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The Voyage of Francois Pyrard of Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas and Brazil
Francois Pyrard de Laval
1611
translated into English in 1887 from the third French edition of 1619 by Albert Gray assisted by H.C.P. Bell

Vol.1 Chapter 13

Of the form of their apparel, of their manner of living, ordinary exercises, and other peculiar customs which they observe in their conduct.

Maldivian men's clothing
As for their garments, see how they apparel themselves. First, the men bind all round their private parts a broad band of cloth, lest in coming or going, or in doing some work, these should be discovered. Over this they wear a small cotton cloth, dyed blue or red or some other colour, reaching only as far as the knees. Above this they wear a large cloth of cotton, or silk, if they be at all rich and well off; this reaches to the ankles, and is belted with a fine square kerchief, embroidered with gold and silk; this is folded in three, drawn round the loins, and tied in front. Then, for braver adornment, they add a little piece of silk of various colours, fine as crape or gauze, and short, not reaching further than the mid thigh; and after all this they gird themselves with a large silken sash, like their turbans, with pretty fringes, the ends whereof they let hang down in front.

young girl and old man in Male' Maldives 1880s


In this girdle, which serves them for a purse, they keep their money and their betel on the left side, while on the right they carry their knife, by which they lay great store; every one carries it, not excepting even the king himself. These knives are exceedingly well made, all of excellent steel - for they have not the invention of blending iron with steel. Men of means have the haft and sheath all of carved and worked silver. At the upper end of the sheath is a silver buckle, from which hangs a little chain, also of silver, to which is attached a tooth-pick and an ear-pick, and other little implements.

Other folks, who cannot afford to have them so costly, use a sheath of carved wood and a haft of fish-bone, either of whale or other marine animal: for they like not to wear the bone of any land animal. They are careful of these knives, and would not consider themselves to be properly dressed without their knife at the waist; and there is none, how vile or mean soever, but wears it: it is their means of defence. Other arms none is allowed to bear.

It is only the soldiers and king's officers who may; nor they, indeed, save when they are in the service of the king at Male', or elsewhere on his commissions. These have usually at their side a waved dagger called a kris, which comes from Acheh in Sumatra, from Java, and China. When they walk in the street they also bear a drawn sword in one hand, in the other a buckler (shield) or else a javelin. The soldiers have another peculiar mark, and that is, they wear their hair long, done up all together and tied in a large bunch.

Their chief bravery is to wear all around their waist many silver chains; and every person of any substance, be he man or woman, boy or girl, likes to have them, but always in number according to their means and quality. In these they lay out all their treasure, and usually destine them to pay the expense of their obsequies. But it is only the great nobles or foreigners who may wear them above their clothes and let them be seen: all others wear them concealed beneath; yet they must needs have them to talk about and to display in private.

The rest of the body from the waist upwards is left naked - I mean by the common folk; for the gentlemen of quality do not so; and yet on festival days they put on their doublets and gowns of cotton or silk, fastened with buttons of gilded copper; for they dare not have them of gold, that being for the king only. (Footnote 1887: The wearing of gold ornaments is still confined to the Sultan and those of royal blood.)

These gowns are of various colours, but all have borders of white and blue. The sleeves reach only to the elbow; for they say that if they were to come to the wrist, as with us, they would not have the free use of their arms. Along with these are worn coloured drawers, close-fitting and covering the body from the waist to the ankles, where they are fastened also with gilt buttons. The nobles don these doublets and gowns every day.

There are others, a great number, who on festival days wear no doublets, but use another sort of bravery, which is this: they pound some sandal and camphor, or other odorous wood, on very smooth stones brought from the mainland; that they mix with distilled essence of flowers, and then with the paste so made cover all the body from the waist upwards, describing with their finger all sorts of patterns, according to their fancy. They appeared to me like slashed and patterned doublets; and the scent was very pleasing. Sometimes they paste on themselves flowers, the fairest and sweetest to be found. It is their wives and lady friends who deck them in this sort, figuring upon their backs such designs and flourishes as they fancy. This kind of bravery is exceedingly common; but they dare not present themselves in this guise before the king nor in his palace. (Footnote 1887 : This practice seems to have died out. See ch. 27, where it seems this mode of adornment was practised by the Zamorin of Calicut.)

Those who have been to Arabia, and have visited the tomb of Muhammad at Mecca (Pyrard is incorrect; Muhammad was buried at Medina), are held in high respect by all the world, whatever be their rank, and whether they be poor or rich; and, indeed, a great number of the poor have been there. These have peculiar privileges: they are called 'haji'; and in order to be recognised and remarked among the others, they all wear very white cotton frocks, and on their heads little round bonnets, also white, and carry beads in their hands without crosses; and when they have not the means to maintain themselves in this attire, the king or the nobles supply them, and fail not to do so.

All wear on their heads turbans of red, or chequered of various colours. Most people have these of silk; but such as cannot afford silk, of the finest cotton. The soldiers and officers of the king wear them arranged in a style not permitted to others, most frequently tying round their heads the broidered kerchiefs of which I have spoken, and other things which the rest may not wear. Their hair, which is long like the women's here, is not concealed by the turban.

All go barefooted, and most often barelegged. Nevertheless, at their homes they use a kind of slippers or sandals of wood, 'maruvalhi'; and when a person of greater quality comes to visit them, they put off these sandals and remain barefooted.

maldivian woman maldives 1879



Maldivian women's clothing
As for the women, first of all they have a large coloured cloth of cotton or silk, which covers them from the waist to the ankles, and serves as a petticoat. Above this they wear a robe of taffetas, or of very fine cotton, but very long, reaching to the feet, and with blue and white borders. To give a notion of its shape, I cannot better describe this robe than by comparing it to the chemises which the women wear here in France. It is a little open round the neck, and fastened with two little gilt buttons, and likewise open at the throat in front, but no further at the breast; so that when they want to give suck to their babes, they have to lift these robes, without, however, making any exposure below, which is saved by the petticoat cloth of which I have spoken.

Their arms are charged with heavy bracelets of silver, sometimes from the wrist up to the elbow; some of them have them mixed with tin, chiefly the poor, while the rest have them of fine and massive silver, in such sort that some of them carry as much as three or four pounds of silver on their arms. In addition, they have the silver chains round the waist, which are not seen, save sometimes when the robe is very transparent. Around the neck all women of means and quality have a number of gold chains, to which are threaded some pieces of gold money from Arabia or the mainland.

Their hair is plaited, and sometimes they add a false peruke to make the bunch seem larger: this is of men's hair, for the women never cut theirs; it is covered with a gold netting, which the great ladies stud with precious stones. At their ears they wear as rich pendants as they can afford, but of a different sort from those worn in these parts; for mothers bore their daughters' ears at a tender age, not only at one place in the lobe, but at several places all along the cartilage, and insert cotton thread to keep the holes open, in order, when they grow up, to fix therein golden clasps, to the number of twenty-four in the two ears. The front of the clasp is commothy adorned with a precious stone or a pearl. Besides these, there is in the lobe of the ear another pendant of a peculiar shape.

When the women walk in the street by night or day, though it is but rarely they go forth by day, they wear a veil over the head. This, however, they take off in the presence of the queens and princesses, or even of ladies of higher quality than themselves - not, however, before men, nor even before the king: on the contrary, that is the time to conceal themselves, when they think they are observed of men.

