Beyond the Horizons of Legends. Traditional Imagery and Direct Experience in Medieval Accounts of Asia

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Year of publication 2010
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Numen : international review for the history of religions
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Field Philosophy and religion
Keywords medieval mission to Asia; western imagination; encountering 'the Other'; personal experience vs. traditional imagery
Description The article deals with several medieval travel accounts of Asia, which were produced in 12th and 13th c. by several Franciscan and Dominican missionaries. The aim of the article is to analyze the encounter of European travelers' 'traditional' ideas about Asia with the actual reality. Did the friars mostly rely on their anticipations, or were they open to new information, even if this could destroy views often advocated by eminent authorities? It is argued that the friars' medieval travel accounts reflect a shift from imagination towards gradual encounter and exploration. In these reports the imagined fabulous East gradually turned into an explored reality.
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