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 IX. Of their buildings in Villages, Towns, and Cities; How their Houses are furnished; Of their Sarra's or Houses for the entertainment of Passengers; Of their Tents, Wells, and of their places of pleasure, &c.

I Observed before the richness of their Soil, and how those Provinces are watered by many goodly Rivers, fed with abundance of Springs; and how their Fields are clothed with very much plenty of Corn of divers kind, sold there at such low rates that every one may there eat bread without scarceness.

Now I come to take notice of their Buildings; and here I must tell my Reader, that this People are not much taken or infected with that plague of Building (as the Italians call it) wishing the love of it as a Curse to possess the thoughts of them they most hate; and therefore, as the stones in India are not all precious, so the Houses there are not at all Palaces; the poor there cannot erect for their dwellings fair Piles, and the Gran∣dees do not cover their heads under such curious Roofs, as ma∣ny of the Europeans do; The reason, first, because all the great men there live a great part of the year, (in which their Moneths are more temperate, as from the middle of September, to the middest of April) in Tents, Pavilions, or moveable ha∣bitations, which, according to their fancies, changing they remove Page  399 from place to place, changing their air as often as they please. And secondly, because all the great men there have their Pensi∣ons and whole subsistence from the King, which they hold upon very sickle and uncertain terms; for as they are setled upon, and continued unto them by the King's favour, so are they forfeited and lost by his frown. Of which more afterward.

Yet though they make not much use of them, they have in plenty excellent good materials for building, as Timber, Bricks, stone and marble of divers kinds and colours, of which I have seen some very good Vaults and Arches well wrought, as in their Mosquits or Churches, so in some of their high-erected Tombs, (of which more afterward) and so in some other places like∣wise.

For their buildings in Cities and Towns, there are some of them handsom, others fair, such as are inhabited by Merchants, and none of them very despicable.

They build their houses low, not above two stories, and many of their tops flat and thick, which keep off the violence of the heat; and those flat tops, supported with strong Timber, and coated over with a plaster (like that we call plaster of Paris) keep them dry in the time of the Rains.

Those broad Tarrases, or flat Roofs, some of them lofty, are places where many people may stand (and so they often do) early in the morning, and in the evening late, like Camelions, to draw, and drink in fresh air; and they are made after this fashi∣on, for prospect, as well as pleasure.

Those houses of two stories, have many of them very large upper rooms, which have many double doors in the sides of them, like those in our Balconies, to open and let in fresh air, which is likewise conveyed in unto them, by many lesser lights made in the walls of those rooms, which are always free and open; The use of glass windows, or any other shut∣tings, being not known there, nor in any other very hot Coun∣treys.

Neither have they any Chimneys in their buildings, because they never make any use of fire but to dress their food, which fire they make against firm wall, or without their Tents against some bank of Earth, as remote as may be from the places where they use to keep, that they may receive no annoyance from the heat thereof.

It is their manner in many places, to plant about, and amongst their buildings, trees which grow high and broad, the shadow whereof keeps their houses by far more cool; this I observ'd in a special manner when we were ready to enter Amadavar; for it appeared to us, as if we had been entring a Wood, rather than a City. That Amadavar is very large and populous City, entred by many fair Gates girt about with an high and thick Wall of Brick, which mounts above the tops of their houses, without which wall there are no suburbs. Page  400 Most of the houses within the City are of Brick, and very many of them ridged and covered with Tiles.

But for their houses in their Aldeas or Villages, which stand very thick in that Country, they are generally very poor and base. All those Countrey-dwellings are set up close together; for I never observed any house there to stand single, and alone. Some of their houses in those villages are made with earthen∣walls, mingled with straw, set up immediatly after their Rains, and having a long season after to dry them throughly, stand firm, and so continue; they are built low, and many of them flat: but for the generality of those Country-Villages, the Cottages in them are miserably poor, little, and base; so that as they are built with a very little charge, set up with sticks rather than Timber, if they chance to fire (as many times they do) for a very little they may be re-edified.

Those who inhabit the Countrey-Villages, are called Coolees. These till the ground, and breed up Cattel, and other things for provision, as Hens, &c.hese, they who plant the Sugar, the Cotten-wool, and Indio, &c.—for their Trades and Manu∣factures they are kept in Cities and Towns, about which are their choicest fruits planted. In their Cities and Towns, without their dwellings, but fix't to them, are pend-houses where they shew and sell their provisions, as bread, and flower-cakes made up with Sugar, and fruits, and other things; and there they shew their manufactures, and other Commodities, some of which they carry twice every day to sell in the Bazar or Market.

