13 Haziran 2018 Çarşamba

TNT History Mini-Series: Accidental Turks in Brazil & Beyond (1866)/Part V

//E. Note: In this Part V episode, Engineer Faik relates his
observations and impressions about Mauritius and Bombay,
(today's Mumbai) although his ship, the Bursa, went to
Muscat and the İzmir went to Bombay. Evidently, Faik
obtained the Bombay information from a crewman on
the İzmir.  In any case, the Bursa and İzmir met up again
at Muscat for the last leg of their voyage to Basra.

TNT checked the Naval Museum Archives in Beşiktaş,
Istanbul, for documents related to this voyage. One
document directly relates:

"Payment for materials obtained at the Cape of Good
Hope by the Bursa and İzmir corvettes, while en route
to Basra." (29 October 1866, dosya-68, pp, 14-43)

Another document relates to Emperor Dom Pedro II:
"Ceremony in regard to the arrival of the Emperor of
Brazil (in Istanbul)" (18 May 1876, defter 224, p. 70)//


Mauritius Islands

The Mauritius Islands, also known a Île de France, have a population 
of 80,000 people and are situated at 19 degrees 50 minutes south latitude and 57 
degrees 45 minutes east longitude.  The government center is in Mauritius city at  
Port Louis.

Mauritius city is lovely and well-developed place with two mosques, 
a hospital, churches of various denominations, a main thoroughfare, markets and 
other structures. Because of the sugar produced on the island, the trading gate is 
always open.   Great income is derived from the sale of sugar to India, China, the 
new Dutch shores and other places.

Port Louis has a large and secure harbor with two excellent commercial drydocks 
and a water-filled pool, along with a great many factories and shipyards, warehouses 
and other buildings.  There are always at least 150 commercial ships in the port and 
postal ferries come and go to Malabar, Singapore, Bombay, Cidde and other places 
each week. Twice every year a great storm they call “harkani” hits this island. 
When indications of the approaching storm are seen, the “port chief” ship anchored 
in the harbor issues a signal for all other ships, which immediately lower their 
‘mayıstra’ , ‘tirinket’ and ‘gabya’ masts and take whatever precautions they can.   
Those who don’t can count on sinking and breaking up. 

The people of the Mauritius Islands are generally brown-skinned.  There are 30,000 
Moslems and the rest are the grandchildren of the French who first came here years 
ago.  A number of  wild people who walk around naked are also here, living lives of 
ignorance in straw huts in the mountains.  There are some very well-respected traders 
among the Moslems.  Some are factory owners and others are shipowners who trade 
with India.  A merchant who is a leader of the Moslems is named Hacı İsmail.  Let 
me provide some information about him:  Hacı İsmail, a native of the Mauritius 
Islands, owns about 40 ‘navî’ (barketine) and corvette sailing ships, along with 
a number of sugar factories.  His ships sail under the English flag, trading in India, 
the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.  Hacı İsmail has made the hajj five or six times.  
He has twenty secretaries working for him but even with all of them making 
calculations he still doesn’t know how much he’s worth.

Hacı İsmail was very pleased to see us visit the island.  Besides honoring our ship, 
he was very generous to our sailors and had the Captain and officers to his house a 
number of times for magnificent dinners.  The mosques I mentioned before were built 
by Hacı İsmail.  One Friday after a fine lunch he gave for the officers at his residence, 
we went to the mosque.  The brother of the Shah of Kabilistan, who was visiting the 
island, was at the mosque that day, too, and he took to the pulpit to give a sermon 
about Sultan Abdülaziz.  After namaz prayers, more prayers were said for the life and 
good fortune of our Sultan.  We were grateful to hear the name of our exalted patron 
spoken in this auspicious place and shouted “Long Live the Sultan!”, pledging our 
allegiance to him.

In short, during the time we spent at Mauritius, Hacı İsmail was extraordinarily 
hospitable toward us and took care of our every need. The English state has given 
permission for the building of a minaret for the mosque and its construction is 
underway.  Since the Maritius Islands passed into the hands of the English, efforts 
have been made toward improvements and building.  Now there are railroads, trams, 
postal vehicles and telegraph lines that have accelerated the forward progress of 

The wild people that live in primitive huts that I mentioned before are quite 
superstitious.  Depending on what they can afford, the women attach silver, copper 
or iron rings to their ears and noses.  In addition, virgins lock their private areas 
with rings. Trains amaze the wild people more than anything else.  They tremble 
with fear, saying to themselves “if we revolt the English will drive these trains over 
our villages and homes and kill us all!”.  So they just tend to their own work to try
 to make a living.  There is no vacant area left on the island.  Sugar cane fields are
 prevalent and all sorts of fruits, vegetables and spices are raised on the island.

 An Interesting Observation  

One Sunday I took the train to a village for a bit of sightseeing.  There, I toured
a sugar cane factory owned by an English merchant.  Inside the factory there were 
rooms where the 200 workers did their jobs and in the middle was an idol.  Besides 
their salaries, workers get food and clothing from the factory owner but they cannot
 leave the factory unless their work requires it or they get permission. 

