Some Problematic Animals in Marco Polo’s Description of the World
Haw, Stephen G.
There are a number of animals mentioned in Marco Polo’s book which present difficulties. A few are considered here. The papiones of the area near Fuzhou have been identified as Chinese ferret-badgers. It is suggested that this is probably correct. Wehr’s hypothesis that the word “rondes” is a transcription of the Turkic and Persian term qunduz is discussed and rejected: “rondes” must be considered a scribal error. Marco’s “lions” are usually tigers, but not always. Medieval European conceptions of the tiger are examined. Marco’s references to the lynx are also discussed. The term ercolin has never been convincingly explained. It is shown that it almost certainly means “squirrel” and is probably derived from a German word.
Journal or Serie
Imago temporis: medium Aevum, 2020, núm. 14, p. 277-295