Relations of Golconda
About this text
Relations of Golconda was published in 1931.It was edited by W.H.Moreland. It gives an account of Bengal. W.H.Moreland was born in 1868. He was an administrator of India in various capacities as well as an historian of the sub-continent. He passed away in 1938. In Relations of Golconda one gets to know of the climate, the festivals, the various food items, the geography and the political system of Bengal. Primary Reading Moreland, W.H., Relations of Golconda, The Hakluyt Society. Secondary Reading Firminger, Walter K., The Malda Diary and Consultations (1680-1682), Asiatic Society of Bengal.
RELATIONS OF GOLCONDA
EARLY SEVENTEENTH CENTURY
W.H. Moreland, C.S.I,C.I.E
PRINTED FOR THE HAKLUYT SOCIETY
PUBLISHED FORThe Hakluyt Society
THE Gulfe of Bengala (famous for its dimensions)ex tendeth itselfe from the Cape called Comorine, lying in 8 degrees of North latitude, unto Chatigan the bottome thereof, which, being in 22 degrees, is not lesse as the coast lyeth then a 1000 English miles, and in breadth 900, limited on the other side by Cape Singapura, which lyeth in 1 degree of South [North] latitude; washeth the coast of these great and fertile kingdomes, viz., Ziloan, Bisnagar, Golchonda, Bengala, Arrec can, Pegu and Tanassery; and receiveth into its bosome many navigable rivers, which lose their note and names in the eminent neighbourhood of the famous Ganges; whose unknowne head, pleasant streames, and long extent, have amongst those heathen inhabitants(by the tradition of their forefathers) gained a beliefe of cleansing all such sinnes as the bodies of those that wash therein brought with them; for which cause many are the pilgrimes that resort from farre to this lasting jubilee, with some of whom I [Page 2] have had conference, and from their owne reports I insert this their beliefe.
The first kingdome upon the mayne is that ancient one of Bisnagar, rent at this time into severall provinces or govern ments held by the Naickes of that countrey in their owne right: for since the last King (who deceased about fiftene yeeres since) [Page 3] there have arisen severall competitors for the crowne, unto whom the Naickes have adhered according to their factions, or affections, from whence hath followed a continuall civill warre in some parts of the countrey, and such extreame want and famine in most of it, that parents have brought thousands of their young children to the sea side, selling there a child for five fanum's worth of rice, transported from thence into other parts of India, and sold againe to good advantage, if the gaines be good that ariseth from the sale of soules.
In sixteene degrees and a halfe lyeth Musulipatnam, the chiefe port of the Kingdome of Golchonda, where the Right Worshipfull East Indian Company have their Agent and severall factories in that place and Petapoley, first protected and setled by Peter Willemson Floris and Lucas Anthonison, who, in the employment of English adventurers, arrived there about thirteene yeares since in the Globe of London: since which time, commerce hath beene continued in those parts, and amongst other their servants my selfe received their employ ment, and from almost five yeares residence in that place (at the request of the author of this laborious volume) am emboldened to publish such remarkable things as have faine within the compasse of my observation.
It is a small towne, but populous, unwalled, ill built, and worse situated; within, all the spring[s] are brackish, and without, over-flowed with every high sea for almost halfe a mile about. It was first a poore fisher towne, from whence it tooke the name it yet retaynes, afterwards the conveniencie of the road made it a fit residence for merchants, and so continueth (with increase of trade) since our and the Dutch nation frequented this Coast.
