The Odyssey of Ibn Battuta

The Odyssey of Ibn Battuta: Uncommon Tales of a Medieval Adventurer

By David Waines
I.B. Tauris, 2010
ISBN: 978 184511 805 1

Summary: Ibn Battuta was, without doubt, one of the world’s truly great travelers. Born in fourteenth-century Morocco, and a contemporary of Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta left an account in his own words of his remarkable journeys, punctuated by adventure and peril, throughout the Islamic world and beyond. Whether sojourning in Delhi and the Maldives, wandering through the mazy streets of Cairo and Damascus, or contesting with pirates and shipwreck, the indefatigable Ibn Battuta brought to vivid life a medieval world brimming with marvel and mystery. Carefully observing the great diversity of civilizations that he encountered, Ibn Battuta exhibited an omnivorous interest in such matters as food and drink; religious differences among Christians, Hindus, and Shia Muslims; and ideas about purity and impurity, disease, women, and sex. David Waines offers here a graceful analysis of Ibn Battuta’s travelogue. This is a gripping treatment of the life and times of one of history’s most daring, and at the same time most human, adventurers.

Review in The Telegraph: ‘Waines handles his material with sensitivity, and is adept when writing on his subject’s stories of preparing honey in Morocco or his impatience with the way Maldivian women dressed, as well as larger questions about the nature of Ibn Battuta’s religious belief (he frequently claimed to have witnessed miracles). This “al-rihla”, or travelogue, is an illuminating glimpse into a world that is both ancient and foreign, but also familiar to anyone who enjoys travel.’

Ibn Battuta: Travels in Asia and Africa 1325-1354 – long excerpt from his work, from the Medieval Sourcebook

Ibn Battuta: The Animated Series – a television show in production


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