About this text
Jahangir’s India was published in 1925.It was written by Francisco Pelsaert and translated by W.H.Moreland and P.Geyl.It covers the author’s experience in India with a look at its various facets. Francisco Pelsaert was born around 1590.A native of Antwerp,he later become an officer for the Dutch East India Company.He was posted in India as junior merchant in 1620.He wrote Jahangir’s India in 1626.Pelsaert passed away in 1630. Jahangir’s India presents a wide range of information about India, with trade and marriage given importance among other topics. Scarcity and abundance are both dealt with. Primary Reading Pelsaert, Francisco, Jahangir’s India, W. Heffer & Sons Ltd.Secondary Reading Roe,Thomas,Sir, The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe ,Volume One,The Haklyut Society. Roe,Thomas,Sir, The Embassy of Sir Thomas Roe ,Volume Two,The Haklyut Society.
The Remonstrantie of Francisco Pelsaert
TRANSLATED FROM THE DUTCH
W. H. MORELAND, C.S.I., C.I.E.
Author of India at the Death of Akbar, and From Akbar to Aurangzeb
P. GEYL, Litt.D.
Professor of Dutch History and Institutions in the University of London
PUBLISHED BYW. HEFFER & SONS LTD.
1. I. THE CITY OF AGRA.
FIRSTLY, of the City of Agra, which is situated in 28 45' latitude. The city is exceedingly large, but decayed, open, and unwalled. The streets and houses are built without any regular plan. There are, indeed, many palaces belonging to great princes and lords, but they are hidden away in alleys and corners. This is due to the sudden growth of the city, which was a mere village, lying in the jurisdiction of Bayana, until King Akbar chose it for his residence in the year 1566, and built the magnificent fort on the Jumna, which flows past the city, and is a musket-shot broad. The luxuriance of the groves all round makes it resemble a royal park rather than a city, and everyone acquired and purchased the plot of land which suited or pleased him best. Consequently there are no remarkable market-places, or bazaars, as there are in Lahore, Burhanpur, Ahmadabad or other cities, but the whole place is closely built over and inhabited, Hindus mingled with Moslems, the rich with the poor; and if the present King [Jahangir] had fixed his residence here as his father did, the city would have become one of the wonders of the world, for the gates which Akbar built for its security, (Madari darwaza, Chaharsu darwaza, [Page 2] Nim darwaza, Puttu darwaza, Nuri darwaza), now stand in the middle of the city, and the area of buildings outside them is fully three times greater in extent.
The breadth of the city is by no means so great as the length, because everyone has tried to be close to the river bank, and consequently the water-front is occupied by the costly palaces of all the famous lords, which make it appear very gay and magnificent, and extend for a distance of 6 kos or 31/2Holland miles [...]
Then begins the Shahburj, or royal bastion, of the Fort, the walls of which are built of red cut stone, 25 ells high, and 2 kos in perimeter; in appearance, as well as in cost, it surpasses many of the most famous structures in the world. It is situated on a moderate elevation with a pleasing prospect on all sides, but especially towards the river, where it is magnificently adorned with stone lattice work and gilded windows, and here the King was accustomed to sit when he made his elephants fight. A short distance within stands his Ghusalkhana, which is very richly decked with alabaster, and has four angles and raised seats, the domes over which are plated on the outside with gold, so that the look of it is not only royal on a close view, but Imperial from a distance. Beyond this is a palace of Nurjahan Begam, the present Queen. There is little or no room within the Fort, it being occupied by various princely edifices and residences, as well as mahals, or palaces for ladies. Among these is the palace of Maryam Makani, wife of Akbar and mother of Jahangir, as well as three other mahals, named respectively Itwar (Sunday), Mangal (Tuesday), and Sanichar (Saturday), in which the King used to sleep on the day denoted by the name, and a fifth, the [Page 4] Bengali Mahal, occupied by ladies of various nations. Internally then the Fort is built over like a city with streets and shops, and has very little resemblance to a fortress, but from the outside anyone would regard it as impregnable.
After passing the Fort, there is the Nakhas, a great market. where in the morning horses, camels, oxen, tents, cotton goods, and many other things are sold. Beyond it lie the houses of some great lords, such as Mirza Abdulla, son of Khan Azam (3000 horse) ; Aga Nur, provost of the King's army (3000 horse) ; Jahan Khan (2000 horse) ; Mirza Khurram son of Khan Azam (2000 horse); Mahabat Khan (8000 horse); Khan Alam (5000 horse); Raja Bet Singh (3000 horse); the late Raja Man Singh (5000 horse); Raja Madho Singh (2000 horse).
On the other side of the river is a city named Sikandra, well built and populated, but chiefly by banian merchants, for through it must pass all the merchandise brought from Porop, and Bengalen purop and the Bhutan mountains, namely, cotton goods from Bengal, raw silk from Patna, spikenard, borax, verdigris, ginger, fennel, and thousands of sorts of drugs, too numerous to detail in this place. Here the officers of Nur Jahan Begam, who built their sarai there, collect duties on all these goods before they can be shipped across the river; and also on innumerable kinds of grain, butter, and other provisions, which are produced in the Eastern provinces, and imported thence. Without [Page 5] these supplies this country could not be provided with food, and would almost die of hunger, so that this is a place of great traffic; it is fully two kos long, but not so broad, and contains many very handsome gardens, with buildings as delightful as the groves, among them those of Sultan Parviz, Nurjahan Begam, and the late Itimad-ud Daula, father of Asaf Khan and of the Queen. He was buried here, and his tomb has already cost fully 350,000 rupees, and will cost 1,000,000 more before it is finished. There are also two gardens belonging to the King, one named Charbagh, the other Moti Mahal, and very many more, with handsome walls and great gateways, more like forts than gardens, so that the city is most pleasantly adorned. Here the great lords far surpass ours in magnificence, for their gardens serve for their enjoyment while they are alive, and after death for their tombs, which during their lifetime they build with great magnificence in the middle of the garden. The number of these is consequently so great that I shall abandon the attempt to describe them in detail, and turn to the trade of the country and the city.
2. 2. THE TRADE OF AGRA AND THE EAST COUNTRY.
