Of the Productions of Asia.
NO wonder the Luxury of the Persian Empire still overcame those that were Conquerors by the Sword, as being anciently the Chiefest, and still one of the Principal Kingdoms of that Quarter of the World; which besides its fruitfulness of all things necessary for Humane Sustenance, produ∣ces also all those richest of Commodities that have in all Ages been sought for from other the remotest Parts of the Earth; and which, especi∣ally at this day, now that much more of Asia is discover'd than was formerly known, render the Levantine Trade the richest and most flourishing of all others.
The Ancients were not silent of the great Riches of Asia; but seem'd not to have that parti∣cular knowledge thereof, that the late Voyages, and the Relations of those who Traffick thither, give us. Pliny writes of great Quantities of Crystal found in several Parts of Asia, particularly at Ala∣banda and Orthosia; and Xenocrates of Ephesus is quo∣ted by him to affirm, That in the Isle of Cyprus, and divers Parts of Asia, great Pieces of Crystal have been thrown up in the Plowing of Lands. The same Pliny makes mention of the Stones Alabastrites and Coralliticus, the first to be found about Damas∣cus in Syria, the other in some other Parts of Asia.
Solinus having describ'd those two rich Gums of Arabia, Frankincence and Myrrh, and those two rare Birds, the Phoenix and Cinnamolgus, comes to speak of the Gems or Precious Stones of this Country, and in particular of that famous Sardo∣nix Stone which from the Coast of Arabia was presented to Polycrates King of Samus. The other Stones he mentions, are the Molochites, something resembling in Colour a Smaragdus or Emerald, onely of a deeper Green; the Iris, so call'd be∣cause held in the Sun, it represents all the Co∣lours of the Rain-bow; the Androdamas, so call'd as partaking something of the Nature of the Adamant, or else because it abates the force of Anger and Passion; and the Paederotes, a very beautiful Stone, and by some thought to be the same with the Opal. Neither forgets he the Bal∣som of Judaea, which indeed is generally account∣ed the richest of all other Balsoms (not that of Peru it self excepted:) nor in India the Pepper and Eben-wood which are produc'd about Mount Page [unnumbered]Caucasus; nor in other Places, the Adamant, Mag∣•••, and Lychnites Stones: Neither omits he to describe the manner of the Conception of Pearl in those sorts of Shell-fish which ingendred them; of which in those days great Traffick was made by the Natives that were expert in diving for them.
But at present, as there is much more of India, and other Parts of Asia, discover'd, than was for∣merly; so we have a more perfect and certain Account of all the Chief Places of Trade, and what the peculiar Productions and Exportations are of the several Provinces and Emporiums of Persia, India, &c.* For the Province of Chilan in Persia abounds with Silk, Oyl, Wine, Rice, To∣bacco, Lemons, Oranges, Pomegranates, and other the most delicious sorts of Fruit. The Pro∣vinces of Iruan, Nachtxuan, Kerabath, Aderbeit∣zan, and Chorasan, bring forth in very great plen∣ty Cotton, which the Persians call Pambeh. The Trade of Pearl-fishing is most especially eminent in three Places, near the Isle of Baharem in the Persian Sea, near the Isle of Manar upon the Coast of India, and near that of Ainan towards China.
Near the City Saha, in the Province of Erac, grows abundance of Cotton and Rice, in which the Inhabitants drive a great Trade.
In the City Katschan is a great Trade driven of Silk Stuffs, and Gold and Silver Brocados. At Caswin, the Chief City of Erac, are bought Tur∣queses, which the Natives call Firuse (and which are found near Nisabur and Firusku) as also Rubies and Granats, very cheap. At Scamachie, the Principal City of Media Atropatia, the Chief Commerce lies in Stuffs of Silk and Cotton, as also Gold and Silver Brocadoes, and rich Scymi∣tars. The Provinces of Kilan and Sahetzan are noted for Silks. Near Baku are several Sources of Nefie. From the Salt-pits of Kutb, Urum, Kemre, Hemedan, Bisethun, Suldus, and Kilissim, there is drawn out great quantity of Salt as clear as Cry∣stal.
The Country of the Malabars in India,*i. e. from the City of Goa as far as the Cape of Comory, is very fertile of Spices, but particularly of the best Pepper of the Indies. The principal Commerce of the City of Cochim is in Pepper, Ginger, and Cinnamon.
The Isle of Ceilon produces Cinnamon, all sorts of Precious Stones except Diamonds, Pearls somewhat-inferior to those of Baharam; but the best Ivory of the World. It abounds also in all sorts of rich Fruits, as Ananas, Bananas, Cocos, Jacques, Mangas, Citrons; and hath whole Fo∣rests of Oranges and Lemons, and also Mines of Brass and Iron, and, it is thought, of Gold and Silver, especially in the Kingdom of Candy. The Soil also is very Productive of Corn, Wine, Oyl, Cotton, several Roots for Dyers, Ginger, Nutmegs, Cardamoms, Mirobalans, Corcoma, and divers other Medicinal Drugs.
In the City of India, the Chief City of the Province Odya, the principal Commerce consists in Stuffs brought from Suratta and the Coast of Coromandel, all sorts of China Commodities, Pre∣cious Stones, Gold, Benzoin, Wax, Copper, Lead, Indico, Calamba Wood, Brasil Wood, Cotton, Saphires, Rubies: Likewise great quan∣tities of Rice are hence transported to the neigh∣boring Islands, and Deer-skins to the Japoneses.
The Isle call'd Java Major is term'd by Julius Scaliger, in his Exercitations against Cardanus, The Compendium of the World, because there is not that Animal, Plant, Fruit, Metal, nor Drug, which is not here in greater plenty than in any other part of the Universe beside: Particularly, the costly Drugs of Java are Wild Cinnamon, Carcapuli, Costus Indicus, Zorumbet, Galanga, Ben∣zoin, Sandale, Ginger, Anacardium, call'd by the Portuguese Java di Malacca, the Wood call'd Pala di Cuebra, Lignum Aloes, call'd Palo d' Agui∣la, and by the Indians, Calamba; the Drug Pody, the Root Carumba, the Wood Conjuapi, the Root Samparentam, the Fruit Gatogamber, with innume∣rable others.
At Bantam they vend great store of Gum Lacca, of which they make Spanish Wax, and the curious Varnish wherewith the Cabinets, and other choice Pieces of Art of China and Japan, are overlaid; also Anil, or Indico, Sandal-wood, Nut∣megs, Cloves, Tortoise-shell, whereof they make Cabinets; and Ivory, which the Mandorins, who have their Chairs made of it, prefer before Silver.
The Island of Sumatra is rich in Diamonds, and other Precious Stones, Silk, Spices, Wax, Honey, Camphire, Cassia, White Sandal in great abundance, and Cotton: There is said to be also in this Island a Fountain of Balsom, incessantly running. It likewise contains rich Mines of Gold, Silver, Copper, Iron, Brass; and abounds with Rice, Millet, and the most delicate of Fruits, as Oranges, Lemons, Bananas, Tamarinds, Batalas, and that rare Tree call'd in the Malayan Tongue Singadi; by the Persians and Turks, Gul; and by the Portuguese, Arbor triste di Dia; of which we shall speak more particularly in its proper place, having already spoke sufficiently concerning the Riches of Asia in general.