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The Catalan Atlas, 1375 (detail)

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Written within the walls of a Genoese prison the end of the 13th century, Marco Polo’s Divisament dou Monde (“The Description of the World”) represents one of the most emblematic texts in the travel and geographical literature of the European Middle Ages.

Blending factual observation and an intricate network of cultural imaginaries, the Divisament dou Monde offers a description of Asia as it was perceived through the eyes of a European traveler at the end of the 13th century. Polo’s text accumulates a staggering mass of cultural, historic, economic, and religious information relative to more than two hundred localities: cities, rivers, kingdoms, islands, regions that range from Indonesia to Central Asia. Names such as “Japan”, “Java”, “Sumatra”, “Tibet”, “Bengala” entered the Western cultural tradition through this text, along with the first biography of Siddhartha Gautama recorded in a European source.

This digital humanities project aims to present a first georeferenced map of the localities described by Polo in his book, visualizing the literary geographies of the Divisament dou Monde.

The project is being developed on an ArcGIS platform and is ongoing.

马可波罗的《Divisament dou Monde》写于 13 世纪末热那亚监狱的围墙内,是欧洲中世纪旅行和地理文学中最具代表性的作品之一。


Divisament dou Monde》融事实观察和错综复杂的文化想象于一体,描述了 13 世纪末一位欧洲旅行者眼中的亚洲。马可波罗的文字蕴含了丰富的文化、历史、经济和宗教内容,而这些内容涉及到两百多个地方:包括从印度尼西亚到中亚地区的城市、河流、王国、岛屿。"日本"、"爪哇岛"、"苏门答腊岛"、"西藏"、"孟加拉 "等地名通过该书进入西方文化传统中,同时书中也记载了释迦牟尼的首部传记。


该数字化人文项目旨在为马可波罗在其著作中描述的地点提供第一张地理参考地图,将《Divisament dou Monde》这部地理文学作品可视化。


该项目目前正在 ArcGIS 平台上进行。

Zoom to visualize all name labels.
A click on the bottom in the top-left corner will open the map legend.

The Map

The itineraries of the Divisament dou Monde

One of the first immediate questions raised by readers of the Divisament dou Monde involves the route(s) followed by Marco in his travels: where did he go? Which regions did he visit? What did he actually see and what he just reports from hearsay?

Retracing the tineraries of the Divisament dou Monde allows to better assess the reliability (or fictionality) of Marco's account, one of the most debated questions in the critical fortune of the Divisament: are we reading a book based on a factual experience, a travel fiction, or something in between?

Polo spent more than twenty years in Asia, working for the Mongol imperial administration: in the course of this long period of time he is likely ot have journey extensivley across scores of different routes, cities and regions, moving repeatdly back and forth the main axes of the Yuan road and waterways network. The route of his return journey from Çaiton (today Quanzhou in the southeast Chinese province of Fujian) to Venice via the Indian Ocean matches with information relayed by other Islamic and Chinese sources, including Rashid al-Din Hamadani’s Jami' al-tawarikh, a chronicle of the Mongol Ilkhanate compiled at the beginning of the 14th century, and a brief passage of the Yongle Encyclopedia 永乐大典, composed upon request of the Ming emperor Yongle in 1403-1408.

In this mosaic of paths that crisscross the narrative of the Divisament, we can schematically identify at least four main tracks:


- The initial journey undertaken by Niccolò and Matteo Polo, to the Mongol imperial court in 1260-1266; Marco did not accompany his father and uncle in this first journey, but relates of their route with a good deal of accuracy.

- Marco's own outbound journey from Venice to Asia in 1272-1273.

- His itineraries across Yuan China, spanning along two main axes: in a southwest direction, from the Yuan capital Khanbaliq (today Beijing) to Yunnan, and in a north to south direction, from Khanbaliq to Qinasy (Hangzhou), along the path of the imperial Grand Canal.

- Marco, Niccolò and Matteo Polo eventual return from Çaiton to Venice in 1291-1295 in a predominantly sea rout across the Indian Ocean.


Divisament dou Monde》书中的旅行路线


读者在阅读《Divisament dou Monde》时首先提出的问题之一是马可的旅行路线:他去了哪里?他参观了哪些地区?他到底看到了什么?而哪些内容只是他道听途说而来?


