Jean-Baptiste Tavernier: A Life

Jean Baptiste Tavernier
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Shop Gemstone Carvings. Shop Fancy Gemstones. Shop Star Gemstones. Shop Unheated Sapphire. Jean-Baptiste Tavernier Born in Paris in , Jean-Baptiste Tavernier was one of the most famous travelers of the 17th century, who pioneered the trade of various commodities with India. Hope Diamond Fortunately for Tavernier, this did not actually occur. Reproduction text or graphics without the express written consent of GemSelect. Sign up for our Newsletter. Shipping Payment Seller Trust. Click for Details. Add to Cart. Remove from Cart. Customer Reviews In my 20's I imported gemstones.

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Owing to disturbances in the country, he was unable to resume his journey eastwards till the last day of the year. It is needless here to detail his adventures in Persia from this time forwards till the lIth of May, when he embarked at Bandar 'Abbas on a ship belonging to the King of Go]konda, which was bound for the port of Masulipatam, on the east coast of India. After narrowly escaping shipwreck he reached Masulipatam on the 2nd of July -- or perhaps for 2nd we should read 12th, and on the 21st of July, together with M.

The description of this march will be found in Book I, chap. Here it need only be pointed out that, conformably to his custom, he made friends with the English who were residing in Fort St. George, and visited the Portuguese Governor and Catholic brotherhoods at St. On the 22nd of the same month he started by the valley of the Penner River for Gandikot, which he might have reached from Masulipatam by a more direct and shorter route had he not desired to visit Madras.

As Mir Jumla was not only the Genera] of the troops but also Prime Minister, Tavernier had gone to him in order to show him -- as he was bound to do, not merely as an act of courtesy but because it was the custom -- the pearls and precious stones which he proposed to sell to the King.

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Several interviews which he had with Mir Jumla served to impress him with a high opinion of that General's abilities. On the 15th Tavernier took leave after receiving his assurance that he had recommended him to his son at the Golkonda court. His march northwards lasted till the 2nd of October, when he reached Golkonda. After some delay negotiations were opened with reference to the sa1e of the precious stones, but in consequence of a remark by a eunuch that the prices asked by Tavernier were too high, he took offence, and, together with M.

In some of the editions the date of his showing the precious stones is given as the 25th of October , but in the edition the 15th is mentioned; and as he started on the following day, and the distance was twenty-one days' journey, or five days less than by the Aurangabad route which was twenty-six days, he reached Surat either on the 5th or the 15th of November.

Shortly afterwards his companion, M. Thence he returned to Surat, and set out for Golkonda on the 6th of March by the Aurangabad route, arriving at Golkonda on the 1st of April.

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He then paid another visit to the mines, regarding which, as he gives no details, we must only conclude that any observations of importance made by him on this occasion are incorporated in the account of his previous visit in , which has been above alluded to. He says M. Joret objects that he had died in But had he?

We know his father, M. Tavernier next refers to being back at Surat, where he heard that war had been declared between the English and Dutch. On the 8th of January he sailed in one of a fleet of five Dutch vessels of war which were dispatched from Surat to intercept the English fleet, which was then expected to be on its way back from Hormuz. After a naval engagement in which the English were beaten, and various delays, the Dutch fleet proceeded to Bandar 'Abbas, arriving there on the 7th of March.

Tavernier then started for Ispahan, visiting Kerman en route, where he purchased a large quantity of the beautiful wool of that country for transport to France. After a protracted stay in Persia, where he visited many places which he had not previously seen, he returned to Paris apparently in the autumn of the year , but the information he gives on this point is very vague. Shortly after leaving Marseilles, the vessel in which he had embarked was chased by pirates, and was compelled to take refuge in a port near Toulon, from whence he returned by land, carrying on his person the jewels which he was taking with him to sell in the East, but allowing his heavier merchandise to proceed in the same vessel.

At Marseilles he again took ship in an English vessel for Italy. In Italy he spent a short time, and visited Ferdinand II of Tuscany, who treated him with kindness and distinction. He then sailed for Smyrna in a Dutch ship, and while awaiting the departure of the caravan, sent one of his servants to buy in Constantinople some pearls which he heard that a Jew residing there had for sale, because, he remarks, pearls were the best articles of trade which could be taken to India.

At this time, according to him, Smyrna was the principal entrepot for all kinds of goods which passed from Europe to Asia and from Asia to Europe. From the vague indications given by Tavernier Prof. Joret concludes that he started with the caravan trom Smyrna in June The journey was made by Erivan and Tabriz to Ispahan, without any event happening worthy of particular record. Owing to the accounts which reached him of the disturbed condition of India, in connexion with the usurpation by Aurangzeb of his father's throne, Tavernier appears to have prolonged his stay in Ispahan till the beginning of ; but before starting for Surat, which his letter addressed to Shaista Khan proves him to have reached in May of that year, he dispatched to Masulipatam, in charge of one of his servants for safety, and perhaps to evade dues, the bulk of the beautiful objects and rare curiosities which he had collected for Shaista Khan in Europe.

