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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 23

Of the expedition of the king of Bengal to the Maldives. - The taking of Male' island. - Death of the Maldive king, and voyage of the author to Bengal, with a description of the islands of Malicut (Minicoy) and Divandurou.

Having then resided at these islands for the space of five years, or thereabouts, but sorely against my will, this long sojourn gave me a knowledge of the country, and an acquaintance with the language, manners, and customs of the inhabitants, greater, perhaps, and I may say it without vanity, than any other European has ever had. Wherefore I have been led to enlarge with so much particularity and exactness my description of the islands, well knowing that none before me has written to tbe same effect: and perhaps it will be long ere another will make so long a sojourn; for, indeed, men go there but rarely, and then against their will, by reason of the great hazard and peril attending the voyage, which induce them to avoid the islands as much as they can. In the next place, they have been little known up to now; and if misfortune should carry any other person there as it carried me, it is unlikely he should meet with the same favourable treatment and liberty that I experienced.

This will gain me an excuse with my readers if I have been somewhat lengthy and tedious in this description of the Maldives; but I have thought that since God had granted me grace through the means of my misfortunes to learn so many particular things, I was obliged to share my knowledge with the public and my country, to whom my good intentions at least will be acceptable, showing that I am not ungrateful for the favours of God in that He hath granted me to know all these things, and at the last hath been pleased to deliver me miraculously, in such wise as I shall now relate.

Pyrard dreams of escape from Maldives and return to Europe
But first I must not omit a dream I had while asleep at night at the islands two days before my deliverance, for it is worthy to be known. I dreamed that I was gone forth of that country, and was in full liberty in a christian land. I was infinitely overjoyed, but at my awakening I was full sorely astonished to find my dream false. Nevertheless, though I was exceeding sad, I arose, and falling on my knees prayed God with all my heart and soul that He would be pleased of His grace to deliver me out of this moslem servitude, and to set me again on christian soil, where I could resume the free exercise of my religion, which I had been constrained to discontinue for so long a time. Then I made a vow to make a voyage to St. James in Galicia, there to render thanks to God.

Attack by the king of Chittagong
Two nights after that in the month of February, in the year 1607, the king had warning of the coming of an armada of sixteen galleys or galleots, which were already preparing to enter the islands. The news greatly astonished both the king and his people, for they had no word of it before, and the suddenness of it surprised them. He commanded at once to put in the sea such galleys as he had, to the number of seven, let alone other vessels, barques, and boats, which were there in great number: and everyone set to this work with all his might; but they could not get it done speedily enough ere the enemy's sails came in sight.

His consternation was then the greater, wherefore he commanded his people forthwith to ship all the most valuable riches he was possessed of, and so to save himself and his wives in the more distant islands of the south, where the enemy could not land because of the difficulties of the passages.

At first sight of the galleys, all the people were greatly taken up, some with attending to the galleys and vessels of the king, others to their own barques and boats, so as to ship themselves and their goods and seek safety in the other islands. As for me, as soon as I saw the alarm was real, I called to mind my dream and the prayer I had made to God but a while before, and began to take some hope: and chiefly, when I perceived at a great distance the enemy's sails, I resolved, with my three companions, to seek an opportunity of safety and a deliverance from captivity, as we had so far found grace with God. But I leave you to imagine in what apprehension we were lest they should seek to prevent us from embarking, the which we had to manage or die in the attempt.

But our good luck would have it that the alarm was so hot and sudden that they had no time to recover themselves, far less to think of us. So we had to save ourselves that day or never, and what happened was a true miracle for us. Meanwhile, during the great tumult which ensued at the sight and approach of the enemy, we made as though we were as greatly distressed and distracted as the rest, and made the same hurry; insomuch that the country folk, seeing us to be of like action and countenance with themselves, entertained no distrust of us. But I certainly believe that if the enemy's galleys had not appeared before the king had embarked (as I shall relate presently), and had we remained in the island without embarking with them, the king would not have failed on his return to have put us to death, all four, - that is, if the enemy had not cared to land, or the alarm had proved false. But God, having pity upon us, permitted the enemy to appear before the king and his people were ready, and this was the sole cause of our liberty.

Meanwhile the enemy was ever approaching, and the king perceiving this, came forth of his palace and took to flight with the three queens, his wives, who were borne in the arms of some gentlemen, as a nurse carries her infant. They were covered each with veils and taffetas of various colours, figured in the Chinese style, and as large as shrouds. They did not come forth from the palace till the king did, and he embarked with them.

