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The manuscript was circulated c. This window into the impossibly distant and exotic world of the East was irresistible. Fantastic tales of impossibly strange peoples and customs captivated medieval Europe as several translations of the original French manuscript were made.
There were doubters, too, that Marco was prone to exaggeration and literary license and perhaps he had never even been to all the places he claimed he had. In fairness, the prologue of the book does state right at the start that it is an account of both what Marco saw himself and what others related to him secondhand, including folklore and hearsay.
There are certainly some striking omissions in the work. Scholars have noted he does not mention tea or foot binding but these may not have been practised by the Mongols as they were by the Chinese.
Neither does he mention the Great Wall of China but the sections he might have seen were in disrepair at that time the wall had not, after all, stopped the Mongols and it was only refortified during the later Ming dynasty. Other omissions, more difficult to explain, include Chinese writing , woodblock printing, and the use of chopsticks. On the other hand, Marco does make mention of unique Chinese practices at that time unknown in Europe such as the circulation of paper money and the use of coal as a household fuel.
Remove Ads Advertisement While China would pursue a period of relative isolationism following the death of Kublai Khan and the rise of the Ming Dynasty, the next great world traveller who bridged the gap between East and West would be Zheng He CE , the Chinese admiral who travelled as far as the Persian Gulf and East Africa during his seven epic sea voyages.