Rabban bar Sauma, (born c. 1220, Zhongdu [now Beijing], China—died January 1294, Baghdad, Iraq), Nestorian Christian ecclesiastic, whose important but little-known travels in western Europe as an envoy of the Mongols provide a counterpart to those of his contemporary, the Venetian Marco Polo, in Asia.
May 13, 2021 · Rabban Bar Sauma left China in 1275, followed the Silk Road, and made his way to Baghdad, Constantinople, and France, meeting khans, kings, and a pope. The remarkable Bar Sauma was born in Zhongdu,...
- Early Life
- Pilgrimage to Jerusalem
- Ambassador to Europe
- Later Years
- External Links
Bar Sauma was born c. 1220 in or near modern-day Beijing, known then as Zhongdu or Khanbaligh. According to Gregory Barhebraeus he was of Turkish Uyghur origin. Chinese accounts describe his heritage as Wanggu (Ongud), a tribe of Turkic origin classified as part of the Mongol Caste of the Yuan Dynasty. The name bar Ṣauma is Aramaic for "Son of Fasting" though he was born to a wealthy family. He was a follower of the Nestorian faith (see: Nestorianism in China), and became an ascetic monk around the age of 20 and then a religious teacher for decades.
In his middle age, Rabban Bar Sauma and one of his younger students Rabban Marcos embarked on a journey from China, to make a pilgrimage to the religious center of Jerusalem. They travelled by way of the former Tangut country, Khotan, Kashgar, Talas in the Syr Darya valley, Khorasan (present day Afghanistan), Maragha (Azerbaijan) and Mosul, arriving at Ani in Armenia. Warnings of danger on the routes to southern Syria turned them from their purpose, and they traveled to Mongol-controlled Persia, the Ilkhanate, where they were welcomed by the Patriarch of the Church of the East, Mar Denha I. The Patriarch requested the two monks to visit the court of the Mongol Ilkhanate ruler Abaqa, in order to obtain confirmation letters for Mar Denha's ordination as Patriarch in 1266. During the journey, Rabban Markos was declared a Nestorian bishop. The Patriarch then attempted to send the monks as messengers back to China, but military conflict along the route delayed their departure, and they r...
In 1287, the elderly Bar Sauma embarked on his journey to Europe, bearing gifts and letters from Arghun to the Byzantine emperor, the Pope, and the European kings. He traveled with a large retinue of assistants, and 30 riding animals. Companions included the Nestorian Christian (archaon) Sabadinus; Thomas de Anfusis (Thoma de Anfussis, or Tommaso d'Anfossi), who helped as interpreter and was also a member of a famous Genoese banking company; and an Italian interpreter named Uguetus or Ugeto (Ughetto).Bar Sauma likely did not speak any European languages, though he was known to be fluent in Chinese, Turkish, and Persian. He traveled overland through Armenia to the Byzantine Empire of Trebizond on the Black Sea, then by boat to Constantinople, where he had an audience with Andronicus II Palaeologus. Bar Sauma's writings give a particularly enthusiastic description of the beautiful Hagia Sophia. He next travelled to Italy, again journeying by ship. As their course took them past the is...
After his embassy to Europe, Bar Sauma lived out the rest of his years in Baghdad. It was probably during this time that he wrote the account of his travels, which was published in English in 1928 as The Monks of Kublai Khan, Emperor of China or The History of the Life and Travels of Rabban Sawma, Envoy and Plenipotentiary of the Mongol Khans to the Kings of Europe, and Markos Who as Mar Yahbh-Allaha III Became Patriarch of the Nestorian Church in Asia, translated and edited by Sir E. A. Wallis Budge. The narrative is unique for its observations of medieval Europe during the end of the Crusading period, through the eyes of an observant outsider from a culture thousands of miles away. Rabban Bar Sauma died in 1294, in Baghdad.Beazley, C. R., Dawn of Modern Geography, ii.15, 352; iii.12, 189-190, 539-541.Chabot, J. B.'s translation and edition of the Histoire du Patriarche Mar Jabalaha III. et du moine Rabban Cauma (from the Syriac) in Revue de l'Orient Latin, 1893, pp. 566-610; 1894, pp. 73-143, 2...This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.Mantran, Robert (1986). "A Turkish or Mongolian Islam". in Fossier, Robert. The Cambridge Illustrated History of the Middle Ages: 1250-1520. volume 3. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521266468.
