PÁLAGILÁSS, s. This is domestic Hind. for ‘Asparagus’ (Panjab N. & Q. ii. 189).

PALANKEEN, PALANQUIN, s. A box-litter for travelling in, with a pole projecting before and behind, which is borne on the shoulders of 4 or 6 men—4 always in Bengal, 6 sometimes in the Telugu country.

The origin of the word is not doubtful, though it is by no means clear how the Portuguese got the exact form which they have handed over to us. The nasal termination may be dismissed as a usual Portuguese addition, such as occurs in mandarin, Baçaim (Wasai), and many other words and names as used by them. The basis of all the forms is Skt. paryañka, or palyañka, ‘a bed,’ from which we have Hind. and Mahr. palang, ‘a bed,’ Hind. palki, ‘a palankin,’ [Telugu pallaki, which is perhaps the origin of the Port. word], Pali pallanko, ‘a couch, bed, litter, or palankin’ (Childers), and in Javanese and Malay palañgki, ‘a litter or sedan’ (Crawfurd).1

It is curious that there is a Spanish word palanca (L. Lat. phalanga) for a pole used to carry loads on the shoulders of two bearers (called in Sp. palanquinos); a method of transport more common in the south than in England, though even in old English the thing has a name, viz. ‘a cowlestaff’ (see N.E.D.). It is just possible that this word (though we do not find it in the Portuguese dictionaries) may have influenced the form in which the early Portuguese visitors to India took up the word.

The thing appears already in the Ramayana. It is spoken of by Ibn Batuta and John Marignolli (both c. 1350), but neither uses this Indian name; and we have not found evidence of palki older than Akbar (see Elliot, iv. 515, and Ain, i. 254).

As drawn by Linschoten (1597), and as described by Grose at Bombay (c. 1760), the palankin was hung from a bamboo which bent in an arch over the vehicle; a form perhaps not yet entirely obsolete in native use. Williamson (V. M., i. 316 seqq.) gives an account of the different changes in the fashion of palankins, from which it would appear that the present form must have come into use about the end of the 18th century. Up to 1840–50 most people in Calcutta kept a palankin and a set of bearers (usually natives of Orissa—see OORIYA), but the practice and the vehicle are now almost, if not entirely, obsolete among the better class of Europeans. Till the same period the palankin, carried by relays of bearers, laid out by the post-office, or by private chowdries (q.v.), formed the chief means of accomplishing extensive journeys in India, and the elder of the present writers has undergone hardly less than 8000 or 9000 miles of travelling in going considerable distances (excluding minor journeys) after this fashion. But in the decade named, the palankin began, on certain great roads, to be superseded by the dawk-garry (a Palkee-garry or palankin-carriage, horsed by ponies posted along the road, under the post-office), and in the next decade to a large extent by railway, supplemented by other wheel-carriage, so that the palankin is now used rarely, and only in out-of-the- way localities.

c. 1340.—“Some time afterwards the pages of the Mistress of the Universe came to me with a dula.…It is like a bed of state…with a pole of wood above…this is curved, and made of the Indian cane, solid and compact. Eight men, divided into two relays, are employed in turn to carry one of these; four carry the palankin whilst four rest. These vehicles serve in India the same purpose as donkeys in Egypt; most people use them habitually in going and coming. If a man has his own slaves, he is carried by them; if not he hires men to carry him. There are also a few found for hire in the city, which stand in the bazars, at the Sultan’s gate, and also at the gates of private citizens.”—Ibn Batuta, iii. 386.

c. 1350.—“Et eciam homines et mulieres portant super scapulas in lecticis de quibus in Canticis: ferculum fecit sibi Salomon de lignis Libani, id est lectulum portatilem sicut portabar ego in Zayton et in India.”—Marignolli (see Cathay, &c., p. 331).

1515.—“And so assembling all the people made great lamentation, and so did throughout all the streets the women, married and single, in a marvellous way. The captains lifted him (the dead Alboquerque), seated as he was in a chair, and placed him on a palanquim, so that he was seen by all the people; and João Mendes Botelho, a knight of Afonso d’Alboquerque’s making (who was) his Ancient, bore the banner before the body.”—Correa, Lendas, II. i. 460.

1563.—“…and the branches are for the most part straight except some…which they twist and bend to form the canes for palenquins and portable chairs, such as are used in India.—Garcia, f. 194.

1567.—“…with eight Falchines (fachini), which are hired to carry the palanchines, eight for a Palanchine (palanchino), foure at a time.”—C. Frederike, in Hakl. ii. 348.

1598.—“…after them followeth the bryde between two Commeres, each in their Pallamkin, which is most costly made.”—Linschoten, 56; [Hak. Soc. i. 196].

1606.—“The palanquins covered with curtains, in the way that is usual in this Province, are occasion of very great offences against God our Lord”…(the Synod therefore urges the Viceroy to prohibit them altogether, and)…“enjoins on all

  By PanEris using Melati.

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