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South East Asia.

Malay Archipelago (Maritime Southeast Asia): ° Bangladesh ° India ° Indonesia ° Malacca Strait ° Malaysia ° Maldives ° Myanmar (Burma) ° Pakistan ° Philippines ° Riau Islands ° Singapore ° Sri Lanka ° Thailand ° Timor

The Konkan Coast

° Andaman and Nicobar Islands ° Bengal ° Bombay (Mumbai)  ° Calcutta  ° Cawnpore ° Delhi ° Gujarat ° Indore ° Jodhpur  ° The Konkan Coast (Goa) ° Madras (now Chennai)  ° Patna (Bihar) ° Tellicherry ° Varkala


Goa was coveted and ruled by a great number of Indian kingdoms and dynasties from the 4th century onwards as her shoreline is lapped by the warm waters of Arabian Sea; all the treasures of the ancient world were borne across that sea from the Arabian Pensinsula to the shores of India.

The Port of Goa with European Vessels Anchored offshore.

Konkan Coast.Goa.

Ancient trade routes along the coasts of Africa, Arabia, and India held the same promise of wealth and adventure which lured Sinbad the Sailor to the sea, the mythical hero of The Thousand and One Nights sailing out of medieval Cairo.

Shortly after 3000 B.C.E., ships raced along the coasts to southern Arabia and India, exchanging copper ore from Oman, teakwood from India, and incense from Arabia for wheat, cheese, and barley from northern kingdoms.

The first kingdom to rule Goa and Konkan were Bhojas, who were the feudatories of Ashoka in 4th and 5th centuries AD. The city of Chandrapur (present Chandor) was founded by Prince Chandraditya, son of Chalukya King Pulakesin from 566 to 597 A.D. after this, Goa was ruled consecutively by Silahara Dynasty, Kadamba Danasty, and finally Hoysalas from 1022 to 1342 A.D.

By 1510 Goa Dourada (Golden Goa) was the center of the world's spice trade and one of the richest places on earth. It is said that more people lived in Goa than in London or Paris.

When the Portuguese colonised part of Goa in the sixteenth century, they based their operations in the central district of Tiswadi, notably in the international emporium City of Goa, now Old Goa.

Inquisition of Goa. To be burnt at the stake. Late 18th Century

Konkan Coast.Inquisition at Goa. For centuries Goa, the seat of the sea-borne Portuguese empire, was considered the Rome of the Orient. It was the headquarters of the Catholic Church in the Orient.

In 1545 Francis Xavier wrote to Rome from Goa requesting that the Inquisition to be installed immediately. King Jo o III under the influx of the Dominicans, considered the Inquisitor General to be worth more than royalty itself, and surrendered his powers to the Company of Jesus, granting the widest possible powers to the Jesuits, who were able even to alter civil laws. Even the Viceroys of India were afraid of the Inquisition. Perhaps because of its Catholic fervor, the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa became the most severe and cruel of all the Portuguese territories.

Auto-Da-Fe at Goa India: The procession of clergy and their victims
C. Du Bosc


In 1546, the formal establishment of the Inquisition was petitioned by St. Francis Xavier, but his wishes were complied with only in 1560. Goas first auto-da-fe (ritual of public penance of condemned heretics and apostates) took place on Sept. 27, 1563, two Judaizers figuring among the four victims. The subsequent activities became greater and greater. Autos-da-fe of particular violence took place under the zealous inquisitor Bartholomew da Fonseca in 1575 and 1578. In each of these 17 Judaizers lost their lives, a couple of Lutherans also suffering in the first. With the return of Fonseca to Portugal, the fury abated, so that from 1590 to 1597 no death sentences were pronounced.

The Konkans

The Konkans history of maritime trade trace back to the pre-Mauryan period. The Jataka tales recount more than 500 previous lives of the Buddha, including the maritime trade on the Konkan coast. For instance, the Bavera Jataka illustrates the event of the first shipment of peacocks from the Konkan coast to Babylon.

Konkan Coast.Map of Goa.
Map of the City and Portuguese Port of Goa, India
Details of port and merchant shipping. 1595.
Johannes Baptista Van Doetechum The Younger

The Konkans traded with the Greeks and the Egyptians; the writings of the Egyptian geographer Ptolemy and excavations at Memphis in Egypt confirm the early maritime trade with the Konkans.

Romans visited the Konkans for collecting jewels and articles of luxury and eventually established trade links with the ports of Konkan through the Red Sea route.

Mocha, Aden, Socotra and Ormuz then became the transit-ports of much importance, and of all the ports in the Konkan, Goa became the most important because of its natural harbour embraced by two deep rivers reaching out to the sea and protected by surrounding hills. Spices, fine muslins, cotton, perfumes, pearls and diamonds were shipped through Goa, which has been known by many names throughout history -- including Gopakapattana, Gomanta, Goparashtra, Gopakapuri and Gorastra .

