Twenty Six Atolls, and a Thousand Isles

Twenty Six Atolls, and a Thousand Isles

"Each atoll is separated from the rest, and contains in itself a great number of little isles. It is a marvel to see each of these atolls, surrounded on all sides by a great bank of stone, and no human device could so well wall in a space of land as it does. These atolls are either round or oval, each thirty leagues, more or less, in circumference, and all in a line, end to end from the north to the south, without touching each other."

"Standing in the middle of one of these atolls, you see around you this great reef of rock... which surrounds and defends the islands from the impetuosity of the sea. A fearful thing, even to the most hardy, to approach this reef, and to see the billows from afar come on and break with fury all around; ...that the crests and foam of the breakers rise higher than a house, of the whiteness of cotton, so that you see around you, as it were, a wall of exceeding whiteness, chiefly when the sea is high."

"The sea is calm and of little depth, ...so that when the sea is low it would not come up to the waist, and in most places only to the knee; so it would then be easy to go without a boat to all the islands of the same atoll, were it not for two things which prevent that: first, the great fish called 'femunu' (the tiger shark), which devour men, and break their arms and legs when they meet them; secondly, the rocks at the bottom of the sea, for the most part, are sharp and pointed, and these give countless wounds."

"Dhivehin (the Maldive people) also were wondrously clever at getting out of the most dangerous passages without harm... through the midst of reefs, shoals, and rocks, by channels so narrow that there was room only for the boat, and sometimes so tight was the fit that she would scrape both her sides on the rocks, and for all that the natives would go with confidence through these hazards, and with all sails set... They recked nothing of it, and only laughed; for they fear the sea not a whit, and are exceedingly adroit in managing their barques and boats, being brought up to it from their youth, as well the great lords as the poorest of the people: not to understand these matters would be esteemed a disgrace."

"They are most troubled by the currents, 'oivaru', which run now to the east, now to the west, through the island channels, and in other parts of the sea, six months one way and six months the other; and not six months for certain either way, but sometimes more and sometimes less, and this is what deceives them, and usually causes the loss of their vessels."

"In connection with this, there is also a feature well worthy of note. It is that the atolls are all in a line and end to end, separated by the sea channels, have openings or entrances opposite each other, two on one side and two on the other, by means of which you can go and come from atoll to atoll and have communication at all times: in which thing is to be observed an effect of God's providence, which leaves nothing imperfect."

—Excerpts from the translated account of The Voyage of Francois Pyrard of Laval to the East Indies, the Maldives, the Moluccas and Brazil, 1611. The account was translated into English in 1887 from the third French edition of 1619 by Albert Gray assisted by H.C.P. Bell.

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The Raajje Pendant is our very first product within our new HERITAGE project. We've shared the above passages from Pyrard's historical accounts, as they stood out from our readings in contributing to the inspiration behind this piece.

Designed by one of our Founding Artists, Raniya Ahmed Mansoor; we couldn't be happier about how this ocean coloured treasure turned out. Currently a bestseller for locals as well for recent travellers who fell in love with our islands - it is certainly the perfect little souvenir!  

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