Volume 1, Chapter 11 -- Travels of Marco Polo, through Tartary, China, the Islands of India, and most of Asia, from A. D. 1260 to 1295.
*Section 1* -- Introductory General Account of the whole Travels, from the commencement of the first Journey of Nicolo and Maffei Polo, in 1260, to their final return along with Marco to Venice, in 1295
*Section 2* -- Description of Armenia the Lesser, of the country of the Turks of Greater Armenia, Zorzania, the kingdom of Mosul, of the cities of Bagdat and Tauris, and account of a strange Miracle
*Section 3* -- Of the Country of Persia, the Cities of Jasdi, Cermam and Camandu, and the Province of Reobarle
*Section 4* -- Account of several other Countries, and their Principal Curiosities
*Section 5* -- History of the Assassins, and the manner in which their Prince was killed: With the description of several other Countries
*Section 6* -- Of the city of Samarcand, the town of Lop, the Great Desert in its Neighbourhood, and other remarkable Passages
*Section 7* -- Of the Province of Chamil and several other Countries on the road from thence to the City of Ezina; and of another great Desert
*Section 8* -- Of the City of Caracarum and of the Tartars, with some account of their History, Monarchs, and Manners
*Section 9* -- Of the vast Countries to the North of Tartary, and many other curious Particulars
*Section 10* -- Of the great power of Kublai-khan and various circumstances respecting his Family, Government, and Dominions
*Section 11* -- Account of the Imperial City of Cambalu, and the Court of the Great Khan, or Emperor of the Tartars
*Section 12* -- Of the Magnificence of the Court of the Great Khan, and of the Manners and Customs of his Subjects
*Section 13* -- Some Account of the Provinces of Kathay, or Northern China, and of other neighbouring Countries subject to the Great Khan
*Section 14* -- An account of Thibet, and several other Provinces, with the Observations made by the Author in passing through them
*Section 15* -- An account of the Kingdom of Mangi, and the manner of its Reduction under the dominion of the Great Khan; together with some Notices of its various Provinces and Cities
*Section 16* -- Of the noble City of Quinsai, and of the vast Revenues drawn from thence by the Great Khan
*Section 17* -- Of the island of Zipangu, and of the unsuccessful attempts made by the Tartars for its Conquest
*Section 18* -- Account of Various Countries, Provinces, Islands, and Cities in the Indies
**Section 19* -- Of the Island of Ceylon, and various parts of Hither India
**Section 20* -- Of the Kingdom of Murfili, and the Diamond Mines, and some other Countries of India
*Section 21* -- Of Madagascar, Ethiopia, Abyssinia, and several other Countries



Nicolo Polo, the father of this intelligent early traveller, and Maffei Polo his uncle, were Venetian gentlemen engaged in commerce; and appear to have gone into the east, in the prosecution of their trade, in the year 1260. They resided far some time at the court of Kublai-khan, the great emperor of the Mongals or Tartars; and, returning to Venice in 1269, they found that the wife of Nicolo had died during their absence, leaving a son Marco, the author of the following travels, of whom she was pregnant at the time of their departure. These circumstances are detailed in the first section of this chapter, but the date which has been usually assigned for the commencement of this first journey, 1250, is evidently corrupted, as will appear from the following considerations, derived from a comparison of the chronology of the kings and princes, who are mentioned in the travels as reigning at the time. The high probability is, that the obvious mistake, of assuming the year 1250 as the era of the first journey, arose from a careless substitution of the figure 5 for 6 in transcription.

Assuming the corrected date of 1260 as the commencement of the first journey of Nicolo and Maffei Polo, this will appear to be consonant with the chronology of the princes with whose reigns their travels were connected; while the date of 1250, adopted by Ramusio and Muller, is totally irreconcilable with the truth of history. They remained one year at the leskar or camp of Bereke-khan, whence they travelled into Bochara, where they tarried three years. From thence they spent one year on their journey to the court of Kublai-khan, and were three years on their journey back to Venice. But as they remained some time at the residence of Kublai-khan, one year may be allowed for that circumstance; and this first journey may therefore be allowed to have occupied nine years in all.

Kublai-khan reigned supreme emperor of the Mongals from 1259 to 1294, in which last year he died at eighty years of age. If, therefore, Nicolo and Maffei had set out upon their first journey in 1250, they must have arrived at the imperial residence of Cambalu, or Pekin, in 1255, at the latest, or four years before Kublai-khan ascended the throne. Their first journey commenced while Baldwin II. was emperor of Constantinople, who reigned from 1234 to 1261. The khan of Kiptschak, or the western division of the vast empire of the Mongals, at the time of this journey, was Bereke, who ruled from 1256 to 1266. Holagu-khan, who was then at war with Bereke, did not begin to reign till 1258. Hence it follows, that they could not have commenced their first journey at the very earliest before 1258, or 1259 rather; as it is not to be supposed that Holagu would enter upon a dangerous war in the first year of his reign. Upon the whole, therefore, the date of 1260, for the commencement of the first journey, as already observed, is perfectly consistent with the chronology of history.

The year of their return to Venice, 1269, is agreed upon on all hands; and as Marco was born in the first year of their absence, he would then be about nine years of age. Ramusio, who dates the commencement of the first journey in 1250, supposes Marco to have been fifteen years of age at the return of his father and uncle, which is absurd; as, if the era assumed by Ramusio were possibly true, he must then have been in his nineteenth year.

According to the opinion of Mr J. R. Forster, the commencement of the second journey in which Marco was engaged, must have been in 1271; and he founds this opinion on the circumstance, that Gregory IX. had then been elected pope, from whom they carried letters for Kublai-khan. But it will appear from the travels themselves, that the three Polos had commenced their journey previously to the election of that sovereign pontiff, and that they were detained some time in Armenia, in consequence of an express sent after them for the purpose, that they might there wait for his final instructions. They may, therefore, have commenced this second journey in 1270. We only know, however, that they set out from Venice for a second journey into Tartary, soon after their return from the first, in 1269; and that they carried young Marco along with them. On his appearance at the court of Cambalu, Kublai-khan took a fancy to the young Venetian, and caused him to be instructed in four of the principal languages which were spoken in the extensive dominions of the Mongals. Marco was afterwards employed by the khan, for a considerable number of years, in several important affairs, as will appear in the relation of his travels.

At length, the three Polos returned to Venice, in 1295, after an absence of twenty-five or twenty-six years, during which long period they had never been heard of by their friends and countrymen, seventeen years of which Marco had been employed in the service of the great khan. On their return to their own house in Venice, they were entirely forgotten by their relations and former acquaintances, and had considerable difficulty to establish their identity, and to get themselves recognized by their family, and were obliged to use extraordinary means to recover the respect which was their due, and an acknowledgement of their name, family, and rank, the particulars of which will be found in the travels themselves.

About three years after the return of these adventurous travellers, hostilities arose between the republics of Genoa and Venice. The Genoese admiral, Lampa Doria, came to the island of Curzola with a fleet of seventy gallies, to oppose whom, the Venetians fitted out a great naval force under Andrea Dandolo, under whom Marco Polo had the command of a galley. The Venetians were totally defeated in a great naval engagement, with the loss of their admiral and eighty-five ships, and Marco Polo had the misfortune to be among the number of the prisoners.

Harris alleges that he remained a prisoner during several years, in spite of every offer of ransom that was made for his liberation. But in this he must have mistaken, or been misled by the authorities which he trusted to, as peace was concluded in 1299, the year immediately subsequent to the naval engagement in which he was made prisoner. While in prison at Genoa, many of the young nobility are said to have resorted to Marco, to listen to the recital of his wonderful travels and surprizing adventures; and they are said to have prevailed upon him to send to Venice for the notes which he had drawn up during his peregrinations, by means of which the following relation is said to have been written in Latin from has dictation. From the original Latin, the account of his travels was afterwards translated into Italian; and from this again, abridgements were afterwards made in Latin and diffused over Europe.

