Ibn Battuta (1304–1368)

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IBN BATTUTA (1304–1368)

Ibn Battuta (sometimes Batuta or Battutah), whose full name was Abu ˓Abdallah Muhammad ibn ˓Abdallah ibn Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Shams al-Din al-Lawati al-Tanji, was a Moorish traveller who was born 25 February 1304. He died in Morocco in 1368 or 1369.

Although some details of Ibn Battuta's itinerary are lost or uncertain, it is known that he left Tangier on 13 June 1325, and traveled across North Africa to Egypt and Syria to Mecca. He toured the Middle East and the Near East, sailed along the East African coast, returned to Mecca, and then traveled through Asia Minor, stopping in Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Ibn Battuta journeyed through the territories of The Golden Horde (the steppes of Central Asia) and across the Himalayas to India, where he stayed for eight years. Afterward he traveled to the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bengal, Assam, Sumatra, sailing all the way to China. He returned to North Africa through India and the Middle East during the time of the Black Death. He arrived back in Morroco in November 1349. After a short stay he visited Moorish Spain and later traveled to Mali. He ended his travels in December 1353.

After completing his long journey Ibn Battuta spent two years dictating the story of his travels to his secretary, Ibn Juzayy, who was appointed to him by the sultan of Morocco. The result was a masterly contribution to the genre known as rihla, and Ibn Battuta gave this kind of travel narrative a new dimension. Less than a century earlier Marco Polo had made a journey to Asia with a resulting narrative of lesser scope and detail.

Ibn Battuta's account of his journeys is a narrative of travels through three continents, 120,000 kilometers (80,000 miles) of known and unknown cultures, and included, among other observations, ceremonies at the courts of sultans, the burning of widows in India, and African cannibals. Ibn Battuta's travels represent the longest journey overland before the invention of the steam engine.

See alsoCartography and Geography ; Travel and Travelers .


Dunn, Ross E. The Adventures of Ibn Battuta. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

Thyge C. Bro

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Ibn Battuta (1304–1368)

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