Travels of Ibn Batuta

Samuel LEE   |   IBN BATTUTA

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Item#: 121417 price:$18,000.00

Travels of Ibn Batuta
Travels of Ibn Batuta
Travels of Ibn Batuta
Travels of Ibn Batuta

"POSSIBLY THE MOST REMARKABLE OF THE ARAB TRAVELERS": RARE FIRST TRANSLATION INTO ENGLISH OF IBN BATTUTA'S EXTRAORDINARY RIHLA, THE CHRONICLE OF HIS 14TH-CENTURY TRAVELS

(LEE, Samuel, translator) IBN BATTUTA. The Travels of Ibn Batuta. London: for the Oriental Translation Committee, 1829. Quarto, period-style full crimson straight-grain morocco, elaborately gilt-decorated spine, boards, edges and dentelles; marbled endpapers. $18,000.

Very scarce first edition in English of a substantial portion of Ibn Battuta's remarkable Rihla, the chronicle of his prodigious 14th-century travels through much of the known world of the time, estimated to have covered 75,000 miles in 40 years—"an enlightening picture of the culture of a whole period." This copy printed for subscriber Francis Baring, Esq., with his decorative subscription leaf before the title page.

"While on a pilgrimage to Mecca [ibn Battuta] made a decision to extend his travels throughout the whole of the Islamic world. Possibly the most remarkable of the Arab travelers, he is estimated to have covered 75,000 miles in 40 years… Ibn Battuta's Travels circulated in later times mainly in abridged editions, the first extracts of which were published in Europe by a number of scholars during the early years of the 19th century. In 1829 Samuel Lee presented the first substantial English translation [the present work], but it was only during the years following that several copies of the full text were discovered in North Africa" (Howgego, B47). A native of Tangier, Ibn Battuta's 14th-century travels took him through Egypt, the Holy Land, the Near East and the Mideast, the Arabian peninsula, the East African coast, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the surrounding areas, to India, the Maldives, southeast Asia, China, all of North Africa and a portion of West Africa as well. He finally settled in Fez in 1354, at which point he began to dictate the narrative of his travels to the royal secretary.

"His book describes habits, costumes, trade and various experiences beyond the interests of a mere geographer and scholar, and thus became a cultural mirror of that time. In fact, the narrative gives an enlightening picture of the culture of a whole period. Even though Ibn Battuta saw three times as many countries as the famous Marco Polo… his book gained only little attention in his own time" (Löschburg, History of Travel, 51). Howgego B47. This copy was printed for subscriber Francis Baring, first Baron Northbrook (1796-1866), MP for Portsmouth from 1826 until his retirement in 1865, who also served as chancellor of the exchequer for a time, and later as first lord of the admiralty (ODNB). His printed decorative subscriber leaf is bound before the title page of this copy.

Title page and final leaf expertly repaired; a few marginal spots or stains, text generally clean. Beautifully bound. An excellent subscriber's copy of this very scarce and desirable first translation into English of the narrative of one of the world's great travelers.

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