Event Detail


Travels with a Tangerine

Tim MacKintosh Smith
Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011
Ladies' Recreation Club, 10 Old Peak Road
Yemen resident Tim MackintoshSmith talks on his book retracing the journeys of the fourteenthcentury Moroccan traveler Ibn Battutah in the old Islamic world

No pre booking required for this lecture. Members HK$100 non members HK$150

Drinks from 6.30pm lecture starts at 7.30pm

In this lecture, Tim MackintoshSmith, the acclaimed Arabist, traveller, writer and lecturer, speaks about the unequalled travels of Ibn Battutah, the 14th Century adventurer from Tangiers who outtravelled Marco Polo by some three times, visiting much of Africa, India, Europe, the Middle East and China, while accumulating some 10 wives. For almost thirty years, Mr MackintoshSmith himself has resided in the Yemeni capital San'a in a WorldHeritage Site tower house; he has most generously agreed to continue with his programme in Hong Kong, despite the perils of travelling in the Yemen in the midst of its present civil uprising. In this lecture, Mr MackintoshSmith's account of Ibn Ba! ttutah's odyssey is told with his trademark humour and pathos, which has fascinated audiences worldwide.

Ibn Battutah, the greatest traveller from the premechanical age, set out in 1325 from his native Tangiers on the pilgrimage to Mecca. By the time he returned 29 years later, he had visited most of the known world, travelling three times the distance of Marco Polo. Spiritual backpacker, tireless social climber, temporary hermit and failed ambassador, Ibn Battutah braved everything from brigands, blisters and his own prejudices during his epic travels. The outcome was his monumental book entitled The Marvels of Metropolises and the Wonders of Wandering.

Tim MackintoshSmith in this lecture follows the Moroccan's eccentric journey, from Tangiers to Constantinople via most of the then known world. Destinations include an Islamic "Butlin's " in the Egyptian desert, Assassin castles in Syria, the Kuria Maria islands in the Arabian Sea, the shores of the Cimmerian Bosphorus and some of the greatest cities of medieval Islam. Mr MackintoshSmith lecture reveals the memorabilia of that age, from buffalomilk puddings, fishbone houses, scholar's pen boxes, an Aleppan pulpit, a Crimean minaret, dancing dervishes to the scions of defunct dynasties. But Mr MackintoshSmith also explores a parallel landscape, the contemporary Muslim world, filled with new wonders and marvels, but resonant with echoes of Ibn Battutah's own travels.

Ibn Battutah's route also led to points around the periphery of the two great fourteenthcentury spheres of communication, the Indian Ocean, including the China Seas, and Africa. Trade and travel, particularly by Muslims, meant that these two areas enjoyed constant intercommunication. The talk includes places Ibn Battutah described in detail in his book, including the island state of Kilwa, in today's Tanzania, then wealthy as a result of its export of Zimbabwean gold, the Maldives, where Ibn Battutah, who had trai! ned as a scholar of Islamic law, served as Chief Justice and Sri Lanka where Mr MackintoshSmith retraces the traveller's route, before continuing on to China. Here he examines Islamic survivals from Ibn Battutah's period, including in visiting Guangzhou, Quanzhou and Hangzhou.

Tim MackintoshSmith was educated at Trinity College, Oxford, where he read Arabic. Mr MackintoshSmith has resided for nearly 30 years in an ancient tower house off the "Market of the Cows " in the World Heritage Site ancient city of San'a, in the Yemen. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, a Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and a Research Fellow at the University of Durham. Mr MackintoshSmith's numerous prestigious lectures include talks at the Royal Geographical Society in London and in 2009 delivering the annual Professor Sir Hamilton Gibb Lecture at Harvard University. In 2010, he was awarded the Prize of Honour by the Arab Centre for Literature.

Tim MackintoshSmith's first book, Yemen: Travels in Dictionary Land, won the Thomas Cook/Daily Telegraph Travel Book Award and is now regarded as a classic. He is best known though for his trilogy on Ibn Battutah's adventures, including the bestselling Travels with a Tangerine, The Hall of a Thousand Columns and Landfalls, all of which were received to much critical acclaim and several awards. Mr MackintoshSmith's journeys in search of Ibn Battutah have also been made into a major BBC television series that was viewed around the globe. He has featured in documentary films The English Sheik and The Yemeni Gentleman, in addition to numerous other media appearances.

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