“The Tartars are of all men, the best able to endure exertion and hardship… They will go for a whole month without provisions and can ride a good ten days’ journey without making a ﬁre, living only on the blood of their horses.” — Marco Polo
The Cham went on like this for hours, the crowd mumbling their prayers and kneading their prayer beads behind us. We sat mesmerized, in awe of the spectacle in front of us, ringside seats to a forbidden rite.
This photo is one of our favorites. Not only because it captures the moment we landed in St. Marks Square two years after setting out from Venice but because it is candid and not taken by us. Most other photo’s of ourselves were self portraits, the camera sitting atop a tripod, a blank stare on our faces as we wait for the self timer to go off.
Here we are under the detailed Byzantine styled arch adjacent to the Polo family home not far from the Rialto Bridge in Venice.
Kublai Khan had requested that the Polo brothers return to him with one hundred scholarly priests, hand-chosen by the pope, as well as with holy oil from a lamp that the faithful believe burns eternally inside Christ’s tomb.
“There is not a bridge in the world to compare with it… It has 24 arches and piers and is built entirely of gray marble . . . on either side are columns topped by marble lions of great beauty and workmanship.” –Marco Polo
A young monk festively adorned for the Cham festival. Tibetans send their sons to the lamasery to be educated in Buddhist scriptures, Tibetan language, handwriting, literature and art as well as philosophy, logic and astronomy.
"It was the best-documented journey of its time, inspiring the imaginations
and ambitions of countless adventurers, including Christopher Columbus. Now
we, too, can follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo, with guides as vividly
exciting and engaging as Marco himself. With both their film and this book
Denis and Francis have recreated what Joseph Campbell would have applauded
as 'The Hero's Journey.' Come take it yourself and you'll never turn back." - Bill Moyers
Major funding for In the Footsteps of Marco Polo was provided by The Starr Foundation. Additional support was given by the Center for Cultural Interchange.