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 XVII. Of the Marriages of the Mahometans, and of their Po∣lygamy, &c.

AMongst many other things that confirm the Mahometans in their irreligion, this certainly is not the least, the indul∣gence which Mahomet gives them to take more wives than one (for they make take four if they please) and that further pro∣mise which that monstrous Seducer hath made unto his follow∣ers of a fleshly Paradise hereafter, wherein he will provide for them all wives which shall have large rowling eyes, which they look upon in that sex as a great beauty. And it is a very sutable comfort for such as walk so much after the flesh.

For Polygamy, or the having of more wives than one, Lamech a great Grand-child of Cain, was the first that brought it into the World, Gen 4.19. And it was first brought into the Church by Abraham: which act of his, as of others after him (good men in their generation) though it found permission, never had ap∣probation from Almighty God. And further, though under the times of the Law; it found some connivence, yet since the Gospel there hath been no such custom in any of the Churches of Christ.

Page  430I remember that my Lord Ambassadour had a Servant of that Nation, who desired leave to be absent one day, and being asked why, he told us, that he was then to marry a Wife, though he had three living then, a Man would think enough for his means but five shillings a Moon, the usual pay of Ser∣vants there (as before I observed) to maintain himself, and all the rest of his family.

Often have I heard this Question put, How these Mahome∣tans can do with so many Wives; some of which they keep pent up in little Cottages, or Tents? And in other places and parts of the World, where mens dwellings are very large and spacious, there is scarce room enough to be found for one Wife in a great House.

The Mahometans, who have most Wives, and Women, are most jealous; and their jealousie such, as that they will not suf∣fer the Brothers, or Fathers of their Wives, to come to them, or to have any speech with them, except it be in their presence. And a continued custom by this restraint hath made it odious for such Women, as have the reputation of honesty, to be seen at any time by any Man, besides their own Husbands, or by those be∣fore named, and by them but very seldom. But if they dishonour their Husbands beds, or being unmarryed are found incontinent and filthy, professing Chastity; rather than they shall want the severest punishment, their own Brothers hands will be first a∣gainst them to take away their lives, and for so doing, shall be commended, but not questioned.

The Women there of the greater quality, have Eunuchs instead of men to wait upon them, who in their minority are deprived of all that might provoke jealousie.

Here is a free toleration for Harlots, who are listed and en∣rolled (as they say) before they can have liberty to keep such an open house. Which Creatures in general there, and so all the World over whosoever they be, imbrace those they pretend to love, as Monkies and Apes do their little ones; for they kill them with kindness. Those base Prostitutes are as little asham'd to entertain, as others are openly to frequent their houses.

Other Creatures (as they say) are there kept for base, and abominable ends; many of those Nations being deeply engaged in those sins of the Gentiles, Rom. 1. in doing things which should not be named, and make no scruple at all for their so doing, ut honeste peccare videantur, (as Lactantius speaks) as if they might sin honestly.

Some of the finer sort of those base Strumpets before named, at certain Times appear in the presence of the Mogol, before whom they sing their wanton Songs, playing on their Timbrels.

The Marriages of all the Mahometans are solemnized with some Pomp; for after the Moolaa hath joyned their Hands, and performed other Ceremonies, and bestowed on the parties some words of Benediction, (which is done in the Evening); imme∣diately Page  431 after the night coming on, they begin their jollity. The man on horse-back, be he poor or rich, with his kindred and friends about him, many Lights before him, with Drums and Wind-instruments, and some mixt pastimes to increase the mer∣riments. The Bride she follows with her Women-friends in Coaches covered, and after they have thus passed the most eminent places of the City, or Town they live in, return to the place of the married couples abode, where (they say) if the par∣ties be able, they make some slight entertainment for them, im∣mediately after which, they all disperse, and the show is over.

Women there, have a very great happiness, above all I have heard of, in their easie bringing forth of Children into the world; for there it is a thing very common, for Women great with Child, one day to ride, carrying their Infants in their Bodies, and the next day to ride again, carrying them in their Arms.

How those of the greater quality, order their little Children when they are very young, I could not observe, but those of the meaner sort keep them naked for some years after they are born, covering them onely, and that but sometimes, with slight Callico-Mantles.

The Mohometans (as I have before observed) who please so to do, may take to themselves each four Wives; and that filthy liberty given unto them by their fleshly Mahomet, allows them in it. I have heard of some in this Nation of late times, who have been married here to more than so many at once, but that wick∣edness here is not (as amongst them) committed by a Law, but by Law made Capital, and so punished.

The eldest Son they have by any of their married Wives, hath a prerogative above all the rest, whom their other Children call Budda, by their great Brother. And so much of their Marriages, of their Children, and of their Births. In the next place, I shall speak