Shaista Khan's reply to his letter was an invitation to visit him at Jahanabad, sending him a passport to enable him to do so with ease and safety.

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This book is a biographical and illustrated account of the life of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier, a French national who traveled extensively for almost forty years of his . Portrait of Jean-Baptiste Tavernier by Nicolas de Largillière (c. ). In , at eighteen, Tavernier took service with the Viceroy of.

Delayed by the rains, Tavernier had not started before he received other letters, first asking him to come to Burhanpur, and then to Aurangabad. When he went to take leave of the Governor of Surat, named Mirza Arab, he was informed by him that until instructions came from Aurangzeb, who had been informed of his arrival, he would not be allowed to depart.

He then wrote to Shaista Khan, asking him to send an order to the Governor to let him go; this was done, and at length, after six months' delay at Surat, he set out and found Shaista Khan laying siege to Chakan Choupar in the Deccan. As has been seen on pp. It is inferred from. In his Persian Travels he says Book V, chap.

It was thought that, as he had by this time amassed a considerable fortune, and was married in the same year for the first time in his life, he would settle down and rest from his travels, which, as we have seen, commenced when he was only fifteen years of age. His wife waa named Madeleine Goisse, a daughter of Jean Goisse, a jeweller, with whom he had had some business transactions, and who was a connexion by marriage of his brother Melchior.

As months passed in preparation, this intention expanded, and on the 27th of November he started from Paris, and did not return again for five years. On this occasion he took with him a young nephew, son of Maurice Tavernier, and four attendants of. After three months' marching the caravan reached Erivan on the 14th of September, and Tabriz on the 9th of November, where two of his followers, one a watchmaker and the other a goldsmith, died of sickness brought on by the fatigues of the journey. On the 22nd of November, having before-hand dispatched his principal goods, he left with a small party for Ispahan, and arrived there on the 14th of December.

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Three days afterwards the King, Shah 'Abbas II, who in had bought a quantity of jewels from him, summoned him to his palace, where he went In state accompanied by all the Franks, and bearing with him his most precious treasures, Father Raphael acting as interpreter. The Shah first inquired to whom he had sold the jewels which he had with him on the occasion of his last voyage, and he informed him that it was to Shaista Khan, and that the price he received was , rupees, though he mentions no sum in the account of the transaction itself.

His present to the Shah consisted of a large metallic mirror, which distorted the face of anyone looking into it. All the jewels, with the exception of the pearls, were bought, after prolonged negotiation, at the high prices which Tavernier demanded. The Shah being, however, well pleased, Tavernier besought his protection for his nephew, and requested that he himself should be allowed to sell his goods in Persia, free of duty, both of which requests were granted, and he was further complimented by the bestowal of a robe of honour, and by being appointed jeweller in ordinary.

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Further, out of regard for him a good reception was promised to all Franks arriving in Persia. A portrait of Tavernier prefixed to the Receueil, published in , and reproduced as a frontispiece to this volume, represents him clothed in this robe, with the addition of the mantle which was further conferred upon him by the express order of the Shah.

The Shih gave him several designs for ornaments, made by himself, which he desired to have executed in gold, enamel, and precious stones. Curiously enough, Chardin relates that a similar order was given to himself in At length Tavernier left Ispahan for India on the 24th of February , and reached Bandar 'Abbas about the end of the first week of April, having made several halts on the road. On the 5th of May we find him once more at Surat. On the occasion of this voyage an injury happened to him at the hands of the Dutch, which, added to what had previously been done to him in Batavia, served to perpetuate his enmity and contempt.

Having been entrusted by the English Resident with an important packet of letters for Surat, which it was believed contained information of the outbreak of war in Europe, it was stolen by the Dutch, a parcel of blanks being put in its place. The English in Surat were naturally indignant when, instead of their letters, they received these blanks, and it is said that Tavernier was threatened with assassination, in consequence of which all the plans he had made for his Indian tour were thrown into confusion.

He sent a strong protest against this scandalous treachery to the General at Batavia, and stated that if satisfaction were not rendered, he would, on his return to France, carry the matter further, and would also inform the Saih of Persia. He does not appear to have received any direct satisfaction, and this probably led him to write his exposures contained in The History of the Conduct of the Dutch in Asia. On arrival at Surat, the Governor told him that Aurangzeb wished to be the first to see his jewels; and he further learnt that Shaista Khan was in Bengal, so that although, in pursuance of his promise given on the last occasion, he desired to visit him first, he was compelled to go to Jahanabad, travelling probably by Burhanpur, Sironj, Gwalior, and Agra, and arriving at Jahanabad in September.

On the 12th of the same month he went to salute the Great Mogul, to whom, as well as to the nobles of the Court and others, he made presents amounting in all to the value of 28, livres. He then sold to the Great Mogul, Aurangzeb, a number of his most precious. Subsequently, it was bought by Shaista Khan, who was then in Dacca, but with him too it became the subject of a serious dispute.

