He was a famous and intrepid traveler…our Venetian was. He was
born at Korcula, in 1254. His origins were noble. He was "the"
medieval journeyman of his time. These are some of the things he
saw and found in his expeditions and what he had to say about
them as they relate to jewels and/or jewelry:
The province of Balashan is an extensive kingdom governed by
princes. And in this country are found precious stones called
Balass Rubies. They are of fine quality and great value and are
embedded high in the mountains. The king of this province has the
mines worked and no person, under pain of death, is allowed to
mine on his own. The king of Balashan maintains a restricted
export policy, thereby maintaining a high value on these stones.
Our king, dating back to circa late 13th century, used policies
not much unlike the policies of the DeBeers and Consolidated
Diamond group of today.
Onward our trekkie went…till he arrived at the province of
Bascia, where the inhabitants are evil in disposition, practice
magic in that they are able to invoke demons at will, and wear in
their ears pendant rings of gold and silver. Now…that’s about
all our traveler had to say about the Bascians…but it is
eminently evident to one and all, that jewelers played an
important part in the little parcel of earth…for who else could
create the ringed orbs for the lobes while everyone was busy
Forward our traveler went, forging new paths across the
continent-- which he studiously documented–while finding more
and more stone and jewels and stuff. Next stop…Charchan. A
once productive and and flourishing province before being laid to
waste by the Tartars. Through this little province there ran
several large streams. And in these streams were found in great
abundance, Chalcedonies and Jasper.
In the province of Tenduk are two regions called Gog and Magog.
And it is there the inhabitants manufacture fine gold tissues
ornamented with mother-of-pearl. In the mountain area of this
region is a rich silver mine.
In that area of the world where the grand Khan reigns, our
traveler saw the Khan hand out gold and silver tablets to the
commanders of his soldiers for their loyalties. If you commanded
one hundred men, you got a silver tablet. If you commanded one
thousand men, you got a gold tablet. Ten thousand men…a gold
tablet with the head of a lion on it. These tablet often weighed
from 20 to 50 ounces each. In our times, if the gold was pure,
and using our current economic structures, the commanders were
getting $6000.00 to $10,000.00 as bonuses. Not bad…eh wot?
I would love to say I could go on and on with this…but I
can’t. Information about our hero as he relates to gems and
jewels, is not easily available. But for those of you who have
not yet figured out who the devil our devil was…let me keep you
all no longer in suspense. His name was…Marco Polo.
And there ya have it.
That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
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