Jean de Thévenot

French explorer

Jean de Thévenot (16 June 1633 – 28 November 1667) was a French traveller in the East, who wrote extensively about his journeys. He was also a linguist, natural scientist and botanist.

Philippe de Champaigne, Portrait of Jean de Thévenot, ca. 1660 (formerly believed to be a portrait of Antoine Galland by Gerbrand van den Eeckhout).
Jean de Thévenot, from "Relation d'un voyage fait au Levant" (1664)


  • Santidas, Pagod, The Ceremonie of King Auranzev, for converting a Pagod into a mosque. Amedabad being inhabited also by a great number of Heathens, there are Pageds, or Idol-Temples in it. That which was called the Pagod of Santidas was the chief, before Auranzeb converted it into a Mosque. When he performed the Ceremonie, he caused a Cow to be killed in the place, knowing very well, that after such an Action, the Gentiles according to their Law, could worship no more therein. All round the Temple there is a Cloyster furnished, with lovely Cells, beautified with Figures of Marble in relief, representing naked Women sitting after the Oriental fashion. The inside Roof of the Mosque is pretty enough, and the Walls are full of the Figures of Men and Beasts; but Auranzeb, who hath always made 2 (to) shew of an affected Devotion, which at length raised him to the Throne, caused the Noses of all these Figures which added a great deal of Magnificence to that Mosque, to be beat off.
    • (Part III, p. 10) Jean de Thévenot, Voyages, quoted from Kishore, Kunal (2016). Ayodhyā revisited. ch 15
    • Description of the temple built by Shantidas Jhaveri. Indian Records Series Indian Travels Of Thevenot And Careri, p 14 [1] Cited in Harsh Narain, The Ayodhya Temple Mosque Dispute: Focus on Muslim Sources, Appendix VI
  • “After all, the vulgar opinion of the Gentiles, touching the God Ram, is that he was produced, and came out of the Light, in the same manner as the Fringe of a Belt comes out of that Belt; and if they Assign him a Father whom they call Desser (Dasharath), and a Mother named Gaoucella (Kausalya); that is only for form sake, seeing he was not born: And in that consideration, the Indians render him divine Honours in their Pagods, and elsewhere; And when they salute their Friends they repeat his Name, saying Ram, Ram. Their Adoration consists in joining their hands, as if they Prayed, letting them fall very low, and then lifting them up again gently to their mouth, and last of all, in raising them over their head.” (Part III, p. 65)
    • ‘The Travels of Monsieur de Thevenot’ by Thevenot,quoted in Kishore, Kunal (2016). Ayodhyā revisited. ch 11
  • In the mean while, the Raja, who could not rest, plundered some places belonging to the Great Mogul; which obliged that Emperour to send Forces against him, under the conduct of Chasta-Can [Shaista Khan] his Uncle, Governour of Aurangeabad. Chasta-Can having far more Forces than Sivagy had, vigorously pursued him, but the Raja having his retreat always in the Mountains, and being extreamly cunning the Mogul could make nothing of him.
    However that old Captain at length, thinking that the turbulent Spirit of Sivagy might make him make some false step, judged it best to temporize, and lay a long while upon the Lands of the Raja. This Patience of Chasta-Can being very troublesome to Sivagy, he had his recourse to a Stratagem. He ordered one of his Captains to write to that Mogul, and to perswade him that he would come over to the service of the Great Mogul, and bring with him five hundred Men whom he had under his Command. Chasta-Can having recei’d the Letters, durst not trust them at first; but receiving continually more and more, and the Captain giving him such reasons for his discontent as looked very probable, he sent him word that he might come and bring his Men with him. No sooner was he come into the Camp of the Moguls, but he desired a Passport to go to the King that he might put himself into his Service: But Chasta-Can thought it enough to put him in hopes of it, and kept him with him.
    Sivagy had ordered him to do what he could what he could to insinuate himself into the favour of Chasta-Can, and to spare no means that could bring that about, to shew upon all occasions the greatest rancour and animosity imaginable; and in a particular manner to be the first in Action against him or his Subjects. He fail’d not to obey him: He put all to Fire and Sword in the Raja’s Lands, and did much more mischief than all the rest besides; which gained him full credit in the Mind of Chasta-Can, who at length made him Captain of his Guards. But he guarded him very ill, for having one Day sent word to Sivagy, that on a certain Night he should be upon Guard at the General’s Tent; the Raja came there with his Men, and being introduced by his Captain, came to Chasta-Can, who awakening flew to his Arms, and was wounded in the Hand; however he made a shift to escape, but a Son of his was killed, and Sivagy thinking that he had killed the General himself, gave the signal to retreat: He marched off with his Captain and all his Horse in good order.
    • Thevenot and Careri, Indian Travels of Thevenot and Careri, Edited by Surendra Nath Sen, National Archives of India, 1949.quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume III Chapter 12
  • He carried off the General’s Treasure, and took his Daughter, to whom he rendered all the Honour he could. He commanded his Men under rigorous pains, not to do her the least hurt, but on the contrary, to serve her with all respect; and being informed that her Father was alive, he sent him word, That if he would send the Summ which he demanded for her Ransoom, he would send him back his Daughter safe and sound; which was punctually performed. He [Shaista Khan] informed the King, that it was impossible to force Sivagy in the Mountains; that he could not undertake it, unless he resolved to ruine his Troops; and he received Orders from Court to draw off under pretext of a new Enterprize.
    Sivagy, in the mean time, was resolved to be revenged on the Mogul by any means whatsoever, provided it might be to his advantage, and knowing very well that the Town of Surrat was full of Riches, he took measures how he might plunder it: But that no body might suspect his Design, he divided the Forces he had into two Camps; and seeing his Territories lie chiefly in the Mountains, upon the Road betwixt Bassaim and Chaoul, he pitched one Camp towards Chaoul, where he planted one of his Pavillions, and posted another at the same time towards Bassaim; and having ordered his Commanders not to plunder, but on the contrary, to pay for all they had, he secretly disguised himself in the habit of a Faquir. Thus he went to discover the most commodious ways that might lead him speedily to Surrat: He entered the Town to examine the places of it, and by that means had as much time as he pleased to view it all over.
    Being come back to his Chief Camp, he ordered four thousand of his Men to follow him without noise, and the rest to remain encamped, and to make during his absence as much noise as if all were there, to the end none might suspect the enterprise he was about, but think he was still in one of his Camps. Every thing was put in execution according to his orders…Sivagy’s Men entered the Town and plundered it for a space of four days burning down several Houses….it is believed at Surrat that this Raja Carried away in Jewels, Gold and Silver, to the value of above thirty French Millions…The Great Mogul was sensibly affected with the Pillage of that Town, and the boldness of Sivagy…when he Plundered Surrat in the Year One thousand six hundred and sixty four, he was but thirty-five years of Age.
    • Thevenot and Careri, Indian Travels of Thevenot and Careri, Edited by Surendra Nath Sen, National Archives of India, 1949.quoted from Jain, M. (editor) (2011). The India they saw: Foreign accounts. New Delhi: Ocean Books. Volume III Chapter 12
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