I have said that they wear gold chains at the neck and precious stones in their ear-pendants; but it is to be remarked that no one, be it man or woman, saving a prince or a great noble, would dare to wear either rings or precious stones, bracelets or necklets, earrings or gold chains, without the permission of the king in the case of men, or of the queens in the case of women, and granted by letter. This permission is bought for ready money, unless given gratuitously, as is often the case to women. Only the queens and princesses may wear bracelets and rings of gold on the arms or legs; but other ornaments they may use of gold: and although the toe-rings and anklets may be of silver, such may not be worn but on payment of a certain sum, saving by those of high quality and birth; nor may any but the queens wear rings except on the thumb. The princesses and great ladies may wear them on the middle finger and the other two, with permission, but the men only on the thumb.

So each knows his own rank and quality, and what he may use in the way of ornament, himself and his wife, and there is no confusion in these matters. For instance, if any man's wife who was not aforetime accustomed to much finery began to adorn herself more, or a man were to wear finger-rings - albeit in this they were not exceeding their rights - they would be taxed more heavily for that, excepting the officers of the king and of the queens, who pay no tax, and excepting also the inhabitants of Male'. These, however, are subject to other charges and to many extraordinary expenses. (Footnote 1887: The people of Male' are still free of taxation.)

Clothing of strangers and their wives, and of the Fandiyaru, naibs and katibs
Strangers and their wives have the privilege of dressing as they please, and of wearing any ornaments or bravery without permission, in like manner as the great princes and the king himself; and in many other things I have remarked that strangers have many rights and privileges denied to the natives of the country. So, too, the Fandiyaru, the naibs, and katibs, as well of Male' as of the other islands, many dress and adorn themselves as they will, and are not constrained by laws as others are in this respect.

Toiletries and Deportment
But to return to our discourse: the women are careful in dressing and adorning themselves with propriety, in bathing every day, in anointing their hair with scented oil, and in perfuming themselves. They have also a custom of colouring their feet and finger nails red. It is the country notion of beauty. It is done with the sap of a certain tree (footnote 1887: The juice of the Eastern privet, Lawsonia ,'hina', taken from the leaf; Pyrard mentions it later as innafa, 'hina-fai'; 'fai'=leaf), and endures till the nail grows again, and then they do it afresh.

And in truth they seemed to be pretty and engaging enough, as much by reason that they are neatly dressed as that they are well formed, of good figures, and winsome ways; albeit they are of an olive skin, for the most part, although you will find many brunettes, and many quite fair, just as in these parts. (Footnote 1887: 'The women are short, usually of a more olive colour than the men, much resembling, in this respect, the fair-skinned Kandyans, with oval-shaped faces, regular features and shape1y figures. Clean and healthy in appearance, they are generally good-looking, some decidedly pretty.')

The people at large, as well men as women, have many peculiar customs in their ways of life and deportment. First, they never eat together unless they are of the same quality and condition: it is dishonourable even to be at the same table with an inferior: so they never meet to feast together except at the religious festivals already described. If, however, they wish to entertain their friends, they cause to be prepared at their houses a large dish containing many courses, which is served up on a large round table with a cover of taffetas, and sent to the house of the person to be entertained: this is esteemed a great honour.

When they are at home, they like not that others should see them eat, wherefore they retire to the back of the house, and let down all their screens and curtains towards the front, so as not to be seen. They say prayers before meals, and likewise before going forth. They have no other table but the floor of the house, covered with a neat little mat, on which they sit cross-legged. Linen they use not at all; but, to avoid soiling their mats, they use large banana leaves, whereon they place their food, and others in front of these to serve as ashets.

They take their food so nicely that they spill nothing, not even a drop of water, though they wash the mouth before and after dinner in basins served on purpose. The vessel used is of earthenware like that of Faenza (in Italy), fashioned in the native style, and imported from Cambay (Khambhat, port in Gujerat); or else it is of China porcelain, which is very common, and used by almost all.

But they use not any plate of earthenware or of porcelain, saving one kind of round box, polished and lacquered, with a cover of the same; it is manufactured in the island. When closed, this box is covered with a square piece of silk of about the same size, which is worked in various styles of needlework and of all colours. Even the poorest use these covered dishes, for the boxes cost but little.

Their use is by reason of the ants, which exist in such wondrous multitude that they swarm everywhere, and it is difficult to keep anything from being incontinently covered with them. The people are so careful in their feeding, that they would not taste any food upon, which has dropped a fly or an ant, or any other little creature, or the least dirt; in such case they would give it to the birds.

They would not think of giving it to the poor, for they give to them nothing but what they would care to eat themselves, and prepared as for themselves. On this subject I have remarked that when the poor come to their doors, they make them enter the house and enjoy the same cheer as themselves, holding them to be as much the servants of God as they are.

But to return to their ways of life, and to the utensils used at table. The greatest nobles have no other vessels, nor more costly than the rest, and use only the one already described. Although they could well afford vessels of gold and silver if they liked, yet their law forbids it, and for that reason they use them not. If haply their vessel should be a little cracked, they eat no longer thereout, putting it aside as polluted.

No spoons are used either for eating rice or honey, nor even for liquids such as broth or gruels, neither there nor in the rest of India, but everything is taken with the fingers, which they are accustomed to do so neatly and dexterously that nothing is soiled. It is with them the greatest possible incivility, and very blameworthy, to let drop anything while eating. During the meal none present would dare to spit or cough: he must rise and go out to do that. Nothing they abhor, or consider so indecent and undignified, as spitting. In eating they never use the left hand, by reason that it is used for another purpose.

They like to eat a half-ripe coconut when they begin their meal, and to drink its water, deeming it very healthy, and a laxative for the bowels. For the rest, all eat with much greediness and in great haste, holding it the best manners not to tarry at their food. Moreover, if they are eating in company they utter not a word one to another. To drink during a meal is bad manners: they never do so, and mock us for the habit; but after eating their bellyful, they drink once.

Their commonest beverage is coconut milk, or coconut wine drawn the same day. They have also two other sorts of a more choice nature; the one is a warm drink composed of water and coconut honey with some pepper (much used in their other food, and called 'asey mirus') and another grain called 'gahuva', coffee; the other is cold and more delicate, being made of coconut sugar dissolved in water. But these drinks are for the king and the great lords, or for the solemn banquets at their festivals.

They drink out of copper cups, exceeding handsome and craftily worked, which also have covers. After meat, when they have washed, a portion of betel is served in place of dessert, for fruits are served along with the meat. Most part of them have no fixed hour for their meals; they eat at all hours of the day when the fancy takes them, even the great lords and ladies. (Footnote 1887: Mr. Bell confirms this, and adds: 'The usual meal of the natives consists of rice, often only half boiled, mixed with a few chopped chillies, a little fish, 'fish sugar', and scraped coco-nut. This they consume in silence, even when eating in company, and with a haste that savours of greediness. A draught of water closes the repast.')

The women and girls prepare the meals and look to the cooking, and not the men. The greatest insult that can be passed upon a man is to call him 'sidi' - that is to say, 'cook'; and if any are found to be addicted to it (and there are some, chiefly among the grandees, who find that they can cook better than the women), they are mocked and despised of all men, in such sort that they are looked upon as women, rather than men: they even dare not associate but with women, nor engage in other exercises; so no difficulty is made in leaving them with the females. (Footnote 1887: 'The contemptuous term 'sidi' applied to men who descend to this menial service, retains its old force,' writes Bell. The word is not to be derived from a Singalese source; Mr. Bell is inclined to think that it means merely 'negro slave', the term sidi being applied generally in Western India to East African negroes. The Zanzibar negroes on our men-of-war are still known as sidi-boys. The suggestion here, which is obvious, seems to confirm Mr. Bell's derivation; the negro slaves at the Maldives would be generally, or at least frequently, eunuchs.)