Tavernier remained two months at Jahanabad, and on the 1st of November, when he went to take leave, Aurangzeb pressed him. So tempting an offer was at once accepted by Tavernier, and to this we owe some of the most interesting chapters in the whole of his travels. The fete having concluded on the 9th of November, he was on the following day shown the jewels, including the great Mogul diamond. Shortly afterwards he left for Agra, and on the 25th not the 15th, as an obvious though frequently repeated misprint has it in various editions he started for Bengal, being accompanied by the celebrated French physician named Bernier and another friend named Rachepot.

Having obtained permission to cross the Ganges, they followed its left bank and arrived at Benares on the 11th, where they remained for two days, and then proceeded along the right bank to Patna, which they reached on the 20th. It is clear that on this occasion Tavernier did not turn down the valley ot the Son to Rohtas and the diamond mine at Soumelpur, and it is uncertain whether he ever went there; but he may have done so on his return and prolonged visit to Patna and its neighbourhood, which is mentioned below, or during his first journey to Dacca in After eight days spent at Patna he embarked on the 29th December not January, as by an obvious misprint it is given in several ofthe editions , and passed down the Ganges; reaching Rajmahal on the 4th of January On the 6th M.

Bernier left him to go to Kasimbazar, while he proceeded to Dacca,which he reached on the 18th, and on the following day went to visit the Nawab, Shaista Khan, to whom he made a valuable present. After selling him the goods which he had brought for him, and having received an order for payment on Kasimbazar, he started for that place on the 29th, and reached it on the 12th of February, being well received by Van Wachtendonk, the Director of all the Dutch factories in Bengal.

On presenting his order for payment to the Mogul's Treasurer, he was informed by him that three days previously he had received an order not to pay it. Subsequently this Treasurer, acting under Shaista Khan's instructions, offered to pay him the debt less by 20, rupees. Tavernier enlarges on the causes which led to this treatment, attributing it to the machinations of Aurangzeb's officers to spite him for not having sold the jewels to them, in order that they might resell them to their master at an enhanced rate.

There is no direct record of his subsequent movements, but he appears to have spent June and July in Patna, where, on the second day of the last-named month, he witnessed an eclipse of the sun. In August he probably reached Agra, where he seems to have met the representatives of the French company 'for establishing commerce in Persia and India'. He ultimately reached Surat on the 1st of November, and met there M.

Early in the year Tavernier left Surat -- probably, as ingeniously calculated by M. Joret, in the month of February -- for Bandar 'Abbis, where he met, among other Europeans, the famous traveller Chardin. At Ispahan he remained for some months, probably till the end of In the early part of the year he reached Constantinople, and made a prolonged stay there, finally reaching Paris on the 6th of December; and being then sixty-three years old, he resolved to enjoy the riches he had acquired and rest from his labours. His first care, he tells us, was to render thanks to God, who had protected him through all perils by sea and land during the.

His life after this period for sixteen years cannot be followed out in detail here from want of space. Those who desire details are referred to M.

Jean-Baptiste Tavernier: A Life

Joret's excellent volume. It is only possible to mention here a few of the principal events. Soon after his arrival in France he had an interview with Louis XIV, who was anxious to see so famous a traveller; and the distinguished traveller did not forget. In April he purchased the barony of Aubonne, near Geneva, and in the following month he took the oaths, and was received by their Excellencies of Berne as 'Seigneur Baron d'Aubonne'. He restored the Castle and orientalized! It is commonly said that the Voyages were written from Tavernier's dictation by a French Protestant named Samuel Chappuzeau; but it is evident from many remarks scattered through the volumes, and, indeed, is sufficiently proved from the nature of the facts recorded, that many pages must have been written at or shortly after the time when the events took place, and by Tavernier himself.

Chappuzeau, who had obtained considerable reputation as an historian and writer of theatrical plays, was prevailed on to edit Tavernier's notes, or, as he afterwards described it, to give form to the chaos, as the confused memoirs of the six voyages might be called. The statement made by Chappuzeau and quoted by Bayle, that the only written portions were by Father Gabriel de Chinon, Capuchin, seems to be somewhat inconsistent with this. Chappuzeau states that it was with the greatest repugnance he undertook the work, and then only in consequence of Tavernier's having used his interest to get the King to prevail upon him to do so.


His friendship for Tavernier was completely broken under the 'mortification if not martyrdom' which he suffered, as he says, for the space of a year, while exposed to the rough humour of Tavernier and the ridicule of his wife. I agree completely with M. Joret in the opinion that the internal evidence is too strong to admit of the supposition that Tavernier was not personally the author of the larger part of the memoirs, and that from their very nature they could not have been written from mere verbal dictation.

Chappuzeau doubtless edited them, and did his work very badly, as the numerous omissions and contradictions prove. In the year Tavernier's first publication appeared under the title, Nouvelle Relation du Serrail du Grand Signior.