According to Baretti,[2] the travels of Marco Polo were dictated by him in 1299, while in the prison of Genoa, to one Rustigielo, an inhabitant of Pisa, who was his fellow prisoner. They were afterwards published in Italian, and subsequently translated into Latin by Pessuri, a Dominican monk of Bologna. Copies of the original manuscript, though written in the Venetian dialect, which is extremely different from the Tuscan or pure Italian, were multiplied with great rapidity in all parts of Italy, and even made their way into France and Germany. From one or more of these, corrupted by the carelessness or ignorance of transcribers, some of whom may have abridged the work, or may even have interpolated it from other sources, a thing quite common before the invention of printing, the Latin translations may have been made and circulated over Europe. Ramusio, an early editor of voyages and travels, published these travels in an Italian translation from the Latin, which he erroneously supposed to have been the original dictation of Marco to Rustigielo; and many other editions have been published in the various languages of Europe, but all from one or other of these corrupted transcripts or translations.

A manuscript of the travels of Marco polo, in the Venetian dialect, was long preserved by the Soranza family at Venice, but whether this now exists, or has ever been published, is unknown. Mr Pinkerton informs us,[3] that a genuine edition of these travels, probably from the original MS. either of Marco himself, after his return from Genoa, or from that of his amanuensis Rustigielo, was published at Trevigi in 1590, in the dialect of Venice, which has hitherto escaped the attention of all editors and commentators. This curious publication is often worded in the names of all the three travellers, father, uncle, and son; but when the peculiar travels of Marco are indicated, his name only is employed. In the former case, the language runs thus, "We, Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco, have heard, seen, and know, &c.:" In the latter, "I Marco was in that place, and saw, &c." In this Venetian edition, the names of places and persons are often widely different from those in the other editions, and probably more genuine and correct. But that publication being at present inaccessible, we are under the necessity of being contented with the edition of Harris, in which he professes to have carefully collated the edition of Ramusio with most of the other translations, and with an original MS. in the royal library of Prussia. This latter labour, however, he seems to have taken entirely upon trust from Muller, a German editor and translator, probably through the intermediation of Bergeron, an early French editor of voyages and travels. The only freedom which has been assumed in the present edition is, by dividing it into sections for more ready consultation and reference, and by the addition of explanatory notes from various sources.

Marco Polo is the chief of all the early modern discoverers; having been the first who communicated to Europe any distinct ideas of the immense regions of Asia, from the Euxine eastwards, through the vast extent of Tartary to China and Japan; and the very first author who has made any mention of that distant insular sovereignty. Even Columbus is supposed, with some considerable probability, to have been prompted to his enterprize, which ended in the discovery of America, by the study of these travels; believing, that by a western course through the unexplored Atlantic, he should find a comparatively short passage to those eastern regions of the Indies, which Polo had visited, described, or indicated. In this view he was, however, so far misled in his estimation of the distance, by the erroneously spread-out longitudes of Ptolemy, bringing these regions much farther towards the east, and consequently nearer by the west, than their actual situation; and was stopped in his western course, by the important and unexpected discovery of many islands, and a vast interposed continent; which, from preconceived theory, he named the West Indies.

Such is the account of these travels which has been handed down to us from various sources, and which their importance and intrinsic merit have induced us to record at some length. Of these adventurous travellers, some notices yet remain, which may be worthy of being preserved. Signior Maffio Polo, the uncle of Marco, became a magistrate of Venice, and lived for some time in much respect among his countrymen. Nicolo Polo, the father of Marco, is said to have married during the captivity of his son at Genoa, and to have left three children by this second marriage. Marco himself married after his return to Venice from Genoa, and left two daughters, Moretta and Fantina, but had no male issue. He is said to have received among his countrymen the name of Marco Millioni, because he and his family had acquired a fortune of a million of ducats in the east. He died as he had lived, universally beloved and respected by all who knew him; for, with the advantages of birth and fortune, he was humble and beneficent and employed his great riches, and the interest he possessed in the state, only to do good.

[1] Harris, I, 593. Forst. Voy. and Disc. p. 117. Modern Geogr. II. xvi.
[2] Ital. Libr. p. iv.
[3] Mod. Geogr. II. xvi.



Volume 1, Chapter 11, Section 1 -- Introductory General Account of the whole Travels, from the commencement of the first Journey of Nicolo and Maffei Polo, in 1260, to their final return along with Marco to Venice, in 1295.

[Illustration: map of the eastern part of Tartary & adjacent countries]

In the year 1260, when Baldwin was emperor of Continople, two brothers of an illustrious family at Venice, Nicolo and Maffei Polo, embarked in a vessel which was laden with a various assortment of merchandize on their own account; and, after traversing the Mediterranean and Bosphoros with a fair wind, they arrived in safety at Constantinople. Having remained for some time in the imperial city, they crossed the Great Sea to Soldadia,[1] from thence they went to the court of a Tartar prince, named Barha,[2] who lived in the towns of Bolgara and Alsara.[3] To this prince they shewed the fine jewels which they had brought for sale, and presented him with some of the most valuable. He was far from ungrateful for their presents, which he kindly accepted, and for which he made them returns of greater value. Having remained a whole year at his court, they were desirous of returning to Venice; but before they had any opportunity of departing, a war broke out between Barha and another Tartar prince named Arau;[4] the armies of these rivals came to a battle, in which Barha was defeated, and obliged to fly. By this unfortunate incident, the roads to the westwards became quite unsafe for the journey of the Polos, and they were advised to make a large circuit round the north and east frontiers of the dominions of Barha; and by which route they made their escape from the seat of war to Guthacam, a town on the Tygris.[5] A little farther on, they crossed the Gihon, one of the four rivers of Paradise, and travelled afterwards for seventeen days in the desert, in which they saw neither town, castle, nor village, and only a few Tartars dwelling in huts or tents. Leaving the desert, they came to a considerable city, named Bochara, on the frontiers of Persia, then the residence of a prince called Barach,[6] who gave them a good reception; and being unable to proceed any farther, on account of the great wars which then raged among the Tartars, they remained there for three years.

At that time there came to Bochara a person of distinction, who was going as ambassador from Holagu to Kublai-khan, the great emperor of all the Tartars, who resided in the remotest countries of the earth, betwixt the north-east and the east. Meeting with the brothers, who had now become well versed in the Tartarian language, he was much taken with their conversation, and persuaded them to accompany him to the court of the great khan, knowing that he should gratify him in this circumstance, and promised them that they should be received with great honour, and gratified with large rewards. They were well aware that it was utterly impossible for them to return home at this period, without the most imminent danger, and agreed to this proposal, taking with them some Christian servants whom they had brought from Venice; and travelling toward the north-east, they employed a whole year on the journey, being often obliged to wait the melting of the snow, and the decreasing of the floods, which obstructed their passage.

At length they arrived at the residence of the great khan, and being brought into his presence, were most courteously received, and treated with great distinction. He interrogated them much concerning many things relative to the countries of the west; particularly respecting the Roman emperor,[7] and the other kings and princes of Europe; the forms of their different governments, the nature, number and discipline of their military force; how peace, justice and concord were established and maintained among them; of the manners and customs of the different European nations; and concerning the pope, the discipline of the church, and the tenets of the Christian faith. To all this Nicolo and Maffei made proper and suitable replies, as prudent and wise men, declaring the truth, and speaking orderly in the Tartarian language; with which the emperor was well satisfied, as he acquired a knowledge of the affairs of the Europeans; insomuch that he often commanded them to be brought into his presence.

