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Kublai Khan in the Eyes of Marco Polo

  • Na Chang (a1)


This article will shed new light on the already crowded area of Marco Polo research, by examining the perspective of Polo, his direct observation of Kublai Khan and Yuan China, as revealed in The Travels of Marco Polo. The paper analyses the sources of Polo’s perspective on the people he encountered on his travels in foreign lands. It argues that Polo’s ideas were shaped by his cultural background, personal experience and his own interests. Then it examines how the work presents Kublai Khan himself, as well as the Yuan empire’s monetary system, its waterway trade and its ethnic policy. The result of this investigation shows that Polo was an acute observer; he pointed out occasions of misrule despite his adoration of Kublai Khan.


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3. Polo, Marco (1993) The Travels of Marco Polo: The Complete Yule-Cordier Edition: Including the Unabridged Third Edition (1903) of Henry Yule’s Annotated Translation, as Revised by Henri Cordier, Together with Cordier’s Later Volume of Notes and Addenda (1920). Translated by H. Yule and H. Cordier, 2 vols (New York: Dover Publications), vol. 2, p. 500.
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5. See Rabban Sawma’s work in W. Budge (trans.) (1928) The Monks of Kublai Khan Emperor of China (London: Religious Tract Society).
6.Science Museums of China, ‘The printing of paper money in the Yuan’, (last accessed 1 January 2013). This piece of paper money was excavated in Hebei Province, China in 1973.
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11.The word ‘ingot’ refers to the value of the paper money in ingot-shaped tablets, which were the ‘shape of a gold ingot’. See Z.Y. Wu, Q.Y. Huang and Y.Q. Liu (Eds) (2007) Ciyuan (the Origins of Phraseology) (Beijing: The Commercial Press), p. 3193.
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21. Xiao, Q.Q. (2007) Favoring Northland while Discriminating against the Middle Kingdom (Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company), pp. 466469.


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