 30 lbs. They are fine fat beasts, and afford capital mutton.2

In this plain there are a number of villages and towns which have lofty walls of mud, made as a defence against the banditti,3 who are very numerous, and are called CARAONAS. This name is given them because they are the sons of Indian mothers by Tartar fathers. And you must know that when these Caraonas wish to make a plundering incursion, they have certain devilish enchantments whereby they do bring darkness over the face of day, insomuch that you can scarcely discern your comrade riding beside you; and this darkness they will cause to extend over a space of seven days’ journey. They know the country thoroughly, and ride abreast, keeping near one another, sometimes to the number of 10,000, at other times more or fewer. In this way they extend across the whole plain that they are going to harry, and catch every living thing that is found outside of the towns and villages; man, woman, or beast, nothing can escape them! The old men whom they take in this way they butcher; the young men and the women they sell for slaves in other countries; thus the whole land is ruined, and has become well-nigh a desert.

The King of these scoundrels is called NOGODAR. This Nogodar had gone to the Court of Chagatai, who was own brother to the Great Kaan, with some 10,000 horsemen of his, and abode with him; for Chagatai was his uncle. And whilst there this Nogodar devised a most audacious enterprise, and I will tell you what it was. He left his uncle who was then in Greater Armenia, and fled with a great body of horsemen, cruel unscrupulous fellows, first through BADASHAN, and then through another province called PASHAI-DIR, and then through another called ARIORA-KESHEMUR. There he lost a great number of his people and of his horses, for the roads were very narrow and perilous. And when he had conquered all those provinces, he entered India at the extremity of a province called DALIVAR. He established himself in that city and government, which he took from the King of the country, ASEDIN SOLDAN by name, a man of great power and wealth. And there abideth Nogodar with his army, afraid of nobody, and waging war with all the Tartars in his neighbourhood.4

Now that I have told you of those scoundrels and their history, I must add the fact that Messer Marco himself was all but caught by their bands in such a darkness as that I have told you of; but, as it pleased God, he got off and threw himself into a village that was hard by, called CONOSALMI. Howbeit he lost his whole company except seven persons who escaped along with him. The rest were caught, and some of them sold, some put to death.5

NOTE 1. — Ramusio has “Adam’s apple” for apples of Paradise. This was some kind of Citrus, though Lindley thinks it impossible to say precisely what. According to Jacques de Vitry it was a beautiful fruit of the Citron kind, in which the bite of human teeth was plainly discernible. (Note to Vulgar Errors, II. 211; Bongars, I. 1099.) Mr. Abbott speaks of this tract as “the districts (of Kermán) lying towards the South, which are termed the Ghermseer or Hot Region, where the temperature of winter resembles that of a charming spring, and where the palm, orange, and lemon-tree flourish.” (MS. Report; see also J. R. G. S. XXV. 56.)

[“Marco Polo’s apples of Paradise are more probably the fruits of the Konár tree. There are no plantains in that part of the country. Turtle doves, now as then, are plentiful, and as they are seldom shot, and are said by the people to be unwholesome food, we can understand Marco Polo’s saying that the people do not eat them.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. pp. 492–493.)— H. C.]

The Francolin here spoken of is, as Major Smith tells me, the Darráj of the Persians, the Black Partridge of English sportsmen, sometimes called the Red-legged Francolin. The Darráj is found in some parts of Egypt, where its peculiar call is interpreted by the peasantry into certain Arabic words, meaning “Sweet are the corn-ears! Praised be the Lord!” In India, Baber tells us, the call of the Black Partridge was (less piously) rendered “Shír dáram shakrak,” “I’ve got milk and sugar!” The bird seems to be the [Greek: attagàs] of Athenaeus, a fowl “speckled like the partridge, but larger,” found in Egypt and Lydia. The Greek version of its cry is the best of all: “[Greek: trìs tois kakoúrgois kaká]” (“Threefold ills to the ill-doers!”). This is really like the call of the black partridge in India as I recollect it. [Tetrao francolinus. — H. C.]

(Chrestomathie Arabe, II. 295; Baber, 320; Yonge’s Atken. IX. 39.)

NOTE 2. — Abbott mentions the humped (though small) oxen in this part of Persia, and that in some of the neighbouring districts they are taught to kneel to receive the load, an accomplishment which seems to have struck Mas’udi (III. 27), who says he saw it exhibited by oxen at Rai (near modern Tehran). The Aín Akbari also ascribes it to a very fine breed in Bengal. The whimsical name Zebu, given to the humped or Indian ox in books of Zoology, was taken by Buffon from the exhibitors of such a beast at a French Fair, who probably invented it. That the humped breeds of oxen existed in this part of Asia in ancient times is shown by sculptures at Kouyunjik. (See cut below.)

Illustration: Humped Oxen from the Assyrian Sculptures at Koyunjik.

A letter from Agassiz, printed in the Proc. As. Soc. Bengal (1865), refers to wild “zebus,” and calls the species a small one. There is no wild “zebu,” and some of the breeds are of enormous size.

[“White oxen, with short thick horns and a round hump between the shoulders, are now very rare between Kermán and Bender ‘Abbás. They are, however, still to be found towards Belúchistán and Mekrán, and they kneel to be loaded like camels. The sheep which I saw had fine large tails; I did not, however, hear of any having so high a weight as thirty pounds.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. p. 493.)— H. C.]

The fat-tailed sheep is well known in many parts of Asia and part of Africa. It is mentioned by Ctesias, and by Aelian, who says the shepherds used to extract the tallow from the live animal, sewing up the tail again; exactly the same story is told by the Chinese Pliny, Ma Twan-lin. Marco’s statements as to size do not surpass those of the admirable Kampfer: “In size they so much surpass the common sheep that it is not unusual to see them as tall as a donkey, whilst all are much more than three feet; and as to the tail I shall not exceed the truth, though I may exceed belief, if I say that it sometimes reaches 40 lbs. in weight.” Captain Hutton was assured by an Afghan sheep-master that tails had occurred in his flocks weighing 12 Tabriz mans, upwards of 76 lbs.! The Afghans use the fat as an aperient, swallowing a dose of 4 to 6 lbs! Captain Hutton’s friend testified that trucks to bear the sheep-tails were sometimes used among the Taimúnis (north of Herat). This may help to locate that ancient and slippery story. Josafat Barbaro says he had seen the thing, but is vague as to place. (Aelian Nat. An. III. 3, IV. 32; Amoen. Exoticae; Ferrier, H. of Afghans, p. 294; J. A. S. B. XV. 160.)

[Rabelais says (Bk. I. ch. xvi.): “Si de ce vous efmerveillez, efmerveillez vous d’advantage de la queue des béliers de la Scythie, qui pesait plus de trente livres; et des moutons de Surie, esquels fault (si Tenaud, dict vray) affuster une charrette au cul, pour la porter tant qu’elle est longue et pesante.” (See G. Capus, A travers le roy. de Tamerlan, pp. 21–23, on the fat sheep.)— H. C.]

NOTE 3. — The word rendered banditti is in Pauthier Carans, in G. Text Caraunes, in the Latin “a scaranis et malandrinis.” The last is no doubt correct, standing for the old Italian Scherani, bandits. (See Cathay, p. 287, note.)

NOTE 4. — This is a knotty subject, and needs a long note.

The KARAUNAHS are mentioned often in the histories of the Mongol regime in Persia, first as a Mongol tribe forming a Tuman, i.e. a division or corps of 10,000 in the Mongol army (and I suspect it was the phrase the Tuman of the Karaunahs in Marco’s mind that suggested his repeated use of the number 10,000 in speaking of them); and afterwards as daring and savage freebooters, scouring the Persian provinces, and having their headquarters on the Eastern frontiers of Persia. They are described as having had their original seats on the mountains north of the Chinese wall near Karaún Jidun or Khidun; and their special accomplishment in war was the use of Naphtha Fire. Rashiduddin mentions the Karánut as a branch of the great Mongol tribe of the Kunguráts, who certainly had their seat in the vicinity named, so these may possibly be connected with the Karaunahs. The same author says that the Tuman of the Karaunahs formed the Injú or peculium of Arghún Khan.

Wassáf calls them “a kind of goblins rather than human beings, the most daring of all the Mongols”; and Mirkhond speaks in like terms.

Dr. Bird of Bombay, in discussing some of the Indo–Scythic coins which bear the word Korano attached to the prince’s name, asserts this to stand for the name of the Karaunah, “who were a Graeco–Indo-Scythic tribe of robbers in the Punjab, who are mentioned by Marco Polo,” a somewhat hasty conclusion which Pauthier adopts. There is, Quatremère observes, no mention of the Karaunahs before the Mongol invasion, and this he regards as the great obstacle to any supposition of their having been a people previously settled in Persia. Reiske, indeed, with no reference to the present subject, quotes a passage from Hamza of Ispahan, a writer of the 10th century, in which mention is made of certain troops called Karáunahs. But it seems certain that in this and other like cases the real reading was Kazáwinah, people of Kazvin. (See Reiske’s Constant. Porphyrog. Bonn. ed. II. 674; Gottwaldt’s Hamza Ispahanensis, p. 161; and Quatremère in J. A. sér. V. tom. xv. 173.) Ibn Batuta only once mentions the name, saying that Tughlak Sháh of Dehli was “one of those Turks called Karáunas who dwell in the mountains between Sind and Turkestan.” Hammer has suggested the derivation of the word Carbine from Karáwinah (as he writes), and a link in such an etymology is perhaps furnished by the fact that in the 16th century the word Carbine was used for some kind of irregular horseman.

(Gold. Horde, 214; Ilch. I. 17, 344, etc.; Erdmann, 168, 199, etc.; J. A. S., B. X. 96; Q. R. 130; Not. et Ext. XIV. 282; I. B. III. 201; Ed. Webbe, his Travailes, p. 17, 1590. Reprinted 1868.)

As regards the account given by Marco of the origin of the Caraonas, it seems almost necessarily a mistaken one. As Khanikoff remarks, he might have confounded them with the Biluchis, whose Turanian aspect (at least as regards the Brahuis) shows a strong infusion of Turki blood, and who might be rudely described as a cross between Tartars and Indians. It is indeed an odd fact that the word Karáni (vulgo Cranny) is commonly applied in India at this day to the mixed race sprung from European fathers and Native mothers, and this might be cited in corroboration of Marsden’s reference to the Sanskrit Karana, but I suspect the coincidence arises in another way. Karana is the name applied to a particular class of mixt blood, whose special occupation was writing and accounts. But the prior sense of the word seems to have been “clever, skilled,” and hence a writer or scribe. In this sense we find Karáni applied in Ibn Batuta’s day to a ship’s clerk, and it is used in the same sense in the Ain Akbari. Clerkship is also the predominant occupation of the East–Indians, and hence the term Karáni is applied to them from their business, and not from their mixt blood. We shall see hereafter that there is a Tartar term Arghún, applied to fair children born of a Mongol mother and white father; it is possible that there may have been a correlative word like Karáun (from Kará, black) applied to dark children born of Mongol father and black mother, and that this led Marco to a false theory.

[Major Sykes (Persia) devotes a chapter (xxiv.) to The Karwán Expedition in which he says: “Is it not possible that the Karwánis are the Caraonas of Marco Polo? They are distinct from the surrounding Baluchis, and pay no tribute.”— H. C.]

Illustration: Portrait of a Hazára.

Let us turn now to the name of Nogodar. Contemporaneously with the Karaunahs we have frequent mention of predatory bands known as Nigúdaris, who seem to be distinguished from the Karaunahs, but had a like character for truculence. Their headquarters were about Sijistán, and Quatremère seems disposed to look upon them as a tribe indigenous in that quarter. Hammer says they were originally the troops of Prince Nigudar, grandson of Chaghatai, and that they were a rabble of all sorts, Mongols, Turkmans, Kurds, Shúls, and what not. We hear of their revolts and disorders down to 1319, under which date Mirkhond says that there had been one-and-twenty fights with them in four years. Again we hear of them in 1336 about Herat, whilst in Baber’s time they turn up as Nukdari, fairly established as tribes in the mountainous tracts of Karnúd and Ghúr, west of Kabul, and coupled with the Hazáras, who still survive both in name and character. “Among both,” says Baber, “there are some who speak the Mongol language.” Hazáras and Takdaris (read Nukdaris) again occur coupled in the History of Sind. (See Elliot, I. 303–304.) [On the struggle against Timur of Toumen, veteran chief of the Nikoudrians (1383–84), see Major David Price’s Mahommedan History, London, 1821, vol. iii. pp. 47–49, H. C.] In maps of the 17th century, as of Hondius and Blaeuw, we find the mountains north of Kabul termed Nochdarizari, in which we cannot miss the combination Nigudar–Hazárah, whencesoever it was got. The Hazáras are eminently Mongol in feature to this day, and it is very probable that they or some part of them are the descendants of the Karáunahs or the Nigudaris, or of both, and that the origination of the bands so called, from the scum of the Mongol inundation, is thus in degree confirmed. The Hazáras generally are said to speak an old dialect of Persian. But one tribe in Western Afghanistan retains both the name of Mongols and a language of which six-sevenths (judging from a vocabulary published by Major Leech) appear to be Mongol. Leech says, too, that the Hazáras generally are termed Moghals by the Ghilzais. It is worthy of notice that Abu’l Fázl, who also mentions the Nukdaris among the nomad tribes of Kabul, says the Hazáras were the remains of the Chaghataian army which Mangu Kaan sent to the aid of Hulaku, under the command of Nigudar Oghlan. (Not. et Ext. XIV. 284; Ilch. I. 284, 309, etc,; Baber, 134, 136, 140; J. As. sér. IV. tom. iv. 98; Ayeen Akbery, II. 192–193.)

So far, excepting as to the doubtful point of the relation between Karáunahs and Nigudaris, and as to the origin of the former, we have a general accordance with Polo’s representations. But it is not very easy to identify with certainty the inroad on India to which he alludes, or the person intended by Nogodar, nephew of Chaghatai. It seems as if two persons of that name had each contributed something to Marco’s history.

We find in Hammer and D’Ohsson that one of the causes which led to the war between Barka Khan and Hulaku in 1262 (see above, Prologue, ch. ii.) was the violent end that had befallen three princes of the House of Juji, who had accompanied Hulaku to Persia in command of the contingent of that House. When war actually broke out, the contingent made their escape from Persia. One party gained Kipchak by way of Derbend; another, in greater force, led by NIGUDAR and Onguja, escaped to Khorasan, pursued by the troops of Hulaku, and thence eastward, where they seized upon Ghazni and other districts bordering on India.

But again: Nigudar Aghul, or Oghlan, son of (the younger) Juji, son of Chaghatai, was the leader of the Chaghataian contingent in Hulaku’s expedition, and was still attached to the Mongol–Persian army in 1269, when Borrak Khan, of the House of Chaghatai, was meditating war against his kinsman, Abaka of Persia. Borrak sent to the latter an ambassador, who was the bearer of a secret message to Prince Nigudar, begging him not to serve against the head of his own House. Nigudar, upon this, made a pretext of retiring to his own headquarters in Georgia, hoping to reach Borrak’s camp by way of Derbend. He was, however, intercepted, and lost many of his people. With 1000 horse he took refuge in Georgia, but was refused an asylum, and was eventually captured by Abaka’s commander on that frontier. His officers were executed, his troops dispersed among Abaka’s army, and his own life spared under surveillance. I find no more about him. In 1278 Hammer speaks of him as dead, and of the Nigudarian bands as having been formed out of his troops. But authority is not given.

The second Nigudar is evidently the one to whom Abu’l Fázl alludes. Khanikoff assumes that the Nigudar who went off towards India about 1260 (he puts the date earlier) was Nigudar, the grandson of Chaghatai, but he takes no notice of the second story just quoted.

In the former story we have bands under Nigudar going off by Ghazni, and conquering country on the Indian frontier. In the latter we have Nigudar, a descendant of Chaghatai, trying to escape from his camp on the frontier of Great Armenia. Supposing the Persian historians to be correct, it looks as if Marco had rolled two stories into one.

Some other passages may be cited before quitting this part of the subject. A chronicle of Herat, translated by Barbier de Meynard, says, under 1298: “The King Fakhruddin (of Herat) had the imprudence to authorise the Amir Nigudar to establish himself in a quarter of the city, with 300 adventurers from ‘Irak. This little troop made frequent raids in Kuhistan, Sijistan, Farrah, etc., spreading terror. Khodabanda, at the request of his brother Ghazan Khan, came from Mazanderan to demand the immediate surrender of these brigands,” etc. And in the account of the tremendous foray of the Chaghataian Prince Kotlogh Shah, on the east and south of Persia in 1299, we find one of his captains called Nigudar Bahadur. (Gold. Horde, 146, 157, 164; D’Ohsson, IV. 378 seqq., 433 seqq., 513 seqq.; Ilch. I. 216, 261, 284; II. 104; J. A. sér. V. tom. xvii. 455–456, 507; Khan. Notice, 31.)

As regards the route taken by Prince Nogodar in his incursion into India, we have no difficulty with BADAKHSHAN. PASHAI-DIR is a copulate name; the former part, as we shall see reason to believe hereafter, representing the country between the Hindu Kush and the Kabul River (see infra, ch. xxx.); the latter (as Pauthier already has pointed out), DIR, the chief town of Panjkora, in the hill country north of Peshawar. In Ariora–Keshemur the first portion only is perplexing. I will mention the most probable of the solutions that have occurred to me, and a second, due to that eminent archaeologist, General A. Cunningham. (1) Ariora may be some corrupt or Mongol form of Aryavartta, a sacred name applied to the Holy Lands of Indian Buddhism, of which Kashmir was eminently one to the Northern Buddhists. Oron, in Mongol, is a Region or Realm, and may have taken the place of Vartta, giving Aryoron or Ariora. (2) “Ariora,” General Cunningham writes, “I take to be the Harhaura of Sanscrit — i.e. the Western Panjáb. Harhaura was the North–Western Division of the Nava–Khanda, or Nine Divisions of Ancient India. It is mentioned between Sindhu–Sauvira in the west (i.e. Sind), and Madra in the north (i.e. the Eastern Panjáb, which is still called Madar–Des). The name of Harhaura is, I think, preserved in the Haro River. Now, the Sind–Sagor Doab formed a portion of the kingdom of Kashmir, and the joint names, like those of Sindhu–Sauvira, describe only one State.” The names of the Nine Divisions in question are given by the celebrated astronomer, Varaha Mihira, who lived in the beginning of the 6th century, and are repeated by Al Biruni. (See Reinaud, Mém. sur l’Inde, p. 116.) The only objection to this happy solution seems to lie in Al Biruni’s remark, that the names in question were in general no longer used even in his time (A.D. 1030).

There can be no doubt that Asidin Soldan is, as Khanikoff has said, Ghaiassuddin Balban, Sultan of Delhi from 1266 to 1286, and for years before that a man of great power in India, and especially in the Panjáb, of which he had in the reign of Ruknuddin (1236) held independent possession.

Firishta records several inroads of Mongols in the Panjáb during the reign of Ghaiassuddin, in withstanding one of which that King’s eldest son was slain; and there are constant indications of their presence in Sind till the end of the century. But we find in that historian no hint of the chief circumstances of this part of the story, viz., the conquest of Kashmir and the occupation of Dalivar or Dilivar (G. T.), evidently (whatever its identity) in the plains of India. I do find, however, in the history of Kashmir, as given by Lassen (III. 1138), that in the end of 1259, Lakshamana Deva, King of Kashmir, was killed in a campaign against the Turushka (Turks or Tartars), and that their leader, who is called Kajjala, got hold of the country and held it till 1287.1 It is difficult not to connect this both with Polo’s story and with the escapade of Nigudar about 1260, noting also that this occupation of Kashmir extended through the whole reign of Ghaiassuddin.

We seem to have a memory of Polo’s story preserved in one of Elliot’s extracts from Wassáf, which states that in 708 (A.D. 1308), after a great defeat of a Mongol inroad which had passed the Ganges, Sultan Ala’uddin Khilji ordered a pillar of Mongol heads to be raised before the Badáun gate, “as was done with the Nigudari Moghuls” (III. 48).

We still have to account for the occupation and locality of Dalivar; Marsden supposed it to be Lahore; Khanikoff considers it to be Diráwal, the ancient desert capital of the Bhattis, properly (according to Tod) Deoráwal, but by a transposition common in India, as it is in Italy, sometimes called Diláwar, in the modern State of Bháwalpúr. But General Cunningham suggests a more probable locality in DILÁWAR on the west bank of the Jelam, close to Dárápúr, and opposite to Mung. These two sites, Diláwar-Dárápúr on the west bank, and Mung on the east, are identified by General Cunningham (I believe justly) with Alexander’s Bucephala and Nicaea. The spot, which is just opposite the battlefield of Chiliánwála, was visited (15th December, 1868) at my request, by my friend Colonel R. Maclagan, R.E. He writes: “The present village of Diláwar stands a little above the town of Dárápúr (I mean on higher ground), looking down on Dárápúr and on the river, and on the cultivated and wooded plain along the river bank. The remains of the Old Diláwar, in the form of quantities of large bricks, cover the low round-backed spurs and knolls of the broken rocky hills around the present village, but principally on the land side. They cover a large area of very irregular character, and may clearly be held to represent a very considerable town. There are no indications of the form of buildings, . . . but simply large quantities of large bricks, which for a long time have been carried away and used for modern buildings. . . . After rain coins are found on the surface. . . . There can be no doubt of a very large extent of ground, of very irregular and uninviting character, having been covered at some time with buildings. The position on the Jelam would answer well for the Diláwar which the Mongol invaders took and held. . . . The strange thing is that the name should not be mentioned (I believe it is not) by any of the well-known Mahomedan historians of India. So much for Diláwar. . . . The people have no traditions. But there are the remains; and there is the name, borne by the existing village on part of the old site.” I had come to the conclusion that this was almost certainly Polo’s Dalivar, and had mapped it as such, before I read certain passages in the History of Zíyáuddín Barni, which have been translated by Professor Dowson for the third volume of Elliot’s India. When the comrades of Ghaiassuddin Balban urged him to conquests, the Sultan pointed to the constant danger from the Mongols,2 saying: “These accursed wretches have heard of the wealth and condition of Hindustan, and have set their hearts upon conquering and plundering it. They have taken and plundered Lahor within my territories, and no year passes that they do not come here and plunder the villages. . . . They even talk about the conquest and sack of Delhi.” And under a later date the historian says: “The Sultan . . . marched to Lahor, and ordered the rebuilding of the fort which the Mughals had destroyed in the reigns of the sons of Shamsuddin. The towns and villages of Lahor which the Mughals had devastated and laid waste he repeopled.” Considering these passages, and the fact that Polo had no personal knowledge of Upper India, I now think it probable that Marsden was right, and that Dilivar is really a misunderstanding of “Città di Livar” for Lahàwar or Lahore.

The Magical darkness which Marco ascribes to the evil arts of the Karaunas is explained by Khanikoff from the phenomenon of Dry Fog, which he has often experienced in Khorasan, combined with the Dust Storm with which we are familiar in Upper India. In Sind these phenomena often produce a great degree of darkness. During a battle fought between the armies of Sindh and Kachh in 1762, such a fog came on, obscuring the light of day for some six hours, during which the armies were intermixed with one another and fighting desperately. When the darkness dispersed they separated, and the consternation of both parties was so great at the events of the day that both made a precipitate retreat. In 1844 this battle was still spoken of with wonder. (J. Bomb. Br. R. A. S. I. 423.)

Major St. John has given a note on his own experience of these curious Kermán fogs (see Ocean Highways, 1872, p. 286): “Not a breath of air was stirring, and the whole effect was most curious, and utterly unlike any other fog I have seen. No deposit of dust followed, and the feeling of the air was decidedly damp. I unfortunately could not get my hygrometer till the fog had cleared away.”

[General Houtum–Schindler, l.c. p. 493, writes: “The magical darkness might, as Colonel Yule supposes, be explained by the curious dry fogs or dust storms, often occurring in the neighbourhood of Kermán, but it must be remarked that Marco Polo was caught in one of these storms down in Jíruft, where, according to the people I questioned, such storms now never occur. On the 29th of September, 1879, at Kermán, a high wind began to blow from S.S.W. at about 5 P.M. First there came thick heavy clouds of dust with a few drops of rain. The heavy dust then settled down, the lighter particles remained in the air, forming a dry fog of such density that large objects, like houses, trees, etc., could not even faintly be distinguished at a distance of a hundred paces. The barometers suffered no change, the three I had with me remained in statu quo.” “The heat is over by the middle of September, and after the autumnal equinox, there are a few days of what is best described as a dense dry fog. This was undoubtedly the haze referred to by Marco Polo.” (Major Sykes, ch. iv.) — H. C.]

Richthofen’s remarkable exposition of the phenomena of the löss in North China, and of the sub-aerial deposits of the steppes and of Central Asia throws some light on this. But this hardly applies to St John’s experience of “no deposit of dust.” (See Richthofen, China, pp. 96–97 s. MS. Note, H. Y.)

The belief that such opportune phenomena were produced by enchantment was a thoroughly Tartar one. D’Herbelot relates (art. Giagathai) that in an action with a rebel called Mahomed Tarabi, the Mongols were encompassed by a dust storm which they attributed to enchantment on the part of the enemy, and it so discouraged them that they took to flight.

NOTE 5. — The specification that only seven were saved from Marco’s company is peculiar to Pauthier’s Text, not appearing in the G. T.

Several names compounded of Salm or Salmi occur on the dry lands on the borders of Kermán. Edrisi, however (I. p. 428), names a place called KANÁT-UL-SHÁM as the first march in going from Jiruft to Walashjird. Walashjird is, I imagine, represented by Galashkird, Major R. Smith’s third march from Jiruft (see my Map of Routes from Kermán to Hormuz); and as such an indication agrees with the view taken below of Polo’s route, I am strongly disposed to identify Kanát-ul-Shám with his castello or walled village of Canosalmi.

[“Marco Polo’s Conosalmi, where he was attacked by robbers and lost the greater part of his men, is perhaps the ruined town or village Kamasal (Kahn-i-asal = the honey canal), near Kahnúj-i-pancheh and Vakílábád in Jíruft. It lies on the direct road between Shehr-i-Daqíánús (Camadi) and the Nevergún Pass. The road goes in an almost due southerly direction. The Nevergún Pass accords with Marco Polo’s description of it; it is very difficult, on account of the many great blocks of sandstone scattered upon it. Its proximity to the Bashakird mountains and Mekrán easily accounts for the prevalence of robbers, who infested the place in Marco Polo’s time. At the end of the Pass lies the large village Shamíl, with an old fort; the distance thence to the site of Hormúz or Bender ‘Abbás (lying more to the west) is 52 miles, two days’ march. The climate of Bender ‘Abbás is very bad, strangers speedily fall sick, two of my men died there, all the others were seriously ill.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. pp. 495–496.) Major Sykes (ch. xxiii.) says: “Two marches from Camadi was Kahn-i-Panchur, and a stage beyond it lay the ruins of Fariáb or Pariáb, which was once a great city, and was destroyed by a flood, according to local legend. It may have been Alexander’s Salmous, as it is about the right distance from the coast, and if so, could not have been Marco’s Cono Salmi. Continuing on, Galashkird mentioned by Edrisi, is the next stage.”— H. C.]