After some time, Kublai-khan having consulted with his great lords, informed them, that he was desirous to send them as his ambassadors to the pope of the Romans, accompanied by one of his lords named Chogatal,[8] requesting that he would send an hundred men, learned in the Christian religion, to his courts, that they might instruct his wise men, that the faith of the Christians was preferable to all other sects, being the only way of salvation; that the gods of the Tartars were devils, and that they and other people of the east were deceived in the worship of these gods. He likewise commanded them, on their return from Jerusalem, to bring him some of the oil from the lamp which burns before the sepulchre of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom the emperor had great devotion, believing him to be the true God. Yielding due reverence to the great khan, they promised faithfully to execute the charge which he had committed to them, and to present to the pope the letters in the Tartarian language, which he gave them for that purpose. According to the custom of the empire, the great khan caused to be given them a golden tablet, engraven and signed with the mark or signet of the khan, in virtue of which, instead of a passport, the bearers were entitled to be everywhere conveyed in safety through dangerous places, by the governors of provinces and cities, throughout the whole empire, having their expences everywhere defrayed, and should be furnished with whatever was needful for them and their attendants in all places, and for as long as they might have occasion to stay.

Taking their leave of the great khan, they set out upon the journey into the west, carrying with them the letters to the pope, and the golden tablet. After travelling twenty days, the Tartar lord, who was associated in their embassy to the pope, fell grievously sick; on which, having consulted upon what was best to be done, they resolved to leave him, and to continue their journey, They were everywhere courteously received, through the authority of the imperial tablet; yet they were often compelled to wait, by the overflowing of the rivers, in the course of their journey, so that they spent three years before they reached the port in the country of the Armenians, called Giazza.[9].From thence they proceeded to Acre,[10] where they arrived in the month of April 1269. On their arrival at Acre, they were informed of the death of Pope Clement IV., by Tibaldo Visconti of Placentia, the papal legate who then resided in that place. They related to him what had befallen them, and declared what commission they had received from the great khan to the pope, and he advised to wait the creation of a new pope, to whom they might deliver their letters. Upon this they took shipping for Venice, by the way of Negropont, intending to visit their friends and relations, and to remain there until a new pope should be elected. On their arrival, Nicolo found that his wife was dead, whom he had left pregnant at his departure; but that she had left a son, now nineteen[11] years of age, who is this very Marco, the author of this book, in which he will make manifest all those things which he has seen in his travels.

The election of the pope was deferred two years, and the Polos became afraid least the great khan might be displeased at their delay. They went therefore back to Acre, carrying Marco along with them; and having gone to Jerusalem for the holy oil requested by Kublai, they received letters from the legate, testifying their fidelity to the great khan, and that a pope was not yet chosen. They then set out on their journey, and went to Giazza, in Armenia. In the mean time letters came from the Cardinals to the legate Visconti, declaring that he was elected pope, and he assumed the name of Gregory. On this the new pope sent messengers to the Polos to call them back, or to delay their departure from Armenia until he might prepare other letters for them, to present to the khan in his name, and to inform them, that he meant to join two friars predicants in commission with them, Nicolo of Vicenza and Guelmo of Tripoli, men of learning and discretion. The Polos accordingly remained at Giazza, where these two monks arrived with letters and presents of great value for the khan, and furnished with ample powers and privileges, and authority to ordain priests and bishops, and to grant absolution in all cases, as fully as if the pope were present. But learning that the sultan of Babylon, Bentiochdas,[12] was leading a great army to invade Armenia, and where he committed the most cruel ravages, the two friars became afraid of themselves, and delivered the letters and presents of the pope to Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco; and to avoid the fatigues of the ways and the dangers of war, they remained with the master of the temple, then at Giazza, and returned with him to Acre.

But the three Venetians proceeded boldly through many dangers and difficulties, and at length, after a journey of three years and a half, they arrived at the great city of Clemenisu.[13] In this lengthened journey they had often long stoppages, on account of the deep snow and extreme cold, and on occasion of floods and inundations. When the khan heard of their approach, though yet at a great distance, he sent messengers forty days journey to meet them, that they might be conducted with all honour, and to provide them with every accommodation during the remainder of their journey. On their arrival at the court, and being introduced into the presence, they prostrated themselves before the khan on their faces, according to the customary form of reverence; and being commanded to rise, were most graciously received. The khan then demanded an account of the many dangers through which they had passed by the way, and of their proceedings with the pope of the Romans. All this they distinctly related, and delivered to him the letters and presents from the pope, with which the khan was well pleased, and gave them great commendations for their care and fidelity. They presented to him also the oil which they had brought from the holy sepulchre of the Lord at Jerusalem, which he reverently received, and gave orders that it should be honourably preserved.

The khan inquired who Marco was? On which Nicolo replied, "He is your majesty's servant, and my son." The khan graciously received him with a friendly countenance and had him taught to write among his honourable courtiers; whereupon he was much respected by all the court, and in a little time made himself familiar with the customs of the Tartars, and learned to read and write four different languages. After some time the great khan, to make experience of his capacity, sent Marco upon a mission or embassy, to a great city called Carachan or Zarazan, at such a distance as he could scarcely travel in six months. He executed the commission with which he had been entrusted with judgment and discretion, and perfectly to the satisfaction of the khan: And knowing that the khan would be delighted with an account of all the novelties in the places through which he had to pass, he diligently inquired into the manners and customs of the people, the conditions of the countries, and every thing worthy of being remarked, making a memorial of all he knew or saw, which he presented to the great khan for his information and amusement. By this means he got so much into the favour of the khan, that during the twenty-six years which he continued in his service, he was continually sent through all his realms and dependencies, chiefly on affairs of government, but sometimes on his own private matters, by the khan's orders; and this is the true reason that he should have seen and learnt so many particulars relating to the east, as he has declared in these his memoirs.

After staying many years in the court of the great khan, and having become very rich in jewels of great value, and considering that if the khan, who was now grown very old, should happen to die, they should never be able to return home; the Venetians became exceedingly anxious to be permitted to return to their own country. Wherefore, one day that he found the khan in extraordinary good humour, Nicolo begged permission to return home with his family. At this the Khan was much displeased, and asked what could induce them to undertake so long and dangerous a journey; adding, that if they were in want of riches, he would gratify their utmost wishes, by bestowing upon them twice as much as they possessed; but out of pure affection, he refused to give them leave to depart.

It happened, however, not long after this, that a king of the Indies named Argon, sent three of his counsellors, named Ulatai, Apusca, and Coza, as ambassadors to Kublai-khan on the following occasion. Bolgana, the wife of Argon, was lately dead, and on her death-bed had requested of her husband that he should choose a wife from among her relations in Kathay. Kubla yielded to this request, and chose a fair young maiden of seventeen years of age, named Cogalin,[14] who was of the family of the late queen Bolgana, and determined to send her to Argon. The ambassadors departed with their charge, and journeyed eight months the same way they had come to the court of Kublai; but found bloody wars raging among the Tartars, insomuch, that they were constrained to return and to acquaint the great khan with the impossibility of their proceeding home in that road. In the mean time, Marco had returned from the Indies, where he had been employed with certain ships in the service of the khan, to whom he had reported the singularities of the places which he had visited, and the facility of intercourse by sea between Kathay and the Indies.

This came to the knowledge of the ambassadors, who conferred with the Venetians on the subject; and it was agreed, that the ambassadors and the young queen should go to the great khan, and beg permission to return by sea, and should request to have the three Europeans, who were skilful in sea affairs, to accompany and conduct them to the dominions of king Argon. The great khan was much dissatisfied with this proposal, yet, at the earnest entreaty of the ambassadors, he at length gave his consent; and calling Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco into his presence, after much demonstration of his favour and affection, he made them promise to return to him after they had spent some time in Christendom among their relations; and he caused a tablet of gold to be given them, on which his commands were engraven for their liberty, security, and free passage throughout all his dominions, and that all the expences of them and their attendants should be defrayed, providing them everywhere with guides and escorts, where necessary. He authorized them also to act as his ambassadors to the pope, and the kings of France and Spain, and all other Christian princes.

