The travels of Sig. Pietro della Valle, a noble Roman, into East-India and Arabia Deserta in which, the several countries, together with the customs, manners, traffique, and rites both religious and civil, of those Oriental princes and nations, are faithfully described : in familiar letters to his friend Signior Mario Schipano : whereunto is added a relation of Sir Thomas Roe's Voyage into the East-Indies.
Della Valle, Pietro, 1586-1652., Roe, Thomas, Sir, 1581?-1644., Havers, G. (George)

SECTION XI. Of the Civilities of this People; Of their Complements, and of their Habits.

ANd here the People in general (as before was observed) are as civil to Strangers as to their own Country-men; for they use when they meet one another, or when they meet strangers, to bow their Heads, or to lay their right Hands on their Breasts, and to bow their Bodies as they pass, saluting them further with many well-wishes.

They use not to uncover their Heads at all, as we do in our Salutes, (from which custom of ours, the Turks borrow this imprecation for their Enemies, wishing their Souls no more rest after death than a Christians hat hath, which is alwayes stirred) but the meaner sort, instead of uncovering their Heads to their Superiours, use these abject Ceremonies, by putting their right Hand to the Earth, and then laying it on their Heads; or by fal∣ling down on their Knees, and then bowing their Heads to the Earth; both signifying, that those unto whom they shew these Page  410 reverences, and respects, may tread or trample on them, if they pleased.

When we visit the people there of better quality, they enter∣tain us with much humanity; first rising up to us, they bow their Bodies, and then entreat us to sit with them on their Carpets, where they are free in their discourse, which we usually exchange with them by an Interpreter. If we have any business with them, they return very civil and fair Answers, and for our further entertainment give us Beetle or Paune to chew, (before spoken of.)

In their near, and more close and hearty Salutes, they do not joyn Hands as we, but do that which is hateful to the Spaniard, and not at all in use with us; for they take one another by the Chin, or Beard, and cry Bobba, which is, Father; or Bij, which is, Brother: And this appears to be a very ancient Comple∣ment, for thus Joab long ago saluted Amasa, 2 Sam. 20.9. But this they do in love, not as Joab did there, in Treachery.

In their Complements they express many good wishes to one another, as Salam Allacum, God give you health; the reply, Allacum Salam, The same health God give you. And Greb-a Nemoas, I wish you the prayers of the poor. And Tere gree gree kee Bulla doore, which made-English speaks thus, I wish one good to come unto you after another, every Gra, (which is a space of time a little more than a quarter of an hour); and they have many more Complements like these, handsome, and sig∣nificant. As inferiour people (who have their dependance on others) use to say unto them, I eat your Bread and Salt, (as much to say) I am your Servant, I live by you, and you may do with me, or to me, what you please.

Now as this People of East-India are civil in their speeches, so are they civilly clad; for there are none who wear their own skin alone for their covering, as very many in the western India do.

For the Habits of this People, from the highest to the lowest, they are all made of the same fashion, which they ne∣ver alter nor change; their Coats sitting close to their Bodies unto their Wastes, then hanging down loose a little below their Knees, the lower part of them sitting some-what full; those close Coats are fastned unto both their Shoulders, with slips made of the same Cloth, which, for the generality, are all made of coars∣er, or finer white Callico; and in like manner are they fastned to their Waste, on both sides thereof, which Coats coming double over their Breasts, are fastned by like slips of Cloth, that are put thick from their left Arm-holes to their middle; The sleeves of those Coats are made long, and some-what close to their Arms, that they may ruffle, especially from their Elbows to their Wrists. Under this Coat they usually wear another sleight one, made of the same Cloth, but shorter than the other, and this is all they commonly wear upon the upper part of their bodies. But some of the greater sort in the cooler seasons of the Page  411 day there, will slip on loose Coats over the other, made either of quilted Silk, or Callico, or of our English Scarlet-broad-cloth (for that is the colour they most love.) Under their Coats they have long Breeches like unto Irish-trouses, made usu∣ally of the same cloth, which come to their Anckles, and ruffle on the small of their legs. For their feet, they keep them (as was before observed) always bare in their shooes.

