Are Marco Polo’s descriptions of the places mentioned in Chapter 3 accurate?

In the description of the world, Marco Polo has described his seeing and experience. Since the book was based on his memory and his words, people nowadays have drawn several questions on whether his descriptions of the places are accurate. Many authorities also have doubts about whether Marco Polo has actually arrived in China. The question thrown by our group is whether Marco Polo’s descriptions of the places and people mentioned in Chapter 3 are accurate. We will cover Tartar women, the province of Bangala, Cangigu, and Aniu, the great city of Jingzhaofu, the borders between Cathay and Mangi, whether Marco Polo visited Qarajang, whether Marco Polo visited Tibet and his descirption of Tibet were accurate. The accuracy of the description of the world may change how historians look at this book. If it is fictional, history on his travel and other history used it as a prove needs to be redone. Hence, our finding may change the history.

Why choose Bangala?

Marco Polo’s description of Bangala (Bengal) consists of many errors that lead to serious doubts about not only his actual appearance in this place, but also the validity of any information he presents in his chapters mentioning Bangala. Major questions include the geographical location of the province of Bangala, the doubtful supremacy of the King of Mien in Bangala, and certain details presented in the description such as the currency and the elephants. Currently, it is widely agreed that Marco Polo derived most information about Bangala from others instead of visiting the place himself, but scholars have divided opinion about whether the seamen on his return journey or in-landers in Yun-nan told him about it. In either case, Marco Polo was receiving exaggerated and inaccurate information that would later be told in the book. Overall, Marco Polo’s description of Bangala in Chapter Three misses several vital facts and is thus not accurate. However, certain details (whether accurate or not) could not possibly be observed by Marco Polo were he not in places approximating Southern China. However, faithfully and scholarly recording the exact truth of the travel was neither his, nor the actual author’s objective. Even in places where he went in-person, the addition of Christian tales and stories gathered from hearsay compromises Marco Polo’s accuracy in his accounts.

Why choose Mongol Woman?

In the description of the world, Marco Polo mentioned women and their customs for many times especially when he visited Cathy and Illkhnate. These stories sound very intriguing, amazing and even unbelievable. Considering women’s important role in the Mongol empire, it is important to figure out whether or not Marco Polo told us were true. Our group’s topic is related to whether Marco Polo had been to Cathy and I would narrow down the area to Zardandan and Tibet, which Marco Polo told the women customs there vividly. By doing researches on women customs, we could attest and deduce whether or not Marco Polo had even been to Cathy and how much we could believe on the description of the world.

Why choose Tibet?

There is not much information about the credibility of whether did Marco Polo visit Tibet. However, there are controversy parts that conflict with other sources. I would conclude that Marco Polo may have hear the stories of Tibet, but did not actually visit Tibet.

Why choose Bangala?

Bangala is a region outside China, and is supposed to be one of the last places “visited” by Marco Polo in his emissary starting from Peking. It would be interesting to see whether Marco Polo actually visited these places, especially when Bangala remained independent of the Mongol Empire. Marco Polo includes in his book many legends and tales that compromise his accuracy even in places he has visited. It would be interesting to see whether he would gather actually accurate information when he attempts to write about places completely based on hearsay.

Why choose Tibet?

There is not much information about the credibility of whether did Marco Polo visit Tibet. However, there are controversy parts that conflict with other sources. I would conclude that Marco Polo may have hear the stories of Tibet, but did not actually visit Tibet.

Why choose Qarajang?

The B5 group question is “whether Marco Polo’s descriptions of the places mentioned in Chapter 3 of The Description of the World are accurate.” The topic of this individual project is Qarajang and the question is “did Marco Polo visit Qarajang as his descriptions in the Description of the World?” “Qarajang” is the special Mongol term for “Yunnan”. This individual project proves that most descriptions of Qarajang are real. If Marco Polo visited Qarajang, then he would have most likely visited other places that appeared in The Description of the World. And it helps answer the group question.

Why choose Jingzhaofu and the border of Cathay and Mangi?

In order to answer the group question, which is “whether Marco Polo’s descriptions of the places mentioned in Chapter 3 of The Description of the World are accurate.” I choose the city of Jingzhaofu and the border of Cathay and Mangi. Jingzhaofu is the city where known as Xi’an in modern era. It is the origin of the silk road. As a city of fame, it has been recorded to many resources. Therefore, there is a great abundance of articles regard this place. The war between Cathay, which is Mongol, and Mangi, which is Southern Song, is well recorded with a timeline. In conclusion, they both help answer our group’s question.



Regarding Bangala:

Almost no information related to the important aspects of Bangala appears to be entirely correct, although in some sense these mixed-up, often faulty statements still require Marco Polo to be present somewhere locally. In the end, Marco Polo undeniably fails to make an accurate account of Bangala in Chapter Three.

