Did Marco Polo lied when he said having gone to China ?
"Did Marco Polo go to China ?"
hen in 1995
the Francès Wood's book is edited "Did Marco Polo go to China ?", the english writer
and director of sinology department of the British Library brings upon herself the anger of
the searchers and other interested people. But why Marco Polo shouldn't have gone to China ?
Best seller in its time, why could a reader have today a doubt about the "Livre des Merveilles" ?
How going from Venice to Beijin in the Middle Age ?
f today, you need a day
for the trip, a few centuries ago, the 10,000 km separating Venice from Beijin could
be crossed so fast only by the way of imagination.
In the XIIIth century, except some merchants rising through the empire of byzantium,
Asia, and that can access to the Malacca market, in europe, the known world is limited
to Europe, and for a few of merchants, their counters were in the empire of byzantium or Sri Lanka.
Why ? Because the trade to Asia belonged to the Muslims.
Le Marco Polo's "Livre des Merveilles"
ut if we try to make this
trip in the same conditions, we will go first by boat to Constantinople, and then riding a
camel, 30km by day to next caravaserai until next harbour
in Persia where a boat could bring us to the asiatic peninsula called Cochincina rounding
it up to Malacca. Each break in a city or an harbour and you needed to pay a tax, without
forgetting the thieves on the continent, and the pirates on the sea. What else ? Oh yes : the
desert welcomed you if you prefered going by the north, the Silk Road.
Fine trip, don't you find ?
How proving the truth ?
The Marco Polo's house burnt in 1598. Maybe could have we find the famous
golden gerege (in fact, when reading conscienciously the book,
there are seven) proving the contact with the emperor. Does the letter from Kubilai
with his wishes to christian pope still exist in the archives of the Vatican ?
What happened with Niccolo de Vicence and Guilielme de Tripoli, two brothers
going with the Polo to teach christian faith to mongol emperor ?
Marco Polo was, if true, governor of the city of Yangzhou during three years : is there
some old archives of his administration ? Why him a european, and not a mongolian ?
What about tea tradition, the "Big Wall", the feet from chinese woman, the chinese ideograms,...
"Sur la route de Marco Polo"
© Ed. SOLAR 2003 avec GEO
Why having a doubt ?
Chinese shoe from woman
near an average length sport shoe
© Michael Yamashita, p.326
arco Polo is a
trader, told his story to a writer Rustichello da Pisa, maybe with an exceed of imagination.
The combination of both men could have affect a part of the tale, created new "souvenirs",
new fabulous pictures.
On the picture above, you can see how, without knowing them, the monks who wrote the book
drawed the emperor's Court : they look like persian !
In one another, you can see how the monks had interpreted the unicorn of Marco Polo
(in fact a rhino from Sumatra).
Le "Livre des Merveilles" de Marco Polo
History continues here