重走《Divisament dou Monde》的路线可以更好地评价马可的叙述是可靠亦或是虚构,这也是《Divisament dou Monde》批评性财富中争议最多的问题之一:我们读到的是一本基于真实经历的书,还是一本旅行小说,亦或者是介于两者之间?


马可波罗在亚洲为蒙古帝国政府工作了 20 多年:在这段漫长的时间里,他可能走过了数条不同的路线、途径许多城市和地区,在元朝主要的陆路和水路网络上来回穿梭。他从Çaiton(今福建东南部的泉州)经印度洋返回威尼斯的路线与其他伊斯兰教和中国资料来源提供的信息相吻合, 其中包括拉希德丁(Rashid al-Din Hamadani)在 14 世纪初编纂的蒙古伊儿汗国编年史作品《史集》(Jami' al-tawarikh),以及应明朝皇帝永乐要求于 1403-1408 年编写的《永乐大典》中的一段简短记载。



- 尼科洛-波罗和马特奥-波罗于 1260-1266 年前往蒙古宫廷的最初旅程;马可没有陪同他的父亲和叔叔进行这第一次旅行,但他准确地讲述了他们的路线。

- 1272-1273 年,马可从威尼斯出发前往亚洲。

- 他的行程横跨元朝中国,沿两条主轴展开:一条是西南方向,从元朝首都汗八里格(今北京)到云南;另一条是由北向南方向,从汗八里格到钦那思(杭州),沿着帝国大运河的路径。

- 1291-1295年,马可、尼科洛和马特奥-波罗最终从Çaiton(今福建东南部的泉州)返回威尼斯,途中主要是横跨印度洋的海上跋涉。

The Itneraries

Localities / 地点


The following alphabetical list includes of geographical localities in the map and described or mentioned by Polo in his text:


  1. Abasie (Abyssinia, scilicet Ethiopia)

  2. Acbaluc Mangi (Hanzhong, Shanxi, China)

  3. Acri (Acre, Israel)

  4. Aden (Aden, Yemen)

  5. Alexandrie (Alexandria, Egypt)

  6. Alcai (Altai Mountains)

  7. Aniu (ethnonym for the Hani people, Yunnan, China)

  8. Angaman (Andaman Islands)

  9. Arabie (Arabia)

  10. Arcingan (Erzingan, Turkey)

  11. Argiron (Erzurum, Turkey)

  12. Babeloine (Babylon, scilicet Egypt)

  13. Baudac (Baghdad, Iraq)

  14. Balc (Balkh, Afghanistan)

  15. Badascian (Badakshan, Afghanistan)

  16. Bascra (Bassora, Iraq)

  17. Bangala (Bengala)

  18. Barscol (unidentified locality, probably situated in Manchuria)

  19. Basman (Pasaman or, alternatively, Pasai, Indonesia)

  20. Bettalar (Puttalam, Sri Lanka)

  21. Bucara (Bukhara, Uzbekistan)

  22. Bolgara (Bolghar, Russia)

  23. Brius (Min River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, China)

  24. Cacanfu (Hejian, Henan, China)

  25. Cacianfu (Puzhou, Shanxi, China)

  26. Cacciar Modun (unidentified locality, northeast China)

  27. Caiciu (unidentified locality in Shanxi, China)

  28. Cail (Palayakayal, India)

  29. Caiu (Gaoyou, Jiangsu, China)

  30. Çaiton (Quanzhou, Fujian, China)

  31. Calacian (Alashan or alternatively Helanshan mountains, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, China)

  32. Calatu (Qalhat, Oman)

  33. Camandi (Qamadin, Iran)

  34. Çanghibar (Zanzibar, Tanzania)

  35. Canbaet (Kanbaya, Gujarat, India)

  36. Canbaluc (Beijing, China)

  37. Canpicion (Zhangye, Gansu, China)

  38. Caugigu (Dai Viet Kingdom, Northern Vietnam)

  39. Caracoron (Qaraqorum, Mongolia)

  40. Caramoran (Yellow River, China, from the Mongol name Qaramörän: “Black River”)

  41. Carajan (Yunnan, China)

  42. Çardandan (Baoshan, Yunnan, China)

