Volume 6, Chapter 1, Section 3 -- Some Account of the state of India at the beginning of the sixteenth Century, and commencement of the Portuguese Conquests.
As the viceroyalty of Don Francisco de Almeyda laid the foundation of the Portuguese dominion in India, once so extensive and powerful, it may be proper in this place to give a general view of its principal ports and provinces along the sea-coast. Asia is divided from Europe by the river Don, anciently the Tanais, by the Euxine or Black Sea, and by the Bosphorus and Dardanelles, or Straits of Constantinople. It is parted from Africa by the Red Sea, and a line drawn from Suez at the head of that gulf to the Mediterranean, across a narrow neck of land measuring only twenty-four leagues in breadth, called the Isthmus of Suez. Its principal religions are four, the Christian, Mahometan, Pagan, and Jewish. That portion of Asia which principally belongs to our present purpose, may be divided into nine parts, following the coast from the west to the east.
The first, commencing at the mouth of the Red Sea in the west, reaches to the mouth of the gulf of Persia, being the oceanic coast of Arabia. From the mouth of the Red Sea in lat. 12° 40' N. to the city of Aden, is 44 leagues. Thence to Cape Fartaque in lat. 12° 30' N. is 100 leagues, containing the towns of Abian, Ax, Canacan, Brun, Argel, Zebel which is the metropolis, Herit, Cayem, and Fartach. Thence to Curia Muria is 70 leagues of coast, on which is the city of Dolfor, famous for frankincense, and Norbate 20 leagues farther east. From Curia Muria to Cape Ras-Algate, in lat. 22° 30' N. is 120 leagues all barren and desert. Here begins the kingdom of Ormuz, and hence to Cape Mozandan are 90 leagues, having the cities or towns of Colagate, Curiate, Mascate, Soar, Calata, Orfacam, Doba, and Lima, 8 leagues from Monbazam which Ptolomey calls Cape Assaborum in lat. 26° N. All this track is called Ayaman or Yemen by the Arabians, and was the Arabia Felix of the ancients, because the most fertile and best inhabited country of all Arabia.
The second division, from Cape Jacques or Jask to the mouth of the river Indus, is 200 leagues in extent, called Chirman or Kerman, and is divided into the two kingdoms of Macran and Madel, with these towns, Guadel, Calara, Tibique, Calamate, Goadel, and Diul. This coast is barren and most of it desert, and cannot be approached on account of the shallowness of the sea near the shore.
The third division contains 150 leagues, of which 38 from Diu to Cape Jaquete or Jigat, whence to Diu in the kingdom of Guzerat are 50 leagues, having these towns, Cotinna, Mangalor, Chervar, Patan, and Corinar. From Diu to Cambaya is 50 leagues, with these towns Madrafavat, Moha, Talica, Goda, and Gundin. Between Cambaya and Cape Jaquete or Jigat, is included a part of the kingdom of Guzarate and the mountainous region of the Resboutos, or Rajputs.
The fourth division measures 290 leagues, being the most valuable part of India and the most frequented by the Portuguese. This is subdivided into three portions by two rivers which run from east to west. The first of these separates the kingdom of the Decan from Guzerate on the north, and the second divides the Decan from Canara which is to the south. There are other rivers, all of which have their sources in the mountains called Gaut; the chief among them being the Ganga, or Gangue, which falls into the sea near the mouth of the Ganges, between the cities of Angali and Pisolta, in about lat. 22° N. The river Bate, rising in the Gauts, falls into the sea near Bombaim, dividing the kingdoms of Guzerate and Decan, the mouth of that river being 70 leagues from the city of Cambaya. From Chaul south of that river to the river Aliga, the south boundary of the Decan, is 75 leagues, with these towns Bandor, Dabul, Debitele, Cintapori, Coropatan, Banda, Chapora, and Goa the metropolis and archiepiscopal see of Portuguese India.
