Ludovico di Varthema (c. 1479-1517 AD / 874-922 AH) was from Bologna and is believed to have travelled extensively in the first half of the 16th century. His seven year journey to the Middles East, India, Burma, Malaya, Siam and Indonesia between the years 1502 AD / 907 AH and 1508 AD / 913 AH was recorded in his famous work entitled the Itinerario (The Itinerary). His accounts of Mecca and the Hajj pilgrimage are among the earliest European records of this subject. With his status as a Muslim still in question, he cunningly managed to enrol himself with the Mamluk vanguard of the caravan that headed for the Holy City in 1503 AD / 908 AH. On the way to Mecca from Damascus, he recorded the obstacles that were encountered by Muslims pilgrims in the heart of the desert in order to fulfill this religious duty.
Extracted from the book: En Route to Mecca – Pilgrims’ Voices Throughout the Centuries
Publisher: Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia
(This book is published in conjunction with the En Route to Mecca: Pilgrims’ Voices Throughout the Centuries exhibition, launched in October 2009.)