I saw two houses of the Mogol's, one at Mandoa, the other at A∣madaver, which appeared large & stately, built of excellent stone well squared and put together, each of them taking up a large compass of ground; but we could never see how they were con∣trived within, because there are none admitted, strangers or others, to have a sight of those houses, while the King's wives and women are there, which must not be seen by any but by himself, and his servants the Eunuchs.

The Mogol's Palace Royal is at Agra his Metropolis (of which more afterward) but for the present I shall take a little notice of a very curious Grot I saw belonging to his house at Mandoa, which stood a small distance from it, for the building of which there was a way made into a firm Rock, which shewed it self on the side of an Hill, Canopied over with part of that Rock. It was a place that had much beauty in it by reason of the curious workmanship bestowed on it; and much pleasure by reason of its coolness.

That City Mandoa I speak of, is situated upon a very high mountain, the top whereof is flat, and plain, and spacious. From all parts that lie about it but one; the ascent is very high, and steep; and the way to us seemed exceeding long, for we were two whole days climbing up the Hill, with our Cariages, which we got up with very much difficulty; not far from the Page  401 bottom of which Hill, we lodged at a great town called Acha∣bar-pore, where we ferried over a broad River (as we did in other places) for I observed no bridges made there over any of their Rivers where their high-ways lie. That Hill on which Man∣doa stands, is stuck round (as it were) with fair trees, that keep their distance so one from and below the other▪ that there is much delight in beholding them either from the bottom or top of that Hill.

In those vast and far extended Woods, there are Lions, Tygres, and other beasts of Prey, and many wild Elephants. We lay one night in that wood with our Carriages, and those Lions came about us discovering themselves by their Roaring; but we keep∣ing a very good fire all night, they came not neer enough to hurt either our selves, or cattel. Those cruel Beasts are night-walkers for in the day they appear not.

After when (through Gods most gracious assistance) we had overcome those difficulties and dangers, we came into a plain and even Countrey; in which travelling a few dayes more, we first met with my Lord Ambassador marching towards Mandoa with that great King, with whom I then setled, and continued with him, till he was returned home.

We were in our journey to the Court from the beginning of January, till the end of March, we resting a while at Brampore, which is a very spacious and populous City, where we had a Facto∣ry. And after that, we were violently detained in our journy by Sultan Caroon the Prince, whom we met in his march towards Brampore, & a very marvelous great retinue with him. The reason why he interrupted us in our course was, that he might see the Presents we had for his Father the King; but we having com∣mand from the Ambassador to tell him, that we durst not open them, till we came to the King, we most humbly craved his par∣don to spare us in that; so presenting him with a pair of Rich Gloves (though they be things they wear not in those hot Coun∣tries) and a rich embroidered bag for perfume (which amongst many other things of the like kind were brought from England to be given away for Presents) after that he had carried us back three days journy, he let us go, taking further order for our safe convoy.

And now Reader, thou maist suppose us almost setled in Mandoa, the place then of the Mogol's residence, not much in∣habited before we came thither, having more ruins by far about it, than standing houses. But amongst the Piles of building that had held up their heads above Ruin, there were not a few unfrequented Mosquits, or Mahometan Churches; yet I ob∣served, that though the people who attended the King there, were marvellously streightned for room, wherein they might dispose of very great numbers of most excellent horses, which were now at that place, they would not make stables of any of those Churches, though before that time, they had been for∣saken, and out of use.

Page  402One of those deserted Mosquits, with some large Tomb near it, both vaulted over head (which shall be after described) were the best places there to be gotten for my Lord Ambassa∣dour and his Company to lodge and be in, we carrying our bedding, and all things appertaining thereto, all necessaries be∣longing to our Kitchin, and every thing beside for bodily use, from place to place, as we occasionally removed. Here we stayed with the Mogol from the middle of April, till the twenti∣eth of September following, and then began our progress with him, towards the City Amadavar.

Our abiding place at Mandoa, was very near one of the sides of that vast Wilderness, out of which, some of those wild beasts oft-times in the night came about our habitation, and seldom teturned back without a Sheep, or a Goat, or a Kid, some of which we always kept about us for our provision. And it was a wonderful great mercy, those furious, and ravening, and hunger-bit Creatures, did not make their prey sometimes in the dark and silent nights, while we were sleeping, on some of our bodies, the fore-part of our dwelling standing upon pillars; and there was nothing in those open distances, that had any strength in it to keep them from us.

One night, early in the Evening, there was a great Lion which we saw, came into our Yard, (though our Yard was com∣passed about with a stone-wall, that was not low.) And my Lord Ambassadour having a little white neat Shock, that ran out barking at him, the Lion presently snapt him up, leapt again over the wall, and away he went.

