Friday, 30 December 2011

Cochin king and nair chavers-16th century(1596)

The images,date to the 16th century, originating in the famous Itinerario of Jan Huygen van Linschoten (1562-1611), an account of his journey to the Indian Peninsula during the height of Portuguese power in Asia.
Linschoten described these boats used by the inhabitants of the Malabar coast as "very light, as well to saile as to row, which they use for Marchandise because of their fitness thereto":

Linschoten described the "Nayros" as fearsome soldiers, serving the King of Cochin and armed at all times, many with "muskets as fine as any in Europe and which they know well how to use so that the Portugals have no advantage against them." Regarding these "Nayros" Linschoten noted in his commentary for this image (here from the 1598 English translation of the Itinerario) that "Not any of them are married, nor may not marrie during their lives but they may freely lie with the Nayros daughters, or with any other that liketh them what women soever they bee even though they be a married women. When the Nayro hath a desire thereunto, hee entereth into a house where he thinketh good, and setteth his armes in the streete without the doore, and goeth in and despatcheth his businesse with the good wife or the daughter, the doore [tanding wide open, not fearing any man or husband..." link to the web site.

No comments: