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Marco Polo on Java

From The Travels of Marco Polo, on the island of Java. Footnotes of the book say that it is unlikely the island he mentions is indeed Java, but this is nevertheless an interesting passage.

From Chamba a traveller who sails south-south-east for 1,500 miles comes to a very large island called Java. According to the testimony of good seamen who know it well, this is the biggest island in the world, having a circumference of more than 3,000 miles. The people are idolaters ruled by a powerful monarch and paying no tribute to anyone on earth. It is a very rich island, producing pepper, nutmegs, spikenard, galingale, cubebs, and cloves, and all the precious spices that an be found in the world. It is visited by great numbers of ships and merchants who buy a great range of merchandise, reaping handsome profits and rich returns. The quantity of treasure in the island is beyond all computation. And I assure you that the Great Khan has never been able to conquer it, because of the long and hazardous voyage that must be made in order to get there. It is from this island that the merchants of Zaiton and of Manzi in general have derived and continue to derive a great part of their wealth, and this is the source of most of the spice that comes into the world’s markets.

-pages 212-213, The Travels of Marco Polo

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