Volume 2, Chapter 6 -- History of the Discovery and Conquest of India by the Portuguese, between the years 1497 and 1505, from the original Portuguese of Hernan Lopez de Castaneda: *section index*

Volume 2, Chapter 6, Section 2b -- Narrative of the first Voyage of Vasco de Gama to India and back, in the years 1497, 1498, and 1499 (about Calicut).

Having thus procured a pilot, and provided all things necessary for the voyage, De Gama departed from Melinda for Calicut, on Friday the 26th of April 1498,[45] and immediately made sail directly across the gulf which separates Africa from India, which is 750 leagues.[46] This gulf runs a long way up into the land northwards; but our course for Calicut lay to the east.[47] In following this voyage, our men saw the north star next Sunday, which they had not seen of a long while; and they saw the stars about the south pole at the same time. They gave thanks to God that, whereas it had been represented to them that in this season, which was the winter of the Indies, there were always great storms in this gulf, they now experienced fair weather. On Friday the 18th of May, twenty-three days after leaving Melinda, during all which time they had seen no land, they came in sight of India, at eight leagues distance, the land seeming very high. Canaca, the pilot, tried the lead and found forty-five fathoms, upon which he altered his course to the south-east, having fallen in with the land too far to the north. Upon the Saturday, he again drew near the land, but did not certainly know it, as the view was obscured by rain, which always falls in India at this season, being their winter. On Sunday the 20th of May, the pilot got view of certain high hills which are directly behind the city of Calicut, and came so near the land that he was quite sure of the place; on which he came up with great joy to the general, demanding his albrycias, or reward, as this was the place at which he and his company were so desirous to arrive.

The general was greatly rejoiced at this news, and immediately satisfied the pilot, after which he summoned all the company to prayers, saying the salve, and giving hearty thanks to God, who had safely conducted them to the long wished-for place of his destination. When prayer was over, there was great festivity and joy in the ships, which came that same evening to anchor two leagues from Calicut. Immediately upon anchoring, some of the natives came off to the ships in four boats, called almadias, inquiring whence our ships came, as they had never before seen any resembling their construction upon that coast. These natives were of a brown colour, and entirely naked, excepting very small aprons. Some of them immediately came on board [[the ship of]] the general, and the Guzerat pilot informed him these were poor fishermen; yet the general received them courteously, and ordered his people to purchase the fish which they had brought for sale. On conversing with them, he understood that the town whence they came, which was in sight, was not Calicut, which lay farther off, and to which they offered to conduct our fleet. Whereupon the general requested them to do this; and, departing from this first anchorage, the fleet was conducted by these fishermen to Calicut.

Calicut is a city on the coast of Malabar, a province of the second India, which begins at the mount of Delhi, and ends at Cape Comory, being sixty-one leagues in length, and fifteen leagues broad.[48] The whole of this country is very low, and apt to be covered with water, having many islands in its rivers, which flow into the Indian Sea. This country of Malabar is divided from the kingdom of Narsinga by a very high hill. The Indians report that this land of Malabar was covered by the sea of old, which then reached to the foot of the hills, and thence to a hill, where now the islands of the Maldives are found, which were then firm land; and that in after times it destroyed that latter country, and laid bare the country of Malabar, in which are many pleasant and rich cities, dependent upon trade, which they carry on principally with Calicut, which exceeds all cities of our days in riches and in vice. Its foundation and rise was as follows: In ancient times, this country of Malabar was entirely ruled by one king, who dwelt in the city of Coulan. In the reign of the last king of this race, named Saranaperimal,[49] who died 600 years ago, the Moors of Mecca discovered India, and came to the province of Malabar, then inhabited by idolaters, and governed by an idolatrous king. From the time of the coming of these Moors, they began to reckon their years as we do, from the birth of our Saviour.[50] After the coming of the Moors into Malabar, they insinuated themselves so much into the confidence of the before-mentioned king, that he became a convert to their law, renouncing the religion of his country, and embracing Mahometism with such zeal, that he resolved to go and end his days in the temple of Mecca.

Having thus resolved, out of love to the Mahometan sect, to abandon his kingdom, he called his kindred together, and divided all his territories among them, reserving only twelve leagues of country near the place where he intended to embark, not then inhabited, which he bestowed upon one of his cousins who acted as his page. To this kinsman he gave his sword and turban, as ensigns of dignity; commanding all the other nobles, among whom he had distributed the rest of his territories, to obey this person as their emperor, the kings of Coulan and Cananor only excepted; whom also, and all the others, he debarred from coining money, which was only to be done by the king of Calicut. Having thus given away his whole dignities and possessions, and set everything in order, he embarked from the place where Calicut now stands; and because this king embarked from that place on his pilgrimage to Mecca, the Moors have ever since held Calicut in so high devotion, that they and all their posterity would never take their lading from any other port. From that time forwards, they discontinued trade with the port of Coulan, which they had used formerly, and that port therefore fell to ruin; especially after the building of Calicut, and the settlement of many Moors in that place.[51]

