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A Chinese in the Nubian and Abyssinian Kingdoms (8th Century): The visit of Du Huan to Molin-guo and Laobosa

A Chinese in the Nubian and Abyssinian Kingdoms (8th Century): The visit of Du Huan to Molin-guo and Laobosa

By Wolbert Smidt

Chroniques yéménites, Vol. 9 (2001)

Abstract: This article focuses on the first Chinese whose presence in Africa is clearly documented. Due to the geographical curiosity of the T’ang dynasty, extracts of an 8th century travel report of a Chinese military officer, Du Huan, were documented and preserved. He visited Arabian and African countries. The location of Molin-guo, an African country, seems to be clarified today: it appears to be located in the dry desert lowlands in Sudan and Eritrea. Likewise, this source clarifies the location of another region: Laobosa appears to have been south of Molin-guo, which is the first mention of Abyssinia in an ancient Chinese source. This text is thus one of the very few ancient sources contemporary to the late Aksumite kingdom. Briefly, but with significant details, the relevant peoples’ customs are described, most of them still identifiable today.

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