The raids of the Mekranis and Biluchis long preceded those of the Karaunas, for they were notable even in the time of Mahmud of Ghazni, and they have continued to our own day to be prosecuted nearly on the same stage and in the same manner. About 1721, 4000 horsemen of this description plundered the town of Bander Abbasi, whilst Captain Alex. Hamilton was in the port; and Abbott, in 1850, found the dread of Bilúch robbers to extend almost to the gates of Ispahan. A striking account of the Bilúch robbers and their characteristics is given by General Ferrier. (See Hamilton, I. 109; J. R. G. S. XXV.; Khanikoff’s Mémoire; Macd. Kinneir, 196; Caravan Journeys, p. 437 seq.)

1 Khajlak is mentioned as a leader of the Mongol raids in India by the poet Amir Khusrú (A.D. 1289; see Elliot III. 527).

2 Professor Cowell compares the Mongol inroads in the latter part of the 13th and beginning of the 14th century, in their incessant recurrence, to the incursions of the Danes in England. A passage in Wassáf (Elliot, III. 38) shows that the Mongols were, circa 1254–55, already in occupation of Sodia on the Chenab, and districts adjoining.

Chapter xix.

Of the Descent to the City of Hormos.

The Plain of which we have spoken extends in a southerly direction for five days’ journey, and then you come to another descent some twenty miles in length, where the road is very bad and full of peril, for there are many robbers and bad characters about. When you have got to the foot of this descent you find another beautiful plain called the PLAIN OF FORMOSA. This extends for two days’ journey; and you find in it fine streams of water with plenty of date-palms and other fruit-trees. There are also many beautiful birds, francolins, popinjays, and other kinds such as we have none of in our country. When you have ridden these two days you come to the Ocean Sea, and on the shore you find a city with a harbour which is called HORMOS.1 Merchants come thither from India, with ships loaded with spicery and precious stones, pearls, cloths of silk and gold, elephants’ teeth, and many other wares, which they sell to the merchants of Hormos, and which these in turn carry all over the world to dispose of again. In fact, ’tis a city of immense trade. There are plenty of towns and villages under it, but it is the capital. The King is called RUOMEDAM AHOMET. It is a very sickly place, and the heat of the sun is tremendous. If any foreign merchant dies there, the King takes all his property.

In this country they make a wine of dates mixt with spices, which is very good. When any one not used to it first drinks this wine, it causes repeated and violent purging, but afterwards he is all the better for it, and gets fat upon it. The people never eat meat and wheaten bread except when they are ill, and if they take such food when they are in health it makes them ill. Their food when in health consists of dates and salt-fish (tunny, to wit) and onions, and this kind of diet they maintain in order to preserve their health.2

Their ships are wretched affairs, and many of them get lost; for they have no iron fastenings, and are only stitched together with twine made from the husk of the Indian nut. They beat this husk until it becomes like horse-hair, and from that they spin twine, and with this stitch the planks of the ships together. It keeps well, and is not corroded by the sea-water, but it will not stand well in a storm. The ships are not pitched, but are rubbed with fish-oil. They have one mast, one sail, and one rudder, and have no deck, but only a cover spread over the cargo when loaded. This cover consists of hides, and on the top of these hides they put the horses which they take to India for sale. They have no iron to make nails of, and for this reason they use only wooden trenails in their shipbuilding, and then stitch the planks with twine as I have told you. Hence ’tis a perilous business to go a voyage in one of those ships, and many of them are lost, for in that Sea of India the storms are often terrible.3

The people are black, and are worshippers of Mahommet. The residents avoid living in the cities, for the heat in summer is so great that it would kill them. Hence they go out (to sleep) at their gardens in the country, where there are streams and plenty of water. For all that they would not escape but for one thing that I will mention. The fact is, you see, that in summer a wind often blows across the sands which encompass the plain, so intolerably hot that it would kill everybody, were it not that when they perceive that wind coming they plunge into water up to the neck, and so abide until the wind have ceased.4 [And to prove the great heat of this wind, Messer Mark related a case that befell when he was there. The Lord of Hormos, not having paid his tribute to the King of Kerman the latter resolved to claim it at the time when the people of Hormos were residing away from the city. So he caused a force of 1600 horse and 5000 foot to be got ready, and sent them by the route of Reobarles to take the others by surprise. Now, it happened one day that through the fault of their guide they were not able to reach the place appointed for their night’s halt, and were obliged to bivouac in a wilderness not far from Hormos. In the morning as they were starting on their march they were caught by that wind, and every man of them was suffocated, so that not one survived to carry the tidings to their Lord. When the people of Hormos heard of this they went forth to bury the bodies lest they should breed a pestilence. But when they laid hold of them by the arms to drag them to the pits, the bodies proved to be so baked, as it were, by that tremendous heat, that the arms parted from the trunks, and in the end the people had to dig graves hard by each where it lay, and so cast them in.]5

The people sow their wheat and barley and other corn in the month of November, and reap it in the month of March. The dates are not gathered till May, but otherwise there is no grass nor any other green thing, for the excessive heat dries up everything.

When any one dies they make a great business of the mourning, for women mourn their husbands four years. During that time they mourn at least once a day, gathering together their kinsfolk and friends and neighbours for the purpose, and making a great weeping and wailing. [And they have women who are mourners by trade, and do it for hire.]

Now, we will quit this country. I shall not, however, now go on to tell you about India; but when time and place shall suit we shall come round from the north and tell you about it. For the present, let us return by another road to the aforesaid city of Kerman, for we cannot get at those countries that I wish to tell you about except through that city.

I should tell you first, however, that King Ruomedam Ahomet of Hormos, which we are leaving, is a liegeman of the King of Kerman.6

On the road by which we return from Hormos to Kerman you meet with some very fine plains, and you also find many natural hot baths; you find plenty of partridges on the road; and there are towns where victual is cheap and abundant, with quantities of dates and other fruits. The wheaten bread, however, is so bitter, owing to the bitterness of the water, that no one can eat it who is not used to it. The baths that I mentioned have excellent virtues; they cure the itch and several other diseases.7

Now, then, I am going to tell you about the countries towards the north, of which you shall hear in regular order. Let us begin.

NOTE 1. — Having now arrived at HORMUZ, it is time to see what can be made of the Geography of the route from Kermán to that port.

The port of Hormuz, [which had taken the place of Kish as the most important market of the Persian Gulf (H. C.)], stood upon the mainland. A few years later it was transferred to the island which became so famous, under circumstances which are concisely related by Abulfeda:—“Hormuz is the port of Kermán, a city rich in palms, and very hot. One who has visited it in our day tells me that the ancient Hormuz was devastated by the incursions of the Tartars, and that its people transferred their abode to an island in the sea called Zarun, near the continent, and lying west of the old city. At Hormuz itself no inhabitants remain, but some of the lowest order.” (In Büsching, IV. 261–262.) Friar Odoric, about 1321, found Hormuz “on an island some 5 miles distant from the main.” Ibn Batuta, some eight or nine years later, discriminates between Hormuz or Moghistan on the mainland, and New Hormuz on the Island of Jeraun, but describes only the latter, already a great and rich city.

The site of the Island Hormuz has often been visited and described; but I could find no published trace of any traveller having verified the site of the more ancient city, though the existence of its ruins was known to John de Barros, who says that a little fort called Cuxstac (Kuhestek of P. della Valle, II. p. 300) stood on the site. An application to Colonel Pelly, the very able British Resident at Bushire, brought me from his own personal knowledge the information that I sought, and the following particulars are compiled from the letters with which he has favoured me:—

“The ruins of Old Hormuz, well known as such, stand several miles up a creek, and in the centre of the present district of Minao. They are extensive (though in large part obliterated by long cultivation over the site), and the traces of a long pier or Bandar were pointed out to Colonel Pelly. They are about 6 or 7 miles from the fort of Minao, and the Minao river, or its stony bed, winds down towards them. The creek is quite traceable, but is silted up, and to embark goods you have to go a farsakh towards the sea, where there is a custom-house on that part of the creek which is still navigable. Colonel Pelly collected a few bricks from the ruins. From the mouth of the Old Hormuz creek to the New Hormuz town, or town of Turumpak on the island of Hormuz, is a sail of about three farsakhs. It may be a trifle more, but any native tells you at once that it is three farsakhs from Hormuz Island to the creek where you land to go up to Minao. Hormuzdia was the name of the region in the days of its prosperity. Some people say that Hormuzdia was known as Jerunia, and Old Hormuz town as Jerun.” (In this I suspect tradition has gone astray.) “The town and fort of Minao lie to the N.E. of the ancient city, and are built upon the lowest spur of the Bashkurd mountains, commanding a gorge through which the Rudbar river debouches on the plain of Hormuzdia.” In these new and interesting particulars it is pleasing to find such precise corroboration both of Edrisi and of Ibn Batuta. The former, writing in the 12th century, says that Hormuz stood on the banks of a canal or creek from the Gulf, by which vessels came up to the city. The latter specifies the breadth of sea between Old and New Hormuz as three farsakhs. (Edrisi, I. 424; I. B. II. 230.)

I now proceed to recapitulate the main features of Polo’s Itinerary from Kermán to Hormuz. We have:—

  1. From Kermán across a plain to the top of a
     mountain-pass, where _extreme cold was
     experienced_. . . . . . . .    7
  2. A descent, occupying. . . .    . . .    2
  3. A great plain, called _Reobarles_, in a much warmer
     climate, abounding in francolin partridge, and in
     dates and tropical fruit, with a ruined city of former
     note, called _Camadi_, near the head of the plain,
     which extends for. . . . . . . .    5
  4. A second very bad pass, descending for 20 miles, say      1
  5. A well-watered fruitful plain, which is crossed to
     _Hormuz_, on the shores of the Gulf. . . .    2
                            Total                             17

No European traveller, so far as I know, has described the most direct road from Kermán to Hormuz, or rather to its nearest modern representative Bander Abbási — I mean the road by Báft. But a line to the eastward of this, and leading through the plain of Jiruft, was followed partially by Mr. Abbott in 1850, and completely by Major R. M. Smith, R.E., in 1866. The details of this route, except in one particular, correspond closely in essentials with those given by our author, and form an excellent basis of illustration for Polo’s description.

Major Smith (accompanied at first by Colonel Goldsmid, who diverged to Mekran) left Kermán on the 15th of January, and reached Bander Abbási on the 3rd of February, but, as three halts have to be deducted, his total number of marches was exactly the same as Marco’s, viz. 17. They divide as follows:—

  1. From Kermán to the caravanserai of Deh Bakri in the
     pass so called. "The ground as I ascended became
     covered with snow, and the weather bitterly cold"
     (_Report_). . . . . . . . .  6
  2. Two miles _over very deep snow_ brought him to the
     top of the pass; he then descended 14 miles to his halt.
     Two miles to the south of the crest he passed a second
     caravanserai: "The two are evidently built so near one
     another to afford shelter to travellers who may be
     unable to cross the ridge during heavy snow-storms."
     The next march continued the descent for 14 miles, and
     then carried him 10 miles along the banks of the
     Rudkhanah-i-Shor. The approximate height of the pass
     above the sea is estimated at 8000 feet. We have thus
     for the descent the greater part of. . . .   2
  3. "Clumps of date-palms growing near the village showed
     that I had now reached a totally different climate."
     (_Smith's Report_.) And Mr. Abbott says of the same
     region: "Partly wooded   . . .  and with thickets of reeds
     abounding with francolin and _Jirufti_ partridge. . . . 
     The lands yield grain, millet, pulse, French- and
     horse-beans, rice, cotton, henna, Palma Christi, and dates,
     and in part are of great fertility. . . .  Rainy season from
     January to March, after which a luxuriant crop of grass."
     Across this plain (districts of Jiruft and Rudbar), the
     height of which above the sea, is something under 2000
     feet. . . . . . . .    . . .   6
  4. 6-1/2 hours, "nearly the whole way over a most difficult
     mountain-pass," called the Pass of Nevergun   . . .   1
  5. Two long marches over a plain, part of which is described
     as "continuous cultivation for some 16 miles," and the rest
     as a "most uninteresting plain". . . . .  2
                            Total as before. . . .  17

In the previous edition of this work I was inclined to identify Marco’s route absolutely with this Itinerary. But a communication from Major St. John, who surveyed the section from Kermán towards Deh Bakri in 1872, shows that this first section does not answer well to the description. The road is not all plain, for it crosses a mountain pass, though not a formidable one. Neither is it through a thriving, populous tract, for, with the exception of two large villages, Major St. John found the whole road to Deh Bakri from Kermán as desert and dreary as any in Persia. On the other hand, the more direct route to the south, which is that always used except in seasons of extraordinary severity (such as that of Major Smith’s journey, when this route was impassable from snow), answers better, as described to Major St. John by muleteers, to Polo’s account. The first six days are occupied by a gentle ascent through the districts of Bardesir and Kairat-ul-Arab, which are the best-watered and most fertile uplands of Kermán. From the crest of the pass reached in those six marches (which is probably more than 10,000 feet above the sea, for it was closed by snow on 1st May, 1872), an easy descent of two days leads to the Garmsir. This is traversed in four days, and then a very difficult pass is crossed to reach the plains bordering on the sea. The cold of this route is much greater than that of the Deh Bakri route. Hence the correspondence with Polo’s description, as far as the descent to the Garmsir, or Reobarles, seems decidedly better by this route. It is admitted to be quite possible that on reaching this plain the two routes coalesced. We shall assume this provisionally, till some traveller gives us a detailed account of the Bardesir route. Meantime all the remaining particulars answer well.

[General Houtum–Schindler (l.c. pp. 493–495), speaking of the Itinerary from Kermán to Hormúz and back, says: “Only two of the many routes between Kermán and Bender ‘Abbás coincide more or less with Marco Polo’s description. These two routes are the one over the Deh Bekrí Pass [see above, Colonel Smith], and the one viâ Sárdú. The latter is the one, I think, taken by Marco Polo. The more direct roads to the west are for the greater part through mountainous country, and have not twelve stages in plains which we find enumerated in Marco Polo’s Itinerary. The road viâ Báft, Urzú, and the Zendán Pass, for instance, has only four stages in plains; the road, viâ Ráhbur, Rúdbár and the Nevergún Pass only six; and the road viâ Sírján also only six.”

     The Sárdú route, which seems to me to be the one
     followed by Marco Polo, has five stages through fertile
     and populous plains to Sarvízan. . . . .  5
     One day's march ascends to the top of the Sarvízan Pass   1
     Two days' descent to Ráhjird, a village close to the
     ruins of old Jíruft, now called Shehr-i-Daqíánús..  2
     Six days' march over the "vast plain" of Jírúft and Rúdbár
     to Faríáb, joining the Deh Bekrí route at Kerímábád, one
     stage south of the Shehr-i-Daqíánús. . . .   6
     One day's march through the Nevergún Pass to Shamíl,
     descending. . . . . . . . .  1
     Two days' march through the plain to Bender 'Abbás or
     Hormúz. . . . . . . . ..  2
                            In all. . . . .. 17

The Sárdú road enters the Jíruft plain at the ruins of the old city, the Deh Bekrí route does so at some distance to the eastward. The first six stages performed by Marco Polo in seven days go through fertile plains and past numerous villages. Regarding the cold, “which you can scarcely abide,” Marco Polo does not speak of it as existing on the mountains only; he says, “From the city of Kermán to this descent the cold in winter is very great,” that is, from Kermán to near Jíruft. The winter at Kermán itself is fairly severe; from the town the ground gradually but steadily rises, the absolute altitudes of the passes crossing the mountains to the south varying from 8000 to 11,000 feet. These passes are up to the month of March always very cold; in one it froze slightly in the beginning of June. The Sárdú Pass lies lower than the others. The name is Sárdú, not Sardú from sard, “cold.” Major Sykes (Persia, ch. xxiii.) comes to the same conclusion: “In 1895, and again in 1900, I made a tour partly with the object of solving this problem, and of giving a geographical existence to Sárdu, which appropriately means the ‘Cold Country.’ I found that there was a route which exactly fitted Marco’s conditions, as at Sarbizan the Sárdu plateau terminates in a high pass of 9200 feet, from which there is a most abrupt descent to the plain of Jíruft, Komádin being about 35 miles, or two days’ journey from the top of the pass. Starting from Kermán, the stages would be as follows:— I. Jupár (small town); 2. Bahrámjird (large village); 3. Gudar (village); 4. Ráin (small town). . . . Thence to the Sarbizan pass is a distance of 45 miles, or three desert stages, thus constituting a total of 110 miles for the seven days. This is the camel route to the present day, and absolutely fits in with the description given. . . . The question to be decided by this section of the journey may then, I think, be considered to be finally and most satisfactorily settled, the route proving to lie between the two selected by Colonel Yule, as being the most suitable, although he wisely left the question open.”— H. C.]

In the abstract of Major Smith’s Itinerary as we have given it, we do not find Polo’s city of Camadi. Major Smith writes to me, however, that this is probably to be sought in “the ruined city, the traces of which I observed in the plain of Jíruft near Kerimabad. The name of the city is now apparently lost.” It is, however, known to the natives as the City of Dakiánús, as Mr. Abbott, who visited the site, informs us. This is a name analogous only to the Arthur’s ovens or Merlin’s caves of our own country, for all over Mahomedan Asia there are old sites to which legend attaches the name of Dakianus or the Emperor Decius, the persecuting tyrant of the Seven Sleepers. “The spot,” says Abbott, “is an elevated part of the plain on the right bank of the Hali Rúd, and is thickly strewn with kiln-baked bricks, and shreds of pottery and glass. . . . After heavy rain the peasantry search amongst the ruins for ornaments of stone, and rings and coins of gold, silver, and copper. The popular tradition concerning the city is that it was destroyed by a flood long before the birth of Mahomed.”

[General Houtum–Schindler, in a paper in the Jour. R. As. Soc., Jan. 1898, p. 43, gives an abstract of Dr. Houtsma’s (of Utrecht) memoir, Zur Geschichte der Saljuqen von Kerman, and comes to the conclusion that “from these statements we can safely identify Marco Polo’s Camadi with the suburb Qumadin, or, as I would read it, Qamadin, of the city of Jiruft.”— (Cf. Major Sykes’ Persia, chap. xxiii.: “Camadi was sacked for the first time, after the death of Toghrul Shah of Kermán, when his four sons reduced the province to a condition of anarchy.”)

Major P. Molesworth Sykes, Recent Journeys in Persia (Geog. Journal, X. 1897, p. 589), says: “Upon arrival in Rudbar, we turned north wards and left the Farman Farma, in order to explore the site of Marco Polo’s ‘Camadi.’ . . . We came upon a huge area littered with yellow bricks eight inches square, while not even a broken wall is left to mark the site of what was formerly a great city, under the name of the Sher-i-Jiruft.”— H. C.] The actual distance from Bamm to the City of Dakianus is, by Abbott’s Journal, about 66 miles.

The name of REOBARLES, which Marco applies to the plain intermediate between the two descents, has given rise to many conjectures. Marsden pointed to Rúdbár, a name frequently applied in Persia to a district on a river, or intersected by streams — a suggestion all the happier that he was not aware of the fact that there is a district of RUDBAR exactly in the required position. The last syllable still requires explanation. I ventured formerly to suggest that it was the Arabic Lass, or, as Marco would certainly have written it, Les, a robber. Reobarles would then be RUDBAR-I-LASS, “Robber’s River District.” The appropriateness of the name Marco has amply illustrated; and it appeared to me to survive in that of one of the rivers of the plain, which is mentioned by both Abbott and Smith under the title of Rúdkhánah-i-Duzdi, or Robbery River, a name also applied to a village and old fort on the banks of the stream. This etymology was, however, condemned as an inadmissible combination of Persian and Arabic by two very high authorities both as travellers and scholars — Sir H. Rawlinson and Mr. Khanikoff. The Les, therefore, has still to be explained.1

[Major Sykes (Geog. Journal, 1902, p. 130) heard of robbers, some five miles from Mináb, and he adds: “However, nothing happened, and after crossing the Gardan-i-Pichal, we camped at Birinti, which is situated just above the junction of Rudkhána Duzdi, or ‘River of Theft,’ and forms part of the district of Rudán, in Fars.”

“The Jíruft and Rúdbár plains belong to the germsír (hot region), dates, pistachios, and konars (apples of Paradise) abound in them. Reobarles is Rúdbár or Rüdbáris.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. 1881, p. 495.)— H. C.]

We have referred to Marco’s expressions regarding the great cold experienced on the pass which formed the first descent; and it is worthy of note that the title of “The Cold Mountains” is applied by Edrisi to these very mountains. Mr. Abbott’s MS. Report also mentions in this direction, Sardu, said to be a cold country (as its name seems to express [see above — H. C.]), which its population (Iliyáts) abandon in winter for the lower plains. It is but recently that the importance of this range of mountains has become known to us. Indeed the existence of the chain, as extending continuously from near Kashán, was first indicated by Khanikoff in 1862. More recently Major St. John has shown the magnitude of this range, which rises into summits of 15,000 feet in altitude, and after a course of 550 miles terminates in a group of volcanic hills some 50 miles S.E. of Bamm. Yet practically this chain is ignored on all our maps!

Marco’s description of the “Plain of Formosa” does not apply, now at least, to the whole plain, for towards Bander Abbási it is barren. But to the eastward, about Minao, and therefore about Old Hormuz, it has not fallen off. Colonel Pelly writes: “The district of Minao is still for those regions singularly fertile. Pomegranates, oranges, pistachio-nuts, and various other fruits grow in profusion. The source of its fertility is of course the river, and you can walk for miles among lanes and cultivated ground, partially sheltered from the sun.” And Lieutenant Kempthorne, in his notes on that coast, says of the same tract: “It is termed by the natives the Paradise of Persia. It is certainly most beautifully fertile, and abounds in orange-groves, and orchards containing apples, pears, peaches, and apricots; with vineyards producing a delicious grape, from which was at one time made a wine called amber-rosolli”— a name not easy to explain. ’Ambar-i-Rasúl, “The Prophet’s Bouquet!” would be too bold a name even for Persia, though names more sacred are so profaned at Naples and on the Moselle. Sir H. Rawlinson suggests ’Ambar-‘asali, “Honey Bouquet,” as possible.

When Nearchus beached his fleet on the shore of Harmozeia at the mouth of the Anamis (the River of Minao), Arrian tells us he found the country a kindly one, and very fruitful in every way except that there were no olives. The weary mariners landed and enjoyed this pleasant rest from their toils. (Indica, 33; J. R. G. S. V. 274.)

The name Formosa is probably only Rusticiano’s misunderstanding of Harmuza, aided, perhaps, by Polo’s picture of the beauty of the plain. We have the same change in the old Mafomet for Mahomet, and the converse one in the Spanish hermosa for formosa. Teixeira’s Chronicle says that the city of Hormuz was founded by Xa Mahamed Dranku, i.e. Shah Mahomed Dirhem–Ko, in “a plain of the same name.”

The statement in Ramusio that Hormuz stood upon an island, is, I doubt not, an interpolation by himself or some earlier transcriber.

When the ships of Nearchus launched again from the mouth of the Anamis, their first day’s run carried them past a certain desert and bushy island to another which was large and inhabited. The desert isle was called Organa; the large one by which they anchored Oaracta. (Indica, 37.) Neither name is quite lost; the latter greater island is Kishm or Brakht; the former Jerún,2 perhaps in old Persian Gerún or Gerán, now again desert though no longer bushy, after having been for three centuries the site of a city which became a poetic type of wealth and splendour. An Eastern saying ran, “Were the world a ring, Hormuz would be the jewel in it.”

[“The Yüan shi mentions several seaports of the Indian Ocean as carrying on trade with China; Hormuz is not spoken of there. I may, however, quote from the Yüan History a curious statement which perhaps refers to this port. In ch. cxxiii., biography of Arsz-lan, it is recorded that his grandson Hurdutai, by order of Kubilai Khan, accompanied Bu-lo no-yen on his mission to the country of Ha-rh-ma-sz. This latter name may be intended for Hormuz. I do not think that by the Noyen Bulo, M. Polo could be meant, for the title Noyen would hardly have been applied to him. But Rashid-eddin mentions a distinguished Mongol, by name Pulad, with whom he was acquainted in Persia, and who furnished him with much information regarding the history of the Mongols. This may be the Bu-lo no-yen of the Yüan History.” (Bretschneider, Med. Res. II. p. 132.)— H. C.]

NOTE 2. — A spirit is still distilled from dates in Persia, Mekran, Sind, and some places in the west of India. It is mentioned by Strabo and Dioscorides, according to Kämpfer, who says it was in his time made under the name of a medicinal stomachic; the rich added Radix Chinae, ambergris, and aromatic spices; the poor, liquorice and Persian absinth. (Sir B. Frere; Amoen. Exot. 750; Macd. Kinneir, 220.)

[“The date wine with spices is not now made at Bender ‘Abbás. Date arrack, however, is occasionally found. At Kermán a sort of wine or arrack is made with spices and alcohol, distilled from sugar; it is called Má-ul-Háyát (water of life), and is recommended as an aphrodisiac. Grain in the Shamíl plain is harvested in April, dates are gathered in August.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. p. 496.)

See “Remarks on the Use of Wine and Distilled Liquors among the Mohammedans of Turkey and Persia,” pp. 315–330 of Narrative of a Tour through Armenia, Kurdistan, Persia, and Mesopotamia. . . . By the Rev. Horatio Southgate, . . . London, 1840, vol. ii. — H. C.]

[Sir H. Yule quotes, in a MS. note, these lines from Moore’s Light of the Harem:

“Wine, too, of every clime and hue,

Around their liquid lustre threw

Amber Rosolli3 — the bright dew

From vineyards of the Green Sea gushing.”] See above, p. 114.

Illustration: The Double or Latin Rudder, as shown in the Navicella of Giotto. (From Eastlake.)

The date and dry-fish diet of the Gulf people is noticed by most travellers, and P. del a Valle repeats the opinion about its being the only wholesome one. Ibn Batuta says the people of Hormuz had a saying, “Khormá wa máhí lút-i-Pádshahi,” i.e. “Dates and fish make an Emperor’s dish!” A fish, exactly like the tunny of the Mediterranean in general appearance and habits, is one of the great objects of fishery off the Sind and Mekran coasts. It comes in pursuit of shoals of anchovies, very much like the Mediterranean fish also. (I. B. II. 231; Sir B. Frere.)