  43. Cauli (Korea)

  44. Cascar (Kashgar, Xinjiang, China)

  45. Casum (Qavzin, Iran)

  46. Catay (Northern China)

  47. Caiciu (Guazhouzhen, Jiangsu, China)

  48. Caigiu (Hekou, Jiangsu, China)

  49. Cailum (Quilon, scilicet Kollam, Kerala, India)

  50. Camul (Hami, Xingjian, China)

  51. Canosalmi (unidentified locality in South-East Iran)

  52. Casserie (Kayseri, Turkey)

  53. Ceraçi (Shiraz, Iran)

  54. Cherman (Kerman, Iran)

  55. Chesmacoran (Markan, Pakistan)

  56. Chesimur (Kashmir)

  57. Chisi (Kish, Iran)

  58. Ciagannor (unidentified locality in Inner Mongolia, China)

  59. Cianba (Champa Kingdom, Vietnman)

  60. Cianscian (Changshan, Zhejiang, China)

  61. Ciangli (Ciangli, Dezhou, Shangdong, China)

  62. Cianglu (Cangzhou, Hebei, China)

  63. Ciarcian (Qarqan/Qiemo, Xingjian, China)

  64. Cinghianfu (Zhengjiang, Jiangsu, China)

  65. Cingiu (Nantong, Jiangsu, China)

  66. Ciorcia (Jurchen, scilicet Manchuria)

  67. Cipangu (Japan)

  68. Ciugiu (unidentified locality in China)

  69. Clemeinfu (Xanadu/Shangdu, Inner Mongolia, China)

  70. Cobinan (Kuhbonan, Iran)

  71. Coigangiu (Huai’an, Jiangsu, China)

  72. Comari (Comorin Cape, India)

  73. Choncha (Jiangzhe County, Fujian, China)

  74. Condur e Sondur (Côn Sơn Island and its archipelago, Vietnam)

  75. Conio (Konya, Turkey)

  76. Cormos (Hormuz, Iran)

  77. Cotan (Khotan/Hetian, Xingjian, China)

  78. Cugiu (Lushui, Zhejiang, China)

  79. Cuncun (unidentified locality in Shanxi, China)

  80. Curdistan (Kurdistan Region)

  81. Domas (Damascus, Syria)

  82. Darçiçi (Ercis, Turkey)

  83. Dili Dilivar (Delhi, India)

  84. Dagroian (Batak, Sumatra, Indonesia)

  85. Dufar (Dhofar, Oman)

  86. Egrigaia (Ningxia, China)

  87. Erginul (Wuwei, Gansu, China)

  88. Escer (Al Sihr, Yemen)

  89. Eçina (Eijin, Inner Mongolia, China)

  90. Ferlec (Perelak, Sumatra, Indonesia)

  91. Fugiu (Fuzhou, Fujian, China)

  92. Gaindu (Jianchang, Sichuan, China)

  93. Ganfu (Ganpu, Zhejiangm China)

  94. Ghengiu (Quzhou, Zhejiang, China)

  95. Ghinghintalas (unidentified locality in Xingjian, China)

  96. Giogiu (Zhuozhou, Hebei, China)

  97. Goçurat (Gujarat, India)

  98. Gonstantinople (Costantinople, Istanbul, Turkey)

  99. Iaci (Yachi, scilicet Kunming, Yunnan, China)

  100. Isfan (Isfahan, Iran)

  101. [Grande] Harminie (Great Armenia, Armenia)

  102. [Petite] Harminie (Lesser Armenia, a historical region now located in Turkey)

  103. Java (Java, Indonesia)

  104. Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Israel and Palestine)