I was at the moment burdened with arms and other goods, which I was carrying to put on board the galleys, and being all soaked and in mean attire, the king met me and told me I was an honest man, and should take courage, using a word to me which is common throughout all India, namely, 'Sabatz!', 'Bravo, Well done!'; it is used also to praise a man for something he has done well. When he said this word to me, tears of pity came into my eyes, for he wept and made the greatest lamentation to see himself obliged to quit all, and to see them thus bear away his wjves, who on their part were bathed in tears, while all the people were in the saddest plight throughout the streets, and one heard naught but groans, cries, and howling of women and children.

The king, having embarked for his safety in his royal galley, called by them 'Ogate Gourabe' (gourabe means 'galley', and ogate, 'royal'), along with his wives and his nephew, was constrained to leave behind the greatest part of his wealth, and all his arms and cannon, of which he had a great store in the island, for he had no time to arm himself or to ship them; and then, at the same moment when all the rest were on board, he gave the word to use sail and oars, and to take the route for the south and the atolls of Suvadhu.

When all the galleys were gone saving the smallest, which was tarrying to load some goods, then said I to my companions that it was time to seek safety in the wood, fearing lest they should compel us to embark with them. Nevertheless, I made another journey to the king's palace with the islanders, and let them all take their loads first and go ahead towards the galley, while I, in place of following them, took a path aside and gained the wood, as did two of my companions from another quarter - the third was got on board I know not how, though he had the same designs as we; but the galley was soon taken.

Afterwards I learnt from him that he had been impressed on board by the islanders. So on that day we all four were borne on the same course of fortune, without knowing anything of one another. We were for more than four hours in the island along with some poor folk, all the rest having gone. I wandered about the king's palace, where there were all sorts of things, gold, silver, and. jewellery, lying about; but I never dreamed of touching any, nor even of hiding the silver that I had, the which I gave to a friend, along with the trees, a boat, and a house I had purchased: that was to the son of the lord who had brought me out of the island Fehendhoo, whereof I have spoken; to him I gave all I had. My companions saved some stuff they had hidden.

The pursuit and death of Kalafan
As soon as the captain of the enemy's armada discovered that the king was fled, he ordered eight galleys to the pursuit, while the other eight anchored at the island whereon I was. I gave myself up to the first that landed, and implored them to save me. At the first, not recognising me as a Frenchman, and believing me to be a Portuguese, they were about to kill me, and, stripping me naked, took from me all I had. But when they found that in truth I was not a Portuguese, they treated me more humanely, and conducted me to their captain, who took me under his protection, assuring me that I should suffer no evil; then he had me clad in other garments, and bade me remain in his galleys for my safety, at least for that day and night. Afterwards I was allowed to go where I liked throughout the island, without anyone saying a word.

The eight galleys that were bidden to go after the king came up with him and to close quarters, whereupon the king, attempting to defend himself was slain by a pike thrust, followed by sword cuts; his wives were taken prisoners, and his nephew was drowned. No harm, however, was done to the wives, save that they lost all their trinkets, which were seized by the soldiers and mariners, these being the most dangerous fellows at pillage: these mariners are called Mukkavar.

The cause of the taking and death of the king was that there was no wind, but the greatest calm possible, and that the enemy's galleys were better for rowing than those of the king, which were only good for sailing, and of no use for oars. Had there been but a little wind they could not have caught him; but his ill fortune cast him into this fate, which he fully merited for the great cruelties he had used.

Not one of the island vessels was taken in this chase; and had the king and his wives embarked in them, they would have had a chance of escape; but his hour was come, and for my part I hold that it was by the mercy of God he was thus slain at the first shock, so that he saw not the sad and piteous spectacle, which met my eyes, of the condition of his wives and state. There was, however, no great massacre, for except the king and two or three others slain with him, and as many wounded - among others, a young soldier, the son of a Portuguese metiz, who had aforetime been wrecked in his ship at these islands - there was no one harmed, except, also, his nephew, who, thinking to save himself by swimming, was drowned by reason of weakness, sickness, and of the melancholy and sorrow that he had for his wife, who had died in childbed but a while before. He had abducted this woman from her husband, as I have related above.

Sacking the palace
The enemy having thus seized and pillaged all the king's galleys, they collected them together, except two that were lost upon the shallows and reefs. They brought back, too, the three queens in a miserable plight, and lodged them in the house of the king's nephew, adjoining the royal palace. This house was also called palace, being enclosed by walls, and of the same form as the king's, only smaller: all the other houses of princes and princesses are called 'gan'duvaru', that is, 'palace', while other houses are called 'ge'.

