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Full text of "Voyage to Pegu, and Observations There, Circa 1583"

SO/AS Bulletin of Burma Research, Vol. 1, No. 2, Autumn 2003, ISSN 1479-8484 

Editorial Note: 

Gaspero Baibi, an Italian travelling to Southeast Asia in the sixteenth century, has left for us a 
valuable account of Burma during the reign of Bayinnaung. This account was originally 
published in English as "Gaspero BaIbi his Voyage to Pegu, and observations there, gathered 
out of his owne Italian Relation," in Samuel Purchas (ed.), Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His 
Pilgrimes Contayning a History of the World in Sea Voyages and Lande Travells by Englishmen 
and Others, volume 10 (1626). Much of the narrative, however, covered his journal to the 
country, without reference to Burma, and this portion has been left out of the following version. 
According to the original editor's introduction, BaIbi, a Venetian jeweller, began his journey east 
with a caravan from Aleppo towards the Bagdet and the East Indies on the 13"^ of December 
1579. He would not reach Burma for another three and a half years. We do not know precisely 
how long he remained or when, indeed, he left Burma, for the available version of his narrative 
was left out of the Hakluytus Posthumus volume, for, as the original editor explained: 

"Our Author proceedeth In large discourses of this Countrie, and the occurrents of that 
time, which (so much as is necessary) we have in some of our other Peguan Relators, 
Frederike, Fitch, or the Jesuites, and are therefore here omitted." 



M.W. 0. 



Voyage to Pegu, and Observations There, Circa 1583 



Gaspero BaIbi 

On the thirteenth of September, 1583. in the name Jesus Christ, after wee had laded our 
merchandise, and payd our Customes, we went a shipboord; And having sailed untill the three 
and twentieth of this moneth, we found our selves neere to Maccareo, it is very strange which is 
reported of the ebblngs and Rowings of the water, and certainly he which hath not scene them 
will scarcely beleeve them; Certalne Pilots goe from Martovan, as swift as an Arrow in the 
encreasing of the water, as long as the Floud lasteth, and the Tide being at the height, they 
turne out of the chanell, and there ride; when the water is fallen on drie land ; and the bore or 
tide comes as some great tree: and in such a time they oppose the Prow against it, and so 
expect the furie of the water, which resembleth the noise of a great Earthquake: so that maugre 
their strength and skill the Barke is washed from head to stearne, and with that violence is 
carried swiftly into the chanell. After that, the winde blew from the South-west, and wee sailed to 
the North-west, till the morning, when we found our selves at Bara, right over Negrais (they call 
so in their language the Haven which goeth into Pegu) where wee discovered on the left side of 
the River a Pagod or Varella all gilded over, which is seene afarre off by the vessels that come 
from the Maine, and especially when the Sunne shines, which makes it glister round about as 
farre as it is seene. And because the raine washeth it often and consumeth the gold, the men of 
that place often regild it, that the ships by the splendor thereof may have this benefit, to know 

26 



VOYAGE TO PEGU 27 

the Haven: and they doe it for devotion and reverence to the place. Wee then all rejoyced at that 
time, and made merrie; because we considered that if we had arrived there foure or five dayes 
later we could not have entred the Haven by reason of the continual winds which blowe there 
with great furie. 

Then casting anchor, to expect the floud, so to shunne some Rockes which are under 
the water: we saw a place very curiously adorned with Bowers and a Church (where the Talipois 
reside, which are there as the Friers with us) where the people of this Countrie assemble to 
pray. It is reported that in this place there are abundance of Tigres which devoure the men and 
beasts of the Countrie. On the foure and twentieth of September, there came a little Barke 
neere us called a Salangara, whereby the Captaine of our ship sent a Portugall with a present to 
the King, to give him notice of our arrivall, and the evening following wee drew neere to the 
Hand of Flies, so called of the multitudes of them there caused from the abundance offish there 
salted, wherewith also we furnished our ship. 