COMMERCE flourished here in the time of Akbar, and also in the beginning of the present reign, while he [Jahangir] still possessed a vigorous intellect, but since this King devoted his life to enjoyment, violence has taken the place of justice. Whereas each governor ought to protect the people under him, they have in fact by subtle means drained the people dry, because they know very well that poor suppliants cannot get a hearing at the King's Court; and consequently the country is impoverished, and the citizens have lost heart, for, as the old people say, the city has now nothing left of the glory of colour and splendour which formerly shone throughout the whole world. The survival of a certain amount of commerce is due to the situation of the city at the junction of all the roads from distant countries. All goods must pass this way, as from Gujarat, Tatta (or Sind) ; from Kabul, Kandahar, or Multan, to the Deccan; from the Deccan or Burhanpur to those places, or to Lahore; and from Bengal and the whole East country; there are no practicable alternative routes, and the roads carry indescribable quantities of merchandise, especially cotton goods.
The East country (Pourop) extends to Jagannath, a distance reckoned as 600 kos, and contains many large cities, among them the following.
Allahabad (150 kos), produces no commodities, and has very little trade, but is rather a pleasure-resort. King [Page 7] Akbar built a very fine fort here, because it is the meeting place of the three famous rivers, the Ganges, the Jumna, and [...] 1
Jaunpur (25 kos further), produces and exports large quantities of cotton goods, such as turbans, girdles, white chelas, zelal, t'sey, and coarse carpets.
Benares (5 kos further), also produces girdles, turbans, clothes for Hindu women, t'soekhamber, gangazil (a white cloth); also copper pots, dishes, basins, and other articles for use in Hindu houses.
Oudh (3 kos further), furnishes rather coarse cloth in pieces of 16 gaz ['yards' of about 32 inches].
Lakhawar (15 kos further), produces ambertees, a superior grade of white cloth, 14 gaz long and of different widths, worth from four to ten rupees the piece.
Patna (300 kos from Agra), yields annually 1000 to 2000 maunds of silk, the best of which sells at 16 or 17 mohurs per maund (of 50 Ib.) ; taking the mohur at seven rupees, the price is 110 to 120 rupees. Most, or all, of it is consumed in Gujarat, the rest here in Agra. Formerly the English had a factory at Patna for the purchase of raw silk, , but, owing to heavy losses, the trade has been discontinued for six or seven years, and does not appear likely to be [Page 8] resumed; besides, they are now getting Persian silk at a more reasonable price. Patna produces also much muslin (cassa), but it is coarse, worth four or five rupees the piece; also shields, which sell well in Agra.
Chabaspur and Sonargaon with the surrounding villages, and indeed as far as Jagannath, all live by the weaving industry, and the produce has the highest reputation and quality, especially the fine muslin (cassa and malmal), which is also much longer and wider than elsewhere. An ordinary cassa is only 21-22 gaz by 11/2, but these are usually 24-25 gaz by 11/4, equivalent to 30 Holland ells long, by 11/2 ells broad.
Jagannath (600 kos from here), is where the East country (Poorop) ends and Bengal begins. It produces fine muslin (cassa and malmal), also hamaium, and tsehen a superior wide cloth suitable for bed-sheets, but little of it is brought [here] owing to the high quality and cost. Further on, Dacca, Tsettagham, Bipil bander orixa, are all under this King's rule; in these places the Portuguese used to have an extensive trade, for they have here cities inhabited by their own people, but they are now subject to the Moguls, because this King has built forts everywhere to keep them in subjection. Many of their trading vessels used to come annually from Malacca and Macao; they brought spices, [woollen] cloth, lead, tin, quicksilver, and vermilion; and for the return voyage purchased many kinds of white cotton cloth [Page 9] as well as Bengal muslin, or loaded their frigates with butter, rice, gingelly seed, and such goods, making large profits. The local muslins are not woven smoothly, because the yarn is rough and harsh, and consequently the doth is not soft or pleasant to handle.
All these countries are very fertile, and yield immense quantities of grain, such as wheat or rice, sugar, and butter, large quantities of which are brought up the river Jumna, or carried by oxen overland, to provision this country [that is, Agra] and the King's army. In the other direction shallow-draught vessels carry from here much Sambhar salt (as there is little or no local salt), also opium, assafoetida, 'painted' cloth called chits [chintz], red salu from Burhanpur, ormesines from Lahore, horses, and large quantities of cotton, which is grown largely between Surat and Burhanpur, and supports an extensive trade to Agra.
In Agra, and in Fathpur [Sikri], 12 kos from here, carpets are woven in moderate quantities, and can be obtained to order, fine or coarse as required, but the quality usually made sells at the rate of 21/4 to 3 rupees the square gaz. There is no other noteworthy local produce, since everything is brought from a distance; but the city contains all sorts of artisans in great numbers, who can imitate neatly whatever they see, but design nothing by themselves. We will therefore describe at some length the cultivation, manufacture, and sale of the indigo [of] Koil, Mewat, and the most distant villages of Agra and Bayana, which is an important article of commerce throughout the whole world.
3. 3. INDIGO.
INDIGO is sown in June, when the first rain has fallen, at the rate of 14 or 15 Ib of seed to the bigha, or square of 60 Holland ells. If the rains are moderate, the crop grows an ell high in the course of four months, and is usually cut at the end of September or early in October, when it is fully ripe. The leaves of indigo are round, not unlike the rue of our country. The cold weather sometimes sets in so suddenly that, if the cutting is postponed too long, the indigo loses its colour in the course of manufacture, and comes out brown without gloss, for it cannot stand cold. It is a good sign of a heavy yield if in the nauti [first crop] grass comes up plentifully, though expensive weeding is then required to prevent injury to the indigo roots, or delay in growth. At harvest the plants are cut a handbreadth from the ground, and next year the ziarie [second, or ratoon, crop] grows from the stumps. The yield of one bigha is usually put into each put, and allowed to steep for 16 or 17 hours, the put being about 38 ft. in perimeter, and its depth the height of an ordinary man; the water is then run oft into a roundput, constructed at a somewhat lower level, 32 ft. in circumference and 6 ft. deep. Two or three men standing in theput work the indigo back and forward with their arms, and owing to the continuous motion the water absorbs the dark-blue colour. It is then allowed to stand [Page 11] again for 16 hours, during which the matter, or substance, settles in a bowl-shaped receptacle at the bottom of the round put. The water is then run off through an outlet at the level of the bottom; the indigo which has sunk down is taken out, and laid on cotton cloths until it becomes as firm as soap, when it is made into balls. The bottom of the put [or, the ground under it] is spread with ashes, so that a crust may be formed. The contents of each put is then placed in an earthen vessel, which is closed tightly to exclude light and wind, so that it may not become too dry, for if the indigo is exposed to wind even for an hour, it will become drier than if it were left exposed to the sun for the same time. The contents of each put (known as dadera) is usually from 12 to 20 ser according to the yield of the plant, that is to say, when the peasants or other dealers sell to us; it dries further by quite 5 ser in the maund in the course of handling, and in the bales. This nauti indigo is brown in colour and coarse in quality, and can easily be recognised by the eye or by touch. It is more useful for dyeing woollens and other heavy goods, because it goes further than the ziarie [...]