As the Moors are merchants of most extensive dealings, they have rendered Calicut, as the centre of their trade, the richest mart of all the Indies; in which is to be found all the spices, drugs, nutmegs, and other things that can be desired, all kinds of precious stones, pearls and seed-pearls, musk, sanders, aguila, fine dishes of earthen ware, lacker,[52] gilded coffers, and all the fine things of China, gold, amber, wax, ivory, fine and coarse cotton goods, both white and dyed of many colours, much raw and twisted silk, stuffs of silk and gold, cloth of gold, cloth of tissue, grain, scarlets, silk carpets, copper, quicksilver, vermilion, alum, coral, rose-water, and all kinds of conserves. Thus, every kind of merchandise from all parts of the world is to be found in this place; which, moreover, is very quiet, being situated along the coast, which is almost open and very dangerous. Calicut is surrounded by many gardens and orchards, producing all the herbs and fruits of this country in great abundance, having also many palms and other sorts of trees, and abounds in excellent water. This part of India produces but little rice, which is a principal article of food in these parts, as wheat is with us; but it procures abundance of that and all other kinds of provisions from other countries. The city is large, but the dwellings consist only of straw huts; their idol temples and chapels and the king's palace excepted, which are: built of stone and lime and covered with tiles; for by their laws, no others are permitted to build their houses of any other material than straw.

At this time, Calicut was inhabited by idolaters of many sects, and by many Moorish merchants, some of whom were so rich as to be owners of fifty ships. These ships are made without nails, their planks being sewed together with ropes of cayro, made of the fibres of the cocoa-nut husk, pitched all over, and are flat-bottomed, without keels. Every winter there are at least six hundred ships in this harbour, and the shore is such, that their ships can be easily drawn up for repairs.

"The subjects of the following digression are so intimately connected with the first establishment of the Portuguese in India, as to justify its introduction in this place, which will greatly elucidate the narrative of Castaneda; and its length did not admit of being inserted in the form of notes. It is chiefly due to the ingenious and Reverend James Stanier Clarke, in his Origin and Progress of Maritime Discovery, extracted by him from various sources."

"The name of this country, Malabar, is said to be derived from ulyam, which signifies, in the original language of that part of India, skirting the bottom of the hills, corrupted into Maleyam or Maleam, whence probably came Mulievar, and Malabar. In a MS. account of Malabar, it is said that little more than 2300 years ago, the sea came up to the foot of the Sukien mountains, or the western gauts. The emerging of the country from the waters is fabulously related to have been occasioned by the piety or penitence of Puresram Rama, who prayed to Varauna, the God of the ocean, to give him a tract of land to bestow on the Bramins. Varauna accordingly commanded the sea to withdraw from the Gowkern, a hill near Mangalore, all the way to Cape Comorin; which new land long remained marshy and scarcely habitable, and the original settlers were forced to abandon it on account of the numerous serpents by which it was infested: But they afterwards returned, being instructed to propitiate the serpents by worshipping them."

"At first this country was divided into four Tookrees or provinces, these into Naadhs or districts, and these again into Khunds or small precincts. The Bramins established a kind of republican or aristocratical government, under a few principal chiefs; but jealousies and disturbances taking place, they procured a Permaul or chief governor from the prince of Chaldesh, a sovereignty in the southern Carnatic: Yet it is more likely that this sovereign took advantage of the divisions among the chiefs of Malabar, to reduce them under his authority. These permauls or viceroys were for a long while changed every twelve years; till at length one of them, named Sheo-Ram, Cheruma Perumal, or Shermanoo Permaloo, the Sarana-perimal of Castaneda, became so popular that he set his master Kishen Rao, the rajah of Chaldesh, at defiance, and established his own authority in Malabar. An army was sent into Malabar to reduce the country again to obedience, but it was defeated, and from this event, which is said to have happened 1000 years ago, all the rajahs, chief nayres, and other lords of Malabar, date the sovereignty and independence of their ancestors in that country."

"After some time, Shermanoo-Permaloo either became weary of his situation, or from attachment to the Mahometan religion, resolved to make a division of Malabar among his dependents, from whom the present chieftains are descended. Such is the current story among the inhabitants of Malabar; yet it is more probable that his dependent chieftains, disgusted with his conversion to the religion of Mahomet, revolted from his authority, and contrived this story of his voluntary surrender and division of his dominions, to justify their own assumptions. After this division of his kingdom, it is said that an erary, or person of the caste of cow-herds, originally from the banks of the Cavery, near Errode in the Carnatic, who had been a chief instrument of the success of Shermanoo-Permaloo in the war against rajah Kishen Rao, made application to Shermanoo for some support. Having very little left to give away, Shermanoo made him a grant of his own place of abode at Calicut, and gave him his sword; ankle-rings, and other insignia of command, and presented him with water and flowers, the ancient symbols of a transfer of property. It is said that this cowherd rajah was ordained principal sovereign over the other petty princes among whom Malabar was divided, with the title of Zamorin, and was authorized by Shermanoo to extend his dominion over all the other chieftains by force of arms. His descendants have ever since endeavoured, on all occasions, to enforce this pretended grant, which they pretend to hold by the tenure of possessing the sword of Shermanoo Permaloo, and which they carefully preserve as a precious relic."

