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Nicolò Manucci, the Marco Polo of India

Nicolò Manucci, the Marco Polo of India Claimed

A Venetian at the 17th-Century Mughal Court

Exhibition Overview

Nicolò Manucci, the Marco Polo of India

Exhibition Type
Art, Civilisations, History
Area Size
less than 200 sqm
200 to 500 sqm
Designed For
Museums and Galleries
Entertainment Venues
Hiring Fee

For a 3-month rental excl. transport, installation, insurance:

This hiring fee is set for the following exhibition format:
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Core Experience
Immersive digital experience
Hands-on activities
Panels and graphics
Original collection
Exhibition Partners
'Nicolò Manucci, il Marco Polo dell’India. Un veneziano alla corte Moghul nel XVII secolo' is an exhibition produced by Fondazione dell'Albero d'Oro, curated by Antonio Martinelli and Marco Moneta, and set-up by Daniela Ferretti, with the specialist support of Piero Falchetta.


Credits / Image Information

Nicolò Manucci, il Marco Polo dell'India © Fondazione dell'Albero d'Oro ph. Andrea Avezzù



The show is dedicated to the story of the life and travels of Nicolò Manucci (1638-1720), a Venetian of humble origins who in November 1653, driven by the desire to explore the world, stowed away in the hold of a tartane heading from Venice to the East, never to return.

The exhibition sets out to retrace the main phases of the life of the Venetian traveller Nicolò Manucci, combining original illustrations, reproductions of ancient artefacts and decorative elements from different eras with a selection of digital reproductions of the manuscripts, designed to show all the pages of the texts together with the richness of the colours and illustrations of a world that has now disappeared.


In essence, the exhibition aims to offer a privileged insight into the historical and cultural wealth of Mughal India in the form of an exhibition visitors’ path open to the greater public and which chronologically retraces the different stages of the young Venetian’s journey, set in context by the presence of maps and documents, items of interior décor. The exhibition has no shortage of insights and games to encourage visitors to interact with the exhibition. 


To bring the figure and history of Nicolò Manucci to life, Venetian artist, designer and architect Guido Fuga has created a series of watercolours representing significant moments of the European traveller’s life. 


Visitors will therefore have the opportunity to discover and enjoy the adventures of Nicolò Manucci, which began in 1653 aged just 14 when, aboard the tartane (an ancient boat) travelling from Venice to the East, he met Sir Henry Bard (Viscount of Bellomont), whom King Charles II of England had secretly sent to request financial support from Shah Abbas II against the republican Oliver Cromwell. In the company of and under the protection of this aristocrat, whose assistant the young Nicolò Manucci soon became, the latter crossed the immense territories of the Ottoman and Persian Empire, reaching Surat in 1656, the main maritime access to India at the time. 


Manucci finally reached Delhi and the court of Shah Jahan, the Emperor who commissioned the Taj Mahal. This was to be the start of a long stay in India, where Manucci served in various capacities, as an artillery officer of the Imperial Army, a doctor at the Mughal court, and a trader of his own medicines and ointments.  Most importantly, however, Manucci was a translator and a cultural intermediary between the Mughals and representatives of the Portuguese, British and French settlements in India, which led him to move from the court of the Grand Mughal to the European colonies in Goa, Madras and Pondicherry. 


Later in life, Nicolò decided to tell his story and that of the Mughal Empire, which he witnessed first-hand and played an active role in, and in particular the long reign of Aurangzeb (1618–1707) – a contemporary of Louis XIV – during which the Mughal Empire reached the height of its expansion, power and influence.  

This feat was no less brave than his previous ones: while he was fluent in many languages, Manucci was unable to write in almost any of them, and so he decided to dictate his memoirs to Italian, French and Portuguese scribes. His Storia do Mogor, an imposing literary work that tells the salient moments of Indian history at that time, was thus born in three languages: Italian, French and Portuguese. The narrative stems from Nicolò Manucci’s desire to leave a trace of his own adventurous life experiences and of the Indian culture which he came to know so well, in order to bring news of it back home. Manucci also commissioned Indian artists to create a vast corpus of miniatures to send back to Europe as visual illustrations of his manuscripts, which were put together in two books, entitled Libro Rosso and Libro Nero. Visitors will be able to browse through the precious illuminated manuscripts through digital reproductions.

VR and App Content

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Paintings Drawings & Prints
Manuscripts Books & Maps
Film & Sound

General Information

Created In
Available Package Options
Content only
More Details About Technical Requirements
Screen for projection are not provided.
Additional Information
The exhibition includes reproductions (antique maps, paintings, miniatures, documents, lithographs), a series of original watercolours, explanatory videos and multimedia elements for interaction, digitisation of illuminated manuscripts, and explanatory panels.

In addition, a list of original artworks, ancient books and manuscripts and artefacts can be provided.


Past and Future Venues
2023, 8 months, Venice, Italy

Extra Info

Exhibition Add-Ons
Education kit
Catalogue / book

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