The queens were put in that palace, for all day and night the men were ransacking the king's palace and carrying off everything that was of value. In his nephew's there was nothing to take, because all his property had been shipped off in good time; besides, this nephew had not much goods, no more indeed than what the king gave him, in addition to a small patrimony. Had he been richer, the king would have been afraid lest he should wage war against himself.

Soldiers were placed on guard over these poor queens, who were kept in the semblance of prisoners, that so they might be led to discover the king's treasures; but this they could not do, for they knew nothing about any such; and I well know that the king let none know of these, except a certain secretary who had escaped among the first.

Each of the queens was allowed a female servant to wait upon her, also three gentlemen of the king's household; but neither these nor the women dare go without the house, and the three gentlemen entered not the queens' apartments, nor even saw them, but tarried with the soldiers to see what good or ill-fortune should befall their mistresses. All this was done according to the General's command.

As for me, I went to see them often, the natives not being allowed to enter. I used to go in as often as I liked, and gave them what advice and consolation I could, for I heard all that was said about them. With tears in their eyes, they asked me again and again if I sorrowed greatly for the death of the king, who had such affection for me. I answered I did, and now that he was dead I was minded to go away and remain no more at the islands, having no longer a master there. Had he not been slain I should never have gone away. All this was very far from my desire and thoughts.

Nevertheless, I assured them that I would not withdraw without taking their advice and leave: this they highly approved, and promised they would never desert me. As they asked me what was being said of them, I told them they were held prisoners to point out the king's treasures (as they had already been informed), but that they should do nothing, for all threats of carrying them off were but to terrify them. I had myself heard from the chief men that they would not carry them off, with which news they were greatly pleased, and they besought me not to leave them.

They begged me also to go to and fro among the enemy, to bring word of all that was said and done, the which I did willingly enough, and discovered to them all I could glean from every quarter. The queens also told me in private a great deal about each other, namely, the chief queen, the foreigner from Bengal, who was as fair and white as the women of this country; and the young one, whom the king had but recently taken, in manner already described. She told me with sorrow that she brought misfortune wherever she was (this they call 'sompas'), and that since the king had taken her, every disaster had befallen them.

I was deeply grieved to see them in the state they were, having aforetime seen them so richly and luxuriously apparelled; they were indeed but poorly dressed, and had hardly anything but their own gowns left them, and everything was searched. But saving that, there was no harm or violence done to their persons, nor to their honour; not even a lewd word was passed; and all the girls and women of the island were treated in like manner.

Their food was brought from the house of the Fandiyaru, who remained in the island along with the other clergy and many beside; but these did not for all that escape the general sack. The Fandiyaru did indeed save somewhat, for his house was the refuge of all, men and women alike, for personal security only, their goods being pillaged there as elsewhere. Yet he managed to appease in some degree the fury of the enemy, being held by them in some respect.

Pyrard well-treated by the invaders
I, too, though in the hands of the General and his army, was treated with much favour and courtesy, the reason whereof was our cannons, which indeed were the object of their enterprise and coming to the islands. They had not been used to see such pieces, and were in great straits how to mount and get them on board, not knowing by which end to take them. Therefore they took me with them to show them all the tackle and the way to use it; and they were well pleased with all I told them, for I gave them information as well in that respect as concerning the other equipment of our ships, and also the affairs of the islands, whereof I had good understanding. For all this they valued me much, and were exceeding kindly towards me. Another thing was that the pilot who had brought them thither was a native of the islands, though a resident of the continent, and I had often seen him at Male'. He well knew what regard the king and the lords of the country had for me, and this, rumoured among them, won for me the more respect.

Yet did this vile fellow for gold betray his king and country, for all that the king had a great affection toward him, and gave him no cause of complaint; for the landing on these coasts is so difficult and dangerous, that the rest of the party had never dared come without him to guide them, and so was he the cause of the whole disaster. At this juncture, I often went to the Fandiyaru's house to visit a number of my friends that were there, not daring to venture abroad; amongst others, the three sons of the lord with whom I resided so long. They counselled me to be gone, saying that the king their master was dead, nor were they nor I under any protection now; but all the others advised contrarywise, that if they had but one coconut, they would give me half; yet I took the advice of the three, one of whom had a gunshot wound. They were severely put to the torture, and all had to pay a ransom.