4. 4. DESCRIPTION OF GUJARAT TRADE
AHMADABAD is the capital of Gujarat, and receives annually from here [Agra] large quantities of goods, for example, much Patna silk, to be manufactured there into ormesines, satins, velvets, and various kinds of curious stuffs, so that there is here little trade in Chinese silk manufactures. Carpets are also woven there with an intermixture of silk and gold thread; while the imports include spikenard,izierila, asafoetida, pipel and numerous such drugs, besides Bengal cassas [muslins], mats [malmal], and clothing for Hindu women from Bengal and the Eastern provinces, pamris from Kashmir and Lahore, and Bengalkand or white sugar. In the other direction are brought hither turbans, girdles, orhnis or women's head-coverings, worked very cleverly and ingeniously with gold thread; also velvets, satin of various kinds, striped, flowered, or plain; coconuts from Malabar; European woollen goods; lead, tin, quicksilver, vermilion; large quantities of spice, viz. cloves, nutmeg, and mace, and sandalwood. These goods are now bought from us at Surat, and forwarded in this direction, but formerly they were obtained in even greater quantities from the Portuguese in Cambay, who had a busy trade there, and who brought them to exchange for kannekens, tirkandis, and striped cloths for Mozambique and the Coasts.
The [Cambay] trade is however, nearly, or almost wholly at an end. Formerly, three caravans, or kafilas, used to come every year. (Akafila consists of a large number of [Page 20] fustas, which the merchants of Goa, Cochin, Bassein, Daman and all the coasts of India get ready, from the beginning of October onwards, to be escorted by thearmado de remas of the Portuguese or their own kings, owing to the danger from the Malabars, who with their small boats cause great injury to the Portuguese, for they have been bitter enemies for many years past.) Now the trade is so much decayed that this year, 1626, only 40 merchants' fustas arrived, carrying goods of small value; and this is the cause of the decline of Cambay, and indeed of all Gujarat, for the Portuguese brought all their goods, both the spices and Chinese silk carried in frigates from the South, and the European merchandise distributed in all directions from the carracks at Goa, and sold them for a small profit, so that the [Cambay] merchants gained largely on their purchases, as well as on sales of cotton goods. Because of this decay, we are cursed not only by the Portuguese, but by the Hindus and Moslems, who put the whole blame on us, saying that we are the scourge of their prosperity; for, even though the Dutch and English business were worth a million rupees annually, it could not be compared to the former trade which was many times greater, not merely in India, but with Arabia and Persia also.
5. 6. ACCOUNT OF THE PROVINCES NORTH AND WEST OF AGRA.
LAHORE is situated in 32° latitude, 300 kos north-west of Agra. It was a great centre of trade in the days before the English came to Agra, and the Armenian and Aleppo merchants did a large and very profitable business. In those days the chief market for indigo was Lahore rather than Agra, because it was more convenient for the merchants, who travelled in caravans at fixed seasons by way of Kandahar and Ispahan to Aleppo; and this is why the indigo which reached Europe from Aleppo or the Levant was known as Lauri, or more properly Lahori. A brisk business is still done in the fine cotton goods of Masulipatam, or Golconda and Mongapatnam, but nothing like what was formerly transacted. The trade of Lahore may in fact be called dead, for exports are limited to the requirements of Persia and Turkey, because the profits cannot stand the great costs of overland transit compared to those of our sea-carriage. Lahore thus lost practically all its trade, and the substantial Hindus, or Khattris, whose reputation still survives, lived on what was left of their old profits. For some years however the present King has spent five or six of the cool months of each year in Lahore (the rest, or hot weather, being spent in Kashmir or Kabul), and the city has now recovered, but more in splendour, royal buildings, palaces, and gardens, than in point of wealth. The river Ravi flows past the city. It rises in the mountains of Kashmir, and flows by Multan and on to Tatta and Bakkar, [Page 31] carrying a large trade in shallow-draught vessels. Agra imports from Lahore ormesines and carpets, which are woven there, and also many goods from more distant places, such as fruit from Kabul, asafoetida from Kandahar, and other commodities obtained in Multan. Agra exports to Lahore most of the spices which we sell here (for the local consumption is very small when the King is not here, or there is no Camp) ; also all kinds of white cotton goods, both Bengals and Golcondas; ivory (most of which is wrought in the neighbourhood of Multan); quicksilver, vermilion, coral; turbans, girdles, and all sorts of silk goods from Ahmadabad, where they are woven; silk from Patna; lac, pepper, and drugs too numerous to be named.
MULTAN is the capital of the province of that name, and lies 140 kos north [really, south-west] of Lahore. The province is exceedingly productive, and commands the route to Persia, which runs by way of Kandahar. The Persian trade is extensive, because the city is conveniently served by three great rivers, the Ravi (which serves Bakkar in Sind, and also Lahore), the Behat [Jhelum] and the Sind [Indus], The latter also rise in the mountains of Kashmir, so that near Multan the water flows with an astonishing current, but all the same they are largely used by shallow-draught vessels. Very much sugar is produced, which is carried by water to Tatta in large quantities, and also to Lahore; gallnuts and opium are also produced; sulphur is obtained in large quantities, as well as the best camels in India; the finest and most famous bows are made here, also large quantities of white cotton goods and napkins, which are exported to Kandahar. All these goods come by way of Lahore to Agra, and are thence distributed in all directions. From Agra or Lahore, Multan receives large quantities of cotton, coarse yarn, Bengal cotton goods, turbans, prints, red salu from Burhanpur, and small quantities of spices.