In the meane time the ship went to Cosmi; to the Lord of the Countrie, who sent twenty 
Boats with eight Oares a piece, and a royall Almadie, which is a certaine long Barke, rowed with 
many Oares, and it beganne to put forth, and two dayes after the Lord of Cosmi came together 
with the ship, who presented our Moorish Captaine with great faire Hennes, of a very good 
taste, and many Oranges, which growe in great quantitie in the Countrie. The said Lord was 
rowed in a Barke made very fantastically, it was of the length of a Foist; but so narrow that in the 
middle it seemed not to be above one pace over, at the head and stearne it was as narrow as 
our Gondolos; but it was very high, and there were more then an hundred Rowers, which rowe 
at the side with an hundred Oares like stickes, and they did observe in their rowing to draw the 
water towards them all together by reason of foure Trumpeters, which sound when they should 
rowe, and sit in the middle of the Barke; the Signiorwas in a high Cabbin made in the middle of 
the Boat covered after the manner of the middle part of a Gondolo, but greater, with a Port 
before to shut, and open as he pleaseth. 

Now the fift of October we came to Cosmi, whose Territories on both sides are woody, 
and frequented with Parrots, Tigres, wilde Boares, Apes, and such like creatures. Cosmi is 
seated in 16. degrees and a third part, and hath the houses made of great Indian canes, and 
covered with straw, fronted towards the North-east, scituate in a very fine place, but subject to 
the ravening of Tigres, which often enter into the Towne, and catch men and beasts, and 
devoure them; but this they doe in the night, for they abide in the Woods all day. 

Wee departed from Cosmi the sixe and twentieth of October, with a little Paro, which is 
to say, a voyage Barke, having committed our merchandise to the Guardian of the great Paro, 
and sayling down the River, at even we arrived at a Village on the left hand of the River called 
Pain Perlon; and about three of the clocke the next morning at Marma Mala, and about the 
evening before a great Citie on the left hand of the River called Jaccubel; and an houre after at 
another on the right side called Tegiatden. The morning following we came to a place called 
Balatin, where they make Pots and Jarres of excellent fine earth, and a little after we saw Dian a 
fertile Countrie, plentifull in timber both for Houses, Ships, and Barkes, where they have 
certaine vessels like Galeasses, which have on both sides from head to sterne Cabbins with 
divers merchandises, and in the middle in stead of the Mast there is a house like ours, so that 
within them they traffique for store of Muske, Benjamin, and divers Jewels. 



28 GASPERO BALBI 

On the nine and twentieth day we saw the Land of Bedogiamana, Lagapala, and 
Purdabui, and the evening wee came to a great Countrie called Gungiebui, where wee tarried 
with great feare of being assaulted by theeves, who under the shew of friendship betray 
dispersed passingers; and in like manner we avoyded the danger of the multitude of Tigres, 
which in these parts assaile men, and destroy as many as they can get. For this cause we 
strengthned our selves in the middle of the River; yet they report, that the fiercenesse of this 
creature is such that he will prey in the water. The day following wee went in a narrow River like 
our Brent by Padua, which is shadowed with Paime trees that growe in great abundance in both 
sides of the River; there is the great Citie of Coilan, which is a league long on each side, which 
being a perfect square make twelve of our miles. After that, we came by another Citie called 
Tuvaguedan, where are many Pagods and Statues; and at evening we arrived at Leungon a 
very faire Citie, seated in a pleasant Territorie, I replenished with Palme trees: parting from 
thence after wee had scene many buildings on both sides of the River, about morning we came 
to a great populous Citie called Silvansedi, and at evening before another called Moggio where 
were infinite store of great and small vessels, all covered from head to sterne with straw, within 
which are the families of one house, so that they serve for convenient habitations, they use to 
drinke in them hot waters made of Rice, as strong as our Aquavits, these Barkes sell fresh fish, 
and salted and dressed in divers fashions, and other sorts of provision, so that along that River, 
to the mouth of the Sea, which is fresh water, they may sayle without carrying any victuals, but 
only money to spend. 