Burial of Kalafan at Guraidhoo
Three or four days after the arrival of this army there came to Male' a barque sent by the dead king's people, to ask leave of the General to convey some rice and other commodities for the funeral ceremonies of the late king, who was buried at the island Guraidhoo, where that great master was of whom I have already spoken. It had been his fixed intention and desire to be buried at Male', as I shall now tell; but they never keep their corpses, and have no custom of embalming them or of conveying them from island to island.

At length, the General gave permission to take all that was required for the purpose, and so they did, and would even have taken me along with them, as they strongly suspected that I was minded to escape. Had the king been slain by others than of his own faith, they say he had been blessed and sanctified (such a one they call 'shahid'); then had they made no ceremony, but buried him as he died, without washing the body or performing any other customary act; but though he did not die in defence of the faith, they did not perform the ceremony wont to be observed at the obsequies of a king, but buried him as any ordinary countryman of the islands, albeit this was to their great sorrow.

They were even at much pains to get a white cloth for a winding sheet, and a coffin to put him in - him who in his lifetime had so lavishly given to all the poor of his kingdom when they were in need. He had always by him more than thirty coffins ready made, for himself, his queens, and court, for use when occasion was. He had also caused to be built a magnificent shrine, and a burial-ground entirely enclosed, in Male', with a view to being buried there. It was the best constructed of all, but God willed not that he should be laid there.

Such are the common results of war, and so was it here, where all the wealth that he had collected was involved in havoc and useless waste; for whatsoever the soldiers could not carry off, they utterly destroyed. It was most pitiful to see the ravages committed in the island, and especially at the king's palace; for all the private citizens had secured their goods in their boats, and lost nothing: the boats being small, escaped in all directions, and sailed faster than the galleys. All that belonged to the king and queens, however, was pillaged, and nothing was saved either of what was in the galleys or on shore.

Astrologers' error contributed to Kalafan's death
Moreover, as the misfortune of these poor islanders would have it, there was a large ship belonging to the king all laden and ready to sail eight days before, but their magicians and astrologers had put it off to this very day, as being a lucky day for weighing - so had they made it out by their reckoning and ephemerides; but they had made a sad mistake.

The voyage was to be to Arabia, and she could not get away from the islands by reason of the great calm which befell, whereby she was seized, like everything else. The cargo of this vessel consisted, among other things, of the cinnamon that the king had of the ship of Ceylon, which a while before had been wrecked at the islands, as I have said; the rest was merchandise of the islands, the greater part being coconut produce. The enemy, in sacking the ship, took only the island stuff; for as for the cinnamon, they left it to its fate, with the vessel, which never made another voyage, as I afterwards learnt at Goa, and as I shall relate in the proper place.

Pyrard leaves Male'
At length, when the enemy had tarried in the island for the space of ten days, gathering their booty and loading their ships with all the valuables they found, and five or six pieces of cannon, large and small, that were there, they withdrew, and set the queens and all the rest of the people at liberty. They took no prisoners with them, except the chief queen's brother, brother-in-law to the late king. At first I believed they took him in order to get a ransom; but afterwards I learnt, on the contrary, that it was with his own consent, as he wished to go to visit Ali Rhaja, the king of Cananor, for a purpose I shall explain hereafter.

On my part, I went and took farewell of the queens and my friends, not without tears, indeed - theirs of sorrow and chagrin, but mine of joy. When it came to embarking, all the captains quarrelled about which should have my companions and me in his galley. At length I embarked in one, and my three companions severally in three others, and we did not see each other for a long time. As for what followed at the Maldives, I heard afterwards, while at Goa, that the natives fell into a bitter civil war. The king had died without children or nephews, and the kingdom there never goes to females, no more than in France.

Rannabandeyri Takuru wins throne of Maldives
Four of the greatest lords in the country banded themselves one against another who should be king; and this war continuing a long time, the king of Cananor, Ali Raja, had despatched a goodly armament of galleys, under the guidance of Ranabandeyri Takuru, the chief queen's brother, whom the Bengal galleys had taken prisoner, as has been said.

By means of this army he had at length established that prince upon the throne - who was, indeed, as next of kin, the lawful heir - but on condition that he should hold it of him, and regard him as his suzerain. He scattered all who were causing trouble, and so restored peace to the islands. Such is what I heard at Goa.

But to return to what befell us: we embarked, as already said, at the Maldives, intending to make our course up the Gulf of Bengal. The passage between the islands is very dangerous, by reason of the reefs and banks, which are exceeding numerous; and no one would dare to steer through them without having native pilots, as we then had.