The khan ordered fourteen ships to be prepared for the voyage, each having four masts, and carrying nine sails. Four or five of these were so large as to have from 250 to 260 mariners in each, but the rest were smaller. In this fleet the queen and the ambassadors embarked, accompanied by Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco; having first taken leave of the great khan, who presented them, at parting, with many rubies and other precious stones, and a sum or money sufficient to defray all their expences for two years. Setting sail from Kathay or China, they arrived in three months at an island called Java, and sailing from thence they arrived in eighteen months in the dominions of king Argon. Six hundred of the mariners and others died during the voyage, and but one woman; and only Coza of the three ambassadors survived. On arriving at the dominions of Argon, he was found to be dead, and a person named Ghiacato or Akata, governed the kingdom for his son Casan; who was under age. On making the regent acquainted with their business, he desired them to carry the young queen to Casan, who was then on the confines of Persia, towards Arbor Secco[15] with an army of 60,000 men, guarding certain passes of the frontiers against the enterprises of their enemies; Having executed this order, Nicolo, Maffei, and Marco, returned to the residence of Chiacato, and staid there for nine months.

At the end of this period they took leave of Chiacato, who gave them four tablets of gold, each a cubit long and five fingers broad, and weighing three or four marks.[16] On these were engraven to the following purport: "In the power of the eternal God, the name of the great khan shall be honoured and praised for many years; and whosoever disobeyeth, shall he put to death, and all his goods confiscated." Besides this preamble, they farther commanded, that all due honour should be shown to the three ambassadors of the khan, and service performed to them in all the countries and districts subject to his authority, as to himself in person; that all necessary relays of horses and escorts, and their expences, and every thing needful should be supplied to them freely and gratuitously. All this was duly executed, so that sometimes they had 200 horse for their safeguard. During their journey, they were informed that the great emperor of the Tartars, Kublai-khan was dead, by which they considered themselves absolved from all obligations of the promise they had made to return to his court. They continued their journey to Trebisond, on the south side of the Euxine; whence they proceeded by the way of Constantinople and Negropont to Venice, where they arrived in safety, and with great riches, in the year 1295.

On their arrival at their own house, in the street of St Chrysostom in Venice, they found themselves entirely forgotten by all their old acquaintances and countrymen, and even their relations were unable to recognize them, owing to their long absence, now thirty-five years from setting, out on their first journey into the east; besides being much altered by age they had become altogether resembling Tartars in their speech, dress and manners, and were obliged to use some extraordinary expedients to satisfy their family and countrymen of their identity, and to recover the respect which was their due, by a public acknowledgment of their name, family, and rank. For this purpose, they invited all their relations arid connections to a magnificent entertainment, at which all the three travellers made their appearance in rich eastern habits of crimson satin. After the guests were seated, and before the Polos sat down, they put off their upper garments which they gave to the attendants, appearing still magnificently dressed in habits of crimson damask. These they threw off at the appearance of the last course or service of the entertainment, and bestowed likewise on the attendants; while they themselves still appeared clad in magnificent dresses of crimson velvet. When dinner was over, and all the servants had withdrawn, Marco Polo produced to the company the coats of Tartarian cloth or felt, which he, and his father and uncle had ordinarily worn during their travels, from the folds of which he took out an incredible quantity of rich jewels; among which were some that were well known to those who were present at the entertainment, and by which the three travellers incontestibly proved themselves members of the Polo family, and the identical persons they represented themselves.

[1] The Black-Sea, or Euxine, is here called the _Great_ Sea. Soldadia, Soldaia, or Sudak, was a city in the Crimea, a little to the west of Caffa.--Forst.
[2] Barha or Barcha, more properly Bereke-khan, who reigned from 1256 to 1266.--E.
[3] Bolgara is the town of Bolgari, the capital of Bulgaria, which subsisted from 1161 to 1578. Alsara is Al-seray, which was built by Baatu-khan, on the Achtuba, a branch of the Volga.--Forst.
[4] Probably Holagu-khan, to whom all Persia was in subjection, quite to Syria.--Forst.
[5] Ukakah, Grikhata, Khorkang, or Urghenz on the Gihon.--Forst.
[6] Bereke-khan.--Forst.
[7] This probably refers to the Constantinopolitan or Greek emperor; his dominions being called Roum in the east to the present day.--E.
[8] In different editions this name is corruptly written Gogoka, Gogatal, Cogatal, and Chogatal.--E.
[9] Otherwise called Glaza and Galza, but more properly Al-Ajassa, on the south-east extremity of the Euxine or Black-sea.--Forst.
[10] Acon, or more properly Akko. It is not easy to conceive what should have taken them so much out of their way as Acre; unless they could not procure shipping at Giazza, and travelled therefore by land through Asia Minor and Syria; or that they intended here to procure the holy oil for the khan.--E.
[11] This is an error in transcription, and it has been already noticed in the introduction to these travels, that Marco could not then have exceeded the ninth year of his age.--E.
[12] Bibars el Bentochdari, sultan of Kahira or Cairo, in Egypt, often called Babylon.--Forst.
[13] Chambalu, or Khan-balu, or the city of the Khan, now Peking.--Forst.
[14] Called likewise; Kogatin, Gogatin, and Gogongin, in the different transcripts of these travels.--E.
[15] From the circumstance of this kingdom of Argon being near Arbor Secco it would appear to have been one of the eight kingdoms of Persia mentioned in the sequel; and from the sea voyage, it probably was Mekran, which, reaches to the sea and the Indies,--E.
[16] These were most princely letters-patent; equal in weight to 400 guineas, perhaps equal in efficacious value to 4000 in our times.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 11, Section 2 -- Description of Armenia the Lesser, of the country of the Turks of Greater Armenia, Zorzania, the kingdom of Mosul, of the cities of Bagdat and Tauris, and account of a strange Miracle.[1]

There are two Armenias, the Greater and the Lesser. In the Lesser Armenia the king resides in a city called Sebaste; and in all this country justice and good government are strictly enforced. This kingdom has many cities, fortresses, and castles; the soil is fertile, and the country abounds with game and wildfowl, and every necessary article of provisions, but the air is not very good. Formerly the Armenian gentlemen were brave men and good soldiers, but are now become effeminate, and addicted to drinking and debauchery. The city of Giazza, on the Black Sea, has an excellent harbour, to which merchants resort from divers countries, even from Venice and Genoa, for several sorts of merchandize, especially for the different kinds of spices, and various other valuable goods, which are brought here from India, as this place is the settled market for the commodities of the east.

Turcomania is inhabited by three different nations, Turcomans, Greeks, and Armenians. The Turcomans, who are Mahometans, are a rude, illiterate, and savage people, inhabiting the mountains and inaccessible places, where they can procure pasture, as they subsist only on the produce of their flocks and herds. In their country there are excellent horses, called Turkish horses, and their mules are in great estimation. The Greeks and Armenians possess the cities and towns, and employ themselves in manufactures and merchandize, making, especially, the best carpets in the world. Their chief cities are Cogno or Iconium, Caesarea, and Sebaste, where St Basil suffered martyrdom. This country is under subjection to one of the khans of the Tartars.

The Greater Armenia is a large province, subject to the Tartars, which has many cities and towns, the principal of which is Arsugia, in which the best buckram in the world is made. In this neighbourhood there are excellent hot springs, which are celebrated as salutary baths in many diseases. The cities next in consequence are Argiron and Darziz. In the summer season many Tartars resort to this country on account of the richness of the pastures, and retire again in winter, because of the abundance of snow. The ark of Noah rested on Arrarat, one of the mountains of Armenia.

This country has the province of Mosul and Meridin on the east, or Diarbekir; and on the north is Zorzania,[2] where there is a fountain that discharges a liquid resembling oil; which, though it cannot be used as a seasoning for meat, is yet useful for burning in lamps, and for many other purposes; and it is found in sufficient quantities to load camels, and to form a material object of commerce. In Zorzania is a prince named David Melic or King David; one part of the province being subject to him, while the other part pays tribute to a Tartar khan. The woods are mostly of box-trees. Zorzania extends between the Euxine and Caspian seas; which latter is likewise called the sea of Baccu, and is 2800 miles in circumference: but is like a lake, as it has no communication with any other sea. In it there are many islands, cities, and castles, some of which are inhabited by the people who fled from the Tartars out of Persia.