"From the period of the abdication of Shermanoo, to that of the arrival of the Portuguese at Calicut, the Mahomedan religion had made considerable progress in Malabar; and the Arabian merchants received every encouragement from the Samoories or Zamorins, as they made Calicut the staple of their Indian trade, and brought large sums of money yearly to that place, for the purchase of spiceries and other commodities. As the rajahs of Cochin and other petty sovereignties on the coast were exceedingly jealous of the superior riches and power of the zamorins, and of the monopoly of trade enjoyed by Calicut, they gave every encouragement to the Portuguese to frequent their ports; from whence arose a series of warfare by sea and land, which has finally reduced them all under subjection to the Europeans."

"According to an Arabian author, Zeirreddien Mukhdom, who is supposed to have been sent to assist the zamorins and the Mahomedans in India, in their wars with the Portuguese, Malabar is then said to have been divided among a multiplicity of independent princes or rajahs, whom he calls Hakims, some of whom commanded over one or two hundred men, and others one, ten, fifteen, or even as high as thirty, thousand, or upwards. The three greatest powers at that time were, the Colastria[53] rajah to the north, the zamorin of Calicut in the centre, and a rajah in the south, who ruled from Coulan, Kalum, or Coulim, to Cape Comorin, comprehending the country now belonging to the rajah of Travancore."

"We now return from this digression, to follow the narrative of the Portuguese Discovery and Conquest of India, as related by Castaneda."

So great was the trade and population of Calicut and the surrounding country, and the revenues of its sovereign through these circumstances, that he was able to raise a force of thirty thousand men in a single day, and could even bring an hundred thousand men into the field, completely equipt for war, in three days. This prince, in the language of the country, was styled the Zamorin, or Samoryn, which signifies Emperor; as he was supreme over the other two kings of Malabar, the king of Coulan and the king of Cananor. There were indeed other princes in this country, who were called kings, but were not so. This Zamorin or king of Calicut was a Bramin, as his predecessors had been, the Bramins being priests among the Malabars. It is an ancient rule and custom among these people, that all their kings must die in a pagoda,[54] or temple of their idols; and that there must always be a king resident in the principal pagoda, to serve those idols. Wherefore, when the king that serves in the temple comes to die, he who then reigns must leave his government of temporal affairs to take his place in the temple; upon which another is elected to take his place, and to succeed in ruling the kingdom. If the king who is in possession of the temporal authority should refuse to retire to the pagoda, on the death of the king who officiated in spirituals, he is constrained to do so, however unwilling.

The kings and nobles of Malabar are of a brown complexion, and go naked from the waist upwards, all the under parts of their bodies being clothed in silk or cotton vestments; yet they sometimes wear short gowns on their upper parts, called basus, of rich silk, or cloth of gold, or of scarlet, splendidly ornamented with precious stones, of all which the Zamorin hath great store. They shave their beards, leaving only the hair on their upper lips, and do not shave the head like the Turks. In general, the natives of this country, even of the higher ranks, use little state in their households, and are very sparing in their diet; but the Zamorin is served with considerable splendour. These kings or nobles never marry; but every one has a mistress of the Nayre cast, which among the Malabars are considered as the gentry; even the Zamorin has only a mistress, who has a house of her own near the palace, and a liberal allowance for the charges of her household and maintenance at her own disposal. Upon any dislike or difference, he may always leave her for another. The children are only considered as the offspring of the mother, and have no right or title to inherit the kingdom, or anything else belonging to the father; and when grown up, are only held in that rank or estimation which belongs to the blood or parentage of their mother. Brothers succeed to brothers; and in lack of these, the sons of their sisters, who do not marry, and have no certainty respecting the fathers of their children; as they are very free and dissolute in their manners, choosing paramours as they please.

These sisters of the Zamorin, and other kings of Malabar, have handsome allowances to live upon; and when any of them reaches the age of ten, their kindred send for a young man of the Nayre cast, out of the kingdom, and give him great presents to induce him to initiate the young virgin; after which he hangs a jewel round her neck, which she wears all the rest of her life, as a token that she is now at liberty to dispose of herself to any one she pleases as long as she lives.

When these kings are at war with each other, they often go personally into the field, and even join personally in fight upon occasion. When one of them dies, the body is carried out into the fields, and burned on a pile of sanders, and of another sweet smelling wood called aguila, all his brothers and kindred, and all the nobles of the country being present at the ceremony; which is uniformly postponed to the third day after death, that all may have time to gather from a distance, and may have an opportunity of being assured whether his death was natural, or caused by violence; since, if he died by the hand of any one, all are bound to prosecute revenge. After the body is burnt, and the ashes buried, the whole company shaves every part of their bodies, even to the youngest child of these idolaters. This is their token of mourning; and during the ensuing thirteen days, they all refrain from chewing betel, any one infringing this law being punished by cutting his lips.