When they require to slay any animal for food there is much mystery in the matter. They cut the throat, turning themselves towards the sepulchre of Muhammad, and say their prayers, and after quitting their hold of the animal, or throwing it down, they touch it not again till it be quite dead; and should any touch it sooner, they would cast away the flesh and would not eat of it. Nor is this all: the throat must be cut at a certain place only, otherwise none would eat of it; nor does everyone know of that place, but chiefly it is known to the priests and mudims. They who take in hand to slay an animal should be elders, and not boys: they should be fathers of children themselves.

I have been amused to observe, at the common business of killing a fowl, how they run about a whole island to find a man who knows how to do it, - yes, and who will he willing, for they refrain from the job as much as they can. When they skin a fowl they throw away the skin, neck, back, and entrails, and eat the rest.

In all their actions they are scrupulous and superstitious, even in the smallest matters. After sleeping, whether by day or night, they fail not, as soon as they awake, to bathe their eyes and face, and rub them with oil, putting some black stuff, 'galadun' upon the eyelashes and eyebrows; nor would they dare to speak or to say 'good day' to anyone ere they had done all that.

They are very particular in cleaning their teeth, and are further of opinion that the red colour of the betel and areca, which they are continually chewing, is good for them; so that they all have red teeth by reason of the betel chewing, and they deem it a beauty. They carry betel always on them in the folds of their waist, and it would be a dishonour to a man to be found wanting it; it is the custom, when they meet one another on the road, each to give of his own.

They bathe many times a day, not only when they list, but as their religion requires; and when they enter a temple they bathe the extremities, as I have said: this, in their language, is called 'wudu' (from Arabic). (Footnote 1887: This consists in washing the hands, mouth, nostrils, face, arms, as high as the elbow, the right first, each three times; and then the upper part of the head, the beard, ears, neck, and feet each once.)

So, too, after making water, or otherwise obeying nature, they wash their parts with the left hand, or else bathe the whole body (this is called 'hinaan'), with various forms and ceremonies proper to the several festivals. So, when they bathe in public, as is their wont, it is well seen why they are bathing, - as, for example, when they have had the society of their wives, whether by day or night, you see them plunge the head three times under water: this is exceeding indecent.

When they are seated in any place, others must take care to pass behind them, for to do otherwise would be held a great indignity, and would bring about some untoward result; but if it is necessary to go in front of another, the one who does so crouches full low, and holds his hands down to the ground, saying 'assa', as who should say, 'Be not displeased.' (Footnote 1887: Probably a contraction of the Sinhala 'avasara', 'leave' or 'permission', which word is used on precisely similar occasions in Ceylon. Mr. Bell says the expression seems to have died out, at least in the northern atolls, the modern phrase being 'amuru devva', 'grant leave'.)

It is a grave indiscretion for one seated in the presence of others to swing the legs; they are much offended at it, and hold it to he a sign of bad luck and a piece of bad manners. So, when they set out on any voyage, they like not to meet or touch any person; and if aught untoward or unfortunate should happen, they will lay it at the door of him who touched them. Above all, when they go fishing, one must not salute them nor give them good-day.

From sunset on Thursday until three or four o'clock on the following day, they suffer none to take anything from their houses; should it be their greatest friend or their father who would borrow anything, they would not lend it then, nor would they give up anything which another had sent to demand, even if it did not belong to them; nevertheless, they make no business about receiving anything or admitting anything to their houses at that time.

I have noted as worthy of praise that when they have disputes and quarrels, or are at enmity, they refrain above all things from abusing the food and drink which they may have received from one another; if any should do so, all would vent their anger upon him.

King of the Winds
When at sea, if they are caught by contrary winds, by calms, or by storms, they make vows to him who rules the winds, who is called not God, but King; and there is no island but has a 'ziyaaraiy', as they call it, which is a place dedicated to the King of the Winds, in a corner of the island remote from the world, where those who have escaped from danger come to make offering daily of little boats and ships fashioned on purpose, and filled with perfumes, gums, flowers, and odoriferous woods.

The perfumes are set on fire, the little boats are cast upon the sea, and float till they are burned, for they too catch the fire, and this, say they, that the king of the winds may accept them. So, when they have any difficulty in launching their ships or galleys, they kill some cocks and hens, and cast them into the sea in face of the ship or boat which they desire to launch.

King of the Sea
Likewise they believe in a King of the Sea, to whom in like sort they make prayers and ceremonies while on voyages; or when they go fishing, they dread above all things to offend the kings of the winds and of the sea. So, too, when they are at sea, they dare not spit nor throw anything to windward for fear lest he should be offended, and with like intent they never look abaft. When I was in their boats, they were concerned to see that I observed not these superstitions.

All boats, barques, and vessels are dedicated to these powers of the winds and of the sea; and, indeed, they treat their boats with as much respect as their temples, keeping them exceeding clean, and abstaining from all filthy or indecent actions on board. Likewise they hold in honour the kings of the other elements (as they call them), as him of war, and pay them all great ceremony.

Charms and Sorcery
They lay great store by certain charms, called 'thaveedhu', which they carry under their dress, enclosed in little boxes, which the rich have made of gold or silver. They wear these either on their arms, neck, or waist, or even at the feet, according to the subject of distress; for they serve all purposes, as well offensive as defensive, as well for loving as for gaining love, for raising hatred, for making well or making sick. The magicians and sorcerers sell them for money, and say that they bring good luck, and will heal or preserve one from many a sickness; and in their sicknesses they have but few remedies, and then by recourse to these magicians and sorcerers, who are their only doctors; they have none other.

Likewise they all believe that evil is brought by the devil to harass them withal, and that he is the sole cause of death and sickness. They invoke him, accordingly, and offer him flowers, and prepare a banquet of all sorts of meats and drinks, which they place in a secret spot and leave to be wasted, unless peradventure some poor folk take them away. With the same design, they kill some cocks and hens, turning themselves towards the sepulchre of Muhammad, and then leave them, praying the devil to accept them, and to take himself off and leave the sick person at ease: they call this sorcery 'kanveri'.

Diseases
But since I have spoken of their cures by sorcery, it seems needful to tell what are their sicknesses, and then I shall add something of the natural remedies which they practise. Fever is very common there, and is called by them 'hun'; but it is most dangerous to strangers sojourning there, whom it does for in but a few days. I have already spoken of it from my own experience, having seen many of my comrades die of it, and having had it myself. It is known throughout all the Indies under the name of 'Maldive fever'.

Every ten years there comes a sickness called 'kashividhuri', smallpox, in the presence of which they abandon one another as if it were the plague. It is like the chickenpox which our children have, and of this malady many die. (Footnote 1887: Mr. Bell relates that on small-pox breaking out among the crew engaged at the wreck of S.S. Seagull, on the island Gaufaru in 1879, the natives fled en masse to another island.) The eye sickness, ophthalmia, is common enough, and you see great numbers of people blind by it, and most of them have short sight.