The people of Zorzania are Christians, observing the same rites with others, and wear their hair short like the western clergy. There are many cities, and the country abounds in silk, of which they make many fine manufactures. Moxul or Mosul, is a province containing many sorts of people; some are called Arahi, who are Mahometans; others are Christians of various sects, as Nestorians, Jacobites, and Armenians; and they have a patriarch stiled Jacolet, who ordains archbishops, bishops, and abbots, whom he sends all over India, and to Cairo, and Bagdat, and wherever there are Christians, in the same manner as is done by the pope of Rome. All the stuffs of gold and silk, called musleims, are wrought in Moxul.[3] In the mountains of this country of Diarbekir, dwelt the people called Curds, some off whom are Nestorians or Jacobites, and other Mahometans. They are a lawless people, who rob the merchants that travel through their country. Near to them is another province called Mus, Meridin, or Mardin, higher up the Tigris than Mosul, wherein grows great quantities of cotton, of which they make buckrams[4] and other manufactures. This province is likewise subject to the Tartars. Baldach, or Bagdat, is a great city in which the supreme caliph formerly resided, who was pope of all the Saracens. From this city it is counted seventeen days journey to the sea; but the river Tigris runs past, on which people sail to Balsora, where the best dates in the world grow, but in the passage between these; two cities there lies another named Chisi. In Bagdat are many manufactures of gold and silk, and damasks and velvets with figures of various creatures; in that city there is a university, where the law of Mahoment, physic, astronomy, and geomancy are taught; and from it come all the pearls in Christendom.

When the Tartars began to extend their conquests, there were four brothers who possessed the chief rule; of whom Mangu, the eldest, reigned in Sedia.[5] These brethren proposed to themselves to subdue the whole world, for which purpose one went to the east, another to the north, a third to the west, and Ulau or Houlagu went to the south in 1250, with an army of an hundred thousand horse, besides foot. Employing stratagem, he hid a great part of his force in ambush, and advancing with an inconsiderable number, enticed the caliph to follow him by a pretended flight; by this means he took the caliph prisoner, and made himself master of the city, in which he found such infinite store of treasure, that he was quite amazed. Sending for the caliph into his presence, he sharply reproved him, that, possessing such riches, he had not employed them in providing soldiers to defend his dominions; and commanded him to be shut up in the tower where his treasure was placed, without any sustenance.

This seemed a just judgment from our Lord Jesus Christ upon the caliph; for, in the year 1225, seeking to convert the Christians to the Mahometan superstition, and taking advantage of that passage in the gospel which says, "He that hath faith as a grain of mustard seed, shall be able to remove mountains," he summoned all the Christians, Nestorians, and Jacobites, and gave them their choice, "In ten days to remove a certain mountain, to turn Mahometans or to be slain;" alleging that there was not one among them who had the least grain of faith. The astonished and dismayed Christians continued ten days in prayer; when, by a revelation to a certain bishop, a certain shoemaker was chosen to perform this compulsatory miracle. This shoemaker was once tempted to lust in fitting a shoe to a young woman, and had literally and zealously performed the injunction of the gospel by putting out his right eye. On the day appointed by the caliph, he and all the Christians of the city followed the cross towards the mountain; then, lifting up his hands, he prayed to God to have mercy on his afflicted people, and, in a loud voice, commanded the mountain, in the name of the holy and ever blessed Trinity to remove: which it presently did, to the great astonishment and terror of the caliph and all his people, The anniversary of this day, and the evening before, is ever since kept holy by fasting and prayer.[6]

[1] Marco Polo having spent much the largest portion of his life among the Tartars, necessarily used their names for the countries, places, and people which he described, and these names have been subsequently much disfigured in transcription. This has occasioned great perplexity to commentators in endeavouring to explain his geography conformably with modern maps, and which even is often impossible to be done with any tolerable certainty. The arrangement, likewise, of his descriptions is altogether arbitrary, so that the sequence does not serve to remove the difficulty; and the sections appear to have been drawn up in a desultory manner just as they occurred to his recollection, or as circumstances in the conversation or inquiry of others occasioned him to commit his knowledge to paper.--E.
[2] Gurgistan, usually called Georgia.--E.
[3] This manufacture from Mosul or Moxul, on the Tigris, must be carefully distinguished from the muslins of India, which need not be described.--E
[4] These buckrams seem to have been some coarse species of cotton cloth, in ordinary wear among the eastern nations. The word occurs frequently, in these early travels in Tartary, but its proper meaning is unknown--E.
[5] This word is inexplicable, unless by supposing it some corruption of Syra Horda, the golden court or imperial residence, which was usually in Tangut or Mongalia, on the Orchen or Onguin. But in the days of Marco, the khans had betaken themselves to the luxurious ease of fixed residences and he might have misunderstood the information he received of the residence of Mangu.--E.
[6] Marco Polo is no more answerable for the truth of this ridiculous legend of the 13th century, than the archbishop of Paris of the 19th is for many, equally absurd, that are narrated in the French national Catechism. Both were good catholics, and rehearsed what they had heard, and what neither of them pretended to have seen.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 11, Section 3 -- Of the Country of Persia, the Cities of Jasdi, Cermam and Camandu, and the Province of Reobarle.

Tauris is a great city in the province of Hircania,[1] and is a very populous place. The inhabitants live by the exercise of manufacture and trade, fabricating, especially, stuffs of silk and gold. The foreign merchants who reside there make very great gains, but the inhabitants are generally poor. They are a mixed people, of Nestorians, Armenians, Jacobites, Georgians, Persians, and Mahometans. These last are perfidious and treacherous people, who think all well got which they can filch or steal from those of other religions; and this wickedness of the Saracens has induced many of the Tartars to join their religion; and if a Saracen be killed by a Christian, even while engaged in the act of robbery, he is esteemed to have died a martyr. It is twelve days journey from Tauris to Persia.[2] In the confines stands the monastery of St Barasam, of which the monks resemble Carmelites: they make girdles, which they lay on the altars and give to their friends, who esteem them as holy. Persia is divided into eight kingdoms, viz. Casbin, Curdistan,[3] Laristan, Susistan or Chorassan, Spahan, Ispahan or Fars, Shiras,[4] Soncara,[5] and lastly Timochaim, which is near Arboreseco, towards the north.[6] Persia breeds excellent horses, which are sold to the Indies; also very good asses, which are sold for a higher price than the horses, because they eat little, carry much, and travel far. They have camels also, which, though not swift, are necessary in these countries, which, sometimes for a long way, yield no grass or water.

The people in these countries are very wicked and covetous, thieves and murderers, killing the merchants unless they travel in caravans, yet they profess to follow the law of Mahomet. In the cities there are excellent artificers in gold, silk, and embroidery; and the country abounds with silk-worms, wheat, barley, millet, and other kinds of grain, with plenty of fruits and wine; and though wine is forbidden by the Mahometan law, they have a gloss to correct or corrupt the text, saying, that when boiled, it changes its taste and name, and may be then drank.

