Nils Mattson Kiöping at Zabid in Yemen

Here’s another chapter of my ongoing translation of Nils Mattsson Kiöping’s 1667 travelogue. I’ve introduced a paragraph division for legibility.


Chapter 17: Yemen, Zabid part 1
Zibith is a little town on the Red Sea, where one of the foremost lords also resides. The Envoy Hendrik Pelliconie [a Dutch diplomat] also went there to honour him on 24 June 1653. As soon as we arrived this lord sent one of his secretaries and one of the captains of his guard, who spoke good Portuguese and was our interpreter, asking our business. This the Envoy told them, and they soon went ashore to speak of our errand. An hour or two later they returned with the reply that we would speak to him on the second day.

The next day around nine o’clock we were collected from the ship with a great entourage. And when we came ashore, all of us were sat on lovely caparisoned horses and brought to the Sultan or Lord, with whom the Envoy spoke for a long time. And when he understood what was required by this Lord, gifts were soon prepared for him, viz a large gilded goblet with a ringing clock in the lid, a gilded hand basin with a water jug, two long shot guns, two greyhounds, two six-pounder gunmetal cannon, with two pieces of scarlet woolen cloth, and golden and silver lace. And for the Lord’s brother, a large clock, one piece of scarlet woolen cloth and a pair of pistols. For the highest nobility, a few pieces of dyed velvet, plush and satin, with a lot of Japanese lacquer work and all kinds of spices. Him having received these gifts, it was now settled and confirmed in writing between the Sultan and the Envoy that the Dutch, in the future as in the past, would be allowed to trade here.

While we waited there, four Catholic Fathers came to us, stating that they were from Saint Catherine’s Mountain or Mount Sinai, and had now long been wandering in the Arabian and Ethiopian lands and there converted many Muslims and Pagans to Christianity. These the Envoy caused to be treated very well, particularly as he was himself also a Catholic. They requested that they might be allowed to accompany us farther up into the country, because they dared not travel past Mechan Tallnabi or Medinam, nor could they find any caravan that went through the Sea of Sand or Arabian Desert. The Envoy granted them this request and arranged for a separate room in the ship where they might be in peace and not be disturbed.

Author: Martin R

Dr. Martin Rundkvist is a Swedish archaeologist, journal editor, skeptic, atheist, lefty liberal, bookworm, boardgamer, geocacher and father of two.

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