The 2nd [December] I came to a caravanserai called Kora Jahanabad, 12 coss. Half-way you pass Jahanabad, a small town near which, about a quarter of a league on this side, you pass a field of millet, where I saw a rhinoceros eating stalks of this millet, which a small boy nine or ten years old presented to him. On my approaching he gave me some stalks of millet, and immediately the rhinoceros came to me, opening his mouth four or five times; I placed some in it, and when he had eaten them he continued to open his mouth so that I might give him more. (Vol. 1, Chapter 8).Who can resist a merchant-tourist who offers us, in addition to serious information, little stories like this? Tavernier loves to be on the road, and in India he easily connects with rulers, aristocrats, feuding European merchants, chance-met fellow-travelers, small boys, and rhinoceri. The story above is told apparently just for pleasure-- both his and ours. There would be no reason to make it up, and in any case it feels absolutely convincing. A narrator like this deserves a wide audience. Now Tavernier can live online, and travel in the widest circles of all. It's a pleasure to offer to students of South Asia the company of this highly enjoyable tour-guide-- completely practical, shrewdly mercantile, but also full of general tourist observations and vivid stories-- for a trip around late Mughal India.
First let me give the technical information. The text source for this online version is Travels in India by Jean-Baptiste Tavernier; Translated from the original French Edition of 1676 with a biographical sketch of the Author, Notes, Appendices, &c., by V. Ball, C.B., LL.D., F.R.S., F.G.S., second edition edited by William Crooke, Late of the Indian Civil Service; in two volumes, by Oxford University Press (London: Humphrey Milford, 1925). This text is surely in any good research library, and is also widely available in modern Indian reprint editions (I have one from Asian Educational Services, New Delhi); check www.abebooks.com for plenty more.
For the present, this site contains only Book I of Tavernier's original three books, though I hope to augment it in the future. My editing has consisted of modernizing a few spellings, mostly of proper names; adjusting the punctuation for greater clarity; and adding annotations in square brackets. I've indented the original paragraphs from the text; in some cases I've broken up very long ones, and then the new paragraphs thus created are not indented. All diacritics have been omitted from the apparatus; most of Crooke's notes have also been omitted, while some have been paraphrased or compressed.
Obviously, anyone with a serious scholarly interest in this work should move beyond the limited excerpts I've presented here, and get a copy of the real two-volume text itself. My hope is that general readers as well will be enticed into doing so, once they see how rewarding Tavernier can be.
Tavernier also gave me a special gift. His travelogue in Book I struck me as such a fine teaching tool that I realized I wanted to help my readers by providing a little glossary. The little glossary then kept growing, and it suddenly came to me that I could detach the glossary from this particular work and make it usable for many texts. Then ideas for enhancing the glossary suddenly began popping into my head, and the result is the *Glossary* that is becoming an increasingly important part of my website. That's why this text is "glossarized" in a very basic, unmissable way that I don't plan to do for others. Tavernier, that great lover of detail and particularity, most particularly deserves it.
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