Often, too, when they have been for long in the sun during the heat of the day, when the sun sets they cannot see at all, though they are near a fire or a light, even were it a hundred torches: it does not otherwise harm them. This evil or ailment is called 'roanaa', night blindness. To cure it they cook the liver of a cock, writing over it certain words and charms, and swallow it at sunset. My comrades and I were much troubled by it at times, till at length, being apprised of this recipe, we took a cock's liver, rejecting the charms, to see if it would serve us, and found that it cured us as it cured them, without the use of their sorceries.

They suffer much from the itch, which they call 'kas', scabies; but they cure it with coconut oil. They are also greatly troubled with ringworm, and have no cure for it, for there are some whose bodies are nearly covered with it. These diseases come from the quantity of salt fish they eat, and by reason that nearly all their food is salted only by being steeped in seawater.

In winter, when the rains are continuous, they still go barefooted, and then there attaches to their feet and between the toes a kind of worm, generated in the mud, causing pustules and tumours; and these, when they burst, raise ulcers, which impede their walking. These worms are called in their language 'kilaafani',' that is to say, 'dirt worms'. In the other parts of the body, too, they are much troubled with worms.

All alike have the spleen enlarged, and besides that, they are subject to having it obstructed, with the abdomen distended and tight, whereby they are much troubled. They are of opinion that this comes from the water of the islands, which is not good; and from the same cause they get the fever. This malady they call 'hun koshi'.2 The cure they use for this, as for all other kinds of inflammation or local pain, is to apply large button-cauters to the swollen or painful part. This makes an issue and wound passing large, to which they apply cotton steeped in oil of coconut, whereby they get much relief. I have seen men thus burnt and cauterised in five or six places. As for me, when I was sick, I declined to let them practise this remedy upon me.

As to ulcers, to which they are greatly subject, and chiefly on the legs, they cure them by putting over them copper plates, which entirely heal them, as I found by experience. Besides these remedies I have described, they have some recipes and compounds of their herbs and drugs for various ailments, most of all for wounds, which they cure with great dexterity. Yet are they ignorant of the art of using bandages and linen for wounds, for they apply ointments only, as we do here to horses. Catarrhs and rheums annoy them betimes, as also gout in the bones.

Venereal disease is not so common, albeit it is found, and is cured with China wood, without sweating or anything else. This disease they call 'farangi basur', from its coming to them from Europe, whose inhabitants they call by a common name, farangi, or frangui, from the French, the most renowned people of the West. (Footnote 1887: Dr. Burnell cites the evidence which goes to show that syphilis was not introduced into Europe by Columbus's crew circa 1493, that it was an old disease known both in Europe and Asia, and that only a fresh and notable outbreak occurred towards the end of the fifteenth century. He quotes the statement of Varthema, that he found the Zamorin of Calicut suffering from it in 1505, and argues that he could not have got it from the Portuguese. Whether it existed in India before the Portuguese period, I will not examine here; the name given to it at the Maldives shows that the natives there attributed it to the Portuguese; and this opinion is universally entertained in Ceylon and elsewhere in the East.)

I have remarked that they know not what it is to suffer from toothache: and this seems to be caused by their habit of chewing betel, which strengthens the gums; and, indeed, by adopting their practice, I never had toothache there, though I have always suffered much from it elsewhere.

Children - care and education
In nursing their babes, they have some peculiar customs and habits, which I have not observed elsewhere. As soon as their children are born, they bathe them in cold water six times in the day, and then rub them with oil, which they continue a long while; moreover, as often as they obey the calls of nature they bathe their parts with water, just as if they were grown persons. Mothers nurse their children themselves, and would not think of letting them be suckled by others, not even the queens, for they are wont to say that all animals suckle their own young; yet they keep servants to tend, carry, and manage them.

Besides the breast, they give them gruel of rice or millet, pounded and soaked, and then cooked with coconut milk and sugar (footnote 1887: This particular kind of kanji they call 'furahani'); most of them - that is, the poorer folk - give them bananas. They never swaddle them, but let them go free; nor have I ever seen them deformed. They put them to bed suspended in the air, in little cord beds, or little cradles, in which they are swung and rocked. About the age of nine months they begin to walk; at nine years they begin to be taught the studies and exercises of the country.

Their studies are to read and write, and to learn their Koran, and so to know how they have to live. Their letters are of three sorts: the Arabic, with some letters and points which they have added to express their language; another, whose characters are peculiar to the Maldive language; and a third, which is common to Ceylon and to the greater part of India.

They write their lessons on little tablets of wood, which are whitened, and when they have learned their lesson they efface what they have written, and whiten them afresh (footnote 1887: They whiten boards with a kind of clay 'mashi', and write on this surface with ink of native manufacture; the whole washes off), unless the writing is required to be preserved; in that case, they write upon parchment made of the leaves of the tree 'Maakashikeyo', screwpine, whose leaf is a fathom and a half long and a foot broad. They make books of it, which last as long or longer than ours, without decaying.

In teaching their children to write, they use wooden boards made on purpose, well polished and joined, and spread thereon some fine, powdered sand; then they make the letters with a bodkin and bid them imitate them, effacing betimes what they have written, and using no paper for this purpose. (Footnote 1887: The Maldive children are still taught in the same manner; it is called 'voshufila liyan'.)

They all treat their masters with the same respect and honour as their own fathers, by reason whereof they may not contract marriage together, as though related in affinity. Among them are men who make a pursuit of study, and are esteemed vastly learned in their knowledge of the Koran, and in the ceremonies of their law: these are chiefly the mudims, katibs, or naibs. These two offices are compatible; the katib may be a naib, and the naib a katib.

Astrology
Mathematics are taught and much cultivated, especially astrology, which is studied by many, seeing that the astrologers are consulted at every turn. None would care to engage in any enterprise without previously taking their advice. And not only do they like to know their nativities and have their horoscopes taken, but also when they have to do any building, whether in wood or stone, they must go and inquire of the astrologer at what hour it were better to commence it, that so it may be done under a good constellation; and the same if it be the building of a ship, but with differences proper to the different uses which the vessel may be building for; thus, they choose a different day or hour for a ship of war, for a merchantman, and for a fishingboat.

Moreover, when they undertake a voyage or any other enterprise, in like wise it is not without first inquiring of the astrologer what will be the issue of it, and whether the day be good or bad, and the planet favourable or unfavourable; and so, if anything untoward befalls them, they attribute it to the day, and accept it with patience, saying that the will of God has been done. The king at all times keeps a number of these astrologers about him, as well as other mathematicians, and oft times employs their services. They also study magic and sorcery.

Weapons training
These islanders practise themselves greatly in arms - how to use the sword with the buckler, how to draw the bow with ease, how to fire the arquebuse and handle the pike; they also have schools of arms, whose masters are highly honoured and respected, they who take this office being in general great lords. They have no other games but ball (large and small), which they catch and throw with much address, though they use the feet only.

They employ themselves also in manufactures, and are exceeding apt and adroit therein, in such sort that there are among them a great number of different crafts for the making of furniture, utensils, and other commodities.

Fishing
Their chiefest and most common employment is fishing, wherein all the people indifferently in all parts of the Maldives take part; nor are there only certain persons of this employment, as elsewhere, nor certain places for it, reserved from the public. Natural freedom prevails, and every man may fish where he likes and as much as he likes.