TATTA, the capital of Sind, is 80 kos distant from the sea. The port is named Lahari Bandar, where all large vessels [Page 32] anchor; the goods are brought up in boats, and, owing to the strength of the current, they usually take from 8 to 20 days on the way. This country was conquered by the Khan Khanan under Akbar in the year [blank in MS.] The city lies southwards from Agra, 400 kos distant by way of Jaisalmer, and 700 kos from Lahore by way of Multan. It prospered greatly owing to the trade of the Portuguese, while Ormuz remained in their hands. There are large supplies of white cotton goods, which in my opinion are far superior to baftas [Gujarat calico] at the same price ; also much striped cloth, taffetas of yarn and silk, and other cotton goods. Ornamental desks, draught-boards, writing -cases, and similar goods are manufactured locally in large quantities; they are very prettily inlaid with ivory and ebony, and used to be exported in large quantities to Goa and the coasttowns. This business has however now come to an end, and since the trade of Ormuz was lost, merchants from Ispahan have to come to Tatta, though with great difficulty and expense. They bring silk for sale, but clandestinely, because export from Persia is prohibited; they also import large quantities of fouwne (called by the Moslems massiedt), which grows there, and is used for dyeing red, like chay-root on the Coromandel Coast; also almonds, raisins, prunes, and other dried fruit. In addition, they bring large sums in gold ducats, because the heavy cost of transit reduces the profit to be made on merchandise. In return they take white cotton goods, yarn and silk taffacils turbans, girdles, loin-cloths, Bengal cloth, Lahore indigo, 'painted' cloth, and much sugar, both candy and powder, which is brought by water from Lahore and Multan.
6. 7. KASHMIR.
KASHMIR is situated in 35° N. latitude. On the East the country extends to Great and Little 'Tibet, a ten days' journey. On the South it is bounded by Cashaer and Lamoe, as far as the border of Kabul, being 30 days' march. On the West, it is bounded by territories belonging to this King [Jahangir], such as Poncie and Peshawar, 13 marches, but Bangissa, 10 marches further, belongs to Raja Golatia, who is continually at war with Hindustan. On the North it adjoins Pampoer, Bessiebrara, Amiets and Watibra, 20 days' journey. The most delightful pleasure-resort is Wirnagie, where the King has the best huntinggrounds in the whole of India. Many villages and handsome towns exist in all parts of the country, but they are too numerous to be recorded here, and we turn to the famous city of Kashmir, which extends over a strongly defended plain, circular, and ringed with terrible mountains, some of them lying at a distance of 15 or even 10 kos. One mountain, however, known to Moslems as Solomon's Throne, lies only one kos north of the city; they regard it as miraculous, and say that they have very old writings and proofs showing that Solomon himself built this throne. The city itself is planted with very pleasant fruit-bearing and other trees, while two great rivers flow past it. The larger of these comes from Wirnagie, Achiauwel, and Matiaro; the other rises from the ground like a well or spring, three kos from the city, having its source at Saluara from an inland lake; but the water of neither of them appears to be sweet or healthy, and the inhabitants boil it before they drink it, while the King and the chief nobles have their water carried 3 or 4 kos from Swindesseway, where the water is clear and snow-white. King Jahangir began the construction of [Page 34] a wooden aqueduct, to bring good water from a distance of 10 or 12 kos into the fort, but, realising that it could be easily poisoned by enemies or malcontents, he abandoned it after having spent fully 10,000 rupees. In Kashmir foreigners usually suffer from the flux, and many die of it; the cause must be the water, and also the quantity of fruit which is available.
On the East side of the city lies a great stronghold, with a wall of grey stone, fully 9 or 10 feet thick, which joins it to a high, rocky hill, with a large palace on the summit, and another somewhat lower, or half way up, towards the North, as well as two or three residences with separate approaches, but the principal ones lie on the South towards the East. In the centre of this fort is the King's palace, which is noteworthy rather for its elevation and extent than its magnificence. The Queen lives next the King, on the North side; next to her, her brother Asaf Khan, and, a little further on, Mukarrib Khan. On the other, or southern, side, lives Sultan Shahriyar, the King's youngest son, who is married to the Queen's daughter by her first husband. On the south-west live Khwaja Abdul [[? Abul]] Hasan, and also other great nobles, all of whom reside within the fortress and round the hill, in a circle of about a kos in circumference. The city is very extensive, and contains many mosques, as their churches are called. The houses are built of pine-wood, the interstices being filled with clay, and their style is by no means contemptible; they look elegant, and fit for citizens rather than peasants, and they are ventilated with handsome and artistic open-work, instead of windows or glass. They have flat roofs, entirely covered with earth, on which the inhabitants often grow ontons, or which are covered with grass, so that during the rains the green roofs and groves make the city most beautiful on a distant view.
The inhabitants of the country and the city are for the most part poor, but they are physically strong, especially the men, who can carry quite twice the load of a Hindustani; this is remarkable in view of the fact that men and women get so little food. Their children are very handsome and fair, while they are young and small, but when they grow [Page 35] up, they become yellow and ugly, owing to their mode of life, which is that of beasts rather than men. The women are small in build, filthy, lousy and not handsome. They wear a coarse gray woollen garment, open from the neck to the waist. On the forehead they have a sort of red band, and above it an ugly, black, dirty clout, which falls from the head over the shoulders to the legs; cotton cloth is very dear, and their inborn poverty prevents them from possessing a change of raiment.
They are fanatical Moslems. It was their twelfth king who observed this creed, before King Akbar's General, Raja Bhagwan Das, overcame the country by craft and subtlety, the lofty mountains and difficult roads rendering forcible conquest impossible.
Kashmir produces many kinds of fruit, such as apples, pears, walnuts, etc., but the flavour is inferior to those of Persia or Kabul. In December, January, and February the cold is very great, with constant rain and snow; the mountains remain white with snow, except in places where the sun shines in the warm weather, causing heavy floods in the rivers.
The reason of the King's special preference for this country is that, when the heat in India increases, his body burns like a furnace, owing to his consumption of excessively strong drink and opium, excesses which were still greater in his youth. He usually leaves Lahore in March or April, and reaches Kashmir in May. The journey is very difficult and dangerous, besides being expensive, for pack-animals cannot cross the mountains, and practically everything must be carried on men's heads. All the nobles curse the place, for it makes the rich poor, and the poor cannot fill their stomachs there, because everything is excessively dear; but apparently the King prefers his own comfort or pleasure to the welfare of his people.