During this period of thirteen days, he who is to succeed to the throne must abstain from all exercise of government, that any one who pleases may have an opportunity of urging any valid objection why he should not acquire the vacant government. After, this the successor is sworn before all the nobles of the country, to preserve and enforce all the laws and customs of their ancestors, to pay the debts of his predecessor, and to use his utmost endeavours to recover any portion of the kingdom that may have been lost. While taking this oath, having his sword in his left hand, he holds in his right hand a burning candle, on which is a gold ring, which he touches with his fingers. After this they throw some grains of rice over him, using many other ceremonies, and numerous prayers, and then worship the sun three times. When all these ceremonies are gone through, all the Caymayles, or lords of noble birth, taking hold of the candle, take an oath to be true and faithful subjects to the new king.

After the end of the thirteen days mourning, they all begin to chew betel, and to eat flesh and fish as formerly, the new king alone excepted. He is bound to mourn for his predecessor during a whole year, chewing no betel, eating no flesh or fish, neither shaving his beard nor cutting; his nails during all that time. He must eat only once a day, washing himself all over before this single meal, and devoting certain hours of every day to prayer. After the expiry of the year, he uses a certain ceremony for the soul of the king his predecessor, much like our solemn dirge; at which 100,000 persons are often assembled, among whom he distributes large alms. When this ceremony is ended, the prince is confirmed as inheritor of the kingdom, and all the people depart.

The Zamorin of Calicut, and the other kings of Malabar, have each one especial officer, to whom the administration of justice is confided, and whose authority in all matters of government is as ample as that of the king himself. The soldiers employed by these kings are called Nayres, who are all gentlemen, and who follow no other office or employ but that of fighting when needed. They are all idolaters, armed with bows, arrows, spears, daggers of a hooked form, and targets, and they march in a very regular and warlike manner; but they go entirely naked and barefooted, wearing only a piece of painted cotton cloth, which reaches from the girdle to the knees, and a cloth or kerchief on their heads. All these men live continually at the charge of the king and nobles of the country, from whom they have small stipends for their maintenance; and they esteem themselves so highly on account of their gentility of blood, that they will not touch an husbandman [[=farmer]], nor allow any such to enter into their dwellings. When any husbandman goes through the streets they must continually call out aloud hoo hoo; for if commanded by a Nayre to make way, they may be slain if they refuse. The king cannot raise any one to the rank of a Nayre, who are all such by descent. These Nayres serve very faithfully under those who give them their wages, not sparing by day or night to use their best endeavours to serve their chiefs, nor making any account of want of food or sleep, or of fatigue, when their service is required or may be effectual. Their expenses are so small that on half-a-crown, which is their only monthly pay, they can sufficiently maintain themselves and a boy, whom each has as a servant.

By the laws of this country, these Nayres cannot marry, so that no one has any certain or acknowledged son or father; all their children being born of mistresses, with each of whom three or four Nayres cohabit by agreement among themselves. Each one of this confraternity dwells a day in his turn with the joint mistress, counting from noon of one day to the same time of the next, after which he departs, and another comes for the like time. They thus spend their lives without the care or trouble of wives and children, yet maintain their mistresses well according to their rank. Anyone may forsake his mistress at his pleasure; and in like manner, the mistress may refuse admittance to any one o£ her lovers when she pleases. These mistresses are all gentlewomen of the Nayre cast; and the Nayres, besides being prohibited from marrying, must not attach themselves to any woman of a different rank. Considering that there are always several men attached to one woman, the Nayres never look upon any of these children born of their mistresses as belonging to them, however strong a resemblance may subsist, and all inheritances among the Nayres go to their brothers, or the sons of their sisters, born of the same mothers, all relationship being counted only by female consanguinity and descent.

This strange law prohibiting marriage, was established, that they might have neither wives or children on whom to fix their love and attachment; and that being free from all family cares, they might the more willingly devote themselves entirely to warlike service. And the more to animate these gentlemen in the service of the wars, and to encourage them to continue in the order of Nayres, they are privileged from all imprisonments, and from the punishment of death on all ordinary occasions, except for the following crimes: killing another Nayre, or a cow which is an object of worship; sleeping or eating with an ordinary woman; or speaking evil of the king. When the king has received authentic information of any of these offences having been committed, he issues a written mandate to one of the Nayres, commanding him to take two or three other Nayres in his company, and to slay the Nayre who has committed this offence against the laws. In obedience to this warrant, they attack him with their swords and put him to death wherever they happen to find him, and then affix the royal order upon his body, that all may know the reason of his death.

It is not permitted to any Nayre to assume arms, or to enter into any combat, till he has been armed as a knight. When a Nayre becomes seven years old, he is set to learn the use of all kinds of weapons, their masters first pulling and twisting their joints to make them supple, and then teaching them to fence and handle their arms adroitly. Their principal weapons are swords and targets; and these teachers, who are graduates in the use of the weapons, are called Panycaes, who are much esteemed among the Nayres, and all their former scholars, however advanced in life or however high their dignity, are bound at all times to give them due honour and reverence when they meet; likewise, every Nayre is obliged to take lessons from these professors for two months yearly, all their lives: By this means they are very skilful in the use of their weapons, in which they take great pride.

