[A visit to the King of the Jogis]

[Excerpt from Letter VII, from Goa, January 31, 1624:]

[173] In this my excursion and absence from Goa (which was short, but the pleasantest three Months Travel that ever I had), besides the Royal Seats of Ikkeri and Manel, describ'd in my last to you, I had the fortune to go as far as Calecut, to the other Royal Seat of Vikira, call'd by his proper Title, il Samorino, where I have erected the Pillars of my utmost peregrination towards the South. Now in my Return, before I describe to you the Court of this Samorino and his Princesses, following the Order of my Journeys, I shall first inform you of my going to the famous Hermitage of Cadiri, and visiting of Batniato, call'd King of the Gioghi [=*jogis*], who lives at this day in his narrow limits of that Hermitage, impoverish'd by Venk-tapa Naieka....

December the eleventh, I went in the Morning about half a League from Mangalor to see the Hermitage, where lives and reigns the Archimandrita [=chief hermit] of the Indian Gioghi, whom the Portugals [=Portuguese] (usually liberal of the Royal Title) style King of the Gioghi, perhaps because the Indians term him so in their Language; and in effect he is Lord of a little circuit of Land, wherein, besides the Hermitage and the habitations of the Gioghi, are some few Houses of the Country people, and a few very small Villages subject to his Government. The Hermitage stands on the side of a Hill, in this manner:

On the edge of the Plain, where the ascent of the Hill begins, is a great Cistern or Lake, from which ascending a pair of stairs, with the face turn'd towards the North, you enter into a Gate, which hath a cover'd Porch, and is the first of the whole inclosure, which is surrounded with a wall and a ditch like a Fort. Being enter'd the said Gate, and going straight forward through a handsome broad Walk, beset on either side with sundry fruit-trees, you come to another Gate, where there are stairs and a Porch higher than the former. This opens into a square Piazza or great Court, in the middle whereof stands a Temple of indifferent greatness [=size], and for Architecture like the other Temples of the Indian-Gentiles; only the Front looks towards the East, where the Hill riseth higher, and the South side of the Temple stands towards that Gate which leads into the Court.

Behind the Temple, on the side of the Court, is a kind of Shed or Pent-house with a Chariot in it, which serves to carry the Idol in procession upon certain Festivals. Also in two or three other places of the side of the Court, there are little square Chapels for other Idols. On the North side of the Court is another Gate opposite to the former, by which going out and ascending some few steps, you see a great Cistern or Lake of a long form, built about with black stone, and stairs leading down to the surface of the water; in one place next [to] the wall 'tis divided into many little Cisterns, and it serves for the Ministers of the Temple to wash themselves in, and to perform their Ceremonies. The Gate of the Temple, as I said, looks Eastward, where the Hill begins to rise very high and steep. From the Front of the Temple to the top of the Hill, are long and broad stairs of the same black stone which lead up to it, and there the place is afterwards plain.

Where the stairs begin, stands a high, straight, and round brazen [=of brass] Pillar, tied about in [175] several places with little fillets [=cords or ribbons]; 'tis about 60 Palms high and one and a half thick from the bottom to the top, with little diminution. On this Pillar are plac'd about seventeen round brazen wheels, made with many spokes round about like stars: they are to support the lights in great Festivals, and are distant about three Palms one from another. The top terminates in a great brazen Candlestick of five branches; of which the middlemost is highest, the other four of equal height. The foot of the Pillar is square, and hat an Idol engraven on each side; the whole Engine is, or at least seems, all of a piece.

The Temple, to wit, the inner part where the Idol stands, is likewise all cover'd with brass: They told me, the walls of the whole Inclosure, which are now cover'd with leaves, were sometimes [=at one time] cover'd with large plates of brass; but that Venk-tapa Naieka carry'd the same away, when in the war of Mangalor his Army pillag'd all these Countries; which whether it be true or no, I know not. The walls of a lesser Inclosure (wherein according to their custom the Temple stands) are also surrounded on the outside with eleven wooden rails up to the top, distant one above another little more than an Architectural Palm; these also serve to bear Lights in Festival occasions; which must needs make a brave Show, the Temple thereby appearing as if it were all on fire. This Temple is dedicated to an Idol call'd Moginato; of what form it is I know not, because they would not suffer us to enter in to see it.