The maritime trade in ancient Goa reached its zenith during the rule of the Kadamba Kings. There is a reference to Gopakapattana being the capital of Jaykeshi-I, a Kadamba King, written by the Jain Guru Hemachandra in the 12th century A.D. Inscriptions also indicate that during the rule of the King Jaykeshi-I, his capital Gopakapattana grew very rich and prosperous.

The wealth accumulated there facilitated its overseas trade relations with Simhala (Sri Lanka), Zungavan (Zanzibar), Khyata (Kuwait) and many more. It used to act as a entrepot port, facilitating maritime trade of the landlocked countries beyond the Western Ghat ranges with the outside world. In the post-Kadamba era (latter part of the 14th century), the pendulum of control over Goa oscillated from the Bahmanis to the kings of Vijaynagar and finally, the Adilshahi Kingdom of Bijapur captured Goa and established its second capital and a port of Ela, the present day Old Goa.

Despite the frequent change of rulers, the commercial maritime activities flourished unabated.

Ela was the only city in the west coast which earned a revenue of 10,000 pounds per annum; most of which was from the Customs duty. During the Adilshah rule, the revenue was mostly from Customs duty levied on horses imported from Ormutz and the coast of Arabia. There was a great demand for horses from the battling rulers in Goa's hinterland. The rate of duty on horses was two Pounds for each animal. Besides, the Government monopolised the trade in the articles of daily consumption like vegetables and betel-nuts. During the Moslem rule before the arrival of the Portugese, i.e. around 1470 to 1510 A.D, a uniform duty of six per cent was levied for the import and export of merchandise, except for horses, pearls, precious and semi-precious stones, silver and gold.

Goa.Mahratta Surdar.
A Mahratta Surdar entertaining Brahmins
Deen Alee.

Vasco-de-Gama, the Portugese explorer, discovered the sea-route to India from Europe via the Cape of Good Hope and landed in Calicut in 1498. Later, in November, 1510, Alfonso de Albuquerque, the great Portugese captain, captured Ela, and soon with the conquest of Ormutz Aden and Malacca broke the trade monopoly hitherto enjoyed by the Arab seafarers. Thereafter, naturally the maritime traffic also got partly diverted to Lisbon. The Portugese were well aware of the importance that Adilshah attached to the Customs Revenue. It was symbolised by the fact that the Custom House in the Moslem city of Ela was right in its heart, very near to the palace.

History has it that the river Gomati, flowing between the elevated lands of Tiswadi and Bardes, had developed on its banks intense maritime traffic, both coastal as well as trans-oceanic. The traders had to pay Customs duty on both import and export of goods, which was to be deposited in a metal-box, kept with the Customs officer.

December 16, 1888, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

Lovely Beings Who Are Perfect Daughters, Wives and Mothers.

Sir George Birdwood, in an article in the Asiatic Quarterly Review, draws the following picture of the Maharatta women:

The Chit-pavan women are of the most refined type of feminine loveliness, and in they sweetness, grace and dignity of their highbred beauty at once modern in its exquisite delicacy and antique in its fearless freedom they might well be taken for the Greek originals of the Tanagra "figurines" awakened to a later life amoug the tropical gardens and orchards and cocoanut groves of the Southern Konkan.

One never wearies of watching them, as seen in the dewy morning in their gardens, perambulating in archaic worship, the altar of Holy Basil (tulsi, Ocymnm sanctum) placed before every Hindoo house; or of an afternoon as they pass, in fetching water, to and from the near riverside, or the lotus-laden tank of the village temple, all in flowing robes of cotton, or unbleached white, or dyed a single color, pink, scarlet black, green, or primosa yellow, presenting as they move along the red laterile roads in the deepening shadows of the trees, and illuminated across the blue sea by the sidelong rays of the declining sun, the richest chromatic effects, with all the bright glamour of a glowing Turner or a Claude.

And the outward and visible charms of these fair Chit-pavans do but faithfully mirror the innate virtues of their pure and gentle natures; for they are perfect daughters, wives and mothers, after the severely disciplined self-sacrificing Hindoo ideal -- the idea also of Solomon, Sophocles and St. Paul remaining modestly at home, as the proper sphere of their duties, unknown beyond their families, and seeking in the happiness of their children their greatest pleasure, and in the reverence of their husbands the amaranthine crown of woman's truest glory.

March 24, 1889, Daily Alta California, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

A Peculiar People.
Curious History of a Remnant of the Hebrew Nation in India

From the Scottish American.

