INTRODUCTION BY FWP
The source of this etext is the book described
on the index page. I began with some files put online by "Project
South Asia" [site],
and supplemented and corrected them as necessary by referring to the Lee
translation in book form. In terms of the structure of the Lee translation,
a few anecdotes about South Asia from his first 12 chapters are given in
my "Early Travels" chapter. His Chapter 13 is my chapter on Central Asia,
Iran, and Afghanistan; and thereafter each chapter of mine corresponds
to one of his, until after Chapter 21 ("To Bengal, and then Onward"), when
Ibn Batuta has left South Asia, I cease my coverage.
In the process of making this etext, the diacritics
have been sacrificed for convenience of online display. The translator's
copious footnotes have also been omitted, since much of the information
provided in them is now badly outdated. In some cases, very long paragraphs
have been broken into shorter ones. All parentheses are those of the translator;
all notes in square brackets are my own. I haven't tried to modernize Prof.
Lee's spellings: "Dehli," "Toglik," etc., have been retained.
One reason Ibn Batuta could spend decades travelling
was that he almost always had a considerable retinue with him; during his
stay in Delhi, he speaks of "my attendants, who amounted to about forty."
He also goes through wives, concubines, and slave-girls at a steady pace,
leaving most of them behind when he moves on-- as he invariably does. The
wanderer as a serial family man? It does almost seem that way.
His credulousness is also fascinating: he seeks
out saints and holy men of various sorts, but reports apparently magical
events and phenomena that come from other, non-Islamic sources (such as
Jogees) as well. I've made no attempt to annotate the text; the online
French translation linked on the index page provides much more in the way
of apparatus, as indeed does Lee's book in its original form.
From a South Asian point of view, the great interest
of this work, apart from Ibn Batuta's general travels in the region, is
his close connection with the court of Muhammad Tughluq, and his vivid
account of that mercurial king's generosity-- and of his vengefulness.