But for a ravening and roaring Lion, as I believe that he can∣not be made tame when he is old; yet certainly he may be bred tame, being kept full, and high fed. For the Mogol, at my being there, had a very great Lion (I often saw) which went up and down, amongst the people that frequented his Court, gent∣ly as a dog, and never did hurt; only he had some Keepers which did continually wait upon him.

For those wild and cruel Beasts, one of our English-men watch∣ing in a tree by night, (that stood not far from our dwelling) with a fire-lock charg'd with some small bullets, shot a Tigre, and kil'd him stone-dead, as he was coming towards us. It was a large beast, higher than an Irish-Greyhound, with grizled hair, a long head, & sharp and short picked ears, having a mouth fil'd with cruel teeth; after which (we usually keeping a little fire without our house every night) were not so much troubled with those night-walkers.

Now to return to that from which I am occasionally digres∣sed, I told you before what their buildings are. And now for the furniture that the greatest men have in them, it is Curta su∣pellex, very little; they being not beautified with hangings, nor with any thing besides to line their walls; but where they are best adorned, they are kept very white, and set off with a little neat painting and nothing else; for they have no Chairs, no stools, Page  403 nor Couches, nor Tables, nor Beds, enclosed with Canopies, or Curtains, in any of their Rooms. And the truth is, that if they had them, the extream heat there would forbid the use of many of them; all their bravery is upon their Floors, all which are made eeven with fine Earth or Plaister, on which they spread their most excellent Carpets in their Tents, as well as in their dwelling houses, laying some coarse thing under to preserve them; on which they sit (as Taylors on their shop-boards) when they meet together, putting off their shooes (which they usual∣ly wear as slippers and their feet bare in them) when they come to tread upon those soft Pavements, and keeping them off till they remove thence, this helps to keep cool their feet, and is very pleasant in those hot Countries. On those Carpets they sleep in the night time, or else upon an hard Quilt, or lying up∣on a flight and low Bed-stead they call a Cot, bottomed with broad Girt-web made of Cotten-wool. But where-ever they lye, they stretch themselves out at their full length when they go to sleep, usually upon their backs, without any Pillow, or Bolster, to raise up their heads. Very many of the meaner sort of people (as I have often observed) lye thus stretched out to take their rest upon the ground, in the dry season of the year, with a white Callico-cloth spread all over them, which makes them to appear like so many dead corpses laid forth for burial. This lying so eeven, and at length with their bodies thus extended, may be one reason why the people there are all so straight limn'd, ha∣ving none crooked amongst them; and another, because they never girt, nor lace in their bodies (as before was observed). Some of those slight Bed-steads, they call Cots, in their standing houses hang by ropes, a little above ground, which are fastned to the four corners thereof; moved gently up and down, by their servants, to lull them asleep.

They have no Inns in those parts for the entertainment of strangers; but in some great Towns large Houses they call Sar∣raas very substantially built, with brick, or stone, where any Passengers may find house-room and use it without any recom∣pence; but there is nothing to be had beside room, all other things they must provide and bring with them, as when they lodge in Tents.

Amongst their Buildings I must take special notice of their Wells and Tankes, upon both which in very many places they bestow exceeding much cost in stone-work; for their Wells which are fed with Springs, they make them round, but very wide and large. They are wrought up with firm stones laid in fine Plaister; they usually cover those Wells with a building over-head, and with Oxen draw water out of them, which riseth up in many small Buckets, whereof some are always going down, others continually coming up, and emptying themselves, n troughs, or little rills, made to receive, and convey the wa∣••r whither they please.

Page  404Their Tanks are made in low places, and many of them very deep and large (one mile, and some of them much more in com∣pass) made round or four-square, or in more squares, about which there is a low stone-wall, that hath many doors in it, and within that wall steps, made one below the other round about it, that go down to the bottom thereof, (which is paved likewise): those steps are made of well squared lasting stone, laid firm, and eeven in very good order, for people that have not plenty of water otherwise, to go down and take it. These great recepta∣cles of water, are made neer places that are very populous; fill'd when that long season of rain (before spoken of) comes, imme∣diately before which time, they clense them, that the water may be more clear, and wholsom. They hold water all the dry sea∣son of the year.