Kashmir yields nothing for export to Agra except saffron, of which there are two kinds. That which grows near the city sells in Agra at 20 to 24 rupees the ser; the other kind, which grows at Casstuwary, 10 kos distant, is the best, and [Page 36] usually fetches 28 to 32 rupees the ser (of 30 pice weight). Many pamris are also woven; these are cloths 3 ells long and 2 broad, woven from the wool (it is more like hair), which grows on the hindquarters of the sheep, very fine, and as soft as silk. They are worn here [i.e. in Agra] as wraps in the winter because of the cold, and look very well and fine, having a surface like boratos. Walnuts, which are plentiful, are also exported to Agra.
The goods sent from Agra to Kashmir are coarse, unbleached, cotton-cloth, yarn for local consumption, and also pepper and opium. Nutmeg, cloves and mace are too dear, and their use is unknown; but all of them are, as might be expected, brought there when the King is in residence.
7. 8. BURHANPUR AND GUJARAT.
BURHANPUR is situated 300 kos south of Agra, and 150 kos north of Surat. It is a very large, open city, and was formerly unfortified, but recently, when the Deccan forces besieged it in order to assist Sultan Khurram [Shahjahan], Raja Ratan defended it with a wall of earth and fortified posts at various points. This year, 1626, when Khan Jahan, the Governor of the country, led a force of 40,000 horse against the Deccan, he ordered Lashkar Khan, who governed during his absence, to encircle the whole city with a wall, and owing to the number of people this has been accomplished very rapidly in a short time. Its length is 12 kos or more, but it is not a circle ; there are many bastions, and all is correct and exact, but constructed only of earth. The river Tapti, which flows past Surat, and passes this city also, is so full of rocks and stones as to be unfit for navigation; otherwise it would be very convenient for the trade of the city, which is still extensive, but was formerly much greater. The offtake of goods was incredible at the time when the city was governed by Khan Khanan or by Sultan Khurram, for Khurram was an active and powerful prince; he maintained a large standing army here against the Deccan, as it lies on the frontier; and he was always surrounded by an extensive Court. He was a patron of all craftsmen, to whom he paid such high wages that he attracted all the splendour of his father's Court, for he was as greedy for novelties, costly jewels, and other rarities as Jahangir himself, and he paid more liberally, being sensible, and [Page 38] refusing to be guided, like his father, by his avaricious subordinates. He rebelled, however, because he thought his father had lived too long, and, besides, he wished to displace his eldest brother, Sultan Parwiz; but the rebellion failed, as can be read at length in the account I have written of the history of the country, and after his flight some of his territories, including Burhanpur, were assigned to Parwiz. The latter's period of rule was very dull, for he was a man of poor spirit, aspiring to no state or display, and he was satisfied if he could get drunk every day, preferring to sleep by day and drink by night. Consequently he pays no attention to the administration of the country, his troops are left unpaid, their numbers diminished, and their pay reduced, while the farms of the revenue of the villages and neighbouring country are increased. It is this which impoverishes the country and enriches the courtiers.
The English used to have a regular factory at Burhanpur for the sale of various goods, such as heavy woollen cloth, lead, tin, quicksilver, vermilion, satins, and velvets, for the Army. All the money obtained by these sales was remitted by exchange on Agra or Surat, because there is nothing to be had locally which is suitable for their trade, or for ours. In case some improvement in administration should follow the death of the present King, it would be necessary to have a factory there for the sale of such goods, or others; though the English have agents there at present, it is only in order to dispose of large quantities of old stock, either profitably or at a loss.
SURAT (latitude 21 1/4 degrees), is, owing to its situation, the chief seaport belonging to the King, though the city is 7 kos, or about 4 [Holland] miles, up the river, and all goods, both imports and exports, must be shipped and landed by boat. Three kos, or two miles, further eastwards, the English have found a convenient anchorage named Swally, where there is a sandbank, which is exposed at low water, and gives shelter at high tide, so that it is a desirable place for loading and unloading goods. From [Page 39] Swally goods can be brought by land on carts; this is much more expensive than sending them by boat, but the latter course is exceedingly dangerous, because the Malabar pirates can keep their small craft lying off the river's mouth without being observed, and capture whatever there is.
The city is fairly well built, and is about two [Holland] miles in circumference. It has no walls, but ditches have been dug round it, provided with four gates on the land side. On the water front is a castle built of white coral rock, small in circuit, but well provided with guns and equipment; it is considered locally to be practically impregnable, but it could not withstand a determined siege for long. In order to strengthen it further, or to increase the artillery, they have constructed a platform on an inner high wall running round the fort, and covered it with beams and planks; here, on the upper tier, are placed more than 30 guns, but as a matter of fact this arrangement would make them like a mouse in a trap, for if the upper works were shot away, or breached, the whole platform must collapse, and put the lower tier of guns also out of action.
Formerly, when the coast was still unknown to the English, a very extensive trade was carried on in Surat by the Moslems, but it has now fallen off greatly, and indeed is nothing compared to what it was, because all the chief seaports, which were recently so flourishing, have collapsed, some through war, others owing to other causes; Ormuz, Mocha, Aden, Dabhol, and also the whole Goa coast, are idle, and do not know where to voyage; each is almost smothered in its own produce, and there are no signs that any other place, country, or seaport, has benefited, though usually one country profits by the decay of another. All merchants, from whatever country they come, complain most bitterly. Portuguese, Moslems and Hindus all concur [Page 40] in putting the blame for this state of things entirely on the English and on us, saying that we are the scourges of the sea and of their prosperity. Often enough, if we notice any shortcoming, and blame them, or threaten them, for it, the leading merchants tell us they heartily wish we had never come to their country. They point to the number of ships that used to sail from Surat alone every year four or five of the King's great ships, each of 400 or 500 last (two for Achin, two for Ormuz, two for Bantam, Macassar and those parts), besides smaller ships owned by individual merchants, coining and going in large numbers. Nowadays the total is very small. Two of the King's ships usually clear in February, and sail from the river in March, carrying goods on freight for anyone who offers; they reach Mocha at the end of April, where their goods may have to lie over for a year for want of buyers, but the ships start on their return voyage in August, unless one is destined for Suez or Mecca [Jidda], in which case it winters at Mocha, and the goods are sold at leisure. The ships bring back chiefly ducats, and small quantities of merchandise. A small vessel, or tauri, sails every year in September for Achin, carrying black baftas, candekins, tricandis, chelas and other cotton goods for that coast, and returns about March with tin, pepper, and a certain amount of other spices brought there by the people of Macassar. There remains no other regular voyage worth mentioning.
