Marco Polo Costume

Marco Polo Costume

Marco Polo (September 15, 1254 – January 8, 1324), the Venetian merchant, was one of the most famous explorers of the middle ages, whose writings about his journey through Asia along the Silk Road between 1271 and 1295, are still read and admired to this day. The Travels of Marco Polo (or Book of the Marvels of the World or Il Milione in Italian) published around the start of the 14th century, described to Europeans the then exotic and rather mysterious culture and political workings of the Mongol Empire in the royal court of Kublai Khan and the Yuan Dynasty of China, not to mention his observations about other Asian countries: Persia, India, and Japan.

Marco Polo as Tartar
Marco Polo is popularly pictured in the traditional costume of the Tartar.

 

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Marco Polo Among the Tartars

Before Marco had lived in the khan's palace a year, he had become quite used to his novel surroundings; and felt as much at home as he could anywhere outside of his native Italy. As soon as he learned the language so as to talk readily, he learned a great deal that was very curious about Cathay. He was never tired of asking questions, and he found many learned men about the court who were very willing to satisfy his curiosity.
He had now thrown aside his Venetian attire, and, like his father and uncle, wore the costume which was imposed upon him by Tartar custom; and very oddly he looked, in loose tunic, small turban, and turned-up shoes, his complexion being many shades lighter than that of the dusky faces around him. He had adopted, also, the Tartar ways of living; and instead of keeping himself apart, made himself one among the courtiers.

From Marco Polo; his travels and adventures by George M. Towle, (George Makepeace), 1841-1893