For their places of pleasure, they are in their Groves, where their curious Fruit-trees (before described) grow; but especially in their Gardens, wherein they plant little Vineyards that afford marvellous fair and sweet Grapes, which they cut green, for their eating, or make Raisons of them. But for Wine, they make none, because their Mahomet forbids the drinking thereof. In those Gardens likewise, they have many Pome-granat-trees, with all other of the choicest fruits and flowers their Country affords; to which Nature daily yields such a supply, as that there is beauty to be seen in those Trees, and Plants, and that continually. In the middle of those Gardens, they have such Wells (as before are described) the tops whereof stand a good deal higher than the planted ground, which lyes eeven, and flat below them, from whence water is conveyed in narrow open passages, (they knowing not the use of Leaden-Pipes) to all the parts of them in the dry season of the year. In those Gardens likewise they have little round Tanks to bathe in; whose sides and bottoms are made firm and smooth with that plaister before named; they are fill'd by aquae-ducts from those Wells, and they can empty them when they please, as well as fill them. The water that is conveyed into those small Tanks, usually runs down broad stone Tables, that have many hollows made in them, like to scollop-shells, which water in its passage makes such a pretty murmure, as helps to tye their senses with the bonds of sleep, in the hot seasons of the day when they constantly keep their houses, and then they lye down neer them on their Carpets, to be lull'd asleep. Those bathing places are within, or very near their Garden-houses, which usually are by far more neat, than any other of their dwelling.

In such a Garden-house, with all those accommodations about it, my Lord Embassadour lay with his company at Surat, the last three moneths before he left East-India.

And further, in those hot seasons of the day; the people of better quality lying or sitting on their Carpets, or Pallats, have ser∣vants standing about them, who continually beat the air upon Page  405 them with Flabella's, or Fans, of stiffned leather, which keeps off the flyes from annoying them, and cool them as they lye. Thus taking their ease, they call for Barbers, who very gently gripe their arms, and shoulders, and other parts, they can in any measure grasp, and they strike likewise very softly those parts with the sides of their hands; it is very pleasing as they do it, and causeth their blood to stir in their veins; it is there∣fore very much used in those parts, to such as do not heat their blood by bodily motion.

For their pastimes within doors, they have Cards, but much different from ours in the figures made in them, and in their greater number of suits. Those Cards I have often seen; and have been more often told, that they have very good skill in that most innocent and ingenious game we call Chesse.

They delight themselves sometimes with the Company of Mountebanks, and Juglers. For their Mountebanks; they keep venemous Snakes in baskets, and will suffer themselves to be bitten or stung by them; which part thus bitten, or stung, pre∣sently swells, and immediately after that, they cure themselves again by Oyls and Powders, which they apply unto the place, and then offer to sell them unto the people standing by.

Their Juglers are the cunningst that ever I saw, to do strange things by sleight of hand, as in this trick I shall here name: where I have observed them to lay down scuttles or broad open Wicker-baskets upon the ground, three or four one upon ano∣ther, all which appeared empty, as they laid them down; but taking them up again one after the other, in the bottom of them there would appear, three or four living Turtle-doves: which they would cover again with the same Scuttles, and tossing and turning them as they took them off, and up the second time, none of those pretty creatures were to be seen any more. But how they first conveyed them thither, and how after thence, we could not possibly discover.

For their Pastimes abroad they have Hawks of divers kinds, greater and less, and Partridges, and other choice Fowl great store to fly at. They have Hares, and Antilops, with other wild Beasts to hunt, and these not a few. Their dogs for chase are made somwhat like our Grey-hounds, but much less, who never open in the pursute of their game. They hunt likewise with Leopards train'd up and made fit for their sport, who by leaping seize on that they pursue: but by reason of the heat of the Country, those sports are not there much used. The Mogol when he hunts, carries Hawks and Dogs, and all things beside with him, to make him pastime; that if one sport fail, he may be pleased with another.

They say, that they have a curious Device to take wild fowls that use the water; into which a fellow goes, with a fowl of that kind he desires to catch, whose skin is stuffed so artificially, as that with a noise he counterfeits that fowl, it appears to be alive, Page  406 the man keeps all his body but head under water, on which he fastens that counterfeit fowl to stand fore-right on the top thereof, and thus coming amongst them, he plucks them (as they say) by their legs under water at his pleasure. But this I have only by tradition.

For other pastimes abroad, this I am sure of, that when the weather is more temperate, they shoot much in their Bows, and are very excellent Marks-men, somewhat like those left-handed men spoken of Judg. 20.16. And with their Guns in which they shoot single bullets (for they have not the use of small-shot) they are somwhat long in taking their aim, but they will come very neer the mark.

Other delight themselves very much in managing their excel∣lent Horses; But so shall not I delight my Reader, if I dwell too long in particulars. And therefore having spoken of their Buildings, I shall now invite him, though not to eat, or taste, yet to take notice