The second of November we came to the Citie of Dala, where besides other things are 
ten large roomes full of Elephants which are kept there by divers servants of the King of Pegu. 
The day following we came to the faire Citie of Dogon, it is finely seated, and fronted towards 
the South-west, and where they land are twenty long steps, as from the Pillar of Saint Marke to 
the Straw-bridge, the matter of them is strong and great pieces of timber, and there are great 
currents of water both at ebbe and floud, because it is a place neere Maccareo, which entreth 
and goeth out of the mouth of Sirian, which is a Sea-port: and alwais when the water 
encreaseth, they goe upon the Staires: and when it is ebbe, it discovers all about, and makes it 
a great way drie land. On both sides the River, at the end of the banke, or at the staires, is a 
woodden Tigre, very great, and painted after the naturall colour of a Tigre; and there are two 
others in the midst of the staires, so farre one from another, that they seeme to share the staires 
equally. They stand with open mouth, shewing their teeth and tongue, with their clawes lifted up 
and stretched forth, prepared to assaile him that lookes on them. 

Concerning these they told mee a foolish beliefe which they have, that they stand there 
to guard, for if any should be so bold to displease the Paged, those Tigers should defend him, 
for he would give them life. After we were landed we began to goe on the right hand in a large 
street about fifty paces broad, in which wee saw woodden houses gilded, and adorned with 
delicate gardens after their custome, wherein their Talapois, which are their Friers, dwell, and 
looke to the Paged, orVarella of Dogon. The left side is furnished with Portals and Shops, very 
like the new Procuratia at Venice: and by this street they goe towards the Varella, for the space 
of a good mile straight forwards, either under painthouses, or in the open street, which is free to 
waike in. When we came at the Varella, we found a paire of staires of ninety steps, as long in 
my judgement as the chanel! of the Rialto at Venice. At the foot of the first staire are two Tigres, 
one at the right hand, and the other at the left, these are of stone, and stand in the same fashion 
that they doe on the shoare-side. The staires are divided into three, the first is forty steps, the 
second thirty, and the third twenty, and at the top of each of them is a plaine spacious place. On 
the last step are Angels of stone, each with three Crowns one upon the other; but so, that that 



VOYAGE TO PEGU 29 

which is undermost is the greatest, and that which is next lesser then that, yet greater then the 
uppermost, which is the least. They have the right hand lifted up, ready to give the benediction, 
with two fingers stretched out. The other hand of the one is layd upon the head of a Childe, and 
of the other upon the head of an Ape; those Statues are all of stone. At the right hand is a 
Varella gilded in a round forme, made of stone, and as much in compasse as the streete before 
the Venetian Palace, if it were round: and the height may equall Saint Markes Bell-tower, not the 
top of it, but the little Pinnaces. At the left hand is a faire Hall carved and gilded within and 
without. And this is the place of devotion, whither the people goe to heare the Talapois preach: 
the streete is greater then Saint Markes, at the least larger. And this is a place of great devotion 
amongst them, and yeerely multitudes of people come by Sea and by Land. And when they 
celebrate a solemne Feast, the King in person goeth before them all, and with him the Qyeene, 
the Prince, and his other sonnes, with a great traine of Nobles and others, who goe to get a 
pardon. And on this day there is a great Mart where are all sorts of merchandises which are 
current in those Countries, which they frequent in great multitudes, which come thither not so 
much for devotion as traffique, and wee may freely goe thither if wee will. Round about this and 
upon another Varella were Apes running up and downe, the great and small staires also are full 
of them. After wee had seene this, at the foot of the first staire when I went downe I turned my 
face to the left side, and with some Portugals which were in my companie found in a faire Hall a 
very large Bell, which we measured, and found to be seven paces and three hand bredths, and 
it is full of Letters from the top to the bottome, and so neere together that one toucheth the 
other, they are very well and neatly made: but there was no Nation that could understand them, 
no not the men of Pegu, and they remember not whence, nor how it came thither. 

