MARCO POLO AND LEVI STRAUSS

This is for me one of the most amazing stories I like to tell and it serves as a wonderful history lesson with good practice of English language.

Marco Polo, as we surely all know, was a Venetian merchant who sailed off to China for twenty years or so to kind of make his fortune.

While he was there, he fell in love with a beautiful Mongolian princess called Persia and married her.

He made a promise to bring Persia back to his Italian homeland but as they crossed the Arabian desert, a terrible accident occurred and Persia died.

In memory of this great princess, the Arabian people decided to call their country after her.

Marco Polo, broken-hearted, continued his journey back to Italy, only to find the provinces of Genoa and Venice at war with each other.

Marco Polo was captured and put in jail.

His cell was a simple one.  It was furnished with a table and a chair and he would sit there for hours in his denim blue trousers which were typical of the time and the region.

He stood out from all the other prisoners and his tales of a new world in the east of great riches sounded great and unbelievable.

One man took a special interest.  His name was Christopher Columbus.  He would come in and sit with Marco Polo and listen to his wondrous tales of China and Persia his lost Princess.

One day, Columbus decided, he would emulate Marco Polo and go out to discover a new world.

The companionship formed between Marco Polo and Columbus during this brief time did not exactly go unnoticed.

As they sat in the cell exchanging notes and discussing the new world, another man stood outside and took notes of his incredible meeting.

Fifty years later, the diary of Gallileo was found by the great Italian Leonardo da Vinci where it described two men of historical note sitting together at a table in a prison cell in Genoa wearing blue denim trousers.

Nothing so remarkable at the moment you might think.

Leonardo da Vinci was inspired to paint a picture of these two great men talking in the prison cell.

The painting found its way to hang in the library of the great opera singer  Luciano Pavorotti a couple of centuries later.

One of Pavarotti’s most revered friends was dropping by on his migrant journey from Bavaria Germany to the United States of America.

That man was in total awe when he saw the painting and made the immediate decision that when he arrived to the United States, he would start a business making and selling blue denim trousers for cowboys and ordinary American folk.

It would catch on, he thought.  Why, wouldn’t it?

Denim refers to a special cotton material which comes only on the region of Nimes in south eastern France, at the time of Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, part of the province of Genoa.

It was traditional for workers to wear denim blue trousers for several centuries but one man saw a commercial opportunity.

That man’s name was, of course, Levi Strauss.

An American songwriter and singer Neil Diamond went on to write a song called ‘Forever in Blue Jeans’ and Italian football players have sported the commercial brand to great marketing effect.

So the fact remains.

Christopher Columbus met Marco Polo in a Genoan prison cell and Gallileo recorded details of their meeting in a diary which Leonardo de Vinci later turned into a painting which hung in Pavarotti’s house which was seen by Levi Straus.

And the rest is history – or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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