Jasdi is a great city on the confines of Persia, which carries on a great trade, and has many manufactures of silk. Chiaman[7] is a kingdom on the frontiers of Persia to the east, which is subject to the Tartars. In the veins of the mountains, the stones commonly called turquoises are found, and other valuable jewels. They here make all sorts of warlike weapons; and the women work admirably with the needle in silken embroidery, on which they pourtray the figures of various animals in a most beautiful manner. They have the best falcons in the world, which are red breasted, of very swift flight and more easily trained than those of other countries. Proceeding from Chiaman or Crerina, for eight days journey through a great plain, in which are many towns and castles, and many habitations, with abundance of game, you come to a great descent, in which there are abundance of fruit trees, but no habitations, except those of a few shepherds, though, in ancient times, it was well inhabited. From the city of Crerina to this descent, the cold, in winter, is quite insupportable. After descending for two days journey, you come to a wide plain, at the beginning of which is a city called Adgamad or Camandu, which, in ancient times, was large and populous, but is now destroyed by the Tartars. This plain is very warm, and the province is called Reobarle,[8] in which grow pomegranates, quinces, peaches, dates, apples of paradise, pistachios, and other fruits. The oxen are large, white, and thin haired, with thick short blunt horns, and having a hunch like a camel between the shoulders about two spans round. They are accustomed to bear great burthens, and when they are to be loaded, they are taught to bow their knees like camels, and rise again when loaded. The sheep of this country are as large as small asses, having such long and broad tails, that some of these weigh thirty pounds, and this part is most delicate and extremely rich food. In this plain there are many cities and towns, having high and thick ramparts of earth to defend them against the Caraons, who are a mixed race between Tartar fathers and Indian mothers, ten thousand of whom are commanded by one Nugodar, the nephew of Zagathai, who once ruled in Turkestan. This Nugodar having heard of the weakness of the Malabars subject to soldan Asiden, went, without his uncle's knowledge, and took Dely and other cities, in which he erected a new sovereignty;[9] and his Tartar soldiers, by mixing with the women, of the country, produced this spurious breed called Caraons, who go up and down, committing depredations in Reobarle, and other neighbouring districts.

When these people wish to commit robberies, by means of incantations addressed to the demons, they have the means of obscuring the air as if it were midnight darkness, that they may not be seen from any distance. This obscurity, when once raised, lasts for seven days; and they are perfectly acquainted with all the passes of the mountains, in which they march one after another in single file, so that no one can possibly escape them, but all who fall in their way, must encounter death or captivity, the old being slain, and the young sold for slaves. I Marco, who write this book, was once very near falling into their hands, and in the utmost danger, of being either killed or taken prisoner by them in midst of this darkness, if I had not been so fortunate as to make my escape in to a castle, called Ganosulmi, while many of my companions in the journey were either taken or slain.[10]

After travelling in this plain for five days, towards the south, the road again begins, by little and little, to descend for twenty miles together, the road itself being very bad, and not without danger from thieves. At the bottom of this declivity there is another plain of great beauty and fertility, which extend for two days journey in breadth. This fine country, which is called Cormos or Ormus,[11] abounds in streams of water, and plantations of date palms, and there are abundance of birds of various kinds, particularly of popinjays, which are not like those of Europe.

After two days journey across this plain country, we arrive at the sea, in which is the island and city of Ormus, which is the capital of the kingdom, and a great emporium of commerce, to which many merchants resort, bringing spices, pearls, precious stones, cloth of gold and silver, and all the other rich commodities of India, The king is called Ruchinad Ben Achomach, having many cities and castles under his authority, and he makes himself the heir of all merchants who happen to die in that placed; yet he is himself tributary to the king of Chermain or Kerman. In summer the heat of this country is quite outrageous, and the inhabitants betake themselves to their summer houses, which are built in the waters. From nine o'clock in the morning till noon, there blows a wind, with such extreme heat, from the sands, that it is quite stifling and insufferable, and during this time the people sit in the water. The king of Kerman once sent an array of 5000 foot and 1600 horse against the king of Ormus, to compel the payment of tribute, when the whole army was stifled by that wind. The inhabitants of Ormus eat no flesh, or bread made of corn; but live upon dates, salt fish, and onions. The ships of this country are not very stout, as they do not fasten them with iron nails, because the timber is too brittle, and would split in driving these home; but they are fastened with wooden pins, and sewed with twine made from the husks of certain Indian nuts, prepared in a peculiar manner; this twine or thread is very strong, and is able to endure the force and violence of the waters, and is not easily corrupted.[12] These ships have only one mast, one beam or yard, and one deck, and are not payed with pitch, but with the oil and fat of fishes; and when they cross the sea to India, carrying horses or other cargoes, they lose many ships, because they are not strengthened with iron. The people of this country are black, and have embraced the religion of Mahomet. It is the custom of this country, when the master of a family dies, that the widow shall mourn for him publickly once every day, for four years; but there are women who profess the practice of mourning, and are hired to mourn daily for the dead.

In returning from Ormus to Kerman, you pass through a fertile plain, but the bread made there cannot be eaten, except by those who are accustomed to it, it is so exceedingly bitter, on account of the water with which it is made. In this country there are excellent hot baths, which cure many diseases.

[1] Now Tebriz in Corcan.--E.
[2] This must refer to Fars, or Persia proper; as Tebriz is in Persia.--E.
[3] Perhaps Iracagemi?--E.
[4] Perhaps Kerman?--E.
[5] Inexplicably corrupt.--E.
[6] Timochaim and Arboresecco are inexplicable, perhaps from corrupt transcription. But Timochaim appears to nave been Mekran on the coast of the Indian sea, and perhaps reached to the Indus, as observed in a former note; and it may have included Sigistan.--E.
[7] Jasdi is almost certainly Yezd in Fars. Pinkerton considers Chiaman to be Crerina, which is impossible, as that place is afterwards named: Perhaps it may be the province named Timochaim, mentioned in the immediately preceding note.--E.
[8] As the route may be considered as nearly in a straight line south from Yesd, Crerina may possibly be the city of Kerrnan, and the cold elevated plain, a table land between the top of the Ajuduk mountains and a nameless range to the south, towards Gambroon or Ormus. Adgamad being destroyed, cannot now be ascertained, but it must have stood on the fine plain above described, and at the bottom of these southern mountains. Reobarle is not to be found In our maps, but must have been a name for the province of Ormus.--E.
[9] There is a series of corruptions or absurdities here: a Malabar government under a Sultan Asiden, or Asi-o-din, situated at Dely, conquered by a secret expedition from Turkestan, requires a more correct edition of the original of Marco Polo to render intelligible. We can suppose a tribe of Indians or Blacks not far from Gombroon, to have been under the rule of a musselman Sultan, and conquered or subverted by a Tartar expedition from Touran, or the north of Persia: But this remains a mere hypothetical explanation.--E.
[10] For this paragraph, the editor is indebted to Mr Pinkerton, Mod. Geog. II. xxii. who has had the good fortune to procure what he thinks an original edition from the MS. of Marco Polo.--E.
[11] By some singular negligence in translating, Mr Pinkerton, in the passage quoted in the preceding note, has ridiculously called this country the plain of Formosa, mistaking the mere epithet, descriptive of its beauty in the Italian language, for its name. The district was obviously a distinct small kingdom, named Ormus from its capital city; which, from its insular situation, and great trade with India, long maintained a splendid independence.--E.
[12] The two Mahometan travellers of the ninth century, give precisely the same account of the ships of Siraf, in the same gulf of Persia.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 11, Section 4 -- Account of several other Countries, and their Principal Curiosities.

From Kerman,[1] in three days riding, you come to a desert which extends to Cobin-ham,[2] seven days journey across, the desert. In the first three days you have no water, except a few salt, bitter ponds, of a green colour, like the juice of herbs; and whoever drinks even a small quantity of this water, cannot escape a dysentery, and even beasts that are compelled to drink of it, do not escape without a scouring. It is therefore necessary for travellers to carry water along with them, that they may avoid the inconvenience and danger of thirst. In the fourth day you find a subterranean river of fresh water.[3]. The three last days of this desert are like the first three. Cobin-ham is a great city, where great mirrors of steel are made.[4] Tutia also, which is a cure for sore eyes, and spodio are made here in the following manner: From the mines of this country they dig a certain earth, which is thrown into furnaces, from which the vapours, forced downwards, through an iron grate, condense below into tutia of tutty,[5] and the grosser matter remaining in the furnace is called spodio.