The fifth division begins where Canara parts from the Decan and ends at Cape Comorin, containing above 140 leagues. From the Aliga to Mount Delli or Dilly is about 46 leagues, with these towns, Onor, Baticale, Barcalor, Baranor, and others of the province of Canara, which is subject to the king of Bisnagar. Below or south from Mount Delli to Cape Comorin is Malabar, extending 93 leagues, and divided into three kingdoms which own no superior. The kingdom of Cananor has 20 leagues of coast, in which are the towns of Cota, Coulam, Nilichilam, Marabia, Bolepatam, Cananor the metropolis in lat. 12° N. Tremapatam, Cheba, Maim, and Purepatam. At this place the kingdom of Calicut begins and extends 27 leagues, of which Calicut the metropolis is in lat. 11° 17' N. besides the following towns Coulete, Chale, Parangale, Tanor, the last of which is the capital of a small kingdom subject to the zamorin of Calicut, and Chatua the last in this kingdom. Next to Calicut to the south is the small kingdom of Cranganor, which borders on Cochin, after which is Coulan, and last of all Travancore, which is subject to Narsinga. Near Travancore is the famous Cape Comorin, the southernmost point of the continent of Indostan or India on this side the Ganges, in lat. 7° 30' N. at which place the coast of Malabar ends, being the fourth of the nine districts into which I have divided the coast of Asia.
From Cape Comorin in the west to Cape Cincapura in the east, which is the southernmost point of the Aurea Chersonesus or Malacca, the distance is 400 leagues, within which line is contained the great bay of Bengal, sometimes called the Sinus Gangeticus, because the river Ganges falls into this bay in about the lat. of 22° N. after watering the kingdom of Bengal. This river discharges a prodigious quantity of water, and is esteemed holy by the neighbouring nations, who believe that its water conduces to their salvation when at the point of death, and are carried therefore that they may die with their feet in its water, by which means the king of Bengal derives a considerable revenue, no one being allowed to bathe in that river without paying a certain tax. This river has many mouths, the two most remarkable of which are Satigan on the west and Chatigan on the east, near 100 leagues from each other, and here ends the fifth of the nine districts, which may be divided into three subordinate parts. In the first place the kingdom of Bisnagar contains 200 leagues, and the following towns, Tarancurii, Manapar, Vaipar, Trechendur, Caligrande, Charcacale, Tucucurii, Benbar, Calicare, Beadala, Manancort, and Cannameira, giving name to a cape which stretches out into the sea in lat. 10° N. then Negapatnam, Hahor, Triminapatnam, Tragambar, Trimenava, Colororam, Puducheira, Calapate, Connumeira, Sadraspatnam, and Meliapour, now called St .Thomas because the body of that apostle was found there. From St Thomas to Palicata is 9 leagues, after which are Chiricole, Aremogan, Caleturo, Caleciro, and Pentepolii, where the kingdom of Bisnagur ends and that of Orixa begins. The second part of this district, or Orixa, contains 120 leagues and reaches to Cape Palmiras, with these towns, Penacote, Calingan, Visgapatan, Bimilepatan, Narsingapatan, Puacatan, Caregare and others. Here begins the third part of this district, or the kingdom of Bengal, the coast of which extends about 100 leagues.
The sixth district of the nine begins at the east mouth of the Ganges, called Chatigan or Chittagong, and ends at Cape Cincapura, in little more than 1° N. Along this coast from. Chittagong to Cape Negrais or Diamond Point, the southwestern point of Pegu, in lat. 16° N. is 100 leagues, with these towns, Sore, Satalolu, Arracan the capital of a kingdom of the same name, and Dunadiva on the cape. Hence to Tavay in the lat. 13° is 16 leagues, being the extent of the kingdom of Pegu. From Tavay to Cincapura is 220 leagues, the chief towns on this part of the coast being Martaban, Lugor, Tanacerim, Lungar, Pedam, Queda, Salongor, and Malacca, the capital of the kingdom of that name.
The seventh district begins at Cape Cincapura or Sincapure, and ends at the great river of Siam, which falls into the sea in lat. 14° N. and has its rise in the lake of Chiammay, called by the natives Menam, signifying the source of two rivers. Upon this coast are the towns of Pam, Ponciam, Calantaon, Patane, Ligor, Cuii, Perperii, and Bamplacot at the mouth of the Siam river.