Attack on Utheemu
The island from which the dead king came, by name Utheemu, being at the head of the others, and quite the last, they cast anchor there, and set themselves to slay, sack, and pillage, carrying off everything they could find. We saw by day a wonderful number of barques and boats sailing away in all directions. Having refreshed themselves with a half-day's sojourn at this island, they passed orders as to their course, in case they should happen to separate - as, indeed, they did, by reason of the great calm.

Minicoy (Malicut)
At length we got out of the islands, by God's grace. The calm was such that we were about three days in reaching a little island named 'Malicut', (Minicoy), which is only thirty-five leagues to the north of the Maldives. This island is surrounded with very dangerous banks, which have to be carefully watched. Three of our galiots that had kept together cast anchor there; the others had separated. This island of Malicut is only four leagues in circumference; it is wonderfully fertile in coconut trees, bananas, millet, and other products of the Maldives; all sorts of fruit are abundant. The fishery is very good; the climate more healthy and temperate than at the Maldives; the people have the same customs, manners, and language as those of the Maldives.

This island was at one time part of the Maldive realm; but a king gave it to his brother as a portion. It is now governed by a lady, who holds it of the king of Cananor, for the sake of greater security. This queen gave me a very good reception, for she had often seen me at the court of the king of the Maldives, her near relative. When she saw me she began to weep, as did most of the inhabitants, with sorrow for the death of the king, the story of which I have told.

Divandurou
After tarrying about two days at this island we set sail and made for the islands of Divandurou, thirty leagues from Malicut to the north; they are five in number, and vary from six to seven leagues in circumference; they are eighty leagues distant from the Malabar coast, right opposite Cananor. They are under the rule of the king of Cananor, who also possesses thirty of the Maldive islands, that were ceded to him about fifty years before by a king of the Maldives, to whom he had given succour against a revolt of his own people.

These islands of Divandurou are inhabited by moslem Malabars, most of them rich merchants, who drive a great trade throughout India, and especially at the Maldives, whence they export much merchandise, and where they keep resident factors. They have the same customs and languages as the people of Cananor, Calicut, Cochin, and the rest of Malabar: their soil is very fertile, and the climate good. The Malabar corsairs, when on their voyages, often come there to refresh, and in most cases, being quite like natives, marry there. Albeit they fail not betimes to pillage them too, for all the friendship that is between them: for they do hold gain above all the friendship in the world, and when they cannot reap any booty from their enemies, being anxious not to return empty handed, they fall upon their friends.

Sailing around Ceylon into the Sea of Bengal
These islands are, as it were, a half-way house for merchandise between the mainland and the Maldives and Malicut. Having refreshed ourselves four or five days at these islands, we again set sail, now towards the south, in order to double Point de Galle, which is a cape at the end of the island of Ceylon.

On our way we fell in with a great number of whales, which thought to upset our galiots; but those on board, with drums, pans, and kettles, set up such a din as caused them to make off. We also fell in with some galleys or 'padocs', 'patak', of the Malabars, on one occasion just at daybrak when the sky was cloudy and thick, so that we did not perceive them till they were close upon us. I was never more astonished than to see the perfect order of their sailors, all armed and ready to charge. We were taken unawares, while they had been the first to sight us; but being friendly, they only passed by. They numbered three galiots, and we the same.

For the rest, before closing this chapter, I would say, for the better understanding of what has been described above, that this army, which thus attacked and sacked the Maldives, was sent on behalf of the king of Bengal, a kingdom lying beyond these islands, on the mainland, under the tropic of Cancer. The principal motive which had induced him to make the enterprise was to seize the cannon that the king of the Maldives had gotten out of our wrecked ship, and the many others he had obtained in like manner. The cannon in question was the most beautiful example to be seen anywhere, and had great renown in the Indies, many kings and princes having been continually on the point of coming to see it.


Footnotes 1887:

Pyrard's pilgrimage vow to St. James in Galicia
Santiago Compostella, the famous shrine in Galicia of the patron saint of Spain. As will be seen hereafter, Pyrard was enabled to perform his vow.

Mukkavar
The Mukkavar are a fisher caste of Malabar, as Pyrard himself describes them later. But there is no doubt that the present expedition came from Bengal, as there were rejoicings when they returned home to Chittagong. Possibly there may have been some Mukkavar on board, but more likely the author thought he was justified in giving the Malabar name to people of the same class in Bengal.