It is deemed an honourable employment, even the greatest lords joining and taking great pleasure in it, as they do here in the chase; but they care not otherwise to profit in the takes. On the contrary, all men of honour and quality, when they go fishing and catch any, send them to their friends or give them to any who come and ask of them, or else they have a quantity cooked with green bananas, called at the Maldives 'keu' or 'kela', and call all their neighbours to come and eat; this they do without other ceremony, by way of merry-making.

The kings themselves have officers to wait upon them when they would enjoy this sport. Being islanders, with but a small extent of land, with them fishing is what the chase is to other nations. Twelve persons are appointed to work and man the king's boat, and to do the needful when he goes fishing. They are all great lords who are appointed to these offices; they think themselves highly honoured, and purchase them dearly. Over them is a captain, one of the highest grandees, who must work the rudder of the vessel. The king gives each of the twelve a heavy silver ring or bracelet, to put on his right arm , of the weight of a quarter of a pound, which is called a 'gau', and is like our weights, and to the captain one of gold: these they wear when the king goes to fish. Nevertheless, the king who reigned when I was there went fishing but rarely.

Fishing is done at the Maldives in several ways. The chief fishery, that of the fish in which is the greatest trade, is pursued beyond the reefs and atolls in the deep sea, six or seven leagues out, where that kind of fish always lies. A marvellous quantity of large fish are caught there, of seven or eight sorts, which are all of the same race and kind, though not of the same appearance or size; for example, bonito (tuna), albacore (long-finned tunny), dorado (dolphin), and others, which are very like each other, and of the same taste, and have no scales, no more than mackerel; they are all found together in the same grounds, and are caught in the same manner - that is, by a line of a fathom and a half of thick cotton cord, fixed in a big cane, which is a wood of great strength. The hook at the end is of a different sort from ours. It is not bent, but is longer, and pointed at the end like a needle, without barb or tongue, resembling in all respects the letter 'h' written in the French running hand.

No bait is attached, but the day before, they provide a lot of little fish of the size of little roach or whitebait, which are found in great abundance on the reefs and shallows; these they keep alive net-bags of coconut cord of small meshes, and let them drag in the sea at the stern of their barques. When they get out to the deep sea to the fishing ground they cast abroad these little fish, and at the same time put in their line. The big fish, seeing the little fish - a rare sight in the deep sea - rush up in numbers, and are caught at the hook, which is whitened and tinned on purpose - for this kind of fish is exceeding greedy and foolish, so to be taken by a white hook, which it mistakes for a small white fish. They have then only to draw the line into the boat, where the fish drops at once, being hardly hooked; the line is speedily put back into the sea, and thus a marvellous quantity are taken, in such wise that in less than three or four hours their boats are nearly full: and this, be it remarked, while they are going full sail.

The fish which is taken there is commonly called in their language 'kalhubilamas', skipjack tuna, that is to say, 'black fish', for they are all black. They are cooked in sea-water, and then dried in the sun upon trays, and so when dry they keep a long while; wherefore there is great traffic in them, not only in the country, but throughout the rest of India, where they are in great request.

For the rest, the largest and finest fish caught must go to the king, and as soon as the boat lands, one of the chief men takes the fish and reeves a cord or osier through his gills, and then carry him with a rod over the shoulder to the king's kitchen. Next, they give some to the clergy, to the poor, and to their friends, and the remainder are divided amongst themselves; but however small the catch, this division must always be made.

There is another kind of fishing, which is done at night on the reefs around the atolls, and only twice a month, when the moon is in conjunction and again when it is full, three days each time (a period called 'foi mas'). It is done from these rafts, called 'kan'dhufati', of which I have spoken above. Long lines of fifty or sixty fathoms are used, of thick and strong cotton, blackened with the bark of a tree, which serves them in place of charcoal or pitch: this is to preserve the line for a long time from rotting. At the end are hooks to which baits are attached, in like manner as with us. With these lines they catch a quantity of fish, of a kind I have not seen elsewhere; it is three or four feet long, and broad in proportion, and all red; but within quite white and firm when cooked. It is most excellent and delicious eating, by reason whereof these people - who, in the names they give to things, full nearly express their nature - call this fish 'the king of the sea', 'raiverimas', rangoo. They eat it fresh, and salt it not at all.

Likewise they catch many other kinds of fish in marvellous quantity; it would be impossible for me to distinguish them, so great is their variety: fishes unknown to us in these parts, and by me not seen in any other region of the world. It will suffice here to mention them thus generally, to give a notion of the principal source of the wealth of the country; and if there be aught else to remark in particular, I will reserve it to speak of elsewhere.

Also they have all kinds of nets, lines of cotton thread, wheels, and implements of fishery, as we have, for catching fish in various ways in the shallows of the sea; but these are only for eating fresh, and there is no traffic therein. On the seashore, where it is but shallow, they for a pastime take pleasure in fishing for little fish resembling sardines, and exceeding delicate eating, with a net of cotton twine of large extent, 'eladhaa', having all over it little pieces of tin to keep it taut; this they cast with great art when they perceive a shoal of these little fish, which are caught in the width of the net by means of the tin, which draws the net over the bottom and encloses them all.

But see one other manner of fishing, which I have noted, a manner most strange and laborious. For twice a year, at the time of the equinoxes and the high tides, they have a general fishing, and a great number of people assemble at certain places on the sea. To understand the manner of this fishing, you must know that then the tide not only flows and rises higher than during the rest of the year, but also ebbs proportionally, and on so going back discovers shoals and rocks which are seen at no other time.

In such like places, when the sea is gone back, they note some convenient nook, and plant all around large stones one upon another, in such wise that it seems like a round wall or a ravelin. This enclosure is forty paces round or thereabouts, and an entry is left of two or three paces wide. They assemble thirty or forty men, each of whom carries fifty or sixty fathoms of thick coconut cord, at every fathom of which is attached a piece of dried coconut husk to keep the cord always floating, just as cork is used with us. The cords brought by each are tied together, and the whole stretched round the shoal.

I leave you to imagine the extent of the circle. The marvel is that the fish within this cord are all caught, though there are neither nets, nor gins, nor line depending, but the cord only. Yet the fish fear the cord and the shadow of the cord, in such sort that, instead of escaping away under it, and not letting themselves be thus encircled, they flee before it, thinking there is a line beneath it which would arrest them. The men all come round towards this stone enclosure of which I have spoken, drawing the cord little by little, some in boats, others in the water; for in these shallows the sea is of little depth, and reaches no more than to the neck, or mostly short of that.

Thus, as they draw the cord, the fish flee and crowd towards the enclosure, so at length the cord being nearly all drawn in, the fish enter within; then at once the men fill up the entrance with bundles of coconut branches and leaves, tied end to end, twenty or thirty fathoms, and of the thickness of a man, so that when the sea goes down the fish are left on dry land. (Footnote 1887: This mode of fishing seems a combination of the maa, or 'bodu dhaa', and the 'mas hifa koshi'. It is a fish kraal, and may be seen on the rivers and seashore of Ceylon.)

Then it is great sport to see the fish struggling and leaping, and in such quantity that sometimes there are ten or twelve thousand or more caught. They fill sacks and net-pockets of small meshes with them, placing these at the opening and chasing the fish from within, in such wise that they lose not one. And some of them I have seen so huge that it was all a man could do to carry one.

I have been often at this fishing, and have had for my share more than a hundred large fish, although I was a stranger, and of the least account among so many, where all had their full share; yet in truth I had to endure more than they, for they were accustomed to go barefooted on the reefs and rocks, and I was not, and on some occasions I had to go nearly half a league in this fashion, and always in the sun.