At the evening about one of the clocke at night wee went from this place, and about 
three we came among some Fishers Nets, which almost shipwrackt us, as they did one of our 
companie, who being entangled in them went under them, and so was sunke, and this was 
through the negligence of some Fishers, who when they lay forth such Nets, ought to have a 
barke with a light or fire all the night to give warning to Saylers, that they come not on that side. 
But praised be God, we freed our selves in the best manner we could; that day after the Sunne 
was up wee arrived over against the mouth of Sirian, which is on the South side, where with 
some difficulty we landed, for the violence of the water drew us into Maccareo. Sirian was an 
Imperiall Citie, where an Emperour resided, the Walls and Bulwarkes are ruined, by which one 
may see that it hath beene very strong, and almost impregnable; but Anno 1 567. it was subdued 
by the King of Pegu, who to take it sent a million and an haife of men; and after he had 
besieged it two yeeres with the losse of halfe a million of his men, he tooke it by treason. Which 
when the Emperour understood he poisoned himseife, and the rest of his familie were carried 
away prisoners upon Elephants, who returned in great numbers laden with Gold, Jewels, and 
other precious things: departing from Sirian we followed our Voyage, seeing many inhabited 
Townes called by divers names. Finally we came to a place called Meccao, where we 
disimbarqued to goe by land to Pegu, being about twelve miles. Over against Meccao are 
certame habitations where the King of Pegu was then for his disport, who causeth there 
beautiful! gilded vessels to be made, beseeming such a King. From Cosmi to Meccao we were 
eleven dayes in our Voyage, sayling alwaies by Rivers of fresh water, which ebbe and nowe, 
and on both sides there are houses and habitations made upon piles planted in the earth, so 
that the Tigres cannot molest the Inhabitants, they goe up to them upon Ladders made of light 
wood, which they draw up. Some of the Inhabitants keepe Bufalos in their houses; for they say, 
that the Tigres will not come neere the places where these beasts are, by reason of their ill 
favour; they are in these Countries of unmeasurable greatnesse and thicknesse. For the 
Voyage of Saint Thomas to Pegu, it is good to carrie Bracelets, which they make of glasse in 



30 GASPERO BALBI 

Saint Thomas, for with these better then with money you may buy victuals, and there in the Citie 
where you buy them they are sold at a lowe price, but if they are enamelled they sell them 
deare. The number of Pagods or Varellas which wee saw in this Voyage I write not, for they are 
innumerable, and in divers shapes ; but I onely say, that on the shoare where wee landed to 
goe to Dogon, which is made of large strong timbers, are two Statues, which resemble two 
Boyes from the head downewards, their faces after the likenesse of Devils with two wings. 
There are some Varellas gilded, and set in faire places, to which they come and offer Gold and 
other merchandise in great quantitie, to maintayne their gilding, for the raine spoiles it. About 
these Varellas are found tyed many Apes of that kinde which resemble Mountain-cats, which 
wee call Monkeyes; they keepe them very carefully, holding them to be creatures beloved of 
God, because they have their hands and feet like humane creatures; and therefore their Woods 
are full of them, for they never take any, except for their Varellas and Statues. 

There are two Cities of Pegu, the old and the new; in the former Strangers and 
Merchants inhabite, who are many, and utter great store of merchandise, in this also is the 
Kings Nobles, and Gentlemen, and other people. The new is not very large, it was built by the 
father of the present King, on a sudden, in a very neat fashion and with wonderfull strength: The 
old is very ancient and reasonable great, with many houses made of great caves, and many 
Magasins of brick to keepe wares in and to speake of the old Citie of Pegu, as of the nobler, 
because of the Kings residence in it, and of all his Court, you must knowe that the Citie-is 
pleasantly seated in the altitude of 16 degrees and a third part, it is environed with walls, and 
hath the forme of a perfit square, and in every square are five gates: round about it are many 
ditches full of water, which continues all the yeere, and in them are many Crocodiles, which are 
put there, that if any will wade over these ditches they may be taken and killed. 

