Arabic travel account from the early Abbasid era, concerning China and India

Sulayman al-Tajir / Abu Zaid Hasan ibn Yazid, al-Sirafi / Reinaud, Joseph Toussaint (transl.). [Silsilat al-tawarik]. Relation des voyages faits par les Arabes et les Persans dans l'Inde et à la Chine dans le IXe siècle de l'ère chrétienne; texte Arabe imprimé en 1811 par les soins de feu Langlès [...].

Paris, Imprimerie royale, 1845.

2 vols. 12mo. (6), CLXX, 154 pp. 105, (1), 202 pp. With Arabic title-page printed in red and black. Publisher's printed blue wrappers.


First edition in French of two Arabic travels to China and India, translated by the French orientalist and professor Joseph Toussaint Reinaud (1795-1867). The Arabic text was first printed in 1811, under supervision of the linguist and oriental scholar Louis Mathieu Langlès. The first volume contains an introduction to the text, followed by the translation. The main text is divided into two sections: the first account is based on the statement of one Suleyman al-Tajir, a merchant who is said to have travelled to India and China in the years 851-852, though the actual author is unknown. The second account is written by Abu Zayd al-Hasan al-Sirafi. Al-Mas'udi, "the Herodotus of the Arabs", mentions Sirafi in one of his works, stating that he met him in Basra in the year 915-916. Al-Sirafi states that he was commissioned to verify and expand on the earlier account. The date of his narrative is unclear, but it was probably written in the first half of the tenth century. The text gives a lively account of life in China and India, with "the first foreign descriptions of tea and porcelain, and a whole panorama of Chinese society, from the Son of Heaven and Confucian ethics down to toilet paper and bamboo urinals" (Mackintosh-Smith). The second volume provides notes to the translation, followed by the Arabic text. Appended to this are extracts from the Maruj Al-dhahab and the Kitâb Altanbih by Ma`súdi.

Wrappers a little chipped; some minor browning and staining. Spine of first volume professionally repaired.


Cordier (Sinica) 1924f. Hage Chahine 3965. T. Mackintosh-Smith & J. Montgomery (eds.), Two Arabic Travel Books (2014), pp. 4-17. OCLC 1003797.

Stock Code: BN#52309