All this fish is used for their food in banquets and treats, there being no traffic in this kind; yet they cook and dry it on trays, else they could not keep so great a quantity for a length of time without rotting. This fishing is practised only once in six months in each shoal, and each time for fifteen days; they change the place every day, and do not often return to the same place for the same mode of fishing, except it be at the other equinox. The fish found on these shoals or within the reefs of the atolls is called in the Maldive language 'faru mas', as who should say 'shoal' or 'reef fish' - from 'faru', that is to say, a reef or bank, and 'mas', 'fish'.

The other sort taken in deep sea, as I have said, is called kalhubilamas, that is, 'black fish', in which they have their great traffic, supplying therewith all the coasts of the mainland. The fish of which I speak is cooked in sea-water and dried, for other mode of salting they have none; and when betimes they salt some of it, it is left in the brine till wanted. But it is not this kind that they send abroad. No salt is made at the Maldives: what they use comes from the coast of Malabar, and would not suffice for the quantity of fish they catch every day, both for the food of the people and for trade; for in truth there is no place in all the Indies, nor elsewhere (in my belief), so rich in fish and abundantly supplied therewith.

Maldivian Personality and Social Customs
I omitted, before closing my discourse of the manners and exercises of the islanders, to say a word of their behaviour, which, though it might easily be gathered from their conduct as I have represented it, yet may conveniently here be somewhat touched upon. This people is quick and apprehensive, subtle and crafty in most part of their actions.

Courage also they lack not, and love arms and exercises. They are industrious in arts and manufactures, and polite of manners: a people superstitious beyond measure, and much devoted to their religion, yet, in their indulgence of women, lascivious and intemperate. Adultery, incest, and sodomy are common, notwithstanding the severity of the law and penalties. As for simple lewdness, nothing is more common; they think it no sin, neither wives nor unmarried girls, and make no work about submitting themselves to their male friends and afterwards (a most execrable practice) voiding their fruit, or bringing about abortion, or making away with their bastard babes.

The women are strangely wanton, and the men are no better; but they have less of force and spirit. Their chief desire is to find, if they can, some recipe wherewithal to satisfy their wives, and to get themselves greater strength to practise their lechery; and I believe they would give all their substance for such a thing. They have often asked me if I knew of any such means, even the highest nobles, and so often, in fact, that I was quite sick of the subject. They talk thereof continually, even in the presence of their wives, of whom they have as many as three, as I have said, so that they are unable to satisfy each.

Their the air is exceeding sultry, and causes some part of the natural force to evaporate; moreover, their manner of life is against them in this matter, their nerves becoming slack by being continually in the water; add that the most of them eat opium, or, as they call it, 'afihun', which intoxicates and stupefies them. Notwithstanding this, they are all given to this vice without moderation, as well men as women, not to say more of their abominations.

The women conceal their nipples and breasts as carefully as the private parts, and there is the same modesty and shame in showing or uncovering them. Even to speak of a breast is with them most lewd and shameful. Kissing is made as much of as sleeping together, and is as improper to speak of.

For the rest, though they be exceeding lewd in their conversation, they restrain themselves before their kindred and respect their presence. If a word such as I have spoken of should escape a man in talk with a woman before one or more of his kindred, they would retire and be highly offended at him; he would have to make his excuses, and say that he was not aware he was among his kindred, otherwise, if they should think he said it of design, they would complain to the judge, to have from him that uttered these shameful words in their presence an acknowledgment that he held them for men of virtue and honour.

A man dare not enter a place where a woman is bathing, or even where she has cast off her robe, though she might still have the cloth which serves them for a petticoat: for, as I said, they deem their breasts and bosom to be private parts.

When a man and a woman are seen together and are met by other people, you must not ask of the man if the woman is his wife, his daughter, or his sister; for if she was his daughter, and you asked if she were his wife, he would be insulted as much as if you had accused him of incest. You must only ask if she is related to him, and he will tell the degree of relationship.

While the women have their courses they bathe not at all, neither wash, save their hands and mouth, nor change their robes while these last: also they sleep not with their husbands, nor eat or hold converse with anyone. I have said above that the women go forth but rarely by day: all their visits are made by night; but I have omitted to mention something peculiar in their customs which I may without inconvenience add here. In their visits by night they must have a man to bear them company, to walk before them, and when he hears anyone coming, he says three times, 'Gos', that is to say, 'Beware'; men warned by this signal leave that side of the road on which the women are coming, without seeming to see them or wishing to be accosted by them, so great is their respect. And if other women should meet them, each takes her own side, and gives no salutation unless they be intimate acquaintance.

You do not knock at a door, for there is no knocker; and you do not call to anyone to open the door, for the chief gate of the courtyard is always open to a certain hour, that is, till eleven at night, when all have retired; wherefore, you enter the courtyard, which is close to the house, and that is also open, saving only that it has a curtain of cotton, or other stuff, hung in front. As you approach this door you only cough, at the sound whereof those within come forth to see if they are wanted for anything. In like manner, when men walk in the streets by night, they frequently cough on purpose to put others on their guard, for fear of running against, or wounding one another, for all (I mean the soldiers and king's officers at Male') carry drawn arms.

Whatsoever remains to be said of their manners will be better understood by what I shall describe hereafter, and by the history of what passed at the Maldives during my sojourn there.


Footnotes 1887:

Male dress
Compare Mr. Bell's description of the Maldivian male attire at the present day: 'The ordinary dress of the men consists of short drawers, 'haruvaalhu'. a cloth wrapped round the waist, after the Singalese fashion, 'mundu', and a plain handkerchief twisted over the head, 'rumaa'. On board their vessels, and in foreign parts, some don a thin shirt, generally white, 'kuru libaas', and Turkish waistcoat, 'saduriya', which, with the peculiar coarse blue waistcloth edged with red, and the red handkerchief, mark a Maldivian at once among other races.

Haj
The upper orders, and those who have been the Haj, wear, besides the waistcloth (particularly on Fridays, when attending mosque), a kind of long dressing gown, 'dhigu libaas', reaching to the ankles, somewhat similar to those worn by moslem priests in Ceylon. The dress of the men, as minutely described by Pyrard, must formerly have been richer and more elaborate, including the use of turbans, silk scarfs, silver chains, and fancy knives. No Maldivian not of the priesthood now ventures to wear a turban, 'fagudi' in the royal presence or island, this head-dress being retained by the Sultan exclusively.'
The Arabic for a person who has made the pilgrimage is 'hajj'. The term 'hajji' is used by Turks and Persians, and Maldivians.

Knives
Ordinary Maldive waist knives, 'valhi', chastely inlaid with silver and mother-of-pearl, leave nothing to be desired in portability and serviceableness, whilst for shape and handsome finish the larger silver-mounted knife-dagger with ivory handle, 'fiyohi', worn exclusively by grandees and soldiers, is unique. Knife handles are carved from 'kuredhi' ironwood, 'endheri' black coral , and 'bodumas dhaiy' whale's teeth.

Shaving
Mr. Bell states that the men now, without exception, shave the head. The long hair of the soldiers described by Pyrard would seem to be a relic of Singalese custom. Every Singalese man, even at the present day, wears his hair long, and tied in a bunch at the back of the head.