The climate is very healthfull, and the yeere divided in their account into three different seasons, whereof March, Aprill, May, and June they call the hote season, and not without good cause; for the sunne, being returned into their hemisphere, doth not alone scortch the earth with his piercing beames, but even the winde, which should asswage his fury, addes greater fire, and yeerely about mis May, with a strong westerly gale, brings off [Page 7] the land a sensible heat, as when a house is on fire, such as are neere to leeward can hardly endure; and this is so penetrateth that, the doores and windowes being shut, the houses are notwith standing so warmed that the chaires and stooles admit hardly the uses they were made for without cooling them, and the place where we abide, by often sprinkling of water; but the extremity hereof neyther lasteth long nor commeth often, onely five or seve dayes in a yeere, and then but from nine or ten a clocke in the forenoone untill four or five in the afternoone, at which time a coole breeze from off the sea qualifies againe this intol lerable heat: wherein many of the natives are in their travell suffocated and perish. And of Christians, a Dutchman as hee suffocated and perish. And of Christians, a Dutchman as hee was carried in his palanquin, and an Englishman walking but from the towne to the barre, little above an English mile, dyed both in the way. The rest of these foure moneths are very hote, farre exceeding the hottest day in our climate, and would so continue, but that in July, August, September, and October, the raines are predominant, which with their frequent, violent, and long continuing showres, cooles the earth, and revives the parcht roots of the sunburnt plants of the earth, sometimes rayning so long together, and with such fiercenesse, that houses loose their foundations in their currants, and fall to the ground: from whence also followes great land-flouds, to this countrey no lesse commodious then the inundation of Nilus to the Egyptians, by receiving the flouds into their rice grounds, and there retayning it untill the earth, driking it in, becomes the better enabled to endure an eighth moneths abstinence; for in eight moneths it never rayneth. November, December, January, and February they account their cooler times, and are so indeed compared to the former, yet as hote as it is here in England in May.
From which constant heate all trees are heere continually greene, and their fruites ripe in their severall seasons. The earth [Page 8] in some places affoords two croppes of rice in a yeere, rarely three croppes, and in most places but one, yet there with very great increase: they sowe other sorts of pulse, different from ours, and farre up into the country they have good wheate, but not much, for it is little eaten of the Gentilles: rootes they have of most sorts which we have heere, and good store of potatoes, yet but few hearbs or flowres, which defect they supply in their betele, whose frequent use among them many have already discoursed. In briefe, it is a very fruitfull countrey, and, occasioned by many of the inhabitants abstinence from any thing that hath life, all kind of victuall are very cheape and plentifull, as eight hens for twelve pens or two shillings a very good hogge; the like of fish and all other provisions in the towne, but in the countrey much better cheape.
The next they call Campo Waro, and these in the countrey manure (cultivate) the earth as husbandmen, in the city attend upon the richer sort as servingmen, in the forts are souldiers: and are for number the greatest tribe. These spare no flesh but beefe, and that with such reverence that torture cannot enforce them to kill and eate; and their reason for this (besides the cus tome of their ancestors) is, that from the cow their countrey receives its greatest sustenance, as milke and butter immediately, then al the fruits of the earth by their assistance in tilling it, so that it were the greatest inhumanity to feed upon that which giveth them so plentifully wheron to feed; and unto us that would take liberty in this case they wil not sell an oxe or cow for any consideration, but from one to another, for six or 8 shillings the best.
First of diamonds lately discovered in this Kingdome, most men say by this accident. A silly (simple) goatherd, keeping his flock amongst those mountaines, stumbled by chance upon a stone that shined somewhat bright, which he carelessly tooke up (not much valuing), sold it to a Committy (Komati) for [Page 31] meales.
These mynes are not, as with us in Europe, carried under ground and supported with timber, but digged right downe in square large pits. Whether it be that all the earth affords more or lesse profit, whereas ours onely run in veines, or whether they want props, or judgement, to take this course, I cannot determine; but am sure that in freeing of the water, and bringing up the earth, they goe the furthest way to worke, for, in place of pullies and such like devices, they with many people setting (sitting) one above another hand up from one to another untill it comes to the place it must rest in; and from hence proceedeth the use of so many people, seeing that, besides the earth, the place where over-night they wrought dry is next morning a fathome deepe under water.
It is situated at the foot of a great mountayne, not farre from a river called Christena, a place naturally so barren that before this discovery it was hardly inhabited, now peopled with a hundred thousand soules, consisting of myners, merchants, and such others as live by following such concourses, sufficiently furnished with all provisions brought thither from the countrey round about, but at excessive rates, occasioned by the many exactions raysed upon them in their passages thorough severall governments and villages. The houses are very poore, as not intended for continuance, but onely the present occasion, for in Anno 1622 the myne was shut up, and all persons restrained from frequenting the place; the reasons some imagined to be their care to keepe the commoditie in request, not to digge more untill those already found were dispersed; others affirmed the comming of the Mogulls Embassadour to this Kings Court, with his peremptory demand of ‘a vyse’ of the fairest diamonds, caused this cessation, untill that pretence, and some competent (adequate) present, should content the Mogull: for since I came from thence, I heare it was opened againe, but almost exhausted, and very few found.
