Historicity of the Travel's of Marco Polo

Jun 2018
133
New Hampshire
#11
Good posts. Thank you gentlemen.

Something that should seriously be considered, is a thorough search of the Chinese imperial archives. There may be a wealth of material awaiting discovery for any historian who is willing and able to make the effort.

Is anyone aware of what happened to the imperial archives after the communist takeover of China? I would presume these are still in a government department in Beijing?

How forthcoming are the Chinese in responding to historians inquiries into their archives for the purpose of research?
 

Aupmanyav

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
5,099
New Delhi, India
#12
His tales have some very big bloopers. For eg .. Dogs the size of donkeys, people wearing only animal furs, A nation of thieves and bandits.
:) I do not find this surprising. Himalayan dogs are big. And in his time, many people in Central Asia probably wore animal furs.
 
Jul 2014
1,441
world
#13
:) I do not find this surprising. Himalayan dogs are big. And in his time, many people in Central Asia probably wore animal furs.
The dogs are mastiff size dogs not donkey size but the legend makes it much bigger than it really is. He may have just heard stories from people who had heard of the legend but never actually seen it himself because than he would have never said anything about donkey sized dogs.That is why i doubt Marco polos account.

Sheep skin was worn by every nomadic group but animal skins like wolf/tiger skins were mostly for above average persons. There is no literally no place where people only wear furs as clothes except maybe Eskimos.
 
#14
Good posts. Thank you gentlemen.

Something that should seriously be considered, is a thorough search of the Chinese imperial archives. There may be a wealth of material awaiting discovery for any historian who is willing and able to make the effort.

Is anyone aware of what happened to the imperial archives after the communist takeover of China? I would presume these are still in a government department in Beijing?

How forthcoming are the Chinese in responding to historians inquiries into their archives for the purpose of research?
Oh they've been pretty thoroughly studied already. There are 24 official histories covering various dynasties including the Yuan of Marco Polo's time. It became the standard to document each dynasty starting in the middle ages, and the 24 histories include records of older dynasties too. Theyre huge works though (thousands of books), so unfortunately there aren't any English translations of the full 24. You can find assorted excerpts in various history books, but you won't be able to read them all unless you can read Chinese (and have a lot of time to spare).
 
Likes: Swamp Booger

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
7,095
#15
Keep in mind, there is no one version of Marco Polo's tales, but many, and no doubt he emblished his stories and exaggerated them (or the person who actually wrote them down did).

I suspect they truth is somewhere in between, that Marco.Polo did visit China, but never got to the imperial court, nor dealt with anyone higher than a mid-level Chinese official.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
3,584
Sydney
#16
Come on the man was Italian , a race much given to coloring and enhancing a story
it doesn't invalidate his account , the only thing missing is the amorous adventures
 
Mar 2017
855
Colorado
#17
I do not believe the existence of a Marco Polo has been established beyond doubt.

The oldest version of his travels still extant is quite small: about 4x the size of the pocket Latin dictionary I used to carry in highschool. Another version 100 or so yrs older is the size of a Gutenberg Bible. What's covered in the oldest text in a single paragraph, is expanded into a page and a half in the more current one. What this does is clearly reveal that the text got expanded and embellished as book buying and selling became more popular. It casts doubt on the book itself in its current form, but not necessarily the man.

However ....

There is no Chinese evidence of Polo at a time when they kept scrupulous records. No records of him in administrative positions ... no records of him in the court. Since they recorded gifts to diplomats & foreigners, and the story ends with such treasures, he should have been recorded.

That's the end of the facts that I know of. There's a reasonable theory that the writer of the original book was a Venician merchant that never left Venice, but collected stories from actual travelers on the silk road ... which could explain misinterpretations and incorrect descriptions. Stories like the old man in the mtn and assassins appear before Polo's book. I can't defend this theory ... but it's a possibility.
 

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