[Friar Odoric (Cathay, I. pp. 55–56) says: “And there you find (before arriving at Hormuz) people who live almost entirely on dates, and you get forty-two pounds of dates for less than a groat; and so of many other things.”]

NOTE 3. — The stitched vessels of Kermán ([Greek: ploiária raptà]) are noticed in the Periplus. Similar accounts to those of our text are given of the ships of the Gulf and of Western India by Jordanus and John of Montecorvino. (Jord. p. 53; Cathay, p. 217.) “Stitched vessels,” Sir B. Frere writes, “are still used. I have seen them of 200 tons burden; but they are being driven out by iron-fastened vessels, as iron gets cheaper, except where (as on the Malabar and Coromandel coasts) the pliancy of a stitched boat is useful in a surf. Till the last few years, when steamers have begun to take all the best horses, the Arab horses bound to Bombay almost all came in the way Marco Polo describes.” Some of them do still, standing over a date cargo, and the result of this combination gives rise to an extraordinary traffic in the Bombay bazaar. From what Colonel Pelly tells me, the stitched build in the Gulf is now confined to fishing-boats, and is disused for sea-going craft.

[Friar Odoric (Cathay, I. p. 57) mentioned these vessels: “In this country men make use of a kind of vessel which they call Jase, which is fastened only with stitching of twine. On one of these vessels I embarked, and I could find no iron at all therein.” Jase is for the Arabic Djehaz. — H. C.]

The fish-oil used to rub the ships was whale-oil. The old Arab voyagers of the 9th century describe the fishermen of Siraf in the Gulf as cutting up the whale-blubber and drawing the oil from it, which was mixed with other stuff, and used to rub the joints of ships’ planking. (Reinaud, I. 146.)

Both Montecorvino and Polo, in this passage, specify one rudder, as if it was a peculiarity of these ships worth noting. The fact is that, in the Mediterranean at least, the double rudders of the ancients kept their place to a great extent through the Middle Ages. A Marseilles MS. of the 13th century, quoted in Ducange, says: “A ship requires three rudders, two in place, and one to spare.” Another: “Every two-ruddered bark shall pay a groat each voyage; every one-ruddered bark shall,” etc. (See Due. under Timonus and Temo.) Numerous proofs of the use of two rudders in the 13th century will be found in “Documenti inediti riguardanti le due Crociate di S. Ludovico IX., Re di Francia, etc., da L. T. Belgrano, Genova, 1859.” Thus in a specification of ships to be built at Genoa for the king (p. 7), each is to have “Timones duo, affaiticos, grossitudinis palmorum viiii et dimidiae, longitudinis cubitorum xxiiii.” Extracts given by Capmany, regarding the equipment of galleys, show the same thing, for he is probably mistaken in saying that one of the dos timones specified was a spare one. Joinville (p. 205) gives incidental evidence of the same: “Those Marseilles ships have each two rudders, with each a tiller (? tison) attached to it in such an ingenious way that you can turn the ship right or left as fast as you would turn a horse. So on the Friday the king was sitting upon one of these tillers, when he called me and said to me,” etc.4 Francesco da Barberino, a poet of the 13th century, in the 7th part of his Documenti d’Amore (printed at Rome in 1640), which instructs the lover to whose lot it may fall to escort his lady on a sea-voyage (instructions carried so far as to provide even for the case of her death at sea!), alludes more than once to these plural rudders. Thus —

“—— se vedessi avenire

Che vento ti rompesse

    Timoni . . .

In luogo di timoni

    Fa spere5 e in aqua poni.” (P. 272–273.)


12th Century Illumination (After Pertz)
Seal of Winchelsea.
12th Century Illumination (After Pertz)
From Leaning Tower (After Jal)
After Spinello Aretini at Siena
From Monument of St Peter Martyr

And again, when about to enter a port, it is needful to be on the alert and ready to run in case of a hostile reception, so the galley should enter stern foremost — a movement which he reminds his lover involves the reversal of the ordinary use of the two rudders:—

L’ un timon leva suso

    L’ altro leggier tien giuso,

Ma convien levar mano

    Non mica com soleàno,

Ma per contraro, e face

    Cosi ‘l guidar verace.” (P. 275.)

A representation of a vessel over the door of the Leaning Tower at Pisa shows this arrangement, which is also discernible in the frescoes of galley-fights by Spinello Aretini, in the Municipal Palace at Siena.

[Godinho de Eredia (1613), describing the smaller vessels of Malacca which he calls bâlos in ch. 13, De Embarcaçôes, says: “At the poop they have two rudders, one on each side to steer with.” E por poupa dos bâllos, tem 2 lêmes, hum en cada lado pera o governo. (Malacca, l’Inde mérid. et le Cathay, Bruxelles, 1882, 4to, f. 26.)— H. C.]

The midship rudder seems to have been the more usual in the western seas, and the double quarter-rudders in the Mediterranean. The former are sometimes styled Navarresques and the latter Latins. Yet early seals of some of the Cinque Ports show vessels with the double rudder; one of which (that of Winchelsea) is given in the cut.

In the Mediterranean the latter was still in occasional use late in the 16th century. Captain Pantero Pantera in his book, L’Armata Navale (Rome, 1614, p. 44), says that the Galeasses, or great galleys, had the helm alla Navarresca, but also a great oar on each side of it to assist in turning the ship. And I observe that the great galeasses which precede the Christian line of battle at Lepanto, in one of the frescoes by Vasari in the Royal Hall leading to the Sistine Chapel, have the quarter-rudder very distinctly.

The Chinese appear occasionally to employ it, as seems to be indicated in a woodcut of a vessel of war which I have traced from a Chinese book in the National Library at Paris. (See above, p. 37.) [For the Chinese words for rudder, see p. 126 of J. Edkins’ article on Chinese Names for Boats and Boat Gear, Jour. N. China Br. R. As. Soc. N.S. XI. 1876. — H. C.] It is also used by certain craft of the Indian Archipelago, as appears from Mr. Wallace’s description of the Prau in which he sailed from Macassar to the Aru Islands. And on the Caspian, it is stated in Smith’s “Dict. of Antiquities” (art. Gubernaculum), the practice remained in force till late times. A modern traveller was nearly wrecked on that sea, because the two rudders were in the hands of two pilots who spoke different languages, and did not understand each other!

(Besides the works quoted see Jal, Archéologie Navale, II. 437–438, and Capmany, Memorias, III. 61.)

[Major Sykes remarks (Persia, ch. xxiii.): “Some unrecorded event, probably the sight of the unseaworthy craft, which had not an ounce of iron in their composition, made our travellers decide that the risks of the sea were too great, so that we have the pleasure of accompanying them back to Kermán and thence northwards to Khorasán.”— H. C.]

NOTE 4. — So also at Bander Abbási Tavernier says it was so unhealthy that foreigners could not stop there beyond March; everybody left it in April. Not a hundredth part of the population, says Kämpfer, remained in the city. Not a beggar would stop for any reward! The rich went to the towns of the interior or to the cool recesses of the mountains, the poor took refuge in the palm-groves at the distance of a day or two from the city. A place called ‘Ishin, some 12 miles north of the city, was a favourite resort of the European and Hindu merchants. Here were fine gardens, spacious baths, and a rivulet of fresh and limpid water.

The custom of lying in water is mentioned also by Sir John Maundevile, and it was adopted by the Portuguese when they occupied Insular Hormuz, as P. della Valle and Linschoten relate. The custom is still common during great heats, in Sind and Mekran (Sir B. F.).

An anonymous ancient geography (Liber Junioris Philosophi) speaks of a people in India who live in the Terrestrial Paradise, and lead the life of the Golden Age. . . . The sun is so hot that they remain all day in the river!

The heat in the Straits of Hormuz drove Abdurrazzak into an anticipation of a verse familiar to English schoolboys: “Even the bird of rapid flight was burnt up in the heights of heaven, as well as the fish in the depths of the sea!” (Tavern. Bk. V. ch. xxiii.; Am. Exot. 716, 762; Müller, Geog. Gr. Min. II. 514; India in XV. Cent. p. 49.)

NOTE 5. — A like description of the effect of the Simúm on the human body is given by Ibn Batuta, Chardin, A. Hamilton, Tavernier, Thévenot, etc.; and the first of these travellers speaks specially of its prevalence in the desert near Hormuz, and of the many graves of its victims; but I have met with no reasonable account of its poisonous action. I will quote Chardin, already quoted at greater length by Marsden, as the most complete parallel to the text: “The most surprising effect of the wind is not the mere fact of its causing death, but its operation on the bodies of those who are killed by it. It seems as if they became decomposed without losing shape, so that you would think them to be merely asleep, when they are not merely dead, but in such a state that if you take hold of any part of the body it comes away in your hand. And the finger penetrates such a body as if it were so much dust.” (III. 286.)

Burton, on his journey to Medina, says: “The people assured me that this wind never killed a man in their Allah-favoured land. I doubt the fact. At Bir Abbas the body of an Arnaut was brought in swollen, and decomposed rapidly, the true diagnosis of death by the poison-wind.” Khanikoff is very distinct as to the immediate fatality of the desert wind at Khabis, near Kermán, but does not speak of the effect on the body after death. This Major St. John does, describing a case that occurred in June, 1871, when he was halting, during intense heat, at the post-house of Pasangan, a few miles south of Kom. The bodies were brought in of two poor men, who had tried to start some hours before sunset, and were struck down by the poisonous blast within half-a-mile of the post-house. “It was found impossible to wash them before burial. . . . Directly the limbs were touched they separated from the trunk.” (Oc. Highways, ut. sup.) About 1790, when Timúr Sháh of Kabul sent an army under the Sirdár-i-Sirdárán to put down a revolt in Meshed, this force on its return was struck by Simúm in the Plain of Farrah, and the Sirdár perished, with a great number of his men. (Ferrier, H. of the Afghans, 102; J. R. G. S. XXVI. 217; Khan. Mém. 210.)

NOTE 6. — The History of Hormuz is very imperfectly known. What I have met with on the subject consists of —(1) An abstract by Teixeira of a chronicle of Hormuz, written by Thurán Sháh, who was himself sovereign of Hormuz, and died in 1377; (2) some contemporary notices by Wassáf, which are extracted by Hammer in his History of the Ilkhans; (3) some notices from Persian sources in the 2nd Decade of De Barros (ch. ii.). The last do not go further back than Gordun Sháh, the father of Thurán Sháh, to whom they erroneously ascribe the first migration to the Island.

One of Teixeira’s Princes is called Ruknuddin Mahmud, and with him Marsden and Pauthier have identified Polo’s Ruomedam Acomet, or as he is called on another occasion in the Geog. Text, Maimodi Acomet. This, however, is out of the question, for the death of Ruknuddin is assigned to A.H. 675 (A.D. 1277), whilst there can, I think, be no doubt that Marco’s account refers to the period of his return from China, viz. 1293 or thereabouts.

We find in Teixeira that the ruler who succeeded in 1290 was Amir Masa’úd, who obtained the Government by the murder of his brother Saifuddin Nazrat. Masa’úd was cruel and oppressive; most of the influential people withdrew to Baháuddin Ayaz, whom Saifuddin had made Wazir of Kalhát on the Arabian coast. This Wazir assembled a force and drove out Masa’úd after he had reigned three years. He fled to Kermán and died there some years afterwards.

Baháuddin, who had originally been a slave of Saifuddin Nazrat’s, succeeded in establishing his authority. But about 1300 great bodies of Turks (i.e. Tartars) issuing from Turkestan ravaged many provinces of Persia, including Kermán and Hormuz. The people, unable to bear the frequency of such visitations, retired first to the island of Kishm, and then to that of Jerún, on which last was built the city of New Hormuz, afterwards so famous. This is Teixeira’s account from Thurán Sháh, so far as we are concerned with it. As regards the transfer of the city it agrees substantially with Abulfeda’s, which we have already quoted (supra, note 1).

Hammer’s account from Wassáf is frightfully confused, chiefly I should suppose from Hammer’s own fault; for among other things he assumes that Hormuz was always on an island, and he distinguishes between the Island of Hormuz and the Island of Jerún! We gather, however, that Hormuz before the Mongol time formed a government subordinate to the Salghur Atabegs of Fars (see note 1, ch. xv.), and when the power of that Dynasty was falling, the governor Mahmúd Kalháti, established himself as Prince of Hormuz, and became the founder of a petty dynasty, being evidently identical with Teixeira’s Ruknuddin Mahmud above-named, who is represented as reigning from 1246 to 1277. In Wassáf we find, as in Teixeira, Mahmúd’s son Masa’úd killing his brother Nazrat, and Baháuddin expelling Masa’úd. It is true that Hammer’s surprising muddle makes Nazrat kill Masa’úd; however, as a few lines lower we find Masa’úd alive and Nazrat dead, we may safely venture on this correction. But we find also that Masa’úd appears as Ruknuddin Masa’úd, and that Baháuddin does not assume the princely authority himself, but proclaims that of Fakhruddin Ahmed Ben Ibrahim At–Thaibi, a personage who does not appear in Teixeira at all. A MS. history, quoted by Ouseley, does mention Fakhruddin, and ascribes to him the transfer to Jerún. Wassáf seems to allude to Baháuddin as a sort of Sea Rover, occupying the islands of Larek and Jerún, whilst Fakhruddin reigned at Hormuz. It is difficult to understand the relation between the two.

It is possible that Polo’s memory made some confusion between the names of RUKNUDDIN Masa’úd and Fakhruddin AHMED, but I incline to think the latter is his RUOMEDAN AHMED. For Teixeira tells us that Masa’úd took refuge at the court of Kermán, and Wassáf represents him as supported in his claims by the Atabeg of that province, whilst we see that Polo seems to represent Ruomedan Acomat as in hostility with that prince. To add to the imbroglio I find in a passage of Wassáf Malik Fakhruddin Ahmed at-Thaibi sent by Ghazan Khan in 1297 as ambassador to Khanbalig, staying there some years, and dying off the Coromandel coast on his return in 1305. (Elliot, iii. pp. 45–47.)

Masa’úd’s seeking help from Kermán to reinstate him is not the first case of the same kind that occurs in Teixeira’s chronicle, so there may have been some kind of colour for Marco’s representation of the Prince of Hormuz as the vassal of the Atabeg of Kermán (“l’homme de cest roy de Creman;” see Prologue, ch. xiv. note 2). M. Khanikoff denies the possibility of the existence of any royal dynasty at Hormuz at this period. That there was a dynasty of Maliks of Hormuz, however, at this period we must believe on the concurring testimony of Marco, of Wassáf, and of Thurán Sháh. There was also, it would seem, another quasi-independent principality in the Island of Kais. (Hammer’s Ilch. II. 50, 51; Teixeira, Relacion de los Reyes de Hormuz; Khan. Notice, p. 34.)

The ravages of the Tartars which drove the people of Hormuz from their city may have begun with the incursions of the Nigudaris and Karaunahs, but they probably came to a climax in the great raid in 1299 of the Chaghataian Prince Kotlogh Shah, son of Dua Khan, a part of whose bands besieged the city itself, though they are said to have been repulsed by Baháuddin Ayas.

[The Dynasty of Hormuz was founded about 1060 by a Yemen chief Mohammed Dirhem Ko, and remained subject to Kermán till 1249, when Rokn ed-din Mahmúd III. Kalháti (1242–1277) made himself independent. The immediate successors of Rokn ed-din were Saif ed-din Nazrat (1277–1290), Masa’úd (1290–1293), Bahad ed-din Ayaz Sayfin (1293–1311). Hormuz was captured by the Portuguese in 1510 and by the Persians in 1622. — H. C.]

NOTE 7. — The indications of this alternative route to Kermán are very vague, but it may probably have been that through Finn, Tárum, and the Sírján district, passing out of the plain of Hormuz by the eastern flank of the Ginao mountain. This road would pass near the hot springs at the base of the said mountain, Sarga, Khurkhu, and Ginao, which are described by Kämpfer. Being more or less sulphureous they are likely to be useful in skin-diseases: indeed, Hamilton speaks of their efficacy in these. (I. 95.) The salt-streams are numerous on this line, and dates are abundant. The bitterness of the bread was, however, more probably due to another cause, as Major Smith has kindly pointed out to me: “Throughout the mountains in the south of Persia, which are generally covered with dwarf oak, the people are in the habit of making bread of the acorns, or of the acorns mixed with wheat or barley. It is dark in colour, and very hard, bitter, and unpalatable.”

Major St. John also noticed the bitterness of the bread in Kermán, but his servants attributed it to the presence in the wheat-fields of a bitter leguminous plant, with a yellowish white flower, which the Kermánis were too lazy to separate, so that much remained in the thrashing, and imparted its bitter flavour to the grain (surely the Tare of our Lord’s Parable!).

[General Houtum–Schindler says (l.c. p. 496): “Marco Polo’s return journey was, I am inclined to think, viâ Urzú and Báft, the shortest and most direct road. The road viâ Tárum and Sírján is very seldom taken by travellers intending to go to Kermán; it is only frequented by the caravans going between Bender ‘Abbás and Bahrámábád, three stages west of Kermán. Hot springs, ‘curing itch,’ I noticed at two places on the Urzú-Báft road. There were some near Qal’ah Asgber and others near Dashtáb; they were frequented by people suffering from skin-diseases, and were highly sulphureous; the water of those near Dashtáb turned a silver ring black after two hours’ immersion. Another reason of my advocating the Urzú road is that the bitter bread spoken of by Marco Polo is only found on it, viz. at Báft and in Bardshír. In Sírján, to the west, and on the roads to the east, the bread is sweet. The bitter taste is from the Khúr, a bitter leguminous plant, which grows among the wheat, and whose grains the people are too lazy to pick out. There is not a single oak between Bender ‘Abbás and Kermán; none of the inhabitants seemed to know what an acorn was. A person at Báft, who had once gone to Kerbelá viâ Kermánsháh and Baghdád, recognised my sketch of tree and fruit immediately, having seen oak and acorn between Kermánsháh and Qasr-i-Shírín on the Baghdád road.” Major Sykes writes (ch. xxiii.): “The above description undoubtedly refers to the main winter route, which runs viâ Sírján. This is demonstrated by the fact that under the Kuh-i-Ginao, the summer station of Bandar Abbás, there is a magnificent sulphur spring, which, welling from an orifice 4 feet in diameter, forms a stream some 30 yards wide. Its temperature at the source is 113 degrees, and its therapeutic properties are highly appreciated. As to the bitterness of the bread, it is suggested in the notes that it was caused by being mixed with acorns, but, today at any rate, there are no oak forests in this part of Persia, and I would urge that it is better to accept our traveller’s statement, that it was due to the bitterness of the water.”— However, I prefer Gen. Houtum–Schindler’s theory. — H. C.]

1 It is but fair to say that scholars so eminent as Professors Sprenger and Blochmann have considered the original suggestion lawful and probable. Indeed, Mr. Blochmann says in a letter: “After studying a language for years, one acquires a natural feeling for anything unidiomatic; but I must confess I see nothing unPersian in rúdbár-i-duzd, nor in rúdbár-i-lass. . . . How common lass is, you may see from one fact, that it occurs in children’s reading-books.” We must not take Reobarles in Marco’s French as rhyming to (French) Charles; every syllable sounds. It is remarkable that Las, as the name of a small State near our Sind frontier, is said to mean, “in the language of the country,” a level plain. (J. A. S. B. VIII. 195.) It is not clear what is meant by the language of the country. The chief is a Brahui, the people are Lumri or Numri Bilúchis, who are, according to Tod, of Jat descent.

2 Sir Henry Rawlinson objects to this identification (which is the same that Dr. Karl Müller adopts), saying that Organa is more probably “Angan, formerly Argan.” To this I cannot assent. Nearchus sails 300 stadia from the mouth of Anamis to Oaracta, and on his way passes Organa. Taking 600 stadia to the degree (Dr. Müller’s value), I make it just 300 stadia from the mouth of the Hormuz creek to the eastern point of Kishm. Organa must have been either Jerún or Lárek; Angan (Hanjám of Mas’udi) is out of the question. And as a straight run must have passed quite close to Jerún, not to Larek, I find the former most probable. Nearchus next day proceeds 200 stadia along Oaracta, and anchors in sight of another island (Neptune’s) which was separated by 40 stadia from Oaracta. This was Angan; no other island answers, and for this the distances answer with singular precision.

3 Moore refers to Persian Tales.

4 This tison can be seen in the cuts from the tomb of St. Peter Martyr and the seal of Winchelsea.

5 Spere, bundles of spars, etc., dragged overboard.

Chapter xx.

Of the Wearisome and Desert Road that has Now to Be Travelled.

On departing from the city of Kerman you find the road for seven days most wearisome; and I will tell you how this is.1 The first three days you meet with no water, or next to none. And what little you do meet with is bitter green stuff, so salt that no one can drink it; and in fact if you drink a drop of it, it will set you purging ten times at least by the way. It is the same with the salt which is made from those streams; no one dares to make use of it, because of the excessive purging which it occasions. Hence it is necessary to carry water for the people to last these three days; as for the cattle, they must needs drink of the bad water I have mentioned, as there is no help for it, and their great thirst makes them do so. But it scours them to such a degree that sometimes they die of it. In all those three days you meet with no human habitation; it is all desert, and the extremity of drought. Even of wild beasts there are none, for there is nothing for them to eat.2

After those three days of desert [you arrive at a stream of fresh water running underground, but along which there are holes broken in here and there, perhaps undermined by the stream, at which you can get sight of it. It has an abundant supply, and travellers, worn with the hardships of the desert, here rest and refresh themselves and their beasts.][NOTE 3]

You then enter another desert which extends for four days; it is very much like the former except that you do see some wild asses. And at the termination of these four days of desert the kingdom of Kerman comes to an end, and you find another city which is called Cobinan.

NOTE 1. [“The present road from Kermán to Kúbenán is to Zerend about 50 miles, to the Sár i Benán 15 miles, thence to Kúbenán 30 miles — total 95 miles. Marco Polo cannot have taken the direct road to Kúbenán, as it took him seven days to reach it. As he speaks of waterless deserts, he probably took a circuitous route to the east of the mountains, viâ Kúhpáyeh and the desert lying to the north of Khabis.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. pp. 496–497.) (Cf. Major Sykes, ch. xxiii.)— H. C.]

NOTE 2. — This description of the Desert of Kermán, says Mr. Khanikoff, “is very correct. As the only place in the Desert of Lút where water is found is the dirty, salt, bitter, and green water of the rivulet called Shor-Rúd (the Salt River), we can have no doubt of the direction of Marco Polo’s route from Kermán so far.” Nevertheless I do not agree with Khanikoff that the route lay N.E. in the direction of Ambar and Kain, for a reason which will appear under the next chapter. I imagine the route to have been nearly due north from Kermán, in the direction of Tabbas or of Tún. And even such a route would, according to Khanikoff’s own map, pass the Shor-Rúd, though at a higher point.

I extract a few lines from that gentleman’s narrative: “In proportion as we got deeper into the desert, the soil became more and more arid; at daybreak I could still discover a few withered plants of Caligonum and Salsola, and not far from the same spot I saw a lark and another bird of a whitish colour, the last living things that we beheld in this dismal solitude. . . . The desert had now completely assumed the character of a land accursed, as the natives call it. Not the smallest blade of grass, no indication of animal life vivified the prospect; no sound but such as came from our own caravan broke the dreary silence of the void.” (Mém. p. 176.)

[Major P. Molesworth Sykes (Geog. Jour. X. p. 578) writes: “At Tun, I was on the northern edge of the great Dash-i-Lut (Naked Desert), which lay between us and Kerman, and which had not been traversed, in this particular portion, since the illustrious Marco Polo crossed it, in the opposite direction, when travelling from Kerman to ‘Tonocain’ viâ Cobinan.” Major Sykes (Persia, ch. iii.) seems to prove that geographers have, without sufficient grounds, divided the great desert of Persia into two regions, that to the north being termed Dasht-i-Kavir, and that further south the Dasht-i-Lut — and that Lut is the one name for the whole desert, Dash-i-Lut being almost a redundancy, and that Kavir (the arabic Kafr) is applied to every saline swamp. “This great desert stretches from a few miles out of Tehrán practically to the British frontier, a distance of about 700 miles.”— H. C.]

NOTE 3. — I can have no doubt of the genuineness of this passage from Ramusio. Indeed some such passage is necessary; otherwise why distinguish between three days of desert and four days more of desert? The underground stream was probably a subterraneous canal (called Kanát or Kárez), such as is common in Persia; often conducted from a great distance. Here it may have been a relic of abandoned cultivation. Khanikoff, on the road between Kermán and Yezd, not far west of that which I suppose Marco to be travelling, says: “At the fifteen inhabited spots marked upon the map, they have water which has been brought from a great distance, and at considerable cost, by means of subterranean galleries, to which you descend by large and deep wells. Although the water flows at some depth, its course is tracked upon the surface by a line of more abundant vegetation.” (Ib. p. 200.) Elphinstone says he has heard of such subterranean conduits 36 miles in length. (I. 398.) Polybius speaks of them: “There is no sign of water on the surface; but there are many underground channels, and these supply tanks in the desert, that are known only to the initiated. . . . At the time when the Persians got the upper hand in Asia, they used to concede to such persons as brought spring-water to places previously destitute of irrigation, the usufruct for five generations. And Taurus being rife with springs, they incurred all the expense and trouble that was needed to form these underground channels to great distances, insomuch that in these days even the people who make use of the water don’t know where the channels begin, or whence the water comes.” (X. 28.)

Chapter xxi.

Concerning the City of Cobinan and the Things that are Made There.

Cobinan is a large town.1 The people worship Mahommet. There is much Iron and Steel and Ondanique, and they make steel mirrors of great size and beauty. They also prepare both Tutia (a thing very good for the eyes) and Spodium; and I will tell you the process.

They have a vein of a certain earth which has the required quality, and this they put into a great flaming furnace, whilst over the furnace there is an iron grating. The smoke and moisture, expelled from the earth of which I speak, adhere to the iron grating, and thus form Tutia, whilst the slag that is left after burning is the Spodium.[NOTE 2]

NOTE 1. — KUH-BANÁN is mentioned by Mokaddasi (A.D. 985) as one of the cities of Bardesír, the most northerly of the five circles into which he divides Kermán. (See Sprenger, Post — und Reise-routen des Orients, p. 77.) It is the subject of an article in the Geog. Dictionary of Yákút, though it has been there mistranscribed into Kubiyán and Kukiyán. (See Leipzig ed. 1869, iv. p. 316, and Barbier de Meynard, Dict. de la Perse, p. 498.) And it is also indicated by Mr. Abbott (J. R. G. S. XXV. 25) as the name of a district of Kermán, lying some distance to the east of his route when somewhat less than half-way between Yezd and Kermán. It would thus, I apprehend, be on or near the route between Kermán and Tabbas; one which I believe has been traced by no modern traveller. We may be certain that there is now no place at Kuh–Banán deserving the title of une cité grant, nor is it easy to believe that there was in Polo’s time; he applies such terms too profusely. The meaning of the name is perhaps “Hill of the Terebinths, or Wild Pistachioes,” “a tree which grows abundantly in the recesses of bleak, stony, and desert mountains, e.g. about Shamákhi, about Shiraz, and in the deserts of Luristan and Lar.” (Kämpfer, 409, 413.)

