In Marco Polo’s travels through the Middle East, he speaks of the city, Hormuz. He says that after riding for two days he reaches Hormuz which lies on the coast of the Indian Ocean. Marco Polo first speaks of the great harbor where merchants bring items, such as silk, pearls, valuable stones, spices, elephant tusks, an abundance of gold, and other valuables from India. Marco Polo emphasizes the land’s successful trade and says it is a center for commerce. He says they have a king named Ruemedan Ahmad and have cities and towns that serve under this territory.
Marco Polo then discusses the climate of Hormuz. He says they have sweltering heat temperatures. He then speaks of their good wine. This information would have glamorized Marco Polo’s journey since wine is considered an expensive good. He then discusses the differences in food and says the natives do not eat “our sort of food.” He says they eat salt fish, dates, onions in contrast to the wheat bread and meat of Marco Polo’s people. Marco Polo highlights the culture difference between the natives and the people from Western Europe through the variation in food.
Marco Polo also notices the poor quality of the ships at Hormuz. He goes into the technical specifics regarding the poor material that is used to build the ships. He says this would make it risky to sail in these ships. He assumes that many of the ships would sink due to the stormy climate of the Indian Ocean. Marco Polo evidently believes this information was important to share with either traveling merchants or anyone in Western Europe planning on going on an expedition. Additionally, Marco Polo, who is already largely interested in trade would find this information valuable to note.
Marco Polo describes the people of Hormuz. He immediately states that they are black and worship Mahomet. He addresses their race and the fact that they worship someone different from Christian beliefs. It can be interpreted that Marco Polo was derogatively describing the people of Hormuz. He then begins to discuss how the climate impacts the people. The people are unable to live in the cities in the summer since they would die from the dangerous heat. He discusses the extreme measures people take to protect themselves from the sun and dangerous heat winds. Marco Polo shares a story of how the king of Kerman ordered his men to surprise attack the people of Hormuz; however, when they got close to the city, thousands of men perished from the winds. This story could have been an exaggeration given the multitude of men that perished. Additionally, it would have been enticing for his intended audience to read about the difference in climate and the dangers of Marco Polo’s travels.
Marco Polo then goes on to discuss the difference in their mourning rituals. He immediately states his opinion and how bizarre it is that these people mourn their dead daily for four years after their death.
From this passage, it is obvious Marco Polo takes an interest in a location’s trade and goods. He makes a point to say the goods that are bought and traded. Additionally, he speaks of the excellent harbor in Hormuz that allows for this location to be a center for trade and alludes to the territory’s high status. Along with this, he discusses their poorly built ships that would impact their ability to travel from their land. Marco Polo also makes a note to discuss the differences in climate and foods they eat. He over exaggerates the hot temperatures most likely to make a note of how different the physical land is from Western Europe. His story of a thousand men that perished would most likely have been incorporated to create a thrill for his audience and to glorify his journey. Lastly, Marco Polo addresses the people of Hormuz. He identifies the people as black and as Mahomet worshipers. As seen in his previous passages, Marco Polo does not think highly of dark-skinned individuals especially those who do not worship the same god as him showing this was a racist remark. He also discusses the mourning rituals and how strange he finds them. The natives spend much of their time mourning their dead which most likely differs from Western European mourning customs. It can be interpreted that Marco Polo thinks of trade as a marker for a territory’s success, but he shows a personal investment in cultural differences.