For the last four or five years, since the Portugese have lost Ormuz, the trade of the Surat merchants with Persia has been carried as freight by the English ships, or by ours; they consign chiefly cotton goods, turbans, and girdles from Golconda and Mangapatnam, which are sent [Page 41] to Ispahan. Practically none of the goods which we carry on freight compete with what we ourselves send to Persia, so that this traffic is a great benefit to them without causing any injury to us, and the freight covers the expenses of the Company's ships. Some merchants who own tauris, or small vessels, send them along with our ships, laden with cotton, rice, or other goods of low grade, but no one dares to sail from any port to Ormuz unaccompanied, because (when our ships have left) the Portuguese frigates keep guard, and make prize of whatever they capture, so that Ormuz is now nothing but a deserted nest.
The reason why the chief English factory, as well as ours, is located in Surat is not to be found in the extent of the market or of the sale of goods, but in the fact that the ships must be unloaded and left there, and the goods forwarded thence to the places where they are wanted. If an adequate supply of cash were sent there in addition to the goods, it would be unnecessary, or at any rate it would be a serious loss to the Company, to sell anything worth mentioning in Surat, for the banian merchants who buy from us there despatch the goods promptly to Ahmadabad, Burhanpur, or Agra, where we have factories, and have to pay the cost of the staff which we employ. Profits should be credited in the place where they are made, unless the empty distinction were coveted to show the gains arising from our sales in the general accounts of the Surat factory, instead of in those of Agra, Ahmadabad, or Burhanpur (if a factory is to be established there). Further, there is nothing to be bought in Surat (except at a loss to the Company), apart from a few baftas which are woven at Navsari and also at Rander. Absolutely no other merchandise is to be had in Surat, but much is brought there when the ships arrive, and we may be forced to purchase [Page 42] baftas, candckins, chelas, etc., retail, because we have not the money to buy these in Broach or Ahmadabad during the rains, unless in order to do so we should have to be constantly involved in debt for loans carrying interest. The banians are now beginning to make a large profit in this way, and have raised the monthly rate of interest from 1 to 11/4 per cent. ; if loans are taken yearly, they will raise it much higher, and the amount of interest, or loss, is a matter of great importance.
Customs duties are here 31/2 per cent, on all imports and exports of goods, and 2 per cent, on money, either gold or silver. At present these duties are collected for the King by the Governor, Mir Jahan Kuli Beg, but formerly they were assigned to various lords as salary; the arrangement has been altered as often as twice or thrice in the year.
Weights and measures are smaller here than in Hindustan. The Gujarat gaz is eight per cent, shorter than a Holland ell, and a ser weighs only 18 pice or 3/4 Ib. (Holland), 24 pice weighing 1 pound; these units are used in Surat, and practically throughout Gujarat. Formerly mahmudis, and not rupees, were current here; the mahmudi is smaller, and worth only 10 stivers by our reckoning. Rupees have come into circulation during the last five or six years; the mahmudi is still the nominal unit for sales and purchases, but the actual payment is generally made in rupees, which we take as 24 stivers. The King has now a mint in Surat, as in Ahmadabad and all other capital cities.
BROACH, 20 kos landward from Surat, is a small town, but it is splendidly situated on moderately high ground. The town is surrounded by a wall of white stone, and looks more like a fort than a city; it is a kos in circuit, and from a distance is very picturesque. It enjoys a much better and more agreeable climate than other towns, chiefly because [Page 43] of its elevation, owing to which it escapes all dangerous vapours; and further the well-known river Narbada, here a fine and broad stream, runs under the walls. This river flows past the fort of Handia, beyond Burhanpur, and separates Hindustan from the Deccan. The town depends on the weaving industry, and produces the best-known finebaftas ; all other sorts of cloth, for Mocha, Mozambique, and the South [Java, etc.], are also woven there, as well as in Baroda, and other neighbouring places. Consequently a factory is badly required there for purchases for the South, but nothing can be sold, for the people are mostly poor, or artisans. Tolls are levied here on goods, whether brought here for consumption, or merely in transit; the rate is 1 1/2 per cent., but it is calculated for all kinds of goods on a valuation made by the Kazi, or lawyer, of the town, and is in fact merely a knavish method of draining poor merchants dry. If for instance cloves are brought there on the way to Ahmadabad or Agra, the toll will be charged on the retail price which a local shop-keeper would charge for a pice-weight or ounce, without allowing for the heavy expense required to bring the goods into the shop, or for the seller's profit. It is the same for all kinds of goods in proportion, and, if this toll did not exist to stop us, we could bring all our goods from and to Agra much more conveniently than by way of Burhanpur, and at half the cost. It would therefore be an excellent thing if we could contract for this toll, or obtain an exemption from the King; the advantage and profit of this course can be readily inferred from what has been said above.
8. THE PRODUCTIVITY AND YIELD OF THE LAND.
THE land would give a plentiful, or even an extraordinary yield, if the peasants were not so cruelly and pitilessly oppressed; for villages which, owing to some small shortage of produce, are unable to pay the full amount of the revenue-farm, are made prize, so to speak, by their masters or governors, and wives and children sold, on the pretext of a charge of rebellion. Some peasants abscond to escape their tyranny, and take refuge with rajas who are in rebellion, and consequently the fields lie empty and unsown, and grow into wildernesses. Such oppression is exceedingly prevalent in this country.
The year is here divided into three seasons. In April, May and June the heat is intolerable, and men can scarcely breathe. More than that, hot winds blow continuously, as stifling as if they came straight from the furnace of hell. The air is filled with the dust raised by violent whirlwinds from the sandy soil, making day like the darkest night that human eyes have seen or that can be grasped by the imagination. Thus, in the afternoon of 15th June, 1624, I watched a travado of dust coming up gradually, which so hid the sky and the sun that for two hours people could not tell if the world was at an end, for the darkness and the fury of the wind could not have been exceeded. Then the storm disappeared gradually, as it had come, and the sun shone again. The months of June, July, August, September, and October are reckoned as the rainy season, during which it sometimes rains steadily. The days are still very hot, but the rain brings a pleasant and refreshing coolness. In November, December, January, February and March it is tolerably cool, and the climate is pleasant.
