Sunday, May 15, 2011
223. Marco Polo was the Man
Marco Polo (1254-1324)was not the only European who lived and worked in China. However, he was the first one that published a book based on his personal experiences. His book, The Description of the World or the Travels of Marco Polo, presented a detailed narrative about China. Marco Polo was very impressed by China’s prosperity.
In Polo’s eyes, Chinese Emperor concerned his people’s well-being. Hangzhou (Kinsai) was “without doubt the finest and most splendid city in the world.” Polo found that coal had been used in China. In history, coal wasn’t used in his hometown at the time. Interestingly enough, he showed his admiration for Buddhists. He marveled at the ‘huge monasteries and abbeys.” One has to be careful when reading Polo’s book. In addition to be a traveler, a merchant, Polo was the servant of the Mongol government. Therefore, one should read his description on the relationship between the ruler and the ruled critically.