[“It is strange that Marco Polo speaks of Kúbenán only on his return journey from Kermán; on the down journey he must have been told that Kúbenán was in close proximity; it is even probable that he passed there, as Persian travellers of those times, when going from Kermán to Yazd, and vice versá, always called at Kúbenán.” (Houtum–Schindler, l.c. p. 490.) In all histories this name is written Kúbenán, not Kúhbenán; the pronunciation today is Kóbenán and Kobenún. — H. C.]

I had thought my identification of Cobinan original, but a communication from Mr. Abbott, and the opportunity which this procured me of seeing his MS. Report already referred to, showed that he had anticipated me many years ago. The following is an extract: “Districts of Kerman * * * Kooh Benan. This is a hilly district abounding in fruits, such as grapes, peaches, pomegranates, sinjid (sweet-willow), walnuts, melons. A great deal of madder and some asafoetida is produced there. This is no doubt the country alluded to by Marco Polo, under the name of Cobinam, as producing iron, brass, and tutty, and which is still said to produce iron, copper, and tootea.” There appear to be lead mines also in the district, as well as asbestos and sulphur. Mr. Abbott adds the names of nine villages, which he was not able to verify by comparison. These are Púz, Tarz, Gújard, Aspaj, Kuh-i-Gabr, Dahnah, Búghín, Bassab, Radk. The position of Kuh Banán is stated to lie between Bahabád (a place also mentioned by Yákút as producing Tutia) and Ráví, but this does not help us, and for approximate position we can only fall back on the note in Mr. Abbott’s field-book, as published in the J. R. G. S., viz. that the District lay in the mountains E.S.E. from a caravanserai 10 miles S.E. of Gudran. To get the seven marches of Polo’s Itinerary we must carry the Town of Kuh Banán as far north as this indication can possibly admit, for Abbott made only five and a half marches from the spot where this observation was made to Kermán. Perhaps Polo’s route deviated for the sake of the fresh water. That a district, such as Mr. Abbott’s Report speaks of, should lie unnoticed, in a tract which our maps represent as part of the Great Desert, shows again how very defective our geography of Persia still is.

[“During the next stage to Darband, we passed ruins that I believe to be those of Marco Polo’s ‘Cobinan’ as the modern Kúhbenán does not at all fit in with the great traveller’s description, and it is just as well to remember that in the East the caravan routes seldom change.” (Captain P. M. Sykes, Geog. Jour. X. p. 580. — See Persia, ch. xxiii.)

Kuh Banán has been visited by Mr. E. Stack, of the Indian Civil Service. (Six Months in Persia, London, 1882, I. 230.)— H. C.]

NOTE 2. — Tutty (i.e. Tutia) is in modern English an impure oxide of zinc, collected from the flues where brass is made; and this appears to be precisely what Polo describes, unless it be that in his account the production of tutia from an ore of zinc is represented as the object and not an accident of the process. What he says reads almost like a condensed translation of Galen’s account of Pompholyx and Spodos: “Pompholyx is produced in copper-smelting as Cadmia is; and it is also produced from Cadmia (carbonate of zinc) when put in the furnace, as is done (for instance) in Cyprus. The master of the works there, having no copper ready for smelting, ordered some pompholyx to be prepared from cadmia in my presence. Small pieces of cadmia were thrown into the fire in front of the copper-blast. The furnace top was covered, with no vent at the crown, and intercepted the soot of the roasted cadmia. This, when collected, constitutes Pompholyx, whilst that which falls on the hearth is called Spodos, a great deal of which is got in copper-smelting.” Pompholyx, he adds, is an ingredient in salves for eye discharges and pustules. (Galen, De Simpl. Medic., p. ix. in Latin ed., Venice, 1576.) Matthioli, after quoting this, says that Pompholyx was commonly known in the laboratories by the Arabic name of Tutia. I see that pure oxide of zinc is stated to form in modern practice a valuable eye-ointment.

Teixeira speaks of tutia as found only in Kermán, in a range of mountains twelve parasangs from the capital. The ore got here was kneaded with water, and set to bake in crucibles in a potter’s kiln. When well baked, the crucibles were lifted and emptied, and the tutia carried in boxes to Hormuz for sale. This corresponds with a modern account in Milburne, which says that the tutia imported to India from the Gulf is made from an argillaceous ore of zinc, which is moulded into tubular cakes, and baked to a moderate hardness. The accurate Garcia da Horta is wrong for once in saying that the tutia of Kermán is no mineral, but the ash of a certain tree called Goan.

(Matth. on Dioscorides, Ven. 1565, pp. 1338–40; Teixeira, Relacion de Persia, p. 121; Milburne’s Or. Commerce, I. 139; Garcia, f. 21 v.; Eng. Cyc., art. Zinc.)

[General A. Houtum–Schindler (Jour. R. As. Soc. N.S. XIII. October, 1881, p. 497) says: “The name Tútíá for collyrium is now not used in Kermán. Tútíá, when the name stands alone, is sulphate of copper, which in other parts of Persia is known as Kát-i-Kebúd; Tútíá-i-sabz (green Tútíá) is sulphate of iron, also called Záj-i-síyah. A piece of Tútíá-i-zard (yellow Tútíá) shown to me was alum, generally called Záj-i-safíd; and a piece of Tútíá-í-safíd (white Tútíá) seemed to be an argillaceous zinc ore. Either of these may have been the earth mentioned by Marco Polo as being put into the furnace. The lampblack used as collyrium is always called Surmah. This at Kermán itself is the soot produced by the flame of wicks, steeped in castor oil or goat’s fat, upon earthenware saucers. In the high mountainous districts of the province, Kúbenán, Páríz, and others, Surmah is the soot of the Gavan plant (Garcia’s goan). This plant, a species of Astragalus, is on those mountains very fat and succulent; from it also exudes the Tragacanth gum. The soot is used dry as an eye-powder, or, mixed with tallow, as an eye-salve. It is occasionally collected on iron gratings.

“Tútíá is the Arabicised word dúdhá, Persian for smokes.

“The Shems-ul-loghát calls Tútíá a medicine for eyes, and a stone used for the fabrication of Surmah. The Tohfeh says Tútíá is of three kinds — yellow and blue mineral Tútíá, Tútíá-i-qalam (collyrium) made from roots, and Tútíá resulting from the process of smelting copper ore. ‘The best Tútíá-i-qalam comes from Kermán.’ It adds, ‘Some authors say Surmah is sulphuret of antimony, others say it is a composition of iron’; I should say any black composition used for the eyes is Surmah, be it lampblack, antimony, iron, or a mixture of all.

“Teixeira’s Tútíá was an impure oxide of zinc, perhaps the above-mentioned Tútíá-i-safíd, baked into cakes; it was probably the East India Company’s Lapis Tútíá, also called Tutty. The Company’s Tutenague and Tutenage, occasionally confounded with Tutty, was the so-called ‘Chinese Copper,’ an alloy of copper, zinc, and iron, brought from China.”

Major Sykes (ch. xxiii.) writes: “I translated Marco’s description of tutia (which is also the modern Persian name), to a khán of Kubenán, and he assured me that the process was the same today; spodium he knew nothing about, but the sulphate of zinc is found in the hills to the east of Kubenán.”

Heyd (Com. II. p. 675) says in a note: “Il résulte de l’ensemble de ce passage que les matières désignées par Marco Polo sous le nom de ‘espodie’ (spodium) étaient des scories métalliques; en général, le mot spodium désigne les résidus de la combustion des matières végétales ou des os (de l’ivoire).”— H. C.]

Chapter xxii.

Of a Certain Desert that Continues for Eight Days’ Journey.

When you depart from this City of Cobinan, you find yourself again in a Desert of surpassing aridity, which lasts for some eight days; here are neither fruits nor trees to be seen, and what water there is is bitter and bad, so that you have to carry both food and water. The cattle must needs drink the bad water, will they nill they, because of their great thirst. At the end of those eight days you arrive at a Province which is called TONOCAIN. It has a good many towns and villages, and forms the extremity of Persia towards the North.1 It also contains an immense plain on which is found the ARBRE SOL, which we Christians call the Arbre Sec; and I will tell you what it is like. It is a tall and thick tree, having the bark on one side green and the other white; and it produces a rough husk like that of a chestnut, but without anything in it. The wood is yellow like box, and very strong, and there are no other trees near it nor within a hundred miles of it, except on one side, where you find trees within about ten miles’ distance. And there, the people of the country tell you, was fought the battle between Alexander and King Darius.2

The towns and villages have great abundance of everything good, for the climate is extremely temperate, being neither very hot nor very cold. The natives all worship Mahommet, and are a very fine-looking people, especially the women, who are surpassingly beautiful.

NOTE 1. — All that region has been described as “a country divided into deserts that are salt, and deserts that are not salt.” (Vigne, I. 16.) Tonocain, as we have seen (ch. xv. note 1), is the Eastern Kuhistan of Persia, but extended by Polo, it would seem to include the whole of Persian Khorasan. No city in particular is indicated as visited by the traveller, but the view I take of the position of the Arbre Sec, as well as his route through Kuh–Banán, would lead me to suppose that he reached the Province of TUN-O-KAIN about Tabbas.

[“Marco Polo has been said to have traversed a portion of (the Dash-i-Kavir, great Salt Desert) on his supposed route from Tabbas to Damghan, about 1272; although it is more probable that he marched further to the east, and crossed the northern portion of the Dash-i-Lut, Great Sand Desert, separating Khorasan in the south-east from Kermán, and occupying a sorrowful parallelogram between the towns of Neh and Tabbas on the north, and Kermán and Yezd on the south.” (Curzon, Persia, II. pp. 248 and 251.) Lord Curzon adds in a note (p. 248): “The Tunogan of the text which was originally mistaken for Damghan, is correctly explained by Yule as Tun-o-(i.e. and) Káin.” Major Sykes writes (ch. xxiii.): “The section of the Lut has not hitherto been rediscovered, but I know that it is desert throughout, and it is practically certain that Marco ended these unpleasant experiences at Tabas, 150 miles from Kubenán. To-day the district is known as Tun-o-Tabas, Káin being independent of it.”— H. C.]

NOTE 2. — This is another subject on which a long and somewhat discursive note is inevitable.

One of the Bulletins of the Soc. de Géographie (sér. III. tom. iii. p. 187) contains a perfectly inconclusive endeavour, by M. Roux de Rochelle, to identify the Arbre Sec or Arbre Sol with a manna-bearing oak alluded to by Q. Curtius as growing in Hyrcania. There can be no doubt that the tree described is, as Marsden points out, a Chínár or Oriental Plane. Mr. Ernst Meyer, in his learned Geschichte der Botanik (Königsberg, 1854–57, IV. 123), objects that Polo’s description of the wood does not answer to that tree. But, with due allowance, compare with his whole account that which Olearius gives of the Chinar, and say if the same tree be not meant. “The trees are as tall as the pine, and have very large leaves, closely resembling those of the vine. The fruit looks like a chestnut, but has no kernel, so it is not eatable. The wood is of a very brown colour, and full of veins; the Persians employ it for doors and window-shutters, and when these are rubbed with oil they are incomparably handsomer than our walnut-wood joinery.” (I. 526.) The Chinar-wood is used in Kashmir for gunstocks.

The whole tenor of the passage seems to imply that some eminent individual Chinar is meant. The appellations given to it vary in the different texts. In the G. T. it is styled in this passage, “The Arbre Seule which the Christians call the Arbre Sec,” whilst in ch. cci. of the same (infra, Bk. IV. ch. v.) it is called “L’Arbre Sol, which in the Book of Alexander is called L’Arbre Seche” Pauthier has here “L’Arbre Solque, que nous appelons L’Arbre Sec,” and in the later passage “L’Arbre Soul, que le Livre Alexandre apelle Arbre Sec;” whilst Ramusio has here “L’Albero del Sole che si chiama per i Cristiani L’Albor Secco,” and does not contain the later passage. So also I think all the old Latin and French printed texts, which are more or less based on Pipino’s version, have “The Tree of the Sun, which the Latins call the Dry Tree.”

[G. Capus says (A travers le roy. de Tamerlan, p. 296) that he found at Khodjakent, the remains of an enormous plane-tree or Chinar, which measured no less than 48 metres (52 yards) in circumference at the base, and 9 metres diameter inside the rotten trunk; a dozen tourists from Tashkent one day feasted inside, and were all at ease. — H. C.]

Pauthier, building as usual on the reading of his own text (Solque), endeavours to show that this odd word represents Thoulk, the Arabic name of a tree to which Forskal gave the title of Ficus Vasta, and this Ficus Vasta he will have to be the same as the Chinar. Ficus Vasta would be a strange name surely to give to a Plane-tree, but Forskal may be acquitted of such an eccentricity. The Tholak (for that seems to be the proper vocalisation) is a tree of Arabia Felix, very different from the Chinar, for it is the well-known Indian Banyan, or a closely-allied species, as may be seen in Forskal’s description. The latter indeed says that the Arab botanists called it Delb, and that (or Dulb) is really a synonym for the Chinar. But De Sacy has already commented upon this supposed application of the name Delb to the Tholak as erroneous. (See Flora Aegyptiaco–Arabica, pp. cxxiv. and 179; Abdallatif, Rel. de l’Egypte, p. 80; J. R. G. S. VIII. 275; Ritter, VI. 662, 679.)

The fact is that the Solque of M. Pauthier’s text is a mere copyist’s error in the reduplication of the pronoun que. In his chief MS. which he cites as A (No. 10,260 of Bibl. Nationale, now Fr. 5631) we can even see how this might easily happen, for one line ends with Solque and the next begins with que. The true reading is, I doubt not, that which this MS. points to, and which the G. Text gives us in the second passage quoted above, viz. Arbre SOL, occurring in Ramusio as Albero del SOLE. To make this easier of acceptation I must premise two remarks: first, that Sol is “the Sun” in both Venetian and Provençal; and, secondly, that in the French of that age the prepositional sign is not necessary to the genitive. Thus, in Pauthier’s own text we find in one of the passages quoted above, “Le Livre Alexandre, i.e. Liber Alexandri;” elsewhere, “Cazan le fils Argon,” “à la mère sa femme,” “Le corps Monseigneur Saint Thomas si est en ceste Province;” in Joinville, “le commandemant Mahommet” “ceux de la Haulequa estoient logiez entour les héberges le soudanc, et establiz pour le cors le soudanc garder;” in Baudouin de Sebourc, “De l’amour Bauduin esprise et enflambée.”

Moreover it is the TREE OF THE SUN that is prominent in the legendary History of Alexander, a fact sufficient in itself to rule the reading. A character in an old English play says:—

Peregrine. Drake was a didapper to Mandevill:

Candish and Hawkins, Frobisher, all our Voyagers

Went short of Mandevil. But had he reached

To this place — here — yes, here — this wilderness,

And seen the Trees of the Sun and Moon, that speak

And told King Alexander of his death;

He then

Had left a passage ope to Travellers

That now is kept and guarded by Wild Beasts.”

(Broome’s Antipodes, in Lamb’s Specimens.)

The same trees are alluded to in an ancient Low German poem in honour of St. Anno of Cologne. Speaking of the Four Beasts of Daniel’s Vision:—

“The third beast was a Libbard;

Four Eagle’s Wings he had;

This signified the Grecian Alexander,

Who with four Hosts went forth to conquer lands

Even to the World’s End,

Known by its Golden Pillars.

In India he the Wilderness broke through

With Trees twain he there did speak,” etc.

(In Schilteri Thesaurus Antiq. Teuton. tom. i.1)

These oracular Trees of the Sun and Moon, somewhere on the confines of India, appear in all the fabulous histories of Alexander, from the Pseudo–Callisthenes downwards. Thus Alexander is made to tell the story in a letter to Aristotle: “Then came some of the towns-people and said, ‘We have to show thee something passing strange, O King, and worth thy visiting; for we can show thee trees that talk with human speech.’ So they led me to a certain park, in the midst of which were the Sun and Moon, and round about them a guard of priests of the Sun and Moon. And there stood the two trees of which they had spoken, like unto cypress trees; and round about them were trees like the myrobolans of Egypt, and with similar fruit. And I addressed the two trees that were in the midst of the park, the one which was male in the Masculine gender, and the one that was female in the Feminine gender. And the name of the Male Tree was the Sun, and of the female Tree the Moon, names which were in that language Muthu and Emausae.2 And the stems were clothed with the skins of animals; the male tree with the skins of he-beasts, and the female tree with the skins of she-beasts. . . . And at the setting of the Sun, a voice, speaking in the Indian tongue, came forth from the (Sun) Tree; and I ordered the Indians who were with me to interpret it. But they were afraid and would not,” etc. (Pseudo–Callisth. ed. Müller, III. 17.)

The story as related by Firdusi keeps very near to the Greek as just quoted, but does not use the term “Tree of the Sun.” The chapter of the Sháh Námeh containing it is entitled Dídan Sikandar dirakht-i-goyárá, “Alexander’s interview with the Speaking Tree.” (Livre des Rois, V. 229.) In the Chanson d’Alixandre of Lambert le Court and Alex. de Bernay, these trees are introduced as follows:—

“‘Signor,’ fait Alixandre, ‘je vus voel demander,

Se des merveilles d’Inde me saves rien conter.’

Cil li ont respondu: ‘Se tu vius escouter

Ja te dirons merveilles, s’es poras esprover.

La sus en ces desers pues ii Arbres trover

Qui c pies ont de haut, et de grossor sunt per.

Li Solaus et La Lune les ont fait si serer

Que sevent tous langages et entendre et parler.’”

        (Ed. 1861 (Dinan), p. 357.)

Maundevile informs us precisely where these trees are: “A 15 journeys in lengthe, goynge be the Deserts of the tother side of the Ryvere Beumare,” if one could only tell where that is!3 A mediaeval chronicler also tells us that Ogerus the Dane (temp. Caroli Magni) conquered all the parts beyond sea from Hierusalem to the Trees of the Sun. In the old Italian romance also of Guerino detto il Meschino, still a chapbook in S. Italy, the Hero (ch. lxiii.) visits the Trees of the Sun and Moon. But this is mere imitation of the Alexandrian story, and has nothing of interest. (Maundevile, pp. 297–298; Fasciculus Temporum in Germ. Script. Pistorii Nidani, II.)

It will be observed that the letter ascribed to Alexander describes the two oracular trees as resembling two cypress-trees. As such the Trees of the Sun and Moon are represented on several extant ancient medals, e.g. on two struck at Perga in Pamphylia in the time of Aurelian. And Eastern story tells us of two vast cypress-trees, sacred among the Magians, which grew in Khorasan, one at Kashmar near Turshiz, and the other at Farmad near Tuz, and which were said to have risen from shoots that Zoroaster brought from Paradise. The former of these was sacrilegiously cut down by the order of the Khalif Motawakkil, in the 9th century. The trunk was despatched to Baghdad on rollers at a vast expense, whilst the branches alone formed a load for 1300 camels. The night that the convoy reached within one stage of the palace, the Khalif was cut in pieces by his own guards. This tree was said to be 1450 years old, and to measure 33–3/4 cubits in girth. The locality of this “Arbor Sol” we see was in Khorasan, and possibly its fame may have been transferred to a representative of another species. The plane, as well as the cypress, was one of the distinctive trees of the Magian Paradise.

In the Peutingerian Tables we find in the N.E. of Asia the rubric “Hic Alexander Responsum accepit,” which looks very like an allusion to the tale of the Oracular Trees. If so, it is remarkable as a suggestion of the antiquity of the Alexandrian Legends, though the rubric may of course be an interpolation. The Trees of the Sun and Moon appear as located in India Ultima to the east of Persia, in a map which is found in MSS. (12th century) of the Floridus of Lambertus; and they are indicated more or less precisely in several maps of the succeeding centuries. (Ouseley’s Travels, I. 387; Dabistan, I. 307–308; Santarem, H. de la Cosmog. II. 189, III. 506–513, etc.)

Nothing could show better how this legend had possessed men in the Middle Ages than the fact that Vincent of Beauvais discerns an allusion to these Trees of the Sun and Moon in the blessing of Moses on Joseph (as it runs in the Vulgate), “de pomis fructuum Solis ac Lunae.” (Deut. xxxiii. 14.)

Marco has mixt up this legend of the Alexandrian Romance, on the authority, as we shall see reason to believe, of some of the recompilers of that Romance, with a famous subject of Christian Legend in that age, the ARBRE SEC or Dry Tree, one form of which is related by Maundevile and by Johan Schiltberger. “A lytille fro Ebron,” says the former, “is the Mount of Mambre, of the whyche the Valeye taketh his name. And there is a Tree of Oke that the Saracens clepen Dirpe, that is of Abraham’s Tyme, the which men clepen THE DRYE TREE.” [Schiltberger adds that the heathen call it Kurru Thereck, i.e. (Turkish) Kúrú Dirakht = Dry Tree.] “And theye seye that it hathe ben there sithe the beginnynge of the World; and was sumtyme grene and bare Leves, unto the Tyme that Oure Lord dyede on the Cros; and thanne it dryede; and so dyden alle the Trees that weren thanne in the World. And summe seyn be hire Prophecyes that a Lord, a Prynce of the West syde of the World, shalle wynnen the Lond of Promyssioun, i.e. the Holy Lond, withe Helpe of Cristene Men, and he schalle do synge a Masse under that Drye Tree, and than the Tree shall wexen grene and bere both Fruyt and Leves. And thorghe that Myracle manye Sarazines and Jewes schulle ben turned to Cristene Feithe. And, therefore, they dou gret Worschipe thereto, and kepen it fulle besyly. And alle be it so that it be drye, natheless yit he berethe great vertue,” etc.

The tradition seems to have altered with circumstances, for a traveller of nearly two centuries later (Friar Anselmo, 1509) describes the oak of Abraham at Hebron as a tree of dense and verdant foliage: “The Saracens make their devotions at it, and hold it in great veneration, for it has remained thus green from the days of Abraham until now; and they tie scraps of cloth on its branches inscribed with some of their writing, and believe that if any one were to cut a piece off that tree he would die within the year.” Indeed even before Maundevile’s time Friar Burchard (1283) had noticed that though the famous old tree was dry, another had sprung from its roots. And it still has a representative.

As long ago as the time of Constantine a fair was held under the Terebinth of Mamre, which was the object of many superstitious rites and excesses. The Emperor ordered these to be put a stop to, and a church to be erected at the spot. In the time of Arculph (end of 7th century) the dry trunk still existed under the roof of this church; just as the immortal Banyan-tree of Prág exists to this day in a subterranean temple in the Fort of Allahabad.

It is evident that the story of the Dry Tree had got a great vogue in the 13th century. In the Jus du Pelerin, a French drama of Polo’s age, the Pilgrim says:—

“S’ai puis en maint bon lieu et à maint saint esté,

S’ai esté au Sec–Arbre et dusc’à Duresté.”

And in another play of slightly earlier date (Le Jus de St. Nicolas), the King of Africa, invaded by the Christians, summons all his allies and feudatories, among whom appear the Admirals of Coine (Iconium) and Orkenie (Hyrcania), and the Amiral d’outre l’Arbre–Sec (as it were of “the Back of Beyond”) in whose country the only current coin is millstones! Friar Odoric tells us that he heard at Tabriz that the Arbor Secco existed in a mosque of that city; and Clavijo relates a confused story about it in the same locality. Of the Dürre Baum at Tauris there is also a somewhat pointless legend in a Cologne MS. of the 14th century, professing to give an account of the East. There are also some curious verses concerning a mystical Dürre Bom quoted by Fabricius from an old Low German Poem; and we may just allude to that other mystic Arbor Secco of Dante —

    —“una pianta dispogliata

Di fiori e d’altra fronda in ciascun ramo,”

though the dark symbolism in the latter case seems to have a different bearing.

(Maundevile, p. 68; Schiltberger, p. 113; Anselm. in Canisii Thesaurus, IV. 781; Pereg. Quat. p. 81; Niceph. Callist. VIII. 30; Théâtre Français au Moyen Age, pp. 97, 173; Cathay, p. 48; Clavijo, p. 90; Orient und Occident, Göttingen, 1867, vol. i.; Fabricii Vet. Test. Pseud., etc., I. 1133; Dante, Purgat. xxxii. 35.)

But why does Polo bring this Arbre Sec into connection with the Sun Tree of the Alexandrian Legend? I cannot answer this to my own entire satisfaction, but I can show that such a connection had been imagined in his time.

Paulin Paris, in a notice of MS. No. 6985. (Fonds Ancien) of the National Library, containing a version of the Chansons de Geste d’Alixandre, based upon the work of L. Le Court and Alex. de Bernay, but with additions of later date, notices amongst these latter the visit of Alexander to the Valley Perilous, where he sees a variety of wonders, among others the Arbre des Pucelles. Another tree at a great distance from the last is called the ARBRE SEC, and reveals to Alexander the secret of the fate which attends him in Babylon. (Les MSS. Français de la Bibl. du Roi, III. 105.)4 Again the English version of King Alisaundre, published in Weber’s Collection, shows clearly enough that in its French original the term Arbre Sec was applied to the Oracular Trees, though the word has been miswritten, and misunderstood by Weber. The King, as in the Greek and French passages already quoted, meeting two old churls, asks if they know of any marvel in those parts:—

“‘Ye, par ma fay,’ quoth heo,

‘A great merveille we wol telle the;

That is hennes in even way

The mountas of ten daies journey,

Thou shalt find trowes5 two:

Seyntes and holy they buth bo;

Higher than in othir countray all.

ARBESET men heom callith.’

* * * * *

‘Sire Kyng,’ quod on, ‘by myn eyghe

Either Trough is an hundrod feet hygh,

They stondith up into the skye;

That on to the Sonne, sikirlye;

That othir, we tellith the nowe,

Is sakret in the Mone vertue.’”

        (Weber, I. 277.)

Weber’s glossary gives “Arbeset = Strawberry Tree, arbous, arbousier, arbutus”; but that is nonsense.