Female dress
Like the Singalese, the women wear a waistcloth, 'feyli', generally of native manufacture, coarse in texture, the ground of a chocolate colour, relieved by black and white stripes. The upper part of the body is covered by a loose-fitting, red-coloured jersey reaching to the knees, short sleeved, and edged at the neck with silver tinsel lace, 'libaas', whilst round the high-worn konde is twisted a handkerchief matching the libaas in colour, the whole ensemble forming a very becoming and picturesque costume. A profusion of bangles, with necklace, earrings, and other ornaments, deck the person. The use of gold trinkets is no longer rigidly restricted to women of quality.

Female freedom
The liberty enjoyed by the women is remarkable. Though their apartments are considered strictly private, they are not kept from the view of strangers, nor now debarred from openly walking abroad unveiled in the daytime. Even now (however) Maldivian ladies of the upper classes do not walk, but pay their visits in closed palanquins.

Lacquerware
These lacquered wooden dishes, 'kurandi', are mentioned by Mr. Bell. He has had a set of cups, saucers, and plates of this work presented to him, and reports them pretty. Although Pyrard mentions a potter caste, the Maldivians seem to have done little in this line, earthenware being among the imports from Portuguese India.

Kings of the Wind and Sea, and other Maldivian beliefs
The title of 'king', in place of 'god' of the winds, is, no doubt, a concession to the monotheistic principles of Islam; and the passage gives a curious insight into the primitive worship of the islanders. It may first be observed that the powers of wind and sea are separately worhipped, the Maldivian sailors having to contend not only with monsoons but with currents; next, that the stage of culture when the sea and wind are themselves the objects of worship has been passed, and personal, if not anthropomorphic, deities have been conceived.
As to the character of the worship of the two kings, the author is not so precise as might be wished. The proceedings at the ziyaaraiy (Arabic. 'ziyarat', 'visitation', in orthodox moslem usage meaning, the visiting of sacred places, as opposed to the Haj, and the place so visited) are by way of thanksgiving for safety, offered, it would seem, exclusively to the king of the winds. The worship of the king of the sea is deprecatory, and it does not appear whether it is paid at the ziyaaraiy or elsewhere.

The worship of wind and sea is ancient and extensive. Cicero (106-43 B.C.) writes: 'Tempests, showers, storms, and whirlwinds must then be Deities. It is certain, at least, that our captains used to sacrifice a victim to the waves before they embarked on any voyage.' Thus would a successful voyage be secured while the elements were still uncertain.

Both this method, and the propitiatory ceremonies as employed by moslems during a storm, are well exemplified by Pere Dan in his description of the Barbary (North African) pirates of the sixteenth century. The pirates' wives would light a little fire, in which they burned incense and myrrh; then they cut the throat of a cock, sprinkling the blood in the fire. They scattered the feathers to the wind and tore the body to pieces, casting most of it into the sea. The pirates themselves appeased a storm as follows: first they sacrificed a sheep, disembowelling it alive, casting one half the body into the sea on the starboard side, the other on the port. If this were unsuccessful, they would next pour two barrels of oil on the water, one on each side of the ship. This, as recent experiments have proved, would be efficacious for a time; but when the storm again prevailed, they placed lighted candles on all their cannon, allowing them to burn out. This failing, one resource only remained, never resorted to but in the last extremity; they constrained the wretched christians, chained to the galley benches, to make vows to the Virgin, St. Nicholas, or some other saint, they cared not which!

In no part of the world has this sea worship been so strongly marked as on the Guinea coast of Africa. Bosman says: 'When it rages, and hinders us bringing our goods on shore, when no ships have been there for a long time, and they impatiently wait for them - on these occasions they make great offerings to it, by throwing into it all sorts of goods. But the priests do not much encourage this sort of sacrificing, by reason there happens no remainder to be left for them.'

Snelgrave describes the sacrifice of an old woman, who was fortunately picked up by the English boats before the sharks got her. The same practices survived to our own day: 'In Dahome (Benin, West Africa) the ocean has a special priest, who, at stated times, repairs to the beach, and there begs the ocean god not to be boisterous, throwing in rice and corn, oil and beans, cloth, cowries, and other valuables. Occasionally the king of Dahome offers a human victim, who is carried in a hammock to a canoe, and thence delivered to the sharks.'

The races of India proper are so little addicted to navigation, that they contribute few instances of this worship; we find, however, that at Karwar, on sight of the new moon in August, the effigy of Ganesa 'was carried in procession to the river's side and thrown into the river, upon which all rivers which have bars are opened for navigation.'

Further east, among the Lampongs of Sumatra, we find the most ancient and simple adoration of the sea itself. When the inland natives behold it for the first time, they make it an offering of cakes and sweetmeats, deprecating its power of doing them mischief.'

The sacrifice of a model boat, filled with perfumes, gums, etc. and set on fire, described by Pyrard as a thank-offering, is, with the Malays of Larut, resorted to in almost identical form as a means of enticing away the evil spirits from a sick person. The sacrifice at the launch of a new ship still survives at the Maldives, as described by Pyrard. 'On such occasions a small vessel, three or four feet long, being decked out with flags, and having samples of the various fruits of the island, is set adrift; should it be a boat newly built, other ceremonies are observed, accompanied with feasting, music, etc. The miniature vessel is decorated with flowers, and her gunwales are hung with fruits, for which, as soon as she enters the water, there is a general scramble.' (Christopher). Exactly the same offering of a miniature canoe is made to Ganga Bandera, a malignant river demon in Ceylon.

Since writing the above, Mr. Bell informs me that some of this demon worship exists in the southern atolls, though the natives are loathe to give him information on the subject. He has, however, obtained the names of the following ten devils:
1. Gharaguginni Rannamari (the 'king of the winds')
2. Nabajahage
3. Aku-isanja'javija
4. Lajjigavisanavi
5. Galigoti
6. Jajjalu
7. Habboraza
8. Dihaborajani
9. Kosmoyazabadu
10. Laggitudi
(One of the last nine is probably the king of the sea.)

Fandhita Sorcery
Sorcery is, with the Maldivians, 'fandita' (Sinhala, pandita), 'the learned science'. Mr. Bell gives two examples of these mantras from the southern atolls, remarking that they come under the Sanskrit category of Stambhana, or of Vibhishana, i.e. intended to procure illicit intercourse and effect discord. The first runs as follows: 'To completely estrange a desirable woman from her husband, make a teak nail and an image of both persons, mutter 'hadduru harruli nuva i gihi badili elagodi', and drive in the nail.'

The second is as follows: 'Write the name of a desirable woman; pluck an unopened bud of the screwpine flower; sharpen a new knife; on one side of this flower write Al Kadr Sura; on the other side write 'Vajahatu'; make an image out of this flower; write particu- lars of the horoscope; write Al Rahman Sura from beginning to end; tie the image in five places with left-hand twisted coir; cut the throat of a bloodsucker lizard; smear its blood on the image; place it on a loft; dry it for three days; then take it and enter the sea - if you go in knee deep, she will send a message; if you go in to the waist, she will come.'

Thaveedhu charms
The thaveedhu of the Maldives correspond in all respects to the huniyam of Ceylon. In the Jour. Cey. Br. 11. A. S., vol. vii, p. 116, Mr. Louis Nell gives a photograph (actual size, about two inches) of a huniyam image, which was discovered in a little tin box in a hollow tree. A most valuable account of them is given in the same journal for 1865, by Dandris de Silva Mudaliyar, under the title 'Singalese Demonology'. The Mudaliyar there writes: 'Kodivina, or Huniyam, is the name given to evils of whatever kind inflicted by the agency of charms. There are said to be 84,000 charms of every degree of malignity, most of which, more or less, contribute to bring to an untimely death the person affected by this influence, though that event may be deferred for many years.'