Among the many scattered remnants of nations in India there are few more interesting than the Beni-Israel of the Bombay side. The Beni-Israel do not belong to the lost, tribes, nor have they any mysterious connection with the Great Pyramid. Their own legends aver that centuries ago their forefathers, flying by sea from a country in the north, were shipwrecked near Kenery Island, and the survivors, seven families, took refuge at Navgoan, homeless, penniless, among strangers, and without the books of their law. The date of this hegira is estimated at from 1600 to 2000 years ago.

Since that date the little colony has grown into a dispersed community of ten thousand, not unlike the ordinary Konkan peasantry, but religiously observing the Jewish Sabbath and whatever they can remember of the Mosaical law. They have been hewers of wood and drawers of water to whatever king chanced to reign; bat they are as much Hebrews to-day as they were two centuries before Christ.

July 10, 1904, San Francisco Call, San Francisco, California, U.S.A.

First Briton in India.

The first Englishman who is known for certain to have gone out to India was, according to a recent correspondent in an Indian paper, a certain Thomas Stephens, a member of a well-to-do Wiltshire family and an Oxonian, who landed somewhere near Goa about the year 1579 and spent forty years in Jesuit missionary work in Goa and the neighborhood. Stephens not only succeeded in mastering Marathi and Konkan, which were the languages spoken by the majority of the people on the west coast, but left behind him among other works in Marathi of literary merit the "Purana," an epic, and it is in his capacity as the author of this that Stephens' name is best known among the west coast inhabitants.

The poem contains over 11,000 strophes of four lines each. It narrates in a lofty style the events that led up to the establishment of the Christian religion, and from the creation to the ascension of our Lord, who figures as the hero of the epic. A new edition of the "Purana" is to be published In Mangalore, no printed copy of the work being now available. The Athenaeum.

Konkan Economy and Society in Transition (1818-1920)Konkans.
Sheela Mohan Nabar

The Konkan and the Konkani LanguageThe Konkan and the Konkani Language. 
V. P. Chavan

Konkans.Konkans. Trubner's Oriental Series:  Racial Synthesis in Hindu Culture
S.V. Viswanatha

Puranas.Konkans. Legends of the KonkanKonkans. 
Arthur Crawford
The old Bhutt of Chiploon is not an imaginary personage, introduced for mere literary convenience; nor are the seances fictitious. During my twenty years employment in the Southern Konkan as Assistant Collector and Magistrate, District Collector and Magistrate, and (finally) as Commissioner of the Southern Division of the Bombay Presidency, my duties necessitated my camping for weeks at a time at Chiploon, one of the most important towns in the Ratnagiri District. When young in the service (1859 to 1862) I made the acquaintance there of one Raghoba Mahadewrao, a famous Bhutt, there residing, with the object of continuing my study of Sanscrit and perfecting myself in the Maratha language as spoken by Chitpawan Brahmins.

Puranas.Bhagavata Purana. Bhagavata Purana  (A Set of Two Volumes)Bhagavata Purana, Ramesh Menon. 
Ramesh Menon
Even after he has composed the awesome Mahabharata, the Maharishi Vyasa finds no peace. Narada Muni says to him, "Ordinary men will be delighted by your work, but what about the Sages of heaven and earth? You have described the human life, its strife and its ends, but you have not yet described the Lord himself. You must turn your great gift to that task; only then will you find peace." Veda Vyasa composes the Bhagavata Purana. He teaches it to his illumined son Suka, who narrates the Secret Purana to Yudhishtira' heir, King Parikshit, on the banks of the Ganga. The Bhagavata Purana is considered to be a living embodiment of the Lord Narayana and claims to bestow moksha merely by being heard. is book is a full literary rendering of the Bhagavata Purana, bringing the wisdom to the modern reader.

The Konkans.Konkans. The KonkansKonkans.
Tony D'Souza
Starred reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Booklist) 
Francisco D'Sai is a firstborn son of a firstborn son in a long line of proud Konkans. Known as the "Jews of India," the Konkans kneeled before the Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama's sword and before Saint Francis Xavier's cross, abandoned their Hindu traditions, and became Catholics. In 1973 Francisco's parents move to Chicago, where Francisco was born.

The Project

Maritime Nations, Ships, Sea Captains, Merchants, Merchandise, Ship Passengers and VIPs sailing into San Francisco during the 1800s.



Merchant Shipping

Merchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.  
History of Merchant Shipping and Ancient CommerceMerchant Shipping and Ancient Commerce.
W. S. Lindsay

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Sources: As noted on entries and through research centers including National Archives, San Bruno, California; CDNC: California Digital Newspaper Collection; San Francisco Main Library History Collection; and Maritime Museums and Collections in Australia, China, Denmark, England, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Wales, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, etc.

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