When a Nayre desires to be armed as a knight, he presents himself before the king, accompanied by all his kindred and friends, and makes an offering of sixty gold fannoms.[55] On which he is asked by the king if he is willing to observe and follow the laws and customs of the Nayres, to which he answers in the affirmative. Then the king commands him to be girt with a sword, and laying his right hand on his head, utters certain words as if praying in so low a voice that he is not heard. The king then embraces the young Nayre, saying aloud in their language, "Take good care to defend the Bramins and their kine." On this the Nayre falls down and does reverence to the king; and from that time he is considered as a knight, or member of the fraternity of Nayres. When any of the Nayres enters into the peculiar service of the king or of any individual noble, he binds himself to die with and for him, and they keep their oaths. For if their master should happen to be slain in any war or otherwise, they will fight till they are all slain; and if they cannot accomplish their purpose at the time, or happen to be absent at the slaughter of their master, they go afterwards in search of the person who has done the deed, and never leave off till they are themselves slain.

The Malabars are much given to soothsaying, and have lucky and unlucky days. They worship the sun moon and stars, the fire, cows, and the first thing they meet on going out of a morning, believing every manner of vanity. The devil is often in them, but they say it is one of their gods or pagods, as they call him. But whosoever or whatsoever it may be, it constrains them to utter terrible words, which are believed by the king. When the devil enters into a Nayre, he goes with a naked sword before the king, shaking and trembling and giving himself many wounds, saying, "I am such or such a god, and am come to tell thee such and such a thing," crying out, and behaving himself like a madman or one possessed. If the king makes any doubt of what he says, he continues to roar still louder and to slash himself more severely, till the king gives credit to his assertions.

There are other tribes or lineages of people among the Malabars, of various sects and divers customs, of whom it were too tedious to speak in this place, who are all under obedience to the several kings and nobles. The Moors alone are exempted from this obedience, on account of the large customs they pay for their merchandise, owing to which they are held in high estimation at Calicut.

Having come to anchor on the outside of the bar or reef of Calicut, the general sent one of the Portuguese convicts on shore, in one of the almadias which had conducted the ships to this port; instructing him to see what kind of a place it was, and to make trial of what kind of a reception might be looked for, seeing we were Christians, and as the general believed that the people were likewise Christians. When this man landed, he was immediately surrounded by great numbers of the natives, staring at him as a stranger. These people asked of the fishermen what man this was whom they had brought on shore? to which they answered, that they supposed him to be a Moor, and that he belonged to the three ships which were riding without [[=outside]] the bar. But the people of Calicut wondered much to see a person who was clothed so very differently from the Moors who came from the Red Sea. Some of these people who had knowledge of Arabic spoke to this man, but he could not understand or answer them, at which they were much astonished. Yet, believing him to be a Moor, they conducted him to a house where two Moors dwelt who came originally from Tunis and had established themselves in Calicut.

On his appearance, one of these Moors whose name was Bontaybo,[56] who could speak Spanish, immediately recognized him for a Portuguese, having often seen people of our nation at Tunis in the reign of King John, in a ship named La Reyna which often traded to that port. As soon as Bontaybo saw the Portuguese, he exclaimed in Spanish, "Devil take you, what brought you here?" He farther inquired which way he had travelled so as to arrive at Calicut. To this the banished man answered, telling how many ships our general had brought with him; at which Bontaybo was much amazed, wondering how they could possibly come by sea from Portugal to India. He then asked what they sought at so great a distance from home. And was answered that they came in search of Christians and spices. Bontaybo then asked why the kings of France and Spain and the Doge of Venice had not sent their ships likewise. Because, said our man, the king of Portugal would not allow them. To this Bontaybo said, he was much in the right. After some farther conversation in this way, Bontaybo gave him good entertainment, commanding certain cakes of wheat flour and honey, called apes by the Malabars, to be set before him; and then said that he would accompany him to the ships to wait upon the general.

Bontaybo accordingly came on board [[the ship of]] our general, whom he immediately addressed in Spanish, saying, "Good luck! good luck! many rubies, many emeralds. Thou art bound to give God thanks for having brought thee where there is abundance of all sorts of spices, precious stones, and all the other riches of the world." On hearing this, the general and all the people were greatly astonished, not expecting to meet any one so far from home who understood their language; and even shed tears of joy for this happy circumstance, and their safe arrival. They all then joined in humble and hearty thanks to the Almighty, by whose favour and assistance alone this great happiness and good fortune had been accorded to them. The general embraced Bontaybo, whom he made to sit beside him, and questioned him if he were a Christian, and how he came to Calicut.