From April to June the fields lie hard and dry, unfit for ploughing or sowing owing to the heat. When the ground has been moistened by a few days rain, they begin to sow indigo, rice, various kinds of food-grains eaten by the poor, such as jowar, bajra, kangni, various pulses for cattle-food, such as moth, mung, orb, urd, and a seed from which oil is extracted. When all these are off the land, they plough and sow again, for there are two harvests; that is to say, in December and January, they sow wheat and barley, various pulses such as chana, masur, malar, and sarson and alsi (from which oil is extracted). Large numbers of wells have to be dug in order to irrigate the soil, for at this time it is beginning to lose its productive power. Provided the rains are seasonable, and the cold is not excessive, there is a year of plenty, not merely of food, but in the trade in all sorts of commodities. Such vegetables as the thin, sandy soil can produce- turnips, various beans, beetroot, salads, potherbs- grow here in abundance, as in Holland. Trees are plentiful round the city, but very scarce in the open country; even four or five trees usually mark the site of a village. Firewood is consequently very dear, and is sold by weight, 60 lb. for from 12 to 18 pice (or 5 stivers), making a serious annual expense for a large household. The poor burn cow-dung, mixed with straw and dried in the sun, which is also sold, as peat is sold in Holland. Fruit trees are still scarcer, because the ground is salty, and all fruit comes from Kandahar or Kabul- no apples, pears, quinces, pomegranates, melons, almonds, dates, raisins, filberts, pistachios, and many other kinds. Great and wealthy amateurs have planted ill their gardens Persian vines which bear seedless grapes, but the fruit does not ripen properly in one year out of three. Oranges are plentiful in December, January and February, and are obtainable also in June and July; they [Page 49] are very large, especially in the neighbourhood of Bayana. Lemons can be had in large quantities. The other fruits have too little taste, and are thought too little of, to be worth mentioning.
The supply of meat, such as we have in Holland, is ample, but it is cheaper than with us. There are sheep, goats, fowls, geese, ducks, deer and other game; and the supply is so large that it is little valued, and prices are low. Oxen and cows are not slaughtered, as they have to work while they are young, doing everything that is done by horses in Holland; and besides, their slaughter is strictly forbidden by the King on pain of death, though buffaloes may be freely killed. The King maintains this rule to please the Hindu rajas and banians, who regard the cow as one of the most veritable gods or sacred things. They also occasionally obtain by bribery a general order from the King, or from the Governor of a particular city, that no one shall catch any fish for several days, or for as long a period as they can secure; and, occasionally, that for some days no meat of any description, whether goat, sheep, or buffalo, shall be sold in the market. Such orders are extremely inconvenient for ordinary people, but the rich slaughter daily in their own houses. This would be a desirable country if men might indulge their hunger or appetite as they do in our cold lands; but the excessive heat makes a man powerless, takes away his desire for food, and limits him to waterdrinking, which weakens or debilitates his body [...]
9. 12. THE MANNER OF LIFE
[...]There are three classes of the people who are indeed nominally free, but whose status differs very little from voluntary slavery- workmen, peons or servants, and shopkeepers. For the workman there are two scourges, the first of which is low wages. Goldsmiths, painters, embroiderers, carpet-makers, cotton or silk-weavers, blacksmiths, coppersmiths, tailors, masons, builders, stonecutters, a hundred crafts in all, for a job which one man would do in Holland here passes through four men's hands before it is finished,- any of these by working from morning to night can earn only 5 or 6 tackas that is, 4 or 5 stivers in wages. The second [scourge] is [the oppression of] the Governor, the nobles, the Diwan, the Kotwal, the Bakhshi, and other royal officers. If any of these wants a workman, the man is not asked if he is willing to come, but is seized in the house or in the street, well beaten if he should dare to raise any objection, and in the evening paid half his wages, or nothing at all. From these facts the nature of their food can be easily inferred. They know little of the taste of meat. For their monotonous daily food they [Page 61] have nothing but a little khichri, made of 'green pulse' mixed with rice, which is cooked with water over a little fire until the moisture has evaporated, and eaten hot with butter in the evening; in the day time they munch a little parched pulse or other grain, which they say suffices for their lean stomachs.
Their houses are built of mud with thatched roofs. Furniture there is little or none, except some earthenware pots to hold water and for cooking, and two beds, one for the man, the other for his wife; for here man and wife do not sleep together, but the man calls his wife when he wants her in the night, and when he has finished she goes back to her own place or bed. Their bedclothes are scanty, merely a sheet, or perhaps two, serving both as under and over-sheet; this is sufficient in the hot weather, but the bitter cold nights are miserable indeed, and they try to keep warm over little cowdung fires which are lit outside the doors, because the houses have no fire-places or chimneys ; the smoke from these fires all over the city is so great that the eyes run, and the throat seems to be choked.
Peons or servants are exceedingly numerous in this country, for everyone- be he mounted soldier, merchant, or king's official keeps as many as his position and circumstances permit. Outside the house, they serve for display, running continually before their master's horse; inside, they do the work of the house, each knowing his own duties. The tziurewardar[[?]] attends only to his horse, the bailwan, or carter, to his cart and oxen; thefarrash, [Page 62] or tent-pitcher, attends to his tent on the way, spreads carpets, both on the march and in the house, and looks after the diwan-khana or sitting room; the masalchi, or torch-bearer, looks to his torch, and lights lamps and candles in the evening; the sarwan, or camel-driver, looks to his camel; and there are two or three mahawats or attendants to each elephant according to its size. The isantel, or messenger, a plume on his head and two bells at his belt, runs at a steady pace, ringing the bells; they carry their master's letters a long distance in a short time, covering 25 to 30 kos in a day ; but they eat much postibangh or opium regularly, so that they do not feel the continuous work or fatigue. They run on with dizzy head; they will not as a rule answer anyone who asks where they come from or where they are going, but hurry straight on. These messengers may bring their masters, who hold official positions as governors, into great credit, or disgrace, with the King, because letters on important official business are sometimes delayed, and if the news they contain should reach the King first from some other place, whether nearer or more distant, the officer will be blamed for negligence, and dismissed from his post. There are many more servants in the crowd, whom it would take too long to enumerate; in the houses of the great lords each servant confines himself strictly to his own duties, and it is like life on the Portuguese ships, where the chief boatswain, if he saw the foremast fall overboard, would not disgrace himself by going forward or on to the forecastle, though he could save the mast by doing so.