Rannabandeyri Takuru
As will be remembered, this chief, on his return from Arabia, paid a visit to Ali Raja at Cananor, and was with difficulty induced to return to the Maldives. At that time, a treaty seems to have been negotiated, whereby the aid of Ali Raja was secured, to obtain for Rana Banda the possession, and for Ali Raja the suzerainty, of the islands. The Bengal fleet, which took away this prince as well as Pyrard, touched at Minicoy and at the Laccadives, but proceeded to Chittagong without touching land on the Malabar coast. When Pyrard afterwards leaves Chittagong for the Malabar coast, he makes no mention of the Maldive prince; it may be conjectured that he was left at the Laccadives to make his own way across to Cananor. According to tradition gleaned by Mr. Bell, he was after wards known as Maafilaafushi Rasgefanu, from the name of his family island.

Utheemu island, Thiladhunmathi atoll
It is noteworthy that our two great authorities on the Maldive islands, Ibn Batuta and Pyrard, both landed here, the one on his coming to, the other on his departure from, the islands. The fact of landing at it seems to have led the former to give its name to the atoll, of which it was but a unit, Teeim, according to this traveller, being one of the provinces or climates.
It is not quite at the head of the others, as Pyrard states here: indeed, he says, but a few lines below, that after leaving it 'at length we got out of the islands'. The northernmost island of the Maldives proper is Thuraakunu, in Ihavandhippolhu atoll.

Minicoy
Called Maliku by the natives, lies north of Maldives, being separated by the Eight Degree Channel, the distance being about 68 miles. This channel is the course generally adopted by steamers proceeding to Ceylon during the S.W. monsoon. The island is about 7 miles by half a mile broad; it still belongs to Cananor.

Pyrard is right in his statement that the people of Minicoy are of Maldive race and language. The population, according to the last census (1881), is 3,915. The majority follow a seafaring life, the island possessing six large vessels fit for the Bengal trade, four coasting vessels, and eight fishing boats. Their trade is with the Maldives, the Malabar coast, Ceylon, and Calcutta. Minicoy has thriven to a great extent, owing to being free of the restrictions which require the Laccadive natives to carry all their produce to particular Malabar ports.

Recently a lighthouse has been erected on the island by the British Government. One of the staff employed in its erection has written an interesting though short account of the island and its inhabitants (Minicoy, etc., by Bartholomeusz; London, 1885).

Divandurou, Laccadives
The Anduru islands, from the chief of them, generally called Androt, which contains the tomb of the apostle of local Islam. The name Laccadives (Laksha Dwipa, 'the Hundred Thousand Isles'), by which they are generally known, is that applied by the people of India, and was evidently meant to include the Maldives.

Albiruni speaks of the Maldives and Laccadives as Divah Kuzah and Diva Kanbar, the 'cowrie' and the 'coir' islands.
By the natives they are called Amendivi, from the island Amini, or simply divi.

Barbosa says they are four in number, and were called Malandiva (Barbosa, Hak. Soc., p. 164).

The Portuguese generally called these the Mammale islands, from the great Cananor merchant who controlled their trade; and the same name survives in Lancaster (Voy., Hak. Soc., p. 10).

The Laccadives consist of ten islands - Amini, Chetlat, Kadamat, and Kiltan (with Bitra, which is uninhabited) are British; Agathi, Kawrati, Androt, and Kalpeni (with Suheli, uninhabited) are the property of the Cananor Raja, but since 1877 have been sequestrated for non-payment of tribute, and are at present also under British administration.

Another classification obtains: - Amini, Kalpeni, Androt, and Kawrati are 'tarwat' islands, in which alone the high-caste natives reside; the rest are 'melacheri', or low-caste islands.
The total population in 1881 (excluding Minicoy, which is the personal property of the Raja) was 11,287.

See the valuable account, from a naturalist's point of view, by Mr. Allan Hume, in Stray Feathers, vol. iv; Calcutta, 1876.

Ali Raja's islands in Maldives
It must remain uncertain which were the thirty Maldive islands ceded by the Maldive king, and who was the king who ceded them. They could only have been ceded during a very serious revolt, such as that which ended in the abdication of Sultan Hassan (Dom Manoel), A.D. 1552, so that we may believe that the islands were given up by that Sultan, rather than by his rival Ali, who succeeded him.

Patak vessel
Malayalam 'patak', a country craft not now in use, frequently mentioned by the Portuguese writers.




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