Marco Polo Museum Exhibition Scene: At Kublai Khan’s Court
Returning from inspection into eastern provinces of the Empire, Marco Polo entered with his guards Cambala, the headquarters of the ruler above all rulers- Kublai Khan. The town had twelve gates and Marco was given a cordial welcome with drums and flutes at one of them. The ruler was waiting for him in the Great Court.
High walls circled the palace ; the Emperor had a huge park planted with numerous sorts of trees and fruit-trees. White deer, squirrels, roedeer, gazelle, gulls and cranes roamed in the park. Marco watched beautiful buildings whose walls were coated with gold and silver, painted with stories of women and knights, winged dragons and animals. Marco stood by the green hill, where trees planted never lost leaves, then servants saw him in the hall where 6000 people were seated at tables. The ruler was in the back of the hall, sitting on elevated part, in company of his wives, children, grandchildren and relatives, He seemed calm, just looking into the newcomers who, approaching him were obliged to make nine bows. Marco’s Emperor was on his gold-made throne, negligently leaning against the cushions, wrapped in ceremonial attire with gold and jewelry, his bright dark eyes watching the hall. He moved his hand, beckoned to Marco and stopped him bowing, inviting him to sit by his side to talk.
He rewarded richly his most loyal aristocrats with pearls, precious stones, clothes with sliver embroidery and gold belts. Then he raised his hand, the whole hall silenced, servants opened the door to his premises, he walked in, everything stopped, everyone bowed again as he and Marco were passing. The Khan wanted to hear from Marco if his eastern provinces obeyed the laws, how silk production was progressing, about the state of ports and trade, water canals joining towns, about taxes on spices, rice, diamonds, about grain storing in case of shortage, about free distribution of food to the sick, the disabled, the poor, the old writers. Pleased with Marco’s report, the great Kublai Khan asked him whether he would like to be his servant, his faithful adviser, his empire being so big that he needed loyal and clever subjects to serve him with all their heart and reason. And Marco accepted the offer, remaining in the Khan’s service for seventeen years.
He became the Khan’s personal counsellor and envoy to provinces, he travelled western provinces, paid a visit to India, he kept the ruler informed on conspiracies, irregularities, on everything. He was appointed administrator of the town of Yangchawa for three years. During that time Nicholas and Matthew traded in rubies and diamonds, exchanged spices and pepper for paper money, then traded that money for gold and became rich. They also designed and built the catapults to conquer towns in the south of China.
After seventeen years they became nostalgic and wanted to see Venice, Korcula and the Adriatic again. Kublai Khan refused their appeals to go home since they were men of trust and knowledge he needed. Kublai Khan was to turn eighty and there were traces of insecurity in the future but still the Khan wouldn’t let them go. Then a pure coincidence interfered and changed the lives of the Polos.
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