Abu Zayd’s Account of China in The 10th Century

In the course of carrying out some research for my book on Muslim Travellers of The Past, I stumbled upon a 10th century seafarer. Abu Zayd al-Sirafi was his name and he was by profession involved in traversing through various countries such as China and India. His book titled Ancient Accounts of India and China is an exceptional exemplar on travel writing at the time as it takes the reader along with him with anecdotes and vivid descriptions of what he saw along the way.

One of the things I found worth mentioning was his account of China and it’s people. I think its quite refreshing to see how a seafarer viewed China back in the tenth century. He did not shy from providing his readers with an abrupt and impulsive view of what he experienced and saw.

Below are examples of his accounts taken from Two Arabic Travel Books: Accounts of China and India and Mission to the Volga. Abu Zayd’s travel account was translated by Tim Mackintosh-Smith. The original Arabic text is provided first followed by translation. To get yourself a copy, click here.

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