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Marco Polo

September 29, 1996

Re "Marco Polo--Heroics or Hearsay?" Sept. 20:

I asked my friend, a former professor of Chinese history at Cornell, why there are no official court documents or paintings to verify Marco Polo's presence in China. His explanation was that Chinese history of a dynasty was usually written and edited by the succeeding regime, and this might have accounted for the lack of mention about Polo.

On the other hand, for the Mongol dictator Kublai Khan to have opened his court's inner sanctum to Marco Polo must have been as startling news in 13th-century China as an alien cloned from Mars DNA being confirmed as our secretary of state. Perhaps historian David Morgan should double check his source also, since most of the Great Wall was essentially completed over 1,000 years before Polo's alleged visit to China.

In addition, one must wonder why Polo never had any significant token from the Great Khan to present as evidence if he had served the latter so well. On the other hand, whether Polo ever touched Chinese soil or not is less important to us nowadays than whether he indeed pirated the recipes for ravioli and spaghetti from Khan's kitchen.

JOHN T. CHIU

Corona del Mar

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