Rabban Bar Sauma's travel narrative has been translated into English twice: 1. Montgomery, James A., History of Yaballaha III, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1927) 2. Budge, E. A. Wallis, The Monks of Kublai Khan, (London: Religious Tract Society, 1928). Online
(translated from the Syriac by Budge, Sir E.A.Wallis) The history and Life of Rabban Bar Sauma. (online)
Rabban Bar Sauma. Rabban Bar Sauma was a Turkic/Mongol monk turned diplomat of the Nestorian Christian faith. He is known for embarking on a pilgrimage from Mongol-controlled China to Jerusalem.
Rabban Bar Sauma from China Visited Rome at Easter Nicholas allowed Bar Sauma to celebrate the Eucharist in Rome. ABOUT THE TIME that Marco Polo made his famous trip to China, two Nestorian monks from the Beijing area made their way west. Rabban Mark and Rabban Bar Sauma hoped to visit Jerusalem, but they never reached their destination.
Rabban Bar Sauma was a Nestorian traveller and diplomat of the "Nestorian" Church of the East in China.
- Further Reading
One could call Rabban Bar Sauma a "reverse Marco Polo": whereas Polo traveled from West to East, Bar Sauma's trek took him from what is now Beijing to the Bourdeaux region in France; and whereas Polo went on business, the priest Bar Sauma was on a religious mission. Of course, Polo and his journey are much better known, because they exposed technologically backward Europeans to the sophistication of Asia; but Bar Sauma, too, helped open the way for greater contact between continents and cultures.
Bar Sauma (c. 1220-1294) belonged to the Nestorians, a sect named after the Persian priest Nestorius (d. 451). The latter, who became bishop of Constantinople, taught that Christ had two separate identities, one human and one divine. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Church declared Nestorianism a heresy, and soon this doctrinal separation led to physical separation, as the Nestorians began making their way eastward. Initially they settled in Mesopotamia and Persia, or modern Iraq and Iran, but the conquest of those lands by Muslims in the mid-600s forced them eastward. As early as 635, a Nestorian community existed in China, and though that group was later suppressed, the Turkic-speaking Uighur peoples of Sinkiang province maintained the faith. The Nestorians benefited from the Mongol conquest of China under Genghis Khan(1162-1227) in the early thirteenth century, and soon they were allowed to resume their missionary work in China. Among the converts gained in those early years...
After passing through an area in Central Asiathat was then in the grip of an anti-Mongol rebellion, they finally reached Khorasan, or present-day Afghanistan. From there they made their way to Maragheh, now in Azerbaijan. The latter was the capital of Kublai's brother Hulagu (c. 1217-1265), who had established a separate realm, the Il-khanate, that governed much of southwestern Asia. His widow Dokuz Khatun was also a Nestorian. Traveling on to Baghdad, they met the catholicos, head of the Nestorian church, who asked them to go back to China as his messengers. The catholicos made Markos a bishop, and designated him metropolitan (a sort of archbishop in eastern churches) of northern China. Continued fighting in areas to the east prevented the two men from departing, however, and while they were waiting to do so, the catholicos died. The upshot of this was that a convocation of Nestorian bishops chose Markos as the new catholicos, with the title Mar Yaballaha III. Markos and Bar Sauma...
Bar Sauma, Rabban. The Monks of Kublai Khan, Emperor of China; or, The History of the Life and Travels of Rabban Sawma, Envoy and Plenipotentiary of the Mongol Khans to the Kings of Europe, and Markos Who as Mar Yahbh-Allaha III Became Patriarch of the Nestorian Church in Asia,translated and edited by E. A. Wallis Budge. London: Religious Tract Society, 1928. Mirsky, Jeanette. The Great Chinese Travelers: An Anthology. New YorkCity: Pantheon Books, 1964. Montgomery, J. A., translator and edit...
Traveling to Jerusalem."Bar Sauma." http://www.uscolo.edu/history/seminar/sauma.htm Young, John L. By Foot to China: Mission of The Church of the East, to 1400.http://www.aina.org/byfoot.htm
Oct 05, 2016 · Born in Zhongdu (an ancient name of Beijing) in 1220 B.C.-, Rabban Bar Sauma died in ancient Iraq on January 20th,, 1294. In between those years the world changed forever. History teaches us that Rabban Bar Sauma was born into a wealthy Christian family who descended from Uighurs in Turkistan.
Apr 07, 2013 · Both Bar Sauma’s and Rubruck’s experiences underscored the fruitlessness of learned religious debate. Bar Sauma was born in the Chinese city now called Beijing. He was the son of an eminent and wealthy Christian family. Following an honored Chinese practice, he withdrew from society and became a monk. He moved to an isolated place to pursue ...