Further, in the French Prose Romance of Alexander, which is contained in the fine volume in the British Museum known as the Shrewsbury Book (Reg. XV. e. 6), though we do not find the Arbre Sec so named, we find it described and pictorially represented. The Romance (fol. xiiii. v.) describes Alexander and his chief companions as ascending a certain mountain by 2500 steps which were attached to a golden chain. At the top they find the golden Temple of the Sun and an old man asleep within. It goes on:—

“Quant le viellart les vit si leur demanda s’ils vouloient veoir les Arbres sacrez de la Lune et du Soleil que nous annuncent les choses qui sont à avenir. Quant Alexandre ouy ce si fut rempli de mult grant ioye. Si lui respondirent, ‘Ouye sur, nous les voulons veoir.’ Et cil lui dist, ‘Se tu es nez de prince malle et de femelle il te convient entrer en celui lieu.’ Et Alexandre lui respondi, ‘Nous somes nez de compagne malle et de femelle.’ Dont se leve le viellart du lit ou il gesoit, et leur dist, ‘Hostez vos vestemens et vos chauces.’ Et Tholomeus et Antigonus et Perdiacas le suivrent. Lors comencèrent à aler parmy la forest qui estoit enclose en merveilleux labour. Illec trouvèrent les arbres semblables à loriers et oliviers. Et estoient de cent pies de haults, et decouroit d’eulz incens ypobaume6 à grant quantité. Après entrèrent plus avant en la forest, et trouvèrent une arbre durement hault qui n’avoit ne fueille ne fruit. Si seoit sur cet arbre une grant oysel qui avoit en son chief une creste qui estoit semblable au paon, et les plumes du col resplendissants come fin or. Et avoit la couleur de rose. Dont lui dist le viellart, ‘Cet oysel dont vous vous merveillez est appelés Fenis, lequel n’a nul pareil en tout le monde.’ Dont passèrent outre, et allèrent aux Arbres du Soleil et de la Lune. Et quant ils y furent venus, si leur dist le viellart, ‘Regardez en haut, et pensez en votre coeur ce que vous vouldrez demander, et ne le dites de la bouche.’ Alisandre luy demanda en quel language donnent les Arbres response aux gens. Et il lui respondit, ‘L’Arbre du Soleil commence à parler Indien.’ Dont baisa Alexandre les arbres, et comença en son ceur à penser s’il conquesteroit tout le monde et retourneroit en Macedonie atout son ost. Dont lui respondit l’Arbre du Soleil, ‘Alexandre tu seras Roy de tout le monde, mais Macedonie tu ne verras jamais,’” etc.

The appearance of the Arbre Sec in Maps of the 15th century, such as those of Andrea Bianco (1436) and Fra Mauro (1459), may be ascribed to the influence of Polo’s own work; but a more genuine evidence of the prevalence of the legend is found in the celebrated Hereford Map constructed in the 13th century by Richard de Haldingham. This, in the vicinity of India and the Terrestrial Paradise, exhibits a Tree with the rubric “Albor Balsami est Arbor Sicca.”

The legends of the Dry Tree were probably spun out of the words of the Vulgate in Ezekiel xvii. 24: “Humiliavi lignum sublime et exaltavi lignum humile; et siccavi lignum viride et frondescere feci lignum aridum.” Whether the Rue de l’Arbre Sec in Paris derives its name from the legend I know not. [The name of the street is taken from an old sign-board; some say it is derived from the gibbet placed in the vicinity, but this is more than doubtful. — H. C.]

Illustration: Commentles arbres du soleil et De la lune prophe tiserent la mort alixandre.

The actual tree to which Polo refers in the text was probably one of those so frequent in Persia, to which age, position, or accident has attached a character of sanctity, and which are styled Dirakht-i-Fazl, Trees of Excellence or Grace, and often receive titles appropriate to Holy Persons. Vows are made before them, and pieces torn from the clothes of the votaries are hung upon the branches or nailed to the trunks. To a tree of such a character, imposing in decay, Lucan compares Pompey:

    “Stat magni nominis umbra.

Qualis frugifero quercus sublimis in agro,

Exuvias veteres populi sacrataque gestans

Dona ducum * * * * *

— Quamvis primo nutet casura sub Euro,

Tot circum silvae firmo se robore tollant,

Sola tamen colitur.”

(Pharsalia, I. 135.)

The Tree of Mamre was evidently precisely one of this class; and those who have crossed the Suez Desert before railway days will remember such a Dirakht-i-Fazl, an aged mimosa, a veritable Arbre Seul (could we accept that reading), that stood just half-way across the Desert, streaming with the exuviae veteres of Mecca Pilgrims. The majority of such holy trees in Persia appear to be Plane-trees. Admiration for the beauty of this tree seems to have occasionally risen into superstitious veneration from a very old date. Herodotus relates that the Carians, after their defeat by the Persians on the Marsyas, rallied in the sacred grove of Plane-trees at Labranda. And the same historian tells how, some years later, Xerxes on his march to Greece decorated a beautiful Chinar with golden ornaments. Mr. Hamilton, in the same region, came on the remains of a giant of the species, which he thought might possibly be the very same. Pliny rises to enthusiasm in speaking of some noble Plane-trees in Lycia and elsewhere. Chardin describes one grand and sacred specimen, called King Hosain’s Chinar, and said to be more than 1000 years old, in a suburb of Ispahan, and another hung with amulets, rags, and tapers in a garden at Shiraz.7 One sacred tree mentioned by the Persian geographer Hamd Allah as distinguishing the grave of a holy man at Bostam in Khorasan (the species is not named, at least by Ouseley, from whom I borrow this) comes into striking relation with the passage in our text. The story went that it had been the staff of Mahomed; as such it had been transmitted through many generations, until it was finally deposited in the grave of Abu Abdallah Dásitáni, where it struck root and put forth branches. And it is explicitly called Dirakht-i-Khushk, i.e. literally L’ARBRE SEC.

This last legend belongs to a large class. The staff of Adam, which was created in the twilight of the approaching Sabbath, was bestowed on him in Paradise and handed down successively to Enoch and the line of Patriarchs. After the death of Joseph it was set in Jethro’s garden, and there grew untouched, till Moses came and got his rod from it. In another form of the legend it is Seth who gets a branch of the Tree of Life, and from this Moses afterwards obtains his rod of power. These Rabbinical stories seem in later times to have been developed into the Christian legends of the wood destined to form the Cross, such as they are told in the Golden Legend or by Godfrey of Viterbo, and elaborated in Calderon’s Sibila del Oriente. Indeed, as a valued friend who has consulted the latter for me suggests, probably all the Arbre Sec Legends of Christendom bore mystic reference to the Cross. In Calderon’s play the Holy Rood, seen in vision, is described as a Tree:—

    ——“cuyas hojas,

Secas mustias y marchitas,

Desnudo el tronco dejaban

Que, entre mil copas floridas

De los árboles, el solo

Sin pompa y sin bizaria

Era cadáver del prado.”

There are several Dry–Tree stories among the wonders of Buddhism; one is that of a sacred tree visited by the Chinese pilgrims to India, which had grown from the twig which Sakya, in Hindu fashion, had used as a tooth-brush; and I think there is a like story in our own country of the Glastonbury Thorn having grown from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea.

[“St Francis’ Church is a large pile, neere which, yet a little without the Citty, growes a tree which they report in their legend grew from the Saint’s Staff, which on going to sleepe he fixed in the ground, and at his waking found it had grown a large tree. They affirm that the wood of its decoction cures sundry diseases.” (Evelyn’s Diary, October, 1644.)— H. C.]

In the usual form of the mediaeval legend, Adam, drawing near his end, sends Seth to the gate of Paradise, to seek the promised Oil of Mercy. The Angel allows Seth to put his head in at the gate. Doing so (as an old English version gives it)—

            —“he saw a fair Well,

Of whom all the waters on earth cometh, as the Book us doth tell;

Over the Well stood a Tree, with bowës broad and lere

Ac it ne bare leaf ne rind, but as it for-olded were;

A nadder it had beclipt about, all naked withouten skin,

That was the Tree and the Nadder that first made Adam do sin!”

The Adder or Serpent is coiled about the denuded stem; the upper branches reach to heaven, and bear at the top a new-born wailing infant, swathed in linen, whilst (here we quote a French version)—

“Les larmes qui de lui issoient

Contreval l’Arbre en avaloient;

Adonc regarda l’enfant Seth

Tout contreval de L’ARBRE SECQ;

Les rachines qui le tenoient

Jusques en Enfer s’en aloient,

Les larmes qui de lui issirent

Jusques dedans Enfer cheïrent.”

The Angel gives Seth three kernels from the fruit of the Tree. Seth returns home and finds his father dead. He buries him in the valley of Hebron, and places the three grains under his tongue. A triple shoot springs up of Cedar, Cypress, and Pine, symbolising the three Persons of the Trinity. The three eventually unite into one stem, and this tree survives in various forms, and through various adventures in connection with the Scripture History, till it is found at the bottom of the Pool of Bethesda, to which it had imparted healing Virtue, and is taken thence to form the Cross on which Our Lord suffered.

The English version quoted above is from a MS. of the 14th century in the Bodleian, published by Dr. Morris in his collection of Legends of the Holy Rood. I have modernised the spelling of the lines quoted, without altering the words. The French citation is from a MS. in the Vienna Library, from which extracts are given by Sign. Adolfo Mussafia in his curious and learned tract (Sulla Legenda del Legno della Croce, Vienna, 1870), which gives a full account of the fundamental legend and its numerous variations. The examination of these two works, particularly Sign. Mussafia’s, gives an astonishing impression of the copiousness with which such Christian Mythology, as it may fairly be called, was diffused and multiplied. There are in the paper referred to notices of between fifty and sixty different works (not MSS. or copies of works merely) containing this legend in various European languages.

(Santarem, III. 380, II. 348; Ouseley, I. 359 seqq. and 391; Herodotus, VII. 31; Pliny, XII. 5; Chardin, VII. 410, VIII. 44 and 426; Fabricius, Vet. Test. Pseud. I. 80 seqq.; Cathay, p. 365; Beal’s Fah–Hian, 72 and 78; Pèlerins Bouddhistes, II. 292; Della Valle, II. 276–277.)

Illustration: Chinar, or Oriental Plane

He who injured the holy tree of Bostam, we are told, perished the same day: a general belief in regard to those Trees of Grace, of which we have already seen instances in regard to the sacred trees of Zoroaster and the Oak of Hebron. We find the same belief in Eastern Africa, where certain trees, regarded by the natives with superstitious reverence, which they express by driving in votive nails and suspending rags, are known to the European residents by the vulgar name of Devil Trees. Burton relates a case of the verification of the superstition in the death of an English merchant who had cut down such a tree, and of four members of his household. It is the old story which Ovid tells; and the tree which Erisichthon felled was a Dirakht-i-Fazl:

    “Vittae mediam, memoresque tabellae

Sertaque cingebant, voti argumenta potentis.”

        (Metamorph. VIII. 744.)

Though the coincidence with our text of Hamd Allah’s Dry Tree is very striking, I am not prepared to lay stress on it as an argument for the geographical determination of Marco’s Arbre Sec. His use of the title more than once to characterise the whole frontier of Khorasan can hardly have been a mere whim of his own: and possibly some explanation of that circumstance will yet be elicited from the Persian historians or geographers of the Mongol era.

Meanwhile it is in the vicinity of Bostam or Damghan that I should incline to place this landmark. If no one very cogent reason points to this, a variety of minor ones do so; such as the direction of the traveller’s journey from Kermán through Kuh Banán; the apparent vicinity of a great Ismailite fortress, as will be noticed in the next chapter; the connection twice indicated (see Prologue, ch. xviii. note 6, and Bk. IV. ch. v.) of the Arbre Sec with the headquarters of Ghazan Khan in watching the great passes, of which the principal ones debouche at Bostam, at which place also buildings erected by Ghazan still exist; and the statement that the decisive battle between Alexander and Darius was placed there by local tradition. For though no such battle took place in that region, we know that Darius was murdered near Hecatompylos. Some place this city west of Bostam, near Damghan; others east of it, about Jah Jerm; Ferrier has strongly argued for the vicinity of Bostam itself. Firdusi indeed places the final battle on the confines of Kermán, and the death of Darius within that province. But this could not have been the tradition Polo met with.

I may add that the temperate climate of Bostam is noticed in words almost identical with Polo’s by both Fraser and Ferrier.

The Chinar abounds in Khorasan (as far as any tree can be said to abound in Persia), and even in the Oases of Tun-o-Kain wherever there is water. Travellers quoted by Ritter notice Chinars of great size and age at Shahrúd, near Bostam, at Meyomid, and at Mehr, west of Sabzawar, which last are said to date from the time of Naoshirwan (7th century). There is a town to the N.W. of Meshid called Chinárán, “The Planes.” P. Della Valle, we may note, calls Tehran “la città dei platani.”

The following note by De Sacy regarding the Chinar has already been quoted by Marsden, and though it may be doubtful whether the term Arbre Sec had any relation to the idea expressed, it seems to me too interesting to be omitted: “Its sterility seems to have become proverbial among certain people of the East. For in a collection of sundry moral sentences pertaining to the Sabaeans or Christians of St. John . . . we find the following: ‘The vainglorious man is like a showy Plane Tree, rich in boughs but producing nothing, and affording no fruit to its owner.’” The same reproach of sterility is cast at the Plane by Ovid’s Walnut:—

“At postquam platanis, sterilem praebentibus umbram,

    Uberior quâvis arbore venit honos;

Nos quoque fructiferae, si nux modo ponor in illis,

    Coepimus in patulas luxuriare comas.” (Nux, 17–20.)

I conclude with another passage from Khanikoff, though put forward in special illustration of what I believe to be a mistaken reading (Arbre Seul): “Where the Chinar is of spontaneous growth, or occupies the centre of a vast and naked plain, this tree is even in our own day invested with a quite exceptional veneration, and the locality often comes to be called ‘The Place of the Solitary Tree.’” (J. R. G. S. XXIX. 345; Ferrier, 69–76; Fraser, 343; Ritter, VIII. 332, XI. 512 seqq.; Della Valle, I. 703; De Sacy’s Abdallatif, p. 81; Khanikoff, Not. p. 38.)

[See in Fr. Zarncke, Der Priester Johannes, II., in the chap. Der Baum des Seth, pp. 127–128, from MS. (14th century) from Cambridge, this curious passage (p. 128): “Tandem rogaverunt eum, ut arborem siccam, de qua multum saepe loqui audierant, liceret videre. Quibus dicebat: ‘Non est appellata arbor sicca recto nomine, sed arbor Seth, quoniam Seth, filius Adae, primi patris nostri, eam plantavit.’ Et ad arborem Seth fecit eos ducere, prohibens eos, ne arborem transmearent, sed [si?] ad patriam suam redire desiderarent. Et cum appropinquassent, de pulcritudine arboris mirati sunt; erat enim magnae immensitatis et miri decoris. Omnium enim colorum varietas inerat arbori, condensitas foliorum et fructuum diversorum; diversitas avium omnium, quae sub coelo sunt. Folia vero invicem se repercutientia dulcissimae melodiae modulamine resonabant, et aves amoenos cantus ultra quam credi potest promebant; et odor suavissimus profudit eos, ita quod paradisi amoenitate fuisse. Et cum admirantes tantam pulcritudinem aspicerent, unus sociorum aliquo eorum maior aetate, cogitans [cogitavit?] intra se, quod senior esset et, si inde rediret, cito aliquo casu mori posset. Et cum haec secum cogitasset, coepit arborem transire, et cum transisset, advocans socios, iussit eos post se ad locum amoenissimum, quem ante se videbat plenum deliciis sibi paratum [paratis?] festinare. At illi retrogressi sunt ad regem, scilicet presbiterum Iohannem. Quos donis amplis ditavit, et qui cum eo morari voluerunt libenter et honorifice detinuit. Alii vero ad patriam reversi sunt.”— In common with Marsden and Yule, I have no doubt that the Arbre Sec is the Chínár. Odoric places it at Tabriz and I have given a very lengthy dissertation on the subject in my edition of this traveller (pp. 21–29), to which I must refer the reader, to avoid increasing unnecessarily the size of the present publication. — H. C.]

1 “Daz dritte Dier was ein Lebarte

Vier arin Vederich her havite;

Der beceichnote den Criechiskin Alexanderin,

Der mit vier Herin vür aftir Landin,

Unz her die Werilt einde,

Bi guldinin Siulin bikante.

In Indea her die Wusti durchbrach,

Mit zwein Boumin her sich da gesprach,” etc.

2 It is odd how near the word Emausae comes to the E. African Mwezi; and perhaps more odd that “the elders of U-nya-Mwezi (‘the Land of the Moon’) declare that their patriarchal ancestor became after death the first Tree, and afforded shade to his children and descendants. According to the Arabs the people still perform pilgrimage to a holy tree, and believe that the penalty of sacrilege in cutting off a twig would be visited by sudden and mysterious death.” (Burton in F. R. G. S. XXIX. 167–168.)

3 “The River Buemar, in the furthest forests of India,” appears to come up in one of the versions of Alexander’s Letter to Aristotle, though I do not find it in Müller’s edition. (See Zacher’s Pseudo–Callisthenes, p. 160.) ’Tis perhaps Ab-i-Ámú!

4 It is right to notice that there may be some error in the reference of Paulin Paris; at least I could not trace the Arbre Sec in the MS. which he cites, nor in the celebrated Bodleian Alexander, which appears to contain the same version of the story. [The fact is that Paulin Paris refers to the Arbre, but without the word sec, at the top of the first column of fol. 79 recto of the MS. No. Fr. 368 (late 6985). — H. C.]

5 Trees.

6 Opobalsamum.

7 A recent traveler in China gives a perfectly similar description of sacred trees in Shansi. Many bore inscriptions in large letters. “If you pray, you will certainly be heard.”— Rev. A. Williamson, Journeys in N. China, I. 163, where there is a cut of such a tree near Taiyuanfu. (See this work, I. ch. xvi.) Mr. Williamson describes such a venerated tree, an ancient acacia, known as the Acacia of the T’ang, meaning that it existed under that Dynasty (7th to 10th century). It is renowned for its healing virtues, and every available spot on its surface was crowded with votive tablets and inscriptions. (Ib. 303.)

Chapter xxiii.

Concerning the Old Man of the Mountain.

Mulehet is a country in which the Old Man of the Mountain dwelt in former days; and the name means “Place of the Aram.” I will tell you his whole history as related by Messer Marco Polo, who heard it from several natives of that region.

The Old Man was called in their language ALOADIN. He had caused a certain valley between two mountains to be enclosed, and had turned it into a garden, the largest and most beautiful that ever was seen, filled with every variety of fruit. In it were erected pavilions and palaces the most elegant that can be imagined, all covered with gilding and exquisite painting. And there were runnels too, flowing freely with wine and milk and honey and water; and numbers of ladies and of the most beautiful damsels in the world, who could play on all manner of instruments, and sung most sweetly, and danced in a manner that it was charming to behold. For the Old Man desired to make his people believe that this was actually Paradise. So he had fashioned it after the description that Mahommet gave of his Paradise, to wit, that it should be a beautiful garden running with conduits of wine and milk and honey and water, and full of lovely women for the delectation of all its inmates. And sure enough the Saracens of those parts believed that it was Paradise!

Now no man was allowed to enter the Garden save those whom he intended to be his ASHISHIN. There was a Fortress at the entrance to the Garden, strong enough to resist all the world, and there was no other way to get in. He kept at his Court a number of the youths of the country, from 12 to 20 years of age, such as had a taste for soldiering, and to these he used to tell tales about Paradise, just as Mahommet had been wont to do, and they believed in him just as the Saracens believe in Mahommet. Then he would introduce them into his garden, some four, or six, or ten at a time, having first made them drink a certain potion which cast them into a deep sleep, and then causing them to be lifted and carried in. So when they awoke, they found themselves in the Garden.1

NOTE 1. — Says the venerable Sire de Joinville: “Le Vieil de la Montaingne ne créoit pas en Mahommet, ainçois créoit en la Loi de Haali, qui fu Oncle Mahommet.” This is a crude statement, no doubt, but it has a germ of truth. Adherents of the family of ‘Ali as the true successors of the Prophet existed from the tragical day of the death of Husain, and among these, probably owing to the secrecy with which they were compelled to hold their allegiance, there was always a tendency to all manner of strange and mystical doctrines; as in one direction to the glorification of ‘Ali as a kind of incarnation of the Divinity, a character in which his lineal representatives were held in some manner to partake; in another direction to the development of Pantheism, and release from all positive creed and precepts. Of these Aliites, eventually called Shiáhs, a chief sect, and parent of many heretical branches, were the Ismailites, who took their name, from the seventh Imam, whose return to earth they professed to expect at the end of the World. About A.D. 1090 a branch of the Ismaili stock was established by Hassan, son of Sabah, in the mountainous districts of Northern Persia; and, before their suppression by the Mongols, 170 years later, the power of the quasi-spiritual dynasty which Hassan founded had spread over the Eastern Kohistan, at least as far as Káïn. Their headquarters were at Alamút (“Eagle’s Nest”), about 32 miles north-east of Kazwin, and all over the territory which they held they established fortresses of great strength. De Sacy seems to have proved that they were called Hashíshíya or Hashíshín, from their use of the preparation of hemp called Hashísh; and thence, through their system of murder and terrorism, came the modern application of the word Assassin. The original aim of this system was perhaps that of a kind of Vehmgericht, to punish or terrify orthodox persecutors who were too strong to be faced with the sword. I have adopted in the text one of the readings of the G. Text Asciscin, as expressing the original word with the greatest accuracy that Italian spelling admits. In another author we find it as Chazisii (see Bollandists, May, vol. ii. p. xi.); Joinville calls them Assacis; whilst Nangis and others corrupt the name into Harsacidae, and what not.

The explanation of the name MULEHET as it is in Ramusio, or Mulcete as it is in the G. Text (the last expressing in Rusticiano’s Pisan tongue the strongly aspirated Mulhete), is given by the former: “This name of Mulehet is as much as to say in the Saracen tongue ‘The Abode of Heretics,’” the fact being that it does represent the Arabic term Mulhid, pl. Muláhidah, “Impii, heretici,” which is in the Persian histories (as of Rashíduddín and Wassáf) the title most commonly used to indicate this community, and which is still applied by orthodox Mahomedans to the Nosairis, Druses, and other sects of that kind, more or less kindred to the Ismaili. The writer of the Tabakat-i-Násiri calls the sectarians of Alamút Muláhidat-ul-maut, “Heretics of Death.”1 The curious reading of the G. Text which we have preserved “vaut à dire des Aram,” should be read as we have rendered it. I conceive that Marco was here unconsciously using one Oriental term to explain another. For it seems possible to explain Aram only as standing for Harám, in the sense of “wicked” or “reprobate.”

In Pauthier’s Text, instead of des aram, we find “veult dire en françois Diex Terrien,” or Terrestrial God. This may have been substituted, in the correction of the original rough dictation, from a perception that the first expression was unintelligible. The new phrase does not indeed convey the meaning of Muláhidah, but it expresses a main characteristic of the heretical doctrine. The correction was probably made by Polo himself; it is certainly of very early date. For in the romance of Bauduin de Sebourc, which I believe dates early in the 14th century, the Caliph, on witnessing the extraordinary devotion of the followers of the Old Man (see note 1, ch. xxiv.), exclaims:

“Par Mahon . . .

Vous estes Diex en terre, autre coze n’i a!” (I. p. 360.)

So also Fr. Jacopo d’Aqui in the Imago Mundi, says of the Assassins: “Dicitur iis quod sunt in Paradiso magno Dei Terreni”— expressions, no doubt, taken in both cases from Polo’s book.

Khanikoff, and before him J. R. Forster, have supposed that the name Mulehet represents Alamút. But the resemblance is much closer and more satisfactory to Mulhid or Muláhidah. Mulhet is precisely the name by which the kingdom of the Ismailites is mentioned in Armenian history, and Mulihet is already applied in the same way by Rabbi Benjamin in the 12th century, and by Rubruquis in the 13th. The Chinese narrative of Hulaku’s expedition calls it the kingdom of Mulahi. (Joinville, p. 138; J. As. sér. II., tom. xii. 285; Benj. Tudela, p. 106; Rub. p. 265; Rémusat, Nouv. Mélanges, I. 176; Gaubil, p. 128; Pauthier, pp. cxxxix.-cxli.; Mon. Hist. Patr. Scriptorum, III. 1559, Turin, 1848.) [Cf. on Mulehet, melahideh, Heretics, plural of molhid. Heretic, my note, pp. 476–482 of my ed. of Friar Odoric. — H. C.]

“Old Man of the Mountain” was the title applied by the Crusaders to the chief of that branch of the sect which was settled in the mountains north of Lebanon, being a translation of his popular Arabic title Shaikh-ul-Jibal. But according to Hammer this title properly belonged, as Polo gives it, to the Prince of Alamút, who never called himself Sultan, Malik, or Amir; and this seems probable, as his territory was known as the Balad-ul-Jibal. (See Abulf. in Büsching, V. 319.)

1 Elliot, II. 290.

Chapter xxiv.

How the Old Man Used to Train His Assassins.

When therefore they awoke, and found themselves in a place so charming, they deemed that it was Paradise in very truth. And the ladies and damsels dallied with them to their hearts’ content, so that they had what young men would have; and with their own good will they never would have quitted the place.

Now this Prince whom we call the Old One kept his Court in grand and noble style, and made those simple hill-folks about him believe firmly that he was a great Prophet. And when he wanted one of his Ashishin to send on any mission, he would cause that potion whereof I spoke to be given to one of the youths in the garden, and then had him carried into his Palace. So when the young man awoke, he found himself in the Castle, and no longer in that Paradise; whereat he was not over well pleased. He was then conducted to the Old Man’s presence, and bowed before him with great veneration as believing himself to be in the presence of a true Prophet. The Prince would then ask whence he came, and he would reply that he came from Paradise! and that it was exactly such as Mahommet had described it in the Law. This of course gave the others who stood by, and who had not been admitted, the greatest desire to enter therein.

So when the Old Man would have any Prince slain, he would say to such a youth: “Go thou and slay So and So; and when thou returnest my Angels shall bear thee into Paradise. And shouldst thou die, natheless even so will I send my Angels to carry thee back into Paradise.” So he caused them to believe; and thus there was no order of his that they would not affront any peril to execute, for the great desire they had to get back into that Paradise of his. And in this manner the Old One got his people to murder any one whom he desired to get rid of. Thus, too, the great dread that he inspired all Princes withal, made them become his tributaries in order that he might abide at peace and amity with them.1

I should also tell you that the Old Man had certain others under him, who copied his proceedings and acted exactly in the same manner. One of these was sent into the territory of Damascus, and the other into Curdistan.2

NOTE 1. — Romantic as this story is, it seems to be precisely the same that was current over all the East. It is given by Odoric at length, more briefly by a Chinese author, and again from an Arabic source by Hammer in the Mines de l’Orient.

The following is the Chinese account as rendered by Rémusat: “The soldiers of this country (Mulahi) are veritable brigands. When they see a lusty youth, they tempt him with the hope of gain, and bring him to such a point that he will be ready to kill his father or his elder brother with his own hand. After he is enlisted, they intoxicate him, and carry him in that state into a secluded retreat, where he is charmed with delicious music and beautiful women. All his desires are satisfied for several days, and then (in sleep) he is transported back to his original position. When he awakes, they ask what he has seen. He is then informed that if he will become an Assassin, he will be rewarded with the same felicity. And with the texts and prayers that they teach him they heat him to such a pitch that whatever commission be given him he will brave death without regret in order to execute it.”

