Printed for the Hakluyt Society,
Text on page 126
MOSQUES OF THE ISLANDS.
soldiers and their captain sit with their arms. And generally throughout the temple, which is spacious and of large extent, there are partitioned spaces for certain personsanot, however, for a single person, but for those of a certain order, estate, age, or quality.1 And this order is so well observed, that no one would dare to set himself in a place ordained for one of another condition, otherwise he would be fined in a penalty prescribed in this behalf; so there is no jealousy or dispute about places, and a commoner could as easily get a great lord fined on the spot for taking his place, as the lord the commoner. In this temple are lamps kept burning continually ; there are coco-trees set apart as an endowment for this purpose by every man and woman householder, who help to keep it up. These temples, or mesquites, are very numerous in all the inhabited islands, and in some islands one sees as many as nine or ten; but their festival is celebrated in one only, which is ordained for the purpose, and is in consequence greater than the others, the latter being like chapels or oratories for praying in, founded by the devotion of individuals. The principal one, in which the festival is held, is built and maintained at the common expense, and is called Oucourou mesquite.2 It is also to be remarked that the festival is not celebrated in any island unless it has forty persons above the age of fifteen years, not counting the Catibe ; consequently, in such an island there cannot be a Catibe, who is the principal officiating minister in the ceremony. In such case the inhabitants go to a neighbouring island; albeit, they have one or more mesquites in their own
1 I am indebted to Mr. Bell for the accompanying plan of the chief mosque at Mele, and the interior arrangements at present. He has obtained this from his Maldive pandit, who, on hearing Pyrardas account interpreted to him, bore witness to its substantial accuracy. The walls of the partitions are said to run to the roof, or at least above a manas height. They are loopholed or trellised, so as to allow of hearing, and, to some extent, of seeing through.
2 M. Hukuru miskitu, i.e., Friday mosque : JamxC Masjid of India.2 M. Hukuru miskitu, i.e., Friday mosque : JamxC Masjid of India.