Having view'd the Temple, I ascended the Hill by the stairs, and passing a good way forward on the top thereof, came to the habitations of the Gioghi and their King; the place is a Plain, and planted with many Trees, under which are rais'd many very great stone-pavements a little height above the ground, for them to sit upon in the shadow. There are an infinite number of little square Chapels with several Idols in them, and some places cover'd over-head, but open round about, for the Gioghi to entertain themselves in. And lastly, there is the King's House, which is very low built; I saw nothing of it (and believe there is nothing more) but a small Porch, with walls round about colour'd with red, and painted with Elephants and other Animals: Besides, in one place a wooden thing like a little square bed, somewhat rais'd from the ground, and cover'd with a Cloth like a Tent; they told me it was the place where the King us'd to reside, and perhaps also to sleep.

The King was not here now, but was gone to a Shed or Cottage in a great plain field, to see something, I know not what, done. The Soil is very good, and kept in tillage; where it is not plain, by reason of the steepness of the Hill, 'tis planted with high goodly Trees, most of which bear fruit: And indeed, for a Hermitage so ill kept by people that know not [how to], or cannot, make it delightful, it seem'd to me sufficiently handsome. I believe it was built by the Kings of Banghel whilst they flourish'd, for it lies in their Territory, [175] and that the place and the Seignory [=lordship] thereof was by them given to the Gioghi; who, as they have no Wives, so the Dominion of this Hermitage and the adjacent Land, goes not by Inheritance but by Elective Succession.

I thought to find abundance of Gioghi here, as in our Convents [=monasteries], but I saw not above one or two; and they told me, they resort not together, but remain dispers'd here and there as they list [=choose], abide in several places in Temples where they please, nor are subject to their King in point of Obedience, as ours are to their Superior, but only do him Reverence and Honour; and at certain solemn times great numbers of them assemble here, to whom during their stay, the King supplies Victuals. In the Hermitage live many Servants of his and Labourers of the Earth, who till their Lands, whereby he gets Provision. They told me, that what he possesses within and without the Hermitage, yields him about five or six thousand Pagods yearly, the greatest part whereof he expends in Feasts, and the rest in diet [=food], and in what is needful for the ordinary service of the Temple, and his Idols; and that Venk-tapa Naieka had not yet taken Tribute of him, but 'twas feared he would hereafter.

At length I went to see the King of the Gioghi, and found him employed in his business after a mean sort [=in a humble way], like a Peasant or Villager. He was an old man with a long white beard, but strong and lusty [=healthy]; in either ear hung two little beads, which seemed to be of Gold, I know not whether empty or full [=hollow or solid], about the bigness of a Musket-bullet; the holes of his ears were large, and the tips much stretched by the weight; on his head he had a little red bonnet, such as our Galley-slaves wear, which caps are brought out of Europe to be sold in India with good profit. From the girdle upwards he was naked, only he had a piece of Cotton wrought with Lozenges of several colours across his shoulders; he was not very low [=short], and, for an Indian, of colour rather white than otherwise.

He seemed a man of judgement, but upon trial in sundry things, I found him not learned. He told me that formerly he had Horses, Elephants, Palachinoes [=palanquins], and a great equipage and power, before Venk-tapa Naieka took away all from him, so that now he had very little left. That within twenty days after, there was to be a great Feast in that place, to which many Gioghi would repair from several parts; that it would be worth my seeing, and that I should meet one that could speak Arabic and Persian, and was very learned, who could give me satisfaction [=satisfactory knowledge] of many things; and extolling the qualities of this Giogho, he told me that he had a very great Head (to signify the greatness of which, he made a great circle with his arms), to wit, of hair, ruffled and long, and which had neither been cut nor combed [in] a great while.

I asked him to give me his Name in writing, for my Memory; since I was come to see him. He answered me (as the Orientals for the most part do to such curious demands), To what purpose was it? and, in fine, he would not give it [to] me; but I perceiv'd 'twas through a vain and ignorant fear, [177] that it might be of some mischief to him. Nevertheless at my going away, I was told by others that he is call'd Batniato; and that the Hermitage and all the adjacent places is call'd Cadira.

Having ended my discourse with the King, I came away, and, at the foot of the Hill, without [=outside] the first gate of the Hermitage, rested to dine, till the heat were over, in the House or Cottage of one of the Peasants (there being a small Village there), whose Wife set before us Rice, Caril, and Fish, which themselves also eat, being of a Race allow'd so to do. When the heat was past, I return'd fair and softly [=easily and conveniently], as I went, to Mangalor; and arriv'd at home a good while before night.

== Pietro dela Valle index page == Glossary == fwp's main page ==