The Arabic narrative is too long to extract. It is from a kind of historical romance called The Memoirs of Hakim, the date of which Hammer unfortunately omits to give. Its close coincidence in substance with Polo’s story is quite remarkable. After a detailed description of the Paradise, and the transfer into it of the aspirant under the influence of bang, on his awaking and seeing his chief enter, he says, “O chief! am I awake or am I dreaming?” To which the chief: “O such an One, take heed that thou tell not the dream to any stranger. Know that Ali thy Lord hath vouchsafed to show thee the place destined for thee in Paradise. . . . Hesitate not a moment therefore in the service of the Imam who thus deigns to intimate his contentment with thee,” and so on.

William de Nangis thus speaks of the Syrian Shaikh, who alone was known to the Crusaders, though one of their historians (Jacques de Vitry, in Bongars, I. 1062) shows knowledge that the headquarters of the sect was in Persia: “He was much dreaded far and near, by both Saracens and Christians, because he so often caused princes of both classes indifferently to be murdered by his emissaries. For he used to bring up in his palace youths belonging to his territory, and had them taught a variety of languages, and above all things to fear their Lord and obey him unto death, which would thus become to them an entrance into the joys of Paradise. And whosoever of them thus perished in carrying out his Lord’s behests was worshipped as an angel.” As an instance of the implicit obedience rendered by the Fidáwí or devoted disciples of the Shaikh, Fra Pipino and Marino Sanuto relate that when Henry Count of Champagne (titular King of Jerusalem) was on a visit to the Old Man of Syria, one day as they walked together they saw some lads in white sitting on the top of a high tower. The Shaikh, turning to the Count, asked if he had any subjects as obedient as his own? and without giving time for reply made a sign to two of the boys, who immediately leapt from the tower, and were killed on the spot. The same story is told in the Cento Novelle Antiche, as happening when the Emperor Frederic was on a visit (imaginary) to the Veglio. And it is introduced likewise as an incident in the Romance of Bauduin de Sebourc:

“Vollés veioir merveilles? dist li Rois Seignouris”

to Bauduin and his friends, and on their assenting he makes the signal to one of his men on the battlements, and in a twinkling

“Quant le vinrent en l’air salant de tel avis,

Et aussi liément, et aussi esjois,

Qu’il deust conquester mil livres de parisis!

Ains qu’il venist a tière il fut mors et fenis,

Surles roches agues desrompis corps et pis,”1 etc.

(Cathay, 153; Rémusat, Nouv. Mél. I. 178; Mines de l’Orient, III. 201 seqq.; Nangis in Duchesne, V. 332; Pipino in Muratori, IX. 705; Defrémery in J. As. sér. V. tom. v. 34 seqq.; Cent. Nov. Antiche, Firenze, 1572, p. 91; Bauduin de Sebourc, I. 359.)

The following are some of the more notable murders or attempts at murder ascribed to the Ismailite emissaries either from Syria or from Persia:—

A.D. 1092. Nizum-ul-Mulk, formerly the powerful minister of Malik Shah, Seljukian sovereign of Persia, and a little later his two sons. 1102. The Prince of Homs, in the chief Mosque of that city. 1113. Maudúd, Prince of Mosul, in the chief Mosque of Damascus. About 1114. Abul Muzafar ‘Ali, Wazir of Sanjár Shah, and Chakar Beg, grand-uncle of the latter. 1116. Ahmed Yel, Prince of Maragha, at Baghdad, in the presence of Mahomed, Sultan of Persia. 1121. The Amir Afdhal, the powerful Wazir of Egypt, at Cairo. 1126. Kasim Aksonkor, Prince of Mosul and Aleppo, in the Great Mosque at Mosul. 1127. Moyin-uddin, Wazir of Sanjár Shah of Persia. 1129. Amír Billah, Khalif of Egypt. 1131. Taj-ul Mulúk Buri, Prince of Damascus. 1134. Shams-ul-Mulúk, son of the preceding. 1135–38. The Khalif Mostarshid, the Khalif Rashíd, and Daùd, Seljukian Prince of Azerbaijan. 1149. Raymond, Count of Tripoli. 1191. Kizil Arzlan, Prince of Azerbaijan. 1192. Conrad of Montferrat, titular King of Jerusalem; a murder which King Richard has been accused of instigating. 1217. Oghulmish, Prince of Hamadán.

And in 1174 and 1176 attempts to murder the great Saladin. 1271. Attempt to murder Ala’uddin Juwaini, Governor of Baghdad, and historian of the Mongols. 1272. The attempt to murder Prince Edward of England at Acre.

In latter years the Fidáwí or Ismailite adepts appear to have let out their services simply as hired assassins. Bibars, in a letter to his court at Cairo, boasts of using them when needful. A Mahomedan author ascribes to Bibars the instigation of the attempt on Prince Edward. (Makrizi, II. 100; J. As. XI. 150.)

NOTE 2. — Hammer mentions as what he chooses to call “Grand Priors” under the Shaikh or “Grand Master” at Alamút, the chief, in Syria, one in the Kuhistan of E. Persia (Tun-o-Kain), one in Kumis (the country about Damghan and Bostam), and one in Irák; he does not speak of any in Kurdistan. Colonel Monteith, however, says, though without stating authority or particulars, “There were several divisions of them (the Assassins) scattered throughout Syria, Kurdistan (near the Lake of Wan), and Asia Minor, but all acknowledging as Imaum or High Priest the Chief residing at Alamut.” And it may be noted that Odoric, a generation after Polo, puts the Old Man at Millescorte, which looks like Malasgird, north of Lake Van, (H. des Assass. p. 104; J. R. G. S. III. 16; Cathay, p. ccxliii.)

1 This story has been transferred to Peter the Great, who is alleged to have exhibited the docility of his subjects in the same way to the King of Denmark, by ordering a Cossack to jump from the Round Tower at Copenhagen, on the summit of which they were standing.

Chapter xxv.

How the Old Man Came by His End.

Now it came to pass, in the year of Christ’s Incarnation, 1252, that Alaü, Lord of the Tartars of the Levant, heard tell of these great crimes of the Old Man, and resolved to make an end of him. So he took and sent one of his Barons with a great Army to that Castle, and they besieged it for three years, but they could not take it, so strong was it. And indeed if they had had food within it never would have been taken. But after being besieged those three years they ran short of victual, and were taken. The Old Man was put to death with all his men [and the Castle with its Garden of Paradise was levelled with the ground]. And since that time he has had no successor; and there was an end to all his villainies.1

Now let us go back to our journey.

NOTE 1. — The date in Pauthier is 1242; in the G. T. and in Ramusio 1262. Neither is right, nor certainly could Polo have meant the former.

When Mangku Kaan, after his enthronement (1251), determined at a great Kurultai or Diet, on perfecting the Mongol conquests, he entrusted his brother Kúblái with the completion of the subjugation of China and the adjacent countries, whilst his brother Hulaku received the command of the army destined for Persia and Syria. The complaints that came from the Mongol officers already in Persia determined him to commence with the reduction of the Ismailites, and Hulaku set out from Karakorum in February, 1254. He proceeded with great deliberation, and the Oxus was not crossed till January, 1256. But an army had been sent long in advance under “one of his Barons,” Kitubuka Noyan, and in 1253 it was already actively engaged in besieging the Ismailite fortresses. In 1255, during the progress of the war, ALA’UDDIN MAHOMED, the reigning Prince of the Assassins (mentioned by Polo as Alaodin), was murdered at the instigation of his son Ruknuddin Khurshah, who succeeded to the authority. A year later (November, 1256) Ruknuddin surrendered to Hulaku. [Bretschneider (Med. Res. II. p. 109) says that Alamút was taken by Hulaku, 20th December, 1256. — H. C.] The fortresses given up, all well furnished with provisions and artillery engines, were 100 in number. Two of them, however, Lembeser and Girdkuh, refused to surrender. The former fell after a year; the latter is stated to have held out for twenty years — actually, as it would seem, about fourteen, or till December, 1270. Ruknuddin was well treated by Hulaku, and despatched to the Court of the Kaan. The accounts of his death differ, but that most commonly alleged, according to Rashiduddin, is that Mangku Kaan was irritated at hearing of his approach, asking why his post-horses should be fagged to no purpose, and sent executioners to put Ruknuddin to death on the road. Alamút had been surrendered without any substantial resistance. Some survivors of the sect got hold of it again in 1275–1276, and held out for a time. The dominion was extinguished, but the sect remained, though scattered indeed and obscure. A very strange case that came before Sir Joseph Arnould in the High Court at Bombay in 1866 threw much new light on the survival of the Ismailis.

Some centuries ago a Dai or Missionary of the Ismailis, named Sadruddín, made converts from the Hindu trading classes in Upper Sind. Under the name of Khojas the sect multiplied considerably in Sind, Kach’h, and Guzerat, whence they spread to Bombay and to Zanzibar. Their numbers in Western India are now probably not less than 50,000 to 60,000. Their doctrine, or at least the books which they revere, appear to embrace a strange jumble of Hindu notions with Mahomedan practices and Shiah mysticism, but the main characteristic endures of deep reverence, if not worship, of the person of their hereditary Imám. To his presence, when he resided in Persia, numbers of pilgrims used to betake themselves, and large remittances of what we may call Ismail’s Pence were made to him. Abul Hassan, the last Imám but one of admitted lineal descent from the later Shaikhs of Alamút, and claiming (as they did) descent from the Imám Ismail and his great ancestor ‘Ali Abu Tálib, had considerable estates at Meheláti, between Kúm and Hamadán, and at one time held the Government of Kermán. His son and successor, Shah Khalilullah, was killed in a brawl at Yezd in 1818. Fatteh ‘Ali Sháh, fearing Ismailite vengeance, caused the homicide to be severely punished, and conferred gifts and honours on the young Imám, Agha Khan, including the hand of one of his own daughters. In 1840 Agha Khan, who had raised a revolt at Kermán, had to escape from Persia. He took refuge in Sind, and eventually rendered good service both to General Nott at Kandahár and to Sir C. Napier in Sind, for which he receives a pension from our Government.

For many years this genuine Heir and successor of the Viex de la Montaingne has had his headquarters at Bombay, where he devotes, or for a long time did devote, the large income that he receives from the faithful to the maintenance of a racing stable, being the chief patron and promoter of the Bombay Turf!

A schism among the Khojas, owing apparently to the desire of part of the well-to-do Bombay community to sever themselves from the peculiarities of the sect and to set up as respectable Sunnis, led in 1866 to an action in the High Court, the object of which was to exclude Agha Khan from all rights over the Khojas, and to transfer the property of the community to the charge of Orthodox Mahomedans. To the elaborate addresses of Mr. Howard and Sir Joseph Arnould, on this most singular process before an English Court, I owe the preceding particulars. The judgment was entirely in favour of the Old Man of the Mountain.

Illustration: H. H. Agha Khán Meheláti, late Representative of the Old Man of the Mountain.

“Le Seigneur Viel, que je vous ai dit si tient sa court . . . et fait à croire à cele simple gent qui li est entour que il est un grant prophete.”

[Sir Bartle Frere writes of Agha Khan in 1875: “Like his ancestor, the Old One of Marco Polo’s time, he keeps his court in grand and noble style. His sons, popularly known as ‘The Persian Princes,’ are active sportsmen, and age has not dulled the Agha’s enjoyment of horse-racing. Some of the best blood of Arabia is always to be found in his stables. He spares no expense on his racers, and no prejudice of religion or race prevents his availing himself of the science and skill of an English trainer or jockey when the races come round. If tidings of war or threatened disturbance should arise from Central Asia or Persia, the Agha is always one of the first to hear of it, and seldom fails to pay a visit to the Governor or to some old friend high in office to hear the news and offer the services of a tried sword and an experienced leader to the Government which has so long secured him a quiet refuge for his old age.” Agha Khan died in April, 1881, at the age of 81. He was succeeded by his son Agha Ali Sháh, one of the members of the Legislative Council. (See The Homeward Mail, Overland Times of India, of 14th April, 1881.)]

The Bohras of Western India are identified with the Imámí-Ismáilís in some books, and were so spoken of in the first edition of this work. This is, however, an error, originally due, it would seem, to Sir John Malcolm. The nature of their doctrine, indeed, seems to be very much alike, and the Bohras, like the Ismáilís, attach a divine character to their Mullah or chief pontiff, and make a pilgrimage to his presence once in life. But the persons so reverenced are quite different; and the Bohras recognise all the 12 Imáms of ordinary Shiahs. Their first appearance in India was early, the date which they assign being A.H. 532 (A.D. 1137–1138). Their chief seat was in Yemen, from which a large emigration to India took place on its conquest by the Turks in 1538. Ibn Batuta seems to have met with Bohras at Gandár, near Baroch, in 1342. (Voyages, IV. 58.)

A Chinese account of the expedition of Hulaku will be found in Rémusat’s Nouveaux Mélanges (I.), and in Pauthier’s Introduction. (Q. R. 115–219, esp. 213; Ilch. vol. i.; J. A. S. B. VI. 842 seqq.) [A new and complete translation has been given by Dr. E. Bretschneider, Med. Res. I. 112 seqq. — H. C.]

There is some account of the rock of Alamút and its exceedingly slender traces of occupancy, by Colonel Monteith, in J. R. G. S. III. 15, and again by Sir Justin Sheil in vol. viii. p. 431. There does not seem to be any specific authority for assigning the Paradise of the Shaikh to Alamút; and it is at least worthy of note that another of the castles of the Muláhidah, destroyed by Hulaku, was called Firdús, i.e. Paradise. In any case, I see no reason to suppose that Polo visited Alamút, which would have been quite out of the road that he is following.

It is possible that “the Castle,” to which he alludes at the beginning of next chapter, and which set him off upon this digression, was Girdkuh.1 It has not, as far as I know, been identified by modern travellers, but it stood within 10 or 12 miles of Damghan (to the west or north-west). It is probably the Tigado of Hayton, of which he thus speaks: “The Assassins had an impregnable castle called Tigado, which was furnished with all necessaries, and was so strong that it had no fear of attack on any side. Howbeit, Haloön commanded a certain captain of his that he should take 10,000 Tartars who had been left in garrison in Persia, and with them lay siege to the said castle, and not leave it till he had taken it. Wherefore the said Tartars continued besieging it for seven whole years, winter and summer, without being able to take it. At last the Assassins surrendered, from sheer want of clothing, but not of victuals or other necessaries.” So Ramusio; other copies read “27 years.” In any case it corroborates the fact that Girdkuh was said to have held out for an extraordinary length of time. If Rashiduddin is right in naming 1270 as the date of surrender, this would be quite a recent event when the Polo party passed, and draw special attention to the spot. (J. As. sér. IV. tom. xiii. 48; Ilch. I. 93, 104, 274; Q. R. p. 278; Ritter, VIII. 336.) A note which I have from Djihan Numa (I. 259) connects Girdkuh with a district called Chinar. This may be a clue to the term Arbre Sec; but there are difficulties.

1 [Ghirdkuh means “round mountain”; it was in the district of Kumis, three parasangs west of Damghan. Under the year 1257, the Yüan shi mentions the taking of the fortress of Ghi-rh-du-kie by K’ie-di-bu-hua. (Bretschneider, Med. Res. I. p. 122; II. 110.)— H. C.]

Chapter xxvi.

Concerning the City of Sapurgan.

On leaving the Castle, you ride over fine plains and beautiful valleys, and pretty hill-sides producing excellent grass pasture, and abundance of fruits, and all other products. Armies are glad to take up their quarters here on account of the plenty that exists. This kind of country extends for six days’ journey, with a goodly number of towns and villages, in which the people are worshippers of Mahommet. Sometimes also you meet with a tract of desert extending for 50 or 60 miles, or somewhat less, and in these deserts you find no water, but have to carry it along with you. The beasts do without drink until you have got across the desert tract and come to watering places.

So after travelling for six days as I have told you, you come to a city called SAPURGAN. It has great plenty of everything, but especially of the very best melons in the world. They preserve them by paring them round and round into strips, and drying them in the sun. When dry they are sweeter than honey, and are carried off for sale all over the country. There is also abundance of game here, both of birds and beasts.1

NOTE 1. — SAPURGAN may closely express the pronunciation of the name of the city which the old Arabic writers call Sabúrkán and Shabúrkán, now called Shibrgán, lying some 90 miles west of Balkh; containing now some 12,000 inhabitants, and situated in a plain still richly cultivated, though on the verge of the desert.1 But I have seen no satisfactory solution of the difficulties as to the time assigned. This in the G. T. and in Ramusio is clearly six days. The point of departure is indeed uncertain, but even if we were to place that at Sharakhs on the extreme verge of cultivated Khorasan, which would be quite inconsistent with other data, it would have taken the travellers something like double the time to reach Shíbrgán. Where I have followed the G. T. in its reading “quant l’en a chevauchés six jornée tel che je vos ai contés, adunc treuve l’en une cité,” etc., Pauthier’s text has “Et quant l’en a chevauchié les vi cités, si treuve l’en une cité qui a nom Sapurgan,” and to this that editor adheres. But I suspect that cités is a mere lapsus for journées as in the reading in one of his three MSS. What could be meant by “chevauchier les vi cités”?

Whether the true route be, as I suppose, by Nishapúr and Meshid, or, as Khanikoff supposes, by Herat and Badghis, it is strange that no one of those famous cities is mentioned. And we feel constrained to assume that something has been misunderstood in the dictation, or has dropt out of it. As a probable conjecture I should apply the six days to the extent of pleasing country described in the first lines of the chapter, and identify it with the tract between Sabzawur and the cessation of fertile country beyond Meshid. The distance would agree well, and a comparison with Fraser or Ferrier will show that even now the description, allowing for the compression of an old recollection, would be well founded; e.g. on the first march beyond Nishapúr: “Fine villages, with plentiful gardens full of trees, that bear fruit of the highest flavour, may be seen all along the foot of the hills, and in the little recesses formed by the ravines whence issues the water that irrigates them. It was a rich and pleasing scene, and out of question by far the most populous and cultivated tract that I had seen in Persia. . . . Next morning we quitted Derrood . . . by a very indifferent but interesting road, the glen being finely wooded with walnut, mulberry, poplar, and willow-trees, and fruit-tree gardens rising one above the other upon the mountain-side, watered by little rills. . . . These gardens extended for several miles up the glen; beyond them the bank of the stream continued to be fringed with white sycamore, willow, ash, mulberry, poplar, and woods that love a moist situation,” and so on, describing a style of scenery not common in Persia, and expressing diffusely (as it seems to me) the same picture as Polo’s two lines. In the valley of Nishapúr, again (we quote Arthur Conolly): “‘This is Persia!’ was the vain exclamation of those who were alive to the beauty of the scene; ‘this is Persia!’ Bah! Bah! What grass, what grain, what water! Bah! Bah!

[‘If there be a Paradise on the face of the Earth,

    This is it! This is it! This is it!’"]—(I. 209.)

(See Fraser, 405, 432–433, 434, 436.)

With reference to the dried melons of Shibrgán, Quatremère cites a history of Herat, which speaks of them almost in Polo’s words. Ibn Batuta gives a like account of the melons of Khárizm: “The surprising thing about these melons is the way the people have of slicing them, drying them in the sun, and then packing them in baskets, just as Malaga figs are treated in our part of the world. In this state they are sent to the remotest parts of India and China. There is no dried fruit so delicious, and all the while I lived at Delhi, when the travelling dealers came in, I never missed sending for these dried strips of melon.” (Q. R. 169; I. B. III. 15.) Here, in the 14th century, we seem to recognise the Afghan dealers arriving in the cities of Hindustan with their annual camel-loads of dried fruits, just as we have seen them in our own day.

1 The oldest form of the name is Asapuragán, which Rawlinson thinks traceable to its being an ancient seat of the Asa or Asagartii. (J. R. A. S. XI. 63.)

Chapter xxvii.

Of the City of Balc.

Balc is a noble city and a great, though it was much greater in former days. But the Tartars and other nations have greatly ravaged and destroyed it. There were formerly many fine palaces and buildings of marble, and the ruins of them still remain. The people of the city tell that it was here that Alexander took to wife the daughter of Darius.

Here, you should be told, is the end of the empire of the Tartar Lord of the Levant. And this city is also the limit of Persia in the direction between east and north-east.1

Now, let us quit this city, and I will tell you of another country called DOGANA.2

When you have quitted the city of which I have been speaking, you ride some 12 days between north-east and east, without finding any human habitation, for the people have all taken refuge in fastnesses among the mountains, on account of the Banditti and armies that harassed them. There is plenty of water on the road, and abundance of game; there are lions too. You can get no provisions on the road, and must carry with you all that you require for these 12 days.3

NOTE 1. — BALKH, “the mother of cities,” suffered mercilessly from Chinghiz. Though the city had yielded without resistance, the whole population was marched by companies into the plain, on the usual Mongol pretext of counting them, and then brutally massacred. The city and its gardens were fired, and all buildings capable of defence were levelled. The province long continued to be harried by the Chaghataian inroads. Ibn Batuta, sixty years after Marco’s visit, describes the city as still in ruins, and as uninhabited: “The remains of its mosques and colleges,” he says, “are still to be seen, and the painted walls traced with azure.” It is no doubt the Vaeq (Valq) of Clavijo, “very large, and surrounded by a broad earthen wall, thirty paces across, but breached in many parts.” He describes a large portion of the area within as sown with cotton. The account of its modern state in Burnes and Ferrier is much the same as Ibn Batuta’s, except that they found some population; two separate towns within the walls according to the latter. Burnes estimates the circuit of the ruins at 20 miles. The bulk of the population has been moved since 1858 to Takhtapul, 8 miles east of Balkh, where the Afghan Government is placed.

(Erdmann, 404–405; I. B. III. 59; Clavijo, p. 117; Burnes, II. 204–206; Ferrier, 206–207.)

According to the legendary history of Alexander, the beautiful Roxana was the daughter of Darius, and her father in a dying interview with Alexander requested the latter to make her his wife:—

“Une fille ai mult bele; se prendre le voles.

Vus en seres de l’mont tout li mius maries,” etc.

        (Lambert Le Court, p. 256.)

NOTE 2. — The country called Dogana in the G. Text is a puzzle. In the former edition I suggested Juzgána, a name which till our author’s time was applied to a part of the adjoining territory, though not to that traversed in quitting Balkh for the east. Sir H. Rawlinson is inclined to refer the name to Dehgán, or “villager,” a term applied in Bactria, and in Kabul, to Tajik peasantry1. I may also refer to certain passages in Baber’s “Memoirs,” in which he speaks of a place, and apparently a district, called Dehánah, which seems from the context to have lain in the vicinity of the Ghori, or Aksarai River. There is still a village in the Ghori territory, called Dehánah. Though this is worth mentioning, where the true solution is so uncertain, I acknowledge the difficulty of applying it. I may add also that Baber calls the River of Ghori or Aksarai, the Dogh-ábah. (Sprenger, P. und R. Routen, p. 39 and Map; Anderson in J. A. S. B. XXII. 161; Ilch. II. 93; Baber, pp. 132, 134, 168, 200, also 146.)

NOTE 3. — Though Burnes speaks of the part of the road that we suppose necessarily to have been here followed from Balkh towards Taican, as barren and dreary, he adds that the ruins of aqueducts and houses proved that the land had at one time been peopled, though now destitute of water, and consequently of inhabitants. The country would seem to have reverted at the time of Burnes’ journey, from like causes, nearly to the state in which Marco found it after the Mongol devastations.

Lions seem to mean here the real king of beasts, and not tigers, as hereafter in the book. Tigers, though found on the S. and W. shores of the Caspian, do not seem to exist in the Oxus valley. On the other hand, Rashiduddin tells us that, when Hulaku was reviewing his army after the passage of the river, several lions were started, and two were killed. The lions are also mentioned by Sidi ‘Ali, the Turkish Admiral, further down the valley towards Hazárasp: “We were obliged to fight with the lions day and night, and no man dared to go alone for water.” Moorcroft says of the plain between Kunduz and the Oxus: “Deer, foxes, wolves, hogs, and lions are numerous, the latter resembling those in the vicinity of Hariana” (in Upper India). Wood also mentions lions in Kuláb, and at Kila’chap on the Oxus. Q. Curtius tells how Alexander killed a great lion in the country north of the Oxus towards Samarkand. [A similar story is told of Timur in The Mulfuzat Timury, translated by Major Charles Stewart, 1830 (p. 69): “During the march ‘(near Balkh)’ two lions made their appearance, one of them a male, the other a female. I (Timur) resolved to kill them myself, and having shot them both with arrows, I considered this circumstance as a lucky omen.”— H. C.] (Burnes, II. 200; Q. R. 155; Ilch. I. 90; J. As. IX. 217; Moorcroft, II. 430; Wood, ed. 1872, pp. 259,260; Q. C. VII. 2.)

1 It may be observed that the careful Elphinstone distinguishes from this general application of Dehgán or Dehkán, the name Deggán applied to a tribe “once spread over the north-east of Afghanistan, but now as a separate people only in Kunar and Laghman.”

Chapter xxviii.

Of Taican, and the Mountains of Salt. Also of the Province of Casem.