Leaving Cobin-ham, you meet with another desert of eight days journey in extent, and terribly barren, having neither trees or water, except what is extremely bitter, insomuch, that beasts refuse to drink of it, except when mixed with meal, and travellers are therefore obliged to carry water along with them. After passing this desert, you come to the kingdom of Timochaim,[6] in the north confines of Persia, in which there are many cities and strong castles. In this country there is an extensive plain, in which one great tree grows, which is called the Tree of the Sun, and by Christians Arbore-secco,[7] or the dry tree. This tree is very thick, the leaves being green on one side, and white on the other, and it produces prickly and husky shells, like those of chesnuts, but nothing in them. The wood is strong and solid, and of a yellow colour like box. There are no other trees within an hundred miles, except on one side, where there are trees at the distance of ten miles. In this place, the inhabitants say that Alexander fought a battle against Darius.[8] The cities of this place are plentifully furnished with good things; the air is temperate, and the people handsome, especially the women, who are in my opinion the handsomest in the world.

[1] Marco here probably means the town or city of Kerm-shir, as that lies in the course of his present route from Ormus to the north-east of Persia.--E.
[2] This name is inexplicable; yet from the circumstance of its mines, and the direction of the journey, it may have been situated near the Gebelabad mountains; and some German editor may have changed abad, into the precisely similar significant termination ham. The original probably had Cobin-abad.--E.
[3] In confirmation of the idea entertained of the present route of Marco, from Ormus by Kerm-shir, to the north-east of Persia, there is, in the maps, a short river in the desert between Diden and Mastih, which has no outlet, but loses itself in the sands, on which account he may have called it subterraneous, as sinking into the earth.--E.
[4] More probably of copper, whitened by some admixture of zinc, and other metals, of the existence of which in this district there are sufficient indications in the sequel. These mirrors may have been similar to telescope metal.--E.
[5] What is here called Tutty, is probably the sublimed floculent white oxid, or flowers of zinc.--E.
[6] Timochaim seems obviously Segistan, to which Mechran appears to have been then joined, from the circumstance before related of the Polos having gone from China by sea to this kingdom. The strange application of Timochaim is probably corrupt, and may perhaps be explicable on the republication of the Trevigi edition of these travels; till then, we must rest satisfied with probable conjecture.--E.
[7] The native name of this tree, and of the plain in which it grew, appears obviously to have been translated by Marco into Italian.--E.
[8] It is possible that this Arbore-secco may have some reference to Arbela.--E.



Volume 1, Chapter 11, Section 5 -- History of the Assassins, and the manner in which their Prince was killed: With the description of several other Countries.

Mulchet,[1] in the Saracen language, signifies the place of Heretics, and the people of the place are called Hulehetici, or heretics in regard to the Mahometan law. The prince of this country is called the old man of the mountain, concerning whom I Marco heard much from many persons during my travels. His name was Aloadin, and he was a Mahometan. In a lovely valley between two high and inaccessible mountains, he caused a pleasant garden to be laid out, furnished with the best trees and fruits that could be procured, and adorned with many palaces and banqueting houses, beautified with gilded bowers, pictures, and silken tapestries. Through this place, by means of pipes, wine, milk, honey, and water were distributed in profusion; and it was provided with beautiful damsels, skilled in music, singing and dancing, and in all imaginable sports and diversions. These damsels were dressed in silk and gold, and were seen continually sporting in the garden and its palaces. He made this garden with all its palaces and pleasures, in imitation of that sensual paradise, which Mahomet had promised to his followers. No man could enter into this garden, as the mouth of the valley was closed up by a strong castle, from which there was a secret entrance into the garden, which was called the Terrestrial Paradise.

Aloadin had certain youths from twelve to twenty years of age, chosen among such as seemed of a bold and dauntless character, who were initiated in all the pleasures and delights of this paradise, and whom he employed to entice others to join the select company of young enthusiasts, by representing the joys and pleasures of the paradise of Aloadin. When he thought proper, he caused ten or twelve of these youths to be cast into a deep sleep, by means of a potion, and then had them conveyed severally into different chambers of the garden palaces; where they were attended upon at their awaking by the beautiful damsels, and supplied with all kind of delicious meats and fruits and excellent wines, and in whose company they enjoyed all manner of luxurious delights, so that they imagined that they were actually transported into paradise. When they had revelled in delights for a few days, they were again cast into a deep sleep, and removed from the garden of pleasure; and being brought into the presence of Aloadin, were questioned by him where they had been. The old man then represented that it was the command of the prophet, that whoever was faithful and obedient to his lord, should enjoy the delights of paradise; and that if they would faithfully obey all his commands, they should be admitted to reside continually among the joys of which they had been permitted to participate for a short time. Having thus roused their passions for pleasure, they thought themselves happy to execute whatever commands they might receive, even at the utmost hazard of their lives, being assured, whether living or dead, that their obedience would secure them the eternal enjoyment of paradise and all its delights. By these means Aloadin used to procure the murder of other lords who were his enemies, by these his assassins, who despised all dangers, and contemned their lives when employed in his service. By this procedure he was esteemed a tyrant, and greatly dreaded by all around; and he had two vicars or deputies, one in the neighbourhood of Damascus, and another in Curdistan, who had similarly instructed young men under their orders. Besides this, he used to rob all passengers who went past his borders. At length, in the year 1262, Ulau, or Houlagu-khan, sent an armed force against him, which besieged his castle for three years, and at length made themselves masters of it, partly by famine, and partly by undermining the walls.[2]

Departing from thence,[3] you come to a pleasant enough country, diversified by hills and plains with excellent pasture, and abundance of fruits, the soil being very fertile.[4] This continues for six days journey, and then you enter a desert of forty or fifty miles without water; after which you come to the city of Sassurgan,[5] where there are plenty of provisions, and particularly the best melons in the world, which are as sweet as honey. Passing from thence, we come to a certain city named Batach, Balach, or Balk, which was formerly large and famous, having sumptuous marble palaces, but is now overthrown by the Tartars. In this city it is reported that Alexander married the daughter of Darius. The eastern and north-eastern frontiers of Persia reach to this city; but in proceeding between the east and north-east from this place, we found no habitations for two days journey, the inhabitants having endured so many grievances from thieves, that they were compelled to fly to the mountains for safety. There are many rivers in this country, and much game, and lions are also to be met with. As travellers can find no food in this part of their journey, they must carry enough with them for two days. At the end of two days journey, we came to a castle called Thaican, Thalkan, or Thakan, where we saw pleasant fields and abundance of corn. The mountains to the south of this place are high, some of which contain white salt, so extremely hard that it has to be dug out and broken with iron tools; and the inhabitants, from thirty days journey all around, come here to procure salt, which is of most excellent quality, and is in such amazing quantities, that the whole world might be supplied from these mines. The other mountains produce abundance of almonds and pistachio nuts.

Going between the east and north-east from hence, the country is fruitful, but the inhabitants are perfidious Mahometans, murderers, thieves, and drunkards. Their wine is boiled, and truly excellent. They go bareheaded, except that the men bind a string or fillet, ten handbreadths long, about their heads. They make breeches and shoes of the skins of wild beasts, and use no other garments. After three days journey is the town of Scasom,[6, seated in a plain, through the middle of which there flows a great river; and there are many castles in the surrounding mountains.[7] There are many porcupines in this country, which are hunted by dogs; and these animals, contracting themselves with great fury, cast their sharp quills at the men and dogs, and often wound them. The nation has a peculiar language, and the shepherds dwell in caves in the mountains.

