Mongol Group c2

Is Marco Polo’s description of cities and stories in Chapter 1 reliable?

Introduction

Why research on the credibility of Marco Polo’s account of West Asia is important?

The Description of the World is a travelogue which describes Italian explorer Marco Polo’s experience in Asia between 1271 and 1295. The original manuscript, which was in Franco-Italian, was by written by Arthurian romance writer Rustichello of Pisa from Marco Polo’s oral accounts in 1298, when both of them were imprisoned in Genoa, yet it was lost. The version used for this research project is translated and annotated by Sharon Kinoshita from the Franco-Italian manuscript completed in 1310, which is regarded as the closest one to the original version.

Marco Polo’s accounts of Asia are extremely rich in details, presenting a fascinating picture that depicts the cities, customs, political system in the eastern world. However, ever since its publication, people have been questioning on the authenticity and credibility of Marco Polo’s accounts in the book.

This research project focuses on assessing the credibility of Marco Polo’s accounts in the first chapter of the Description of the World: The “West Asia and the Approach to the Court of the Great Khan.” The specific question we would like to address is whether Marco Polo’s description of cities and stories in the first chapter is reliable.

West Asia was regarded as the very first step in Marco Polo and his companions’ journey to the east, and it served as an important geographic link between Europe and East Asia. In fact, at the end of the first chapter, Marco Polo had reached Ganzhou, a city that is located in Modern China. Therefore, researching on the reliability of Marco Polo’s accounts of West Asia might lay the foundation of studying the credibility of Marco Polo’s follow-up trip in China, as well as the reliability of the accounts of the entire book.

In conclusion, based on the studies of all group members, we conduct a conclusion that, in the first chapter, Marco Polo’s description of some cities in West Asia is generally accurate and credible yet with some of the details are missing and inaccurate. The great marvels and stories that appear in this chapter should not be reliable due to the fact that many of these stories exist in different versions displaying in different materials. In addition, some stories are just legends which cannot increase the credibility of Marco Polo’s account.

 

Derrick research focuses on assessing the reliability of Marco Polo’s description of Persia as well as stories Marco Polo related to the region of Persia. Specifically, Derrick research could be divided into three parts: examining the story of three Magi, the existence and location of Persian cities being mentioned in the account, and the culture and commodity being described there. By comparing accounts in the DW and accounts in other sources, Derrick finds most accounts of Persia are reliable, while some details are not. Therefore, Derrick believes that the details of the cities being mentioned in the first chapter might be imprecise.

 

Yvonne’s individual section will study on the credibility of Marco Polo’s description of Baghdad and the great marvel occurred with the mountain in Baghdad by combining abundant evidence. Baghdad was an important city due to its location in West Asia. Various sources especially documentary records of the expansion of the Mongol empire in West Asia especially the fall down of Baghdad can be utilized as powerful references to testify the credibility of Marco Polo’s accounts of Baghdad. Based on studies, Marco Polo’s account of city Kish, fall of Baghdad, and the story of caliph was reliable although it lacked of sufficient and detailed descriptions while the river Tigris, date of attack on Baghdad and the grate marvel related was unreliable.

 

 

Dean’s research focuses on assessing Marco Polo’s accounts of the Kerman and Horom by consulting with sources from Henry Yule. Based on his research, Dean concludes that Marco Polo’s description of Kerman and Hormos is reliable and infers the reliability of Marco Polo’s accounts of other cities in the first chapter.

 

 

Ziyu’s research focuses on the examining the reliability of the story of the Old Man of the Mountain, an interesting story recorded in The Description of the World. By assessing the credibility of this story, Ziyu contributes to the group research topic, which is assessing the credibility of this of description of cities and stories in the first chapter. Consulting with primary source《西使记》and secondary source from Nowell, C, Ziyu concludes that this is indeed a story that prevailed in Yuan Dynasty, yet it should be perceived as a legend rather than a historic fact. Therefore, stories appearing in the first chapter of DW might indeed prevail in the regions where Marco Polo related the stories to, yet whether the story is a historical fact or legend needs further examination.

 

Peici’s research focuses on assessing the credibility of Marco Polo’s accounts of the province of Tangut by closely examining the religious customs and burial rituals in Tangut which were depicted by Marco Polo. Tangut is one of the very last provinces appearing in the first chapter of DW, and its geographical location serves as a critical entry to China and the greater East Asia. Since Tangut is geographically important and richly described by Marco Polo, assessing the credibility of Marco Polo’s account would somehow provide a crucial evidence regarding the reliability of Marco Polo’s accounts of other regions in the first chapter. By working on sources from Henry Yule and other contemporary historians, Peici concludes that Marco Polo’s accounts of Tangut are credible, though some important features of the region are missing in the account, speculating that Marco Polo’s accounts of other regions in the first chapter might be reliable yet lack great details.