The eighth district contains the kingdom of Cambodia, through which runs the river Mecon, otherwise called the Japanese river, which has its rise in China; the kingdom of Champa or Tsiompa, whence comes the true aloes-wood; next to that is the kingdom of Cochin-China.[84. and last of all the great empire of China, divided into fifteen provinces of governments, each of which is equal to a great kingdom. The provinces of this vast empire on the sea-coast are Quantung, Fokein, and Chekiang, where ends the eighth district.
The ninth district begins with the province of Nanking, and extends to the farthest discovered land on the coast of Tartary.
I shall speak in the sequel concerning the many islands along this extensive coast of Asia, as they came to be discovered in the navigations of the Portuguese; but the principal of them may be here mentioned by name, as the Maldives, Ceylon, Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Banda, Timor, Celebes, the Moluccas, Mindanao, Luconia, and Japan. Having thus given a sketch of the Asian coast, we proceed to consider its inhabitants. Although there are many and various modes of worship in Asia, the chief religions may be mentioned under four heads, the Christian, Jewish, Mahometan, and Pagan; the two first of which are for the most part under the slavery of the other two, against which the Portuguese waged war. The power of the Mahometans and Pagans is thus divided. All the coast from the river Cintacora opposite the island of Anchediva, to the north and west is subject to the Mahometans, and all to the eastwards to the Pagans; except the kingdom of Malacca, part of Sumatra, and some parts of Java and the Moluccas, which are held by the Mahometans. In that tract are the following sovereign princes: the kings of Aden, Xael, and Fartaque, who have many ports of great trade, and their subjects, the Arabs, are brave and warlike. Next is the king of Ormuz, greater than the other three put together. Then the king of Cambaya, equal in grandeur and warlike power to Xerxes, Darius, or Porus. From Chaul to Cincatora belong to Nizamaluco and Hidalcan, two powerful princes, who maintain great armies composed of sundry warlike nations well armed. The Moors of Sumatra, Malacca, and the Moluccas were well disciplined, and much better provided with artillery than we who attacked them. The heathen sovereigns were the kings of Bisnagar, Orixa, Bengal, Pegu, Siam, and China, all very powerful, but chiefly the last, so that it is difficult to express and scarcely credible the prodigious extent of his power. Siam extends above 500 leagues, and has seven subject kingdoms, which are Cambodia, Como, Lanchaam, Cheneray, Chencran, Chiamay, Canibarii, and Chaypumo. The king of Siam has 30,000 elephants, 3000 of which are armed for war, and he has 50,000 soldiers in Udia alone, the metropolis of his kingdom. The kingdom of China exceeds them all in extent, and the king of that country is as powerful as all the sovereigns in Europe together. His empire is above 700 leagues in extent, possessing abundance of metals, and far exceeds Europe in manufactures, some of which seem to exceed human art, and the silks, provisions, and luxuries with which it abounds are beyond computation.
All the heathens of India, particularly between the Indus and Ganges, write without ink on palm leaves, with pens or stiles rather of wood or steel, which easily cut the letters on the leaves. Some of these I have seen in Rome curiously folded. What they intend to be lasting is carved on stone or copper. In writing they begin at the left hand and write towards the right, as we do in Europe. Their histories are extremely fabulous. About 600 years before the arrival of the Portuguese in India, there reigned in Malabar a powerful monarch, from whose reign the people begin their era or historical computations, as they did afterwards from our arrival. This king was persuaded by the Moors who traded to his port to turn Mahometan, and gave them liberty to build houses at Calicut. When he grew old, he divided his kingdom among his kindred, giving Coulam to the chief, where he placed the principal seat of his religion of the Bramins, and gave him the title of Cobritim, which signifies high-priest. To his nephew he gave Calicut, with the tide of Zamorin, which means emperor. This dignity continues in the sovereign of Calicut, but the other has been removed to Cochin. Having disposed of his dominions, he resolved to die at Mecca, but was drowned by the way. Calicut is a plain country well watered, and abounds in pepper and ginger; but all the other spices are procured from other neighbouring countries. The inhabitants are wonderfully superstitious, and do not suffer those of one trade or profession to marry with those of a different occupation, or to put their children to learn any other trade but that of their fathers. The Nayres, who are their nobles, if they chance to touch any of the common people, purify themselves by ablution, as was done by the Jews and Samaritans. The women among the Nayres are common to all, but chiefly those of the Bramin caste, so that no one knows his father, nor is any one bound to maintain the children. These Nayres are wonderfully expert in the use of their weapons, in which they begin to exercise themselves at seven years of age. They are prone to all the ancient superstitions of augury and divination.
