Discovery in Madagascar
100% Silk Twill
36" X 36"
The book Il Milione tells the story of Marco Polo's legendary journey across Europe and Asia in the 13th century. Published circa 1300 CE, this book was also called "the book of a million lies," due to Marco Polo's tendency to embellish the truth and spin falsehoods. The book describes how, after staying in the emperor Kublai Khan's court for several years, Marco Polo decided to return home to Venice. On this return trip, the story goes, Marco Polo detoured south along the African coast and landed on what we now call Madagascar.
Il Milione describes how this new land was filled with fantastic animals, but none as awe-inspiring as the Roc: an eagle-like bird, so large it could carry elephants and would blot out the sun with its wings. Scientists now believe that the myth of the Roc was based on the elephant bird, a flightless bird native to Madagascar that became extinct in the 1700s. However, at the time, many believed the Roc to be a real creature. Kublai Khan himself heard about the discovery of this enormous bird and demanded one of its feathers be sent to him; a raffia palm was sent instead, successfully conning the leader.
Marco Polo returned to Venice after 24 years abroad, and the book detailing his adventures was extraordinarily popular. He remains a symbol of legendary journeys; his name has even voyaged beyond Earth as the name of a lunar crater.
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