PÁLAGILÁSS to PALANKEEN
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 men4 always in Bengal, 6 sometimes in the Telugu country.
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 184050 most people in Calcutta
kept a palankin and a set of bearers (usually natives of Orissasee 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-
c. 1340.Some time afterwards the pages of the Mistress of the Universe came to me with a dula.
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 Sultans 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 dAlboquerques making (who was)
his Ancient, bore the banner before the body.Correa, Lendas, II. i. 460.
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.
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.
after them followeth the bryde between two Commeres, each in
their Pallamkin, which is most costly made.Linschoten, 56; [Hak. Soc. i. 196].
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