Bontaybo told him frankly that he was a Moor from Tunis in Barbary, and had come to Calicut by way of Cairo and the Red Sea, and explained how he came to know the Portuguese, as has been already mentioned. He farther declared, that he had always been well disposed towards the Portuguese nation, having always found them worthy of confidence and friendship in all their dealings; and having been a friend to them in times past, he would not discontinue his good will, and was ready and willing to do everything in his power to serve them, and to assist them in the objects for which they had now come to Calicut. The general gave him many thanks for his good will, and promised to reward him liberally for the friendly aid he might give to him and his expedition, expressing his extreme satisfaction at being so fortunate as to meet such a person in this place, believing that God had sent him here to promote the great objects of this voyage, for which he passed through so many and long-continued dangers, being quite sensible that he must have reaped little profit from all his labours without such friendly assistance.

The general then requested information from Bontaybo, as to the character of the king or Zamorin of Calicut, and whether, in his opinion, he would willingly receive him as ambassador from the king of Portugal. Bontaybo represented the Zamorin as a prince of good and honourable dispositions who, he was convinced, would gladly receive the general as ambassador from a foreign king; more especially if the objects of his voyage were to establish a trade with Calicut, and if the general had brought with him any merchandize proper for that purpose; since the advantages which the Zamorin derived from the customs upon trade formed the chief source of his revenue. He farther informed the general that the Zamorin resided at this time at Panane, a village on the coast about five leagues from Calicut; and advised that the general should send a message there to notify his arrival, and the reasons of his coming. The general was well pleased with this advice and presented certain gifts to Bontaybo, along with whom he sent two of his men to Calicut, requesting Bontaybo to direct them on their way to Panane, which he did accordingly.

When these messengers came into the presence of the Zamorin, one of them, named Fernan Martyn, declared to him, by means of an interpreter, that he waited upon his highness on the part of his general, who had arrived in the port of Calicut with three ships, having been sent there by the king of Portugal with letters to his highness, which the general begged permission to present to him. On hearing this message, and before giving any answer, the Zamorin commanded each of the two messengers to be presented with a piece cotton cloth and two pieces of silk, such as he used in his own apparel; after which he inquired of Fernan Martyn what king it was who had sent him these letters, and how far his dominions were from thence. Fernan fully answered these inquiries, adding, that he was a Christian prince, and that those whom he had sent in the ships now at Calicut were Christians; and related what great and numerous dangers they had passed through during their voyage. The Zamorin was much amazed at the incidents of the voyage which Fernan related at some length, and expressed his satisfaction that so powerful a prince of the Christians should think of sending an ambassador to him from so great a distance.

He then desired Fernan to inform the general, that he heartily welcomed him and his people into his dominions, advising him to bring his ships to anchor near a village called Pandarane some way below where the ships then lay, as a far better harbour than Calicut which is an open and very dangerous road for shipping. The Zamorin desired likewise that the general might come by land from that place to Calicut, where he would be ready to receive him. After this, the Zamorin sent a pilot to navigate the ships to the harbour of Pandarane; but, on coming to the bar of that port, the general did not think it advisable to enter so far within the harbour as the pilot proposed, fearing lest he might expose himself to danger by reposing too great confidence in these people, and placing himself too much within their power. In this he acted with much prudent foresight, by which he wisely avoided the injuries which were afterwards attempted against him at this place.

On his arrival at Pandarane, the general received a message from the Kutwal[57] of Calicut, intimating that he and other nobles awaited him on shore by order of the Zamorin, to conduct him to the city, and that he had permission to land whenever he pleased.[58] But as the day drew near a close, the general returned an answer excusing himself from landing that night. He immediately called a council of the other captains and principal officers of the fleet, to take their advice on the present emergency, to whom he intimated his intention of going to visit the king of Calicut on purpose to settle a treaty of trade and amity. Paulo de Gama, his brother, strongly objected to his venturing on shore; alleging that although the natives of the place were Christians, as they still believed them, yet there were many Moors among them who were much to be feared as his mortal enemies; since these people at Mozambique and Mombaza, where they had only passed by their ports, endeavoured to destroy them all, they were much more to be feared at Calicut where we had come on purpose to enter into competition with them in trade, by which their profits would be diminished. It was therefore the more probable that they would use every effort to destroy the general, on whom our whole hope of safety and success depended; and, however much the Zamorin might regret the commission of such a deed, he could not restore him to life; besides which, the Moors were inhabitants of the place, where they had much interest, whereas the general was an utter stranger. Likewise, it was quite impossible for them to be assured that the king of Calicut might not have leagued with the Moors for his death or captivity; either of which would ruin their voyage and prove the destruction of them all, and all the toils and dangers they had passed through would prove in vain. To prevent all this danger, he strongly urged that the general should on no account go on shore, but should depute one of the captains, or some other person in the fleet in his stead; alleging that commanders in chief ought never to subject themselves to personal danger, unless in cases of the most urgent necessity.