Callicoes of all sorts are in this kingdome as cheape and plentifull as in any other part of India, but different in their making, and easily distinguished from those of other countries. The paintings of this coast of Choromandel (are) famous throughout India, and are indeed the most exquisite that are seene, the best wrought all with the pensill, and with such durable colours that, notwithstanding they bee often washed, the colours fade not whilst the cloth lasteth; and this hapneth principally by a plant which groweth only in this countrey, called by them chay, which dyeth or stayneth a perfect red, with them in as great account as scarlet with us, and is the Kings particular commoditie.
These are the generall commodities of this countrey, which are dispersed in some measure through the world, but are best knowne in Indian traffique, and produce constantly certaine profit in their exportation to other parts; to which purpose they build great ships, and good ones too, considered in their burthen and materials, but not comparable to ours for beautie, con veniencie, or defence, some of them not lesse than 600 tunnes, substantially built of very good timber and iron; whereof we have had upon some occasion good experience in careening the Globe, Salomon, and Clawe in the river of Narsoporpeta. With these their ships they traffique ordinarily to Mocha in the Red Sea, to Achyne upon Sumatra, to Arrecan, Pegu, and Tannas sery on the either side the Gulfe, and to many ports alongst their owne coasts, as farre as Zeloan and the Cape Comoryne.
Tobasco (tobacco) they send in great quantities, many small rotans to make launces, certaine sorts of calicoes proper for turbants, iron, steele, indico, benjamin, and gumme lacke. For which they returne some few watered chamblets, but the most part ready money in sultannees or rials of eight.
To Acheene they export much steele, and some iron, divers sorts of calicoes, both white and painted, and of late times, when the myne was first discovered, store of diamonds, which were sold to great benefit; from whence they return Benjamin, and camphora of Barouse, pepper of Priaman and Tecoo.
To Tannassery they carry red cotton yarne, red and white beethyles, paintings of severall sorts befitting that countries weare; and landing them at Tannassery, carry them from thence to Syam fourteene dayes journey over land; from whence by the like conveyance they bring all sorts of China commodities, as porcellane, sattins, damaskes, lankeene, silke, lignum and great store of tinne
Alongst their owne coast they trade with smaller shipping, lading rice and other graine where it is cheapest, selling it againe on the Coast of Bisnagar (Vijayanagar) to great benefit, taking children in exchange, which cost not them above three or foure shillings a childe, and they sell againe in Masulipatnam and other places for forty shillings.
Where this country endeth, the kindome of Bengala begin neth, subsisting at this time under the monarchy of the Great Mogull, which he ruleth by his Governours, disposed into severall provinces,whose powerfull neighbourhood causeth the King [Page 40] of Golchonda, to keepe constant garisons, which, with the advantage of rivers and deserts, secureth him on that side of his Kingdome. In this countrey we are meere (entire) strangers; the coast is too dangerous, and our shipping too great, to adventure them amongst so many shelfes and sands; yet are we enformed by such as comes from thence, and confirmed by the price and abundance of such things as that countrey produceth, that it is the most plentifull of all the East. For once a yeere there ariveth at Masulipatnam a fleet of small vessels from thence, of burden about twenty tunnes, the plankes onely sowne together with cairo (a kinde of cord made of the rinds of coconuts), and no iron in or about them: in which barkes they bring rice, butter, sugar, waxe, honey, gumme lacke, long pepper, callico, lawnes, and divers sorts of cotton-cloth, raw silke, and moga, which is made of the barke of a certaine tree, and very curious quilts and carpets stitched with this moga
Bengala; it is the best countrey peopled with the worst nation, of whom the repute runnes currant in India, the men are all theeves, and the women whoores. Here the famous Ganges disimboqueth (discharges) into the sea, fructifying it seemes the countrey, but little sanctifying the inhabitants; whereof i can speake very little, as having alwayes lived at great distance from it; onely I have heard it is full of crocodiles, and so are most rivers within the Gulfe, where i have seene many of immense bignesse, which the ferrimen that passe men and cattle over those rivers know how to charme, and then with safety ferry over the passengers in the bodies of one or two palmito trees joyned, and swimme over the cattle; the order of which charming having once seene I thought good to insert.