 

 

Group References:

Persia

1. A. V. Williams Jackson. (1905). The Magi in Marco Polo and the Cities in Persia from Which They Came to Worship the Infant Christ. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 26, 79-83. doi:10.2307/592877

2. Bellonci, M., Rimoaldi, A. M., & Della Valle, V. (2013). Il Milione di Marco Polo. Oscar Mondadori.

3. Enciclopaedial, Iranica, htps://iranicaonline.org/artcles/polo-marco

4. Gh. R. Warahräm, “Holland East Indian Company in Iran”, Revue de la Faculty des Let tres et Sciences Humaines de l’Universite Ferdowsi, Meshed

5. Heil, J. (2017). The Gospel of Matthew: Worship in the Kingdom of Heaven. Cambridge: The Lutterworth Press. doi:10.2307/j.ctvj4sw2d

6. Heil, J. P. (2018). The Gospel of Matthew. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvj4sw2d

7. Jacfari, Tärikh-e Yazd(1338/ 1959), ed. I. Afsar, Tehran, Bongahe Tarjome va Nasre Ketab

8. MIR-AHMADI, M. (2008). MARCO POLO IN IRAN. Oriente Moderno, 88, 1-13. Retrieved December 22, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/23073478

9. Olschki, L. (1950). The Crib of Christ and the Bowl of Buddha. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 70(3), 161-164. doi:10.2307/596261

10. Polo, M. (1928). Marco Polo; Il milione.

11. Polo, M. (2016). The Description of the World. (S. Kinoshita, Trans.). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

12. Salles, G. (1947). Paul Pelliot. Publ. par la Société Asiatique.

13. Sh. Nasawi, Sirat-e Jaldl al-Din Mangburn’i(1365/1986), ed. M. Minovi, Tehran, Bongah-e Tarjom^ va Nasr-e Ketäb.

Baghdad

1. Olschki, L. (1950). The Crib of Christ and the Bowl of Buddha. Journal of the American Oriental Society, 70(3), 161-164. doi:10.2307/596261

2. BRETSCHNEIDER, E., & Bretschneider, E. (1887). Mediaeval researches from eastern Asiatic sources. In Mediaeval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources (Vol. 1, pp. 1–347).

3. Jackson, P. (1998). Marco Polo and His ‘Travels’. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, 61(1), 82-101. Retrieved December 21, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/3107293.

4. Jackson, P. (2017). HÜLEGÜ’S CAMPAIGNS AND IMPERIAL FRAGMENTATION (1253–62). In The Mongols and the Islamic World: From Conquest to Conversion (pp. 125-151). NEW HAVEN; LONDON: Yale University Press. Retrieved December 2, 2020, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1n2tvq0.13

5. Joinville, Jean de. 1963.The Life of Saint Louis.” In Joinville and Villehardouin. Chronicles of the Crusades. Trans. M. R. B. Shaw. London: Penguin.

6. Polo, M., Yule, H., Cordier, H., & Yule, A. F. (1903). The book of Ser Marco Polo the Venetian concerning the kingdoms and marvels of the East / e3. ed. rev. throughout in the light of recent discoveries; Henry Cordier; cWith a memoir of Henry Yule by his daughter Amy Frances Yule. London.

7. Pruitt, Jennifer. 2015. Miracle at Muqattam: Moving a Mountain to Build a Church in the Early Fatimid Caliphate (969–995).” In Sacred Precincts: Non-Muslim Religious Sites in Islamic Territories, edited by Mohammad Gharipour and Stephen Caffey. 277–90. Boston: Brill.

8. Rachewiltz, Igor de, “The Secret History of the Mongols: A Mongolian Epic Chronicle of the Thirteenth Century” (2015). Shorter version edited by John C. Street, University of Wisconsin―Madison. Books and Monographs. Book 4. http://cedar.wwu.edu/cedarbooks/4

9. Raphael, Kate. Mongol Siege Warfare on the Banks of the Euphrates and the Question of Gunpowder (1260–1312).” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society 19. 3 (June 2009): 355–70. https://doi.org/10.1017/s1356186309009717.

10. Polo, M. (2016). The Description of the World (S. Kinoshita, Trans.). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

11. Image 1 copyright from https://images.app.goo.gl/6B8gE8wFV4HWYPRj7

12. Image 2 copyright from https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadliestblogpage.files.wordpress.com%2F2019%2F02%2Flast-caliph.jpg&imgrefurl=https%3A%2F%2Fdeadliestblogpage.wordpress.com%2F2019%2F02%2F13%2Fend-of-the-caliphate-mongol-sack-of-baghdad-1258%2F&tbnid=WWPFyU1llJ5EUM&vet=1&docid=8PsxcysU4H0L4M&w=937&h=562&source=sh%2Fx%2Fim

The Great Slope

1. Yule, Henry, and Henri Cordier, editors. Concerning The Kingdom of Kerman.” The Travels of Marco Polo: the Complete Yule-Cordier Edition, by Marco Polo, 3rd ed., vol. 2, Dover Publications, New York, 1993

The Old Man of the Mountain

1. Chisholm, H. (1911). Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica.

2. Choubak H. (2009). Alamut Castle (Eagles Nest): Hassan Sabbah Stronghold. IQBQ. 16 (2) :1-28

3. Daftary, F. (2012). Historical dictionary of the Ismailis. Scarecrow Press.

4. Defrémery, C. (1860). Documents sur lhistoire des Ismaéliens ou Batiniens de la Perse. Journal Asiatique (Vol. XV, Ser. 5th).

