Book of Ser Marco Polo


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Chinese Astrologers


There are in the city of Cambaluc, what with Christians, Saracens, and Cathayans, some five thousand astrologers and soothsayers, whom the Great Khan provides with annual maintenance and clothing, and they are in the constant exercise of their art in this city.

They have a kind of astrolabe on which are inscribed the planetary signs, the hours, and critical points of the whole year. And every year these Christian, Saracen, and Cathayan astrologers, each sect apart, investigate by means of this astrolabe the course and character of the whole year, according to the indications of each of its months. They try to discover by the natural course and disposition of the planets, and the other circumstances of the heavens, what shall be the nature of the weather, and what peculiarities shall be produced by each moon of the year; as, for example, under which moon there shall be thunderstorms and tempests, under which there shall be disease, wars, disorders, and treasons, and so on, according to the indications of each; but always adding that it lies with God to do less or more according to His pleasure. And they write down the results of their examination in certain little pamphlets for the year, and these are sold for a trifle to all who desire to know what is coming. Those astrologers whose predictions are found to be most exact are held to be the greatest adepts in their art, and get the greater fame.

If anyone having some great matter in hand, or proposing to make a long journey for traffic or other business, desires to know what will be the upshot, he goes to one of these astrologers and says, "Turn up your books and see what is the present aspect of the heavens, for I am going away on such and such a business." Then the astrologer will reply that the applicant must also tell the year, month, and hour of his birth; and when he has got that information he will see how the horoscope of his nativity combines with the indications of the time when the question is put, and then he predicts the result, good or bad, according to the aspect of the heavens.1

3 , bk. ii, ch. 33.

1 The Chinese are still much given to astrology. Their popular calendars classify all the days of the month as very lucky, lucky, neither lucky nor unlucky, unlucky, and very unlucky. In China there is also a government almanac, prepared at Peking by state astrologers, for the purpose of marking the days considered fortunate or unfortunate for various undertakings.


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Chicago: "Chinese Astrologers," Book of Ser Marco Polo in Readings in Early European History, ed. Webster, Hutton (Boston: Ginn and Company, 1926), 476. Original Sources, accessed April 14, 2024,

MLA: . "Chinese Astrologers." Book of Ser Marco Polo, Vol. ii, in Readings in Early European History, edited by Webster, Hutton, Boston, Ginn and Company, 1926, page 476. Original Sources. 14 Apr. 2024.

Harvard: , 'Chinese Astrologers' in Book of Ser Marco Polo. cited in 1926, Readings in Early European History, ed. , Ginn and Company, Boston, pp.476. Original Sources, retrieved 14 April 2024, from