[Footnote 73: From the Portuguese Asia, Vol. I. 93. This account is omitted in Astley's Collection, but inserted, here as a curious record of the geographical knowledge of the Portuguese in those times. There are numerous errors in this short geographical sketch, especially in the names, measures, and latitudes; but it would load this portion of our work too much with notes, and induce great confusion, to comment upon every step of this survey.--E.]
[Footnote 74: Perhaps Debil, near the western mouth of the Indus.--E.]
[Footnote 75: Those names of sea port towns in the Guzerate are miserably corrupted in the text: Only Puttan can be recognised among them, and Mangalor must be a mistake; as that place is far to the south of Guzerat on the coast of Canara.--E.]
[Footnote 76: The sea ports on this part of the coast now are Jaffrabad, Cuttapour, Toolafee, Manuah, Gogo, Eawnagur, and Iotian.--E.]
[Footnote 77: The Guaga or Godavery is probably here meant, which falls into the Bay of Bengal in lat. 16° 16' N. at the S.W. extremity of the Circars. The latitude indicated in the text gets beyond the Bay of Bengal, and the cities between which the Ganga is said to fall into the sea have no representatives in our best maps.--E.]
[Footnote 78: The latitude of Cape Comorin is 7° 54' N, or nearly so.--E.]
[Footnote 79: The western branch of the Ganges is now called the Hoogly River. Satigan in the text may have some reference to what is now called Sagar roads or anchorage. Chatigan certainly means what is now called Chitigong: But the most easterly mouth is properly that of the great Barhampooter, or Bramah-putra River, long confounded among the mouths of the Ganges. The breadth of the Sunderbunds, or Delta of the Ganges and Barhampooter, is about 195 English miles.--E.]
[Footnote 80: The kingdom of Bisnagar in the text, appears to have contained the entire Carnatic above and below the Gauts, with Mysore and Golconda.--E.]
[Footnote 81: Now called Cape Calymere: It is next to impossible to identify the other names in the text; and the attempt would lead to very inconvenient length without correspondent utility.--E.]
[Footnote 82: It is difficult to correct this egregious error, not knowing the kind of leagues used by Faria. At 17-1/2 to the degree, the difference of latitude in the text would give 52-1/2 leagues. Perhaps it is a typographical error for 60 leagues, using the geographical measure, 20 to the degree.--E.]
[Footnote 83: The river of Siam falls into the great gulf of the same name, in lat. 18° 30' N. But De Faria seems to overlook the gulf.--E.]
[Footnote 84: De Faria omits the kingdom of Tonkin or Tonquin, which intervenes between Cochin-China and China. Perhaps at that time Tonkin may have been [[words missing in Gutenberg text]]. De Faria is incorrect in his account of the provinces of China. Those on the coast are: Quantung, Footchien, Tchetchiang, Kiangnan, Shantang, Petcheli; or six maritime provinces, instead of three only in the text. The others are: Yunnan, Quangsee, Kaeitchou, Hooquang, Setchuen, Sifan, Honan, Shensee, and Shansee; or nine inland provinces; making fifteen in all, as in the text.--E.]
[Footnote 85: Or Nizam-al-mulk, and Adel-khan.--E.]
[Footnote 86: These are unquestionably the Malays, called Moors by Faria, merely because they were Mahometans.--E.]
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