Sunday, 31 October 2010

The Travels of Ch'ang Ch'un to the West, 1220-1223

The Travels of Ch'ang Ch'un to the West, 1220-1223
recorded by his disciple
Li Chi Ch'ang
translated by E. Bretschneider (1888)

K'iu Ch'ang Ch'un was an eminent Taoist monk born in 1148 CE and thus elderly at the time of his trip. He was ordered by Chingis Khan to travel to his court, which at the time encamped in Central Asia. The route went through the Altai and Tienshan mountains, the southern parts of today's Kazakhstan, through Kyrgyzstan, to Samarkand and then down into NE Iran and Afghanistan. He was accompanied by his disciple Li Chi ch'ang who composed the narrative—a rather detailed diary of the journey. It was published with an introduction by Sun si in 1228 and included in the Tao tsang tsi yao. Bretschneider observes that this account "occupies a higher place than many reports of our European mediaeval tavellers." It is indeed a brilliant account of Central Asia at the time, providing insight into many areas including geography, the life of ordinary people, Mongol administration, travel conditions, and even a more endearing and benevolent portrait of emporer Chinghis himself.

The text has been excerpted from E. Bretschneider's Mediæval Researches from Eastern Asiatic Sources (New York: Barnes & Noble, 1888)

For the full text, click HERE

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