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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Il Milione - The Travels of Marco Polo 馬可·波羅遊記書

Updated: Apr 26

The Book of the Marvels of the World (Italian: Il Milione, lit. 'The Million', possibly derived from Polo's nickname "Emilione"), in English commonly called The Travels of Marco Polo, is a 13th-century travelogue written down by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Italian explorer Marco Polo. It describes Polo's travels through Asia between 1271 and 1295, and his experiences at the court of Kublai Khan.

The book was written by romance writer Rustichello da Pisa, who worked from accounts which he had heard from Marco Polo when they were imprisoned together in Genoa. Rustichello wrote it in Franco-Venetian,  a literary language widespread in northern Italy between the subalpine belt and the lower Po between the 13th and 15th centuries. It was originally known as Livre des Merveilles du Monde or Devisement du Monde ("Description of the World").

The book is Polo's account of his travels to China, which he calls Cathay (north China) and Manji (south China). The Polo party left Venice in 1271. The journey took three years after which they arrived in Cathay as it was then called and met the grandson of Genghis Khan, Kublai Khan. They left China in late 1290 or early 1291, and were back in Venice in 1295.

The Travels is divided into four books. Book One describes the lands of the Middle East and Central Asia that Marco encountered on his way to China. Book Two describes China and the court of Kublai Khan. Book Three describes some of the coastal regions of the East: Japan, India, Sri Lanka, South-East Asia, and the east coast of Africa. Book Four describes some of the then-recent wars among the Mongols and some of the regions of the far north, like Russia. Polo's writings included descriptions of cannibals and spice-growers.

The 2024 edition of the Carnevale di Venezia is themed "Ad Oriente... the extraordinary journey of Marco Polo," The festival honors one of history's greatest explorers, whose journey embodies the spirit of the city: the curiosity, the thirst for knowledge, and the resourcefulness of Venetian merchants are at the core of a lifestyle that has defined the Republic of Venice's entire history in a blend of trade, business, diplomacy, and knowledge of science and geography.

So my Italian friends came up with their versions of a Marco Polo inspired full masked set of costumes...

I am wondering...the first Venice Carnival began in 1162 in celebration of the Venice Republic's victory over its enemy: the Patriarch or Aquileia. The people of Venice gathered in Saint Mark's Square (San Marco) to dance and celebrate their victory. Marco Polo lived from 1254 to 1324, and travelled thru' Asia from 1271 to 1295....What was the Venice Carnevale like during the times of Marco Polo?

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