[Footnote 144: In the version of Cesar Frederick in Hakluyt, it is said “to come from the mountains of the king of the pepper country, who is a Gentile, and in whose dominions there are many Christians,” &c. as in the text. This king of the pepper country is probably meant for the rajah of Travancore. The great river of the text is merely a sound, which reaches along the coast from Cochin to beyond Coulan, a distance of above 90 miles, forming a long range of low islands on the sea-coast, and receiving numerous small rivers from the southern gauts.—E.]
The king of Cochin has small power in comparison with the other sovereigns of India as he is unable to send above 70,000 men into the field. He has a great number of gentlemen, some of whom are called Amochi and others Nairs. These two sorts of men do not value their lives in any thing which tends to the honour of their king, and will run freely into any danger in his service, even if sure to lose their lives in the attempt. These men go naked from the waist upwards, and barefooted, having only a cloth wrapped about their thighs. Their hair is long and rolled up on the top of their heads, and they go always armed, carrying bucklers and naked swords. The Nairs have their wives in common among themselves, and when any of them goes into the house of one of these women, he leaves his sword and buckler at the door, and while he is within no other dare enter the house. The king’s children never inherit the kingdom after their fathers, lest perchance they may have been begotten by some other man; wherefore the son of the king’s sisters, or of some female of the royal-blood succeeds, that they may be sure of having a king of the royal family. Those Naires and their wives have great holes in their ears by way of ornament, so large and wide as is hardly credible, holding that the larger these holes are, so much the more noble are they. I had leave from one of them to measure the circumference of the hole in one of his ears with a thread; and within that circumference I put my arm up to the shoulder with my clothes on, so that in fact they are monstrously large. This is begun when they are very young, at which time a hole is made in each ear, to which they hang a piece of gold or a lump of lead, putting a certain leaf into the hole which causes the hole to increase prodigiously. They load ships at Cochin both for Portugal and Ormuz: but all the pepper that is carried to Ormuz is smuggled. Cinnamon and all other spices and drugs are permitted to be exported to Ormuz or Cambaia, as likewise all other kinds of merchandise from other parts of India. From Cochin there are sent yearly to Portugal great quantities of pepper, dry and preserved ginger, wild cinnamon, areka nuts and large store of cordage made of cayro, that is from the bark of the cocoa-nut tree, which is reckoned better than that made of hemp. The ships for Portugal depart every season between the 5th of December and the 5th of January.