All the officers were of the same opinion. But the general answered that even if he were perfectly assured that his landing were to occasion his instant death, he would not refrain from going to visit the king of Calicut, to endeavour to settle amity and trade, and that he might procure some spices and other commodities from the place, by means of which their discovery of Calicut might be proved on their return into Portugal. As otherwise, if we returned without any of the productions of the Indies, their discovery would be discredited, and their honour and veracity called in question. "Think not therefore," said he, "but I will rather die, than leave it in hazard that the long time we have already spent, and may yet employ, shall be lost, and others sent to ascertain the truth of our discoveries, while envious persons may have it in their power to discredit our services. Neither do I run into such hazard of death, nor expose you to such dangers as you suppose; seeing that I am going to a city inhabited by Christians, and to a king who wishes the concourse of many merchants in his dominions, as the more of these that frequent his port so much the greater must be his revenue from the customs upon trade. It is not my intention to stay long on shore, so as to give opportunity to the Moors to complot against me; as I propose only to talk with the king and to return in three days, by which time you may have every thing in readiness for our departure. If I should have the good fortune, by the will of God, to establish trade and amity with the king of Calicut, I would not exchange the honour and credit of that transaction for any treasure that could be given me; neither can the king of Calicut settle this affair so well with any other person, as he will honour me the more for being the captain-general of this fleet and the ambassador of our king. Should any other go in my stead, the king might look upon himself as slighted and insulted, under an idea that I do not esteem him worthy to be visited by myself, or that I do not trust him on his word and assurance. Besides, it is not possible for me to give sufficiently ample instructions to any one I might send, to enable him to do what may be necessary under every circumstance that may arise, as I myself might do. Even if it should chance that they kill me, it were better this should happen in the discharge of my duty, than that I should preserve my life by neglecting to perform it. You, my friends, remain at sea in good ships: And if you hear of any mischance befalling me, my desire is that you shall immediately depart and carry home news of our discovery. As for our present subject, there need be no farther argument; as I am determined, with the blessing of God, to proceed to visit the king at Calicut."

When this determination was made known the captains made no farther objections, and chose out twelve persons to accompany him, among whom were Diego Diaz his secretary, Fernan Martinez the interpreter, John de Sala who was afterwards treasurer of the Indies, and nine others; and Paulo de Gama, his brother, was appointed to act as captain-general during his absence. The general, before going on shore, gave pointed orders that no person should on any account be permitted to come on board the ships; but that all who were desirous of any intercourse with them should remain in their boats or almadias. He likewise directed that Nicholas Coello should come every day with his boat well armed as near the shore as he could with safety, on purpose to keep up an intercourse between the ships and himself. All these things being settled, the general went on shore with his twelve attendants, all in their best attire; their boat furnished with much ordnance, dressed out with flags and streamers, and sounding trumpets all the way from the ships to the shore.

On landing, the general was received with every demonstration of respect by the Kutwal, attended by 200 Nayres, and a great concourse of natives, both of the country and from the city of Calicut. After compliments were passed, the general was placed in an andor or litter, which the king of Calicut had sent for his use. In this country it is not customary to travel on horseback, but in these andors. This vehicle is like a horse-litter, except that they are very plain with low sides, and are carried by four men on their shoulders, who run post in this manner, carrying the king or any noble person when on a journey, and going at a great rate. The person in the andor may either sit or lie as he pleases; and certain servants carry umbrellas, which they call bueys, to shelter the person in the andor from the sun and rain. There are other andors which have a curved cane over them like a bow, and are so light that they can be carried by two men.

The general being mounted in one andor and the Kutwal in another, they set out for a town called Capocate,[59] all the rest being on foot; but the Kutwal appointed certain people of the country to carry the baggage of our men, which was restored to them at Capocate, where the party stopped for refreshment, the general and his people being in one house and the Kutwal in another. Our people were here provided with boiled fish, with rice and butter, and some of the country fruits which are very good, though quite different from ours. One of these fruits is called lacas, and another Mango, and they have figs likewise. The water was excellent, and as good as any in Portugal. After resting and refreshing themselves at Capocate, the general and his suite were embarked in a vessel called an ensangada, consisting of two almadias lashed side by side. The Kutwal and his train embarked in many other boats; and the whole went up a river which discharges itself into the sea at this place. The numbers of people that came to the river side to view our men as they passed was quite countless, by which it appears that the country was well inhabited. After going about a league up this river, our people came to a place where many large ships were drawn up on the shore. The whole party here disembarked and proceeded by land, the general and Kutwal in andors as before, being surrounded by thousands who were curious to see the strangers, even many women pressing into the crowd with their children slung at their backs.

