Saturday, April 16, 2011
217. Before Marco Polo
What did West know about China before Marco Polo?
China was called Serica by the ancient Romans. Pliny the Elder (AD 23-79) mentioned the silk production. It is believed that Theophylactus Simocatta was the first author on China. China was described as a "large, powerful, and rich country with a thriving commerce."
The emperor's (Tang Emperor Taizong, reigned 626-649)women "go forth in chariots made of gold, with one ox to draw them, while the women of the chief nobles use silver chariots." (Henry Yule and Henri Cordier, Cathay and the Way Thither, Being a Collection of Medieval Notices of China, London, 1913-16)Generally speaking, the idea, China as a rich country, dominated Western images of China for many centuries.