Skip to content
  • «
  • 1
  • »

The search returned 6 results.

Marco Polo’s Departure from China article

Stephen G. Haw

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 173 (2023), Issue 1, Page 145 - 171

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.”


Yuan Administrative Units in Marco Polo’s Description of the World frontmatter

Stephen G. Haw

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 173 (2023), Issue 2, Page 467 - 494

A number of questions relating to Marco Polo’s description of China are discussed. “Ghinghintalas” is identified with a high degree of probability; new evidence is adduced relating to the river “Brius”; and it is suggested that the toponym previously identified with Changzhou may really refer to a different town. The former identification of “Cuncun” with Hanzhong, which has been questioned recently, is reaffirmed. Marco’s concept of “Tangut” is shown to be broader than has sometimes been believed. It is pointed out that most of the cities and towns in China mentioned by Marco were the seats of government of routes (lu), only a minority being of lower status: superior prefectures (fu), prefectures (zhou) and counties (xian). Very few indeed were below the rank of county, all of these being notable for particular reasons. Overall, it is clear that, as might be expected of an eye-witness, Marco records the most important places that he visited, but also comments on places of lesser status when there was reason to do so.


The Orthography of Marco Polo's Toponyms research-article

Stephen G. Haw

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 171 (2021), Issue 2, Page 479 - 502

When Marco Polo and Rustichello began their collaboration in writing the Description of the World, they were faced with a number of problems. Not the least of these was the question of writing toponyms (and other foreign words) for which there was no accepted orthography in Latin script. The many Chinese toponyms in the book, which were originally written with a non-alphabetic script, presented particular difficulties. The romanisation of Chinese has been an issue which has only recently been more or less satisfactorily resolved. Here, an exploratory foray is made into the complexities of the toponyms in Marco Polo's text, some of which are subjected to preliminary analysis. It is concluded that Marco's transcriptions seem generally accurate when compared with reconstructions of Yuan-period pronunciations of Chinese. It also seems clear that Marco heard a variety of pronunciations, including dialect pronunciations, which are reflected in the orthography. It appears that the toponyms are intended to be pronounced according to Italian phonology, even though Rustichello's original text was written in French. It is suggested that Pelliot's opinion that there was only one original orthography may not be correct, as there are indications that the orthographies used in the Zelada manuscript and Ramusio's edition may have been revised by Marco himself or under his direction.


Marco Polo in “Mangi”: Kuizhou, Fuling, Houguan, and the Pontoon Bridge at Fuzhou research-article

Stephen G. Haw

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 170 (2020), Issue 2, Page 445 - 466

Some of Marco Polo's more problematic toponyms in southern China are discussed, particularly his “Cuigui” or “Cuigiu”, “Sinugul” (with many variants), and “Uuguen”. It is pointed out that Marco was in southern China within a few years of the completion of the Mongol conquest of the southern Song Empire and that many of his south Chinese toponyms reflect Song usage. The influence of Chinese dialect pronunciations on Marco Polo's transcriptions of toponyms is examined. Finally, it is shown that his description of a pontoon bridge at Fuzhou in modern Fujian province is accurate and cannot relate to a period much later than about 1310. This bridge is described only in the Zelada manuscript. This is therefore strong evidence that at least some of the additional material found only in this manuscript of Marco Polo's text dates from his lifetime and is likely to have originated from him.


The Overview of the Unified Territories of the Great Yuan and Marco Polo's Account of the Empire of Qubilai Qa'an research-article

Stephen G. Haw

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 170 (2020), Issue 1, Page 215 - 236

Only fragments survive of the great geographical work of the Yuan period, the Da Yuan da yitong zhi. Happily, another work of the same type is still extant. Although much less detailed, it is still very useful. The Da Yuan hunyi fangyu shenglan (Overview of the Unified Territories of the Great Yuan) was little known before a modern edition was published in 2003. An important question is the dating of its content. It is argued here that, although not all the content dates from exactly the same period, much of it is from the 1280 s. This makes it exactly contemporary with Marco Polo's time in the Empire of Qubilai Qa'an, so that it is an important source for the study of his account of China. Some account is also given of other relevant Chinese sources.


Śrīvijaya, Java, and the Sunda Strait During the Fifth to Tenth Centuries research-article

Stephen G. Haw

Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, Volume 169 (2019), Issue 2, Page 409 - 436

It is generally assumed that the Strait of Melaka has been the principal route between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea throughout at least the past two millennia. This assumption is questioned here. It is shown that there is little to no evidence of the use of the Strait of Melaka during the fifth to tenth centuries. The importance of Java during much of this period suggests that the normal route was through the Sunda Strait. There is also archaeological evidence, including inscriptions and shipwrecks, which tends to support this conclusion. In the light of this reinterpretation, the locations of a number of toponyms in Southeast Asia are re-evaluated, including Luoyue, Geluo, Kalāh, and Geguluo. It is suggested that the Chinese Shilifoshi and Sanfoqi are not transcriptions of (Sanskrit) Śrīvijaya, but most likely derive from colloquial versions of the original name.

  • «
  • 1
  • »

Current Issue

Issue 2 / 2023