A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07 eBook

Robert Kerr (writer)
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 785 pages of information about A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels — Volume 07.

During the continuance of the fishery, there are always three or four armed foists or galliots stationed to defend the fishermen from pirates.  Usually the fishing-boats unite in companies of three or four together.  These boats resemble our pilot boats at Venice, but are somewhat smaller, having seven or eight men in each.  I have seen of a morning a great number of these boats go out to fish, anchoring in 15 or 18 fathoms water, which it the ordinary depth all along this coast.  When at anchor, they cast a rope into the sea, having a great stone at one end.  Then a man, having his ears well stopped, and his body anointed with oil, and a basket hanging to his neck or under his left arm, goes down to the bottom of the sea along the rope, and fills his basket with oysters as fast as he can.  When that is full, he shakes the rope, and his companions draw him up with the basket.  The divers follow each other in succession in this manner, till the boat is loaded with oysters, and they return at evening to the fishing village.  Then each boat or company makes their heap of oysters at some distance from each other, so that a long row of great heaps of oysters are seen piled along the shore.  These are not touched till the fishing is over, when each company sits down beside its own heap, and fails to opening the oysters, which is now easy, as the fish within are all dead and dry.  If every oyster had pearls in them, it would be a profitable occupation, but there are many which have none.  There are certain persons called Chitini, who are learned in pearls, and are employed to sort and value them, according to their weight, beauty, and goodness, dividing them into four sorts.  The first sort, which are round, are named aia of Portugal, as they are bought by the Portuguese:  The second, which are not round, are named aia of Bengal:  The third, which are inferior to the second, are called aia of Canara, which is the name of the kingdom of Bijanagur or Narsinga, into which they are sold:  And the fourth, or lowest kind, is called aia of Cambaia, being sold into that country[148].  Thus sorted, and prices affixed to each, there are merchants from all countries ready with their money, so that in a few days all the pearls are bought up, according to their goodness and weight.

[Footnote 148:  Pearls are weighed by carats, each of which is four grains.  The men who sort and price them have a copper instrument with holes of various sizes, by which they estimate their several values.—­Hakluyt.]

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