After those twelve days’ journey you come to a fortified place called TAICAN, where there is a great corn market.1 It is a fine place, and the mountains that you see towards the south are all composed of salt. People from all the countries round, to some thirty days’ journey, come to fetch this salt, which is the best in the world, and is so hard that it can only be broken with iron picks. ’Tis in such abundance that it would supply the whole world to the end of time. [Other mountains there grow almonds and pistachioes, which are exceedingly cheap.]2

When you leave this town and ride three days further between north-east and east, you meet with many fine tracts full of vines and other fruits, and with a goodly number of habitations, and everything to be had very cheap. The people are worshippers of Mahommet, and are an evil and a murderous generation, whose great delight is in the wine shop; for they have good wine (albeit it be boiled), and are great topers; in truth, they are constantly getting drunk. They wear nothing on the head but a cord some ten palms long twisted round it. They are excellent huntsmen, and take a great deal of game; in fact they wear nothing but the skins of the beasts they have taken in the chase, for they make of them both coats and shoes. Indeed, all of them are acquainted with the art of dressing skins for these purposes.3

When you have ridden those three days, you find a town called CASEM,4 which is subject to a count. His other towns and villages are on the hills, but through this town there flows a river of some size. There are a great many porcupines hereabouts, and very large ones too. When hunted with dogs, several of them will get together and huddle close, shooting their quills at the dogs, which get many a serious wound thereby.5

This town of Casem is at the head of a very great province, which is also called Casem. The people have a peculiar language. The peasants who keep cattle abide in the mountains, and have their dwellings in caves, which form fine and spacious houses for them, and are made with ease, as the hills are composed of earth.6

After leaving the town of Casem, you ride for three days without finding a single habitation, or anything to eat or drink, so that you have to carry with you everything that you require. At the end of those three days you reach a province called Badashan, about which we shall now tell you.7

NOTE 1. — The Taican of Polo is the still existing TALIKAN in the province of Kataghan or Kunduz, but it bears the former name (Tháîkán) in the old Arab geographies. Both names are used by Baber, who says it lay in the Ulugh Bágh, or Great Garden, a name perhaps acquired by the Plains of Talikan in happier days, but illustrating what Polo says of the next three days’ march. The Castle of Talikan resisted Chinghiz for seven months, and met with the usual fate (1221). [In the Travels of Sidi Ali, son of Housaïn (Jour. Asiat., October, 1826, p. 203), “Talikan, in the country of Badakhschan” is mentioned. — H. C.] Wood speaks of Talikan in 1838 as a poor place of some 300 or 400 houses, mere hovels; a recent account gives it 500 families. Market days are not usual in Upper India or Kabul, but are universal in Badakhshan and the Oxus provinces. The bazaars are only open on those days, and the people from the surrounding country then assemble to exchange goods, generally by barter. Wood chances to note: “A market was held at Talikan. . . . The thronged state of the roads leading into it soon apprised us that the day was no ordinary one.” (Abulf. in Büsching, V. 352; Sprenger, p. 50; P. de la Croix, I. 63; Baber, 38, 130; Burnes, III. 8; Wood, 156; Pandit Manphul’s Report.)

The distance of Talikan from Balkh is about 170 miles, which gives very short marches, if twelve days be the correct reading. Ramusio has two days, which is certainly wrong. XII. is easily miswritten for VII., which would be a just number.

NOTE 2. — In our day, as I learn from Pandit Manphul, the mines of rock salt are at Ak Bulák, near the Lataband Pass, and at Darúná, near the Kokcha, and these supply the whole of Badakhshan, as well as Kunduz and Chitrál. These sites are due east of Talikan, and are in Badakhshan. But there is a mine at Chál, S.E. or S.S.E. of Talikan and within the same province. There are also mines of rock-salt near the famous “stone bridge” in Kuláb, north of the Oxus, and again on the south of the Alaï steppe. (Papers by Manphul and by Faiz Baksh; also Notes by Feachenko.)

Both pistachioes and wild almonds are mentioned by Pandit Manphul; and see Wood (p. 252) on the beauty and profusion of the latter.

NOTE 3. — Wood thinks that the Tajik inhabitants of Badakhshan and the adjoining districts are substantially of the same race as the Kafir tribes of Hindu Kúsh. At the time of Polo’s visit it would seem that their conversion to Islam was imperfect. They were probably in that transition state which obtains in our own day for some of the Hill Mahomedans adjoining the Kafirs on the south side of the mountains the reproachful title of Nímchah Musulmán, or Half-and-halfs. Thus they would seem to have retained sundry Kafir characteristics; among others that love of wine which is so strong among the Kafirs. The boiling of the wine is noted by Baber (a connoisseur) as the custom of Nijrao, adjoining, if not then included in, Kafir-land; and Elphinstone implies the continuance of the custom when he speaks of the Kafirs as having wine of the consistence of jelly, and very strong. The wine of Kápishí, the Greek Kapisa, immediately south of Hindu Kúsh, was famous as early as the time of the Hindu grammarian Pánini, say three centuries B.C. The cord twisted round the head was probably also a relic of Kafir costume: “Few of the Kafirs cover the head, and when they do, it is with a narrow band or fillet of goat’s hair . . . about a yard or a yard and a half in length, wound round the head.” This style of head-dress seems to be very ancient in India, and in the Sanchi sculptures is that of the supposed Dasyas. Something very similar, i.e. a scanty turban cloth twisted into a mere cord, and wound two or three times round the head, is often seen in the Panjab to this day.

The Postín or sheepskin coat is almost universal on both sides of the Hindu Kúsh; and Wood notes: “The shoes in use resemble half-boots, made of goatskin, and mostly of home manufacture.” (Baber, 145; J. A. S. B. XXVIII. 348, 364; Elphinst. II. 384; Ind. Antiquary, I. 22; Wood, 174, 220; J. R. A. S. XIX. 2.)

NOTE 4. — Marsden was right in identifying Scassem or Casem with the Kechem of D’Anville’s Map, but wrong in confounding the latter with the Kishmabad of Elphinstone — properly, I believe, Kishnabad — in the Anderab Valley. Kashm, or Keshm, found its way into maps through Pétis de la Croix, from whom probably D’Anville adopted it; but as it was ignored by Elphinstone (or by Macartney, who constructed his map), and by Burnes, it dropped out of our geography. Indeed, Wood does not notice it except as giving name to a high hill called the Hill of Kishm, and the position even of that he omits to indicate. The frequent mention of Kishm in the histories of Timur and Humayun (e.g. P. de la Croix, I. 167; N. et E. XIV. 223, 491; Erskine’s Baber and Humayun, II. 330, 355, etc.) had enabled me to determine its position within tolerably narrow limits; but desiring to fix it definitely, application was made through Colonel Maclagan to Pandit Manphul, C.S.I., a very intelligent Hindu gentleman, who resided for some time in Badakhshan as agent of the Panjab Government, and from him arrived a special note and sketch, and afterwards a MS. copy of a Report,1 which set the position of Kishm at rest.

KISHM is the Kilissemo, i.e. Karisma or Krishma, of Hinen Tsang; and Sir H. Rawlinson has identified the Hill of Kishm with the Mount Kharesem of the Zend–Avesta, on which Jamshid placed the most sacred of all the fires. It is now a small town or large village on the right bank of the Varsach river, a tributary of the Kokcha. It was in 1866 the seat of a district ruler under the Mír of Badakhshan, who was styled the Mír of Kishm, and is the modern counterpart of Marco’s Quens or Count. The modern caravan-road between Kunduz and Badakhshan does not pass through Kishm, which is left some five miles to the right, but through the town of Mashhad, which stands on the same river. Kishm is the warmest district of Badakhshan. Its fruits are abundant, and ripen a month earlier than those at Faizabad, the capital of that country. The Varsach or Mashhad river is Marco’s “Flum auques grant.” Wood (247) calls it “the largest stream we had yet forded in Badakhshan.”

It is very notable that in Ramusio, in Pipino, and in one passage of the G. Text, the name is written Scasem, which has led some to suppose the Ish-Káshm of Wood to be meant. That place is much too far east — in fact, beyond the city which forms the subject of the next chapter. The apparent hesitation, however, between the forms Casem and Scasem suggests that the Kishm of our note may formerly have been termed S’kashm or Ish–Kashm, a form frequent in the Oxus Valley, e.g. Ish–Kimish, Ish-Káshm, Ishtrakh, Ishpingao. General Cunningham judiciously suggests (Ladak, 34) that this form is merely a vocal corruption of the initial S before a consonant, a combination which always troubles the Musulman in India, and converts every Mr. Smith or Mr. Sparks into Ismit or Ispak Sahib.

[There does not seem to me any difficulty about this note: “Shibarkhan (Afghan Turkistan), Balkh, Kunduz, Khanabad, Talikan, Kishm, Badakhshan.” I am tempted to look for Dogana at Khanabad. — H. C.]

NOTE 5. — The belief that the porcupine projected its quills at its assailants was an ancient and persistent one —“cum intendit cutem missiles,” says Pliny (VIII. 35, and see also Aelian. de Nat. An. I. 31), and is held by the Chinese as it was held by the ancients, but is universally rejected by modern zoologists. The huddling and coiling appears to be a true characteristic, for the porcupine always tries to shield its head.

NOTE 6. — The description of Kishm as a “very great” province is an example of a bad habit of Marco’s, which recurs in the next chapter. What he says of the cave-dwellings may be illustrated by Burnes’s account of the excavations at Bamian, in a neighbouring district. These “still form the residence of the greater part of the population. . . . The hills at Bamian are formed of indurated clay and pebbles, which renders this excavation a matter of little difficulty.” Similar occupied excavations are noticed by Moorcroft at Heibak and other places towards Khulm.

Curiously, Pandit Manphul says of the districts about the Kokcha: “Both their hills and plains are productive, the former being mostly composed of earth, having very little of rocky substance.”

NOTE 7. — The capital of Badakhshan is now Faizabad, on the right bank of the Kokcha, founded, according to Manphul, by Yarbeg, the first Mír of the present dynasty. When this family was displaced for a time, by Murad Beg of Kunduz, about 1829, the place was abandoned for years, but is now re-occupied. The ancient capital of Badakhshan stood in the Dasht (or Plain) of Bahárak, one of the most extensive pieces of level in Badakhshan, in which the rivers Vardoj, Zardeo, and Sarghalan unite with the Kokcha, and was apparently termed Jaúzgún. This was probably the city called Badakhshan by our traveller.2 As far as I can estimate, by the help of Wood and the map I have compiled, this will be from 100 to 110 miles distant from Talikan, and will therefore suit fairly with the six marches that Marco lays down.

Wood, in 1838, found the whole country between Talikan and Faizabad nearly as depopulated as Marco found that between Kishm and Badakhshan. The modern depopulation was due — in part, at least — to the recent oppressions and razzias of the Uzbeks of Kunduz. On their decline, between 1840 and 1850, the family of the native Mírs was reinstated, and these now rule at Faizabad, under an acknowledgment, since 1859, of Afghan supremacy.

1 Since published in J. K. G. S. vol. xlii.

2 Wilford, in the end of the 18th century, speaks of Faizabad as “the new capital of Badakhshan, built near the site of the old one.” The Chinese map (vide J. R. G. S. vol. xlii.) represents the city of Badakhshan to the east of Faizabad. Faiz Bakhsh, in an unpublished paper, mentions a tradition that the Lady Zobeidah, dear to English children, the daughter of Al–Mansúr and wife of Ar–Rashid, delighted to pass the spring at Jauzgún, and built a palace there, “the ruins of which are still visible.”

Chapter xxix.

Of the Province of Badashan.

Badashan is a Province inhabited by people who worship Mahommet, and have a peculiar language. It forms a very great kingdom, and the royalty is hereditary. All those of the royal blood are descended from King Alexander and the daughter of King Darius, who was Lord of the vast Empire of Persia. And all these kings call themselves in the Saracen tongue ZULCARNIAIN, which is as much as to say Alexander; and this out of regard for Alexander the Great.1

It is in this province that those fine and valuable gems the Balas Rubies are found. They are got in certain rocks among the mountains, and in the search for them the people dig great caves underground, just as is done by miners for silver. There is but one special mountain that produces them, and it is called SYGHINAN. The stones are dug on the king’s account, and no one else dares dig in that mountain on pain of forfeiture of life as well as goods; nor may any one carry the stones out of the kingdom. But the king amasses them all, and sends them to other kings when he has tribute to render, or when he desires to offer a friendly present; and such only as he pleases he causes to be sold. Thus he acts in order to keep the Balas at a high value; for if he were to allow everybody to dig, they would extract so many that the world would be glutted with them, and they would cease to bear any value. Hence it is that he allows so few to be taken out, and is so strict in the matter.2

There is also in the same country another mountain, in which azure is found; ’tis the finest in the world, and is got in a vein like silver. There are also other mountains which contain a great amount of silver ore, so that the country is a very rich one; but it is also (it must be said) a very cold one.3 It produces numbers of excellent horses, remarkable for their speed. They are not shod at all, although constantly used in mountainous country, and on very bad roads. [They go at a great pace even down steep descents, where other horses neither would nor could do the like. And Messer Marco was told that not long ago they possessed in that province a breed of horses from the strain of Alexander’s horse Bucephalus, all of which had from their birth a particular mark on the forehead. This breed was entirely in the hands of an uncle of the king’s; and in consequence of his refusing to let the king have any of them, the latter put him to death. The widow then, in despite, destroyed the whole breed, and it is now extinct.4]

The mountains of this country also supply Saker falcons of excellent flight, and plenty of Lanners likewise. Beasts and birds for the chase there are in great abundance. Good wheat is grown, and also barley without husk. They have no olive oil, but make oil from sesamé, and also from walnuts.5

[In the mountains there are vast numbers of sheep — 400, 500, or 600 in a single flock, and all of them wild; and though many of them are taken, they never seem to get aught the scarcer.6

Those mountains are so lofty that ’tis a hard day’s work, from morning till evening, to get to the top of them. On getting up, you find an extensive plain, with great abundance of grass and trees, and copious springs of pure water running down through rocks and ravines. In those brooks are found trout and many other fish of dainty kinds; and the air in those regions is so pure, and residence there so healthful, that when the men who dwell below in the towns, and in the valleys and plains, find themselves attacked by any kind of fever or other ailment that may hap, they lose no time in going to the hills; and after abiding there two or three days, they quite recover their health through the excellence of that air. And Messer Marco said he had proved this by experience: for when in those parts he had been ill for about a year, but as soon as he was advised to visit that mountain, he did so and got well at once.7]

Illustration: Ancient Silver Patera of debased Greek art, formerly in the possession of the Princes of Badakhshan, now in the India Museum. (Four-ninths of the diameter of the Original.)

In this kingdom there are many strait and perilous passes, so difficult to force that the people have no fear of invasion. Their towns and villages also are on lofty hills, and in very strong positions.8 They are excellent archers, and much given to the chase; indeed, most of them are dependent for clothing on the skins of beasts, for stuffs are very dear among them. The great ladies, however, are arrayed in stuffs, and I will tell you the style of their dress! They all wear drawers made of cotton cloth, and into the making of these some will put 60, 80, or even 100 ells of stuff. This they do to make themselves look large in the hips, for the men of those parts think that to be a great beauty in a woman.9

NOTE 1. —“The population of Badakhshan Proper is composed of Tajiks, Turks, and Arabs, who are all Sunnis, following the orthodox doctrines of the Mahomedan law, and speak Persian and Turki, whilst the people of the more mountainous tracts are Tajiks of the Shiá creed, having separate provincial dialects or languages of their own, the inhabitants of the principal places combining therewith a knowledge of Persian. Thus, the Shighnáni [sometimes called Shighni] is spoken in Shignán and Roshán, the Ishkáshami in Ishkásham, the Wakhi in Wakhán, the Sanglichì in Sanglich and Zebák, and the Minjáni in Minján. All these dialects materially differ from each other.” (Pand. Manphul.) It may be considered almost certain that Badakhshan Proper also had a peculiar dialect in Polo’s time. Mr. Shaw speaks of the strong resemblance to Kashmírís of the Badakhshán people whom he had seen.

The Legend of the Alexandrian pedigree of the Kings of Badakhshan is spoken of by Baber, and by earlier Eastern authors. This pedigree is, or was, claimed also by the chiefs of Karátegín, Darwáz, Roshán, Shighnán, Wakhán, Chitrál, Gilgít, Swát, and Khapolor in Bálti. Some samples of those genealogies may be seen in that strange document called “Gardiner’s Travels.”

In Badakhshan Proper the story seems now to have died out. Indeed, though Wood mentions one of the modern family of Mírs as vaunting this descent, these are in fact Sáhibzádahs of Samarkand, who were invited to the country about the middle of the 17th century, and were in no way connected with the old kings.

The traditional claims to Alexandrian descent were probably due to a genuine memory of the Graeco–Bactrian kingdom, and might have had an origin analogous to the Sultan’s claim to be “Caesar of Rome”; for the real ancestry of the oldest dynasties on the Oxus was to be sought rather among the Tochari and Ephthalites than among the Greeks whom they superseded.

The cut on p. 159 presents an interesting memorial of the real relation of Bactria to Greece, as well as of the pretence of the Badakhshan princes to Grecian descent. This silver patera was sold by the family of the Mírs, when captives, to the Minister of the Uzbek chief of Kunduz, and by him to Dr. Percival Lord in 1838. It is now in the India Museum. On the bottom is punched a word or two in Pehlvi, and there is also a word incised in Syriac or Uighúr. It is curious that a pair of paterae were acquired by Dr. Lord under the circumstances stated. The other, similar in material and form, but apparently somewhat larger, is distinctly Sassanian, representing a king spearing a lion.

Zu-‘lkarnain, “the Two–Horned,” is an Arabic epithet of Alexander, with which legends have been connected, but which probably arose from the horned portraits on his coins. [Capus, l.c. p. 121, says, “Iskandr Zoulcarneïn or Alexander le Cornu, horns being the emblem of strength.” — H. C.] The term appears in Chaucer (Troil. and Cress. III. 931) in the sense of non plus:—

“I am, till God me better minde send,

At dulcarnon, right at my wittes end.”

And it is said to have still colloquial existence in that sense in some corners of England. This use is said to have arisen from the Arabic application of the term (Bicorne) to the 47th Proposition of Euclid. (Baber, 13; N. et E. XIV. 490; N. An. des V. xxvi. 296; Burnes, III. 186 seqq.; Wood, 155, 244; J. A. S. B. XXII. 300; Ayeen Akbery, II. 185; see N. and Q. 1st Series, vol. v.)

NOTE 2. — I have adopted in the text for the name of the country that one of the several forms in the G. Text which comes nearest to the correct name, viz. Badascian. But Balacian also appears both in that and in Pauthier’s text. This represents Balakhshán, a form also sometimes used in the East. Hayton has Balaxcen, Clavijo Balaxia, the Catalan Map Baldassia. From the form Balakhsh the Balas Ruby got its name. As Ibn Batuta says: “‘The Mountains of Badakhshan have given their name to the Badakhshi Ruby, vulgarly called Al Balaksh.” Albertus Magnus says the Balagius is the female of the Carbuncle or Ruby Proper, “and some say it is his house, and hath thereby got the name, quasi Palatium Carbunculi!” The Balais or Balas Ruby is, like the Spinel, a kind inferior to the real Ruby of Ava. The author of the Masálak al Absár says the finest Balas ever seen in the Arab countries was one presented to Malek ‘Adil Ketboga, at Damascus; it was of a triangular form and weighed 50 drachms. The prices of Balasci in Europe in that age may be found in Pegolotti, but the needful problems are hard to solve.

“No sapphire in Inde, no Rubie rich of price,

There lacked than, nor Emeraud so grene,

Balès, Turkès, ne thing to my device.”

        (Chaucer, ‘Court of Love.‘)

“L’altra letizia, che m’era già nota,

Preclara cosa mi si fece in vista,

Qual fin balascio in che lo Sol percuoto.”

        (Paradiso, ix. 67.)

Some account of the Balakhsh from Oriental sources will be found in J. As. sér V. tom. xi. 109.

(I. B. III. 59, 394; Alb. Mag. de Mineralibus; Pegol. p. 307; N. et E. XIII. i. 246.)

[“The Mohammedan authors of the Mongol period mention Badakhshan several times in connection with the political and military events of that period. Guchluk, the ‘gurkhan of Karakhitai,’ was slain in Badakhshan in 1218 (d’Ohsson, I. 272). In 1221, the Mongols invaded the country (l.c. I. 272). On the same page, d’Ohsson translates a short account of Badakhshan by Yakut (+ 1229), stating that this mountainous country is famed for its precious stones, and especially rubies, called Balakhsh.” (Bretschneider, Med. Res. II. p. 66.)— H. C.]

The account of the royal monopoly in working the mines, etc., has continued accurate down to our own day. When Murad Beg of Kunduz conquered Badakhshan some forty years ago, in disgust at the small produce of the mines, he abandoned working them, and sold nearly all the population of the place into slavery! They continue still unworked, unless clandestinely. In 1866 the reigning Mír had one of them opened at the request of Pandit Manphul, but without much result.

The locality of the mines is on the right bank of the Oxus, in the district of Ish Káshm and on the borders of SHIGNAN, the Syghinan of the text. (P. Manph.; Wood, 206; N. Ann. des. V. xxvi. 300.)

[The ruby mines are really in the Gháran country, which extends along both banks of the Oxus. Barshar is one of the deserted villages; the boundary between Gháran and Shignán is the Kuguz Parin (in Shighai dialect means “holes in the rock”); the Persian equivalent is “Rafak-i-Somakh.” (Cf. Captain Trotter, Forsyth’s Mission, p. 277.)— H. C.]

NOTE 3. — The mines of Lájwurd (whence l’Azur and Lazuli) have been, like the Ruby mines, celebrated for ages. They lie in the Upper Valley of the Kokcha, called Korán, within the Tract called Yamgán, of which the popular etymology is Hamah-Kán, or “All–Mines,” and were visited by Wood in 1838. The produce now is said to be of very inferior quality, and in quantity from 30 to 60 poods (36 lbs each) annually. The best quality sells at Bokhara at 30 to 60 tillas, or 12l. to 24l. the pood (Manphúl). Surely it is ominous when a British agent writing of Badakhshan products finds it natural to express weights in Russian poods!

The Yamgán Tract also contains mines of iron, lead, alum, salammoniac, sulphur, ochre, and copper. The last are not worked. But I do not learn of any silver mines nearer than those of Paryán in the Valley of Panjshir, south of the crest of the Hindu-Kúsh, much worked in the early Middle Ages. (See Cathay, p. 595.)

NOTE 4. — The Kataghan breed of horses from Badakhshan and Kunduz has still a high reputation. They do not often reach India, as the breed is a favourite one among the Afghan chiefs, and the horses are likely to be appropriated in transit. (Lumsden, Mission to Kandahar, p. 20.)

[The Kirghiz between the Yangi Hissar River and Sirikol are the only people using the horse generally in the plough, oxen being employed in the plains, and yaks in Sirikol. (Lieutenant–Colonel Gordon, p. 222, Forsyth’s Mission.)— H. C.]

What Polo heard of the Bucephalid strain was perhaps but another form of a story told by the Chinese, many centuries earlier, when speaking of this same region. A certain cave was frequented by a wonderful stallion of supernatural origin. Hither the people yearly brought their mares, and a famous breed was derived from the foals. (Rém. N. Mél. As. I. 245.)

NOTE 5. — The huskless barley of the text is thus mentioned by Burnes in the vicinity of the Hindu-Kúsh: “They rear a barley in this elevated country which has no husk, and grows like wheat; but it is barley.” It is not properly huskless, but when ripe it bursts the husk and remains so loosely attached as to be dislodged from it by a slight shake. It is grown abundantly in Ladak and the adjoining Hill States. Moorcroft details six varieties of it cultivated there. The kind mentioned by Marco and Burnes is probably that named by Royle Hordeum Aegiceras, and which has been sent to England under the name of Tartarian Wheat, though it is a genuine barley. Naked barley is mentioned by Galen as grown in Cappadocia; and Matthioli speaks of it as grown in France in his day (middle of 16th century). It is also known to the Arabs, for they have a name for it — Sult. (Burnes, III. 205; Moorc. II. 148 seqq.; Galen, de Aliment. Facult. Lat. ed. 13; Matthioli, Ven. 1585, p. 420; Eng. Cyc., art. Hordeum.)

Sesamé is mentioned by P. Manphul as one of the products of Badakhshan; linseed is another, which is also used for oil. Walnut-trees abound, but neither he nor Wood mention the oil. We know that walnut oil is largely manufactured in Kashmir. (Moorcroft, II. 148.)

[See on Saker and Lanner Falcons (F. Sakar, Briss.; F. lanarius, Schlegel) the valuable paper by Edouard Blanc, Sur l’utilisation des Oiseaux de proie en Asie centrale in Rev. des Sciences natur. appliquées, 20th June, 1895.

“Hawking is the favourite sport of Central Asian Lords,” says G. Capus. (A travers le royaume de Tamerlan, p. 132. See pp. 132–134.)

The Mirza says (l.c. p. 157) that the mountains of Wakhán “are only noted for producing a breed of hawks or falcons which the hardy Wâkhânis manage to catch among the cliffs. These hawks are much esteemed by the chiefs of Badakhshan, Bokhara, etc. They are celebrated for their swiftness, and known by their white colour.”— H. C.]

NOTE 6. — These wild sheep are probably the kind called Kachkár, mentioned by Baber, and described by Mr. Blyth in his Monograph of Wild Sheep, under the name of Ovis Vignei. It is extensively diffused over all the ramifications of Hindu-Kúsh, and westward perhaps to the Persian Elburz. “It is gregarious,” says Wood, “congregating in herds of several hundreds.” In a later chapter Polo speaks of a wild sheep apparently different and greater. (See J. A. S. B., X. 858 seqq.)

NOTE 7. — This pleasant passage is only in Ramusio, but it would be heresy to doubt its genuine character. Marco’s recollection of the delight of convalescence in such a climate seems to lend an unusual enthusiasm and felicity to his description of the scenery. Such a region as he speaks of is probably the cool Plateau of Shewá, of which we are told as extending about 25 miles eastward from near Faizabad, and forming one of the finest pastures in Badakhshan. It contains a large lake called by the frequent name Sar-i-Kol. No European traveller in modern times (unless Mr. Gardner) has been on those glorious table-lands. Burnes says that at Kunduz both natives and foreigners spoke rapturously of the vales of Badakhshan, its rivulets, romantic scenes and glens, its fruits, flowers, and nightingales. Wood is reticent on scenery, naturally, since nearly all his journey was made in winter. When approaching Faizabad on his return from the Upper Oxus, however, he says: “On entering the beautiful lawn at the gorge of its valley I was enchanted at the quiet loveliness of the scene. Up to this time, from the day we left Talikan, we had been moving in snow; but now it had nearly vanished from the valley, and the fine sward was enamelled with crocuses, daffodils, and snowdrops.” (P. Manphul; Burnes, III. 176; Wood, 252.)

NOTE 8. — Yet scarcely any country in the world has suffered so terribly and repeatedly from invasion. “Enduring decay probably commenced with the wars of Chinghiz, for many an instance in Eastern history shows the permanent effect of such devastations. . . . Century after century saw only progress in decay. Even to our own time the progress of depopulation and deterioration has continued.” In 1759, two of the Khojas of Kashgar, escaping from the dominant Chinese, took refuge in Badakhshan; one died of his wounds, the other was treacherously slain by Sultan Shah, who then ruled the country. The holy man is said in his dying moments to have invoked curses on Badakhshan, and prayed that it might be three times depopulated; a malediction which found ample accomplishment. The misery of the country came to a climax about 1830, when the Uzbek chief of Kunduz, Murad Beg Kataghan, swept away the bulk of the inhabitants, and set them down to die in the marshy plains of Kunduz. (Cathay, p. 542; Faiz Bakhsh, etc.)

NOTE 9. — This “bombasticall dissimulation of their garments,” as the author of Anthropometamorphosis calls such a fashion, is no longer affected by the ladies of Badakhshan. But a friend in the Panjab observes that it still survives there. “There are ladies’ trousers here which might almost justify Marco’s very liberal estimate of the quantity of stuff required to make them;” and among the Afghan ladies, Dr. Bellew says, the silken trousers almost surpass crinoline in amplitude. It is curious to find the same characteristic attaching to female figures on coins of ancient kings of these regions, such as Agathocles and Pantaleon. (The last name is appropriate!)

