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Painting of a white man in a turban, riding on a camel - Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta on his travels

Continuing travels of Ibn Battuta

Ibn Battuta had already traveled much more than most people did! But even after visiting East Africa he didn’t go home to Morocco. Ibn Battuta rested for a few months in Mecca, and then he heard that the Sultan of India had good jobs for Islamic scholars and teachers, so he decided to go to India. But he had trouble finding a guide, so he ended up going back to Egypt, and then from there north to Turkey instead. From Turkey, he went east to Central Asia.

Ibn Battuta and the Mongols

In Central Asia, Ibn Battuta was able to travel with a Mongol Khan all across Asia. In Astrakhan, the khan’s wife, who was a Byzantine princess, found out she was going to have a baby. Ibn Battuta volunteered to accompany her back to her father Andronicus III‘s court at Constantinople to have her baby, and so he got to Constantinople. He didn’t like it, because most people there were Christians.

India and China

When Ibn Battuta left Constantinople, he crossed Central Asia again, visited the Khan again in New Saray (north of the Caspian Sea, now in Russia), and then traveled south across Afghanistan to India in 1334. In India, he found work working for the Sultan, and so he stayed in Delhi as a teacher and judge for seven years. But then the Sultan sent Ibn Battuta as his ambassador to China! So Ibn Battuta set out again.

A tall white cylindrical building with a pointed top

Yonglegong Taoist temple in Shangxi (1247 AD)

It took him several years to get to China: he was attacked by bandits and pirates several times, and lost all his belongings in shipwrecks more than once. By the time he got to China, it was 1345, and Ibn Battuta was forty years old, and had been away from home for twenty years. Ibn Battuta didn’t like China, because the people there were Buddhists instead of Muslims.

Heading home to Morocco

Painting of a camel caravan in the desert by Timbuktu

Traders approaching Timbuktu in Mali, Africa

Ibn Battuta decided to head back home to Morocco. It took him five more years to get there, and he had to travel through places where people were dying of the Black Death. When he finally got home, in 1350, his mother and father were both dead (though not necessarily of the plague).

Ibn Battuta goes to Timbuktu

But Ibn Battuta did not stop traveling yet. He left very soon for Spain, where he saw the great palace at Granada, and when he came back to Morocco he soon took another trip south across the Sahara Desert to see the Kingdom of Mali in West Africa. He visited the king, Mansa Suleiman, and toured the city of Timbuktu. Then Ibn Battuta went home again. In 1354, he was fifty years old, an old man for that time, and he spent the rest of his life in Morocco as a respected judge, writing a book, the Rihla, that told all about his travels. Ibn Battuta died around 1368, when he was 64 years old.

More African Literature

Bibliography and further reading:

 

African languages and literature
Ancient Africa
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