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Ricci supported his arguments by numerous correspondences between Marco Polo's accounts and his own observations: Most importantly, when the Jesuits first arrived to Beijing 1598, they also met a number of "Mohammedans" or "Arabian Turks" – visitors or immigrants from the Muslim countries to the west of China, who told Ricci that now they were living in the Great Cathay.
This all made them quite convinced that Cathay is indeed China.
), the name of a nomadic people who founded the Liao dynasty which ruled much of Northern China from 907 to 1125, and who later migrated west after they were overthrown by the Jurchens to form the Qara Khitai centered on today's Kyrgyzstan for another century thereafter.
During his first 15 years in China (1583–1598) Matteo Ricci formed a strong suspicion that Marco Polo's "Cathay" is simply the "Tatar" (i.e., Mongol) name for the country he was in, i.e.On this 1570 map by Abraham Ortelius, Cataio is located inland of China (referring to today's Guangdong) and Chequan (Zhejiang), and borders on "Thebet" in the southwest and "Camul" in the west.In about 1340 Francesco Balducci Pegolotti, a merchant from Florence, compiled a guide about trade in China, a country he called Cathay, noting the size of Khanbaliq (modern Beijing) and how merchants could exchange silver for Chinese paper money that could be used to buy luxury items such as silk.Words related to Khitay are still used in many Turkic and Slavic languages to refer to China.However, its use by Turkic speakers within China, such as the Uyghurs, is considered pejorative by the Chinese authority who had tried to ban it.