After that I was provided of a good Druggerman and Interpreter, the noise of Trumpets 
was heard, which signified wee should see the King and have audience of him, wee entred 
within the second gate, whereby they goe into the Court-yard, and the Interpreter and I cast our 
selves upon our knees on the ground, and with our hands elevated in humble wise, and making 
a shew three times before we rose of kissing the ground; and three other times we did thus 
before wee came neere to the place where the King sate with his Semini, prostrate on the earth 
(for no Christian, how neere soever to the King, nor Moorish Captaines, except of his Semini, 
come in that neere the King) I heard all his Speach, but understood it not: I gave the Emeralds 
to the Interpreter, who lifted them up over his head, and againe made reverence, of them called 
Rombee: and as soone as the King saw it, a Nagiran, that is to say, the Lord of his words, or 
Interpreter, making the like Rombee, tooke the Emeralds, and gave them into the Kings hand, 
and then went out of his presence, who a little while after called him, commanding him as Lord 
of his words, that he should asks mee what Countriman I was, how many yeeres it was since I 
left my Countrie, and what was my name, and from what place I had brought those Emeralds, 
and I with the accustomed Rombee (for at every word they speake they must make such an 
obeisance) answered that my name was Caspar Baibi, that I had beene in my Voyage foure 
yeeres, and that I brought the Emeralds from Venice to give his Majestic, the fame of whose 
bountie, courtesie and greatnesse was spread over the world, and especially in our parts, to be 
the greatest King in the world; all this was written in their letters, and read by the Lord of his 
words to his Majestie. He commanded to aske me in what parts Venice was seated, and what 
King governed it; and I told him that it was in the Kingdome of Italic, and that it was a Republike 
or free State, not governed by any King. 



VOYAGE TO PEGU 31 

When the King heard this, he greatly wondered; so that he began to laugh so 
exceedingly, that hee was overcome of the cough, which made him that hee could hardly 
speake to his Great men. Lastly, hee demanded, if that King which last tooke Portugall were as 
great, and if Venice were warlike. To which I answered, that King Philip that had taken Portugall 
was the potentest King among the Christians, and that the Venetians were in league with him, 
but had no feare of any, yet sought friendship with all. And then I reported the overthrow which 
the Venetians gave the Emperour of the Turkes. Ametbi, who at that time was at Mecca, 
confirmed this to be true of the defeat of the Turkish Armado. Then he gave me a Cup of gold, 
and five pieces of China Damaske of divers colours, and bad them tell me, that he gave me 
these, and did not so pay me for my Emeralds, for which I should be contented of his publike 
Terreca, which are his Treasurers. This was holden for novelty with them that saw it, for it was 
not the Kings custome to present any thing to any. Moreover, the King ordered that for the 
wares which I had brought, the Decacini should not make me pay any Taxe or Custome. 

The King nourisheth at his charges more then eight hundred domesticall Elephants of 
warre; but for wilde ones they may have as many as they will, for the Woods are full of them. 
The Bufalos of this Countrie are of berettine colour, but so great, that they are like Elephants. 

There are other creatures as with us, and many also of other kinds. When he goeth to 
his recreations solemnely, or in his Robes, foure white Elephants goe before him vested with 
Gold, having their teeth inclosed in a sheath wrought with Jewels. The King of Pegu hath great 
store of Artillarie of all sorts; but he wants men to manage them, he might make as many 
Gallies, Foists & Galleassts as he would, if he had men to governe them, and to make them, 
and therefore makes none: yet when he undertakes any enterprise, he carries with him small 
Ordnance, which are governed by certaine Gunners, Moores of Bengala, of whom, as of 
strangers, he hath small confidence. 

