Kublai-khan is a comely handsome man of middle stature, with a fresh complexion, bright black eyes, a well formed nose, and every way well proportioned. He has four lawful wives, every one of whom has the title of empress, and the eldest born son of these wives is to succeed him in the empire. Each of these empresses has her own magnificent palace and peculiar court, and is attended by three hundred women, besides many eunuchs, and the suite of each extends at least to ten thousand persons. The great Khan has also many concubines; and every second year he sends messengers to a remarkably fair tribe among the Tartars named Virgut, to make search for die fairest young women among them for his use. These messengers usually bring with them four or five hundred young women, more or less as they see cause. Examiners are appointed to take a view of all their beauties, who fix values upon them in proportion to their various merits, at sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, or more carats; and only those are brought to court whose values reach to a certain appointed rate. On their arrival at Cambalu, other examiners again view them, and choose out twenty or thirty of the handsomest for the chambers of the khan. Those who are thus selected, are placed for some time under the care of some of the wives of the great barons about the court, who are directed to report whether they do not snore in their sleep, and if they are not offensive in smell or behaviour. Such as are finally approved, are divided into parties of five; and one such party attends in the chamber of the khan for three days and nights in their turn, while another party waits in an adjoining chamber to prepare whatever the others may command them. Those who are less prized in the course of these rigid examinations of their qualities, are employed in cookery or other offices about the palace, or are bestowed by the khan on his favoured officers, with large portions. The men of the country from whence these young women are brought, deem it a great honour when their daughters are found worthy of the khans regard, and esteem themselves unfortunate when they are rejected at court.
Kublai had twenty-two sons by his four legitimate wives, and the first born of his first wife, named Zingis, would have succeeded him in the empire if he had not died before his father. Zingis left a son named Timur, who is a wise and valiant prince of great military experience, and who is destined to succeed his grandfather on the imperial throne, instead of his deceased father. By his concubines he has twenty-five sons, all of whom are daily exercised in martial employments, and are all promoted to high military posts and governments. Seven of his sons by his lawful wives are kings of great provinces, and rule the countries committed to their charge with great prudence and discretion.