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0213 Marco Polo : vol.1
Marco Polo : vol.1 / Page 213 (Color Image)

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doi: 10.20676/00000271
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And he has four women whom he holds always' as his true wives, and the eldest FB

son which he has of the first of these four women ought to be lord of the whole VA V

empire by right when the great Kaan the father should die. They are called empresses, FB

and each of those four women is called • also by her other • proper name. And each of these V FB FB L1

four ladies holds a very fine •royal court by herself in her own palace; for there is none VA FB P P

of them who has not three hundred' chosen girls very fair and amiable. They have LT P

very many valets eunuchs and many other men and women, so that each of these L

ladies has in her court quite ten thousand' persons. And whenever he wishes to

lie with any one of these four' women he makes her [36d] come to his room;

and sometimes he goes to the room of his wife. And he has also very many other V L V

concubines, and I will tell you in what way. It is true that there is a province in R

which dwells a race of Tartars who are called Ungrat (and the city likewise) who are R

very handsome and fair-skinned people; and these women are very beautiful. and adorned R LT P

with excellent manners. And every second year a hundred maidens, the most beautiful R

that are to be found in all that race, are chosen and are brought to the great Kaan v

as he may wish. The great Kaan sends his messengers to the said province that they may find R

him the most beautiful girls according to the standard of beauty which he gives then', 400, soo,

more and less, as they think right. And these girls are judged in this way. When the messengers

are come, they snake all the girls of the province come to them. And there are judges deputed

for this purpose, who seeing and considering all the parts of each separately, that is the hair,

the face, and the eyebrows, the month, the lips, and the other limbs, that they may be harmonious

and proportioned to the body, value some at 16 carats, others at 17, 18, 20, and more and less

according as they are more and less beautiful. And if the great Kaan has charged them to bring

those of the value of twenty carats or twenty-one, according to the number ordered them they

bring theta. And when they are come to his presence he has then: valued again by other judges,

and f them all he has thirty or forty who are valued at most carats chosen for his own room.

And he has them kept by the elder ladies of the palace, one to each of the wives of the FB R

barons, • who use diligent care in watching there; and makes them lie with them in one P

bed to know if she5 has good breath and sweet, and is clean, and sleeps quietly without R

snoring, and has no unpleasant scent anywhere, & to know if she is a virgin, & quite sound

in all things. And when they have been carefully examined, • those which are good and fair R FB

and sound in all their limbs are sent to wait on the lord in such way as I shall tell you.

1 toutes foies V,VA,P omit. B. omits foies.

2 TA": ecce°

a FB: mille TA': ijm Others "i0000"

4 quantite fernes FA, FB: i i i j. fames So perhaps read quatre fernes

5 sollo Read selle