Regarding Mongol Women:

Marco Polo mentioned many women customs when he visited Cathy. By doing researches, we could assume that most of he said were trustworthy. We find out many relevant resources that corresponds to what Marco said. Most importantly, these researches were usually finished after the publish of the description of the World. Although Marco might exaggerate on some details, we could still believe him and think he really come to Cathy before.

Regarding Qarajang:

The chapter 3 of The Description of the World is about Marco Polo’s travel to western and southwestern provinces of China. The section 118 and the section 119 are about Qarajang. Qarajang was the kingdom of Dali, but it should refer to the entire Yunnan province. The six parts of this individual project include the geographical content of Qarajang and whether what Marco Polo saw on the way to Qarajang and in Qarajang were accurate. It can be concluded that although there are some inaccurate details, most of the texts in two sections are real. This may prove that Marco Polo did travel to Qarajang. And if that is true, the reliability of other texts in chapter 3 grows. The description of chapter 3 is more reliable.

Regarding Jingzhaofu:

The part where Marco Polo described Jingzhaofu is basically accurate, though the name has been changed to Anxi since the arrival of Mangala, who is the King of Anxi at that time. However, they went west to Gongchang, where is not the border of Southern Song and Cathay. At that time, the Mongol Empire has already conquered Xiangyang. Southern Song has lost its defend power. Therefore, the part where the Polos described the border between Song and Yuan at that time was problematic.

Regarding Tibet:

It is true that Marco Polo’s descriptions of the objects or traditions were, indeed, occurred in ancient Tibet. However, the accuracy diminished the credibility of his visit to Tibet. Marco Polo messed up the description of plants, and exaggerated the description of natural resources and his route to Tibet. Moreover, some of the customs of Tibet were only mentioned in the DW, and do not have other references. Thus, I conclude that Marco did not visit Tibet, but he heard the descriptions of Tibet from other people.

Resource list

Polo, Marco. The Description of the World. Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

Tony Jaques (2007). Tony Jaques (ed.). Dictionary of battles and sieges: a guide to 8,500 battles from antiquity through the twenty-first century,Volume 3.

Shea, Marilyn. “Yuan Dynasty 元朝 Double Six Magic Square 幻方铁板.” Double Six Magic Square in Arabic Yuan Dynasty 元朝 Shaanxi History Museum 陕西历史博物馆,

“Xi’an.” Xi’an and the Silk Road,

Prazniak, Roxann. Constantinople in Rum Chapter 2

De Nicola, Women’s Role and Participation in Warfare in the Mongol Empire.

Rustichello, The description of the world.

David Morgan, The Mongols

Paul Pelliot, Notes on Marco Polo

Mr.Copper’s journal, Travels_, ch. x.

Martini Garnier_, I. 520; _Pall. Samml._ II. 235; _Ael. Var. Hist._ III. 1; _Rawl. Herod._ Bk. IV. ch. clxxvi.

Ann. de la Propag. de la Foi_, XXXV. 352

C.V. Mosby Company, American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Gudger, E. W. “Marco Polo and Some Modern Things Old in the Asia of His Day.” The Scientific Monthly, vol. 37, no. 6, 1933,

Westermarck, Human Marriage_,

Gen Shen Wai Shi 庚申外史(1367), by Quan Heng 权衡. (Wang Ruzao edition).

“Jinsha River”.

“Dali”. Britannica.

“Yesün Temür Khan, Emperor Taiding of Yuan”.

Li Tang, “East Syrian Christianity in China under the Mongol Empire: A History Reconstructed”. Published by: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Ronit Yoeli-Tlalim, “Islam and Tibet: Cultural Interactions–An Introduction.”

Fang Tie 方铁. “Yunnan Yinshi Wenhua Yu Yunnan Lishi Fazhan” 云南饮食文化与云南历史发展, Yunnan University Xinan Bianjiang Shaoshu Minzu Yanjiu ZHongxin 云南大学西南边疆少数民族研究中心(2005).

Jizhi, Yin. Xiaorong, Chen. “试论贝币在我国的行用”. Zhongguo Zhiwang 中国知网. published in


Haw, Stephen G. Marco Polo’s China: a Venetian in the Realm of Khubilai Khan. Routledge, 2009.

Pennant, Thomas. The View of Hindoostan. Printed by Henry Hughs, 1798.

Pelliot, Paul, 1878-1945. Notes On Marco Polo: Ouvrage Posthume. Paris: Impr. nationale, 19591973.

Polo, Marco. The Description of the World, Hackett Publishing Company, Incorporated, 2016. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Polo, Marco, et al. 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). Dover Publications, 1993.

Polo, Marco, 1254-1323?, Amy Frances Yule, Henri Cordier, and Henry Yule. The Book of Ser Marco Polo, the Venetian: Concerning the Kingdoms And Marvels of the East.

Vogel, Hans Ulrich. Marco Polo Was in China : New Evidence from Currencies, Salts and Revenues, BRILL, 2012. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Wood, Frances. Did Marco Polo Go to China? Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1996.

Westermarck, Edward Alexander. The History of Human Marriage. Chadwyck-Healey Ltd., 1991.