Some of their Grandees makes their Coats and Breeches of striped Taffata of several colours, or of some other silk stuff all of the same colour, or of slight cloth of Silver or Gold, all made in that Country. But pure white and fine Callico-laune, (which they there make likewise) is for the most part the height of all their bravery; the collars, and some other parts of their upper coats, being set off with some neat stitching.

Upon their heads they wear a long wreath of cloth, about half a yard broad, usually white, but sometimes of other co∣lours. Which cloth worn for their head-covering, is sometimes inter-woven in spaces with threds of coloured silk, or silver, or gold; and when not so, one end of that wreath of cloth worn by Gallants is usually thus inter-woven; and so put upon their heads, that its gayness may appear. This head-covering of theirs, they call a Shash, which incircles their heads many times, and doth mervellously defend them from the violence of the Sun. And because this covering must needs keep their heads hot, they provide for this, as well as they can, by shaving the hair continually from off them. And they have girdles made of the same wreaths of cloth for the better sort, thus inter-woven, which come twice at least about them, made very trim with that kind of weaving, especially on both ends, which hang down di∣rectly before them.

And thus have I presented a Mahometan there in his proper dress whose habit will more visibly appear together in the Mo∣gols Picture, portrayed and after put into this discourse.

Now for the Mahometan women, (because I had never sight of those of the greatest quality) I cannot give such an account of them in respect of the Habits. For these, unless they be dis∣honest, or poor, come not abroad; but for the fashion of their Garments, they do not differ much from those the men wear, for they wear Coats, and Breeches one very like the other, on∣ly women bind their long hair with Phillets, which hang down behind them. They wear likewise upon their heads Mantles or Vails (usually made of white Callico, or of their Pintado's) which hang down over their other Garments. Further, the women have their Ears boared, not only in their flaps, but round about them, wherein they wear very little Pendants; those of the richer sort are made of flat, narrow and thin pieces of Gold or Silver; those worn by the poorer sort made of Brass, or Iron kept bright, so that all are in the same fashion; they bestow some work upon the edges and ends of those Pendants. And those Page  412 women have the lower part of their left Nostrils pierced, wherein they wear a Ring (when they please) of Gold, or Sil∣ver, or of some other baser Metals. Those Rings of Gold have little Pearls fastned to one end of them, and that Pearl is dril'd through, that both ends of the ring may meet in it. And doubtless, the women of the greatest quality (though I saw it not) are bedeck'd with many rich Jewels. This I have observed in some of those of the better sort I there saw, that they did wear great broad hollow Rings of Gold enamel'd; and some made of Silver, or Brass, upon their wrists, and upon the small of their legs, to take off and on; two or three of them upon each Arm, and Leg, which make a tinkling noise, very proba∣bly such Ornaments as the Jewish women were threatned for, Isaiah 3. where Almighty God tells them, that he would take away their tinkling Ornaments about their feet, the Bracelets, and the Ornaments of their legs, their Rings, and Nose-jewels.

For my Lord Embassadour, and his Company, we all kept to our English Habits, made as light and cool as possibly we could have them. His waiters in red Taffata Cloaks guarded with green Taffata, which they always wore when they went abroad with him, my self in a long black Cassock; and the co∣lours and fashion of our garments were so different from theirs, that we needed not, wheresoever we were, to invite spectators to take notice of us.

And now, the Constancy there observed by the Natives of both sexes, in keeping to their old fashions in their Habits, ex∣ampled to them by their Predecessors in many foregoing Gene∣rations, and by them still continued, is the great praise of this people, as the commendation of every Nation in the World al∣most, besides ours, still constant to their ancient fashions in their Apparel.