We went three days journey from thence, without meeting any inhabitants, to the province of Balaxiam, Balascia or Balasagan, which is inhabited by Mahometans, who have a peculiar language. Their kings, who succeed each other hereditarily, pretend to derive their lineage from Alexander and the daughter of Darius, and are called Dulcarlen, which signifies Alexandrians. In this country the famous Ballas rubies are found, and other precious stones of great value, particularly in the mountains of Sicinam. No person dares either to dig for these stones, or to send them out of the country, without the consent and licence of the king, on pain of death; and he only sends them to such as he thinks fit, either as presents, or in payment of tribute; he likewise exchanges many of them for gold and silver, lest they should become too cheap and common. In other mountains of the same province, the best lapis lazuli in the world is found, from which azure or ultramarine is made. There are mines also of silver, copper, and lead. The climate is very cold, yet it produces abundance of large, strong, and swift horses, which have such hard and tough hoofs, that they do not require iron shoes, although they have to run among rocks. It is said, that not many years ago, the king's uncle was in the exclusive possession of a breed of horses descended from the famous Bucephalus, and marked on the forehead exactly as he was; and refusing to let the king have any of his stud, he was put to death, on which his widow, in revenge, destroyed the whole race. The mountains of this country produce the sacre falcon, the lanner, the goshawk, and the sparrowhawk, all excellent in their kind, and much used by the inhabitants in the chase, as they are all much addicted to hunting. The soil of this country produces excellent wheat, and barley without husks, and oil made of nuts and mustard, which resembles the oil from lintseed, but is more savoury than other oil.

The men of the country are excellent archers and keen hunters, and are mostly clothed in the skins of beasts; while the women contrive to put sixty or eighty yards of cotton cloth into the skirts of their garments, as the bulkier they look they are esteemed the handsomer. The plains of this country are large, and well watered with fine rivers, but the hills are high and steep, and the passes very difficult of access, by which the inhabitants are secured against invasions; and in these mountains there are flocks of from four hundred to six hundred wild sheep, which are very difficult to catch. If any one contracts an ague by living in the moist plains, he is sure to recover his health by a few days residence in the mountains, which I Marco experienced in my own person after a whole year's sickness.

The province Bascia, or Vash, on a river of that name which falls into the Gihon, is ten days journey to the south of Balaxiam, and the country is very hot, on which account the people are of a brown colour. They have a language of their own, and wear gold and silver ear-rings, artificially ornamented with pearls and other precious stones; they eat flesh and rice, and are crafty and cruel idolaters.

The province of Chesmur, Khesimus, Khaschimir, or Cashmere, is seven days journey from Bascia. The inhabitants have also a peculiar language of their own, and are given to idolatry beyond all others, and addicted to enchantment, forcing their idols to speak, and darkening the day. The people of this country are not wholly black, but of a brown complexion, the air being temperate. They are extremely lean, although they use abundance of flesh and rice; yet the natives will shed no blood, and employ the Saracens who live among them to slaughter their cattle. They have many strong cities and towns, and being surrounded by deserts and rugged mountains, they are in no danger of any foreign enemies, so that the king of this country yields tribute to none. Coral is held in great estimation in this country, and sells dearer than in any other part of the world. There are certain hermits in this province, who live with great abstinence in cells and monasteries, devoting their whole lives to the service of their idols, and observing the strictest chastity; Many of these men are reputed as saints and are held in high estimation among the people. From this province you may go to the Indies and the ocean; but I shall not now follow out the course to India, but returning to Balaxiam, shall trace the way to Kathay, betwixt the east and north-east.

Beyond Balaxium is a certain river, on which there are many castles and villages, belonging to the brother of the king of Balaxium; and after three days journey, we came to Vachan,[8] which extends three days journey in length, and as much is breadth, The inhabitants of this country have a peculiar language, and are Mahometans; they are brave warriors, and good huntsmen, as their country abounds in wild beasts. Departing from thence, in a direction between the east and north-east, we ascended for three whole days journey, until we came to an exceeding high mountain, than which there is none said to be higher in the world. In this place, between two mountains, is a plain, in which is a great lake, and a fine river runs through the plain, on the banks of which are such excellent pastures, that a lean horse or ox will become quite fat in ten days. It contains also great quantities of wild beasts, and particularly very large wild sheep, having horns six spans long, out of which they make various kinds of vessels. This plain continues twelve days journey in length, and is called Pamer, in which there are no habitations, so that travellers must carry all their provisions along with them. This plain is so high and cold that no birds are to be found; and it is even said, that fires do not burn so bright in this place, and do not so effectually boil or dress victuals as in other places.[9] From hence, the way to Kathay leads, for forty days journey, between the east and the north-east, through mountains, hills, and vallies, in which there are many rivers, but no villages, neither any verdure, except that some huts and cottages are to be seen among the mountains; but the inhabitants are savage and wicked idolaters, who live by hunting, and are clothed in the skins of wild beasts; the country is called Palow.[10] After this you come to the province of Caschar,[11] which is inhabited by Mahometans, who are tributary to the great khan of the Mongals or Tartars. The soil is fertile, and the country is full of pleasant fields, gardens, and orchards, producing vines, fruit trees, cotton, hemp, and flax, and extends five days journey. The inhabitants have a particular language, and have many merchants, manufacturers, and artizans, but they are so covetous, that they do not allow themselves either good meat or drink. Among them there are some Nestorian Christians, who also have some churches.

[1] Called likewise Mulete or Alamut; Marco makes here a sudden return to the north-west of Persia; and from the abruptness of the transition, it has been probably disarranged in transcription. This country has been likewise called the land of the Assassins; it is near Cashbin in Dilem, on the borders of Mazenderan.--E.
[2] The last of these princes was named Moadin, who, as mentioned in the text, was made prisoner, and put to death by Houlagu-khan. In the sequel of this work, there will be found other and more full accounts of this old man of the mountain, or prince of the assassins.--E.
[3] The transition seems here again abrupt, and unconnected; at least the intermediate country of Mazerderan and Chorassan to the desert, probably of Margiana, is very slightly passed over.--E.
[4] In this section, Marco seems to trace his journey along with his father and uncle from Giazza towards Tartary; but the regular connection appears to have been thrown into confusion, by ignorant transcribers and editors.--E.
[5] Probably Satugar of the modern maps, on the western border of Balk.--E.
[6] Forster considers this place to be Scasse or Al-shash, on the river Sirr or Sihon, perhaps the Tashkund of modern maps, in the province of Shash. The distances given by Marco must be strangely corrupted by transcribers and editors, or Marco must have forgot when he wrote his travels, perhaps twenty-six years after he passed this country, when only a boy. The distance between Balk, on one of the branches of the Sihon or Oxus, and Shash on the Jihon or Sirr, is at least 350 miles in a straight line; which he appears to have travelled in five days, but which would more probably occupy fifteen.--E.
[7] This river is probably the Sirr or Sihon; and the mountains of Karatan and Arjun pervade the district, the two chains being separated by the river.--E.
[8] Vochan, Vocham or Vakhan, on the river Vash.--Forst.
[9] This observation was made on the mountains of Savoy and Switzerland, not many years ago, by M. de Luc, and published as a new discovery. The phenomena must be owing to the diminished pressure of the atmosphere at this great elevation, by which water boils at a much lower temperature than is requisite for effective cookery: A digester would effectually remove this evil, by enabling the water to become sufficiently hot, without being dissipated.--E.
[10] Beloro, Belor, or Belur, according to Forster. This immense extent of forty days journey through deserts, seems to include the deserts of Sultus, Cobi, and Shamo, and to reach to the frontiers of Kathay, or Northern China.--E.
[11] Cascar, Chascar, Cassar, Kaschgar, or Hasicar, according to Forster. Cashgar is at the western end of the great desert, instead of the eastern, as expressed in the text; indeed this route is most confusedly, and almost unintelligibly laid down, probably from corrupted transcription. The series ought to have been, the high table land of Pamer, the province of Cashgar, and lastly, the desert of Pelow or Belur. But care must be taken to distinguish this from the chain of Belur-tag, which runs north and south, between Great and Little Bucharia.--E.


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