 After the English merchant showed your humble servant around the factory, at noon 
he brought me to the place where the idol I mentioned above was situated.  Inside 
this room there was a  chandelier and many candlesticks, with the idol – a statue of 
a beautiful woman adorned in embroidery – in the center on a high platform.  The 
merchant told me that the workers would come now to worship the idol and he asked 
me to watch them.  After half an hour, five people came and lit all the candles.  
The merchant took me to a special screened-off place from where we could watch
 the workers worship the idol.

A bell was rung for two minutes and then a black religious man in an odd outfit 
entered through the door.  Next to the man were five people with trays in their right 
hands.  Holding the skirts of the religious man, they stopped in back of the statue of 
the woman.  Then, they began to cry out with horrible sounds.  Five minutes later, 
all the factory workers, together with their families,  their heads uncovered, 
barefooted and wearing special new clothes, entered through the door.  One after 
another, these people emptied the plates they were holding, upon which there was 
a kind of sugary rice dish cooked in milk, into the mouth of the statue of the woman 
and took their places.  This milky rice was poured through the statues mouth and 
collected on the trays by the religious man’s five assistants, who were standing in 
back of the statue.  Then they took the trays away and covered the idol.  After all 
the workers prayed with horrible screams and their hands raised in the air, they all 
sat down and sprinkled a kind of white powder they carried in their pockets onto 
their heads.  After that, they got up and left the idol.

I asked the English merchant about this bizarre custom.  He explained that the workers 
consider the woman’s statue to be their god and each week they nourish her with the 
milky rice dish they bring.  In this way, their lives go along well.  But, according their
superstitions, if someone doesn’t bring the milky rice dish then matters will go awry
and sickness and other calamities will befall them.


While we stayed on the Mauritius Islands, every day droves of men and women came 
to tour our ship and they prayed for the longevity of both the Sultan and the Ottoman 
state.  In the course of a week, we replenished our provisions and other materials, 
and took on coal.  On Saturday, the 15th of October, we departed Mauritius.  With
favorable but calm weather, we crossed the Equator for the second time in 
ferocious heat on the 26th of the month.  Since it was the second time we had 
crossed the Equator, no one was overly excited about it.

On the 28th of October, we unfurled all the sails since the wind was blowing in our 
favor. The studdingsail boom was hauled out and our ship was adorned with the 
port and starboard ‘kordelisa’, ‘kordeliçin’ and ‘iskopomar’ sails.  So the Bursa 
and İzmir corvettes sailed the ocean side by side, like two brides, as we all raised 
our voices to the sky with prayers of “May Our Sultan Live Long!”, in gratitude to 
him for allowing us to  sail the oceans like this.

A while later, though, the weather turned bad and in the evening we lost sight of 
the İzmir corvette.  On the night of the 29th of the month, falling stars fell from all 
corners of the sky, prompting some on the ship to cry out in amazement “there are 
no stars left in the sky!”  During this time, each day the sailors were given cannon 
and rifle training.  And since the Bursa and the İzmir had lost each other, as I 
mentioned above, the İzmir corvette went to Bombay and the Bursa corvette 
went to Muscat

The City of Bombay - 1866 population 80,000; now, 13 million.

Bombay city on the Malabar coast of India, which is under the administration of the 
English state, is India’s most famous commercial center.  The city is situated on an 
island, at 18 degrees 55 minutes north latitude and 72 degrees 54 minutes east 

Bombay, with a population of about 80,000 people, has big buildings, five mosques, 
many barracks and hospitals, various temples belonging to the Magians and other 
religions, a well-ordered, excellent shipyard with three drydocks, and other structures.  
It is a very well-developed, nice commercial city.  Fine products and other goods 
produced in various parts of India are brought here for export by ship to Indian Ocean
ports.  Many ships come from China, in particular, and Singapore, Madras,  Serendipity
Island (Sri Lanka), Barbun, Mauritius, the Red Sea coasts and the Persian Gulf to 
Bombay to load Indian goods.

Most of the ships plying the seas in this area were built at the Bombay shipyard.  
Ships needing repair come to this port, as well.  Postal vessels come weekly to Bombay 
from Europe, Mauritius, Aden, Cidde and other places and, in particular, from Basra.
Most of the people are Indian Moslems.  The remaining portion of the population is 
made up of Magians, who are called Banyan.  These people burn the bodies of their
dead.  The Banyans are mostly professionals and artisans who make rare, fine items 
that are unique to India.  Besides these two groups, there are also Indian Coptics and
Jews, along with members of some other religions.

In the Banyan community, when one of them dies the body of the man and his wife, if
he has one, are thrown into a fire.  And even though the English state has tried hard to
have them abandon this hideous practice, the efforts have been for naught.  But these
days only the dead man is burned;  man and wife are not both burned.  Nevertheless,
in the countryside this vile practice continues.

Because the weather in Bombay is extremely hot and bothersome, in most summers 
there are epidemics and great loss of life.  There is another community in India that
throws its dead into a swamp they consider sacred at the end of the Bay of Bengal.  
There is a terrible smell that results from the accumulation of these corpses and
 illnesses manifest themselves. Ships passing five or six miles away can smell this 
putrid odor.  This ignorant community is made up of very bad people.

The İzmir corvette spent a week in the port of Bombay.  The Bursa corvette 
entered the port of Muscat on the 7th of November and anchored there.


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