  105. Laias (Iskandarun, Turkey)

  106. Lar (Karnataka, India)

  107. Lanbri (Lamuri, historical kingdom located in Aceh, Indonesia)

  108. Lochac (Lopburi, Thailand)

  109. Lop (Ruoqiang, Xingjian, China)

  110. Lor (Luristan, Iran)

  111. Mer de Cin (South China Sea)

  112. Mogdasio (Mogadishu, Somalia)

  113. Melabar (Malabar Coast, India)

  114. Malaiur (Unidentified locality in Sumatra, Indonesia)

  115. Mangi (Southern China)

  116. Mian (Burma)

  117. Mosul (Mosul, Iraq)

  118. Mulect (Alamut Castle, Iran)

  119. Muftili (Guntur, India)

  120. Nanghin (Kaifeng, Henan, China)

  121. Negroponte (Euboea, Greece)

  122. Necuveran (Nicobar Islands, India)

  123. Nubia (Nubia, Sudan)

  124. Oucaca (Ukek, Russia)

  125. Pamier (Pamir mountains)

  126. Pasciai (ethnonym for the Pasai people, southern Hindu Kush)

  127. Pauchin (Baoying, Jiangsu, China)

  128. Pentain (Bintan, Indonesia)

  129. Pem (Yutian, Xinjiang, China)

  130. Pianfu (Linfen, Shanxi, China)

  131. Provence de Oscurité (Region of darkness, i.e. Siberia/Northern Russia)

  132. Pulisanghin (Bridge on the Sanggan River)

  133. Quelifu (Jiang’ou, Fujian, China)

  134. Quengianfu (Xi’an, Shaanxi China)

  135. Qiansui (Yangtze River, China)

  136. Reobar (Jiroft, Persia)

  137. Rosie (Kievan Rus')

  138. Saianfu (Xiangfan, Hubei, China)

  139. Samatra (Samudera Sultante, Indonesia)

  140. Sanmarcan (Samarkand, Uzbekistan)

  141. Sapurgan (Sheberghan, Afghanistan)

  142. Sara (Sarj, Russia)

  143. Scasem (Eshkashem, Afghanistan)

  144. Scotra (Socotra Island, Yemen)

  145. Seilan (Cylon Island, Sri Lanka)

  146. Semenat (Somnath, Gujarat, India)

  147. Sevasto (Sivas, Turkey)

  148. Sichintingin (unidentified locality, probably Xijing Datongfu in northeast China)

  149. Sighinan (Shaghanan, Afghanistan)

  150. Sindafu (Chengdu, Sichuan, China)

  151. Sindafui (Zhangjiajou, Henan, China)

  152. Sinfu (Xining, Qinghai, China)

  153. Singiu Matu (Jining, Shandong. China)

  154. Soldadie (Sudak, Crimea, Russia)

  155. Soncara (Šawānkārah, Iran)

  156. Succio (Jiuquan, Gansu, China)

  157. Sulistan (Fars, Iran)

  158. Taianfu (Taiyuan, Shanxi, China)

  159. Taican (Takhar, Afghanistan)

  160. Tana (Thane, Maharashtra, India)

  161. Tangut (Tangut, historical region in northern China)

  162. Tanpingiu (Tonglu County, Zhejiang, China)

  163. Tebet (Tibet, China)

  164. Tenduc (Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, China)

  165. Tigris (scilicet Volga River, Russia)

  166. Tighingui (Changzhou, Jiangsu, China)

  167. Toris (Tabriz, Iran)

  168. Toloman (possible ethnonym for the Tualaman people, south China)

  169. Tunocain (Tun-o-Quayan, Qohestan, Iran)

  170. Trepisonde (Trabezond, Turkey)

  171. Tundifu (Dongping, Shangdong, China)

  172. Unquen (Mihou County, Fujian, China)

  173. Venece (Venice, Italy)

  174. Vocan (Wakhan Corridor, Pakistan/Tajikistan)

  175. Vocian (Baoshan, Yunnan, China)

  176. Vughin (Huzhou, Zhejiang, China)

  177. Vugiu (Wujiang, Zhejiang, China)

  178. Yangiu (Yangzhou, Jiangsu, China)

  179. Yidfu (unidentified locality)

  180. Yarcan (Yarkand, Xingjiang, China)

  181. Yasdi (Yazd, Iran)

  182. Yrac (Iraq)

Mappamondo Fra mauro marciana di venezia_edited.png

Recent Updates

The realization of the georeferenced database and corresponding attributes table has been completed between the end of 2020 and the first months of 2021. The map (with several trial versions) has been realized in the same period.

An initial version of this project was launched on ArcGIS StoryMaps in Spring 2021 and it was initially archived on Arc GIS Storymaps.

Currently I'm working on a digitization of the Franco-Italian text of the Divisament flanked by the English translation edited by Henry Yule and Henri Cordier in 1903.

Developer's Diay
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