Disease and sorcery
This is the savage theory of demoniacal possession, which has been for ages, and still remains, the dominant theory of disease and inspiration among the lower races. Disease being accounted for by the attack of spirits, it naturally follows that to get rid of these spirits is the proper means of cure.

China Wood
In French, 'Bois de la Chine'; elsewhere he writes 'Bois d'Eschine'. It was formerly called China radix, but latterly Smilax China (Linn.); also vulgarly chine and squine. 'A red and spungious Indian root, good against the gout' (Cotgrave); Linschoten has a long chapter upon it, and asserts its virtues for both these diseases.

Coffee
Coffee does not grow at the Maldives; this would therefore be the real berry of Mocha or Yemen, where alone it was grown in quantity in those days, and not Ceylon coffee reshipped from Aden, as the most genuine of our Mocha is said now to be)

Thaana and other Maldivian scripts
In other passages, Pyrard speaks of the languages at the Maldives; this is the only reference to the characters used. The letters thirdly mentioned are perhaps the Tamil, those only being common to Ceylon and India. But there is little or no evidence of intercourse between the Maldives and the Tamil country; along the Malabar coast, with which the Maldives had so much to do, the language and alphabet used are almost universally Malayalam; this latter, however, is not used at all in Ceylon. The matter must be left in doubt. The second character referred to is, doubtless, the Dhivehi akuru, or dives akuru, 'island letters', the more ancient alphabet of the Maldives. Christopher (J. B. A. S., vol. vi) gave a plate showing the principal consonants and vowel signs, which I reproduced in my paper on the Maldives (J. B. A. S., new series, vol. x); but Mr. Bell says the alphabet has never been published in full, and M. d'Abbadie, who met Christopher on the Nubian coast, and had from him his own copy of the letters, tells me that this is so. 'It consists of twenty-five letters,' says Mr. Bell, 'not counting duplicates, capable of some hundreds of vowel mutations.'

'One peculiarity,' says Christopher, 'in the alphabet is, that some of the consonants change their form according to the various vowel sounds with which they are united, the construction of the letter being altogether different.' This character is clearly a modification of the old Vatteluttu of South India, the parent also of the Singalese (see Dr. Burnell, in Ind. Ant., i, 229; and Elements of S. Indian Palaeography). It is largely used in the old Maldive tombstones and walls, and, from the appearance of these inscriptions, must have been in use long before the Arabic. It is not known now in the northern atolls except by the Fandiyaru, and a few of the learned at Male', though said to be still prevalent in the south. In Christopher's time, all orders for the southern atolls had to be transcribed into it, but, according to Mr. Bell, this practice is now discontinued. Like the Singalese and other Indian writing, it was written from left to right.

What form of writing Pyrard exactly means by the Arabic, 'with some letters and points which they have added', is somewhat difficult to say. That the Arabic character in its entirety was, and is, used, is proved both by Mr. Christopher and Mr. Bell, and the former states that it is written in two different ways, the old and the new.
Somewhere about Pyrard's time, however, a change was introduced, and an alphabet called the Gabuli thaana came into vogue. It consists properly of eighteen letters, nine of which are the first nine Arabic numerals, the other nine being adopted from the Divehi akuru. It has also some auxiliary letters borrowed from the Arabic and Persian. Vowels are not inherent, but are supplied by diacritical strokes common to the Arabic. Unlike the Divehi akuru, these letters do not admit of being joined in writing. This alphabet will be found in J. R. A. S., vol. vi; J. A. S. Beng,, v, p. 784; and J. B. A. S., new series, vol. x. The mode of writing this character is from right to left, following the Arabic, as appears by the facsimiles of Maldive letters given by Christopher (J. B. A. S., vol. vi), and by Mr. Bell (Rep., plate, App., 78).

Mr. Prinsep, however (J. A. S. Beng., v, p. 784), gives a few words written by a Maldivian nakodah in this character, which are written from left to right, so it may be that in or for the southern atolls the modern character was then used in the old direction. A similar change was made by the Tagals of the Philippines, who formerly wrote from top to bottom, and after the Spanish conquest adopted the left to right method (see De Morga, Hakl. Soc., p. 295, note).

It may be added that there are several kinds of Thaana writing; Mr. Bell mentions the Hasha thaana and the Defo thaana, 'but these are awkward and rarely employed.' As, according to Christopher, the modern Arabic form and the Gabuli thaana were introduced about the same time, after the expulsion of the Portuguese - a date which is, I believe, fixed only by tradition - and as it does not appear whether Pyrard knew Arabic writing, it must for the present remain doubtful whether the Arabic which he refers to was really Arabic or the mixed Thaana alphabet.

Ball games
They have two ball games, as Mr. Bell informs me, in which the feet are used, but not entirely, namely, 'suva' and 'lubomandi'. These games would seem to have been introduced from the Eastern Archipelago, whose natives are very expert at them. 'They have a diversion similar to that described by Homer (around 1000-700 BC) amongst the Phaeacians (note: who may have lived on islands in the Atlantic, and sailed boats 'with thought' rather than using rowers) which consists in tossing an elastic wicker ball from one to the other in a large party. They arrive to a great degree of dexterity in the sport, receiving it with equal facility on the foot or hand, the heel or the toe, from whence it is thrown either perpendicularly into the air and caught again, or obliquely to some other person Of the company, who stand in an extended circle.' (Marsden)

Lack of fishing regulations
Owing to the abundance of the fishery, no restrictive rules or limits were necessary. Very different is the case in Ceylon, where the utmost jealousy exists between the coast hamlets as to their respective fishing grounds, and local feuds have as long a duration as those between the British and French fishermen of the Newfoundland banks, which have for so many years exercised the highest diplomatic talent of London and Paris, and are still unsettled (1885).

Arm bracelets
The arm bracelet is a badge adopted, perhaps, from the Malabar coast. 'The principal or chief of those Nairs, which are leaders or captains of certain numbers of Nairs, wear a gold or silver bracelet or ring about their armes, above their elbows; as also their governors, ambassadors and kings, whereby they are known from other men.

A cyprea mauritiania shell, bearing the Sultan's seal in wax, is the regular 'Imperial gau' in the southern atolls.

Maldive Fish
Dried skipjack tuna. It is vulgarly pronounced 'komboli', or 'kommala mas', and is known in Ceylon as 'umbala kada'. With the komboli mas of the Ceylon and Indian bazaars, though chiefly bonito, pass several other kinds of fish, such as the goda, kanneli, and ragodi. There are several methods of cutting up the fish for curing, all of which are fully described, with diagrams, by Mr. Bell (Report, pp. 93-5).

The preparation is then as follows: 'The pieces are washed with salt water, then thrown into a cauldron of boiling salt water and allowed to remain a few minutes only, to prevent the flesh becoming too soft. It is said to be important that the water should be boiling from the first. On being taken out they are placed on the wattle, loft, or shelf, 'mehi', above the fire. There they are left three or four days till well blackened and dried, after which, if necessary, they are exposed to the sun to be finished. Thus dried, they are, as is well known, of the appearance and consistency of blocks of wood.'




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