Kata Rocks
THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
The Phuket News Novosti Phuket Khao Phuket

Login | Create Account | Search


Sinbad the Sailor - Was Phuket the mariner’s old stomping ground?

Sinbad the Sailor - Was Phuket the mariner’s old stomping ground?

Persian and Arab mariners returned home to their barren and dry homelands with fantastic stories of the exotic jungle lands they had seen on the other side of the Indian Ocean, and they soon became the setting for fabulous sailors’ legends such as the tales of Sinbad the Sailor in The Thousand and One Nights.

CultureHistoryHistory-of-Phuket
By Colin Mackay

Sunday 21 October 2018, 02:00PM


Oh the brute, But did Sinbad bring his dastardly ways to our shores. Image: RKO Radio Pictures

Oh the brute, But did Sinbad bring his dastardly ways to our shores. Image: RKO Radio Pictures

These fables describe the region as comprising “densely wooded lands… where ships arrived daily from different quarters of the world carrying aloes, sandal, camphor, pepper and ginger.”

The fables tell us that in these ambrosial lands ambergris flowed in the rivers, itinerant pepper-gatherers sailed between the islands, people consumed madness-inducing local herbs and “frightful savages” practiced piracy and cannibalism on passing traders.

The ominous interiors of these islands held lost jungle valleys where rhinoceroses roamed and gigantic man-eating pythons “as long as palm-trees” and other sinister creatures prowled with “eyes like coals of fire”.

Such fabulous seafarer tales told of the Malay Peninsula were often actually based on facts. An ancient Chinese account noted that the peninsula was home to a large bird which has the claws of an eagle and speaks in the human tongue.

This awesome-sounding bird, on closer inspection, turned out to be none other than the most commonplace mynah bird which does have talons almost like those of an eagle, though much smaller, and which – when captive – can be taught, parrot-like, to repeat a few human words.

Silk Air - Jan-Feb 2020

Greek writers also recorded earnestly that real Satyrs lived in the forests in the Malay Peninsula. Satyrs are the shy half-men, half-animal gods with tails who prance around in Greek theatre playing flutes, etc. This yarn no doubt came from tales told by returning sailors of the “Orang-utans”, or “Men-of the jungle”, shy and with long tails, which lived in the interior jungles.

In The Thousand and One Nights, Sinbad is an Arab sailor from Basra in Iraq, then part of the Abbasid Caliphate (750-1258). In one tale he arrives on one island in the East that produced – just as Phuket did at the time – “tin from its mines, Indian canes (rattan) and excellent Camphor.”

There, Sinbad frequented the society of the learned Indians who had gathered as courtiers and traders around the local rajah. The rajah of Thalang, as we have seen, would probably have had such Indian Brahmin courtiers at the time.

Sinbad was so enchanted with this Elysian isle he decided to forsake the stress and travails of his busy life back home in Basra and remain on the island where, like many other visitors to Phuket over the millennia, and still today, he recounts how he “married a beautiful lady… bought slaves and fine lands and built me a great house. And thus settled myself… to enjoy the pleasures of life… and employed myself wholly in enjoying the society of my friends and making merry with them”.


Adapted with kind permission from the book ‘A History of Phuket and the Surrounding Region’ by Colin Mackay. Available from good bookshops and Amazon.com. Order the softcover 2nd edition directly at: www.historyofphuket.com

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

CAPTCHA

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Phuket tour bus operators’ crisis deepens amid virus fallout

Dek, thank you for your 'police search job' and 'follow'me with so much fascination...(Read More)


Kamala canal runs black despite new B58mn wastewater-treatment plant coming online

Remember to connect the "in" to the "in" and the "out" to the out. Jus...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: They kill children

Kurt must be on holiday out of the country....(Read More)


Phuket tour bus operators’ crisis deepens amid virus fallout

" I not drink alcohol" Oh,that's weird given the fact you commented the following on a...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: They kill children

Absolutely spot on article, now if only those "in charge" would take note, not much chance...(Read More)


Phuket tour bus operators’ crisis deepens amid virus fallout

better still, dont have a comment section. ...(Read More)


Mains water supply outage to affect Kathu

How can it possibly be unrealistic? Why bother with just Phuket. It's not the centre of the univ...(Read More)


Mains water supply outage to affect Kathu

@Rorri " Stick to what this is about" I thought it is an article about works are carried ...(Read More)


Phuket Opinion: They kill children

How many more? I agree that the only way things may change is when victims and their families sue ca...(Read More)


Phuket jungle camp cleared of baby elephant abuse allegations

Poor baby belongs with her mother so cruel to see I would never visit any place where you ride eleph...(Read More)