From this place the Kutwal carried the general to one of their pagodas or idol temples, into which they entered, and which the kutwal said was a church of great holiness. This the general believed to be the case, fancying it to be a church of the Christians; which he the more readily believed, as he saw seven little bells hung over the principal door. In front of this entry, there stood a pillar made of wire as tall as the mast of a ship, on the top of which was a weathercock likewise made of wire. This church was as large as a moderate convent, all built of freestone, and covered, or vaulted over with brick, having a fine outward appearance as if its inside were of splendid workmanship. Our general was much pleased with this church, as he actually believed himself in a Christian country, and gladly entered along with the Kutwal. They were received by the priests, who were naked from the waist upwards, having a kind of petticoats of cotton hanging down from the girdle to their knees, and pieces of calico covering their arm-pits, their heads legs and feet bare. They were distinguished by wearing certain threads over their right shoulders, which crossed over their breasts under their left arms, much in the way in which our priests used formerly to wear their stoles when they said mass. These men are called kafrs,[60] and are idolaters, serving as priests in the pagodas of Malabar; and on the general going into the pagoda, they took holy water with a sprinkle from a font, and threw it over the Kutwal and him and their attendants. After this, they gave them powdered sandalwood to throw upon their heads, as used to be done amongst us with ashes; and they were directed to do the same on their arms. But our people, as being clothed, omitted this latter part of the ceremony, complying with the other.

In this pagoda they saw many images painted on the walls, some of which had monstrous teeth projecting an inch from their mouths, and some had four arms; all of them so ugly that they seemed like devils, which raised doubts among our people whether they were actually in a Christian church. In the middle of the pagoda stood a chapel, having a roof or dome of freestone like a tower, in one part of which was a door of wire, to which there led a flight of stone steps. On the inside of this tower an image was observed in a recess of the wall, which our men could not see distinctly, as the place was somewhat dark, and they were not permitted to go near, as none were allowed to approach except the priests. But from certain words and signs, our people understood this to be an image of the Virgin; on which the general and his attendants went upon their knees to say their prayers.[61] John de Sala, however, being very doubtful that this was not a Christian church, owing to the monstrous images on the walls, said, as he fell on his knees, "If this be the devil, I worship God," on which the general looked at him with a smile. The Kutwal and his people, as they approached the chapel, prostrated themselves three times on their faces with their hands extended before them, after which they arose and said their prayers standing.

*on to Section 2c*

[45] In Lichefild's translation this date is made the 22d; but the Friday after Sunday the 21st, must have been the 26th of the month.--E.
[46] The difference of longitude between Melinda and Calicut is thirty-four degrees, which at 17-1/2 leagues to the degree, gives only 575 Portuguese leagues, or 680 geographical leagues of twenty to the degree. Thus miserably erroneous are the estimated distances in old navigators, who could only compute by the dead reckoning, or the log. --E.
[47] The course from Melinda to Calicut is about E. N. E. the former being about three degrees to the S. and the latter almost eleven degrees to the N. of the line.--E.
[48] This vague account of the extent of Malabar is erroneous or corrupt, as sixty-one Portuguese leagues would barely reach from Cape Comorin to Calicut. The extreme length of the western maritime vale of India, from Cambay to Cape Comorin, exceeds 250 Portuguese leagues.--E.
[49] The proper name of this prince who is said to have thus divided the kingdom of Malabar, was Shermanoo-Permaloo.--Clarke, I. 395.
[50] This must be erroneous, as the Mahometans reckon from the year of the Hegira, or flight of Mahomet from Mecca, which commences in 622 of the Christian era.--E.
[51] This story seems an Arabian tale, perhaps partly founded upon some real revolution in the government of Malabar. But it would much exceed the bounds of a note to enter upon disquisitions relative to Indian history.--E.
[52] Laker is a kind of gum that proceedeth of the ant. This marginal note, in Lichefild's translation of Castaneda, indicates the animal origin of lac, which has been elucidated of late by Dr Roxburgh.--E.
[53] From the sequel in the narrative of Castaneda, this Colastrian rajah seems to have been the sovereign of Cananor.--E.
[54] This word pagoda, applied by the Portuguese, to denote an Indian temple, is said to be derived from a Malabar or Indian word, Pagabadi, signifying any idol.--Astley, I. 51.
[55] This is described by Castaneda as a coin equal in value to three crowns.
[56] By De Faria, this man is named Monzayde.--Astl. I. 30.
[57] The title of kutwal is of Arabic origin, and properly signifies the governor of a fort or castle, but the office may be different in different places. In some instances, the kutwal seems to have been the deputy-governor, sheriff, or judge of a town.--Astl. I. 30.
[58] Such are the expressions used by Lichefild; but I suspect the sense here ought to have been, that the kutwal required De Gama to land immediately, that he might go to Calicut, on purpose to be presented to the zamorin.--E.
[59] In Astley, I. 81. this place is named Kapokats.--E.
[60] Kafr is an Arabic word, signifying an infidel or unbeliever; and is applied by the Mahometans to all who do not believe the doctrines of Mahomet, and especially to all who worship images, including the Roman Catholics. The priests mentioned in the text were obviously bramins. The origin of the term here used by mistake, was obviously from the interpretation of Bontaybo, the friendly Moor; and explains the mistake of De Gama in believing the Malabars to have been Christians. Bontaybo applied the same significant term of kafr to the image worshippers of all denominations, without discriminating one species of idolater from another.--E.
[61] On this part of the text, the author, or the original translator, makes the following singular marginal reflection:--"The general deceived, committeth idolatry with the Devil."--E.


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