Chapter xxx.

Of the Province of Pashai

You must know that ten days’ journey to the south of Badashan there is a Province called PASHAI, the people of which have a peculiar language, and are Idolaters, of a brown complexion. They are great adepts in sorceries and the diabolic arts. The men wear earrings and brooches of gold and silver set with stones and pearls. They are a pestilent people and a crafty; and they live upon flesh and rice. Their country is very hot.1

Now let us proceed and speak of another country which is seven days’ journey from this one towards the south-east, and the name of which is KESHIMUR.

NOTE 1. — The name of PASHAI has already occurred (see ch. xviii.) linked with DIR, as indicating a tract, apparently of very rugged and difficult character, through which the partizan leader Nigúdar passed in making an incursion from Badakhshan towards Káshmir. The difficulty here lies in the name Pashai, which points to the south-west, whilst Dir and all other indications point to the south-east. But Pashai seems to me the reading to which all texts tend, whilst it is clearly expressed in the G. T. (Pasciai), and it is contrary to all my experience of the interpretation of Marco Polo to attempt to torture the name in the way which has been common with commentators professed and occasional. But dropping this name for a moment, let us see to what the other indications do point.

In the meagre statements of this and the next chapter, interposed as they are among chapters of detail unusually ample for Polo, there is nothing to lead us to suppose that the Traveller ever personally visited the countries of which these two chapters treat. I believe we have here merely an amplification of the information already sketched of the country penetrated by the Nigudarian bands whose escapade is related in chapter xviii., information which was probably derived from a Mongol source. And these countries are in my belief both regions famous in the legends of the Northern Buddhists, viz. UDYÁNA and KÁSHMIR.

Udyána lay to the north of Pesháwar on the Swát River, but from the extent assigned to it by Hiuen Tsang, the name probably covered a large part of the whole hill-region south of the Hindu-Kúsh from Chitrál to the Indus, as indeed it is represented in the Map of Vivien de St. Martin (Pèlerins Bouddhistes, II.). It is regarded by Fahian as the most northerly Province of India, and in his time the food and clothing of the people were similar to those of Gangetic India. It was the native country of Padma Sambhava, one of the chief apostles of Lamaism, i.e. of Tibetan Buddhism, and a great master of enchantments. The doctrines of Sakya, as they prevailed in Udyána in old times, were probably strongly tinged with Sivaitic magic, and the Tibetans still regard that locality as the classic ground of sorcery and witchcraft.

Hiuen Tsang says of the inhabitants: “The men are of a soft and pusillanimous character, naturally inclined to craft and trickery. They are fond of study, but pursue it with no ardour. The science of magical formulae is become a regular professional business with them. They generally wear clothes of white cotton, and rarely use any other stuff. Their spoken language, in spite of some differences, has a strong resemblance to that of India.”

These particulars suit well with the slight description in our text, and the Indian atmosphere that it suggests; and the direction and distance ascribed to Pashai suit well with Chitral, which may be taken as representing Udyána when approached from Badakhshan. For it would be quite practicable for a party to reach the town of Chitrál in ten days from the position assigned to the old capital of Badakhshan. And from Chitrál the road towards Káshmir would lie over the high Lahori pass to DIR, which from its mention in chapter xviii. we must consider an obligatory point. (Fah-hian, p. 26; Koeppen, I. 70; Pèlerins Boud. II. 131–132.)

[“Tao-lin (a Buddhist monk like Hiuen Tsang) afterwards left the western regions and changed his road to go to Northern India; he made a pilgrimage to Kia-che-mi-louo (Káshmir), and then entered the country of U-ch’ang-na (Udyána). . . . ” (Ed. Chavannes, I-tsing, p. 105.)— H. C.]

We must now turn to the name Pashai. The Pashai Tribe are now Mahomedan, but are reckoned among the aboriginal inhabitants of the country, which the Afghans are not. Baber mentions them several times, and counts their language as one of the dozen that were spoken at Kabul in his time. Burnes says it resembles that of the Kafirs. A small vocabulary of it was published by Leech, in the seventh volume of the J. A. S. B., which I have compared with vocabularies of Siah-posh Kafir, published by Raverty in vol. xxxiii. of the same journal, and by Lumsden in his Report of the Mission to Kandahar, in 1837. Both are Aryan, and seemingly of Professor Max Müller’s class Indic, but not very close to one another.1

Ibn Batuta, after crossing the Hindu-Kúsh by one of the passes at the head of the Panjshir Valley, reaches the Mountain BASHÁI (Pashai). In the same vicinity the Pashais are mentioned by Sidi ‘Ali, in 1554. And it is still in the neighbourhood of Panjshir that the tribe is most numerous, though they have other settlements in the hill-country about Nijrao, and on the left bank of the Kabul River between Kabul and Jalalabad. Pasha and Pasha-gar is also named as one of the chief divisions of the Kafirs, and it seems a fair conjecture that it represents those of the Pashais who resisted or escaped conversion to Islam. (See Leech’s Reports in Collection pub. at Calcutta in 1839; Baber, 140; Elphinstone, I. 411; J. A. S. B. VII. 329, 731, XXVIII. 317 seqq., XXXIII. 271–272; I. B. III. 86; J. As. IX. 203, and J. R. A. S. N.S. V. 103, 278.)

The route of which Marco had heard must almost certainly have been one of those leading by the high Valley of Zebák, and by the Doráh or the Nuksán Pass, over the watershed of Hindu-Kúsh into Chitrál, and so to Dir, as already noticed. The difficulty remains as to how he came to apply the name Pashai to the country south-east of Badakhshan. I cannot tell. But it is at least possible that the name of the Pashai tribe (of which the branches even now are spread over a considerable extent of country) may have once had a wide application over the southern spurs of the Hindu-Kúsh.2 Our Author, moreover, is speaking here from hearsay, and hearsay geography without maps is much given to generalising. I apprehend that, along with characteristics specially referable to the Tibetan and Mongol traditions of Udyána, the term Pashai, as Polo uses it, vaguely covers the whole tract from the southern boundary of Badakhshan to the Indus and the Kabul River.

But even by extending its limits to Attok, we shall not get within seven marches of Káshmir. It is 234 miles by road from Attok to Srinagar; more than twice seven marches. And, according to Polo’s usual system, the marches should be counted from Chitrál, or some point thereabouts.

Sir H. Rawlinson, in his Monograph on the Oxus, has indicated the probability that the name Pashai may have been originally connected with Aprasin or Paresín, the Zendavestian name for the Indian Caucasus, and which occurs in the Babylonian version of the Behistun Inscription as the equivalent of Gaddra in the Persian, i.e. Gandhára, there applied to the whole country between Bactria and the Indus. (See J. R. G. S. XLII. 502.) Some such traditional application of the term Pashai might have survived.

1 The Kafir dialect of which Mr. Trumpp collected some particulars shows in the present tense of the substantive verb these remarkable forms:— Ei sum, Tu sis, siga se; Ima simis, Wi sik, Sige sin.

2 In the Tabakat-i-Násiri (Elliot, II. 317) we find mention of the Highlands of Pasha–Afroz, but nothing to define their position.

Chapter xxxi.

Of the Province of Keshimur.

Keshimur also is a Province inhabited by a people who are Idolaters and have a language of their own.1 They have an astonishing acquaintance with the devilries of enchantment; insomuch that they make their idols to speak. They can also by their sorceries bring on changes of weather and produce darkness, and do a number of things so extraordinary that no one without seeing them would believe them.2 Indeed, this country is the very original source from which Idolatry has spread abroad.3

In this direction you can proceed further till you come to the Sea of India.

The men are brown and lean, but the women, taking them as brunettes, are very beautiful. The food of the people is flesh, and milk, and rice. The clime is finely tempered, being neither very hot nor very cold. There are numbers of towns and villages in the country, but also forests and desert tracts, and strong passes, so that the people have no fear of anybody, and keep their independence, with a king of their own to rule and do justice.4

There are in this country Eremites (after the fashion of those parts), who dwell in seclusion and practise great abstinence in eating and drinking. They observe strict chastity, and keep from all sins forbidden in their law, so that they are regarded by their own folk as very holy persons. They live to a very great age.5

There are also a number of idolatrous abbeys and monasteries. [The people of the province do not kill animals nor spill blood; so if they want to eat meat they get the Saracens who dwell among them to play the butcher.6] The coral which is carried from our parts of the world has a better sale there than in any other country.7

Illustration: Ancient Buddhist Temple at Pandrethan in Káshmir

Now we will quit this country, and not go any further in the same direction; for if we did so we should enter India; and that I do not wish to do at present. For, on our return journey, I mean to tell you about India: all in regular order. Let us go back therefore to Badashan, for we cannot otherwise proceed on our journey.

NOTE 1. — I apprehend that in this chapter Marco represents Buddhism (which is to be understood by his expression Idolatry, not always, but usually) as in a position of greater life and prosperity than we can believe it to have enjoyed in Káshmir at the end of the 13th century, and I suppose that his knowledge of it was derived in great part from tales of the Mongol and Tibetan Buddhists about its past glories.

I know not if the spelling Kesciemur represents any peculiar Mongol pronunciation of the name. Plano Carpini, probably the first modern European to mention this celebrated region, calls it Casmir (p. 708).

“The Cashmeerians,” says Abu’l Fazl, “have a language of their own, but their books are written in the Shanskrit tongue, although the character is sometimes Cashmeerian. They write chiefly upon Tooz [birch-bark], which is the bark of a tree; it easily divides into leaves, and remains perfect for many years.” (Ayeen Akbery, II. 147.) A sketch of Kashmiri Grammar by Mr. Edgeworth will be found in vol. x. of the J. A. S. B., and a fuller one by Major Leech in vol. xiii. Other contributions on the language are in vol. xxxv. pt. i. p. 233 (Godwin–Austen); in vol. xxxix. pt. i. p. 95 (Dr. Elmslie); and in Proceedings for 1866, p. 62, seqq. (Sir G. Campbell and Bábú Rájendra Lál Mitra). The language, though in large measure of Sanskrit origin, has words and forms that cannot be traced in any other Indian vernacular. (Campbell, pp. 67, 68). The character is a modification of the Panjáb Nagari.

NOTE 2. — The Kashmirian conjurers had made a great impression on Marco, who had seen them at the Court of the Great Kaan, and he recurs in a later chapter to their weather sorceries and other enchantments, when we shall make some remarks. Meanwhile let us cite a passage from Bernier, already quoted by M. Pauthier. When crossing the Pír Panjál (the mountain crossed on entering Káshmir from Lahore) with the camp of Aurangzíb, he met with “an old Hermit who had dwelt upon the summit of the Pass since the days of Jehangir, and whose religion nobody knew, although it was said that he could work miracles, and used at his pleasure to produce extraordinary thunderstorms, as well as hail, snow, rain, and wind. There was something wild in his countenance, and in his long, spreading, and tangled hoary beard. He asked alms fiercely, allowing the travellers to drink from earthen cups that he had set out upon a great stone, but signing to them to go quickly by without stopping. He scolded those who made a noise, ‘for,’ said he to me (after I had entered his cave and smoothed him down with a half rupee which I put in his hand with all humility), ‘noise here raises furious storms. Aurangzíb has done well in taking my advice and prohibiting it. Shah Jehan always did the like. But Jehangir once chose to laugh at what I said, and made his drums and trumpets sound; the consequence was he nearly lost his life.’” (Bernier, Amst. ed. 1699, II. 290.) A successor of this hermit was found on the same spot by P. Desideri in 1713, and another by Vigne in 1837.

NOTE 3. — Though the earliest entrance of Buddhism into Tibet was from India Proper, yet Káshmir twice in the history of Tibetan Buddhism played a most important part. It was in Káshmir that was gathered, under the patronage of the great King Kanishka, soon after our era, the Fourth Buddhistic Council, which marks the point of separation between Northern and Southern Buddhism. Numerous missionaries went forth from Káshmir to spread the doctrine in Tibet and in Central Asia. Many of the Pandits who laboured at the translation of the sacred books into Tibetan were Kashmiris, and it was even in Káshmir that several of the translations were made. But these were not the only circumstances that made Káshmir a holy land to the Northern Buddhists. In the end of the 9th century the religion was extirpated in Tibet by the Julian of the Lamas, the great persecutor Langdarma, and when it was restored, a century later, it was from Káshmir in particular that fresh missionaries were procured to reinstruct the people in the forgotten Law. (See Koeppen, II. 12–13, 78; J. As. sér. VI. tom. vi. 540.)

“The spread of Buddhism to Káshmir is an event of extraordinary importance in the history of that religion. Thenceforward that country became a mistress in the Buddhist Doctrine and the headquarters of a particular school. . . . The influence of Káshmir was very marked, especially in the spread of Buddhism beyond India. From Káshmir it penetrated to Kandahar and Kabul, . . . and thence over Bactria. Tibetan Buddhism also had its essential origin from Káshmir; . . . so great is the importance of this region in the History of Buddhism.” (Vassilyev, Der Buddhismus, I. 44.)

In the account which the Mahawanso gives of the consecration of the great Tope at Ruanwelli, by Dutthagamini, King of Ceylon (B.C. 157), 280,000 priests (!) come from Káshmir, a far greater number than is assigned to any other country except one. (J. A. S. B. VII. 165.)

It is thus very intelligible how Marco learned from the Mongols and the Lamas with whom he came in contact to regard Káshmir as “the very original source from which their Religion had spread abroad.” The feeling with which they looked to Káshmir must have been nearly the same as that with which the Buddhists of Burma look to Ceylon. But this feeling towards Káshmir does not now, I am informed, exist in Tibet. The reverence for the holy places has reverted to Bahar and the neighbouring “cradle-lands” of Buddhism.

It is notable that the historian Firishta, in a passage quoted by Tod, uses Marco’s expression in reference to Káshmir, almost precisely, saying that the Hindoos derived their idolatry from Káshmir, “the foundry of magical superstition.” (Rajasthan, I. 219.)

NOTE 4. — The people of Káshmir retain their beauty, but they are morally one of the most degraded races in Asia. Long oppression, now under the Lords of Jamu as great as ever, has no doubt aggravated this. Yet it would seem that twelve hundred years ago the evil elements were there as well as the beauty. The Chinese traveller says: “Their manners are light and volatile, their characters effeminate and pusillanimous. . . . They are very handsome, but their natural bent is to fraud and trickery.” (Pèl. Boud. II. 167–168.) Vigne’s account is nearly the same. (II. 142–143.) “They are as mischievous as monkeys, and far more malicious,” says Mr. Shaw (p. 292).

[Bernier says: “The women [of Kachemire] especially are very handsome; and it is from this country that nearly every individual, when first admitted to the court of the Great Mogul, selects wives or concubines, that his children may be whiter than the Indians, and pass for genuine Moguls. Unquestionably, there must be beautiful women among the higher classes, if we may judge by those of the lower orders seen in the streets and in the shops.” (Travels in the Mogul Empire, edited by Archibald Constable, 1891, p. 404.)]

NOTE 5. — In the time of Hiuen Tsang, who spent two years studying in Káshmir in the first half of the 7th century, though there were many Brahmans in the country, Buddhism was in a flourishing state; there were 100 convents with about 5000 monks. In the end of the 11th century a King (Harshadeva, 1090–1102) is mentioned exceptionally as a protector of Buddhism. The supposition has been intimated above that Marco’s picture refers to a traditional state of things, but I must notice that a like picture is presented in the Chinese account of Hulaku’s war. One of the thirty kingdoms subdued by the Mongols was “The kingdom of Fo (Buddha) called Kishimi. It lies to the N.W. of India. There are to be seen the men who are counted the successors of Shakia; their ancient and venerable air recalls the countenance of Bodi-dharma as one sees it in pictures. They abstain from wine, and content themselves with a gill of rice for their daily food, and are occupied only in reciting the prayers and litanies of Fo.” (Rém. N. Mél. Asiat. I. 179.) Abu’l Fazl says that on his third visit with Akbar to Káshmir he discovered some old men of the religion of Buddha, but none of them were literati. The Rishis, of whom he speaks with high commendation as abstaining from meat and from female society, as charitable and unfettered by traditions, were perhaps a modified remnant of the Buddhist Eremites. Colonel Newall, in a paper on the Rishis of Káshmir, traces them to a number of Shiáh Sayads, who fled to Káshmir in the time of Timur. But evidently the genus was of much earlier date, long preceding the introduction of Islam. (Vie et V. de H. T. p. 390; Lassen, III. 709; Ayeen Akb. II. 147, III. 151; J. A. S. B. XXXIX. pt. i. 265.)

We see from the Dabistan that in the 17th century Káshmir continued to be a great resort of Magian mystics and sages of various sects, professing great abstinence and credited with preternatural powers. And indeed Vámbéry tells us that even in our own day the Kashmiri Dervishes are preeminent among their Mahomedan brethren for cunning, secret arts, skill in exorcisms, etc. (Dab. I. 113 seqq. II. 147–148; Vámb. Sk. of Cent. Asia, 9.)

NOTE 6. — The first precept of the Buddhist Decalogue, or Ten Obligations of the Religious Body, is not to take life. But animal food is not forbidden, though restricted. Indeed it is one of the circumstances in the Legendary History of Sakya Muni, which looks as if it must be true, that he is related to have aggravated his fatal illness by eating a dish of pork set before him by a hospitable goldsmith. Giorgi says the butchers in Tibet are looked on as infamous; and people selling sheep or the like will make a show of exacting an assurance that these are not to be slaughtered. In Burma, when a British party wanted beef, the owner of the bullocks would decline to make one over, but would point one out that might be shot by the foreigners.

In Tibetan history it is told of the persecutor Langdarma that he compelled members of the highest orders of the clergy to become hunters and butchers. A Chinese collection of epigrams, dating from the 9th century, gives a facetious list of Incongruous Conditions, among which we find a poor Parsi, a sick Physician, a fat Bride, a Teacher who does not know his letters, and a Butcher who reads the Scriptures (of Buddhism)! (Alph. Tib. 445; Koeppen, I. 74; N. and Q., C. and J. III. 33.)

NOTE 7. — Coral is still a very popular adornment in the Himalayan countries. The merchant Tavernier says the people to the north of the Great Mogul’s territories and in the mountains of Assam and Tibet were the greatest purchasers of coral. (Tr. in India, Bk. II. ch. xxiii.)

Chapter xxxii.

Of the Great River of Badashan.

In leaving Badashan you ride twelve days between east and north-east, ascending a river that runs through land belonging to a brother of the Prince of Badashan, and containing a good many towns and villages and scattered habitations. The people are Mahommetans, and valiant in war. At the end of those twelve days you come to a province of no great size, extending indeed no more than three days’ journey in any direction, and this is called VOKHAN. The people worship Mahommet, and they have a peculiar language. They are gallant soldiers, and they have a chief whom they call NONE, which is as much as to say Count, and they are liegemen to the Prince of Badashan.1

There are numbers of wild beasts of all sorts in this region. And when you leave this little country, and ride three days north-east, always among mountains, you get to such a height that ’tis said to be the highest place in the world! And when you have got to this height you find [a great lake between two mountains, and out of it] a fine river running through a plain clothed with the finest pasture in the world; insomuch that a lean beast there will fatten to your heart’s content in ten days. There are great numbers of all kinds of wild beasts; among others, wild sheep of great size, whose horns are good six palms in length. From these horns the shepherds make great bowls to eat from, and they use the horns also to enclose folds for their cattle at night. [Messer Marco was told also that the wolves were numerous, and killed many of those wild sheep. Hence quantities of their horns and bones were found, and these were made into great heaps by the way-side, in order to guide travellers when snow was on the ground.]

The plain is called PAMIER, and you ride across it for twelve days together, finding nothing but a desert without habitations or any green thing, so that travellers are obliged to carry with them whatever they have need of. The region is so lofty and cold that you do not even see any birds flying. And I must notice also that because of this great cold, fire does not burn so brightly, nor give out so much heat as usual, nor does it cook food so effectually.2

Now, if we go on with our journey towards the east-north-east, we travel a good forty days, continually passing over mountains and hills, or through valleys, and crossing many rivers and tracts of wilderness. And in all this way you find neither habitation of man, nor any green thing, but must carry with you whatever you require. The country is called BOLOR. The people dwell high up in the mountains, and are savage Idolaters, living only by the chase, and clothing themselves in the skins of beasts. They are in truth an evil race.3

NOTE 1. —[“The length of Little Pamir, according to Trotter, is 68 miles. . . . To find the twelve days’ ride in the plain of Marco Polo, it must be admitted, says Severtsof (Bul. Soc. Géog. XI. 1890, pp. 588–589), that he went down a considerable distance along the south-north course of the Aksu, in the Aktash Valley, and did not turn towards Tásh Kurgán, by the Neza Tash Pass, crossed by Gordon and Trotter. The descent from this pass to Tásh Kurgán finishes with a difficult and narrow defile, which may well be overflowed at the great melting of snow, from the end of May till the middle of June, even to July.

“Therefore he must have left the Aksu Valley to cross the Pass of Tagharma, about 50 or 60 kilometres to the north of the Neza Tash Pass; thence to Kashgar, the distance, in a straight line, is about 200 kilometres, and less than 300 by the shortest route which runs from the Tagharma Pass to little Kara Kul, and from there down to Yangi Hissar, along the Ghidjik. And Marco Polo assigns forty days for this route, while he allows but thirty for the journey of 500 kilometres (at least) from Jerm to the foot of the Tagharma Pass.”

Professor Paquier (Bul. Soc. Géog. 6’e Sér. XII. pp. 121–125) remarks that the Moonshee, sent by Captain Trotter to survey the Oxus between Ishkashm and Kila Wamár, could not find at the spot marked by Yule on his map, the mouth of the Shakh–Dara, but northward 7 or 8 miles from the junction of the Murghab with the Oxus, he saw the opening of an important water-course, the Suchnan River, formed by the Shakh–Dara and the Ghund–Dara. Marco arrived at a place between Northern Wakhán and Shihgnan; from the Central Pamir, Polo would have taken a route identical with that of the Mirza (1868–1869) by the Chichiklik Pass. Professor Paquier adds: “I have no hesitation in believing that Marco Polo was in the neighbourhood of that great commercial road, which by the Vallis Comedarum reached the foot of the Imaüs. He probably did not venture on a journey of fifty marches in an unknown country. At the top of the Shihgnan Valley, he doubtless found a road marked out to Little Bukharia. This was the road followed in ancient times from Bactrian to Serica; and Ptolemy has, so to speak, given us its landmarks after Marinus of Tyre, by the Vallis Comedarum (Valley of actual Shihgnan); the Turris Lapidea and the Statio Mercatorum, neighbourhood of Tash Kurgan, capital of the present province of Sar-i-kol.”

I must say that accepting, as I do, for Polo’s Itinerary, the route from Wakhán to Kashgar by the Taghdum–Bash Pamir, and Tásh Kurgán, I do not agree with Professor Paquier’s theory. But though I prefer Sir H. Yule’s route from Badakhshan, by the River Vardoj, the Pass of Ishkashm, the Panja, to Wakhán, I do not accept his views for the Itinerary from Wakhán to Kashgar; see p. 175. — H. C.]

The river along which Marco travels from Badakhshan is no doubt the upper stream of the Oxus, known locally as the Panja, along which Wood also travelled, followed of late by the Mirza and Faiz Bakhsh. It is true that the river is reached from Badaskhshan Proper by ascending another river (the Vardoj) and crossing the Pass of Ishkáshm, but in the brief style of our narrative we must expect such condensation.

WAKHÁN was restored to geography by Macartney, in the able map which he compiled for Elphinstone’s Caubul, and was made known more accurately by Wood’s journey through it. [The district of Wakhán “comprises the valleys containing the two heads of the Panjah branch of the Oxus, and the valley of the Panjah itself, from the junction at Zung down to Ishkashím. The northern branch of the Panjah has its principal source in the Lake Victoria in the Great Pamir, which as well as the Little Pámir, belongs to Wakhán, the Aktash River forming the well recognized boundary between Kashgaria and Wakhán.” (Captain Trotter, Forsyth’s Mission, p. 275.) The southern branch is the Sarhadd Valley. — H. C.] The lowest part is about 8000 feet above the sea, and the highest Kishlak, or village, about 11,500. A few willows and poplars are the only trees that can stand against the bitter blasts that blow down the valley. Wood estimated the total population of the province at only 1000 souls, though it might be capable of supporting 5000.1 He saw it, however, in the depth of winter. As to the peculiar language, see note I, ch. xxix. It is said to be a very old dialect of Persian. A scanty vocabulary was collected by Hayward. (J. R. G. S. XXI. p. 29.) The people, according to Shaw, have Aryan features, resembling those of the Kashmiris, but harsher.

[Cf. Captain Trotter’s The Oxus below Wakhan, Forsyth’s Mission, p. 276.]

1 “Yet this barren and inaccessible upland, with its scanty handful of wild people, finds a place in Eastern history and geography from an early period, and has now become the subject of serious correspondence between two great European Governments, and its name, for a few weeks at least, a household word in London. Indeed, this is a striking accident of the course of modern history. We see the Slav and the Englishman — representatives of two great branches of the Aryan race, but divided by such vast intervals of space and time from the original common starting-point of their migration — thus brought back to the lap of Pamir to which so many quivering lines point as the centre of their earliest seats, there by common consent to lay down limits to mutual encroachment.” (Quarterly Review, April, 1873, p. 548.)

We appear to see in the indications of this paragraph precisely the same system of government that now prevails in the Oxus valleys. The central districts of Faizabad and Jerm are under the immediate administration of the Mír of Badakhshan, whilst fifteen other districts, such as Kishm, Rusták, Zebák, Ishkáshm, Wakhán, are dependencies “held by the relations of the Mír, or by hereditary rulers, on a feudal tenure, conditional on fidelity and military service in time of need, the holders possessing supreme authority in their respective territories, and paying little or no tribute to the paramount power.” (Pandit Manphul.) The first part of the valley of which Marco speaks as belonging to a brother of the Prince, may correspond to Ishkáshm, or perhaps to Vardoj; the second, Wakhán, seems to have had a hereditary ruler; but both were vassals of the Prince of Badakhshan, and therefore are styled Counts, not kings or Seigneurs.

The native title which Marco gives as the equivalent of Count is remarkable. Non or None, as it is variously written in the texts, would in French form represent Nono in Italian. Pauthier refers this title to the “Rao-nana (or nano) Rao” which figures as the style of Kanerkes in the Indo–Scythic coinage. But Wilson (Ariana Antiqua, p. 358) interprets Raonano as most probably a genitive plural of Rao, whilst the whole inscription answers precisely to the Greek one [Greek: BASILEUS BASILEON KANAERKOU] which is found on other coins of the same prince. General Cunningham, a very competent authority, adheres to this view, and