In Marco Polo’s account of Tibet, he mentions many of their benefits merchant-wise but also focuses on a negative description of some of their customs. He begins his account by noting that the country is completely devastated, having been ravaged by the Mongu Khan. Much of the country is desolate, a 20 days journey with practically no food or shelter. The outskirts of the country are so infested with beasts that travelers must drive them off by using the loud cracking sounds of canes to protect themselves and their own animals (171). However, once travelers reach the region of the country with plentiful towns and villages, Polo notes the inhabitants have a great supply of gold dust and cinnamon. As well, the natives here do not have coinage nor do they use the Khan’s paper money. Instead, their form of currency is salt. They have their own language and are idolaters. He also notes that the natives live by “the chase”, the people here mainly herd animals and eat farm their own produce as a means of survival (173). They also have mastiffs as big as donkeys and other good hunting dogs to get food for their community (174). Polo also claims the people of Tibet are the “greatest rogues and robbers in the world” and are, therefore, “out-and-out bad” (173).

One of the customs Polo deems worthy of noting is their marriage customs. Polo describes how the men in this country deem women utterly unworthy if they are virgins, so much so that none would ever wed a woman who is a virgin. They also believe that women who have not been with many men must have displeased the gods in some way; otherwise many men would desire to lay with her. When travelers arrive in their villages, women come rushing with their daughters begging the men to lay with them and have their will with them. Then, once the traveler decides to leave the town, he gives the girl he laid with a token so she can prove she has had a lover and then be regarded highly in her village by having the most tokens. Another custom Polo records are the Tibetans’ “diabolic arts”. He describes the country as being known for its “skillful enchanters and astrologers” so powerful that they can bring on rainstorms as they please (174). However, the “diabolic arts” they behold are “better not to relate in this book” because men “might marvel over-much” (174). Polo claims the people are so evil in their witchery it should not be talked about in too much detail for fear of tempting others who may read his account of them. 

In Marco Polo’s account of Tibet, he presents a feeling of superiority toward this group of people. His description of their way of obtaining supplies for their people is written in a negative light. The people of Tibet, according to Polo, grow their own food, capture their food, or steal their food or other supplies. Though Polo regards these people as “out-and-out bad”. Polo notes earlier in the section on Tibet that the country had just recently been devastated by invasion, yet he insults them for their desperate ways to manage survival. The people have resorted to farming and robbery to get by, as they are typical and easier ways to manage survival in a time of poverty. Polo is ignorant of the poverty that has struck the country and imposes his own perception of superiority onto the people. 

Additionally, Polo regards the belief practices of this country to be “diabolic”, which suggests another example of Polo’s self-righteousness in his own religion (174). He describes their practices with the term “idolatry”, which he uses mainly to talk about religions that he encounters that he is unfamiliar with and, usually, results in detailing his distaste for their religious practices. Most worthy of note in Polo’s account of the religious practices of the people of Tibet is his concluding note that the customs of their religion are “better not to relate in this book” because men “might marvel over-much” (174). Marco relays significant detail about other factors of these people’s customs and his criticisms, yet in the account of the “enchanters and astrologers,” he chooses to claim that speaking of their practices could potentially sway his readers to evil intentions (174). Polo thus asserts his perceived religious superiority over the Tibetan people.