5. Frischauer, W. (1970). The Aga Khans. The Bodley Head.

6. Guignes, J. de. (1756). Histoire génerale des Huns, des Turcs, des Mogols et des autres Tartares occidentaux, &c. avant et depuis Jesus-Christ jusqu’à présent, précedée d’une introduction contenant des tables chronol. & historiques des princes qui ont regné dans l’Asie: ouvrage tiré des livres chinois & des manuscrits orientaux de la bibliothèque du roi. Dessaint & Saillant.

7. Ivanow, W. (1931). Alamut. The Geographical Journal, 77(1), 38-45. doi:10.2307/1785122

8. Lewis, B. (1967). The Assassins: a Radical Sect of Islam.

9. Liu, Y. (Yuan). Si Shi Ki (Vol. 1). Wikisource.

10. Mirkhond[a Persian historian]. (1813). Le jardin de la pureté, contenant lhistoire des prophètes, desrois, et des khalifs. Notices et extraits des manuscrits de la Bibliothèque Imperiole. (A. Jourdain, Trans.) (Vol. IX).

11. Nowell, C. (1947). The Old Man of the Mountain. Speculum, 22(4), 497-519. doi:10.2307/2853134

12. Polo, M. (2016). The Description of the World. (S. Kinoshita, Trans.). Hackett Publishing Company, Inc.

13. Wasserman, J., Stump, K. W., & Rochman, H. (2017). Templar heresy: a story of Gnostic illumination. Destiny Books.

14. Willey, P. (2005). Eagle’s nest Ismaili castles in Iran and Syria. I.B. Tauris.

15. Yule, H. (Ed.). (2010). Cathay and the Way Thither: Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China (Cambridge Library Collection – Hakluyt First Series). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511696954

16. Image copyright from https://byzantinemporia.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Garden-of-Paradise.jpg

Tangut

1. Polo, M. (2016). The Description of the World (S. Kinoshita, Trans.). Hackett

2. Polo, M., Yule, H., Cordier, H., & Yule, A. F. (1903). The book of Ser Marco Polo the Venetian concerning the kingdoms and marvels of the East / e3. ed. rev. throughout in the light of recent discoveries; Henry Cordier; With a memoir of Henry Yule by his daughter Amy Frances Yule. London.

3. Morgan, David. The Mongols. Blackwell Publishing, 2007.

4. Pelliot, Paul. Notes on Marco Polo ouvrage posthum, publié sous les auspices de lAcadémie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres et avec le concours du Centre national de la Recherche scientifique [Data set]. NII Digital Silk Road” / Toyo Bunko. https://doi.org/10.20676/00000246

5. Sam van Schaik. The Tibetan Dunhuang Manuscripts in China.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 65, no. 1, 2002, pp. 129–139. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/4145904. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020.

6. Lee, Sonya S. Repository of Ingenuity: Cave 61 and Artistic Appropriation in Tenth-Century Dunhuang.” The Art Bulletin, vol. 94, no. 2, 2012, pp. 199–225. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23268312. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020.

7. Samosyuk, Kira. “‘Donorsin the Tangut Painting from Khara—Khoto: Their Meaning and Function.” The Tibet Journal, vol. 26, no. 3/4, 2001, pp. 165–198. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/43302505. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020.

8. Russell-Smith, Lilla Bikfalvy. WIVES AND PATRONS: UYGUR POLITICAL AND ARTISTIC INFLUENCE IN TENTH-CENTURY DUNHUANG.” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, vol. 56, no. 2/4, 2003, pp. 401–428. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23659378. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020.

9. Kirill M. Bogdanov. Ritual Funeral Text Inv. 4084 from the Tangut Collection of IOM RAS. — A Brief Textual Study.” Central Asiatic Journal, vol. 57, 2014, pp. 61–69. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.13173/centasiaj.57.2014.0061. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020.Solonin

10. Kara, Dávid Somfai. “‘KALMAK: THE ENEMY IN THE KAZAK AND KIRGHIZ EPIC SONGS.” Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, vol. 63, no. 2, 2010, pp. 167–178. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23659046. Accessed 22 Dec. 2020.

11. Sangji Zhaxi 桑吉扎西: Xueyugaoyuan Zangzude Chongyang Xisu”雪域高原藏族的崇羊习俗,First published in The CPPCC Newspaper, 人民政协日报,2015.

 

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