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Marco Polo’s Departure from China

Stephen G. Haw


Pages 145 - 171

DOI https://doi.org/10.13173/ZDMG.173.1.145




Marco Polo left China as part of the entourage of a Mongol princess travelling to the Ilkhanate as a new bride for the Ilkhan Arγun. A number of issues surrounding his departure are discussed. These include the dates of the arrival in China of the ambassadors from Arγun, of their attempt to return overland, and of the departure by sea. Some aspects of Marco’s description of ships are elucidated. Recent hypotheses regarding the route of the voyage in the area of the South China Sea are examined critically. It is shown that there is no good reason to think that Marco Polo’s “Java” was Borneo, as suggested again recently by Menard. Finally, a few points relating to places around Sumatra are discussed, particularly the location of “Gauenispola.” It is emphasized that Marco’s account is not an itinerary, but part of his overall “Description of the World.”



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