A short back ground history of Ibn Battuta Essay
A short back ground history of Ibn Battuta
At a time when most men traveled by animal, the ability to travel 75,000 miles over a span of 30 years during the 14th century remains a remarkable achievement. When asked to name the historic individual who covered such a great distance, most will first mention Marco Polo, the legendary traveler who recorded his exploits in The Adventures. There was, however, another person who traveled longer distances far earlier than Marco Polo. In fact, he traveled 75,000 miles and visited 44 different countries and, due to the strict westernized recording of history, Ibn Battuta’s travels have been all but forgotten.
Even Battuta’s visit to China is virtually unknown while Polo’s journey to China remained historically revered despite the fact that even to this day there remain lingering, unresolved questions as to whether or not Marco Polo truly visited China. However, if the myth sounds interesting enough, it will eventually be reported as fact. Marco Polo’s status as a mythical folk hero eliminates much criticism and scrutiny regarding his travels. Yet, Marco Polo’s travels remain famous regardless of the controversy that surrounds his journeys and the equally lengthy debate among scholars.
It is not uncommon for influential non-western people to be seemingly erased from historical accounts. In the United States, history is chronicled from a western perspective with Western Europe being presented as the epicenter of the world. As such, individuals from other cultures are often viewed in a peripheral manner and not provided with the same depth of historical coverage. Marco Polo was a hero whose birth origins are in the Western World; because of this, his feats are given great credibility.
In the case of Battuta, a Moroccan by descent, his achievements are glossed over despite spending 17 years in China. It will be the goal of this essay to shift scholarly and historical attention from Marco Polo to Ibn Battuta by examining his travels in China in comparison to Marco polo’s. Additionally, this essay will prove that two travelers definitely visited China. A short back ground history of Ibn Battuta Muhammed ibn Abdullah ibn Battuta or Ibn Battuta was born in Tangier, Morocco to a Muslim family in 1304. He started his travels when he was around 20 years old and continued to travel for almost 30 years.
(Dunn 14). Battuta, according to Francis, belonged to the religious upper class of the Mohammedan community and received a traditional religious and scholastic education from theologians (Francis 2). His travels commenced in 1325 when Ibn went on a pilgrimage to Mecca that continued on until he had crisscrossed 75,000 miles of the world (Kegan 1). He stopped in most Muslim cities along his route and paid homage to holy sites in Damascus, Syria, Hebron, Jerusalem and Bethlehem in the face of many obstacles he met along the way (Monteil 30).
A short back ground history of Marco Polo Marco Polo was a famous Silk Road traveler in 1254-1324 has surpassed the fame of all other world travelers because of his well regarded writings claimed he reached beyond Mongolia and China (Polo, 1854: B). Marco Polo was born of a family of nobles and was a Venetian by origin with a high degree of education that included a basic knowledge of theology derived from Latin principles. At the young age of 18, Marco Polo also set forth in his journey to China with his father Nicolo and uncle Matteo.
They continued on their journey until they reached the dwelling of Kublai near the present day Peking in 1275 where the Mongol Great Khan Qubilai or Kublai was delighted to see them (Jackson 82). Ibn Battuta and Marco Polo’s travel in China Both travelers recorded their personal observations of the various societies they discovered in the Far East. These observations display their fond interest in the salient issues concerning the society, religion, treatment of women, and cultural habits and practices.
Acquiring the experiences for these observations were not without problems, however, as both Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta encountered many adversities on the way to their respective destinations. For example, Ibn dealt with a number of obstacles and this prompted the redirection travels and circumvented his original plans to remain in the Middle East region of the Maldives (Spectrum 26). This ultimately led to his traveling to China and, it must be noted, that his travel to China was far from an easy journey.
Specifically, Battuta’s journey to China was difficult, lengthy and arduous, but he ultimately succeeded and reached Sumatra and Vietnam before finally arriving in the Fujian Province in China sometime between1345-1346 (Francis 235). According to Wolfe, the rulers of China during the period were the descendants of Genghis Khan and the Mongol Dynasty (Wolfe 68). Jackson also supported Marco Polo’s verifiable account that the descendant of Genghis Khan, Kublai or Qubilai Khan was the head of the Mongol empire during this timeframe (Jackson 85).
Muslims and other foreigners were welcomed into China during that time where an “open door” policy was exercised (Dunn 260). As such, Battuta recorded the fact that Chinese cities like Quanzhou and Guangzhou in the southern coast and sea ports welcomed him (Donkin 135). Other ports along the Malay Peninsula were also open to Muslim travelers and traders and Malay rulers encouraged these Muslim traders to settle in their ports and bring the advantages of a strong trading economy with them (Wolfe 68).