عنوان مقاله [English]
One of those who seeks to provide historical evidence for Iranians’ thalassophobia is British Lord Curzon. In his book , “ Persia and the Persian Question” , he presents a variety of material on political, social, and economic situation of Iran's geographical area in the late ante modernism period ; one of which is how Iranians deal with the sea .By collecting selective evidence , he plans to prove Iranians' fear of sea.
The data processing method in this paper is descriptive-analytical. At the beginning, the data has been gathered in library and documentary method, then a brief history of Iranians 'naval presence from the early Islamic centuries to the eighth century has been presented. Next, the story of Abdu al-razzaq Samarkandi's ambassadorship and the incomplete story of Hafez's voyage have been reanalyzed. In epilogue, a myriad of evidence about Iranians’ presence in seas arena has been extracted from Ibn-e Battuta's itinerary and categorized into 4 important groups. Finally, a table of Iranians' activities in high seas ground has been prepared.
Abdu al-razzaq Samarkandi's voyage is the first story Curzon puts forward in order to prove Iranians' thalassophobia. He quotes Abdu al-razzaq as saying “ once I smelled the ship and thought of sea fearing , I lost consciousness so much that I could not live for more than three days ...”
Though , to generalize a person's behavior to a nation and to ignore the dominant behaviors of people of that nation do not make sense, in Abdu al-razzaq’s book , contrary to what Curzon says , there exists some evidence which challenges his view ; taking Abdu al-razzaq’s writings into consideration , the first time he boarded the ship in Hormuz was not the right time for a voyage , thus he desembarked the ship in Masqat . From there he came to Quriyat. Due to heat and illness, four month stay in Quriyat was spent so hard. The ambassador was boarded on a ship while he was still sick. At last, the sea calmed down and Abdu al-razzaq regained his health. In this part of voyage lasting for 18 days and nights which is considered as its main part, Abdu al-razzaq and his companions experience a pleasant voyage joyfully. For this, he gives a delightful description of ship and voyage in his book. It's weird that Curzon doesn't mention this part of voyage. Extracting the data from the book Matla al-sa’dayn to confirm Iranians’ thalassophobia and ignoring the fact that Abdu al-razzaq is experiencing sea voyage for the first time do not seem fair and impartial. Even if we accept that using original text of Matla al-sa’dayn has been impossible for Curzon , and he might have accessed to an outlined part of Abdu al-razzaq's voyage story within the events of 845 AH through another person (Houtun Schindler), an employee of the Indo-European Telegraph Company, in Iran ), but nothing changes. That is one of the examples Curzon provides in proving Iranian’s thalassophobia, however, is an incomplete interpretation of Samarkand's personal experience so it is not credible enough to generalize.
Hafez Shirazi's thalassophobia is the second example which Curzon articulates as follow; Hafez “was invited by King Salman Dacan to his court in India. The poet went, saw and stayed. When the ship arrived on the island of Hormuz, he insisted to be disembarked, and in the end he concludes: "Hafez and Abdu al-razzaq were more or less moral proofs of their compatriots. There is no name or trace of Iranians’shipping in the Caspian Sea”. While Hafez’s personal experience approves Curzon’s view, in Hafez’s voyage itself there are points and evidence which assent to theory of Iranians’ thalassophobia and their presence in naval activities.
In addition to these, another source which indicates the widespread attendance of Iranians in the islands and ports of the Indian Ocean (from Persian Gulf to the coast of China) is Ibn-e Battuta's itinerary. Based on it, Iranians who were active in seas arena can be divided into four groups;
The most important group was the merchants; Iranian merchants’ footstep can be traced to almost all coasts and islands of the Indian Ocean. In Hormuz which was seen as merchants’ starting place, they had built some houses thanks to Hormuz kings’ fair policies and custom’s legislation in favor of Iranian goods. In port of Lahori near the place where Indus River runs into the Indian Ocean, an Iranian named Alao al-mulk Khorasani had fifteen ships which were carrying his impedimenta. Sultan of India had granted Kanbaye city to one of the great Iranian merchants. Kanbaye indebted its prosperity to foreign merchants, whom the largest were Iranian. Iranian merchants possessed the big houses of the city and were counted as the founders of city mosques.
Besides each of the Iranian merchants’ constructions in ports of India, Ibn-e Battuta, on a trip to China, recounts the reconstruction of the island of Bayram by a great Iranian merchant. In cities of Mangrur, Kalikot, Zaytoon (Canton, Gungzhou), the Iranian merchants had a significant presence.
The second group were judges and religious scholars; key religious seats in Mecca had been taken by Iranians which Ibn-e Battuta reminisce with honor. Iranian judges would serve in islands of Zaybato al-mahal (Maldives) – located on the southwest of Indian subcontinent, in city of Zaytoon (Canton), and in Coleum – located on the southeastern coast of India.
The third were Sufis. Sufi Sheiks were serving throughout Indian and Chinese seas in cities like; Lahori, Kanbaye, Kalikot, Coleum, Zaytoon (Canton), and Kamaro Mountains from Bengal region.
The last Iranian group were those involved in governmental affairs of the areas of Indian Ocean and Chinese Sea. An Iranian person governed Lahori and its environs which gathered plenty of its ministerial earnings and wealth from its big port. Iranians acted in state affairs of cities of Kanbaye, a conduit land located in southern part of eastern coast of India and even in Java Island and they ruled these places as well.
Thorough review of data in books “Matla al-sa’dayn” by Abdu al-razzaq Samarkandi , “ History of Fereshteh ” by Mohammad Qasem Fereshteh, and “ Ibn-e Battuta’s Itinerary” by Mohammad Ibn-e Battuta with subject of the Iranians’ endeavors in sea corroborate the erroneous claim of this study, that is , the Iranians’ thalassophobia by Lord Curzon .
Inquiry into details of two stories from which Curzon deduce Iranians’ sea fearing demonstrate that some existent evidence in these stories violate Curzon’s claim ; Iranian merchants , literati, and officials’ traffic by sea to Iran and Indian coasts can be clearly traced in full version of these two stories in main sources. According to Ibn-e Battuta's Itinerary, no one can deny the presence of Iranians in four groups of (merchants, judges and religious scholars, Sufi sheikhs and political and military rulers) from Khorasan, Tabarestan, Gilan, Qazvin, Ardabil, Tabriz, Isfahan, Fars, namely from the east, west, north, south and center of Iran and also the penetration of Persian language in the sea routes of Persian Gulf to China. Attention to this evidence suggests that Curzon has been using the data selectively to prove the idea he has had in his mind.