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    Sunday, October 22, 2017

    Kisah Menarik Wisatawan Italia Ludovico di Varthema Abad 16 di Jawa dan Nusantara

    PAHOMPU NABURJU -- Kisah perjalanan Ludovico di Varthema (baca) dari Italia ke Nusantara menggambarkan lalu lintas jalur perniagaan laut Nusantara, khususnya di sekitar Jawa.

    Begitu sistematisnya perekonomian Indonesia saat itu, sehingga dia bisa jalan-jalan bebas masuk kota-kota di Kalimantan dan Jawa dengan aman.

    Dia bahkan berteman dengan pengelana dari Persia (Iran sekarang) dan dari Tiongkok. (download bukunya)

    Varthema dikenal orang pertama non-Muslim dari Eropa yang diketahui pernah memasuki Makkah selain Richard Burton (pernah masuk ke Tanah Batak) dan Snouck Hurgronje.

    Hal lain yang menarik dari perjalanan Varthema adalah bahwa dia menyaksikan sendiri nakhoda lokal, orang Melayu, di kapal yang ditungganginya menjelaskan ke dia mengenai tanah dekat Jawa yang belakangan dikenal Australia.

    Australia dalam sejarah dikenal ditemukan pada abad ke-17. Yang artinya, daerah ini sudah diketahui oleh pribumi sejak lama.

    Menurut Varthema, pada saat dia berkunjung ke Jawa, masih ada penduduk setempat yang menganut kanibalisme.

    Malacca, Sumatra, Moluccas

    From Pegu, Varthema, his Persian partner and the two Chinese Christians took a ship down the Malay peninsula to Malacca, the major commercial entrepot of the region. 

    They did not, however, stay in Malacca long, and soon crossed over the strait to Sumatra. They called in at the port city of Pedir (then a major commercial center and capital of a northeast Sumatran sultanate, Pedir was subsequently annexed by the Aceh Sultanate and has since declined into insignificance) Varthema describes the abundance of long pepper and variety of perfumed woods that was available at Pedir.

    At this point, the two Chinese Christians expressed a desire to return home to Sarnau, and hearing that Varthema had been born a Christian, sought to persuade him to come with them and resume his old faith. But Varthema declined, saying he wished to remain a Muslim convert. His Persian partner, Cazizioner, expressed his wish to visit the famed Spice Islands and see for himself the source of cloves and nutmeg, the glorious spices, and prevailed on the two Chinese Christians to join them. A pair of local sampans (flat-bottomed boats) were procured and they proceeded to sail east, weaving through the Indonesian islands, and after fifteen days, reached the Banda Islands, the world's only source of nutmeg. From there, they sailed north for another twelve days and reached the clove islands of the Moluccas (which Varthema calls "Monoch"). Ludovico de Varthema may very well have been the first European to set eyes on these islands (the Portuguese would only find them in 1512). He comments extensively on the cultivation of the spices and their prices.

    Return voyage: Borneo, Java

    The Moluccas was the furthest eastward point reached by Varthema and his Persian partner. It was by now around June 1505. Guided by the two Chinese Christians, they returned via a different route, first proceeding to Borneo to charter a larger ship, then headed south to Java, the "largest island in the world", according to the Chinese Christians (Java is, in fact, smaller than Borneo).

    Varthema observed that the Malay pilot of their vessel used a magnetic compass and nautical chart gridded with lines. Although sailing by compass and chart was common in the Mediterranean, it was unusual in the Indian Ocean, where celestial navigation was the norm, and perplexed Varthema's Persian partner. 

    The Malay pilot also showed them how he used the Southern Cross to navigate, another novelty for both of them. In a cryptic comment, the Malay pilot curiously refers to some supposed Far Southern lands (which some historians have interpreted to be a reference to the Australian coast).

    The journey from Borneo to Java took five days. It is unclear where in Java they landed. Varthema makes some quick observations about the island (notably, the prevalence of Hinduism, unlike the Islam they consistently encountered in other ports). In a dubious passage, Varthema claims that a substantial part of the Javanese population engaged in cannibalism. Staying in Java for a couple of weeks, they decided it was time to resume their return journey. Before leaving, Varthema purchased some emeralds as well as buying two castrated young children.

    Chartering a junk (giunco) from Java, they made their way back to Malacca, where Varthema and Cazizioner finally parted company with the two Chinese Christians. On the same Javanese junk, they proceeded west across the Bay of Bengal, fifteen days sailing, to the Coromandel Coast of India, and disembarked at Negapatam. After a few weeks, they took a sampan to Quilon (Kollam). The presence of some Portuguese in Quilon frightened Varthema, and he kept a low profile until he found passage, again via the Kerala backwaters, back to Calicut. (*)

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