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Two Arabic Travel Books: Accounts of China and India and Mission to the Volga
Two Arabic Travel Books combines two exceptional exemplars of Arabic travel writing, penned in the same era but chronicling wildly divergent experiences. Accounts of China and India is a compilation of reports and anecdotes on the lands and peoples of the Indian Ocean, from the Somali headlands to China and Korea. The early centuries of the Abbasid era witnessed a ...more
Hardcover, 328 pages
Published December 8th 2014 by New York University Press
(first published November 4th 2014)
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These are two short but interesting travelogues. I think for an undergraduate class, they might be an easy short assignment - probably the most interesting aspect of this of course is the way that the authors see other cultures, and thus reflect on their own culture. I was amused for example that both authors comment, with a little shock, that other cultures eat out of individual plates instead of a communal plate - something I've seen European travelers to the Arab world comment on, but it ...more
Essentially two travel books in one - four vast regions accounted for by two diversely different tellings of such fascinating encounters and cultural exchanges - this is the Abbasid era at it's best - curiously vivid yet unexplained. Al-Sarafi's account is a patchwork of fascinating encounters (e.g. Cannibal Islands) and specific descriptions of the socio-political order of the day (e.g. in China) covering the whole of the Indo-Chinese coast, it's lands, peoples cultures and goods (e.g. Tea, Por ...more
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