For this slack and lazy service the wages are paid by the Moguls only after large deductions, for most of the great lords reckon 40 days to the month, and pay from 3 to 4 rupees for that period; while wages are often left several months in arrears, and then paid in worn-out clothes or other things. If, however, the master holds office or power, the servants are arrogant, oppressing the innocent, and sinning on the strength of their master's greatness. Very few of them serve their master honestly; [Page 63] they steal whatever they can; if they buy only a pice-worth of food, they will take their share or dasturi [commission]. The masters sometimes know this very well, but they suppose it is paid by the poor, and not out of their pockets; in this, however, they are mistaken, because the commission is always taken into account in the sale. Otherwise it would be impossible for the servants to feed themselves and their families on such low wages; and accordingly their position and manner of life differs very little from that of the workman in the wealth of their poverty.
10. 15. MOSLEM MARRIAGES IN AGRA.
IN, arranging a marriage, the bridegroom has no share in the choice, still less has the bride, for the selection is made by; the parents, or, if they are dead, by other friends. When a youth is from 15 to 18 years old, his friends seek for the daughter of a man within the circle of friendship; but this applies to the rich rather than the poor, because as a rule soldier marries soldier, merchant marries merchant, and so on according to occupation. If they know of no suitable match, there are female marriagebrokers, who know of all eligible parties; the parents will call these in, and ask if there is no rich young lady for their son. The brokers understand their business, and instead of one will suggest perhaps twenty-five. When the proposals have been thoroughly examined in regard to birth and present position, the parents choose the one which seems to be most suitable. Then the mother, or the nearest friends, go with the youth to the friends of the young lady they have chosen, even if they have no previous acquaintance, and, after compliments, ask if they will give the lady in marriage to the youth. After full discussion on both sides, there is usually an interval of some days, or, if they get an immediate assent, the youth, or bridegroom, sends a ring to the bride, with his compliments. She sends in return some betel, with a handkerchief or something of the kind, though the unfortunate bridegroom is not allowed to meet the ladies, still less to see if his future bride is white or black, straight or crooked, pretty or ugly; he must trust to his mother and friends. From this time on begins much merrymaking in the house, with music and singing, and the congratulations of friends on both sides. When the bridegroom [Page 82] goes home with his friends, similar music begins there also, and this goes on continuously, night and day, with drums, pipes and other noise, provided by both parties, so that the whole neighbourhood is drowned in noise. At last the wedding-day comes. This is fixed for 15 or 20 days after the engagement, in order to give time for preparing the feast. Three or four days before it, the bridegroom and his parents go to the bride's house, with a great company of the whole tribe, and taking with them a large number of gondas, or large ornamented wooden dishes, full of confectionery, sugar, almonds, raisins and other fruits, and also a sum of money, 100 or 1000 rupees, according to their position. The money goes towards the expenses of the bride's relatives, most of which must be paid by the bridegroom, who also provides the bride's jewellery. The procession comes to the bride's house with much music and drumming, and the visitors stay for the evening meal, returning home at night. The next evening the friends of the bride come with similar noise and pomp, and hundreds of lights; they bring to the bridegroom a representation, made of cotton, satin, and paper, in the form of ships or boats, ornamented with tinsel, and various colours and flowers. This is placed on the roof of the house till it falls to pieces. Then the women employed for the purpose anoint the bridegroom, and rub his hands and feet with mehndi (a powder made into a paste), till they are quite red ; this is supposed to have been sent by the bride, and the occasion is called Mehndi day in consequence. The guests remain to sup with the bridegroom, and go home at night. The next day is the marriage-day. The bridegroom is dressed in red, and so garlanded with flowers that his lace cannot be seen, and towards evening all the friends and invited guests gather, and accompany the bridegroom to the bride's house with the greatest possible display of lighted fireworks, drums, trumpets, music, and singers, so that everything may pass off without adverse comment. The bridegroom goes on horseback, with the male friends and a great cavalcade: the women follow in palanquins and carts, covered with the finest doth that can be provided. The bridegroom goes to the place where the male guests [Page 83] are gathered, but he may not speak till the marriage is complete, but sits as if he were dumb. The ladies go into the female apartments, where there is music, singing, and dancing, as there is before the men, where the dancers sing and dance as skilfully as they can. It is the custom at all weddings and feasts to call in these people for the guests' entertainment. There are many classes of dancers, among them lolonis, who are descended from courtesans who have come from Persia to India, and sing only in Persian; and a second class, domnis, who sing in Hindustani, and whose songs are considered more beautiful, more amorous, and more profound, than those of the Persians, while their tunes are superior; they dance, too, to the rhythm of the songs with a kind of swaying of the body which is not lascivious, but rather modest. Other classes are named horckenis and hentsinis, who have various styles of singing and dancing, but who are all alike accommodating people. [The music] lasts till a quarter of the night has gone, when the Kazi's clerk and moslena [[? maulana]] comes, and he makes a prayer, and then joins them in marriage without the bride being present. The ceremony consists merely in the registration in the Kazi's book, showing that such and such a person has acknowledged taking such and such a woman as his wife. When this is over, the meal is served, and they go to eat, after which there is music, singing, and dancing as before, lasting the whole night till the morning. Then they pack up the bride's belongings, that is to say, whatever she brings to the marriage is displayed and carried away. The bridegroom follows with the same pomp as when he arrived in the evening, except the lights and fireworks; then his bride, sitting in a palanquin; and then follow the lady friends of bride and bridegroom. In this way he takes his bride home. His house is ready; he goes in, and his wife is brought to him, whom he now [Page 84] sees for the first time, and he may congratulate himself if she happens to be pretty, or to suit his taste. The marriage must be consummated at once, while the ladies sit and sing at no great distance; otherwise the bridegroom would be deeply disgraced, and the married ladies would send him the spinning-wheel. When the marriage has been consummated, the mother and an old woman enter, and, after their investigation, they begin to scream or sing 'Mubarak!' or Good Luck! as if a great victory had been won. Then the bridegroom goes to his apartments for the day, and the bride to hers; and the friends take their leave and depart, after each has received the gift of a piece of cloth, the men from the bridegroom and the women from the bride.
What I have described is the Hindustani custom, but Moguls, and also Hindus, have different ceremonies. The Hindus join their children in marriage at the age of only four or five years; and if the boy dies, the girl or bride cannot marry again, but must die a virgin, unless she employs clandestine means. The men on the other hand may marry as often as they choose, if their wives die; and old men have to marry children, because there are no grown-up maidens to be found.