The King of Avva, being subject to the King of Pegu, and Brother to his Father, had a 
purpose to make himselfe Master of his Nephewes Kingdome, and to make himselfe King, 
because he was the ancienter of the Royall branch; therefore at the Inauguration of the present 
King, he would not come to doe him homage as he ought, and as other Kings and Dukes his 
subjects did; he did not onely absent himselfe, but also kept backe the Present of Jewels which 
he was wont to give, and restrained also the trade from his Countrie to Pegu, not suffering any 
Merchant to passe, but sought to conspire with his chiefe Courtiers against the King of Pegu, 
who as a good Nephew dissembled it, the said King of Avva being recommended to him from 
his Father before his death. Finally, the King of Pegu, willing to cleare himselfe of the ill will 
conceived against the King of Avva his Uncle, sent one of his houshold servants to him, who 
was slaine by the King of Avva because of the warre, trusting that the Grandes of the Kingdome 
of Pegu would favour his part, and revolt from their naturall Lord, to set Him in his place. 
Therefore the King of Pegu proclaimed warre against Avva, and called to him his Bagnia and 
Semini, and gave order to his Decagini, that as they came he should put them in prison; which 
being performed by the Decagini, the King ordained that the morning following they should 
make an eminent and spacious Scaffold, and cause all the Grandes to come upon it, and then 
set fire to it, and burne them all alive. But to shew that he did this with Justice, he sent another 
mandate, that he should doe nothing till he had an Olla or Letter written with his hand in letters 
of gold, and in the meane time he commanded him to retaine all the prisoners of the Grandes 
families unto the women great with child, and those which were in their swaddling clothes, and 
so he brought them all together upon the said Scaffold; and the King sent the Letter that he 
should burne them, and the Decagini performed it, and burned them all, so that there was heard 



32 GASPERO BALBI 

nothing but weepings, shril<ings, cryings, and sobbings: for there were foure thousand in this 
number which were so burned great and small, for which execution were publike Guards placed 
by the King, and all of the old and new Citie were forced to assist them; I also went thither, and 
saw it with great compassion and griefe, that little children without any fault should suffer such 
martyrdome, and among others there was one of his chiefe Secretaries, who was last put in to 
be burned, yet was freed by the Kings order; but his legge was begunne to be burnt, so that he 
was lame. 

And after followed this order from his Majestic, that those other Captaines which 
remained should come to him, and he said to them. You have seene what we have done to 
Traitors, but be faithfull, and set in order all the people as you can, for I am a Captaine that 
warre justly, going without any feare of not overcoming: and so on a sudden, and within few 
dayes, he gathered together out of both the Cities more then three hundred thousand persons, 
and encamped without the Citie. Ten dayes after that I saw the King upon an Elephant all over 
covered with Gold and Jewels, goe to the warre with great courage, with a Sword after our 
custome sent him by the Vice-roy of Goa, the hilt whereof was gilded: the said Vice-roy was 
called Don Luis di Zuida: he left the white Elephants in the Citie. 

After that, the King fell sicke of the small poxe, but when he was well, he encountred 
with the King of Avva, and they two fought, body to body without any hinderance of the Armies; 
who being equally matched, as their use is, combated bravely, as did also the Guard of this 
King with that of the other, and after the Kings had fought a while hand to hand, first with 
Harquebusses, then with Darts, and lastly with the Sword, the Elephant of the King of Pegu 
brake his right tooth with charging that of Awa, in which, furie he so coupled with the other 
Elephant, that the King of Pegu killed the King of Avva, and he remained lightly wounded on one 
arme, and in the meane while his Elephant fell dead under him, and the King of Pegu mounted 
upon that of Awa. But when the Armie of Avva saw their King dead, they ceased to fight, and 
demanded pardon of the King of Pegu, who with a joyfull countenance praising their valour 
pardoned them all, and making a muster, found that of three hundred thousand which hee 
brought from Pegu, there died in that battell more then 200000. and little lesse of those of Avva. 

After this victorie he ordered that Avva should be destroyed, and all the people made 
prisoners, among which was the Queene taken prisoner, who was sister of the King of Pegu, 
and confined, during her life in a large house with many royall attendants; but shee agreed 
never to goe forth. The rest of the Citizens were banished to live in Woods among Tigres, and 
other creatures, and this was because the King of Pegu could not finde the great treasure which 
the King of Avva had. This warre was in the beginning of the moneth of Aprill, when in that 
Countrie fall great store of raines, causing great cold in a place called Meccao; and the 
fourteenth day of July, in sixe dayes he returned unexpectedly to Pegu, not finding the Citie with 
those guards which his Majestic had appointed, but at the request of the Prince his sonne he did 
no other justice. 