Arrecan borders upon Bengala and participates in its plenty, from whence there commeth yeerely shipping to the Coast of Choromandel.
Masulipatnam, called by some 'Bandar', which means a town, and situated in about 161/2 degrees North latitude, is quite the most famous market on the Coast, meaning of course (among those) where the Hon'ble Company has factories. Here the Company has a hired residence, occupied by a staff of 8 or 9 persons. There is also a river, but unfit for ships or pinnaces to enter, being altogether shallow and also narrow; the ships which come here, namely ours and the English, must lie about a mile off-shore, because it is absolutely flat.
The country round Narasapur Peta, as also round Masuli patnam, is exceedingly productive of rice, and products of many kinds, while there are many cattle of all sorts. Butter and cheese, too, are made there. Good wheat is produced in the interior, and sells in Masulipatnam for 3 to 4p, the bahar. Rice sells at one to 11/2p, the bahar; butter at 7 to 10f. Fowls sell at 60 or 70, sometimes 80.
There is a small island in the Petapoli river, where many spotted deer are captured; they sell sometimes for 2 and 3 fanams, sometimes for as much as half a pagoda.
In some places there is held an annual gathering, somewhat like our country fairs, which is called Tierton, with a great assemblage of people in honour of their idols, which are very numerous some with extraordinary human figures, with many arms and heads, others, animal bodies with human heads, or animal heads with human bodies- with much immodest, heathen-style, fornication and other abominations carved or painted thereon, as i have seen constantly in various pagodas. And in front of every pagoda there usually stands the figure of an ox carved in stone, wrought in very antique fashion, as (are) also the pagodas, so that it is surprising how such heavy work can have been completed with the few tools which the artisans possess; but it may be conjectured that owing to war many things have been lost, and many ancient monuments demolished, especially in places where any Moslems live. It is extraordinary how much the Gentus will endure from Moslems, in places where there are perhaps a thousand of them to one Moslem; but I have found them a poor-spirited people, reared in cruel slavery, carrying their weapons in the mouth, (and) avaricious, though this fault is as great among Moslems as Hindus.
In January they have a festival which seemed to me very strange and extraordinary, but i have not seen it anywhere except in Nisampatnam. It takes place thus, about an hour before day, the men, especially those who have made any vows, are buried in the ground up to the neck, exposing only the head, which is handsomely adorned with jewels and flowers; some have the head buried in the earth with the body above ground; others appear to be impaled, and many other extraordinary postures (are adopted). They remain thus until, about sunrise, a man arrives dressed up very strangely as one of their gods, with face and body painted, a sword in one hand and bow and arrows in the other. Then a goat is brought and sacrificed, the men who are in the ground are sprinkled with the blood, and at once rise and go home. On this day every family must bring a goat to the appointed place, where it is sacrificed; the head is promptly cut off, some money is left, and the body taken home for a feast. There are also other strange customs followed on this day.
The fruits are as follows; mangos, bananas, and lemons, also pomegranates, pine-apples in abundance, oranges, citrons, yams, but these are not very plentiful. There is also the jamood, a small sort of apple, the size of a black cherry, with a stone inside; these are quite black, and contract the mouth with the sourness. You find these trees all over the country in such abundance as to form great woods, and they are used mostly for timber; they (the fruits) yield an exceedingly pleasant drink, provided it is not adulterated. The whole counry is also full of tamarind trees. In April great quantities of grapes are brought from Golconda to the low country, where vines will not grow owing to the brackishness and bitterness of the soil. The banyan and other wild trees are also plentiful.
There are many kinds of animals, tame and wild, viz. tigers, elephants, bears, leopards, civet cats, monkeys in abundance; deer with the body covered with white spots, and horns like those in our country, and if one of them is bitten by a snake, it only loses a white spot.
There are also foxes in great abundance, and snakes in enormous numbers, some of them so venomous that a man who is bitten dies on the spot. There is another kind, some of which, the country people say, have been seen with heads in the place where other snakes have tails; probably it is the resemblance to the head, which they say it changes every half year, shedding one and disclosing the other. Another kind, called Cobra Toppella, is also considered very venomous, and is found in enormous numbers.