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Reviews of Travels of Ibn Battuta to India, the Spice Islands, and China

“This volume comprises a translated portion of Ibn Battuta’s (1304–68) famous fourteenth-century travels from Morocco to the Far East translated by the lateProfessor Noel King (d. 2009) and edited with an introduction by his friend and onetime student A.M. Butters recently of the University of Turku, Finland. The editor briefly introduces Ibn Battuta to the reader who is perhaps unfamiliar with both the man and his adventures. He then relates Professor King’s own involvement with Ibn Battuta. Together with a colleague, a translation of the last of Ibn Battuta’s three decades of travel ventures, titled Ibn Battuta in Black Africa, was published in London in 1975[ and in the Princeton, NJ, US in an expanded edition in 1994]. The editor of the present volume writes in the Introduction that it “features a translation and commentary by Professor King of the final part of Ibn Battuta’s well known travelogue (Rihla) through India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, China and then back to the Middle East and Northern Africa in 1342–49” ..The translated section under the heading “India”, beginning on page 23, only part of Ibn Battuta’s near-decade sojourn in India at the court of the Sultan of Delhi, Muhammad Ibn Tughluq. The Sultan had latterly commissioned Ibn Battuta with the safe delivery of a fabulous royal gift to the King of China. The venture failed utterly as the ships hired to carry the valuable goods were destroyed in port by fierce storms. Rather than test the Sultan’s certain wrath, Ibn Battuta’s immediate avenue of escape was to sail some ten days to the next stage of his adventures, the Maldive Islands, one of the most colourful destinations of his entire travels.

We can take seriously the editor’s comment in his introduction that , Professor Noel King, was especially motivated to make Ibn Battuta’s work more accessible to younger readers..This volume, a small portion of the entire work, still describes enough of the experience of medieval travel and the character of Ibn Battuta himself in a manner that a younger audience of sixth formers or first year undergraduates would enjoy and benefit from. “ –SOAS Bulletin ( University of London)

“This book features the final part of the travel by Ibn Battuta, the greatest traveler of the 14th century and the most famous one from the Muslim world. A sequel to Ibn Battuta in Black Africa (1327-1341), this volume covers his journey through India, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, China, and then back to the Middle East and Northern Africa in 1342-1349. In addition to his commentary on the original, the translator also offers his own thoughts on as well as minor corrections to earlier translations by others. With a colloquial style that is easily accessible to many, this piece serves the needs of both scholars in world history, Middle East history, and Asian history, as well as general readers who are interested in the cultural exchanges and trade networks in the old world before the Great Discovery.”– World History Bulletin