At this his arrivall he understood, that when hee was at the warre, there was arrived under 
excuse to come to his favour in the old Citie of Pegu the sonne of the Emperour of Silon (or 
Siam) with fifty Elephants of warre, and eight hundred Horses, besides Harquebussers, 
Pikemen, and Souldiers with swords, who were sent towards Avva by the great Brama; but in 
stead of taking his way towards that coast he returned to Silon. 



VOYAGE TO PEGU 33 

In the mean time was brought into Pegu the Elephant of the King of Avva, which was so 
much discontented, that all the day long he mourned, I my selfe saw him lament, and that hee 
would eate but very little; and this I saw in the lodging where the King of Pegu was wont to 
keepe his, where continually were two Semini, that prayed him to eate, and mourne no longer, 
but be merry, for he was come to serve a King greater then his own. 

Notwithstanding the said Elephant would not cease from teares, and alwaies in token of 
sorrow held down his trunk: and thus he continued the space of 15. dayes, and then he began 
to eate, to the Kings great content. With the teeth of the Kings Elephant which died in battell by 
command from his Majestic were made certalne Pagods or Statues, which were layd up to bee 
kept among the Pagods of gold and silver. After the King made five other of Gonza,^ which was 
a marvellous thing to see, for sitting crosse-legged, they were as high as a strong man could 
fling a stone, and they were ingraved fairely and curiously: one toe of the foot was greater than 
a man, and the said Pagods were set in publike before the Palace, and bespangled with gold. 

The warre of Avva being now finished, the King of Silon, who was subject to the King of Pegu, 
sent one to his Majestie to tell him, that it grieved him that a slave had given answer to his 
some, whom he had sent to aide the King himselfe, and therfore now he made no more account 
of him, nor held him for his Lord; therefore the King of Pegu sent forth a great Armie against 
Silon, under the conduct of the great Brama, who after he had lost many people through the 
heat; & through the great fortitude of Silon, could obtaine nothing of him but this, that if the King 
of Pegu would come to the campe he would reverence him, but he would not yeeld himselfe to 
his inferior; and the King of Pegu answered, that he would have his least slave subdue his 
subject. Although they kept a straight siege against Silon, yet the Citie stood it out manfully. It 
hath beene an imperiall Citie; the houses are of timber, built high because of the overflowing of 
the River. In Winter every house hath a Boat to transport their people from one side of the River 
to the other: there are many houses of poore people made upon great plankes with edifices of 
wood or great canes built on them, which they guide whither they will, to buy and sell any sort of 
merchandise, which is exercised by women, who when a ship comes to that place, doe not 
unlade it; but goe themselves upon these Rafts to negotiate, buy and sell. The people of Silon 
are Gentiles, as those of Pegu, they are white and beautifull; they feare not to bee overcome by 
the King of Pegu after this manner; for his father brought them to his obedience, going in 
person, and accompanied with eight hundred thousand men, neither had he taken it, if it had not 
beene by treason, by opening a Gate, there were many Portugals then taken prisoners, who 
were freed by the present King of Pegu, with commendations for doing what the King of Silon 
commanded them. In the meane time there was a great fire kindled in a street of the Portugals 
in Pegu, by the diversitie of winds which blew, it burned more then 3800. houses, and some 
Pagods, and praying places: and because it is a custome, that the King of Pegu in such cases 
proceeds against those which are authors of such a fire, there was search made who kindled 
the fire, and he was certified, that it was in the house of a Portugall Pilot which brought us to the 
Citie. The King made no shew of judging this to have beene for malice: but we were in continuall 
feare of burning, and so much the rather, because one of the Kings Diviners told him, that if hee 
would have the victorie of Silon, hee must burne a Citie, as his father did; and therefore we 
doubted that hee would destroy this old Citie of Pegu; but he was disswaded from it by the 
Prince his sonne, who is very courteous and pleasant, and much delighted in discharging 
Harquebusses, and to shoot in Bowes, hee is of great stature, and browne, as his father; when 



^ Gonza is a mixt metall of brasse and tin whereof they make money. 



34 GASPERO BALBI 

he goes abroad he is carried up in a Palamkin very pompously (as his other three little brothers 
are also) under a Cloth of state openly.