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 XVIII. Of their Burials, of their mourning for their Dead, and of their stately Sepulchres and Monuments.

FOr the Mahometans, it is their manner to wash the Bodies of their Dead before they interr them. An ancient custom as it should seem among the Jews; for it is said of Dorcas, that after she was dead, they washed her Body, as a preparative to her Burial.

They lay up none of the Bodies of their Dead in their Misquits, or Churches, (as before) but in some open place in a Grave, which they dig very deep and wide, a Jewish custom, likewise to carry the Bodies of their Dead to bury them out of their Cities and Towns.

Their mourning over their Dead is most immoderate: for, be∣besides Page  432 that day of general lamentation at the end of their Ram∣jan, or Lent, (before-mentioned) they houl and cry many whole days for their friends departed, immediately after they have left the world; and after that time is passed over many foolish women, so long as they survive, very often in the year, observe set days to renew their mourning for their deceased friends; and as a people without hope, bedew the graves of their husbands, as of other their near relations, with abundance of (seemingly) affectionate tears; as if they were like those mourning women mentioned Jer. 9.17. who seemed to have tears at command; and therefore were hired to mourn and weep in their solemn lamentations.

And when they thus lament over their dead, they will often put this question to their deaf and dead Carkasses, Why they would die? they having such loving wives, such loving friends, and many other comforts: as if it had been in their power to have rescued themselves from that most impartial wounding hand of death.

Which carriage of theirs deserves nothing but censure and pity; though, if it be not Theatrical, we may much wonder at it, and say of it, as it was said of the mourning in the floor of Atad, Gen. 50.11. That it is a grievous mourning; or, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon, Zech. 12.11. if we take those lamentations only in a literal sence.

But now further concerning their places of Burial, many Ma∣hometans of the greatest quality in their life-time provide fair Sepulchres for themselves and nearests friends, compassing with a firm wall a good circuit of ground near some Tank, (before spoken of) about which they delight to bury their dead; or else they close in, a place for this use, near springs of water, that may make pleasant fountains, near which they erect little Mos∣quits, or Churches, and near them Tombs built round, or four-square, or in six, or eight squares, with round Vaults, or Ca∣nopies of stone over-head, all which are excellently well wrought, and erected upon Pillars, or else made close to be en∣tered by doors every way, under which the bodies of their dead lye interred. The rest of that ground thus circled in, they plant with Fruit-trees; and further set therein all their choicest flowers, as if they would make Elysian fields (such as the Poets dream'd of) wherein their souls might take repose.

There are many goodly Monuments which are richly ador∣ned, built (as before was observed) to the memory of such as they have esteemed Paeres, or Saints (of whom they have a large Kalender) in which are Lamps continually burning; attended by votaries, unto whom they allow Pensions for the maintaining of those lights, and many (transported there with wild devotion) daily resort to those Monuments, there to contemplate the hap∣piness those Paeres (as they imagine) now enjoy.

And certainly of all the places that Empire affords, there are Page  433 none that minister more delight, than some of their Burying places do; neither do they bestow so much cost, nor shew so much skill in Architecture in any other Structures as in these.

Now amongst many very fair Piles there dedicated to the re∣membrance of their dead, the most famous one is at Secandra, a Village three miles from Agra; it was begun by Achabar-sha the late Mogols Father, who there lies buried; and finished by his Son, who since was laid up beside him. The materials of that most stately Sepulchre are Marble of divers colours, the stones so closely cemented together, that it appears to be but one con∣tinued stone, built high like a Pyramis with many curiosities about it, and a fair Mosquit by it; the Garden wherein it stands very large planted (as before) and compassed about with a wall of Marble: this most sumptuous Pile of all the Structures that vast Monarchy affords, is most admired by strangers. Tom Co∣ryat had a most exact view thereof, and so have many other English-men had, all which have spoken very great things of it.

And now Reader I have done with this, and shall proceed to speak more particularly,